Monthly Archives: March 2016

Sans titre

Sitting at a desk reading and taking notes on a quiet morning, looking out at a gravel road. The sky is gray but not dark, and the air is mild. The refrigerator hums and there is alternative radio.

It is the same as it ever was.

I thought that when I became a professor there would be many mornings like this, the kind of morning I associate with school.


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Filed under What Is A Scholar?, Working

Cornejo II

Es evidente que categorías como mestizaje e hibridez toman pie en disciplinas ajenas al análisis cultural y literario, básicamente en la biología, con el agravante —en el caso del mestizaje— que se trata de un concepto ideologizado en extremo. En lo que toca a hibridez la asociación casi espontánea tiene que ver con la esterilidad de los productos híbridos, objeción tantas veces repetida que hoy día García Canclini tiene una impresionante lista de productos híbridos y fecundos … De cualquier manera esa asociación no es fácil de destruir. De hecho, en el diccionario Velázquez inglés-español la palabra híbrido suscita de inmediato una acepción algo brutal: “mula”. Por supuesto que reconozco que el empleo de estos préstamos semánticos tiene riesgos inevitables; al mismo tiempo considero que detrás de ellos como que se desplaza una densa capa de significación que engloba y justifica cada concepción de las cosas. Incluso estaría tentando de afirmar que una lectura de ese sustrato de significado es más productiva que la simple declaración de amenidad e impertinencia de las categorías empleadas para esclarecer un punto concreto.

Here is Cornejo I.


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Filed under Movement, News, Theories, What Is A Scholar?

My afternoons at Angola

I thought of writing another poem about Angola, to see whether it turned out to be poetic or imitation poetic, but decided I should start a series of posts about my visits to the place.

I am reading Wilbert Rideau’s memoir. When Rideau he was still at Angola, and was editor of the magazine, he was the prisoner who had the most, and most varied contact with the outside world. He had not always been like that.

I started visiting Angola because I got involved in a campaign to free Hayes Williams, long before the the Innocence Project came in on his case. Williams was the complainant in Williams vs. McKeithen, filed in 1971 and won in 1975.

The suit meant massive improvements in Louisiana prison conditions. People still file for remedy under it, and I should follow this more closely. These experiences, in any case, were what got me interested in the law.

The prisoners fill out forms, and they write poems, letters, plays, and legal documents.


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Filed under Movement, News

Cornejo I

This now famous note was originally commissioned by me, and stolen by two different people, so we will study it now, piece by piece.

No hace mucho Fernández Retamar alertó contra los peligros implícitos en la
utilización de categorías provenientes de otros ámbitos a los campos culturales y literarios. El préstamo metafórico y/o metonímico puede conducir a confusiones sin cuento. Por mi parte recuerdo que un sector nada desdeñable de las rigideces estéticas del marxismo provino de la lectura denotativa de lo que en realidad eran metáforas extraídas de la ciencia del XIX: un ejemplo basta, el concepto de “reflejo”.

Assignment: study the concept of “reflejo.”



Filed under News

No legacy || Electronic literature

We will go here. Not to the opening, of course, but to the exhibit, during the summer … and there is much that can be streamed (if you can tolerate one more moment on screen, that is).


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Filed under Cinearte, News

El nuevo sujeto del discurso poscolonial

A book we have to get.



Filed under Bibliography

March on

I have discerned that another tool of the right wing and the patriarchy is to say you are either “unrealistic” or “codependent” if you are working for change. That goes for politics, but also for work … and I do suppose that work, my work, is politics.


The person from whose post I am quoting is more naive than I and has more extreme reactions, but also has a stronger ego and a better analysis of situations.

She says:

1. I thought that I must be managing my time poorly, and working inefficiently.

2. Anyone who thinks you can deal with overwork by saying no has never been over-worked. I tried refusing to chair a committee. My head of department breezily assured me that he was not asking, he was telling me what I was contractually obliged to do.


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On the Rolling Stones in Cuba

I saw Larry Hill of the Guardian say:

The Rolling Stones formed between the Bay of Pigs Invasion and Cuban Missile Crisis. Around the time baby boom kids’ fear of the Cold War was getting in the way of spending their baby boom allowance. I too was conceived and born in this gap between being scared to death of utter nuclear annihilation and not giving a fuck. After this generational shift in consciousness, posture and pose were indistinguishable and interchangeable. The Stone’s entire catalog backs this up, from their empty fascination with American blues to their bland late offerings. Aside from their bad boy portrayals in the media they never really pandered to hippies’ false hopes or stepped on anyone’s toes and never really took a side. Because of this there couldn’t have been a better neutral representation of Western music to open Cuba: once dominant now ineffectual, once muscular now atrophied, once read dangerous and disruptive now read quaintly harmless, once in the moment now unknowingly out of date–living out the fate of any revolution.

There are of course left and also right wing critiques of the fact that the Stones played Cuba. But what about this critique of them? I mean, I think I know these things already and did not expect more, and am not as upset therefore. But what do you think?



Filed under Questions, Songs


I am too overloaded with service and administration and it is detrimental not just to me but to the other entities who are affected by it. But when this is not the case, things are not done and it is differently detrimental, particularly to me. One needs to have boundaries and say no. But when I did that this semester I was manipulated back and ordered into place, and I could not see a viable way out.

This is the conundrum. I am not sure of the answer, but I know the main problem is being ordered and manipulated, and feeling intimidated into accepting work I do not want and know I do not have time for. The fact that my overload is detrimental to others as well as myself must be kept firmly in mind: others also need me to practice self-care.

Everyone says they want more research time and so do I, but I also want more teaching time. Saying so feels dangerous. I was always exhorted not to spend time on teaching, and I quickly learned that to get along one could not say no to service and administration. But the fact is that I do not just need more research time, I need more teaching time.

To get more teaching time, I need a more rational set of courses, and to get that, I need to do major service toward program building and reorganization. That is the conundrum that was set me (not chosen by me, but set me) years ago; it seemed irrational then and it does so now, even though I have grown accustomed to it.

How to cut this Gordian knot?

Answer 1. I should do as I see fit. Problem: I receive orders not to. Answer: I should press on, whether those in power agree or not.

Answer 2. Better Boundaries. I want time to reflect on everything, time to breathe before class, time to prepare things, not to have to live on a constant pivot. Comment: I do not like the exhortation to boundaries, though, any more than I like the exhortation to do things very quickly and save time. Both connote constraints. One is to confine oneself in a small space, where one will work as quickly as possible, “cutting corners” (how I detest that phrase).

And yet — when I think of how I used to live, with time to reflect and plan, and time to focus, it occurs to me that this was in fact a way of “having boundaries.” (When did I stop? When I was told it was not my right. In phantasmagoria: when I was told I would be killed if I did not allow myself to be tortured; when I was told all my instincts and everything I had ever learned were wrong by definition; when I was informed I was a servant of others, not a master of myself, and that I must keep my place if I did not want everyone I loved to be killed.)

Answer 3. I should take authority, allow myself my own identity, and do things with love.
This is the answer I like best. The other word I might add is solidarity, of which there is too little and which is considered something one can dispense with out of expedience (because one has “boundaries”). But that, to me, is too stingy.

I may always have more service and administration than others, because of solidarity. Yet I must allow myself to love the things I have always been told I must not. Teaching, one must “cut corners” on. Research, one should not take seriously (“just write something”) and/or should consider a frivolity (“it is selfish, dear, and meaningless”). I have to fight these last two sentences with authority and identity.

I also need to take authority and affirm identity by not negotiating for these — by making them non-negotiable. How to do this in certain practical situations is not clear. I want as a first step not to negotiate for the right to these.

I am missing a deadline (research) this week and I am late on another project (research). I am also spending too little time on regular teaching because of the demands of independent projects, only one of which I took on of my own accord, and because of rewriting the departmental website, which I said I could not do this semester but then did because I was told I had no (real) choice.

I have also neglected some things in my own life because of this. I think that was because I felt so mistreated and angry and — ashamed that I had this situation … and if I have learned anything from writing this weblog it is that if I feel ashamed, it is because I have been done harm.

Shame, in books (how I would love to read certain serious books, and how I should allow myself this) and on the Internet, has to do with abuse and loss of self. So it is no wonder I keep saying my cure is (my  own) authority, identity, love — and that I should not feel guilty about to feel solidarity with others and acting on it, even if this is impractical or a luxury.

Others say they need to learn they can be wrong sometimes, to give up the desire to control everything, and to have some kind of self-discipline. Who are these people?


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Filed under Working


Today I finished a rough draft of a strategic plan for my unit. I gave it to someone else to edit, as this project is not mine alone. I spoke to my outside speaker.

Over the break I am going to create a final draft of the website, and finish a complete, if not perfect draft of an article.

Now that it is spring


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Filed under Working