Monthly Archives: April 2016

Political compass

I took this test again and ended up in the far lower left corner again. This makes me much more radical than Mahatma Ghandi or Bernie Sanders. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and virtually every U.S. presidential candidate is in the upper right quadrant, which they share with Adolf. Uncle Joe is in the upper left quadrant.

I am -9 communist (+10 is the least communist you can be) and -9 anarchist (+10 is the least anarchist you can be). Ralph Nader and Dennis Kucinich are in my quadrant, but much closer to the center. Sanders is slightly left of center economically but very, very close to it otherwise. (The United States is a conservative country.)

I re-took this test because I was arguing with some Marxists and was amazed at their authoritarianism. That is the difference between them and me, it would seem. It is also a key difference between me and most members of the Democratic Party.



Filed under Questions

Gary Tyler

Gary Tyler is out today but had to admit (allege) guilt as part of the arrangement. Do people actually believe this plea or did they just want to create him as a permanent felon? It occurs to me that it means he can never sue for wrongful incarceration. This may have been the reason.


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Buddhas Veje

I just threw out a poster I had had since I was sixteen and that was for me a sign of self and home. It had a marvelous red and yellow image and said:

Daglig 10-17
Tirsdag og torsdag aften 19-22

I did not want to get rid of it but it had just become all too raggedy. I am sad.

I also have rare posters from Santiago de Chuco, Peru, of which I am not enamored and that I would like to divest myself of, but they are not raggedy.


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Shoshana Felman

The Scandal of the Speaking Body must be an update of The Literary Speech Act. Amazingly, we have the latter book in our library so I can recycle my old photocopy of it.

My notes in the margins, from the old days, say that promising turns out to be a big part of language (the book deals with Don Juan, that famous promiser). The performative is a different category of utterance than the constative; the constative utterance deals in truth and falsehood. The history of philosophy suggests that these are the only things at stake in language, but J. L. Austin says not.

There is a section starting on p. 92 called “Between Body and Language, or, What Is an Act?” Felman quotes a text of Mallarmé I have not read, “L’action restreinte,” where Mallarmé suggests that the act “is what leaves traces” (p. 93).

There are no traces without language, so there is no act without it, either. Mallarmé: “Your act always applies itself to paper.” Felman: “There is no act without linguistic inscription.”

Psychoanalysis also “explores acts as language effects” (p. 94), and a body according to Lacan “is speech arising as such” (“Le Symptôme,” qtd. in Felman, p. 94).

I should go on, but the point is to clear out files, not distract myself with new reading projects. Still I see why I held onto this photocopy for so long, and I clearly must study Felman.


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I have had a fetish for Japanese furniture since I was about two, and I think I should indulge it. I want this pillow in Ya Gasuri blue cloth (or navy). I want real tatami mats and a kakebuton.



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Byung-Chul Han

Solo las diferencias que se pueden consumir están permitidas. No se puede amar al otro al que le han quitado la alteridad, sino solo consumirlo. Quizá sea por eso por lo que hoy crece el interés por el apocalipsis. Uno siente el infierno de la igualdad y quiere escapar de él.

That is from an article in ABC, a newspaper not of our stripe, but the piece is interesting.

I would like to read Byung-Chul Han. Here are some excerpts from The Burnout Society and The Transparency Society.


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I cannot praise a fugitive and cloistered virtue, unexercised and unbreathed, that never sallies out and sees her adversary, but slinks out of the race where that immortal garland is to be run for, not without dust and heat. [. . .] That virtue therefore which is but a youngling in the contemplation of evil, and knows not the utmost that vice promises to her followers, and rejects it, is but a blank virtue, not a pure; her whiteness is but an excremental whiteness.


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Jorge Manrique

I decided to revisit a famous text by this poet and thought: how amazingly 15th century! And it is; in fact Manrique died before 1492 and missed the entrance of the “Indies” onto the global stage. This makes him profoundly removed or foreign, I feel, because he is at the same time so close to it.


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One Hundred Years of Solitude and the Inevitability of Race

I will go here, but will have to come up with something on women characters not women writers, I fear. I might argue that certain incomprehensible or hard to interpret classics are crystal clear if you think in forbidden terms about gender and race.

Cien años de soledad becomes very clear, for instance, if you read it through a racial lens. Pettway is talking about the invisibility of race but I say that race, while invisible, is also inevitable since it is what unravels the maze of short circuits one finds in this and many other texts.



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My shadow resumé

Others have written shadow resumés of failures, but mine is of roads not taken. In the years in which I was realizing what my real interests were, I had these intuitions:

24-25. Realize I wanted a B.S. in Economics, and to go from there. (What I could have done, with my M.A. and partial Ph.D. in Comparative Literature, emphasizing Latin America: move programs, to Latin American Studies.)

25-28. Founding member of a union that is still going strong, system wide.

28-29. Realize I wanted to move from poetry and poetics to critical race theory.

30. Realize I would rather teach beginning Sociology, Anthropology, Political Science or History than beginning foreign languages.

31-32. Dream of a second Ph.D. in Near Eastern Studies, leading to work in international organizations.

34ff. Dream of the J.D., to work on immigration, trade, globalization, human rights, criminal defense, and the global prison industrial complex.

42ff. Intense work on program building, student and faculty rights, funding, research support, curriculum modernization, governance, academic freedom.

In retrospect it is quite clear what I was discovering during those ten years. I acted on none of this because I had already gone so far on this road.

Now I must stay on this road but must cause it to resemble those roads as much as I can. At least I am in Spanish, a more convenient field than some.

There is something else as well: the reason I was always attracted to the fields I was was that nobody in the family was in them, knew about them, approved of them.
I felt, and feel free in them, autonomous, my own person in ways I never could allow myself to be in arts or humanities or literature.


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Filed under What Is A Scholar?, Working