Monthly Archives: September 2016

A very strange nightmare

Were I a surrealist painter I would paint several versions of this dream. Vallejo would write a difficult, but not surrealist poem about it. I wish I had Freud or Jung to study it. In it, I was visiting at a huge house, large enough to be a castle. My room had a huge waterbed  and my cat who died in 2000 would jump up on me while I slept. Soon hands would reach up from under the bed to pet her. I decided that these were the hands of the friendly dead and I was not afraid, but I was concerned because there was no cat food (I was envisioning Science Diet) in the kitchen cupboard. You got to the restaurant-style kitchen through long corridors. The first day I kept writing my paper (I was on a writing retreat) and cooked in the kitchen but on subsequent days I would look for the kitchen but not find it, and instead kept finding parts of the castle that were for non-residents: supermarkets, delicatessens, restaurants, but no kitchen and no place that sold Science Diet.Then I was sleeping again and the hands that came to pet the cat also started holding my head to the pillow. Now it was harder to get up and look for food for the cat, who was getting thinner. I realized I had gone to New Orleans for the weekend recently and made no provisions for the cat, and was shocked. This caused me to wrest my head away from the hands of the dead and get up in real life to go into the kitchen and look for Science Diet. There I realized that this cat has been dead for 16 years. “I believe I have visited the land of the dead in this dream,” I said. “Of all my dreams, this is the one appearing to come from the deepest levels of the unconscious. What caused it?” “If dreams communicate, who is trying to communicate with me?” Finally I thought, “It is a dream about the prisoners on death row at Angola.” But what does it sound like, and what methods can be used to interpret it?


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We will now ponder

We will ponder the meaning of this fear of extreme violence. “If I am to be in relationship to anything, it must be as a sacrificial lamb to it,” I told my analyst, interpreting a dream.


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Alguien dijo

“One must do what is central to one’s self before anything else.”

It is interesting because I still do not, or do not really know what that thing would be as I do not do it. What I must do first is take care of Mother; second, I may choose what I like best from the menu she gives. That is all.

What would that thing be? People keep telling me I do not know what I want, or do not want what I should want enough, but that is not true. It is a certain kind of setting I want, and activity, and atmosphere, and autonomy.


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Algo está muriendo

Something is dying. What is getting born?

Did something die long ago, and did I simply not recognize it?

Was the thing that died real? I think it was the realest thing that ever happened to me, but was it real? Some say not.

There is something I don’t want to die and don’t want to lose connection with. It may not be my choice and as I say, this may have already happened, I may be the last to know.

I do not want the truth to be as empty as it seems now — and I don’t think it is, actually. I also don’t want it to be past.

Something a fortuneteller said to me, though, was: “Stop knocking on doors and stop slumming. Raise your sights to where ‘things can be served on trays’.”

What do I gain by allowing myself to be overburdened with service to others? Evasion of self, or of my own value, surely.



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Benjamin Matveevich

That is the first name and patronymic of my great-great grandfather, the immigrant. His dissertation director was Alexander von Humboldt.



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I love theory yet do not understand structuralism, semiotics, poststructuralism or Lacan in any adequate way. (Literary studies are said to have been ruined by “theory” but it was theory that attracted me to them.) I wish I understood suture, as I know it is important in all the texts that interest me. Where is suture in Vallejo, and what kind of a signifier is the character Cecilia Valdés?

Also, I became interested in language at the moment I experienced suture. As Magrini explains:

The psychological concept of “suture” begins with Lacan and the notion of subject formation, i.e., the psychical “junction” of the symbolic and imaginary realms. . . .

That is the beginning, and there is far more to study.


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Des articles, des livres

Rereading the literate Andean past. Then, Manigot on Haiti:

Library shelves sag under the weight of books on Haiti, old and new. Many were written by Haitians in the nineteenth century. They are exceptional studies challenging racism, but they also probe and dissect with honesty and candor the causes of Haiti’s repeated failures at sustained development and good governance. Few areas were left unstudied: French colonial slavery and the demand for reparations, European and American racism, domestic failures to plumb the island’s “culture of poverty,” ecological devastation, and endemic corruption. Haitian elites, of whatever color and class, never seem to stop searching for solutions. Foreigners have also contributed well-documented tomes on the island’s labyrinthine economy and politics.

There is really interesting commentary on C. L. R. James and Laurent Dubois in that piece.  (I am clearing shelves, and I had kept the paper issue of a journal for these few pages.)


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