Category Archives: Banes

Didier Fassin

I would like to read more of César Aira, and I would like to read this book. “Politics … involves struggle against the scandalous inequality of human life and thus can never be reduced to mere governance.”

(What is happening to us here is political and ideological, and cannot be solved by mere governance although this is also important — we need governance but must see that the problem goes beyond this.)

I am also traumatized. I am not like this person (graduate school was not my trauma)

(I am putting myself in a program of trauma treatment, now that I see what the landscape is. It involves renouncing self-doubt, remembering that authorities are paper tigers, and keeping in mind that I can buy an annuity and escape.)

What am I? An intellectual, an artist and an activist.

(I think I will have microdermabrasion, yoga and shiatsu massage. In my self-directed trauma treatment I will remember to put all my priorities first, regardless of any crises others may have.)

Axé.

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Filed under Banes, Theories, What Is A Scholar?

“Saving my strength for running”

I started being depressed on November 19, 1991 and may have stopped on April 3, 2019. That makes it less than 28 years. Most people I know have not known me that long. But the cause would have been deciding it was necessary to take Da Whiteman’s ideas seriously and the cure, realizing exactly how ridiculous they were and starting to laugh.

“They are paper tigers, fuck them all,” someone said years ago and I did not understand it, did not believe it, but the plot of the continuing melodrama, or mellow-drama here has given a Balzacian twist so forced as to lack verisimilitude, yet it is real and while everyone else wrung their hands I burst out laughing.

I’m saving my strength for running.

Axé.

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Filed under Banes, Songs, What Is A Scholar?, Working

Another world

I got up in Dupont Circle and walked past the row houses to a café, had coffee and came back and packed. I walked to the metro and rode to the airport, changing trains once. At the airport I read old notes on Vallejo and transcribed them, including the outline of an old conference paper, and it was very interesting.

On the plane I finished rereading Bodas de sangre, which I am teaching, and it was interesting as well. When I arrived to New Orleans I picked up the car and drove three hours to western Maringouin, where I haggled with a telephone repair shop, and then came home.

At home in the country I was so shocked to have been in the city and now here, I went into a depression. I decided to hide from the world by reading a biography of Leopoldo Panero, which was fascinating. I have never seen the film El desencanto for some reason, and I must.

I was in another world and I immersed myself in reading about further ones. I felt terrible that I was not engaged in grading or local service, although I was traveling on national service and suffering with it. But reading is also part of my job.

__

The meeting I went to was sad, contentious and worrisome, but I was four nights in a cosmopolitan, urban area, and I am suddenly in the country. It is so different, it does not seem real. As usual I am terrified to go in to work, but I will do it.

Notice, though, how in a day of travel I read and thought quite a lot about these three authors, and how it is not that aspect of work that scares me — it is not the material, or the research, or the preparation of college-level classes.

It is that I must repress so much self here, perhaps, and that self arises so easily when I leave, and is so hard to shed. My graduate student feels this too, so I am not alone.

Axé.

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Filed under Banes, Cinearte, Teaching, Theories, What Is A Scholar?, Working

And another

I am getting somewhat better at treating myself decently, after 25 years of Reeducation-induced self-destruction. Part of it has to do with not saying I do not get enough done. In Reeducation: learning to deaden the self, so as not to function at such a high level (because Reeducation didn’t like it). Now: trying to hide from that pain enough to function at a high level of imagination, access to self, intellect. But in fact I need that destroyed portion of myself to be working, need to work from it. The only way to make that possible is not to speak so negatively, in all the ways I do this.

I have started to remember my dreams again. There is one about having treasure, in a way reminiscent of my old dream about barely making it through an occupied zone to a neutral country  – one about a marvelous encounter – and one strange one about exploitative academic and real estate practices in California, that I need to think about.

I am going to open a document elsewhere for these old notes, and think about them.

NAPOLEON apparently said that in modernity the Black man cannot rise out of his misery (the structure of the modern world prevents it). I have to find this reference.

And on Cecilia — after the Haitian Revolution Spain decided to turn Cuba into the biggest sugar plantation in the world. In the 19th century Cuba was 43% enslaved, and 86% of the slave population had arrived after the British had abolished the slave trade. About prison construction: Spain in the 1765-1840 period turned peasants into labors by criminalization. This is material from Rey.

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Things I notice about me: I am far more activist than most people, more of a leader and less resentful of institutional service. I am less tolerant of drudgery and monotonous detail than most academics. I am less sedentary and a better listener. I like all aspects of academic jobs but in some instances do not feel it is safe to say so, and in others do not feel I am authorized.

I even had impostor syndrome in college. I believed the entire thing had been set up as an illusion. I had not really gotten in, I had not really gotten these grades, my parents and aunt had just set the whole thing up as an illusion to entertain me, indulge me, since I was not really a person.

Axé.

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Filed under Banes, Race book, What Is A Scholar?

Taking the high road

Department of e-mails not sent:

Dear committee member,

The question would be what gives you the right to speak in this tone to anyone.

If the dean, an AAUP member, confuses tenure track/tenured with FTE NTT, which I highly doubt he does, it would be our job to point out the error.

To keep these things clear is precisely the charge of this committee.

Yours,

Z
Professor and chair (as far as you are concerned)

Axé.

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Filed under Banes, Working

Cannibalizing

Working at a university that is cannibalizing itself, in department that is, and a state that is, is disheartening and it is hard not to feel downhearted, not to feel joy. I used to be energized by work and inspired by what happened on campus — it was why I liked school — but here I only feel sad and ashamed.

Earlier on my poststructuralist education was disconcerting to me, being who I was. The messages I received were: you must not trust yourself, but decenter yourself; you should not trust your thoughts; and your words cannot mean what you believe them to mean. I was arguing against these ideas in my beautifully written, yet malformed dissertation and it was very visceral.

These topics are still hard to write near. To write, you must trust yourself and your words to some degree, and you must place your voice in your work. It is not enough just not to yell at yourself. You also have to trust yourself. You have to believe you are real. You also have to believe you do not deserve destruction. You have to believe you have value of at least some kind.

I would like to believe I had some sort of value. Once I did not question my own value. Questioning of the value of people was not part of the world then.

Axé.

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Filed under Banes, What Is A Scholar?, Working

“Opportunity cost?”

So I have a truly major speaker coming, a project I did not think would be a good use of my time but that others wanted done, and they have now quit their roles in making the event truly happen well. On the other hand, I am being told I am doing a wonderful job leading the relevant organization and unit.

I am conflicted about this because it cuts into research time. Irritated. But where time is really wasted is in negotiating with the people who want to waste my time, and in non-pleasurable, but also non-work time I spend when I feel used and humiliated by those who are trying to waste my time for me.

Then I think: I am foolish to have accepted this general project. This causes me to feel unworthy to do my own work. But I should have accepted it, I can do it and my own work. What I should do is stop giving power to people who are wasting my time and energy.

Also, for others, the classic model works: research first, teaching next, and no service. But I am an activist, and know it is wrong. I am ashamed of it and want to go away, to where this characteristic is not a sign of inferiority. But mostly I feel ashamed when people tell me my time is not as valuable as theirs.

Axé.

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Filed under Banes, Working