Category Archives: Questions

Google

I truly resent Chrome and Firefox demanding your phone number or other information if you try to open e-mail at the public library; I have never given them my number nor do I feel they are justified in expecting me to even have a telephone. I do not believe their requirements exist for my own protection. I don’t use the Google search engine and now I am going to drop gmail. I think I will go with kolab. What do you use?

Axé.

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On Weltlitteratur and transnational literature

Transnational is a present but obscured, and often pirated quality of “World Literature:” i.e., Goethe tells us in Dichtung und Wahrheit that as a child, he got a tutor to teach him “Judendeutsch” (Yiddish) and that he composed in it for his seven-language epistolary novel he wrote then (it is not extant now, unfortunately). If there were ever a transnational language at that time, it was Yiddish (as described by Kafka in his Talk in the Yiddish Language, Feb. 1912, English translation available since 1952 or so in the collection Dearest Father). Goethe spoke a version of German related to Yiddish in Judengasse of Frankfurt where his uncle did business. Yet this affects readings of Goethe not at all–as if it never happened. His “richness” comes non-recognized and transnational linguistic sources. “Weltliteratur” begins at home.
Also: Deleuze and Guattari on “minor literatures,” taking the concept from Kafka’s “small literatures,” paradoxically emphasized the “major” or “world” (read powerful national) literatures–finding the “minor” (they called it polylingual) in them and obscuring the particularities of the trans-national: cross-border borrowings and influences.
On Kafka as formed by minor, trans-national Czech–an excellent new book that gets at the transnational in Kafka in other directions: Anne Jamison, Kafka’s Other Prague: Writings from the Czechoslovak Republic.
There is a text Goethe wrote in Yiddish–the literary etablishment finally accepted it–known as the “Judenpredigt.” All this info is in David’s Kafka book. Also: there is a passage in Beckett’s 1946 French text (one of his first) “Premier Amour,” where the narrator (in a graveyard, a very literary one, meeting a prostitute–where the narrator talks about taking notes in “six or seven languages, living and dead” that is a reference to this part of Goethe (G’s epistolary novel included Latin and Greek). “Erste Liebe” is the name of a Goethe poem. (I would like to make a list of references to this activity, taking notes in six or seven languages, living and dead).

And this is a good article. (What’s in a name?)

Axé.

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Peter Lang

Why do people publish in Peter Lang, nowadays? It used not to be for any good reason. But I keep seeing people do it — with books I think could be published in non-vanity venues. Is something happening?

Axé.

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Some things I will need

A tent is one. The one I have part of is an REI half-dome. That’s a fairly large tent and it weighs 5.5 pounds. I would like a small one.

A footprint for the tent. Do I have one?

A stuff sack for my sleeping back and something to sleep on. Do I have anything, or do I need to buy? Where is my camping pillow?

Packs, I think. I have this day-and-a-half pack but ideally I would have a pack with a frame and a day pack.

Water bottles, utensils, things like this. Tarps, rope, knife. I have to go through my shed.

BOOTS. Anything I do not have I can buy in California, even at the last minute, but I need to work on the boot issue now.

So here go a thousand dollars, and I am not doing any more to the house this year. But I will be outfitted as a mountaineer again. And I will have my identity in that way.

Axé.

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Aargh

I finished revising my copyedited essay and the journal accepted the revisions, including the ones that disagreed with their own. I submitted the three translations, with a very good introduction and translator’s note, to one place that takes multiple submissions, and sent an inquiry to another place where my work is known. The author managed to find another translator, a good one, for other parts of the collection and he is going to start with the one poem I had committed to doing and designated a place to send it, so this is off my back. And I had some good news on a piece of bureaucracy. So there is progress. But why doesn’t it feel good (enough)?

Axé.

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A brief and subjective review of Charlottesville, Virginia

I should have driven further but traffic was thick and it is raining, so I have stopped in Charlottesville. I started out in northern Maryland, driving to Washington, DC where I parked off the national mall and went to the Cézanne exhibit at the National Gallery, which is worthwhile. The gift shop at the National Gallery is endless and junky, and if you eat lunch you should go to the Garden Café since in the end, the poor cafeteria is almost as expensive as the sit-down place. I walked past the Capitol and drove by the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument on the way out of town; in Virginia I passed the sites of several famous battlegrounds including the Bull Run.

I cannot handle junky motels, nor face expensive hotels, so I am staying at the conference center of the University of Virginia Business School. It is a bit sterile, but very comfortable and it has a pub, that I would be in if it were less stuffy, and a laundry room that is free, and breakfast in the cafeteria will surely be interesting. I will visit Monticello tomorrow and am curious to see whether it will seem different from other plantations I have seen; having been there will make me more experienced as an American.

The University of Virginia is manicured and buttoned down, and many students are military. Charlottesville has one of those very Southern courthouse squares and seems on the whole to be a quintessence of squareness. I think all the students and faculty must be rich, as this place is very obviously upscale. I went to the pedestrian mall downtown where I had a slice of vegetarian pizza, quite good, for $4.14 and for another $4.14, an excellent capuccino at a place where you could sit and read for a long time. There was a great deal of overpriced shopping, uninteresting, mixed with overdone bistros, and several very interesting antiquarian bookstores where you could also sit and read for a long time. If I had been less tired I would have had dinner at Bizou, eating at the bar–this place looked cozy, unpretentious, and good, actual not faux European. Then I would have gone to a concert at the Front Porch, a roots music school.

There must be some sort of cool scene here but my overall impression is that it is not a cool town. Have you been to Charlottesville?

Axé.

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Meyers-Briggs

I don’t believe in this test but setting that aside, on the P-J axis, I think I am a J. I always thought P, because while I like having an idea of a schedule, priorities I honor, and goals I fulfill, I then like to violate that schedule according to how I feel. I like the freedom to shift it as I see fit, or take things in the direction they lead me. I am internally motivated and do not like goading.

I notice, though, that I am happier after a decision than before one. “Keeping my options open,” sitting with too many open variables, makes me anxious. I tend to know what I want, and when I make decisions that to some may look impulsive and could not be well considered because they were quickly and easily taken, and the decision is freely taken and I am happy with it from the start, I find I am happy in the longer term as well. Also, I can make a plan and remember to follow through, without employing any coercive mnemonic devices.

All of this makes me think I must be a J, even though I feel like a P. Or perhaps I am a P with skillz. I do not know. Perhaps I am simply on the cusp. If it is work, I am J, although I can improvise well on teaching and course planning and in some ways prefer it, have better ideas that way. If it is play, I am P, although I will make sure we get to our planned campsite or if we aren’t going to, we get to one that is also good and that allows us to do some of the things we came to do.

What do you find? Are you P or J, and how can you tell? (I think most academic advice is for P-people who need some J-skills, and that I either am J or have the J-skills, so that the insistence on gaining extra J-skills seems beside the point.)

Axé.

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