Category Archives: Questions

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.



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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)?


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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?


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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.)



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Talking to myself, really

1/ So: You mean, Sanders ran in the primaries not to move the party to the left of the DLC & back to more mainstream / liberal Democratic line, but because of a personal vendetta against Clinton or to try to block a woman candidate? And this is why Trump won in the generals?

2/ It isn’t true that the radicals of the 50s and 60s did well. A lot of them were assassinated and/or jailed and/or had to go into exile, and are hardly famous. And some of those who are famous gave their lives. Who do you mean, that got rich? Do you mean Tom Hayden?

3/ It’s also not true that nobody working class votes left, or that left means some childish fantasy about revolution. I’m left and people always call me for strategy when they get desperate, and I wish they’d do it sooner.


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Not of general interest

So: for that ALFS article, for which I have so much material and so much writing, but not a clear enough shape, I have these thoughts:

1. We have this situation:

Les valeurs d’émancipation et d’égalité n’animent plus le système universitaire, qui est devenu un système de tri de la population. Durant mon enfance, l’éducation était émancipatrice. Il y avait un bon niveau de tolérance à la déviance. Il y avait des profs d’histoire ou de philo communistes, anarchistes… Aujourd’hui, un impératif de perfection et donc de conformisme s’est mis en place. La fonction objective du système est de trier les gens et de retenir ceux qui sont les plus disciplinés et conformes. Au bout du bout, les gens qui finissent à la tête du pays sont incapables d’avoir une idée – je vous laisse imaginer à qui je pense.

But since liberal values are still invoked and a lexicon alluding to them is still used, the situation is hard to see. At the same time (and coming from the other direction), most people now were born to a university system where these values had already been abridged and the neo-liberal or corporate, or even the entrepreneurial university had already begun to take shape.

2. Can I afford to go to ACLA and if I try, should I present on Vallejo…or what? I have NOT written my Vallejo panelists as I had planned to do, or Emmanuel on a modernism / primitivism panel, and I should keep these ideas in mind.

3. My notes after ACLA in Utrecht: “Keep working on this paper. Keep working in general, you deserve it.” It is very hard for me to remember such things when I am here at Vichy State-Maringouin, but I am getting a bit better at it.

(Now I will go to the library, and then I will continue to think about the ACLA question.)


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Une question

How much do students know about you? It appears that they know (correctly) that I had two straight parents who did not divorce, and one brother. They do not know more although they guess (incorrectly) that I am (a) Mexican or Argentine, (b) from “Europe,” and (c) lesbian (reasons for this are wearing black, not wearing stilettos, having strong opinions, going to New Orleans a lot, and never discussing boyfriends or husbands in class). They change their opinion on sexuality and marital status a lot, depending upon which of my mother’s rings I have fancifully decided to wear. They say they feel they know less about me than they do the other professors. I feel they know much more than they would know if we lived elsewhere, because in this culture much more is revealed than would be at home–although at the same time I note that I am far more comfortable than it is said I should be with events such as running into students at the gym. Qu’est-ce que c’est?


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