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World literature, cosmopolitanism, globality

This book is open access and I am in love with that.

And I’ve got a co-translator now for that project, a powerful one, and a press says they’ll take the book. We have not yet seen the contract, but I suppose we will get one.

I got really mad at the university and envious of big professors who are reading books, so I decided I would ignore everything and read some books, too.

Down with drudgery.


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An earlier work plan

(According to Reeducation, your baseline should be that you are too unhappy to function and your goal should be to function minimally nonetheless, or attain feelings of happiness, just for the day. Before Reeducation I did not think a great deal about happiness, although I was happy most of the time. If your baseline is that you just don’t worry about these things, you are feeling how you are feeling, or perhaps you aren’t questioning yourself so you are comfortable, then you can just do things.)

So I am to: finish the da Silva paper and write a new da Silva abstract. Then write the Sommer paper. Then finish the Anzaldúa paper. Then, within the year, resubmit Pedro’s poems and prepare and submit the Moro — if that press ever has a reading period, that is; otherwise, it may become important to find another. Even White Pine.

Da Silva. Let us start warming back to this topic by reading on her in review essays. I’ve got so many notes of my own already, but we will start with Benito Cao and Greg McCarthy, just so that I will de-intimidate myself. Some reasons I am interested in Da Silva: it’s a global theory, it explains why hybridity theory is part of racism, it takes gender into account, and it addresses what I’ve called “evoke and elide.”

Cao also talks about Telles; note that Portocarrero says the same of mestizaje and racismo (which is why it is suprising to see Anzaldúa still talking about mestizaje as a solution to racism):

In essence, Telles unpacks the apparent paradox of the coexistence of racism and hybridity by revealing how racial inclusion (produced by hybridity) and racialexclusion (produced by racism) coexist and complement each other in Brazil. Indeed, hybridity is not antithetical to racism as popular belief and ‘common sense’ might suggest. Instead, hybridity is the way racism operates in Brazil. Hybridity is the Brazilian contribution to the ‘global idea of race’ unearthed by the archaeological work of Denise Ferreira da Silva.

Cao on the chapter “Tropical Democracy”:

Da Silva offers a critical genealogy of the idea of race and of the emergence of European man as a deeply racial/ised subject. She reveals how European man came to see himself as the transcendental Subject of History, the carrier of the Spirit of Humanity, of (Universal) Reason, whilst seeing non-Europeans as the exterior and inferior Objects of History or peoples without history, to borrow from Eric Wolf (1982). This deeply racially inscribed subject, European man, used skin colour as the key to determine who could and could not be civilised, categorising and determining the fate of peoples encountered in the five centuries of exploration and imperial expansion across the globe. The result was often the (re)creation of a new political formation, the nation-state, deeply inflected by racial discourses, as was the case of Brazil. The configuration of race was encrypted in Brazilian identity through miscegenation, namely the inter-mingling of Indians, Europeans, and Africans. However, as da Silva notes, the process (and representation) of miscegenation was driven primarily by the (sexual) desires of European man, projected onto the bodies (racially inscribed as red and black, respectively) of Indian and African women. Thus, the so-called racial democracy would be more aptly described as a racist (and patriarchal) hierarchy, with Luso-Brazilian men at the top and Afro-Brazilian women at the bottom. This is a seemingly straight-forward conclusion, but da Silva offers an insightful genealogical analysis of how that hierarchy was formulated and came to be seen as the natural state of (racial) affairs in Brazil. In particular, she provides a philosophical account of how gender and sexual desire were crucial in the formation and formulation of the myth of racial democracy. She examines statements deployed between the 1880s and the 1930s to show how miscegenation was formulated using <strong>‘the logic of obliteration’, a logic designed to engulf and ultimately destroy the Other,</strong> producing the Brazilian national subject as a transparent ‘I’. Miscegenation was rewritten as ‘‘an eschatological signifier’’ that would result not in the ‘‘degeneration’’ of the European but in <strong>the obliteration of the Indian and the African from Brazilian bodies and minds’</strong> (p. 238). Crucially, she notes how in this formulation of race and nation ‘the productive power, the‘‘inner force’’, belongs to the Portuguese because their ‘‘inclination’’ to sexual intimacy produces the slightly tanned Brazilian subject’ (p. 244). In essence, da Silva reveals the workings of miscegenation as ‘a process of productive violence’, a racialised and gendered process that produces a ‘slightly (tanned) transparent subject’: the Brazilian. This arguably genocidal violence that underpins the articulation of miscegenation in Brazil had been already exposed and denounced, notably by Abdias do Nascimento in <em>O Genocídio do Negro Brasileiro</em> (1978), but da Silva’s analysis is the first systematic and philosophical articulation of this argument available in English. Given the mystique of Brazilian hybridity (especially outside of Brazil), this chapter is a must read for anyone interested in matters of race in Brazil, and for anyone interested in the intricacies of miscegenation in the construction of national identities.

In the meantime, MURPHY’s run-down is good and key is that da Silva is following Foucault, so perhaps what one may not like about Foucault is also in da Silva.

Re Anzaldúa: the proposal of hybridity as solution if you are familiar with the relationship between mestizaje and racism. To whom is Anzaldúa speaking, and where is she speaking from ? It is the US side of the border. She’s resisting the Anglophone monolith, she’s the difference within, THIS is the interesting key to her (cf. the conversation on Goethe’s Yiddish background, and so on). So: the minor voice, what goes against the grain . . .

Back to Da Silva and the modernity thesis. Of course Dussell has pointed out the colonialist tropes in Hegel, etc., with juicy quotations.

Greg McCarthy’s summary of Da Silva is better than mine, for its concision. <em>Note that Da Silva can help with Anzaldúa too.</em>

My thesis for paper #1 is that the evoke-and-elide movement in the 19th century novels is enacting or dramatizing the move Da Silva describes (the engulfment); <em>there is no way out</em> in the modern paradigm. Moving on to Anzaldúa: it is possible that she (and decoloniality generally) are trying to be the resistance to this, the path out of it. The question becomes how well does this theory or does Anzaldúa in particular do it.

We shall see.


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In the office, I will find the notes on the transnational illumination I had the other day.

In the meantime, here we have Vilashini Cooppan in a very old (2000) article on the transnational study of race and nation, in this book. I had kept it, should I still? is the question. It is part of my thesis that race can be studied transnationally (an issue I would not question, or that I would not have a complex about, were it not for the experiences I had in Brazil). Quand même.

She is ill at ease with the term postcolonial, with its watchwords heterogeneity, difference, alterit7y, and hybridity. “Postcoloial studies, as several of its most incisive critics have noted, has compressed the differences of other peoples’ history on a methodological level while it has simultaneously asserted and celebrated those differences on a theoretical and discursive level.” (2) THIS IS PART OF MY ANZALDUA PROBLEM.

Cooppan thinks the categories race and nation “have become dangerously peripheral to what many would see as the ‘real’ work of [postcolonial studies].” (7) They seem too “essentialist” and too dependent on the idea of authenticity. But Cooppan thinks we need these terms and does not think they mean returning to fixity over the more effervescent post-colonial hybridity (paraphrasing 8). DECOLONIAL IS A DERIVATIVE OF POSTCOLONIAL AND IT HAS SOME OF THOSE PROBLEMS.

Tim Brennan (At Home in the World) and Aijaz Ahmad have criticized the notion, popularized by Rushdie and Bhabha, of an intercultural hybridity crystallized in the figure of the cosmopolitan migrant because it dismisses the penetration of capital, the proliferation of ethnic enclaves, and the consolidation of the nation-state form; Cooppan talks about the fact that racialized inequality has been increasing while the celebration of hybridity grows (Shohat has pointed out that it is the “palatable”, assimilable, pastoral version of difference. Race and nation smack of armed resistance, strategic political identification, and these are NOT the preferred post-colonialisms … and that is a problem.

The article goes on, but I am stopping here.



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Clarissa’s psychological health challenge

8- Luxury

7- Water

6- Serious Baltic sauna

5- Uncluttering the mind

4 – Grounding object

3 – Deep breathing

2 – Concentrating on pleasant sensations

1 – Experiencing the end of sensory experiences

While doing these things you follow a Mediterranean diet and make your bed every morning.


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A course on Mexican literature

I was going to do 20th and 21st centuries only, although my colleague thinks I could give snippets of things like the Periquillo sarniento. I’m not convinced and I have now come upon ISP’s dissertation, which turns out to have covered 1917 to 2000. It resembles my idea in some ways. My list had:

[Azuela Los de abajo and pieces of Reed’s Insurgent Mexico, and corridos]
Vasconcelos LRC
Usigli El gesticulador
Rulfo Nos han dado la tierra
Castellanos Balún Canán
Pacheco Las batallas en el desierto
Poniatowska Terremoto
Berman Entre Villa y una mujer desnuda
Herrera La transmigración de los cuerpos [and narcocorridos]

Of course this leaves out Fuentes (La frontera de cristal, for instance, or earlier work), Paz (and Posdata talks about Tlatelolco), Revueltas, Mastretta, and many more — including Daniel Sada who I’d really like to read.

I could call the course SUAVE PATRIA (López Velarde) and it would be a BOLSHEVIK SUPER-POEM (Maples Arce).


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That darned presentation, again

Here is a very good article critiquing contact theory.

Here is Martí on New York.

Here is Posternak.

Lagniappe: Here is a book on Lorca I should get from ILL. Here is a review of it.

In my paper: Sommer is heavily under the influence of happy mestizaje theory (which has the flaws of contact theory, inter alia). 90s multiculturalism in US promoted both of these and in that way echoed some of Bolívar and Martí, or some famous phrases from them at least. But the actual 19th century is more complex and contradictory, less triumphant, than Sommer’s narrative suggests. These points have been made already but it is worth gathering them together.

This paper is on the dysfunctional family (cf. the families in crisis thesis) — families that disappear the nation and do not consolidate it.

* * * I am interested because of the way race works, novels working as strategies to contain democracy and maintain hierarchies [work this out, I had such a brilliant, concise formulation while washing dishes last night and I did not write it down]. Was I thinking about this paper or my other one, when I was washing dishes? * * *

* * * At Angola: everyone was black visiting prisoners on this former plantation, and we were watching cowboys and Indians on the tv, and I thought, what a perfect colonial scene; we have not left the late 19th century, US army subjugating new lands while the people they half liberated, still incarcerated, look on as a kind of fellow American * * *

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That class

As lagniappe, let’s look at the MLA 2007 report on FL curricula.

Students say: less is more. If we all watched the same series, we could all talk about it and change groups. The films are too much in conjunction with the series. And we may need more structured grammar review.

More to come on this.


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