Monthly Archives: April 2009

Sur le pouvoir

In Reeducation one was not supposed to have personal power. I have a lot of it and the only way to have less is to self destruct in some manner, so I tried.

I did not understand then that a lot of people do not have personal power and want power over other people instead. I understand this now.

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I have been shooting arrows from my balustrade since the Sun went into Aries this year and it has been self protective — to make sure I did not allow back into my life certain things I cannot afford to have in it. I have been vaccinating myself against manipulative people.

I am tired. I am also finished. I really hope it has worked because I am so tired. And I can see that sadness will be my next mode.

I can tell because the most recent loss I have had — and we all suffer small losses daily — touches off outright grief.

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I am going to remember that I am a foreigner. It really helps to remember this, because it is true and it explains a great deal. Reeducation said everyone was the same (it was “elitist” not to say one was the same as everyone else).

But I like being in foreign countries because there certain tentacles of my upbringing seem unable to reach me, and I have a great deal more self respect. Also, everything I have discovered by writing this weblog indicates I really am foreign. I think I should just to recognize this and I repeat, in case you do not understand, that I am not trying to say I am special, or more unique than you, or better than other people, only that I am myself. There are two main differences.

1. Not having been raised in a Western religion. This means having a very different psychology and world view from most Americans, as I have recently realized. This weblog’s religions, for example, are Native American and African. Their origins are not in the Fertile Crescent. They correspond to a truly different cultural universe.

2. Having decided very early on to resist internalizing some of the more destructive aspects of the gender roles assigned women in this society. I saw what these could do to the psyche and I resisted. I do not mean that I rebelled after being formed, I mean I resisted while still learning to speak.

I do not mean I resisted perfectly, but I did succeed to some degree. The absence of certain elements adds to the gravity and stillness Reeducation thought to be coldness but which was just breath. I would like to be yet more still.

These are the differences between myself and some people to whom I will no longer try to explain myself and with whom I will no longer expect easy communication. I am a foreigner. I can see the cultural world where I stand well enough to see that I do not understand it. I see it well enough to realize that it does not see mine, even though it sees me.

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These are the things I have learned. They help clear the mind, which in turn allows one to bleed out grief in stillness.

And Reeducation thought me cold but it was only that my mind was clear. I am taking it back.

Axé.

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Filed under Banes, Da Whiteman, Theories

Into My Hermitage

The post below is about ten days old and so much has happened since, and I am so over it all. Now the heat has almost arrived and I am going camping. Then I will enter my hermitage. The problem with my hermitage, of course, is that I am ultimately so sociable. But I am even now in my hermitage.

I have been on sabbatical this semester and it has worked somewhat although the state is too small, and I am too penniless, to escape completely. But I have learned many fascinating things, including the names of all the things I wish to avoid in life, and how to identify them before they catch me.

I have been disabled since 21 March due to three instances in a row of emotional abuse I did not catch in time — although I must say I got faster and faster on the uptake. I cannot afford to go through any more. I hope these five weeks of lost time can have the benefit of immunizing me. I always want to move to foreign countries, or spend time in foreign countries, because there I am for various reasons less vulnerable to these incidents. And my friends always tell me I must move away from here because of the prevalence in this area of certain behavior. I think, though, that the task at hand is to see and stand my ground.

Now that the spring festival season is over I am also going to detoxify myself from all mind altering substances except caffeine. This will give me great pleasure. There is no point this time in telling me I should not be so Puritanical, since my goal is quite the opposite. I will soon look divine.

THE ORIGINAL POST. SEE HOW FAR I HAVE ADVANCED IN ONLY TEN DAYS.

Why am I so irritated? asks someone. I am irritated because I do not like being projected into, patronized, or bullied. I am irritated because I do not like being the object of destructive envy. And I point out that not only are some bullies assistant professors, as we had pointed out earlier some are students and prospective students.

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One such person, a neighbor, came to needle me lately. Why was he not accepted into his department’s PhD program, he wanted to know. It appeared that the reasons had been explained to him many times. He did not accept the explanations, and felt the committee did not recognize his virtues. He believed that having the minimum grades and scores allowed by the graduate school for entry to an M.A. program gave him the right to enter a Ph.D. program. He was hurt, said he, convinced that the rejection had been made for personal or political reasons.

I told him there were probably other more competitive candidates, and explained gently that his grades and GRE score, while valuable, were not as high as they might be. I also said it did not sound as though his writing sample had given a clear indication of research ability, or that his statement of purpose was clear. I said he did not appear to me to understand the nature of Ph.D. level work, and that the committee might have noticed this as well. Not to understand the nature of PhD level work was a recipe for frustration and failure, I said, so I understood the committee’s decision and would probably have made the same recommendation myself.

He went away, and came back a few days later. Would I help him write a letter of appeal to the university? I said no. He said, why not? I said, for all the reasons I explained to you when you were last here. I agree with the university. He was at this point very intent upon talking up his virtues and the reasons he was still convinced the department was wrong. It was all I could do to be quiet. I later found out from him that he had tried to press the department once again, and was hurt to be told to stop bothering them.

That was an exhausting conversation — too exhausting — and I realized that I had been too kind and that we had been talking at cross purposes, anyway. He is a type of bully! I realized. He does not even like the department to which he is applying, and he is not seriously interested in the field. He does want to impose his will upon it, and to solicit me as an ally in this endeavor. I had been trying to create a “teaching moment” but this was not at all what was desired. That was why the conversation on my doorstep was a struggle. He was relating to me as he relates to the school and the only response his posture truly permitted was the department’s strident no. I had assumed he had approached me with a different attitude and I struggled in the conversation until I relinquished this assumption.

And Reeducation would have said that it was my fault he even approached me. It would have said I should have “drawn a better boundary” in the first place. I think that is ridiculous, and that Reeducation and its weak minded ideas are greater bullies than my neighbor. I think it takes time to figure out what people are up to. I do not consider it a failing to give them the benefit of the doubt until they actually show themselves to be less developed people than one might wish. But my major error in these kinds of situations is to want, through kindness, to get the unreasonable person to become reasonable. That is the kind of “control” Reeducation does not think it a good idea to attempt to exert, and I agree.

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And once again, I am convinced that it is at societal structures and not to individual psychologies (or “dysfunction”) one must look for the keys to these problems.

Axé.

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Filed under Banes

Vinyl I Used to Own

This post contains the famous song Queixa in the earliest recording I know of, on Veloso’s album Cores, Nomes. Now I have all the lyrics, and the song’s story is simpler than I had thought. I have of course bolded the lines we liked the very best, back when we owned the record, the lines that suggested the most AXÉ.

Um amor assim delicado
Você pega e despreza
Não devia ter despertado
Ajoelha e não reza

Dessa coisa que mete medo
Pela sua grandeza

Não sou o único culpado
Disso eu tenho a certeza

Princesa, surpresa, você me arrasou
Serpente, nem sente que me envenenou
Senhora, e agora, me diga onde eu vou
Senhora, serpente, princesa

Um amor assim violento
Quando torna-se mágoa
É o avesso de um sentimento
Oceano sem água

Ondas, desejos de vingança
Nessa desnatureza
Batem forte sem esperança
Contra a tua dureza

Princesa, surpresa, você me arrasou
Serpente, nem sente que me envenenou
Senhora, e agora, me diga onde eu vou
Senhora, serpente, princesa

Um amor assim delicado
Nenhum homem daria
Talvez tenha sido pecado
Apostar na alegria

Você pensa que eu tenho tudo
E vazio me deixa
Mas Deus não quer que eu fique mudo
E eu te grito esta queixa

Princesa, surpresa, você me arrasou
Serpente, nem sente que me envenenou
Senhora, e agora, me diga onde eu vou
Senhora, serpente, princesa

Axé.

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When Someone You Like Does Not Make Tenure

Despite often keeping myself up late at night I do not actually suffer from insomnia — I am one of those rock hard sleepers.

But now I am concerned that my stage manager may have been fired, with his stage hands.

This is like having someone not make tenure and having their graduate students go down with them.

People in positions of power and knowledge begin to suck their teeth, and you know. And they begin to repeat rumors, and they also repeat what comes to be common “wisdom.”

And then you know that that project, even if it is the best project, is slated for removal.

And you are concerned for them but also for the loss to the institution their departure will represent.

And if your own interest in the institution is informed in part by the presence within it of their project –

And if you are powerless to change these facts, as I am — although you may have a chance to try some time —

It wakes you up at night, and that is it.

Axé.

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Shift

Now, post festival, I am back in Maringouin. Thanks for coming with me to Lafayette! Wasn’t the drive home over U.S. 190 beautiful? The day after FIL ends is the first day of summer. We are splashing in the bayou now, before things get too hot and still.

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Since I do not necessarily publish posts in the order in which I write them, there are two or three coming up announcing revelations which were revelations when I had them, but which are now out of date.

In real time, however, I notice an interesting shift. I started this blog to purify Reeducation out of me and to shake off the partial internalization of the passionless mediocrity, that gris-gris some parts of the academic industrial complex sell as realism.

I learned how to perceive the contours of the Christian Weltanschauung which permeates so much of the supposedly secular world in which I live. I also learned the term Academic Industrial Complex.

Trying to live within the entities I originally called “Reeducation” and “strangely weak scholarship,” and to negotiate with them without having named them properly, was the nature of my complaint. It is important to have more precise names for these entities.

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After Reeducation, people kept telling me it would be impossible to become the person I had been before. You cannot heal yourself, I was told. Because of what has happened you can never be yourself again. You cannot return to your original riverbed. Yet I get closer and closer the less vulnerable I become to certain platitudes.

For today this is my favorite post (although some connotations of its title, if taken out of context, are the opposite of what I am saying here).

Axé.

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Filed under Resources, Theories

Jeffrey Davidow

Read this on Davidow, from the Huffington Post. Look at his background, and observe his rhetoric. Yes, this is an ideologue, not an objectively informed person or an ethical speaker.

Axé.

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Filed under News, What Is A Scholar?

Locos por Juana

We rivaled and perhaps even improved upon this performance right here in South Louisiana, thanks to the band itself but also to a stellar stage hand and stage manager.

Axé.

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Filed under Songs

Eliades Ochoa

The festival has not yet expunged, but has rather confirmed the song I had in my head, a son oriental which says:

Anda y ven
preciosa y linda cubana
Tráeme la
sonrisa de los palmares

Bring me that palm grove smile. This song is in 4/4 time and it is in my head every night, walking home. I believe myself to be that girl.

Before I had this blog I used to publish in mimeographed samidzat under the names Ouidaad and Palm Tree. If you knew me from then, you know me now. I hope you recognize me.

Yeah, compañero, this is a pseudonymous but not an anonymous blog and I hope you recognize me.

Axé.

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Ivor van Heerden

See Ravi Rau’s letter to the Baton Rouge Advocate. See also WRKF’s interviews with van Heerden.

Part 1 (April 20): “As MRGO trial starts, LSU professor finds himself jobless.”

Part 2 (April 21): “Ousted LSU professor speaks out: an interview with Ivor van Heerden.”

Part 3 (April 22): “Academic Freedom and Law: an expert opinion of ousted LSU researcher’s claim.”

Be sure to click on the audio button to hear the full interviews (five minutes each).

There is background on the van Heerden case in the April 11 CHE, with interesting links.

It is my understanding that van Heerden, as a research professor at LSU, was not tenurable. The last I heard, these researchers had long, renewable contracts, the justification being that this kept them productive.

My theory is that had van Heerden been tenure track, the University would have been loath to terminate him because it would have been actionable. But these research professors are working directly for the Academic Industrial Complex, with less humanistic and scientific window dressing on that than there is for regular professors. That is why this has happened. Van Heerden was being too humanistic and scientific, and not industrial enough. What do you think?

Axé.

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Filed under Movement, News

Au Bal de Lafayette

Now located deep in Lafayette, Louisiana, I may not post for several days. I always have to come to this festival on the first day, Wednesday, to get my backstage passes and my badge saying JE PARLE. I have backstage passes because I work this festival. That is one of the reasons why it is so much fun.

By Sunday I will have so much music running through me that it will seem like an elegant lawn party, but coming into town these Wednesday nights I always notice how distinctively rural the rougher part of the crowd is. And maybe it is just that night, but I always notice how thick the cigarrette smoke hangs in the outdoor air and how much cheap beer has already been spilled in the streets — more than at Carnival which, in the country, is a family event.

So I was picking my way through the crowd in a workaday mood, my only goal being to meet my point man and get my papers. People were dancing in the very precise steps they have and I started to smile because it never stops seeming incongruous to me to hear popular music that is not Europop, or African, or Caribbean, or jazz, but that has a strong downbeat and is sung in that refined tongue, French.

As I got my papers the band struck up in English, I am proud to be a Cajun from Church Point, and I said, Mais yeah, cher. Someone passed me a shot of rum in a paper cup, and I was in.

Axé.

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