Monthly Archives: September 2009

Il fait frais!

It is now that day in September upon which the heat leaves, ending five months of Hell. I have been outdoors. Outdoors! It will be a dry eighty for an entire month, and might get to the low seventies or high sixties at night. I might get a slight tan.

Axé.

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TU INFANCIA EN MENTON

Sí, tu niñez ya fábula de fuentes.
El tren y la mujer que llena el cielo.
Tu soledad esquiva en los hoteles
y tu máscara pura de otro signo.
Es la niñez del mar y tu silencio
donde los sabios vidrios se quebraban.
Es tu yerta ignorancia donde estuvo
mi torso limitado por el fuego.
Norma de amor te di, hombre de Apolo,
llanto con ruiseñor enajenado,
pero, pasto de ruina, te afilabas
para los breves sueños indecisos.
Pensamiento de enfrente, luz de ayer,
índices y señales del acaso.
Tu cintura de arena sin sosiego
atiende sólo rastros que no escalan.
Pero yo he de buscar por los rincones
tu alma tibia sin ti que no te entiende,
con el dolor de Apolo detenido
con que he roto la máscara que llevas.
Allí, león, allí furia del cielo,
te dejaré pacer en mis mejillas;
allí, caballo azul de mi locura,
pulso de nebulosa y minutero,
he de buscar las piedras de alacranes
y los vestidos de tu madre niña,
llanto de media noche y paño roto
que quitó luna de la sien del muerto.
Si, tu niñez ya fábula de fuentes.
Alma extraña de mi hueco de venas,
te he de buscar pequeña y sin raíces.
¡Amor de siempre, amor, amor de nunca!
¡Oh, sí! Yo quiero. ¡Amor, amor! Dejadme.
No me tapen la boca los que buscan
espigas de Saturno por la nieve
o castran animales por un cielo,
clínica y selva de la anatomía.
Amor, amor, amor. Niñez del mar.
Tu alma tibia sin ti que no te entiende.
Amor, amor, un vuelo de la corza
por el pecho sin fin de la blancura.
Y tu niñez, amor, y tu niñez.
El tren y la mujer que llena el cielo.
Ni tú, ni yo, ni el aire, ni las hojas.
Sí, tu niñez ya fábula de fuentes.

–FGL, citing a line from Jorge G.

Axé.

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Gabo

It appears that the eternal foodstuffs of artistic achievement are “discipline, fortitude, ambition and self-belief.” These were not allowed in Re/Education, and that explains my problems with it.

It has been an entire weekend of rather boring work, frustrating in part because all of it must be done rather superficially, uninterestingly. I was tired and went on a walk. Now I will write this post, and then I will do one more thing. Then I will stop, and get up very early. I will be in the office at six.

*

I am trying to reconstruct myself. In the spring I thought about this, theorized it, designed it. Now I am trying to do it. Despite all the flashes of identity I always have, it isn’t easy to reconstruct self. To do this I am going to take guerrilla action to streamline work. The Blackguard would like me to change the whole system, and the Whiteman would like me to submit to it and/or change it to the benefit of everyone else, but the only answer is to take guerrilla action on my own behalf. I see that others have done this. Of course the best solution would be to think systemically, but in the impossibility of this I will take guerrilla action on my own behalf.

When did I give up legitimate authority in life: in a series of somewhat forced decisions in the late 20th century. What was life like before that: I had not yet learned it was illegitimate to save myself and required to rescue others. I was far more centered then, and happier, and I got more done. I am taking back legitimate authority in life and one thing it means is putting academic service last. When I remember how much non exhausted time of my own I had in the days when I still held legitimate authority, I am positively amazed.

Axé.

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Le Temps

I work all the time now, basically, but I have so many different things to do that working all the time just keeps me ahead of some really basic things. I am quite fast, and I am only slow insofar as since academic work is a space of abuse for me it is sometimes hard to go in, and hard to focus.

But I have a lot fewer flashbacks now than I used to and most of the time I am able to focus very well and move on ahead. It is heartrending, however, to do so many things in so superficial a way. I would be glad to do any of them if I had time to get just a little below the surface. Only a little. I do not ask for much.

*

Why is it that the courses we teach take so much time, given that our load is not as heavy as it could be? The principal reasons are that (a) one must constantly be giving NEW advanced out of field courses, and (b) one must constantly be giving new VERSIONS of basic courses, whose goals, content and materials have been decided by others, but which have not been revealed to one.

If we had power over our days and had not been taught, before tenure, to be “flexible” and “accommodating,” we would limit the total number of new advanced out of field courses we gave or had to give, and some coordination would be done at the level of the basic courses (as opposed to just dictation of materials).

Now I have announced that no matter what anyone else says I will now give only six advanced courses, ever (content will vary, but they will be only six), and that they will be in field. I think I might secretly make my own versions of those basic courses and teach them my way, no matter what (yes, there will be flexibility and change, but it will be my way). I think this would save a lot of time.

I think I shall also never again invite anyone to speak who cannot speak to and at the hour of one of my courses. This would also save a lot of time.

Axé.

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Le Travail

I now do nothing but work, and I still need to step it up further. I understand at last those people who say they do not care where they live or how they dress because all they do is work. I am not convinced the lack of recreation will be good for work on a permanent basis, however.

My work focus is on streamlining the part of work that is drudgery and emphasizing the part that is entertaining and leads to intellectual development.

I am unlearning my guilt about work. To work makes me feel guilty and scared for reasons such as these:

+ it is improper to take anything one is doing seriously
+ it is selfish to actually undertake one’s own job assignment
+ it is not hip to put in effort
+ it is not hip not to be disaffected
+ it is unfair to others to imagine one knows what one is doing and to move right on ahead.

Axé.

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How Long Would It Take You?

It took me seven hours, working steadily, to do book orders for four courses and make a poster for one. I have taught all of these courses before, so I had a head start. But I also had some decisions to make, as I wanted to choose books that would really work. Then one must always investigate availability and prices of different editions.

I was not being slow, but seven hours seems like quite a long time. Let us see: perhaps I averaged 1.5 hours per course, and took an hour on the poster. One course was easy. Two just have a lot of books in foreign languages, so it was a question of finding out which I could currently get and where.

One is a heart rending intermediate language course and I even read up on some SLA theory and pedagogy, thought about possible freshman textbooks, and ran seriously through past experience in my effort to decide what to do. I am still not sure my plan will work, but I think I struck a good balance between overthinking it and not thinking it through enough.

So, how long would these jobs take you?

Axé.

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Padre A. Soler, Sonate Des-Dur Nr. 88

This weekend we are singing with Alicia de Larrocha (Barcelona, 1923-2009).

I was supposed to keep working when I got home last night, but I did not. I had been at it for twelve hours and was too overloaded to play, either. I understood at last why people have private lap pools, because had I had one, I would have been in it. I finished the wine and stared into the distance.

Je suis très fatiguée. I was supposed to get up early this morning but I did not. I got up and looked at e-mail, then started to clean. I met with my house painter, then started to look for spring semester textbooks, as my order is due. Now it is already five.

Axé.

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Filed under Arts, Songs

Le vendredi

It is Friday, and yes, I am wearing white. It being the weekend, I am deciding what to sing. All afternoon I have listened to WWOZ, 90.7 on your FM dial or www.wwoz.org to listen on the Net. It was very helpful. If I were doing this work for the sake of a check upon which to raise children and keep them in the same school as always, it would be no problem.

At 11 AM I told the students I would be in the office from 1 PM to midnight, with a break for a late lunch. I said I would finish Everything, and they would be able to see that on the Internet. I said that if I finished by 10 PM, I would go Out.

In reality, although I did finish almost everything that I had planned to put on the Internet, and although I went to the Library during my late lunch hour and put Readings on Reserve, I was bleary eyed  by 8 PM. John Cleary is at Tipitina’s, but I am in Maringouin.  I left the office definitively at 8PM, my designated favorite Latin American quitting hour.

At 3 PM as I left for lunch, my colleague from Québec was still in hir office. As I passed I said: “Restez là, parce que je reviens, et je ne veux pas être la dernière!” Ze was still giggling when the elevator arrived. And if you do not understand the difference between preterite and imperfect, “Ze was [still] giggling when the elevator arrived,” is a good example.

Dear Blackguard: your analysis of what is wrong with our program is correct. What you refuse to recognize is that we know it, and we have been knowing it for lo these many years. It is the Whiteman who has arranged things in this way, and he is reproducing himself as we speak. You would reform our program, and you are right — except to the extent that your being right gives you an occasion to abuse tenured faculty about the rights we give to adjuncts and instructors. My solution to all of this, for myself, is that I am cross appointed.

You have three options: leave, be fired for speaking up, or get yourself a decent situation (e.g. cross appointment). I have spoken. I regret that these are the only options I can offer you [subunctive  verb on "are,"], but my powers are limited [indicative]. I have spoken. Vos, a tu sitio.

I am “Old Bambi,” as I announced to my colleague from Québec who thought I should continue to screen films with hir. Ze said I was not “Old Bambi”, but ze is very polite and I know I am right because my more familiar colleagues got my joke. I resemble the Emeritus Professor and my dissertation director, both (and they did not like each other), more than I can say.

Axé.

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Reading for Pleasure Wednesday: The Glass Menagerie

I am reading The Glass Menagerie and it is heart rending. I am also reading excellent poems and seeing excellent videos for class, but I Tweeted some of them to my IRL Twitter account, and put others on class websites.

*

I removed Reeducation, whose idea was that one should not control one’s life. Now I am expelling Da Whiteman insofar as he really is an introjection. Autonomy and responsibility are key words. They remove “mental slavery” and resentment. They make it impossible to feel passive agressive or to want to act out. They make it easy to tell people, go away, I am busy.

These two words also remove the necessity to recover from strange events, and make it possible to just move on to the next thing. This makes it possible to get many more things done, because if one simply acts, one can steam right ahead. In Reeducation one had to second guess everything, but in the world of freedom, without Reeducation or the introjected Whiteman, one can simply act.

*

I am resisting the temptation to give instructions to the Blackguard on how to do something he wants to do and that I do not oppose, but only do not want to do myself. To give the instructions would be to engage. I am dying to say, but will not say:

  1. Get these abstracts in English. There has to be a talk in English because these are graduate level talks. If there is to be audience, the talk has to be accessible to graduate students and faculty in several departments. If you cannot show that an audience is likely, you will not be funded.

  2. Note that for purposes of funding, there are three points: a) the informal presentation for undergraduate students;  b) the curriculum workshop for faculty; c) the formal presentation for a broad audience.

  3. With the points made above in mind and the abstracts in hand, talk to colleagues in Department A such as Professor B, due to his interests, and professor C, due to his. You may find there is interest there. To be able to say that will strengthen applications for funding.

  4. Talk to people in Department W like Professors X and Y (both with interests in the field of this presenter) and perhaps to professor Z. These people may be interested and have advice on which abstract is the most appropriate, and which dates and times of day are the most likely to attract an audience.

  5. If the response from departments A and W is very positive, the college and/or the graduate school may be willing to contribute to funding. Even a more modest degree of support and input will be helpful for the applications described below.

  6. With all of this information in hand, apply to Fund N (because this person will be coming in part to consult about a teaching project) for some of the funding (let’s say the honorarium), to Fund F for the another part (let’s say the transportation) and to Fund U for the food and lodging. Cite interest and material support from wherever you have these, and matching funds from the college and the graduate school if any have been offered by now.

Why I do not just give this advice: the Blackguard does not want to learn my techniques, he only wants me to use them on his behalf. Note that this advice does not even include instructions on organizing the event itself, on creating a budget, or on publicity.

What the Blackguard would say: oh, but you are so good at this, you should just do it for me.

Axé.

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Filed under Arts, Da Whiteman

My Fantasy…

…is not to have every single course be an experiment. It was not this way earlier on, it is only the past ten years, everything has to be an experiment, nothing is ever right, and everything is always being done the for the first time.

Axé.

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