Category Archives: News

Additional gossip on César Vallejo

He is an archipelago.

Trilce is filled with, even structured by fragments of the myth of Inkarrí.

From Los heraldos negros we know that a huaco is

…el pichón de cóndor desplumado
por latino arcabuz

but also

[u]n fermento de Sol;
¡levadura de sombra y corazón!

The poetic subject is a solar being, latent but about to break forth. “Nostalgias imperiales” is an ironic title.




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Quand je reviendrai

When I return from Peru I will set up course books on the web for spring, contact the high schools, and start building my course websites. I will call the handyman.

I will be in a position to write every day, and do things like yoga.

On authority and authoritarianism

My colleagues refuse to compromise with each other at all over methods for the multi-section courses.

Yet when I said one of my sections was so woefully unprepared that I was going to reteach material from earlier semesters while allowing students who are doing well to form a group and work ahead, and also offering them the opportunity to attend my other section which was doing better, they said: are you allowed to do that?

But why would I not allow myself to do that, if they all allow themselves to do whatever they want including not require students to  form sentences? I do not understand the rigidity, and I am from California, and from the olden days.




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Quelque chose a changé

On standing up for oneself, I did it seriously a few days ago and it has made a difference, or meant a shift.

Key words from meditation are disturbing and set adrift.

There are many perceptions to record and many things to say, but my next long meditation will be on Maringouin, our strange lives here.



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Sur Deleuze, et sur le sujet

It is time to actually read Anti-Oedipus and the discussions of it from those days, in places like this.

Here is my Vallejo problem: my issue is psychic invasion, and I have a visceral reaction to the idea of subject shattering.

“Then that is a non-liberatory, but binding, shattering,” someone said.

What is fractured subjectivity in and for Vallejo?


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The self-imposed… And the chance discovery

…torture, is what is self-imposed, that is to say, is what I have a choice not to do, now.

I have great difficulty distinguishing between depression … laziness … incompetence … refusal to use good strategies … self sabotage that is bad … and activities that may look like self sabotage but are not, because they are messages: “you should not be doing this / you should not be doing this in this way.”

I have so many unfinished papers, it is a terrible shame, and so many other unfinished things, but it is all since Reeducation. The only part of it that is a mere practical problem has to do with life at my current institution, where I have not put up enough resistance (due to my Reeducated training, of course, but still I have not put up enough resistance).

By chance I found today the manuscript I was working on at the time of Reeducation, that I did not finish or could not finish and also decided was not good. It is very good and it is vigente even today. With it was a transcript I had made of a session with this psychotherapist I was seeing, because I was so outraged. I had not remembered exactly how outrageous this individual’s tone was. It was utterly breathtaking.

So it is no wonder I have difficulty speaking. I would like to get over this, however.



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On shame and defeat

From the dirty old mess hall, you march to the brick wall
Too weary to talk and too tired to sing
And it’s all afternoon you remember your home town
All inside the walls, the walls of Red Wing

–B. Dylan

Those are often my sentiments and the feeling of incarceration and longing for home should be paid attention even though we are not actually at a reformatory. The Wikipedia article on shame (like many other Wikipedia articles, say what you will) is quite good. I am nearly paralyzed by this emotion, disabled by it, since Reeducation, I discern; shame is the name of the problem and I should study its workings.

I came to this conclusion by meditating on the defeated feeling we get in the offices. There is no way I can see to make these classes work, because we have no power over them (there are reasons for that I do not have space to discuss here). That is one element in the defeat, and the shame. I do not want to talk to anyone who is at another institution because this reality is so alien it is hard to describe, for one thing, and for another, because I am too ashamed at the way we are treated to talk to anyone, too broken-down. Antidote, perhaps: be angry instead. (“Don’t mourn, organize.”)

Hyperbole: These classes as we are required to give them are meaningless busywork for ourselves and the students and their primary purpose may be to fund the graduate program. But we do not have enough graduate students and are trying to recruit them from among the secondary school teachers. We must produce these PhDs so that the university can maintain its Carnegie category. Where WE are in all of this, and what we are doing for US today, are pertinent questions here, but the answer is: we must help the university maintain its Carnegie category so that we retain the right to exist and ideally, to improve. And the key to injecting meaning into all of this is to make these beginning classes over which we have no power work, but we cannot do this because we have no power over them, and we have no power over them because if they worked they would be more challenging and the language requirement would be cancelled. Therefore the current uncomfortable stasis must be maintained, whereby we entrap unhappy language requirement students to fund the education of PhD candidates we entrap. Have you ever heard of a PhD program that was a service PhD program, i.e. that existed primarily to serve a purpose like maintaining the university’s Carnegie category?  This is a distorted, pessimistic reading of the situation but it contains elements of truth, most notably the theme of doing impractical busywork so as to retain the right to exist, as opposed to doing meaningful work and growing.

The related feeling of defeat comes from certain very tedious committee work, and I am typically far too burdened with this and with having to be in contact with the wars over the freshman sequence. It is not a question of time, it is that so much of the work is so draining and degrading — not because of what it is, or because we do not value it, but because it is not valued and we are not.

I remember coming home from a different job, after a long commute, and someone waiting who had just cleaned the house asked why I could possibly be in such a good mood after such a long day and long drive. I said well, the day was interesting and energizing, the drive was relaxing, it is nice to be home, and the house looks lovely, how can I not be in a good mood?

I was talking to a colleague today after the tedious meeting, about the general strangeness of the situation. He is in another department. A key difference between him and me is that he has complete control of his courses, including any freshman courses. This is something I must clearly find a way to get.

The other thing I notice from today is how other-oriented I am now. My job drains me so that I do not have thoughts of my own left, so I listen to other interesting lives … partly because I come to feel that I am not myself worthy, but also in the hope that if I listen, and remember what interesting lives are like, I may once again feel interesting enough myself to have one.

(Yesterday, however, in an unusual event I won a medium sized award at the university. and it is amazing how different it made me feel. It is the kind of recognition many people, in many departments, get much more regularly, but that we rarely do. The idea that one might have value, that one’s work might have value. The relief of recognition: having someone else say that. Not having to be the only person to say that to oneself.)

I am not sure what to do even though I know the mottos: be good to yourself and ask what I can do for ME today. What makes it so difficult to do these things? Reviewing here we have several elements: the feeling of incarceration and also isolation; the shame; the defeated feeling (which comes from not fully recognizing how outrageous the obstacles we have are, and not fully recognizing that these really are imposed and not self-created).

Don’t mourn, organize. I should decide to be angry at being blocked and obstructed, rather than ashamed at neither managing to overcome this nor to come to love it (as in, coming to love Big Brother). I tend not to defend my own life nearly enough, on the one hand; I also tend not to give myself enough credit for how beaten down we are, on the other.

In other words, we are mistreated and non-supported and we should recognize this and resist. Those in power say we do not understand that things have to be this way (they do not), and want us to think we bring the chaotic situation upon ourselves or we do not deserve better. (I know where that idea comes from, and just the other day I was telling a colleague he should not allow that entity to have such power in his psyche.)

One needs a way to recover, space for recovery as opposed to saying, as I do: now go onto the next thing (as if everything were all right). There are several ways to escape but not enough ways to recover, and the distinction between escaping and recovering is very important although not always easy to discern.

Here is the last conundrum: one of the best defenses is research and writing. Yet our daily life erodes the characteristics we need to undertake these in a sustained way. Those things are our defenses yet they also need defenses, and we must make our lives richer.


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Sur Cuba (et la nuit)

“The dualism that emerged in Cuban ideology–between liberal constructs of patria and radical formulations of nationality–is fully investigated as a source of both national tension and competing notions of liberty, equality, and justice.”

This is interesting.

Meanwhile, in addition to everything else, I must remember to read online homework. I am very busy and I am not even as busy as usual.

Some themes from meditation today were the feeling of limitation, of the lack of options. I am trying to reimagine my story. I have not yet gotten to the part of it where I become a professor, but this is important.


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