Category Archives: News

Creole Echoes, Alcée Fortier

I must get this book for the footnotes to its introduction, and for general purposes. I also need Alcée Fortier’s history of Louisiana for what it may say about plaçage.

It seems that the term itself comes from 20th century Haiti and as it was retroactively applied to New Orleans, referred to a different (and possibly, only imagined) custom.

I should have started doing Louisiana research ages ago, I would be famous. It may be why I came back. And here is an amazing resource, and who knows what they may have at the Amistad Center.

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We’re going to let it shine

“I’m so glad I’m fighting for my rights, singing glory Hallelujah, I’m so glad.”

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How to get a lot written at a teaching and service oriented institution

When I was a new assistant professor, starting the first day and lasting until Reeducation, I hatd an amount and kind of teaching and service that professors at R1 institutions do not dream of and especially, do not dream of not having the option of saying no to. I, as a student from such an institution, could hardly believe it, either, but it was true.

My house was broken into four times the first semester and every time my briefcases, with all relevant textbooks in them, were among the items stolen.  The college did not like me, or my dissertation director, or the Emeritus Professor, and I did not like the college or relate to its mission; this situation was stressful to say the least.

I got quite a lot published in those years and here is how I did it:

* every weekday morning, write one page in my manuscript before doing anything else
* Monday through Thursday evenings, read one fairly randomly chosen, yet interesting journal article before doing anything else
* take Friday evening off — go out dancing, or in general do something non-genteel — and sleep as late as I wanted Saturday mornings
* Saturdays drive in to the library at the county R1, see what I might find in the stacks, walk around, breathe free air, do something cultural (a concert, a gallery) or natural (the late afternoon beach)
* Sunday mornings admire the things garnered from the library; Sunday afternoons write two to five pages; Sunday evenings do something cultural (a concert, a film)

I did this because it was how I had done things in graduate school and college, and to some extent even earlier. Notice that it gave time to write between seven and ten finished pages every week, suckas, and that I was swimming almost a mile every day after work, and people said I was “eating like a man” and “looking too well to be working hard enough,” and they were fools. It is why, in the present afterlife, when people suggest to me that Robert Boice’s research and writing advice is all I need, I hit the roof.

In one sense they are right. When Reeducation revealed its program I hesitated because it meant replacing research and writing time with Reeducative activities, and also because I could see that this program for alleged health was destructive, of careers most obviously but of personhood in the end. I did not know Boice or his work but had he known me and my methods, he would have approved. Once I had destroyed the person who could implement the Boicean or any other such strategies, however, I needed something else. As I patiently explained to those who asked, although I was not believed.

This is why I find it so maddening when people say to just implement the Boicean strategies. These are about planning a work day — they do not cover everything. In the meantime I do recommend the schedule outlined above to everyone, including myself, this year.

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Those first drafts

Perhaps I do in fact merely have simple, Comparative Literature 1A-style writing problems. I never believed it before, my writing strategies were different, but at present I now believe in writing bad first drafts.

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Notes for this paper

“You have to stand up for yourself,” I was told.

I agree but I also say I am not even sure what that would be. When I “don’t stand up for myself” I think that what I am doing is being polite and fair and realizing I may have faults. Also, when I have stood up for myself I have been told I had no right and that I was being unreasonable.

I really do want to be the person I was and who had self-respect and so on, but I have been told so often that this was wrong, tried so hard to stop being that person, that it is hard to come back.

Yet I can do it at certain moments.

NOTE: It is Sobrevilla who chooses these examples about things coming from outside language, or things which cannot be expressed in language: los golpes en la vida; y esto no fue posible; hoy sufro solamente.

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Amat Escalante

And if I were in Mexico or en ville, I would surely not merely be hoping to see my first Amat Escalante film, but seeing his latest, coming at the current film from a different direction.

The tone of standard academic advice is all about discipline and limitation, as well as “self-protection.” It is as though you were to imagine yourself in a fortress you are protecting, and wherein you undergo your own strict regime. I never liked the idea of using vocabulary that implied that one must huddle in due to danger.

About limitation, I think it is important to do many things, absorb a great deal of culture, be active. These things contribute to the development of your work but people say they fragment you. I was always told I must renounce children or hobbies if I wanted a job, but every time I renounce exposure to culture and life in general for the sake of “concentrating,” find I cannot think at all.

You must not give away your core and you must have interesting recreation and time to yourself. The idea that you must renounce everything, sacrifice everything, reduce your days to drudgery and then fit creative work hurriedly in the margins of that is simply absurd … especially if you have given away too much of your core. If you have not given away too much of it, then you can actively want — rather than longingly wish you could want, or wonder whether you want.

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You have to want…

Like the people who have to want to stop drinking and must make the decision themselves, or the people I know now who are going to have to decide, themselves, to learn to use certain software (or not), I feel I must decide to want to improve my experience at and of work.

I always wanted this of course, so I think that by want I mean something more like insist. This means bringing a different attitude, one endowed with far more lucidity and agency than I am used to having.

In Reeducation we had to renounce our core strengths and our confidence and this was an extreme error — one I have allowed to compound subsequently.

Being able to say “you have to want,” however, presupposes a fairly high degree of strength. It presupposes you are able to be present and that you have an environment in which it is possible to maintain a clear mind.

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“Don’t give up your core”

That was the really important thing I heard. Also, unmanageable situations cannot simply be managed.

To write you must have a manageable situation and you must not have renounced your core.

No amount of discipline or control or “passion” can substitute these things.

You have to have a clear mind, and you cannot have had your sense of reality or belief in the validity of your views mortally shaken.

This is what is needed.

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Últimas tardes con Teresa

…por decirlo así; dulces y tristes son y huele todo a pasado y a cosas que no volverán.

I keep seeing things more clearly. Getting unmoored. (That is a good image.) Using all my resources to attack and destroy the person I had been while still attempting to function as that person, as was required. Wanting to move past this disaster scene and not being allowed, somehow.

I so wish I had, but it is too late now and I lack means. I hope I can at least stop the destruction and get re-moored. I still feel as though I had been living in a concentration camp since about 1991.

I will write my LASA abstract, and do parking and time sheets, and be sure about Fall book orders. And I still have grades to make. The current paper will not contain a great deal of original research but will hope to synthesize some current ideas in an interesting way.

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Virginia Woolf

To write one needs money and a room of one’s own, it is said, but I say one needs access to self, a clean and well lit space (or an otherwise adequately comfortable one), and peace of mind. Without these things no methodologies apply — even those which do otherwise, like Archambeau’s.

Today’s reading indicates that while many modernist and avant-garde poets attempt to fix a scene through vision, Vallejo grounds his work in sound (and emphasizes the other senses as well) … and that poetry is dialogic.

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