Category Archives: News

Cuéntame como pasó

I am a late discoverer of Cuéntame como pasó and watching it, I realize I am Spanish. I, too, remember the things this program remembers, and feel interpellated by the “nosotros” in the theme song.

The show speaks to everyone, and is light as it must be, for television. The episode here embedded is heavy, though, and everyone should see it. I think it is suggesting that after all, despite Franco, things went better in Spain or resolved themselves sooner than they did back in the USSR. There is another, less conciliatory episode, however, where the new Spanish state is described by a dark character as a kingdom of forgetfulness.

Here is one academic piece on the series. Here is another. Send me more.


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What can I do for ME today?

- Not fret.

- Touch real work.

- Communicate about real work.

- Remember that sleep is the most important thing.

- There are some other things, but these are the essentials.

(I must apply for that funding, and unearth that student’s paper, and look at my list.)


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Notes on “soul murder”

The term “soul murder” could fit. The feeling of having been killed. That is why I started this weblog as the weblog of someone speaking from beyond the grave.)

It is hard to do academic work in field because the person who did that was killed.

Or, as I said many years ago, went into hiding.

In any case the important thing today is that I did write a few sentences and I did not self-destruct.

The point, as we know, is not what can be done to you, but what you can be taught to do to yourself.


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Un dimanche, and a self-indulgent, self-involved post. Or not: it starts out with consumerism, yet ultimately it could be a psychoanalytic post.

The weather is pleasant today and I could suffer less than I do. I have paid off a card and so in shopping news I ordered jeans and a bag, that I needed, and decided to buy glasses, that I need, and all of these things are for work. I have also located a bicycle, although I cannot afford it until next summer.

I have decided against a desk or a chair for the foreseeable future. I have further decided that I am in a phase of disliking to write and I need a pomodoro. (No, I do not, because it ticks — and I invented that “technique” before it was marketed, anyway — I should just start to do it and be  bullet-biter.)

I dreamed this morning of my mother. I asked her why she wanted me to do nothing for myself and nothing for her, yet not to leave her side. She said that what she needed was for me to stand within her line of sight and look wise.

That would be quite something for a psychoanalyst to study. I am thinking about my major in college, chosen because it was a compromise between my own interests and the family’s. I needed a major that interested me and that they would not be abusive about or hurt by. Later on I could do another set of degrees, chosen in absolute freedom, I thought.

And this has never been quite possible, but something like it may become possible one day.

My favorite book is Go Tell It On the Mountain. This is a reason to reread it and discover new reasons why this is my favorite book. I know it is because it is the book that always comes to mind when people ask what books are important to one. Today, when answering that question, I said the additional books I wanted to read were by Braudel, Fromm, Huizinga, and Marx.

That gives an idea of my actual major, perhaps, although not a complete one.

I want to read. I want to finish this paper so I can get back to my real project. That I have this thought is exciting.


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Pour demain: what can I do for “me” today?

…Not tear myself apart.

I do spend a great deal of time tearing myself apart and putting myself together but that is what I learned in Reeducation. In the past it was not scary to get up in the morning but it became scary when coming to consciousness meant having to start tearing oneself apart again. Now I must animate myself each day and it takes time and energy. On the days when, upon awakening, I remember to say right away that awakening does not mean self-torture, I do not need to animate myself. And according to this one should just let negative thoughts flow through one, like weather.

I think it is one thing to do that for normal crises in confidence and certain kinds of anxiety but I find the self-image Reeducation inculcated too toxic to simply live with like that — and a lot of things I have been told need active reframing. The ACT ideas would seem to have some value, although their marketing as something that will deliver the benefits of meditation without requiring actual meditation gives me pause.

(You cannot imagine how pleasant I am in real life, you know–and how truly pleasant I would be if I took my own good advice consistently.)

FLASH: It all has to do with that project long ago, that I wanted to refuse. I did not dare and tried every form of goading to get myself to do it. And since my reasons for not doing it were not accepted (although they were very reasonable), I invented more baroque reasons, which was destructive and also distorting. But I now expect every aspect of academic work to be accompanied with this goading, this corpus of harpies and furies.

At the same time I was also losing my research time to Reeducation: I lost my self in it and my time to it as well, and I committed to that project I could not do and was not doing, so that I was enmired there, and spread too thin elsewhere since really I was working on fragments of the project that actually interested me, albeit only in a superficial way since I knew I was supposed to get back to the large project I had committed to but was not doing.

So the excessive goading, and the fragmentation, and the resistance to research since there was no time to do research on the large project, one was supposed to just write it, and since research on what I was really interested in was considered procrastination … all of these things came together, at the very same time as Reeducation told me I was not a valid person and my research identity was proof of it.

That is why I have this feeling, all the time, that a building has caved in on me from all sides: because it did. Physically whole and with my intelligence intact, I thought I should move out and restart and it is so obvious why this was a good idea. But I am here, and with this legacy which is a knot of practical problems among other things, and there are no kindred spirits, and it must all be solved in some way, and it is a tall order when you write it out.

In any case my difficulty is not lack of interest, or lack of ability to sacrifice, or any of these things people say. It is the outright torture I cannot seem to dissociate from academic work: because of having been raged at for doing it, threatened with failure at it, hated for thriving in it, raged at for wanting to make my own decisions in it, and raged at again for wanting to leave it so as to separate myself from the enraged people.

But they defeated me, and I stayed. Part of the defeat was I was now speaking terribly destructively to myself and it had become so natural I could barely see it, much less stop. And part of my self-destruction now is an attempt to say NO, it was not right, and it is not right. You kept me here and you think you saved me, so you are satisfied, but really you imprisoned me, so NO I will not calm down and live well and say that this is enough and that everything is all right.

I am interested in ACT-type ideas if they mean specific, practical training in recognizing and stopping the litany of accusations against myself that I learned to recite. I also think that, despite the fact that is true, given what happened, that I should have left academia, I should stop seeing having been pushed to stay as a full-on defeat. I may want other things as well, but this is nonetheless mine.

…and I am brought back to the beginning. There is nothing for it but not to tear oneself apart. To take authority. To place oneself at the center of one’s life. To live well. (Note: to mistreat oneself and then expect high achievement of oneself is really ridiculous, I must say; I would have laughed at the idea in the past and it is amazing that I have adopted it.) Then the fourth factor, dealing with the effects of my original primary relationship; I really think this has to be dealt with in some deep way, and that merely “living better” will not address it.


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A voice of reason

These are just notes, that I have already thought about enough, so that this post is just an aide-mémoire.

The intelligence some of us have: it is having a heightened awareness and also cognition. The people with this are the kindred spirits. We need more of them here and more need to be in charge of things.

I have decided to approach everything from the point of view of reason, which was what Reeducation would not allow, but I am not becoming merely mechanical. Is this too mechanical (there are some good ideas in it)?

It seemed that there were more things to say, that is more notes to take. There were, I could be fascinating, but they are things I appear to have thought through, donc je me tais.


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The progress, or, how to write, meaning, how to do any type of work

I have now become more rational with this project, and it is a big achievement.  Here is how it is done. Any time I work on this topic I feel crushed by it, like it is a mountain or a slag heap, or a dead body I cannot move out of my way. When you just keep working in this situation you go in circles, and I find myself writing endless prologues or alternate beginnings, and cannot move out beyond these breakers.

In very vulgar psychoanalytic terms you have to quell that mountainous superego and enhance ego. There may well not be a yo de conjunto, as Borges would put it, but an excess of ego shattering is not a good idea.

Even Vallejo, that fractured subject, had a great deal of ego in real life. This is why I like Stephen Hart’s biographical investigations, which insist that Vallejo, no matter what the situation, was never a complete pobrecito, was never like that Pelele character in El señor Presidente, for instance.

Someone needs to do something psychoanalytic on Vallejo, by the way, something serious, and I will note that my first intuitions on him came from listening to Leo Bersani–although I never followed these out fully. (A Future for Astyanax, I wonder, perhaps Astyanax, c’est moi.)



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