Category Archives: Resources

Revista Iberoamericana, o, hoy estoy mucho mejor

Dame Eleanor Hull has returned, and it is great.

Meanwhile, here is an interesting table of contents which shows what the world was like when I undertook my first serious research project. Had I read this issue of this journal more closely then, I would be yet more intelligent now, but I was reading older things. I was not to do read anything too recent because it would be too difficult for me and being new, could be wrong in unknown ways. It could thus lead me in a bad direction, it was said.

Life, it seemed, was a series of lessons in how to limit oneself. Nowadays this is chic: learning to accept limits, realizing you have limits, becoming disabled. Earlier on, though, it had been known that those lessons in how to limit oneself were a[n antifeminist] tool of oppression. Think of Joanna Russ.

My mother was raised with expectations which she felt were oppressive, and raised me with anti-expectations. Amateurism or doing just enough to get by were the goals; I was deeply disappointing or at least incomprehensible because I was serious, or at least took an interest in things and wanted to get them done. These things are a large part of why I cannot abide the “good-enough” or the “bad first draft” cant. Other people may be perfectionists and need to tone it down, but what I always wanted in life was to work above the bare minimum, live above bare subsistence, aspire.

It is still not clear to me what is so wrong with this. When will we be allowed to do our best work?

Dulcis et decorum est per superficialitatem mori, I suppose the moral would be. You must work quickly and not challenge anything, and you are acceptable then; this exactly what I do not like.

I have also had an illumination about sleeping (you know I do not sleep, because I was taught I must feel pain and sleep deprivation is the way I achieve this). I think I am rebelling against conventionality, taking time for myself and so on, because only late at night am I completely sure I will not have to deal with people and thus will not have to be trampled upon or pulled one way and the next. But I am also participating in a  strategy of impairment, so that I will not want more than the minimum out of life; and most fundamentally it is submission to Reeducation which wanted me to find a way to feel more pain.

Perhaps if I remember that, it will be easier to renounce this practice which really feels like anorexia or an addiction.

Axé.

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“y siempre en el sepulcro estaré ardiendo”

This is a mestizo post because it starts with some famous jarana criolla with my old professor Pepe Durand! After that, it offers an article by Charles Hale on the future of Latin American Studies. Then, it just keeps on mixing. ¡Adentro!

My Vallejo problem is and always has been a research problem and not a writing problem. I can expand on this if asked but I will not write the reasoning out because I understand it perfectly. I have had this problem with other projects as well, always under pressure, and my entire series of “What Is A Scholar?” posts, together with all of my ranting and raving against academic advice, are in essence a long defense of research.

If I had a student of the right kind I would suggest a dissertation topic: Quevedo and Vallejo. I have found this book on Quevedo that I would like to read. We know Vallejo studied Quevedo’s use of language very closely but I wonder to what extent his themes are also Quevedian themes. This would, or could at least, mean that still more of his work than we realize is literary and not autobiographical (although it is also that).

Anger, chaos, mirrors, tombs, dust, shadows, distortions, faith, non faith …

I am reminded here, once again, of this piece on Robert Johnson where it is revealed that he got much of his material not from direct experience but from books.

Axé.

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Giving

I just lost a lovely post on giving, that recounted my dream of the coffee pot, and I will not attempt to reconstruct it now. But the meditation of the week is on giving, giving too much, more than one has or should give if one wants to be in a position to keep on giving.

This Christmas I am giving myself stillness and attention. In the dream, I am making coffee (energy, nurture) for the wounded, although it will not cure their wounds and the one who really wants coffee is this servidora. The coffee (creativity, nurture) spurts wildly from the machine but will not go into the pot.

I will concentrate so that in fact the coffee goes into its vessel.

Axé.

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John Berger on Translation

True translation demands a return to the pre-verbal. One reads and rereads the words of the original text in order to penetrate through them to reach, to touch, the vision or experience that prompted them. One then gathers up what one has found there and takes this quivering almost wordless “thing” and places it behind the language it needs to be translated into. And now the principal task is to persuade the host language to take in and welcome the “thing” that is waiting to be articulated.

This is quite suggestive for Vallejo.

Axé.

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Hector de Crèvecoeur

Here is a good, basic piece on the fantasy of the white race. The term Caucasian was created to trace the origin of “white” people to the Golden Age of Greece and the ancient Near East. These populations were not, of course, “white,” and this “Caucasian” race is an invention.

Americans were strong and vital because they were a mixture of different northern European nationalities, and as I have been reading elsewhere, whiteness as this kind of melting pot was truly consolidated in the 1920s … interestingly enough, the era of négritude and many other kinds of cultural nationalism. Latin America wants to be a brown mixture and the United States a white one, yet still a mixture. This is very interesting indeed.

A telling detail: Crèvecoeur’s 1781 text implies that the invention of [whiteness] confers upon the American a “new rank”. The American is a border-crosser and transcends narrow European nationalities. He has also closed ranks with other people deemed white, and has a government that responds to whiteness and not to noble lineages. This, too, is very interesting.

Axé.

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Notes for next time

When I have to give that pesky Spanish class again, I will have grades recorded all the time in a gradebook they can see electronically, with comments. Grade structure will be very easy to average at the end, because everything will be worth 10%.

Four quizzes or tests taken online outside class time, that include “objective” questions and an essay graded on one grammar point only, 10% each. The essays will be the ones from the workbook that we did not assign.

Two in-class essays, where they have to read something ahead of time and then come in ready to do reading comprehension exercises on it (vocabulary, short answer, essay), 10% each.

Recitation in class, i.e. quality of spoken Spanish as noted through class participation, 10%

Workbook, 10%. If it is done electronically, the essays will not be assigned, but the videos will.

Reading together in class, week of Thanksgiving.

Oral presentation, 10%, last week of class, on reading.

Final exam, on the format of the in-class essays, on reading just done or a related reading, 10%.

#OccupyHE

Axé.

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Cold vista

La méditation de la semaine: trauma. You must not teach, you should not be research oriented; your choice of research field indicates that you are not qualified to be in any research field; you are unemployable and I am qualified to say that; you must do this project and only this project, our way and not yours; if you do not commit to this now you never will commit to anything, I know that is how you are; you are lazy; you do not know what you are doing; you must have worked too hard if you accomplished that; this should be too hard for you; any problem you have is nothing but a discipline or organization problem. In other words: you should not do this and are not qualified to do it, but if you do, you must do it as ordered and not as your professional training would indicate. If this conflict, or these conflicts are difficult wrangle with, handle them with discipline and time management, those are the only things you could be missing, and they are all you need.

Realizing now that that actually was traumatic: the combination of being told I was not someone who should be able to do a project like that, and that I must do it and do it in a certain way, and that any problem I might have would be a problem of inefficiency and poor discipline. It was like having, or was having everything taken away at once, without being allowed to see the situation as such or call it that. Realizing it now, seeing the devastation now, seeing that it was devastation, is a shock all on its own: a cold vista.

Had I had a savings account I would have simply left and that really was the only thing to do: the devastation was too great. I need one even now; I think everyone should get one, start it early shave money into it from financial aid checks, even. In the past we were not supposed to have one, as it was not genteel. Only materialistic people wanted money; romantic and intellectual people, and virtuous people, were one step from the street even though the bohemian life was scary. So we did not have savings accounts but that was always the problem, not having one meant having nothing to move on.

I woke up this morning in sunshine thinking of the period in which I felt safe and free and it was partly because the times were less apocalyptic than now and more creative, but more than that I realize it was that I had a savings account that was mine alone. I think everyone should start building one, even if it is not genteel or if it will hurt others if they find out you have something of your own.

#OccupyHE

Axé.

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