Category Archives: Theories

I should not say this in real life now, but…

I do not agree that communicative approaches, those methods referred to as grammar-translation, the direct and natural methods, and so on, are merely teaching “styles” — they have different goals and produce different results. Since we as a group do not have a common approach, the de facto departmental method is that used by those who teach the most sections; therefore, I favor creating as small a group as possible to dedicate to the basic sequence, and starting to use, rather than squelch, the expertise of all faculty, all the time.

Imagine for a moment a world in which all courses were taught for pleasure, not as “service.”



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Marcelo Viñar

…homologar la tortura y el genocidio a las generalidades de la Neurosis traumática es desconocer su especificidad, la que radica en que es otro humano –un semejante– el que tramita racionalmente nuestro oprobio o destrucción. A partir de allí –y a perpetuidad–, la pregunta de quién es el prójimo se planteará sin cesar con otra intensidad, con otra incertidumbre, con otra congoja. Quebrada la identificación originaria a lo humano –que es constitutiva de todas nuestras ficciones teóricas sobre el origen del sujeto psíquico– éste queda fragilizado o fisurado.


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Vallejo, el extranjero

…it seemed that if we could only decide who Vallejo was we might know what his poems mean.

Was this so and if it was, were we just falling prey to some form of the intentional fallacy?

Not necessarily.

It was that these poems were coming from a uneven, multi-leveled and multilayered collage of contexts, only some of them familiar.

It was that the speaker, the subject of discourse, was split, doubled, decentered and on the move.


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An e-mail I received

Dear Z,

Now that I have seen the madre patria I have a different and deeper understanding of you. I have much to recount, but I am distracted by the beauty of this place.

— and I have spent a truly glorious day after the interview in — and later in —. We stopped for drinks in the middle of the afternoon and had sparkling conversations with anyone sat to the left and right of us, then we walked down a hill and, without changing streets, up a hill and then finally stopped for a fantastic meal that took place entirely in Italian (Roman Italian, without any provocation at all) then walked to the water, then up a hill then down another hill.  It’s only 8:30 PM and I feel like I’ve done more living than I have in the past eight years.  Before we crossed over the bridge to return to —, we visited two different beaches and drove through what had to be the most exquisite forest I’ve ever seen–and I’ve seen many!

Naturally, this is not wise advice, but you should know that packing up and moving without a job is what I would call healthy.  Not moving is folly.  How could you do anything else?  I pray I didn’t blow the interview though I fear I was overly enthused and not cool at all.  According to me, I was charming as hell.  As I mentioned, I had the feeling that I was shortlisted because of —.  When asked about what languages I felt comfortable teaching (by the lone —ist) and at what levels, what I wanted to say was “…all levels of — but, with some re-training, also —.”  What I did say instead, out of my control and against my will,  was that I was perfectly competent in both.

Sounder judgement kicked in when I resisted saying I was great at —, — and —, too, though I was on the verge.  I understand the comparisons with — though this city bigger, hillier and more stylish than I remember how to be.  It’s its own creature and a thing of wonder.  Z, I may just move here myself without a job.  It’s true, it’s crazy-expensive but I feel it’s worth so much more.  I love being viewed without suspicion or overt scrutiny, as if I were not worthy of trust, deserving of free-will and as if others had better things to do than to give a shit. 

Prolonged investigation of Mother Teresa would inevitably reveal flaws and I’m sick of being viewed as a fucking Martian with plans of overtaking all Earthlings.  Anyway, I’m off to sleep so I can get as much of a fix as possible before my return to Maringouin on Sunday.  When I move here, I’ll work on a nice cozy home for you, me, — and one or more of his various ladies so that we can all live happily after in this place that, for God’s sake, we deserve.

I have bolded the most relevant sentences.


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Male violence

This is the other reason for my general fatigue and mental fog; I keep forgetting that we undergo all this bullying every day. In extremely clear instances of it I get flashes of insight, this is paradigmatically abusive behavior, but most of the time it is just how people are and I do not understand why I feel so drained.

That Reeducator was also from this area, and as I have said before, there is more male violence and micro-aggression than in Mexico, northern Brazil or Spain.


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Just to be sure I remember…

→It is the gaslighting and the undermining, even more than the lack of a research culture.

My claustrophobia. I did not say this myself, but someone else said my problem was having to work at too low a level. (He said something much blunter than that, about having to work “seven categories” beneath my capability.) I discern that my claustrophobia is self-inflicted. I keep trying to lower horizons, have less verve, become less intelligent, limit thought. That could be where the claustrophobia comes from.

My hesitancy or mental fog. It is a result of trying to adjust to the claustrophobia. That is to say, it is in part self-inflicted. It is also a reaction to the gaslighting and the undermining, but it is in part a result of my acquiescence to these, my intentional effort to become less capable.

→I do not like those people who claim superiority to their surroundings, and those claims are often false. But I could consider resisting engulfment by surroundings at the very least.




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Housing, and budgeting, and negotiating

It might be that this is where I would have to live, if I get and take Job #1. It is extremely expensive but everything that looks reasonable in that town has hidden costs or if not, is entirely too depressing (as in, I would rather stay here and leave the profession than move there and live in those things). These condos are in actual move-in condition and they are rentals, so there are no secret costs. I would be able to not think about anything, just start work. There are very great advantages to this.

I have never paid $1250 in rent. It seems ridiculous. If I pay that much in rent, and pay on old bills, and possibly continue to pay my mortgage, utilities and home maintenance here, then realistically speaking I could be looking at as much as $3,000 in rent, utilities, mortgage, and home maintenance. I am overshooting, of course, to take care of repair possibilities — anything left would go to other unexpected things, car repair, dentists, things like this, or if not, travel.

Then I might want another $2,000 to spend, perhaps. Right now I take home $3,200 or so and it is not enough, I do not make it, but this is because mortgage and back bills take almost half of it. Perhaps I want more than $2,000 to spend, then. Let us be opulent and say I want $3,000 to spend.

I want, then, $6,000 per month to take home. That is $72,000 per year, in take-home pay, which would mean over $100,000 gross. But the most I can get, I suspect, is $78,000. I wonder whether I could ask for a housing supplement. Or for books, conferences, and computers (part of the reason I have no money now is that the university does not pay for these things).

70% of $78,000 is $54,600, which is what I might take home in this state which has no income tax; that divided by 12 is $4,550. Since my mortgage is $700 and this rent would be $1250, cost of rent would take up exactly my complete salary increase if I get $78,000. Once I sold this house, or if I could rent it, things would be somewhat easier, but not a great deal easier.

This does mean, though, that I must have a salary that high, to make this proposition viable even marginally. I am glad I have made these calculations.




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Octavio Paz

El interlocutor de Piedra de sol no es una mujer, ni la humanidad en abstracto, es el hombre de la modernidad, es el hombre urbano que pretende involucrarse en los asuntos de la polis y al que se le advierte “amar es combatir”.

La otredad que es el cuerpo de la mujer en Piedra de sol se resuelve y disuelve entonces a partir del “endiosamiento” de manera que el cuerpo de la mujer deviene cuerpo temible, inalcanzable y castrante, solo cuerpo, naturaleza. Idealizar la otredad fue la gran tarea de la modernidad nacional y permitió crear productos de importación que fueron premiados y reconocidos, lo que a su vez permitió —aunque fuera momentáneamente— escapar de la fragilidad de los asuntos humanos.

Read it all.



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Ninety seconds of insight

As I clear out files, I find scraps of paper; the one I have just found had this title.

It says that it is not a comment on writing or research, but on other aspects of work.

It says that the amount of time I have to spend managing other peoples’ emotions about my degrees and my expertise is untenable.

It says that there are multiple issues surrounding questions of authority: because I have the degrees I have, I am assumed to want to be authoritarian; at the same time, I am to compensate for having these oppressive degrees by not exercising the authority that is normal and even necessary for a person with my job description. I am not to do the things I know are right.

It talks about the idea that everything I know is wrong, because I am the knower and there is (allegedly) something wrong with me; the idea that things are wrong if I know them, and that it is wrong of me to know things.




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Je est un autre

The 19th century is so rich and strange. The wicked Wiki:

George Alphonse Fleury Izambard (born December 11, 1848 in Paris[1]– February, 1931) was a French school teacher, best known as the teacher of poet Arthur Rimbaud. He taught at the Collège de Charleville in Charleville, where his nickname was “Zanzibar”.[2]

On 4 May 1870, Rimbaud’s mother wrote to Izambard to complain about him giving Rimbaud Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables to read.[3][4] In May 1871, Rimbaud sent an important letter to Izambard. In this letter, (which includes the poem ” Le Cœur supplicié”), he affirms that he wants to be a poet, and that he is working to become a “voyant”:

Je veux être poète, et je travaille à me rendre voyant: vous ne comprendrez pas du tout, et je ne saurais presque vous expliquer. Il s’agit d’arriver à l’inconnu par le dérèglement de tous les sens. Les souffrances sont énormes, mais il faut être fort, être né poète, et je me suis reconnu poète. Ce n’est pas du tout ma faute. C’est faux de dire: Je pense: on devrait dire: On me pense. − Pardon du jeu de mots. − Je est un autre. Tant pis pour le bois qui se trouve violon, et nargue aux inconscients, qui ergotent sur ce qu’ils ignorent tout à fait!

I have decided to apply for something again, and it means I have to list my accomplishments. I should apply for things more often as this activity does one good. I realized, once again, that this was yet another version of the problem with Reeducation: you were to live in your space of weakness, not your space of strength (which was not considered a space of strength but a liability, the locus of “coping mechanisms” and “denial”).

I am another person now.



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