Category Archives: What Is A Scholar?

Et encore encore encore encore

I am again mortally offended, and it comes from another quarter. One cannot and should not defend against unfounded accusations, is what I have decided. And the university is falling apart, I am told.

In the meantime and on another topic: take care of yourself, do not worry about work, is another one of those advice truisms I am against. What if work is one of the ways in which you DO take care of yourself? What if it is NOT something you alienate yourself in or hide in, but something in which you build and strengthen yourself?



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Formula and plan

Service: no nonsense.

Teaching: low expectations.

Research situation: vigilance.

Recreation and general self-care: a lot.

In Reeducation, as we know, I learned that I should not be the center of my own life or take authority in it. I learned to be apologetic about and ashamed of my various achievements and intellectual orientation. I learned I was not a person worth caring for. I am still trying to unlearn these things.


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One of my friends points out, in a nonacademic context, that life in limbo is a hard thing to manage. This is a good observation and I think living in limbo is one of the main stressors of academia.

Of course you can say that uncertainty is everywhere but I am speaking of the constant feeling of limbo, waiting and waiting to get to a place where you are not terribly, distractingly, painfully uncomfortable and trying to hold out despite also knowing you may never get to such a place. Hanging on a rock wall as your strength goes.

The advisors think it is work that is your problem, or geography, to which you would resign yourself if you were a mature and fair person. But it is not the geography or the work, it is the atmosphere in which it is done and the way you and others are treated, that is the problem. Waiting for the pain to end, because it is immoral to do more than that, is the problem.

I wonder how much pain it is possible to cut out while staying in place. How much of the daily delivery of pain one can simply refuse. I have never quite tried that, but I might start now. I used to reach out and take pleasure, but Reeducation stopped this; I should do it more actively than I do even now.

My illumination for the day, though, is that “procrastination” and block are not about not knowing how to work, or discipline, or laziness, but about self-loss. I have pointed out before that they are also about delaying entry into toxic environments, but they are even more profoundly about self-loss.

The characters in El Señor Presidente live in the superego and the id, and have insufficient agency due to an insufficiency of self, says my student’s paper, and my colleague says the situation at our university resembles the one in that novel.



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Raza y vanguardia. El sujeto “mestizo” en César Vallejo


La ambigüedad y el misterio, la insistencia en la raíz doble, el yo dividido, la sensación de ser otro, juntos con cierto indigenismo visible en Los heraldos negros y el creciente interés en la cultura autóctona de los años treinta, han motivado lecturas “mestizas” de Vallejo desde Mariátegui (1928) hasta Jorge Guzmán (1991). Al invocar el mestizaje, estos estudios vinculan la obra del poeta con los proyectos sobre raza y palabra, identidad y nación que se elaboraron en el período de “reajuste cultural” (Osorio 1982) que fue la vanguardia. Vallejo no se une de manera inequívoca a proyectos monumentales de identidad cultural pero sí considera la cuestión. El presente trabajo intentará desenredar algunas de sus posiciones a la luz de la crítica que ha aparecido en el siglo actual, considerando entre otros estudios el de Tace Hedrick sobre género (Mestizo Modernism, 2003).


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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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Este fin de semana

 I have misplaced this book and I want to see it for nearly fetishistic reasons as Mazzotti’s review is almost enough. Still, I want to see it and fortunately they have it at Tulane, and very fortunately, I am going there Friday. Yes, I just got back from New Orleans last night and I am going again Friday, and life would be quite different if this were a more regular thing.

In New Orleans I will go to my activist meeting and call my friend, and I will do work for classes. I will also have my nails done, have a spell cast upon myself, and get or read this book.



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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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On the adjunct crisis

People do not realize that many decades ago at Berkeley they decided freshman composition should also be given by (many) departments other than English. They have it in Rhetoric, Dramatic Art, Comparative Literature, and now all of these departments.

This means that English is more immune to being asked to staff these courses with adjuncts, and other departments get TAships for their students.

Yes, it is possible to achieve sufficient “uniformity” across departments and disciplines.




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Mon cours

I said I would give a senior/graduate level course called Raza y palabra, on race and writing in Spain and Latin America, 1486-2014. This happened in a flash of inspiration and I do not now remember my concept clearly. The title is entirely too ambitious, and there is entirely too much potential material. I must order books, however, and I must remember that the students know less than I do. Much less, in fact.

Here is something quite simple I could do.

1. Talk about what race is generally. Perhaps use some of Tanya Golash-Boza’s new anthology — either the book, or the material she also anthologized lately in a special issue of a journal (that I can find). Inquiry: what is race?

2. Talk about the idea of the “Hispanic” or the “Latin” (“por mi raza hablará el espíritu”). Material from José Piedra, José Ortega y Gasset, Joshua Goode, Jerome Branche. This “includes” Spain. Inquiry: what is Hispanic? (Note: the idea of the mestizo nation is how exceptionalism and also specificity are asserted; one is alleged to have moved beyond race — and yet this allegedly supra-racial identity is defined in racial terms.)

3. Talk about the “Afro-Hispanic difference.” (Decide what to read here). Inquiry: what difference does race make? Possible theme: contesting the criollo.

4. Talk about indigenismo, considering among other things the ways in which it is deployed in service of the (criollo) nation. Use Arguedas here, go for it.

5. Talk about the Chicano movement, the plan espiritual de Aztlán, Anzaldúa.

***And have a list of films to have them watch, and a list of books to review. Films are for common discussion, and books for individual presentations.***

What do you think?




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