So it is going now, and I am becoming one with this project. Whole. The image of jumping off into a project does not work for me. I decided it was not a question of jumping off, but of drawing things toward me.

You have to think in terms of integration and love, not alienation, rubrics, duty. That is my academic advice.



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Mantra for the rest of the summer

Yes, all these things happened because I had impaired resources for a while.

Now, I am rescuing my work from its glass case. Yes, I am authorized to do this. Yes, I have the power to do something meaningful. Yes, I have time.

(Am I interested in this, for itself? Yes, but I never gave myself the chance to develop that. The more immediate concern was always survival.)



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That work allergy

I do not think it is lack of interest, much though I have tried to claim over the past twenty years that it is. And true as it is that I have other interests that could be professional interests, interests I feel I could pursue with greater happiness and success because they are in fields less fraught for me and also more open to me. But once again, I do not think my academic problem is lack of interest.

It is, rather, the sensation of having been imprisoned and having the jailers use me work, which they have appropriated, to beat me with. One can defend against that perverse use of one’s work by saying one has lost interest in it. But this explanation is not satisfactory as it is inaccurate. More accurately, that work needs to be rescued from its glass case (they have used it as an instrument of torture but really it is the Sleeping Beauty).

And yes, one has the power. One forgets but one has it, and that is why this weblog was conceived of as insurgent: Sandinista, Zapatista, Freirista. And I see now more clearly than ever why I dislike academic advice. It not only assumes one does not know what one is doing or that one is not actually interested in what one is doing — it also ignores what is the heart of the matter for very many of us.

The issue is not not knowing what one is doing or not being interested in what one is doing or not being willing to sacrifice for what one has decided to do. It is having work stolen and competence seen as a liability. It is having been told repeatedly that one is not authorized to do this. It is not for you, you are not invited, you will never make it…

There is no amount of discipline or “time management” that will have its desired effect if you have been convinced you either are not competent or should not be, and that your work either is not yours or should not be. There are also no medications or rest cures to cure this problem. It has to be named and recognized to be countered. I oppose academic advice because it is so often deployed and also constructed to interdict such naming. It comes not to clarify but to cloud vision.

I resist and fear not the work itself but the officious advice that surrounds it. I do not need exhortations to rush or other warnings of the various sorts one gets. I need to remember that I am in fact authorized to do what I am doing, and to use my time doing it.

Sondé miroir, O Legba. We are all great sacrificers and penitents.



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Ser alguien

Today with Creole plate lunches we were talking about strategies for getting things done. We already know that in summer, to assign oneself four hours of work each day and take the rest of the time off is a wonderful, relaxing, renewing strategy. First a week’s absolute vacation, then this. So we are not talking at a basic level about discipline, “time management,” or how to work otherwise. We were talking about how to be the people who work, how to retain self respect, how to maintain lucid focus in an environment that undermines and derails.

Elements in the discussion are all topics we have explored before,  but we are concentrating our ideas and making them concise. In no particular order:

- Women, under constant assault. Identities (particularly professional identities) under constant assault. Having to recover, put one’s shards back together, in order to do real work. This has to be honored and space has to be made for it, and the reconstruction has to be done consciously.

- One must fight on one’s own side.

- One must remember that other people can sometimes be wrong.

- I tend to put my work last because I put myself last.

- You have to revive yourself to revive your work.

- Dissociation and withdrawal are my reactions to trauma. I have to heal these to work. Every day.

Conversing in person on these matters I was more sophisticated and subtle than is this post, but these notes may be an aide-mémoire. The key insight is that I have to power to be supportive of myself and I do not use it — I was taught that only through self-destruction or at least passivity could one earn survival, but I can in fact use my powers on my own behalf.




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Sur la productivité

We — my only real colleague and I — have both decided, independently of one another, that we are no longer unhappy with Maringouin, our town, or even with Vichy State, our university. It is our main department that dogs us, by undermining our senses of self and professional expertise. I, meanwhile, have been talking to this post, which is really about another post.

As we know, I am against (most standard) academic advice for reasons the original poster (whom I have not read directly) articulates: either you are interested, and you know what you are doing, and you develop a method, or you are not and you do not. The manuals designed to convert non researchers into researchers are misguided, in their efforts to mechanically convert non research oriented people into productive machines. One needs to learn the secrets of any profession and tricks of every trade, yes, but that is a different matter.

I don’t agree that just wanting something is enough to give one the strength to surmount all obstacles. And my own worst problem is not lack of desire but the feeling that I do not deserve to do this work. There are historical reasons for that, which I have discussed before. My remedy now comes in the form of short sentences, designed to dissipate the complex knot of misguided thoughts that tells me I do not deserve this and I cannot do it because it is not mine to do.

I used to explain the mental fog that comes over me by saying I was not interested in the work. That is why I have detached from it, I would say. At these times it is really myself with whom I have lost touch. (I should write a crime drama about it, in which either I or my work have been kidnapped, or both, and we must be reconciled.)

Now when the fog comes over me, rather than ask whether I have the right work methods, or whether I am actually interested in what I am doing, I counter demons by saying: I am a person. I am right about curriculum (there is a context for that statement); I have professional expertise; I have good research insights; I would do well to fight on my own side rather than against myself; and most importantly, this work is mine.




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Esto es significativo

¿Maras, hambre, ignorancia? Los niños trabajadores y abandonados de América central salen a correr al “país del nunca jamás” guiados por esa especie de sombra impuesta por el norte sobre el sur de nuestra América, con su manera de susurrar que el único camino a la vida mejor es la renuncia a la dignidad.

This is quite an interesting comment on the United States, values here, what it means to be a person here.



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On plagiarized authenticity, the invention of tradition, and the general impurity of culture

Icelandic sweaters, an icon of national identity, appear to have been invented in the 1950s. The patterns are Inuit, after the Greenlandic ones, and the Inuit had traced these patterns in beads brought from Denmark.


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