Why it is so depressing to be told I should be an artist now

…because it is one more obligation. I was always told I had to do this kind of thing because in our social class nothing else was acceptable. But I wanted to do so much more in life, and do things outside the arts. And I want to work at a high level. If I had to become a full time artist I would never be able to work at a high level or dream of it, even, and it would be like choosing death now, renouncing even the desire for a different life.

In prison, the prisoners are all working on their freedom. It is a way to fend off despair. They may never be free but they are working on their freedom. I am working on mine. I want to work at a high level. Of the things which were acceptable I chose the one in which I was the most interested and could work to the highest level. The one that involved the least cooking, the least manual work, the most mental work. The one that was the most interesting.

It is so painful to be told to only do recreation. All my life it is what I have been told.

…the key words for the day: exhaustion, disappointment, sadness, sounding like a suicide, distorted, conflicted, IN AGONY, needing my life back, needing to take better care of myself (needing to sleep among other things) but not doing so because late at night is the only time I feel I can be myself with myself, not just be that geisha who meets other peoples’ needs.

I want to die or sleep. Perhaps Hattie is right and I am upset because of this, and because of looking back at all the devastation.

Axé.

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On Nelson Osorio and the avant-garde

He says also subtly suggests it is not the beginning of something, but the end of something. This would explain why I feel pulled toward the 19th century. “Make it new,” said said Pound; but he could say that because it was still it, back then. That is to say: “it” was new or seemed so, but Pound was referring backward. Avant-garde as end and not beginning of an era.

Axé.

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Toute la journée

It is, or has been, this PTSD flashback-like event I have been experiencing all day. I have not had such an experience for a long time. It is as though I had self-harmed and were now berating myself for it. Seeing that is already an advance. How to stop the assault? Saying it is a problem of discipline, not being able to stop it, is no good, and saying one must just accept that one cannot stop it, is no good either.

I had stayed up most of the night saving data because of my computer crisis. When I woke up the phone was ringing and it was my friend with his own software problem and very high anxiety. I told him that I was in an altered state and he said I was nonetheless handling things in a more “together” way than he was.

I had decided not to go to graduation in my state and he needed a cap and gown to go to graduation so I lent him mine.

I call my father every night but knew I could not usefully do so in this state so left a message saying I could not. I feel quite terrible about it but I know I am right. I went to the studio to pick up pieces, and I went to the sauna and to the grocery store, but the onslaught would not stop and still does not stop. I did not do work and I did not go to my concert yet I seem normal — if you saw me, you would only say I looked tired.

There is more to say about this and the origins of this. But the key points are self-harm and berating self for self-harm. In the sauna, I had an illumination about this: my mother always sick, always wanting to be taken care of. Angry during my good years because I was taking care of myself. “You like yourself enough to take care of yourself.” “You bitch.”

Thinking of things people have said about substance abusers. “It is not the drunk that is desired, it is the hangover.” That applied to me would mean I go around in sleep deprived states so that I can break something so that I can be angry with myself so that I can then be kind, because without this cycle I cannot treat myself kindly. What does that domestic violence wheel tell us about cycles? Why is it important to remember that it is not what people can do to you that matters, but what they can get you to do to yourself? Why did Baudelaire say je suis le victime et le bourreau?

If you are ill, you must take care of yourself. It is as though I imitated both parents at once, and did it all internally. Reeducation was also upset that I could do well. So many people were. My brother saying I was a problem in his marriage because my Ph.D. was upsetting to his wife. And on, and on … everyone important needed me not to do well.

If you are ill, you must take care of yourself. Only if you are ill, may you take care of yourself. (In Scandinavia one is not to take care of oneself even then, of course, but then they are Lutherans and very bleak indeed.)

Axé.

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On death in Vallejo. On Pyncheon.

Is it something like this? Something in an apocalyptic landscape? My piece, which is “killing” me, begins and ends with Nelson Osorio and the avant-garde as a “reajuste cultural a nivel global.”

The choice is a clear one. We can continue acting as if tomorrow will be just like yesterday, growing less and less prepared for each new disaster as it comes, and more and more desperately invested in a life we can’t sustain. Or we can learn to see each day as the death of what came before, freeing ourselves to deal with whatever problems the present offers without attachment or fear.

The linked article is really worth reading. This is another piece about modernity and the subject that one should really consider. Vallejo is about being in modernities, and so much work on him that does not reduce to biography still reduces to individual experience and a few clichéd problems or philosophical ideas. I exaggerate, of course, as there is other and better work.

Still I think there is something yet larger afoot in this writer than has yet been articulated — and at the same time as I say this so grandly, I know I have not mastered either his texts or the bibliography on them. Some of the bibliography, it must be said, is highly illuminating and other parts of it are so stultifying as to make one want to give up the field. The patience for sifting is what I need, and the time — and the courage, because I lack necessary intellectual background to grasp all of these things, and that is not my usual situation, even with unfamiliar material. A good scholar told me in October that that is how it is with this poet.

Axé.

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La méditation de cette semaine

This is my meditation for the week and I will remain true to it even though it appears that my dear, rat-tat-tat little computer is not very badly harmed. (Only two keys are still stuck, and it flickered upon rebooting but then came up just fine.)

My meditation will be about self-sabotage. I have spilled drops of tea on four keys of the good laptop, impeding their functionality. I hope this is means they need to dry deeply, or something simple — not that this is the end of the motherboard. It did not short out, and I got what data that was not backed up, off, and it is downloading updates now. Getting the data off meant having to organize some files, and this was a good thing, but regardez l’heure qu’il est, mon Dieu.

I have decided it is not an accident but a wake-up call. My ceramics teacher — two of them, actually — say I am destructive toward my work (the less perceptives ones say I am Zen, I am accepting of the fact that not every piece comes out right, but these older ladies are right). “You are not a beginner any more, Z, you must begin to take what you are doing seriously.” And this is not the first time I have done something to this, my good laptop.

And I do not procrastinate on work per se, but I procrastinate on that. And this, precisely, is how I get bogged down. One of the files I found and organized was a downloaded .pdf on procrastination from a Spanish psychology journal. It was a sophisticated study whose thesis was that procrastination was not about poor time management but about several complex forms of self-hatred.

Remember the disease I caught from Reeducation? That friend who said why are you depressed, you have so much to be happy about. And I said I know, and I am not depressed because of not having things to be happy about, I am depressed because I have caught self-hatred.

That is the meditation, and nobody gets to say I am “being too hard on myself” by saying this computer event is more than a random error. Do you remember, I am giving myself attention and centredness this Christmas? I was not joking when I said that and I think taking care about this kind of thing matters.

That computer is flickering and I think there is something happening to the motherboard. And yet not … it is starting. Weakly. We will see, but I am no longer willing to put up with this kind of event.

#OccupyHE

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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A new kind of synaesthesia

When sound is translated into a blow on the nape of the neck, and light into a flash so bright that it actually scorches the skin, when feeling is lost in one disintegrating jar of every nerve and fibre […] the mind, at such moments, is like a compass when the needle has been jolted from its pivot.

A World War I stretcher-bearer wrote this. It is as though Vallejo had read it. Derek Gregory’s discussion of Corpographies is truly worth studying.

Axé.

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