Sarmiento du jour

Ricardo Piglia once pointed out that the apocryphal quotation at the beginning of Domingo Sarmiento’s Facundo (1845) — the French sentence “on ne tue point les idées,” written by Sarmiento on a wall after being attacked by a federalist gang — can be taken as an emblem of Argentine literature in its foundational moment. Not simply in its banal content, but primarily in its form and in the discursive economy that presides over its historical inscription. By relating how Rosas’s dictatorship, “after sending a committee in charge of deciphering the hieroglyph,” (Sarmiento 5) must have wondered what in the world it could mean, Sarmiento draws the line between civilization and barbarism with a mere epigraph: barbarians are, of course, those unable to read the sentence. More than in the utopian vision it voices, “the sentence’s political content resides in the use of the French language” (Piglia 15). A voracious student of foreign languages, Sarmiento located in the transculturation of European sources a sine qua non condition for the construction of a modern civilized Argentine nation. Transculturation is, however, always already torn apart by aporias, not the least of which plagues the authorship of Sarmiento’s epigraph. Sarmiento attributes it to Fortoul, but Groussac later argued that it was in fact taken from Volney, only to be contradicted by Verdevoye, who noted that it does not appear either in Fortoul or Volney, but in Diderot. The exercise in tracking down sources naturally does not matter in itself, but as an emblem of the predicament of an entire national literature. Designed to found a nation by alienating, domesticating, and eventually transculturating that nation’s originary barbarism, the letrado’s civilizing gesture is from the beginning contaminated by a savage, barbaric relationship with its sources, emblematized in recurrent erroneous and second-hand attributions. (– I. A.)

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Andrei Zvyagintsev

Everyone liked this film, Elena, but I found it entirely too bleak. Had I seen it in Moscow and in Russian, in some art house after reading the papers for several weeks and observing life, I would have found it interesting and stimulating. I would have walked along the street afterwards thinking of the market society. But the film is grim.

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L’irritation

The work I am doing is not mine, and this greatly irritates me.

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Luxe, calme, et volupté

Review of Stanford University

It is the most opulent university I have ever visited or expect to visit. It is so beautiful that the mind clears upon entering campus. All the chairs and tables are at a good height, and every room has a view. It has really good scanning and copying services.

It also has very many books, journals, and archives, but that is why one has come. Unhappy souls, they who claim none of these things should matter.

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Message to the DNC

“If fear of Trump is justified, and I believe it is, can someone please explain to me why the geniuses on the Democratic Platform Committee thought it was so god-damned important to play slippery games with the TPP plank? You all saw how Trump wielded that particular knife last night. Do you remember how we handed it to him? Dems voted it down last year, Obama put on enough pressure to get it through with mostly GOP votes.

“So why the HELL should Democrats own the TPP? To hell with Obama on this. Hillary says she opposes it. Why NOT put an exclamation point on it and adopt the Sanders plank on TPP? It’s not too late. And as an added bonus Pence voted for it.

“This isn’t about Hillary vs. Bernie. It’s about Hillary vs. Trump.”

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Hermanos Zaizar

I am in deepest California, which is Mexico, so we will sing. This is the Corrido del norte, in which Mexicanness is asserted:

Nací en la frontera, de acá de este lado,
de acá de este lado puro mexicano,
por más que la gente me juzgue Texano,
yo les aseguro que soy mexicano,
de acá de este lado….

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Santa Cruz, Calif.

You lusciously unreconstructed tacky beach town delicious summer

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