Subjects of neoliberalism

What is the core of neoliberal ideology? Firstly, that you are alone, that you are an individual competing with everybody else. Secondly, that the real distinction among human beings is between winners and losers, right? There’s no more stable class identity, no more stable political identity – the real divide is between neoliberalism’s winners and losers.

There is more to this.

Axé.

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“Grotesque incompetence,” “Threatening,” “Malevolent,” “Evil,” “Ill will”

Those were some words and phrases the Emeritus Professor used tonight in response to my description of some activities of the upper administration.

Axé.

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On subjectivity, language and the body

I am plagiarizing this post from the Facebook page of a colleague, and hope that is all right. Look:

Correspondences:

Adorno on Benjamin:
“Despite extreme individuation […] Benjamin seems empirically hardly to have been a person at all, rather an arena of movement in which content forced its way, through him, into language.”

Jim Siegel on Clifford Geertz:
“Geertz lectured with an intensity I had never before seen…Geertz to me was not a person but an image of the flow of words through a human body…Geertz, more than anyone else I met as a student, showed me that words need not stay inside the head even if one has no method. All you had to do was connect the parts of your body with them.”

Axé.

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Le voyage

It has taken some planning but I have the plane ticket, which cost a total of one hundred twenty-seven dollars.

Nights 1-7 will be in Barcelona and I must reserve that room in Born. $55×7, or $385.
Nights 8-11 will be in Sitges and I must reserve my room. $50×4, or $200.
On Day 12 I leave Sitges very early and take a train from Barcelona to Bourgogne. I must buy the Barcelona-Lyon ticket and also the ticket for the post-Lyon train. 49 and then 22 Euros.
Nights 12-19 (or 12-20) will be in Bourgogne. I will have to remember to buy the ticket on to Paris, but this is not urgent.
Nights 19/20 to 21 will be in Paris and I must find a place to stay.
On Day 22 I leave Paris very early to come to Maringouin. I should probably stay near the Gare du Nord for this reason, so I can catch the first RER in. That means the Montmartre/Gare du Nord zone basically, since it is the only place you can get public transportation to de Gaulle so early.

Another thought is to come into Roissy straight from Bourgogne on the TGV the evening before, stay in a Novotel and not try to do anything in Paris. However, the SNCF site keeps telling me that the TGV station at Roissy is out of service … so strange … and this suggests Paris beckons. I can stay here, right near the Gare du Nord, if I can make that pesky Air BnB site work. This will cost about $150 altogether.

So we have $735 on lodging and about 100 Euros on trains — Barcelona to Paris, but with the Barcelona-Lyon trajet bought in Spain for 49 Euros. This means I am spending just over $1000 on flight, trains and lodging for three weeks in Europe. And I don’t eat expensive food, so this is a downright economical vacation. You must congratulate me, in part because it is a straight-up vacation.

Axé.

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More from Miller

  • Work according to Program and not according to mood. Stop at the appointed time!
  • When you can’t create you can work.
  • Cement a little every day, rather than add new fertilizers.

Those are our three points du jour, although my favorites are still “Work on one thing at a time until finished” and “Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand.” (I have a great deal to say about turning oneself into a creative person again, or a person with subjectivity and agency again. You must cultivate yourself and this is what people do not understand; even sacrificers and penitents cultivated themselves.)

I want research time and Fulbrights. It is unrealistic to expect oneself to work here because of the atmosphere, or elsewhere because one’s things are here. How to manage these problems. I might need a New Orleans sublet. (I must stay in touch with Hunter.)

I want to understand how I self destructed for once and for all, and stop wondering. I know and knew exactly what I wanted to do. How to walk through those glass doors and ceilings now?

Axé.

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Henry Miller was right

Miller works the way one did before having to listen to the harangues of professors who read Boice. He lived at Big Sur at one point–perhaps the mystical awareness came to him there. Here are three of his points, with my comments:

  • Work on one thing at a time until finished. [Even when others demand you do something else, and even when you are efficiently accomplishing many things.]
  • Start no more new books, add no more new material to ‘Black Spring.’ [This second point is what is meant by the dictum against perfectionism — allow things to be finished when they are finished. It does not mean you should not finish things or not allow yourself to produce things that satisfy you.]
  • Don’t be nervous. Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand. [That is SO different from the idea of setting a timer and your jaw that is recommended now, but it is what a real writer does.]

I am fortunate to have known these things early on. Really fortunate. I should sit in this knowledge more. Everything is fine when I have, or take more research and writing time, and more recreational time, and do not listen to those who say one does not know what one is doing and is only serious if committed to grim drudgery, or sacrifice and penitence without spirit.

*

I have been feeling well the past few days and it is because some things have come together. The situation was not created by me entirely, or by me alone, or perhaps we could say it was not created by me. What I have to say about these things is, very briefly, about the “disease model” of “depression” (which I don’t think I have, I think I have oppression, which may be another thing).

Disease model: it is useful insofar as it insists that the phenomenon is real. It fascinates me how many people think it is not. They really do think everything is a question of attitude, or in some cases correct Protestant-style morals. But it is destructive when people want to use it as an excuse to check out, or want you to. I find that a slight reduction in oppression goes a long way, but I also find that so many people feel they are entitled to so much that if you gave them the chance to say a reduction in oppression would help, they would decide they should just wait for more things to be served to them on silver platters.

In any case, though, I feel different lately. I feel as I did before psychotherapy and academic jobs, before I was told I was the wrong person, before I was told my accomplishments were not real and my pleasures not legitimate, and before I began to feel I had better either flee or hide if these were the things I was to believe in my current universe. The fact that I feel different is proof that depression, or oppression, are real things and really impair you. I do not believe they are biological matters and I am not at all convinced that you can recover just by taking the semester off.

Axé.

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Vallejo Lorca Spicer Stein Pessoa Drummond

From my dialogues elsewhere.

Person A, quoting Pessoa:

Whether we write or speak or do but look

Whether we write or speak or do but look
We are ever unapparent. What we are
Cannot be transfused into word or book.
Our soul from us is infinitely far.
However much we give our thoughts the will
To be our soul and gesture it abroad,
Our hearts are incommunicable still.
In what we show ourselves we are ignored.
The abyss from soul to soul cannot be bridged
By any skill or thought or trick of seeming.
Unto our very selves we are abridged
When we would utter to our thought our being.
We are our dreams of ourselves, souls by gleams,
And each to each other dreams of others’ dreams.

(«35 Sonnets», in Poemas Inglêses)

Z:

SMT, I meant to say this long ago. The other great poetry class, comparable to the Lorca-Vallejo-Stein-Spicer combination, is Lorca-Vallejo-Pessoa-Drummond. I will surely never be allowed to do this so you should. Also, I was originally going to run my benighted Vallejo dissertation through the lines of Drummond, Pessoa, Valéry, Borges, Bergson, people like this, and did not get to because it was seen as too conservative — neither postcolonial and hip nor poststructuralist and hip. I continue to believe that this was only because these professors I was dealing with were very concerned about fashion and “productivity” and also had not read the people I was talking about very carefully. All of this has to do with fractured subjects, empty signs, and centers that are either absent or fall away, but it isn’t “anti-humanist” in the slapdash and flashy manner people used to take on when exerpting and patching with Foucault.

Person A:

By chance I also came across these lines from Jack Spicer, riffing off Benjamin (and Baudelaire): “As things decay they bring their equivalents into being […] That is what makes it possible for a poet to translate real objects, to bring them across language as easily as he can bring them across time. Things do not connect; they correspond. That is how we dead men write to each other.”

In the meantime, someone entirely different told me this:

Concerning holographic projections, e.g., smart phones, “holographic protests”, etc., the phenomenon is not quite as mysterious as it first appears. Once one realizes that the hologram is not actually a physical image, floating in intersubjective space, but is merely a subjective, virtual image, that is, *virtual* in merely the sense of Newton’s Opticks (1704) and not so much that of Tim Berners Lee (1989), for example, and that through careful monitoring with lasers that provide continuously updated feedback of information on the focal length vector of each of the observer’s two eyes, a virtual image in the above sense can be easily made to appear and persist anywhere in the observer’s visual projective space – not just hovering above the plane of the smart phone’s screen or on the city street that one’s body is physically facing. One fascinating fact, that holography points up in a somewhat different though related way than perhaps “virtual” reality technology has been doing now for quite a few years, is that our notion of “virtual” is very powerful in this sense: its context is paradoxical in being at once unified and open-ended. Currently, the term, “virtual”, appears to possess three distinct senses, i.e., of “virtual” (optics), “virtual” (virtual reality) and “virtual” (virtual particle/field). With the further advancements in the disciplines of quantum computing, holography and quantum gravity theory, which are expected over the next 30 years or so, these three distinct acceptations of “virtual” will be understood to be just different perspectives on the same underlying process, and this new understanding shall forever more fundamentally blur the boundaries between physical reality, virtual reality and mind.

And this:

The mothership checked in for a moment there.

And I laughed. The idea of the mothership checking in, “souls by gleams,” as Pessoa would have said, sunbeams, slices of blue sky.

This is what it is, today, to feel whole as one once did.

Axé.

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