As e goes to infinity: further counter-advice on time

I get to clock in another hour of work today, making five, because I have been experimenting with Lyx and that is what I am going to use. I will not have Scrivener, I will write in Lyx and put everything in well hierchized and well labeled files, old school style, and that is it.

My text is terrible but it is an advantage that I see it so, as this means I have made progress. But the part of it I have in Lyx has over 4,000 words and that is just one part.

I am still bothered by not having an opening I like — there are so many ways to begin, so many pieces that could be beginnings — but I could say for now, without committing to frame the entire argument as a response to or derivative of Doris Sommer or devote a great deal of space, to Jorge Isaacs, that:

– “El mal de María” is indeed Judaism which has obvious resonance in a Hispanic World context but also serves as cipher for African and racial otherness generally; and at the same time it is, as — has pointed out, a (traumatic) reaction to the Father (possibly even in a Lacanian sense — check this); so race and patriarchy are the twin rocks that squeeze her;

– the novel is fixated on evocation of difference as problem and the elision of this; the text is only at peace when the principals have been washed away in death, yet it exists to evoke them once again, ostensibly to mourn but perhaps also to confirm that they are gone;

– a realist novel like Cecilia Valdés helps to show how these mechanisms work; they come in a different configuration but in the end the issue is purity, the quality insistently ascribed to María who is tainted

– and key in Cecilia is that as that student of mine said, “none of these characters are white” — precisely, they are trying to negotiate for and over this attribute

– and these gestures are repeated in novel after novel, in different combinations, but with great violence (cf. A. de Azevedo), such that in fact they interdict the conciliatory reading of mestizaje

– and there are certain famous essays that have been used and quoted from as strategies of containment of this matter, but

– really the entire corpus is a site of negotiation and struggle, not just over but with and within these issues, these racial parameters and frames.

– THAT will then allow me to jump back and talk about Nebrija, the OJO CONOCEDOR, vision and the state; and of course my ultimate argument is that we cannot read contemporary texts well without understanding these issues.

– I clearly do not know what I am doing but I have so many fragmentary notes, beginnings of essays, and random chapters lying around in my files, there has got to be a way to sew them together and thus, figure out what is happening with this rhizome.


The reason people say you can write your plodding two articles a year over Christmas and over summer is that they think you are going to write some derivative thing or some explication de texte. But if you have a work to work on, you have to work on it all the time.

And if you teach in a comfortable place and at a comfortable pace, it may be that you can think about those plodding two articles in the back of your mind through the semester, then write them out and go off, say, to mulled wine in winter and to hike the John Muir Trail in summer. But if you do not, the semester can pound out all your energy so you might as well have something to show for it in the end and coast into vacation on. If not you have a whole month of trying to recover and also remember what it was you were doing, and it is depressing and inefficient.

It is not true that you should save time on teaching by taking short cuts; you save time by being centred in research. This means you can be clear-eyed about what you are doing in class, stick to what you really want to get done, make decisions on how to meet needs, and do it efficiently so you can get back to research. This is quite different from the corner-cutting people like to discuss and it means you are always coming into teaching (or service, for that matter) from research and this makes you better, not worse.

People are always saying to do it fast, do it in 25 minutes, put on an alarm clock; but it takes more time than that. You have to be interested and you have to have at least some idea that you will create something interesting in the end. The 25 minutes are only a vitamin. Vitamins have their place.



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