Monthly Archives: July 2017

Le swimsuit

I still need to get the car adjusted, but I also need swimsuits. I think of my swimsuits as new, but they are falling apart. Again. It seems that this is all so recent, I bought new ones in 2009 and again in 2013. There are so many things one must keep track of nowadays. The dust on the closet floors and under the beds, and the strange chemicals I have learned to use against the damp.

I feel peaceful. It is not a normal feeling anymore. It has to do with not trying to rush at work, or work beyond fatigue, or work with people who will not. I can do this because I have decided I am a professor.

Axé.

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We have translations

Coming out:
Oh fury the dawn emerges from your lips
The scandalous life of César Moro
Various lions lick the rugose surface of the equestrian turtle at twilight

Under editorial consideration:
About seven more.

Axé.

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“Socialist realism is condescending and Republican”

That is what I wrote on my ticket to the national art museum in Latvia, while looking at socialist realist painting.

I learned about Nationalist Modernism that day, and the National Constructivism of Romans Suta. I saw how the St. Petersburg institution where painters were trained, had constrained them. The museum also had a wonderful set of posters for its own exhibits, going back almost a hundred years.

Axé.

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Conferences that are seminars

ILLI is also organized in seminars now. I really like this format.

Axé.

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The writing-stalled professor?

This post should describe me. I do not think it does. What I actually have is a violent workplace. It does not help to try to say the problem is internal to me.

I have already tried ignoring the violence, trying to step around it, good faith negotiation with it, organizing it. I have not protected myself well enough from it, and I should do this and then fight it. I have to remember that it is the enemy of everything good, not me, and that all my allies are in other departments, and none are in my own. Although my department may have neutral parties, and well wishers, only the wicked elements in it are strong. I can only protect myself by keeping these things firmly in mind, exerting as much control in my own realm as I can (e.g. by not expecting the program to function, but insisting that my classes do), and also remembering that I am more right than wrong. I will study my Tarot reading, and take care of the ancient wound in the sixth card.

I’ve been writing-stalled all week but I do not feel as though I throw myself into teaching and service projects to avoid writing: I say yes to the same things I used to say yes to, but now that means saying yes to every part of the task, including making the paper it is written on, as it were. There is also the inefficiency and obstruction.

Every time I read one of these articles about efficiency and discipline I feel as though everything were my fault. I have to remember what my most “productive” colleague says: “They have ruined our careers.” “We have to do the things the provost, the vice president, the dean and the chair should be doing and do not.” “Since we are mostly instructors and instructors cannot be asked to do major service, we are sharing among three people the service responsibilities corresponding to nine.” This is the truth and of course, we are only nominally sharing those responsibilities: they all fall to me. And when I don’t do them, I suffer from the results of, let us say, the equivalent of the garbage not being picked up. It does affect me, and others do not step up to the plate as they are somehow able to function in garbage. I may not get enough other things done, but at least I do not have to sit in garbage. I do not know the answer to these things but I do think extreme egoism and self-love, not additional discipline and condescending do-your-homework exercises, are the answer.

I have had a couple of department chairs who were responsible and effective, and I really respect and admire their work. I would not say they had just done this work “to avoid writing.” I have also had chairs who kept their research up while being chair, but of these the one who was an effective chair and a highly productive scholar at the same time had a low teaching load and strong administrative support.

Some of the comments on the article are smart. We do not have enough faculty who pull their weight in service and political engagement, and life would be easier if we did. We also do not have enough administrators who are working on behalf of, as opposed to against our academic programs.

I would like a reading group, as reading and not writing is my deepest problem: I feel nervous reading, as I know someone is going to tap me on the shoulder and say I should not be doing it, that I should be doing some teaching or service activity–or that I should be “writing before I was ready” (i.e. not reading). But without reading, there is nothing, I have always found.

What I have always wanted is proper administrative support for our program. Where I find my time going is in defending the program against anti-support. Then, when I read articles that suggest to me I am putting too much effort into that, I try to be quiet and turn a blind eye. And then I discover that some disaster has taken place while I was not looking, that I am asked to repair.

It feels as though one cannot win. I know what it is like to have conditions in which one can in fact follow the directions in this article. One of my problems is being so uncomfortable at home, yet not having a viable secret home to go to. From Riga I had brought this zen that made the days here seem long and under my control. We have had difficulty at the university since, but the discovery that it was possible, in some way, to feel safe enough here to concentrate, was a revelation.

I think the people who dispense advice that goes to work ethic only, do not know what it is to work in such a volatile atmosphere, or where one feels as much danger as we tend to do here. I also think that the ones who say you have to fit your core work in 15-minute increments around swirling chaos, do not understand that you may need those 15 minutes to come back to yourself, and that you may need to take out your scythe and cut the chaos down in enormous swaths–not just try to work around it, or within it, or avoid it in some other impossible way.

It is self-management in these kinds of situations that is my issue. I keep coming to the conclusion that “protecting time” is not the right image. Visualizing myself as a castle under siege is paralyzing. Clearing space and taking it, breathing life into it, is the image that works.

Axé.

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Tu rechingada madre

Que me cago en la muy podrida leche de la puta madre que parió a mis llamados colegas. If I, on frequent flyer miles, in transit to and then in the former SSR my ancestors are from, and while looking at their names on the commemorative ghetto wall, and walking into one of the cattle cars into which they also appear to have walked in a more serious way, and looking for further documentation in broken-down ex-Soviet archives while people speak to me in Latvian and Russian that I do not understand, can still be responding, upon dropping Internet, to questions about ridiculous situations into which students on study abroad have gotten themselves, and if their program directors in other developing countries can respond sensibly as well and are, furthermore, taking responsible action, then the people at home who have received copies of all of these messages can at least fucking answer.

Axé.

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Tarot reading, and the fifties

I asked, should I move out of the country? Where is home? The layout was the Celtic Cross and I am looking at the Wild Unknown Tarot and the Biddy Tarot. I will meditate upon this.

  1. Heart of the matter/present: Six of Swords. Crossing water, leaving something regretfully but getting somewhere calmer, brighter.
  2. Challenge/obstacle: Ten of Cups. Family happiness, love, plenitude, joy. (Do I really want to leave? Have I newly fallen in love with where I am?) See also card 4. Perhaps: how to find the way from the Ace to the Ten of Cups?
  3. Root cause/deeper past: King of Wands. I of course identify with this figure.
  4. Recent past/immediate future (what is developing): Ace of Cups. True love, in a traditional reading. Beginning of love, compassion, intuition, creativity, expression (Biddy Tarot). See also card 2. There was a beginning but its realization or fruition is the obstacle or challenge.
  5. Goals/aspirations/possible outcome (“above”): Ten of pentacles. Affluence, accomplishment, completion.
  6. Unconscious motivations/possible immediate future (“below”): Five of Swords (anger, conflict, tension, hurt, defeat).
  7. Self/advice: Seven of Wands. I must assert myself and dare to stand out, but not crash and burn (viz. card 6).
  8. Context/outside world: Temperance (major arcana XIV). Equilibrium, meditation, transformation. I can work to moderate energies around me, and it appears that conditions are auspicious for this.
  9.  Hopes and fears: Four of Pentacles. Money, security, material things, control/the known/what one has; what one tried for or committed to. Perhaps also money and rigidity over trust and love (the advice most Americans give other Americans), but I tend to read this more simply as duty to the original goal, original plan, original role, original assignment. Also: hoping to have enough money/love (I see the symbol money as a stand-in for abundance/ease/love, not as their opposite).
  10. Outcome: Four of Swords. This is the outcome if I continue on the current course: rest, meditation and recovery, then a return to work on the project / projects.

Meanwhile, Dame Eleanor Hull is living the life of a 1950s male academic, and liking it. In a way, so am I–not materially, but psychically, because of having decided I have rights. It really frees up energy and time. I can only imagine how being treated like a person, and also paid enough to really live on, might augment the feeling. But the Tarot reading will help me consolidate the first step–the rights step.

Axé.

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