Category Archives: Banes

Books and journals going now

…because they are just too tattered, they are depressing me. They are wonderful and epoch-making as well, and I hate to let them go since they are like limbs. They are:

New German Critique 22 (Winter 1981), special issue on Modernism. Articles by Habermas, Giddens, Bürger, Huyssen, Nägele, Bainard Cowan, Michael Ryan, more.
Revista Iberoamericana 118-119 (enero-junio 1982), with classic articles on the avant-garde, wonderful (if outdated) texts I should really reread; 127 (abril-junio 1984), a marvelous issue on “la proyección de lo indígena en las literaturas de la América Hispánica” with articles on Mariátegui, indigenismo, and much more; 175 (abril-junio 1996), with additional wonderful articles on modernisms I want to reread.
Santiago, Silviano. Uma literatura nos trópicos.

There is so much that I don’t read or write because I do not feel at ease or at home. I am concentrating on holding things together, repressing the desire for life, and containing or tolerating pain and outright terror.

I read and wrote little for several years because I had a book contract. I was not sure I agreed with the revisions I had promised for commercial reasons, and I knew this project could not be finished in six months. But I could not say this, because I was afraid that if I said so out loud I would be accused of laziness or conspiracy to procrastinate, and would have to undergo torture for it. So I did not read or write for other projects, because I was to manage time such as to concentrate on this project; yet I could not find a way to plan the time since in fact, there was no feasible way to read enough in six months to consider whether or not the required revisions were desirable, let alone make them.

Without that six-month deadline, that recurred again and again, I could have worked these things out but the six-month deadline, with the exhortations about time management, laziness and conspiracy to procrastinate, but due to these exhortations I mostly transformed myself into a rabbit or cat, hid behind the couch, and panted.

After that I came here to Maringouin. I had wanted to do something more interesting but had been exhorted not to. I felt guilty about the pain I would cause others if I did not do as they wished, and fearful of the torture I would have to undergo if I caused them that pain. I came here to Maringouin on the theory that now, relieved of that deadline, I would write and read.

What I did was build program and serve others, because they were crying out in pain and requiring it and also because we were all threatened with annihilation if I refused, I was told. Now I do not know whether I would write and read the things I would write and read as an academic in this field if I were no longer employed in it, but I can no longer tolerate this repression.

Let us look at the ways in which I have been repressed by certain categories of academic work, or more accurately by their distortion under neoliberalism:

  1. Teaching. Your primary interest is to be a nurturing teacher of lower division students; your next interest is accompanying advanced undergraduates as they emote with literary texts. Those students may deserve someone to do this with them but it is not me.
  2. Research. You should publish, but not what you are interested in or think best. You should do only what is most marketable, because the objective is not knowledge but measurable production in the most visible English-language venues possible.
  3. Service. You should over-function. We will give you no credit for this, in fact we will penalize you for this, but we will annihilate you and yours completely if you do not over-function.

Mutilate yourself to survive the present, so you will still be alive to regenerate and flourish in the future, is the message I have always perceived. That, of course, fits my personal history but I think there is also a politics to this: teaching as caretaking, research as product preparation, and service as defense against siege.




Filed under Banes, Bibliography, What Is A Scholar?, Working

I am not chirpy

…I am disturbed about my father’s final illness for several reasons. One, we do not know how long this crisis will last. Will we get to a stable period, or will it be a crisis from here on out? If so, will that be for the next five years? If so, will that cost all of his money? Should we let his successor trustee take over the trust and if so, how much will that cost since the successor trustee is a bank? How much control will we have over his care if the bank takes over? Some of these things will reveal themselves but we’ve been going all out on seeing him, making sure he has everything, because this could be close to the end but we do not know for sure. The doctor says he is not hospice qualified but we still do not know. How to get used to this new rhythm, or anti-rhythm?

Then there is the fact that I know I will live at least as long as he will with nowhere near the resources. Will I ever have a life? For the last 25 years or so I have been just struggling to survive, I would not call it really living most of the time. Is this to continue, followed by a bad death? When do I get to start my career, so I can at least feel, by that point, that I have had a life?

There are a great number of nasty details about the emotions and conflicts that surround this. But it is the major passage of my life and there are all these conflicts about love and money.


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La diagnosis

“La toxicidad de la situación te hace retomar el trauma, es decir retomar el estado traumático. No quieres recordar el trauma ni seguir en él y por eso no quieres vivir más, por lo cual te quedas en un estado como catatónico.”


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It isn’t actually self-doubt or self-hatred, or laziness or lack of commitment or not knowing what one wants, or depression. It is longing. I long to:

– live somewhere I feel happy
– have an intellectually stimulating life
– be safe from torturers, not work with torture
– and therefore, be calm enough to really write.

Feeling starved and isolated, and being repeatedly hurt and not having strong enough protection against this, are my problems. How can I become the god with the resources to remedy them? I do not want to run.

Why have I not done better so far? Because of being constantly beaten up and abandoned in the old days. I should just say this and not argue with people who want to question or explore it, or help me decide whether or not it is actually fair to say this.

Why? Because if I say it I feel whole, and my mind clears, and I can get a realistic perspective on the things I want to do on a given day.

UPDATE: Really, it was just that I wanted to do my own scholarship and have my own money and resources. But everybody jumped on me: really I wanted to be this nice lady and lower division teacher. Really I wanted to live in the suburbs. Really I did not want a life, I wanted to suffer and then take vacations from suffering. But the truth is that I always wanted autonomy, independence, and intellectual life; I wanted to do my own scholarship and have my own resources.


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Things for the social worker


Dad has hearing issues and hearing aids. Sometimes his hearing problems get in the way of understanding what is happening. The hearing aids are not perfect as they do not address a tinnitus issue he apparently also has, and they are due for adjustment. But, they are in his apartment and there are extra batteries there for them in case the batteries have worn out.

He has always suffered from some form of anxiety/claustrophobia, which he controls via techniques including knowing what his plans were for each day. When he does not have information on plans or changes, and they simply happen without warning or explanation, he becomes disoriented. He is at the same time a relaxed and flexible person by temperament, and can maintain that attitude when he has information about what is happening, and (ideally) some input on plans.

He has also always had a touch of aphasia, never obvious because he is so strong linguistically and intellectually. It is of course now more pronounced; it is also exacerbated by anxiety. Knowing that his mind is clear behind the aphasia makes it easier to communicate with him.

On other cognitive issues: I know they are real but I strongly suspect that at least part of the problem is hearing and anxiety. I am not surprised that he is unsure of the date, given that he is not receiving his newspaper or the mail, and has been separated from his calendar. I hope he is not being treated as a person unable to understand most things, because he is not that.


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The modern workplace

Working classes internalize harm. They respond to hurt and pain that liquid capital inflicts on them by, first and foremost, self-harming. It’s easier for them to believe the neoliberal narrative that they fail because something is wrong with them. So they self-punish and self-destruct.

Creative and professional classes have better defenses against this. They externalize the harm. It’s not “I failed because I’m inferior” but “he failed / needs to fail / because he’s inferior, evil and horrible.”

Conclusion: prepare for epic battles as professional classes fight for survival on the rapidly shrinking professional arena.

I went on a forum where job seekers discuss the academic job market in languages. And the mechanism is always the same. The moment somebody is rumored to have gotten a job, there’s a flare-up of the most outlandish accusations against that person.

Neoliberalism has mechanisms in place that obscure what it really does in order to preserve the consensus that neoliberalism is good and has to remain in existence. This is one of them.

I react like the working classes. And I know this about the job market. All those reactions of the professional classes seem so immature to me. Perhaps mine is as well.


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Le soleil d’hiver

There are hardly any blogs anymore. I read an old post by the great Twisty therefore, and realized once again how much it all comes down to patriarchy.  Twisty refers to “her spiritual death at college.” “It took me about 30 years to grow [my mojo] back,” she says.

I didn’t have her experience then but I remember my shock to discover how mistreated one would be upon becoming a professor, or upon moving away from a modern region. Also before going away to college, being raised as a girl. I never realized what hit me, and I am still trying to see it.

I am a person and my ideas are valid. It took so long to learn that, and it was so easy to unlearn. I am trying to act on it now. Lack of investment in self, or struggle with self, come up any time I am not engaged in heroic effort on behalf of some other person, or some collective.

Yet I will invest, as it is investment in self that stops the bothersome struggle with self (I see this now). I have also just realized why I should apply for a certain professorship.


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