Category Archives: Bibliography

Suture

I love theory yet do not understand structuralism, semiotics, poststructuralism or Lacan in any adequate way. (Literary studies are said to have been ruined by “theory” but it was theory that attracted me to them.) I wish I understood suture, as I know it is important in all the texts that interest me. Where is suture in Vallejo, and what kind of a signifier is the character Cecilia Valdés?

Also, I became interested in language at the moment I experienced suture. As Magrini explains:

The psychological concept of “suture” begins with Lacan and the notion of subject formation, i.e., the psychical “junction” of the symbolic and imaginary realms. . . .

That is the beginning, and there is far more to study.

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Des articles, des livres

Rereading the literate Andean past. Then, Manigot on Haiti:

Library shelves sag under the weight of books on Haiti, old and new. Many were written by Haitians in the nineteenth century. They are exceptional studies challenging racism, but they also probe and dissect with honesty and candor the causes of Haiti’s repeated failures at sustained development and good governance. Few areas were left unstudied: French colonial slavery and the demand for reparations, European and American racism, domestic failures to plumb the island’s “culture of poverty,” ecological devastation, and endemic corruption. Haitian elites, of whatever color and class, never seem to stop searching for solutions. Foreigners have also contributed well-documented tomes on the island’s labyrinthine economy and politics.

There is really interesting commentary on C. L. R. James and Laurent Dubois in that piece.  (I am clearing shelves, and I had kept the paper issue of a journal for these few pages.)

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Don Quixote

I have an idea for a course on Spanish literature: books that talk about the book industry. Help me make the syllabus, yes?

Meanwhile, everyone should reread the Quixote, for the language. Here is a piece of it.

Sucedió, pues, que yendo por una calle alzó los ojos don Quijote y vio escrito sobre una puerta, con letras muy grandes: «Aquí se imprimen libros», de lo que se contentó mucho, porque hasta entonces no había visto emprenta alguna y deseaba saber cómo fuese. Entró dentro, con todo su acompañamiento, y vio tirar en una parte, corregir en otra, componer en esta, enmendar en aquella, y, finalmente, toda aquella máquina que en las emprentas grandes se muestra. Llegábase don Quijote a un cajón y preguntaba qué era aquello que allí se hacía; dábanle cuenta los oficiales; admirábase y pasaba adelante. Llegó en esto a uno y preguntóle qué era lo que hacía. El oficial le respondió:

—Señor, este caballero que aquí está —y enseñóle a un hombre de muy buen talle y parecer y de alguna gravedad— ha traducido un libro toscano en nuestra lengua castellana, y estoyle yo componiendo, para darle a la estampa.

—¿Qué título tiene el libro? —preguntó don Quijote.

A lo que el autor respondió:

—Señor, el libro, en toscano, se llama Le bagatele.

—¿Y qué responde le bagatele en nuestro castellano? —preguntó don Quijote.

Le bagatele57 —dijo el autor— es como si en castellano dijésemos ‘los juguetes’; y aunque este libro es en el nombre humilde, contiene y encierra en sí cosas muy buenas y sustanciales.

—Yo —dijo don Quijote— sé algún tanto del toscano y me precio de cantar algunas estancias del Ariosto. Pero dígame vuesa merced, señor mío, y no digo esto porque quiero examinar el ingenio de vuestra merced, sino por curiosidad no más: ¿ha hallado en su escritura alguna vez nombrar piñata?

—Sí, muchas veces —respondió el autor.

—¿Y cómo la traduce vuestra merced en castellano? —preguntó don Quijote.

—¿Cómo la había de traducir —replicó el autor— sino diciendo ‘olla’?

—¡Cuerpo de tal —dijo don Quijote—, y qué adelante está vuesa merced en el toscano idioma! Yo apostaré una buena apuesta que adonde diga en el toscanopiache, dice vuesa merced en el castellano ‘place’, y adonde diga più dice ‘más’, y el su declara con ‘arriba’ y el giù con ‘abajo’.

—Sí declaro, por cierto —dijo el autor—, porque esas son sus propias correspondencias.

—Osaré yo jurar —dijo don Quijote— que no es vuesa merced conocido en el ¡Qué de habilidades hay perdidas por ahí! ¡Qué de ingenios arrinconados! ¡Qué de virtudes menospreciadas! Pero, con todo esto, me parece que el traducir de una lengua en otra, como no sea de las reinas de las lenguas, griega y latina, es como quien mira los tapices flamencos por el revés, que aunque se veen las figuras, son llenas de hilos que las escurecen y no se veen con la lisura y tez de la haz; y el traducir de lenguas fáciles ni arguye ingenio ni elocución, como no le arguye el que traslada ni el que copia un papel de otro papel. Y no por esto quiero inferir que no sea loable este ejercicio del traducir, porque en otras cosas peores se podría ocupar el hombre y que menos provecho le trujesen. Fuera desta cuenta van los dos famosos traductores: el uno el doctor Cristóbal de Figueroa, en su Pastor Fido61, y el otro don Juan de Jáurigui, en su Aminta, donde felizmente ponen en duda cuál es la tradución o cuál el original. Pero dígame vuestra merced: este libro ¿imprímese por su cuenta o tiene ya vendido el privilegio a algún librero?

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Miguel de Cervantes

“It appears to me,” said Don Quixote, “that translating from one language into another . . . is like gazing at a Flemish tapestry with the wrong side out: even though the figures are visible, they are full of threads that obscure the view and are not bright and smooth as when seen from the other side.”

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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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“A writer’s work is the product of laziness”

J. L. Borges on writing.

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Carlos Alonso on curriculum

Here are some of his 2013 thoughts. Watch the video and tell me what you think. What is the value of the humanities education, the Ph.D., and the life of the mind generally?

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Filed under Bibliography, Questions, Subconference, Teaching, Theories, What Is A Scholar?, Working