Category Archives: Questions

Talking to myself, really

1/ So: You mean, Sanders ran in the primaries not to move the party to the left of the DLC & back to more mainstream / liberal Democratic line, but because of a personal vendetta against Clinton or to try to block a woman candidate? And this is why Trump won in the generals?

2/ It isn’t true that the radicals of the 50s and 60s did well. A lot of them were assassinated and/or jailed and/or had to go into exile, and are hardly famous. And some of those who are famous gave their lives. Who do you mean, that got rich? Do you mean Tom Hayden?

3/ It’s also not true that nobody working class votes left, or that left means some childish fantasy about revolution. I’m left and people always call me for strategy when they get desperate, and I wish they’d do it sooner.

Axé.

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Not of general interest

So: for that ALFS article, for which I have so much material and so much writing, but not a clear enough shape, I have these thoughts:

1. We have this situation:

Les valeurs d’émancipation et d’égalité n’animent plus le système universitaire, qui est devenu un système de tri de la population. Durant mon enfance, l’éducation était émancipatrice. Il y avait un bon niveau de tolérance à la déviance. Il y avait des profs d’histoire ou de philo communistes, anarchistes… Aujourd’hui, un impératif de perfection et donc de conformisme s’est mis en place. La fonction objective du système est de trier les gens et de retenir ceux qui sont les plus disciplinés et conformes. Au bout du bout, les gens qui finissent à la tête du pays sont incapables d’avoir une idée – je vous laisse imaginer à qui je pense.

But since liberal values are still invoked and a lexicon alluding to them is still used, the situation is hard to see. At the same time (and coming from the other direction), most people now were born to a university system where these values had already been abridged and the neo-liberal or corporate, or even the entrepreneurial university had already begun to take shape.

2. Can I afford to go to ACLA and if I try, should I present on Vallejo…or what? I have NOT written my Vallejo panelists as I had planned to do, or Emmanuel on a modernism / primitivism panel, and I should keep these ideas in mind.

3. My notes after ACLA in Utrecht: “Keep working on this paper. Keep working in general, you deserve it.” It is very hard for me to remember such things when I am here at Vichy State-Maringouin, but I am getting a bit better at it.

(Now I will go to the library, and then I will continue to think about the ACLA question.)

Axé.

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Une question

How much do students know about you? It appears that they know (correctly) that I had two straight parents who did not divorce, and one brother. They do not know more although they guess (incorrectly) that I am (a) Mexican or Argentine, (b) from “Europe,” and (c) lesbian (reasons for this are wearing black, not wearing stilettos, having strong opinions, going to New Orleans a lot, and never discussing boyfriends or husbands in class). They change their opinion on sexuality and marital status a lot, depending upon which of my mother’s rings I have fancifully decided to wear. They say they feel they know less about me than they do the other professors. I feel they know much more than they would know if we lived elsewhere, because in this culture much more is revealed than would be at home–although at the same time I note that I am far more comfortable than it is said I should be with events such as running into students at the gym. Qu’est-ce que c’est?

Axé.

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La liste pour les voyages

For my first voyage, I still need three AMTRAK tickets.

For my second voyage I have multiple reservations in Belgium: one in Tournai which must be cancelled, one in Antwerp which must be cancelled, and one in Antwerp which much be shortened.

For my third voyage, I need places to stay on the return voyage, I think. Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, Flagstaff, Tucumcari, Austin, home. I would love to really explore each place, mais cést déjà tellement.

Axé.

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La douleur, ou bien, a gender trap

I wake up feeling I have thrown my life away. I did it when I moved here. I regret it, and I am only waiting to die now. There are forty years left, if I can work long enough to have savings for my old age. If there is not enough to eat, I will take morphine and go.

Where does the pain come from, I keep asking, and I don’t like coming into contact with its source:

We don’t like you, we don’t love you, we don’t believe in you, your only chance of survival is to become a person we would like better and thus, perhaps, earn a measure of protection–which you will need, as you are incompetent and as we say, unlikable as well.

The rejection and the feeling of being thrown overboard.

I did not do the things I would have liked — environmental studies, economics, plastic arts, law, Arabic — because they were not the things corresponding to the person I should be and would not redeem me. What I sought was redemption.

It was all about not being the right kind of girl. My struggles around this led to obedience and imitation in school, not trusting in my own originality which is extreme (and I really should remember that).

Administration is the housework of academia and I am saddled with a great deal of it, and disliked because of this. It is in my power to say no to it, although when I have done this in the past, the results of not doing it have been yet more harmful to me personally than the results of doing it.

I wonder, though, whether saying no a second time is worth a try.

Axé.

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The paragraphs in question

Era su tipo el de las vírgenes de los más célebres pintores. Porque a una frente alta, coronada de cabellos negros y copiosos, naturalmente ondeados, unía facciones muy regulares, nariz recta que arrancaba desde el entrecejo, y por quedarse algo corta alzaba un si es no es el labio superior, como para dejar ver dos sartas de dientes menudos y blancos. Sus cejas describían un arco y daban mayor sombra a los ojos negros y rasgados, los cuales eran todo movilidad y fuego. La boca tenía chica y los labios llenos, indicando más voluptuosidad que firmeza de carácter. Las mejillas llenas y redondas y un hoyuelo en medio de la barba, formaban un conjunto bello, que para ser perfecto sólo faltaba que la expresión fuese menos maliciosa, si no maligna.

De cuerpo era más bien delgada que gruesa, para su edad antes baja que crecida, y el torso, visto de espaldas, angosto en el cuello y ancho hacia los hombros, formaba armonía encantadora, aun bajo sus humildes ropas, con el estrecho y flexible talle, que no hay medio de compararle sino con la base de una copa. La complexión podía pasar por saludable, la encarnación viva, hablando en el sentido en que los pintores toman esta palabra, aunque a poco que se fijaba la atención, se advertía en el color del rostro, que sin dejar de ser sanguíneo había demasiado ocre en su composición, y no resultaba diáfano ni libre. ¿A qué raza, pues, pertenecía esta muchacha? Difícil es decirlo. Sin embargo, a un ojo conocedor no podía esconderse que sus labios rojos tenían un borde o filete oscuro, y que la iluminación del rostro terminaba en una especie de penumbra hacia el nacimiento del cabello. Su sangre no era pura y bien podía asegurarse que allá en la tercera o cuarta generación estaba mezclada con la etíope.

Is she an angel or a devil? The bolded words indicate that my use of the word “discerning” for “conocedor” is in fact warranted.

Axé.

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There might be a problem with my title

This title uses, in English, my modified translation of a phrase from a 19th century text. That phrase is “un ojo conocedor” and my title is “That Discerning Eye: …”.

I discovered by chance (well, by reading U.S. slave narratives) that slaves and, I assume others, referred to the “discerning eye” as one that could see spirits. So this is the discerning eye in 19th century folk belief.

I further discovered that “that discerning eye” is a reference to the eye of God in 1 and 2 Corinthians. Also, in the Spanish Bible, people who know God, and distinguish between good and evil, “conocen.”

The ojo conocedor in the original text has a sense of discernment (making fine distinctions among races and colors), knowledge (racial knowledge), connoisseurship (amateur expertise in fine women).

I do not know that the author, Cirilo Villaverde, is referring to the discernment of spirits (although the idea of Cecilia Valdés as an evil spirit is interesting and fits with his attitude toward her). I am assuming, though, that he does know the Bible: God has an ojo conocedor, and those who know Him lo conocen. The Gnostics were also “conocedores.”

So: does all of this enrich my title and my discussion, or does it just mean I have inadvertently chosen a title whose meaning in English (from spiritualism African American folk belief) I did not know and cannot really tie to my argument?

I think the latter. In fact, the introduction to the book could be, or could begin with this discussion of the title. What do you think?

Axé.

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