Category Archives: Questions

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.


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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.


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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.


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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?


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Esto suena reaccionario

The practical reason I did not go out with professors when I was in graduate school was concern about possible future damage to my career. However, that appears to be the reason people say yes, not no. What am I missing here?



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On that Heineken advertisement

I can write in more detail later, but I do note that when Frederick Douglass visited the house where he had spent time as a child–my family’s house–they did in fact offer him, and he did in fact accept a glass of wine. They were at the same time involved in reenslavement at their Mississippi properties, and I have additional reasons not to think the glass of wine was terribly meaningful.

I am also somewhat alarmed nowadays to note that respect for “diversity” is defined as remembering that white people “have rights, too.”



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After Utrecht

While I am at the conference in Utrecht I will have an Air B and B apartment and after that I am theoretically spending 4 nights in Tournai and 4 in Antwerp.

I had a more economical place to stay in Antwerp (the ‘t Stadhuys Grote Markt) but heard it was very noisy and so changed to the Rosier10, at that address (Rosier 10) Antwerp 2000. In Tournai I am at Apart’hotel Le Dix, Place de Nedonchel 10. Like the Antwerp hotel, this one alludes to its address in its name.

This means that with tax I spend almost $1,000 in hotel costs for 8 days, and this is being done because I no longer tolerate bad lodgings as easily as I once did. The reason I am staying in Belgium is that my return flight is from Belgium, and I am trying to save on the cost of travel elsewhere.

But for $1,000 I could fly to Riga and back, and stay somewhere comfortable for less than in Belgium and be better humored if where I stayed were not comfortable. I could go to Mitau, and to the beach at Jurmala.

I should do it. Now, the cheapest flights are an illusion since they do not allow for luggage, so it will really cost about $400 to fly back and forth. This would leave $600 for lodging, if we take the $1000 figure to be accurate, and perhaps I could do it for less.



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