Category Archives: Questions

For comment

Staff members told attendees to keep the visits discreet, she says, for fear that their interest in nonacademic careers could hurt their relationship with their faculty advisers.

That is from this article, which I feel needs deconstruction.

It is very fraught. Should degree programs be changed since not all students become professors? Is it really that dangerous to say you have other career plans? If you say it and professors look at you askance, should you quake in fear, or can you (wo)man up?


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On considering suicide

It is a response to mistreatment I do not think I should recognize as such, but cannot help feeling is mistreatment. I try to convince myself that the mis-treater, so to speak, is justified, or that I should be tolerant, or that they have done the best they can, and I fail.

Then I think the next option is suicide. It is not legitimate to be angry or disappointed, or to notice mistreatment. Since I have failed to talk myself out of these perceptions and attitudes, my only option is suicide.

Exactly how this conclusion is reached, it would be interesting to understand. One element in the morass that I really would rather die (or perhaps kill) than act under pressure or against my better judgment.

Another element has to do with serving others. I should serve others, without desires of my own, not just eight hours a day but in every aspect of life, or I should die, I appear to have learned.

A different way of looking at it is to consider how deeply angry I have been since early childhood. I am angry enough to reject someone, or to kill them if I am not allowed to reject them. Since those things are not possible, I would prefer to die.



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On Comparative Literature

. . . in having to build its own comparative apparatus, the discipline is forced to balance breadth against depth. It can escape neither geographical reach nor philosophical literacy. It thus requires the achievement, and not the mere avowal of a multicultural perspective.

What do you think of this piece?


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Filed under Questions, Theories, What Is A Scholar?, Working

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?



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

Books on imperial Spain, and other books

I have so many books to read but I always want others. If there were bookstores I would walk to them and browse, and if the libraries had budgets I could peruse new acquisitions.

The desired books of the day are Hugh Thomas, World without end: Spain, Philip II, and the first global empire and Spain: the centre of the world, 1519-1682, to begin with; also, a fascinating book on William Pitt’s suppression of English intellectual life in the 1790s — a vigorous activity whose effects are felt clearly today.

What I am actually trying to read is a book by Agamben and I am bored. I should need the ideas in it as it is about slavery and ontology, but I do not like philosophy. I like theory and poetics, but not philosophy. I lack patience for philosophy, am I alone?

Other reviews I have read today (while avoiding Agamben and other, more pressing things) include a fascinating essay on biographies of Charlie Parker. Is he another of these innovative modernists, like Vallejo and Lorca, that died young in a disorderly way and got mythologized?

I learned that Perry Anderson is Benedict Anderson’s brother, in a beautiful review of Benedict Anderson’s memoir. “Shine always!” I thought of Michael Ratner, with whom I had hoped to work one day, and who is dead too.



Filed under Bibliography, Poetry, Questions

Sur le temps

I, too, dislike scheduling to death because it is altogether too intimidating. A schedule is good but it must have a great deal of empty space in it.

But I am more than ever convinced that scheduling and time are small issues. It is far more fundamental not to allow unbearable pressure, to do what you like, and to speak kindly to yourself.

In Reeducation I learned that these were coping mechanisms; they would make you feel well and you lose access to the truth of your situation. This is false.

I do have difficulty discerning what I like; it is only easy to see what I do not object to.

Do I like my profession? Not at the level at which I am asked to practice it, no; nor in these conditions. Could I? Yes. Is it the only one I could like, or the one I would like the very most? Not necessarily.

My question is, why does academia require this kind of loyalty? Why must one say it is the best and the only, and not just that out of the things one could have done, it was what one opted for?



Filed under Da Whiteman, Questions, Working

The one who is to come

Acaba de pasar el que vendrá
proscrito, a sentarse en mi triple desarrollo;
acaba de pasar criminalmente.

Acaba de sentarse más acá,
a un cuerpo de distancia de mi alma,
el que vino en un asno a enflaquecerme;
acaba de sentarse de pie, lívido.

Acaba de darme lo que está acabado,
el calor del fuego y el pronombre inmenso
que el animal crió bajo su cola.

Acaba de expresarme su duda sobre hipótesis lejanas
que él aleja, aún más, con la mirada.

Acaba de hacer al bien los honores que le tocan
en virtud del infame paquidermo,
por lo soñado en mi y en él matado.

Acaba de ponerme (no hay primera)
su segunda aflixión en plenos lomos
y su tercer sudor en plena lágrima.

Acaba de pasar sin haber venido.

–C.V. 12.XI.1937

I need a better Christian education to understand texts like this one but the Unitarians say “el que vendrá” in the Book of Revelation is not Christ but God. The One who is to come appears as well in more than one Gospel.


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