Category Archives: Resources

Things to read

J. E. Pacheco, Morirás lejos.

On James Mill, progressive versus traditional education, and charter schools.

The other Foucault — what led him to politics?

Crackeros, novelists I should read.

I want to read but first I need to calm down. I don’t feel calm in small towns. I’d also like to live somewhere with bookstores, and other signs of intellectual life. On the weekends, I’d like to go out in nature. It wouldn’t be humid, and there would be mountains.



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It is not what they do to you, it is what they can get you to do to yourself, is an important point for those of us who are dealing with misogyny or any kind of discrimination, really.

Another thing to remember is that although we are constantly told that most people can never admit they are in the wrong and that the sign of moral progress is to do so, even when you are in fact the wronged party, people lose respect for you when you apologize and you should consider not doing it. Do they? When they have in fact committed major crimes? They do not.

What I would like, though, for 2018 is to have more authority over the students, and therefore be in a position to be kinder to them or at least feel less wounded by them. In the old world, this authority existed in the structure of programs but now it does not. You have to be very, very solid in the bubble that is your courses, your world, and leave things at that.

I am on it.


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Rien n’est fini

But it seems that my father is going to die. Here is something his accountant suggested as a mantra.

In purest outpoured light, shimmers the godhead of the world… (it begins)

this is a verse Rudolf Steiner wrote, so the godhead is many gods that have dwindled or died

and live in the (ether-spiritual-other world, world of nature)

Your dad has a shimmer in his eye that, somehow there is a reflection of the other world space

it is quite peaceful and accepting


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On abusers and enablers in academic culture

This is an important article and should be read. “You would be hard-pressed to find a mental-health professional, a productivity expert, or a writing coach who would suggest that — rather than recognizing people’s talent and rewarding their hard work — the way to get good results out of people is by making them feel inadequate or confused,” is one of its key sentences.

My current weapon against anxiety is to give myself time, not try to rush. I am amazed how easy it is to start work when I know that starting does not have to mean rushing. This, for me, is the true procrastination-buster.

The other general weapon is to keep saying my work is good enough and that I am not crazy. The linked article talks about the impact of gas-lighting, and the importance of not deciding, in that situation, that the problem actually is you.

Holding onto these weapons, keeping them at hand and within view, is a constant struggle.


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About that bookkeeper

It is a bookkeeper for my aged father. The lawyer thinks he should have one as it is difficult to act financially for someone or help them with finances from out of state, you need to be present. I know this from experience, and can give details. I have qualms about the idea of my brother or myself trying to take over and was completely convinced by the lawyer that this is a good idea.

Everyone in the legal and financial professions I have asked about this also says this lawyer is right. The reason I understand this is that I have over the past four years helped my parents with some financial operations. I have learned how very important it is to be physically present, for legal reasons, when you are acting for someone else. I also understand how complicated it would be to set us up so as to be able to work legally from a distance.

My brother thinks the bookkeeper is too expensive but she is just over half the cost of the ones in San Francisco and here, and she does not have to put in many hours. My father can in fact afford her. It is arguably one of the most important services he could be paying for in terms of avoiding costly and scary screw-ups, and peace of mind for all of us. I would also be a lot more comfortable having a professional with full professional qualifications doing this, and someone outside the family.

In addition, the $100 per hour can be deducted as the cost of taxes and/or as a cost of Dad’s medical condition. And it will only amount to about $200 per month. To be stingy about this is to be penny wise and pound foolish. It is true that for the amount to be spent on the accountant my brother could fly in every three months or so ($300 flight, $300 lodging) but wouldn’t it be nice to spend that visit doing something other than banking? After all, there will be other things Dad needs–help shopping for clothes and other items, encouragement and support in health events. If we do not have to manage finances, we will have more time and energy to help with these things and also, just to have fun with Dad.

What would in fact be expensive is if Dad were ever declared incompetent and assigned a curator, or if a bank officer were hired to manage his affairs. The point of having the bookkeeper is to avoid both situations. The bookkeeper is not taking over, but merely helping, so Dad retains control of his affairs and my brother and I are both aware of what is happening and able to ask questions.

The bookkeeper would put accounts in QuickBooks so that we could all see them online, and would help us learn to use Quickbooks ourselves. I would like to suggest we at least go ahead for a trial period to see how much it would actually cost once the sustem is up and running with a bookkeeper. She will be able to provide an estimate and cost out both the set-up and maintenance.



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On primitivism and aristocracy

I do not agree with everything in this Appiah article on primitivism but there are some very interesting references in it.


I have been in Utrecht for a week and it has changed me greatly. I want to live here. I looked at some notes I made the first day and I know so much more about the town now, and the Netherlands are so much more familiar now.

I have learned something important: the idea that was imposed upon me, that one should finish the Ph.D. in a field like letters, and then decide what to do with one’s life, is an aristocratic one, was what aristocrats actually did. It is not an odd neurosis of mine that one must first prove personhood via the Ph.D. and ideally tenure in a top place in a humanities field before going on with one’s life, finding ones true field and vocation — it is an aristocratic ideal that was actually communicated to me as a requirement.

This is very interesting. Parents who want children out of the nest, on the one hand, but want to tie them to it hand and foot, on the other. I had some other psychoanalytic insights as well, about early infancy.


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On procrastination and block

Jonathan has a theory on procrastination which applies rather well but I have more ideas on it. My thoughts are not yet well formed but one is that there is a great difference between procrastination and block. I have been greatly frustrated by trying to use techniques designed to fight procrastination on block. I think at this point that Jonathan’s theory straddles the two. That is why it is tantalizing: it gets at something, but not quite.

Here are some of my fragmentary thoughts: procrastination can be tackled rationally, with techniques like Tanya’s, but block comes from the unconscious and has to be dealt with at more or less a psychoanalytic level. When I was blocked on that infamous manuscript and thought I was procrastinating, I kept having dreams that, if I had been willing to read them, meant that the project had to be dropped so that I could live.

The idea that is nipping at my heels, and that parallels both Jonathan’s theory and mine, has to do with addiction: I’ve heard that one is addicted not to “feel good” but to limit oneself: first through intoxication and yet more importantly, through hangover or withdrawal and the search for more drugs. Desired is the hangover and the limits it imposes. Why does one want limits? So as not to see beyond the horizon. Beyond the horizon are vistas you cannot yet tolerate, or that some introjected authority does not wish you to see.

You do not want to start because you do not believe you deserve to finish, suggests Jonathan (he calls this procrastination, although I would say this kind of procrastination is tinged with block). You both want and do not want the project, and are not aware of the full dimensions of this conflict, say I (this is outright block). In both cases, you are hanging onto limits.

The antidotes for askesis and acedia, as I found out by reading the early church fathers and Aquinas, are charity and love. This fits Jonathan’s theory (and I should unearth and share the piece of creative nonfiction I published on that). Charity and love, when lacking, are hard to find or build, but it is they and not discipline or strategy that stop procrastination. What stops block is deeper work, that involves seeing things you would rather not.



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