Category Archives: Resources

Octavio Paz

El interlocutor de Piedra de sol no es una mujer, ni la humanidad en abstracto, es el hombre de la modernidad, es el hombre urbano que pretende involucrarse en los asuntos de la polis y al que se le advierte “amar es combatir”.

La otredad que es el cuerpo de la mujer en Piedra de sol se resuelve y disuelve entonces a partir del “endiosamiento” de manera que el cuerpo de la mujer deviene cuerpo temible, inalcanzable y castrante, solo cuerpo, naturaleza. Idealizar la otredad fue la gran tarea de la modernidad nacional y permitió crear productos de importación que fueron premiados y reconocidos, lo que a su vez permitió —aunque fuera momentáneamente— escapar de la fragilidad de los asuntos humanos.

Read it all.



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Ninety seconds of insight

As I clear out files, I find scraps of paper; the one I have just found had this title.

It says that it is not a comment on writing or research, but on other aspects of work.

It says that the amount of time I have to spend managing other peoples’ emotions about my degrees and my expertise is untenable.

It says that there are multiple issues surrounding questions of authority: because I have the degrees I have, I am assumed to want to be authoritarian; at the same time, I am to compensate for having these oppressive degrees by not exercising the authority that is normal and even necessary for a person with my job description. I am not to do the things I know are right.

It talks about the idea that everything I know is wrong, because I am the knower and there is (allegedly) something wrong with me; the idea that things are wrong if I know them, and that it is wrong of me to know things.




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Je est un autre

The 19th century is so rich and strange. The wicked Wiki:

George Alphonse Fleury Izambard (born December 11, 1848 in Paris[1]– February, 1931) was a French school teacher, best known as the teacher of poet Arthur Rimbaud. He taught at the Collège de Charleville in Charleville, where his nickname was “Zanzibar”.[2]

On 4 May 1870, Rimbaud’s mother wrote to Izambard to complain about him giving Rimbaud Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables to read.[3][4] In May 1871, Rimbaud sent an important letter to Izambard. In this letter, (which includes the poem ” Le Cœur supplicié”), he affirms that he wants to be a poet, and that he is working to become a “voyant”:

Je veux être poète, et je travaille à me rendre voyant: vous ne comprendrez pas du tout, et je ne saurais presque vous expliquer. Il s’agit d’arriver à l’inconnu par le dérèglement de tous les sens. Les souffrances sont énormes, mais il faut être fort, être né poète, et je me suis reconnu poète. Ce n’est pas du tout ma faute. C’est faux de dire: Je pense: on devrait dire: On me pense. − Pardon du jeu de mots. − Je est un autre. Tant pis pour le bois qui se trouve violon, et nargue aux inconscients, qui ergotent sur ce qu’ils ignorent tout à fait!

I have decided to apply for something again, and it means I have to list my accomplishments. I should apply for things more often as this activity does one good. I realized, once again, that this was yet another version of the problem with Reeducation: you were to live in your space of weakness, not your space of strength (which was not considered a space of strength but a liability, the locus of “coping mechanisms” and “denial”).

I am another person now.



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C’est intéressant

White candles and an amulet would be what I need now. The candles I can get, and the amulet I should seriously acquire.

I am told, intriguingly, that it is less stressful to say This Is Happening, so now what than No It Is Not. That, I can tell, is true.

Yet more intriguingly, But I know nobody. Can Force you to have. Self image you don’t want to. That’s your choice. I am less sure of this but if it is true then it gives a lot of power. I used to have that kind of power.

How to square this with: Being in an abusive relationship can knock your sense of Self and your self-confidence right down, until you barely know who you are any more, it can rob you of your ability to trust or to make even simple decisions, it can leave you doubting your own judgemnt and gut reaction… is a question I have not yet resolved, but I may be able to do it.

One can learn not to be complicit, I am sure.

What someone said tonight: “It is so nice, on this campus, to see that there is someone who is intellectually engaged.”


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Et voilà

Does “the therapeutic model” (as though there were only one) interdict practitioners from identifying or naming experiences such as emotional abuse? Should practitioners not say such things “as they might intrude upon their client’s reality”? I would say not: not to recognize such things is to ignore what is happening. I also wonder why emotional abuse should be something practitioners are not allowed to identify; they make wilder conjectures than that daily.

My information, gathered over the past years, is that people have not known a great deal about abuse, and that it is in fact hard to recognize. All the problems I have, have to do with dealing with abusive situations I do not know how to recognize or handle, and that I submit to but do not function well in. I can try to say I am depressed, I can try to say I have an anxiety disorder, I can try to say I have some form of ADHD, but the clear answer is always that the emotional abuse has kicked up again and I have been felled by it again.

I think that learning how to recognize it and not internalize it is an excellent project and I hardly think it would be inappropriate for therapy. And there is, efectivamente, therapy for this, that names it. Emotional abuse in the guise of advice is one thing I have suffered from, and I have always found it useful to identify what is happening.

Yesterday I was talking with some people who I would say are healthier than I am in this regard, about a situation we all have with someone. They see it more clearly than I do and apparently their friends also see it more clearly than do mine. I have learned that when I have difficulty thinking clearly it is invariably that I am in an abusive situation I do not recognize, and in which I am inadvertently complicit.

I had a screening psychotherapist tell me one time: “You are enmeshed in a system and you fear extreme violence.” This did not seem intrusive to me at all. It was illuminating. The person to whom I was funneled was, however, a Reeducator. According to him, the large space of health I had created in my life was not health but “denial.” “Honesty” was to reenvision myself as a victim and accept powerlessness. To live in the space of darkness and there to work not toward a future but merely through each painful day.

Someone else says something different: “The worst thing you can develop, in terms of your health, happiness, and deepest values, is an identity as a victim. Victim identity destroys personal power and undermines the sense of self. It makes you falsely identify with “damage” done to you or with bad things that have happened to you.”

And: “As you experience the enormous depth of your core value, the last thing you will want to do is identify with being a victim, or a survivor, for that matter. You want to outgrow walking on eggshells, not simply survive it, and you do that only by realizing your fullest value as a person.”

That is a very mainstream, even commercial person, writing in Psychology Today, and I hardly find these ideas intrusive.



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I am becoming more efficient

♦KW21ZM —  ID Code 1P3D. I must call United and make sure they have my frequent flyer number. I must remember to download a parking coupon for the Parking Spot.

I must decide whether to drive to N.O. at the crack of dawn, or spend the night there before LASA. If I do this, I need a reservation now. It means spending more money but I could do research, it would be during the week.

I must decide whether to drive to Houston at the crack of dawn, or spend the night there before going to Cincinnatti. This is an easier decision since I know where I want to stay. I need to reserve, however.

♦I have to call Judy, e-mail Judith and Corinne, and write that letter of recommendation.

♦I must mail things from the Pest Office and pick up cleaning.

♦I must do taxes.

♦I might as well reserve that Peruvian flight.

♦I need a Peruvian abstract.

♦I need to keep working on that LASA paper, and maintain momentum on my book since it is very inspiring.



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Pour considérer et faire

There are many things here I do not take advantage of because of financial considerations — getting to them. No individual excursion is particularly expensive, but they mount up and I need more than I actually undertake. Life would be really different with a small amount of funding. Those working in the university’s centers of excellence are able to take advantage of our area in ways I am simply not.

This is unfortunate and must be addressed somehow. I wonder whether, if I moved, I could paradoxically be funded to do more work here. Just thinking about what it would be like to work at this place I am threatening to apply to makes me truly appreciate the exotic Louisiana culture and its comparative plethora of research resources.

Keywords to be kept in mind for work and other things are: gaslighting and addictive love.
♦Are you being told there are terrible disasters that must be addressed just so someone can offload their pain and enmire you in trying to help them work out what were really only passing emotions for them?
♦Are you being engaged or told your efforts are sorely needed on a particular project because they are, or because the weak need company? (What looks like an energy-destroying black hole, probably is.)



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My psychological and academic suffering has much more to do with my specific department than I had realized. Usually I think the issues are what I bring with me and do not allow myself to see how much is structural.

Also, the capitalistic idea that money does not buy happiness is false. Every time I am able to get out of town, I am much happier. When I present in a high quality academic venue, the pain disappears entirely and my mind comes into focus.

(That was a secondary, but still important reason for me to go to law school at a good place. The objective, as I knew then, was most fundamentally healing, a healing still need although I catch glimpses of it at times.)

I know it is easy to say I am elitist and arrogant to prefer interesting discussion over, say, oppression and bickering. I disagree and I think that criticism comes from some hierarchical and competitive mentality that I am not in, and wilfully misreads what I am saying

Someone told me lately, and interestingly, that my preference for “being a small fish in a very good pond over a large fish in a small one” — my interest in pond quality, as it were, over interest in my own size — was unusual, and was a minority attitude.

A professor at this conference was talking about assistant professorships as interrogation rooms where one is being taught to see like the state.

I think the teaching crisis I brought on and then had this semester has been a “correction” … in this sense.


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♦Freedom as death struggle (Hegel); “death or liberty.” Haitian independence slogan, apparently: Vive la mort! (But it is also a mercenary slogan.)

♦THE VIOLENCE AT THE ORIGIN, ORIGINARY VIOLENCE. Which must then be forgotten. Sommer says these “foundational” texts are intended to heal originary violence but do they really work that way?

♦Should I call the first chapter of my book “Fictional Foundations of Latin American Culture” (playing on Foundational Fictions)? Or, would it be better to just use that phrase in the text (and explain it)? A key part of my mission, it seems, is to engage and respond to that Sommer book. I think I am writing about race but perhaps this is the real center of the thing.

♦These “foundational fictions” do not found, but un-found, because they unravel (cf. María) as much as they posit or remain solid. They found fictionally, but not really, and what goes on in terms of policy and practice does not necessarily match what the letrados say.

♦Classic 19th century texts declare certain projects, but they also put much historical reality under some sort of erasure. They may function best as ways to form horizons of interpretation that become hard to see beyond … such that certain analyses are reproduced and others are interdicted.

♦Those are some rudimentary ideas AND they will help with the article I must finish NOW.

♦I should use, somehow, somewhere, the “Fundación mítica de Buenos Aires” and its idea of an illusory, shared past.

♦Also, Baldwin: “The American idea of racial progress is measured by how fast I become white.”Blanqueamiento is not just a Latin American thing.


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La psychanalyse du vendredi

Thank you for all of your instruction and guidance in my education and my post graduation plans. While your classes at first intimidated me, the challenges they present have become a pleasure, and in the end, I find they have been defining of my time at Vichy State. Your attitude and expectations have always encouraged me to go beyond the conventional and, most importantly, to think, think, think.

–from a nice note I got today

Intimidated. But the thing is that I am intimidated, and if I am intimidating I think it is because I am myself terrified due to having been terrorized. Still, despite being terrified I must manage not to feel terrified because this way I am intimidating and it does not serve me well.

On my teaching thread (I am in an online discussion group on teaching under my real name) a full professor in the UC system is telling me that smart means scary and the issue is fragile egos. I think this is a useful comment. I tend to think I am some sort of criminal: I have done terrible things to people that I do not understand or remember. But it may be that I have not done anything except be smart.

Since I think I have done something awful that I did not realize was awful and do not remember, I am on edge all the time, hoping not to commit the crime again and concerned I may be told I have. This feeling that I may be accused of terrible things at any time, that there may be no defense, and that there may be terrible torture sessions ahead, is quite undermining to say the least.

The worst of it is half believing I am truly monstruous and do not know it. If I consider the possibility that mine is just a case of “smart means scary” then I might be able to relax more and actually be less scary.

I tend to think my impression that we are in a prison camp has to do with things that happened to me earlier on and that I have not shaken. While that is true in part, there are significant aspects of current real life which actually have these characteristics. Someone told me yesterday, for example, that we were constantly under a new threat or new state of siege. This is also worth understanding.

In psychotherapy we were encouraged to “look at ourselves,” to remember that things that are wrong are usually wrong within ourselves, and we were told that political critique is nothing but “blaming others” and “not taking responsibility.” I did not realize at the time that these phrases were not therapeutic phrases but were taken out of a 12-step handbook, and that the therapist was a 12-stepper (I was not familiar with this wicked movement) and was modeling his role as therapist on that of his “sponsor” in CODA or whatever branch of 12-stepping he was in.

What intimidated the therapist was that we were smart, and we were already self-aware. I decided to keep an open mind and did not quit as soon as the other friends I had, and who had been referred to the same person, did. As a result of this he was able to convince me that something was very deeply wrong with me. But I think it was just that I was smart. I think that now, the combination of being smart and also being convinced that this is a terrible moral sin, and being preoccupied with the idea that the smartnesss must be chopped down somehow the way a lethal and difficult to control animal might be chained, is disfiguring.

“…how we learned to limit ourselves” is a quotation I can explain and want to remember. It describes my experience in psychotherapy but also in the non-R1 zones of the academic world. It is a sin to be who you are; the reason it is a sin is that it hurts people. I have dreams in which I am searching for my victims, the people I have maimed and killed, because I am convinced they must exist, I have been told so. But perhaps not– perhaps they are just the people who were intimidated because I was smart, not because I was mean, and perhaps they are not maimed or killed but hale and healthy and engaged in torturing me.

So this is how I will now reform. 1. Consider the possibility that “intimidation” is the problem of the intimidated, not my problem. 2. Consider the possibility that I might not actually be mean, I might just be smart. 3. Act with confidence. Act as I do when I know I have backing. Since I have no backing, imagine myself as my own backing. Stop believing it is true that I have hurt someone terribly and must make it up to them by destroying myself. Stop believing that even a minor, civil disagreement means I will be dragged to torture chambers. Stop reacting with fear; be the person I suddenly transform into when I am in larger cities or universities, places where I feel adequately safe.

Honestly. I think I really am intimidating and I think it is because I am so intimidated. (And: amusing side note — that same psychotherapist was always haranguing, out of the blue, about how we had to “get more honest.” I had difficulty understanding this because truly, I am about the least duplicitous person I know and have even been told, not inaccurately, that I am “sincere to a fault.” But can you believe that I, willing to psychoanalyze myself in the open like this, ever took seriously the psychotherapeutic intimation that I, who am amazingly honorable, might be “dishonest,” “not taking responsibility,” and “not willing to consider the possibility that I might have faults” … ?)




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