Category Archives: Theories

Punctum Books

…[W]hy is everyone so afraid to write what they want to write, to publish what they want to publish? Why, we ruminated together, whether we are seeking tenure-track jobs or have tenure already or simply want to get inside the covers of a book, are we besieged by so many anxieties and fears regarding what we think we are allowed to say, allowed to write, allowed to express? Might it be possible, we wondered out loud, to found a press that would specifically answer to the specific desires of singular individuals who might almost be dying (inside) to write something that they have convinced themselves in advance is unpublishable and for which no existing publisher would take the “risk”? And might a publisher then perform the (loving) function of a form of self-care that attends to these singular desires, that allows them to flourish and find their way into the world that would be sustaining of the spirit and dignity that gave birth to them?

It is the connection of desire to reality that possesses revolutionary force.

Axé.

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Ideology, subjectivity, and the name of the father

Today’s review item involves Althusser and Lacan. We must study the items named in the title of this post and come to a deeper understanding of them. I am writing about how political euphemism functions to undermine the integrity of the speaker, or rather, the subject(ivity) it interpellates. What I am saying is more naive than what Althusser or Lacan would say, I believe, because I am assuming some preexisting “integrity.”

Is this wrong? Who is the “I” who says “I shall not, I shall not be moved”?

Axé.

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Anxiety and Reeducation

This.

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Slavoj Žižek

Global capitalism has no problem in accommodating itself to a plurality of local religions, cultures and traditions. So the irony of anti-Eurocentrism is that, on behalf of anti-colonialism, one criticizes the West at the very historical moment when global capitalism no longer needs Western cultural values in order to smoothly function. In short, one tends to reject Western cultural values at the very time when, critically reinterpreted, many of those values (egalitarianism, fundamental rights, freedom of the press, the welfare-state, etc.) can serve as a weapon against capitalist globalization. Did we already forget that the entire idea of Communist emancipation as envisaged by Marx is a thoroughly “Eurocentric” one?

This is a smart article, and you should read it all.

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Frank Furedi

Throughout most of the 20th century, therapy was advertised as both a cure and as an instrument for the construction of a happy society. It was promoted as a positive way of exploring and expanding the individual’s personality. From the perspective of today’s therapeutic ethos, therapy is much more a means of survival than an instrument through which enlightenment can be gained. Individuals are not so much cured as placed in a state of recovery. They are far more likely to be instructed to acknowledge their problems than to conquer them.

Therapy today, like the wider culture of which it is a part, teaches people to know their place.

This book on a key aspect of Reeducation is over twelve years old. I would have done well to read it when it was new.

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Si yo pudiera…

If I could run these language courses in a way that would work for me and the students, I would:

1/ Walk in with review and warm-up questions (5 minutes)

2/ Go over homework (5 minutes)

3/ Have a short quiz (5 minutes)

4/ Introduce a new reading / vocabulary theme / grammatical structure (depending on the day) (15 minutes, including showing audio, video, images)

5/ Explain #4 after having immersed students in it and engaged them with it (5 minutes)

6/ Do some easy exercises with this new material (10 minutes)

7/ Assign some more complex exercises as homework, make announcements, wrap up (5 minutes)

What do you think? And — why is it that I cannot do anything this rational? Can I find a way to do it, in the current situation?

Axé.

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Apuntes

Do you think blogs are over? Some of the ones that existed when I started in 2006, are still going, but many of those I used to read are gone — and so many have become so quasi-professional, so official. I have thought of stopping sometimes, but really what I would like is to get back to posting every day.

This was a poetry blog that became a therapeutic and political blog, and then an academic one. Mostly, though, it is therapeutic. I started seeking therapy for what I later learned was a form of child abuse when I was 17. I had thought about it before, obviously, but not been in a position to seek.

About ten years after that I had a psychoanalyst in Brazil — that is to say, I interviewed one, tried her out, before deciding that cultural differences and extreme Freudianism meant she was not the one for me. I did tell her, though, that I had worked hard as a child, knowing I was liable to pick up traits from each parent, to discern which traits of each I wanted to emulate and which I must avoid absorbing if I wished to survive.

She said, what about thinking less about other people you might want to resemble, and more about resembling yourself? I said I was doing that in daily life, but also wanted to understand who and what I was also imitating, so as to cast off some patterns that were inhibiting my doing what she recommended.

I was thinking about this now. More and more I can see what I imitated, it is endless. But it does not really deeper analysis than it has had, and now is the time to take up the Brazilian analyst’s advice. That is the reason I am nostalgic for northern California now, the place where I was doing that earlier in life, before I had even met that analyst.

One of my students says that the typical Louisiana woman is entangled in an extended family and with a boyfriend or husband who also limits her, and does not know what she wants to do. I realized: that was the person Reeducation wanted me to be, or to become.

Axé.

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