The abstract

I have so many words written, and so many intuitions, and so much research done, and so much left to do. But getting a certain piece of writing done is essential, because it will allow me to work out a key idea. I am writing this abstract so that I can then write the paper that will work out what my EVOKE-AND-ELIDE concept really is.

Latin American and Chican@ writers from Bolívar to Anzaldúa have evoked mestizaje and border-crossing as ways of healing the “colonial wound” (Mignolo), whether by establishing modern nations (Bolívar), or transgressing persistent colonial and imperial hierarchies (Anzaldúa). Invocations of mestizaje, hybridity and transculturation can, however, also function to contain difference, and to maintain social hierarchy while masking its workings and in particular its racialized nature. This presentation is part of a project on race and state discourse in modern Latin American literature, and on the ways certain foundational and canonical works teach readers to see race and unsee racism.

To be continued…


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A year in the taiga

A Herzog-related film (I love Herzog) I was not aware of is Happy People. Happy people are the hunters of the taiga when they are hunting. I also learned in this film of the Ket people, who I instantly knew had to be ancestors of the Native Americans. And it does appear that their language is related to some Native American languages.

I like them very much. I like the Uyghurs as well, also a very old people. I am concerned for their survival, and for that of the Kets. What is it about central Asia, where I have never been, that seems so much like home? What is it about first peoples, what makes them so much warmer?

What in addition to colonialism destroyed us — or was that, with all of its elements, enough?


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Eugène Pottier

The original Internationale arose from the Paris Commune and I am going to memorize it as an exercise in history. This is the first stanza.

Debout! les damnés de la terre
Debout! les forçats de la faim
La raison tonne en son cratère,
C’est l’éruption de la fin.
Du passé faisons table rase
Foule esclave, debout! debout!
Le monde va changer de base
Nous ne sommes rien, soyons tout!


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Donald W. Duncan

in 1966, well before the Tet offensive and the My Lai massacre stirred national discontent, Mr. Duncan was one of the first returning veterans to portray the war as a moral quagmire that had little to do with fighting the spread of Communism, as American leaders were portraying it.

Read the whole thing, you will not regret it.


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Arno Gruen

The “good” father is thus not the one who helps one find one’s own self but he who spares one inner conflict. He is the father who gives one permission to vent destructiveness, who releases one from struggling with one’s own conscience. in other words, the “good” father is the bad father, who completely destroys the remnants of the really good mother. This means that fear not love reigns supreme.

The Insanity of normality. Realism as sickness: toward understanding human destructiveness. Trans. Hannum. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1992.

I am getting rid of this book because I have it photocopied and bound in a cover that hides what it is, so I forget that I have it. But it is a seriously good book and Arno Gruen is an important psychoanalyst.


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I must work on this abstract, which is due soon. The point of presenting at this conference is to restart work on that essay and thus, this book. The presentation must get me back to what I was doing, not just be another fragmentary spin-off.

In Being and Blackness in Latin America (2006), Patricia D. Fox highlights the floating, dynamic and ever-changing nature of culture and, specifically, of Afro-descendant culture in Latin America and in the diaspora. In order to make her description more specific, she uses the concept of “Uprootedness” which is related to Deleuze’s concept of the rhizome [Deleuze and Guattari 1977] and Edouard Glissant’s concept of Créolité [Glissant 1981], where creativity, rupture, and hybridity are elements that are fundamental in understanding the Afro. In her text, Fox indicates how, when researching such a particular cultural aspect and contemporary culture in general, it is no longer possible to focus in the traditional way from one viewpoint alone. On the contrary, she advocates reviewing and interpreting elements that have demonstrated the diversity and multiplicity that characterizes the cultures undergoing a permanent process of exchange and transposition.

Read it all.

The cultures of the African diaspora are hybrid, just as First Nations cultures have become. But hybridity and mestizaje as commonly understood mean whitening. That other hybridity is something I want to think about as I work on this.


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My tatami room

I will have this matting and these tatami mats and that is it. I already have the futon and the buckwheat pillows, and later I will acquire the kakebuton. There are also bamboo mats one could have.

I am nervous about these tatami mats, they are 75″ and my space would be 75″ exactly if it were not for the quarter rounds that make it slightly smaller. Yet I am convinced they are the answer.



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