Antropologías del sur

There are all these books, new books, amazing South American anthropology and theory books, that you can download from the Antropologías del sur site. There is also a really smart post about writing productivity.

I keep forgetting that I am slightly dissociative, or slightly withdrawn. I forget because it is almost imperceptible, and then I don’t understand myself when it happens. I have had a new and unexplained attraction to small children lately, and I wonder if the one I am looking for is me.

I have thought about access to self, and bringing more ego to things. If I address this small person directly, bring them along with me, it might help. It would be someone to get objective for, to be sweet to, to be positive for.

Axé.

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Neoliberal and other subjects

General broadcast: you have to have a self and self-respect every day, and treat yourself as well as you do your pets and children. I constantly forget to do this, and it does not set the best example.

I tend not to have enough ego because in Reeducation I withdrew so far, I could not think. I dreamed at the time that I was having myself frozen so I could live inside a metal box, until it was safe to come out again. The alternative still seems to be sometimes the role Hattie diagnoses in one Meg:

She insists on falling apart, because she is trapped by all those crazy, murderous male egos, her brothers, and their manipulative guilt-tripping alcoholic mother. . . .

And Henry Giroux struggles when he writes and gets depressed over the state of the world, and I find it helpful that he says this. He is struggling in his study, and we can struggle, too.

What kind of world can we imagine? Hobsbawm knows. He also published his last book at 94, never left the Communist Party, and was yet another person who, as a child, was a German-speaking Jew, before events intervened. The Right is the enemy, but liberalism is the problem, he says.

Another person who talks about the relationship between the subject and the neoliberal state is Wendy Brown. Here is the text. The state is a market state, the university is a market university, and we are market subjects (formed by the market and the market state, furthermore). Read:

…neoliberalism normatively constructs and interpellates individuals as entrepreneurial actors in every sphere of life. . . . A fully realized neoliberal citizenry would be the opposite of public-minded; indeed, it would barely exist as a public. The body politic ceases to be a body. . . . Other evidence for progress in the development of such a citizenry is not far from hand: consider the market rationality permeating universities today, from admissions and recruiting to the relentless consumer mentality of students as they consider university brand names, courses, and services, from faculty raiding and pay scales to promotion criteria.Or consider the way in which consequential moral lapses (of a sexual or criminal nature) by politicians, business executives, or church and university administrators are so often apologized for as “mistakes in judgment,” implying that it was the calculation that was wrong, not the act, actor, or rationale.

Of course, one of my papers has to do with the formation of subjects by the state. This article on free speech and liberal society has something to do with state and subject, that I might articulate.

Liberalism sees racism as something political, and therefore contestable. It is not. It is a systemic and historical fact with material consequences, whether they be economic or threats of bodily harm — something at the core of Taylor’s book and research. But liberalism operates in a world of ideals, not material reality, and it cannot help but conceive of racism in terms of free speech. It’s something that can be mitigated through reason or debate, that is, through the central tenets of free speech and the marketplace of ideas. But just as neoliberals mystify government complicity in and control over markets, liberal idealism mystifies racism via free speech, and obscures the fundamental fact that there are limits to free speech.

Let us see: racism has material origins and is constitutive of the state, not a blemish upon it or an idea up for debate. It is a systemic fact. My paper is not on free speech, or on speech — or is it? The problem seems to be that one important role of liberal discourse is to obscure race as systemic fact.

Axé.

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On wing-clipping

This life is more ascetic than one I would lead, but it has the meditativeness I like and the activity. Other people swear by the 15-minute block and perhaps it is because of having been invaded and trampled upon so much, but I don’t like crammed schedules and do like time to meditate. My difficulty with work is not bringing enough ego to it. Not thinking one was allowed to be present with the work, as oneself.

I also never know whether I am bored with my topics, or only want to escape abusive environments. There are fields I have always wished to be in, and topics I have always wished to devote myself to. I long for them, for a non-abusive environment, and for just having or being able or feeling safe to put the requisite amount of ego toward a project, all at once. But I need to bring enough ego to things, regardless.

I had written some notes on the back of a grocery receipt, which I have misplaced or lost. I have other notes, also about having clipped wings. The image that came to me involved having new parts of my body cut off, so I would never be larger than a kindergarten size.

In research, one was not to be original, but obedient. In teaching, acceptable. In Reeducation, as with part of the family, one was not to be an intellectual at all. And now, memos saying “we do not support research in your field” are something I should simply burn, I see.

How to grow clipped wings? How to learn to place enough ego where it is needed? I might say: I will protect you from the clippers, little Z.

Axé.

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Eh bien

The current firestorm is useful insofar as I now know whose so-called expertise not to trust. (Yes, one should always look at all policy documents, review them, seek the wisdom therein but that is something we can all do.)

I am told I am not competent enough, or trustworthy enough. I don’t sacrifice enough, take enough risks, or stand up enough for what’s right. These particular insults, to me, are salt in old wounds and that is why it is rough.

The truth, though, is the opposite. And I sacrifice too much, and give too much ground to others’ views. Who originally made these accusations to me, who carved those wounds? The things said were not true, little Z, and I will not let them be said to you again.

Axé.

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Mail I am not sending

I am being mistreated and am trying not to engage. I would send mail saying:

Just to keep you informed, K and I decided, for Fall, to:

a/ let situation A unfold as it will.
b/ support B if they want to work toward C.

c/ support B if they want to work toward D.

I wanted us also to create E, but I don’t think we will. I regret that, but I hope we can make it a regular event starting next year.*

About R, it is you who misunderstand. I have thought very carefully about all you have said. I also have a great deal of experience and expertise of my own here, and my conclusions are in line with those of other experts.

*Update! We are creating E!

Axé.

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On W. G. Sebald’s Austerlitz

Reading Austerlitz has been a major experience in my life, for the literary quality of the novel which I hope to discuss another day. What I have to say now is not why I am so impressed with the novel. Still, it is odd that the year’s events have placed me in a Sebald-like position.

I did not expect my father’s Y-DNA to be Ashkenazi (I thought this heritage was only on his paternal great-grandmother’s line), and I did not expect the alleged Belgian origins of our name to be in and near the Pale of Settlement. I did not expect to find the names of my 2d great grandfather the immigrant, and his father (b. 1797), and his father (b. 1773), to be recorded in the list of the Czar’s Jewish troops, Mitau-Jelgava. I did not realize that the Baltic countries were where the Final Solution was carried out the most completely, nor that I would contemplate the names of probable cousins in the lists of the dead. There were even people with my name at Theresienstadt.

From September to March I discovered all the Russian documents, which are not mysterious, but only new. From March to now I have been looking at the Latvian traces, which are far closer to me, but also much more shadowy. If I were W. G. Sebald I would illustrate these comments with a reproduction of the reproduction of the passport I found (but have misplaced) of a cousin in law, as it was turned in to police, Riga 1941.

Getting intimate with the Holocaust: the first step was realizing, by reading the Russian papers (which I must read with Google Translate, which makes me the decipherer of a distant world, as is the character Austerlitz) and realizing that some relatives of ours had been shot by the Gestapo because they were Jews and living in Crimea, which was occupied. I knew there were Jews in the family, but had not thought of this. The next, larger step was realizing how Jewish the family really was, including my direct ancestors (not just cousins by marriage, or people in other branches). This led to looking for more remote ancestors in Jewish databases. I learned that the records I was looking for, from the 18th century and earlier, had been burned, and the reconstruction focused on the twentieth century dead. It was in those lists I saw my name.

Axé.

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Sur le corps

The March 2006 PMLA (121:2) is one of those I kept, to study, and am no longer because those articles are now available online and: you must clear out bookshelves if you are to see what you have.

I kept it because it had articles about the body and corporeality, including one on Descartes and another on Frederick Douglass and transnational blackness. So: transnational blackness was a Thing in Douglass’ time; there is a great deal more in this article. On Descartes: there is a Cartesian body, but it is not the mechanical one subject to coercion (Foucault). It is an aesthetic body (“aesthetic machine”).

I wonder. I was making these notes so I could recycle the journal, and remember to read online later. But perhaps these things are of interest for the current presentation, which has Descartes, blackness and the body in it.

Axé.

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