Tag Archives: Vallejo

A comment on my once and future book

For the new year (this is the Jewish new year) I had hoped for a new beginning and I got, by random chance, comments on the blocked book manuscript that wrought such havoc on my life.

I confess to just having looked it up and skimmed a bit — you write well. For your conceptual blockbusting: deconstruction, à la Derrida, relies on a reified Cartesian self that can be sullied and broken (= Freud). Most of Latin america does Lacan, not Freud, which has the notion of a plural and situated self (see Kristeva and Black Sun). It’s also a Catholic thing and a Marxist thing, neither of which fits Derrida. Look at Deleuze — What is philosophy. The subject does not exist, it arises from being a position in (there) a discipline or a symbolic order (Lacan’s version). Thus subject POSITIONS are critical, not SUBJECT. If Vallejo ventriloquizes different subjects, it’s because he’s interested in post-Marxist concepts of plural subjects. I’ll stop now. I don’t know Vallejo but have worked with enough LA-ists to ask pointed questions. It’s not non-Western, it’s collectivist Western, which lost in Europe and Anglo-America (Calvinist countries all – “all about me”) which half of France (Deleuze/Foucault/Bourdieu half) remembers, too.

This is Vallejo.

Graniza tánto, como para que yo recuerde
y acreciente las perlas
que he recogido del hocico mismo
de cada tempestad.

No se vaya a secar esta lluvia.
A menos que me fuese dado
caer ahora para ella, o que me enterrasen
mojado en el agua
que surtiera de todos los fuegos.

¿Hasta dónde me alcanzará esta lluvia?
Temo me quede con algún flanco seco;
temo que ella se vaya, sin haberme probado
en las sequías de increíbles cuerdas vocales,
por las que,
para dar armonía,
hay siempre que subir ¡nunca bajar!
¿No subimos acaso para abajo?

Canta, lluvia, en la costa aún sin mar!


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Of interest

Diglossia: Vallejo and Verlaine

Ballón Aguirre’s curious text


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Books and journals going now

…because they are just too tattered, they are depressing me. They are wonderful and epoch-making as well, and I hate to let them go since they are like limbs. They are:

New German Critique 22 (Winter 1981), special issue on Modernism. Articles by Habermas, Giddens, Bürger, Huyssen, Nägele, Bainard Cowan, Michael Ryan, more.
Revista Iberoamericana 118-119 (enero-junio 1982), with classic articles on the avant-garde, wonderful (if outdated) texts I should really reread; 127 (abril-junio 1984), a marvelous issue on “la proyección de lo indígena en las literaturas de la América Hispánica” with articles on Mariátegui, indigenismo, and much more; 175 (abril-junio 1996), with additional wonderful articles on modernisms I want to reread.
Santiago, Silviano. Uma literatura nos trópicos.

There is so much that I don’t read or write because I do not feel at ease or at home. I am concentrating on holding things together, repressing the desire for life, and containing or tolerating pain and outright terror.

I read and wrote little for several years because I had a book contract. I was not sure I agreed with the revisions I had promised for commercial reasons, and I knew this project could not be finished in six months. But I could not say this, because I was afraid that if I said so out loud I would be accused of laziness or conspiracy to procrastinate, and would have to undergo torture for it. So I did not read or write for other projects, because I was to manage time such as to concentrate on this project; yet I could not find a way to plan the time since in fact, there was no feasible way to read enough in six months to consider whether or not the required revisions were desirable, let alone make them.

Without that six-month deadline, that recurred again and again, I could have worked these things out but the six-month deadline, with the exhortations about time management, laziness and conspiracy to procrastinate, but due to these exhortations I mostly transformed myself into a rabbit or cat, hid behind the couch, and panted.

After that I came here to Maringouin. I had wanted to do something more interesting but had been exhorted not to. I felt guilty about the pain I would cause others if I did not do as they wished, and fearful of the torture I would have to undergo if I caused them that pain. I came here to Maringouin on the theory that now, relieved of that deadline, I would write and read.

What I did was build program and serve others, because they were crying out in pain and requiring it and also because we were all threatened with annihilation if I refused, I was told. Now I do not know whether I would write and read the things I would write and read as an academic in this field if I were no longer employed in it, but I can no longer tolerate this repression.

Let us look at the ways in which I have been repressed by certain categories of academic work, or more accurately by their distortion under neoliberalism:

  1. Teaching. Your primary interest is to be a nurturing teacher of lower division students; your next interest is accompanying advanced undergraduates as they emote with literary texts. Those students may deserve someone to do this with them but it is not me.
  2. Research. You should publish, but not what you are interested in or think best. You should do only what is most marketable, because the objective is not knowledge but measurable production in the most visible English-language venues possible.
  3. Service. You should over-function. We will give you no credit for this, in fact we will penalize you for this, but we will annihilate you and yours completely if you do not over-function.

Mutilate yourself to survive the present, so you will still be alive to regenerate and flourish in the future, is the message I have always perceived. That, of course, fits my personal history but I think there is also a politics to this: teaching as caretaking, research as product preparation, and service as defense against siege.



Filed under Banes, Bibliography, What Is A Scholar?, Working

Le vendredi

I am perfectly well, perhaps the best ever, but so introverted. It is possible that other people have these phases as well, when they are on sabbatical. I am not working on teaching, research or service, I am going through my books and creating a more amenable, and also more up to date work environment for myself. I’ve needed to do this for some time but now I am impelled. I always question people who say they did something because they could not resist but I do understand.

When I went into shock in November, 1991 I bookmarked my books and journals, to come back to later. I have kept all of these since, but not read them. Now they are yellow. I should stop listing what I discard here, and create an electronic library, and I will; for now, though, I want to say I am discarding:

— a copy of Luis Alberto Sánchez, VALDELOMAR O LA BELLE EPOQUE (México: FCE, 1976), which is of historical interest;
— Tom Weiskel’s THE ROMANTIC SUBLIME: STUDIES IN THE STRUCTURE AND PSYCHOLOGY OF TRANSCENDENCE (1976), which I had because I thought/think that if one understood these sources one might understand more about subjectivity, shadows and terror in Vallejo;
— CRITICAL INQUIRY 13:3 (Spring 1987), a special issue on “Politics and Poetic Value,” which I had kept by now in large part for Rob Nixon’s article on Caribbean and African appropriations of Shakespeare’s Tempest, which I thought would be good for teaching but which obviously, if I still need to see a piece this old, I can look up again.
— a bound photocopy of Meo Zilio, STILE E POESIA IN CESAR VALLEJO. It is a classic, but I do not believe I will ever have the patience for it.

I also got rid of two thick files of student papers and exams from some semester several years ago, and my 2006 TEI materials. I still think a digital archive of Vallejo with text versioning would be a good thing to have, but these materials are out of date and digital humanities irritate me. That is the project I’d like to do at the end, or start at the end of my life.

Because of the obsolescence of digital platforms this is a series of experiments I would like to do with text versions, and then write articles about.


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Cornelius Castoriadis

Another of the 1992 photocopies I am recycling is a famous article by Cornelius Castoriadis: The Retreat from Autonomy: Post-Modernism as Generalized Conformism. I had it, of course, because there was no Internet; it is a left critique of postmodernism and Castoriadis has, in general, a great deal to say about subjectivity, the formation of subjects. To really understand Castoriadis, of course, one would read more of him and would also have a good handle on his sources and references. I would still like to study, and to be a serious intellectual.


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Elizabeth Monasterios

And we will read about these Andean avant-gardes. There is so much I am interested in.


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Le voyage à Washington

The entire trip will be reimbursed, so I have to keep every record, which I am not used to. And I insured the flight, which I do not usually do, since that will be reimbursed (or should be).

FLIGHT: $361.39

That is so far.

Also, I am recycling something, a photocopy of part of the book reviewed here, Ballón Aguirre’s Vallejo edition in Ayacucho. It was exciting when it came out because it was an alternative, something was happening, things were moving, but the actual book is available in several libraries in my very state now (although not in Maringouin). I am getting rid of a xerox of this book, too, because our library has acquired it! (In its margins I had written: Vallejo as “emo boy,” pimp, and “man-whore” (interested in very young women).


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