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Anxious gatekeeping

Analogous to nervous cluelessness is something we might call “anxious gatekeeping.”   This is desire to police the borders of poetry, or of...

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Thursday log

I leave the house at 8:26. I stop by the office of a friend in English who's brother died last Friday to see how she is doing. I sit down at my own desk at 8:42. I immediately start working on Lorca. I add a quotation of Valente on Machado. I reflect on Tàpies's rejection of Ortega as I read a conversation between Valente and the late Catalan painter. I am irritated because a pile of boxes blocks my access to a book of essays. I read Valente's article on Lorca. I notice for the first time that it is called "Lorca y el caballero solo," as though it were an article on Neruda instead.

9:40. I unpack some boxes of books in order to dig my way toward AT. I find some magazines with poem by me in them. The Hat and The Tiny and Black Spring. I read my own poems. Some are worse than others. I give a duplicate copy of a book to a colleague down the hall.

10:00. I meet with Brazilian candidate.

10:30. Coffee break.

10:44. I begin to read Saussure for theory class next week. I remember again how weak his theory of syntagmatic relations is.

10:56. I switch to Whorf. Suppose you accidentally leave a bowl of white, toxic liquid on the floor, your cat drinks it, and gets sick. You would think the cat drank it thinking it was milk. Whorf claims that a man throwing a match into a pool of waste water and lighting gas on fire has committed a linguistic error by verbalizing this as "a pool of water," but the cat can make the mild mistake without verbalizing the idea of a "bowl of milk." In other words, language is not essential to such situations at all! I get no further in Whorf today.

11:07. I turn my attention to colleague's research. I finish what I wanted to do with that at 11:46.

So much seems to be puttering around, what I do here in the office. I find I am very good at very brief tasks, like writing a 100-word document, or reading a few pages of a theory essay.

Now it is 12:24. I am hungry. I have been developing an idea for my new course / book. It is really exhausting to be so creative. I feel like I can sit down and come up with really great ideas any time I want. It might be nice to shut it off for the afternoon.

13:09. Back from lunch. I take some time deciding what to do next. I guess Saussure. He seems to envision language as a series of nouns flowing forward in time in a parallel structure with the ideas they represent. Language is not actually a set of names for things, horse, dog, cow, table. Thought is inchoate by itself and given articulation by language. His idea of syntagmatic relations seems to be one of "one thing after another." In other words, he doesn't seem to care that some words are verbs or conjunctions, or about the actual relation of one word to the other, the structure of NPs, etc...

13:29. I get books in the mail! I accidentally ordered two copies of Ceravolo's collected poems. Oops. I do some emails and look at hte other book I ordered. The F Word. Whoever said profanity was uncreative never looked at this dictionary devoted entirely, well, to the F word. Effing brilliant.

14:44. I've been doing research online on the word "mierda" and updating my handout on that, for later in the semester.

15:41. I look at a grade appeal folder. Aacch...

16:00. Faculty meeting. Ends early at 16:20.

I've worked the classic 8 hour day. I got an idea for a new class and / or book. Did reading for the theory class. Wrote notes for a tenure case. Organized some class presentations for the theory class. Made some notes for my other class. Worked a bit on Lorca, though not as much as I should have.

17:30 Martini night.

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