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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...

Monday, February 11, 2013

At Work

This week I will keep track of time but look not only at what I do, but what I do "at work" when I am actually also "at work" on something. I want to see the total number of hours, so I will make note of that at the end of the working day.

8:46. Arrive in office from bus. Check email. Find documents in file for teaching today. Print them out. I grade an essay and look at the the other ones turned in to me. I do work in conjunction with my role as chair of grad studies. All of a sudden it is 9:46.

Now it is 10:38. I've reserved a room for a meeting, sent out an email about that meeting. Written about 250 words of really good prose on Chapter 3 of Lorca. Teaching, service, and research are integrated today.

Now it is 12:21. I've taught my class and am back in the office. I got rid of 7 emails, only one of which demanded a response. I haven't even taken a break today, though I did look at my favorite blogs very briefly. Back to Lorca.

I've decided all blogging is also going to be considered work. What I do here is organize my own thoughts about my organization of my own time and the material I'm working with. Even tangents are tangents from the work, arising out of the work. I've decided that Chapters 1-4 will be a coherent whole that I will work on this semester. 5-7 will be for the summer and fall. So that is February, March, April, May. I am assuming that I don't have much left to add to 1 and 2, so the bulk of the work will be on 3 (cultural exceptionalism) and 4 (the anxiety of influence). Each of those now has about 14 pages, so they are about a third done. I will try to force myself not to skip ahead to 5-7. I would be happy if I got really polished versions of 1-3.

I pull down The Labyrinth of Solitude. That is a cultural poetics of Mexico. For some reason I have it in English.

I read part of an essay by Luis Fernández Cifuentes:
... what Ortega presents as a natural, ageless, unalterable Andalusian condition may turn out to be nothing short of what recent critics and anthropologists, working on a wide array of documents, define as ‘la creación del mito andaluz’; ‘la imagen que gestan en España y Andalucía los viajeros [extranjeros] decimonónicos’ (López Ontiveros 1988, pp. 31–35) or, more precisely, ‘una corriente exotista europea ... que, sin mayor preocupación por la exactitud de lo que postula, ofrece una imagen distorsionada de España monopolizada por lo gitano-andaluz’ (Torrecilla 2004, p. 60).
This is obviously right. In fact, the risk is not seeing beyond this. If all Lorca is a self-orientalizing Andalusian, there is little hope.

12:56. Lunch.

13:27. Back from lunch. It would make sense to read Benveniste now. I read one article, then look him up on the internet. I learn he wrote a book about Baudelaire:
Ce qui frappe d’entrée avec ces manuscrits, c’est le décalage par rapport au structura­lisme ambiant des années 1960. Loin des écrits de Roman Jakobson sur la poésie, de Georges Mounin sur René Char ou de Jean Cohen sur la langue poétique, Benveniste est, dans ces notes,d’une étonnante modernité : avec la langue poétique de Baudelaire, c’est une mise en œuvre de la « translinguistique des textes, des œuvres » qu’il engage, comme il en avait annoncé le programme dans le premier numéro de Semiotica; c’est aussi une réflexion sur la langue émotive, menant ainsi à leur terme les propositions de sa linguistique énonciative.
I make note of my previous lack of intellectual curiosity with respect to EB. In my defense: his book on Baudelaire wasn't published last time I taught theory. I learn a new word: "décalage" is a gap.

13:55: A student comes by for a signature. I look at material for the meeting. I realize I'm missing one document so I find it and print it out. I read an interview with Benveniste, then an article by Searle on Chomsky from 1972. I'm trying to get at the difference between structuralism and Chomsky on layman's terms. It is quite odd as a literary critic to learn the outmoded linguistics that underlies Lacan and Derrida. Culler confused issues when he tried to build a structuralism on the back of Chomsky's competence.

I refresh my memory about the Chomsky / Skinner (non)debate. While Ch is not a structuralist what he is, even more, is not a behaviorist. I read an attempted refutation of Chomsky's criticism of Skinner.

Chomsky's argument is that taken literally, the vocabulary of stimulus, response, reinforcement etc... can tell you almost nothing about language. When stretched, however, shoehorned in a metaphorical sense to cover "verbal behavior," these are no longer technical scientific terms. This is a brilliant argument. "The hypothesis of Verbal Behavior is simply that the facts of verbal behavior are in the domain of the facts from which the system has been constructed." Argues MACCORQUODALE. But that is the precisely the hypothesis that Chomsky refutes.

15:08. I look at my table of contents. My book is now called What Lorca Knew: Fragments of a Late Modernity. Yes! That gets at it exactly. I stole that title from a previous title of another book I was going to write: this one, true, but in an earlier incarnation.


15:15. Meeting.

15:30. Meeting is over. When I run a meeting it tends to be fast and efficient. I work on a plan of action for Lorca book. It is really important for me to be able to envision myself coming to the conclusion of the book in a finite period of time. Let's say the end of 2013. I straighten up my office, then take bus downtown at 16:10.

I get about half an hour of reading done downtown.


21:22: Back at home, after watching part of the game downtown. I get a ride home from an amiga. I should read some Heidegger now.

22:39. I call it quits. Let's say seven hours in the office, plus two hours of reading. Grand total for Monday is 9 hours.

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