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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...

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Scholarly Base: The Personal Library

I purchased several books here in Barcelona. A few editions of Lorca and Lezama Lima, some contemporary novels, some new books of poetry, some political articles. The two teaching assistants on my program were great, saving my ass many times over. One thing I noticed, though, was that they didn't buy books or browse in bookstores. They are specialists in earlier periods of Spanish literature, and Quevedo is not publishing any new novels any more. (It could be a money thing too, but I still bought books when I was their age (29-30) and equivalent level of grad student poverty.) Still, I think I would buy almost as many books if I were a medievalist. For me, maintaining a personal library of books is inherent to my identity as a scholar and researcher. (Sure, there's the library, but it's not the same thing.)

This gives me some insight into my own assumptions. I have to stop assuming that other people resemble me, even though they "should" if they want to be like me. But should they want to be like me? In a word, no.

So my advice is geared to people who want to be like me, in general terms. To assume the same level of drive or intellectual curiosity / independence in other people is a big mistake on my part.

3 comments:

profacero said...

Ay Jonathan is this another of your I-am-superior posts?

I and another person with almost my same name, who is apparently also from points west, said a couple of practical things on Facebook about this bookstore issue. I wouldn't assume lack of curiosity and so on, or *inferiority* which is what you appear to imply.

Enjoy last days in B, where we undergraduates pored through the bookstores, as they were then. I am of course green with envy, having believed that one of the things I would get to do as a professor was run study abroad in interesting cities, and spend hours in the bookstores ...

Jonathan said...

Leslie Bayers was one of our best students. She had that intellectual curiosity you can't necessarily teach.

***

And yes, it is very hard on me to be so much smarter than other people. I feel you aren't sufficiently sympathetic to my plight.

profacero said...

Ay porfa. You've also said it is hard on you knowing you are not as smart as Moreiras ... I am sort of more sympathetic with that aspect of your plight, actually.

I am in a bad mood because of not being able to afford books. One important thing to note about them is that they are more expensive than they were, relative to salaries and certainly to the minimum wage as it was back then.