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The lute lies rusted in its green case odor of pines is synthetic; sweeteners artificial; even salt!  our tongues crave something dif...

Friday, February 28, 2014

March will be the exceptionalist month

... since that is the chapter that will be work on. Right now I am trying to track down a remark attributed to C.P. Snow that "all ancient traditions date from the second half of the 19th century." If you have the reference on hand please let me know.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Best Reason

The best reason to finish a project is that then all your other projects have a possibility of coming into existence. They are hiding beneath what you are working on right now, like those 9/10ths of the iceberg.

You might think you know what your next project will be, but it will change shape once you finish the one you are completing now.

I thought I would write a book about Gamoneda, but instead I wrote another one about Lorca. At first I thought this book on Lorca would be in Spanish; instead it is in English. At once point it was going to be two books, one about late modernism (including Gamoneda) and the other about Lorca's performative poetics, now it combines these two ideas. So that is why five years after Apocryphal Lorca I still don't have this book done.

More Bibliography

Cassin, Barbara, ed. Dictionary of Untranslatables: A Philosophical Lexicon. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2014.

Caro Baroja, Julio. El mito del carácter nacional. Prólogo por Bernard Traimond. Madrid: Editorial Caro Raggio, 2004.

Casado, Miguel. La experiencia de lo extranjero: ensayos sobre poesía. Barcelona: Galaxia Gutenberg / Círculo de Lectores, 2009.

Cascardi, Anthony J. “Beyond Castro and Maravall: Interpellation, Mimesis, and the Hegemony of Spanish Culture.” In Moraña, ed., Ideologies of Hispanism, 138-59.

Cernuda, Luis. Pensamiento poético en la lírica inglesa: siglo XIX. Mexico City: Impr. Universitaria, 1958.

--- . La realidad y el deseo. Mexico City: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1964.

Davey, Nicholas. Unquiet Understanding: Gadamer’s Philosophical Hermeneutics. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2006.

Debicki, Andrew. Spanish Poetry of the Twentieth Century: Modernity and Beyond. Lexington: University Presses of Kentucky, 1994.

Dehennin, Elsa and Christian de Paepe, eds. Principios modernos y creatividad expresiva en la poesía española contemporánea: poemas y enayos. Amsterdam / New York: Rodopi, 2009.

Delgado, Elena. “Settled in Normal: Narrative of a Prozaic (Spanish) Nation.” Arizona Journal of Hispanic Cultural Studies 7 (2003): 119-34.

Dilthey, Wilhelm. Pattern and Meaning in History: Thoughts on History and Society. Ed. H.P. Rickman. New York: Harper and Row, 1961.

Diego, Gerardo, ed. Poesía española contemporánea (antología). Madrid: Signo, 1934.

Doncel, Diego, ed. Antonio Gamoneda. Second Edition. Madrid: Calambur Editorial, 1993, 2008.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Anxiety (2)

I notice that I get anxiety doing footnotes and references. Just the physical act of inserting a footnote. Something about having to go to the right menu, pulling it down, and clicking on footnote. I'm sure I would be less anxious if I could just do command e as one earlier version of ms word. The idea of not being able to finish because I can't get all of the references done. A little irrational, for sure.


Cycling is a technique for a large project. You work on one main chapter, but then if you feel your attention flagging you cycle through the other chapters. I am on a push now to finish this Lorca book. It's taken five years since my 2009 books so I feel impatient, and also that I can just do it. I have three of the major chapters left to go, so I will try to do each one in a month, starting in March. "13 Ways" has 39 pages written, so that will be mostly revision. Then I have "Grain of the Voice" and "Queering Lorca." The idea is that in April I will only have to cycle through one other chapter.

Bibliography, Page 2

Berlin, Isaiah. “The Bent Twig: A Note on Nationalism.” Foreign Affairs 51:1 (Oct., 1972):11-30.

Berman, Antoine. The Experience of the Foreign: Culture and Translation in Romantic Germany. Trans. S. Heyvaert. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1992.

Bernstein, Charles, ed. Close Listening: Poetry and the Performed Word. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.

Binding, Paul. Lorca: The Gay Imagination. London: GMP Publishers, 1985.

Biner, Pierre. The Living Theatre. New York: Horizon Press, 1972.

Bloom, Harold. The Anxiety of Influence: A Theory of Poetry. Second Edition. New York: Oxford University Press, 1973. 1997.

--- . Genius: A Mosaic of One Hundred Exemplary Creative Minds. New York: Warner Books, 2002.

--- . Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human. New York: Riverhead Books, 1998.

Bonnadio, Fernando. Federico García Lorca: The Poetics of Self-Consciousness. 2010. •••

Borges, Jorge Luis. Obras completas. ••• Buenos Aires.

Bradbury, Ray. A Medicine for Melancholy. New York: Bantam Books, 1960.

Brooks, Cleanth. The Well Wrought Urn. Cornwall N.Y.: Cornwall Press, 1947.

Brown, Joan L., and Krista Johnson. “Required Reading: The Canon in Spanish and Spanish American literature.” Hispania 81.1 (March 1998): 1-19.

Buffery, Helena, Stuart Davis, and Kirsty Hooper, eds. Reading Iberia: Theory / History / Identity. Oxford: Peter Lang, 2007.

Burke, Kenneth. “Coriolanus”: And the Delights of Faction. The Hudson Review 19:2 (Summer, 1966): 185-202.


Here is the first page of my bibliography so far for my new Lorca book. I think the main thing that stands out is a certain "diversity" of sources:
Álvarez, Enrique. Dentro/fuera: el espacio homosexual masculino en la poesía española del siglo XX. Madrid: Biblioteca Nueva, 2010.

Antin, David. What it Means to be Avant-Garde. New York: New Directions, 1993.

Auslander, Philip. The New York School Poets as Playwrights: O’Hara, Ashbery, Koch, and Schuyler and the Visual Arts. New York: Peter Lang, 1989.

Barg, Lisa. “Queer Encounters in the Music of Billy Strayhorn.” Journal of the American Musicological Society 66:3 (Fall 2013) 771-824.

Basbøll, Thomas. “Daring.”http://pangrammaticon.blogspot.com/2011/07/daring.html

--- . “Topos eidon.” http://pangrammaticon.blogspot.com/2009/09/topos-eidon.html

Beckett, Samuel. Nohow On. New York: Grove Press, 1996.

Benjamin, Walter. Illuminations. Trans. Harry Zohn. New York: Schocken Books, 1969.

Bercovitch, Sacvan. “The Problem of Ideology in American Literary History.” Critical Inquiry 12: 4 (Summer1986), 631-653.

"the frames of critical cosmopolitanism"

I have been accused of ignoring these frames (in a musicological article that cites my work). I am sure I do ignore them, because I don't even know what they are. This kind of charge is impossible to refute, because the phrase itself has no clear meaning. I am not irritated, though, but pleased that someone is citing me for the first time in a musicology journal.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Maricas de todo el mundo

Here are some possible approaches to the translation of Lorca's word "maricas":

Humphries: perverts
Belitt: perverts
Spender and Gili: pansies
Simon and White: faggots
Jack Spicer: cocksuckers
Medina and Statman: queers
Holmquest: maricas [he leaves the word in Spanish]

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Iceberg Theory / What Mayhew Knew

"If a writer of prose knows enough about what he is writing about he may omit things that he knows and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things as strongly as though the writer had stated them. The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one-eighth of it being above water."

Hemingway, Death in the Afternoon.

I am going to use that as an explanation for a curious absence in my 2nd book on Lorca: Lorca's poems and plays are largely shining by their absence (brillan por su ausencia). I know large parts of his poetry by memory, it is important to me, but, save for a virtuoso interpretation of "Ode to Walt Whitman," I'm not putting it in the book. (In my defense I just got a book in the mail, 150 pages, that only discusses three Lorca poems.)

I don't want this to be "the only book you need to read on Lorca." It should not be the first book you read, either! It doesn't introduce the reader to the subject. It is not the last word on Lorca, since it doesn't settle debates or wrap things up neatly. What it is, is another book not about Lorca that really is about him, according to the iceberg theory of writing. I've always felt I need to do a third book on Lorca that goes through and talks about all the book individually. But why do I need to do that? I might have another idea, a book that takes 10 poems by Lorca one by one and treats each one as a problem.

You can never say everything you know, or everything you want to say. The feeling that what a scholar is writing is all sh/e knows is fatal. Part of this is because part of what I know is what everyone knows, so why repeat it? That is the dissertation disease. Or if I know very little and write the little I know, the reader will sense that the tip of the iceberg is the entire iceberg: there is no dignity or gravitas.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Tolkien on Beowulf

Nearly all the censure, and most of the praise, that has been bestowed on
The Beowulf has been due either to the belief that it was something that it was
not--for example, primitive, pagan, Teutonic, an allegory (political or mythical), or most often, an epic; or to disappointment at the discovery that it was itself and not something that the scholar would have liked better--for example, a heathen heroic lay, a history of Sweden, a manual of Germanic antiquities, or a Nordic Summa Theologica.

Monday, February 17, 2014


“Concluyamos. Todo son variaciones sobre un mismo, único y poderoso tema central: el amor que no se atreve a decir su nombre, el amor oscuro que arde en el corazón del adolescente”

That is the perfect quote (Miguel García-Posada) for demonstrating how Lorca critics want to find a single theme in Lorca's work. This theme is always homosexuality, the love that dare not speak its name, the dark love burning in the heart of the adolescent.

Of course, this is a central problem for Lorquian hermeneutics, but it will not do to call this a central, self-identical, and powerful all-explaining them.

Friday, February 14, 2014


At a certain point I decided I didn't want to figure out what Lorca's poems meant. In other words, the hermeneutic process of figuring out what things symbolized. Instead, I practice a meta-hermeneutics, and focus more on his prose writing, mostly his lectures. I think I can interpret with the best of them, but I just don't care enough about whether my interpretation is best. That seems like a very undergraduate game to play. Luckily for me, almost every other Lorca critic does that, so I don't have to.

Thursday, February 13, 2014


I recently went through an experience best described as a "correction." After doing very well in making progress on writing my Lorca book (2) I came up against a few months in which I did very little. Now I am back on track with a plan to complete it by June or July.

My next two projects will be

a) a theoretical but pragmatic book on verse translation

b) a book on Spanish prosody

I plan to take the rest of 2014 off from active writing in order to let my ideas develop just through readings and thought, then begin either (a) or (b) in 2015.

The correction is like a stock market correction, where prices go down in order to bring things into focus. My therapist gave me this metaphor. It's a setback or relapse that might have a strategic importance in the long run. It might even be a good thing though I've suffered quite a bit in other ways during those months.


Maybe the reason I object to anxiety as a trope in cultural studies is because I suffer from an anxiety disorder which can be extreme at some moments. I suffer from GAD, or General Anxiety Disorder. The treatment I am doing now say that you shouldn't struggle against anxiety, or manage it, but accept it with compassion toward yourself. I am in the early stages of this, but the idea is that the main problem is trying to control or eliminate anxiety rather than accepting as a normal part of life. This attempt to control could work in the short term but creates a feedback loop that ends up making you a slave to your fear of the fear itself. Instead, you have to meditate and do other mindfulness techniques so you can accept your feelings as what they are.

But anxiety in cultural studies is about things people don't like. So, instead of saying people don't like the loss of social and cultural distinctions, you say they are anxious about it. Maybe so, but the claim seems larger, more mysterious that way, but how do you prove an anxiety (as opposed to simply something that bothers you or you don't like)? It's a kind of psychoanalysis of culture, but where the problem might be evident and on the surface rather than concealed.

I guess there are cultural "anxieties" and fears too. What I object to is the almost automatic and somewhat thoughtless recourse to this trope.

The Broad Question and the Narrow Question

I told my undergraduate students two days ago that to do research you need to have a research question you are trying to answer.

But aren't there really always two questions? One is a relatively narrow question, like how do translators approach the work of songs, when their aim is to produce a version that can be sung? To narrow it down more, you'd have to have a corpus of materials to work with. It can't just be songs and translators in general!

Then there are broader questions that you are trying to get at through the posing of a narrower question. Those are really what you are after, right? Because the answer to a narrow question could be trivial, and provoke a "so what?" response.

But just try investigating a broad question without narrowing down the specific ways in which you are approaching it. You won't really have a leg to stand on. It won't be delimited enough.

So what is really at stake is the ability to work on those two levels at once, drawing significant conclusions from the answers to more narrowly posed questions.

So the two questions really collapse back down into one. Take my very large question posed yesterday: how does the response to mass culture in the academic field cultural studies relate to the response to mass culture in postmodern writers and artists? It is too broad unless we specify how we are defining these two movements, but its implications and significance are clear in any case.

I should have cited my inspiration, which was a Facebook post by Robert Archambeau saying that he had a hard time teaching Bourdieu's Distinction anymore because students no longer had that hi / lo split as part of their experience. That made me think that both cultural studies and postmodernism (in the narrow sense of postmodernism as melange of pop and high culture) are responding to a paradigm that has ceased to be. I think that needs to be part of a chapter I am completing this month on the unsettling of cultural hierarchies.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Stunningly Obvious

Here's stunningly obvious connection to explore: postmodernism and cultural studies as two movements in response to mass culture. One arising out of Raymond Williams's Marxism, the other out of Frank O'Hara and pop art. You could say Frank O'Hara meets the late Stuart Hall. The hi / lo cultural divide gets bridged in different but parallel ways in the postwar period, by an academic movement and by an artistic one.

The best ideas are often very obvious and true ones. If someone has done this already that's good. If not, you can use it as your dissertation topic.

You're welcome.

Dealbreakers: the department's perspective

We have just done some campus visits and this article does not ring true in the least. I realize it's supposed to be a semi-humorous caricature, but, really, the notion that people are losing out on jobs because of trivial sartorial missteps is really not true in the least. If that were true, then nobody would get a job at all. I'm sure I've done badly on campus visits. On one, at the height of my depressive years (or the low point, maybe), I found myself unable to speak Spanish coherently. I've also done well on visits and not gotten the job, because Teresa Vilarós and Brad Epps got the job instead. They are very job-worthy people, better suited to those departments than I was. Here are the real dealbreakers:

1) You aren't interested in the job. Did you ask a lot of detailed questions about what it was like to work with out students? Are you interested in us, our research? Can you answer the question, why do you want to come?

2) You are the wrong kind of candidate for the position. I would not fit in well at a SLAC, and my one campus visit to such a place was pleasant, but I doubt I would been the best person for them. Someone excellent in a SLAC might not do well in an R1. A very nice guy we interviewed once, gave a job talk that from which I didn't learn a single thing, but that would have been great for undergraduates.

3) You don't speak the language well enough, for a foreign language dept.

4) You are not interesting and dynamic.

5) Your research talk was good enough, but someone else's was simply better. Here it is not a "dealbreaker," but simply that someone else is smarter and more engaging.

6) Rebecca Schuman dismisses the concern that you have to work with the person for many years, but come on. It is not just a matter of the few hours a week when you are face to face, but having wonderful colleagues, as I do, is wonderful, and having bad colleagues, as I did at Ohio State, is hell. I'm sure my colleagues wish, too, that I were as wonderful as they are. She also says that academics hate each other anyway. That may be true, but why start with that assumption? In one case I am familiar with, where someone was known to be a problem, and was hired anyway at the senior level (initials MM), the person was a problem and did best to tear the dept. apart.

7) You seem to have no clue about teaching.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Literary Critic

One thing I've noticed in campus visit talks and dissertations lately is the use of identifying tag phrases like "As literary critic Marjorie Perloff has argued..." Why do people do this? Is this being taught explicitly to grad students? It is highly annoying. If you are quoting people in your own field (literary / cultural studies) you don't need to identify them with a tag. You can reserve those phrases if you really need to identify the person. Say, you are quoting an economist in literary studies, or the identifying information is relevant or interesting in some way. Otherwise it is pure Dan Brown.


Don't forget to check out my recipes.