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I am posting this as a benchmark, not because I think I'm playing very well yet.  The idea would be post a video every month for a ye...

Sunday, January 16, 2022


Lydia Davis points out that the French cognate of "superstitious" can mean: “excess of exactitude, obsessive preoccupation." I think that this what Borges means when he says an excessive investment in the style of writing is a superstition.  I mean, literally he doesn't mean something like a fear or black cats or the number 13.  I can see the connection between the two meanings: irrational investment in something that really makes no difference. The faux amis are countless. 

Of course, there is an irony in that Borges is himself an unsurpassed stylist.  


Friday, January 14, 2022


 With a poet I like ok, like Rae Armantrout, but do not think is as brilliant as some people say. I don't think she's in the category of Wallace Stevens or Lorine Niedecker. It's just very good, not something that knocks you over. I'm not even trying to knock her, but she is all over the NYRB and places like that now.  

I tend not to want to say anything. Another poet on FB is saying how they re ignored, when it is obvious the person is a moderately successful person, good at self-promotion, who is probably exactly as famous as she ought to be within the limited small-press poetry world. On Jeopardy contestants know the atomic number of iron or the capital of Surinam but probably couldn't name a living poet.  


 They give a diversity training due on the first day of the semester, according to an email. When you log on there, though, it says that the training is due "any time." So which is it? Of course, the training doesn't work for me in either safari or chrome. I email them and get back a "ticket number." 

It's ambiguous whether it is required or not. The first message in late 2021 said that we were "invited" to do it. The second message had a deadline, which implied it is obligatory. I am curious to do it since I want to know whether it employs compelled speech. In other words, whether it obliges you to choose the correct answer, whatever your actual opinions are. 

I applied to a job this year at a place that has one of the worst free speech ratings, but is academically more prestigious than KU.  (I didn't get the job, but that's another story.) That institution had a training in which you had to give the "right answer." 

It occurred to me that you couldn't have a free speech training, because then you would be free to say anything you wanted. You could even say you are against free speech in certain cases. 

 Get over thyself.  

Thursday, January 13, 2022

More bad design

 A crock pot with locking lid. But the instructions say you do not lock the lid while cooking, since the lid might crack. Presumably the lid is only for taking the pot to a potluck, but if you don't read the instructions... 

A carpet cleaner in a spray bottle. You will inevitably want to spray down onto the stain on your carpet, but the bottle only sprays if held vertically (spraying horizontally and not straight down). 

You cannot use every slot in a power strip / surge protector thing because of issues with the shape of the plugs, angles of adaptors.  There should be larger spaces between the outlets. 

The lightbulb in an oven is attached by screws. You need to unscrew it with screwdriver to change it instead of just changing lightbulb.  

There should be a charging basket. You just place all your devices in the basket, at no special angle, and they will charge.  Instead, each item has its own proprietary charger and must be plugged in.  

A pair of scissors comes in a package of hard plastic that can only be opened safely with ...  a pair of scissors.  

A website for graduate admissions that is cumbersome to use, and doesn't permit you to download files. 

Once standard features, like headphone jacks or places for cd, no longer appear in new generations of computers, phones. 

A menu on a computer program that includes endless options that I do not need. There ought be be a way to customize the menus. I only "insert" page numbers, comments, and page breaks in Microsoft word.  

A diversity training on line that doesn't work without modifying setting on browser in some unspecified way.  

Monday, January 10, 2022

Bad Readers

 Bad readers take things too literally-- or else they try to make something into a wild allegory about something else. They are literal-minded when they should be thinking of figurative language, but they also don't realize it when the poem is naming something very basic. 

According to one critic, the "cuatro palomas" of a certain Lorca poem are the four gospels.  Why? because there are four of them. Nothing else in the poem justifies that, but everything must be made into a symbol of something else.  

So symbol-mongering and literal-mindedness are not opposites: they are both the same mentality, with the same inability to distinguish between the literal and the metaphorical.  

I had to order the book about the "hechos reales." I hope a good article can come out of it.  I reject the idea that "Paca la Coja" from the province of Almería is the "real bride" of Bodas de sangre.  I don't even see it as Lorca transforming some sordid reality into poetry. That's a pretty vulgar theory of literature.  It would be like talking about Wallace Stevens's "real blackbirds."  

Banally, yes, writers do take things from what they know, experience, and think about, but they are creators of fictions. 


Saturday, January 8, 2022

Another howler

 The Criada in Bernarda Alba is complaining about sexual abuse by Bernarda's husband, who has just died. When the other characters enter, she puts on a false display of grief. The author of the book on Lorca in real life interprets this as a sincere expression of grief, when it is clearly staged for the benefit of Bernarda. This is not even a subtle effect.  

If you don't understand metaphor and irony, you have no business here.