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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...

Thursday, October 28, 2021

my note

 I have this experiment.  I haven't documented it, but what is basically amounts to is this: I take out my tuner (an app on my phone) and close my eyes and sing the note that I think represents the center of my voice, the note that feels most natural and closest to my speaking voice. Since I don't have perfect pitch it will not be the same note every time. But it is always close to G3, below middle C. Sometimes it is F# or F, something Ab or A. I am not trying to hit G, or any particular note, and I haven't played a G on the piano in the half hour before I do it, or done anything else to orient myself.    

To document it, I would do it every day and see how stable it was. For example, today, after not doing it for several months, I notice it is a lower note, F#. Am I just feeling and hearing my voice a bit lower, or is this random variation?  

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

The Self in Scholarship

 The self in scholarship is implicit, usually. It is a vague professorial presence behind the text. Even if there is a first person, it is not assumed to be the "person" writing. Everyone knows that the "I" is a mask of a sort. Practices like anonymous peer review propagate this idea. It is not that there isn't a self, but the person must be inferred by the reader. The voice that says "I will do this, and prove that..." is not a self, but a discursive position.  

But the self in scholarship behind the scenes is a person, and the way the self is manifested is in the self's investment in the material.  


So let's look at the self in a poem.

My Heart 

I'm not going to cry all the time
nor shall I laugh all the time,
I don't prefer one "strain" to another.
I'd have the immediacy of a bad movie,
not just a sleeper, but also the big,
overproduced first-run kind. I want to be
at least as alive as the vulgar. And if
some aficionado of my mess says "That's
not like Frank!," all to the good! I
don't wear brown and grey suits all the time,
do I? No. I wear workshirts to the opera,
often. I want my feet to be bare,
I want my face to be shaven, and my heart—
you can't plan on the heart, but
the better part of it, my poetry, is open. 

I'm not going  to cry all the time

nor shall I laugh all the time,

I don't prefer one "strain" to another. 

Here the voice is defining what kind of lyric subject he wants to be. The tragic and comic masks. There is a subtle thing about the voice here, in the air quotes around one word. This is typical of Frank O'Hara's voice, in which the speaker takes ironic distance from certain words. This is extraordinary, because other poets were not writing like this, conversationally, at the time, late 50s or early 60s. If you did this today is would be normal and banal. 

I'd have the immediacy of a bad movie, 

not just a sleeper but also the big, 

overproduced first-run kind. I want to be

at least as alive as the vulgar.... 

Here we have the postmodern impulse to celebrate popular culture. The expensively made and exuberantly bad movies. Categories of refinement or taste come under question. 

                                                                                                            and if

 some aficionado of my mess says "that's not like Frank!"  all to the good! I

don't wear brown and grey suits all the time,

do I? No, I wear work shirts to the opera,


 The phrase "aficionado of my mess" is brilliantly witty. The poet imagines he has fans, and his work is a "mess," which sounds self-deprecating but really refers to a different kind of aesthetic, one based on the messiness of real life. The there's a bit of posturing about what kind of clothes he wears. Not just drab-colored suits that he would presumably wear to work, but work shirts to the opera, an invasion of everyday life into the realm of high culture. His readers are on a first name basis with him; there is an intimacy here. 

Note how the enjambments are working, to create "cuts" or shifts of attention. O'Hara does this better than Olson or Creeley, even. I'm counting as enjambments even lines that end with punctuation, if the next line starts with a reversal of attention or emphatic gesture, like "do I?" or "often." 

          I want my feet to be bare,
I want my face to be shaven, and my heart—
you can't plan on the heart, but
the better part of it, my poetry, is open. 

Here the poem enacts the kind of openness that it advocates. 


Now suppose the scholar has been formed as a self by reading O'Hara. Would the same dry scholarly persona work? You wouldn't want to exaggerate it, be sloppy because O'Hara gives you permission. What O'Hara is doing is not sloppy, either! Then, to make the transition to Lorca, you would look at O'Hara's poem about Lorca, in which he wants to distance himself and associate himself with the Spanish poet at the same time. "I've been feeling rather Lorcaeque lately / and I don't like it."  It's the same thing he is doing in "my heart." 

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

And yet

 And yet something dies in me ever time I realize, once again, that my students are so excited by the possibility of studying anything that isn't literature. 


There are two sides to the same problem.  How to realize that scholarship is limited, there is more to the person than what that person writes. 

The other problem is how to put more of that whole self into scholarship. In other words, scholarship is oriented toward a narrow set of problems (in any given instance). Yet the scholar's formation should not be narrow. The scholarship should still have depth to it. If not, the result is dullness. 

By the "whole" self, I mean about 20% of it, instead of 5%.  In other words, you will never get all of it in, nor would you want to, but you want to have four times more. These percentages are obviously invented and have no empirical validity.  

Monday, October 25, 2021

How I can go against my own preferences

 For example: a dissertation that included favorable chapters on Luis García Montero, a poet I have not supported at all. But on the dissertation that issue never came up. 

Approaches that aren't particularly nuanced. My role is to have the student present a strong thesis that is supported, even if I would prefer more nuanced approaches. 

I offered to read someone's book proposal, someone I know on facebook and the field, but not even a close friend. I didn't really agree with this person's intellectual agenda in some ways, but I helped him to shape his proposal so that a publisher might be interested. His book was accepted. 

A student who actually won the dissertation prize here at KU.  Working on indigenous poetry--but in translation--something that I am strongly against.  I just had to get over my own scruples. The student was otherwise brilliant. Just, you can't do a dissertation on translations without knowing the texts in the original. But I probably did the right thing here.  

Are there preferences I have that I would never go against? Yes. Something that was not a mere aesthetic preference, but matter of deeper principle.  

Diversity Statement

 Writing the diversity statement taught me a lot. I could be perfectly honest, not exaggerate my contribution in any way, avoid the jargon du jour, and still do a credible job.  I also had to write a diversity plan for our department's search. I refused the suggestion that I use the word "Latinx." "Latinx" people themselves do not use it. 

Here are some ideas:


 I have to set aside my own agenda when I help someone else. What they might want to achieve is not necessarily something that would be of interest to me, or even something I would agree with intellectually. My goal is not to propagate my own ideas.  

Promoting diversity is doing one's job well:

We ought to be helping each student as much as possible. If we are not, because of preconceptions about the student's abilities, then we aren't doing the job. 

Diversity should be "hard-baked" into the field itself:

Our field (Hispanic studies) is [or should be] naturally diverse in many ways. geographically, ethnically,  linguistically. If it fails to live up to its own diversity, that is our fault. 

The diversity in the field can cause friction:

Conflict occurs between people, and some of this conflict stems from differences of age, gender, ideology, ethnicity, and any other category. A good diversity practice might look like conflict resolution. For example, two student in my course, of the same gender and from the same Spanish-speaking country, had different ideologies. How could I help them tone down their arguments in class? I did with a very simple trick. 

But sometimes the conflicts escalate. It could be Europeans looking down on people from the US, people from different corners of the Spanish speaking world not seeing eye to eye. Native speakers looking down on non-native speakers. Young people resentful of the old, or the old condescending to the young. Men condescending to women. Yet a workshop on "micro aggressions" cautions us not to assume Chinese people are good at math or not to touch black people's hair. Well, thanks for that. It doesn't really do much for us. 

You know / you know

 Someone on facebook posted a link to a recent lecture on Olson. So I watched it, and it was horrible. The speaker was rambling and inarticulate, constantly saying "you know" and 'um." I don't think he even knows he says "you know" every other sentence. There was no central point or organizing principle. At one juncture the lecturer read aloud another short text he had written, receiving applause from the audience. They were probably relieved to hear complete sentences. This was not some inarticulate teenager, but someone older than I am, and quite well known.    

Some interesting points emerged sporadically. Being a nice guy, maybe, I didn't post my objections to this style of lecturing on facebook. I wanted to say something like, "I feel sorry for his students."  

I'm sure I use conversational fillers too, but I try not to do it too much. 

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Interview with Carmen Mompou with English subtitles

Lorca song at minute 15 of this video.  

The Act

 We have many ways to name it--

making love, sleeping or going to bed

with someone, making whoopee.  

None, though, seems to name the Dirty Deed 

without euphemism, clinical coldness,

or vulgarity. Fucking, too, 

is metaphor for a hundred other things we do.  

Thursday, October 21, 2021

The Dreaded Diversity Statement

 I had to write a diversity statement. I think it will be ok. I didn't think I had much to say, but I wrote 800 words at a single sitting. 

Here is my philosophy:  don't be an asshole. (I didn't use those words!).  But in a negative sense, you refrain from doing certain things. But that isn't enough. 

So my second idea is: help people, especially through mentoring. 

So what I don't do: reflect on my privilege, talk about the fact that our university stands on native ground. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Freedom and Nebraska


Freedom: a great concept

but nobody knows what 

to do with it.  


Suppose there were a law

forbidding travel to Nebraska? 

That would be a bad thing,

even if you didn't want to go to Nebraska! 


Freedom is about things not yet even 

desired or imagined. The highest freedom, then, 

is the freedom of the imagination: freedom is the surreal

Nebraska, the Nebraska of undreamt dreams.  


Sunday, October 17, 2021

No niños

 'No niños en la canasta," according to my local grocery store. Ouch. People who think you can translate word for word.  

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Not selling myself short

 This phrase occurred to me the other day. I shouldn't sell myself short. I don't know the full extent of what that means, even, but immediately when I made that decision a professional opportunity presented itself to me. A coincidence.  

A non-professional example: thinking that I am not good at piano playing is an artificial constraint on getting better. Not selling myself short would mean getting as good as I can realistically--a lot better than I am now.  

I wrote in one of my false Bronk poem that we didn't really have a choice about being modest. Anybody should be able to see his or own defects, more or less, as well as a kind of cosmic insignificance. The only choice aside from modesty is a kind of foolishness, then. Within this essentially modest framework, though, there are certain gifts that should not be squandered. It is not arrogant to know one can excel in a certain area. 

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Ode to Words

 I've always had a love affair with words.

I remember recondite and desuetude, I remember

when I first learned them, that is: the fuzzy feeling 

in my head and gut, much like being in love.  

I've never managed to learn the meaning 

of contumely. I look it up once in a while

and learn its meaning, but somehow it never "sticks." 

It seems like it should be an adverb but 

it is not. That may be the confusion there. 

That's a word I cannot love. 

Using words well is more vital than knowing them

in the abstract. A word misused causes a hiccup

or shiver in the universe

of words. But only through these mistakes

does language change like a vital organism.

Some think the words are mostly names of things,

objects or categories of things.  But this is 

not true. Who has seen a therefore or an at 

lying in the street? Who has seen a why?  

No, words are not names (though some are!)

But functions, ways of doing things

like writing a poem or asking for help.  

You would think poets would be good with words.

Some are, indeed, and those that aren't aren't really

poets, are they?  

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Bad art friend

 Two women are locked into a legal battle. The first, Dawn Dorland, donates a kidney, not to a family member but to the general pool of recipients. She documents this process on a private group on facebook. She asks the second woman, Sonya Larson, why she (second woman) doesn't "like" her posts. DD wants to not only be this heroic person, but also to receive adulation for it, which is not forthcoming from her Facebook friend SL. Dawn thinks that they are friends, but they are really not, according to Sonya. 

Both women are writers, though Dawn hasn't published much of anything. Sonya L, who has a Chinese father, writes a story satirizing Dawn D as a "white savior." In doing so, she takes a letter from the kidney donor to the donee, posted on the Facebook group. In later drafts of the story, the letter would be altered so it is no longer plagiarized, but in easier drafts she simply used the letter. In later drafts she also changes the name "Dawn" to something else. Clearly, Dawn is the inspiration for the story, and not in a good way. 

Dawn gets increasingly angry, and starts to interfere with Sonya's career by writing letters to people about being plagiarized. They sue each other, for the plagiarism and for the career interference. In the discovery process, Sonya's mean group texts about Dawn come out. 


How you view this story will depend on the framework with which you come to it. Do you see it as a matter of intellectual property? (plagiarism).  As the white woman "Karen" wreaking havoc? As what any artist would do, take real life and making it into something else? As the betrayal of a friendship? 

Viewing it purely from the plagiarism angle, the status of the original letter comes into play. If it has no literary value in and of itself, then is Sonya free to use it? If you alter it enough, then is it no longer plagiarized? I guess if earlier drafts had not circulated, then the plagiarism would be harder to prove. Is changing the wording of the letter evidence of innocence or guilt?  I'm posing these ideas as questions because, while I have opinions, I cannot see the answers very clearly.  

Monday, October 11, 2021


The idea that "forms of copying are foundational to creativity" is one of those deeply confusing ways of defending plagiarism. Here's why. What is really a whole lot more "foundational to creativity" is not copying. Note, also the weaselly way this is stated: "forms of copying."  If he were to write "copying is foundational to creativity" it would be obviously false. 

Of course we see imitative, derivative work as less creative, because it is, and copying something verbatim is even less "creative." That why we call conceptual writing that copies other texts verbatim "uncreative writing."   

Most poets will be imitative, not wholly original, and that is to be expected. If you can't tell one poet from another, because they all write the same way, we call that being unoriginal. We know that originality is possible because some poets write in a distinctive voice, and we can tell them apart from others. 

Now, none of this implies any sort of deep romantic belief in "creativity," etc... It works the same for any kind of writing. We can just look at how similar or different it is from other forms of writing that came before, or at around the same time. For example, John Donne comes before romanticism was invented, but he has a distinctive poetic voice.   

A whole range of imitative practices, from parody to translation, are also interesting and have their own value. Also, imitating a model is good practice to learn how to write, etc... None of this is new. 


 I've spent a bit of time with Barbara Guest's poetry. There's a bit of preciosity there. I still like enough of it to keep going. I realize that I don't really like the poetry or poetics of Charles Olson. I realize you are supposed to like him, but I just don't respond well to his earnest self-importance. Duncan is also precious, self-indulgent, self-important, etc... I'm not in that camp.  I find Zukofsky stiff and uninspiring. I love Creeley's work in many ways, but the part that comes out of Zukofsky and Olson, not so much. 

I've defended the language poets. Some are rather dull, though. I'm more interested in the individual talent of those I like than in the group project, based on iffy interpretations of literary theory and linguistics.  

A poet I like can write a bad book, or change directions in a way I don't like too much. You almost never find any rigorous critique of poetry from within the avant-garde camp. Everyone is supposed to admire everything the same, it seems. I'm not saying my opinion is the last word, but that the debate almost never happens, except in private.     


 Here's the typical defense of plagiarism. Those poor poets up at night, worrying whether Ira Lightman is going to discover some small, unintentional borrowing!  The article doesn't name Lightman, but makes a snide remark about how poetry doesn't need the plagiarism police.  

I would say we do need the plagiarism police if people are going to plagiarize.  In other words, we need detective work to discover the culprits.  

The problem is this: believing plagiarism is unethical, in the normal sense of plagiarism and the normal sense of ethical, does not commit one to a romantic view that poetry as some deep expression of one's individual soul. It's just saying that one cannot take a poem written by someone else, change a few words, and pass it off as one's own, or borrow whole stanzas at a time without attribution.  

What about parody?  Well, I think parody is parody, not plagiarism. For example, my false poems of Bronk are advertised as such, and do not contain Bronk's own, literal language. In other words, I wouldn't pass off a real poem by Bronk as a fake one by me.  In fact, parody is a kind of anti-plagiarism in this sense. If Spicer writes a poem and lets us be confused about whether it is his or a translation of Lorca, then we have that confusion, but this is virtually the opposite of Spicer translating and not telling us it is a translation. 

Likewise, other kinds of intertextuality don't belong in the same discussion.  Usually, these plagiarists aren't playing some cool postmodern game, but simply stealing. 

Sunday, October 10, 2021

The Hatred of Poetry

 In The Hatred of Poetry Ben Lerner argues

We like poetry, the idea of it, more than actual poems,

Disappointing in a number of ways and rarely

Possessing the grandeur we associate with the concept. 

He is mostly right. Speaking only for myself

Here, I find even poetry I am supposed to like,

In my own tradition of avant-garde and

Experimental poetry, to be dull 

Or else pretentious, overly precious, clever,

Or self-indulgent in innumerable ways. 

Other poetry I perhaps ought to like is too jokey

Or too earnest, overwritten, too "poetic" 

in predictable ways, or too prosaic, 

Like this poem I am now writing, 

Woodenly written, 

Simply dull or not extraordinary in the way that

"Poetry" is supposed to be. Not to mention 

The poems of trite civic platitudes and 

Overheated political rhetoric. 

All this is true, and fairly well-known too,

To anyone with minimal powers of observation.  

Yet I feel Lerner is writing. 

I do not feel this way at all 

About poems like Keats's "To Autumn." 

In this case, the poem is superior to any abstract 

Or honorific, aspirational idea of Poetry with a capital P.  

Moreover, the experience of reading poems like this 

And even some others that are not quite so great,

Or great in unkeatsian, unpredictable ways, 

By Clark Coolidge, Alice Notely or my friend Tony Robinson

(You can put in your own names here) 

Far surpasses any disappointment I feel 

At the the vast swaths of crappy poetry and

Has given my life the little meaning that it has. 

Saturday, October 9, 2021


"Providing people with tools and strategies to help them bring into alignment how they act both inside and outside of the gaze is key to freeing individuals from the fear of external condemnation or disapproval. There is a need to embed curriculum and processes within educational systems that will support the inner development of people to fortify themselves against the growing influence of negative side effects of the gaze. This will help to build up a refusal of people to be bounded by the limitations that others or the broader society try to thrust on them."

This is an article with commendable sentiments, but it suffers from a wooden style. It's all abstractions. I cannot envision what it means to "embed curriculum and processes within educational systems." What does that even mean? The basic idea, here, is that a black student won't think of him or herself as an attorney or physician because society doesn't see him or her that way [the gaze]. That's a profound insight. But the article never manages to say that. It's all  "tools and strategies" or "the growing influence of negative side effects." Sheesh.  

Friday, October 8, 2021

The thesis and the smoking gun

 Let's not make too big a deal out of the thesis. It is simply a guiding idea, susceptible to being phrased in a sentence. I learned that a piece of scholarship should have such an idea. Not all of them do, and I think those that don't suffer from that.  It's sort of like saying a play should have a central action, like Aristotle thought.  

Now I think a good thesis has to be true and significant. There are plenty of ideas that are true about a work of literature, that might be too self-evident, i.e., not significant enough. We can't just point out the obvious. There are also ideas that are counter intuitive, or surprising, but that aren't true either. Ideas without evidence except, "I think so."  It is easy to see that these ideas are not interesting  or significant either, because they are not true (backed up by evidence). So truth is a condition of significance. 

Suppose my idea is that space aliens dictated 100 Years of Solitude to its author. Highly significant, if true, but just an irrelevant fantasy if not.  

My late colleague Debicki  used to say he would rather be interesting than correct. But you cannot be interesting unless you are first correct. 

Here's one: in two novels, Miguel Delibes refers directly to the reforms of Vatican II, and puts the critique in the mouths of conservative characters. (Cinco horas con Mario / Los santos inocentes.) That would be a good thesis for undergraduate paper, because, while not counterintuitive or surprising, it it worthy of note and development. You would have a read-made organization for the paper. Explain Vatican II, explain the support of the church for Franco regime, and vice-versa, and then write two separate sections on the characters who criticize it: the conservative Carmen who narrates 5 horas, and the cruel Señorito Iván of Los santos inocentes.  

There could be some wiggle room around the edges. We want students to be a little bit daring too. There could be a thesis that is arguably true but won't convince everyone. In those cases I like to see the "smoking gun," in other words, the piece of evidence that tips the balance to the validity of the argument.  

As I like to say

 Suppose  I hear a simple melodic phrase and then can sing it back. That's rather mysterious, because many people can do that. We aren't consciously producing a certain series of notes, but just able to mimic what we've heard. Then someone who can play a melody on the piano for a song they already know. I can do it somewhat, but not perfectly in all cases. Now that unconscious ability to mimic, we can do with an object exterior to the body. The process is still unconscious, in some ways, because people who can do this naturally aren't thinking, oh, "that's a minor third up." They just know how to exteriorize that pitch matching with a keyboard. Of course, conscious thoughts can occur too; I'm just saying that the process is not overall a conscious one. 

Then, improvising, I can hear a phrase in my head and then play it. I'm not sure how I do it. As I like to say,  the thing about it that surprises me is not that I can write great songs, or improvise very well, but that I can do it all. 

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Churchill, Bergson, Russell

 I was idly speculating about the Nobel prize, to be announced tomorrow. I was thinking that some people who are not primarily littérateurs have won it, most notably Winston Churchill, Henri Bergson, or Bertrand Russell. The puts Dylan's prize from a few years back in a different light, I think. Maybe literature is not even a category with any firm boundaries, or rather, a category with shifting outer boundaries. We know the central core is works of imaginative literature like poems, plays, and novels that are susceptible to enjoying cultural prestige. At the outer edge are ways of thinking in and through language that don't look like what's found in a novel or a play. 

I asked my undergraduate students what a play without a conflict would be, and one student said, "a podcast." That was a pretty good answer.   

Meeting in the Middle

 My approach is [often] to help people to unlearn some of the bad habits of academic writing. Recently, though, I've realized that the first goal is to gain some useful habits to get by on. So the student at an early stage still does not have a bad academic style to unlearn. They have a non-academic style, for example, or barely master the basics. 

*Students who write in short sentences or paragraphs and can't develop an idea in a fluent paragraph. 

*Students who write the way they talk. 

*Students with inadequate Spanish language skills.   

A little bit of academic pomposity would be an improvement in some cases. My own style is formal, but then with enough informal touches to make a nice point once in a while. That is different from someone who simply doesn't understand the difference between formal and informal registers, or has no experience with the former.  

We can meet in the middle perhaps: the middle would be a formal yet plain and clear style,  one without any particular flair or elegance but that didn't call attention to itself. 

Yet another dream of father still alive

 This one had a twist. My father was still alive, but had been hiding someplace for 20 years. Instead of being happy to see him, I berated him for having let us think he was dead the whole time. I told him about my dreams: "I thought I was dreaming you were still alive because I could not accept your death, but now I realize the real reason is that you actually were alive the whole time!"  He had reappeared, but we didn't really have time for a conversation. I had to go someplace and back before my 11 a.m. class. 

The owner of the piano studio where I take lessons yesterday gave me the key to the place so I could play his superb new grand piano on weekend and when nobody else was around. It was very nice of him and I hadn't even asked him for it, or even thought about asking. 

Anyway, this bit of waking life also worked itself into the same sequence of dreams. I went there, but then realized I had to go another floor. There was a woman playing some kind of spinet, and I was waiting there patiently for her to finish. 

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Rigor (ii)

 Rigor, etymologically, is a kind of stiffness. My rigor would be more like a strong, sinewy, supple feeling instead.  

If we throw out the concept of rigor, what are we sacrificing, exactly?  

*The idea difficult things are worth learning. That worthwhile skills come after a difficult process of mastering them.  

*Problem solving. The student has clear instructions and can follow them. The task is highly structured, ideally. But students can't follow instructions either, it turns out. Even clear instructions turn out to be opaque. And do we want to judge students on ability to follow instructions? I would probably not have had success in a system that valorized instruction following over thinking.  In fact, I did not do well until I got to college and realized my professors wanted me to master the material rather than follow bullshit instructions. 

*You can't any longer say, just give me your best response to this assignment.  The students will blame you for not being clear enough. For example, I gave grad students assignment to analyze a poem. They wanted to list all the rhetorical figures in it. They claimed I had told them to do this, but I had given them a guide to analysis in which the identification of tropes was only a small part.  

*It would be fine to say that at a certain level, rigor is not the point. You wouldn't want to impose it on small children. (Except that small children can work hard too, and certain skills require you to start as a small child to learn them at all, like being a concert pianist.)  Now we even want to infantilize "junior" faculty. Yes, they cannot understand the tenure requirements. At what point do you want to treat people as adults? Someone brought up in a system in which there is no rigor will then complain that the peer evaluators for an article are mean, for wanting to impose standards of freshman composition. The resistance to rigor then doesn't allow me to say there is an exacting standard for those at  the very top. 

*Then, the standard in rigorous fields will still be rigorous. The Nobel prize in physics still goes to a significant achievement, usually with some degree of "rigor." The abandonment of rigor, then, is hypocritical. We still want to do the best work we can do, and we still respect people who do things well. But we have to be so cautious about our advocacy of any kind of worthwhile achievement. We are implying that those who don't have those achievements are not as good. But we all know they are not as good (at that particular thing at least). 


After Lorca and Bronk: "Cuando yo me muera..."

 When I die

My love for Ben Webster's saxophone 

Goes to the grave with me 

Monday, October 4, 2021


 It's time to cancel rigor. The word, and presumably the concept as well. Lowering standards enough will certainly lead to more "student success." Where does it stop? Why even have education. then?     

Voiced and unvoiced dentals

 I did not say what they said I said;

And if I did

I didn't mean what they thought I meant.  

More sofismas

 The world is a daily invention. 

Slowness is only a privilege of the speedy. 

He died of the disease he himself baptized.

Every reading of a text is valid, except that of its author. 

You hammer me with stupidly soft words. 

If you win, you have not yet played. 

He who edifies, destroys. 

What can they know of wars, those who've never lost one?  

I want to go to where they recognize I'm a fugitive.  

Those who shave too close are making a mistake: smoothness scratches.  


Any selection of the sofismas made by me would be biased: in favor of the ones that resonate with me, or that I can understand or easily translate. Thus the parts I would be leaving out would be aspects of his thought that are not attractive or comprehensible, a systematic bias, then, not an accidental one. 


 Vicente Nuñez (poet from Cordoba, 1926-2002) has these aphorisms that he calls "sofismas." I'm thinking of doing a translation of some of them. But I don't understand them all. There are several thousand...  Maybe this will bring me out of my Bronk obsession.  

The conversation of a rich man has never been enriching. 

Consumer society tries to bite the archaic coin--something it cannot do. 

You are who you ought to be when you are with the one you ought to be with.*

Every day I unknow you less.

Excessive proximity is always aggression. 

Everything is a fossil, even language.  

True elegance is the false kind. 

Without language there is no behavior. 

All friends are friends because they are enemies of themselves. 

They cough, therefore they speak. [or, they cough, then they speak?]. 

I know who am am not, but I am not who I do know. 

God help us from sleeping far from our insomnia.  

We speak the same tongue, but not with the same tongue. 

I still have not been able to find my ablative absolute. 


*"Se es quien debe ser cuando se está con quien se debe estar." The translation conveys the idea but not the wit the unusual use of reflexive construction. 

Steam roller

 My approach to jazz improv is the steam roller. I take one 2 or 4 measure section and improvise over those chords for a long time. I can find ideas I like and repeat and very them; I can develop very simple ideas or try to go out on a limb. If I get bored with an idea then I have to try something else. If I play notes that don't work, then I learn what notes are verboten over a certain chord. It's really about developing my own taste, what I like or don't like. For example, I might like some pretty-sounding diatonic ideas, with not so much chromaticism, for a brief period. I could find some Gershwin style licks and like them, or find them a bit too corny, as the case might be. Maybe I like doing a lot of quarter note triplets. 

This is not my original idea, of course. I've seen people do this on YouTube. 

Sunday, October 3, 2021


If I become a mourning person 

Some day 

It won't be because I like the a.m. hours.   

Saturday, October 2, 2021

More Magical Realism

 Here is an excellent overview of certain misconceptions about Magical Realism.