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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...

Monday, July 25, 2022

Last day in library at Granada

My last day at the the library of the Centro FGL in Granada... 

 It's not the first book on Lorca and music, because there are several others, though of much more limited scope. It's not the definitive book, either, because it leaves things out. I would say it is the first more or less complete attempt to lay out the territory. Someone else could come along and do it more completely, or even better. 

I like saying that it is a medium sized book on a vast subject. 

So it is with scholarship. You are rarely the first to do something: you are almost always joining an ongoing discussion. If you are the last, that means that nobody else will even discuss what you have done. You want your work to inspire others, not be a dead end. You want to write something substantial (not too short) but at the same time not [necessarily] exhaustive. 

A lot of detail is good, but if the reader feels you are tellings them everything you found, without any selectivity, then the risk is a certain triviality. "Trivial" details are meaningful to me, as researcher, as a way of getting at the granularity of the subject matter, but a profusion of them in the text produces a sensation of excess, as though. The iceberg theory says that you should not reveal everything you know. Your writing has depth through a process of omission. 

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Saw this last night


Saturday, July 23, 2022

Friday, July 22, 2022


 As we were leaving the apartment a middle-aged British woman asked us why we are staying in our particular Airbnb in Granada. She lives in the neighborhood and thought it was horrible to hear English in the street (she was talking to us in English, of course). It was great when there were no tourists in the past few years. 

She turned out to be Helen Rodgers, author of the book City of Illusions: A History of Granada.  We had a nice conversation. We ended up having a nice conversation. The name Ian Gibson was mentioned. 

Without tourists, though, Granada would not thrive. I don't know what percentage of their economy depends on tourism, but it has to be high. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2022


 It turns out my research is more buying CDS (I went to one store on Gran Vía in Granada en found 5 Lorca CDs, most unknown to me previously, and attending concerts and exhibitions, than reading stuff at the library.  I didn't think much about the fact that my 2022 research trip coincides with the centenary of the 1922 Canto jondo festival.  They have an exhibit at the Alhambra, for example, and many concerts.  

Monday, July 18, 2022


 We saw this movie last night, Persuasion.  All Jane Austen is the same plot: the most intelligent woman in her social setting, who can't figure out how to marry the one she ought to. So she is clever about everything except the one thing (in this particular setting) that actually matters. Being smart and practical is marrying for love. 

The move has the fashionable color-blind casting. It is fine for this kind of light entertainment, full of other blatant anachronisms, like people talking about "self-care" and rating physical attractiveness on a 1-10 scale.   

Monday, July 11, 2022

Music in the Edad de Plata, or What I learned last week and today reading at the Centro FGL

 The cultural status of music in Spain in the 20s and 30, through the end of the Republic, seems ultra healthy. Composers begin to see themselves as intellectuals. Falla, Esplá, Pedrell, Adolfo Salazar. The group of 8 in Madrid and the corresponding group in Barcelona, with composers like Mompou. 

Stravinsky and Poulenc pass through several times. The Ballets Russes leaves the US and goes to Spain during the First World War.  Falla, in France, returns to Spain during the War too. The connections between French and Spanish music are strong. Debussy and Ravel like Spanish music. Mompou spends time in France too. 

There is a dislike or romanticism and Germanic music. Musical nationalism, impressionism, and neoclassicism are the dominant trends.  

Lorca is in the middle of this, as friend of Falla and Salazar. Falla and literary intellectuals like Lorca promote cante jondo. 

A lot of this is invisible (inaudible?) because Spanish music is not widely known. Also, the Spanish civil war puts an end to this mini-renaissance. Even the utra-Catholic Falla goes into exile. It could be that none of the composers manages to get to that elite, genius level, aside from Federico Mompou (in my opinion). 

Spanish music has a tremendous cultural capital, but it tends to be valued for its nationalism, its connection to folklore. The modernizing impulse of the music of the Edad de Plata, then, is going to be poorly appreciated. The prestige of Spanish music tends to be channeled into Lorca himself, given his proximity to all of these movements.    

Sunday, July 10, 2022

The end of 1Q84. !!

 I finished 1Q84.  It was a heroic effort (on my part).  I now officially hate the Catalan language.*  Now I realize I only read half of Killing Commendatore.  I'm not likely to finish it. What I've read so far is so tedious and  half-hearted. As one of the amazon reviews said, there is probably a good 300 page novel in these 1,300 pages.  

I'm reading Livro de dessasego, in Portuguese.  

*Not really, but "En Tengo va fer no amb el cap" seems like a long-winded way of saying "Tengo shook his head."  

Saturday, July 9, 2022

AOC Gets a Manicure

I have tried to like AOC. Her appeal to young people to write postcards in order to save the postal service was widely mocked. Her performatively narcissistic manicure, though, is something she won't recover from quickly.  


 Lévi-Straus interprets the Oedipus myth as a conflict between two theories about where babies come from: by birth, in the normal way, or arising directly from the earth. 

We see in Murakami's novel a constant questioning of parentage.  All the major characters have difficult relations with their parents, disinheritance or questionable parentage, and there emerges an alternate form of reproduction, in which copies of women or young girls emerge out of cocoon-like structures. These women do not menstruate. The novel-within-the-novel describes this, and then it begins to happen in the fictional world of the novel itself. 

Pregnancy occurs without sexual intercourse, etc... Tengo finally sees a photo of his mother and finds that she looks like his own, older married lover. All of this is quite on the surface: the novel presents everything very redundantly and obviously. Each of the characters is figuring it out individually, so we have to follow the thought processes of each one of them, in a rather tedious way.  

The title of the novel seems to refer to Orwell, so there is a dystopian aspect to it. I'm thinking of the assassination of Abe, yesterday, where the perpetrator perhaps is resentful about some weird religious sect right out of Murakami's imagination.  It is a bit strange because Japan is a society with almost non-existent homicide rate, about .25 versus 5 for US (per 100,000 population). For example, 1 person in 2021 was killed in Japan by gun violence, as opposed to 45,000 in the US in the same year.   

Friday, July 8, 2022


 I finished streaming Damnation, Tony Tost's series set in the 1930s. It is intense and violent, and very good. I learned of the existence of the Black Legion, a right-wing and racist militia with its origins in the KKK. When I watched the show I was wondering why the KKK was dressed in black instead of white, and with a different name, but then I looked it up. I am a little embarrassed by my ignorance. !! Humphrey Bogart was in a movie about them. The 30s are interesting because liberal democracy was so precarious, unsure of itself. Right and Left knew exactly what they stood for, but "the best lacked all conviction." 

The plotting and writing is excellent. The characterization is complex; even though it is a good vs. evil melodrama the main characters all have significant nuances to them. As a consequence, the actors are able to make very good performances: they were given a lot to work with. The female characters, while in the minority, are among the best developed. The preacher's wife Amelia.  

The newspaper reporter, DL, plays the role of the literary figure, the Dreiser or Steinbeck who will chronicle the period.  

Thursday, July 7, 2022


I'm in Granada.  I am working in a different gear. 9:30 to 1:15 in the library of the Centro Federico García Lorca. AC and lights were off today, but it wasn't too hot and I had natural light with which to see.  

After that, I just walk around town, and look at the library catalog for the next day's books. Today I read a very interesting book about the Ballets Russes in Spain during WWI. I only got a few quotes for my book, but the significant thing is not speed, but persistence. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Torres vs. Torre

 There was a mini-controversy.  Lorca called Manuel Torre "Torres").  Torres is a common last name; Torre, in the singular, is a nickname, an artistic name. But, as Maurer points out, many people called him "Torres." That name appears on announcements, and so it was not Lorca alone who made that mistake. 

One person uses Lorca's mistake as a reason for arguing that Lorca was not that familiar with the flamenco world, in which Torre / Torres was well-known. But, since everyone else seemed to make that mistake, almost randomly, it not a good argument. Something I read today points out at "Torres" / "Torre" are pronounced almost the same in some Andalusian Spanish dialects. So you could hear someone say "Torre" and assume they were saying Torres but dropping the s.  This last person spent 3 pages on this, even though he admits that it is a trivial issue, and here I am blogging about it myself.   


People I know call anything right wing "Fascist." If it's not already fascist, it's leading there, or it's fascist-adjacent. But then the word just comes to mean right wing generally.  It has no more information to it any more. Is modern rightwingism bad because it is bad in an of itself, as I believe, or because it might lead us to some 1920s version of rightwingism? Maybe think about what's happening now? The label has no analytic content; it is just being used for its stigma.    

Tuesday, July 5, 2022


 Tony Tost is poet I knew about back in the poetry blogging days. I probably haven't met him in person, though I think I saw him at the Austin AWP back in 06. I remember doing a review of Invisible Bride, an excellent book of prose poems?  Anyway, he did some writing for the tv show Longmire, so I have been following him a bit through that. Now I am watching his show Damnation, which is can get streaming in Spain (not in US). Tost produces what he calls "Noir Westerns." This show takes place in the 1930s, but has a Western feel to it. It is based on conflicts between Leftist union agitators, etc... and hired corporate goons in the depression era. It is very good, and I like hearing the poetry allusions.  (Wallace Stevens!).  

He had a tweet recently about wasting six years getting his English PhD when he could have been watching movies. 

Vuelva Ud mañana

 The typical thing in Spain where they tell you to "come back tomorrow." It is the topic of a famous essay by Larra in the 19th century.  A foreigner comes to Spain to do some business, and never gets anything done because they always put. him off the the next day.  

I went to the archive on Friday. I had to make an appointment, so I did make an appointment to come back on Monday, and the electricity was out on Monday, as well as today (Tuesday).  So it will be Wed. at the earliest.  I'm glad I scheduled a month here in Granada.  


So I have some time to blog. I was looking at some Wimbledon scores, so tennis news feeds showed up on my facebook. Now, tennis can be rather dull; they hit the ball back and forth till one player misses, and if you don't know the players or simply don't care, it can get tedious. I like it ok, enough to watch if Nadal is playing, but I noticed that the headlines in the news feed, especially from yahoo!, are consistently over-the-top histrionic. Everything is devastating, or an outrage, or an uproar. Apparently, the tennis world is a place where every minor event provokes an extreme reaction. Usually, it's just someone wearing the wrong color shirt, or suffering an injury. 

"Rafa Nadal leaves fans in disbelief with insane Wimbledon act." You click on this, and it turns out to be just a very good tennis shot.  But you have to click on this kind of headline because you wonder what could truly merit that kind of headline. 

"Tennis world goes bonkers over Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal photo."  This just turns out to be ... a photo of these two players that people happen to like.  

I find these headlines hilarious. Maybe because of the dullness of the sport itself, you can only get someone to read an article if you amplify its histrionic character.  Maybe that explains the appeal of Kyrgios, who makes every moment overdramatic.  


How to write about music

 I read parts of two books about jazz / Spain coincidentally, because of two requests that I received at the same time, one for a blurb, the other for a promotion review.  Of these, the one I found more convincing was the one that evinced a great depth of knowledge about the music itself. Both books deployed a lot of theory, in different ways, but in one case it was more abstract and less rooted in an actual understanding of jazz and how it works.  

Monday, July 4, 2022

Short fiction

 I got this idea for a story: a very small planet, the size of a very large city. The core of the planet would have to be very dense, to have enough gravity to make the residents keep their feet on the ground. You could walk in any of the four cardinal directions from your house and arrive at your house again in X number of hours.  I guess the metaphorical implications are obvious, the "small planet" and all.  You could also see it in Star Trek terms, where they always seems to land in the capital city of any given planet, and everyone speaks English. 

Sunday, July 3, 2022

My pronouns

At home alone I call myself me

not he or she

I, me, mine

will do just fine. 

Face to face, you can call me you

Coincidentally, that is your pronoun too!   

In English, that is how we address

a person in pants or a dress.  

When talking about me, and I'm not there,

I don't care, 

but you misnumber me, calling me they:  

I'm just one dude

not matter what they say--

not a multitude.  

Friday, July 1, 2022

1Q84 pt 3

 I started part 3 of the Murakami novel. One thing I am not liking is more exposition in Part 3, when the reader learns (again!) information about the characters, simply because another character is learning the information.  At this point in a 1000-page novel we know the characters pretty damn well. Sometimes we learn a tiny bit more, but the level or redundancy is high.  For example, when Tengo explains his life to his comatose father.  When Ishigawa figures out things about Aomame.  

The novel is already structured around duplications. There are two moons in the sky in the alternate reality of 1Q84, the alternate year of 1984. Every character is doubled at least in some way, explicitly or implicitly.  For example, Aomame and Fukaeri. There are two religious sects, and they are mirrored by the Jehovah's witnesses. The novel is not without interest, and does repay close attention, but these redundant or reduplicative structures test my patience.