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Thursday, September 14, 2023

Being around smart people

 makes you smarter. Yesterday I had drinks with a colleague and a prof from U of Arizona we have invited. We started riffing on Borges, and I realized I could give a course on Borges without even reading anything new, practically off the top of my head We could do

Borges and scifi. 

Borges as translation theorist.

JLB and Cervantes: a misunderstood relationship.  


We agreed that reading a lot makes you smarter. There is no substitute. 

The guy from AZ wrote a book about a Catalan jazz pianist that I gave him a blurb for last year,  and it turns out my jazz erudition is quite extensive too, as we discovered just by comparing notes. We started on Cortázar's Johnny Carter. 

We started talking about pronouns and DEI. My colleague, who is more committed to diversity than anyone I know, started pointing out that someone with multiple marginal identities feels put on the spot to have to rehearse and perform all of them in a written statement. This can make someone feel very vulnerable. My colleague won't put pronouns in her email signature; it feels like an institutional demand to her. She works a lot in the community with immigrants, with another friend of mine who is a retired Venezuelan sociologist.  

The most "woke" people I know are the most against the abuse of these "woke" practices, or at least demand a great deal more nuance. 

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