Thursday, January 31, 2013

Reading Chomsky on Anarchism. In the first essay titled "Objectivity and Liberal Scholarship," Chomsky slams what he calls "the new meritocratic elite." He is speaking about intellectuals and scholars. He writes the following about the danger he sees in  both. What is most interesting is he wrote this essay in 1969.

"Free  institutions certainly exist, but a tradition of passivity and conformism restricts their use-- the cynic might say this is why they continue to exist. The impact of professionalization is also quite clear. The "free-floating intellectual" may occupy himself with problems because of their inherent interest and importance, perhaps to little effect. The professional, however, tends to define his problems on the basis of the technique that he has mastered. and has a natural desire to apply his skills...." And later, "These various factors-- access to power, shared ideology, professionalization-- may or may not be deplorable in themselves, but there can be no doubt that they interact so as to pose a serious threat to the integrity of scholarship in fields that are struggling for intellectual content...The danger is particularly great in a society that encourages specialization and stands in awe of technical expertise. In such circumstances, the opportunities are great for the abuse of knowledge and technique..."

He feels that intellectuals, due to these things, are moving closer to the center of power. He feels that the specialists and experts have become involved in "special government undertakings" and he suggests that these intellectuals that are application oriented have access to "power, prestige and the good life." He gives lots of examples, mostly about the Vietnam war.

Again, maybe I am misreading. but I found his criticism of professionalization and specialization very interesting. Conformism, I see as an essential factor in a academia. Perhaps when one has the privilege of tenure this is less likely. Yet schools I attended and worked at in both Colorado and Texas were quite conservative in terms of conformity. The nature of these academic institutions seemed to lend to a bland conformity and an unwillingness to speak out against injustice, even so far as a desire to impose injustice on anyone who didn't fit the mold. This was often true of "creative" writers. There was a model or a "school" which needed to be followed, and if one did not fit this "school of thought" they were booted. This is dangerous for poetry. But poetry is, I hope, beyond the confines of academia. Although I would say that there is access to "power, prestige and the good life" in an academic setting. This is one reason I am skeptical of academics who speak on such issues as "labor." This position of mine for today at least, I do not believe it is anti-intellectual.


Last night I threw my knee out and I am in a great deal of pain and can barely walk. I see a doctor tomorrow. Wanted to go to the emergency room, but my medicaid was cut since I am no longer on Aid to Needy Disabled but have received social security. This is strange. Now that I've been deemed disabled, I have no health insurance. I've arranged to be in the medicaid buy-in program which is part of Obama care for the disabled from what I gather, but it doesn't start for a few months. There's a great deal of irony in the system. One does not receive medicare until two years after one has been deemed disabled. Luckily, I don't have a life-threatening disability.


Thursday, January 24, 2013

My book is going to the printer next week. Yay!

I think it will be with Small Press Distribution. I feel good about my press. Seriously. I feel very good about this press.


Need to work on the next one now, and I have to confess, the last few weeks I've been lazy. It was my birthday today, and I feel sometimes that I am moving very slowly as a poet-- perhaps too slow. I am coming up on 50 in a couple of years. And it's too easy to compare ourselves to others, especially those younger than us who steamroll through book publishing like it's easy. Sometimes those that are younger can irritate us too. LOL! But we all go at our own pace as writers and people, and our lives come with difficulties, challenges and heartbreak. But overall I am filled with gratitude at this wonderful time in my life. I have time to write, a roof over my head and am finally coming to terms with limitations, as well as potential. Sometimes I reflect on the past with a great deal of regret, but I am learning to move forward, to stay in the now. It's a difficult lesson, but one that matters.

Monday, January 21, 2013

I am thankful to have witnessed Richard Blanco deliver his phenomenal poem at the presidential inauguration. It gives me a lot of hope for our country, our people and our progress.

I feel better too, about community, and recognize that gender gaps I see, are in large part inflamed in my own mind due to my past. I am very consciously aware of gender differences and sometimes this is a barrier as I am suspicious of what I view as the patriarchy. There is still a ways to go regarding this reality. But my own issues with abuse and power in regards to men has me too inflamed at times. It is a non-issue for some women, I recognize. Yet, I sense there is still a ways to go regarding gender gaps, respect and equality. When I was teaching, younger women that were my students often expressed disbelief in gender inequality. I think this is in large part due to a belief that they would be treated as equals in the workplace. Similarly, some people argue that now that we have an African-American president, issues of racial inequality are ridiculous. But my observation of anti-Obama advocates in Texas, shows me we still have a ways to go. And it was wonderful to see Obama addressing the issue of gay rights in this country too!

I experienced a great deal of gender bias in grad school, where most of the students in my PhD program were male. The sense of authority and entitlement that came with being male, in my opinion, was often similar to that same sense of authority and entitlement that came with being white. So overall, I am somewhat suspicious of male privilege. This is what I think I was wanting to say before, but couldn't seem to come up with the right words.Chicano men sometimes do not realize that they too can contribute to the old patriarchy.

Despite so many past concerns regarding gender bias, and what I believe to be real-life experiences of injustice, I have hope that things are changing. As a woman who was sexually abused as a child, my sense of gender based inequity is charged. I am a firm-believer in gay rights, but I would say that being gay does not preclude one from being patriarchal.


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Writing here and there in utter obscurity. It's an interesting journey. Posted stuff about status anxiety and nobody on facebook seemed to have taken an interest. It was a philosopher named Alain de Botton,
and he discusses society's need for and belief in success. The myth that America is a meritocracy is examined. Someone today said I was successful. But I have taken De Botton's version of Rousseau that one can either want more money and more success or lessen her desires and therefore find happiness or "success." I am learning to chose the latter. But yes, the poor are blamed for being lazy in this country. Some who profess to support Latino/Chicano lit won't have anything to do with someone who is on disability. De Botton calls such people snobs. There are a few of them. No, maybe it's more a sense of not knowing what to say. I hope this is the case and that I have personalized some rudeness.

My sabbatical may be lifelong. There's always hope for recovery, yet this need and idea that success makes us happy runs through our society like acid. I have had to accept limitations and career path has stalled due to the reality of illness. It is hard. But healing is necessary. The book grapples with illness and recovery. So many do, but I feel this one deals directly with PTSD and the shock of violence. I really should read that book by the poet who spent time in Iraq.

Amit is designing a website for me. I think he will do a good job. So despite obscurity and a bit of anonymity in the big city, I am feeling free. Mostly I feel free because I have time to write. Travel money is another matter. Yet one need not travel too much to write. I have traveled a great deal in the past. I will likely go to Albuquerque for a reading, maybe Taos and will set some local readings up as soon as the book is out. I really still love the cover.

Back to isolation and obscurity; maybe everyone in the arts feels this. Our society is all about consumption, "hustling," and getting ahead. I think maybe there is something to slowing down. Yet I have to confess to getting in a hurry, but at least I have 3 poems that will be published later down the line. And this need to "succeed" can eat at us. Poetry is at best a quiet thing, a musical thing. I don't know what it is, but it is freedom and will. It is us grappling with humanity, what it means to be human, invisibility and loss and praise. I need poetry I think.

I am thinking about writing 3 reviews, but I simply can't begin to do so until March. Interview questions I've asked three Latina writers will be coming out in Feb. and of course I will link to them here and on fb and twitter. It's the name of the game, but a game doesn't seem to level up or create a new plateau?

Facebook is growing a little old. I feel that I will post book cover down the line and promote the book, but I'm finding it for the most part quick and shallow. The more flippant and outrageous or outraged the better. Someone dies that people don't even know and they are all over it praising the person, joining those that truly mourn. It's not bad to offer condolences, but on fb it's like everyone wants to jump on the bandwagon. It doesn't always seem sincere.

Maybe I'm just in a bad mood tonight. Maybe its the neo-conservatives that sometimes post pro-guns, pro-God in school, in other words my family. Ugh. Maybe I just need to stay away from the sway and swagger of success when it comes to writing poems and "hustling." I want to see beauty. I want to see depth and not repetitive posts, that seem sometimes to almost shout out the agony for success we Americans are bred to pant after.

The blog is more of a journal, a notebook for me. Facebook of late is a jumble of tid-bits and braggings, and of course I too engage in the "marketing" and the "networking" as one must, but I need a break from the "news" or the "gossip." I hope to write this weekend, spend time with some friends, remember and praise myself. Yes, you heard that right. I'm going to praise myself. I'm going to have compassion for myself and perhaps then I can learn to have compassion for others. I have a long ways to go, but I sense that I will never write well if I spend too much time playing a game. Some balance is necessary and a good game is healthy. I just sense some have thrown the baby out with the bathwater. I don't want to sell my soul, but all the capitalist crap about success runs through my veins too. So I'll post this and move on to the next thing, however small, however obscure.

We never know the future. Only today. And today I had something to say. A vague need to be heard which opens itself up to a great silence. A silencing? No, it's more of a breath. I am learning to breathe and poetry is, I agree, breath. There is no language, no sound, only the limitations, the fact we are spinning small on this blue planet in insignificance, and the game is indeed, just a game.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

So happy Richard Blanco was chosen as the inaugural poet. It seems things are changing in this country, and I am so glad to see it.

The Richard Blanco appointment makes me very happy. It has taught me a valuable lesson. The cream does rise to the top.


Tomorrow I go the the "On Becoming Van Gogh" exhibit at the Denver Museum of Art. Very excited. I'll take the bus to avoid the ridiculous parking charges there. I actually sold three pieces of my art-- very much a beginner but it was exciting, and my one piece was one of 24 chosen from 180 submissions, so I feel good about utilizing my creativity and working hard on improving with oil and chalk pastels. I saw recently on facebook a piece that Picasso did in pastels. My God, it was fantastic. So I am truly a beginner but it is exciting to work at it and see improvement from year to year.


Friday, January 04, 2013

Reading BASIC WRITINGS OF NIETZSCHE. Presently BEYOND GOOD AND EVIL. Skipped "The Birth of Tragedy" as I found it difficult and somewhat dull. It was of course about literature.

I like BEYOND GOOD AND EVIL immensely, but the part where he challenges and questions various philosophers is a little difficult. Some are not so difficult, where I am a little bit familiar with the philosopher. This from many, many years ago when as an undergraduate I was a philosophy minor.

If anything this whole phase of reading Nietzsche has reminded me of the importance of reading "outside" of poetry. This is not to say I shouldn't read poetry, but that I should expand my interests. Reading Nietzsche helped me write the poems in the collection I am currently revising. I sent it out, but reality tells me it will more than likely be rejected (aha! I have caught myself! No more of this crap. It will be accepted in time because it is good!). His propensity to argue the "will" with a "ruling thought" and what I am in my own way interpreting as confidence. He is wild, unruly and poetic.

"It is almost always a symptom of what is lacking in himself when a thinker senses in every "casual connection" and "psychological necessity" something of constraint, need, compulsion to obey, pressure, and unfreedom; it is suspicious to have such feelings-- the person betrays himself. And in general, if I have observed correctly, "the "unfreedom of the will" is regarded as a problem from two entirely opposite standpoints, but always in a profoundly personal manner: some will not give up their "responsibility," their belief in themselves, the personal right to their merits at any price (the vain races belong to this class). Others, on the contrary do not wish to be answerable for anything or blamed for anything, and owing to an inward self-contempt, seek to lay the blame for themselves somewhere else. The latter, when they write books, are in the habit today of taking the side of criminals; a sort of socialist pity is their most attractive disguise....the fatalism of the weak-willed embellishes itself surprisingly when it can pose as "la religion de la souffrance humaine (the religion of human suffering), that is its "good taste.

He is often out there, wild, willful and like Zarathustra certain of some sort of superiority. For some reason, this outlandish confidence appeals to me. Perhaps I am reading Nietzsche through the lens of someone who has, due to trauma, been weak-willed, uncertain and brooding. Freud, I believe said Nietzsche was noble. And I do find it noble to be self-assured. I find this "will to power" that he talked about in THUS SPOKE ZARATHUSTRA appealing. So it's likely in some ways I am misreading, but I believe even misreading can be a healthy thing at times.

Nietzsche's sister misled people to read Nietzsche as an anti-semite, and for many years his work was used by the Nazis, based on his writings. The introduction of this book discusses how Nietzsche is often misread, if not read in his entirety.

In any case, I am hoping to read more. I still have the Chomsky books to read, which a friend said, are difficult. But I think a book on anarchism will do me some good. :)

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Beck-The Golden Age

Recognizing more and more that things are going well. I need to stay in the here and now and go with those who actively support my work. I need to be in the present and not worry. I feel confident that SEVEN is a good book. I feel confident that my third collection, secretly titled is also good. I am blessed to have time to write, and I will and can work with those who have a common goal for their own work, whether it be in the community or on the page. But my community is essentially all around me right now. I need to recognize and support them--those with truly generous spirits. I am finding they are often less chest-beating than other people who talk about being community supporters who don't seem to be. Appearance vs. Reality. I know who supports the work, the hard work. Canto Mundo was a fantastic experience, and I feel I was lucky to meet some wonderful writers who aren't into playing power games of machismo, masculinity and arrogance. They are simply writing, and I must say, they are writing well, which is a goal of mine. I am going to live in this moment. They also support a larger cause, and really truly support it. It is something to state something and another thing to truly believe and act on it.

I met some good people at Canto Mundo, and I feel that they are seeking more, being more. So blessed to have made some solid connections there. Genuine "connections." Not mere faking support and pompous arrogance-- thank God! Need to move beyond the past desire to be part of a clique- a small tiny clique that leads to nowhere. I'm into the here and now where people spark and sizzle with true tenacity, eagerness and generosity. Don't tell me you're fierce if you are a lion for destruction and causing hurt. Don't tell me you are fierce in political action when you merely are misogynistic, hateful and arrogant. From now on, rather that getting upset about it, I'm moving on into the light that is true community. And there is peace in that.

I'm here in El Paso, Texas and I'm going to make the most out of these last few days. Looking forward to going back to Denver. I have a ticket to the "On Becoming Van Gogh" exhibit at the Denver Museum of Art. Very excited to see the exhibit as many have spoken highly of it. Let go of those who we expect generosity from, who are not generous. Let go of such expectations. Find your audience. Find your community. They might not be who you think they are. This I am learning. This is the now.

A true generous and community spirited individual is designing a website for me, and he has a large vision for building connections that are solid. I admire his work because he is a good writer and a good spirit. No chest-beating, no treachery towards hurting others. It's about the writing. It's about the now. I will let go the past. I will no longer expect support from those who are only interested in their egos.