Archive for October, 2009

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Swine’s Signs

October 30, 2009

H1N1 symptoms they forgot to mention:

1. Cognitive dodginess. You are driving back from the campus library.  You pull up to a stop sign and wait for it to change.

2. Fever dreams. You fall asleep at an elevated temperature.  You dream about getting contacted by an obscure Chinese-American playwright who had a few works staged in the 1970s.  He’s got a new script about his grandfather, the left-wing theater promoter who arranged several hitherto unknown Paul Robeson concerts in 1930s China.  He shows you tattered posters and photos of Robeson in China, presumably giving the business to imperialist Japan.  You take up the script, promising to see what can be done to get it produced.  You rush to the post office–Lord knows whom you were going to write to about this–but just outside, you see Sherman Alexie, dressed in a mail carrier’s uniform.  You stop and ask, “Aren’t you Sherman Alexie?”  Not bothering to wonder why the author is punching the clock for the USPS, you give him a spiel about this great script.  He takes the folder you offer him and says he’ll look it over.  You wake up with a sweaty cold brow.

3. Despondency. When you go down to the basement to do a load of laundry, you notice water on the floor.  The water heater burst and you have to shut off the main.  Instead of just calling the plumber and getting back to business, you think it’s a sign that the world is conspiring against you and you might as well give up.  On hot water.  On the laundry.  On the dissertation.  On the job market.

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It Takes a Nation of 1,400 to Hold Me Back?

October 24, 2009

Just got news that one of the postdocs I applied for has received 1,400 applications.

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Teaching Revelations

October 18, 2009

1. Undergraduates pretty much despise having to read Homi Bhabha, even a short, ostensibly more accessible work.

2. If one thinks that Columbia is Colombia, this poem by Langston Hughes is hard to understand:

Columbia

Columbia,
My dear girl,
You really haven’t been a virgin for so long.
It’s ludicrous to keep up the pretext.

You’re terribly involved in world assignations
And everybody knows it.
You’ve slept with all the big powers
In military uniforms,
And you’ve taken the sweet life
Of all the little brown fellows
In loincloths and cotton trousers.
When they’ve resisted,
You’ve yelled, “Rape,”
At the top of your voice
And called for the middies
To beat them up for not being gentlemen
And liking your crooked painted mouth.
(You must think the moons of Hawaii
Disguise your ugliness.)
Really,
You’re getting a little too old,
Columbia,
To be so naive, and so coy.
Being one of the world’s big vampires,
Why don’t you come on out and say so
Like Japan, and England, and France,
And all the other nymphomaniacs of power
Who’ve long since dropped their
Smoke screens of innocence
To sit frankly on a bed of bombs?

O, sweet mouth of India,
And Africa,
Manchuria, and Haiti.

Columbia,
You darling,
Don’t shoot!
I’ll kiss you!