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.


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.


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:


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.)
You’re getting a little too old,
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.

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


How Do I Feel After Teaching Two Seminars in a Row?

September 24, 2009

Like this, mutatis mutandis:


How Journalists Make Hash (On Blogger Superiority Complex)

September 18, 2009

Take notes from Moscow News business reporter Ed Bentley, who recently tried his hand at covering ethnic violence in Russia.

If the lessons aren’t clear, take a look at David Brooks on anti-health care protests.  Then compare with Tenured Radical.


Archival Things: Organizer Notes #2

September 8, 2009

[West Virginia, 25 February 1936]

I am in bad need of medical treatment. My left ear is leaking for almost a year. In the past two months I am rapidly losing hearing on this ear. I can no longer carry on telephone conversation by holding receiver on this ear. It it continues this way for another couple of months there is every possibility that I may lose the hearing on this ear completely, unless I get the necessary treatment.

My left kidney is so badly infected that I cannot lay on my left side and cannot stand long enough to make an hours speech.

I have lost all but five of my upper teeth. The remaining five are so bad that I can pull them out with my fingers. As a result I can chew no food which results in continuous constipation and terrific headaches at least twice a week.

My ear and kidney may develop other complications if proper treatment is not given to me. There is no possibility whatsoever to go to a doctor here in West Virginia because of lack of funds and to my knowledge there are no free clinics in the state. If I would go to Chicago immediately I believe arrangements could be made to get treatments.

In addition I live in a house since last September without paying any rent. I have an eviction notice and undoubtedly will be evicted within the next few weeks. I have already received the third eviction notice.

These may not appear to be sufficient reasons for my immediate departure to Chicago. Nevertheless they are important to my health which is essential in carrying out the new task assigned to me.


Archival Things: Organizer Notes #1

September 7, 2009

District 9. Minnesota. This is a Finnish prairie. I call it the Finnish woods. It’s dark and dreary for us here. We have a few English and South Slavic outposts. They control everything that is worth and worthless. We couldn’t touch this district even if we move the CI [Communist International] into Minneapolis. The state is a Finnish Cooperative Commonwealth.

District 13. [San Francisco] … Very little if any political activities. This is a home of retired radicals. Not even retired revolutionists.

District 15. Connecticut. In this case we are planning to remove the district – not the district organizer. We will shortly make it a sub-district of New York. There is nothing here worthwhile speaking of.