30 jul 2011


The human hand is quite difficult to draw, even though everyone pretty much knows what a hand looks like. The only reason I try it at all is because drawing draws on different capacities of the brain and provides a route toward other kinds of perceptions that would otherwise be lost on me. Certainly I'm in the lower 40% of the population in artistic talent, but that would be a kind of dumb reason not to do it.

Two Arms by Mattise

In a painting by Matisse he paints the arms of one woman, with her hand pressed against her cheek, with anatomical accuracy. The other arm, of a woman sitting next to her, is elongated, stretched out with an expressive gesture around her knees. The faces in this painting are very stylized, almost childlike, with more attention going to the colorful clothing and background.


This defense of Hauser, fired (or resigned) Harvard scientist, seems very weaselly.
But is Hauser therefore a bad scientist? If all we have is interpretation, then no, although he is probably “guilty” of confirmation bias, a persistent and ubiquitous problem in all science. His data are less reliable than Pasteur’s, so he should have used his judgement. The problem is that it is entirely subjective and he clearly overinterpreted. That is not enough to kill a career.

A scholar who faked his data and intimidated his graduate students is guilty only of what all scientists are guilty of, confirmation bias. Note how "guilty" goes in scare quotes. As in: not really guilty at all. The comparison to Louis Pasteur is really over the top. If we can find something Pasteur did wrong with his data, then wouldn't that let all faking, intimidating scientists off the hook for all eternity? After all, Pasteur gave us pasteurized milk, so if even he is a fake, then why worry about anyone else?

There are plenty more weasel techniques in this brief blog post that I don't have the energy to enumerate right now. Pretending that you are looking at something from both sides when you really are just defending someone, for example. Confusing shifts of perspective...

Angell Takes Very Few Prisoners

Here is Marcia Angell's defense of her articles against the psychiatrists, who gleefully admit they don't know how their drugs work. They just know they do work. Somehow or another.

29 jul 2011


In entryways to the heart
the old house
father locked up every night,
the courtyards with ferns
mother loved, the burnt stain
of polenta every night, her light
against the darkness of the pots,
the fallen sky.
Who can tear through this web?
Where is it headed?
Who wove it, what little threads
did they put there that bind us still?
Its deepest chasm is the highest.
Don't cut up its messages with
knives worse than death.

Of course it would be hard to translate a poem like this without getting a few things right. I'm not happy with entryways or "deepest chasm," but I like "her light / against the darkness of the pots."

The problem I have is that I can get a pretty good version on the first try, but then what? I find it hard to improve a translation except in very minimal ways.


Another poem by Gelman:

What's gone is gone, pointless
to try to get it back.
The cure is late at night at the
lair's table.
Who's given knowledge
without getting wine?
The poet risks
the thousand parts he cooked
early in the morning
not letting him breathe.

This translation is not quite a free. I did try to get a Creeley vibe in the first couple of lines, but I couldn't sustain the tone.

After Gelman


Anyone can get warm
wearing the hide of a wild boar

but to satisfy a real hunger
nothing like a mother's soup.

At the table nobody imposed conditions--
bread, sometimes beer, bright-red

tomatoes, oil, the salt
that makes forgetting easy to eat.

What a spoon for the rice!
How it sang against the bowl!

What am I supposed to do with this
appetite for what was and what wasn't?

At five in the morning
streets of poverty

and language slipping by,
the sun giving grammars of peace

to the plants in the courtyard,
glimmers that left too soon.

This is more of an interpretation than a faithful rendering, so i won't quote the original. I felt it had to sing in English, that I had to establish different line-breaks, stanza structure, and syntactical relations, and posit a plausible speaking voice that would be saying all this. It would be better if it were even more free, because then I would worry even less. Right now it's in that awkward place between translation and complete re-interpretation.

Customer Service

If you are a student and think of yourself as the "customer" of education, then let me ask you this. When was the last time you had satisfactory customer service when calling your phone company with a question about your bill? Is this how you want your educational institution to treat you?

Pa amb tomaquets

To make the classic Catalan dish "pa amb tomaquet"s you need the following:

A hearty bread, like a baguette, etc...

Olive oil.


A ripe tomato or two.

Assorted sliced cheeses and meats.


Cut the baguette so that you get long, flat slices, of approximately a third of the length of the baguette. So you would have six pieces for each baguette. Drizzle a few drops of olive oil on the crumb side of each piece, then rub peeled gloves of garlic across the bread to spread the oil evenly over the surface. Discard the garlic. Cut the tomato in half and rub it across the bread, so that the bread turns a reddish pink from the juice. The tomato needs to be ripe enough to have enough juice to do the job, but not so ripe that the bread is soaked through. The oil, garlic, and tomato are strong flavors that don't need be used in abundant quantities to be tasted. You can also toast the bread before drizzling the oil.

Now place slices of high quality meat (jamón serrano or prosciutto, or chorizo, or whatever else you like) and cheese (gouda, manchego, or whatever else you have on hand) on the bread. Eat this with the wine. This can be a complete dinner if you have some Spanish olives and a salad.

The Patriarchy Is Safe

Just sayin' ... Let me "mansplain" it to you. Contemporary feminism barely threatens to patriarchy. In fact, if the patriarchy wanted to design a non-threatening feminism, it would come up with a movement like today's. A prominent feminist blog• engages in the practice of "trigger warnings." At the beginning of a post, it will say "trigger warning: misogyny, depression." So the blog treats its readers as delicate flowers who need to be warned of a subsequent discussion of some troubling subject. The same blog features women expressing jealousy of other women for being assaulted and harassed. Obviously, if victimhood is the mark of a being a woman, then a woman who is not a victim is going to be excluded. The patriarchy might easily conclude that women want to harassed after all.

Many women either reject the feminist label for themselves (no wonder, if this is what feminism has come to), or use it as a cover for their choice to live a completely patriarchal lifestyle.


*I learned of this blog from Clarissa.

28 jul 2011

Lorca and Hands

Lorca could not draw a human hand very well. Even my amateurish sketch of my own hand (see above) is far superior to his, from an anatomical point of view. But Lorca created an intense poetic / visual language in his drawings that even artists far superior to me could not match.

27 jul 2011

Lorca / Teresa de la Parra

The guy at the framing shop asked about the story behind this Lorca drawing. Lorca drew this and dated it in Havana, 1930. On the right hand side he wrote: "Sirvió de modelo Teresa de la Parra." (Teresa de la Parra served as model). She was a Venezuelan novelist, and google revealed that she did travel to Cuba, so this is probably her. The title of the drawing is "Theorem of the Woman Eating up the Moon."

26 jul 2011


My favorite uncle, Orval Ellsworth, has died of natural causes. He was scientist and inventor who followed his own path in life. He liked people, and people liked him, but he was an Emersonian individualist and classic garage tinkerer. He had a PhD in physiology and developed several patents, mostly in the medical technology field, and taught community college, among other things. My mom, Orval's sister, told me that he said he never really worked. He just played around and pursued his interests to wherever they led him. He appreciated people for who they were, even if they were radically different from him. He and his wife Monajo raised four children, each, also, a radical individualist in his or her own way.

Since Orval and Monajo lived in Palo Alto, where I did my graduate work, I had many dinners at their house. They also generously hosted my wedding there.

24 jul 2011

Eggwhite Omelette with Mushrooms and Avocados

For lunch i made an omelette by sauteeing some finely chopped onions and red bell peppers in olive oil in a frying pan, then adding some mushrooms, cooking until the mushrooms released their liquids. I removed this mixture from the pan and then put in four beaten eggs, with two of the yolks removed. I drained the extra liquid from from the mushroom mix and spread it over the cooking eggs, along with one small avocado cut into thin slices. I turned the heat down low so the egg would cook slowly without burning. When the egg was almost completely cooked through, I flipped the entire omelette over and cooked for a few more minutes. The result was a circular omelette fitting perfectly on a dinner plate. The two of us ate this with a baguette and some assorted cheeses.

An omelette of mostly whites and no cheese is lighter in texture. You won't miss the yolks at all. The avocado adds some fat back, but with a creamier texture.

You can also separate the eggs and beat the whites to a fluffy consistency, then add the yolks back. That's what I do for a chile relleno, for example.

22 jul 2011

The Sixth Taste

We all know the four tastes, sweet, sour, bitter, salty. The fifth is supposed to be umami, or savory. I'm not convinced by that, because I think it is just saltiness combined with a particular mouth-feel. But let's accept that there is a fifth taste.

The sixth taste, then, would be piquancy, the effect of mustards, horseradish, and hot peppers on the tongue. You can't argue that this culinary heat is olfactory, a smell. It is very much felt in the mouth, not the nose. You could argue that it is a tactile sensation, not a true taste. But you could irritate the inside of your elbow with hot pepper juice, and that wouldn't be quite the same as "tasting" the peppers, right? There is something qualitatively "taste-like" about eating peppers that you couldn't reproduce on other parts of the body, where the heat of hot peppers would merely be an irritant.

I'm not necessarily convinced by my own argument, but I don't know quite where it goes wrong either. If I am right and have discovered the sixth taste, then i have made an amazing insight, just like the Japanese chemist who discovered the fifth one.

Caesar Salad with Salmon

Am I boring you with my recipes? For this one you should make two hard boiled eggs, and blend in blender with 1/2 cup olive oil, lemon or lime juice, (juice of one large lemon or iime) a small t. of dijon mustard, and a clove of garlic or two. That's the dressing. The salad itself is just romaine lettuce, croutons, and a little parmesan cheese. I usually just bake a big piece of salmon filet in the toaster oven for 20 minutes while the eggs are boiling, and put big chunks of salmon in the salad, tossing the whole salad gently once after adding the salmon. With the hundred-degree heat I don't feel like making hot meals, but the eggs and salmon do have to cook for this one. I am not crazy about anchovies, so the salmon fulfills the traditional role of that fish. Whatever you do don't use bottled dressing for this. Make your own.

21 jul 2011


I made a roasted corn salad. The texture of the corn was not quite right, but it tasted good, with cilantro, hot peppers, hot pepper flakes, lime juice, and some grated cheese. The recipe called for manchego, but that was 19 a pound so I found a good substitute. It was good with the leftover ceviche and potato salad.

I am going to make ceviche again, but mixing tilapia with scallops and marinating it an entire day. I really like strong flavors, garlic, hot peppers, intense lime, wasabi, but used with fresh ingredients. I like foods that are grilled, marinated, smoked, or cured. I eat everything common to Western diets. All kinds of meats, fish and shellfish, every vegetable or fruit, many varieties of cheeses, grains, etc... I like every kind of "ethnic" food I've tried, when it is high quality, especially Indian and Thai. I also like most kinds of wines, beers, and many other spirits, coffees, and teas. Desserts are a chore. Cold sandwiches are difficult to get down. I find when I don't eat well it is almost like a punishment I inflict on myself, even when I imagine that I am deriving comfort from the food, like mid-western style deep-fried General Tso's Chicken. Somehow the two parts of my brain are not connecting when I order something like that.

I like to cook and can so a half-way decent job of it, but I get strangely depressed when something does not turn out well.

Platonic Milieu

What's your Platonic ideal of the cultural ambience? For example, for the character in Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris," it was Paris of the 1920s with Picasso and Hemingway. For me it might be the Madrid of the Residencia de Estudiantes when Lorca lived there, or the Cedar Bar in the 1950s. If you don't have one, that's just as good. It means you aren't as susceptible to myth-making. Would you be bored by Mallarmé's Tuesday salons? Or Plato's academy. I'm sure I would be.

(No particular research agenda behind the question. I'm just curious.)

El emperrado corazón amora

(282) Juan Gelman. El emperrado corazón amora. Barcelona: Tusquets, 2011. 296 pp.

This is very difficult poetry. The neologisms, of which there are two in the title, present the least of the difficulties. The problem is more that there is little to grasp on to. It is a long book, with little variety of style. The poems, with cryptic titles, all seem the same. Still, I like it.

Here's one of my favorites, "Evaporaciones":
Cómo baila el ahorcadito
del poeta que se subió a sí mismo,
creído. Se le apagaron las
versiones del ser, los
sobresaltos del bien y el mal de la palabra.

So far, it's pretty obvious what it's about. The poet is a little hanged man, dancing. He climbed onto himself, too credulous or trusting, but he ran out of different versions of being, as well as the sudden shifts when language seemed marvelous or horrible to him.
Huyó del deber de los lirios,
de la quinta décima de la luna,
de esa cosa caliente, la sangre.

The poet took flight from traditional themes, the "obligation of the lily," or the fifth "décima" of the moon. The décima is a poetic form. Gelman is perhaps playing on the sound the "quintaesencia" (quintessence). Otherwise I have no idea why this should be the fifth and not the fourth or the sixth.
Su decir mancha
el saco, las tías, los barcos
que ofician y todo lo que gime.

The poet's speech stains various things. A sportscoat, aunts, officiating boats, and everything that moans. This technique is known as "chaotic enumeration," as defined by Amado Alonso in a pioneering study of Neruda's poetry. Poetry is seen, then, as a force of negativity.
El otoño marchita la corona
que se puso sin hojas de verdad.

Autumn always means decline. Autumn wilts the poet's crown of laurel, the traditional symbol of poetic authority. It's leaves were not really leaves anyway. Hojas means leaves but also the pages of a book.
Asiste a su entierro impasible,
se reza por las dudas,
sigue con el día que sigue.

The poet attends his own funeral without emotion. Since he is still alive, the funeral is really for the traditional role of the poet, who must go on like Samuel Becket, continuing with the day that continues.

So pretty much the poem is understandable on a first reading. About 10% remains difficult to explain. The book, however, contains more than 100 poems like this. Gelman complains about the decline of poetry but fully embodies the seemingly decrepit role. Deeply ambivalent, he is halfway between the colloquial irony of Parra and the prophetic voice of Neruda.

20 jul 2011


I marinated a pound of tilapia, cut up in 1/2 inch pieces, in lime juice and salt all day. The ceviche also had olive oil, cilantro, hot peppers, onions, tomatillos, and avocados, among other things. For a first try it was quite good. Next time I'll cut the fish smaller and use slightly less salt. (I eat sashimi, so why not raw fish Latin American style?) We ate it with bread, corn on the cob, and potato salad, which I made with garlic mayonnaise, fresh parsley, and cucumbers. Of course the advantage of a mostly cold meal should be obvious to anyone in the midwest during this extreme heat wave. Even at night it doesn't drop below 80.


Modernism never really died. There was a classic period from about 1910 to the early 1930s, the highlight of the avant-garde and the period when The Waste Land Ulysses, and Spring and All were published. Let's call that historical modernism.

Then there is everything lying behind this. Manet and Baudelaire, Flaubert and Mallarmé, Rimbaud, the Jena school of German Romanticism. Everything that made historical modernism possible. Modernism made these nineteenth century developments central. To call Baudelaire the first modern poet only makes sense if there is a modern poetry later.

Once historical modernism died, late modernism could take shape. Blanchot, Beckett, Celan, Octavio Paz and Lezama Lima. The social realism and existentialism of the 30s and 40s was an interruption, a distraction. Late modernism can draw equally from historical modernism and from the capital M Modernity of the 19th Century. It was a consolidation. The Latin American boom of the 1960s was still modernist too. Cortázar, say. So let's say there is larger arc of modernism, from Hölderlin to Gamoneda.

Later I'll try to define what this modernism means. My initial sense is that it's a kind of ambition. But an ambition to do what?

Claudio Then and Now

I am writing a chapter on Claudio Rodríguez, who in my opinion is the greatest Spanish poet of the second half of the 20th century. This is also the topic of my dissertation completed in 1988 and of my first book published in 1990. Aside from a few articles and reviews, I have avoided him for a long time (if you call writing two articles, an obituary, and a few book reviews "avoiding"), but now I am ready to tackle him again. Curiously, my point is pretty much the same, with the benefit of several years of experience working on other poets. While a few things in my dissertation now seem dated to me, I think my overall vision stands up pretty well.

Debicki told me I should talk about postmodernism in relation to Claudio. Foolishly, I listened to him. That is the most dated aspect of the book, precisely because it seemed to be the freshest in 1988. Nothing dates as fast as something that seems excitingly trendy at the time.

19 jul 2011


The problem with seeing things along a "continuum" or "spectrum" is that it blurs distinctions. For example, we could see depression along a continuum of suicidal despair and normal everyday sadness, or "eating disorders' along a spectrum from suicidal self-starvation to minor neuroses surrounding eating. People who want to argue that phenomena exist along a broad continuum want you to think that the milder manifestations are examples of the more extreme, never vice-versa. Statistics about the number of people suffering from mental illness are particularly slippery, if they include considerable numbers of people from the less severe end of the "continuum." I understand all the good intentions behind these arguments, but I am having none of them.

18 jul 2011

The Anxiety of Citation

A woman who was on the doctoral defense with me in Spain gave me her book, in which she says that she cites me extensively. Curiously, i have not looked at it yet to see what she says. I do not need someone to agree with me: it is enough that I am one of the ones framing the debate. Still, I want to be cited correctly.


A poet who is smart enough can very easily determine the reception of his or her own work. Both Valente and García Montero, while representing opposite positions, have such powerful critical voices that a lot of the criticism of them just goes along for the ride, echoing the poets' own positions. Of course, in my view the most valuable criticism is antithetical even when it is more or less sympathetic. The deepest homage is criticism, not adulation.

17 jul 2011

La sombra y la apariencia

(281) Andrés Sánchez Robayna. La sombra y la apariencia. Barelona: Tusquets. 233 pp.

I got a defective copy of this so I don't have a date for it. All the poetry is there, just some of the preliminary matter is missing.

ASR is one of the main poets in the line derived from Valente. He edited the Insulas extrañas anthology with Valente, Varela, and Milán. This is a huge and intense book, although not really 233 pages of poetry since Tusquets won't begin any poem on an even-numbered page. I'd really have to devote about twice as much as the two hours I spent with it to do it justice. The problem is that a poem in the essentialist mode practiced by Sánchez Robayna, if it is even a little bit short of perfect, even a little too derivative of Valente or Lezama, becomes intolerable.

Mella y criba

(280) Ida Vitale. Mella y criba. Valencia: Pretextos, 2010. 74 pp.

Vitale is a poet from Uruguay and the author of many previous books. For some reason several of the the books I bought in Spain are by 80-year-old women who are still around and writing extraordinary work.

Greatest Hits

A French Fry from the past.

16 jul 2011

Two Poets

(279) María Victoria Atencia. El umbral. Valencia: Pretextos, 2011. 47 pp.

(278) Julia Uceda. Hablando con un haya. Pretextos, 2010. 74 pp.

Atencia would seem to be a much more accomplished poet than her contemporary Uceda. I tried to like Uceda's book but the magic was just not there. It seems odd that there is so little difference between a fine poem and one that does not work. The two poets' emotions are equally intense; both have won prizes and are equally serious about their writing. The difference is minuscule, but at the same time potentially enormous (for any given reader).

No Novels

I saw Valente's personal library in the University of Santiago two days ago, guided by Claudio Rodríguez Fer, the head of the Cátedra José Ángel Valente. He hardly had any novels at all, save for a few by Tabucchi, or Kafka, or by the greatest Spanish novelist of his own time, Juan Goytisolo, who was a fervent admirer of Valente. He had Tristam Shandy, but he didn't really have copies of very many novels, if you consider that the novel is a major genre of modern literature since the seventeenth century.

The languages he read in most were Spanish, French, English, Italian, and Galician. He had a lot of Dante.

13 jul 2011

Midnight in Paris

I saw this Woody Allen film, "Midnight in Paris," in which the protagonist gets to travel back in time and meet Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Picasso, Buñuel, Dalí, and Stein in Paris. I thought back to a time about a year and a half ago in Madrid. I was at the Círculo de Bellas Artes with my favorite Spanish critic, Miguel Casado, my favorite living poet, Olvido García Valdés, and then was introduced to a woman who turned out to be my favorite Spanish novelist, Menchú Gutiérrez. She was very impressed I had read every single one of her novels, including a very obscure one about a light-house keeper. I didn't need a magical automobile at midnight to meet these people. Of course if I went back in time in Paris I'd travel to see Cortázar rather than Hemingway But in any case my experience had something at once magical and real to it, while completely lacking the cartoonishness of Allen's vision of the lost generation. I guess the point was supposed to be that our vision of the past is, in fact, cartoonish and unreal.

12 jul 2011

New Blog

I am following a new blog, by Nazca. When I first started there were no other hispanists with blog, but now there are several.


Spain used to be horribly full of smoke. Now, with the ley antitabacos, I hardly ever have to breathe smoke at all in public spaces. Madrid is still bad on the streets, but here in Galicia I have barely even smelled any smoke.


Wifi is also pretty much universal in Spain. I don't have to go to cafés and feed money into computers to access the internet.


It might be nice to be internet free for a week, but no such luck. I brought my computer this time. I also get text messages.


Only I could get a sunburn in rainy Galicia.

11 jul 2011

Orange Juice

Orange juice in Spain, even at the corner bar, will usually be fresh squeezed. I have been eating a lot of pimientos de Padrón (I actually ate some in Padrón itself), octopus, empanadas, vino de Albariño, and jamón serrano. Here in Spain someone defending a dissertation has to invite the committee out to eat, so on Friday I had an elaborate multi-course banquet, beginning with a raw-salmon appetizer and culminating in a filet of beef and some exquisite desserts and a local coffee liqueur. There was a shell-fish course (navajas?), and a fish course as well.


I bought about 15 books so far in Spain. It is always a dilemma to be in a bookstore with thousands of books one could buy, and then come out with 5 or 10. There is the expense, of course, and also the weight of carrying them back home through multiple airports--Santiago, Madrid, Philadelphia, St. Louis. The choice of particular books is almost always impossible. I give myself an hour or two and whatever books I happen to be holding in my arms are those I will buy.

Books are expensive, seemingly, but also cheap in relation to their use. Imagine a cup of coffee that costs 1 euro and a book that costs 10. Once you drink the coffee, it is gone, but the book you can keep for twenty years and read multiple times. While it costs 10 or sometimes 40 times more than the coffee, the book is almost always more valuable. A euro spent buying books is immensely more cost-effective. It almost seems wrong that the same currency can be used for both consumable items and books. The existence of currency makes incommensurable things seem more or less comparable.

9 jul 2011


It turned out that I was the president of the doctoral committee defense here in Santiago de Compostela. I didn't know I had to preside over the whole act until a few minutes before it happened. Here in Spain, dissertation defenses are a good deal more formal than in the US, with an audience, in this case, about 40 friends and family members of the student defending her dissertation. The entire event lasted three hours. The candidate had to answer all five members of the committee after we had all spoken for about twenty minutes each. She received a cum laude by unanimous vote.

8 jul 2011


As an undergraduate i read all the Cortázar I could. Los premios, a strange novel about a group of people who win, as a prize, a trip on a ship on which strange things happen. All the brilliant short stories, like "Continuidad de los parques" and "La casa tomada." Rayuela, of course. I am not particularly interested now in Cortázar, but he defined a certain moment in my own development as a reader. I don't know if I could ever go back and be a really interested reader, but it strikes me that someone could go back to this body of work and do something interesting with it.

Anti Power Point Party

Here is some information about an anti-powerpoint group. Join and spread the word.

7 jul 2011


The aphorism chapter is out (for now). That will give me nine chapters and only two more to write after I get back from Spain and before December. Then in January I can start with ADLB, otherwise known as Lorca, modelo para armar or Siete ensayos de Interpretación de la realidad lorquiana.

The aphorism will have to be an article project for later.

[written from Charlotte NC airport, scheduled for 7/7].

5 jul 2011


Tonight I'll be trying something similar: salmon filets marinated in a paste made of cilantro, ginger, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, and various Indian spices (coriander, cinnamon, cardomon).

[UPDATE: good but rather intense.]

4 jul 2011


I made a marinade out of red wine vinegar, salt, olive oil, shallots, garlic, fresh oregano, parsley, cilantro in abundant quantities, and marinated some boneless chicken thighs in it all day. (Recipe from Bon Appetit.) I barbecued the thighs and we ate it with corn-on-the-cob and salad for a perfect 4th of July dinner.

I love eating well in the summer. Everything fresh, nothing out of a can or bottle.


I follow the inkophile blog. Though I write mostly by computer and have horrible handwriting, I do like fountain pens and bottled inks. I'm hoping to acquire a new pen in Santiago de Compostela when I go there in a few days.

3 jul 2011

Siete ensayos lorquianos

I think I'll write the book in Spanish and call it Siete ensayos lorquianos or Lorca: modelo para armar.• That way I can reach a different audience. I can use ideas from my other two Lorca books and extend them, presenting them with a different emphasis. I know I'll be disappointing my twelve readers who don't know Spanish, but I will be reaching about twice that number who know Spanish but not English. If it's a choice between dozens of readers and scores of them, I'll have to go with the latter. I'm still bummed my publisher is not getting my book published in Spain.
1. Introducción. Lorca: modelo para armar
2. Lorca y el pensamiento poético español del siglo XX
3. Los años 30: caminos hacia la modernidad tardía
4. Lorca y Valente: la ansiedad de una influencia
5. Neopopularismo y vanguardia: la discutida modernidad de Lorca
6. Cuerpo presente: una poética performativa
7. Lorca y sus apócrifos: la recepción norteamericana

I still don't have many ideas about Lorca's theater. I think I'm going to have to let others continue to study that.


•Playing off the title of a book by Julio Cortázar.


Eagleton I regard as barely capable of coherent or honest thought:
None of these writers points out that if Christianity is true, then it is all up with us. We would then have to face the deeply disagreeable truth that the only authentic life is one that springs from a self-dispossession so extreme that it is probably beyond our power. Instead, the volume chatters away about spirits and Darwinian earthworms, animal empathy and the sources of morality.

The notion that the only authentic life is beyond our capabilities means, logically, that there is no authentic human life at all. Why bother then? Wouldn't it be better to pursue some feasible form of "inauthentic" life? The word "if" also performs a deeply dishonest function here, as do the words "true" and "truth." After all, the question to be decided is whether it is true in the first place, and if Christianity isn't true, then it is noxious nonsense, especially if it preaches a self-dispossession that makes normal human life all but impossible. If Eagleton really doesn't believe in Christianity, he should call it nonsense. If he does believe, then he should speak non-hypothetically.

Here's my problem with Egginton too, and other forms of thought that try to steer a middle course. Anti-atheism really boils down to theism, in the end, but the advocate of "moderation" cannot quite take the theistic route. If theism (or some variant thereof) is actually true, then it is a very serious matter with radical consequences (Eagleton is right in this at least).

And why fault authors just because they haven't had some silly idea that has occurred to the reviewer? I think a Darwinian earthworm is a lot more interesting than an incoherent theological point, but that's just me. At one point he complains that no theologian would ever call God an "entity," as one writer in the book under review does. This is sheer silliness: that word is all over theology. Try explaining the ontological argument without using it (or a close synonym like being, thing, etc...).

I'll be trashing more Eagleton writing in the near future, probably after I get back from Spain. It is very fun, because Eagleton, while a witty writer who can launch clever zingers, can barely think straight for more than a clause at a time. The only question is whether I hate Eagleton more because he is a Marxist or a dishonest Christian apologist.

Pasta Primavera

I sautéed two zucchini in small but not tiny pieces, a small chopped shallot, three chopped cloves of garlic, a handful of green beans (steamed first for 5 minutes) in some olive oil. I added a really good tomato from the farmer's market and a handful of baby spinach leaves. A little bit of dried basil (fresh would have been better). I tossed this with 1/2 pound of ziti and some parmesan and freshly ground black pepper. It tasted really good. The liquid from the oil, spinach, and tomato was just enough to coat the pasta but without a heavy tomato-sauce feel. It was lucky that I didn't happen to have any onions, because the shallot, which I had left over from something else I made last week, did the job much better.

1 jul 2011


Anyway, as I mentioned a few days ago, I have the idea to write another book on Lorca. The idea is to write something that's for the "common reader" (c.f. Virginia Woolf) but is not introductory in any way. In other words, it would assume no knowledge of Lorca, and would be stylistically accessible to all interested comers, but would be my book, reflecting my perspective and fairly original perspective. I still have the challenge of finding a title that defines what it is I want to do. Of course, I have no idea of what I am going to say yet, except for a few extensions of what I've already written, and to discuss the critical reception, the poetry, the drama, Lorca as an intellectual or thinker, and Lorca's relation to music, with an original approach to each of these topics. I'm not sure about the theater yet, but I'm sure I'll come up with something. One thing I know is that it will have little or no biography. I hate biography and that's where I'm least equipped to make a contribution.

You heard it here first.


Another Damned Lorca Book. That's my working title, but I would never actually use that. I hope nobody finds out that that is my working title. That would be embarrassing.

Mayhew's Lorca. Too honest! Too self-centered. Sure, it's Lorca según Mayhew, but it's got to speak to others too.

Federico García Lorca: [Catchy Subtitle] . The obvious choice, maybe too obvious. I could put the catchy part in the beginning.

13 Ways of Looking at Lorca.


I have a feeling that once the title is in place, the other 89,993 words will follow quickly.