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I am posting this as a benchmark, not because I think I'm playing very well yet.  The idea would be post a video every month for a ye...

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Oscar Peterson

I had handed out copies of Oscar Peterson's Jazz exercises to my class, but then couldn't justify why I had done so, since it was not a music class I was teaching.


When people don't study literature any more, a funny thing happens to theory.  It is still theory, but not literary theory per se. Theory becomes simply a synonym for "prestigious intellectual whom I am citing associated with some recent trend in the field."  

Tuesday, April 24, 2018


I was at my cousins' / aunt and uncle's house. I was lucid-dreaming there, absorbing every detail and reacquainting myself with them. Of course, they didn't look like anything like my cousins and aunt and uncle do in real life, and the house was not their house.  

Nothing to do with literature

We have an annual lecture in the department.  The last four years the lectures have been excellent, and none of them have had anything to do with literature at all. The topics have been entirely sociological, or about some other cultural expression not defined as literary per se. We choose the speakers by consensus in the department, and always nominate good people, and then give them the option about what to talk about. I am not complaining here, since the talks were good, and I'm interest in many things that aren't literature, but I'd like to know whether anyone is still interested in literature out there?

(I'm talking not about a talk in which a novel is used to address a historical or sociological point, but where no novel, poem, or play, or even film, enters the picture at all.).

Or, if you are interested, where do you go to study it?

Monday, April 23, 2018


The new job trend is to adjunct for free (hat tip to Clarissa). Let's hope this doesn't catch on.  The positions are described as "zero time."  Nice euphemism! The University will try to recruit alumni for this, presumably grads of Southern Illinois University who are still in the area.  A zero time appointment, for zero money, is one you should spend zero time on.  People should sign up for it and then not show up. Then, when asked, should say that they are spending zero time, just as advertised.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

By the Swimming Pool

I was going to write a play called "By the Swimming Pool." It would feature characters talking next to a pool, in several acts, perhaps the same characters talking by the pool at different points in time. I'm not sure if this was really a dream at all, or simply an idea I had lying in bed before I got up.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Real Estate

By real estate I mean the amount of available attention. It could be conceived of as time, space, or energy, too, but for now let's use the idea of attention, what the mind can attend to at any given time, or on any given day.  

A big project you are working on occupies a lot of it, and it does so even if you are not working on it very much. A course you are teaching occupies a certain amount of real estate, even during the hours one is not teaching it or preparing it. We talk about a teaching "load" as though we are trucks and have a burden to carry on our backs.

Other parts of life occupy real estate as well, relationships, hobbies...  If you imagine a 13-year old boy and 80% of the real estate is give over to sexual desire. A seriously ill person will have most of their real estate occupied by their illness.

With meditation, which I am getting more serious about, you realize you have more real estate than you thought: the mind frees up space by sorting out things that aren't quite as significant and assigning them their proper amount of weight and attention. It doesn't resolve problems, in itself, but shrinks them to their proper size. It is wonderfully freeing.  

We don't want to have a lot of extra real estate unassigned to things. It might make us feel lazy or uncommitted. That is why we might want to take extra things on, even when we don't need to. It is fine to have the attention occupied by something meaningful, and freeing the mind from unnecessary shit helps us to refocus on things we actually might care about.