Monday, June 02, 2008

Tuesday Dribbles

This is my 900th post! Not that that's particularly important, but I decided to look at Blogger's stats before starting this entry, and that's what it says, so I thought why not mention it?


Today was my final lecture of the quarter, and the last day of spring classes. Reading week starts tomorrow, and exams begin next Monday. I started off telling my class that I couldn't believe we had reached the end of the term, because the end of March and the first class are still vivid in my mind--so great was my anxiety about this class that I have experienced sciatica on the left side of my body, which culminated in almost paralyzing hip pain a month ago, and aoregeiria, or waking up too early every morning--and because we'd covered so much ground. But this was it, and after a few comments about the final exam, I spoke about Junot Díaz's The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, the last book on the syllabus, and attempted to show how it broached all of the many thematic and formal concerns we had been discussing from modernist and Modernist moment forward to post-modernism, which we had focused on beginning with Donald Barthelme's "The Glass Mountain," reading backwards to Nathanaël West and Robert Lowell. (It helps, of course, that Díaz, with his limitless gifts for irony, invokes one of the central figures of Anglo-American pre-modernism and the exemplar of Aestheticism in the novel's title.) In order to leave them with some fairly current scholarship, I briefly touched upon Édouard Glissant's poetics of relation and the concept of "opacity," citing both the novel's poetic epigram from Derek Walcott's "The Schooner Flight" and the untitled prologue, as a way of thinking through the play of modes, genres, idioms, linguistic registers, languages, and language itself in the book, and also as a means of situating it within the context not only of American literatures, but also Caribbean, Latin American and African Diasporic literatures. Its Carnivalesque richness and capacity for creolizing and archipelagoizing American literature is something I'm sure someone will take up, if this hasn't occurred yet, but its many other concerns link it to everything we had read before. As I reread it last week, I could hear the echoes of Hughes and so many others--and I hope the students heard them as well.

And so the quarter is over...almost. I have another exam to give, another thesis to read, meetings, and much to wrap up before I head home and get some rest and back to my own work, but I can say that despite the amount of work, the class was pleasurable beyond belief, and working with the brilliant TAs, from English and African American Studies, and the many dozens of students, has been worth it.


Recently, for a forthcoming art book a friend is publishing, I translated a very short prose introduction by the distinguished French poet Yves Bonnefoy, who had been one of my friend's teachers in graduate school, and whom I had the honor of meeting, briefly, some years ago when he read in New York. ("Je te nommerai désert/nuit ta voix, desolé ta visage....") Its difficulty surprised me; my French muscle, at least in terms of speaking and writing, is still functioning, but after so much Spanish (and somewhat less Portuguese), I did struggle with Bonnefoy's elliptical, elusive syntax, which demanded something beyond the adequatio approach to translation that has long been decried. I realized that most of the French texts I've translated, nearly all prose fiction except for Alain Mabanckou's poems, are far more straightforward, and even when infused with a great deal of figuration and idiomatic language, especially prose, they are not trying to express something ineffable, which is, of course, one of the aims of Bonnefoy's poetry in general. The piece, however, is done, and my friend is happy, but I do keep thinking, I could spend weeks on those two paragraphs, if I had the time...


So long to Yves Saint Laurent and Bo Diddley, who recently passed away.

C and I particularly love David Teboul's 2002 cinema verité documentary on Saint-Laurent 5 avenue Marceau 75116 Paris, which shows him in his couture rooms, examining and working on new outfits. Catherine Deneuve and LouLou de la Falaise, along with Saint Laurent's longtime partner and business associate Pierre Berger all make appearances. To hear Saint Laurent whisper repeatedly and raspily with utter delight "ravissante" as several the models brings life to his art is worth the entire documentary.'

Mississippi native and Chicago product Diddley, one of the creators of the global music now known as Rock & Roll, should be best remembered aurally, I think. So here're some clips to check out. Start with the eponymous "Bo Diddley," and then check out "I'm a Man," "Who Do You Love," "Pretty Thang," "I'm Looking for a Woman," and "Diddley Daddy" if you don't know his work, though its echoes run like tributaries throughout so much subsequent rock.


Bernie asked whether I and others were going to root for these people
Kobe Bryant passes to Pau Gasol of the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers defeated the defending champion San Antonio Spurs 100-92, advancing to the National Basketball Association finals for the first time in four years.
Kobe Bryant, #24, passes to Pau Gasol, #14 (AFP/Getty Images/Stephen Dunn)
Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant smiles during a practice day in Los Angeles on Sunday, June 1, 2008. The Lakers face the Boston Celtics in the NBA basketball finals starting Thursday.
Kobe [Narcissus] Bryant (AP Photo/Hector Mata)

or these:
AUBURN HILLS, MI - MAY 30: Kevin Garnett #5 talks with Kendrick Perkins #43 of the Boston Celtics during a game against the Detroit Pistons in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2008 NBA Playoffs at the Palace of Auburn Hills on May 30, 2008 in Auburn Hills, Michigan.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2008 NBAE (Photo by D. Lippitt/Einstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins (Photo by D. Lippitt/Einstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Boston Celtics guard Ray Allen (20) shoots three's after practice at the team's basketball facility in Boston, Mass., Monday afternoon, June 2, 2008. The Celtics will meet the Los Angeles Lakes in the NBA championship series beginning Thursday, June 5, 2008 in Boston.
Ray Allen practicing 3-point shots recently (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)

in the championship matchup that is inducing spontaneous orgasms in TV sportscasters?

Although I gave up (on) the NBA after the last lockout/strike nonsense, I've decided to choose and root for the latter, something that I, having lived in Boston and witnessed Celtic fans up close never thought I'd do, but then again, I never thought Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen would be playing for the Celtics, so there's always a new day for everything.

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