The hacking and bribery scandal in the UK shows that Greece is not the only country in default.
Are we forcing the world to conform to our own image of it? Are we asking foreign authors to fashion pictures of their societies that fulfill our own perceptions, desires, and fears?
The world is text. Mallarmé and Flaubert described this possibility at the end of the nineteenth century and Derrida proclaimed it again more recently. But now we can say that the world is literature. It is turning literary through the Internet.
Always the bridesmaid, never the bride. That still sums up the way we view culture today. We undervalue its place in the world, always elevating the importance of the economy as a factor in social change. Culture, to change the metaphor, still plays second fiddle, following the lead of the economic conductor.
Question: Where does friendship turn into a thing? Answer: On Facebook.
I don’t mean that new digital technologies convert friends into objects. This would be a simplistic reading of social media. I argue, rather, that they transform our human desire for connections into a commercial activity.
You’d think from current writing on transnationalism that our interconnected society is an exceptional time in human affairs. Reading work on globalization, by either academics or journalist, you get the impression that we are experiencing a unique phenomenon. Writers are so taken by contemporary developments that they forget to set them in a historical context.
Under the cascading sunshine in LA, amidst job interviewers in their Sunday best, the slovenly postures of their professors, and the complaints of waiters that teachers are the worst tippers, there was a sense of common purpose in the MLA: the teaching of literature and its role in our lives.
Another autumn and a whole stack of promotion and tenure files to look at. The phrase “gold standard,” attached to peer-reviewed articles, always strikes me. In the ladder of the evaluation process, the peer-reviewed article stands proudly and invincibly at the top. The more of these you have, the more unassailable your dossier.
There must be something right with a country, when your guide talks to you on your hike outside Bogota about his love for Llosa, Cortázar, Hemingway, Kazantzakis, and Tolstoy. And then at the end of the hike he asks for a list of novels and poets he should read!
Am I living in the wrong country or what?
The glaze in their eyes gives it away, the slight tightening of their lips, and the nervous breath. When colleagues learn about my new project, they begin to feel sorry for me. “Why friendship of all subjects?” It’s seems quaint to them or just light; in any case, not a legitimate object of inquiry.