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Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.

12 Decembers a Year

I have this 5-year notebook where I record what I did research-wise on every day of the year. Now that the first 5 years I’ve been doing this are coming to a close, it’s become clear that the month when I’m consistently the most productive is December. It’s not a mystery why that is. December is my favorite month because it’s so festive, and the weather is usually conducive to profound contentment on my part. 

I need more Decembers every year.

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Room for the New

Kids learn how to pronounce Klara’s name immediately. Even very little toddlers who barely speak start repeating “Klara! Klara!” after hearing me say it. But adults who are sitting right there and who hear both me and their own kids pronounce the name still do the “Clear-ah” thing. 

It’s extremely hard to dislodge preconceived notions, folks. Evidence, schmevidence, nobody cares. Everybody lives in their own head. Somewhere on the road from infancy to adulthood, we lose the capacity to allow new information penetrate our intellectual defenses. 

Sex Toys Against Gender Stereotypes

Did you, folks, see these funny FB videos of “advanced androids with artificial integrity” sold in lieu of inflatable sex dolls? Seeing them destroys all gender stereotypes once and for all. Go into any sex shop and what do women buy? Artificial penises. Nobody wants the penis to talk about love or talk at all while looking at you with huge soulful eyes. Nobody even wants it to come attached to a body, let alone to have speaking capacities  Women’s fantasies are very, erm, instrumental and mechanistic. It could only occur to a man that a sex toy should say crap like, “I want to understand the meaning of love.” I mean, talk about mood killer, jeez.

The Progressive Alternative

The consensus of the progressive thinkers is that the erosion of the nation-state is no big deal and is actually a good thing because instead of it we’ll have “the model of open cities rather than sovereign bordered states. This means viewing citizens less as homogeneous natives than as nomadic residents whose identity remains flexible and plural” (the quote is from Richard Kearney who is summarizing the terms of the consensus).

Yip-dee-doodle. Of course, it is of no interest to anyone what happens to those who don’t reside in the cities (fuck that low-density flyover country), or those who can’t become nomadic or bear the sacrifices required by nomadism, or those who can’t deal with the psychosis produced by the fragmentation of “flexible and plural” identities. 

That’s the extent of it: if capital wants us fragmented and nomadic, let’s oblige and be chipper about it.  

Good People

Klara is at home with me today, and this means we headed to the bookstore the moment it opened. We spent an hour there, exploring (and ordering copious amounts of coffee for me), and throughout that time we were observed by a straight-backed, very fashionable, manicured, bejeweled and well-coiffed lady in her seventies. She picked out toys in the kids’ section, browsed the magazine stand, and then had coffee, all the while keeping a completely straight back that I deeply envy and looking at us. 

As we were about to leave, she approached us and said, “This is such a well-behaved child! She’s amazing. And cute as a button. Those enormous bright blue eyes! Just like her mommy’s.”

This is why I love this country. Complete strangers come up to you to say something nice just because they can. Of course, it’s also true that Klara is irresistible, but people are just kind. I come from a different kind of place, and this will never cease to amaze me.

And just so that I don’t have to start a new post: how disgusting is it that even at a bookstore candy is placed at a toddler’s eye level. I’m very glad that I taught Klara the “it’s-not-ours” formula and I now have a secret weapon against those evildoers.

This is such a stupid business practice because people with kids will simply stop showing up and will go to Amazon instead. You play these games when customers don’t have a choice. And these days, everybody’s got a choice. 

Regional Literatures

When I was a student, I got the message – not from anything anybody said but from what was studied and mentioned – that the most valuable of Spain’s regional literatures was the Galician. The next in importance was the Catalan. And the least worthwhile was the Basque. I got the impression that all Basque authors of merit chose to write in Spanish, and that was that. Again, nobody ever said it. It’s just the conclusion I drew on my own. 

It’s understandable because Basque is not even an Indo-European language, so it’s easier to forget there’s a literature in it. And then I discovered it wasn’t just any literature but absolutely stunning works of art. 

Dialogue

“Klara, are you going to school today?”

“No! I staying home with mamma.”

“OK then.”

Unions Work

Hey, remember the recent post on union tactics? Well, it seems to have worked. The Chancellor is finally agreeing to negotiate, and we are expecting our raises before Christmas.

News Today

A former Fox News reporter tells the harrowing and detailed story of how once, many years ago, nothing whatsoever happened between her and Trump and she didn’t mind in the least. 

Cue the outrage. 

Magical Phrases

I taught Klara several magical phrases that have made my life much easier:

  • “It’s not ours”
  • “It’s their turn”
  • “It’s attached”
  • “Mama’s coffee is very hot”

“It’s not ours” is extremely helpful because whenever she grabs something at a store, all I have to do is say “it’s not ours” and she puts it back. Often, she doesn’t even grab things and just points to them and asks, “Ours?” 

“It’s attached” is also great because she’s extremely interested in how things work and always tries to take everything apart. So I had to explain why some things can’t be taken apart. Before I did that, she wanted me to unscrew every bolt and nail in every piece of equipment at the playground.

Right now I’m teaching her the phrase “I can’t stop when I’m driving unless I arrive at a specially designated area.” 

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