I’m going to begin here with an admission: I frequently have no fucking idea what the hell is happening. Professionally speaking, such an admission is a huge breach of decorum, or at least sanity. As a serious scholar publishing in serious scholarly journals (not, egads, blogs), one must always have a fucking idea and never utter the word “fuck.” Rather than saying “fuck” or “fucking,” or just fucking (something so seldom accomplished, or accomplished well, by serious scholars), one must sublimate said impulse into an attitude of supreme mastery over the matter at-hand, and yes I just uttered “master” and “hand” in the same sentence. On the other hand (!!), having no fucking idea has proven immensely valuable to me, since I have never felt tied to any particular school of thought, or trend, or guru, or group. I feel free to follow any thread-of-thought with which I feel a particular affinity, rather than sensing much in the way of social pressure to think this a-way or think that a-way. So well have I pursued random threads without so much of an inkling as to why other people didn’t do so, that I can confidently say that I earned tenure by not having a fucking clue. Serious scholars may not like or appreciate that, but then again, like I said, I don’t give a fuck, or rather, I have just given you 9 fucks (now 10) in this paragraph. I feel like I’ve just finished the decathlon. Give me a gold fucking star. 11.
I believe Alberto Moreiras would call my admission marranismo, and he would be correct if he ever did say such a thing. The feeling that one has one’s foot in one world and one’s head in another, and a general sense that perhaps the Inquisition will eventually come around and compel you to confess as to whether you’re really a foot or a head. (The Inquisition is all feet, and “Off with the head!”) But in all seriousness, if there is good reason to be a serious scholar, and not an imaginary marrano even when one would like to imagine one is, it is this: the work we do is serious business, insofar as it demarcates the space between people, things, times and places as intelligible, legible. I may want to think myself a marrano or a serious theorist or the Big Lebowski, but as a matter of scholarship it doesn’t matter what the dude thinks of himself since the work is all about the space in-between. I thank Silviano Santiago for that observation, and I thank Vilém Flusser for this one: “I” and “you” do not exist except as abstractions of “we.”
Just today an article by Alberto appeared in the online journal Frontera D, “¿Puedo madrugarme a un narco? Posiciones críticas en la Asociación de Estudios Latinoamericanos.” The article is a journalistic account of the recent Latin American Studies Association (LASA) conference, which occurred in San Francisco in May 2012, although Alberto uses this occasion to muse on the state of Latin American cultural studies. If you’ve never been a LASA, Alberto has just provided you Continue reading