Sunday, June 8, 2008

En Honor de Rafael Nadal

Ya he visto el French Open de 2008 con los tenistas Rafael Nadal y Roger Federer. "Rafa," come el es llamado gano 6-1, 6-3, 6-0. Vamos Rafa! Tengo lo mas respeto por Federer pero nadie, nadie, nadie puede jugar el juego de tenis en Rolan Garros como Rafael Nadal--punto!

Tambien creo que Rafa va a ganar en Wimbledon. Me da muchisimo orgullo que en España tenemos un campeon quien es joven a solo 22 Rafa sigue adelante! Que celebramos a nuestro campeones en cada deporte donde los hispanicos establecen orgullo y amor y apollo y honor. Viva la patria! Viva España! Viva los hispanicos! Viva Rafa!

Ahora que esperemos por Wimbledon y por un nuevo campeon? Nadal v. Federer otrav vez? Quien sabe, no.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Good Scholarship: Not A and B; but, A and 1

As I sit here in front of my computer enjoying my "Cheap Red Wine," and I seriously mean the label here by Vin Ordinaire Ltd., I recall my conversation with a wonderful and seasoned Renaissance scholar at Harvard U. Her name you ask? Well it is none other than Professor MG.

In our car ride from the Indianapolis airport we began to engage in a rather light discourse regarding Shakespeare and Bioethics. The conversation ended with the following maxim:

Good scholarship is not necessarily between A and B; rather, good scholarship is between A and 1.

Ah! There it was as ripe for the picking as a French mango in the backyard of my St. Croix home. The position of parallelism and analogy is okay, but what happens when you gather the pick-worthy fruit of seemingly disparate subject matters and/or equally incongruent ideologies?

In the afore stated maxim then, good scholarship, if not good research avails itself to similar systems of codification that remain different enough to necessitate, if not warrant an arrest toward similarity. How is this done? In one word: abridgment.

As a Ph.D. student I am given the task to evaluate a given literature within a specific time period and reflect my findings accordingly. It is in the flames of balanced inclusion, however, that the phoenix of relevance not only fly--but soar!

My personal research seeks this type of understanding toward relevant inclusion, and further hunts the critical animal[s] within the forest of adventure. I exist then, as that Gawain in the hunt for, not the green girdle, but the phenomenology of the black phoenix. This is the mythical figure which in turn seeks beyond the mere boundary, and locates the multiple center[s]. To bring this back into focus then, I adhere that looking into seemingly diverse ideologies, and rigorously building a lattice framework that bridges such distinctions reveals what good scholarship is meant to be.

Of the Cemetary: inescapable border[s]?

Recently, I had the honor of driving past a cemetary, but this particular encasement of the dead was different. How so? This particular cemetary was surrounded by a fence, or what I will call human-wire.

The question in my mind persisted: Why would anyone "fence" in/out the dead? I thought, well, of course--it is because of grave robbers, or because it was private property--and still, this particular inquest continued to work on my mind. I immediately recalled the need for private/public space distinction in the work of Hannah Arendt as well as the cosmopolitanism of the public sphere regarding "freedom" within the work of Jürgen Habermas. Still, why all the investment toward inclusion and exclusion? Essentially, what is the position of the cemetary?

The cemetary has often reflected a given society's need toward closure with respect to the living more than the dead. After all, one could argue that the dead no longer "tell tales," but in their silence, and in their own way--they signify. Can a cemetary as a miniature of that community's geopolitical space encase more than the corpus of the dead? That is, can it offer the living present-tense cognition?

In literature we are reminded of the locus of the cemetary, or meeting place of the dead. I am here referencing the respective position[s] and space[s] of the Hebrew Sheol, the Old Norse Valhöll, the Greek Hades, the Christian's Hell and so on. These encasements of the fallen, or translations from life toward death act as a reminder; a faithful (re)telling of a life lived; an awareness toward missed opportunity to do in the now, what cannot be done in the then; and, of course--an escape from and toward a new established order of space and behavior and responsibility.

Am I saying that in Hell there exists responsibility, or in Valhalla, or in Sheol there exists a measure of social aquisition and prosperous utility? At the risk of sounding like Swedenborg--I do apologize. Still, it is worth an examination, or some level of investiture.

In short, the next time you pass a cemetary note whether an additional encasement surrounds the property, the space, the human gathering grounds of the fallen, the loved, and others within the interstitial surroundings of the living and the unborn.

A Cruzan Medievalist Signifies

In Derek Walcott's Nobel lecture entitled: The Antilles: fragments of epic memory, a fondness and a nostalgia surfaced over my mind and heart like the mist in Christian mythlore that soaked the eorðan in le Jardin d'Eden.

It is difficult to engage in the discourse of memory without acknowledging the erudition found in the ouevre of Bergson, Russell, and Yates. Still, what interests me is how the Caribbean has come to be viewed as abject other--that extension of and from the center.

As Walcott notes: "Memory that yearns to join the centre, a limb remembering the body from which it has been severed," and again, "[it is] the way that the Caribbean is still looked at, illegitimate, rootless, mongrelized." Applied to St. Croix, the largest of the known U.S. Virgin Islands and my home--this is a case in point.

St. Croix is an island located Southeast of Florida and is nestled in the Caribbean Sea south of St. Thomas and St. John, and further east of Puerto Rico (Vieques and Culebra, respectively). Growing up in Christiansted, or the mid-east end of the island as oppose to the west-end of the island offered distinction and cultural stereotyping. That is, those who were a part of the east side were a bit more civil in terms of wealth, job opportunities, education, et cetera.

On the other hand, those who were part of the west side were a bit more rural and lived in the rain forest area, went to a more public education system versus private school opportunities offered on the east end, culturally represented the "savage" side of the island in terms of rastafarian ideology, children diving off of the pier performing for white tourists, et cetera. Of course, the above statement is not only racist and prejudicial--it is ridiculously essentialized and incorrect! This view, however, predominates and its misconceptions proliferate.

In terms of language and communication St. Croix is distinct and diverse. The island has boasted seven national flags, of which Dutch, English, French and Spanish tenure have affected its present standing. Dialect formation has taken effect, wherein Cruzan (also, Crucian) is the broken English spoken. Some areas still speak the Dutch language as well as French and Spanish. We turn to Walcott, himself a native son of St. Lucia, a French colonized island, and where my father was born, as he asserts:

Tonally the individual voice is a dialect; it shapes its own accent, its own vocabulary and melody in defiance of an imperial concept of language, the language of Ozymandias, libraries, and dictionaries, law courts and critics, and churches, universities, political dogma, the diction of institutions.

Growing up on St. Croix was a treat in itself, but there always seemed to be an asterisk next to my identification regarding citizenship of these United States of America. In other words, though born on an island and educated in the private school system--I was conferred U.S. citizenship status, but readily adhered to the cultural aesthetics of an island upbringing. I still carry this stigma wherever I happen to be stationed.

Currently, I am a medievalist studying at Purdue University--main campus, in West Lafayette, Indiana. Still, I am a Cruzan medievalist who breaks into my Cruzan dialect and accent on the phone with my family, Spanish with my peers and associates at school, French and attempted patois with my father and English with my professors in the Department of English.

Yet, how did an appreciation for Medieval Studies enter my mind? And, for that matter, how does a Cruzan signify? What literature gets privileged, and moreover, in what language does one read or misread the Caribbean mind? As a critic and writer I challenge myself with these inquests, which may seem familiar to other islanders. Again, we refer back to that Caribbean genius--Derek Walcott. He posits:

and what delight and privilege there was in watching a literature--one literature in several imperial languages, French, English, Spanish--bud and open island after island in the early morning of a culture, not timid, not derivative, any more than the hard white petals of the frangipani are derivative and timid [...] this flowering had to come.

At last then, there it was--signifying signification! The Caribbean had been de-flowered within its own borders by its own people as well as by those imperial controllers of sun and water and earth. I was given a grand opportunity, which I thought to be privilege, selectivity, Morrisonian access but, in reality my people and their mental vacuum proved to be the impetus for such intellectual depravity and disparity.

I am a reader of both culture and non-culture; an examiner of books and humans as text; and moreover, I am a seed of St. Croix that has traveled up until this point, perfect in time and purpose--to signify. As I open my mouth I signify, and as I close it--I signify. I am a product of a whatever it means to have a Cruzan education. This is not a secondary attempt at a real education, or a misgiving toward a prurient and savage identity construction away from the masters of power. I read, and am read--daily. As Walcott asserts:

Yet, deprived of books, a man must fall back on thought, and out of thought, if he can learn to order it, wil come the urge to record, and in extremity, if he has no means of recording, recitation, the ordering of memory which leads to metre, to commemoration.

This is the charge and the methodology assigned, which leads me to raise my left fist, to place my right hand over my heart and to pierce the world with my light, brown eyes as I echo in present tense the Nobel laureate's chanson de tristesse et espère:

Caribbean culture is not evolving but already shaped. Its proportions are not to be measured by the traveller or the exile, but by its own citizenry and architecture.

St. Croix you are my home and I your native son, and wherever my travels occur, this Cruzan medievalist, will ever--always signify.