Thursday, January 1, 2015

Gayatri Uncensored: The Greatest Hits of Dr. Gayatri Spivak- One Year Later

In the beginning, I will be as cut and dry and mechanical and awful as possible. . .
                                                                                                -Gayatri Spivak, Oct. 31, 2013


A comprehensive list transcribed from Dr. Gayatri Spivak's visit to Lehigh University during the fall semester of 2013.
This is the partner-post to an introduction from Lehigh English's blog, Drown Unbound, which, for those who are interested, is available here.

Disclaimer: All are taken from three days of note-taking while Dr. Spivak  was talking. Understanding that in the process of translating from hearing, writing, and then re-writing that some distortion occurs, all quotations are intended to be understood as approximations.


On herself:

“I was a middle-class Bengali girl. . . I could only become a whore or an English teacher. God knows why I chose English teacher!”

“I’m a teacher-type person.”

“I’m certainly not for free-market libidinal enterprise.”

“I’m not interested in being nice to anyone.”

On language:

“Learning language is NOT a way to learn culture.”

 “Look for the ‘trace.’ The ‘trace’ is something that suggests something was there before.”

“Languages are never dead. They are grammatized to death.”

“Changing language across registers of the same language IS translation.”

“Whether there is an original or not, difference always exists in translation.”

“Lawrence Venuti, all this ‘mistranslation’ du-du-duh, it’s all bullshit.”

“Literary translation is not a model of any damn thing. It’s a luxury.”

“Translation should be taught as an activity, not leaned on as an easy excuse.”

On the 60s:

“The 60s were like a major problem.”

“In the 60s, we tried and learned that you cannot burn the university.”

On Psychoanalysis:

“Read Freud like he’s an ethical philosopher. Read Lacan like he’s a poet.”

“We are programmed to turn fantasy into something we can control.”

“I think psychoanalysis can be helpful. . . well, I really don’t know.”


On “things academics/instructors should do”:

“What we need to be doing in the humanities is not solving problems, but producing problem solvers.”

“Complicity but not conspiracy.”

“Persistent resistance.”

“Complicit resistance”

“The task of the intellectual is to ask questions.”

 “Don’t say ‘imaginative training for epistemological purposes.’ Say, ‘make a difference’.”

“You’ve got to look into the fucker’s eyes and speak the language of the other side.”

“Try first to say ‘yes’ once or twice before leaving a conversation.”

“When you enter the text, the less like you that you can do it, the better.”

 “Let’s re-arrange our desires.”

“We cannot prevent violence by applying the law, but by reconstructing minds.”

“Teaching is not the job of a shrink, though sometimes Socrates does make you wonder.”

“Use dumb-speak to get funds!”

“It simply cannot be that all good teachers are crooks.”


On diaspora and genocide:

“The feeling of the significance of home becomes more significant if you share it.”

“Not everyone in a diaspora knows the word ‘diaspora’.”

“The married daughter is a diasporic figure.”

“Africa should be an example and not an exception.”

“Non-eurocentric is the most euro-centric there is.”

“Dismiss genocide narratives as epic and re-write new narratives. Once they become memory they become mythology.”

On nationalism:

“Nationalism is not a positive e/affect.”

“Nationalism only occurs in conflict, and when the conflict is gone it gets substituted by other forms of community and violence.”

On  Feminism , Women, and Gender:

“Forget gender at your peril!”

“Race is nestled in gender.”

“I choose ‘feminist’ because it is an unpopular term.”

“Women’s normality is to change homes.”

“Women are never looked at as a model.”

On love:

“Love is as powerful as it is dangerous; it is a four-letter word.”

“For example, if you love poetry, you behave like a religious person.”

“You guys might have found love, but your government thinks I’m a terrorist.”

“Once cannot use love for intellectual purposes. It’s too fragile and you cannot justify it.”

“I am not interested in talking about love!”

General cultural criticism:

“Culture is always on the run.”

“Once you can say ‘this is my culture,’ you are separate from that culture.”

“Every declared rupture is also a repetition.”

On capitalism:

 “Productive consumption is completely mistaken for individual production.”

“To be able to sell oneself is the meaningfulness of a human life.”

“Culture has become making sure that everyone is asking for money properly.”

“What keeps us alive is what kills everyone else.”

On literature and fiction:

“All the plays you go to see are a lie from the moment a character says, ‘I’.”

 “Literature cannot be taught as evidentiary.”

“Literature is a shortcut to falsity.”

“Literature produced as evidence becomes even more suspect.”

“Treat the desire to be evidentiary as a symptom of literature.”



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