Dear Isabel (Letter/3)

by Mark Chmiel

Monday 22 June 2015

Dear Isbaelita

Page 3

This page inspires me to offer you the following writing topics to add to your comprehensive list, unless you’ve already exhausted each of them by writing at least 30 pages on each:

My Life as a Gringa
My Life as a Fake, a Phony, and a Fraud
My Life as a Bodhisattva
“Hello, my name is Isabel, and I’m addicted to violence in Central America.” (“Hola, Isabella…”)
How Thich Nhat Hanh can help me recover from immersion in/proximity to the violence in my 20s
I really feel compassion for my grad school journalism profs because…
The grad school profs who really understood me were…
My genre is testimonio, fuck the rest
How I dealt with rejection from editors
The most important stuff I remember about liberation theology includes…

Would you send me one of your essays that deals with corpses in the road?

Ever read Pierre Bourdieu on habitus, capital, field?  It’s a little dense, but Anna Borschetti’s The Intellectual Enterprise: Sartre and Les Temps Modernes might stimulate your thinking on “the game” of liberal journalism, radical la lucha journalism,  and the  game of  the journalism a recent grad from an elite school SHOULD be pursuing, etc.  Here’s one passage from Borshetti: “Conflicts and alliances within the field determine its development; they form a dynamic structure of interrelations within which a legitimating hierarchy of all aspects of the field is itself objectively formed.” And this:  “the dispositions of the most legitimate agents are in such accord with existing requirements for success that they can respond without calculation and can thus seem to others, and to themselves, to be wholly disinterested.”

Oh, and this one, too: “In order to  explain the political opinions of intellectuals, we must be aware that they arise not just from social demand but from symbolic profits that different symbolic choices offer and from ‘professional deformities’  — that is to say, from the perceptual and evaluative frameworks which these ‘specialists in intelligence’ acquire from their training and from the conditions under which they practice their calling.”

More, mañana,