A Spanglish blog dedicated to the works, ruminations, and mongrel pyrotechnics of Yago S. Cura, an Argentine-American poet, translator, publisher & futbol cretin. Yago publishes Hinchas de Poesia, an online literary journal, & is the sole proprietor of Hinchas Press.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Mostly as a metaphor, but there is a way in which the word organ also serves to mean a group or organization, as in the various organs of government or the judiciary is an organ of the federal government. But can a library be an organ of the government? To what extent does a National Library validate nationalistic chutzpah? According to Richard Rubin in Foundations of Library and Information Science , "What distinguishes these libraries is not simply their large collections; rather their special mission was to preserve the cultural heritage of the countries in which they were situated" (2004, pg. 271). Another objective of national libraries is the depository right, a method of collection that ensures that at least one copy of every material published in that country comes to rest in that country's National Library. Therefore, metaphorically, a National Library is where a country's cultural capital is stored, but literally, through the practice of legal deposit, it is also where every publishable material is warehoused. Interestingly enough, the practice of legal deposit makes me think of the seizure prerogative instilled by Ptolemy III during the operation of the Alexandrian Library (Supposedly, every book that came into Alexandria was copied and returned).

Thursday, April 24, 2008


If Sarmiento was a nationalist at heart and thought that being a Unitario was going to centralize and stabilize the foal-on-shaky-legs country of Argentina then can we not say that establishing a National Library was not only a matter of intellectual nationalistic propriety but also a means to baptize as many citizens as possible in the waters of democratic education and prosperity. According to Hector Felix Bravo, "To civilize in Sarmiento's view, was to make provision for things that would lead to the prosperity of the county and to progress in all the provinces" (1994, pg.3)

There might not be a direct correlation between Sarmiento's instigation to civilize and the birth of the Biblioteca Nacional but without Sarmiento's actions I am pretty sure the Biblio Nac would have remained a pipe dream. And what does a National Library do anyways? Maybe by examining the function of a National Library we can arrive at the ways in which Sarmiento's advocacy exerted its influence. A National Library is the Library, funded by national funds, that repositories all the materials published by that country and provides access (free hopefully!)for its citizens to examine it's catalogs, collections, and codexes. A National Library is also responsible for materials published exclusively by the government. Therefore, I think that the National Library was just an extension of Sarmiento's plan to educate the masses, especially because the Bibl. Nac. of Argentina used to be the Public Library of Buenos Aires, the seat of the Unitarian movement.

The Biblio Nac. was and is an anti-caudillista organ because it was created and remains a trove of national pride and a source of national intellectual propriety. It's not that the provinces were uneducated, with the exception of Cordoba and Mendoza, they just weren't as educated as Buenos Aires. Buenos Aires, with its well established port, was the seat of the country: the financial, intellectual, and legislative throne. Also, it was an anti-caudillista organ because Sarmiento was a huge proponent of European ideals and concepts and the birth of National Libraries happened in two places: Europe and the U.S. before they were adopted by most countries. More importantly, a National Library is responsible for producing a National Bibliography, or a thorough as shit list of all the materials published in one year in one country. Aside from the logistical prowess a list of this nature could provide, a bibliography represents the body of knowledge produced in one country in one year and is like a snapshot of the prevalent ideas, notions, and assertions.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


So we know this much: Sarmiento was an anti-caudillista agitator. That is, he propagated the idea that this form of government, however loosely interpreted, was setting Argentina back. We know that he wrote his book, "Facundo," while he was an idealistic scholar and teacher. We know that Sarmiento also opened 14 branches of the Biblioteca Publica de Buenos Aires. However, Sarmiento's lasting influence is the Teacher's National Library and not the Biblioteca Nacional. Under his tenure, the country became "official" and Sarmiento standardized the teachers and laid the foundation for the educational system. Sarmiento felt that education was better at democratizing people than arms or weapons. But what does this have to do with the Biblioteca Nacional. I guess I want to know what the intersection of Sarmiento's book, "Facundo Quiroga, or Civilization and Barbary" his support of libraries and the formation of the Biblioteca Nacional. We know that by 1884, the Biblioteca Publica had transferred to the hands of the government. But this was a full ten years after Sarmiento was forced from office in 1874. If the heart is the formation of the Biblio Nacional then might one of the aortas be Sarmiento's "Facundo" book; In other words, the book came first, then the support of the libraries, and this in turn must have propeled the idea of a National Library.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

For a Student Upstate Doing Time

April 22, 2008


I know it’s been a while, but I got your address from A________ and decided to write you. I don’t understand what it’s like to be in your situation; I am sure you must be scared and confused most of the time. A_______ told me you are now part of the Five Percenters, which if I am not mistaken is a group that advocates for the rewriting of our history to emphasize more African and Nubian examples. I don’t know if I agree with the Five Percenters, but I do agree that this country has been irresponsible in it’s recounting of history and has excluded examples of African, Nubian, and Sub-Saharan history in favor of white, Occidental history. I think it’s a shame and that is why I am sending you the Xerox pages from the February 2008 National Geographic that highlights how the Nubians in Sudan where one of the only people who kept Egyptian history alive after its pinnacle. The article also talks about how African history, especially as it relates to African people (regardless of where they are from), has been hidden for years and it wasn’t even until the 1960’s that archeologists thought of studying African history, etc. In many ways, it was what Malcolm X was pushing for in American society and one of the reasons why I think he was such a special man; he brought attention to that which most people would want to keep quiet. And for that he was a hero. And for that they had to assassinate him.
I am sorry that I am talking about history and not how you must be feeling, but you now how Cura is always going to be a teacher, regardless of what he is doing. There is a big side of me that feels that I failed with you, that is trying to keep you off the street and get you to pass your classes. But there is a bigger side that feels that there is nothing I could have done because what you did outside of school I wasn’t a part of. That’s part of the main reason why I didn’t go see you while you were being arraigned or at Riker’s. Part of it though also was me not wanting to go to prison, even if it was to visit one of my favorite students. I still can’t make sense of what you did, even though I would be stupid if I couldn’t realize why you did what you did. You did it for money, pure and simple, but I know that you weren’t the only one involved ( I talked to J.C.). I don’t understand for the life of me why you would have taken all the blame, although I think it’s because your little friends (K______ and that other asshole) sold you out for a reduced sentence. That’s the shit I was talking about when I would tell you guys that everyone talks to the cops and that slogans like don’t snitch and snitches get stitches were bullshit and that people in the inner-city were the ones that suffered the most from silence when it came to making their neighborhoods better, safer places to raise families.
I want you to do a couple of things that I think might benefit you when you get out of prison. This is not a time to get lazy and feel sorry for yourself; this is a time when you want to realize the mistakes you have made but more importantly why you made them, Kenday. This is the time for you to start getting your GED and possibly college credits so you can get your life back on track. I am sure you feel alone and scared but that it what it is like to feel like an adult and even though you are behind bars. The U.S. incarcerates the most amount of people in the world; we are the biggest jailers, and it is no coincidence that the majority of people in prison are black and brown. However, realizing this you should have said fuck that that ain’t for me; I refuse to be a pawn in the white-man’s world. And now you are in the middle of it all. My biggest fear is that you become institutionalized or begin to believe the bullshit that the white man is out to get you. The conflicts in the world and in your life are bigger than the white man. They have been going on before the white man came and they will be here when the white man is gone. And those forces have to do with those who have and those who have not. Those who have are going to keep what they got; those that ain’t got shit are going to try to get theirs, and they will do it anyway possible. You have to start looking at it from a class/status perspective, Kenday. Like those that got versus those that ain’t got. The problem is that to get is not only a matter of getting what you think is your piece; sometimes, you have to earn your piece of the got. What I mean, brother, is that life is fucking hard but if you plan it out and provide for your future, then it get’s easier and easier. You will never have a life of luxury, but neither will I and we are men of action and that doesn’t suit men of action.
Brother, I want you to take care of yourself in that little hell, and I want you to be reading during all of your spare time. You have a lot of catching up to do and I know they got a library where they are keeping you at. If you even want recommendations of books of would like some guidance picking stuff to read, let me know. But right off the bat, I would recommend Jimmy Santiago Baca who became a poet in prison and managed to save his life from the misery combine. He juked a Wordsworth book from the library cart one day during a riot and read it cover to cover. Wordsworth is cool but I recommend Jimmy Santiago Baca who is like a Chicano (Mexican-American) Wordsworth. I would also recommend the poet Nazim Hikmet who was a Turkish poet and was in jail most of his life for being a Communist. Imagine being where you are right now because of your belief in a political system, not because you did anything wrong. Also, I would recommend Cesar Vallejo who spent time in prison also for his political beliefs. But more importantly, I would try to get some books on the Nubians or the kingdom of Kush which was a very important part of history that is often left out. I want you to read until your eyes fall out and I want you to work on getting your GED and possibly getting some college credits, man. Don’t waste this time feeling anything but like you are going to walk out of that prison a better man with a zero balance.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Cellini's Salt Cellar

Just about finished reading Cellini's, "Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini." The book is a thrilling piece of fiction because the feats recounted therein are just way too self-serving. Every patron has their heart-stopped by one of Cellini's vases or his ostentatious goldworks. I would hesitate to call him a jeweler because his pieces were all originals and most jewelers work off molds of pieces, etc. The autobiography is a genre that has a lot of intersection with the picaresque. If I am not mistaken, the picaresque comes from the novel in which picaros, or zealous charlatans, are the central characters and they rise in class through either a coincidence (Felix Krull)or through their hard work (i.e. Cellini).

In the beginning of the book Cellini bitches and moans about his father wanting him to master the musical sphere. Cellini humors his father and plays the flute but "I had to go on playing the flute, very unhappily, till I was fifteen" (1956, pg.23) And then Cellini goes on the first of hundreds of rants, "If I set out to describe all the great events in my life up to then and all the great perils that came my way, I would astonish anyone reading about them" (1956, pg. 23). It reeks of self service, as if Cellini is saying I am going to skip this part because I don't want to bother the reader with the most spectacular events that comprised my life during that time. Que...? Isn't that the whole point of autobiography: the monotony turning into epiphany, the same way it happens in life...

Despite these shortcomings and probably because of these shortcomings, Cellini's autobiography is pretty brilliant. I mean Cellini confesses to murdering at least five people and is never really brought up on charges. In fact, one time the Cardinal of Ferrara or some shit tells him about a day when all sins are pardoned and that Cellini should remain hidden until that day, etc. His countenance is intimidating; he is a murderous man of his word. And this avocation is more a threat than a promise. In Cellini's Italy is you talk trash you will get what is coming to you, sooner or later. Honor is almost bonded to the sense and god of Fortuna.

Cellini spends time in prison, escapes, and is put back there. The warden is a psychopath that has schizophrenic episodes where he thinks he is another animal, like a bat or cat or butterfly. And Cellini respects the open door policy until one of the guards tells him that the Cardinal or Bishop or some shit has plans on keeping him imprisoned for more than a comfortable stay. One of my favorite parts, Cellini confesses that he can see a halo around his head after he has a vision. He says, "From the time I had my vision till now, a light--a brilliant splendour--has rested above my head, and has been clearly seen by those very few men I have wanted to show it to" (1956, pg. 23) What an arrogant, delude bastard.

But then again, that is why we read autobiographies: to test whether or not the author knows that we know that all that they're writing is some nicely wrapped shit. I love reading and feeling that the author is fucking with me. In this light, the whole bruhaha with that "Million Little Pieces" author comes into relief. I mean, when did people start judging autobiographies by how accurate the shit contained therein is. I think it is silly to read an autobiography and expect the truth about any event in that autobiography. Am I the only twat that reads autobiographies for fun? Should I be making sure that what the author says has any semblance of truth?


Thursday, April 10, 2008

C.C. Williamson Report (1923)

The major point of this report is that there are huge differences between clerical and professional work. Like in my last post where I make the difference between a librarian and a page, most people are unaware of the gulf between clerical and professional librarians. And that is what the Williamson Report did, it brought to the know many of the public's misconceptions regarding librarians and it layed the foundation for what Library Science was going to look like in the U.S. Published in 1923 and payed for by the Carnegie Corporation, the report lambasted many of the unaccredited professionals in the field and provided standards for what future librarians should be learning, thinking, and theorizing about. It also advocated heavily for a two year course of study and for schools to constantly re-examine what it is they're teaching. Williamson was himself a librarian and professor of economics at Bryn Mawr. In fact, the Carnegie Coporation picked him because they knew he could be objective, harsh, and comprehensive. Really, what the Williamson Report did was legitimize Library Science as a bonafide discipline and asked the ALA to create agencies like the Temporary Library Training Board (1024) which helped to make prevalent the fifth year or graduate study component of Library Science School.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


So most people think that any pendejo with a parole certificate and/or GED certificate can be a librarian. Por su puesto putos, if we think of a librarian as a page or gopher of materials. But at the its core, a librarian is an enabler of the worst kind. Librarians are enablers of smart-asses and malcontents and the future mad scientists of America! The fact of the matter is that librarians are reviled because people just don't know what the fuck it is they do all day. And, no, it doesn't involve musing over the Dewey Decimal, although I often think of Dewey roaming the halls of Amherst college , playing cowboys and indians with the statue of Jeffrey Amherst and reading Dickinson on the lawn of that hoochies homestead.

Librarians are professionals for a smattering of reasons but mostly for the reasons that any discipline becomes a profession. Number one, librarians embody a philosophy which has been articulated in written and oral form. There are technical precepts as well as practical arts that accompany what librarians do; for example, we have a way of doing things as well as the experience of doing things. In other words, there is a technical side and an aesthetic that accompanies the mechanical, ordered, logical tenets of our ReligioBiblio.

Another reason librarians are professional has to do with the body of knowledge that librarianship has amassed. From the Pinakes of Callimachus to the Five Laws of Ranganathan to the taxonomy outlined by Dewey, we have had the most limber intellectuals engaged in the problem of how to organize knowledge and learning. And these intellects have passed to be leaders and philosophers within the field and proven their worth through service and experience. In fact, you could trace Dewey's ideas in the sand-dune halls of Callimachus and him dividing the Library of Alexandria into ten great halls each adding to the knowledge of the world. Yes, we have leaders in spades.

More importantly, librarians have a code. Granted, it is not as cool as a crooks nor does it involve any handshakes or salutes. In fact, our ethics, our sense of right and wrong are so championed, so billboarded that several parties have seen the need to establish and publicize their Ethics. However, there are overarching maxims, like people have the right to information, just like they have certain inalienable rights or rights established by their existence. These Ethics dictate the behaviors that we hope to internalize; Ethics represent how we want to act when people aren't looking. For example, we never want to turn someone away from asking what may seem to us an impertinent question, like why isn't Pluto a planet anymore? or how many dimples are there on a golf ball? etc.

We have accredited centers of knowledge some more hallowed than others. Queens College happens to be semi-hallowed because they try to balance a budget and are pretty good with doing with very little, although they have amazing resources and satellites like the Loius Armstrong collection, etc. In fact, the matter of giving degrees in Library Science were enough to depose Dewey as Dean of the Library School because he wanted women to be able to attend at Columbia.

And we love meetings! Librarians love meetings because they can read and because there are always donuts and danishes around at meetings or at least a stem of green grapes and some honeydew. Which only means that we love professional development, and having to train because then we can go to conferences and learn that thing a different way every year for 20 years. And because we have books that publish the things we talk about at meetings and professional developments, we create our own necessity and enforce a standard quilt of propriety and professionalism.

And we get awesome tweed jackets. And we get free reading glasses, and don't have to contact Selective Services once we turn eighteen. And we can always find parking, even when alternate side rules are in effect.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


I think the resemblance is more than striking! Except my father can smuggle way more milanesas de pollo than Sarmiento ever did. But then again, my father commonly refers to his stomach as the chicken grave, o el cementerio de pollos.

Sarmiento started the National Library of Teachers and opened 14 branches of La Biblioteca Publica de Buenos Aires back probably when it was written Buenos Ayres. Maybe his mortal enemy was Rosas, and he even went as far as writing an ethnographic travel guide and taxonomy of Gauchos in which he slays Rosas with his pen. I hope a caricature like Facundo Quiroga actually never existed (I still haven't discerned whether he was a mortal, historical personage or all allegory).

My father, on the other hand, is all allegory but is a caricature of the meathead Boca Jrs. fan. He is like the Sarmiento of Boca Jrs. That's it, my father is the Sarmiento of Boca Jrs. As my study of Sarmiento and his Facundo progresses, I am sure to find incontrevertible evidence that my father and Sarmiento are some sick twister dopplegangers of ethnic diversity.