There is a wide boundary between the teacher and the student, found most profoundly in colleges and universities. It is thick with emotional distance and widened by a hierarchy of needs determined by a skewed value system.

This boundary is not of the teacher’s making; not of the student’s making, either — it is culturally produced and defines a fissure between what professors feel is important, learning as its own end, and “real world” interests: profitable outcomes measured by wealth and its offspring, leisure.

Between a teacher and a student stand the values and the mechanisms that create them, what…


Image: Totaljobs

Nearly fifteen years have passed since my father’s death at the age of eighty-two. A day doesn’t go by without me hearing his voice, and speaking back.

When I putz around my small farm, he’s laughing. I can tell. Que bolón, he whispers, a grin on his face and shakes his head as I clean the chicken coop, the barn, or mend a fence and hammer a finger instead of a nail. I smile back at him. Que bolón, sí, literally a ball or stone, in Argentina’s castellano, more towards nitwit, a fool.

Voices from our past give perspective; they…


Sergey Petrovich Postnikov (1838–1880) PD-art-100 Wikimedia

One day, a young first year student comes up to me and says, “Yo, brotha Hector, why can’t you take me under your wing?”

He said it just like that at the end of one of our final classes of the semester. He reached over with his right hand and placed it in mine and swung his left arm over and embraced me.

“Yeah, brotha Hector. Mentor me,” he insisted softly. “Mentor me. Why don’t you mentor me? Yeah, I’m serious. Take me under your wing,” he said with a pleasant, endearing grin.

Mentor — having the form of an…


David, thank you! I'm so glad that you're done with the dissertation and moving onto other writing. Sorry to hear about your dad. I've been contemplating a course on Death, actually, since it's nowhere dealt with realistically. Yes, we read a lot of lit on death, see are and movies, but engaging deeply into the place of Death in American culture is nowhere ... Thanks again, David, and I hope you and your family are well!


“The ‘beyond’ is neither a new horizon, nor a leaving behind of the past… Beginnings and endings may be the sustaining myths of the middle years; [but] … we find ourselves in the moment of transit where space and time cross to produce complex figures of difference and identity, past and present, inside and outside, inclusion and exclusion.”

Homi K. Bhabha, The Location of Culture

My initial shock into the struggle to understand the complexity of my identity began at the age of six with a sign that forever changed my perspective of the world — Handicapped Only.

It loomed…


Arty, Funky, Paris, Quirky, Romantic

Fifty kilometers northwest of Paris the green fields roll gently in the early morning dew.

I glance at the sun rising over the horizon through the lozenge window of my tiny, black Renault Twingo, and feel around the passenger seat for my sunglasses, eyes on the road.

The windshield clouds and I have to keep raising the defrost and turn on the wipers — it’s that early in the morning in July. Mist drifts in the hollows.

I’m all alone on the road, but for a singular vehicle in a highway lane on the opposite direction speeding across my line…


The fear of death is only an instance of thinking oneself wise when one is not; for it is to think one knows what one does not know. — Plato, Apology

Scene 1:

My mother was the first person I ever witnessed dying. She was 90. I was 63.

My sister in New York called me in Vermont and said, “You’d better come down.” My mother had been admitted to the hospital because of recurring pneumonia. The second time in a few months. My mother’s weakness is her lungs, something I’ve inherited.

I arrived at NYU’s Winthrop Hospital in Mineola…


Creator: AndreyPopov | Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The now over 18,000 unaccompanied children and people seeking asylum at the U.S. border, which has grown to family groups making the crossing, is the result of 50 years of failed U.S. policy in Latin America.

Our use of language — migrant v refugee — has exacerbated the problem.

From Argentina to Chile to Columbia to Nicaragua, El Salvador and Honduras, to Guatemala and Mexico, the destructive footprint of U.S. militarization and failed neoliberal economic policies have created multiple crisis across Centroamérica.

People migrating from the Northern Triangle — Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador — are fleeing “gang recruitment, protection…


Royalty-free stock

Trump’s call to the speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives twice during the past week; his reaching out to Republicans in Michigan, and on Saturday his pressuring of Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) in a call to try to replace that state’s electors; and the Trump administration’s alliance with, and support of, The Thomas More Society’s Amistad Project — suits challenging the election results in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Nevada, Georgia, and Arizona — demonstrate the lengths to which White Supremacists are going to erase, even annihilate, the growing political power of a changing non-white electorate.

Most of the growth…


The Confidence-Man (1857) — The Public Domain Review

Brianna Keilar, of CNN, called out Senator Marco Rubio for going after “President elect Joe Biden’s first nominees” because, as Rubio said, “Biden’s cabinet picks went to Ivy League schools, have strong resumes, attend all the right conferences, and will be polite and orderly caretakers of America’s decline.” Keilar is troubled by the “rejection of experience and expertise that permeated the Republican party even before President Trump…cynically poking at Ivy League education.” (Ms. Keilar went to UC Berkeley; Senator Rubio went to the U of Florida and U of Miami Law School.)

This criticism of Ivy Leagues, Keilar notes, is…

Héctor Vila

Writer & Teacher, Novelist, Essayist, & Cultural Critic, @hectorvila

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