junot díaz

junot diaz

intro’d to Junot here:


14:30 – instead of this logic that you get one choice – either or.. or that you are somehow divided – or that you somehow live between cultures.. whatever that means..

..because i’m trying to meet the person who doesn’t live between cultures

this frame of simultaneity is more useful.. one is simultaneously multiple things.. and some of the things that we simultaneously are – are things that we are often times opposite and contradictory – oppositions can reside quite comfortably

how to convince people that simultaneity is a much more useful description.. instead of being half something – that we are double something..

23 min – the one thing people most need – is often the one thing people have been least asked to process.. on empathy vs compassion

37 min – how systems reside w/in us, ie: how can a kid watch his mom be abused, then go on later to do the same to others.. despite the heartbreak he experienced

40 min – everyday women have to reconstitute themselves as humans..

42 min – something incredibly tragic about the child always turning around and wanting to be the master

43 min – women are even more diverse than immigrants.. women have experience patriarchy

one of our standard moves in our country – fetishizing the individual too much. the individual is only part of the formula… you have to describe everything through simulatneitism

45 min – in a country that despises immigrants.. they feel not only stigmatized but also hunted.. same with race.. there’s plenty of people who say – i’ve never seen race in my life – yet it exists.. and has enormous force

it all depends on pov. if you take it from an individualist point of view – there’s nothing in common. if we take it from collective only – things are all f&*cked. but when you take them together… nuance… range… that we need

47 min – if we all died tomorrow and all that was left of us was our television and movies – aliens in the future would never know that immigrants existed.. the silence around the vast culture… wants to celebrate rich, white, educated..

48 min – mit is like the hunger games.. it takes a certain kind of mind to not always worry about being wrong.. to be able to be ok with that.. it’s not everybody – you’ve got to be broken in a particular way. mit kids are so hard on themselves

52 min – none of us have authority in another people’s community

53 min – often times as artists we have to represent things that we don’t approve of.. our artist’s representation doesn’t equal approvation

57 min – we’ve gotten deranged so that certain things aren’t discussed. news – a shouting match – on tv – saying stuff about muslims or arabs that we would never say about any other group.

58 min – if you are occupying other people’s sh*&t – you are f*&cked up. we live in a country that is currently occupying other people’s land

1:01 – if you spend your time sympathizing and aligning yourself with winners.. you lose solidarity with 99.9% of the planet..

1:02 – diad – in the art universe there are somewheres (ie: london, tokyo, nyc, la)  and elsewheres (everywhere else) .. while art may be evaluated/sold/critiqued/integrated into economic circuits in somewheres… the only art that really matters is produced elsewheres.. because it’s only people with the marginal knowledge, people who understand the society from the outside looking in, who produce the kind we really need, instead of the art we think we need..

1:05 – reading wildwood – it’s never the changes we want that change everything


Published on Oct 16, 2013

Is there anything that plagues the human animal more than love? In Pulitzer Prize–winning writer Junot Díaz’s work the answer is no. Platonic love, romantic love, familial love. Its charms and chaos give Diaz’s fiction—”The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” and “This Is How You Lose Her”—a verve, vitality, and readability that have galvanized audiences and critics for more than a decade. His characters are loud and rambunctious, brave, lovable, and always in-your-face. For Díaz, born in the Dominican Republic and raised in New Jersey, his cultural backgrounds are a calling and an inspiration. Join him for a far-reaching conversation about his remarkable work and career.

Immigrants, Masculinity, Nerds, & Art

16 min – one of the strangest things about the particular – is that it allows us to imagine in a more ample way – collectives

17 min – how one thing can be absolutely yes and no at the same time.. ie: so whatever happens in this conversation – the other thing is (acknowledged) equally

20 min – the importance of metaphor

27 min – ways to keep searching for that better world…

30 min – the thought that you could build a city-scape that could drive the people mad – anyone who grew up in poverty understood that.. (Junot’s fav comic – mr x)

42 min – any chance people get to disqualify race as operational will. white supremacy …. doesn’t need white people.. this stuff doesn’t exist unless it’s inside all of us. the malign effects of white supremacy – we still have to confront in all of our societies… white supremacy is a system that connects to everyone.. systems have to be confronted. to pretend that one group or another can be excused..

46  min – hitler would be very pleased with people of colors dating habits… to pretend that we don’t have a sexual economy that is determined by race.. is absurd

49 min – our anti-intellectualism plays out in our urban schools in really nightmarish ways… it’s hard to convince our kids being intellectual is normative. ? ..our educators are saving boys 1 by 1 because there’s neither the political will, nor the capital, nor the structural push.. we’ve basically abandoned public ed.. thinks that supporting public ed is a plot.. thinking corp’s should be in charge – who think the uni as a nexis for properative extraction.. society has abdicated it’s responsibility.. if poorest kids are getting ed – that’s our future..

51 min – for the years that i wasn’t even able to reveal that i was a reader… how many today are actually in college pretending they are tough thugs…

so we’re left with that hand to hand combat till society thinks it would be better if we were all educated

53 min – if you want to be a writer/arter – we have professionalized art – our society has convince young artists that being an artist is a career ….arts has been instrumentalized. how as an artist do you get news of the world – by living it – not by pursuing arts at an instrumental/professionalized level. you can pursue it career-istically – but i don’t think your art will be worth anything.. art has survived because artists have remained practitioners.. if you want to be a writer – don’t write for 3 years.. go live. we need a passionate engagement with the world. the you that spends your life living and not writing.. is the you that i would want to read.

58 min – we are de-illusionized everyday – via tv et al.. ie: all white..

how do we get anyone to read in a culture where there is no space for contemplation…

there are trillions of dollars trying to capture young people’s imaginaries.. and move them away from any contemplations… books is in more pace with rhythm. we’re already at a baseline that doesn’t encourage people to sit still and read.

part of the real our souls feel so heavy – is we don’t have the time to re calibrate ourselves..

1:02 – most sacred practice that keeps us human – reading


i love it – but that keeps us human?


find/follow Junot:

his site:


inside his class at mit:


wikipedia small

Junot Díaz (born December 31, 1968) is a Dominican-American writer, creative writing professor atMassachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and fiction editor at Boston Review. He also serves on the board of advisers for Freedom University, a volunteer organization in Georgia that provides post-secondary instruction to undocumented immigrants. Central to Díaz’s work is the immigrant experience. He received the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for his novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, in 2008. He is a 2012 MacArthur Fellow.


nov 2015

Neil and Junot in convo over sandman:


on knowing punching people was not good (in comics) even though they were portrayed as hero/winner

how much can you let yourself change – theme on sandman

the writer in you is always smarter than the rest of you

how do i get a voice.. how do i sound like me..? you write.. and soon you’ll get all other voices out of your head.. and sound like you…

i was a kid who loved/responded to myth

myths are the ways we used to make sense of the world.. and today .. what we do are modern day myths

the great thing about myths for me was the multiplicity of myths.. a peculiar intellectual freedom

ways people have defined/explained the world to each other.. and that they all contradict each other is fantastic.. means everybody is full of it.. also.. that they kind of .. blind man and elephant way.. have handle on truth

quote of neil’s read by junot: that was something i found deeply problematic… they made the fatal mistake of saying to me.. none of characters will be black because.. black people don’t like fantasy..

the best thing about people is that we are all different…

where did your ethics come from: neil: when i was little more than a boy i wrote a bio of duran duran.. and i wrote it for the money. i did it for the money.. and i didn’t get the money.. the book wasn’t anything i wanted to read. i only have so much time in the world.. and i wish i hadn’t done that. so i decided.. i won’t do things for the money. i will let the money take care of itself.

it’s made me do things that any rational person would not have done…. ie: writing a book that no one was asking for..

i’m incredibly lucky.. what i’ve done.. is things i’ve wanted to do. if no money… i’ve at least done things i love.

my baby is hickupping.. that is so cute.

i remember the last time i was afraid to die.. dec 1988… i had __’s art.. ie: black orchid will never be published… writing death changed that for me.

from sandman: once in every era there is a vortex.. even i don’t know why…a mortal who briefly becomes the center of the dreaming..



“It was just insane, the way a military dictatorship is like Reddit.” lithub.com/junot-diaz-hil…

And I’m thinking, how do we create a self that takes both of those people in?


These days they’re trying to shut down all the Ethnic Studies programs, because they don’t want to produce students who begin by saying, “Yo, it’s fucked up we’re not talking about us.” And I’m a product of these programs that aimed me directly toward writing about this tiny neighborhood that nobody really knew or thought about. It’s an old pattern, but one that is super-reliable. We’re so erased.


Immigration is difficult as it is, but the worst way to take it on the chin is to turn it against each other.


I’m still auditioning for my family’s love.

I still hold out this thing that they’ll be nicer if I play along. You wrestle with your family your entire life. People who don’t, that’s like the most blessed resource in the world, since the rest of us are still caught in a dynamic which doesn’t always leave too much room for you to be compassionate to yourself.


You get kicked around enough, and you either do two things: you withdraw totally, or you say, I can take another kick.


I lived in a place where it was so much better to be liked because your shirt was ironed, or because you had a good posture. It was just insane, the way a military dictatorship is like Reddit. Honestly, man.


My experience of living in a post-dictatorship society is that everybody believes that they’re going to be the Reddit article that gets pushed all the way up. The like axis is just very, very powerful, and I needed to tilt a different way. I needed to say that it is possible to say things, to be involved in a conversation with people where the relationship is determined by things more complicated than whether you like me or not. Maybe the content of my communication would be in itself worthy of discussion, regardless of how you felt at an emotional level about the person bringing the news. In a dictatorship, the two things get quickly put together. The news you bring stands as a moral judgment about you, and this is the way you keep critics silent, ..


This is like a self-aggrandizing lunacy that helps me understand why I wait so long, and why I hear that voice so clearly. I’m so desirous to want to play along with that, with my father. I knew that if I ironed my clothes every day, my dad would like me, but my dad made a mistake and took me to the military prisons in the Dominican Republic that he worked in.


There was this constant back-and-forth, and as a kid you find spaces there where at least you can hide.


We have no problem in this country rewarding individuals of color momentarily as a way never to address structural cannibalistic inequalities that are faced by the communities these people come out of.


I don’t think we can safely say just because someone has some sort of visible markers of success that in any way they have avoided any of the dysfunctions.


Last time I noticed, America isn’t epically addicted to cocaine, especially white upper-middle-class America, because it feels at home, because it feels comfortable in its own skin. …. But I just knew, from everything that I saw, that there is no transcending the human experience. You’ve got to realize that most of us feel permanently displaced and savagely undone. Most of us try everything we can to manage our fears and our insecurities. Most of us are profoundly inhuman to ourselves and other people, and that makes us no less valuable, and no less worthy of attention and love. I didn’t transcend all this stuff, you just got to live with them, man, and there’s nothing like trying to run away from all that stuff to guarantee its supremacy.


To be temporarily in touch with their best selves, which is fragile, flawed, weak, scared . . . That’s worth working, and that’s the moment why most of us go this very long, shadowed path into producing art, because we fundamentally believe that what we do is the best of what we call human, the best of us, even if at times we don’t like to recognize it.


Jose Antonio Vargas (@joseiswriting) tweeted at 4:58 AM – 9 Apr 2018 :

what tremendous courage from the tremendous Junot Diaz https://t.co/AEwT07zscv (http://twitter.com/joseiswriting/status/983298219999481856?s=17)

the desperate need to keep it hidden and silent. It fucked up my childhood. It fucked up my adolescence. It fucked up my whole life

maté trauma law

Of course, I never got any kind of help, any kind of therapy. Like I said, I never told anyone.

And, let me tell you, once that mask was on no power on earth could have torn it off me.

masks and measures

wilde not us law


The mask was strong.

But as any Freudian will tell you trauma is stronger than any mask; it can’t be buried and it can’t be killed. It’s the revenant that won’t stop, the ghost that’s always coming for you. The nightmares, the intrusions, the hiding, the doubts, the confusion, the self-blame, the suicidal ideation—they didn’t go away just because I buried my neighborhood, my family, my face.


I didn’t want to break up with her. I didn’t want to. But I couldn’t stand to be loved. To be seen.


accusations and response