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Monthly Archives: July 2012

Capitalist Anti-Semitism

Oakland, CA

Jean-Paul Sartre tickles my mind. So, when I come across one of his books that I haven’t already read, I grab it and I  take it home. There it sits for a while, until the time is ripe (and my mind is free). This time I didn’t go for either a novel or a theatrical piece. I approached a libellum titled “Anti-Semite and Jew” written in France in 1944 (date and place are important in this respect). Knowing that Sartre is not Jewish and that he is politically a Marxist, I couldn’t answer the riddle that the title created until I read the first pages. In line with much existentialist literature of the time, JPS chose an issue of current socio-political relevance in order to abstract the fundamental question further up to a more general level. Just like Sartre in his narrative, here I would like to express my pleasure for reading the book and my take-home lesson with a very simple language.

Jean-Paul Sartre’s Anti-Semite and Jew (here I include free versions: html and pdf) was written in 1944, after the Nazi occupation was over in France, but well before the war ended and the crimes against the Jews were fully disclosed and accounted. The title in French is more elusive: Réflexions sur la question juive is less provocative and more to the point. In this book, JPS deconstructs anti-Semitism and portrays the customs of (French) society for what these really are. Jewness is harder to spot in a person than skin color. For this reason, the reading that I filtered through from the book is more far-reaching than what one can imagine at the beginning. At one point, especially if you’re just starting to understand race in a more systemic way like I am, you can read beyond the characters on the pages and play more with the crude words of the French philosopher.

Sartre, apparently using Instagram

Sartre starts by making everybody in France who carried the book – or read part of it in Les Temps Modernes – feel anti-Semite. There aren’t anti-Semite opinions. There are just anti-Semites. People who buy into stereotypes of street culture (and fascist propaganda),  people who turn a blind eye on the issue, people that cannot shake off from their mindset the prejudices against a race-less, nation-less (at the time) community. JPS also marks the distinction between the authentic and the inauthentic Jew. The latter being someone who denies himself, his roots, his personality, in order to appear less of a Jew to his fellow compatriots, who in addition advocate for the universal man, the Frenchman, devoid of any characterization besides his nationalism. [note: here I use the same gender courtesy that the translator used in the version that I read. Both the anti-Semite and the Jew are male types – French is a romance language and the masculine is commonly used as a neuter gender.] Crooked noses and curly hair are simply not enough to define a Jew, but are chatacteristics that can be singled out in a Jewish person. The path of the deconstruction of anti-Semitism is very long for JPS, who winds to all sides of human behavior and psychology.

He argues that anti-Semitism is driven by passion. One not justified by a direct provocation, causing anger not through logic. But, as he notes, one must “consent to anger before it can manifest itself.” So the anti-Semite has chosen to hate. In opposition to a concept, not something real. The anti-Semite’s Jewish friends are never a direct target of his anger. But when the crowd shouts: “I hate the Jews”, he joins. Sartre also discusses the reason for Jews’ attachment to money and possession, as the only legal, tangible means to emancipation that an outcast of society can seek for. Here’s the twist: JPS portrays the anti-Semite as member of the middle-class, angry at the Jew, member of the nonproducer, burgeois class. But “The Jew is free to do evil, not good” and therefore he is also a ruthless Bolshevik ready to destroy France in the name of Socialism. The anti-Semite’s arguments are very hard to sort out: he believes in Good and Evil and is certain of his position and of the position of the Jew in this configuration. JPS’s Marxist soul appears here to throw light on the essence of the class struggle is between two world orders, alternative in their administration of humanity and nature, both far from the perfection typically associated with the archetypal symbols of Good and Evil. Sartre pulls also the existentialist card by noting that the anti-Semite is afraid of himself, his consciousness, and his liberty, not of the Jew. The anti-Semite is a coward who would rather be a stone than a man.

One-third of the book is already gone and JPS has just acknowledged what the XXI century reader has already figured out: the anti-Semite only needs the Jew as a pretext; his counterpart elsewhere “will make use of the Negro or of the man of yellow skin”. The second chapter is dedicated to spiting the democrat, the universalist, the enlightened, etc. who only recognizes man, “man always the same in all times and places”. The democrat’s acceptance of the Jew as a man leads to the denial of the latter as a Jew. What follows is the creation of the inauthentic Jew as a way of mini-salvation for the Jew. Sartre aptly describes this condition in Part III as a conscious choice and dwells philosophically and pragmatically on it (the term is of course devoid of any moral blame, as the philosopher clearly states). There, he also rejects the definition of race as “that indefinable complex into which are tossed pell-mell both somatic characteristics, and intellectual and moral traits.” At the same time, JPS slashes those who “can’t see race,” but only individuals. Then he goes on against the defenders of the true France and the purity of the Frenchman. As usual, Sartre takes everybody to court. Interestingly, the theme of the judgement comes in the book with the assimilation of the condition of the Jew to that of the hero of Franz Kafka’s The Trial.

For JPS, however, there is a clear culprit: “It is our eyes that reflect to him [the Jew] the unacceptable image that he wishes to dissimulate. It is our words and our gestures – all of our words and all of our gestures – our anti-Semitism, but equally our condescending liberalism that have poisoned him. […] It is we who force him into the dilemma of Jewish authenticity or inauthenticity”. The choice of inauthenticity stands before the Jew who is “haunted by the spectre of violence”, and chooses to deny himself in order to be left alone.

One of the chief problems with Sartre’s argument is the treatment of Zionism just as a byproduct of all this hatred. It becomes harmful for the authentic Jew and an additional weapon in the anti-Semite arsenal. JPS only lightly touches upon the issue of the colonization of Palestine under Zionist principles. But our dear philosopher could not imagine that the course of the events would have taken such inflexible path.

The fourth, and last part sums up the argument and deals with solutions. The “regressive social force” of anti-Semitism is to be countered by propaganda and education, which alas will not prove effective enough. Let’s not forget that the anti-Semite is the champion of legality in France. Anti-Semitism is the product of the burgeois division of society in classes, communities, and sections. The Jew cannot accept assimilation in such a world – he must fight for a society without anti-Semitism. “What is there to say except that the socialist revolution is necessary to and sufficient for the suppression of anti-Semitism? It is for the Jew also that we shall make the revolution.”

The revolution indeed. What struck me the most about this book is the possibility to cross out and substitute the words anti-Semite and Jew with analogous oppressor-oppressed dynamics (white-all other colors/types; even rich-poor, although most of his reasonings remain relevant through racial arguments). Only a change in the type of society we live in may bring about the obliteration of such dynamic. White oppression is synonymous with capitalist oppression. It’s about time that we realize it.

In the words of Richard Wright: “There is no Negro problem in the United States, there is only a White problem”. There’s no poverty, racism, inequality, exploitation, pollution… there’s just their root-cause: capitalism – the Evil we should fight against.

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The Infinity Loop Trip – Part Two

Oakland, CA

The Infinity Looper that has been around hoodoos is the happiest person on Earth. A wise departure from such wonders of nature would be in the afternoon, headed towards the border between Utah and Arizona. Your next goal is to visit Antelope Canyon, a few miles off of Page, AZ. However, the mighty Lake Powell and the beautiful tiny Navajo canyon push prices for a room to the roof. So, why not make your journey cheaper and more diverse by sleeping close by? Kanab, UT – or “Little Hollywood” as the city prefers to be known – is a wise decision, with very good food, a nice atmosphere, and a film environment.

One shot in the Antelope Canyon

Wake up early and take into account the time difference between Utah and Arizona, which happens for the summer half of the year. If your tour of Antelope Canyon is booked already with the companies in town, then meet them and enjoy your ride on the dunes. If you happen to be there without a booking, go meet the Navajo huts nearest to the entrance of the canyon. They are very nice, welcoming, and accommodating; they’ll make sure you get a spot to see the marvelous canyon. Best timing: around noon. Second best: around 9 am. Take many pictures, making sure you don’t dry up all the juice in the battery, because it’s time for the Grand Canyon! On the road to Flagstaff (US-89), you can detour on the smaller AZ-64 which will bring you at the heart of the Grand Canyon. You’ve seen the movies, you’ve seen the pictures. Well, now you’re in it. Once you’re done with the sublime views, take your car down to I-40, be it Williams or Flagstaff.

As hazardous as you wish

The best three days of your life just passed, Infinity Looper. Now you’re California bound. Across the desert again, you can choose to ride on the I-40 or to take the Historic Route 66. A combination of the two, with a few detours will be the best for the sake of time and mileage. Use your gas station breaks to dive into the small towns along the 66 and enjoy the views. Approaching the border with California, you’ll be asked to declare whether or not you are carrying animals or plants, in which case you might expect inspection. Moreover, you can witness the typical NIMBY principle: it doesn’t happen often to read a sign that says “Hazardous Waste Permitted”! And you can find it just across the border. It’s California, but it’s still basically the desert that covers the huge plains of Nevada and Arizona as well.

You are back to the Central Valley, Bakersfield or just around there, and you’re only left with a small leg of the trip northbound. The choice betwen the boring I-5, the interesting US-101, or the gorgeous CA-1 is pretty straightforward. So spin your steering wheel across the hills between the Central Valley and San Luis Obispo, full of cows and oil rigs. At some point you will be able to see Morro Bay and its rock – probably all covered in the typical Pacific fog. Seagulls, crows, and squirrels welcome you to ocean side of California, from where you should take a slow drive north. The drive is usually slow for one reason: the only cars on CA-1 are there for tourism, and the many scenic turnouts force you to drive slowly in order to avoid pushing your fellow visitors off the cliff.

Elephant Seals arguing

One mandatory stop is Piedras Blancas, a small beach where elephant seals hang out seasonally. With their disproportionate trunk, they snore on the sand creating big puffs, their huge bodies jerk around in search for the best pillow of fat (usually another seal), and they throw sand on their back. Only slightly annoyed by the laughs of the public, elephant seals own Piedras Blancas: this is not a zoo or a reserve. Theirs is the beach, theirs the ocean. Whil driving and taking pictures, you will realize that Cambria is one of the last bits of human settlement before Carmel. So make sure your tank is full of gas and drive by the trees, rocks, and foamy waves of the Ventana Wilderness. In Carmel, you can decide to go back to the US-101 (for the first time in 200 miles or more) or to continue to Monterey. Monterey is a nice place for a lazy afternoon, it displays a few beautiful sand dunes just in its outskirts and it hosts a very interesting aquarium. Moreover, it was the setting and the inspiration for some of John Steinbeck’s writings (Cannery Row, chiefly).

When you are done dreaming of the ocean, of times long gone, and of the wilderness you just emerged from, drive up to San Jose and pick your final destination based on your hotel room or your home in San Francisco or the East Bay. The trip has ended, it has changed your life, and it has shown you the true essence of the West. The Loop might be over, but memories stay forever.

*Let it rain cheese*

The Infinity Loop Trip – Part One

Oakland, CA

Once your checklist is has been completed, you are ready to start your Infinity Loop Trip. For a successful-yet-stressful completion, you need at least 5 days. Any day added to the trip would improve your traveling standards and allow you to see more. Here, I describe a weeklong ideal trip. You can take out options as necessary, but the goal is to complete the loop! Impossible to avoid: driving, heat, other cars, and eating out. Ready?

The optimal start is from the San Francisco Bay Area. Whoever hasn’t yet explored it, should allocate a few days to it. But if you’re just going on the Infinity Loop, then you’d better start being touristy and go check out the Golden Gate Bridge. Never did it by car? Drive northbound, and then take the San Rafael/Richmond Bridge to the East Bay. You will pass through Marin County, which has astonishing views of the Bay, with all the fog and the romanticism you can imagine. Once in the East Bay, whether you are in Richmond, Berkeley, or Oakland, take the I-580 (all numbers without specification are highways) south-east past Livermore, it will go around Tracy and merge into I-5 south, Bakersfield-bound. The drive is so interesting that you will remember nothing of it. But it’s really the fastest way to get to the first stop: Oil-land.

rigs and refineries

Whether you sleep in Lost Hills, Buttonwillow, or Bako, don’t miss the chance to take a trip to Oildale, a well marked area of Bakersfield where the Kern River Basin hosts thousands of oil rigs and dozens of refineries to extract and process crude from the 5th largest oil patch in North America. Despite what everyone I met says, Bakersfield is not so bad as an American town. It’s ample, it has many conglo-malls, it has a farm+oil culture, and has themed neighborhoods. It’s basically like LA with real people and real jobs (zing!). The whole meth-land and culture-less vibe did not show up to me as a visitor. After your morning wandering in Bakersfield, get your wheels to Death Valley: a good and humane way of doing it is either hella early in the morning, or during peak hour, provided you have an air conditioned car. If you choose the latter, then you will get to the visitor center 4 hours after leaving Bakersfield, so to have time to jump around.

Death Valley – desert and colored rocks

Death Valley has a very useful visitor center at Furnace Creek, where you should pay the park fee and get tips from the rangers. It’s possible to drive everywhere there, because they don’t imagine sane people to hike in hell. So plan a tour with the map, go down to Zabriskie Point, to the Artist Palette, and try to get to Badwater Basin (the salt plain) as late in the day as possible, so that the sun doesn’t kill you and make a salt sculpture out of you. The bare might of Death Valley is incredible everywhere you go in the “park”. Outside of Death Valley, you can sleep in Nevada, the first town being Beatty. [Ad Alert] It was very funny and comfy to sleep in the Atomic Inn motel, which is themed after the Cold War atomic craze due to the nearby nuclear test station. Also nearby is the ghost town of Rhyolite, a 20th century village that was abandoned after the coal mine was emptied. It features, a school, a glass-house, a market, a union building, a mansion, a bank, and a casino. Speaking of casinos, after your night in Beatty, you might as well continue driving towards Las Vegas, see their fake world full of fat, bling, and smog. Vegas shouldn’t take more than three hours, if you’re not going to bet or get married. So get out of there and take I-15 north-east towards St. George, Utah.

Majestic hoodoos!

A big-big billboard welcomes you to Utah, overshadowed by an even bigger billboard that suggests you to stop at Cracker Barrel to eat. Do so. Get gas and eat. Then a few choices open: you can either go to Zion National Park (you can’t decide to just drive-through because you’d have to pay the park fee anyways) first, or you can zoom past it and get to Bryce Canyon, the most beautiful place on Earth. Sleep in Panguitch or Beaver or Parowan. It doesn’t really matter, because you have to spend a couple of days strolling through the hoodoos, watching sunrises and sunsets in the orange and green beauty created by nature. You don’t do that, you are not my friend, you should stop reading this blog, you might as well carve your eyes out of their sockets and go live in a dark world. You’re definitely not a Infinite Looper.

If you do so, then sit back and contemplate the beauty of nature and plan your trip to the border between Utah and Arizona. Because coming up in the next blog post is Antelope Canyon! (and the second half of the trip).

The Infinity Loop Setup

Oakland, CA

These cloudy and rainy summer days leave me with less outdoorsy time. So here’s the setup for the Infinity Loop. The trip itself looks like the mathematical symbol, but we all know that there isn’t such thing as an infinite vacation. So let’s look at the necessary toolkit for the Infinity Looper.

A flock of Swedish people crossed my East Bay path around the 4th of July break. They came to the US to meet with common friends and to explore the West. So they rented a car and after spending a few days around Oakland and San Francisco, they disappeared in canyonland. Posting every day Instagram pictures of the wonderous places they came across. I was sort of jealous of their mileage, because I too had the intention of exploring the pre-Californian West. My desire was to drive all the way to Texas, so as to catch up with an old friend and see what’s the deal with the South West. But it would have taken almost one day to drive one way, without really stopping. And flying was not that cheap either. So plans switched for a shorter trip, that we later discovered almost mirrored the one undertaken by the Swedes, who even gave us a few tips. Here, I add some additional preparational tips.

1) Book an Antelope Canyon tour – and buy a decent/huge/amazing camera

This is perhaps to be done before you get to the United States (what? you’re a citizen? you were born in this country? well, do so anyways, because there’s a long line already there). The best time to see the tricks of the light that the wind-and-rain-shaped canyon displays are around noon. Those times are fully booked weeks in advance with tour companies in Page, AZ. However, we proceeded to the Navajo tour service just off the highway and got a very nice welcoming. I’m sure that they would accomodate you in case you were a small group (2-3). Our tour started at 8.45, when it was already 90F outside, and thanks to a timezone mistake (Arizona has not adopted daylight saving!), our tour was very tranquil and let us freely wander in the meanders of the rocks.

The canyon itself, however, is not stunning. It’s very pleasant to see how nature decided to shape those sandy rocks, but this happens in many other places. If you have access to a very good camera, your pictures will capture the true reflections that human eyes can’t see. This is the reason why there are special photography tours and the canyon itself was brought to the market by a photographer, to the disappointment of the Native groups, who had now to babysit all kinds of tourists – even those who carved their names in the walls of the canyon. In sum, you forget to bring a camera, you won’t understand Antelope Canyon.

2) Bring sunscreen – and water

I know, you’re dark enough that UV-radiation can’t break your natural shield. But if you bring sunscreen in your bag, it won’t hurt. If you undertake the Infinity Loop in the summer, you will be sweating all the way. Temperatures don’t fall under 75 degrees Farenheit until you get back to the Bay Area. A hat for your precious head and some pre-wilting cream for your soft skin are a must. Away from the sea/ocean, there is no sea-borne wind that cools off your body heat. The breeze is hot, especially in open plains. Without an overabundant stock of water – which quickly becomes flavorless soup – you will probably evaporate before you get to Nevada.

3) Map, smartphones, rough ideas – do you know where are you going?

Impro-traveling is awesome. However, having a clue of how long it takes to drive from one place to the other, knowing what to do when stuck without stamina in the middle of nowhere, understanding correctly the highway signs that announce: “Last Service for the next XX miles” are all details that will ensure that your trip doesn’t go awry. The sentence: “We could try to get there and see this, and if we can’t we’ll just stop there and go to this thing instead” should be uttered at least once a day.

4) Don’t be a snot and try motels – sleep in America, not in a standard room

Sleeping in flavorless luxurious rooms with silent AC is not for Infinity Loopers. We prefer stopping at random villages that host less than 10k people and asking for a motel room. Granted, you will find one bug, at the very least, and the TV is old-fashioned (when you see signs for “Color TV” it’s a trademark for two-generation-old technology). Even Motel6 with their überkitsch bed cover are distinguished from standard, clean, and aseptic sleep wards.

5) Bring cash – but don’t tell burglars

At some point, around the loop, you’ll be in need for cash (paying national parks, tours, dining in cash-only places, giving tips…). And your bank, even if you have an American bank account, will not be there for you. In Utah, as I understand, Zion Bank is the substitute for any Bank of America, Chase or Wells Fargo spotted everywhere else. Of course, keep your belongings with you. But stop being suspicious of everyone you see, you’ve left the big city and you’re among humans now.

6) Burn CDs, record cassettes, plug (and charge) your mp3 player! – entering radio-boredom country

Bible stations start in the Central Valley in California and probably only end in New York, if you’re traveling east. There is also an odd preponderance of Spanish-speaking stations in the core of California (the ratio to English is 75:25), which does not provide for enough commercial variety – somebody tell me why there are so few foreign songs played in this monolinguist America. All in all, there are also many hours of driving with little phone and radio reception, especially in the Death Valley area and in the Nevada/Utah/Arizona deserts. So having a long conversation is good, singing along your favorite tunes is still good, while the shotgun-reading-a-book scenario sucks for the driver, left alone in the big nothing. Uh, and don’t even consider the driver-reading-a-book scenario: you really want to avoid having a bored shotgun.

Next up: Infinity Loop – The trip!

Branding America – The Infinity Loop

Oakland, CA

A long trip made me discover the proper West. Canyons, deserts, horses, and all that jazz – incidentally, very little jazz – were stunning for me and my travel companion, who had seen most of that already. Be sure that the American continent can surprise you very often. With a little over 5 days for the trip and a car, we planned a trip that would end where it started, a loop. We decided, all without a real plan or a schedule, to take different roads on our way East and on our trip back to the Bay Area. We wanted to go to Utah to see canyons and parks, to the Death Valley, maybe see a ghost town in the way, see the tricks of the light in Antelope Canyon (Arizona), and whatever else happened was to be taken with a smile. So we did, planning each step 8-to-12 hours in advance, abiding by the car’s overheating caprices, getting lost a few times without reception for the only crappy smartphone we carried.

don’t try it at home

Once we got back home, I tried to get a ballpark number for the hundreds of miles we drove (22-ish, apparently) using GoogleMaps and I noticed a curious coincidence. The route we drew on the map was similar to the mathematical symbol for infinity. From Oakland down to Bakersfield on the I-5; then North-East bound towards Death Valley, then South-East again through Vegas on the I-15, which then goes NE again. The tour around the canyons in Utah and Arizona makes it easy for a turn southwards. We ended in Flagstaff, where we met with highway 40, which runs E-W parallel to the Historical Route 66.

Back to California. After having passed through border control (!), the city of Barstow makes I-15 and I-40 meet and marks the intersection of the loop. The route back overlaps with the initial one up to Bakersfield and then turns into a fun drive through desert hills full of cows and lonely oil rigs. Only 3 hours later, the driver can finally relax and follow signs for Morro Bay, just outside San Luis Obispo. Foggy or sunny, the CA-1 is a pretty scenic route that runs N-S along the coast. The part between Cambria and Carmel has a green addition to the blue ocean thanks to the vast natural park where one should stop if fancying a trip to Big Sur. CA-1 climbs up the San Francisco peninsula, where we didn’t want to end up, especially due to the dark hour and the need for sleep. So, we switched at San Jose and went North to our beloved East Bay.

see what we did there?

Facebook pictures, small talk with friends, and funny intuitions made “a thing” of the fortuitous shape of the trip. Many friends suggested to brand the route as a landmark of any trip to the United States. I quote just one example:

“…just post a paper signs a couple times along the way that says things like ‘Welcome to the Infinity Loop’, ‘You’re 100 miles into the Infinity Loop’, ‘You’re leaving the Infinity Loop. Or are you?’ It’ll catch on!”

While it is hilarious that so many people, included the trippers, came up with a marketing idea for a trip, I would like to jot in this blog a few landmarks one should check out when planning or randomly embarking on The Infinity Loop. Yep, because that’s what a hipster with too much time on his hands would do if he had just devised a creative and original way to set a kool activity as a new fad. All of these conversation-starters at some point bottleneck, just like Friday traffic, be it due to ageing or to cultural barriers.

Meanwhile, as I transform into a hipster for a week, I’m going to re-read my blog (because I’m the center of the universe, duh!) while I hide from the sun.

Marketing Academic Achievements

Oakland, CA

Roughly one year after the publication of my MA thesis as a book, I received in the mail a special package, containing the first peer-reviewed and fully-recognized publication of academic relevance I have ever written. This one sounds more like the first real step into the academic world.

The book, although cherished by parents, relatives, and friends, was crafted by me, with the dear help of my mentor and my partner. The paper published by European Perspectives weeks ago was the outcome of my first international conference as a protagonist and the first peer-review process. One question keeps me confused: what should authors do to emerge from the crowd and make their voices heard in the midst of a world where publishing (and self-publishing) has become easier and easier?

My youngest cousin was born on 11/11/2011. The doctors planned the date for the cesarean section for that unique day. However, I was already set to go to London for my first international conference as a speaker, the presentation ready and a first draft of the paper completed. I was disappointed to miss such a happy family event, but everybody had a full understanding as I was going to set a milestone as well. Small, lively, and intense, the One-Day Energy Workshop organized by Diana Bozhilova and Tom Hashimoto was a great success and featured young scholars from all over the world. Two emerging experts in energy politics, Diana and Tom arranged everything to be smooth and effective at the Bulgarian Embassy where the meeting was held. From the final applause onwards, we knew we had to work hard to finish our work, include the suggestions received, and send it to an academic journal. The plural used for the following part relates to the fact that this publication was co-authored with colleague, friend, and dreamer Elvira Oliva. November passed and the January deadline approached. Rushing through our many occupations (Elvira actually has a structured, real one!), we send in the paper, get a very thorough peer-review, and edit it accordingly. Finally, the paper is ready, shifted to another journal, and published. Granted, we could have done a better job with the graphs and with some of the content, but this effort, which lasted almost one year, generated our best achievement so far.

The process of academic publication is fairly long. You have to make sure your writing is impeccable, clear, and inequivocal. You have to take care of style, subdivision, quoting and referencing, and spelling rules. Once this process is complete – and of course, the content must be outstanding, original, and intriguing – you get slashed on something you had not previously taken into consideration. Ah, the beauty of many eyes and brains! Collectively, the whole work is perfected and solidified. Freshly out of the printer and freshly linked online, this paper conveyed the sensation of being a delicious cookie.

Back and Front of the European Perspectives journal

On another note, I just received the yearly statement for my book which has sold eleven copies. Not enough for generating royalty payments (I would have needed at least double the amount), but enough for boosting my morale even further about the recognition of my efforts. Eleven brave individuals have emptied their Amazon cart with my – rather expensive, unfortunately – book in it. Soon, after I complete my editing and I add a section on China, Russia, and Central Asian energy, I will be able to publish it for free on the website of the research center I am working with (PECOB). Free means more access and more opportunities for intellectual dialogue. As I complete my first year of relationship with my publisher, I would not repeat the experience if I were to publish another book. Mainly because the book was placed at a very high cost on the market and, although not asking for anything in return, the publisher gave me back less than I had dreamt of. [Incidentally, I think the book would have sold way more copies were it put at 1/4 of its current cost. Probably more than 4 times as much copies would have been sold. Making still zero returns for me, probably higher profits for the publisher, but chiefly, making the book available to more readers! – Here I am teaching marketing…]

The question, the main puzzle keeps standing. How should academic publications be advertised, promoted? I go around on Facebook, Google, Academia.edu, Twitter, and other social media, I published several articles online which linked to my work. I started a blog also with the purpose of promoting my writings. I received a few rewarding reviews that allowed me to improve my understanding of my own work and my mistakes in it. However, I feel that the work of this young researcher has been left out from some circles in which I was eager to participate. What sould I have done? What should I do in the future? Carpet-bomb academics, libraries, and journalists with emails about the new cookie? Have promotional events (although I hate “events” and that would accrue a significant cost and therefore push me towards the need of sales)? Circulate free copies of the manuscript? I did a mix of all of the above, minus the event, and I would like my eclectic audience to suggest what marketing strategies should I have undertaken and how much “poking around” is enough.