A Forum for Vigorous Debate, Cornerstone of Democracy

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A FORUM FOR FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND VIGOROUS DEBATE, CORNERSTONES OF DEMOCRACY
[For the journal (guidelines, focus, etc.), go to www.theamericandissident.org ].
Encouraged censorship and self-censorship seem to have become popular in America today. Those who censor others, not just self, tend to favor the term "moderate," as opposed to "censor" and "moderation" to "censorship." But that doesn't change what they do. They still act as Little Caesars or Big Brother protectors of the thin-skinned. Democracy, however, demands a tough populace, not so easily offended. On this blog, and to buck the trend of censorship, banning, and ostracizing, comments are NEVER "moderated." Rarely (almost NEVER) do the targets of these blog entries respond in an effort to defend themselves with cogent counter-argumentation. This blog is testimony to how little academics, poets, critics, newspaper editors, cartoonists, political hacks, cultural council apparatchiks, librarians et al appreciate VIGOROUS DEBATE, cornerstone of democracy. Clearly, far too many of them could likely prosper just fine in places like communist China and Cuba or Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Russia.

More P. Maudit cartoons (and essays) at Global Free Press: http://www.globalfreepress.org

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Conversations with Professor Pseudo, PhD

l’ecrivain qui se met pas brochet, tranquillement plagiaire, qui chromote pas, est un homme perdu !... il a la haine du monde entier !... [the writer who does not pimp along, tranquilly plagiary, who does not seek fame, is a lost man ! everyone will hate him!...]
—Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Entretiens avec le professeur Y

Those without spine would inevitably mock those with spine. That had been my experience. The logic was there, for those with spine would inevitably make those without it look and feel bad.

It was amazing to note that perhaps 90% or more of the comments relative to approved-blog articles appearing in both The Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed were made anonymously! Somebody ought to calculate some statistics with that regard. Academe certainly did not seem to be attracting courageous citizens. It did not seem to be attracting citizens either who valued vigorous debate, democracy’s cornerstone. On the contrary, it seemed to be attracting nothing but cowards and careerists.

Now and then, when someone responded to my comments, more often than not, I could not determine who the respondent was, let alone contact him or her with a personal response. That said so much, so much more than anonymous academics would likely permit themselves to even contemplate! Fear and cowardice had overwhelmed the Academy. Democracy could not survive in America, if the traits of fear and cowardice became as dominant as they seemed to have become in Academe. Wherever I’d taught as a professor, I’d always witnessed academics constantly jabbering behind closed doors. It was amazing to me, though perhaps not if one valued job over dignity... as most evidently tended to do. Academics who cowered behind anonymity when expressing their opinions were not to be trusted, let alone believed. It was sad they were given voice in The Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed.

Last week, on a Chronicle of Higher Education blog, I had a joust with one such incognito fellow, “Eddie Guest,” whom I’ll refer to as Prof. Pseudo, PhD. Because his modus operandi, of base unoriginal mockery and failure to disprove a single statement with logical counter-argumentation and/or fact, might be somewhat and sadly typical of academics (not to mention poets) today, I thought I’d expose it here. I’d come upon the ilk before, yet was ever confounded by it. What made Prof. Pseudo, PhD tick? I really didn’t know. Why were there so many of his kind? Again, I had no real explanation.

A second party, Sandy Thatcher, retiring Director of the Penn State University Press, injected himself into the “conversation” momentarily. I thus also include his remarks, which exude the typical indignation of established-order cogs when that order is criticized by an outsider. Thatcher was a businessman in academic garb. Both he and Prof. Pseudo responded as party apparatchiks. When one of the party members was suddenly criticized, instead of ad nauseum praised, they unoriginally attacked the messenger, dissed his message with vacuous epithet, and failed to refute anything in it with cogent argumentation.

Too many on the left seemed to think that by dismissing anyone who criticized them and their orthodoxy as right wing, they deemed the criticism irrelevant and the problems exposed as non existent. That would serve to only weaken the left, not strengthen it.

Prof. Pseudo, PhD—Folks, you gotta go to Mr. Slone’s website and follow the “censorship” thread! It be a hoot! The guy has a real negative jones for any published poet (Mr. Slone can’t seem to get published much) who has a college teaching job (Mr. Slone can’t seem to get or hold one).

The Editor—Note Prof. Pseudo’s black hip-hop jive jargon. Is he a cutesy black wannabee in black regalia or simply a black professor? Anonymity will protect him and keep that unknown. Because I openly criticize does not logically mean that I have a “real negative jones for any published poet.” To dispute the point, I admire Jeffers, Villon, some of Neruda, some of Benedetti, some of Haushofer, etc. It is important not to speak in absolutes and get the facts straight, unless of course one hides behind anonymity. I had two collections of poetry published in the last year and a half, perhaps a feat considering the highly anti-established-order nature of the verse (see www.theamericandissident.org/Subscribe.htm). Because I do not value collegiality over truth, I cannot hold a college teaching job. Because of my inner Socratic daemon, I am compelled to denounce overtly lies, inconsistencies, double standards, discrepancies, and fraud. Evidently, that does not favor my holding a job in academe. What about Prof. Pseudo? Who knows? Perhaps he can’t hold a job in academe either, but maybe because he’s a skirt chaser or faked his credentials or who knows what. Anonymity will protect him from an inquiry.

Prof. Pseudo, PhD—I am not now a college professor. I was a college professor, a full professor, too, with tenure and full oak-leaf cluster, in spite of the fact that I do not have a Ph.D. My publishing record was that good. (No, it wasn’t poetry or fiction.)

The Editor—Ah, but how can one possibly verify anything stated by a pseudonym?

Prof. Pseudo, PhD—Mr. Slone’s website didn’t piss me off. It depressed me—so self-serving, so whiney, and so amateurish. If anything is “a complete catalogue of vile and scabrous epithets which he is ever ready to sling at those who think and act differently,” it’s Mr. Slone’s website, which is one continous stream of epithets, express and implied, hurled at, seemingly, anybody who’s a poet and holds down an academic job. And the attendant blog seems to be a mutual wanking society composed of Mr. Slone and two or three other losers who buck each other up.

The Editor—So many epithets! How can one possibly believe the website did not piss off Prof. Pseudo? Where is his website?

Prof. Pseudo, PhD—I don’t have a website. I don’t need one.

The Editor—Ah, he doesn’t need one! So, why does he need all the titles and publications and badges handed to him by the established order!

Prof. Pseudo, PhD—I’m happy to provide content for Mr. Slone’s blog. Of course he never censors comments; there are hardly any comments to censor. The blog must get, what, eight or nine hits a month. It’s a wonder the server doesn’t crash!

The Editor—The number of hits simply indicates popularity. How can a lifer educator not understand that? Certainly, Brittany Spears or Brangelinas website gets far more hits than the Chronicle of Higher Education’s blogsites together. Come on, Prof. Pseudo! You can do better than that! Besides, if I were any good at marketing or even had a driving compulsion to market, I’d likely be doing something else.

Prof. Pseudo, PhD—And since the NEH wouldn’t help fund his practically unreadable magazine and its amateurish editorial cartoons, he doesn’t like it, either.

The Editor—Get the facts right! The NEA, not the NEH, rejected my grant request. Evidently, I cannot argue against simple opinions of ad-hominem-like remarks, including “unreadable” and “amateurish.” They constitute diversionary non-arguments. Of course, I could state that given what passes as “professional” today, perhaps “amateurish” might not be such a bad thing at all.

Prof. Pseudo, PhD—At this point, Mr. Slone’s main claim to fame seems that—after round after round of contentious and ever-lengthening e-mails—he was finally banned from some commenting on some poetry site. He’s trying to milk that for all it’s worth. But don’t take my word for any of this. Pour yourself two fingers worth and get thee to that website.

The Editor—Censorship should never be taken lightly, as Prof. Pseudo seems to relish doing. The incident he refers to involved the Academy of American Poets, not simply some insignificant entity. One would expect the Academy, its tenured-professor chancellors, etc. to not only be aware of the requisites of vigorous debate, democracy’s cornerstone, but also be fervent promoters of them. As the incident indicates, they prove anything but promoters of them (see www.theamericandissident.org/AcademyAmericanPoets.htm). Fact: the Academy banned me permanently from participating as a poet on its online forums for poets.

Mr. Sandy Thatcher—It is unfortunate that Mr. Slone has felt it necessary to use this space [i.e., The Chronicle of Higher Education] for his rant about PC culture, the corporatization of universities, and everything else he doesn’t like about higher education today.

The Editor—Note the typical ad-hominem-like rhetoric used by Thatcher, as in “rant.” How facile and unoriginal to dismiss arguments with the single term “rant.” If mine is “rant,” then why is not his also “rant”—pro-established-order “rant”? The very term is subjective and in that sense entirely vacuous. Sadly, it has become PC to dismiss any argument critical of the left as “rant.” If all the left can do is demonize or otherwise mock anybody daring to criticize it, then it is indeed in trouble today, for how can it possibly grow without harsh criticism of its diverse platforms and icons? That is the shame of higher education today! Does Thatcher only approve of discourse in praise of higher education and the co-opting corporation? Indeed, what I did wrong in his mind was criticize the nomination of an established-order personage, Leach, to the NEH, which was indeed the point of discussion (see also previous blog). Was I supposed to keep quiet if I couldn’t praise Leach? Is that what Thatcher has come to believe constitutes a thriving democracy?

Mr. Thatcher—His accusation about Mr. Leach not being a dissident clearly is refuted by Leach’s bravery in resigning his government job during the Saturday Night Massacre [i.e., Nixon’s firing of prosecutor Cox]. If that is not an act of dissidence, what on earth is?

The Editor— Implying Leach’s resignation to be an act of courage (30+ years ago!!!) is absurd. He resigned his government job only to get more government jobs. Leach is a system cog, deferent and obedient. He’s been on the public dole for over 30 years. Regarding the Saturday Night Massacre, one would have to wonder what Leach was doing in the government in the first place and thanks to Dick Nixon! It is an easy thing to be a dissident when one has a Democrat Party mob to support ones dissidence. Leach’s act was nothing but facile party-supported dissent, certainly not an act of individual courage, as implied by Thatcher.

Mr. Thatcher—I wonder if Mr. Slone can boast of any comparable act of his own?

The Editor—If Thatcher had any curiosity, he would have done the research. After all, my website is not hidden and is replete with numerous acts of individual dissidence, which cost me letters of recommendation and a career in academe. Yes, some of those acts did take courage, much more courage than a political lifer like Leach would ever have had the guts to exhibit.

Mr. Thatcher—For myself, as a university press director (using my own name, please note) and past president of the Association of American University Presses, and as one who has lobbied on Capitol Hill during National Humanities Day to obtain more funding for the NEH, I feel confident in saying that the news of Mr. Leach’s appointment is being welcomed with great cheer in our community of scholarly publishers, and we look forward to working with him and his staff in the years to come on projects of mutual interest, not least in supporting the advance of digital scholarship and publishing.

The Editor—Generally, to rise to positions of director and president, especially in the university milieu, one must compromise ones dignity, ones principles, and inevitably the truth. Thus, I, for one, never knee-jerk admire anybody boasting such titles. “I am ashamed to think how easily we capitulate to badges and names, to large societies and dead institutions,” had noted Emerson. Well, I too am ashamed to think how easily so many capitulate. Moreover, lobbyists on the right and left are to be scorned. They have irrevocably perverted democracy in America today. And one must wonder what that “community of scholarly publishers” refuses to publish… in the name of the established order! And what good is “supporting the advance of digital scholarship and publishing” when that scholarship and publishing only serve to advance that order? These questions, Thatcher will knee-jerk reject as entirely incomprehensible. Indeed, how can a system man ever understand anything exterior to the system that has fed him so very nicely?

Mr. Thatcher—Mr. Slone does not appear to have a correct understanding of what “peer review” means in the NEH evaluation process. It is not run by “mid- and lower-level cultural apparatchiks” but, like the similar process employed by university presses, depends upon reports from experts in the various humanities disciplines.

The Editor—The problem with the humanities, especially with regards literature and art, is that the so-called anointed “experts” tend to always be bourgeois in taste and aesthetics and, in that sense, promote bourgeois taste and aesthetics. That is what is wrong with the peer-review system as it stands today. Anything apt to viscerally question and challenge it and the literature and art it tends to support will automatically be dismissed as “rant.” Sadly, Thatcher will likely be entirely incapable of even considering that argument as a viable alternative point of view.

Mr. Thatcher—Mr. Leach’s affirmation of the importance of respecting this process [i.e., peer review] is very encouraging, especially in light of the politicization of the process under some previous NEH heads (whose names will be known to anyone who has followed the history of the NEH over the years).

The Editor—Leach’s affirmation is for me just another example of business as usual, or rather culture as usual. The peer-review process will always be highly politicized, like it or not, deny it or not. Under Bush, it headed right, while under Obama it will be highly PC and multiculturalist, in lieu of rude truth, as in “go upright and vital, and speak the rude truth in all ways” (Emerson). The problem with closed communities like the university-press community, Thatcher’s community, is the homogenous attitude. “This is a hive attitude. Criticism of one is a criticism of all, a threat to the hive's existence” (Cornelia Yarrington Snider).

Prof. Pseudo, PhD—Mr. Slone should be thanking me—instead of berating me—for recommending (albeit for reasons unflattering to him) his website to “Brainstorm” readers. But since he replies with such indignant ferocity, I’ll get calmly specific about its shortcomings: 1. Visually, it’s a total mess, maybe a half step above those smeary, photocopied typescripts sent out by the rightwing fanatic, “Cincinnatus,” in Missouri, but that’s about all. The labels on the plastic bottles of Dr. Bronner’s soap look better than The American Dissident. (And we’re not asking for elegance here, just a pinch of legibility.)

The Editor—First, note once again the ad hominem-like rhetoric “berating,” “indignant ferocity,” “total Mess,” and akin to a “rightwing fanatic.” Note also that Prof. Pseudo does not present any cogent evidence or argumentation whatsoever to refute anything on the entire American Dissident website. His rhetoric is purely vacuous and diversionary. Shoot the messenger to avoid dealing with the message.

Prof. Pseudo, PhD—I use a pseudonym because: a) It’s fun. b) As I said before, I want my comments to stand or fall on their own textual merit, unaffected by the magnificence of my credentials. c) It’s rather the norm here on “Brainstorm.” If I’m gutless for using one, then so are 90 percent of “Brainstorm” commenters, even the ones—if there are any—who support Mr. Slone.

The Editor—As previously mentioned those who use pseudonyms are cowardly. Pseudonyms enable such persons to hide and remain entirely unaccountable. Thus, what they say remains entirely untrustworthy and unverifiable. Higher education, rather than encourage the pseudonym, ought to be discouraging it.

Prof. Pseudo, PhD—We have only Mr. Slone’s word for it that the reason he can’t hold a job in higher education is that he “speaks truth to power.” I poked around his website and found a lot of ranting and scanned articles about malfeasances at a couple of colleges, but no real evidence of him being unfairly dismissed on account of courageous speech. Perhaps other readers, with more time on their hands, can find some.

The Editor—The American Dissident website is replete with examples of the editor’s speaking truth to power (for example, examine www.theamericandissident.org/Censored.htm). I was not “dismissed” from positions. There’s a big difference between that and not being offered new contracts. The evidence lies in the fact that previous employers did not write me letters of recommendation, a career-death sentence in academe, despite the fact I requested them. Evidence of unfair treatment can also be found on the website.

Prof. Pseudo, PhD—Anyway, since Mr. Slone quotes Charles Bukowski (a real lifestyle model if there ever was one—I used to know his abused girlfriend, or one of ‘em) to the effect that an academic job murders the soul, you’d think that he wouldn’t even try to have one in the first place. (It’s the old story: He tries to join the club; they won’t have him; he says the club is just a bunch of a**holes anyway. So why did he try to join?)

The Editor—If I had it all to do over again, I certainly would not have chosen a career path in academe. “You know the only way a poet makes real money is by teaching at a university, and that is the final murder of the soul,” had written Charles Bukowski. That statement, however, needs to be amended such that the murder of the soul does not apply to poets like me who do not keep their mouths shut in an effort to climb the academic ladder. Again, there’s a big difference. Prof. Pseudo of course is as ignorant as it gets regarding democracy and chooses the America, Love It or Leave It mantra of the Sixties right wing, as in Academe, Love It or Leave It. Never did I state that all academics are a bunch of “assholes.” Note how he’s been trained to self-censor and fear writing the full word ASSHOLE. Oh, it might offend a dainty colleague or two!

Prof. Pseudo, PhD—The writing in the excerpts from the “autobiographical” fiction on Mr. Slone’s website is—not to put too fine a point on it—really bad. Obvious, strident, self-congratulatory, rough, and hackneyed. Mr. Slone badly needs an editor.

The Editor—Again, Prof. Pseudo only comes up with opinion and ad hominem-like comments. Not once does he use logical counter-argumentation.

Prof. Pseudo, PhD—The cartoons—which I didn’t “mock”: I simply said they’re amateurish—are worse than I originally said they were. High school “alternative” newspaper is about their level.

The Editor—Ad hominem redux.

Prof. Pseudo, PhD—There aren’t any “untrue” statements on The American Dissident website, because “truth” isn’t what the website is about. What it’s about is a one-man-band of complaints of various perceived injustices suffered by Mr. Slone. It reads like a 2am call to Art Bell’s old radio show: the government is against me, the universities are against me, other poets are against me, the NEA is against me, etc., etc. Yeah, it’s “true” that such and such college canned Mr. Slone, and that the NEA wouldn’t help fund his special-pleading journal, and that he’s been rejected more times than Susan Lucci at the Emmys, and so forth. The question is why. (Fifteen minutes on the website and the reason is pretty obvious.)

The Editor—Ad hominem redux. Never have I been “canned” by a university or college! Prof. Pseudo does not care about facts. He does not provide one example of a literary journal similar to The American Dissident in scope and nature. He does not need to. All he needs to do is dig into his can of ad-hominem-like epithets and heave. How easily he dismisses censorship, double standards, arrest, incarceration, and legislated cultural proscription as “complaints.”

Prof. Pseudo, PhD—I’m not a poet, didn’t know Mr. Slone from a hole in the ground before he commented on this thread and I went to his website. And I’m not a professor of English, creative writing, comparative literature, or any subject within Mr. Slone’s self-assigned purview. So, no incoming bias, no grudge, etc.

The Editor—How can one believe Prof. Pseudo? How else to explain his visceral need to demean my work, my writing, my cartooning, and The American Dissident? Surely, there was a previous encounter!

Prof. Pseudo, PhD—I had never encountered Mr. Slone before, either in person, any form of correspondence, or by his meagre reputation. I didn’t know anybody who knew, or had ever heard of, Mr. Slone.

The Editor—Yet, again, how can one verify anything stated by a pseudonym? Note Prof. Pseudo’s blind admiration for “reputation.” Academe clearly failed to instill in him a modus operandi of questioning and challenging. “Reputation” generally implies established order, and the kowtowing, obedience and subservience necessary to obtain it.

Prof. Pseudo, PhD—“On my website, many authors are cited to back my opinions and ideas.” Right. This is the typical megalomaniac’s argument: “Why of course, Tolstoy [or whoever] was clearly talking about writers just like me.” All those famous poets “highlighted” on Mr. Slone’s website (I’m sure they’re grateful) are entirely defenseless against his appropriating their words as if they were actually meant in support of him or his ideas. I mean, what did poor ol’ Solzhenitsyn, Emerson, Thoreau, Orwell, Jeffers, Rushdie, Ibsen, Douglass, et al., do to deserve G. Tod Slone? Has Mr. Rushdie, or any other living writer of his reputation, given a voluntary testimonial specifically for Mr. Slone? I thought so.

The Editor—Debating with Prof. Pseudo is akin to debating with an angry child. He will not find one plus on the website or with my regard. Out of the question! Even my attempts to spark interest in democracy are dismissed with epithet. Just call me “megalomaniac.” No need at all to refute anything. Just the same, because I cite known writers does not make me a “megalomaniac.” Where is the logical connection in that? Those writers simply share my ideas or I share theirs. And we share them regarding academe and the established order in general. I imagine that most of those quotes implicate Prof. Pseudo. Perhaps he should thus also be angry at Rushdie, Thoreau, Emerson, etc.? How about this one by Henry Miller? “He [man] has invented a complete catalogue of vile and scabrous epithets which he is ever ready to sling at those who think and act differently, that is, think and act as he himself would like to, if he had the courage.” Surely, those thoughts implicate Prof. Pseudo.

Prof. Pseudo, PhD—“Does “I have never been fired from a job” include not being granted tenure, or not having a contract renewed? Or is Mr. Slone limiting being “fired” to, say, being told to clean out his desk and get off campus right in the middle of a semester? I’m guessing that Mr. Slone’s “I have consistently spoken out, expressed my opinions openly and for that I’ve paid dearly regarding career and employment,” “speaking ‘rude truth’ to colleagues and administrators in higher education today automatically results in limited possibilities for future employment,” “any person calling up my former employers will likely not hear kindness from them,” and “I do not feed on collegiality and PC” boils down to his being told more than once that his services would no longer be required.

The Editor—Correct! Et alors? (And so what?) Again, a non-argument!

Prof. Pseudo, PhD—Finally, I’ve stayed away from judging Mr. Slone’s poetry because it’s not my expertise. But I can judge his prose, which is awful, fiction or non. For example, he closes his comment with, “I was indeed very naïve when I began my career several decades ago, thinking vigorous debate would be encouraged and praised. Little did I know PC would become an insidious cancer in its gut.” Note that PC is an insidious cancer not in the gut of academe, but in Mr. Slone’s career. He said it, I didn’t.

The Editor—Ah, I committed one grammatical error! Yes, let’s focus in on that! Again, it’s all a thinly veiled ploy of shooting the messenger to avoid dealing with his message. Distraction and diversion! That’s what established-order cogs do best.

Prof. Pseudo, PhD—There’s a reason why the guy is out there, banished from academe, baying at the moon.

The Editor—There’s a reason why Prof. Pseudo is out there, hiding in anonymity, and not banished from academe, and not baying at the moon! That reason is FEAR, COWARDICE, CAREERISM, AND THE OLD FAUSTIAN PACT! No thanks. I’d prefer baying at the moon any day or should I rather say any evening. Again, Prof. Pseudo fails to disprove with cogent counter-argumentation one single argument presented on The American Dissident website.

In conclusion, America had become a business. To me, America didn't even feel like a country. In such a business, it was normal that a Mongolian with a green card, for example, who did not give a damn about democracy's cornerstone, vigorous debate, would be given preference over an American citizen like me who spoke openly and freely and actually valued democracy. Business was certainly not a friend of democracy! That was normal. Yet it should not have been normal for a nation, nor should it have been normal for Academe. But Academe had become a business, co-opted by the corporate model of growth, growth, money, money, and whistleblowers be crushed! The lone critic at a college or university was always to be scorned by his or her fearful and silent colleagues. In fact, if America continued opening its doors to huge influxes of immigrants, wouldn't it be interesting to make some kind of determination as to whether or not the immigrants accepted into the country came here for democracy or rather for MONEY... and how would that affect democracy, as opposed to business, in America? Would it add to the ranks of those desiring to speak anonymously? Quite likely. Well, Prof. Pseudo must have been doing something right! After all, he was the one with the job, not I.

11 comments:

Sandy Thatcher said...

Mr. Slone, you might check your facts first. The last time I checked, I was still director of Penn State Press, not yet "retired."

I used the word "rant" because your verbiage justified that characterization--as does your reply to my comments. You engage in hyperbole and snide remarks constantly. Most people would agree that such language constitutes a rant.

Where you got the idea that university presses just publish what will appeal to "bourgeois" taste is beyond me. Clearly, you don't know the publications of university presses very well; they range all over the map, representing among other things the great regional differences that characterize our diverse nation. Ideologically, you will find presses publishing books spanning the entire political spectrum; at Penn State we publish liberals, feminists, Marxists, libertarians, conservatives, and just about every other political position you can imagine. Just browse our list and see for yourself.

You evidently don't know much about the kind of review process employed by university presses, which is a product of the interaction of acquiring editors, expert scholarly readers, and faculty editorial boards, all with their different perspectives. It includes elements of passion for innovation, subject specific expertise, and conservative respect for tradition; the outcome of any decision is a complex mixture of these three, not determined by any one alone.

G. Tod Slone said...

Reread my point on YOUR "rant" and how YOUR "verbiage" justifies that "characterization." And what about YOUR "hyperbole" vis-a-vis YOUR press and YOUR "snide comments" vis-a-vis my comments? Again, such name calling is all subjective and diversionary. Just call it rant, hyperbole, snide, whatever, and certainly do not back it up with precision and especially ignore the arguments. How do you know how "most people" think and what they'd say? Where do you come up with such inanity? Have you taken polls? You're right on one note: Rarely do I ever read what university presses publish. Most citizens do not! Universities, by nature, are established-order businesses. So why should I, a dissident citizen, be interested in what they manufacture? Yes, you publish all of those subjects and yes the libraries carry all of those subjects, but NEVER do you publish hardcore critique regarding university presses themselves and universities as businesses and professors as collegial kowtows. Marxism, feminism, and all the other isms you publish are acceptable in the university. Christ, what more do we need to know about Marxism and feminism and queer studies and lesbianism, especially when written by university Marxists, university feminists, university queers, and university dykes all well-conditioned as to what not to say by the five-year tenure process? What isn't acceptable, however, is real critique of real, particular universities! When was the last time you published such critique of U PENN? Never?! When did you publish critique of UPENN deans? Never! Again, reread my points on the so-called "experts" and peer- review process. You'd never ever have me as a peer reviewer, despite my PhD, because I speak my mind, not the university press mind or university mind. You evidently don't know anything about the dissident press or dissidence in general! You've been a company cog/a university cog for decades. How could you know about dissidence? When did you ever stand up on your hind legs against your colleague cows? So, just dismiss it all as "rant." How facile! You sound like you're trying to sell me soap or sneakers. No thanks! "All with their different perspectives," sure, but all within the paradigm of not rocking the university boat. Just open your eyes and look at how bad things have gotten in the universities over the decades you've been publishing all that university stuff. Free speech and vigorous debate, democracy's cornerstones, have all but died. Examine thefire.org if you're ignorant of this. And so much of that stuff you publish will end up in the garbage bucket in a year or two just like the NY Times bestsellers... only yours aren't even bestsellers. Yours tend to be jargon-infested, tedious reads fit for high-brow types who've never gone against the grain of society and will call anyone with the guts who does go against that grain "rant." I've tried to read some of those university press books (have you ever tried to read w/o immediate knee-jerk "rant" reaction any dissident books?), but end up quite quickly giving up. Two such books are in front of me right now: Utopian Pedagogy and Recasting the Social in Citizenship. I was going to review them for Counterpoise. But they are unreadable for the reasons already mentioned. Yes, I've been a reviewer for Counterpoise for quite a while now. It did a front cover story on me as a dissident. It is a dissident journal, not a university journal. Well, I don't think you can possibly think outside that university mold that's been feeding your face for so many years. Doubtfully you will be able to comprehend anything I state here. It will all be "rant" for you. Anything exterior to that mold must be "rant" for you or it might threaten your mental comfort zone. Stand up, as I did, and dismiss the pol Leach as a company man and look how angry you got! Again, yours is a beehive mentality. Well, at least you responded, though as a bee. Thank you.

G. Tod Slone said...

PS: It's astonishing how many so-called educated people react as you do... always with ad hominem.

G. Tod Slone said...

How about publishing a book-length version of Conversations with Professor Pseudo, PhD? Hahahaha! Many points were made in that essay, and those points you chose to ignore. Why so much pseudonymity in higher education?????????

G. Tod Slone said...

I’ve examined your website and the titles you publish and list on itHave you even looked at The American Dissident website or are you of the mindset that curiosity indeed did kill the academic? Your site is aseptic in appearance and substance. Not one item of caricature or satire can be found on it. Again, not one book critical of U PENN is listed on it. I suspect you are publicly and foundation-funded up the cahoots… or you’d go bust. I thought Peruvian Rebel might be of interest, but all you include is a list of unoriginal, mind-numbing blurbs under the title--not one example of the author’s purportedly wonderful poems. Can you not even come up with one compelling poem to fit the title?

mather said...

He can't answer you. Every answer he has is based on your acceptance of his system of heirarchy. His letter reads like a brochure for the college program, and doesn't address anything you've said. The fact that the books are published based on peer groups means nothing. They look for the least offending, lowest common denominator among each official sect and then they elect that person to be on the overall committee. I disagree with democracy in this situation. I think the best journals are run by individuals not beholden to any group at all.

G. Tod Slone said...

Well, I for one have to agree entirely with you here, M. Not only can't he answer, but I don't think his very mind will permit him to even contemplate things mentioned here.

Sandy Thatcher said...

Why should we publish a book critical of the U of Penn? I assume you know that the U of Penn is different from Penn State University--or do you? As for publishing books critical of universities, check out our book by William Dowling, gadfly of Rutgers University, titled "Confessions of a Spoilsport," Or check out the critique of the NCAA's conception of the "student-athlete" by Allen Sack in his book "Counterfeit Amateurs." We publish articles critical of universities all the time in our Journal of General Education, now over 50 years old. Regarding the book on the Peruvian Rebel, it requires special permission to post poetry online--or didn't you know that? And note who one of the blurbers is: Howard Zinn, author of that dissident classic "People's History of the United States." Finally, as to the restricted appeal of university press books, it should interest you to know that I serve as voluntary book review editor for our local newspaper, the Centre Daily Times, having books of general interest published by university presses reviewed by people in the community. You can find the reviews here: http://www.centredaily.com/living/books/. The local public library and a local bookstore cooperate in this venture by ordering copies of these books for the public to borrow or buy. Is this indicative of university presses not being able to reach out beyond the ivory tower? I have commissioned over 95 such reviews so far.

G. Tod Slone said...

First, thanks for at least manifesting a certain degree of openness to outside opinions and debate. From my experience, that is indeed unusual for someone of the university milieu. Why should you publish a book critical of any university? From my experience, corruption tends to thrive in the university milieu just as it does in the government and literary milieu. That’s why. And I’d be quite surprised if it didn’t thrive at UPenn or PSU in typical lack of democracy and forced-PC indoctrination. Indeed, for Penn State, let’s examine http://www.thefire.org/index.php/schools/1433. AND please do respond with that regard!! Of course, that’s probably only the tip of the proverbial iceberg regarding Penn State. Got you! Didn’t I? The real question remains, how could your eyes have remained so closed for three decades at Penn State? Well, if they were being paid nicely, as mentioned, that’s how. Most of the corruption that goes on in individual college and university departments is not even reported in the press. Most professors choose silence and opt for special deals to assure future employment. Few professors dare blow the whistle because of the evident career suicide in which that must ineluctably result in milieu disdainful of democracy. Corruption is perhaps rampant regarding the hiring of professors, their promotion, etc. Few states like Florida and Georgia have been deemed sunshine states, where all records are open to public scrutiny. In Massachusetts, where I dwell, college and university records are hermetically sealed to the public. How about in PA? To remain and rise in the university ranks, one must learn to see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil. If you are blinded to that self-evident truth, nothing I do or say will convince you to open your eyes. Again, salary, friends, titles, honors, retirement banquets all depend on the very firmness of ones blinders. I highly doubt you’d publish anything of what I write here or any of the many articles I’ve written highly critical of higher ed in your Journal of General Education. “General” tends to be the very term that serves to safely dilute criticism. As Simone Weil once wrote: if everyone’s guilty, then nobody’s guilty. And how right she was! Another problem with university journals are the ilk who tend to run and edit them. In other words, what occurs when they are intellectually corrupt and willfully blind to anything exterior to their mammary paradigm?
Well, regarding the Peruvian book, GET PERMISSION! Calling something great or brilliant or whatever you termed it without providing any evidence whatsoever to back that hyperbole should not be scorned in academe. Blurbs are not evidence! As for your blurber Howard Zinn, I’m not a blind admirer of his. In fact, I just did a cartoon on him last week and post it now on this blog just for you. Yesterday I wrote the following in my notes: “Our supposed radicals today, if they haven’t openly sold out, are oddly living comfortable BOURGEOIS lives and unlike most of us often with job security. Cite Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Angela Davis, and Gary Snyder, not to mention the whole lot of 60s rockers, actors, and other bullshit artistes.” The problem with Zinn is that he’s a professor emeritis and the problem with that is that to rise to such a rank in academe one must learn and obey the areas of see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil. Zinn knows that. And I suspect he’s been a collaborator in the PC scourge eating away at democracy at BU and elsewhere in Academe. BU, by the way, has even worse free-speech restricting policies than your institution. See http://www.thefire.org/index.php/codes/2515.

G. Tod Slone said...

In other words, becoming a professor emeritus is a form of selling out and that’s what Howard Zinn did. It is a dubious certification, to say the least. Personally, I found that book he wrote decades ago a bit tedious. Compare it with the Gulag Archipelago or The Oak and the Calf, two stunningly compelling works. As far as the local newspapers are concerned, read my thoughts on their being paladins of the local Chambers of Commerce here: http://wwwtheamericandissidentorg.blogspot.com/2008/12/local-journalists-paladins-of-chamber.html. Indeed, try publishing something negative about the Chamber of Commerce in the CDT. It is easy to be a volunteer when one has a job. What is needed is not more “books of general interest” reviewed by select “people of the community,” but rather more dissident books and more reviews by dissident persons of the community. Recall the ALA’s statement: “Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.” It is sad for me to note, however, that the reality of the ALA and libraries in general conforms to anything but that statement (see http://www.theamericandissident.org/ALA.htm). All in all, I am a clear, though not so present, danger to your intellectual comfort zone, which is why you will have to “forget” things noted here.

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