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 25, 2009

PC and Poetry; Ad Hominem Redux and Orthodoxy

For The American Dissident, Journal of Literature, Democracy, and Dissidence, go to http://www.theamericandissident.org/.


Orthodoxy means not thinking - not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness. Anyone who challenges the prevailing orthodoxy finds himself silenced with surprising effectiveness by wealthy men who have every motive to be dishonest on certain important topics.
—George Orwell

The above satirical sketch, a proposed Rattle cover, was inspired by a post-card advertisement for Rattle, which I received from Rattle, quite unoriginally featuring, given today's PC grip on the nation's psyche, Afro-American Poets. Perhaps a little more original would have been Multi-Millionaire Afro-American Poets, featuring, for example, Rita Dove, Maya Angelou, Nikki Giovanni, and maybe Amiri Baraka. Ah, but that would have countered the prevailing PC orthodoxy.

First, for Tim Green, salaried editor of Rattle, allow me to present myself. I have a doctorate from the Universite de Nantes (France) and have spent much of my adult life teaching college courses in both America and France, sometimes on the tenure track, sometimes off it. Prior to that I did spend a number of years doing other things including welding at a shipyard, monitoring radiation at a sub base, carpentry, bank examining for the FDIC, translating for the 24 Heures du Mans auto race, check proofing for a bank, etc. True, I can’t hold a job. True, I tend to speak where others tend to wear muzzles. True, the others will and have called me names because I tend to speak when they tend to wear muzzles. And since you wondered, I live in Concord, Massachusetts. That’s no secret.

Second, thanks for manifesting the courage to post criticism of Rattle and you on your site: http://timothy-green.org/blog/2009/06/a-real-caricature. My experience indicates most literary editors would not manifest similar courage and openness to vigorous debate, democracy’s cornerstone. Agni’s editor recently told me he would not. And I told him that was the crux of the problem. If you want proof of that, just ask, though I will soon be doing a blog entry on that exchange.

ALL of what you write on your blog is ad hominem-type empty rhetoric. Even the title of it is thinly-veiled ad hominem: “A Real Caricature.” If only somehow someday you might actually discover that has been your modus operandi, you could make a giant leap forward intellectually. You manage in that rather long blog entry to produce not one cogent argument against any arguments I put forth anywhere, including in the satirical sketch on Rattle. You rely on name calling and “we” or “the general consensus.” BTW, what is your educational background? How did your teachers and/or professors fail to educate you in the importance of logical argumentation, as opposed to facile ad hominem (name calling) and herd mentality, as in “the general concensus”?

As previously mentioned, ad hominem does seem to have become a rather common modus operandi adopted by educated people today, that is, when their particular orthodoxies are questioned and challenged. Orthodoxy by nature must run counter to truth. The PC orthodoxy (e.g., the diversity mantra) you seem to espouse runs counter to truth. It is not at all difficult to find fault with any orthodoxy. My satirical sketch on Rattle questions and challenges the PC orthodoxy. Since you did not seem to understand it, I’ll briefly explain it: You and Rattle lack the courage to expose the failings of that orthodoxy, the failings in its logic. In other words, if it’s fine to do an issue on black poets, then why is it NOT fine to do an issue on white poets, using the words WHITE POETS? I thought that would be quite simple, that anyone could understand it… and even agree with it. But logic always fails with the orthodox.

You call me “tertiary character, “crated dog” with “ineffectual yapping,” and on and on and on. Did you take a course on cutesy ad hominem metaphorical combinations in college? Is that what they’re teaching today? Try raising yourself above such facile, childish rhetoric. It’s nothing but base name calling. It’s shooting the messenger in an effort to dismiss his message or messages. Try thinking instead! It is far too easy to fall into the ad hominem mind trap, which is why I make a conscious effort to try to avoid it. And I’m first to admit that I’m not always successful in that endeavor. However, never have I written an essay so utterly replete with ad hominem as your blog entry! Sadly, parents today do not seem to be teaching their children that “sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never harm me.” Instead, they’ve been teaching them to lack spine and cry “offensive!” regarding anything they do not like. This is PC-encouraged behavior. It is your behavior. For more on ad hominem and for more names I’ve been called, see www.theamericandissident.org/AdHominem.htm. Henry Miller, whom I’m sure you admire, wrote “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.”

Do open your mind and take a look at the war PC orthodoxy, your orthodoxy, is currently waging on college campuses across the nation against the First Amendment and vigorous debate. See thefire.org. The evidence is there for you to examine. No ad hominem. Just evidence. BTW and fortunately, the PC orthodoxy has been losing that battle in the nation’s courts of law.

It is sad that you would dismiss vigorous debate, cornerstone of democracy, as a mere “catch phrase.” It is sad because you’ve gone through the entire educational process in America only to end up with that scornful idea of democracy in your head. Why is Megan, whoever she might be, so fearful and/or disdainful of discussion (i.e., vigorous debate, democracy’s cornerstone)? What is the point of debating with someone who agrees with ones opinions? None at all. We need to debate with those possessing different opinions. Even CNN and Fox know that. Wake up, Megan, or is it too late?

Regarding your “general concensus” comment, Tim, did you have statistics to support it? Far too many educated persons think that if the “general concensus” is what they speak, they are therefore right. But in effect, that is simply a manifestation of the herd mentality. For you, I cite Henrik Ibsen, “The majority never has right on its side. Never, I say! That is one of these social lies against which an independent, intelligent man must wage war.”

BTW, I cite well-known authors, now and then, here and there, who share my ideas because more often than not those like you will generally never belittle via ad hominem well-known authors.

What you state regarding my alleged “false accusations” is really nothing short of outright prevarication. Shame on you! You clearly know that those “accusations” were two simple errors, not purposefully made at all, which I did rectify and for which you thanked me. If you want proof of that assertion, let me know, since I’ve saved all of our correspondence. Again, rather than challenging any of the ideas presented in that Best American Poetry review of mine, which you evidently liked at the time, but didn’t have the courage to publish in the print journal, you seek to divert attention from them. It is amazing that you would include this link www.theamericandissident.org/Reviews-Rattle.htm, as if it were somehow evidence against me. Yet it serves as clear evidence against you, and you cannot even see it. Wow. “Huffy” you call me. You can’t resist, can you? It’s built into your mind. How sad. Try refuting this blog comment w/o resorting to any ad hominem-type rhetoric. Go on. Just see if you can do it. I bet you can’t… because you wouldn’t have anything to say.

You state I state that “The poetry world is run by a bunch of academic/PC gatekeepers, too comfortable in their cushy jobs to be willing to rock the boat. There’s a small kernel of truth to it…” In effect, that’s basically right, though not in my words. The poetry world has become largely co-opted by the bourgeois mentality of proper taste and aesthetics. Why are all, or almost all, of the Academy of American Poets chancellors tenured professors living the bourgeois dream of job security and monetary comfort? My arguments must be pretty damn potent to get someone like you to actually admit to a miniscule “kernel of truth” in them! Thank you for the admission. Then you ad more ad hominem, more name calling (e.g., “love-child of Chatty-Cathy and the Energizer Bunny”).

What matters to me, and evidently not to you, is not the color of the poet’s skin, or the poet’s nationality, or the poet’s sexual orientation, but rather whether or not the poet actually has the guts to stand up as an individual and speak truth to power, as opposed to sitting as a herd member of a protected species kissing power’s ass. For you, just call it Afro-American, and it must inevitably be good.

Finally, you stated “In any event, I do appreciate debate, and your vigor -- although from what I gather you probably want to debate that, haha...” And you are right that I would debate that because this has not been a debate of ideas at all. The only thing you’ve offered is vacuous name calling. In that sense, you behave as a child. I’m sort of surprised.

31 comments:

Tim said...

"Again, rather than challenging any of the ideas presented in that Best American Poetry review of mine, which you evidently liked at the time, but didn’t have the courage to publish in the print journal, you seek to divert attention from them."

This is one of the false accusations I was talking about, and you keep making it. For the last time, we'd already ceased publishing reviews in print before we accepted your review for publication. We haven't published a single review in print in two years. It has nothing to do with courage or your review, and everything to do with our decision that all print reviews are an ineffective waste of space.

G. Tod Slone said...

First, bravo! You actually didn't call me names. I'm glad I've managed to sensitize you with that regard. Fine with that review, dating back several years now. Okay, so you stopped publishing reviews, which is why you said you didn't publish it. That ends that false accusation, since I no longer accuse you of it... though really only partially... because I doubt you would have published it anyhow... and we'll never get the truth out of you with that regard... just a few ad hominems maybe. Now, where is the other unresolved "false accusation." It takes a minimum of two for a plural. Again, you skirt the real issue here, which is not my purported false accusations, but rather the fact that most established order mags like yours do not encourage vigorous debate, do not seek exterior criticism, tend to be PC in mindset, tend to woo the icons, as opposed to questioning and challenging them, etc. It does therefore have everything to do with courage--the courage to buck the system, the courage to go against the grain, and the courage to rock the boat. Courage because you know damn well those kinds of actions and writing do not lead to positions as salaried editor, grants, invitations, publications, etc. You're paid not to publish writing that might upset readers, your sponsors, and your employers. And that generally means not upsetting the bourgeois established order. And that is where you've made a Faustian deal: salary for towing the line. On the other hand, I am much more independent then you will ever be because I am not earning a salary as an editor and have created the journal, whose very purpose IS to upset the established order. And clearly that order is in dire need of upsetting.

mather said...

Bukowski said a long time ago that the only group it was safe to make fun of was the white American male. If there ever was a tribute to the white American male in a journal it would probably be a tongue-in-cheek, making-fun-of-him issue. What a dope that white guy is! So uncool!

G. Tod Slone said...

Agreed, M. I was wondering if you'd dare come out on this entry, considering it was RATTLE. And that would have been fine by me. Did you check the RATTLE blog on the issue?

mather said...

Yes, I chimed in over there on Tim's blog. We'll see if he ever publishes me again...

G. Tod Slone said...

I say good for you! New AD just out! I feature NewPages.com on front cover. Anyhow, how is it not working? Must be a great relief for you. Christ, we all need those reliefs! So good for those who dare take them.

mather said...

I am enjoying my unemployment period immensely. As you know, however, I am not getting a compensation check in the mailbox or anywhere else. It's been about two and half months now and my girlfriend is beginning to look at me funny. Yesterday she asked the dreaded question: "Decidiste que vas a hacer?"

Meaning: When the hell are going to go back to work you bum?

G. Tod Slone said...

Too bad about the unemployment benefits. I was getting a nice $250 check each week for a while from Louisiana. But all good things tend to disappear. I guess Rattle discovered your last name. Tim mentions you and uses you to argue that Rattle is open to anything "decent and interesting," even from someone sharing some of Tod's ideas. But what the fuck is "decent and interesting"? According to Garp (or Tim) of course! Decent sounds like another one of those bourgeois terms like good taste. How could I ever submit something to Rattle that would be "decent and interesting"? Impossible. And I don't really give a shite because I'm sure Rattle is as dull as the next well-funded PC lit rag. Enjoy the day. I'm working on that now.

G. Tod Slone said...

When did you call Rattle like fucking a styrofoam doll? What a great description! He mentions you in the blog

mather said...

I was actually talking about most contest-winning poems, and I said reading them was like fucking a styrofoam mannequin. I remember you remarking on it when I wrote it. Green's got the link there in his comment. It's from Monday, Sept. 22nd last year and it's in a comment I made on your blog.

I've been watching the battle over there. You've got them all riled up! I love it! Sandee Lyles called you an ass! You're in trouble now... It's your tone again...God, that tone is so INFURIATING! Ha ha...

On this I agree with you. The black issue was just a PC way to reach out to black readership and get more black subscriptions.

I liked what you said about how pointless it is to be proud of your race, as if you had anything to do with how you were born. Also, when white people show pride in being white they are absolutely termed racist, or at least thought of as racists, I think that is a great statement by you.

mather said...

So now Jim Varvis has stepped in on Green's blog, ha ha...I particularly love that he has to tell us that he has since been nominated for a Pushcart prize several times! Wowzers! Getting nominated for a Pushcart prize is like getting an envelope in the mail that says: YOU JUST WON A MILLION DOLLARS!

And now they're calling you a racist again. People really like to latch onto that with you, which is funny. It's one of the easiest ways possible to escape whatever argument might be presented, it is a huge politically correct ad hominem: "He's a racist, therefor nothing he says can have any merit."

mather said...

Did you leave town or something? Or maybe you're out beating up black people?

mather said...

Getting worried about you, old timer...what's going on? Not like you to be this quiet...

mather said...

This seems strange to me...Charlotte, are you reading? Any idea what happened to George?

Tim said...

I'm getting a little worried, too -- how unusual is it for him to be silent for two weeks?

mather said...

Pretty much unheard of for him to be silent this long...very odd...hope his health is ok...

Charlotte W. said...

I have not heard from him lately. Last time I heard he sounded very depressed but that was before this last blog entry.

Perhaps he took a ship assignment. He mentioned recently that he might do that again.

mather said...

It occurred to me that he might have gone on a ship assignment too, but he didn't mention anything like that before hand...

mather said...

I mean, Charlotte, I didn't hear him mention it, maybe you did...

mather said...

I got the word from one of Slone's friends that Slone is out of town, possibly in Europe. I guess he's fine.

Charlotte W. said...

Tod must be out of town in some remote island without internet access. I don't buy the Europe location either.

My bet is that he is either on a depression bender or in jail somewhere. Darn, I hope he bounces back or gets out soon and will join us here again.

Molly Ivins gave some good advice that dissidents should remember.

"So keep fightin' for freedom and justice, beloveds, but don't forget to have fun doin' it. Lord, let your laughter ring forth. Be outrageous, ridicule the fraidy cats, rejoice in all the odditities that freedom can produce. And when you get through kickin' ass and celebratin' the sheer joy of a good fight, be sure to tell those who come after you how much fun it was."

...Molly Ivins

mather said...

I agree Charlotte, seems strange...only person I knew of to ask said he THOUGHT Slone was in Europe or somewhere...so who knows...but I thought internet was pretty much everywhere now...and to walk away from an argument on Tim's blog like that...uncharacteristic...

I guess he'll turn up when he gets hungry...

Charlotte W. said...

Mather, in the meantime and perhaps in addition to Tod's, have you set up a blog for an alternative meeting place for assorted "dissidents"?

mather said...

No, I don't have a blog and don't plan on setting one up...sorry...

G. Tod Slone said...

Hey Mather,
Thanks much for those comments on Rattle! I’ve been out of action for a month. Now I’m back. Thanks Charlotte. I’ll get going on another blog this week. I'm also going to check out the Rattle one.
T.

mather said...

Welcome back.

mather said...

I just read your post on Green's blog and wish you would have been around a month ago...I'm afraid it's gone cold now and doubt if you'll be able to get a rise out of Jim...I could be wrong...but even if you do Tim will erase it. Why are people so afraid of a little spirited exchange? I really don't understand it...what harm does it do to let people get a little loose-tongued and angry if they feel like it? It's just a blog, just words...but it's very common for the head honchos to freak out at the first sign of temper...they just shut the whole thing down...the other day I got kicked off the Bukowski.net forum for criticizing Steve Richmond...I'm not kidding...I was only a member for less than a month...ha ha...

Yes, Tim erased the last round of comments on the Buk Myth. I will reproduce them here. More or less.

Cafais: Don't worry who I am, Mather, OK? I'm a voice in the wilderness. Yes, you are a Bukowski impersonator but actually you are not the Bukowski impersonator I was referring to with my former snide remark. I didn't name names because I didn't want to get into it, and besides such vagueness and slipperiness of meaning will insure I will not be held accountable for my words. I also refuse to give you my true identity because that would result in a level playing field. Suffice it to say I have noticed that Bukowski is a big influence on young (and not so young) angry poets. Why do you think that is? Now I am going to iron my panties...

Sandee: Why's come y'all just cain't get along like normals folks?

Me: Cafais, if you didn't want to "get into it" then you shouldn't have opened your sanctimonious mouth. Sandee, debate is ugly, good debate anyway, that's the nature of it, people who disagree aren't going to like each other or particularly care to pull their punches...

There were a few other things but you get the picture...there was absolutely nothing worth erasing.

Glad you're back old timer and I guess I'll hear the story if you choose to tell me.

Charlotte W. said...

oh...... I just missed your entrance. I have checked from time to time. Glad you are back Tod.

Glad to see that Mather is still around too.

susana said...

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