A Forum for Vigorous Debate, Cornerstone 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

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Wanted: State Poet Laureate

[N.B.: It is likely that many professors and poets of the established order are so insecure in their verb and rhetorical skills that they dare not engage in vigorous debate with adversaries. Besides, how can one, even if Harvard or Princeton educated, out-reason a reasonably intelligent adversary when one does not have reason on ones side?]

Applicants need to demonstrate proven success at working within the established order—politically, literarily, and academically. They need not be tenured professors, though that would be helpful since all our previous laureates have come directly from that mold. A clear record of successful conformity therefore within the poet and academic communities, as well as friendly connections with public servants and knowledge of grant writing, would certainly be pertinent. Applicants should be able to provide at least three letters of recommendation (five would be better) from well-connected community members, including those of the state chamber of commerce and state cultural council. We would prefer applicants who work well with leaders, as opposed to those who might be apt to question and challenge them. (Wave makers and boat rockers need not apply!) We have no preference with regards to an applicant’s aesthetics and taste, but are especially interested in candidates with a particular bourgeois bent and insertion. Working-class roots, however, would be of interest as long as coupled with the latter. Finally, candidates are required to appreciate diversity and multiculturalism and should be able to demonstrate they can thrive within the limitations set by political correctness.

Interested candidates should send a letter of application outlining interest, qualifications, and preparation for this unique literary position. Also, they should address how they would intend raising public awareness and interest in established-order poetry and canon. We seek candidates with especially-neutral agendas and an emerging record of bridge building. Diversity candidates are particularly encouraged to apply.

The above announcement was sent via the following email:

From: George Slone todslone@yahoo.com
To: mswander@iastate.edu; jones@iastate.edu; ferlazzo@iastate.edu; online@iastate.edu; deb-west@uiowa.edu; eptcoutreach@Lcom.net; owlglass@avalon.net; BenjaminPercy@aol.com; engldept@iastate.edu; nbowers@iastate.edu; brottman@iastate.edu; susanc@iastate.edu; jhagge@iastate.edu; sidner@iastate.edu; neiln@iastate.edu; lpoague@iastate.edu; cjpost@iastate.edu; dph@iastate.edu; shenk@iastate.edu; dwiegand@iastate.edu; gbetcher@iastate.edu; consigny@iastate.edu; bdaly@iastate.edu; demaraye@iastate.edu; cgh@iastate.edu; dkienzle@iastate.edu; mendy@iastate.edu; jminkler@iastate.edu; spett@iastate.edu
Sent: Tuesday, June 9, 2009 10:07:48 AM
Subject: Experiment in Free Speech: State Poet Laureate of Iowa Wanted

Dear English Department professors, Iowa State University, et al:
Please examine the watercolor created on Mary Swander, Poet Laureate of the State of Iowa, and Governor Chet Culver: http://wwwtheamericandissidentorg.blogspot.com/. Please do comment! After all, if poets and professors don't appreciate the importance of vigorous debate, cornerstone of democracy, then the nation is truly in deep trouble, as I fully suspect it is. Sadly, experience dictates the likelihood of even just one of you responding to be remote. Think about what that implies! Think about what it implies for students!

Also, please consider subscribing to The American Dissident, a unique literary journal (only $20/year). Your students would surely appreciate its caustic, satirical tone.

Thank you for your attention.


G. Tod Slone, PhD and Founding Editor
The American Dissident: Journal of Literature, Democracy & Dissidence
A 501 c3 Nonprofit Providing a Forum for Vigorous Debate, Cornerstone of Democracy
1837 Main St.
Concord, MA 01742


mather said...

Great cartoon, great blog! Her eyes are perfect! Perfectly inbred... Did she really claim to be allergic to the toxins of modern life? Har har! She moved in with the holier-than-thou Amish? What a great marketing move! (The Amish are really no different than most, except superficially, and the fact that they would accept someone like her does not help their cause. I've seen many Amish people shopping at Walmart in Quincy Illinois where my mother lives.) But, she couldn't abandon her precious university life! The university system IS society, it IS corporate America, universities ARE inhuman factories, why do people think there is a separation? Because the botanical gardens and the fancy brickwork (accomplished through underpaid labor) mask the filth... Do they think the Universities don't pollute the earth? Good lord, just to keep the U of A campus air-conditioned all summer takes a huge bite out of the ozone (while all the professors ride their bikes to school as if they are saving the planet)...all of the electricity that must be generated and the garbage that is produced from the cafeterias, etc., and the PAPER and all the water that is wasted... Exxon is no different than Iowa Writer's Workshop or any university in the country...never mind what it does to the minds of the young...God, it makes me sick...

I really liked your letter, very funny and well written.

lucy said...

Your portrait of Mary Swindler was wonderful! How do you know all this? Those of us who have put up with this fraud for 25 years in Ames thought we were alone in knowing the truth. Oh gawd, the stories we could tell: she can eat only frog legs, is "Amish by illness," got polio from a small fender-bender, has no thyroid because it disappeared overnight, has to zap the corners of her rooms with an ion-buster to keep from going all ahhhh, cannot give presentations at the school for children with disabilities because they presumably use more chemical there to clean up after the little boogers . . . . I could go on like this, but you'd never get the four years back it would take. She's the archetypal Irish Traveler. She exploits the Academy to protect her lies and her lack of talent.

G. Tod Slone said...

Good points on the university! Thanks much for the comments! And bravo to Lucy for responding here. I am well aware of the intense pressure NOT TO BE CRITICAL out there, especially regarding professors and poets! I did write Lucy telling her I have a secret friend in Iowa, which is how I found out about the poet laureate of Iowa. Will any of the ISU profs contacted respond?

Anonymous said...

Excellent toon Tod.

It would be interesting to hear comments from someone with connections to the Iowa University Writers Workshop. I was glad to see the button about Mary's MFA from the Writers Workshop.

I was never able to find any of Mary's poetry on line. I saw mentions of her books but not even one of her poems.

G. Tod Slone said...

Thanks much for the comments. I could not find any of her poems either. Most poets who reach the top of the established order ladder cannot present a great poem, one that would be worthy of the Nobel, poet laureate title, Pulitzer, or whatever. Pinsky's famous poem is about a shirt! I couldn't locate Iowa Writer's workshop emails. I'll have to try again. Evidently, the response would be nil. Only one professor contacted wrote me.

G. Tod Slone said...

PS: The only contact email for the workshop is deb-west@uiowa.edu. Doubtfully, that person will inform others of the workshop. The whole idea of workshop's like Iowa U's is not vigorous debate, but rather closed debate.

lucy said...

Don’t look for anyone from ISU to respond. Check out the well-documented 2008 episode of censoring graduate students’ YouTube videos. Every possible combination of individual rights and intellectual freedom was denied. As is typical of the Academy, ISU lives in fear of anything “actionable”--something they could be sued for. Mary Swindler has her bluff in on the university big-time because she claims protected status as a woman and a “sick” person. As for the Iowa Workshop, it’s nearly impossible to imagine a more pathological combination of power, sex, egos, and careerism. Not had enough of the absurd and yet regrettably true details yet? Well, here’s another: when a faculty spouse went to MS’s house to welcome her to Ames, Mary and two friends from the puppet theater came to the door wearing gas masks.

G. Tod Slone said...

Thanks for making me laugh out loud! Just what I needed! If only I'd read that prior to doing the watercolor. I would have had her holding a gas mask. Amazing! Yes, I've been testing the waters of democracy in academe for two decades now, so am well aware of just how amazingly murky they are. On rare occasions I actually do receive responses. Recently, Agni mag editor responded, though I could tell reluctantly. I'd sent him a cartoon I'd done on him. Also I got a response from the former editor of American Scholar. I'd done a cartoon on him. And I got a response from the editor of Kenyon Review. I'd done a cartoon on him, "Tuxedo Literature." I am now working on a watercolor on Ms. Mentor, Emily Toth (Chronicle of Higher Education). When I entered academe as a professor two decades ago, I was as naive as they come, thinking vigorous debate would be prevalent. How ever did things get so amazingly bad since the 60s? It's dumbfounding to me. For an amazing short video documentary on just how amazingly bad things can get in academe, watch the following: http://www.thefire.org/index.php/article/10715.html. It just came out yesterday. Thanks so much for commenting here. It has been next to impossible for me to interest anyone on corruption in academe and corruption in the literary milieu.

mather said...

Well, whoever knew when Charlottle mentioned Mary Swander that this would get so interesting...Lucy's comments are hilarious and yes, Slone I think you should make another cartoon with her in a gas mask!

Thanks Charlotte, you obviously have a sharp eye for frauds!

G. Tod Slone said...

Well, yes, we must give credit to Charlotte! Okay, since you begged for it Mather, here's the only comment I received from the profs contacted: "You expect us to write and support you in attacking our colleague? That’s rich."
(Prof. Diane Price Herndl) She is by the way a left-wing feminist, an evident hater of vigorous debate, cornerstone of democracy.

mather said...

Maybe Lucy knows the dear Diane Price Herndl?

G. Tod Slone said...

The poetry milieu (your favorite word, M) has become a rot of inbred puffery.

G. Tod Slone said...

How'd you like to sit down with this crowd: http://bagelpoetry.blogspot.com/2009/04/photo-study-of-bards-by-melissa-shook.html?

mather said...

I feel sorry for the people who work at this bagel shop or whatever it is! This looks like the kind of crowd who brings their own teabags and asks for cups of hot water and free lemon!

What a barrel of laughs!

I like the precious chapbooks on the table in front of them!

G. Tod Slone said...

Agreed entirely! That's Doug Holder's crowd of Ibbetson Press. I was hunting for a photo of Hugh Fox for a toon. I didn't know he was a lot older than me. One too many bk reviews by him got me going. His fame is that he wrote the first Book on Buk. The more I see photos of these guys and the more I look at their poetry, the less I like poetry... and I like it pretty less at this point. Give me an essay by Orwell or Solzh any time!

lucy said...

Oh yes, I know Ms. Diane (tee-dum, tee-dum) Price Herndl. George has characterized her pretty accurately. She, like most of MS’s colleagues, protect her claims to “illness” and enable her even though they themselves are battling REAL disorders, like cancer, MS, Parkinsons, insulin-dependent diabetes, and Cushings Disorder. They meet their classes, attend committee meetings, advise students, and perform all their duties without claiming any special circumstances, while MS does none of these things and is allowed to have her office in a separate building SHE has deemed “non-toxic” and permitted to meet her classes (who are direly warned against using soap or deodorant) off-campus in a local bookstore. MS found a hair stylist who would agree to not give anyone a permanent or “any other chemical treatment” for twenty-four hours before seeing Mary, who would change her clothes after leaving her salon to drive to MS’s house, and who would cut her hair on the front porch. The irony? The bookstore, unknown to MS, was directly above a hair salon where permanents and other chemical treatments were performed while she was there. This is shocking—but none the less true—MS did not go all ahhh. Hey, I got a million on them.

G. Tod Slone said...

Great account! From my experience, higher ed tends to attract profs like MS.

G. Tod Slone said...

If you ever get mad at me again, check out the following: http://ianthal.blogspot.com/2007_02_01_archive.html

mather said...

That stuff about MS is priceless! It's almost hard to believe...

Yes, I read that Ian blog stuff a long time ago, I think it was he who called you retarded...

But I'm sure I will never get mad at you again.

lucy said...

Yes, it seems beyond truth and reason and yet I assure you that EVERY word is true. We've probably reached over-load here but I could go on for a decade or two. And people wonder what is wrong with contemporary poetry. It's "written" by frauds, poets manqué, careerists, and egomaniacs enabled by the Academy.

G. Tod Slone said...

I couldn't have said it better about those who tend to write poetry today! If ever you'd like to write a little essay on your favorite poet, MS and/or Iowa Writer's Workshop, please do send it my way. As you probably know, I publish a lit journal twice per year and I'm always desperate to find critical essays written in the style you've been writing here. No-holds-barred! Desperate because of the overwhelming plethora of backslapping, self-congratulating writing. Do incorporate the comments you've made here in the essay if ever you do decide to write one.

mather said...

Funny how this has to be done under cover as if if Lucy was discovered she might be dismissed from her job position.

How can Sanders be dealth with? A silver knife through the heart? Does she have a heart? Will her Amish friends come to her rescue if she is attacked? Those Amish are real scrappers...or so I've heard.

G. Tod Slone said...

Well, you've hit it on the nail. Academics are constantly talking behind closed doors. It's amazing to me... though perhaps not if one values job over dignity... as most tend to do.

Some anonymous prof has hammered me and the AD website. http://chronicle.com/review/brainstorm/katz/jim-leach-at-neh?commented=1#c018968

Note that he attacked me first, yet I'm the one accused of being hostile.

I think it's time that gangs of hecklers be created to storm graduating ceremonies across the nation just as PC-hecklers do regarding conservative speakers. We need gangs to storm the poetry readings too.

lucy said...

Hey, I’m not hiding anything nor am I afraid to speak out. I’m not in the Academy. I work in law enforcement. I’m an old hippie, a leftist-leaning voter who disdains political correctness—disdains any sort of dogma for that matter. I just abhor frauds and others who manipulate the system, like Ms. Swindler does. I might as well admit that after getting a doctorate in English years ago, I fled the university system. Students in English once received a comprehensive education in the history of our language and of British and American Literature. Now, they’re offered a hodge-podge of Women’s Studies, Queer Studies, and such. I’m not opposed to these things, I just believe they belong in Anthropology or Sociology. The study of the text has been replaced by “theory,” which disdains the author and, essentially and ironically, the text as well. What the heck happened to English Departments? They were done in by one faddish con after another. I don’t mind complaining. Remember that Eliot claimed “The Waste Land” was just a grouse about life.

G. Tod Slone said...

Well, I'm certainly not referring to you Lucy. Maybe Mather was, trying to provoke and that's not such a bad thing. I'm just happy you responded! In that sense, you're a definite rarity. Ditto on that for me: "I’m an old hippie, a leftist-leaning voter who disdains political correctness—disdains any sort of dogma for that matter." You, me, and Orwell! Excellent point on Anthropology! I don't know what happened to higher ed. It really did get subverted. I've got a doctorate from a French university and can't find another job. My 3 letters of recommendation are as old as I am. I've always caused a stir when employed by a college or university. So now I reap the harvest. I'm not complaining. Just stating how it is. In my next blog, I'm going to dissect the commentary RE this website of an anonymous professor. I was just working on my "60s Sellout" page today. I'm still amazed to see how so many of our generation got so easily swallowed whole. http://www.theamericandissident.org/Sellouts.htm

Doug said...

Now, Now Todd and Mather was that nice to say about the Bagel Bards-- and by the way they love us there we buy a lot of food and they put a plaque up for us, and the Boston Globe came recently to interview us...Now Todd and Mather you are welcome to join us we will buy you a cup of tea but bring your own lemon--

your pal/


susana said...

Thats great cartoon & also excellent article...
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