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

Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Minnesota Review

Experiment in Democracy: Virginia Tech & Carnegie Mellon University

Janell Watson, French professor at Virginia Tech, has just replaced Jeffrey Williams, English professor at Carnegie Mellon University, as editor of The Minnesota Review, which seeks to publish “provocation,” “politically-engaged criticism,” and “committed writing.”

The foreign-language faculty at Virginia Tech and English faculty at Carnegie Mellon University were thus contacted and invited to comment on this blog (http://wwwtheamericandissidentorg.blogspot.com/2010/01/blog-post.html) or via email in the name of vigorous debate, cornerstone of democracy. As expected, not one of them responded. Careerism, fear of speaking out, turning a blind eye, requisite sycophancy, collegiality, indifference to democracy, and creative rationalization for such traits are sadly widespread in academe today.

Notice of this blog was also sent to the editors of the student newspapers of Tech and CM, though my experience has been that most such papers are run by student-editor sycophant shadows of their English professor advisors and equally indifferent to free speech and vigorous debate. Indeed not one of them responded.

What really irks me, as an American citizen/poet, are hypocritical literary journals boasting political engagement. Potomac and Guernica come to mind. The editor of the former, Charles Rammelkamp, noted regarding the quotes I’d sent him authored by, amongst others, Thoreau, Orwell, Havel, Emerson, Solzhenitsyn, Mandelstam, Zola, and Mary Harris Jones: “what a laundry list of tired ‘revolutionary’ quotations.” As for the editor of Guernica, Joel Whitney, he favors publishing interviews of established-order poets, including Pinsky and Collins (see cartoon at www.theamericandissident.org/AdHominem.htm).

What provoked me to submit several caustic reviews on Poets & Writers Magazine and the Pushcart Prize Anthology to The Minnesota Review was the following statement in The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Paul Buhle called [The Minnesota Review] ‘the standard-bearer for dissenting views on American literature and culture,’ read by his students at Brown with ‘near-religious fervor,’ outlasting ‘nearly all of the journals of its type founded in the 1960s and 70s.’” When my reviews came back rejected with not a comment, not an iota of interest or even combative questioning and challenging from editor Janell Watson, my mind automatically began cogitating an idea for a literary cartoon. At first, I was going to depict Buhle, Watson, and outgoing-editor Jeffrey J. Williams. But when I hunted for a photo of Watson, I came across her website, which depicted Delacroix’s famous painting of Marianne, symbol of the French Revolution.

Interestingly, the painting was truncated to avoid exposing Marianne’s breasts and with Janell Watson’s name brandished upon it. So, here I thought we have a professor pairing herself with the symbol of revolution but fearful of OFFENDING (i.e., censoring female breasts). On further examination, I noticed all of the French professors in her department used the same truncated Delacroix motif. Did they have a choice?

Moreover, Virginia Tech with Stalinist-poet Nikki Giovanni (see cartoon http://www.theamericandissident.org/LitToons/Giovanni.jpg) was known for its PC-professorial brigades and indoctrination programs (see http://thefire.org/case/25). Thus, the cartoon was created. My purpose is simply to expose fraud and brandish TRUTH, as opposed to avoiding at all costs inflicting sorrow upon the spineless and easily offended. If The Minnesota Review had any courage and interest in real controversy and provocation, it would publish the cartoon. Of course, that thought is simply a pipedream.


Bob said...

For another picture of what a vile individual Nikki Giovanni is see this discussion of the terrible murders at Virginia Tech and how she was one of the people who had most abused the misfit student who became the murderer:


I am *not* saying she was responsible for the murders. The murderer is responsible for his crimes. But her abuse was certainly one of the things that contributed to his violence.

Unrelated: How do you support yourself? (Make enough money for rent and food?) Do you have a regular job of some kind? I am another unemployed PhD, on the bring on homelessness and don't know what to do. I would be happy to work as a file clerk but can't even get a job doing that.

G. Tod Slone said...

Yeah, I recall Giovanni was the spokesperson after the massacre. Again, what ticked me off with her regard is that cartoon of mine. How does she get away telling her black students that white students can be fools? She gets away with bein an open RACIST in a public institution.
As for me, well, I've been teaching off and on for over two decades, so I have savings plus I don't pay rent and more important I live like Thoreau, sleep on the floor... very simply.
How did you find this blog?

G. Tod Slone said...

The reason I get find work now is because I've always been vocal at the institutions employing me. And as we both know that goes directly against the grain of what a professor is supposed to do and be: sycophant, turning a blind eye, etc.

G. Tod Slone said...

Here is what Charles Rammelkamp, editor of Potomac (A Journal of Poetry and POLITICS) just wrote me: "Wait, aren’t you the dude with the Ph.D.? The guy who forgot to stop going to school and who therefore rages against “academics”? I have no quarrel with academics. That seems to be your hang-up. Get a life, George!"

“Get a life!” I suppose I could laugh. But it’s really sad, not so funny. So many educated people have somehow learned during their years of schooling in America not the art of intelligent, logical point-by-point counter-argumentation, but just playground name calling. How does academe manage to produce so many like Rammelkamp? Criticizing academe seems to have become a convenient taboo even for those open to politics like him. It makes sense, of course, that academics (though he isn’t an academic) want their ivory tower to be a taboo area for criticism. Howard Zinn, of course, comes to mind. Academe does, however, represent the very intellectual corps of the corrupt nation. If we don’t begin to shake it up, the nation will simply continue its less-than-glorious fall. We need to somehow slow down academe’s mass production of “ad hominoids” a la Rammelkamp.

Now, here’s what I wrote to Rammelkamp in response to his comment: “If you only knew how UNORIGINAL your comments are and how UNORIGINAL your very mind is! No point in countering your vacuous ad hominem.”

And here’s his response to that : “Fuck you.”

And that sort of says it all.

mather said...

Ah yes, the "get a life" line! Ha ha. What that means of course is: get a nice job and pretend to hate it while actually doing everything in the world to keep it; get a dozen kind of stupid, normal friends who agree with you on almost everything; talk to these friends daily and go out to eat with them and to movies; drink no more than 3 beers at a sitting. Visit Borders Books on Sundays and sit in the cafe and stare at a slim volume of meaningless poetry or simply look blankly into the air. Don't think too much or feel too much. Go to bed at a decent hour so as not to affect your job. Brush your teeth three times a day and mind your blood sugar. That's the life!

mather said...

Were you joking when you said about Rammelkamp "(though he isn't an academic)"? I use the term "academic" to describe a mindset, not necessarily a job or background, but Rammelkamp is indeed a former professor.

mather said...

By the way, I liked the cartoon. I especially like her face, so ugly, your cartoons are like "grotesques" which to me perfectly reflect their greedy, half-deal souls.

Charlotte said...

Tod, this cartoon gets another thumbs down from me. That's two in row. Both of them stink imo.

Why in the world did you add a hammer and sickle on that cartoon?
That cartoon looked like something that could have been created by some old time follower of Joe McCarthy.

And why in the world would you think she should have a bare breast woman graphic on her faculty page?

Neither of those things make any sense to me. And cartoon sure isn't funny if by some extremely remote chance you had humor in mind.

Did I understand you right that you were mad at her since she didn't respond to an email from you? She doesn't know you, does she? Its pretty common for people to delete email messages from unknown senders without even opening them.

I'm disapointed to read the Mather liked your cartoon.

Charlotte said...

eheBob, if you are giving your advanced education or any high paid experience when you are applying for a job that doesn't require that type of qualifications, you are almost guaranteeing that you won't be hired.

If you have already revealed your education status to most employers in your area, your bridges may be already completely burned as far as getting lower level employment. If there are temporary employment agencies where you live, that rotten type of employment could help you with survival income.

In hard times and when the money runs out, you might need to resort to alternative plans. You just can't give the impression that you are overqualified for some low paid job that could temporarily help you. If you are in a small town, even if you don't want to move, you will have to consider moving to where you can find paid work.

Sometimes you have to do things that you don't like in order to stay independent. Sounds like you are willing to work at other things. Best wishes.

G. Tod Slone said...

Rammel told me he wasn't an academic. I didn't know he was a former prof. I didn't respond after he wrote "Fuck You." Then he wrote again, told me I could have the last word, so I did, but then he wrote again. Well, M, I think you really understand me now and what I've been up against fighting these characters. And you're right, academic is a definite mindset.
Well, that's a great compliment and I sure as hell can use compliments: the "grotesques". Yes, I like that. Are you perhaps referring a tad to Goya? I've thought of mimicking his black darkness, but then I thought bright color adds to the confusion and inanity.
Charlotte, well I pleased Mather. Evidently, one cannot please everyone especially with criticism. Good, you've given me details. Usually, I don't get details, just general disapproval a la ad hominem. I can't work with the latter, but I can work with details. The hammer & sickle bring to mind Stalin and left-wing dictatorship. The PC mindset is Stalinian. If this isn't clear, hit me with another detail.
As far as the bare breasts are concerned, the painting that she has on her webpage has bare breasts. Why should she truncate that part of the painting? The French revolutionaries were not ashamed of bared breasts! We are dealing with adults at colleges, not little children. And we are dealing with a piece of historical art. If you do not or she does not like bare breasts, then choose another painting w/o bare breasts! But don't censor the part of the painting you don't like. In case you're unfamiliar with Delacroix's painting, you can view it here: http://www.skidmore.edu/academics/fll/janzalon/revolution/delacroix1.jpg. It's called LIBERTY LEADING THE PEOPLE! And it is difficult to consider PC as LIBERTY and leading the people. I am not "mad" at her or at anyone else. Why must a satirical cartoonist be MAD or ANGRY or BITTER? Those epithets only serve to crush criticism. The explanation as to why I did this cartoon is in the blog and pretty clear, so I'm not going to repeat it here. Thanks for responding Charlotte. Are you MAD at me? Hahaha.

Charlotte said...

Tod, not everyone has time or interest in engaging in long drawn out "logical point-by-point counter-argumentation", in this blog or in response emails from you.

You wrote: "When my reviews came back rejected with not a comment, not an iota of interest or even combative questioning and challenging from editor Janell Watson, my mind automatically began cogitating an idea for a literary cartoon."

If you received your review back from Minnesota Review indicating that it has been rejected, I wonder what the email said? I assume it said something or you would not know it was rejected.

In the first place, your submission was sent during a transition time for the editor of Minnesota Review, wasn't it? You really have no way of knowing if Janell ever saw what you wrote. You have no way of knowing her work load or what was already accepted to be published. I think you expect too much if you hoped to engage a busy editor in some long drawn out email dialog.

I had not noticed the following on your blog before today:


Locate what you may believe to be errors in my satirical sketches and essays, and I will rectify them, if in fact errors, and readily admit wrong for each and every one of them. To dismiss the sketches and essays, however, with childish ad hominem quips simply serves to deflect attention from their truths. When you choose to dismiss me as "angry" and
"bitter," one must assume you are simply reflecting your own anger and bitterness. Try instead logical point-by-point counter-argumentation.
-G. Tod Slone

As far as this blog goes, if I give an opinion on anything here, that is exacting what I am intending to do, give an opinion. I could care less if you or anyone else would call my comments to be ad hominem or not.

In my experience, it has been people who seem to think they are superior who throw up the weepy cry of "ad hominem" when challenged by some criticism that they don't like.

Again, I think your criticism of the graphic on Janell's Virginia Tech faculty page is just plain stupid. I think it looks real good. How could you design that exact page and still manage to present the entire historic painting? Get real!

G. Tod Slone said...

So, you are suggesting that those who do not have time to respond with logical point-by-point argumentation should just call me angry or a loser. Hmm. What can I say to that? You are making some incorrect assumptions. Below is the email received from Watson to prove my point regarding those assumptions. If she never saw what I wrote, why would she send the email? Why would the Review request submissions, then not even bother to read them? Where is the logic in that, Charlotte? If she is too busy, then she shouldn’t have volunteered to take over the job as editor. And if she does not want controversy and criticism, let her make that stipulation. Or if she does not want provocation regarding academe and professors, let her make that stipulation! Obviously, you’re not interested in these points. You’re just angered over that cartoon. You still didn’t respond to my counter-arguments regarding why Howard Zinn shouldn’t be criticized. I don’t know why the breast cartoon angers you so much. Only you can discover the reason. “Again, I think your criticism of the graphic on Janell's Virginia Tech faculty page is just plain stupid,” you state. Why is it STUPID? Clearly, it makes some points. Your argument about censoring the breasts is a feeble one at best.
Thanks for the comments, just the same.

From: Janell Watson
To: George Slone
Sent: Fri, January 29, 2010 12:52:59 PM
Subject: RE: Hardcore criticism
Dear Dr. Sloane,
Thank you very much for submitting your essays on Pushcart and Poets and Writers to the minnesota review. I have now had a chance to look at your submissions, and regret to say that they are not a good fit for our journal. While your essays are very interesting and provocative, they would be better suited to another literary magazine or journal.
Dr. Janell Watson, Associate Professor of French
Incoming Editor, The Minnesota Review

Charlotte said...

Tod, I think she gave a very reasonable comment. You wanted more, too bad.

From: Janell Watson
To: George Slone
Sent: Fri, January 29, 2010 12:52:59 PM
Subject: RE: Hardcore criticism
Dear Dr. Sloane,

Thank you very much for submitting your essays on Pushcart and Poets and Writers to the minnesota review. I have now had a chance to look at your submissions, and regret to say that they are not a good fit for our journal. While your essays are very interesting and provocative, they would be better suited to another literary magazine or journal.

Dr. Janell Watson, Associate Professor of French
Incoming Editor, The Minnesota Review

Yes, I will repeat that I think your criticism of the graphic on Janell's faculty page is just plain Stupid!!! And I don't have any interest in discussing that point further.

台灣 said...

very popular to u!..............................