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

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Saramago... muerte

Nosotros estamos asistiendo a lo que llamaría la muerte del ciudadano y, en su lugar, lo que tenemos y, cada vez más, es el cliente. Ahora ya nadie te pregunta qué es lo que piensas, ahora te preguntan qué marca de coche, de traje, de corbata tienes, cuánto ganas…
—José Saramago, El Mundo, Madrid, 6 de diciembre de 1998

Saramago died yesterday at 86. I liked some of his writing and posted an essay of his a decade ago on The AD web page en espanol (see http://www.theamericandissident.org/CriticalEssays/Saramago.htm).

The cartoon above was sketched about a decade ago also. As with all rich and famous writers and poets, things are not always as ideal as depicted. They are flying Saramago's arse all the way to Lisboa from Lanzarote in the Canarias in a very expensive looking coffin where they will incinerate him, then throw his ashes to the wind. What a waste of money, especially for a devout atheist like Saramago! The communist Saramago doesn’t make much sense here, unless of course one can and does divide communists into the wealthy and the not-so wealthy. By the way, I've been to Lanzarote, an amazing island of volcanic beauty... other worldly. In fact, it was where Planet of the Apes was filmed. Get there, if ever you can!

15 comments:

Spencer Troxell said...

Cremation is the way to go. Of course, it would be my luck that when I finally get to visit some beautiful and exotic island it would be from the comfort of an ash tray.

Is there any other way to divide communists than the super rich and super poor? Communism is such bullshit. Just another creepy religion.

G. Tod Slone said...

Actually, Lancerote is like an ashtray. Vast landscapes of black volcanic ash. Yes, it is an ideology.

Spencer Troxell said...

I didn't know who Saramago was before he died, but I ran into a copy of 'Blindness' at Half Price Books after I read this, so I bought it. I'll probably try to read it this weekend.

G. Tod Slone said...

Not sure how that's going to read, Blindness. I liked his essays best. I tried getting into one of his novels, but died halfway through. Good luck on it.

Spencer Troxell said...

There are a lot of writers who I prefer to read essays from. Usually they're the ideological ones, like Orwell and Pamuk. When I know that what the writer is really trying to get across is an essentially political or philosophical message, I prefer to just dispense with all of the dressing up that they do when they build stories around their points. I could see how Saramago would be one of those guys, but I'm really not interested in reading about the virtues of communism. The way some of the revolutionary writers from the Che-days write about that ideology is pretty frustrating to read for me. I want writers to be doubters and iconoclasts. When I read Langston Hughes saying 'We can all be red', I'm embarrassed. It's like a whole generation of supposed-to-be gadflies had been hoodwinked by door to door evangelists.

Would you recommend a specific essay by Saramago?

G. Tod Slone said...

Excellent commentary, Spencer! Can you recommend a Pamuk essay? As for Saramago, the essay I liked is posted on The AD website under Critical Essays. It is, however, in Spanish. That said, when are you going to send me a critical essay or poem for The AD? Also, how about subscribing? I just had to mention that, so if you're not interested just ignore the comment. Shame on me! Anyhow, I do enjoy your intelligent commentary. In fact that last comment of yours would make the basis of an excellent essay, even 2pages worth!

Spencer Troxell said...

I appreciate the compliment. If I ever write anything like that, I'll be sure to keep you in mind.

Since we're cross promoting, I usually just post whatever I write directly on my own blog:

spencertroxell.blogspot.com

One of my biggest weaknesses is impatience, and it's easy to just post something on my blog and maybe cross post it at one or two other sites. If I'm not getting paid for the things I write, a quick response and access to a wide-ish audience is second best. I would certainly be happy to send you something someday though. The wheels are creaking...

Too bad about the Spanish thing. Blindness didn't do anything for me.

I've only read Pamuk's 'Other Colors' collection, but 'Dostoevsky's Fearsome Demons', his essays about Albert Camus and Nabokov, and 'On Poetic Justice' is good. I'm pretty sympathetic to his worldview. I would recommend the whole book.

G. Tod Slone said...

Great! I'll have to check out Fearsome Demons. You've got a sharp mind... and this I state not lightly. Onwards!
G.

Spencer Troxell said...

A sock-puppet blog called 'You're Not Helping' just went up in flames, and the subject of anonymous blogging came up. We mentioned this topic in passing, so I thought I'd get your opinion on it. Russell Blackford blogged about it here:

http://metamagician3000.blogspot.com/2010/06/death-of-blog.html

I came out unequivocally against anonymous blogging at first, but eventually decided that the ability to anonymously speak is as important to democracy as the ability to speak freely as yourself. I guess it all depends on who is doing the speaking and why. Spider Man is a good guy, The Green Goblin is a bad guy. They both wear masks.

G. Tod Slone said...

Yes, an interesting topic. However, I am entirely against anonymous anything. Fear and cowardice should not be encouraged in a democracy. Those who hide anonymously shame those who had to hide anonymously because speaking out could carry a death sentence. So many academics hide in anonymity. Just look at the comments posted on InsideHigherEd.com! How can one possibly trust words written by an anonymity? Human dignity is lost! Freedom is lost! Anonymity shames our democracy. Stand up and be a man or woman is what I would say to the anonymous. Be proud of your opinions. But remain flexible with their regard. And of course I could go on and on.

Spencer Troxell said...

Obviously I've chosen not to go the anonymous route, but I understand why someone might. Reprisal for expressing ideas is a real threat in most environments, even in the good old U S of A. That's why we vote in private, and that's why whistle blowers are protected.

I don't like it (or respect it) when people hide behind assumed identities for the most part, but I think they should be able to.

But I like your stance, and I think the key to what you say is the part about remaining flexible about your ideas.

Spencer Troxell said...

If you didn't check the site, here was my comment:

"I'm unsure about the justifications for anonymity. They're easily rationalized, sure, but what point is free speech (the YNH author is an American) if you can't speak freely and honestly.

I work in a field that could easily justify my expulsion for unpopular commentary, yet I decide to speak as who I am. I have no respect for people who want to loudly proclaim their beliefs, yet are unwilling to sign for them on the dotted line. I have even less respect for people who want to create an illusion of consensus through fraud to bolster those beliefs with.

Embarrassing."

mather said...

There's this new site called Trick with a Knife, and a guy came on recently using a name that I am sure is false, Khakjaan Wessington. His google bio pic has a pic of a book and he reveals nothing about who or what he is, except of course, a writer. Now, he is all in favor of anonymous commenting and thinks everyone should do it. I called him a coward for being anonymous, and of course he scoffed at that, simply the opinion of an idiot. Next thing you know he checks my bio and makes a wise crack about me being a cab driver! Because I am open about who I am. This is the mentality of the anonymous commentor 99 percent of the time. If the person was a true "whistleblower" on a big issue I could understand the fear of serious physical or economic backlash, but that is hardly ever the case.

G. Tod Slone said...

Yes, there are RISKS in speaking out. BUT taking RISKS augments ones character, places one on the EDGE, where creativity burns brightest. Contrary to your assertion, S, most whistleblowers are probably not protected. And I can say that personal whistleblowing experience. Anonymity simply encourages cowardice. So I disagree with you entirely. Otherwise, I too do not respect those who would say WE, as opposed to I. And I’ve come across that many times. It is a hollow rhetorical ploy.
As far as economic backlash, M, what citizens need to do is learn to live simply. Far too many put JOB and WEALTH ACQUISITION above TRUTH and COURAGE. Thus, and I’ve said this to many an academic, speak truth openly and if you lose your job, then get another job. Flip burgers if you have to or drive a cab. Just fuckin with you Mather.

mather said...

http://trickwithaknife.com/?p=771#comments

Go here for some amusing interaction with anonymous righteousness.