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

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Andre Dubus III


The following is the email I sent Dubus in February. No response was received.

Dear Professor Andre Dubus III,
As a member of PEN America, please inform me why you support (via inaction) PEN New England’s refusal to even respond to my correspondence regarding my grievances of viewpoint discrimination in New England and elsewhere in America (see PEN article and partial list below).

As a panel member of the National Endowment for the Arts, please inform me why that organization labeled The American Dissident “low” and “poor” and refused to provide further comment. The American Dissident is, by the way, the 501 c3 nonprofit journal I founded and devote to literature, democracy and dissidence. The Massachusetts Cultural Council refuses to accord grants with its regard and refuses to respond to my criticism. Do you support such viewpoint discrimination?

As a professed lover of poetry, please inform me why you support (via inaction) the censorship effected by the Academy of American Poets regarding my comments, as well as its banning of my participation in its online forums. Please also inform me why you would likely support Massachusetts Poetry Festival’s refusal to list The American Dissident with other journals listed and to invite the editor and why you would likely support the refusal of National Poetry Month (Boston) to invite the editor.

As a full-time university faculty member at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, please inform me why you remain indifferent to the following:

1. The designation of your university, by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, as a red light university with at least one policy that both clearly and substantially restricts constitutionally-protected freedom of speech.

2. The refusal of your university to even consider subscribing to The American Dissident (only $20/year) and its consequent violation of the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights, in particular, “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.” In other words, by subscribing only to established-order literary journals like Agni and Poetry magazine, while rejecting any journal presenting the opposite viewpoint, it clearly violates its own Collection Development Policy.

As a professor of English (Creative Writing), please inform me why you would likely refuse to even expose your students to the literary viewpoints presented in The American Dissident and would likely never invite someone like me to speak to one of your classes? In fact, I’ve been contacting English professors for more than a decade. Only one professor in the country, Dan Sklar (Endicott College), has proven to be sufficiently open-minded to not only invite me to speak but also have his students read The American Dissident.

I look forward to your response. Thank you for your attention.

39 comments:

sdave1 said...

a

sdave1 said...

G. Tod-I'm never sure why these review places say the AD is a low grade publication. It has a glossy cover, few or no typos, the print is clear. Compared to other smell press magazines I don't see how it's inferior.
dave ochs

Timothy Bearly said...

Dave,

Perhaps they say the AD is a "low grade publication" more because of its content than because of its production quality.

Kind of like the student that doesn't agree with the teacher, he has "behavioral problems"

sdave1 said...

Hey Tim-i only mentioned print etc. because that was the claim of other places like New Pages.com as to why they wouldn't include the AD on their listings.

As for content the work in the AD is superior to most publications, i.e Poets, that magazine that the women left a hundred million to. And the AD does that on a shoestring budget. Why do you consider the content to be "low grade.?" And could you give an example of "high grade" content?

Timothy Bearly said...

Dave,

I think you misunderstood me, perhaps I worded it wrong.


I recently discovered the AD, and although I have never read a print addition, I know that if its anything like what I have read online about it then it is exactly what I am looking for. G. Tod Slone is not afraid to speak out against ALL institutions (regardless of the consequences), and therefore (as expected) reviewers are not inclined to speak highly of him or the AD.

This was the point I was trying to make.

Because of its content, it will be perceived as "low grade". when in reality, everything they label as "high grade" will most certainly lack substance and intrepidity.

Timothy Bearly said...

addition? wow! ......uh I meant print edition. That just nullified my whole point didn't it.

sdave1 said...

Hey Tim-damn, I was getting ready to rumble. The AD has been criticized for both production and content. But I think it stacks up well against the literary publications.
dave

Timothy Bearly said...

Sometimes people are criticized because they unequivocally lack talent (e.g they cant sing in key). But other times people (who are very talented) are criticized simply because they raise questions. They challenge and threaten those that are doing the criticizing.

And as always, those doing the criticizing never like to focus on the ideas. Hence the ad hominems that abound.

In light of this, negative reviews and rejections become a badge of honor.


I would love to read a poets bio, where instead of boasting about awards and credentials, it reads. . .

"john doe has been blacklisted and rejected by countless publications, he has been labeled racist, misogynistic and every other epithet"

I want to read that poets work.

G. Tod Slone said...

Hey Dave and Tim,
Thanks much for taking the time to comment. You’re on target, Tim. The NEA called The AD “low” and “poor.” I asked for more precision, but it simply refused. Our taxpayer dollars at work! Hmm. Yes, I love the idea for your poet’s bio. Instead, all we tend to see are the hackneyed blurbs. On my last book of poems, I listed on the back cover some of the negative things people had said as anti –blurbs.
G. Tod

Zachary Bos said...

And, having read that poet's work, Timothy, would you be inclined (or even authorized) to evaluate his work as successful or unsuccessful?

Timothy Bearly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Timothy Bearly said...

Authorized?

Why of coarse, Zachary, after all, I have received my Master of Xeroxed writing degree from the Boston factory of ersatz "poets". And upon graduation day, my demigod professor—who I yearn to please—said to me "Timothy, you are now authorized, now go forth and be an arbiter of taste".

Then I moved on to help found a "poetry union".

unlike labor unions—that join together and unite against their employer, our "poetry union" is more about uniting against obdurate individuals. Individuals that we cant seem to get to think/write like the rest of us. Individuals who don't write poems about daffodils and springtime foliage.

I have been published in No Substance Quarterly (NSQ), The Conformist, The Prudent Pedestrian, The Sycophantic Review, and many other "esteemed" literary journals. I have also won the acclaimed "Most predictable" and "Safe" writers awards for the past three years. Most recently I won the writers competition held by Vacant Verbosity magazine (winning the 500 dollar prize along with a contract). I have an uncanny ability to write 10,000 word short stories, without really saying anything (via diaphanous metaphors). And because of the very fact that my writings say nothing, I have few critics. I like it this way, and moreover so do the editors and judges.

And of coarse, I am also a managing editor. So yeah, I think it is safe to say that I am not only "authorized", but I determine who succeeds and who does not!

P.S. This wont hurt my chances of getting published by pen and anvil will it?

P.P.S. Oh well, I will just use a pseudonym and write about daffodils and springtime foliage.

G. Tod Slone said...

Great post Timothy! I wish Zachary had left his post up.

Zachary Bos said...

Timothy, I should have written, would you *feel* authorized to evaluate his work in that way; I was imagining you might decline to be evaluative at all.

I notice you didn't answer as to whether or not you found that poet's work successful.

As for publication by Pen & Anvil, it all depends on the quality of the writing.

Zachary Bos said...

You say something interesting about labor unions, in that their purpose is to band employees together against the employer. I don't think this is a very useful view of things. The purpose of unions is to unite employees for their collective benefit; only when the employer is thinking to exploit the labor, should the union adopt an oppositional role. Although, thinking theoretically here, perhaps it is desirable that the union *never* relax its oppositional stance, for fear of becoming complacent, and losing its teeth? I'm not involved enough in the union I belong to, I know; but I come from a union family, and respect what unions have done and continue to do. The Boston Poetry Union is meant eventually to be a labor organization, providing insurance etc. benefits to its members. Why not? That's years off, though.

Timothy Bearly said...

Another cunning red herring by the wizard, Zachary Bos.

Now, if you will please ignore the man behind the curtain and turn the page, we shall now delve into semantics and also discuss the purpose, history, and etymology of labor.

Fast foreward five years—still posting on this blog—and we will be arguing about the fundamentals of Bolshevism, the founding of the IWW, the battle for the 8 hour day, and the Haymarket riot—"actually, the riot wasn't really on haymarket street Timothy". Or the Homestead strike, was it the catalyst which led to the assassination attempt—by Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman—of Henry Clay Frick?

Thus with both of us diverging and attempting to one up each other with our inconsequential knowledge about unions and class warfare, we will have manifestly misplaced and forgotten the topic at hand.

Perhaps that is that your endeavor, your modus operandi?

You have made it clear that you would rather discuss something else, a topic that you are familiar and comfortable with. You would rather retreat and search for a new battlefield in which you have higher ground, as you and your stalwart academic militia are being decimated on this one.

Also, let me clarify, I am not necessarily opposed to labor unions, but I am necessarily opposed to mental unions.

And with regard to me not answering your question about being "inclined or authorized to evaluate his work as successful or unsuccessful?" Sorry to disappoint you Zachary, but I do not answer such loaded questions, especially when they are laced with false dichotomies.

A goat or a sheep, which would you choose. . .?

Timothy Bearly said...

Actually,Timothy, it was only Alexander Berkman who attempted to assassinate Frick, Emma Goldman was only involved in the plot.

I guess you win Zack

Zachary Bos said...

I wouldn't want it through that my MO is to misdirect and move us away from the topic at hand. So I'll refocus:

You'd written above, "I would love to read a poets bio, where instead of boasting about awards and credentials, it reads. . . 'john doe has been blacklisted and rejected by countless publications, he has been labeled racist, misogynistic and every other epithet'". Then I asked whether after reading that John Doe's work, you'd be inclined to share your evaluation of it, as to whether the poetry works or doesn't. I don't see what you think is loaded there. I'd like to know what your relationship with literature has to do with -- the author's politics, the aesthetic properties of the text, something else, or several things in concert.

Timothy Bearly said...

I was talking about a hypothetical, archetypical, iconoclastic poet. A lone wolf poet, who is labeled many things because he has the audacity to speak out against the pack of careerist spaniels. Thus he is ostracized, and thus "I want to read that poets work".

You subsequently asked me if I would be inclined or "authorized" to evaluate his work as successful or unsuccessful?

In terms of success, what do you mean? how am I to measure a poets level of success?

1. how many chapbooks the poet has sold?

2. how many awards the poet has won?

3. how much money the poet has made?

4. has the poet memorized all of the literary tricks of the trade?

5. or does the poet have courage?

I suppose from a certain PC (and relativistic) perspective all poets are paradoxically successful and unsuccessful. the poet who succeeds in challenging convention, utterly fails with regard to monetary success. likewise the poet who becomes famous, generally thinks and acts in accordance with the zeitgeist and fails to defy authority—although he did write a "controversial" anti-bush poem back in 2004.

These principles also seem to be the case with musicians, politicians, and (dare I say it) academics. There is a categorical correlation between our popularity and "success", and our compulsion to submit to the consensus of the majority.

Timothy Bearly said...

I notice you didn't answer as to whether you would choose a sheep or a goat.

Zachary Bos said...

I was talking about a hypothetical, archetypical, iconoclastic poet. A lone wolf poet, who is labeled many things because he has the audacity to speak out against the pack of careerist spaniels. Thus he is ostracized, and thus "I want to read that poets work".

Even talking about a hypothetical author, the only reason you're giving for being interested in his work is his status as an iconoclast. I'm asking if you're just as interested in the quality of his writing. (I'm using "success" to refer to the quality of the writing.)

I agree that a poet without courage isn't a successful poet; but then, there are many brave bad writers.

Zachary Bos said...

Right; we're not talking about sheep or goats (or dextral or sinistral paths, or the fruit of The Tree of Life or from The Tree of Knowledge)... we're talking literature. Or is distraction your modus operandi?

Timothy Bearly said...

did you not read what i wrote earlier?

Sometimes people are criticized because they unequivocally lack talent (e.g they cant sing in key). But other times people (who are very talented) are criticized simply because they raise questions. They challenge and threaten those that are doing the criticizing.

nice try though.

Zachary Bos said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Zachary Bos said...

I read what you've written, yes.

I'm addressing the point you made, in stating your attraction to a poet who has earned a reputation as an iconoclast. So you're attracted to him, and you read him, and then... do you say, hey, this person is a successful writer, because he is iconoclast, regardless of the quality of his writing; or do have another criterion, such that you'd only call him a successful writer if he was both iconoclastic and the author of interesting writing?

A related question is, would you call a poet unsuccessful, even if he was the author of interesting writing, if he failed to be iconoclastic as well?

The ghost of Wittgenstein is beginning to take interest, in view of "Ethik und Asthetik sind Eins"...

Timothy Bearly said...

Allow me to illustrate your fallacious syllogistic reasoning.

A. He likes works written by iconoclasts

B. Some iconoclasts cant write very well

C. He does not care at all about a writers literary skill, and only cares about how iconoclastic a writer is.

Clever, perhaps, but ultimately incorrect.

Zachary Bos said...

What I'm doing is asking you to clarify whether you do care about literary skill, as preliminary to talking about the qualities that you look for in discerning such skill. If you'd set down your paranoia for a moment, and stop seeking to get ahead of my rhetorical snares, we might be able to have a discussion in good faith.

G. Tod Slone said...

Personally, I’ve had a lousy experience with the union, the Mass. Teachers Union. I presented a clear case of corruption. None of the union reps gave a goddamn. I think unions—many, perhaps more than many—are fundamentally corrupt. Unions of course usually tend to be leftist and PC.
The idea of a union for poets sounds absurd… though given what poets have become today… par for the course.
The problem with Zach’s thinking is that “good poetry” somehow becomes objective. Yet it is anything but that. For an established-order cog like Zach, “good poetry” will like be “bad poetry” in my eyes. And vice versa regarding my status as a lit dissident.
And I agree 100% with Tim RE the prizes et al. Also, great point on “success.” Success for Zach is likely failure from my perspective and vice versa. “Quality” too is one of those terms established-order cogs like to portray as somehow objective. Also, too much emphasis is being placed on the poet. I’d rather put it on the poem. If a poem somehow moves me, somehow confirms what I’ve observed, then I like the poem. If the poet turns out to be a cog, then I like the poem less because I then have to question its authenticity.
Literary skill needs to be defined. If it is to be defined as the established order defines it then it means little to me. In any case, it is and should be secondary to the message. Sadly, in art too, skill seems to have become more important than the message. Forme uber fond. In fact, that is the definition of art for artsaking.

Zachary Bos said...

What would you suggest workers do in order to avoid being exploited? Or what would you recommend to root out corruption.

Your practice of referring to me in the third person is dehumanizing -- am I not participating in this discussion?

Since I haven't revealed what my 'thinking' is on the subject of how to discern quality in a poem, you can hardly conclude that the problem in my thinking this way is that I mistakenly believe I am respecting an objective standard.

It's almost as if you're not reading what I'm writing, or considering what I may mean by what I've written... as if I'm just providing you a screen to project your caricature antagonist upon. Your modus operandi?

How presumptuous that you think “good poetry” in my eyes would be "bad" in yours. In our email exchange, we spoke specifically of three authors, including Villon, and we agreed on the quality of their writing. Why pretend otherwise? Oh yes -- in order to perpetuate your status as an aggrieved iconoclast, and a persecuted thinker.

You don't have to conjecture whether "success" for me is failure in your eyes; you might just ask. And again, you're moving away from my original point -- I was clear that I'm talking about the success OF a poem, not the success (read: acclaim) of a poet's career. And yet, you're claiming that it is your emphasis on the poem, rather than the poet, that distinguishes our respective positions! Come on, George. Be honest.

Here: j'accuse. Your indictment of certain poets and institutions as cogs of the establishment is an ideological-driven prejudice, sharing many features with McCarthy's detection of this thing called "communism" in every corner, and his wielding of that accusation as a blunt instrument.

If you can believe it, let me say -- what I've written above is meant to be read without rancor.

G. Tod Slone said...

“What would you suggest workers do in order to avoid being exploited? Or what would you recommend to root out corruption.” NOTHING. Whistleblowing legislation. Sunshine laws like the ones in Florida and Texas. In Florida, for example, I as a citizen have the right to look at the resumes of those considered for a job in academe. In Massachusetts, I do not have the right. Here I do not have the right to look at personnel files and arbitration transcripts. In Florida, a citizen does have that right.
Well, if you feel dehumanized, ainsi soit-il.
Well, Zach, my status might be thus, but your status is that of someone who cannot deal with hardcore logic, as in The American Dissident being banned from a public library and your doing nothing to combat speech codes at BU, your place of employment. And we’ve been through this over and over which is why I ought not respond to you at all.
I’m not sure why you would like Villon, except that he is part of the canon. After all, he did what you do not do: question and challenge authority. Who were the other two poets?
You seem to have a penchant for calling people paranoid. Is that what you do when logic fails? Take Dubus III, as an example. He is a cog because he refuses to question and challenge those who feed him so nicely like those at the helm of the University of Mass. at Lowell. I have my reasons and do not across the board proclaim as you say I do. For every person I satirize there is a distinct reason. The reason or reasons with your regard are clearly depicted in the two cartoons I drew satirizing you.
I’m really curious, though, if in fact The American Dissident is as terrible as you claimed it to be, why do you poke around on this blog and continue back and forthing with me, its editor?

Zachary Bos said...

I don't feel dehumanized; I feel as if you're not treating me like a human with as full a human-status as you and your conversational ally here. That's an imbalance that hurts you, not me.

You've repeated again that I've done nothing to confront speech codes at BU; why do you feel so comfortable speaking in ignorance? Because of course you don't know what I may or may not have done.

I like the character and content of Villon's poems. Have you read them? I ask because it is hard for me to imagine how a person could have read them, and taken nothing away from them except the impression that there are moments where his lines speak out against authority.

There are reasons for engaging a crank other than thinking his literary journal is good. Curiosity, for one; compassion, for another. I'm willing to believe that you could show me where I've misunderstood something we're talking about. That's not likely, though, if you continue to eschew explanation in favor of invective. To clarify: I'm in dialogue with you-as-person, not you-as-editor. Although, now that I'm thinking on the matter once more, I return to the feeling that there isn't much point in talking to you. You might be beyond reach, buddy. And I fear that my saying that doesn't bother you at all -- that you're not curious why someone would say that.

G. Tod Slone said...

Well, I just altered the dehumanizing thing, didn’t I? So, why not cease complaining about it? We need tougher citizens! Everyone’s complaining about being offended all the time! That’s BU, isn’t it… the adult children complaining about being offended? Oh, we don’t want that speaker, he’s too offensive! Oh, let’s burn that conservative newspaper, it’s so offensive! Let the fuckers be offended. I didn’t feel “hurt” at all by your feelings of being dehumanized. Not an iota “hurt.” Nothing like the ole’ renvoyer la balle, hein?

If you’d done anything about speech codes, you’d probably have risked your opps to climb the BU ladder, which I suspect is your goal. Also, you would have stated what the hell you did and end that part of the endless conversation regarding speech codes. My assumption is (and we all operate on assumptions, hopefully bolstered by experience) that you’ve done nothing. Most poets don’t give a damn about free speech… my assumption based on experience with a lot of poets (out of 150 international poets in Quebec, for example, I was the only one who cared). You would not lift a finger to write a protest letter against the censoring Academy of American Poets because if you did it would affect your ladder climbing in the poesy milieu.

I do not like ALL of Villon’s poems, and never said I did. I’ve read most of them, however, and mostly in the original French, not the new modern translations. I’ve also been in contact with a Villon specialist in Montreal and published some of her work in The AD in French, but of course The AD is worthless in your eyes so why bother mentioning it? I suppose for the online record. If Villon had been just another poet of the royal court, I would not have liked him. But he was different. It is his questioning and challenging that attracted me to him. There is deep sentiment in some of those poems, en fosse git, non pas soulz houlz nai maiz (in a dungeon, not under holly or May tree).

G. Tod Slone said...

I’ve read most of the French classics in French from la Chanson de Roland and la Romant de la Rose on up. There are also some poems of Rutebeuf, known as perhaps the first French poete maudit, that I like. And I could go on and on. Not many poets have overtly questioned and challenged which is why I protest when I hear poets talk about the poet, as if somehow better than Joe-average. In essence, I’ve been seeking out that rare poet who has actually written something critical. The only ones I’ve found to date I’ve posted here: http://www.theamericandissident.org/CriticalPoems.htm. Of course, there are more out there, but I haven’t found them. Many of course never made it into the established-order canon and will be buried forever unknown… like me. And I’d rather have it that way. But it is sad that probably most students of lit will never even wonder how many poets in the annals of history remain unknown today.

You call me “crank.” I’ve called you “weasel” as in weasling out of logic and uncomfortable questions. I’ve also called you an “established-order cog”. That’s for the online record.

“Curiosity” is always good. Too bad it tends to be so rare amongst the established order. So, bravo to you for manifesting it. But when you state “compassion,” I think that’s bullshit. You have as much compassion for me, as I likely have for you. Zippo.

It is impossible for me to show you anything. We’ve already been through that. I can show you nothing. Period. So, perhaps we’re left with some odd kind of curiosity that you’re manifesting. For the record, you also said there’s no point in continuing this a month ago and I stopped responding to you. Because it seemed like you could go on forever. That’s for the online record.

I as person am the same as I as editor. “Beyond reach” is precisely how I’ve considered you… and not with a “may be.” Thus, I renvoie la balle. It is in your careerist interest to be beyond reach. Right you are that your dubbing me as “beyond reach” does not in the least bother me. I am much too experienced to be reachable by an established-order cog… and by reachable, I mean pulled into the established order in some respect. The carrots no longer seem tasty to me. Not at all! And I need not be curious as to why someone like you would label me “beyond reach” because I know why.

Zachary Bos said...

So, why not cease complaining about it? We need tougher citizens! Everyone’s complaining about being offended all the time!
For a literature person, you seem to be having a hard time with reading. I specifically said I wasn't offended.

That’s BU, isn’t it… the adult children complaining about being offended? Oh, we don’t want that speaker, he’s too offensive! Oh, let’s burn that conservative newspaper, it’s so offensive!
What newspaper? The Sam Adams Review, to which I was an advisor? What complaints, what speaker? If you use only these vague accounts to substantiate your claims, you make it easy for others to dismiss you.

I didn’t feel “hurt” at all by your feelings of being dehumanized. Not an iota “hurt.”
I meant "harmed" in the moral sense, or reduced. I didn't mean you'd feel hurt.

If you’d done anything about speech codes, you’d probably have risked your opps to climb the BU ladder, which I suspect is your goal.
You've just admitted yourself: your evidence is your feeling of suspicion. Harboring suspicions is not the same as being critical,.

Also, you would have stated what the hell you did and end that part of the endless conversation regarding speech codes.
I didn't since I'm not accountable to you. If you want to keep trumpeting your false conjectures, I'm not going to stop you.

You would not lift a finger to write a protest letter against the censoring Academy of American Poets....
I'd challenge censorship. But, I'm not persuaded that you were censored. Your use of that term is Orwellian.

t is his questioning and challenging that attracted me to him. There is deep sentiment in some of those poems....
But would you have been moved by the poems, if they had been questioning and challenging, without also having into effective language?

II’ve been seeking out that rare poet who has actually written something critical.
Geoffrey Hill has plenty; you might check it out.

Many of course never made it into the established-order canon and will be buried forever unknown… like me.
And what of the ones that do make it into the canon?

You call me “crank.” I’ve called you “weasel” as in weasling out of logic and uncomfortable questions. I’ve also called you an “established-order cog”. That’s for the online record.
Since I am not a person to call names, I was self-conscious about using that last night, and almost qualified it: "crank (and I hope you'll wonder why I'm using that antagonistic label)." I really am only using it because I hope you'll begin to wonder what it might mean. "Ideologue" is more accurate, but "crank" gets to the problem of how you're making it easy for people to dismiss you.

You have as much compassion for me, as I likely have for you. Zippo.
I have to see that as an example of how ideology and paranoia can poison someone's view of the world.

It is impossible for me to show you anything. We’ve already been through that. I can show you nothing. Period.
Yes, that's been much your same response every time we get down to brass tacks -- that is, when I ask you to tell me about your literary preferences, about the kind of writing you call effective. A pretty neat evasion.

And I need not be curious as to why someone like you would label me “beyond reach” because I know why.
You don't. For someone whose work is all carried out under the banner of "critical", you're not showing a lot of critical self-awareness.

G. Tod Slone said...

The Academy of American Poets REMOVED (I have the proof, if you're interested and I doubt you are)--I call that CENSORSHIP--and BANNED (Its word, not mine) me from participating in its online forums. Now, would you lift a finger to write a letter of protest? I didn't think you would. Thus, my statement remains: sadly most poets wouldn't lift a finger...

Zachary Bos said...

It's a private forum, George; they can ban whomever they like. If they're a crowd of censorious regulators, why complain? It sounds like they just proved themselves uninteresting company. I imagine you're going to reiterate the idea that these private groups enjoy public support and funding, and therefore shouldn't be allow to ignore you, or expel you, or expunge your comments. I'm afraid I don't agree with you, though -- I don't think you've got grounds for the grievance of "censorship". But that makes me not a true poet, or not a true contrarian, or lacking in true courage, right? Let's imagine that you enjoyed full access to their forums. What would you do, if you didn't get to peddle your line about being banned? You'd be critical of the establishment, right? The cronyism, the corruption, etc. Let's imagine that you were taken at your word, and the corruption was rooted out, and the cronyism mitigated. The essential question emerges: what would that look like?

G. Tod Slone said...

It is interesting, Zachary, to “see” how you circumvent, always circumvent, a logical statement in a more than evident effort to make the statement go away. One might ask if you do this purposefully as a devil’s advocate. But I really don’t think you do. The Academy of American Poets is a 501 c3 nonprofit organization… and obtains tons of public money to operate. Yes, that is an important point to repeat and underscore. That, however, is really immaterial. What is pertinent is that it is the largest American organization devoted to poetry, sponsors National Poetry Month, and has its tentacular fingers in just about every public high school, public college, and public library in the country. That is why I want it to be known that the Academy is not a free-speech advocate, but rather actively exercises discrimination against viewpoints that might be too critical. I would like high school and college students to be aware of that fact. Moreover, from my perspective, evidently not from yours or from that of most other poets, poetry organizations and poets should, perhaps more than most organizations and citizens, eagerly embrace the First Amendment and, consequently, ardently fight against the censorship and banning of certain viewpoints. PEN becomes highly hypocritical when it seems to do that overseas and for incarcerated Americans, but not for all American poets. Of course the Academy has a legal right to censor me and anyone else who might be critical of it. But again that is immaterial to the argument. It circumvents, something you seem to excel at. To denigrate, as you’ve done on several occasions, protest against censorship and banning as mere “complaining” is insulting to all who have fought against censorship and banning, some ending up in prison and some ending up dead for doing so.

“If they're a crowd of censorious regulators, why complain? It sounds like they just proved themselves uninteresting company,” you state in your particular administrative oblivion. Yes, we could have said that to the revolutionary patriots regarding the British occupiers or to the blacks in the south regarding whites in power and on and on. But you will not comprehend this. You will seek, instead, to isolate me as a “malcontent crank,” even though there are certainly many of us (not you) out there. That is in your interest as an established-order cog.

Of course I’d be critical of the establishment. Imagine if nobody criticized the establishment? We’d definitely be a full-fledged third-world country today. Thanks to your ilk and others who dare not, that’s where we’re probably heading.

Zachary Bos said...

"Imagine if nobody criticized the establishment?"

Surely you can see the difference between a political establishment (which is authorized to use force to police to enforce it's will) and a cultural or societal establishment like the AAP?

Timothy Bearly said...

Zachary,
You cannot apply binary reasoning here. The difference between the two is indisputable. But perhaps you fail to see the similarities. All establishments—including all groups, institutions and collective bodies—have an unabated compulsion to silence, ostracize and marginalize dissenters.

Should we not be critical of cultural and societal establishments?

This perspective reminds me of the so called free-market libertarians. "Government corruption is a problem, but let's all ignore private sector corruption."

People are unfortunately very selective with who they choose to be critical of. Most people, like yourself, prefer to play it safe and not criticize particular establishments. Indeed, one is not likely to be critical of an establishment when obsequiously seeking its approval.

Criticize corruption and bullshit wherever it manifests, whether it is the public sector, private sector... or even the AAP.