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

Friday, October 12, 2012

Mary Jo Bang

Fluttering Dichterlings

There’s often a world of cocooned vacuity on the website of the Academy of American Poets... because the high-and-mighty Academy chancellors are as established order as it gets.  Do not offend is their mantra.  Smile, you’re on clever camera!  You’d be hard-pressed to find just one dissident mind amongst the lot of them.  Gary Snyder?  Maybe 100 years ago, but certainly not today.  He's comfortably gone from Beatnik to tenured emeritus academic stuffed in the established-order canon.  Oops.  He’s no longer on the chancellor roster. 

A handful of poets were asked on the Academy website (poets.org) to respond to the following question posed by some invisible Academy chancellor or likely lackey thereof: 

“What do you see as the role of the poet in today’s culture?” 

Now, if I were asked that question, I’d state upfront precisely what the chancellors would not wish to hear, for evidently they'd feel inevitably and uncomfortably, though indirectly, targeted. 

The poet, above and beyond all else, ought to decry censorship, speak rude truth even at the expense of literary and/or academic career, and otherwise be a soldier/defender of freedom of speech and vigorous debate, democracy's cornerstones.  He or she ought to have the courage to especially denounce the censorship effected by organizations like the Academy of American Poets. 

A few years ago, I’d contacted members of an earlier flock of chancellors who proved indifferent to censorship.  One of them is present in the current flock, prof emeritus, ex-hippie Lyn Hejinian.  No matter.  The careers of chancellor Dichterlings depend on chancellor Dichterlings turning a blind eye and adorning a classy-looking muzzle. 

Mary Jo Bang was first to present a response:  “Today, as in any era, there are myriad roles for poets: semiotician, elegist, eulogist, gamer, white noise machine, musician, Sapphist, theorist, father figure, bird watcher, a video projection of a moving mouth—all trapped behind the glass of Wittgenstein's fly-bottle.”   

Jo Bang seems to excel like most other known poets in the art of vacuous verbiage.  Perhaps that’s the true role of today's poet.  Brilliant, Jo Bang!

Mark Bibbins was next in line:  “To point out that today's culture has spinach in its teeth and egg on its face.” 

Now, that’s a good way to avoid speaking rude truth!  Cover it up with egg… and why not throw some bacon in its mouth too?   Brilliant, Bibbins!

Timothy Donnelly fired out the fundamental problem, without of course realizing it was in fact a problem:  “The role of the poet qua poet is to write poems. What is the role of the architect in today's culture? What is the role of the chef? The answers are self-evident. A poet writes poems. I don't see any other additional role or function or responsibility that all poets share...” 

Yes, the poet as ostrich supreme.  Brilliant, Donnelly!

Randall Mann echoed Donnelly’s modus operandi of scribouilleur uber alles:  “The poet should shut the door and write poems, and then, after much time and care, show the world. If this goes well, the role-playing will take care of itself.” 

Yes, the poet as role player certainly mirrored the sad reality of most poets as role-playing poseurs.  Just look at their websites.  Brilliant, Mann! 

Ben Mirov noted with a little touch of fanciful Dali:  “The role of the poet in today's culture is the same as it's always been: to be a huge transparent eyeball.”   

But it took more than a mere eyeball.  It also took a mouth and especially the courage to open it when doing so might irk the flock!  Brilliant, Mirov!

Brenda Shaughnessy suggested:  “Not that the poet's work makes it all the way out into actual ‘culture’ very often, but nonetheless, I do see the poet as someone whose role it is to push back against anti-intellectualism, anti-activism, and passivity in general.” 

Yet how not to be anti-intellectual when the intellectuals remained buffered in academic herds, ever truncating freedom of speech and vigorous debate in the name of today's world religion:  PC?  Would Shaughnessy remain passive now that she's been informed the Academy not only censored my remarks but also banned me from participating in its online forums several years ago?  But of course she would!  Brilliant, Shaughnessy!'


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