A Forum for Vigorous Debate, Cornerstone of Democracy

[For the journal--guidelines, focus, etc.--go to www.theamericandissident.org. If you have questions, please contact me at todslone@hotmail.com. Comments are NOT moderated (i.e., CENSORED)!]
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, not to mention Sweden, England, and Austria.

More P. Maudit cartoons (and essays) at Global Free Press: http://www.globalfreepress.org

Monday, December 10, 2018

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Jason Farago and Rebecca Ann Siegel


Risiblement Coopté
Art has become utterly risible.  “Groundbreaking” is the art hagiographer’s euphemism for “vacuous”!  Jason Farago’s New York Times advertisement, uh, article, “A Discrete Jubilee for a Groundbreaking Chelsea Gallery,” incarnates the sad situation, as does its sub-headline:  “Paula Cooper Gallery, a model of integrity in a market gone crackers, celebrates 50 years of art and activism with an exhibition featuring artists from its very first show.”  Integrity?  What might that constitute or simply imply?  Absolute melding into the art establishment’s m.o. of coop, castrate, and commend!  That’s what it means in the art world today.  
The three images of the art, presented in the article, back the statement 100%.  How can one actually not laugh at Carl Andre’s “Twenty-Eight Red Brick Line,” which is precisely what it is.  And how about Jo Baer’s “An untitled diptych” (i.e., two framed blank white canvases)?  Robert Murray’s “Surf” looks like yellow plastic boards that go up and down, you know, like surf.  100% safe for the chamber of commerce and grant-according machine!  
Farago begins his advertisement, uh, article by arguing that  “Many dealers have influenced art history through the works they’ve bought and sold, but only a very few have done something more profound: reshape how we see art and transform what we value.”  In other words, moneyed interests are the key determiners of what art has become… and transformers of “what we value.”  But who is “we”?  Well, “we” certainly does not include “me,” nor should it anyone else with an independent mind not anchored in the elite (moneyed) Chelsea art scene.  And of course one of the “very few who have done something more profound” includes the Paula Cooper Gallery, “defined by an embrace of music, dance and poetry, and by a political activism uncommon in galleries of its prominence.”  
Farago describes some of the art pieces with fluffy, wordsmithy verbosity, as in “sequences horizontal, vertical and diagonal lines in various combinations across a grid; its austere precision still packs the same philosophical and visual bite” and “a pair of yellow aluminum zigzags nuzzle on the floor, like snakes in the grass offering a sly rejoinder to Donald Judd’s nearby matte brown aluminum box” and “a towering totem of red steel.”   Then Farago concludes, “Ms. Cooper’s taste has diffused throughout the world of contemporary art, her ethics and engagement have not — and what feels finest in this discreet jubilee is its vision of integrity in a mad, mad market.”  But where the “integrity” in all the descriptive fluff?  What does “integrity” even mean in that context?  Well, it means nothing… or, if it means something, then it means fully systemic/fully establishment (e.g., Cooper pushes the gun-control narrative at the exhibit).  
When art becomes a commodity to be promoted by the New York Times or marketed and sold like stock on Wall Street, then art is in serious trouble.  And when artists and their praisers like Farago cannot bear to be criticized, then it is really in serious trouble.  It is truly pitiful that art critics today tend to be anything but critical of artists.  All they seem to do is promote establishment art and artists.  They’ve become lackeys of gallery owners and art organizations—arms of chambers of commerce and the tourist industry.  Sellouts!  Well, probably not that because likely they were never critical to begin with.  And indeed the only way to climb up the careerist art ladder and get published in newspapers like the New York Times is by not being critical…  

NB:  Farago is editor of , Even Magazine, which aberrantly states:  “We’re tired of hearing about culture as elite, opaque, and unapproachable.”  Aberrantly because Farago’s article did nothing but add to the “elite, opaque, and unapproachable.”  The magazine stipulates, “Our serious, at times irreverent writing bridges the misunderstood gap between culture and the world.”  And yet Farago’s article was anything but “irreverent.”  Now, would Farago and publisher Rebecca Ann Siegel publish “Risiblement Coopté” in their magazine, let alone any of the numerous other anti-art-establishment essays I’ve written or anti-art-establishment cartoons I’ve drawn over the years?  Of course not!

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Lisa Leigh Connors on Little Free Libraries

No response was ever received regarding the following.  

To Lisa Leigh Connors, Ed., Cape Cod Magazine:  
Just read last year’s Cape Cod Magazine.  Your “Easy Reading” article on “little free libraries” offering free books (June 2017) caught my attention.  Free, of course, has several meanings:  1.  no cost and 2.  liberty.  In the case of one of the libraries you featured in that article, Sturgis Library, liberty (i.e., freedom of speech) is not tolerated.  

For expressing my viewpoint in writing in June 2012, I, a senior citizen living in Barnstable Village, was permanently banned w/o warning and w/o due process by library director Lucy Loomis.  The latter’s lame excuse for killing liberty (i.e., criticism of Loomis and her library) was “for the safety of the staff and public.”  That was all.  In fact, it took an order by the State Secretary of Records for the State of Massachusetts to force Loomis to open library records to public scrutiny, which is the only way I found out about the aberrant “safety” issue.  Despite my having no criminal record at all, Loomis deemed me a dangerous citizen.  Was Loomis perhaps an out-of-the-ordinary weak woman?  In fact, I have a PhD from a French university.  Compare that with whatever Loomis might possess!  Moreover, I have NEVER threatened anyone, let alone physically hurt anyone.  Well, perhaps written criticism of librarian policy could be perceived as a serious threat by a library director, if the latter can simply not bear criticism.  

Do you care about any of this?  Likely, you won’t give a damn.   Why not?   Well, your very job depends on your apathy to matters of freedom of speech on Cape Cod.  That’s why.  For information (actual documents et al) on Loomis’ heinous action against the freedom to criticize libraries and librarians on Cape Cod, see http://theamericandissident.org/orgs/sturgis_library.html.  

Finally, the problem with the arts and literature on Cape Cod is that the arts and literature have been 100% castrated and coopted by the Chamber of Commerce tourist industry and its diverse cogs from librarians to magazine editors.  Imagine not one library on the Cape will subscribe to The American Dissident, published right here on the Cape.  Do you think Loomis would allow me to place a free copy in her little free library box?    Now, for your magazine, how about an article authored by me, "Cape Cod’s Very Own Dangerous Senior Citizen"?

Friday, November 23, 2018

James H. Billington

Billington just croaked, which is why I've just posted this cartoon, sketched in 2014.  The elevating of poetasters like Charles Wright by government-appointed hacks like Billington evidently serves a purpose:  cooptation and castration of poetry.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Tyehimba Jess

From The Editorial of Issue #36
[...] In any case, the front cover of this issue was inspired by a New York Times article,“How CUNY Became Poetry U,” written in blind praise of university poet/prof prize-winners, by Elizabeth A. Harris: 
The City University of New York is many things. It is vast. It is accessible to students without a lot of money. It is exceptionally diverse. It is not, however, particularly fancy, the kind of place that oozes exclusivity or prestige. And yet CUNY is home to a surprising number of extremely accomplished, recognized—some might even say fancy—poets.
Harris of course is incapable of wondering what precisely “accomplished” and “recognized” really tend to mean, as in coopted, conformed, and castrated.  Moreover, “accomplished” is clearly a subjective, not an objective, term. “Accomplished” for Harris might imply “sellout” for someone else. And “recognized,” but by whom? Well, by others who are likely also “recognized.” To reach the “accomplished” and “recognized” poet status, clearly, one must not be a rare poet who goes against the grain of the academic/literary establishment.  CUNY chancellor James B. Milliken (see front cover) argued, 
I’m not sure that ‘fancy’ is the key to creativity. CUNY has to be one of the most diverse universities in America, and it seems self-evident to me that diversity of all kinds contributes to creativity. Add to that the fact that we’re in New York City.
“Diversity of all kinds”?  Hardly!  Certainly not diversity of opinions regarding CUNY’s backslappery. Featured from left to right are Harris; Elizabeth Lund (WaPo), Tyehimba Jess, Pulitzer English Prof, College of Staten Island; Kimiko Hahn, PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry, Prof, Queens College; Ben Lerner, MacArthur Fellow, Prof, Brooklyn College; Poet Laureate Billy Collins, Prof, Lehman College; Alison Hawthorne Deming, Pulitzer Jurist Social Justice Prof, University of Arizona; and Wesley McNair, Pulitzer Jurist Poet Laureate of Maine.  [...]

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Marjorie Pritchard

Journalists Are NOT the Friend of the People 
The most dangerous enemy of truth and freedom amongst us is the compact majority—yes, the damned compact Liberal majority…
—Henrik Ibsen, An Enemy of the People

We are not their [the people’s] enemy. But nor can we claim, until we chase our own bias out of the news, to be the honest watchdogs they need us to be.
Nolan Finley, Detroit News

he following counter-editorial was rejected via form letter by The Boston Globe.  Journalists realize they have a huge voice, unlike plebes like me, and thus do not simply want to report objective facts.  They want to express their opinions.  And they do… far, far too often… overwhelming the front pages of their “newspapers” to the extent they severely blur the line between objective and subjective reportages.  
    The Boston Globe’s call for press criticism of Trump’s criticism of the press, “Journalists Are Not the Enemy,” is risible because the result has largely been nothing but press backslapping and press self-congratulating.   Add to that its egregious failure to address its egregious pro-Democrat-Party bias.  The press should not be in the business of endorsing political candidates.  The Boston Globe constantly does that on all levels (e.g., “the Globe’s editorial board endorsed Ayanna Pressley over longstanding incumbent Michael Capuano for the Democratic nomination in the Seventh Congressional District primary”).  
    "We are not the enemy of the people," argues Marjorie Pritchard, deputy managing editor for the editorial page of the Boston Globe.  Journalists, however, become the “enemy” when they purposefully fail to cover stories that counter their favored narrative and stories that might disfavor their friends and other elites of their elite community. "I hope it would educate readers to realize that an attack on the First Amendment is unacceptable,” writes Pritchard.  “We are a free and independent press, it is one of the most sacred principles enshrined in the Constitution.” 
    When citizens do not personally test the waters of the press to determine just how open or closed or free or dependent it is, then they might end up swallowing the self-glorifying comments of journalists like Pritchard.  My own personal probes have largely indicated the press and journalists to be a lot more my enemies than friends.  
     The Advocate (Baton Rouge) refused, for example, to publish my account of being beaten and robbed by three blacks in Baton Rouge.  Why?  Likely because that countered its black good/white bad narrative.  The Cape Cod Times refused to publish an account of my being permanently banned w/o warning or due process from my neighborhood library.  Why?  Likely because that questioned and challenged a favored member of the local community elite.  The Concord Journal refused to publish an account of my arrest and incarceration for a day in Concord due to a non-violent dispute with a park ranger at Walden Pond.  Why?  Well, perhaps such news wouldn’t be of interest to the local chamber of commerce, which pimps Thoreau and Walden to push local tourism.  Over the years, I’ve sent a number of op-eds and cartoons critical of the editors of the Boston Globe, Cape Cod Times, Inside Higher Ed, the Chronicle of Higher Education, Barnstable Patriot et al. Without explanation, they were systematically rejected.  Sadly, student newspaper editors seem to follow in that light, uh, darkness.  Indeed, over the years, I’ve sent them many critical essays and cartoons regarding their professors. The norm has been one of non-response.  On a rare positive note, The Telegram (Newfoundland) has published a few of my critical letters.   
    Because of my testing of the press waters, I’ve come to the conclusion that far too many journalists and editors are thin-skinned to the point where they are unable to bear any criticism with their regard.  Journalist Nolan Finley seems to agree:  “Our feelings are hurt in the news media. The president of the United States is calling us the Enemy of the People and we don’t like it.” 
   Moreover, how can the press continually proclaim to be free when it is ideologically and corporately-bound like the Boston Globe?  Arguing it to be free is purposeful hypocrisy and self-glorification. Rather than issuing self-congratulatory statements and entire editorials devoted to how great journalists and the press are, perhaps journalists ought to look in the mirror and deal with their egregious faults. Rather than a holier-than-thou mission to “educate readers,” perhaps it is time they educated themselves.  After all, it is more the fault of journalists, than of Trump, that public esteem for them has been so low.  
     Although journalists might not necessarily be the enemy of the people, they clearly are not necessarily the friend of the people.  How, for example, can I, a common citizen, consider them friends when they constantly reject my opinions and stories?  As editor of a 501 c3 nonprofit literary journal, I not only brook, but encourage and publish in each and every issue the harshest criticism received with my regard.  Why do most editors not do that?  In fact, I cannot think of another editor who does.
     “Today it [the free press] is under serious threat,” argues Pritchard with the other Globe editors in lock-step groupthink conformity.  But what has Trump actually done to the press?  Didn’t Obama constantly denigrate Fox News?  Did the Globe call him out for that? And why does Pritchard not mention the biggest threat to freedom—certainly far greater than the alleged Trump threat—posed by Google, Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook? A common ideological connection might be the only explanation.   
   Pritchard and the other Globe editors argue:  “And it’s not a coincidence that this president—whose financial affairs are murky and whose suspicious pattern of behavior triggered his own Justice Department to appoint an independent counsel to investigate him—has tried so hard to intimidate journalists who provide independent scrutiny.”  But what about Hillary’s financial affairs?  And what about the Steele dossier and the Hillary connection to it?  Why that egregious omission?  What about the egregious bias of Mueller and the other investigators on his team?  Fair and impartial?  Hardly!  
   Pritchard and the other editors conclude, “The greatness of America is dependent on the role of a free press to speak the truth to the powerful.”  But what happens when press mandarins are part of the “powerful”?  Then the role of a free people is to speak the truth to the press. To label the press ‘the enemy of the people’ is as un-American as it is dangerous to the civic compact we have shared for more than two centuries,” argues Pritchard and the others.  But when the press becomes the Pravda for the left, then it is the enemy of those who do not share its ideological bent.  Indeed, the term enemies of the people was used by left-wing Stalinists to demonize those who did not share their ideological bent.  
    Like the Boston Globe, the Cape Cod Times published its own editorial, “Identifying the real enemy of the people,” as part of the Democrat Party-media’s effort to backslap and self-congratulate, while denigrating Trump.  The editorial like the Globe’s is absolutely devoid of any attempt to address the press’ own fundamental fault: egregious Democrat-Party bias.  It characterizes, not objectively, Trump’s criticism of the press as a “vitriolic stream of hatred.”  The press has manifested over and again its incapacity for objectivity where Trump is concerned.  And that is the crux of its own problem.  “Hatred” is a highly subjective term, which is why hate speech, for example, is not and should not be separated from free speech in accord with the First Amendment.  Hatred for thee is perhaps satire and criticism for me.  Editor Paul Pronovost needs to eliminate the subjective inferences and insults and provide concrete, accurate facts. He argues that “Today, the Cape Cod Times joins newspapers across the country in calling attention to this onslaught on the media to highlight the danger to democracy that occurs when a self-styled demagogue uses his access to the same media he proclaims to hate to sow seeds of confusion, discontent and distrust.” 
   But how can Pronovost be so blind as to not notice how incredibly anti-Trump the media has been from day one?  And why didn’t he call out Obama’s self-styled demagoguery? And what about the “confusion, discontent and distrust” sowed by Obama via the media (e.g., health care, Benghazi, Fast and Furious and on and on)? 
   “Still, the vast majority of journalists have toiled and continue to toil faithfully in pursuit of nothing other than the truth,” boasts Pronovost.  But again the media is controlled by its corporate owners and their ideological bent.  Pronovost and others don’t give a damn about the truth.  They are ideologues. Hypocritically, Pronovost proclaims, “And like you, we care deeply about what happens locally, nationally and internationally.”  And yet he sure as hell does not care what happens locally when it happens to his friends or elite community members, which is why he refused to publish news about a local senior citizen (me!) permanently banned from his library. Pronovost is a hypocrite! He cannot bear to be criticized, which is why he would never publish this counter op-ed, let alone respond to it.  
    Instead, he oozes more self-glorifying bullshit, distant from reality:  “We research the truth. We hold the powerful accountable.”  Then he echoes the new press mantra:  “No, the American press is not the enemy of the people. The true enemy of any democracy is ignorance, and the only way to battle ignorance is through the acquisition of knowledge: a single set of well-researched, incontrovertible, unbiased facts.”  The press is not the friend of the people when it consistently reports with bias and is not inclusive.  It is an enemy of democracy because it has been purposefully pushing ignorance, for example, regarding Islam.   Thus the only way to battle the ignorance pushed by the press is to battle the press.  Pronovost concludes again hypocritically, “We welcome that scrutiny and look forward to continuing to provide you with the facts.”  Clearly, he does NOT welcome that scrutiny!  In fact, he will not even contemplate it, let alone respond to it. And I have sent out plenty of letters to his deaf ears.  
   Finally, how can we, the people, have confidence in the press when editors openly/officially back one political candidate over another?  How can we have confidence in the press when far too many of its journalists partake in the ideology of identity politics and Islamism?  Clearly, the Boston Globe is not a free and independent press, nor is the Cape Cod Times!  An ideologically-bound editorial board will never be independent, let alone free.  Today, newspapers like the New York Times, Washington Post, and Boston Globe are focused on their ideology more than ever.  Has anyone ever read a positive piece on Trump in those papers?  Has anyone ever read a story in them on a black man who killed a white cop?  When the press is actively engaged in creating an alt-reality by willfully highlighting stories that fit that narrative, while willfully suppressing stories that counter it, then it behaves as an enemy of democracy and should be called out for that…  
NB:  The Boston Globe has refused to publish any counter-opinion like the one above that I've sent to it.  That too is a problem of the elite press journalists today.  

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Chronicle Vitae--David Gooblar

Fear not, oh academics!  The following essay will be fully ignored/rejected by your ivory tower.  The Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed despise alt-opinions and vigorous debate, cornerstone of a thriving democracy.  They push career, not rude-truth telling.  They will publish plenty of vacuous articles like “How to Prepare for Class without Overpreparing” (Prof. James Lang) and “Why I’m Easy:  I’m Giving Lot’s of A’s” (Prof. Gary Laderman).  “5 Tips on Surviving Your First Year as a Department Head” is another such article (Profs. Rob Kramer and Peter J. Mucha).  “Chairs are notoriously stuck in the middle, serving everyone in all directions,” argue the two authors.  Well, intellectually-corrupt chairs—and there are plenty of them—do NOT serve rare professors who possess the courage to call them out and risk career in doing so.  Rather than five superficial tips, I’d suggest one tip for all academics placing career far above truth telling like the large majority of chairs:  fortify your modus operandi of turning a blind eye, backslapping, and self-congratulating.  That indeed might even help you get into a deanship.  The Chronicle and Inside Higher Ed have been rejecting my alt-opinion essays for years now.  Below is one I recently wrote and submitted to the former.  The response from the faceless (nameless) editors was identical to the last response received (hyper-polite and hyper-vacuous—higher ed in a nutshell):  

Dear Dr. Slone,
Thank you for sending us this essay. Several of us have read it, and we regret to say that we are unable to publish it. Because we receive dozens of manuscripts each week on all sorts of topics, we have to make some tough choices. And, unfortunately, that large number also precludes us from responding to each in depth, but we very much appreciate your thinking of The Chronicle.

The Editors

Truth or Career? How to Teach Literacy in an Era of Academic Marxist-Ideology
[The fundamental question confronting every academic is truth or career—open heresy or turning a blind eye.  Choose the latter and get tenure; choose the former and get intellectual integrity.  Sadly, in most cases (99%), one cannot choose both.] 
Rhetoric can be a synonym for bullshit… and there is a ton of that in the ranks of academics, whose very careers depend on producing it ad nauseam.  “Information literacy” is another instance of academic rhetoric.  In his Chronicle Vitae (Chronicle of Higher Education) column, “How to Teach Literacy in an Era of Lies,” David Gooblar defines the curious concept as “the capacity to understand, assess, evaluate, and apply information to solve problems or answer questions.”
The essay title—ideology always manages to seep out of the cracks of faux-objectivity—seems to imply that somehow the “Era of Lies” began with Trump, despite the numerous proven lies of Hillary and Obama.  Gooblar argues “To succeed in college and in life afterward, students need to be able to tell a truth from a falsehood. And clearly, that is not as easy as it seems.”  Yet in today’s PC-controlled ivory tower, to succeed in college perhaps really means to open wide and swallow the plethora of PC-information dished out by ideologically-bound professors, not in the least bit interested in truth and reason, let alone freedom of speech and vigorous debate, democracy’s cornerstones.  Truth demands courage.  Academics are not known for courage.  
The likely reality in academe of ideology over truth tends to control not only students, but also professors, especially those seeking tenure.  Gooblar suggests, “Start by talking with some experts. Librarians on your campus have been thinking about these issues for a long time, and many now regularly collaborate with faculty members to teach research skills to students.”  And yet if Gooblar had any real experience with librarians—testing the waters of their fiefdoms—, he’d know they served as gatekeepers of information, which means they might eliminate (or block) from their shelves information they do not like… on ideological grounds.  Try finding a book or periodical critical of librarians and the American Library Association on library shelves!  The American Dissident contains such criticism in each and every issue, and not one library in Idaho will subscribe!  
With that regard, read my dialogue de sourds with James LaRue, director of the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, “Notes on the Office for Intellectual Constraint.”  In it, LaRue rationalizes librarian censorship and banning.  Would Gooblar expose his University of Iowa students to it?  Would he even respond to this counter essay?  [He did not respond!]  Perhaps it would help open student eyes a bit… to information literacy.  After all, how to trust those who seek to censor truths they do not like with helping to determine what is truth and what is not?  In fact, how to trust the Chronicle itself, which would likely never publish this counter-essay?  [It did not publish it!]  And would Gooblar even use it in his classes?  [Certainly not!]  Over the decades, I have grown to know quite well the academic beast.  How to trust cultural Marxist professors with teaching students “information literacy”?  What was info lit like under Stalin’s or Castro’s grip?  What would it be like in Gender or Multiculti Studies classes?  How would those professors “guide students in handling information wisely”? 
Critical thinking in the Humanities is essentially dead.  Reason is dead.  What is alive in the Humanities is loud bellowing:  “RACIST!  RACIST!  RACIST! NAZI! NAZI! NAZI!”  Ideology is alive and kicking!  That is the real information literacy in academe today.  However, Gooblar argues, “But learning how to find accurate information, and how to sort out what’s true from what’s false, is integral to most courses and most course assignments.”  So, in what courses is it not integral?  Gender studies?  Well, he dares not mention.  
Gooblar does make a good point:  “It’s more important for students to be able to evaluate claims than sources, per se.”  However, what if students do not have access to all sources, thanks to their gatekeeper librarians?  Gooblar favors so-called “professional fact-checkers,” but fails to mention how a number of them have been outed for being ideologically-restricted and thus making false conclusions.  Indeed, how might ideology affect fact checking?   Google Scholar is mentioned, but not the fact that Google has been involved in censoring, shadow banning, and firing those who disagree with its ideology. 
“Information literacy thus moves beyond determining what is true and what is false to an investigation into why we are so easily fooled, and why we so easily fool ourselves,” argues Gooblar.    And yet the answer, once again, is quite evident and does not need a plethora of scholarly research papers and op-eds to find it.  Ideology is the enemy of reason and truth.  That is the answer.  Google, Facebook, and YouTube are enemies of reason and truth, though friends of PC-ideology.    
Gooblar concludes, “How can students succeed in any intellectual pursuit if they cannot tell what’s true from what’s false?”  But I’d argue, how can students succeed in any intellectual pursuit if their professors (and well-indoctrinated peers) are constantly pressuring them to echo multiculti-diversity party-line dogma?  

Finally, if one does not actively test the waters of democracy, one will never know just how murky they are.  Clearly, Gooblar has never tested them in academe.  To do so would be highly destructive to his career and pension benefits.  In fact, can Gooblar even profess to be information literate, regarding things academic?  Can he even possess the requisite information literacy to process this essay, which questions and challenges his very modus operandi?  Moreover, I am not convinced that critical thinking or so-called “information literacy” can even be taught.  During my years as a university student, I don’t remember having been taught such things.  I learned them on my own.  I learned them by actually testing the waters of democracy on my own—and risking career.  

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Bards of a Feather Flock Together… 
At the Fine Arts Work Center of Provincetown
[This essay, as well as a few satirical cartoons, was sent to FAWC staff and a handful of workshop poet instructors.  Nobody responded.  It was sent to Provincetown Arts and Cape Cod Poetry Review.  Nobody responded.  A vastly truncated version was also sent to the Provincetown BannerIt was not published, despite Assoc. Ed. Edward Miller's BS:  "We are interested in your opinions."]  
Cape Cod, where I’ve been living for eight years, hates criticism of art and poetry.  For its art curators, poetry editors, writing professors, art-center executive directors, and cultural-council apparatchiks, criticism simply doesn’t exist.  If you stand up to criticize what needs to be criticized, as I have done, then you simply don’t exist.  If you never test the waters of democracy, then you will never know just how murky they are.  

In poetry, vigorous debate is dead. Ideology has coopted poetry (and art).  Inevitably, ideology runs counter to reason and truth.  Poets (and artists) ought to be staunch individuals with the courage to stand alone and speak truth to power (i.e., ideology) and not reside in groupthink ideological clusters.  Poets must put reason and truth first, even at the expense of money, prizes, recognition, tenure, and especially cherished ideology. 

“Generative” seems to have become the poetry workshop monkey-see, monkey-do term of the day.  Perhaps, I thought, the Urban Dictionary might have a special PC-meaning for it, but, well, it doesn’t.  So, “generative” means what it’s always meant:  producing and reproducing… ad infinitum and sometimes ad nauseam.  Regarding her workshop, Solmaz Sharif, for example, writes:  “leave with a ton of ways to generate poems.”  Patricia Spears Jones notes, regarding hers: “this workshop is designed […] to help to generate new work.”  The copycat examples abound in the Fine Arts Work Center catalogue:  “this class will utilize daily generative writing exercises” (Craig Morgan Teicher), “both generative and a workshop” (Brenda Shaughnessy), “workshop focused and generative” (Jennifer Tseng), “this generative workshop invites participants to write new poems” (Major Jackson), “once a poet locates an approach that makes quick work of the generative process” (Marcus Wicker), and “Revising & Generating: A Poetry Workshop” (Martha Rhodes).  When paid poets spend too much time with other paid poets, they inevitably end up producing generative BS.  

Grocery stores often stock tourist pamphlets, brochures, free newspapers, and other chamber-of-commerce-friendly innocuity in their entranceways next to their weekly ads, bottle-return machines, and garbage buckets.  Thus, I picked up the 73-page glossily-expensive “Creativity [i.e., Generativity] Thrives Here” catalogue from one of them, thinking I’d likely come up with a couple of critical cartoon ideas from it.  And sure enough, I did, though there was more in it with that regard than I ever could have expected.  In fact, the catalogue seemed to incarnate the mind-numbing world of poetry workshops, which serve, more than anything else, to propagate the recognition status of workshop poet-instructors, to “generate” more money for them, and especially to “generate” more reams of vacuous, establishment and ideology-friendly verse.  

How to make great brouhaha out of great nothingness?  Poetry was once a solitary activity.  Now, it’s become pervaded by groupthink groups and groupies, lack-of-originality hip-hop jazz poesy readings, poetry tourists, and increasing pervasive self-congratulating and backslapping ad nauseam.  “Fine Arts Work Center Writing Fellows have won virtually every major literary prize awarded in the United States,” boasts the staff (Executive Director Michael Roberts, Writing Coordinator Sophia Starmack, Online Writing Coordinator Jill McDonough, Marketing and Communications Director Cary Raymond, Associate Director Bette Warner et al).  Throughout the catalogue, the boasting (i.e., backslapping and self-congratulating) is echoed over and again.  “This extraordinary group of poets and writers will be celebrated throughout 2018 in a series of readings and conversations in and around Provincetown.”  “The caliber of our Summer Workshops faculty is unparalleled.  Nightly readings and artist talks offer students a rare opportunity to learn from and interact with faculty at the highest levels of their disciplines.”  “Work Center fellows have gone on to number among the most accomplished artists and writers working today, winning MacArthurs, Whitings, Pollock-Krasners, Tiffanys, Prix de Romes, Guggenheims, National Book Awards, and eight Pulitzer Prizes.”  

But what does “accomplished” really mean in the realm of poetry, if not 100% coopted by the academic/literary establishment?  The true purpose of FAWC is exposed in the last sentence of its own introduction:  “Our programming also offers 100 public events, bringing 10,000 annual visitors to Provincetown…”  Tourism!  Money!  Tourism!  Money!  Those visitors will pour money into the restaurants, motels, and souvenir shops.  The entire June 10th to August 24th FAWC workshop event really does incarnate the business of poetry and art:  the selling of accommodations ($800/six nights), books, artwork, tickets to see singing poets, etc., as well as the very selling out of renowned poets and artists.  

Immediately after the introduction page, a handful of pages are devoted to FAWC’s other purpose, which is really the same purpose:  money.  “Our 50th Anniversary Campaign 1968-2018:  The Goal—Raise $5 Million.”  And of course the wealthier FAWC becomes, the more it will reward unquestioning and unchallenging poets and artists, who toe the line of inoffensiveness, with fellowship grants. 

Somehow, prizes and popularity seem to cast a faux-air of objective determination of brilliance upon certain poets.  But poetry, like art, is entirely subjective, no matter how much the machine wants us to think its objective.  Might any of the poet and artist FAWC “faculty” possess the capacity to even contemplate when poetry and art become tourist attractions, they’ve inevitably become castrated or coopted?  And for that to occur, something intrinsically wrong must occur in the very heart of poetry and art.  In reality, FAWC’s “renowned faculty” of poets and artists have been well-trained like donkeys.  Hold a carrot (i.e., money, fellowships, tenure, prizes, renown et al) in front of their snouts and they’ll move toward the carrot in an innocuous waddle.  

Of the numerous (I avoid the term “diverse”) workshops offered in the catalogue, many, if not most, are in poetry, each lasting six days and costing $600 to $725 to attend (There are also a number of online workshops offered lasting up to two months.).  Now, what kind of poet is going to spend that kind of money to attend a poetry workshop?  Well, a trained poet will do that because he or she feels the need for more training.  He or she also wants to rub elbows with renowned workshop poets and make connections, which will hopefully lead to increased recognition and even prizes.  Perhaps also he or she is being supported by grants of public or university money, so it’s not coming out of his or her own pocket.  And, after all, isn’t “recognition” the goal of the poet today?  It certainly isn’t rude-truth telling, as in “go upright and vital and speak the rude truth in all ways” (Emerson).  Indeed, you ain’t gonna find that at the FAWC, nor are you going to find poets apt to go against the grain of the poetry machine, as in “let your life be a counter friction to stop the machine” (Thoreau).  

But, of course, you’ll find plenty of ideologically-correct (i.e., PC) variety poets and artists, especially during FAWC’s “Social Justice Week” of “Writers & Artists as Activists,” or rather as Blind-Ideologues of Democrat-Party-line propaganda.  So, poets, who don’t share the party-line views on global warming (uh, climate change), open borders, gun control, #me too, BLM, anti-white racism (i.e., white privilege), islamophobia, hate speech, and so on, will have to adorn an additional muzzle, that is, if they wish to keep their recognition status and teach future poetry workshops at FAWC. 

“Writing the Forbidden: A Poetry Workshop” seemed to take the prize, amongst all the workshops, for contradictory absurdity.  After all, the rude truth regarding “writing the forbidden,” as in this very essay, would be forbidden at FAWC.  Earlier this year, I had already written the forbidden regarding Provincetown Arts magazine and received this memorable response from its brilliant editor, Christopher Busa:  

Silly Slone, I was trained in literary studies during a decade in graduate school with some of the foremost critics of the time. Your idea of criticism, from the shrillness of your rants, excludes any sense of illumination. Please do not contact me again.

And when I wrote back regarding that comment, Busa continued with his, uh, “rant.”

Clearly, your eyes are too clouded to read excellent writing, let alone understand. You are a silly pest that sucks blood from living things. 

And so, what was the monstrously horrible thought crime that merited such a response from the high-and-mightily educated Busa?  Well, below is the email I’d sent.   

To Christopher Busa, Founder and Editor, Provincetown Arts, “An annual magazine devoted to art, writing & theater since 1985”:  
Might I humbly suggest that you insert the word “establishment” in front of the word “art” in your subtitle?  After all, should not art and writing be concerned with rude truth?  
I attach a challenging aquarelle because it stands at the crux, at your very problematic crux.  Examine it, that is, if you still have an iota of curiosity regarding things exterior to your art-establishment safe space.   Why will nobody publish it?  Is that a problem?  Yes!  It is a problem.  It is at the very crux of the art problem… to the extent that any artist even capable of contemplating it will likely experience problems in the world of the art establishment, your world.  I also attach the old aquarelle I did with you standing in the background.  
“Go away troll,” had written one of your poesy-establishment cover girls, Eileen Myles.  And indeed that seems to be the extent of permissible debate in the establishment world of poesy and art today.  Rude truth is not permitted in such safe spaces!  Only ideological echoing is permitted.  The crux!  Think!  Now, why not one little page in your journal devoted to criticism of you and your journal?  Pipe dream?  You bet!  The crux!  Think!

The two aquarelle (and a cartoon on Myles) can viewed on the American Dissident blogsite (http://wwwtheamericandissidentorg.blogspot.com/2018/05/sebastian-smee.html, http://wwwtheamericandissidentorg.blogspot.com/2016/08/eileen-myles.html, and http://wwwtheamericandissidentorg.blogspot.com/2018/07/kevin-howard.html).  I also posted the cartoon I sketched on Busa after receiving his response of raving indignity (see http://wwwtheamericandissidentorg.blogspot.com/2018/07/christopher-busa.html).  

Criticize the establishment and it usually goes whacko… or more often reacts as if you didn’t even exist (i.e., deafening silence, though with eternal ostracizing).  

Well, I do not digress because Busa is likely as tightly linked with FAWC as he is with the Chamber of Commerce and its diverse cultural councils and art centers.  One must wonder if any real dissident poets or artists even exist in the tightly-bound Provincetown community.  And what happens when “dissidents” become the establishment?  Well, clearly they were never really “dissidents” to begin with.  Think of Ai Weiwei, darling of the art establishment today and FAWC “special guest.”  

Anyhow, “award-winning poet” Jennifer Tseng, the instructor and creator of the “Writing the Forbidden” workshop, declares in a not very forbidden statement, “What’s forbidden to one writer may not be forbidden to another.”  She then puts forth the supposed taboo-breaking purpose of the workshop:  “Whatever your forbidden territory is, visit it with curiosity and attention.  We proceed as risk-takers together.”  It would be quite surprising, of course, if Tseng and her adult poet students could even fathom the real great taboo, let alone risk breaking it:  thou shalt not question and challenge the academic/literary establishment, including its icons, literary prizes, awards, judges, cultural apparatchiks, and various organizations like FAWC itself.  After all, doing so, might really entail risk, that is, risk of no more paid FAWC workshops, of career destruction, of diminution of recognition and eternal exclusion.  And so, I sketched my first cartoon from the catalogue on Tseng.  Does that mean I’m racist or misoginist and not a worshipper of identity politics?  Perhaps.  And, if so, I don’t give a damn.  My purpose is truth, not recognition, not obtaining a prize, award, fellowship, grant or workshop to teach, and especially not obtaining PC-certification.  Truth.  Nothing but the truth.  And for that, you shall never hear or read of my existence in Provincetown Arts or Poetry magazine.  

Now, Tseng might very well be a nice person.  But how can a dissident poet like me not call her out for helping the establishment give the false impression that it is somehow open to criticism and risk-taking poets who really dare go against its grain?  Yes, for the truth, I have sacrificed teaching jobs, publication possibilities, invitations, and grants, as well as the very right to enter my neighborhood library.  Indeed, my very civil rights are being denied today because I am not permitted to attend any cultural or political events held there, thanks to the permanent trespass decree issued by Sturgis Library director Lucy Loomis (see theamericandissident.org/orgs/sturgis_library.html).  Might any of the renowned FAWC poets give a damn about that?  Of course not!  Perhaps Tseng might wish to consider working for Xi Jinping as a propagandist.  Well, she’s already working for Michael Roberts.  

One thing these poet characters seem to have in common is their worship of the poetry prizes.  Don’t-Bite-the-Hand-That-Feeds Poet Cornelius Eady—NEA, Guggenheim, Rockefeller Foundation Fellow, Lamont Prize and Pulitzer nominee—boasts, for example, “I read a lot—manuscripts I’ve read for contests have turned into Nat’l Book Award and Pulitzer Prize winners.”  He and his ilk seem entirely incapable of questioning and challenging the prizes (e.g., who are the judges? what are their ideological and stylistic prejudices?) or perceiving their precise role in the cooptation (i.e., castration) of poetry.  A poet who is fed by the establishment like Eady is a poet of the establishment.  
FAWC poets are clearly lost in verbosity, which can only create superfluity and general lack of originality.  What to think of poet assistant professor of Creative Writing (Kansas State University), NEA Fellow et al Traci Brimhall’s statement:  “We will focus on how to create a balance of tension in poems between clarity and wilderness, narrative and music, emotion and intellect.  Using models and exercises, we will generate [oh, yeah, generate!] new work that tries to balance our inherent strengths by employing vocabulary, syntax, and tonal choices we normally shy away from.  Sign up for a tune up.”  Mind-numbing!  Anything but rude truth!  The poetess as filler of reams and reams…
The brouhaha in the catalogue is deafening… and utterly dumbing.  “Artist as Activist: Ai Weiwei.”  Oh, yeah, but Weiwei is certainly not an activist against the bourgeois art and poetry scene that’s been feeding him royally or rather as royalty.  “Robert Pinsky’s Favorite Poem Project.”  Yes, imagine the poems that tenured-academic, government-anointed poet laureate Pinsky would choose.  
(see wwwtheamericandissidentorg.blogspot.com/2010/06/common-citizens-plea-for-justice-equity.html).  Or how about tenured academic Fred Marchant, who has kept the doors of his Suffolk University Poetry Center  hermetically closed to the poets published in The American Dissident (see 
http://wwwtheamericandissidentorg.blogspot.com/2012/05/fred-marchant.html)?  Yes, his poetry workshop, “Writing the Water Songs,” will surely make waves in the poetry establishment.  Oh, yeah.  It’s enough to make a thinking, unattached poet puke.  Or how about “we will have a good time” workshop poet Eileen Myles, who dismissed me as a “troll” because I dared criticize her identity-politics inanity.  Her “Basic Tools:  A Poetry Workshop” will surely highlight how safe-space cocooned poets like her cannot bare to be criticized.  

The descriptions of the workshops not only echo tedious repetition, but also absurdity and silliness:  “Keep Your Foot on the Sustain Pedal:  Writing Long Poems” (Ed Skoog); “Delightful Duos:  Collaborating Poets” (Laura Madeline Wiseman) [How not to think of the French collabos during WWII!]; “The Poet as Spy:  4 Tricks from Espionage” (Jillian Weise); “Anthro-Poetics: Living, Seeing, and Wonder” (Nomi Stone); “I Am Trying to Be Marvelous:  The Poetics of Body Positivity” (Emilia Phillips); and “Griffins, Harpies, and Jackalopes:  Hybrid Poetics” (Sarah Rose Nordgren).  Why are these superfluous workshops even created?  To fill available space at FAWC?  Ross Gay describes his exciting workshop:  “In this generative workshop, we will stoke our imaginations by (often collaboratively) writing and performing mini operas, puppet plays, poem-type things, making books, studying flowers, and making a way together.”  And shouldn’t poets expect more from FAWC Board of Trustees workshop instructor and poet laureate of New York, Sarah Lawrence College professor Marie Howe, who begins the description “Intention & Discovery:  Form as Portal, Form as Path” with “This workshop is primarily generative”?  For poets of the machine, forme always takes precedent over fond (substance).  In fact, for many of them, poetry does not even need fond.  

Why is criticism of the poetry machine conspicuously absent as a workshop possibility?  Surely, it would provoke ample discussion and even thought amongst the poets.  “Against the Machine:  An Unusual Poetry Workshop.”  In this workshop, poets will not be encouraged to generate or fill reams and reams of paper with vapid theme-based verse.  Instead, they will focus on questioning and challenging all things poetry, including FAWC itself, poetry prizes, fellowships, other monetary lures, and what it really means to be a recognized poet.  They will be encouraged, by the instructor, to question and challenge the instructor himself.  Pipe dream?  You bet!

Money serves to tame poets and artists.  “The ambitious goal will grow our $1.5 million endowment by $3.5 million which will underwrite our residency program and provide additional resources to bring senior and mid-career artists and writers to Provincetown, offering our Fellows essential mentorship,” notes FAWC.  So much money will surely serve to further muzzle and fully control poetry by enhancing the already insurmountable propaganda machine led by Poetry Foundation’s $200 million endowment, managed by investment bankers of course.  

“Fellows are accepted entirely on the excellence of work submitted,” notes FAWC.  But who determines what “excellence” constitutes?  Can criticism of the bourgeois writing industry ever be considered “excellence”?  Of course not!  FAWC then quotes one of its obedient backslapping Writing Fellows, Ann Patchett, who seems to incarnate the vacuity of bourgeois writers of the writing industry:   “It is quite easy to bet on a horse that you know has already won.  What the Fine Arts Work Center does is it bets on the horses that haven’t run yet.  And to give the gift to people who need it, in order to save their lives, is the difference between handling someone a laurel and handing someone a lifetime.”  Patchett, the horse, argues in The Guardian, “If writers are to survive we must take responsibility for ourselves and our industry.”  When poetry becomes an industry as it already has, then poetry is dead.  Finally, one might wish to contemplate the likelihood that no “great” poet of the past ever took a course in poetry, let alone a poetry workshop.  But that very thought ineluctably runs counter to the industry grain.  For those who I did not mention in this essay, please forgive me.  There are just far too many of you carrot-chasing poet donkeys to critique in one essay.  Opening the hermetically-sealed doors to a wee bit of criticism might provoke a wee bit of unusual debate, open the scope of acceptable poetry, and even get workshop poets to perhaps seek a wee bit of originality, as opposed to copycat generative BS.  Poet Charles Bukowski provides some rare words of poet wisdom:  “A writer is going to get resistance to his work always unless he feeds the mass mind the pap they [sic] want.  The only thing you can do is write the way you want to write and to hell with everything else.  It’s better to fail your way than succeed their way.  […] If you fail to make anybody hate you, then you haven’t done your job.”  Well, then I guess I sure as hell have at least done my job…