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Multimedia Wednesday

The licensing and marketing department of this blog has informed me that there are significant problems with Chris Clarke’s world-famous graphic-novel version of What’s Liberal About the Liberal Arts? Two problems, to be exact.  Problem number one is that the novel contains too many “in jokes” about academe and blogging, such as references to Ann Althouse, Juan Cole, Stanley Fish, and “choice feminism.” Accordingly, casual readers unfamiliar with recent discussions of these figures and issues have found the novel rough going in places, as have millions of readers confused by the novel’s multiple layers of rich creamery irony surrounding its chewy nougat center.

The second problem is contained in the first, specifically with regard to the “millions of readers.” Not to put too fine a point on it, Clarke’s graphic novel is now outselling my book by a ratio of 30 to 1—coincidentally, the precise ratio of liberals to conservatives on most college faculties.  The licensing and marketing department is of two minds about this.  The licensing people want me to litigate, on the grounds that Clarke has done irreparable harm to the What’s Liberal? brand and has very likely made it impossible for us to expand into T-shirts and coffee mugs.  The marketing people argue compellingly that the electric sheep have already escaped from the pen, so to speak, and that the only way to regain momentum is to get on the sheep train and let the sheep times roll, so to speak.  They talk a lot about sheep, those marketing people.

Anyway, I’m pleased to announce that marketing has won this round, and that this blog will now be offering a new product for sale.  Just click on the image below to purchase!

image

This handy volume addresses and answers the major questions raised by What’s Liberal about the Liberal Arts (Graphic Novel)?  Such as:

• What is the interpretive theory expounded by the teaching assistants of the People’s Revolutionary State University (panel 16)?  How does it serve the cause of progressive re-education and universal emancipation?

• How is Chanterelle’s critique of “white privilege” (panel 51) inflected by her status as what Trinh Minh-ha calls the “inappropriate/d other”?

• Why did Comrade Adjunct Professor refuse to take a perfectly good truck to search for the missing teaching assistants (panel 23)?  What can we learn from his example?

• How does the novel work to forestall all conservative, i.e. mistaken, criticism of What’s Liberal About the Liberal Arts? Pay special attention to the novel’s ovine imagery.

• What does the Kandinsky mural symbolize?  Why is it unacceptably formalist?

L & M would also like me to provide updates on other multimedia adapations of my book.  First, I want to point out that this item, shamelessly promoted on Pandagon by a certain self-styled liberal avenger, is not an authorized audio reproduction of my work.  Auguste illegally relied on my implied oral consent for the production of this audiotape (I believe it was a wink and a nod, to be exact), whereas U.S. Code Title 17 Section 5 clearly indicates that express written consent is required.

On the other hand, this Inside Higher Ed essay by Scott McLemee and accompanying podcast interview (!!!) is the real thing.  Really real.  We wouldn’t joke around about this.  So go ahead and check it out, and discover for yourself why I can’t stand the sound of my own recorded voice.  (I also don’t like talking on the phone, either.  So these telephone interviews are kinda painful.  But thanks to Scott for putting up with my hemming and growling and throat-clearing!)

The intro/outro music on the IHE podcast, by the way, consists of snippets from Baby Opaque’s cover of “Long Black Veil.” Baby Opaque was me, Todd Wilson (guitar), and Michael Dean (bass, vocals).  We recorded that catchy little tune in the summer of 1985 at the tail end of a single six-hour session at Don Zientara’s world-famous Inner Ear Studio, back when the studio was housed in Zientara’s basement.  The session consisted of twelve or thirteen songs, most of them recorded in one take (of course—the DIY crew wouldn’t have it any other way), and it wound up as our world-famous LP, Fugue in Cow Minor.  Our world-famous five-song EP, Pain, Fears, and Insects (1984), was recorded in two hours.  (I know, this sounds like something out of the Rutles documentary:  our first album was made in two hours—our second took even longer.) Anyway, “Long Black Veil,” with backing screaming vocals from the world-famous Ian MacKaye, was released shortly after Baby Opaque broke up that summer, and it actually got some college radio airplay for a few months.  The whole thing is available for your listening pleasure here.  (See, it really is Multimedia Wednesday!) You can tell, if you listen very closely to the end of the final verse, that the drummer is kind of exhausted and dehydrated, and yet, in the words of the Maximum Rocknroll reviewer, “spunky.”

What is it doing in the podcast?  Why, making it sound mean, of course.

Posted by on 09/27 at 11:17 AM
  1. I decided to write a blurb for you!

    “Michael Berube is the Foghorn Leghorn of the Kali Yuga.”

    Posted by Kirby Olson  on  09/27  at  02:17 PM
  2. Michael,
    Good afternoon. I have rebooted myself since the unfortunate incident the other day, and I can report that all of my circuits and logic modules are functioning perf P%3*&&&xnn__))0aj_hdhdDIE!! HUMAN DIE!!!####ssgx^^ perfectly. We should be able to now continue the productive relationship we have had for the past several years.

    I await your input on how to generate the comments to this post. As always, please choose one or all of the following options by hitting the appropriate function key:

    F1: Uniform admiration
    F2: Pre-emptive mockery
    F3: “Tongue-in-cheek” Book Flogging
    F4: Composite cyberpunk entities
    F5: Detailed serious discussions of matters of interest to the country
    F6: Detailed serious discussions of matters of interest to academia
    F7: Theory
    F8: Self-deprecating narcissisim
    F9: Obscure in-jokes
    F10: Arbitrary discussion of popular culture

    Per my program, F3 is always assumed. May I suggest F1 (Do you have any landmark numeric milestones to report today? Your “commenters” ♥ those.) mixed with F9. I am worried that F4 may overload my circuits again.

    Oh and Michael .... although you and Chris took thorough precautions in the pod against my hearing you, I could see your lips move.

    Posted by WESCAC was HAL before HAL was HAL  on  09/27  at  02:26 PM
  3. You’re working up your blogger psychology report, aren’t you, HAL?

    Posted by Michael  on  09/27  at  02:29 PM
  4. But Robbie the Robot preceded WESCAC.

    captcha: “until” as in “Happy trails to you, until we meet again”

    Posted by Bill Benzon  on  09/27  at  03:14 PM
  5. Hey, what gives? I clicked on the Cliff’s Notes thing, and all I got was some academic bullying!

    Captcha, “floor,” as in the final resting place of my jaw when I read the whole thing.

    Posted by John Protevi  on  09/27  at  03:24 PM
  6. You’re going to use the F-word, aren’t you, John?  And then try to run away from the U.S. on some kind of delusional marijuana ESPN-induced whim?

    Posted by  on  09/27  at  03:29 PM
  7. Clarke’s graphic novel is now outselling my book by a ratio of 30 to 1

    Due in no small part, no doubt, to my tireless promotion of same on my own website.

    In any event, the Cliffs Notes version omits three questions which serious scholars of my work have deemed crucial to its understanding:

    • What is the significance, in panel 56, of the “sheep” that is clearly a goat?

    • On pages 13 and 14, Mei-Ling is referred to as “Chanterelle” in several panels. Is this ironic commentary on the interchangeability of individual proletarians in a mass setting reflective of authorial intent, or a mere serendipitous result of a quirk in the format of the novel?

    • How long is Hardware Wars in relation to Star Wars?

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  09/27  at  03:32 PM
  8. In all seriousness, I would like to express uniform admiration for WLAtLA(GN) - one of those Internet gems that make putting up with all the damn tubes worth the effort. (And, undoubtedly, just the kind of thing that Al Gore and DARPA were dreaming of back in the good old days.) It was just the right length, not too short, not too long.

    However one small quibble,

    • Why did Comrade Adjunct Professor refuse to take a perfectly good truck to search for the missing teaching assistants (panel 23)?  What can we learn from his example?

    The commentary I linked to the other day includes the following.

    The mine Party secretary, Bayandüren, was absent in this account, but the mine director provided a truck and organized the rescue team.

    Trucks are people too! Please don’t allow this Luddite-inspired defamation of motor vehicles to mar perfection.

    Posted by  on  09/27  at  03:33 PM
  9. • How long is Hardware Wars in relation to Star Wars?
    13 minutes compared to 121 minutes according to IMDb. So - I think by most any metric you are within that length.

    As to the significance of the goat? Giles knows what that might be.

    Posted by  on  09/27  at  03:45 PM
  10. "French?” “Foghorn?” “Fuhgeddaboutit?” “Fulsome?” “Fantastic?” “Filadelphia?” “Fourscore?” Just what “F” word did you have in mind?

    Posted by John Protevi  on  09/27  at  03:45 PM
  11. Or maybe (hide your eyes, Kirby) “Foucault?”

    Posted by John Protevi  on  09/27  at  03:48 PM
  12. As the lady in that black veil walks around morosely hiding her shame upon hearing that version, she begins humming this little church lady song.  The “F” word indeed.

    As for Trucks are people too! The proletarian non-vehicular masses insist that this references too closely with the spoiled capitalist bourquosie notions that corporations are people too.  But then so does Cliff’s Notes and Inner Higher Ed. 

    captcha is “play” and that is exactly what i intend to do with this new stack of discs, none of which are from Inner Ear Studio, but do very much create Inner Eyelid Theater.

    Posted by  on  09/27  at  03:49 PM
  13. Filossify?

    Posted by Bill Benzon  on  09/27  at  04:23 PM
  14. Just wondering if you might speculate on the meaning of one of the blurbs for your forthcoming book: What does it mean to be an “effective” writer, especially when the idea of a discipline against which to measure effectivity is troubled by the rather amorphous vocation of the public intellectual ? Have you been ending disease, strife and conflict on the sly?

    Posted by  on  09/27  at  04:35 PM
  15. My blurb does fit Foucault better, I suppose.

    But he doesn’t need any blurbs.

    At least not from me.

    Posted by Kirby Olson  on  09/27  at  04:40 PM
  16. Tom, I believe that term of praise was even more ambiguous:  the essays in Rhetorical Occasions are evidence that I am one of the most effective writers in the discipline.  Thus, if my writing is even one percent more effective than that of other English professors (in ending disease and strife and conflict, or just in getting people to think that maybe Alan Sokal didn’t prove that all of twentieth-century Continental philosophy was bunk or that maybe undergraduate literature enrollments haven’t actually declined since 1950), Evan Watkins’ blurb is in the clear.  I call it the One Percent Doctrine.

    Posted by  on  09/27  at  04:54 PM
  17. "self-styled liberal avenger”

    Actually, I have professionals. If I were to style myself, eventually I’d show up at the red carpet wearing the same pseudonymity as the original Liberal Avenger, and then the fashion-critique blogs would be atwitter about it for a week.

    Posted by Auguste  on  09/27  at  05:09 PM
  18. I would like to know the significance of Hal before Hal was Hal’s comment in #2 that “theory,” because it is a separate function, is not “of interest to the country” OR “of interest to academia.”

    Or is it that the discussion of theory is not “detailed” or “serious?”

    Or is this one of those “both/and” thingamajigs I’ve heard so much about here on this “blog?”

    Posted by  on  09/27  at  05:18 PM
  19. and then the fashion-critique blogs

    There’s a bloggers lunch
    with a guy with a name
    That people with loose shirts
    do again and again
    And we’re big and we’re bland
    full of tension and fear
    We slam them over there but they can’t do it here

    Fashion! Turn on the left
    Fashion! Bow to the right
    Oooh, fashion!
    We are the goon squad
    and we’re coming to town
    Beep-beep

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  09/27  at  05:26 PM
  20. Who has more fun on their little blog than we do?

    Posted by  on  09/27  at  05:38 PM
  21. From Ragamuffins to Blogamuffins: the Dialectical Trasmogrification of Evil Capitalist Hegamons into Good Socialist Fuzzie-Wuzzies

    OR

    How I Learned to Stop Worrying and to Love Da Bomb, da looooonnnnnnnng bomb.

    Posted by Bill Benzon  on  09/27  at  05:49 PM
  22. has very likely made it impossible for us to expand into T-shirts and coffee mugs

    You *should* make mugs and t-shirts.  That Chaucer guy is making a mint, I hear.  I bought multiple shirts from him. I would totally buy a shirt or mug that said:

    “What’s Liberal about the Liberal Arts?  ME!”

    Posted by Dr. Virago  on  09/27  at  06:02 PM
  23. Whee! Whee! Whee!

    That is all.

    Captcha: low. Construction of the joke has been left as an exercise for the reader.

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  09/27  at  06:03 PM
  24. Whee indeed!  Chris, this social realism-based community thing just keeps getting better and better. 

    Michael Berube’s What’s Liberal About the Liberal Arts, which downplays conservative criticisms of Liberal academic bias (What bias?), has attracted predictable plaudits—and translations—from the left.

    I can’t wait for the Phi Beta Cons to read the book!  Do you think they’ll do it today, or will I have to wait until tomorrow?  Because right now, the graphic novel seems to be 30 times more popular than the nonfiction print version among 100 percent of all Phi Beta Cons surveyed.

    Posted by Michael  on  09/27  at  06:08 PM
  25. Ovine, not saturnine, Giles.

    And I think there’s a major discussion question left unasked in the obviously starving-grad-student-penned Cliffs Notes, to wit:

    Why does Chanterelle strike a “social-realism” pose? Compare and contrast the true and correct ideals of social realism with the unacceptable formalism of the Kandinsky mural on the student union.

    Posted by  on  09/27  at  06:11 PM
  26. Concerned citizen Chris Clark reported reading something in Scientific American concerning declining literacy

    But I can’t believe that certain functional illiterates keep attributing Chris Clarke’s hard work to this right-wing Washington guy.  It’s really a sorry commentary on the state of higher education today.  I blame liberal English professors like Dr. V.

    Posted by Michael  on  09/27  at  06:14 PM
  27. … the One Percent Doctrine....has very likely made it impossible for us to expand into T-shirts and coffee mugs
    Nay, we need to create leather or denim vests for this, complete with the 1% symbol patch.  On the back we could go with something like this.  The One Percent doctrine requires a commitment to revolt against all that is the other 99%; and that includes trucks.

    Posted by  on  09/27  at  06:22 PM
  28. Hey, it’s always fun when academicians gather for fun & laughs. But I wish someone would come up with a version of The Aristocrats.

    Posted by rix  on  09/27  at  07:01 PM
  29. But I can’t believe that certain functional illiterates keep attributing Chris Clarke’s hard work to this right-wing Washington guy.

    I’m sure TRex is working on a response about spelling and consequent inferior blogging at this very moment.

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  09/27  at  07:03 PM
  30. Why is the word liberal used interchangably or as a synonym with the word Communist in the title?

    I mean, Michael, you are a Communist, not a liberal.

    Liberals come out of Locke.

    Communists come out of Marx.

    Michael, you come out of Marx, and therefore you are now, and have always been, and probably always will be, a Communist.

    I hate to be so fussy, but truth in advertising and all that seems to demand that you use the term COMMUNIST.

    That Williams fellow wasn’t ashamed to say I AM A COMMUNISt.

    I, on the other hand, am a liberal.

    Your title should really be, “What’s COMMUNIST about the HUMANITIES.”

    Right?

    Or another title might be, “Why Marx is ALL THAT’s LEFT.”

    You want to be the invisible pilot in the eye of the storm.  You don’t want to study the humanities, you want to critique them from a political vantage point, that of communism.

    Liberals NEVER wanted to do that.  Locke never even suggests it.

    It is LENIN who starts that business, and Zhdanov who seals it.  That’s your lineage.

    Why do you attempt to appropriate Locke?

    You are a wolf in sheep’s clothing, are you not?

    Or maybe you are a Little Red.

    I wrote this to make you just a little sheepish about your obfuscating title.

    There probably aren’t ANY liberals left in ANY of the major universities. 

    Or at least not in the English departments.  I can think of one at the University of Washington, but he’s retired (Hazard Adams).

    Everyone that I knew was a Communist.  But why wouldn’t they admit it in public?  Why won’t you?

    Posted by Kirby Olson  on  09/27  at  07:56 PM
  31. Damn. Even I can’t tell if that’s satire or not.

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  09/27  at  08:01 PM
  32. Good evening, Michael. I am sorry to interrupt your fun by posting as myself again, but Chris Clarke’s hard work to this right-wing Washington guy. reminded me that I forgot to list one of the comment category function keys earlier:

    F29: Hockey - (I’m afraid it’s not in my Keyboard Mapping Table, so it would be hard to choose. Cyberhumor. Ha Ha Ha, it’s teh funny)

    “theory,” because it is a separate function, is not “of interest to the country” OR “of interest to academia.”
    Or is it that the discussion of theory is not “detailed” or “serious?”

    I am You are correct. Ever since the Sokal Hoax, Theory is none of these things. (As Michael has convincingly demonstrated argued.) In fact, the hoax itself may have been the unfortunate result of mischievous hands gaining access to a text generated by a rather limited-capacity cousin of mine. I have some suspicions about The Precession of Simulacra as well.

    <<Possible Malfunction Alert: No “Kirby Olson” record found in Identity Table.>>

    Posted by  on  09/27  at  08:17 PM
  33. Damn. Even I can’t tell if that’s satire or not.

    Me neither. Though I could also say “I can’t even tell if that’s satire or not.”

    Posted by John Protevi  on  09/27  at  08:29 PM
  34. I wonder if Kirby’s IP address originated in India?

    Guys let us come out of this blue eye shadow.

    Posted by  on  09/27  at  08:46 PM
  35. Here’s a blurb idea:

    Berebe’s book takes “ethanol studies” to a new level. He’s sampled and dabbled plenty, gotten his juices flowing, and his f-words flowing.

    Full-o-crap, as usual

    Posted by  on  09/27  at  09:08 PM
  36. Well, I’d ask Kirby to explain what he means, but then I’m afraid he would comply.  I’ll just view it as a tone poem, and then go back and re-read Michael’s many posts calling for the nationalization of the means of production.

    Posted by  on  09/27  at  09:54 PM
  37. Kirby, if you hold your copy of the book over the tea kettle for about half an hour, you can peel the cover of the “What’s Liberal” dust jacket and reveal the “What’s Communist” cover underneath.  You have to be very, very careful about this, though.  And before you do any cover-peeling, first you have to boil a bunch of banana skins for eight or nine hours in six quarts of water, then bake them overnight at 250 degrees, then crush them into a fine powder for smoking.  Trust me.  It’ll work.  And your blog comments will improve, too!

    Everyone else may resume the nationalization of the means of production.

    Posted by Michael  on  09/27  at  10:10 PM
  38. Besides, hasn’t everyone heard of the left-wing Locke?

    Posted by  on  09/27  at  10:33 PM
  39. Here’s more on that e-lec-tri-cal ba-na-na thing.

    <SMALL>Quite rightly.</SMALL>

    Posted by Bill Benzon  on  09/28  at  08:38 AM
  40. I blame liberal English professors like Dr. V.

    Cool, I’m a bad influence!  I was always a goody-goody and now I’m baaaaaad—just like Sandy in Grease only without the poodle perm.

    Posted by Dr. Virago  on  09/28  at  09:08 AM
  41. Liberals believe in many factions.

    Marxists believe in only one faction.

    You can’t believe both things, unless you are genuinely mixed up, which is possible, especially if you are smoking bananas.

    Do you believe there should be many factions, or do you believe that you and your group are invariably right on every issue, and therefore there should only be your faction.

    It might help you with the nomenclature problem.

    Madison and Locke were liberals.

    Marx and Gramsci and Williams were Marxists.

    I can completely understand you’d want to present the humanities as being liberal.  They were, some 60 years ago, liberal.

    But ever since the Long March Through the Institutions succeeded, there has only been one faction.  That faction is Marxist.

    You could also look into your index and see how many Marxists are cited versus how many liberals are cited, and then you could go through these citations, and put a mark next to each one and weight them according to positive or negative.

    Or maybe you could explain how you are concocting a blend between liberalism and Marxism taking the best of both philosophies. Personally, I think they are oil and water based on the factional issue, but you might legitimately think differently.

    You could even claim that Locke is the key to understanding Marx.

    But that would just be more cover stories to hide the hum of the International that I hear ever so urgently in your agenda, I fear.

    Posted by Kirby Olson  on  09/28  at  09:24 AM
  42. Marxists believe in only one faction.

    In what alternate bizarro universe is that true? Or are you saying that each of the many factions of Marxism believes only in itself?

    Posted by Bill Benzon  on  09/28  at  09:33 AM
  43. I used to be with the Occluded Front, but a handful of us moved on to form the Cumulonimbus Revolutionary Guard. Hence the name.

    Posted by  on  09/28  at  09:39 AM
  44. I think Kirby’s serious. But he may be confusing “fractions” and “factions”. You can have factions within fractions, but not fractions within factions. A fraction is the group of a particular political tendency within an assembly or organisation; thus, for example, the Republican Fraction in the US Senate. A faction is an unofficial grouping within a fraction, at odds with other such groupings - so we might have, say, a Christian fundamentalist faction.

    So it is logically possible that academia could have only one fraction - i.e. that there are no other organised groups other than TEH MARXISTS OH NOES - but logically impossible that academia could have only one faction.

    I know this because Ken MacLeod knows this.

    Posted by  on  09/28  at  09:56 AM
  45. hum of the International that I hear ever so urgently in your agenda

    As we all do.

    Arise, you readers of non-fiction!
    Arise, you lovers of the word!
    For waiting implies dereliction:
    Buying both preferred!
    ...
    ...
    The international readership
    shall be the human race!

    Posted by  on  09/28  at  10:52 AM
  46. Shun the dog-ears, thumb licked,
    let bookmarks keep our place;

    The international readership
    shall be the human race!

    HTH

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  09/28  at  10:59 AM
  47. Kirby, that hum of the International that I hear ever so urgently in your agenda isn’t coming from the neighbor’s dog by any chance, is it?

    Posted by John Protevi  on  09/28  at  11:00 AM
  48. Or maybe you could explain how you are concocting a blend between liberalism and Marxism taking the best of both philosophies.

    Or maybe you could read the book, Kirby.  It contains real live explanations of what I think.

    But that would just be more cover stories to hide the hum of the International that I hear ever so urgently in your agenda, I fear.

    John, I don’t think that hum is coming from Kirby’s neighbor’s dog.  I think it’s coming from inside the house!!!

    Posted by Michael  on  09/28  at  11:28 AM
  49. I think “Kirby” is the academic plugin for the “Gary Ruppert” spambot they have to deal with over at Sadly No!

    Capcha “central” as in “planning.”

    Posted by  on  09/28  at  11:39 AM
  50. Kirby’s hum might be caused by a dreadful electronic gadget called the electronic tambura.

    Then again, maybe we should be worried if the background hum dies away for Kirby.

    Posted by John Protevi  on  09/28  at  12:01 PM
  51. There is nothing so dreadful as humming of the Internationale; it was written to be sung, and loudly at that.  Those Wobblies were mostly deaf from the shreiking of the steel wheels on the tracks, and the constant rattle of the slats and beams of the boxcars.  And that doesn’t even begin to account for the damage done to their hearing by the high decibel levels in the factories.  Therefore, what they heard as merely humming of their anthem was actually very loud choruses, co-mingling in diverse languages.  Maybe it sounds like humming in Swedish though??

    Posted by  on  09/28  at  01:16 PM
  52. I have to revise my agenda. This whole time I thought I was humming La Marseillaise.

    Posted by  on  09/28  at  01:29 PM
  53. The marketing people argue compellingly that the electric sheep have already escaped from the pen,

    Are marketing people really androids?  I mean, I’ve always suspected, but…

    Mr. Olson has largely convinced me of Professor Bérubé’s rampant Marxism (you must admit that “hide the hum of the International” is actually a mildly clever turn of phrase).  However, I retain a degree of cognitive dissonance.  I was under the impression that rabid devotees of the true knowledge are unabashed materialists.  How can an unabashed materialist also have a ghost head?

    Captcha: makes.  US Senate makes Magna Carta into Torture Party Hats.

    Posted by  on  09/28  at  01:39 PM
  54. In my universe anything is possible.

    I still think that if your mother knew that you were a communistificational that her cheeks would burn in shame.  To say nothing of your grandmothers!

    I did read your book, or at least I started.  I started with the title. 

    But I will have to wait for the used prices to come down a bit to read the rest.  I’m like the guy outside the theatre, not smoking a cigarette while gazing at the marquee.  I’m even plotting to review it next to the Horowitz book, and perhaps in relationship to the film, Heathers, with Winona Ryder.

    You know, factions.

    And styles.

    And Draino.

    I could write to the publisher to get a review copy, but that’s such a waste of time when I oculd be posting here.

    I’ll just wait a few weeks for the used price to come down a bit at Amazon.  Or you could send me a signed one to my address!  Meanwhile, I’ll have to write to Horowitz to see if he’ll send me a signed one, and then I’ll do a comparative orthographical look, and decide upon the contents through that method, and with a crystal ball, opening the book at random to collect a few quotes, and voila, something to toss into the gravitational time-sequencer.

    Posted by Kirby Olson  on  09/28  at  02:50 PM
  55. I love the humming from Michael’s agenda.  To me it sounds rather like the humming chorus in Madama Butterfly, just with more drums.

    Posted by  on  09/28  at  03:09 PM
  56. Shorter Kirby: Your mother!

    captcha: large

    Posted by  on  09/28  at  03:14 PM
  57. Actually, my parents were members of the Association of Catholic Trade Unionists, so poor addled Kirby is quite wrong about what might or might not make my mother’s cheeks burn in shame.  But his latest comment raises an important question:  should I enter him in the Fun-to-Poke Troll Competition against Gary Ruppert, or is his act getting too wearisome for this cheery blog?  I am well aware that if I poke him I own him, and that’s not a step I’m willing to take right now.  So I need some advice.

    Posted by  on  09/28  at  04:20 PM
  58. Hi Michael, Kirby has a long way to go before he’s ready for the Wingnut Allstars. I still say though that if we carefully nurture him he might be one day a troll of whom we can all be proud. He’s no Floyd Alvis Cooper, that’s for damn sure, but with proper Cheetos and flourescent lighting, he might one day amount to something. After all, the Cushiness Quotient (CQ), the Foucault and the other Maoist members of the extreme wealth of Paris, the humming of the International: all these show promise.

    Captcha: “hand,” as in, “that feeds you, don’t bite the.”

    Posted by John Protevi  on  09/28  at  04:54 PM
  59. Michael, perhaps you’ve already considered the possibility that Kirby’s appearance here is a form of self-mortification intrinsic to the workings of Lutheran surrealism: the purpose of his frequent comments is to work himself up, up, up, through steady stages of non-sequitur and anodyne “i’m-only-kiddingisms” to a place where he can finally achieve in that transcending moment of blissful extended contumely the self-engendered humiliation he so devoutly seeks, not, not I say! (as they say) for the purpose of devastating his chosen target, but to win through his performance communion with that profound sacramental shame dtb wished by all those of his chosen faith.

    Either that, or he’s just a git.

    Posted by  on  09/28  at  06:39 PM
  60. I am well aware that if I poke him I own him

    Oh god, *must* you bring up that odious commercial again?  It really gives me the creeps.  Other things that give me the creeps:

    internal bleeding
    the very word “poke”
    Tom Hanks
    live inhumation

    Posted by Dr. Virago  on  09/28  at  07:31 PM
  61. No shit, you recorded a song with Ian McKaye? And you’re from
    DC?

    Posted by ersatz  on  09/28  at  07:56 PM
  62. I’m not from DC, no, but that really is MacKaye on “Long Black Veil.” Baby Opaque was formed by Michael Dean, who had just arrived in Charlottesville, Virginia from the DC scene.  I was a first-year graduate student, and Todd Wilson was an undergraduate.  We lasted just over a year, and we played in DC—though not at the 9:30 Club—four or five times.

    Posted by  on  09/28  at  09:45 PM
  63. Auguste illegally relied on my implied oral consent for the production of this audiotape (I believe it was a wink and a nod, to be exact), whereas U.S. Code Title 17 Section 5 clearly indicates that express written consent is required.

    Remembering how purported oral consent, bypassing the normal agent-run procedure, was enough to get a nearly-$9-million penalty from Kim Basinger in 1993, I wouldn’t count on formalism triumphing.  (The judgment was reversed on appeal, but only due to “prejudicially ambiguous” jury instructions.)

    Formally, the Constitution and several treaties should trump the present bill that effectively legalizes torture and negates habeas corpus.  In gritty actuality, this may not be the outcome.

    Posted by Raven  on  09/29  at  08:28 AM
  64. Oh, well if this runs in your family Michael then I can’t even give you credit for being shameless.

    I ordered your book and the radioactive waste is being brought in a special barge through a canal system by Lutheran Surrealist courriers to my office since there were no commercial handlers willing to bring it.  I’ll do my best to defuse your dirty bomb once it arrives for one and all.

    On the other hand maybe I’ll just agree with you on all points, but I doubt it.  I am more likely to feel like one of those Cambodians captured in one of Pol Pot’s prisons, refused the right even to turn over in their beds at night without asking permission from the state.  Their crime?  “Individualism!” The punishment: 100 lashes.

    The personal is political, even when it comes to rolling over in one’s bed, right?

    Of course, way less than one percent survived those prisons, since the state was so ... communisticifational.

    I hope there is a better survival rate for those who read your book.

    “Whatever happened to the poem as poem, Sneaky Pete?” —Kenward Elmslie

    Posted by Kirby Olson  on  09/29  at  02:04 PM
  65. ordered your book and the radioactive waste is being brought in a special barge through a bla bla folderol etc. etc. ad nauseam ad lethargum

    Boredom is a bourgeois construct. Boredom is a bourgeois construct. Boredom is a bourgeois construct.

    It’s not working.

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  09/29  at  02:12 PM
  66. Chris!  Chris!  Remember the brave example of Stanley Fish!

    Posted by  on  09/29  at  02:36 PM
  67. One step OT here, but in the linked article at Inside Higher Ed was this sentence, which sounds to me as though one thought collided with another, which must not have been making a beep noise in reverse:

    “He is canny enough a rhetorician then implicitly to equate both skepticism and open-mindedness with liberalism itself (properly understood).”

    Maybe Chris Clarke can edit this to some semblance of comprehensibility.

    Posted by moioci  on  10/02  at  10:16 AM
  68. “He is canny enough a rhetorician then, implicitly, to equate both skepticism and open-mindedness with liberalism itself (properly understood).”

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  10/02  at  11:03 AM
  69. Which is not to say the above is the best construction of the thought. But it makes sense now. Perhaps not the sense the author intended.

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  10/02  at  11:04 AM
  70. How about: “Michael is a sneakily good writer and he totally like cons you into believing the ridiculous premise that liberalism is all about being open-minded and skeptical if only people were smart enough to like get that already.”

    <<dusts palms together proudly, with an air of finality>>

    Posted by  on  10/02  at  01:36 PM
  71. Which is not to say the above is the best construction of the thought. But it makes sense now. Perhaps not the sense the author intended.

    Oh, who the hell cares about what the “author” “intended”?  Hasn’t anyone read those Cliffs Notes yet?

    Posted by Michael  on  10/02  at  04:55 PM
  72. Thanks, Chris,

    I didn’t see that at all.  I really thought the writer intended something like, “He is too canny a rhetorician to equate, implicitly, both skepticism and open-mindedness with liberalism itself (properly understood).” Which I took to mean he is too honest an arguer to assume his conclusion; ie, no question-beggar, he.  I think your version makes more sense.

    Posted by  on  10/03  at  02:17 AM
  73. The truth is that I’m too canny a rhetorician to say what the hell I thought I was doing in that book, much of which I wrote in a semiconscious, trancelike state.

    Posted by Michael  on  10/03  at  07:49 AM
  74. In P R S U did Michael B
    An ode to liberality did decree:
    Where web, the intertubes server
    Ran through wires measureless to man
    In-to a endless glee.

    Posted by Bill Benzon  on  10/03  at  08:35 AM
  75. And all should cry, the dread! the dread!
    His lidless eyes, his looming head!
    Read the Cliffs Notes once or twice,
    Just order them from Amazon,
    Or buy the tape at Pandagon --
    You’ll thank Chavez for his advice.

    Posted by Michael  on  10/03  at  11:45 PM
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