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Redeeming Violence:  Scarier than Hillary

Readers of this increasingly humble blog know that I don’t spend much of my time going after garden-variety wingnuttery of the ClownHall.com variety.  I mean, why bother, when the doughty crew of the S. S. Sadly, No! and the Poor Man Institute for Freedom and Democracy and a Pony do it so much better?

But when it comes to dealing with wingnuttery about the Modern Language Association—a minor but important branch of Wingnuttia in general—I figure I’m your guy.  So, dear readers, feast on this scrumptious item, beginning with its title, “Fighting a Movement Scarier than Hillary.” How can literature professors be even scarier than Lady Hillary Macbeth and her lesb***n Islamexifascist hordes?  Let Tom Landess and Elizabeth Kantor tell you how!

Most conservatives are preoccupied with Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and the coming deluge on Capitol Hill. A few of us are more concerned with the current Reign of Terror in our universities. When Pelosi and Reid are little piles of forgotten dust, the consequences of political correctness in the academy will still be evident to the naked eye.

You tend to forget about this problem until you read a book like Elizabeth Kantor’s “The Politically Correct Guide to English and American Literature” (published by Regnery, a HUMAN EVENTS sister company). In it, she reminds us that classrooms in almost all our universities have been commandeered by leftist ideologues, whose chief goal is to purge from the nation’s memory the rich content of Christian civilization, to discredit our free-market prosperity and to substitute a simplistic set of Marxist-feminist-homosexualist platitudes that are more likely to promote radical ignorance than an understanding of the world.

Landess is right: curriculum longa, little piles of forgotten Pelosi-Reid dust brevis.  But he’s wrong about how the left plans to purge the rich content of Christian civilization from the nation’s memory.  We do, in fact, plan to teach your children about the Inquisition, while adapting some of its innovative pedagogical techniques. Cardinal Greenblatt! Have you got all the stuffing up one end?

And what Marxist-feminist-homosexualist platitudes do we have at our disposal, you ask?  Well, “We’re here, we’re always queerly historicizing because sisterhood is powerful, get used to it,” for starters!  By the time we’re through with your kids, their ignorance will truly be radical!

But you know what bugs me about these MLA-bashing screeds?  Two things.  Factual inaccuracy and ambiguous syntax.

Note that these teachers of English are no more interested in literature than a litter of house cats. They are obsessed with furthering the leftist agenda—attacking traditional sexual morality, prettifying communism and trashing Christianity. To drive home this point, Kantor reports that the program for the 2005 convention of the Modern Language Association (the professional organization for literary scholars) included the following topics: “Redeeming Violence,” “Marxism Now,” and “What Video Games Can Teach Us About Literature.” No mention of Wordsworth, Coleridge or Keats—dead white males.

OK, what’s with “these teachers of English are no more interested in literature than a litter of house cats”?  Is this supposed to be some kind of clever play on “literature / litter”?  (And if so, why house cats?) Because the ambiguous syntax kind of gums up the joke.  Is Landess saying that we have no more interest in literature than we might have in a litter of house cats, or is he saying that we are no more interested in literature than a litter of house cats would be?

Everything depends on this.  Everything, I tell you.

And as for the factual inaccuracy: it is simply not true that there was no mention of Wordsworth, Coleridge, or Keats at the 2005 MLA convention.  The ban on discussion of Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Keats, proposed to the Delegate Assembly in 2005 by the Even More Radical than the Radical Caucus Caucus for the Distribution of Violent Marxist Video Games, does not take effect until 2007.  I don’t understand why Mr. Landess—whose bio describes him, somewhat confusingly, as “a former professor of English and at the University of Dallas” (English and what? Video games?) who “has ghost-written more than 35 published books, two of them by conservative congressmen”—would just make things up.

The ambiguous syntax and factual accuracy aside, though, Mr. Landess is a capable reviewer.  He closes his essay with an appeal to the highest of intellectual standards:

This work is light reading, a book you can put down and pick up again without feeling guilty. With sidebars and subsections, the television-trained eye is never intimidated.

It is also a very serious book that explains why what is going on in our colleges and universities is scarier than Hillary and more dangerous than a Democratic Congress.

Kewl.  I may have to ask for a joint appointment in the Department of Scarier Than Hillary Studies. 

_______

In other, perhaps more consequential news, it’s good to hear that Iraq is not yet experiencing civil war, because, as Tony Snow explains, “you have not yet had a situation also where you have two clearly defined and opposing groups vying not only for power, but for territory. What you do have is sectarian violence that seems to be less aimed at gaining full control over an area than expressing differences, and also trying to destabilize a democracy—which is different than a civil war, where two sides are clashing for territory and supremacy.” I’m sure that’s a relief to Iraqis who were worried about conditions in which they see “on average, 40 to 50 tortured, mutilated, executed bodies showing up on the capital streets each morning” and “thousands of unaccounted for dead bodies mounting up every month” or who were concerned about “the list of those who have simply disappeared for the sake of the fact that they have the wrong name, a name that is either Sunni or Shia, so much so that we have people getting dual identity cards, where parents cannot send their children to school, because they have to cross a sectarian line.” At least it’s about power and not territory!  Thank goodness these groups are merely expressing differences!  I’ve got nothing new or insightful to say about this, but I did catch the first hour of Apocalypse Now Redux on cable last night, so I thought I’d just unearth a little item I wrote for this blog one year ago today:

“Die Hard” Diehard Catching Flak for Epic Iraq Flick

Variety, May 1, 2008—According to insider reports, action star Bruce Willis is drastically over budget and cannot decide on an ending for his pro-war Iraq film, Mission Accomplished.

“He’s spun completely out of control,” said one member of the crew, who spoke on condition of anonymity.  “He’ll spend a month filming the ‘democracy’ ending, but no one knows what that’s supposed to look like, and then he decides it’s ‘too boring anyway.’ So we’ll spend another month on the ‘fighting terrorism’ ending, where we wipe out an entire city, then another month on the ‘civil war’ ending, featuring a bunch of Shiite death squads, then another on the ‘revenge’ ending with these incredibly gory Abu Ghraib scenes, then another on this bizarre ‘call in the bombers’ ending that reads like it was written by Sy Hersh.  And then he’ll just spend days alone in his trailer, blasting this turgid crap by The Doors and painting his body from head to toe.”

Willis has assured his initial backers, Passion Media, formerly known as Pajamas Media, formerly known as Open Source Media, formerly known as Pajamas Media, that he will finish the film “when it is done,” but has refused to set any timetable for its completion.  Lead screenwriter Roger L. Simon defended Willis’s refusal, issuing a terse press release, “cowards yell ‘cut’ and run, action figures never do.”

Industry analysts note that the cost of Mission Accomplished now exceeds $200 billion, but few of the cast or crew are willing to speak on the record, fearing reprisals from Willis, who demands complete and unquestioning loyalty from everyone working on the film.  “It’s way beyond what happened with Coppola,” said one of the film’s producers, “not that there are any parallels with Vietnam or anything.  But I think we’re past the worst moments of last fall, when Bruce was insisting on doing this Twelve Monkeys in Iraq bit where he travels back in time to find weapons of mass destruction.  Honestly, most of us wish that Bruce had stuck with the first ending, where Bush lands on the aircraft carrier in a flight suit.  Everything tells us that’s the ending with the biggest box office.”

Posted by on 11/29 at 09:05 AM
  1. Not to mention that Landess’s review has (and really, just amazed at this) the (in)correct title for the book.

    Posted by  on  11/29  at  10:26 AM
  2. Ah, just the kind of missing-the-forest-for-the-trees remark I’d expect from the MLA’s Marxist-feminist-homosexualist lobby.

    Posted by Michael  on  11/29  at  10:42 AM
  3. This work is light reading, a book you can put down and pick up again without feeling guilty. With sidebars and subsections, the television-trained eye is never intimidated.

    Unlike books with ghost-head covers, which are definitely intimidating to the television-trained eye.

    As for the ambiguous syntax, I think he meant to say that many English professors are interested in using his column as cat litter.

    Posted by  on  11/29  at  10:54 AM
  4. I’ve never seen the word ‘homosexualist’ before but I like it. I can’t help thinking of illusionists, carnies, and vaudeville acts (probably because I’m currently gorging myself on Paul Auster’s _Mr. Vertigo_). When I saw that word I imagined a vaudeville act combining gay sex and magic. I chuckled.

    Posted by Adam  on  11/29  at  10:55 AM
  5. "literature / litter”

    Tecnically, I believe that this is termed DUH?literation.

    On another note, I had a literature Prof that would talk a good Marxist-feminist-homosexualist game but also taught white-dead-man/woman works - something about the need to know and understand “the classics.” At the time it somehow seemed to make sense, now I’m confused.  Was he recruiting me to the Marxist-feminist-homosexualist lifestyle or was he just using the MFH agenda as bait to brainwash erstwhile radical hippies to worship at the feet of “da man?”

    Perhaps this latent confusion is why I went into science - an uncomplicated and non-controversial area.

    Posted by  on  11/29  at  10:59 AM
  6. You know, I had assumed that the (paraphrased) “ghost-written 35 books, 2 of them by congressmen” bit was a joke, but it wasn’t—at least, it really was at the bottom of the review.  I don’t understand how anyone can distinguish parody from wingnut seriousness anymore. 

    It’s not even just parody of wingnuts themselves, it’s parody of anything.  I was thinking of poking a bit of fun at over-Habermasian commitment to dialogue, but then I see that Tony Snow already did the “expressing differences” “joke”.

    So I can only conclude that the movie _Mission Accomplished_ really will be released in 2008.  It will be the next wingnut generation’s _Red Dawn_.  The ending that will finally be settled upon: the plucky pro-democracy Iraqi activists carry on guerilla war after the stabbed-in-the-back American troops leave, eventually winning back their country and then going on to take care of the traitors in the U.S. who betrayed them by, as Coulter said, going on to blow up the _New York Times_ building.  Willis will play Mohammed, from the blog Iraq the Model.

    Posted by  on  11/29  at  11:00 AM
  7. If we’re so good at indoctrination, why aren’t we succeeding?

    I guess what I am asking is this: Where are those “consequences of political correctness in the academy” that are supposedly “evident to the naked eye”?

    They are not evident to my eye.  Certainly, they aren’t evident in the elected officials of this country--unless you count the results of this last election as being the result of “indoctrination” on campus.

    If so, then what Landress et al mean by “indoctrination” is “instilling common sense.”

    Captcha: “know54” I guess it depends on your age.  I know more of Car 54 Where Are You, certainly, than I ever did of “Studio 54.”

    Posted by Aaron Barlow  on  11/29  at  11:00 AM
  8. Unlike books with ghost-head covers, which are definitely intimidating to the television-trained eye.

    Ooooh, snap.  Just you wait for the 3-D IMAX version of that book, Ed.

    now I’m confused.  Was he recruiting me to the Marxist-feminist-homosexualist lifestyle or was he just using the MFH agenda as bait to brainwash erstwhile radical hippies to worship at the feet of “da man?”

    See, this is why we have such trouble indoctrinatin’, Aaron.  With guys like Jim in StL, it can go either way!

    I’ve never seen the word ‘homosexualist’ before but I like it.

    Hold the phone, Aaron!  We recruited somebody!  OK, Adam, your assignment is to levitate and to destroy heterosexual marriage.

    the movie _Mission Accomplished_ really will be released in 2008.  It will be the next wingnut generation’s _Red Dawn_.  The ending that will finally be settled upon: the plucky pro-democracy Iraqi activists carry on guerilla war after the stabbed-in-the-back American troops leave, eventually winning back their country and then going on to take care of the traitors in the U.S. who betrayed them by, as Coulter said, going on to blow up the _New York Times_ building.  Willis will play Mohammed, from the blog Iraq the Model.

    Rich, I hope you’re getting paid for rescuing the script, because we all know Roger Simon reads this blog and is not shy about cribbing stuff from it.

    Posted by Michael  on  11/29  at  11:30 AM
  9. I think if you surveyed, you’d find that Lit folk are disproportionately “cat people” as opposed to “dog people,” especially the Marxist-feminist-homosexualist ones.

    Posted by Roxanne  on  11/29  at  12:09 PM
  10. Speaking of homosexualist - certainly a great work of Christianity rather than something that emerged in spite of it - I’m wondering, is there a word for sexual preference that’s equivalent to sexism or racism? It’s kind of bugging me that one isn’t coming to mind.

    I’m also not convinced that Marxism, Feminism and Homosexualism (whose definition I’m totally guessing at) have all that much in common. It’s all very confusing.

    Posted by Central Content Publisher  on  11/29  at  12:26 PM
  11. Take heart and be of great joy, for the end of days is rapidly approaching. Once that CCST is concluded in glorious victory for the Factions of Fission and Fusion within the WAAGNFNP, it will be time for Feats of Strength and Revolutionary Patience.

    But what of the future? Will there be life after the GNF? Glad your asked, Grasshopper.

    Q Rollins, WAAGNFNP Chief Scientist and Chef of the Future, has produced a major technological breakthrough. He has come up with at device that allows Gojira to direct Gojira-vision into the future. That means that we now have evidence—intimations of immortality as it were—about what life will be like after the GNF. Yes, faithful members of the WAAGNFNP will survive and we will have a new home on a new world. Here is the first ever WAAGNFNP Glimpse Into The Future:

    monolith=berube

    Bill Benzon
    Minister of Visual Propaganda

    captcha: “perhaps94”

    No! definitely07

    Posted by Bill Benzon  on  11/29  at  12:29 PM
  12. Bill, one quick question about the end of days—am I supposed to beam that radio signal to Europa (in orbit around Jupiter) or to Iapetus (in orbit around Saturn)?  I don’t want to screw this up and send Bowman, Poole, Hunter, Kaminsky, Kimball and HAL to the wrong place.

    Posted by Michael  on  11/29  at  12:55 PM
  13. With sidebars and subsections, the television-trained eye is never intimidated.

    If my television-trained eye had sidebars and subsections, it might feel very intimidated.

    Ah, the love that is misplaced modifiers…

    Posted by The Witch  on  11/29  at  12:56 PM
  14. I, for one, am glad that Kantor has rescued Shakespeare from the clutches of the homoIslamafemifacistcommiePhDs and returned him to his rightful place as Spokesman for the American Way of Life.

    Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time for me to promote U.S./Christian values á la Bard: I shall dress in drag, and hilarity will ensue.

    Posted by  on  11/29  at  01:15 PM
  15. Not my department, Michael. I only produce the images. You should consult B. Q. Rollins, Chief Scientist and Chef of the Future, on that one.

    Bill Benzon
    Minister of Visual Propaganda
    WAAGNFNP

    Posted by Bill Benzon  on  11/29  at  01:33 PM
  16. What?  Survive the GNF??  What self-respecting member of the WAAGNFN would stoop to surviving the GNF?  Doesn’t that go against the whole point of the WAAGNFN?

    Not me.  I’ll take a front row seat for the GNF, thank you very much.

    Posted by  on  11/29  at  01:38 PM
  17. "whose chief goal is to purge from the nation’s memory the rich content of Christian civilization”

    Hahahahahahahaha...Oh, to this medievalist that’s the funniest complaint ever.  Tell that to the student in my medieval women writers course who wrote on the eval, “too much Christian stuff.” *headdesk*

    Now excuse me while I re-watch Jesus of Montreal in preparation for the last day of my medieval drama seminar.

    Posted by Dr. Virago  on  11/29  at  01:38 PM
  18. Oh, sure, you may teach Christian stuff, but isn’t “Virago” a pagan name?

    And Liz, I hope you’re not talking about Twelfth Night or something, because Shakespeare didn’t write that one.  Tony Kushner did.

    Witch, thanks for catching that dangler!  With mangled syntax and embarrassing mistakes about book titles, I find that Landess’s essay keeps getting better and better.

    And I see that Brian has no interest in surviving the GNF and becoming a giant floating fetus head.  Noted.

    Posted by Michael  on  11/29  at  02:24 PM
  19. This work is light reading, a book you can put down and pick up again without feeling guilty. With sidebars and subsections, the television-trained eye is never intimidated.

    Those are truly the words of someone who is more interested in literature than a litter of house cats.

    Posted by  on  11/29  at  02:38 PM
  20. DV, you beat me to it. Given the kinds of medieval courses I want to teach, I wonder if Landess and Kantor will complain that this medievalist makes the civilization-destroying mistake of letting the Jews into the room.

    Posted by  on  11/29  at  02:38 PM
  21. I for one am sick of the Marxist-Homosexualist-Feminist agenda. Our young people should be reading classic works written by real men, like Jack London, Oscar Wilde, and George Sand.

    Posted by  on  11/29  at  02:48 PM
  22. Actually, Michael, I was talking about _To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar_, which I think we can all agree was penned by the Man Himself.

    I cannot italicize, because the dangerous liberals from whom I received the bulk of my education refused to show me how.

    Posted by  on  11/29  at  03:08 PM
  23. I think it is the litter of house cats who “are obsessed with furthering the leftist agenda—attacking traditional sexual morality, prettifying communism and trashing Christianity.”

    We need more cats and more cats refusing to use birth control and taking over our campuses! Red athiest kitties flooding the stacks.

    I guess.

    Posted by  on  11/29  at  03:18 PM
  24. Back in the days of Aaron Barlow’s time, those of us attending UCLA (in the mid-60’s) as “scholar-athletes” (cough cough ack ack) knew a good thing when it was pointed out to us by our elder mentors (those in their sixth year of undergraduate draft avoidance studies).  There were three courses (five whole quarter’s worth) that really packed the GPA with the easy 4.0 grade credits.  Paul Tanner’s History of Jazz, complete with live performances of legends and masters; the Faber’s Human Sexuality, a Psychology class taught by husband and wife that featured some interesting performances and graphix; and of course the revolving English Department’s Prof of the Semester/Quarter’s Overview of Children’s Literature or it was commonly known in the locker rooms: Kiddie Lit. 

    I suspect therefore, that Landess is attempting to alliterate kitty litter for kiddie literature, and thus shackle the two in some form television-friendly embrace.  Since the University of Dallas refers to itself as providing one of the best liberal arts education in their region (the part of the US that gives us the Mavericks and the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders), Landess may have had to teach some kittie litter.

    Posted by  on  11/29  at  03:26 PM
  25. Perhaps I’ve spent too much time redeeming violence this week, although really I thought that was Tony Snow’s job, but if readers’ eyes are trained by television, then isn’t all the worry about what is taught in universities precisely beside the point?  All eyes would be pretty much ‘educated’ long before I got my Islamomexifascistic hands on them.  And surely if eyes so trained can barely make it through the page-turner under review, I’d bet dollars to donuts that Coleridge would turn them to stone.

    Posted by  on  11/29  at  04:35 PM
  26. You Dangeral Studies types are just Marxist-feminist-homosexualists?

    Wimps! Cowards! Sell-outs!

    We left-wing folks living in the real world outside your sissified academic ivory towers are Marxist-feminist-homosexualist-atheist-terrorist-coddling-America-hatingist-Michael-Moore-worshippingist-neo-hippie-veganist-anti-free-marketist-evolution-promotingist-France-lovingist-condom-dispensingist-abortionist-AIDS-victim-huggingist-anarchists!

    HA! I call your three “ists” and raise you another 16.

    Get with the program, Berube, you, you, you...merely a Marxist-feminist-homosexualist, you.

    Posted by mat  on  11/29  at  04:46 PM
  27. PS:

    “Homosexualist” sounds like the title of a bad Caleb Carr novel.

    The novel’s cheeky protagonist, Britain’s infamous 19th Century homosexualist Philius T. Phlegm, could weed out the public school sissyboys in Parliament merely by playing Donna Summer’s “Hot Stuff” on his hammer dulcimer; oh, how the poofs would rise from their seats and start to boogie while the PM looked on in utter horror...

    Posted by mat  on  11/29  at  05:01 PM
  28. That’s “lesboson” I assume? The particle that sets off gaydar?

    Posted by  on  11/29  at  05:13 PM
  29. Dr. Landess has apparently gone out on his own in the ghostwriting biz, but retains some connection with the online Yorktown Universtiy, as well as with League of the South Institute.

    The League of the South Institute for the Study of Southern Culture and History (LSI) is the educational arm of the Southern independence movement. Made up of the South’s finest unreconstructed scholars, the LSI is dedicated to combating the demonisation of the South and its culture and heritage in the academic arena.

    I admit that I am not conversant with the idiom of attribution in ghostwriting, but found the following excerpt from his bio quite arresting:

    In addition to political topics, he has written first-person accounts of the Vietnam War, World War II, the civil rights movement, the inner workings of the FBI, forensic medicine, life in a prison for women, and aviation.  During a single week, two of his works were discussed on CNN’s Crossfire. [emphasis added]

    A book he did put his name on is Jesse Jackson and the politics of race co-written with Richard Quinn (later editor of Southern Partisan and infamous McCain advisor in S. Carolina)

    Quinn dressed up McCain volunteers in Confederate Army uniforms as they passed fliers to the demonstrators assuring them that McCain supported the Confederate flag.
    [JPS: Which position McCain later shockingly reversed, the lone exception in a careeer of steadfast independence and maverickyness.]

    Landness & Quinn provide the following insight into contemporary American life (1980’s)

    young black America walks the streets with ears pressed against a jambox so big and heavy most whites couldn’t even lift it.

    Well, enough on this guy, something in the article just triggered my inner oppo-research jackal.

    Posted by  on  11/29  at  05:31 PM
  30. Oh, that oppo-personal-research jackalism.  (You’re sure that Landess isn’t also Dr. Jacques Atelier, right?  Because you never know about those first-person accounts.) I also want to know the difference between “unreconstructed” and “partially reconstituted” Southern scholars.

    And hey, you want some “research”?  Aaron Barlow just wrote to tell me that he actually owns Elizabeth Kantor’s easy-on-the-television-trained-eyes book, and that it includes the following nugget:

    American literature is not Allen Ginsberg, Toni Morrison, and Dan Brown.  PC English professors naturally graivate toward American writers who share their disdain for America, Western civilization, and Christianity.  But our best literature combines what’s uniquely American with what’s of universal value.  While it has to be admitted that America has not produced a really world-class literature, there are American writers who have much more to offer than anti-Christian paranoia, victim ideology, and the cliched incoherence of the Beats.  A few of our writers have created really important literature—literature that’s worth anyone’s time and attention, and that we, as Americans, should know.

    I am so taking Dan Brown off my syllabus.  That Gay-nsberg guy too.  I’m replacing him with a real man like Walt Whitman.

    Liz, you can italicize with a < followed by an i followed by a >.  (< /i > to close italics.) But I thought To Wong Foo was written by Francis Bacon?

    And mat, I see that your multiply-hyphenated epithet broke all three margins.  Thanks.  That’s going to gum up the Intertubes for weeks.

    Posted by  on  11/29  at  05:57 PM
  31. Here’s another few nuggets:

    Christopher Marlowe is popular with the kind of English professor whose highest term of praise is “transgressive.” (52)

    [Chaucer’s] excellences are highly characteristic of his own time and his own country.  Piers Plowman has a very different flavor from The Canterbury Tales, but it is too huge, teeming with life. (32)

    The first principle behind analyzing literature is that any great work of art is great (is beautiful, has a profound effect on many readers, is permanently interesting to the human race) by virtue of how it’s put together. (215)

    All italics are from the original.

    I’d provide more, but my dog wants his ears scratched.

    Posted by Aaron Barlow  on  11/29  at  06:14 PM
  32. Aaron, surely you have a cat?  Because Roxanne (comment 9) is right, you know.  Or were you using one of those Marxist-felinist-homosexualist code words?

    Posted by  on  11/29  at  06:18 PM
  33. OK, so he’s a cat.  But he’s 50 pounds and his “meow” scares people when they knock on the door.

    Guess we’ve been outed.

    Posted by Aaron Barlow  on  11/29  at  06:29 PM
  34. Oh, sure, you may teach Christian stuff, but isn’t “Virago” a pagan name?

    Excuse me, but if St. Jerome’s Latin was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me.

    I wonder if Landess and Kantor will complain that this medievalist makes the civilization-destroying mistake of letting the Jews into the room.

    And we both let those damn Papists have too much of a say.

    Piers Plowman has a very different flavor...too huge, teeming with life. (32)

    Piers Plowman? Or Dirk Diggler?  You be the judge.

    Posted by Dr. Virago  on  11/29  at  06:32 PM
  35. Re that Kantor quote in 30, I’d like to plug Mark Twain. In addition to writing really funny and biting satire on American life, most especially including the cruel idiocy of slavery, he also wrote passages that evoke the marvelous and mysterious beauty (yes, I said it, B capital “B” BEAUTY) of the world. And not just in his masterwork,Huck Finn, but in occasional pieces too. The man was a marvel, stone-cold GENIUS.

    Posted by Bill Benzon  on  11/29  at  06:50 PM
  36. And mat, I see that your multiply-hyphenated epithet broke all three margins.

    Yikes! I don’t know what that means, but I apologize! Sorry, sir.

    Posted by mat  on  11/29  at  06:54 PM
  37. Oh boy!  ANOTHER Regnery book bashing the universities!  I think every other book they’ve put out since 1951 has been a stab at the universities. 

    In my mind, I have a scene where the budding young author walks into the Regnery offices with an idea for a book bashing higher education and leaves with a contract and the same template that Bill Buckley and E. Merrill Root used in the 1950s and a list of instructions. It is like in MASH where the requisition officer tells Hawkeye that he can’t have an incubator but can have a pizza oven, “Just cross out machine gun and write in “pizza oven.” In the Regnery offices it is:  “Just cross out where it says “Communism” and put in “Terrorism.  Cross out “collectivist” and put in “homosexual.”

    Posted by  on  11/29  at  07:20 PM
  38. My previous housecat used to insist on sitting on the Sunday New York Times Book Review.  I offer this as a datapoint.

    Posted by Jonquil  on  11/29  at  07:22 PM
  39. See, I always get deeply offended when no-nothing rightwingers fail to mention the very important indoctrinating work that is done in college level mathematics courses. I for one always spend the first three weeks of any course (no matter which one) redeeming violence, preaching historic-dialectic materialism and promoting the homosexualist agenda. I do this in order to disturb the impressionable young minds sufficiently that they actually become receptive to mathematics, not an easy task when those minds receive their input from television-trained eyes.

    Oh, and if it’s possible to survive the so-called GNF, then I’m out of the party. Talk about insufficient radicalism.

    Posted by  on  11/29  at  07:28 PM
  40. Goodness. “Know-nothing” of course. You can see how upset I was - or is mis-spelling just an insiduous attempt to undermine America?

    Posted by  on  11/29  at  07:31 PM
  41. Despite our self-satisfied mockery, I do take the larger point raised. I weary of the coarsening of dialogue and shallow bananarama banality of pop culture references evident on this so-called “academic” blog.

    Take for instance, the much discussed GNF.
    Surely a more weighty name
    is deserved by a concept so potentially influxious.
    for instance. Help me, Will! ignis fatuus.

    ... but then again, I did hear that Jane Austen had to squat to pee.

    Posted by  on  11/29  at  07:41 PM
  42. I was busy indoctrinatin’ my “simplistic set of Marxist-feminist-homosexualist platitudes” to my cat when I stopped to read this blog…

    As the captcha says: “really87”

    Posted by  on  11/29  at  08:07 PM
  43. My cat, being a good God-hating liberal, is castrated.  No quiverfull for him!  I blinded him with science86.

    Posted by Jonquil  on  11/29  at  08:11 PM
  44. What you do have is sectarian violence that seems to be less aimed at gaining full control over an area than expressing differences, and also trying to destabilize a democracy—which is different than a civil war, where two sides are clashing for territory and supremacy.

    I guess with a name like Snow, the man just had to turn out to be a geographical triumphalist. If it’s just about blood and not about blood and soil, I guess it’s not a real war. The next thing is for Bush to put down Camus and read Elizabeth Kantor’s book so he can start blaming Derrida for all this expressing of difference, rather than al-Qaeda for “fomenting” violence.

    Captcha: “run22.” That’s some run, that run 22. It’s the best there is.

    Posted by John Protevi  on  11/29  at  08:16 PM
  45. In Roseanne Barr’s recent standup comedy show on HBO, she alluded to the skinny yoga aficionados being the first to perish in a GNF sort of scenario, with the fat folks living on. Does this mean that the WAAGNFNP faithful must meet stringent body-mass index criteria to ensure maximum perishability? I suggest liberal use of the stretching rack to efficiently increase height and thereby reduce BMI.

    Posted by Orange  on  11/29  at  08:52 PM
  46. The mighty GNF is indifferent to mere body mass. But, the more mass, the more fissing and fusiing. It’s all good.

    Bill Benzon
    Minister of Visual Propaganda
    WAAGNFNP

    Posted by Bill Benzon  on  11/29  at  09:41 PM
  47. Piers Plowman? Or Dirk Diggler?  You be the judge.

    Piers Plowman!  Chest Brockman!  These are great names!

    Perhaps I’ve spent too much time redeeming violence this week, although really I thought that was Tony Snow’s job

    Damn, emd!  How did I miss that one the first time around?  That was the very point of my post title—Tony Snow is the guy doing the redeeming of the violence!  And not the MLA at all!  But it turns out that the violence in Iraq is not really “violence,” because, according to Holy Joe Lieberman, it doesn’t involve Grand Theft Auto video games.

    Oh boy!  ANOTHER Regnery book bashing the universities!  I think every other book they’ve put out since 1951 has been a stab at the universities.

    Hey, let’s give Dinesh D’Souza some credit, then.  He started small-time with Regnery—not with a university-bashing book, but with a hagiography of Jerry Falwell.  There’s diversity for you!

    Oh, and if it’s possible to survive the so-called GNF, then I’m out of the party. Talk about insufficient radicalism.

    Well, christian, clearly Bill Benzon is thinking about surviving.  He’s from the “it’s all good - BMI” wing of the party (don’t worry, Orange, all our mass will be energy anyway).  And as your party chairman, I am obligated to relay that radio signal to Europa or Iapetus or . . . hey!  wait a minute!  as your party chairman I’m not obligated to do a damn thing!

    And John P., as you know, Derrida didn’t “express” difference so much as show that it was always already deferred.  That’s why Iraq isn’t experiencing a civil war!

    Posted by Michael  on  11/29  at  11:07 PM
  48. I think Holy Joe and his pals have a point: it is very disturbing that even the violence our children are imitating isn’t real anymore! Outside the shrinking heartland - now reduced to small pockets of Washington, DC - everything is fake. Of course, the WAAGNFNP aims to rectify this particular problem by inverting our existence with the help of a spacetime singularity (snippet: I seem to recall that using the water of the worlds oceans in a single huge thermonuclear device, it would be possible to create a black hole artificially), thereby making all difference not only always deferred but entirely meaningless.

    Posted by  on  11/29  at  11:26 PM
  49. Always deferred, always present; meaningless, but beyond meaning; a plenitude of nothing; able to bridge contradictions with a single bound, into the valley of death rode the mighty GNF.

    Posted by Bill Benzon  on  11/29  at  11:41 PM
  50. Which blog has bad Caleb Carr novels, over-budget Bruce Willis vehicles and the Charge of the light Brigade all in one thread? Clearly, one whose proprietor is really just a disembodied ghostly head.

    Posted by  on  11/29  at  11:54 PM
  51. I don’t want to screw this up and send Bowman, Poole, Hunter, Kaminsky, Kimball and HAL to the wrong place.

    This is a terrific sentence.  You said exactly what I was thinking but phrased it much more elegantly and graciously than I ever could. Thank you so much for writing it!

    Posted by  on  11/30  at  12:04 AM
  52. Which blog has bad Caleb Carr novels, over-budget Bruce Willis vehicles and the Charge of the light Brigade all in one thread?

    Hey!  Don’t forget the Nabokov allusion in comment 41!  Something about a pale fire.

    Posted by Charles Kinbote  on  11/30  at  12:12 AM
  53. The MLA is a great organization. Just last Monday I made the mistake of telling a student that I thought Coleridge “didn’t totally suck.” Of course, when I realized my blunder, I had to shoot her. The MLA was right there, though—they paid for the disappearance and the burial and everything! They’re like Geico, but ideologically pure!

    Thanks, MLA!

    Posted by Thers  on  11/30  at  12:34 AM
  54. What do you think about the WAAGNFNP forming a French adjunct? It’d both honor Michael’s heritage, and let you offer total language immersion tours—and what better way for prospective members to bone up on their language skills, while putting money into the party’s coffers!

    Besides, the “Parti Nous Sommes Tous Gigantesque Boule de Feu Nucléaire Maintenant” has a nice ring to it (even if its acronym, PNSTGBFNM, is missing a few vowels).

    Posted by  on  11/30  at  01:27 AM
  55. What The Right in America really hates is that most college profs are committed to raising questions and assessing the plausibility of various answers.  They think certain topics should not be open to question. 

    Take the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the right-wing shut-down of the Smithsonian’s planned Enola Gay exhibit around the 50th anniversary of the bombings.  Although there is a consensus among American historians with expertise on the issues that Truman had a variety of options besides ground invasion vs. bombing, that even his own advisors were projecting American casualties in a ground invasion in the 48K-63K range (not the 500K-1M range that was part of the post-war propaganda effort), and that it was conservative and Christian media figures who made the most prominent criticisms of the decision in the 1940s and 1950s, Newt Gingrich’s newly-elected Congress thought otherwise.  Talk about political correctness.  I think it would still be controversial to teach the right version today in America.

    In teaching this subject in Japan, my students were outraged that any justifications for the atomic bombings were offered and still are offered in Japan.  Of course I had to try to get them to question this consensus, too, which depends on an image of Japan as only a victim of WWII.  But I found it quite striking that what’s still the only officially-accepted version of the bombings in America is completely outrageous among my students in Japan.

    Posted by The Constructivist  on  11/30  at  03:39 AM
  56. Whoops, second para should start, “In teaching this subject in Japan, my students were outraged that any justifications for the atomic bombings were offered and still are offered in America.” That’s what I get for blog reading when I should be class prepping.

    Posted by The Constructivist  on  11/30  at  05:38 AM
  57. Are George W. Bush lovers certifiable?
    November 23, 2006
    By Andy Bromage

    A collective “I told you so” will ripple through the world of Bush-bashers once news of Christopher Lohse’s study gets out.

    Lohse, a social work master’s student at Southern Connecticut State University, says he has proven what many progressives have probably suspected for years: a direct link between mental illness and support for President Bush.

    Lohse says his study is no joke. The thesis draws on a survey of 69 psychiatric outpatients in three Connecticut locations during the 2004 presidential election. Lohse’s study, backed by SCSU Psychology professor Jaak Rakfeldt and statistician Misty Ginacola, found a correlation between the severity of a person’s psychosis and their preferences for president: The more psychotic the voter, the more likely they were to vote for Bush.

    But before you go thinking all your conservative friends are psychotic, listen to Lohse’s explanation.

    “Our study shows that psychotic patients prefer an authoritative leader,” Lohse says. “If your world is very mixed up, there’s something very comforting about someone telling you, ‘This is how it’s going to be.’”

    The study was an advocacy project of sorts, designed to register mentally ill voters and encourage them to go to the polls, Lohse explains. The Bush trend was revealed later on.

    The study used Modified General Assessment Functioning, or MGAF, a 100-point scale that measures the functioning of disabled patients. A second scale, developed by Rakfeldt, was also used. Knowledge of current issues, government and politics were assessed on a 12-item scale devised by the study authors.

    “Bush supporters had significantly less knowledge about current issues, government and politics than those who supported Kerry,” the study says.

    Lohse says the trend isn’t unique to Bush: A 1977 study by Frumkin & Ibrahim found psychiatric patients preferred Nixon over McGovern in the 1972 election.

    Rakfeldt says the study was legitimate, though not intended to show what it did.

    “Yes it was a legitimate study but these data were mined after the fact,” Rakfeldt says. “You can ask new questions of the data. I haven’t looked at” Lohse’s conclusions regarding Bush, Rakfeldt says.

    “That doesn’t make it illegitimate, it just wasn’t part of the original project.”

    For his part, Lohse is a self-described “Reagan revolution fanatic” but said that W. is just “beyond the pale.”

    New Haven Advocate:
    http://tinyurl.com/ydko4a

    Posted by Bill Benzon  on  11/30  at  06:26 AM
  58. statistician Misty Ginacola

    discoverer of the famed Garagiola coefficient which relates number of vowels in the last name to the length of one’s baseball broadcasting career. Phil Rizzuto being an outlier of course.

    Posted by John Protevi  on  11/30  at  10:19 AM
  59. Truman had a variety of options besides ground invasion vs. bombing,
    Like the Dresden style fire-bombing of Yokohama and Tokyo; oh wait, they did that anyway.  Not quite a GNF, but GF for sure; we are really good at that as a nation.

    As for the strange Barr reference in 45:

    A more economical and reasonable theory of how human bodies burn in rooms without having the entire room engulfed in flames is the idea of the wick effect. The ignition point of human fat is low and to get the fire going would require an external source. Once ignited, however, a “wick effect” from the body’s fat would burn hot enough in certain places to destroy even bones. To prove that a human being might burn like a candle, Dr. John de Haan of the California Criminalistic Institute wrapped a dead pig in a blanket, poured a small amount of gasoline on the blanket, and ignited it. Even the bones were destroyed after five hours of continuous burning. The fat content of a pig is very similar to the fat content of a human being. The damage to the pig, according to Dr. De Haan “is exactly the same as that from supposed spontaneous human combustion (SHC).” A National Geographic special on SHC showed a failed attempt to duplicate the burning pig experiment. However, it is obvious that the failure was due to leaving the door to the room open to the outside, which created a draft and led to the flames igniting everything in the room. Had the room been closed up, as are the rooms in which many of the elderly persons have died in fires attributed to SHC, it is likely that the pig would have smoldered for several hours without the rest of the room becoming engulfed in flames.

    May the GNF trigger premature SHC.

    Posted by  on  11/30  at  02:09 PM
  60. spyder, targeting civilian populations from the air was EVIL when Imperial Japan did it to the good earth and people of Shanghai, but GOOD when the US gave over 60 Japanese cities what for.  to claim anything else is moral equivalence, relativism, postmodernism....

    Posted by The Constructivist  on  11/30  at  05:35 PM
  61. But you know what bugs me about these MLA-bashing screeds?  Two things. 

    I was so disappointed to read on and find out you weren’t calling them Thing 1 and Thing 2.

    Posted by  on  11/30  at  07:10 PM
  62. I am in ur MLA
    http://www.evilmadscientist.com/article.php/dictionary
    drinking ur drinks at the Marxist cash bar.

    Posted by Joanna  on  11/30  at  08:20 PM
  63. I was so disappointed to read on and find out you weren’t calling them Thing 1 and Thing 2.

    A pocketful of VOOM for Charles!  You know, I almost closed an old Village Voice Literary Supplement essay (on postmodernism, from 1991) with Thing 1 and Thing 2.  I don’t know what stopped me, since it clearly couldn’t have been a sense of decorum or some shit.

    Posted by Michael  on  11/30  at  09:34 PM
  64. A pocketful of VOOM for Charles!

    I don’t know what VOOM is but boy, let me tell you, a pocketful would be a LOT.  Enough, perhaps to cause a GNF—after which the snow would be very, very clean and tidy.

    Posted by  on  12/01  at  11:55 AM
  65. In addition to being the year the ban on discussion of Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Keats at the MLA goes into effect, 2007 is also the year that Dippin’ Dots becomes the Ice Cream of the Present (rather than the Ice Cream of the Future, as it has been for several years now.)

    Posted by Timothy Horrigan  on  12/02  at  11:32 AM
  66. O Chef of the Future, thank you for this news.  Nick and I have been wondering for years when Dippin’ Dots would finally become the Ice Cream of the Present.

    Captcha:  past.  No kidding.  In 2034 Dippin’ Dots will have become the Ice Cream of the Past, superseded in turn by the iDot.

    Posted by Michael  on  12/02  at  11:55 AM
  67. "We recruited somebody!”

    Indeed. I’m starting to think you must be some sort of mentalist. Not only can’t I recall how I came upon this blog but after reading it for a few weeks and seeing your floating head staring at me I felt compelled to buy both What’s Liberal and Rhetorical Occasions. I read What’s Liberal and throughly enjoyed it, with one exception. On page 115 you write, “. . . the market for Serious Writing, consisting as it does of Serious Readers.” I recoiled from the page as if slapped. I have always thought of myself as a Reader. I love reading and read most anything I come across--even the advertising copy on cereal boxes. So, gentle author, having come up though college in my school’s electrical engineering and computer science department, without much exposure to the arts and humanities, the concept of Serious Writing and Serious Reading shocked me. On pages 114 and 115 you mention several books so I bought four of them to see what this Serious Writing was all about: Pale Fire, The Third Policeman, Mr. Vertigo, and The Bridge. I loved Mr. Vertigo. I’ve started Pale Fire and so far find it hilarious and enjoyable. I haven’t gotten to The Third Policeman yet. And then there is The Bridge. Now, the last time I read a poem was possibly in high school but perhaps middle school. I can’t recall. I was excited to read The Bridge. Indeed, when the box from amazon.com arrived I rushed to sit down with The Bridge first. Several hours later I was still re-reading pages 1 and 2. No, gentle author, I didn’t give up. For not only am I a Reader but I am a stubborn Reader. I began to realize words were being used with great particularity. And so to my OED I turned to glean the particular meanings. Meaning began to emerge and with it the words evoked powerful imagery in my mind. (Though, I still don’t get the seemingly random placement of m-dashes and ellipses.) And while “regular life” doings intruded on my close reading of The Bridge, I fully intend to continue as time permits. Does this all point to me being a Serious Reader? *shrug* I’m content to group the world into Readers and non-Readers. Non-readers are those people who, upon seeing the many books upon the (always too few) bookshelves, feel compelled to ask: “Did you read all those books?”

    Contingently yours,
    Adam

    Posted by Adam  on  12/03  at  12:38 AM
  68. Well, I have in fact heard of and met instructors who reduce complex texts to left-of-center platitudes. Others are on searches for Christ symbols. I’ve met weak stylistics nerds, weak Derrideans, etc., and in certain classes, back in the day before po-mo and po-co, I listened to some platitudes about “the nobility of the human spirit.”

    Reducing complex works to platitudes, that’s just poor teaching, so why do people only complain about “lefties” who suffer from this affliction?

    Posted by Professor Zero  on  12/03  at  12:31 PM
  69. This is a public service reminder from your WAAGNFNP emergency tubnetcom system:

    Innocent Screems

    Please resume your regularly scheduled play session programming.

    Bill Benzon
    Minister of Visual Propaganda
    WAAGNFNP

    Posted by Bill Benzon  on  12/03  at  06:59 PM
  70. I know time is more important and it is good thing, you have time to write blogs for us. Keep sharing !!

    Posted by Las Vegas branding wraps  on  04/02  at  12:23 AM

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