Friday, September 19, 2008

* On Favorite Authors

Teaching the ENGL capstone course for the first time, I'm also getting to teach some favorites I haven't taught in a long time--including William Wordsworth. As enthusiastic as I've been re Lyrical Ballads, however, I still have to interject my rather irreverent attitude/teaching style into my presentation of the Sage of Grasmere. And some students don't know how to handle this. Which led me to a new aphorism, a new "quot.-of-the-day" from yours truly:

If you can't laugh at your favorite authors . . . you haven't read them long enough.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

* Oh, This Postmodern Age

Perhaps the most symptomatic trope, the master metaphor, of the postmodern era was encapsulated by a Fox News talking head yesterday (8/2/08): describing yet another shocking act of violence in this "greatest country on God's green earth," the fellow added, "It's like something out of a movie." And I hear/read versions of this analogy all the time. But if movies are a simulation of, at least one remove from, "reality," then it's a problematic epistemology that must interpret said reality via a simulation thereof. The head spins. . . .

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

* RADIO RANT: Indians--"I Know Nothin'"

Last Sunday night (7/27/08), conservative talk-show cretin Bill Cunningham uttered his version of the conservative mantra that goes something like "Native American tribes fought other tribes; ergo Euro-colonialism/genocide was entirely justified." And of course this formulaic defense can be uttered without really knowing anything about indigenous history. Thus Cunningham's stupidity began: "The Sioux did worse [things] to the Arapaho and the Iroquois" than the U.S. did to the Indians, blah-blah-blah. I could give Cunningham ten years to find a historical battle between the "Sioux"–a Great Plains tribe–and the Northeast-woodlands Iroquois. It's the constant recitation of such half-baked non-truths by such pundits and their "dittohead" acolytes that makes the conservative discourse so infuriating.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

* RADIO RANT: Stoicism--(get it right!)

Well, the good ol' Mormons have offered another FYI "pro-family" radio segment, this time concerning "stoicism." The spot's narrator says that "stoicism" issues from the Greek & Roman times, and is characterized by a denial of both pleasure and pain. This is wrong, they ultimately conclude; one should express one's emotions. (Duh.) . . . I would offer some corrections. Stoicism as a philosophy per se didn't flourish until the Roman times. Moreover, it was much more than some glum sufferance of pleasure and pain; it was a brave acceptance of the knowledge that there is no afterlife, that this "veil of tears" is all we have. Hic labor, hoc opus est. In sum, it is a much more courageous (and truer) modus vivendi than some blithe belief in a heaven in which you'll meet your anointed spouse, etc. Thanks, Mormons, but from what I know of the natural world, give me Stoicism any day. . . .

Saturday, July 5, 2008

* RADIO RANT: Repub-POPulism

The Republican talk-show hosts are taking a certain brand of populism too far (e.g., Glenn Beck). The "damned government" can't do anything right, while "we the people" (whatever that inchoate conglomerate is) are inevitably right in our intuitions. (Then why'd we vote these fools into office in the first place? And is this, then, in contradiction to another conservative mantra, that democracy is the best of all government forms, especially as it manifests itself in the good ol' U.S.A.?). Frankly, I find the populist notion that "we" are smarter than the politicians to be an utterly foolish one. I wouldn't trust my next-door neighbor when it comes to determining foreign policy regarding, say, Afghanistan; would you? (Of course, I live in an apartment complex, but that's beside the point! . . .)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

* RADIO RANT: Glenn Beck, Francophobe

So there he was, a few days ago, slamming "LE CAR"--as an epitome of France, he claimed, and ergo his entry into the predictable stereotypes of hairy female armpits and effeminate men. (Yeh, Glenn's really got some cajones, I can tell, by his high-pitched squeal of a voice. I'm not claiming that said criterion is valid, but it's sure one that Glenn's conservative co-patriots like Michael Savage inveterately apply, when judging "man-ship.") First of all, no French person would pronounce le as "LAY"; second of all, no self-respecting French person would choose a name that combined a French article with a "vulgar" Germanic word: in sum, "Le Car" occurred on the AMC (American Motors Co.) side, and Beck is unwittingly railing against the very corporate-American-consumerist bastardization of anything non-U.S. that characterizes his own woe-begotten ignorance.

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