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« What Broadway meant: Ethel Merman (1960) | Main | from "Julius Jaffe: The Poems" [by Mitch Sisskind] »

February 03, 2023


Brilliant. But depressing. How do we climb out of the abyss?
Caroline Seebohm

Great column. Would you read my manuscript of poems and consider giving me a reading, blurbing my next chapobook, or recommending me for a Guggenheim?

Lucid, brilliant, and right on target.

You might be missing the point about the N-word in Huckleberry Finn. Everyone in that book who uses the N-word is evil, or, like Huck, has been totally indoctrinated into an evil system of values that they have almost no chance of escaping. Mark Twain knew what he was doing. And he understood that this book could only be written by a white man, because racism is a disease of white people (including Twain himself when he was growing up). Huck feels guilty about helping Jim escape. His conscience tells him to turn Jim in. He is certain that if he helps Jim to escape, he will go to Hell. But in the end, his heart overrules his conscience and he does the right thing anyway, still convinced that he will go to Hell. Of course he uses the N-word. That's just one more part of the total corruption of white society that Mark Twain is portraying.

I am quite positive that the word, "N-word" does not appear anywhere in Huckleberry Finn. At the risk of being censored, here, the word used is "nigger". It is absolutely ridiculous that we cannot use this word when talking about it. Using it as a label which hurts someone is awful and wrong. But looking at the word from an etymological and literary viewpoint should be totally acceptable. Fear of words should not control us and neither should the use of a word. We need to understand the difference between abuse and discussion.

This is a wonderful article, and it's all true.

Thank you, Terence -- and you, Bruce. Keith, I am in total agreement with what you say. Many people feel as we do. If only they would raise their voices instead of yielding to the fear of being shamed by the mob.

Just finished reading Finley’s "The World of Odysseus"; this a terrific and timely essay. -- Marc Cohen

David, thank you so much for raising your hand and adding to the counter-current against the received wisdom of this ominous aspect of progressivism. It is of course not limited to literature-course reading lists. It is only through continually laying out the counter-arguments -- dare I say common sense-- that this newest fashionable orthodoxy might someday run its course. I applaud your bravery.

Thank you, M.C.
And thanks very much, Bill, for your spirited comment. I am very glad we agree. Superlative debater that you are, I'd love to see a brief by you on the subject! It is amazing that the views I am articulating here require "bravery." We need people to speak out despite fear of being shamed by the Woke mob.
It ain't easy if only because some publishers and publications are woke to the point of insomnia.

From a professor of film I learn that <<< One of my buddies, who happens to be a moderate conservative on many issues (in contrast to my still-stalwart Marxist (non-Stalinist) perspective, was teaching SINGIN' IN THE RAIN. One student raised the issue - and took it to the dean! - that Gene Kelly kissed Debbie Reynolds without asking permission! My friend hung up his chalk immediately thereafter. Unfortunately, only a few of us laugh at the absurdity of such "P.C." accusations. And it's not really a laughing matter when one's reputation and livelihood are at stake. >>>>

It's not only the arts; it's medicine, too. "Chest-feeding?"
Or, as I saw on the subway this morning, "One out of four people with uteruses will have an abortion."
Something wrong with "breast" and "women"?

David, what a brilliant and unnerving connection you make between deconstructionism and the plight we find ourselves in, a world where MOBY DICK is (according to a course description) "A novel of the whaling industry." Periphery becoming the center--and the center becoming the abyss. Thank you for this disturbing and incisive essay.

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I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman


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