Thursday, June 21, 2012

Brian Fawcett, Revisited

Shortly after opening this blog, I began a series of responses to Brian Fawcett's essay, "The Tides Are Caused By The Moon's Gravity", the latter running in the online dooneyscafe. I've just reread those responses and though I'm still foursquare with everything I posited in that fractured screen reaction, I've come to appreciate (much more) the tone, if not the beliefs, of many of Fawcett's opinions on the current state of poetry (the last four words intoned over thunder rolls, followed by haunting retreating winds).

The personal? Never have, and never will have, a problem with that focus in verse if it's done with universal echoes and affecting language, rhythm and syntax. But where once (and for decades) I only became bored with lines of generic nature brooding, of stunted scope, of insularity, of slight content or jocose cultural ephemera, I've increasingly become irritated, even at times angered by it. And it's not just because it's irrelevant, but because of what it means in relation (as one example) to the problems Fawcett talks about in the below linked essay, also from dooneyscafe.

in which he unrolls a mini-history of poetry action and influence in Prince George, BC, which is then used as contrast to the current strain of postcolonial jargon and political mischief. It's a terrific essay (though riddled with typos, repetitions, misplaced commas, word deletions, and other verbal and grammatical infelicities -- so much for lambasting unedited bloggers, in another recent essay there, and tooting the home team's editing protocol and skills) . Though the set-up is a trifle romanticized (but hey, who am I to argue, I wasn't there), Fawcett's current views of Rob Budde's (and others') power-push at UNBC, with some frightening foreshadowing details, are right on the mark.

The only thing I'd like to add here takes off from this Fawcett quote:

"Everyone with a non-conforming opinion will sooner or later be accused of “hurtful bullying” and placed before a tribunal. How Bolshevik!

 ....Absurd as it sounds, this sort of thing, along with an apparently irresistible urge to supervise the language, thought and actions of those around them appears to be normal practice for the Bolshevik side of the poetry war, as is boycotting any poetry reading—or person—they think might have the potential to cause harm and to misrepresent. And if this degree of intellectual fundamentalism is sweeping the Western world, as it seems to be doing, most of our democratic institutions are in jeopardy, not just our artistic freedom. Though I confess to having had a lot of fun in this essay making merry with the absurdities of the situation, I don’t think what these people are doing is ultimately very funny. It scares the hell out of me."-- Fawcett

Elsewhere, Fawcett says that these ideologues are fighting the good fight, and that they mean no intentional harm. But in light of specific events and alliances (too detailed and numerous to go into here) in the U.S. since the early 70s, and more recently in Canada,  there is nothing naive or play-as-you-go about university politics in the postcolonial racket. Budde came from the U.S. And the rampant takeover in liberal arts programs in the majority of universities by ideologues circumventing intellectual investigation of factual data (abetted, in many cases, by the complementary faddishness of poststructuralism) has been thorougly documented by many writers, David Horowitz being one of the most prominent. Perhaps the reason Fawcett seems innocent of this record is that Horowitz and other brave authors and speakers detailing this unpleasant reality belong to the Conservative wing of the academies, and it's hard for some of those fighting to keep intellectual rights -- entrenched rights as the major pillar of what defines universities-- enshrined when those on the defensive are from a political affiliation contrary to their own.

For those who say that postcolonialism, or the "sexism" of Purdy, are one thing, political parties another, take a peek at Budde's propaganda masking as poetry in Declining America, and note the references to corrupt Floridian politics, and so on and so on. Cultural bullying is terrifying, but make no mistake that a specific political agenda is also behind the curtain. Yep, the Bolshevik card may be alarmist, and on one level an insult to the memories of those living through the 20s, 30s, and 40s Soviet nightmares. But every giant leap starts with a small step.

Speaking of right-wing defensiveness, our close-to-home BC grown Human "Rights" Tribunal has had its own recent humourous-if-it-weren't so-infuriating brush with "correct" thinking. And anyone, by now, who doesn't know what I'm referring to should be ashamed, the same as those poetlings who continue to describe their tender feelings in ten skinny lines when chancing upon dead robins on the side of the highway, all while consciously gaining favours by avoiding politically incorrect language and attitudes.Unless, of course, mourning dead robins is really your thing, In that case, carry on. I sure wouldn't want to, you know, offend any budding King of the proles.

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