22 April 2012

From Illiteracy to Apathy: the Guided Tour

Dear Dr. Bones,

 Cum flamengibus non disputandum, as/like Mr. Carberry the Classical master always used to mutter. That is to say, "America’s gain is the loss of Northwestern Sieve." [1]

 I speak only qualitatively, to be sure. If you mechanically count rubbable noses, the Boreal Neojumblies

Sievalisation Observed
are movin’ from strength to strenth. That is to say, now there are two of ’em, one of which is Poet Laureate and the other of which --Party Neocomradess (eighth grade) J. X. Fiamengo--ain’t. And it is the best kind of two, for now ¿possibly they will breed an’ produce, in due course, an Even Greater Demographic?

Stranger things than that have happened, though perhaps not too many. A thousand years hence, lovers of beautiful letters may look back on Petrarch and Laura as only a warm-up for laurel-crowned Dave an’ Janey of the . . . .

Well, the Muses and yourself, sir, have as much business as Eye do fixing on l’epithète juste for her freeladyship, now at large in Mrs. Windsor’s Other Country, where she shall scatter fresh hope an’ radiate neoglory upon all around her in the igloo. Though if Eye were Lizzie, I’d be maybe a little miffed at the way the immigrant freedame suggests that there is not quite a lot for a gentleperson of pædagogy to feel ‘aghast’ about south of the border.

Her freeladyship moans about "the level of illiteracy, the stunted vocabularies, near-complete absence of historical knowledge, and above all the extraordinary apathy of many English majors" up around the North Pole. Speaking of "historical knowldge," you might ask our Miss Clio, sure, whether the true interpretation of this lamentable self-sorrowin’ be not that here in the Heimatland G*ttes, that sector of Posterity would never dream of goin’ anywhere near the Eng. Lit. Dept. When Wally Wombschool an’ Cindy from Wasilla have *that* much mush in their dittopans, naturally they take a pre-jobcreation course.

You might say I siuspect her freeladyship of bein’ a sort of Frances Trollope redux, much happier to get over to the far side of Viagra Falls precisely because everythin’ there is at least a little behind the times.

Her freeladyship further resembles Mrs. Trollope in wanting to teach lessons to us HolyHomeland™ers from a safe distance, as of course does his freelordship the "Canadian poet, educational theorist, travel writer and literary critic of [impeccable] descent." Everywhere you look lately, the Daughters of Virtue & Sons of Wisdom (L.L.C.) are up to this ab externo _shtyk_. As I pointed out to you yesterday, sir, the Master of Seamus is runnin’ for President of the United States as if our poor MA, the only place his firstlordship ever did any politics, were a foreign country. Or extraterrestrial altogether.

By the way, ¿was it not the late Father of Lies, Neocomrade Senator Prof. Dr. D. P. Moynihan of H*rv*rd and NY who observed that the single best correlating facttor with public educational excellence in our holy Homeland™ is proximity to Her Northern border? Freedame Fiamengo’s heart-rendin’ moans an’ groans must raise some doubts about that proposition. Though I suppose it is possible that everything gets better and better as one approaches the Falls, and then suddenly . . . _¡facilis descensus Averno!_

Her freeladyship goes on to notice that her own little heads full of maple leaves an’ blubber do not like bein’ told the truth about their cultural condition. This pathos reminds Paddy and Eye of the co-ed in Mr. De Vries who insisted that she was entitled to admire the "cheerful pastoral atmosphere" of Mr. Coleridges’s Ancient Mariner if that is how she felt. "¿Who are you to tell me I can’t [be a literary critic]?" [2]

An’ then there is grade inflation, which, as you know, is now proceeding rather faster than the Hubble expansion. Definitely behind the cuttin’ edge is Freedame Fiamengo. Though of course we ought not generalise on that basis about the province or provinces to which her freeladyship has run away from Home.

The present keyboard happens to have heard all this miserable litany from the schoolmarmy self-whighteous, better expressed, in the single month of February, _anno religionismi_ 1392-1972-5732. In retrospect what happened is obvious: after a lovely spell of comparative lucidity between (say) the inauguiration of FDR and the nomination of Hubert Horatio Hornblower at Chicago thirty-six years later, but then the holy Homeland™ did indeed suddenly

Shootin' Viagara

"shoot Viagara." The "permanent high plateau" came to a sudden end, an’ we all relapsed to that Hardin’-Coolidge-Atwater-Rove-Babbitt-Solway-Shteyn-Horowitz-Fiamengo level which appears to be all w Homeland™ers can sustain for the really long haul.

 ¿Ain’t exceptionalism wunnerful? [3]

Happy days. --JHM

[1] Paddy tells me that over on the Stinks side, subtraction of a negative quantity was regarded as tantamount to addition.

[2] With those ground rules, perhaps you, O Bones, might undertake to admire the cogency and nonpartisan charm of the freeladylike scribble? Avaialble at ¡no extra charge!

In the opposite direction, you might wonder a llittle whether the same passage does not owe enough --"Most believed themselves more than competent"--to the stout Cortez of Lake Woebegone to make it advisable that the freedame have a word or two with her solicitor.

[3] Fairembalance, the Fox Goddess, has asked me to point out that we did at least manage to write our own Bozarty epitaph. ’Twas a fine updatnding Middle American, after all, a certain Mr. Eliot of St. Louis, who sang of "their only monument a thousand lost golf balls." In addition to the golf balls, we have now lost Janice Freedame Fiamengo. All very sad, but I betcha we do not die of it on the spot.


Anonymous said...

What the fuck am I reading?

Anonymous said...

I can't believe how hard I am laughing! This is great!