I read some more of Ezra Pound’s poetry and prose lately, and he struck on something I’ve been thinking about lately:
The supreme crime in a critic is dullness. The supreme evil committed by a critic is to turn men away from the bright and living. The ignominious failure of ANY critic (however low) is to fail to arouse the appetite of his audience, to read, to see, to experience.
The boredom by Baconians occurs, I take it, because these suburbanites are bell bent on distracting attention away from the text and its meaning.
Guide to Kulcher (1952), 161-162.
Part of a poem that deals with the same subject:
Let us deride the smugness of “The Times”: GUFFAW!
So much for their gagged reviewers,
It will pay them when the worms are wriggling in their vitals;
These are they who objected to newness,
Here are their tombstones.
They supported the gag and the ring
Excerpt of “Salutation the Third” from BLAST, 1914
It seems that unfortunately little has changed since Ezra Pound’s time with regard to the literary establishment. Replace “critic” in the first passage with “teacher” and you have the problems with the way English and reading is taught in the public school system. Reading is a chore for the vast majority of students, and then students must write essays on them, when the teachers themselves have not written anything in twenty years. The best literature teacher I ever had is a published author himself.
One of the latest trends is “We Need Diverse Books,” another multi-cultural back slapping campaign. If this was an honest attempt at bringing true diversity in thought to schools, I would be all for it. It is not, like so many initiatives like it. Diversity means promoting some identities at the expense of others. I hardly expect any concern for the Western literary tradition that has given us Homer, Ovid, Chaucer, Dante, Voltaire, Jane Austen, Mark Twain, Henry James, Hemingway, Pound, etc. After all, honoring diversity ends when you deviate at all from radical egalitarianism, regardless of the merit of your work. Western civilization, which has given me the ability to write this on a computer and send it out to the whole world has become, in many mainstream media and academic circles, oppressive. I was pleasantly surprised when I found this piece at the The Atlantic:
For example, some students have called for warnings that Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart describes racial violence and that F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby portrays misogyny and physical abuse, so that students who have been previously victimized by racism or domestic violence can choose to avoid these works, which they believe might “trigger” a recurrence of past trauma.
Greg Lukianoff and Johnathan Haidt, “The Coddling of the American Mind”
The diversity/social justice left has no interest in giving students reading that challenges them; they simply want something to comfort their preconceived notions about the world. How much longer before literature and history is reduced to a security blanket by educators, meant only to enforce Marxist notions of oppression and victimization? In many ways, that has already come to pass, but some left wing professors admit their students are further to the left than they are, creating problems even for them. Oppression today is not a band of soldiers coming to your home to send you to a concentration camp (see the Holocaust, Stalin’s Russia, Mao, etc.). “Oppression” is when someone has their feelings hurt, which can be brought on by reading a work of fiction. We are in for some darker times as a culture if the current trends continue. However, as traditional book sales slip, the truly avant-garde can break in. Even as trigger warnings
Or perhaps children won’t even be able to read any books, let alone diverse books.