P R A E S I D I U M
A Journal of Literate and Literary Analysis
6.4 (Fall 2006)
A quarterly publication of The Center for Literate Values
Board of Directors:
John R. Harris, Ph.D. (Executive Director)
Thomas F. Bertonneau, Ph.D. (Secretary)
Helen R. Andretta, Ph.D.; York College-CUNY
Ralph S. Carlson, Ph.D.; Azusa Pacific University
Kelly Ann Hampton
Michael H. Lythgoe, Lt. Col. USAF (Retd.)
The previous issue of Praesidium (Summer, 2006) may be viewed by clicking here.
© All contents of this journal (including poems, articles, fictional works, and short pieces by staff) are copyrighted by The Center for Literate Values of Tyler, Texas (2006), and may not be cited at length or reproduced without The Center’s express permission.
A Few Words from the Editor (see below)
No particular theme emerges in this edition—but the vectors of “pop culture” and academic trend continue to point toward the danger zone.
This essay, ranging from William Caxton’s printing press to the strange moods of Hollywood , discovers that most—but not all—ages in history embrace merry green anarchists.
John R. Harris
Academic feminists are fond of viewing characters like Emma Bovary and Hedda Gabler as early standard-bearers… but perhaps they should consider the march’s direction..
The holiday season seems a proper occasion to reflect upon the nature of “holy days”—and, of course, on the evaporation of the holy. In the second of two essays, Mr. Wegierski allows that Karl Marx may be the secular saint of Labor Day—but notes that even Marx has been cruelly used by his faithful.
Lt. Col. Michael Lythgoe discusses both the poet’s craft and the military man’s paradoxically creative exile from scenes of bohemian leisure.
That which is restrictive must employ “that”, sayeth sages of little sagacity.
J. S. Moseby
In a send-up of reality shows in the not-to-distant future, this author foresees infernal carnivals readily packaged for mass consumption.
A Few Words from the Editor
Dating officially from September 1 of this year, The Center for Literate Values is a federally recognized 501(c)3 charity, which means that donations are now fully tax deductible. I hope and believe that it means numerous other things, as well. Among the most prominent of these is the opened path to major foundations required by their charter to give only to 501(c)3 organizations. Our lack of the necessary tax status in the past has severely hampered us in obtaining funds for certain kinds of rudimentary maintenance, let alone for grandiose projects of expansion. If we are successful in attracting such donations next year, look for our website to become a bit tidier and more professional, at a minimum. My own favorite grandiose design is a series of hardbound publications on various issues often discussed in Praesidium: the importance of true literacy to our culture, the undermining of literary taste and judgment on the contemporary campus, the future of foreign language instruction, the proper role of “popular culture” in education, the probable future of a post-literate America (most certainly a “dystopic” future)… these and other topics could be addressed by anthologies featuring (mostly or entirely) essays previously published in the pages of Praesidium. The books could be produced in a small run (say, 500) and distributed gratis to educational institutions, columnists, public servants, and interested parties.
All well in the future… but no longer in the “unforeseeable future”. The means of getting from here to there is now visible. Of course, the irony has not escaped me (I am a constant, if often unwilling, consumer of ironies) that our tiny organization, having heretofore existed on an annual budget of about $500, should suddenly sneak into the big time by clarioning with a dwarf’s trumpet the dismal collapse of the times. It may be altogether too late to attempt such a venture: there may be no one left with ears to hear. What, however, would be the alternative? Should our board members and contributors devote themselves fully to paying employment, the better to build a concrete bunker in the Ozarks or the Adirondacks and line it with canned food? Will our children fit into the bunker? Will those children we have taught and worried over as our own over the years in our classrooms fit in?
Hope, it turns out, is a moral duty—and nobody appreciates this better than the person temperamentally disposed (as I am) to despair. A world such as that portrayed in J. S. Moseby’s short story this quarter is not the sort of heritage any os us wants to bequeath to posterity. The story is plainly a sally into dark humor, yet brooding men like Jonathan Swift have been known to lean upon humor when they could no longer bear the sight of the writing on the wall. Personally, I was fascinated to discover that the story contains an example (albeit minor and compromised) of what I call the femina immolata in my essay. It seems to me that literature periodically “beats up” on willful female characters when culture collectively feels betrayed by sentiment, or at least has determined that the finer sentiments expose one to annihilation. Perhaps we are headed for another trough in this sine curve.
Jim Stebinger sees a downward turn, too, in how the perennial legend of Robin Hood has been handled lately. Jim delves back into what were among the first printed and bound books in England , then traverses the turbulent twentieth century through film history. The result? As any thoughtful person will have observed in countless other venues, splendor of special effect is inversely proportional to depth of character analysis and finesse of humor.
We had hoped to offer Mark Wegierski’s essay about Marx before Labor Day, where a logical link seemed to await easy forging. The Summer issue took another course, however, and now the essay follows a piece more generally about holidays—forming a pair whose connection with the current season appears even more appropriate. Yet the mood of Mr. Wegierski’s reflections is not exactly festive; and we could all do worse, in my opinion, than give some serious thought to where our culture-in-shambles is going.
This issue has also provided an opportunity to celebrate the publication of Michael Lythgoe’s chapbook of poems, Brass. The particular poem which lent its title to the book was in fact first published in Praesidium several months ago. I have arranged a series of e-mail exchanges with Col. Lythgoe as an interview on subjects ranging from warfare and the poetic imagination to candor of style in a morally complex age. Col. Lythgoe, by the way, has very generously pledged to forward a complimentary copy of Brass to anyone who contributes at least $11.00 to The Center.
Finally, our sincerest felicitations to Board member Kelly Hampton upon her marriage this fall… and equally sincere condolences to Tom Bertonneau upon the loss of his father. Is it de mauvaise grace to put two such sentiments in the same sentence? But joy and grief, you know, are two strands in every day’s fabric. J. H.