RE: [xmca] A bit of Auden

From: Ed Wall (
Date: Thu Aug 04 2005 - 21:17:51 PDT

A book I mentioned earlier on the list "The Other Side of Language"
by Corradi Fiumara takes some of this up in a somewhat different way
than Tannen as does Thomas Green in Voices. The described situation
is not confined to academica although it flourishes there.

Ed Wall

>Beautiful paper, Don.
>It nicely depicts what I have always not liked of some academic circles.
>David Preiss
>Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile: <>
>PACE Center at Yale University: <>
>Homepage: <>
>Phone: 56-2-3544605
>Fax: 56-2-354-4844
>E-mail: <>,
>-----Original Message-----
>[] On Behalf Of Cunningham, Donald
>Sent: Thursday, August 04, 2005 7:03 PM
>To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
>Subject: RE: [xmca] A bit of Auden
>Thank you David! I had not seen that piece. It reminded me of an
>insidious syndrome that strikes most academics, labeled "agonism" by
>Walter Ong. It is described in this article by Deborah Tannen in the
>Chronicle of Higher Education:
>This article, "Agonism in the Academy: Surviving Higher
>Learning's Argument Culture," is available online at this
>This article will be available to non-subscribers of The
>Chronicle for up to five days after it is e-mailed.
>The article is always available to Chronicle subscribers at this
>Don Cunningham
>Indiana University
>[] On Behalf Of David Preiss
>Sent: Thursday, August 04, 2005 3:02 PM
>Subject: [xmca] A bit of Auden
>As we went into the literary, i thought a bit of Auden would do no harm :)
>A Reactionary Tract for the Times
> Ares at last has quit the field,
> The bloodstains on the bushes yield
> To seeping showers,
> And in their convalescent state
> The fractured towns associate
> With summer flowers.
> Encamped upon the college plain
> Raw veterans already train
> As freshman forces;
> Instructors with sarcastic tongue
> Shepherd the battle-weary young
> Through basic courses.
> Among bewildering appliances
> For mastering the arts and sciences
> They stroll or run,
> And nerves that steeled themselves to slaughter
> Are shot to pieces by the shorter
> Poems of Donne.
> Professors back from secret missions
> Resume their proper eruditions,
> Though some regret it;
> They liked their dictaphones a lot,
> T hey met some big wheels, and do not
> Let you forget it.
> But Zeus' inscrutable decree
> Permits the will-to-disagree
> To be pandemic,
> Ordains that vaudeville shall preach
> And every commencement speech
> Be a polemic.
> Let Ares doze, that other war
> Is instantly declared once more
> 'Twixt those who follow
> Precocious Hermes all the way
> And those who without qualms obey
> Pompous Apollo.
> Brutal like all Olympic games,
> Though fought with smiles and Christian names
> And less dramatic,
> This dialectic strife between
> The civil gods is just as mean,
> And more fanatic.
> What high immortals do in mirth
> Is life and death on Middle Earth;
> Their a-historic
> Antipathy forever gripes
> All ages and somatic types,
> The sophomoric
> Who face the future's darkest hints
> With giggles or with prairie squints
> As stout as Cortez,
> And those who like myself turn pale
> As we approach with ragged sail
> The fattening forties.
> The sons of Hermes love to play
> And only do their best when they
> Are told they oughtn't;
> Apollo's children never shrink
> From boring jobs but have to think
> Their work important.
> Related by antithesis,
> A compromise between us is
> Impossible;
> Respect perhaps but friendship never:
> Falstaff the fool confronts forever
> The prig Prince Hal.
> If he would leave the self alone,
> Apollo's welcome to the throne,
> Fasces and falcons;
> He loves to rule, has always done it;
> The earth would soon, did Hermes run it,
> Be like the Balkans.
> But jealous of our god of dreams,
> His common-sense in secret schemes
> To rule the heart;
> Unable to invent the lyre,
> Creates with simulated fire
> Official art.
> And when he occupies a college,
> Truth is replaced by Useful Knowledge;
> He pays particular
> Attention to Commercial Thought,
> Public Relations, Hygiene, Sport,
> In his curricula.
> Athletic, extrovert and crude,
> For him, to work in solitude
> Is the offence,
> The goal a populous Nirvana:
> His shield bears this device: Mens sana
> Qui mal y pense.
> Today his arms, we must confess,
> From Right to Left have met success,
> His banners wave
> From Yale to Princeton, and the news
> From Broadway to the Book Reviews
> Is very grave.
> His radio Homers all day long
> In over-Whitmanated song
> That does not scan,
> With adjectives laid end to end,
> Extol the doughnut and commend
> The Common Man.
> His, too, each homely lyric thing
> On sport or spousal love or spring
> Or dogs or dusters,
> Invented by some court-house bard
> For recitation by the yard
> In filibusters.
> To him ascend the prize orations
> And sets of fugal variations
> On some folk-ballad,
> While dietitians sacrifice
> A glass of prune-juice or a nice
> Marsh-mallow salad.
> Charged with his compound of sensational
> Sex plus some undenominational
> Religious matter,
> Enormous novels by co-eds
> Rain down on our defenceless heads
> Till our teeth chatter.
> In fake Hermetic uniforms
> Behind our battle-line, in swarms
> That keep alighting,
> His existentialists declare
> That they are in complete despair,
> Yet go on writing.
> No matter; He shall be defied;
> White Aphrodite is on our side:
> What though his threat
> To organize us grow more critical?
> Zeus willing, we, the unpolitical,
> Shall beat him yet.
> Lone scholars, sniping from the walls
> Of learned periodicals,
> Our facts defend,
> Our intellectual marines,
> Landing in little magazines
> Capture a trend.
> By night our student Underground
> At cocktail parties whisper round
> >From ear to ear;
> Fat figures in the public eye
> Collapse next morning, ambushed by
> Some witty sneer.
> In our morale must lie our strength:
> So, that we may behold at length
> Routed Apollo's
> Battalions melt away like fog,
> Keep well the Hermetic Decalogue,
> Which runs as follows:-
> Thou shalt not do as the dean pleases,
> Thou shalt not write thy doctor's thesis
> On education,
> Thou shalt not worship projects nor
> Shalt thou or thine bow down before
> Administration.
> Thou shalt not answer questionnaires
> Or quizzes upon World-Affairs,
> Nor with compliance
> Take any test. Thou shalt not sit
> With statisticians nor commit
> A social science.
> Thou shalt not be on friendly terms
> With guys in advertising firms,
> Nor speak with such
> As read the Bible for its prose,
> Nor, above all, make love to those
> Who wash too much.
> Thou shalt not live within thy means
> Nor on plain water and raw greens.
> If thou must choose
> Between the chances, choose the odd;
> Read The New Yorker, trust in God;
> And take short views.
> --
>H. Auden
>David Preiss
>Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile: <>
>PACE Center at Yale University: <>
>Homepage: <>
>Phone: 56-2-3544605
>Fax: 56-2-354-4844
>E-mail: <>,
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