I don't know how I get on these mailing lists - maybe someone is covertly trying to indoctrinate me into the Vast Left Wing Conspiracy.
One of the newsletters I get is from Orion Magazine. I'm sitting here, too lazy to unpack the box of Christmas decorations I took out of the closet. So I read the Orion newsletter and click on a few links.
I see now. It is unmined territory for me. I can add this to the list of places I troll looking for far left drivel.
Tonight's feature story is from David James Duncan, a college professor of creative writing.
Yet as the semester unfolds and we listen to President Bush and his various goaders and backers wage a rhetorical war on Iraq and prepare an increasingly vague national "we" to lay waste to Saddam Hussein, the mere teaching of creative writing has come to feel, for the first time in my life, like a positively dissident line of work.
I can see he teaches this class objectively. I wonder how many of his "creative writing" lectures head off into anti-war statements. And please, pray tell, what does creative writing have to do with invading Iraq? Oh, look. He explains.
Creative writing requires a dual love of language and of life, human and otherwise. The storyteller then sculpts these raw loves with acute observation, reflection, creative struggle, allegiance to truth, merciless awareness of the foibles of human beings, and unstinting empathy toward human beings even so. Not only have these strategies foundered in the post-9/11 rhetoric of the Bush administration, they look to me to have been outlawed by two recent federal documents: the "2002 National Security Strategy for the United States" and the 107th Congress's "Patriot Act."
Basically, if you are in support of an invasion of Iraq, you cannot be a creative writer, because you probably hate humanity and have no empathy at all.
In such an America the teaching of creative writing is one of countless professions that has been inadvertently redefined as dissident. This puts me in an odd position. Having signed a contract to teach before Bush/Cheney/Powell's "New America" existed, and knowing only the former America's literary methods, I'm left no choice but to instruct my students in how to become what the new national lexicon might call "better unAmericans."
I had to read that paragraph twice to make sure I read it correctly. Writers are now considered dissidents. All literary methods have changed since Bush became president. He now is forced to teach his students to become unAmerican.
I wonder what would happen if I were in his class. Would you call me "too American?" Would he accept my challenges to his views? Would he tell me I'm a terrible writer because I support what our country is doing?
Post-9/11 anti-Saddam talk has usurped thought, annihilated international trust, and polarized our populace.
Yes, we all have become unthinking, unfeeling robots of the New America, the Stepford Children of politics, just waiting to be told how to act and what to say. My mind is being controlled from the White House.
ANOTHER EXAMPLE of how the New America forces literature into a dissident position is Bush's presumption (stated in the National Security Strategy, page 5) that it is the New America's "clear responsibility to history" to "rid the world of evil." As a lifelong student of the world's wisdom literature, it is my duty to inform students that "ridding the world of evil" is a goal very different from any recommended by Jesus, Buddha, or Muhammad, though not so different from some recommended by the Josephs Stalin and McCarthy and by Mao Tse Tung.
Where does religion fall into this and why is he comparing former world leaders to religious leaders? He claims it his duty as a teacher to tell his students that their president is comparable to ruthless dictators. He is a creative writing teacher. I'm sure nowhere in his job description does it state that he must force his politics upon his students.
And tonight's secret word, ladies and gentlemen is OIL.
I fear that the Bush administration's claim that Iraq must be attacked, defeated, and occupied for America's domestic safety is just such a distortion, and that its chief aim is the embezzlement not of cash but of Iraq's oil reserves -- the third largest on Earth.
Ding! Ding! Ding! Congratulations, Mr. Duncan, you are tonight's winner of Tire Rhetoric prize package. It includes a one way trip to Berkeley and a date with Susan Sarandon!
I fear that weapons of mass destruction will be discovered in Iraq, that the discovery will be hailed as the greatest victory yet in the war against terror, and that the U.S. will use this victory to justify occupying Iraq with a military force whose job it will be to cultivate international goodwill and protect us here at home by brandishing weapons of destruction all day every day at Muslims forbidden to brandish their own.
So what is he wants us to if WoMDs are found? Pat Saddam on the back and go home? Embrace him in empathy?
I still don't get what this all has to do with teaching creative writing, or why writers are unAmerican.
Silly me, it has nothing to do with it at all. He just needed a scary monster to pop out of his closet and yell BOO! at the right time.
Now that, folks, is creative writing.