The University of Resentment: Alan Kaufman’s Wild Idea
By Kwame Opoku-Duku, Forum General Editor
“I am very unhappy with current attempts throughout the universities of the Western world by a group I have called ‘the school of resentment’ to put the arts, and literature in particular, in the service of social change…pseudo-Marxists, pseudo-feminists, watery disciples of Foucault and other French theorists…are transparently at work propagating themselves in our universities…I would say that there is no future for literary studies as such in the United States. Increasingly, those studies are being taken over by the astonishing garbage called “cultural criticism.” At NYU I am surrounded by professors of hip-hop. At Yale, I am surrounded by professors far more interested in various articles on the compost heap of so-called popular culture than in Proust or Shakespeare or Tolstoy.” (Excerpted from “Bloom and Doom,” Harold Bloom interviewed by Ken Shulman. Newsweek v124, #15. Oct 10, 1994. PAGE 75.)
Harold Bloom’s interviews in which he speaks of his disdain for the school of thought he refers to as the “school of resentment” have always weighed heavily on my mind. Bloom has always served as a beacon of sorts in my literary journey. I’ve been taught to use him as the primary source for literary criticism since I was 14. As far as I knew, his word was the law.
The “school of resentment” was first mentioned by Bloom in the introduction to his 1994 work, The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages. He claimed he sought to protect the Western canon from the leftist vigilantes who wanted to infuse the canon with minorities and women, regardless of their aesthetic merit. Of course, this was nearly 20 years ago. But living in San Francisco in 2011, it’s impossible not to question how much water this “school of resentment” holds.
One of the biggest sources of pride here at City College is that the school created the first Gay and Lesbian Studies department in the United States back in 1989 — not to mention the school’s longtime, tireless work to promote equity and inclusion among all students. And the reason we’re so proud of it is that if we didn’t do it, no one might have.
It seems to me that the fear of minorities, women and the LGBT community being read by children is the precise reason why it needs to be done more. I know that reading Go Tell It on the Mountain literally changed my life upon first reading it at the age of 14, and I know it’s something Bloom could probably never understand. Let’s face it; he’s set in his ways. Continue reading Nonsense in the current social order→
Modern and Contemporary Works on Paper and Animations
By Katie Dalla, Forum Poetry Editor
It’s not often that an art exhibit representing a country goes to the extent of actually showcasing remains of its own citizens.
No, nobody’s limbs were severed and put on a podium, but Teresa Margolles’ vibrant yet grotesque 2003 piece, Papeles, brings you bodily fluids in a surprisingly beautiful arrangement.
The piece takes up a whole wall and displays large rectangular sheets containing streaked patterns of brown and yellow hues that, juxtaposed together, bring to mind the splendor of a moth’s wings. But the beauty is met with an equal amount of repulsion: Margolles used the post- autopsy water from the victims of narcoviolencia—or those individuals that experienced the fatal repercussions of drug trafficking. The water came right from the Mexico City morgue.
Each paper represents an individual portrait of a person and their remaining traces of life. You can’t help but feel a bit tricked — your first feeling is sheer warmth from the luminosity and size of the work, but as you step in closer to read the details, you immediately get a lump in your throat and feel the need to back away slowly, frantically searching for mutual glances of horror from the other onlookers. Margolles’ bold statement effectively demands a reaction to an ongoing issue that has caused so many deaths and so much strife in Mexico. She also gives an odd vibrance to each portrait as she has, in fact, captured their final essence, and in the most direct way possible, Margolles brings a part of Mexico to you.
even over graveyards and cigarettes
past my field of vision,
out of my life
these thoughts, counterfeit nostalgia
which I’ve just entered
offer opportunities I’ve never had
(I never will, I can project
legions of fantasies between four walls)
life is a mixture of standstills,
resistance, and falling
the elements will swallow you happily
without fidgeting forks and knives
“Now they were right in the center of town. There was so much to see that George did not know where to look first.” (from Curious George Takes A Job)
This weekend, the starving student and Bank of America customer that I am paid a visit to the Contemporary Jewish Museum for its “Curious George Saves the Day” exhibit, which runs through March 13. Through the Museums On Us program, on certain weekends you can get into certain museums for free, and this past weekend I decided that my free museum visit would be to the CJM.
I was excited the first time, last month, that I saw the streetlight banner ads for this exhibit waving throughout downtown San Francisco. In addition to the fact that the Curious George books were among my favorites (I can distinctly remember first coming across them in the library of my elementary school when I was in the first grade), Margaret and H.A. Rey are key literary figures. In the literary community, children’s books authors don’t always get the kind of recognition that their mainstream peers do, unless they are staples such as Lewis Carroll and Laura Ingalls Wilder. (In fact, the work of both Wilder and the Reys are nearly contemporaneous.) Also complicating matters is when the authors are also the illustrators. Are the authors staples of literature or art? The Reys took as much care with their drawings as they did with their prose. For example, Margaret had once explained the challenge of writing for children: that she had a very limited vocabulary to choose from because the target audience wasn’t yet accustomed to using a wide variety of verbs and adjectives. Personally, I would conclude that the Reys are key literary figures, if not heroes, for mastering this unique narrative structure. Continue reading →
This weekend, the Free University of San Francisco is offering classes taught by such local luminaries such as Matt Gonzalez, the former San Francisco Supervisor and mayoral candidate, and San Francisco Poet Laureate Diane di Prima. As you can tell by the name, these classes are free, as well as open to the public. Here’s more information from Kwame Opoku-Duku, Forum‘s Managing Editor for the spring 2011 issue:
Alan Kaufman and Diane Di Prima are both literary icons in San Francisco and throughout the U.S. (and probably beyond). The event is taking place at on Saturday at Viracocha, at 998 Valencia St.
Kaufman starts his lecture on Kerouac, Thelonious Monk and Jackson Pollack at 11:30 am downstairs. His lecture will go until 1:30pm.
Di Prima begins her lecture entitled “Vision and the Visionary Poet” at 2pm upstairs. She is scheduled to speak until 4pm.
These are the literary aspects of the Free University of San Francisco but there is much more going on to satisfy all of your political, musical and artistic desires.
Forum was established in 1937 and features the work of students, faculty, staff, and Alumni.
Please send us your best stories, poems, non-fiction pieces, and artwork and be a part of the Bay Area’s thriving literary community. Please include a quick bio, state your connection to City College, and label your work by genre. Images must be at least 300 Dpi. Hard copy submissions can be dropped off/sent to J. Brych at Batmale 564. Deadline is :
February 15, 2011.
Copies of past issues are available at the City College Bookstore and in the English Department (5th floor Batmale Hall). Only $6.00 while supplies last!
You may also view the flyer as a pdf by clicking the link below:
HMS Surprise is the third in Patrick O’Brian’s popular and well regarded series of Aubrey/Maturin novels. The series is centered around the lives of Royal Navy captain Jack Aubrey and his close friend naval surgeon and intelligence operative Dr. Stephen Maturin during the Napoleonic War era. HMS Surprise was the first book in the series I had read and I found the opening a little jarring. It wasn’t that it wasn’t well written it was more a matter of its style. O’Brian was well known for his attention to period detail and period language. This attention to language extends to the the way in which the books are written and in fact, the narrator’s voice is strongly reminiscent of that time; there is something decidedly old-fashioned about O’Brian’s prose. Also jarring was the rather domestic bent of the early chapters. The novel opens with a somewhat technical meeting of elements of the British Admiralty and goes on to relate Aubrey’s efforts to get out of debt and marry his sweetheart as well as Maturin’s thoughts about the woman he is in love with.
Porter Gulch Review is a literary journal out of Cabrillo College in Santa Cruz County. Like Forum and other college-based literary magazines it is assembled by students. It features poetry and fiction, drama, critiques/reviews interspersed with photographs and other forms of visual art.
The magazine is mostly black and white. The design is very clean and modern with the authors’ names placed vertically near the margins of the pages; titles are in gray above standard black print. On some of the pages, writings share space and overlap with pictures Much of the visual art is very striking and compliments the written material very well. Much of the written material itself is also very good, covers a wide range of subjects and experiences as well as a range of styles and techniques.
The poetry and fiction is followed by a series of critiques concerning selected submissions to the magazine as well as book reviews. Both sections are written by students in the class that produces PGR. The quality varies a bit in these two subsections though overall, the reviews and critiques are interesting. Overall Porter Gulch Review is a nicely put together, with a lot of quality fiction, poetry, photographs and artwork and is well worth a read.