February 5, 2011

The Latest Hubbub in Claremont

Hey Everybody,
I hope the Spring is treating y'all well, and that you're not getting too stir crazy with all that snow. My Spring been pretty hectic so far, but by the grace of God I'm keeping my head above water. I thought y'all might enjoy reading some of the latest controversy I've been involved in here at Claremont. Basically, I was asked by some kids at the undergraduate school, Claremont McKenna, to debate a guy from the ACLU on the topic of "gender neutral housing." That's right, dudes and chicks living in the same dorm room. Unfortunately CMC is probably going to go for it, but not before I've throw down an argument:

Separate Housing: It’s not Prudish, It’s Prudent
By Christopher Wolfe, Claremont Graduate University

I would like to offer some reasons for why I think the gender separate housing policy at Claremont McKenna is a good idea. What I will be explaining is not some prejudice, but a rational basis from the real costs and real benefits of the two housing situations- gender neutral and gender separate. There are economic, practical, and moral reasons to keep gender separate housing, and virtually no benefits to allowing a gender neutral housing option--other than perhaps a feel-good moment for the ACLU.

Before I get into these pluses and minuses, I’d like to indulge in a little ad hominem against the ACLU and its claimed defense of “civil liberties” through this initiative. What civil liberties are they defending exactly? Fair and equal treatment of each woman and man certainly is a civil liberty we should fight for, but that is not what is at stake with gender separate housing. Whenever the word “separate” is used, people assume some kind of unfair discrimination. The word “separate” recalls the famous 1896 segregation case, Plessy v. Ferguson, in which the Supreme Court upheld the racist “separate but equal” doctrine, preventing blacks from riding in the same train cars as whites. However, separate dorm rooms for women and men say nothing about either gender’s superiority. Differences between citizens are recognized all the time by the government; without them, we could not have a progressive income tax, for example. Recognizing differences is only a violation of civil liberties when citizens are mistreated on the basis of indelible characteristics such as race, as blacks were back in the 50s. Blacks required the status of a “protected class” to prevent the unfair discrimination of segregation. There is no discrimination based on indelible characteristics here, and these students do not merit the status of protected class. Students who don’t believe in “biological sex or gender identity” can always attend some other private college. For CMC to delve into the minds of its students and protect every imaginable opinion would be impossible and contradictory. That is why the premise of the ACLU’s “civil liberty” argument is absurd.

The current housing situation at Claremont McKenna provides comparable dorm rooms for men and women and respects their differences. Men and women will have different demands in terms of the cleanliness, organization, and upkeep of their facilities; separate housing allows for the most economical and satisfactory fulfillment of these different demands. Just take a tour of a Men’s and Lady’s restroom and you’ll see what I mean. That is not to say that men’s facilities are always more messy, but they at least tend to be more spare and Spartan. When men’s and women’s dorm rooms are combined, their different preferences will be combined to the dissatisfaction of all. With gender neutral housing, either CMC will have to spend more money on upkeep of the dorms or many CMC students will be unhappy with their environment.
Separate dorm rooms for men and women are also good for the soul of the university. There is a certain esprit de corps that goes along with men’s and women’s dorms that is lost when housing is neutral. Claremont McKenna does not have any fraternities or sororities, but that same brotherly and sisterly attitude can be found among friends in the dorms. Men and women often laugh at different kinds of jokes, pull different dumb pranks, and drink alcohol in different amounts when they are “with the girls” or “with the guys.” And the fact of the matter is, when men and women are around the opposite sex, they act differently. There will be fewer occasions to “talk trash” with your “bro’s” in neutral housing, and I for one think that is a shame. CMC should preserve its strong manly and womanly character that makes it unique among the Claremont Colleges.

Last and most importantly, there are moral problems that result from mixed-gender dorm rooms. Two key phrases that have disappeared from the college moral vocabulary: “occasion of sin” and “scandal.” Occasions of sin are compromising circumstances that could have been avoided and end up getting us into trouble. An obvious example would be getting drunk and sleeping in the same room as someone you are sexually attracted to; mistakes often happen as a result. But this is exactly the kind of compromised circumstances gender neutral housing will encourage, whether it is men taking advantage of women or women taking advantage of men. “Scandal” is a more nuanced problem, the leading of others to do bad action by our apparent bad action. Even if nothing is going down in the gender neutral dorm rooms, it sets a permissive tone on campus when unmarried men and women sleep in the same room every night. In their proposal the ACLU offers a ridiculous stipulation, that CMC “strongly discourages students from rooming together with a romantic partner.” If CMC really cared about such things, they would not go in for gender-mixed dorm rooms! These concerns are not just the prudishness of the 1950s, they have experience on their side. Mr. Lifson says that moral concerns are not “philosophical or practical objections.” That is nonsense. Morality is of the utmost long-term importance for living a happy life, and is always a concern of philosophy and practical reasoning.

The ACLU of course does not understand any of this, but presents sentimental reasoning to promote its favored “opinion” about gender. Their argument in this case is unsound, and it would be a mistake for the Board of Trustees of CMC to instate gender-neutral housing. After the feel-good moment is over, the students are the ones who would deal with the result- a changed college culture.

September 27, 2010

Isolated Love? - It doesn't exist...

So my time of late is occupied with writing a thesis exploring Dietrich von Hildebrand's "The Nature of Love" & Karol Wojtyla's "Love & Responsibility." The following is something that will go somewhere in the overall body of the thesis (at some point...) Enjoy!

Love is never an isolated experience. It cannot be one singular moment whereby two people are caught up in a passionate experience and then are able to “move on.” This is contrary to the very nature of love, because love is, at the very root, an experience of discovery. One can clearly not discover one moment and not be discovering the next. Rather, one embarks on the journey of discovery and having set out, is now committed to continuing that journey for the rest of their life. Love, then, as a journey of discovery, means that one has set out to come to discover the beloved.
There is a goal set when one embarks on this journey of love, then – a goal satisfied each and every time the lover recognizes, yet again, the unique distinctness of the beloved. One loves not out of necessity or to fulfill a desire or because they are obligated to do so. No, one loves because they are drawn to this other person and hope to continue reveling in the delight of the other’s very existence. The goal, simply, is to discover all there is to know about the beloved; the lover wants to know, to see the glory that is this other person’s very existence, to be permitted to plumb the depths of another’s soul and see who they truly are and what gives them the life they so gloriously live.
Love cannot be isolated, then, for if it were, one would never plumb the depths as much as they would want to. They’d only be skimming the surface of an infinitely deep ocean, merely snorkeling rather than truly diving in to come to understand what lies beneath the simple top. If love were merely a “one time thing” experienced singularly without any “follow up” or “return,” then each and every person would be dissatisfied, unhappy, lonely, and above all frustrated at life itself.
When love is the expansive discovery that it is meant to be – when it is the journey of discovery of another that leads one to a true and complete understanding of the very self of the beloved – then we rejoice. We blush and giggle and spend hours swooning over the very thought of the other person, for they have awakened in us a delight that cannot be contained, but rather pours forth in everything we do and say. It brings us unbridled joy, this journey of discovery that is “loving another”, and it is a joy we each seek to know…a joy we each want to experience. And so we set out, our hearts open, our souls attuned to the souls of those we notice, and look for the moment when we can set out on this journey and seek to discover the beauty of another. 

July 31, 2010


Another, very good naughty that might have a bit more of a bearing on my life than rap, Slipknot, or WWE this coming year needs some kind of defense. Of course, I can only refer to the phenomenon of “nakey-time” at Saint Gregory’s Academy. Disclaimer in the interests of keeping my job: part of my job entails that I try to prevent and suppress nakey-time, and that I punish the malefactors who do it. I intend to fulfill that part of my job.

According to Jean Borella (“Love of Self and Love of God," in The Secret of the Christian Way, 119-129), original sin is “the fall of the I into the psyche.” “The basis of the ego is remorse for the ontological fault. Remorse is even, in a certain way, a poor imitation of a perfection that has become inaccessible through an amorous returning to one’s own imperfection.” For an example, we can see poor, ridiculous Mde. Holhakov of The Brothers Karamazov. In the chapter “A Lady of Little Faith,” the elder Zossima suggests that she is being prideful in her assessment of her own imperfection. She asks:

“In active love? There's another question—and such a question! You see, I so love humanity that—would you believe it?—I often dream of forsaking all that I have, leaving Lise, and becoming a sister of mercy. I close my eyes and think and dream, and at that moment I feel full of strength to overcome all obstacles. No wounds, no festering sores could at that moment frighten me. I would bind them up and wash them with my own hands. I would nurse the afflicted. I would be ready to kiss such wounds.”

“It is much, and well that your mind is full of such dreams and not others. Sometime, unawares, you may do a good deed in reality.”

“Yes. But could I endure such a life for long?” the lady went on fervently, almost frantically. “That's the chief question—that's my most agonizing question. I shut my eyes and ask myself, ‘Would you persevere long on that path? And if the patient whose wounds you are washing did not meet you with gratitude, but worried you with his whims, without valuing or remarking your charitable services, began abusing you and rudely commanding you, and complaining to the superior authorities of you (which often happens when people are in great suffering)—what then? Would you persevere in your love, or not?’ And do you know, I came with horror to the conclusion that, if anything could dissipate my love to humanity, it would be ingratitude. In short, I am a hired servant, I expect my payment at once—that is, praise, and the repayment of love with love. Otherwise I am incapable of loving any one.”

She was in a very paroxysm of self-castigation, and, concluding, she looked with defiant resolution at the elder.

“It's just the same story as a doctor once told me,” observed the elder. “He was a man getting on in years, and undoubtedly clever. He spoke as frankly as you, though in jest, in bitter jest. ‘I love humanity,’ he said, ‘but I wonder at myself. The more I love humanity in general, the less I love man in particular. In my dreams,’ he said, ‘I have often come to making enthusiastic schemes for the service of humanity, and perhaps I might actually have faced crucifixion if it had been suddenly necessary; and yet I am incapable of living in the same room with any one for two days together, as I know by experience. As soon as any one is near me, his personality disturbs my self-complacency and restricts my freedom. In twenty-four hours I begin to hate the best of men: one because he's too long over his dinner; another because he has a cold and keeps on blowing his nose. I become hostile to people the moment they come close to me. But it has always happened that the more I detest men individually the more ardent becomes my love for humanity.’ ”

“But what's to be done? What can one do in such a case? Must one despair?”

“No. It is enough that you are distressed at it. Do what you can, and it will be reckoned unto you. Much is done already in you since you can so deeply and sincerely know yourself. If you have been talking to me so sincerely, simply to gain approbation for your frankness, as you did from me just now, then of course you will not attain to anything in the achievement of real love; it will all get no further than dreams, and your whole life will slip away like a phantom. In that case you will naturally cease to think of the future life too, and will of yourself grow calmer after a fashion in the end.”

“You have crushed me! Only now, as you speak, I understand that I was really only seeking your approbation for my sincerity when I told you I could not endure ingratitude. You have revealed me to myself. You have seen through me and explained me to myself!”

Anyway: for man to “renounce this imperfection, which constitutes his whole reality, is to renounce all that remains to him of himself.” “Natural love for others is a falsehood, perhaps not subjectively and intentionally, but objectively and despite all our efforts.” (It seems that such a false love for others motivates Mde. Holhakov’s desire to be a minister of the sick.) “Love of one’s neighbor can only be realized, therefore, by an interiorization of proximity. In order to become the other … one needs to become other than oneself; which means that I am not myself…. Thus, true love of self implies a conversion from natural love of self or amour-proper.” [Fritzhof Schuon: “Their existence (that of those who deny God) is condemned to a kind of divinity, or rather to a phantom of divinity, whence the appearance of superiority already mentioned, a posed and polished ease too often combined with a charity steeped in bitterness and in reality set against God” (Light on the Ancient Worlds, 40; italics mine). It is a bit disturbing to see that “The soul descends once more in bitter love” in “Love Calls Us to the Things of This World;” true love of others is “for one to give oneself not so much to the other as not to give the other to oneself.”]

“Nakedness is part of love’s destiny. To love, to commit oneself to the destiny of love, is to accept one day [the] encounter of nakedness. Now to stand naked is also to be stood naked, to offer oneself such as one is, in objectivity, and therefore somehow to renounce oneself…. In nakedness there is necessarily a moment of sacrifice and vice versa: nakedness, under one mode or another, is an integral part of sacrifice.

“It cannot happen otherwise for the love of the self. In a certain manner, we need to be exposed to ourselves, to renounce our imperfection, that is to accept it as such…. All too easily the renunciation of one’s own imperfection seems to imply a prideful desire for an inaccessible perfection, or seems to be the effect of a too scrupulous conscience. In reality, by virtue of the ego’s illusory subjectivity, to renounce one’s imperfection and to see oneself objectively, such as one is, are two faces of one and the same conversion. Humility is objectivity first. It should not be humiliation, even and above all when it is ourselves whom we humiliate. So we need to stand naked in ourselves, to strip ourselves of egoic garments, to accept no longer watching over ourselves, to lose sight of ourselves.”

[Wow! Let’s hear it for the nudist colonies! Yes, Borella says “to reject the wearing of clothes means … that one has laid a claim to purity he is incapable of sustaining and, leaving behind the mantle of mercy, has pridefully exposed himself to naked rigor.” But, Borella acknowledges at least the possibility that “an ascetic naturism, accompanied by a profound spiritual intention, is, in certain instances, Christianly acceptable” (199-200).]

But seriously: Borella is speaking of the nakedness of the ego, which obviously does not always necessitate nakedness of the body, but it seems that nakey-time corresponds with the rejection of clothing that could be Christianly acceptable.

See, I think that there are two key elements to Borella’s formulation of a naturism that could be Christianly acceptable: the term ‘asceticism’ and ‘accompaniment of a profound spiritual intention.’ It may seem difficult to apply these elements to nakey-time. I'll try briefly now (perhaps this deserves an in depth post in itself), just giving the example of a couple righteous men for my 'proof.'

It seems that the profound spiritual intention of a Christian naturism is in the boys’ actions, even if the boys are not fully conscious of it; but, it is there. I recall Boomer quoting from Zach Culley’s poetry to that effect at the Burns banquet last Spring. Hopkins’s “Epithalamium” might be an appropriate example of finding the unconscious spiritual intention in boys’ nakedness:

We are there, when we hear a shout
That the hanging honeysuck, the dogeared hazels in the cover
Makes dither, makes hover
And the riot of a rout
Of, it must be, boys from the town
Bathing: it is summer’s sovereign good.
By there comes a listless stranger: beckoned by the noise
He drops towards the river: unseen
Sees the bevy of them, how the boys
With dare and with downdolphinry and bellbright bodies huddling out,
Are earthworld, airworld, waterworld thorough hurled, all by turn and turn about.
This garland of their gambols flashes in his breast
Into such a sudden zest
Of summertime joys
That he hies to a pool neighbouring; sees it is the best
There; sweetest, freshest, shadowiest;
Fairyland; silk-beech, scrolled ash, packed sycamore, wild wychelm, hornbeam fretty overstood
By. Rafts and rafts of flake-leaves light, dealt so, painted on the air,
Hang as still as hawk or hawkmoth, as the stars or as the angels there,
Like the thing that never knew the earth, never off roots
Rose. Here he feasts: lovely all is! No more: off with—down he dings
His bleachèd both and woolwoven wear:
Careless these in coloured wisp
All lie tumbled-to; then with loop-locks
Forward falling, forehead frowning, lips crisp
Over finger-teasing task, his twiny boots
Fast he opens, last he offwrings
Till walk the world he can with bare his feet
And come where lies a coffer, burly all of blocks
Built of chancequarrièd, selfquainèd rocks
And the water warbles over into, filleted with glassy grassy quicksilvery shivès and shoots
And with heavenfallen freshness down from moorland still brims,
Dark or daylight on and on. Here he will then, here he will the fleet
Flinty kindcold element let break across his limbs
Long. Where we leave him, froliclavish while he looks about him, laughs, swims.
Enough now; since the sacred matter that I mean
I should be wronging longer leaving it to float
Upon this only gambolling and echoing-of-earth note—
What is … the delightful dene?
Wedlock. What the water? Spousal love….

July 26, 2010


A Draught of Vintage will be making some changes around here soon, so stay tuned!

July 19, 2010

Jesse Bates ladies and gentlement, Jesse Bates.

July 15, 2010

Viva Espana!

In honor of Spain’s recent victory, here’s a story from Saint Gregory’s senior class pilgrimage on the Camino di Santiago.

The senior class of St. Gregory’s Academy biked into Alba Franca, a town just before one of the steepest climbs through the mountains. Tired, wet, hungry, and penniless, Luke Culley led the lads to a hostel where he had previously found one of the five good faces of the earth. This was a privately-owned hostel, owned by a true Christian. This man had not only allowed the students to use the kitchen and sleep under a roof, for the customary fee of a juggling show; he had been so taken with the Saint Gregory’s spirit that also gave the boys food and good company for a night the year before. With the prospects of an old friend, warm food, and a dry place to sleep in front of them, the band arrived at the door of the hostel.

There, they met not the owner of the hostel, but two of his friends, workers at the hostel. One of them spoke English; the other didn’t. As Luke attempted to explain the situation (that they were poor pilgrims on the Camino, that he knew the owner, what they had been allowed in the past), it became apparent that the workers were uncomfortable at the prospect of allowing the ragged bunch into the hostel. ‘The owner can't see you,’ they protested. ‘Just let me have a word with your boss,’ Luke said, ‘and that will clear everything up.’

But, the workers were obstinate. They even resorted to an old trick, hiding behind the language barrier. The English-speaking worker pretended that the Spanish speaker was really the one in charge, and thus neatly sidestepped any possibility of understanding the situation. ‘We cannot disturb the owner; he is too busy,’ he said, ‘you must go:’ and left the conversation. Meanwhile, the Spanish speaker side-stepped as well, insisting that he could understand nothing. He did, however, understand the words “Leave now!” and was surprised that the Americans had trouble with that order.

Disappointed, if only because of their high hopes, the students turned out into the wet. Luckily, they found a place to sleep just outside of Alba Franca. This wasn’t the nicest place. It was an abandoned nunnery, filled with old bones (at least one of which was human), old papers (there was a letter from the 19th century), and … yesterday’s newspaper? Fresh food in the kitchen? What was going on? Needless to say, the students bunched together in one room for the night, not wishing to spread themselves out, though the convent was very large. Luke asked, jesting, the next morning, whether anyone had been too afraid to leave the communal room to go to the bathroom late at night; a few students admitted ruefully their fear.

So, after a hearty breakfast of water, a vitamin pill, and doughnuts that were found in the convent kitchen (they weren’t from the 19th century), the students, colder, hungrier, and more down in spirits than the night before, climbed their steeds/bikes and began the arduous path up the steepest climb of their trip.

About ten kilometers out of town, a truck came up behind the stretched-out convoy of bikers. It is common (though rather impolite) for drivers to harass the convoy with their horns as they try to pass the large group of bikers on the narrow mountain roads. The man in this truck, however, outdid the others. Honking, waving his arms, shouting at them--really annoying. Everyone arrived at an overlook where they could pull over, take a break, and find out what the problem was with their follower.

The driver, as you might have guessed, was the owner of the hostel. After hearing from his workers how a group of jugglers had harassed the hostel the night before, the owner, distraught at his workers’ inhospitality, left the next morning, driving around town for an hour trying to find the students and apologize to them. I mentioned before that the hostel was privately owned, not involved with the tourism bureau. The owner took pride in the fact that he, being the owner, could extend hospitality to those who needed it, and was literally in tears from anger at his workers for having failed to practice the beatitudes. He personally spoke with and apologized to everyone in the group; Luke and co. assured him that they were not angry or put out at all; the students sang a few songs and juggled for a bit; the owner left; and the Camino continued.

The owner was not done with them, however. He had driven ahead to the nearest rest stop and bought the pilgrims plates of food--and not just the fare that characterizes the pilgrimage, the old standards bread and cheese: but plates of deli meats and hot quiches.

Considering that the owner’s name was Jesus, haven’t we heard this story before?

And they brought to him young children, that he might touch them. And the disciples rebuked them that brought them.
Whom when Jesus saw, he was much displeased and said to them: Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.
Amen I say to you, whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall not enter into it.
And embracing them and laying his hands upon them, he blessed them. (Mk 10:13-16)

And, the Scripture passage that guided the pilgrims’ reflections:
Be not solicitous therefore, saying: What shall we eat: or what shall we drink, or wherewith shall we be clothed?
For after all these things do the heathens seek. For your Father knows that you have need of all these things.
Seek therefore first the kingdom of God, and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you. (Mt 6:31-33)

These things added included good food, camaraderie, wine, cigarettes, candy, and café a leches on the Camino. It happened just like that, time and again. “Beauty will save the world,” says Elder Zossima; we are lucky to have so many beautiful people like Jesus (or, like Peter Kane) and beautiful places like Spain and SGA (or, like Old Mill).

June 30, 2010

Barthes on the WWE

I wanted to give some kind of justification for the guilty pleasure of watching WWE (almost "wee"), or at least for watching the film “The Wrestler,” but it seems that Roland Barthes already did so, even though he was writing way back in 1957. Barthes’s 13 pages (condensed quite a bit) follow. I must apologize in advance for atrocious grammar. I guess one instance of it could be blamed on my slicing and dicing, but most of it is due either to poor writing from Barthes, which would be kind of inconsistent, or to poor translating, which is more likely (sorry, Miss Lavers).

“The virtue of all-in wrestling is that it is the spectacle of excess. Wrestling is not a sport, it is a spectacle. Of course, there exists a false wrestling, in which the participants make a show of fair fight; this is of no interest. True wrestling, wrongly called amateur wrestling, is performed in second-rate halls, where the public spontaneously attunes itself to the spectacular nature of the contest, like the audience at a suburban cinema.

“The function of the wrestler is not to win; it is to go exactly through the motions which are expected of him. The gesture of the vanquished wrestler signifying to the world a defeat corresponds to the mask of antiquity meant to signify the tragic mode of the spectacle. As in the theatre, each physical type expresses to excess the part which has been assigned to the contestant. In the body of the wrestler we find the first key to the contest.

“The physique of the wrestlers constitutes a basic sign, which like a seed contains the whole fight. Wrestling is like a diacritic writing above the fundamental meaning of his body, the wrestler arranges comments which are episodic, but always opportune. What the public wants is the image of passion, not passion itself. There is no more a problem of truth in wrestling than in the theatre. In both, what is expected is the intelligible representation of moral situations which are usually private.

“Each moment in wrestling is like an algebra which instantaneously unveils the relationship between a cause and its represented effect. What is displayed for the public is the great spectacle of Suffering, Defeat, and Justice.

“Everyone must not only see that the man suffers, but also and above all understand why he suffers. What the wrestlers call a hold has precisely the function of preparing in a conventional, therefore intelligible, fashion the spectacle of suffering, of methodically establishing the conditions of suffering. Wrestling is the only sport which gives such an externalized image of torture. But here again, only the image is involved in the game. It is not true that wrestling is a sadistic spectacle: it is only an intelligible spectacle. There is another figure, more spectacular still than a hold: in the forearm smash, catastrophe is brought to the point of maximum obviousness, so much so that ultimately the gesture appears as no more than a symbol.

“We have already seen to what extent wrestlers exploit the resources of a given physical style to unfold before the eyes of the public a total image of Defeat. In wrestling, Defeat is not a conventional sign; it is not an outcome, but quite the contrary, it is a duration, a display, it takes up the ancient myths of public Suffering and Humiliation: the cross and the pillory. It is as if the wrestler is crucified in broad daylight and in the sight of all.

“But what wrestling is above all meant to portray is a purely moral concept: the very limit of the concept of Justice, this outermost zone of confrontation where it is enough to infringe the rules a little more to open the gates of a world without restraints. One must realize that ‘fairness’ here is a role or a genre, as in the theatre: the rules do not at all constitute a real restraint. In actual fact a fair fight is nothing but an exaggeratedly polite one; conversely, foul play exists only in its excessive signs. A fair fight surprises the aficionado; he feels suddenly moved at the sight of the general kindness of the world, but would probably die of boredom and indifference if wrestlers did not return to the orgy of evil which alone makes good wrestling.

“Extrapolated, fair wrestling could lead only to boxing or judo, whereas true wrestling derives its originality from all the excesses which make it a spectacle and not a sport. The ending of a boxing-match or a judo-contest is abrupt; the rhythm of wrestling is quite different, for its natural meaning is that of rhetorical amplification. Some fights are crowned by a final charivari, a sort of unrestrained fantasia where the rules are swept away by a triumphant disorder which overflows into the hall and carries off pell-mell wrestlers, seconds, referee and spectators.

“Such a finality demands that wrestling should be exactly what the public expects of it. In wrestling, nothing exists except in the absolute, there is no symbol, no allusion, everything is presented exhaustively. Leaving nothing in the shade, each action discards all parasitic meanings and ceremonially offers to the public a pure and full signification, rounded like Nature. This grandiloquence is nothing but the popular and age-old image of the perfect intelligibility of reality.

“No one can doubt that wrestling holds that power of transmutation which is common to the Spectacle and to Religious Worship. In the ring, wrestlers remain gods because they are, for a few short moments, the Key which opens Nature, the pure gesture which separates Good from Evil, and unveils a form of Justice which is at last intelligible.”

Sercer, John, Editor. Excerpts from “The World of Wrestling.” In Mythologies, by Roland Barthes. Translated by Annette Lavers. Farrar, Straus and Giroux (New York, 1995): 13-25.

This book has a double theoretical framework: on the one hand, an ideological critique bearing on the language of so-called mass-culture; on the other, a first attempt to analyze semiologically the mechanics of this language. I had just read Saussure and as a result acquired the conviction that by treating ‘collective representations’ as sign-systems, one might hope to go further by unmasking them and account in detail for the mystification which transforms petit-bourgeois culture into universal culture. --Roland Barthes, 1970 Preface to Mythologies.

I cannot countenance the traditional belief which postulates a natural dichotomy between the objectivity of the scientist and the subjectivity of the writer, as if the former were endowed with a ‘freedom’ and the latter with a ‘vocation’ equally suitable for spiriting away or sublimating the actual limitations of their situation. What I claim is to live to the full the contradiction of my time, which may well make sarcasm the condition of truth.” --Roland Barthes, 1957 Preface to Mythologies.

'The contradiction of our time might make sarcasm the condition of truth'?! Pedants, rejoice!

June 29, 2010

A Scene

"It's been a frightful day, and I haven't had anything to eat. Dear Martha, would you make me a plain omelet?"

"Jimmy, do you mean to say I'm plain?"

"Nonsense, it's called a plain omelet."

"But you never call it that. I've heard 'omelet' and 'cheese omelet' from you. So I'll repeat myself, do you mean to say I'm plain?"

"If I meant to imply that, I would have done it more obviously."

"Well that's not how you imply, is it, Jim? It snuck up on you, didn't it, Jim? Jimmy, would you make me a greasy hamburger?"

"Now now, I've been working in the heat all day. Don't go jibing me."

"I'll jibe you all I want as long as you're jibing me."

"But I'm not. I was at a diner today and my buddy ordered a 'plain omelet.' That's how he said it, and it was just how you make them. So I thought I'd call it by its proper name for once."

"Who was this buddy? What was this diner?"

"It was Bill. And Ranieri's."

"Why on Earth, Jim, would they have a French omelet at Ranieri's? Jim, I've caught you in a lie."

"Martha, this is America--the melting pot."

"Well I'll melt you, Jimmy, along with your damn omelet for calling me plain."

"Well you are. What's a man to do with the truth?"

I'm a hopeless English major from UD

This is “The Waking” by Theodore Roethke, and it’s my favorite poem.

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.

We think by feeling. What is there to know?
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Of those so close beside me, which are you?
God bless the Ground! I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.

Light takes the Tree, but who can tell us how?
The lowly worm climbs up the winding stair;
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Great Nature has another thing to do
To you and me, so take the lively air,
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

This shaking keeps me steady, I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.

Toni Morrison says in Beloved of eating sweet corn, “There is no accounting for the way that simple joy can shake you.” Well, the same is true of experiencing a great poem. But, I’ll account anyway. G. K. Chesterton, in a lovely phrase, says, of a characters’ wife: she is “one of the five good faces of the earth.” I think that that line is justification enough for having five favorite lines in a poem.

“I learn by going where I have to go.” Either ‘I learn where I have to go (by going),’ or ‘By going where I have to go, I learn.’ Beautiful ambiguity of grammar. Does the verb ‘learn’ have an object? This line is enough to justify my spirit that traveling can be a wandering or gerrymeandering, not necessarily including a direct object. Too often, travelers are just sightseers, who go from place to place, with their schedule marked out for them and every hour of their trip planned out for them. From Tate: “The Bridge attempts to cover all American life, but it covers the ground with seven-league boots and, like a sightseer, sees nothing.” From Kundera, a question: “Where have they gone, the idlers of yesteryear?” His answer, from a Czech proverb: “They are gazing at God’s windows.” There is a slowness in this line that relates to the central question of this poem, which could be, ‘how do we reconcile ourselves to our inevitable death?’ By lingering, meandering, wandering, learning our fate by the process of learning itself. From Eudora Welty’s short story, “The Worn Path:” the object of that old lady’s journey is irrelevant; the journey itself is the point.

“I hear my being dance from ear to ear.” There is something real, being, that the poet feels between the ears, in the head, in the intellect. This suggests that there is something intelligible, thinkable, that can be grasped by feeling. Roethke has so many beautiful moments of dance in his poetry. I hear echoes of Milton’s profoundly sad and itself echoing line in Paradise Lost; “Senses return, but not to me return.” The echoing within Milton’s and Roethke’s lines reflects meaning, something that is intelligible, through the senses, and not just knowable: also enjoyable, in Roethke’s line: there is dancing in his head. Dancing kind of like that passage about shucking and eating sweet corn: “How loose the silk. How jailed down the juice…. How loose the silk. How quick the jailed-up flavor ran free…. How loose the silk. How fine and loose and free.”

“Light takes the Tree, but who can tell us how?” There is a receptiveness necessary to life; in order to learn, he must be taken by his senses, must allow unconsciousness to take him as the light takes the tree. A beautiful memory: abandoning Peter Bloch and Joe Amorella (not that that’s necessarily the beautiful part) sleeping under the walls of Saint Peter’s to go wandering at dawn, standing near the Tibur River opposite the Aventine Hill in Rome, the morning after staying up all White Night, actually seeing the light take the trees at the top and the tops of the many churches before it came down and took me, too.

“The lowly worm climbs up the winding stair.” This seems to be an odd line, but the poetic logic for it is already given: the image of light taking a tree thus imbuing it with meaning; the search for a grave. “I’m a worm, and not a man.” The knights of faith, as opposed to the knights of infinite resignation, are simple people, Kierkegaard says, who can “forget themselves and become something new.” They are like the butterfly, who “completely forgets that it was a caterpillar, and may in turn so completely forget that it was a butterfly that it may become a fish.” Faulkner: “My mother is a fish.” How does the light of thanatopsis take us? It takes us as like a worm climbs out of a mausoleum. Only by dying do we gain some kind of rebirth and resurrection to a new life; “life is but a dream, and that dream is bounded by a great sleep,” or words to that effect. But there is no immediate jump to the resurrection, no idea that life is something to be passed over as quickly as possible: “Great nature has another thing to do / To you and me, so take the lively air, and, lovely, learn by going where to go.” Words to that effect: “Let lovers go fresh and sweet to be undone, / and the heaviest nuns walk in a pure floating / of dark habits, keeping their difficult balance.”

“This shaking keeps me steady, I should know.” This, too, is one of the five good faces on the earth. Downing a couple pots of coffee, along with many iced mochas, my third sleepless night in a row. Desperately trying to finish my Senior Novel paper and my Faulkner paper and my History and Theory of the Novel paper. Desperately trying to keep a difficult balance, knowing that my very shaking due to the amount of caffeine and nicotine I was absorbing was keeping me awake and able to finish three papers in a night. Again, that ambiguity of the line when considered not as two phrases, but as one. Does “know” have an object? This shaking, this quivering, this quickening, this life, keeps us steady. We cannot think without feeling. We cannot die without living. We can’t be steady without shaking. This poem doesn’t nail down some question and answer, isn’t dogmatic. There is the melos that doesn’t emphasize the helping “should,” what “ought” or “needs” or “has” to be done (ah, that beautifully subjective subjunctive), but rather the acting verb: “I should know.” Know what? The poem doesn’t force its thanatopsis, its knowledge of death and the revelation of the resurrection that death brings upon us. It just presentifies, to steal a term from Borella, and asks to stand by itself. The poem doesn’t need a dogma directing it in order for us to learn from it. “I should know.”

From my favorite Psalm: “The dead don’t praise thee, O Lord, nor do they who go down into the inferno; / But we who live, bless the Lord, from this time now, and unto ages to come.”

D. H. Lawrence, Jean Borella

Recently I read with great relish Lawrence’s Studies In Classic American Literature. Here is another critic who, along with Henry James, and Milan Kundera, writes criticism as an exploration or digression that illuminates their own as well as other’s art. Unlike those who took (the tragically still Miss) Sue’s American Civilization classes, I had never realized just how good (by which I mean pedantic) Lawrence is, having only read a few novels and failed to be impressed.

One of the many attractive things about Lawrence the critic is his explorative style of writing. There is something about the repetitiveness in his writing that calls to mind one of the five good faces of the earth, Charles Peguy. Both repeats a few epigrammatic lines, over an over, with slight variations. Lawrence is expressly not dogmatic; he lives by that most undogmatic of Gods, the Holy Ghost.

Some thoughts on Benjamin Franklin:
“The wholeness of a man is his soul. Not merely that nice little comfortable bit which Benjamin marks out. Why, the soul of man is a vast forest, and all Benjamin intended was a neat back garden. The soul of man is a dark forest. The Hercynian Wood that scared the Romans so, and out of which came the white-skinned hordes if the next civilization. Who knows what will come out of the soul of man? The soul of man is a dark vast forest, with wild life in it. Think of Benjamin fencing it off! This is Benjamin’s barbed wire fence. He made himself a list of virtues, which he trotted inside like a grey nag in a paddock.”
“Here’s my creed, against Benjamin’s. This is what I believe: ‘That I am I.’ ‘That my soul is a dark forest.’ ‘That my known self will never be more than a little clearing in the forest.’ ‘That gods, strange gods, come forth from the forest into the clearing of my known self, and then go back.’ ‘That I must have the courage to let them come and go.’ ‘That I will never let mankind put anything over me, but that I will try always to recognize and submit to the gods in me and the gods in other men and women.’
“1. Temperance: Eat and carouse with Bacchus, or munch dry bread with Jesus, but don’t sit down without one of the gods. 3. Order: Know that you are responsible to the gods inside you and to the men in whom the gods are manifest. 9. Moderation: Beware of absolutes. There are many gods. 13. Humility: See all men and women according to the Holy Ghost that is within them.”
“He tries to take away my wholeness and my dark forest, my freedom. For how can any man be free, without an illimitable background? And Benjamin tries to shove me into a barbed wire paddock and make me grow potatoes or Chicagoes. And how can I be free, without gods that come and go?”

On Nathaniel Hawthorne:
“Man ate of the tree of knowledge, and became ashamed of himself. [Sex] didn’t become a “sin” till the knowledge-poison entered.”
“The sin was the self-watching, self-consciousness.”
“Nowadays, men do hate the idea of dualism. It’s no good, dual we are.* The cross.** If we accept the symbol, then, virtually, we accept the fact. We are divided against ourselves.”
“For instance, the blood hates being KNOWN by the mind. It feels itself destroyed when it is KNOWN. Hence the profound instinct of privacy.”
“Blood-consciousness overwhelms, obliterates, and annuls mind-consciousness.”
“Mind-consciousness extinguishes blood-consciousness, and consumes the blood.”
“We are all of us conscious in both ways. And the two ways are antagonistic in us.”
“They will always remain so. That is our cross.”
“There is a basic hostility in all of us between the physical and the mental, the blood and the spirit. "The mind is “ashamed” of the blood. And the blood is destroyed by the mind, actually. Hence pale-faces."
"Every time you “conquer” the body with the mind (you can say “heal” it if you like) you cause a deeper, more dangerous complex or tension somewhere else.”
“For a long time men believed that they could be perfected through the mind, through the spirit. They believed, passionately. They had their ecstasy in pure consciousness.”
“America soon plucked the bird of the spirit.”
The Scarlet Letter gives the show away.”

I’ve been reading Lawrence and Jean Borella at the same time, and, a bit surprisingly, they have something to say to each other.

*Lawrence: the mind-body or soul-body distinction destroys something in man.
Borella: “When Scripture calls upon man to gather together all elements of his being in order to venture toward God, it generally articulates a tripartition of elements [Borella refers to the Old and New testament “law” of love: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart (“blood-consciousness,” Lawrence would call it), with all your soul (“mind-consciousness”), and with all your strength (“body”)”]. Conversely, when it calls upon man to divide himself, to renounce what--within himself--is not truly himself, it generally articulates a bipartition, and simply opposes the soul to the body. The first point of view has a more doctrinal value, while the second has, rather, a methodical or ascetic value. Man is, in fact, more truly himself when standing lovingly recollected before God, in the perfection of his nature, than when struggling sorrowfully in the world to conquer the imperfections of his sinful condition.”

**Lawrence: The Cross is the ultimate symbol of the destructive conflict between the soul (vertical plane) and body (horizontal plane).
Borella: The “Cross-Circle” is the ultimate symbol of the unity and restoration of Divine Nature in man. [Here’s where I get in over my head, but I’ll try anyway.] The broken circle is kind of like the Cross: it is the “symbolon” or the “vestigial,” concrete form of the pact of unity between God and man. The symbolon, however, is only completed and made to live through the “traditional significance” given to the symbol (through the authority of the Church, the body of Christ) and the “ritual activity” involving the symbol (the daily life of the members of the Church; that is, members of Christ’s body).

Perhaps, D. H. Lawrence is justified in seeing the Cross (if it is considered just as a symbolon) as the symbol of an incomplete relationship between God and man. Lawrence sees that there is something greater than that: his allegiance to the Holy Ghost (which Christ sent to look after his Church and its activities on earth). I think Borella’s consideration of the “tripartition of man” and its symbol of the “Cross-Circle” lends Lawrence’s precedence of “blood-knowledge” over Franklin moral “mind-knowledge” its true significance.

June 26, 2010

World Cup Path

______Go USA!!!_______

June 23, 2010


It's difficult to keep Jerry away from me. I had my first real Scranton adventure of the summer last night.

I parked in the Scranton Mall parking lot yesterday. I read another essay by Borella, "Brooklyn Bridge" by Hart Crane (just as a side-note--in my opinion, the attempted epic, though pretty weak as a whole, is better than the actual thing), an essay by Tate, almost finished reading B16’s (at the time, Ratzinger’s) Principles of Catholic Theology, and sat around in Scranton drinking coffee until ten at night. Unfortunately, the mall parking garage closes at 9 PM, and the authorities that be are quick to tow any abandoned cars. I had several options. I could have--and this would have been the prudent decision--tried to get hold of someone at Saint Greg’s to pick me up, and resolved the car issue next morning. (Obviously, I’m not an exemplar of prudence: I did not take this road. Also, my cellular device died last night around midnight.) I could just run back, I thought; no need to bother the lads at this time. That would be an appropriately Jerryish decision, no? Unfortunately, that wasn’t going to happen, either. See, I was carrying a heavy backpack. And, that would be about a ten mile run. And, I didn't have appropriate shoes. And, most importantly, I was low on cigarette papers. Well, I worried that too much exercise without enough remedial carcinogens might lower my blood pressure too much, causing my instantaneous death. Luckily, I had another Jerryish option out there: find a bar, close it out, and spend the rest of the night trying to stay awake by reading a Milan Kundera novel (they’re so good!), some poetry (Roethke and Stevenson), and essays by Auerbach (I’m almost done with Mimesis), and then try to pick up my car the next morning.

Life in Scranton is pretty slow on Tuesday night. After about 2 AM, I gerrymeandered to a lovely area, scented with pine, outside of the Scranton University library. It was a freshman year sort of gerrymeander, too, accompanied by the familiar sounds of “step, swish, slap:” most of the fake leather of my fake penny loafers has already rubbed off, and last night my right sole began to come off as well. The only person I met on the streets was a tiny guy about fifty years old, a bum I will refer to as “Jerry,” whom I have run into many times before. He always has the same few questions for me ("Gerry"). Last night, our conversation went something like this.

Jerry (catching sight of Gerry): “Hey! Hey! Do you speak English?”
(Gerry pretends not to hear.)
Jerry (hurrying up to Gerry): “What are you doing tonight?”
Gerry (having failed to avoid an encounter): “Well, I’m planning on going to sleep pretty soon.” (Gerry is not, strictly speaking, truthful in this.)
Jerry (concerned): “You got a place to stay?”
Gerry (again exercising mental reservation): “Yes, I’ve got a place.”
Jerry (disappointed at this answer, but hopeful for a negative answer to the following): “You staying there with a girlfriend?”
Gerry (thinking, ‘uh oh; hard to reserve mentally for this one’): “No….”
Jerry (exuberant): “OK, so you want to come to my place then?” (Conspiratorially): “I’ve got a secret place!”
Gerry (uncomfortable): “Thanks very much, but ... I don’t think so.”
Jerry (pensive): “So … what do you want to do for fun?”
(Gerry says something about drinking heavily, because Jerry doesn’t dig on the booze at all.)
Jerry (glum): “When will I see you again?”
Gerry (having seen him wearing a Scranton Marathon Volunteer shirt): “Well, I plan on doing the marathon again next Fall.”
Jerry (bright again): “OK! So … what are you doing tonight?”
Gerry: “Cheesesticks?”
Jerry (as a last resort): “You got a cigarette?”
Gerry: “I can roll you one.”

His last question makes me wish that his other questions were less uncomfortable, because he’s harmless, and it seems that he would have some neat things to say, and because he could really be a type of Jerry. He is always so grateful to me for being willing to spend time talking with him (which consists in, mostly, answering variations of the above questions) over a cigarette. Plus (and this is a dead Jerry giveaway) he has even asked me for the time before.

His questioning and his manner suggests that he is some slightly eccentric man who is nevertheless harmless, and who spends his days sleeping and his nights/mornings wandering around the streets of Scranton. This is conjecture, but I would even bet that his “secret place” he claims to have is owned by his brother, who Jerry claims is the parish priest at Saint Peter’s Cathedral in Scranton. I think that he's telling the truth. He is always clean (for a bum), always dressed neatly (for a bum), his shoes are in better shape than mine, and I have walked into the cathedral for Confession before Mass of mornings and found him there chatting comfortably with the ushers and with those awesome old ladies who seem to be the backbone of every parish. Everybody knows him, and everybody seems to know of and be indulgent toward his eccentricity. (I wish I had paid attention to those conversations in the church. Does he ask those old ladies the same questions about girlfriends and his “secret place?” I really want to hear him try to bum a cigarette off of them, too.)

Yes, I made a Jerryish decision last night, and I’m kind of glad I did. Now, I’m sitting here in Scranton, drinking some more coffee (gotta keep that blood pressure up), trying to sober up, slightly tanked after starting drinking at ten AM so I could watch Landon Donovan score in the 91st minute to send USA, winners of group C, into the round of 16 (now, that game got my blood pressure up). Needless to say, I celebrated said score in true American fashion, by taking turns buying rounds with a group of recent university graduates. My Joshua Mahan-chosen “sexy jeans,” though quite blue, and my Dad-given purplish polo shirt (mixture of blue and pink [mixture of red and white]) did not even come close to competing with the outfits and paint that these guys were wearing. I'm not goning to lie; I like me some American Spirit.

Well, this Gerry is off to try to get his car back. I have an expired license and no registration, which might make things difficult. If I fail? Well, I know that I can always count on Jerry to provide.

June 22, 2010

A Neverthriving of Jugglers

I found this website full of collective nouns, including "a neverthriving of jugglers".

"Really? You like rap?"

About rap in general, I have this to say: it is easy to see why rap is so popular with athletes, because rapping is a sort of athleticism transformed into words. How does a point guard, or a running back, or an inside center beat his defender? Now, one way is to overpower the defender; another is simply to outrun the defender. I suggest that neither of those ways requires athleticism as I define it. It doesn’t take an athlete to run someone into the ground (apologies to Misko, but no one would accuse him of being athletic, even though he frequently trucks people into the ground), nor does it take an athlete to outrun someone--I mean straight-line speed here. This part of my judgment stems from my long-distance-runner bias that speed is a pure and simple God-given talent--not that sprinters don’t have to work at things as well, but you never say of a sprinter, “Wow, that was athletic!” (I make no claim, mind, that long-distance running requires athleticism, either.) No, the athletic way to defeat a defender is with some type of juke. It seems also that more athletic pleasure derives from “faking someone out of their shorts,” or “breaking someone’s ankles,” than from trucking someone or outrunning someone (though these perhaps give more aesthetic pleasure). Any running back or inside center or point guard worth his salt knows that the best juke consists of the principle movements of “fast, slow, fast.” Put even simpler, the juke consists simply in changing the speed at which your body is moving, while keeping your running motion fluid and under control.

Music, or at least the music that holds the most interest for me, works similarly. Gregorian chant does not move at a straight-line speed; it moves in a free-flowing line of two- and three-note neums that may be sped up or slowed down at the discretion of the choirmaster. The free-rhythmic character of the beat in chant within otherwise strict guidelines is one of chant’s distinctive characteristics. The masters of classical music are known for their mastery of counterpoint, which served to check or speed up the otherwise regular meter of their songs. To give just one more suggestion, I remember Eileen’s insistence that the great lyricists are those whose irregular substitutions both work against the beat and uphold it. In other words, the beat is upheld but kind of violated at the same time. By contrast, Kundera’s judgment of the primitivism of rock: “The heart’s beat is amplified so that man can never for a moment forget his march toward death.”

Two kinds of rap that are not athletic: I need only refer to the "dey-dey" or the "wee-wee" schools of rap. The speech of deys impresses in its onslaught of verbiage that is, quite simply, words without thought. This type of rap may correspond with those “athletes” who simply have a God-given talent for speed, who can blow by their defender by simple virtue of having more talent. The speech of the wees, on the other hand, impresses with a sort of dull, rhythmic mind-numbing, sort of like those running backs who just try to run over everything in their path. Much as I love Ludacris, it seems that Chris isn’t that good at mixing these two styles. For example, the verses in “Roll Out” have the invariable sequence of wee, dey, wee, dey. For another, Luda's memorable “Act the Fool” is written completely in the wee style. It’s sad, because I have great respect for Mr. Bridges’s beats and bass lines. An ideal rap world: Luda’s beats and Eminem’s words.

Give me, on the other hand, the speech of a true athlete, like those verbal athletes Slim and Dre in “Forgot about Dre,” who will rap without succumbing to a single speed, who will linger over the short “i”s and the long “a”s at the end of every line--(this technique reminds me of early French poets, who employed rich rhyme, trying to rhyme assonantally at the end of lines as much as possible--see the three assonances at the end of each line below: i.e., “Slim Shady,” “twin babies,” “mid-eighties;” Marshall doesn’t just stop with three, either; for example, earlier in the song, “So, what do you say to somebody you hate? / Or, anyone trying to bring trouble your way? / Wanna resolve things in a bloodier way? / Just study a tape of NWA!” I apologize for the esoteric 'junior poet terminolgy,' but nothing else can come close to explaining the genius of these lines. See, each 'line' in the 'stanza' concludes with four 'rich rhymes,' and the first and last lines kind of give the stanza a 'closed' feel, 'enveloping' the middle two lines with ‘double rich rhymes.’ Dre does this well, too. Check out his verses in “Forgot about Dre." First of all, it’s impressive that Dre is able to structure the entire first verse on just the assonance of long o plus long e (even though it gets a bit annoying, especially by the end of the verse); but, it’s even more athletic that Dre manages to include rich rhyme almost throughout the entire lines in the following section: “Hated on by most of these [people] / with no cheese, no deals, / and no gs, no wheels, / and no keys, no boats / no snowmobiles and no skis; / mad at me ‘cause I can finally afford / to provide my family with groceries….” Again [and it hurts me to do it; I love me Ludacris], compare Chris’s lyrical abilities negatively to really rich rhyme)--yet still pack words linked from line to line in a fast patter. The following is the bit that first enticed me to Mr. Mathers years ago (I first heard this at the Fort Scott swimming pool from the mouth of the instructor who was teaching swimming lessons with me):

Slim shady,
hotter than a set of twin babies,
in a Mercedes Benz with the windows up
when the temp goes up to the mid-eighties,
calling men ladies;
sorry doc, but I been crazy,
there’s no way that you can save me;
it’s OK, go with him, Hailey….

Let’s look, just briefly, at how Shady poetically grows his subjects. He might be praising himself, sure, but his diction and imagery seem well done, and his tone seems to me to develop away from simple egotism. Twin babies? Come on, you’ve got to admit that twins are pretty hot … and they’re in a Mercedes-Benz? Hot! With windows rolled up in eighty-degree weather? Now, that’s hot. Slim is working with “heat” on different levels here. Babies are “hot” in one sense; a nice car in another; and, of course, temperature involves a different type of heat than babies or cars. He is so hot, that he is going crazy, and must eventually lose his daughter (baby--note the repetition and development of Slim’s original image), and, even his impressive opinion of his own “hotness,” as reflected by the falling, resigned, almost tender tone of his voice as he concludes his verse. It is appropriate that Marshall resigns that blown-up image of himself at the end of the verse, because the chorus is a praise of Shady’s own mentor and the co-writer of “Forgot About Dre,” the good Doctor himself: “Nowadays everybody wanna talk / like they got something to say, but nothing comes out / when they move their lips, just a bunch of gibberish; / mother[lovers] act like they forgot about Dre.”

It’s not a question of verbal aesthetics, but of verbal athletics--and oh! but “Forgot About Dre” is a vintage draught of verbal athleticism!