Emerson: “The Snow-Storm”

February 22, 2011

We have had freezing rain, heavy snowfall, and power outages in this part of the country lately. After things have seemed to warm up, it can be difficult to deal once again with snow, but that’s winter.

The Snow-Storm

Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,
Arrives the snow, and, driving o’er the fields,
Seems nowhere to alight: the whited air
Hides hill and woods, the river, and the heaven,
And veils the farmhouse at the garden’s end.
The sled and traveller stopped, the courier’s feet
Delayed, all friends shut out, the housemates sit
Around the radiant fireplace, enclosed
In a tumultuous privacy of storm.
Come see the north wind’s masonry.
Out of an unseen quarry evermore
Furnished with tile, the fierce artificer
Curves his white bastions with projected roof
Round every windward stake, or tree, or door.
Speeding, the myriad-handed, his wild work
So fanciful, so savage, nought cares he
For number or proportion. Mockingly,
On coop or kennel he hangs Parian wreaths;
A swan-like form invests the hiddden thorn;
Fills up the famer’s lane from wall to wall,
Maugre the farmer’s sighs; and at the gate
A tapering turret overtops the work.
And when his hours are numbered, and the world
Is all his own, retiring, as he were not,
Leaves, when the sun appears, astonished Art
To mimic in slow structures, stone by stone,
Built in an age, the mad wind’s night-work,
The frolic architecture of the snow.


It’s a Cartoon World…But It Was Real

February 14, 2011

It may be unproductive to overindulge in nostalgia, but nostalgia is undeniably at the heart of the traditionalist project. We recognize the things that are precious to us, and realize that these things exist only because of the people and culture which created them. As our society becomes increasingly broken and degraded, seeing things as they were in the past helps us to imagine how they could be in the future. Perhaps I am a bit like William Morris, whose anarchist utopia depicted in News From Nowhere looked suspiciously, and implausibly, like a medieval agricultural society. When I try to imagine America 50 or 100 years from now – and I have no doubt that there will exist a revived, European America at least somewhere within our present borders – it looks strangely like the America of 1910 (or whatever other period may be inspiring me at the time). I know it won’t really be like anything I can imagine, but at a minimum, surely, there will be free, dignified white people, married couples, modest clothing, architecture reflecting a sense of beauty and humanity, clean streets…and in this sense, how can the future possibly not look more like 1911 than 2011?

I was in Columbus, Ohio recently to see some friends and happened to see an exhibit at the Ohio State library on a cartoonist named Billy Ireland. I am no expert on cartoon art, but certain comics and cartoons have exerted a powerful magic on my imagination – Schulz’s Peanuts, for instance, or Crockett Johnson’s Barnaby – and there is the occasional contemporary graphic novel or cartoon that excites me; I even like Harvey Pekar’s American Splendor, despite its liberal orientation. I was intrigued, therefore, to learn about this cartoonist.

Now, a digression: I must say it was incongruous to be asked to sign a guest book by a Somali woman clad in black and wearing a hijab (who then went back to talking, in her native language, on her cell phone in a loud voice). The library there seems to be employing a lot of such women, reflecting Columbus’s status as one of the main Somali-settled towns in the U.S. It’s hard to imagine a person less likely to have any appreciation for the old-time America depicted by Billy Ireland than this young African Muslim lady, and hard to imagine a figure more likely to spoil the effect of the exhibit.

But I was determined to enjoy it, and enjoy it I did. It is the world of Penrod all over again – the Eastern American city of a century ago, with a sense of community, order, and local distinction that we are so lacking in today. Portrayed by charming and brilliantly drawn cartoons by the local cartoonist for the Columbus Dispatch, Billy Ireland (1880-1935). He is described as follows on the exhibit’s webpage:

Billy Ireland (1880-1935), a native of Chillicothe, Ohio, was hired by the Columbus Dispatch shortly after his high school graduation in 1898. A self-taught cartoonist, he worked for the Dispatch until his death and was famous both for his editorial cartoons and for his Sunday feature The Passing Show. Ireland had several books published, and he mentored many younger cartoonists including Milton Caniff and Noel Sickles. He turned down syndication contracts and several job offers from larger metropolitan newspapers, saying that he did not want to leave Columbus–he just wanted to get back to Chillicothe. Ireland’s affection for his home state is reflected in his work.

Ireland was nationally known and was admired by such people as Will Rogers and James Thurber, but realized that he thrived best in his local milieu.

I attach a scanned image of one installment of The Passing Show. If the reader clicks the image he will be able to read most of it, although regrettably my scan is not very satisfactory. (If anyone knows a better way to do thumbnail links on WordPress, please let me know.) For more images of Ireland’s work, take a look at the following blog entry. Here’s another one.

"The Passing Show," Columbus Dispatch, 1910

The entire piece, depicting a variety of completely-forgotten events from a particular town over a century ago, is infused with the texture of American life of that time, and shows the feeling of community that we had when we were a much more homogeneous, locally-based country. One can imagine a reader poring over the column and taking in its contents in several viewings throughout the day: not the way most of us read today. Even the title cartoon, showing a round-headed character (A self-portrait of the cartoonist, I think, but there is also a visual allusion that escapes me) paddling a lady down the river in a canoe, reflects a feeling of ease and leisure difficult to imagine on TV or the news today. Then there is a call for a school levy to provide “decent schools for our children” –  in this largely white, newspaper-reading community one could have normal discussions on how to improve the schools without the discussion being dominated by violence, drugs, pregnancy, and students who don’t speak English. Note too that the city happily used Christopher Columbus as its paternal symbol.

We have a long, humorous account of an outdoor boxing match that got caught in the rain, with kidding references to local individuals who were present. We see the Prohibition movement underway with a Search and Seizure Law, jokingly rendered “The Shirts and Caesar Law.” Use of automobiles is booming: two characters called “The Jedge and Jerry” comment that “The high cost of livin’ seems to effect everything except the Sunday mornin’ attendance at the fillin’ stations!”, and the cartoonist also notes: “We can remember that the whole town thought it was positively sinful when the richest man in town paid $150.00 for a new Columbia bicycle.”

There was, of course, plenty of social turmoil, both international and domestic. The panel alludes to the U.S. Congress’s “war tasks” – a reference to operations in Nicaragua? Ireland had moderately progressive instincts; he was said to have helped drive the Ku Klux Klan out of Columbus by mocking their attire:

He was also a supporter of woman suffrage, making the seemingly irrefutable argument: “These queer looking birds can vote, but your mother can’t!” (The cartoon may be worth noting as an excellent example of the power of the progressive argument, which points out the individual injustices created by an existing practice. The problem is that the larger structural or hierarchical benefits of that practice often get ignored.)

Who could disagree?

Besides the more comfortable, leisurely sense of life reflected in Ireland’s work, what stands out is his general decency and  assumption that his audience shares his values. For us, living in a culture that honors Lady Gaga and Michael Vick, this is a good reminder of how much better it could be.

The booklet that comes with the exhibit (on for about another two weeks) summarizes the cartoonist’s legacy as follows:

During the twentieth century, much of America developed into a homogenized nation of superhighways, shopping malls and fast food outlets. Those things which made cities and towns unique were often ignored and many people lost their sense of place and history. Billy Ireland was certain where his roots were, deep in the soil of Ohio, and he felt no need to apologize for that. His friends testified that he left the world a better place. He entertained his readers, fought for causes he believed in, attempted to preserve nature’s beauties, and he was a generous and loyal friend. Billy Ireland was a cartoonist who changed his community for the better and inspired others to follow his career. (Ireland of the Dispatch, Columbus: The Ohio State University Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum,  2010, p. 17)

I think he belongs on the list of our American heroes.

Alumni Magazines: File Under “Recycle”

February 7, 2011

We receive a steady stream of alumni magazines in the mail, reminding us of our undergraduate and graduate years and in my case including institutions with which I was only briefly associated. The intent, presumably, is to solicit donations. For my part, I would rather burn money and enjoy the fire than give it to an institute of higher education. Universities are among the worst perpetuators of toxic liberalism and political correctness in our society. And if you doubt that, just read any alumni magazine. You would think that such magazines would take the middle ground so as not to alienate older, more conservative alumni who might be likely to make significant donations; to the contrary, every issue features in-your-face propaganda for multiculturalism, homosexuality, ethnic empowerment, feminism, you name it, as if deliberately trying to provoke. And indeed, there are regular letters of complaint, but, like the non-liberal letters that are often printed in local newspapers, these complaints never have any impact on the publication itself. Well, when you know you are right, what reason could there be to change?

Just to list a few random recollections: I have seen, in these magazines, profiles of students and alumni from places like Somalia; same-sex couples with adopted children; and female medical students who joke about the genitalia of male cadavers. One school went through a convulsion after some “racist” graffiti was allegedly found penciled on a dormitory wall, resulting in a giant ceremony of collective, masochistic repentance led by the president itself. (The employment of a simple rubber eraser would have saved so much trouble.) Then there are the students and faculty endlessly pursuing research to save the environment and cure AIDS in Africa.

“Diversity” on campus, as the magazine cover above shows, is a constant preoccupation.

This blogger wrote about his or her alma mater and discovered exactly the same things, with the exception that Hispanic promotion is completely over the top in Arizona. I am rather skeptical that complaints or declared refusals to donate will make much difference. The Academy really has been completely taken over, and they believe in their mission of militant reform and transformation of each and every institution of our society.

UA Alumni magazine full of leftist propaganda

Some clear proof ASU is a better school than UA. We got ahold of a University of Arizona Alumnus magazine from Fall 2009. It was so full of typical left wing articles that it wasn’t worth reading – why not just pick up a copy of Mother Jones or The Nation if you want a magazine about left wing causes. Here is what was in the magazine, other than a couple of token sports stories:

–In the Letters to the Editor section, an Editor’s Response on the magazine’s policy of printing pictures of same-sex couples announcing their marriages. p. 7

–An article on how three UA professors are trying to ban smoking worldwide. p. 9

–An article about Hispanics and college degrees (we don’t have a problem with covering Hispanic news, but when it’s done to the exclusion of all other races except politically correct races we see some bias and unfairness). p. 10

–An article about budget cuts and how plans to merge the ethnic programs into one program brought out protests from radical Hispanics, so the University president met with them and assured them that the plan wasn’t finalized. p. 16

–An article called Sustaining Planet Earth, and Us, Too on promoting environmentalism. One faculty member, Diana Liverman, is featured in an article entitled Speaking of Caps and Trades, where her left wing environmental activism on behalf of the biased United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report is praised…. p. 19-25

Finding a Place, an article about Hispanics at the UA. Again, we have no problem with articles about Hispanics, but what about all the other groups at the UA? Christian organizations. Exchange students from other countries. Gifted kids who skip their last year or two of high school and go straight into college. Irish kids who came to the UA from Ireland to attend school here. We’ll never see any of them featured. p. 26-28….

–A story about the film Laramie Inside Out, which exposes the God Hates Fags guy Rev. Fred Phelps. While that’s nice to expose the guy, who pretty everyone agrees is a jerk, don’t expect this magazine to ever run something exposing a fringe left wing radical like the Unabomber. p. 30-35

–Info and pictures of Intuit Art currently on display. Nice, but again, this is more promotion of politically correct ethnicities…. p. 39

–A Visionary Leader and Consumer Advocate award given to a woman named Helen Niederehe Goetz. She was actively involved in the League of Women Voters, a left wing feminist organization. Don’t think if her resume had said “Concerned Women for America” instead that she would have gotten this award. p. 57

If you find this disproportionate coverage of left wing causes offensive, feel free to send them an email at alumninews@al.arizona.edu. Especially if you are a UA alum. And don’t give them a dime until they cut out the bias and give alums a fair and balanced magazine.