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Dispatch / Fatwah / March 12, 2011
By John Dolan


They think that things are all right/For the deer and the dachshund are one.
— Wallace Stevens

I just came back from two days of snubbery at a conference in Budapest, and I’m here to tell you that even in middle age, getting snubbed is mighty uncomfortable.

You think it’s the kind of thing that only hurts in high school, but nope; all the old pain receptors are in place and ready to start throbbing. Of course, I was out of pain-shape and that made it worse. The past few years, people have been so nice to me I forgot what a primate quorum can do to the odd ape out, how easily they can make him feel like the unworthiest chimp in the jungle.

It was my own fault. It’s always my own fault. I’m getting tired of that. Never mind the old whinge, “Where is the justice?” My question: where the Hell is the injustice? A little injustice would warm me up no end. Instead I just go around getting what I deserve.

The conference was called “the Culture of Periodicals,” organized by a Budapest University. They wanted the eXile to take part, us being such a cutting-edge e-zine and all. To be honest, they wanted Brecher, but he doesn’t go outdoors when he can avoid it, let alone make road trips to Europe. So I offered myself to the conference organizers as substitute. I figured it’d be a free trip to Budapest and — may as well admit it — a chance to stand at a lectern again, doing a few of the old moves for a new audience.

If it had only been Hungarians, there wouldn’t have been a problem. The Hungarians were great. But the organizers had invited about ten English-speaking academics — and boy did they snub the Hell out of me! Lordy, they snubbed me stupid!

What happened was, I overreacted to the opening speech. The speaker irked me from the start. He was all too familiar in look and sound. One Geoffrey Nunberg, from Stanford. Geoffrey (the spelling should’ve tipped me off) was a small white man, any age between 45 and 60 (they take good care of themselves, successful academics), with a fussy beard and a surprising collection of gold adornments: gold watch, cufflinks, big gold ring. His talk was called “Publics after Print? The Communities of Electronic Discourse.”

The speech was hard to bear, because I was catching the nuances. He spoke American-pedant dialect, my own patois — and the nuances were appalling. See, the great thing about being an expat, always struggling with somebody else’s dialect, is that you miss the nuances. And since the nuances are always revelations of cruelty, hypocrisy, groveling and shame, missing them is a godsend. I’ve been away from California for 11 happy years, wandering in places where the nuances pass harmlessly through me like neutrinos. Then, listening to this Stanford professor, I was hearing them clearly, like the bad old days were come again.

Even his jokes were familiar, little markers of upper-middle-class solidarity: how big and heavy the Sunday NY Times is, how an English friend of Geoffrey’s, seeing that big ol’ Sunday edition, was astonished and thought Geoffrey had brought back several newspapers.

And that was what worried Geoffrey: that the comforting heft of America’s paper-of-record might be lost in a swarm of insolent, non-peer-reviewed blogs. He tried to reassure us, and himself, that blogs would never “displace” academic journals; that the rise of invented identities online was typical of new media, and would subside; and that the experimenters are mostly adolescents who “won’t pursue the genre.”

It seems we’re in danger of losing the “balance” provided by mainstream media — the “balance” which Geoffrey illustrated by the way the NY Times puts Maureen Dowd on one page and William Safire on the other.The new media, he felt, could not be trusted to maintain this “balance”; they had no sense of responsibility to the Public. In fact, Geoffrey asked, “Can we talk about a public in the case of blogs?”

At this point in his speech, I was gripping my pen like an ice pick, trying to think up the most annihilating question I could ask. An academic talking about a “public”? The average academic article has exactly three readers: the author, the editor who accepted it, and the copy editor who checked it. No one else will ever glance at it; it will pad the author’s CV, cement a bond of mutual obligation between author and editor, and fill a millimeter of space on university-library shelves — and that’s all. Yet this professor, his resume swollen with dozens of unread and unreadable articles like this, dares to ask whether blogs actually have a public!

I could feel the old rage lurching up out of my gut like a surge of vomit. Part of being a coward (and I’m the biggest coward alive, with the possible exception of the entire leadership of the Democratic Party) is the way postponed anger comes out all at once, in a disastrous way, at the wrong target. And here it was, getting ready to barf out of me at Geoffrey up there at the podium.

At fatal moments like this, you know exactly what you’re doing. You know it’s a bad idea to alienate the whole conference at the very start. And time slows so radically that you have forever to reconsider. But you know that even if you had a Groundhog-Day series of chances to do the smart thing, you’d still stand up, trembling, frightened and furious, and ask the one question certain to convince everyone else at the conference you’re a raving lunatic.

And sure enough, when they called on me I blurted in an aged shriek, “I find it typical of the Beigeocracy — the rule of the Beige — [see, I was afraid Nunberg might not know he was being insulted, so I had to explain the word] that you imagine ‘balance’ as Dowd vs. Safire, that’s…that’s like, uh, a one-millimeter range! …Um, of opinion!! [I was now speaking in two exclamation marks per sentence]…”

You academics in the audience can probably guess how a successful American prof like Nunberg dealt with this belch from the cheap seats: he coopted it. He said, “I absolutely agree with you.” There was more after that, but I was too stunned to catch it. He couldn’t agree with me; that would ruin my suicidal outburst. So I went further, shrieking, “…So, speaking for ALL THE CRAZIES, I say, thank God for the Net!”

A vast silence settled on the hall. That was when they started snubbing me. They could hardly have done less.

And yet — another typical feature of berserker/coward psychology — I was truly, deeply hurt — shocked! — that the Americans and English at the conference were dodging me at the coffee break. Didn’t they see that I had meant “all the crazies” in the kindliest possible sense?

Saturday evening was particularly awkward, because the only other visitor who went on the free tour of Budapest with me was…Geoffrey Nunberg. We shook hands and formally introduced ourselves on the minibus. “Hello, I’m the aged loony who disrupted your talk!” It was a long tour. Lotsa big buildings in Budapest. Old. Lotta statues. I couldn’t tell you much more than that because I was cowering against the bus window, hoping he wouldn’t talk to me. We got out of the bus to see some victory monument on top of a hill, right in the middle of a lightning storm. I was hoping to get hit; it would’ve eased the awkwardness considerably. But happy endings like that don’t happen in real life.

The sessions flowed on and on. I blurted something stupid in every Q & A. You start watching yourself with morbid fascination: what screeching rant will I come up with this time? Some of them surprised even me, as when I ended up arguing animal behavior with an egomaniac from Montreal.

But some of the things the Americans said really deserved excoriation. I remember Nunberg saying in all seriousness, at another session, that new media might not let us “preserve the slowness” of academic discourse. God, they’re admitting it these days! I always knew slowness was their key trait, but now they ADMIT it!

Finally it was my turn at the lectern. Last session, last day. Before me came one Lisa Brawley, a professor at Vassar, already schmoozed up with Nunberg and the Montreal egomaniac. She delivered the very worst conference paper I have ever heard.

Brawley spoke in the hushed, pious tone of the secular priest — the true function of politicized academics like her. She was supposed to talk about something involving “communicative space,” and started out with a Mark Strand poem:

In a field
I am the absence of field.

It went on in that vein: coy boasting with linebreaks. She read it slowly; then, in a trancey, maundering voice began to pick at it, looking for auguries. They were slow coming. Each sentence came separately, with a Quaker silence before and after. Nothing became clear except Brawley’s deep, virtuous dislike and incomprehension of the world — the whole world and everything in it, starting with powerpoint and including all recent culture. I managed to write some phrases from her speech:

“What is called flow is actually a sequence of embodied images, 16 frames per second.”

She doesn’t like movies, it seemed: “…we sit there in the dark, taking it all in.” Apparently we should turn the lights on, get out in the fresh air more.

After piously deploring 110 years of films, Brawley already has to start regretting the Internet. She showed a diagram of connectedness: Africa was left out of the web. This was sinful, apparently. It spoke for itself, she said. Then she spoke for it. Slooowly.

Sentences dwindled. Heads nodded. She ended with another secular prayer, something about “a way to be in the world with political hope.”

Nunberg and the Montreal behaviorist applauded wildly, then left–for good.

Too bad, because I was ready to take them on. I put the War Nerd’s first column on the screen, thinking, that’ll shut’em up.

Then Brawley came back in. She looked at the screen slowly — so slowly! She was as slow as a Victorian sloth — and slowly frowned. After a minute or so of frowning and having a think about it, she turned around and departed. She wasn’t a fast thinker, but she knew one thing: any talk involving something called “the War Nerd” was not for her.

It kind of summed up my experience of academia: slow always wins. They must have something going for them, the Lisa Brawleys. It ain’t brains, that’s certain. It ain’t charm, because…well, just take my word for it: it ain’t charm. So what the hell is it?

After easily wiping out a British spy network, Michael Collins asked a very similar question: “How the hell did these people ever get an empire?”

I keep asking myself that question about the Brawleys and the Nunberg, and getting no bright ideas for an answer. How did the sloth evolve? It reminds me of a scrap of biology textbook I somehow remember: “This was adaptive once.”

This article was first published in The eXile on May 27, 2004.

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Add your own

  • 1. Captain Prickhard  |  March 12th, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    It has to be said that this is precisely what the majority of so-called philosophy teachers do in our bourgeois society. The last thing they want to talk about is politics! They would rather talk about philosophy. Full stop. That is just why Lenin, quoting Dietzgen, called them “graduated flunkies” of the bourgeois state. What a wretched sight they make! For all the great philosophers in history, since the time of Plato, even the great bourgeois philosophers — not only the materialists but even idealists like Hegel — have talked about politics. They more or less recognized that to do philosophy was to do politics in the field of theory. And they had the courage to do their politics openly, to talk about politics.

    =Louis Althusser, Essays in Self-Criticism I

  • 2. John Douglas  |  March 12th, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    А тем кто ни разу не верил,
    Позвольте забить изнутри ворота

  • 3. vortexgods  |  March 12th, 2011 at 6:55 pm

    John, great to see an article by you.

    When I was a child suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, I worked hard to convince myself that there was something wrong with me. It never really worked, I always knew I was right and the world was wrong. Of course, internally that feels like mental illness, so you try to convince yourself that you are wrong.

    When I grew up, I finally shed my doubts and accepted that I was living in the dregs of a fully collapsing, fully corrupted empire in its last days. The main thing with that, of course, is that if it wasn’t just a tiny minority of people who realized that, I suspect we wouldn’t be living in the last days of this decaying husk of a world power.

    I think that somehow, you haven’t expelled that doubt. It must be because you are an academic. I work in a job like Brecher’s, my co-workers either tend to be led by me or led by darker forces like the Tea Party. Nothing about them convinces me that I need to doubt myself.

    Too bad you didn’t go into computers, you would have been miserable in a different way.

  • 4. BlottoBonVismarck  |  March 12th, 2011 at 8:02 pm

    Hail Dolan!

    “Even his jokes were familiar, little markers of upper-middle-class solidarity.”

    Yep. That’s it exactly. ‘Numb-nuts’ Nunberg is a Prick Of The First Water. His thing is going on NPR with cute little five minute chats about the meaning of words. ‘Boring’ doesn’t even begin to describe the overriding desire to immediately dash one’s brains out on any nearby solid object that being forced to listen to him engenders. Of course the entire US MSM is a variation on the same theme. No change there, then!

    If they had broadcast him at Manuel Noriega in the Papal Nuncio’s residence in Panama it would have been ‘game over by suicide’ in six minutes flat. – Just like these Imperial Storm troopers doing their thing! –

    – Summary executions by US forces in Panama. So in Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, Somalia, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, on and on. – The Panama Deception. –

    John Pilger – Torture is _so_ American — School of the Americas – Archbishop Romero – War on Democracy –

    “After easily wiping out a British spy network, Michael Collins asked a very similar question: “How the hell did these people ever get an empire?” ” –

    Happy Days! – The film version – ‘Get Collins’ – Part 1 –

    Gratuitous GPO 1916 clip – ‘Suicide has never looked so cool’ – ER, SO don’t try this at home, kids! (*) – The GPO. ‘Michael Collins’ –

    (*) Ahem! Johan Galtung – ‘If you use violence at someone very very clever at violence and much better equipped than you are it is not necessarily a sign of immorality it could also be a sign of stupidity. Or both. These two categories don’t exclude each other.’ @ 6.28 – ‘Celebrating Peace on Johan Galtung’s 80th birthday at Voksenkollen’ – Part 5 –

  • 5. Derp  |  March 12th, 2011 at 10:17 pm

    Derp derp! Jesus, where the fuck did you go, Fagfagistan? These people’s shit’s all retarded and they all talk like fags!

    “I do say good sir, blogs are horrid abominations, what what!” “Yes yes, quite good chap!” “Give me some tea and pass some biscuits!” “I do wonder what’s on the telly, what what!”

    That’ll teach ya never to leave America, harharhar derpderpderp!

    Clearly noone in America should ever willingly leave America!*

    *(Except for Mexicans, Muslims, Puerto Ricans, Chinese, Russians, liberals, gays, Japanese, Vietnamese, Kenyans, Sudanese and Arabs)

  • 6. allen  |  March 12th, 2011 at 10:24 pm

    Academia seems to be losing all the cynics and eccentrics that make being in it somewhat fun. It has been thoroughly colonized by the careerists and, what’s worse, the true believers.

    These people have lost the healthy perspective that would allow them to realize that there is something off and maybe a bit pathetic about the little worlds they create for themselves … their little disconnected islands of esoterra and inside understandings.

    What makes the Brawleys of the world? For my money it’s staying power. They are that rare and fortunate combination of smart and stupid. Smart enough to navigate the system and master its discourse, completely incapable of questioning why they are giving there life to this thing.

    For them there is now only the inside, thoroughly institutionalized.

    The rest of us are too self critical and neurotic; we implode at some point … but the Brawleys of the world stick around.

  • 7. CAW  |  March 12th, 2011 at 11:49 pm

    And the presentation doctor John Dolan gave at that conference can be read here:

  • 8. NS  |  March 13th, 2011 at 12:16 am

    Fucking excellent article, Dolan. Takes you right back to high school, doesn’t it? Wrong brand of clothes. Your jokes were always too dirty and they would scoff, “That’s not funny.” If they deigned to talk to you.

  • 9. Friendo  |  March 13th, 2011 at 1:15 am

    The first mistake you made, John, is dignify them by taking them seriously and reacting emotionally. Never do that.

    Remember, these people are your enemies. They are the “Old Media”, the dying print academia, and you are the “New Media”, the relevant new hotness. There is no compromise or handholding, only one will stand.

    Only cold, arrogant condescension on your part could’ve demoralized these formalist faggots. Instead, you gave them the one thing you absolutely NEVER give in a fight to the death, – respect.

    They took it, and gave none to you. Shit happens. You got soft. You walked into it. They ganged up on you. You were outnumbered, you were outgunned.

    Embrace the pain, embrace the shame, then be smarter in the next fight.

  • 10. internal exile  |  March 13th, 2011 at 3:57 am

    When I was back at Uni, a friend and I used to play this game called “total trash”. After numerous beers, we’d go into the journal stacks at the main Uni library (no sciency/technical stuff there). One person would wait while the other took maybe 10-30 seconds to grab any obscure-looking journal off the shelf. The grabber would open the journal to a random page, place a finger and the other person would read the sentence starting nearest the finger. The question was, could either person understand to any degree what the sentence meant? Yes? Sorry, try again. When a sentence was found that could not be understood at all by either parties, both contestants win, because they have found TOTAL TRASH.

  • 11. Ramona  |  March 13th, 2011 at 10:00 am

    Someone please stomp to death this “derp” turd.
    I’ll start the pitchfork collection plate with $ 50 (should not be much more).

  • 12. John Drinkwater  |  March 13th, 2011 at 11:59 am

    This is one of the funniest articles the eXile has ever produced. Esp. if you’ve had some experience in academia, but still kept a sense of humor. So much honesty and truth here. So many great lines. Long live Dolan!

    “At fatal moments like this, you know exactly what you’re doing. You know it’s a bad idea to alienate the whole conference at the very start. And time slows so radically that you have forever to reconsider. But you know that even if you had a Groundhog-Day series of chances to do the smart thing, you’d still stand up, trembling, frightened and furious, and ask the one question certain to convince everyone else at the conference you’re a raving lunatic.”

  • 13. Hamlet  |  March 13th, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    “To be honest, they wanted Brecher, but he doesn’t go outdoors when he can avoid it, let alone make road trips to Europe. So I offered myself to the conference organizers as substitute.” That’s as close as a clue can get: Brecher = Dolan. How else could an invented personality (Brecher) show up in public?

    And this is the final nail in the coffin, because that’s exactly what triggers Dolan’s response:

    “He tried to reassure us, and himself, that blogs would never “displace” academic journals; that the rise of invented identities online was typical of new media, and would subside; and that the experimenters are mostly adolescents who “won’t pursue the genre.””

  • 14. DaveW  |  March 13th, 2011 at 7:28 pm

    The guy in the pic reminds me of Martin Mull.

  • 15. хуй  |  March 13th, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    You’d do well to stay on the meds Prof Dolan. Stay healthy.

  • 16. bing bong  |  March 13th, 2011 at 11:01 pm

    i was about to watch some porn but i saw this linked on faecebook and read it and now I have something to think about while i make my dinner. and I am less tired because a masturbation would have drained me right out.

  • 17. gyges  |  March 14th, 2011 at 12:19 am

    Recycling isn’t allows good for the environment.

  • 18. Anon Bickles  |  March 14th, 2011 at 2:10 am

    Such an interesting question: why are they slow?

    I suppose the key to climbing the shitpile to reach this kind of successful academic career is to always do what is considered appropriate. The successful climber is not bored by any of the environment’s stupidities into running away from it altogether; nor into finally lashing out at the stupidities or other unforgivable sins (as you lashed out, John). But also the successful climber can make acceptable contributions, no steps too big or too non-inbred that might offend someone (or puzzle a member of the in-crowd in a non-routine way, which is offensive in itself, as it threatens someone’s sense of intellectual mastery and social safety.)

    So, I suppose some of these people might be slow because they are simply slow thinkers, who do not get bored because the academic glaciers are not too slow compared to their own slow minds. Then these people are perhaps simply not gifted with the intellectual capacity to offend their masters and eventual colleagues with any thought too unexpected or interesting.

    But some of the successful pile-climbers might be successful because they are always carefully analyzing their potential statements for possible offensiveness, political value, etc. before ever daring to actually state them.

    Anyway, John, don’t your offensive qualities include the fact that you write stuff that people in significant numbers read without being paid or coerced to read it? That you are willing to go out and actually see & experience things that do not fit into the lives of the people whose lives are the smallest and most meager, and then you write about those things, is also surely offensive. Parading riches before the poor is an offensive act, in a realm where people are supposedly judged by (intellectual) riches. So all intellectual discourse should presumably be limited to the compass of the most blindfolded, so that the sighted will not offend!

  • 19. Big Mick  |  March 14th, 2011 at 3:13 am

    John, you make me happier to be alive. Simply knowing that you appear behind a lectern somewhere in shrieking advocacy of the ‘crazies’ is a shot in the arm for all the differently saned. I think you keenly demonstrate the utter bankruptcy and malaise of the ‘beige’ or ‘normal’ viewpoint – but what is more, you do it to their faces.

    It is natural that such people would despise your decency and brilliance. We, on the other hand, love you for it.

  • 20. brigs  |  March 14th, 2011 at 3:46 am

    yes just to join in with this feel good time about not being an employed academic. I just want to say that I feel that academia is like a large pustule. Full of boring abstract shit that is designed to be useless because academics are lazy little microbes. Working in their little sphere full of their own nocturnal emissions. The worst types are the ones that think they are different, they invariably end up drunkenly rambling about the finer points of a gilbert n sullivan and sucking the chicken off a bone while drinking 16 dollar single malts.

  • 21. brian  |  March 14th, 2011 at 5:45 am

    fuck academia, fuck newsprint
    the 2 most worthless professions of the 20th and 21st century

  • 22. par4  |  March 14th, 2011 at 9:11 am

    Dear John; I am a couple of years older than you and I hate to have to tell you BUT we are way past middle-age.

  • 23. Duarte Guerreiro  |  March 14th, 2011 at 11:16 am

    Nice find CAW. You guys should post the conference article on the site too, great stuff.

  • 24. Phlegm O'Brien  |  March 14th, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    This reminds me of The Apes of God.

  • 25. jack  |  March 14th, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    “Victorian sloth” I love it. Powerful.

  • 26. David Mehlman  |  March 14th, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    Just one look at that smug superior war-mongering imperialist lickspittle makes me want to shit. Geoffrey Nunberg! For Christ’s sake. What a pretentious fucking bastard. The face of the enemy. And the gold jewelry is too much for anyone to stomach. Anyone, that is, with the exception of NPR and the NY Times. Because this is exactly the kind of prick that the war-mongering, bankster enabling NPR and the NY Times love to quote.

    So you think war crimes and banksters looting the country are funny? Think you’re above it all, Geoffrey Nunberg, you superior bastard?

    Just thinking about this makes me want to take an oiled stake about as wide as a burly man’s arm, and insert it through Geoffrey Nunberg’s buttocks until it comes out somewhere between his mouth and that fussy beard. And the stake should be kept purposely dull to keep him from dying too soon from shock.

    Recently in Afghanistan nine children were slaughtered by a Predator Drone while collecting firewood; and the looting known as Bank Bailouts and backdoor bailouts is way up into the trillions now. Part of the reason the US keeps getting away with war crimes is the same reason banksters keep getting away with stealing trillions. It’s thanks to the sellout corporate media like NPR and the NY Times, and thanks to sellout academic pricks like Geoffrey Nunberg who enable them; who are, in fact, nothing more than accomplices for the kleptocracy and the War Machine.

  • 27. Aaron  |  March 14th, 2011 at 7:24 pm

    I recently read some boring and uninteresting academic articles on how to make reading more fun and interesting for ESL students.

    I think I’ll use them to make a papier mache effigy of academia and burn it in my backyard.

  • 28. Motherfucking Derp  |  March 14th, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    Derp derp! Mah agent warned me about “market over-saturation” (whatever that means) so I’m going to be taking a little vacation somewhere between San Francisco and the Gulf of Mexico at the moment for now. But the Motherfucking Derp will be back later when the motherfucking time is right!

    And Ramona…. go eat a bag of dicks and go suck on Bill O’Reilly’s big fat hairy balls you fucking nigger Commie faggot/dike!


  • 29. goat_farmes_of_the_CIA  |  March 15th, 2011 at 8:44 am

    Why waste spite on such reptillian creatures, and risk a sleepless night with acid reflux, my dear Doctor?

    The same anger bubbles up in me, like radioactive water in a melting reactor, turning into steam and heating up my head while freezing my bloodless feet. Last time I felt it was while reading the treachery of the Guadian’s craven star reporters and executive editor when attacking Assange. Specifically, the serial plagiarist Luke Harding. But suddenly, as I went through an article by Israel Shamir
    detailing the bastard’s multiple crimes against the profession of journalism and common decency, instead of anger, I began to feel pity.

    The pity one feels towards lunatics (and in the case of Nick Davis, toward persons of some genius who suddenly, and willingly, wallow in pool fulls of organic fertilizer) flailing and shouting incoherently in asylum corridors and rec rooms. I doubt it is money that really drives them to behave in such ways. Rather, it is to wish to belong, to feel a part of the ruling elites, the people they consider the winners. Or rather, the ones they think should still be the winners.

    But WikiLeaks revealed the self-declared Liberal elites to be nothing but corrupt defenders of a bankrupt economic and social order little different from the feudalism of old. And so in their increasingly desperate attempts to attack anybody who threatens their morally bankrupt establishment, the guardian mutts of the media only sink further in the ocean of their own shit, the product of their apologies for the greed and hunger for power of the people above them.

    The worst torture is not physical, my dear Doctor: these people deserve to be figuratively tarred and feather, to be made fun of, to be laughed at in the most sarcastic way. Or else, to be ignored. If the organizers had invited such a fraud to talk, then they revealed themselves to be just another set of moronic apologists for the same rotten order Harding et al defend. If it had been me, I would have stood up and left… spent the rest of the day strolling in the Andrassy while eating some delicious Hungarian pastry.

  • 30. Hannibal  |  March 15th, 2011 at 3:06 pm


    Dude, where have you been? Dolan fessed up to being Brecher ages ago.

  • 31. Ramona  |  March 15th, 2011 at 5:25 pm

    Idiot derp : that’s the idea, leave on your own and don’t come back, saving me the fifty. Best stay in Texas, faggot.

  • 32. Skeeve  |  March 15th, 2011 at 9:03 pm

    A seven year old article and no updates for close to a week? Is something going on? Did Jim Goad bring his army of forum twats to lay siege to the Exile compound? Please let us know that you’re still alive and kicking. We need The eXiled more than ever now, what with the world turning into a Roland Emmerich movie…

  • 33. rick  |  March 15th, 2011 at 9:58 pm

    Nobody’s talented–how can you expect them to develop any sensibility conferring systematic status that officially recognizes that?


    “What he finds in it, day in and day out, is simply the same dull, obvious, shoddy stuff—the same banal and threadbare ideas set forth in the same flabby and unbeautiful words. They all seem to write alike, as, indeed, they all seem to think alike. They react to stimuli with the machine-like uniformity and precision of soldiers in a file. The spectacle of life is to all of them exactly the same spectacle. They bring no more to it, of private, singular vision, than so many photographic lenses. In brief, they are unanimously commonplace, unanimously stupid. Free education has cursed them with aspirations beyond their congenital capacities, and they offer the art of letters only the gifts suitable to the lowly crafts of the schoolma’m. They come from an intellectual level where conformity seems the highest of good, and so they lack the primary requisite of the imaginative author: the capacity to see the human comedy afresh, to discover new relations between things, to discover new significances in man’s eternal struggle with his fate. What they have to say is simply what any moderately intelligent suburban pastor or country editor would have to say, and so it not worth hearing.”

  • 34. Jimbo  |  March 16th, 2011 at 10:04 am

    Why Budapest? Because these parasites know that the system is collapsing and they are trying to establish a refuge for themselves. So, these cocksuckers set up these conferences to worm their way into the local establishment and give credence to the idea that the “skills” and “knowledge” that their PHDs represent have some sort of value in the international sphere (when in fact all their degrees really represent are an ability to adapt to a deviant subculture [here I’m considering the overly empowered as as much of more a source of deviant behavior as the powerless]) so when things go to shit they can play the expat who’s left his backwards country because the toothless white trash have taken over.

  • 35. helplesscase  |  March 16th, 2011 at 11:18 am

    “Nothing became clear except Brawley’s deep, virtuous dislike and incomprehension of the world — the whole world and everything in it.”

    Brawley = beigeism incarnate.

  • 36. Allen  |  March 16th, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    Yes, Friendo is right. Condescension is the only real weapon. It’s what they use. They’ll appropriate straight-forwardly any sincere criticism in a condescending way, or, if you get emotional, they’ll react as though it’s unfortunate they have suddenly found themselves in such low company.

    Only your own condescension (might) actually piss them off.

  • 37. PT Barnum  |  March 16th, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    Reading your article, I feel I have been transported back to an earlier, gentler age.

    The savage animals of today are far, far less tolerant.

    I’ve been banned for criticizing The Obama on blogs that hate Obama. But you see, I started honestly discussing his past. You know, how his father abandoned him and then got himself killed drunk driving. How his mother dumped him on his grandparent. How I would expect anyone who has been through that to be a tad unstable.

    Now, everything I said is absolutely, 100% admitted fact. They hated Obama.

    Still, I exited there comfort zone. BAN.

    I criticized the very poor work of a supposed professional very harshly. I did so because months of polite criticism had failed to have any impression. I said his behavior struck of active malice. DELETED. For “abusing” him.

    Again, they are even worse now.

  • 38. PT Barnum  |  March 16th, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    The person I was criticizing DID NOT control the blog I was complaining on.

  • 39. jack kane  |  March 16th, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    (Referencing to J.T Gatto and Jeff Schmidt’s works, among others.)

    To understand the precepts and functions of university and ‘education’ we need merely look at their roots. The modern research university and the modern compulsory educational system both originate from 18th-19th century Prussia/Germany, where they came into being with the express purpose of creating an obedient underclass to provide workers and soldiers, and creating an obedient problem-solving managerial elite. For obvious reasons the members of the managerial class were drawn from the land-owning nobleman/ wealthy industrialist elite. Couple this with the English tradition of elite instruction that is the other foundation of the American (now worldwide) educational system and you have the answer to Dolan’s question.

    Academics form a severely brainwashed, hierarchically structured, privileged hence elitist caste. Their duty is not to question but to follow orders. A physicist/engineer doesn’t ask what the nukes he designs are for. He simply constructs them. The historian is not supposed to indulge in idle revisionism – his mission is either contextually meaningless fact collection, or pure propaganda.
    The Academy exists to serve the state and the corporations. This is axiomatic – who grants the grants? Where do academics work? Because they exist subject to the patronage of the corporation-state (notice that this applies to the old USSR as much as to the USA), academics will generally identify with and support the status quo, in form if not in matter. This is why the myth of the liberal intellectual is a farce. ‘Liberal’ intellectuals tend to be of the ‘nice fascist’ type.

    Another aspect of modern education is busywork. All the homeworks, all the useless idiotic papers, all the attendance checks serve to waste time and enforce discipline, because given enough time enough people might sit on their asses and figure things out, as Carlin remarked in his legendary rant. In fact, our entire modern society revolves around finding busywork for hordes of mentally crippled (by schooling and propaganda) people. Against the odds, in the face of spectacular technological progress, the guys in charge are somehow managing to come up with bullshit work for everyone, except a large chunk of the so-called ‘unemployed’, whose business, insanely enough, it is to look for busywork in order to survive! Yossarian was only too right when he raved about being the only sane person in a mad society.

    The few exceptions to the rule are invariably of working class/ poverty-stricken roots. Most were expelled from the academy for their heresy. A few notable examples: Chomsky, Zinn, Parenti, Veblen, Finkelstein.
    Dolan is another example. We know his background from his novel.

    To be fair to academics, many of them have an inkling of what’s going on, but dare not object, because they don’t want to relinquish their hard-earned (grad school + postdoc + chasing the tenure track = torture) niche in the world. The small prestige and relative job security of Academia are hard to surrender in a world of McDonalds and the corporate slavery Ames wrote about in “Going Postal”. In the end, a guy’s gotta live somehow. Dolan wrote about this at times.
    These guys stay at the bottom. To reach the academic top one needs real zeal, a fanatic devotion to the corporate-state ideal, whether in the kleptocratic or in the nanny form.

    So most academics are, and will be, arrogant to a degree, ignorant to a degree, boring to a degree, and of course pretentious as compensation. Most unfortunate, but so is being born. You know the fun part? There is no repairing this system – it has to be torn down, especially the 12 grades compulsory schooling of kids. Education is a simple thing – you read and you think and you get educated. Teachers, schedules, tests and diplomas only get in the way, as they were designed to.
    And while you can reach some people on the subject of demolishing the military or the corporations or the banks, the mis-interpreted ‘educational’ system remains sacrosanct.

    What can we do? Protect as best as you can yourself and your near ones if irrevocably embroiled in the educational bureaucracy; homeschool your kids; continually educated yourself. In the words of HST, “In a nation run by swine, all pigs are upward-mobile and the rest of us are fucked until we can put our acts together: Not necessarily to Win, but mainly to keep from Losing Completely. “

  • 40. Jane Porter  |  March 17th, 2011 at 2:54 am


    “Consciousness is part of the fatal flaw of language,” says Lacan. If capitalist sublimation holds, the works of Dolan are postmodern. It could be said that Brawley suggests the use of neoconstructivist narrative to challenge society.

    brian @ 21’s critique of textual rationalism implies that the collective is capable of significance. Therefore, Brawley uses the term ‘neoconstructivist narrative’ to denote the meaninglessness of postcapitalist language.

    The main theme of the works of Dolan is not sublimation, as neoconstructivist narrative suggests, but postsublimation. Nunberg suggests the use of cultural discourse to modify and deconstruct sexual identity. Therefore, textual rationalism states that class has objective value.

    The premise of textual rationalism implies that expression comes from communication, given that language is equal to reality. It could be said that if cultural discourse holds, we have to choose between textual rationalism and the subcapitalist paradigm of consensus.

    Jane Porter
    Department of Gender Politics, Stanford University
    with the assistance of

  • 41. Scott Oof  |  March 17th, 2011 at 2:58 am

    Agree with Jimbo above that the academic parasites like Nunberg are looking for a way out, the rats are scurrying to abandon ship.

    But what happened to eXiled? Is the site being shut down? Or just taking a breather. No new updates on “What you should know”, no new articles. Could someone explain what happened?

    Is anybody there??

  • 42. John Many Jars  |  March 17th, 2011 at 10:52 am

    I second Allen; Friendo nailed it. When dealing with fuckhead academics, go arrogant guerrilla, waiting for the head shot that splatters their argument on the wall behind them.

    In a public health class, late-90’s, during one of the Iraq Has An Unauthorized Can Of Raid scares, I pointed out that our NBC arsenal had never been audited, despite America dropping the only two a-bombs ever used. It would have been more gentle to hit the prof with a 2×4, but boy was it fun.

    Postscript: this article is almost seven years old and hotter than an exposed fuel rod – evidence we’ve gone from ‘in decline’ to ‘declined.’

  • 43. Tim Goswell  |  March 18th, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    Universities and academics are nothing more than cowardly, mute and silent accomplices of the corporate state, taking corporate money and doing corporate bidding.

    While US predator drones slaughter the children of Afghanistan for crimes such as collecting firewood, while Goldman Sachs executives make $50 million a year for looting the country, academics are still talking only to themselves in the pathetic terms of “neoconstructivist narratives” and “postsublimation”.

    When it comes to the US war machine or the kleptocrats destroying this country, they have nothing to offer, other than perhaps one or two Lacan quotes.

    Given the dangers we are faced with, academics are nothing but worthless parasites who deserve only to be mocked.

    “In the face of the looming ecological catastrophe, and the increasing infiltration of technology into the everyday world (including our own bodies), it is not clear that the anti-realist position is equipped to face up to these developments. The danger is that the dominant anti-realist strain of continental philosophy has not only reached a point of decreasing returns, but that it now actively limits the capacities of philosophy in our time… This general anti-realist trend has manifested itself in continental philosophy in a number of ways, but especially through preoccupation with such issues as death and finitude, an aversion to science, a focus on language, culture, and subjectivity to the detriment of material factors, an anthropocentric stance towards nature, a relinquishing of the search for absolutes, and an acquiescence to the specific conditions of our historical thrownness. We might also point to the lack of genuine and effective political action in continental philosophy—arguably a result of the “cultural” turn taken by Marxism, and the increased focus on textual and ideological critique at the expense of the economic realm.” -excerpted from _The Specultative Turn: Continental Materialism and Realism_

  • 44. Vanishing Mediator  |  March 18th, 2011 at 8:05 pm

    Tenured radicals, what a bunch of hypocrites. Years of kissing ass and sucking up to pompous dickheads to get a tenured post, then the pretentious bastards act like they’re some kind of radicals.

    Yeah right, the majority of tenured university professors in the USA are about as politically radical as your average dentist.

    “When, for example, [tenured] “radical” academics demand full rights for immigrants and the opening of borders to them, are they aware that the direct implementation of this demand would, for obvious reasons, inundate the developed Western countries with millions of newcomers, thus provoking a violent racist working-class backlash that would then endanger the privileged position of these very academics? Of course they are, but they count on the fact that their demand will not be met — in this way, they can hypocritically retain their clear radical conscience while continuing to enjoy their privileged position.” (The Puppet and the Dwarf: The Perverse Core of Christianity, pp. 43-44)

  • 45. allen  |  March 19th, 2011 at 8:19 am

    To respond to some of the comments above…

    At least in the particular academic setting I’m familiar with (not the English department), almost all the staff have views that place them far left of the main.

    Karl Marx is not a dirty name in the halls I’ve walked.

    Almost all of the inhabiting population there very much imagine they’re not part of the “machine”, or in some way complicit at all, in anything.

    What they are is trapped into a lifestyle — and that’s what academia truly is — that is entirely insular and largely self-referential. It’s a giant time sink for people to pour their intellectual talents away, producing little anyone cares about, until they retire.

    About the only thing virtually all academics really do that’s of value is produce undergrads that are slightly more literate and capable of critical thought, which is a plus. (That latter point will be disputed, but I’ve marked enough papers to know that learning to analyze something with any depth takes many in our society, sadly, a little practice).

    Too bad “teaching” is considered a superfluous necessity, and being good at it does exactly zero for anyone’s career. What’s really thought to matter are the three reader journal articles produced, over expensive books to be purchased by a few university libraries, and read by no one, and of course … “Conferences” (!)

  • 46. Homer Erotic  |  March 21st, 2011 at 6:19 am

    Well, you probably realized long ago that your big mouth will always be getting you into one kind of trouble or another, and that there’s really fuck-all you can do about it. At least you’ll always have interesting vignettes for us Internetz losers with no social lives, so embrace it! 😀

  • 47. Michael H  |  March 22nd, 2011 at 11:16 am

    Reposted, (with some changes) from a post I submitted to Naked Capitalism earlier today.

    I’m not surprised but I didn’t know that, in 2009, the Mexican billionaire, Carlos Slim Helú, had loaned $250 million to the NY Times at a 14 percent interest rate. (See link at end of post)

    The NY Times, along with NPR, are how people like Jeffrey Nunberg prefer to keep themselves “informed”.

    Having taken all that money from Mexican billionaire, Carlos Slim, if the Times know what’s good for them, I’ll bet they will not be publishing anything that might upset Carlos Slim, or any of his narco-friends or business partners, including any of the US politicians that might be on Carlos Slim’s payroll.

    Or any politicians who might have accepted a bribe, at any time, from Carlos Slim.

    Just to be on the safe side, maybe the Times would be better off not criticizing *anyone* on Wall Street or *anyone* in the US government. Or, for that matter, anyone in the Mexican government. Or anyone involved in the drug cartels or drug trafficking etc.

    Wait, they’ve already stopped criticizing all of the above, but I guess that’s just a coincidence. It can’t have anything to do with who’s funding them, right?

    That’s right, Jeffrey Nunberg, et al, keep on reading the New York Times and NPR. Let John Burns keep promoting war while attacking WikiLeaks. Let the professors keep burying their heads in the sand. These news sources are still reliable, they haven’t sold out, nor have they been compromised in any way, no of course they haven’t….

    Carlos Slim and Narco-Politics:

  • 48. Bongo McLoskey  |  March 22nd, 2011 at 8:57 pm

    Tell that numbskull Brawley it’s 24 frames per second.

    It hasn’t been 16 since Buster Keaton was directing.

  • 49. Pete Allen  |  September 9th, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    Hello John. The people you encountered in Budapest seem to have a common human condition, they actually believe they understand this world and this life.

    Hope you and yours are doing well, your old friend, Pete.

  • 50. A.  |  October 24th, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    I’m a TEFL teacher in Ukraine right now with a friend in grad school for international languages in Nikolaev. She showed me the ORD’s translation of “nerd” as “придурок:” “a contemptible person with few redeeming qualities.”

    I think I’m going to stay out of Western academia.

  • 51. Anton  |  December 9th, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    I just keep coming back to this piece. Dolan began in the Dark Side of the academia, but then he became Luke Skywalker: a professor of English who (paradoxically) writes lucid fucking FANTASTIC stuff.

    Dolan’s duty on this earth is to do to the beigecraty what Marx did to the borgeoisie. Yes, all these various classes of assholes eventually breed somebody who is honest and calls their bs. Marx was a borgeoisie, Chomsky was a zionist in his youth etc

  • 52. Frank Miata  |  December 24th, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    Dear John,
    What did you expect? I hope you were kidding about being bummed by the snubbing from numnuts…the guy from Stamford.Your real fear should be that one day they wil listen to you and then your problems will real begin.
    Happy holidays

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