Paul Zukofsky is a small minded little jerk

28 10 2009
"A"

"A" By Louis Zukofsky

Ok. So, I’m a mellow kinda guy. I don’t get worked up very often, and when I do it’s usually because I’ve had far too little sleep, far too much coffee, and some ass-hat has just sat behind me on a peak-hour bus making loud conversations on his cell phone about how ‘Jonno, nah mate, Jonno. No, Jonno!!, no, not Mark, it’s Jonno. Yeah mate, nah, I’m on a BUS!!’ Put the goddam’ phone down you retarded douche-canoe! *pant pant*

 Anyway…

 My zen-like calm was punctured yesterday after the Poetry Foundation’s blog, Harriet pointed out , to the internet at large, a document written by Paul Zukofsky about his father’s work.

 PZ is the son of Louis Zukosky, the Objectivist poet. Louis is now sadly departed (1904-1978) and his copyright falls to his son, who has been making noises about copyright that Kenneth Goldsmith of the Harriet blog rightly describes as ‘draconian’.

All Louis and Celia Zukofsky is still copyright, and will remain so for many many years. I own all of these copyrights, and they are my property, and I insist upon deriving income from that property. For those of you convinced that LZ would find my stance abhorrent, the truth is that he kept all copyrights (initially in his name) as he had the rather absurd idea that said copyrights would be sufficient to allow for the economic survival of my mother, and their son. My stance is congruent with that hope.

Draconian and anachronistic? Yes, but this initial stance is, well, fair enough. He owns the estate, so he should get paid for it. Don’t steal copyrighted books, buy books legitimately. Paul Zukofsky’s attitude goes far beyond this, however, into something much more insidious, and, well, see for yourself:

Despite what you may have been told, you may not use LZ’s words as you see fit, as if you owned them, while you hide behind the rubric of “fair use”. “Fair use” is a very-broadly defined doctrine, of which I take a very narrow interpretation, and I expect my views to be respected. We can therefore either more or less amicably work out the fees that I demand; you can remove all quotation; or we can turn the matter over to lawyers, this last solution being the worst of the three, but one which I will use if I need to enforce my rights.

1– people who want to do their dissertation on LZ, or want to quote from him in their diss., must, if only as a common courtesy, inform me of their desire to use this material, and obtain my permission to do so. If you do that, and if I agree, the permission will be only for the purposes of the diss. and there will be no charge for limited use within the diss. You will not be allowed to distribute the diss. publicly. Distribution via on-line publication is not allowed. I urge you to keep quotation to a minimum, as the more quotation, the less likely I am to grant permission.

Paul Zukofsky is a small minded little douche-canoe who can kiss my postgraduate arse.

I can perhaps understand your misguided interest in literature, music, art, etc. I would be suspicious of your interest in Louis Zukofsky, but might eventually accept it. I can applaud your desire to obtain a job, any job, although why in your chosen so-called profession is quite beyond me; but one line you may not cross i.e. never never ever tell me that your work is to be valued by me because it promotes my father. Doing that will earn my life-long permanent enmity. Your self-interest(s) I may understand, perhaps even agree with; but beyond that, in the words of e.e.cummings quoting Olaf: “there is some s I will not eat”.

Douche-Canoe

Paul Zukofsky is a Douche-Canoe

Paul Zukofks holds academia in obvious contempt. It’s a little boggling. I would be tempted to imagine that this is a hoax, some sort of satire. Hopefully this is the case, because otherwise PZ seeks to hold academic enquiry up for at least the duration of his own life. It is only by understanding the innovations of the past that we can forge the new culture of the future. I don’t care about promoting Louis Zukofsky. I DO care bout understanding him, but Paul ‘douche-canoe’ Zukofsky wants to throw a roadblock up to academic enquiry for the purpose of squeezing every last bloody penny out of his father’s corpse that he can. It’s sickening, if true.

 As the Harriet blog reported, the ‘digerati’ have already responded by putting Louis Zukofsky’s famous long work “A” online in full PDF format to be downloaded as a deliberate ‘screw you’ to PZ. I don’t agree, I’m not going to link to the file. I think you SHOULD go ahead and buy the work of the important poets. Poetry is hard enough to create a market for as it is, we need to maintain the viability of hardcopy publication for poetry. But if you get the chance to make a rude gesture at Paul Zukofsky any time, do it. It’ll feel SOOOOO good.

 ~Chris

 





Won’t somebody please think of the children!!

14 08 2009
Bust of Plato

Bust of Plato

So, I’ve been reading Plato. Not much of it, to be sure, but some and to a specific purpose. I’ve been pretty much argument mining from the Republic, and have come out with some useful stuff. One thing I’ve come out with, more than any number of other things, is how very annoying it is to read Plato. Reading Plato is like hearing a conversation between your grumpy moralising professor and a robot that has been programmed specifically to agree with everything he says.

 Aside from this revelation of stylistic narcissism I have been reading Republic as a guide to these Socratic and Plato..istic… Platoean… Platoesque… Platonic? notions of the poetic image. On the way to these ideas however I came across Plato’s arguments about censorship. He doesn’t call it censorship, of course, but it amounts to much the same thing. What he’s doing is exploring moral arguments in relation to the ideal city that he is hypothetically proposing, so when he argues for what shall be allowed into the Republic, he is also discussing what should be excluded, and why.

 It’s interesting because of just how little Plato’s argument differs, in its fundamentals, from the current arguments in favour of censorship. Plato’s argument is that certain forms of poetry (Epic, Tragedy, etc.) should be excluded from the republic because they are misleading about the nature of the gods, and represent (or imitate, produce mimesis) of behaviour that the ideal Platonic man should not emulate in the Republic, and that they encourage emulation of that behaviour. Who is likely to emulate this behaviour. Certainly not a man like Plato, or his mouthpiece Socrates, but the impressionably minded children of the Republic. The specific line of reasoning, involving the nature of the gods, is of course specific to the time and place.

 However, this is much the same argument as is put forward today by those who argue in favour of censorship. In the 1959 Obscene Publications Act in Britain the argument was that a published artefact should be censored/deemed obscene if it had a tendency to corrupt those who were like to come into contact with it. Again, the question is that certain materials have a tendency to corrode a public moral. In Plato’s Republic it was religious thought and public behaviour, in the case of the 1959 Act’s test case Lady Chatterley’s Lover it was sexual morals and promiscuity.

 Both Plato and the writers of the Obscene Publications Act 1959 (OPA-1959) assume that certain ideas/thoughts are corruptive, and there is some sub-population that is likely to be corrupted by them if exposed. Plato argued that the young were likely to be encouraged to emulate the ideas of Homer and the epics. OPA-1959 argued that the young and the working class would have their fragile conceptions of right and wrong corroded by the novel.

 This revelation surprised me at the time, but in retrospect I realised that it ought not have. The reason being that there is, to my mind, only one reasonably line of argument in favour of censorship. A society, ideally, starts from the state of complete openness, and that a society needs a reason to ban something. The opposite of this is the idea that everything is banned until a reason to un-ban it is produced. So, starting with the idea that we need a reason to ban something, the person making the argument for censorship must make a case in favour of banning. To plausible make a case to ban something, one needs to argue that there is something inherently harmful in having it be permitted. In arguing this the person must ask: who is it likely to be harmed? In such a case, the person making the argument is unlikely to think of themself as likely to be corrupted by it, as they are the one who initially recognised its detriments, so they must identify some other person or group who will be harmed / corrupted. In most cases, it seems, the children, the poor, poor defenceless children are the ones to spring up like corruptible weeds from the pavement, with the possible inclusion of the working class.

 Oh GOD! Won’t somebody PLEASE think of the CHILDREN!!! It really does come down to the defence of families and public morals by someone who considers themselves to have moral authority.

 There are, of course, various subtleties to the arguments, but the general principle remains the same. What is also interesting is that the more progressive arguments against censorship have not remained stagnant, but developed with the culture that produces the supposedly offensive materials. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to write more about these arguments in the future.

 ~Chris.





The Sydney Peace Prize

4 08 2009
John Pilger

John Pilger

Before yesterday I didn’t know that Sydney had its own ‘Peace Prize’. It seems a bit odd, a bit like Paris having its own ‘orbital hygiene mechanics’ prize; not totally out of the question, but somehow not quite what one associates with the image of the city. The Sydney Peace Prize. Well, why not? There have been no major wars here, or even minor ones. There have been no civil uprisings, military coups, or bombings. Except for an undercurrent of barely concealed racial tension Sydney is just about as peaceful as you could hope for. Who better to be giving out a peace prize than a city described by Clive James of having the air of a population permanently on holiday? There is a contention to be made, perhaps, that a nation like France, or Spain, or such, might be better suited to the distribution of accolades for peace. This is on the basis that a long and bloody history of civil and international conflicts really gives a nation an understanding of the value of peace. But I say phooey to them. Let the prizes come from a country that has rarely seen the need for an alternative.

 At this point the thinking person might put up their hand and say, ‘wait a minute,’ and they would be right. Sydney bears a darker legacy than that: the Unacknowledged War that came to the country when, in 17xx, the endeavour dropped anchor and started the process of colonisation. A war was fought, acknowledged or not, and involved the trading of land for lives as much as any named war. The failure to acknowledge the reality of the conflict has been seen by many, like writer Peter Cary in his book 20 Days in Sydney, as one of the country’s greatest failings.

 It makes me wonder where a country, or city, gains the right to make awards for peace. I don’t think that there’s a way to earn it. Neither lengthy suffering nor enduring political stability seems to confer the right. Indeed, it would seem as hypocritical for Switzerland to award a peace prize as it would seem, perhaps, self serving for modern Berlin to award one too. I don’t think it’s possible to qualify for the right, but if Sydney’s dark heart motivates it to foster the pursuit of peace in the world… then good. We should encourage it.

 In that vein the winner of the 2009 Sydney Peace Prize is John Pilger. Pilger is an Australian journalist, film-maker and author. The Jury citation for the prize awarded it to Pilger “for courage as a foreign and war correspondent in enabling the voices of the powerless to be heard. For commitment to peace with justice by exposing and holding governments to account for human rights abuses and for fearless challenges to censorship in any form.”

 Previous awardees include “Nobel recipients Professor Muhammad Yunus and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, as well as former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, Indian author and human rights campaigner Arundhati Roy and, last year, the Aboriginal leader and ‘father of reconciliation’ Patrick Dodson.”

 ~Chris

 University of Sydney press release: Here.

Article from Pigler’s website: Here.

Image taken from: Here.