Thursday, December 30, 2021

Pseudo-Melville and Fake-Fanon, Prophets of Woke Utopia


As a few shrewd commentators have pointed out, mostly to crickets, Frantz Fanon never gave the handy definition of cognitive dissonance that has been widely attributed to him since 2013 or so, in print as well as myriad texts and memes on social media. One of the weightier endorsements of Fake Fanon to date is this seemingly authoritative quotation in War on Terror and American Film by Dr Terence McSweeny:
Franz Fanon in Black Skin, White Mask (1967) stated,
Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with evidence that works against this belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that doesn't fit in with the core belief. (Fanon 1967: 194). 
--Introduction, War on Terror and American Film: 9/11 Frames Per Second (Edinburgh University Press, 2014, 2016).
McSweeney cites a London edition of Fanon's 1952 book Peau noire, masques blancs, published by Pluto Press. Evidently this is the 1986 reissue of the Charles Lam Markmann translation, first published in 1967 by Grove Press. Another edition by Grove Press appeared in 2008, with a new translation from the French by Richard Philcox. 

Deployers of deep-fake Fanon ask us to believe that Frantz Fanon neatly defined the term cognitive dissonance five years before Leon Festinger first developed the idea in A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance


The oft-quoted words on cognitive dissonance may indeed derive from an academic footnote or gloss on Fanon, but they are not Fanon's. Online, the earliest instance I have been able to find appears in a 2008 Huffpost article by Pam Atherton titled Why Some Smart Women Think Palin is a Good Choice. Trying to understand the basis of other people's delusions, Atherton consulted her therapist-friend who diagnosed the problem as cognitive dissonance. As reported by Atherton, Betti Hoeppner gave the now familiar definition with no trouble and no credit to Frantz Fanon:
In the course of our conversation she explained why. She told me that sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that doesn't fit in with the core belief.   
https://www.huffpost.com/entry/why-some-smart-women-thin_b_137416
Terence McSweeney knows who wrote the book on this particular subject, literally, and says so. But somehow he can't help himself. The good Doctor footnotes Festinger, and forges ahead with Fanon anyhow. Evidently people can maintain invalid beliefs in spite of direct and unequivocal evidence to the contrary. Unostentatiously as possible, a certain genius named "Michael U." has identified the technical term for that kind of thing:
"... the continued belief that this quote is from Frantz Fanon is a prime example of cognitive dissonance."  
http://underthetree63.blogspot.com/2013/03/revisiting-frantz-farnon.html
To be sure, Black Skin, White Masks exhibits lots of cognitive dissonance, as observed by Constancio Nakuma without reference to the precise definition later attributed to Fanon. 
Nakuma, Constancio. “COGNITIVE DISSONANCE REDUCTION STRATEGIES BY BLACK INTELLECTUALS IN THE DIASPORA: A PSYCHOLINGUISTIC EXPLORATION OF NEGRITUDE AND AFROCENTRISM.” CLA Journal 43, no. 2 (1999): 167–180 at 169. http://www.jstor.org/stable/44323286.
Fanon recorded lived experiences of extreme psychic discomfort including the kind of pain experts would later call dissonance. Experts whom Fanon engaged with most intensely in 1952 were other psychoanalysts, for example Anna Freud on the ego as defence mechanism, Alfred Adler on Understanding human nature, and Octave Mannoni on the psychology of colonization. Scattered depictions of real-life racism in Black Skin, White Masks seem disturbing enough, but the worst monsters of racism Fanon wrestles with are essentially projections and fantasies. Reading Fanon today feels like being trapped inside the nightmare of a lunatic, where the soundtrack is an endless audio loop of only Doors songs. Even so, Fanon manages to break on through at the end, miraculously, in realizing 
"I am not a prisoner of history."

But how to account for the birth and surging popularity of Fake Fanon? In alphabetized book indexes and bibliographies the surname Festinger follows Fanon, immediately in some cases. Sometime after the turbulent 1960's and early 1970's, perhaps, on a quiet university campus in the blissful calm of a graduate student's library carrel, a sleepy research assistant may have mistakenly tracked a textbook paraphrase of cognitive dissonance to Fanon instead of the name just below Fanon. Otherwise it's hard to say exactly how or where the mistaken attribution first occurred. 

The rapid proliferation of pseudo-Fanon in the internet age resembles the worldwide re-assignment of Rev. Henry Melvill's fine image of moral accountability as a network of "sympathetic threads" and "fibres" to Herman Melville. As with pseudo-Melville, pseudo-Fanon peculiarly suits the advancement of leftist political agendas. In the service of politicians and academic activists, both pseudo-Melville and Fake-Fanon have been usefully employed as prophets of Woke utopia. 

In print, Hillary Clinton called on pseudo-Melville to establish the collectivist theme of her blockbuster 1996 book It Takes a Village. Reviewed most memorably by P. J. O'Rourke in It takes a village idiot. The Senator from New York again flaunted her false attribution to the "great American author Herman Melville" in a 2003 editorial for the Ithaca Journal, urging that communal education pursue "equity" along with "excellence." In case you were wondering, the phony Melville quote persists in the 10th anniversary edition of It Takes a Village.
We cannot live for ourselves alone. Our lives are connected by a thousand invisible threads, and along these sympathetic fibers, our actions run as causes and return to us as results.
HERMAN MELVILLE  

-- Hillary Rodham Clinton, It Takes a Village (Simon & Schuster, 2006). 

Hillary's husband blithely ascribed the "sympathetic fibers" quote to Herman Melville at the 1997 Memorial Service for Albert Shanker, president of the American Federation of Teachers. Then-President Clinton misappropriated Melville for the purpose of honoring Shanker as a teacher and social justice advocate, while eliding Shanker's

"lifelong hatred of Soviet-style communism."  --Jack Schierenbeck, Class struggles: The UFT story 

Here in Minnesota, our once-beloved prairie moralist and Moby-Dick hater Garrison Keillor (before he got canned by MPR) loved to spout pseudo-Melville, as he did in Good Poems for Hard Times (Penguin Books, 2006). 

Minnesota middle-schoolers probably don't get to read Typee or Redburn, but twenty years ago some of them got spoon-fed pseudo-Melville as part of their indoctrination in utopian ideology and ethics.

"At North Junior High, we try to remember what Herman Melville said: 'We cannot live for ourselves alone. Our lives are connected by a thousand invisible threads.' Let us all commit to invest in a common future and not just in our private affluence." -- Patricia Welter, St. Cloud Times, May 16, 2001.

 Pat Welter later co-founded Partner For Student Success or PFSS, largely devoted to data collection and the promotion of Social-Emotional Learning and other dubious, usually harmful ideologies. 

https://twitter.com/ConceptualJames

Newspapers in Education. Early in the present century, corporate media enlisted pseudo-Melville to help teachers promote the virtues of "diversity" and social "harmony" in a lesson on The Building Blocks of Character Education. Connecticut kids had to explain in writing why Herman Melville, in reality the type of guy who would just say NO! in Thunder, would agree with establishment dictates to "live in harmony." The stated focus of this particular activity, the fourth of ten in the series on character-building, was "Acceptance."

In a well-organized paragraph, discuss the following quote by Herman Melville: "We cannot live for ourselves alone. Our lives are connected by a thousand invisible threads, and along these sympathetic fibers, our actions run as causes and return to us as results." Explain why Melville would agree that by learning about differences, we allow ourselves to appreciate diversity and begin to live in harmony by respecting the views of others. Stamford CT Daily Advocate - December 3, 2001 via genealogybank.com




For a more recent example of reality-denial in the service of radical activism, look at the celebration of pseudo-Melville by the Interaction Institute for Social Change
IISC uses pseudo-Melville to promote Social Justice and Racial Equity, noble-sounding words that mask a totalitarian project of wrecking vital public services and institutions in order to control them, and people they normally benefit. As James Lindsay explains on New Discourses, the mundane aim of such projects is
a managed state of racial equity that will eventually produce a post-racial utopia in which “racial justice” finally exists. The revolution and administered (socialist, “equity”) state will be led by a Dictatorship of the Antiracists (DOA?), comprised of awakened (Woke) Critical Race Theorists with the right critical consciousness of race. -- Critical Race Theory's Dictatorship of the Antiracists 

Pseudo-Melville and Fake-Fanon have been adopted as prophets in the new religion of Wokeness. The repurposed scriptures of these prophets serve to implant and cultivate the ethos of communitarian supermorality. For strong "reasons why a code of communitarian supermorality is unlikely to work," see the extended paraphrase of John Mackie by Richard A. Posner in The Problems of Jurisprudence (Harvard University Press, 1990) pages 416-418.  In practice, such utopian ideals require "high levels of coercion" to maintain, resulting in all kinds of wickedness and abuse. In education, the praxis of critical theory has methodically enabled the psychological and sexual abuse of children in schools run by Woke teachers and administrators, as shown by James Lindsay on New Discourses.


Along with American schools, groomers have also hijacked the "ETHICS" department at Boy Scouts of America. Fake-Fanon is this day being employed there in the worst conceivable way, as an approved text designed to create doubt about commonly understood standards of ethical behavior. 

https://troopleader.scouting.org/information-ethics/

Prominently introduced with "Troop Leader Resources," fake-Fanon specifically helps to teach kids "The Value of Ethical Controversies":

"there are two sides to most questions and that the gray area between right and wrong is sometimes difficult to define."

In some cases, the theory of cognitive dissonance according to Festinger required evaluating the factual basis of "core beliefs" in order to distinguish valid beliefs from invalid ones. Granted, that distinction has seemed less important to later analysts who tend to emphasize the supposed discomfort or dissonance produced by conflicting ideas, regardless of their empirical merit. Human psychology is complicated, after all. This aint the Boy Scouts. Wait, this IS the Boy Scouts. Here we are, almost in 2022, and Woke Troop Leaders at Boy Scouts of America can't tell right from wrong, or pretend they can't, and make a virtue of teaching ethical indeterminacy to other people's children. And their best authority for this exercise in moral relativism is Fake-Frantz-Fanon. Reality check: confusing kids with lessons about "gray areas between right and wrong" is a very bad practice, conducive to further abuse. 

More Fake-Fanon

Below are more examples of Fake-Fanon enlisted in Woke promotions of communitarian supermorality.  
"Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with information that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that does not fit in with the core belief."
We may not go about our daily lives thinking of the term “cognitive dissonance,” but we’ve all seen this theory materialized. We’ve seen presidential poll numbers that don’t change regardless of the policies some candidates bring forth. We’ve seen studies in newspapers or sometimes comical takes of the data on television proving that people will agree or disagree with the same policy based merely upon whose idea they believe it is. We can probably also think of instances of it in our own communities and within the work we do. For example, one of our nonprofit members recently talked to me about this theory and how cognitive dissonance is a major obstacle in their work for economic equity.

-- Keeping an Open Mind about the Education Reform Debate, September 23, 2015.

  • Daisy Auger-Dominguez, "human capital executive" and Chief People Officer at VICE Media Group. 
"And in a tribute to my grandmother’s defiance of cultural norms, I have built a career reshaping workplace cultures through equity and inclusion." Fake-Fanon supplies an imposing epigraph for this 2017 Call for Courage in the Workplace by Daisy Auger-Dominguez.
https://www.daisyauger-dominguez.com/perspectives/2019/3/20/a-call-for-courage-in-the-workplace
"Daisy is an advisor to startups and social impact organizations, and serves on the board of directors of Planned Parenthood Federation of America as Vice-Chair, the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation as Chair of the Governance Committee, St. Ann’s Warehouse, and on the advisory board of Facing History and Ourselves." https://www.daisyauger-dominguez.com/about-daisy
Will any prominent crusader for social justice ever disavow Fake-Fanon? Doubtful, considering the enduring popularity of pseudo-Melville. 

"ye cannot live for yourselves; a thousand fibres connect you with your fellow-men...."
The Rev. Henry Melvill, 1855 sermon on Partaking in Other Men's Sins

That mistaken attribution persists--on high authority, since Hillary and Bill Clinton both put the words of Anglican preacher Henry Melvill in Herman Melville's mouth. The Truth is out there now, readily accessible for more than a decade thanks to Melvilliana and Google. For some reason though, many people are unable to discard their invalid belief that the author of Moby-Dick or The Whale prophesied the coming utopia of intricately networked Antiracists.
... they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that doesn't fit in with the core belief.
What's that called again?



Related posts:

Friday, December 24, 2021

Fine fanciful poetry

On New Year's Day 1824 the New-York Spectator reprinted "A Visit from St. Nicholas" from the Troy Sentinel where Clement C. Moore's immortal rhymes had lately made their first appearance in print, on December 23, 1823. The 1824 Spectator version is the earliest known reprinting, listed number 2 in Nancy H. Marshall's Descriptive Bibliography of The Night Before Christmas

The still-anonymous Christmas poem graced the front page of the New York Spectator for January 1, 1824. On the second page there was something else, not previously recorded. For a genuine nineteenth-century stocking stuffer this Christmas Eve, Melvilliana presents a Manhattan editor's long-forgotten commendation of "A Visit from St. Nicholas" aka The Night Before Christmas:

New York Spectator - January 1, 1824
via genealogybank.com
The reader will find a number of interesting articles on the first page of this paper. We mention in particular, the fine fanciful poetry from the Troy Sentinel, describing the Christmas visit of that old inflexible and kind-hearted friend to dutiful children, SAINTE CLAUS. 
-- New York Spectator, January 1, 1824. 
New York Spectator - January 1, 1824

From the Troy Sentinel. 

We know not to whom we are indebted for the following description of that unwearied patron of children—that homely, but delightful personification of parental kindness—SANTE CLAUS, his costume and his equipage, as he goes about visiting the fire-sides of this happy land, laden with Christmas bounties; but, from whomsoever it may have come, we give thanks for it. There is, to our apprehension, a spirit of cordial goodness in it, a playfulness of fancy, and a benevolent alacrity to enter into the feelings and promote the simple pleasures of children, which are altogether charming. We hope our little patrons, both lads and lasses, will accept it as proof of our unfeigned good will toward them—as a token of our warmest wish that they may have many a merry Christmas; that they may long retain their beautiful relish for those unbought, homebred joys, which derive their flavor from filial piety and fraternal love, and which they may be assured are the least alloyed that time can furnish them; and that they may never part with that simplicity of character, which is their own fairest ornament, and for the sake of which they have been pronounced, by authority which none can gainsay, the types of such as shall inherit the Kingdom of Heaven.
ACCOUNT OF A VISIT FROM ST. NICHOLAS. 
’Twas the night before Christmas, when all thro’ the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar plums danc’d in their heads,
And Mama in her ’kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap—
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprung from the bed to see what was the matter,
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters, and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow,
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below;
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny rein-deer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and call’d them by name:
“Now! Dasher, now! Dancer, now Prancer and Vixen,
“On! Comet, on! Cupid, on! Dunder and Blixem;
“To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
“Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”
As dry leaves before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys—and St. Nicholas too:
And then in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof,
As I drew in my head and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dress’d all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnish’d with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys was flung on his back,
And he look’d like a pedlar just opening his pack:
His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples how merry,
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry;
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow:
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face, and a little round belly
That shook when he laugh’d like a bowl full of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laugh’d when I saw him in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And fill’d all the stockings; then turn’d with a jirk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.
He sprung to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle:
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight—
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night. 

And a HAPPY NEW YEAR too!!!


Such a Night! Christmas version by Aaron Neville

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Smoking and talking metaphysics

Dr. Theodore F. Wolfe
Cabinet Photo, Co. H, 11th NJ Civil War via Ancestorville 

This reminiscence by Theodore Frelinghuysen Wolfe is pretty well-known in Melville scholarship, or used to be. Jay Leyda gives an excerpt in the first volume of The Melville Log (Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1951) at page 407. Steven Olsen-Smith has the whole thing in Melville in His Own Time (University of Iowa Press, 2015) on pages 146-7. 

I'm posting it here now so I don't forget the bit about Hawthorne and Melville at Arrowhead in March 1851, "smoking and talking metaphysics in the barn." Nobody smokes anymore, obviously.

Farther away is a little farm-house, with a “huge, corpulent, old Harry VIII. of a chimney,” to which Hawthorne was a frequent visitor,—the “Arrow-Head” of Herman Melville.  "Godfrey Graylock” says the friendship between Hawthorne and Melville originated in their taking refuge together, during an electric shower, in a narrow cleft of Monument Mountain. They had been coy of each other on account of Melville's review of the “Scarlet Letter” in Duyckinck's Literary World, but during some hours of enforced intercourse and propinquity in very contracted quarters they discovered in each other a correlation of thought and feeling which made them fast friends for life. Thereafter Melville was often at the little red house, where the children knew him as “Mr. Omoo,” and less often Hawthorne came to chat with the racy romancer and philosopher by the great chimney.

Once he was accompanied by little Una—“Onion” he sometimes called her—and remained a whole week. This visit—certainly unique in the life of the shy Hawthorne—was the topic when, not so long agone, we last looked upon the living face of Melville in his city home. March weather prevented walks abroad, so the pair spent most of the week in smoking and talking metaphysics in the barn,—Hawthorne usually lounging upon a carpenter's bench. When he was leaving, he jocosely declared he would write a report of their psychological discussions for publication in a volume to be called “A Week on a Work-Bench in a Barn,” the title being a travesty upon that of Thoreau's then recent book, “A Week on Concord River,” etc. 
Sitting upon the north piazza, of “Piazza Tales,” at Arrow-Head, where Hawthorne and his friend lingered in summer days, we look away to Graylock and enjoy "the calm prospect of things from a fair piazza” which Melville so whimsically describes. At Arrow-Head, too, we find the astonishing chimney which suggested the essay, still occupying the centre of the house and leaving only the odd holes and corners" to Melville's nieces, who now inhabit the place in summer; the study where Hawthorne and Melville discussed the plot of the “White Whale” and other tales; the great fireplace, with its inscriptions from “I and my Chimney;” the window-view of Melville's “ October Mountain,”—beloved of Longfellow,—whose autumn glories inspired that superb word-picture and metaphysical sketch. 

-- Theodore F. Wolfe, Literary Shrines: The Haunts of Some Famous American Authors (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1895) pages 191-192.


Thursday, December 16, 2021

Boston and Brooklyn reprintings of A Visit from St Nicholas, with Merry Christmas instead of Happy Christmas


Here are two very early instances from nineteenth-century American newspapers of "Merry Christmas to all" in the last verse of "A Visit from St. Nicholas" aka The Night Before Christmas. The first one appeared in the Boston Patriot & Mercantile Advertiser on  Christmas Day 1829; the second in the Long-Island Star on December 22, 1830. 

Both versions of The Night Before Christmas appeared under the heading, CHRISTMAS / Account of a visit from St. Nicholas or Sante Claus. Both usages of "Merry Christmas" instead of "Happy Christmas" predate the "earliest" known example from the Schenectady Whig of December 25, 1832, documented by Nancy H. Marshall in her indispensable bibliography of The Night Before Christmas (Oak Knoll Press, 2002). 

The Boston Patriot was published by Davis C. Ballard and Edmund Wright. The Long-Island Star was published in Brooklyn, New York by Alden Spooner.

The 1829 and 1830 texts kind of follow the first printing in the Troy Sentinel, with numerous interesting changes. The Boston, MA and Brooklyn, NY reprintings both describe the speaker's children as snugly "nested" rather than "nestled" in their beds. Santa's eighth reindeer is named "Blixen," not Blixem or Blitzen. Two occurrences of the preterit form sprung in the Troy Sentinel printing on December 23, 1823 have been revised or corrected to "sprang." Contractions are mostly eliminated by spelling out words like danced, dressed, and laughed where the Sentinel had printed "danc'd"; "dress'd"; and "laugh'd."

Boston Patriot and Mercantile Advertiser
December 25, 1829

One deviation in the Brooklyn reprinting, transcribed below, concerns the way Santa Claus goes back up the chimney after delivering his gifts. Losing the familiar "nod" that Santa usually gives prior to departing, the Long Island Star has him "flying around" before takeoff.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,

And flying around, up the chimney he rose. 

 Too much egg nog?

22 Dec 1830, Wed The Long-Island Star (Brooklyn, New York) Newspapers.com

CHRISTMAS.

Account of a visit from St. Nicholas or Sante Claus
’Twas the night before Christmas, when all thro’ the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.
The children were nested all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar plums danced in their heads,
And Mamma in her ’kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap—
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter;
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters, and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow,
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below;
When what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny rein-deer,
With a little old driver so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled and shouted, and called them by name;
“Now! Dasher, now! Dancer, now! Prancer and Vixen,
“On! Comet, on! Cupid, on! Dunder and Blixen;
“To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
“Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”
As dry leaves before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too,
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof;
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound,
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnish’d with ashes and soot,
A bundle of toys was flung on his back,
And he looked like a pedlar just opening his pack;
His eyes how they twinkled, his dimples how merry,
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry,
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath
He had a broad face, and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly,
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread!
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jirk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And flying around, up the chimney he rose.
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle!
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
"Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night."

-- Long-Island Star, December 22, 1830. 

Other early versions of The Night Before Christmas where "Merry Christmas" replaces "Happy Christmas" in Santa's parting benediction:

  • Charleston Courier, December 25, 1829.
  • Long-Island Farmer, and Queens County Advertiser, January 2, 1833.
  • Gloucester, Massachusetts Telegraph, January 8, 1834 (also prints "flying around" instead of "giving a nod," as in the Long-Island Star).
  • Trumansburg Advertiser (Trumansburg, New York) December 23, 1835.
  • Weekly Raleigh Register (Raleigh, North Carolina) December 21, 1839.

Jimmie Vaughan in St Louis-2021

Melissa Chen: The Media’s Haste to Cry Race

"The eagerness to fit, and deny, the facts in order to manufacture a preferred storyline is not just dishonest, it's harmful. Instead of honoring victims we end up drafting them into our culture wars."

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Melvilliana: First printing of A Visit from St Nicholas

Melvilliana: First printing of A Visit from St Nicholas: Now accessible online courtesy of Troy Public Library and New York State Historic Newspapers , the first printing of "A Visit from St...

How Liberals Are in Denial About What’s Going On

Restaurant Owner Who Defied Lockdowns Sentenced

Restaurant Owner Who Defied Lockdowns Sentenced: Hanson’s comments also suggest there was something more than restaurant revenue driving her decision making. 

Link below to commentary by Daniel Horowitz on TheBlaze:

Free Lisa Hanson

 

EXCLUSIVE: Lisa Hanson Files Writ of Habeas Corpus with United States District Court of Minnesota

EXCLUSIVE: Lisa Hanson Files Writ of Habeas Corpus with United States District Court of Minnesota

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Fascism (a Christmas Carol)

Monday, December 13, 2021

Detail of Washington Monument

Detail of Washington Monument: Color photo showing detail of Washington Monument, Washington, DC. Granite block with carved whale, reading 'NEW BEDFORD. MASS./ 1851.' The granite block was donated by the city toward construction of the monument. 

MODEL OF THE SPERM WHALE. The block which the city of New Bedford is to contribute to the Washington Monument is to bear the figure of the Sperm Whale--the most appropriate device of course which could be adopted. The original design for the block was drawn by Mr Asa Wood, of New Bedford; the work is to be executed by Messrs Bryant & Gooding. Mr David Baker has moulded in clay a whale which is pronounced perfect, after a consultation with many old whalemen, copies of which are to be taken in iron. --Boston Evening Transcript, August 27, 1851.
Boston Evening Transcript - August 27, 1851
via Genealogy Bank

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Pedagogy of Discomfort Part II

"Moving towards nebulousness, vagueness, and away from Truth should not be viewed as transformative, but as the antithesis of education--as de-transformative or as deconstructive. Truth is transformative because it centers the mind, it centers the person, and gives order and balance to the mind."
Master class on the nature and aims of critical pedagogy by Jason Miller at Native Liberty. I'm grateful to Insomnochick Deb Fillman and Dunedain Rhyen Staley for commending it.

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Christmas present from Mary Clarke Ogden

In 1855 Mary C. Ogden made an illustrated manuscript copy of A Visit from St. Nicholas and gave it to her husband for Christmas. Mary Clarke Moore Ogden (1819-1893) was then the oldest surviving daughter of Clement C. Moore, author of the beloved holiday poem universally known as "The Night Before Christmas." In December 1951 LIFE Magazine issued a photo reproduction of Mary Ogden's beautifully calligraphed and "illuminated" version of her father's poem. Published in New York by Time Inc., the December 10, 1951 issue of LIFE with

MOORE'S CLASSIC IN EDITION PAINTED BY HIS DAUGHTER

is now accessible via Google Books:
In the Moore household the poem continued to be a favorite long after the children had grown up, and in 1855 Moore's daughter Mary made a little book of it as a special Christmas present for her husband, John Ogden. In an ornate "Gothic" script she carefully inscribed the verses and decorated the pages with scenes of the old house in the Chelsea section of New York where she and her eight brothers and sisters heard the poem recited by their father every Christmas. -- LIFE Magazine (New York: Time Inc.) December 10, 1951, page 96.
https://books.google.com/books?id=ZFQEAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA96&dq#v=onepage&q&f=false

As Niels Henry Sonne pointed out in 1972, "Life named Clement Moore Ogden as the owner" of the original 1855 document. Whereabouts unknown in the early 1970's, according to Dr. Sonne, distinguished librarian of the General Theological Seminary in Manhattan. 
Sonne, Niels H. “‘The Night Before Christmas’: Who Wrote It?” Historical Magazine of the Protestant Episcopal Church 41, no. 4 (1972): 373–80 at 377. http://www.jstor.org/stable/42973358.
Images below are from a copy of the 1951 facsimile in my personal collection. Happy Christmas to all!











The Medical Objectification of the Human Person

The Medical Objectification of the Human Person: The pandemic has turbocharged this process of medical objectification. We are no longer individuals, with unique desires, responses, wishes and drives, but rather are primarily considered by policy makers to be infection risks. Once we are primarily objects, rather than diverse human beings, it then becomes legitimate for medical procedures to be mandated, mask wearing to be forced, or our movements to be tracked and traced.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

1844 ALBION review of POEMS by Clement C. Moore

This might be the only contemporary review of Clement C. Moore's Poems that does not mention A Visit from St. Nicholas as a highlight of the 1844 collection. Evidently the Santa Claus business, perceived as a curious local custom practiced by Dutch-descended Knickerbockers, did not impress the British conductors of the New York Albion or their target audience of British expats. Checking just now, the earliest and only mentions of Santa Claus I can find in the Albion all appear in various notices of the Santa Claus symphony by William Henry Fry, first performed on Christmas Eve, 1853 by Louis Jullien's orchestra.

New York Albion - August 17, 1844
via genealogybank.com

POEMS,

By Clement C. Moore, L. L. D. Bartlett and Welford, New York, 1844.

Here we have a volume of poems, produced by the publisher in the London style. The luxury of broad margin, fine paper, clear and beautiful type, attract the attention like any aristocratic-looking volume from the other side of the Atlantic. Indeed we thought it of English birth, until we saw the name of Wm. Van Norden, Printer. It is, in a word, a genuine specimen of good book printing, as far distant from the paltry cheap, as it is from the flimsy gew gaws now so frequently put forth to catch the eye and the penny. 

The poems are from the pen of a gentleman, well known and highly esteemed in this community, who in a chaste and well written preface addressed to his children, assigns his reasons for giving his little volume to the reading world. We extract from this preface the following passages, recommending them to writers generally.

Of the poetic merits of the work we need only say, that the sentiments are chaste and moral, the versification smooth and accurate, and that the tendency of the whole is, to purify and soften the taste and to cultivate the moral perception of the reader.

We present two or three extracts:--

I do not pay my readers so ill a compliment as to offer the contents of this volume to their view as the mere amusements of my idle hours ; effusions thrown off without care or meditation, as though the refuse of my thoughts were good enough for them. On the contrary, some of the pieces have cost me much time and thought; and I have composed them all as carefully and correctly as I could.

I wish you to bear in mind that nothing which may appear severe or sarcastic in this collection, is pointed at any individual. When vice or absurdity is held up to view, it is the fault, and not any particular person that is pointed at.  

LINES
SENT WITH A BUNCH OF FLOWERS TO A FRIEND  MARCH, 1842.



There is a language giv'n to flowers,
   By which a lover may impart
The bitter anguish that devours,
   Or extacy that swells his heart. 
And all the feelings of the breast,
   Between the extremes of bliss and wo,
By tender flow'rets are exprest,
   Or plants that in the wild wood grow. 
These new-cull'd blossoms which I send,
   With breath so sweet and tints so gay,
I truly know not, my kind friend,
   In Flora's language what they say ;

Nor which one hue I should select,
   Nor how they all should be combin'd,
That at a glance, you might detect
   The true emotions of my mind.

But, as the rainbow's varied hues,
   If mingled in proportions right,
All their distinctive radiance lose,
   And only show unspotted white,
Thus, into one I would combine
   These colors that so various gleam,
And bid this offering only shine
   With friendship's pure and tranquil beam.

ANSWER TO THE PRECEDING.
BY MR. P. HONE.

Fill'd as thou art with attic fire,
And skill'd in classic lore divine,
Not yet content, woulds't thou aspire
In Flora's gorgeous wreath to shine ?
Woulds't thou in language of the rose
Lessons of wisdom seek t'impart,
Or in the violet's breath disclose
The feelings of a generous heart ? 
Come as thou wilt, my warm regard
And welcome, shall thy steps attend;
Scholar, musician, florist, bard —
More dear to me than all, as friend.
Bring flow'rs and poesy, a goodly store,
Like Dickens' Oliver, I ask for Moore.

TO MY DAUGHTER,
ON HER MARRIAGE — 1826 [1836].

For you, my Margaret dear, I have no art
To sing a jocund hymeneal strain ;
What rises strong and deep within the heart
Must ever have some touch, at least, of pain. 
Nor know I that the bird of merriest lay
Gives happiest omen in the bridal hour ;
That gaudy flowers, with brilliant tints and gay,
May best adorn the sacred nuptial bower.

But think me not of mind morose and sad,
Where naught but sullen censure finds abode,
If, in the midst of voices blithe and glad,
I greet you with a song of graver mode. 
The glow on pleasure's cheek, it is not this
That always tells where heartfelt joys appear;
The hidden wellsprings of our purest bliss
Are oft betoken'd by the gushing tear.

I am not like the parent bird that tries
To lure its young one from the fostering home ;
That gladly sees its new-fledg'd offspring rise
On outspread wing, in distant shades to roam :

Yet I were form'd in Nature's sternest mood,
Did not my inmost soul with you rejoice.
To see your lot amid the wise and good,
The gentlest friends, the husband of your choice.

Mysterious bond, that kindred souls unites !
Great law of nature hallowed from above !
Bless'd remnant of lost Eden's pure delights!
The sum of all our bliss — connubial love ! 
Oh, holy flame ! seraphic influence mild !
Sweet incense, kindled by celestial ray !
For ever warm the bosom of my child,
And gently soothe her through life's rugged way !

And you, my child, while yet your life is strong,
While in the calm of peace your thoughts repose,
Prepare for ills that to our state belong,
And arm you to contend with numerous foes.

For many ills unseen beset us round,
And many foes within ourselves we raise.
What sudden checks in smoothest paths are found !
How few and fleeting are our golden days !

At Hymen's altar when we plight our truth,
For better and for worse, we thoughtless say;
We dream of only good ; the heart of youth
Drives ev'ry fear of distant ills away.

Till death do part, how gaily we repeat
When joy and health are in their prime and strength:
Life is a vista then whose borders meet ;
So endless, to our fancy, seems its length.

But oh ! how soon we pass this endless track,
That, like perspective art, deludes our view :
And, when we turn and on our path look back,
How short the distance ! and our steps how few !

Trust not the gilded mists and clouds that rise
Where flattering Hope and fickle Fancy reign ;
But turn from these, and seek with anxious eyes
The clear bright atmosphere of Truth's domain.

Ascend, full oft, her highest vantage ground,
And look beyond the circuit of this earth.
Review the things its narrow limits bound ;
And, with her guidance, learn to scan their worth.

Nor think that with relentless stern regard
She frowns on all our fleeting pleasures here.
Believe me, no true joys by her are marr'd,
But, in her light, more lovely they appear.

And now, while youth and health are in their bloom,
Why should you dread to look beyond this state ?
The traveller's pleasure knows no boding gloom
Because the charms of home his steps await.

Thus, like the compass, shall your tranquil soul,
With one wish'd haven steady in its view,
Though tempests rage and threat'ning billows roll,
Rest even-pois'd, and point for ever true.
New York American - October 6, 1835

The third poem transcribed above from the New York Albion of August 17, 1844 addresses Clement C. Moore's oldest daughter Margaret after her marriage on October 5, 1835 to John Doughty Ogden (1804-1887). Her father's sober expectation of "sudden checks in smoothest paths" proved true, too soon, when Margaret Elliot Moore Ogden passed away in April 1845, age 29. 

So Margaret died less than one year after the publication of Poems by Clement C. Moore. The poet already had lost his wife Catherine Eliza (d. April 4, 1830) and two daughters, Emily (d. April 18, 1828) and Charity (d. December 14, 1830).

In 1848 Margaret's widower John D. Ogden married her sister Mary Clarke Moore (1819-1893). Mary Ogden made an illustrated copy of Moore's St. Nicholas for her husband in 1855, reproduced in the December 10, 1951 issue of LIFE magazine. 

r>

CMP 334 - Nick Searcy - Kyle Rittenhouse Verdict. Capitol Punishment Fil...

Sunday, November 21, 2021

COSMOS aka William Carey Richards on ISRAEL POTTER

The book version of Israel Potter was briefly noticed by "Cosmos," the prolific New York correspondent of the Raleigh, North Carolina Southern Weekly Post. This item appeared in letter 87 dated March 17, 1855 and published on March 24, 1855 under the heading, "Metropolitan Correspondence." The Southern Weekly Post was owned by William Dewey Cooke, and co-edited by Cooke with James A. Waddell. That "Type" in "Type-Memory" is a pun on the title of Melville's first book Typee, or a typo for Typee, or both.

24 Mar 1855, Sat Southern Weekly Post (Raleigh, North Carolina) Newspapers.com

Israel Potter: His Fifty Years of Exile, is a republication from the pages of Putnam's Magazine. It is a story of our revolutionary history, in which Paul Jones plays a conspicuous part. Coming from the well-known and admired pen of Herman Melville, of delicious Type-memory, it will find a very large number of new readers in its present form. 

--Southern Weekly Post, March 24, 1855.
"Cosmos" was the pseudonym of William Carey Richards (1818-1892) as revealed in a subsequent notice of Harry's Vacation; or, Philosophy at Home

23 Dec 1854, Sat Southern Weekly Post (Raleigh, North Carolina) Newspapers.com
"This is an admirable little book for youth, prepared by a gentleman of various accomplishments, of which a decided talent for the instruction of youth is by no means the least. Mr. Richards wields a graceful pen, as our readers may judge from his weekly contributions to our columns over the signature of "Cosmos," and in the work before us has consecrated his gifts to a most commendable purpose...."  
-- Southern Weekly Post, December 23, 1854.

10 Feb 1855, Sat Southern Weekly Post (Raleigh, North Carolina) Newspapers.com
Born in London, William Carey Richards left England for the United States at the age of thirteen with his parents and siblings. The family resided in Hudson, New York for several years before moving south to Maryland and then further south to Georgia. As editor of Richards' Weekly Gazette, Richards favorably reviewed Mardi and Redburn. For the friendly reception of these and other of Melville's writings in Athens, Georgia and later Charleston, South Carolina, see the posts linked below:

In 1852 William Carey Richards moved back north to New York City. From there, starting in May 1853, he faithfully contributed more than 100 numbered letters of "Metropolitan Correspondence" to the Southern Weekly Post over the signature "Cosmos." (Many lost, it would seem, the run of the Post on newspapers.com being incomplete in every year except 1854.) Before the Raleigh newspaper folded in November 1855, Richards found employment as a Baptist minister like his father. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Montreal Visit from St Nicholas, 1826

"A Visit from St. Nicholas" was reprinted in the Montreal Gazette on January 4, 1826, with a helpful preface explaining the American Santa Claus to Canadians. 

Amongst the Dutch Americans, St. Nicholas, or, as he is familiarly called, Sainte Claus, is a Christmas visitor, highly esteemed by the juvenile branches of families, who never fail to court the attention of the Saint, by placing their stockings, to receive such donations as this free-hearted patron of good children may in his bounty be pleased to bestow. This innocent superstition is, however, not confined to the Dutch settlers--the children of their neighbours hold the cake-bestowing Saint in equal veneration. Nor is his fame unknown in these Provinces, although he is not often seen, his gingerbread visiting-cards afford his urchin votaries a certain evidence that, whilst they slept, he has paid his annual Christmas call. We leave it to antiquaries to determine his Saintship's origin; and whether the donations made in his name originated in the distribution of sweetmeats and cakes at the Vatican at Rome, on Christmas-eve, or is a remnant of some earlier superstition. Be that as it may, we present the following picture of his garb and equipage, as it has been sketched by an American poet, who was fortunate enough to obtain a glimpse of the jolly old elf. 

This item is not listed in Nancy H. Marshall, The Night Before Christmas, A Descriptive Bibliography of Clement Clarke Moore's Immortal Poem (Oak Knoll Press, 2002). With interesting exceptions, the text of the still-anonymous poem mostly follows the first printing in the Troy Sentinel on December 23, 1823. Dunder remains Dunder, for example, but Blixem has been re-christened Blixen. Also, the whole roll of reindeer names has been metrically improved by rearranging commas and exclamation marks:

“Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now Prancer and Vixen!
“On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Dunder! and Blixen...."

Extending to Comet and company in the second line of the couplet, the revisions to punctuation marks around reindeer names in the Montreal Gazette are even more thorough than similar changes in the Charleston Mercury and other 1826 versions. For more on those, check out the earlier post

https://melvilliana.blogspot.com/2019/12/now-dasher-in-1826.html

Another interesting difference is the addition of "which" as a relative pronoun in the distinctive heroic simile that here in this early Canadian version begins

As dry leaves which before the wild hurricane fly.

The 1823 Troy Sentinel version did not supply any word between "leaves" and "before":

As dry leaves before the wild hurricane fly.

Adding "which" makes a regular anapest "which before" in the second metrical foot. In the same line as corrected or revised in the 1844 collection Poems by Clement C. Moore, "that" replaces "which":

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly. 

Santa smokes like a chimney wherever he goes, obviously. But here the é with the acute accent, unique to the Montreal Gazette version, tells readers how to say

"the smoke it éncircled his head like a wreath"
in the province of Quebec.

04 Jan 1826, Wed Montreal Gazette (Montreal, Quebec, Canada) Newspapers.com

ACCOUNT OF A VISIT FROM ST. NICHOLAS.

’Twas the night before Christmas, when all thro’ the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hope that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar plums danc’d in their heads,
And Mama in her ’kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap—
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprung from the bed to see what was the matter;
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters, and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below;
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny rein-deer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!
“Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now Prancer and Vixen!
“On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Dunder! and Blixen;
“To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
“Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”
As dry leaves which before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys—and St. Nicholas too:
And then in a twinkling I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dress’d all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnish’d with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys was flung on his back,
And he look’d like a pedlar just opening his pack:
His eyes how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry;
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it 
éncircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face, and a little round belly
That shook when he laughed like a bowl full of jelly:
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him in spite of myself.
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And fill’d all the stockings; then turn’d with a jirk,
And laying his finger a side of his nose
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.
He sprung to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle:
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight—
"Happy Christmas to all ! and to all a good night."

-- Montreal Gazette, January 4, 1826

.