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. 



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.