USM Uses Devine Intervention for Preview

Student Printz
University of Southern Mississippi
Hattiesburg, MS
Summer 1996

I am walking around campus. Summer is in the air. Birds are singing. The flowers are in bloom. People are laughing, play volleyball, and looking remarkably relaxed. I have an excellent meal of omelets and fruit salad, courtesy of Commons, in my stomach. And I have big plans for parties that night. Is this really USM?

Yes it is. It is USM during preview.

It would seem that preview is the result of a huge conspiracy on the part of the administration. By conversing with certain key players, they have presented a picture of USM to the previewees that is fun, happy, beautiful and spirited – and therefore fraudulent.

Let’s examine the experience of two previewees I met. The first thing they noticed, of course, was the beautiful weather and scenery. I have heard that traditionally the first nice day of the year is always during preview days, and the last Thursday was no exception. Roses were out in full force. No rain until late afternoon. It seemed the humidity was down to a comfortable level.

Clearly because the administration’s first conversation was to the Almighty himself. President Lucas used his powers office to get in touch with the Lord and said, “Listen, it’s that time of year again, and we want to cash in on all this God stuff.”

And God delivered. Sunshine, birds, roses – the works. You all thought it was just the passing of seasons. Oh, no. This was all completely planned. There was not trace of summer showers by the time the first car of parents and previewees arrived in Hattiesburg.

Then, of course, USM conversed its own bureaucracy. My preview friends were provided with excellent dining-hall meals and flexibility, something that never happens in real USM life.

Was it a coincidence that the Thursday was alive with parties, debauchery, drinking and fun? After a string of tepid or dead nights, the campus came alive for the preview. Now I doubt any of the party hosts would admit it, but I’m willing to bet that they were arranged by USM.

Even the Southern Styles, as usual, showed USM’s best face.

Of course my previewees benefited from this well. the best proof of USM’s powers of persuasion came from the experience of “Dave,” my previewer who ended a superbly productive night by throwing up in bathroom for two hours. the other previewee, “Mike,” and their host, stood guard to make sure Dave didn’t drown. After the first 20 minutes, however, the guy in the shower started to get frustrated and yelled, “Can’t you take him to another bathroom? I want to get out.” The host, annoyed, said “Listen, Dave is sick. Why don’t you just get out of the shower?” The shower man said, “OK, I warned you,” and stepped out. he was followed, five seconds later, by a young lady. Mike and the host did a double take, while Dave, who was plastered, merely thought he was hallucinating and returned to his task.

It would seem that USM is trying to make the previewees think that people actually have sex here. We Oldies know there is no sex at USM, but this farce for the previewees, along with the all the choices in the Commons, is a clear indication of USM’s desire to make the previewees think that this is a licentious place after all.

In a year with hurricanes, dollar crises, tenure denials and the decline in the local economy, this is the face we put on for the previewees. This is why the gentlemen from preview, despite their hangovers, were psyched to come here in the fall. We showed them USM at its best, as it was meant to be. And perhaps how we will all remember it years after graduation.

If only the administration could afford to keep it up year-around.

USM Needs to Take Stand on Social Issues

Published Summer 1996
Student Printz
University of Southern Mississippi
Hattiesburg. MS, USA

The university’s commitment to its social responsibility has so far been manifested in remarkably conventional terms, funding for its community service programs, occasional faculty debates over university policies that have larger social implications and commitment (nominally, at least) to student and faculty diversity. Maybe it is time, however, that the University of Southern Mississippi participate even more fully in the difficult dilemmas facing our society.

What I am suggesting is an explicit and constructive engagement between USM and the world beyond campus. Universities have long refused to take stands on important social issues, hiding instead behind the banners of institutional neutrality and academic freedom. these excuses are not only disingenuous, but also inconsistent in their practical implications. Instead, I want USM to take, by means of faculty votes, clear and intellectual moral stances on important social issues. I believe that by lending its reputation and resources to a well articulated social position, USM could move beyond tokenism in its commitment to social welfare.

The Myth of Neutrality

This is not the first time such a proposal has been made. In the late 1960s, for instance, students and faculty members across the nation pressed for institutional statements of disapproval for the Vietnam War. At that time, and whenever such calls have been made, opponents deflected demands for moral positions by citing the importance of institutional neutrality. The institutional goal of universities, it has repeatedly been argued, is the pursuit of knowledge in isolation from controversial political and social issues. This concept of neutrality is problematic, however. If neutrality means silence on political debates then I feel that USM’s silence is especially loud. USM has great intellectual and financial clout. Any refusal to use that influence represents an implicit (even if unintended) vote of support outcome since USM could have thrown its weight behind the alternative.

The suggestion that there are political debates that do not concern USM is even more problematic. USM is enmeshed in a web of interests that extends far beyond Hattiesburg Government contracts for research, federal funds for financial aid and professors in government positions all increasingly blur the border between USM and the outside world. Furthermore, USM is already knee-deep in several contentious social debates. Affirmative action in admissions, USM’s ties with ROTC – repeatedly suggest that academic isolation is untenable; a modern university cannot avoid taking a moral stand.

Social Responsibility

But my call for a socially engaged university is based on more than a simple rejection of neutrality as a viable alternative. I believe that all universities, USM included, have a certain social obligation. This assumption is not contrary to the traditional vision of the academic institution: In some form or another, universities have always recognized their social responsibilities. Even the most isolationist of academics have seen the independent pursuit of knowledge and research as good for society.

My call for an explicit stand on social issues does not, therefore, violate any sacred cows of institutional autonomy. USM has taken numerous policy decision that represent an implicit moral position. So far, however, these have had a narrow administrative focus and have not dealt with the social questions implicit in the decisions. Yet the university clearly acknowledges a social responsibility. It’s time that social positions and social responsibility were brought together. I am not so naive, of course, as to believe that a simple word from USM is sufficient to alter government policies. Nor is this a question of imposing or forcing our will upon society. But there can be little doubt that a statement from USM will be noticed. In addressing the military’s ban on homosexuals, the 1992 Verba Report on the status of ROTC makes this very same point: “I have no illusions that USM’s actions with respect to the ROTC will influence national policy or cause the military to abandon its policy of exclusion. However, I also believe that we should not ignore USM’s resources as an agent for changing what we think to be an antiquated and damaging public policy.” The point is that a well argued position supported by USM’s intellectual and financial resources can powerfully affect, if not decisively influence, the course of social events.

A Price to Pay

Critics contend that social responsibility is fine in principle, but not at the expense of the university’s primary academic mission. An official university position, they argue, would intimidate professors with dissenting opinions and stifle the intellectual debate that is so vital to any pursuit of knowledge.

This is indeed an important consideration, and any decision in favor of institutional positions should be careful to discern between administrative implications and subject matter for the classrooms. Occasionally, administrative decisions spill over into the realm of morality. These decisions, I believe, should be consistent with, and governed by, the faculty votes. But there is no reason why the underpinning ideology of administrative decisions cannot be contradicted in the classroom. For example, there is a clear distinction between a university’s decision to allow women’s studies and the same university’s decision to tenure an outspoken sexist professor.

Granted, the professors who voted for a women’s studies curriculum would be the people doing the hiring, and it is possible that their ideologies would spill over into the final decision. But the same ideological conflicts could exist today. Any belief held by a majority of the faculty is likely to be disproportionately represented on a hiring board, whether or not a formal vote has been taken. The existence of a university position is unlikely to affect the degree to which individual members of hiring board allow their ideologies to influence their respect for the principle of academic freedom. Even if the hiring process remains relatively untainted, critics counter, it is unlikely that professors are going to feel welcome or comfortable in a university with an official position that contradicts their own. I feel that this argument doesn’t give enough credit to the intellectual convictions of USM’s professors.

Furthermore, provided their numbers are sizable enough, professors with dissenting opinions will have the comfort of knowing that their views can be stated along with the official USM position. Finally no university position is irreversible. I propose that a position require a two-thirds majority to be adopted and a simple majority to be reversed.

Dose of Paranoia Keeps Reality in Check

Student Printz
Published July 31 1996
University of Southern Mississippi
Hattiesburg, MS USA

You must know by now that the Information Age has reached saturation, and we’re all going to die or upgrade sometimes very, very soon. In celebration, I hereby blow all of my column ideas for the summer term. Y’all are welcome to use any of these as your own ideas. After all, this is the Information Age. Everyone of you must have your own ideas by now, right?

1. Paranoia is an obligation. We live in a “free-market” economy. The freedoms of this market include the freedom of the government and corporate powers to set a target level for the number of people who, no matter how hard they try, will not be able to find work. This number – usually 6 percent of the population – is not a secret passed around by bitter Marxists in dingy bookstores, but rather is openly debated in the opinion-editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal. In a world where the government exhorts the people to work and insures that they cannot, “freedom” comes with some shadowy friends.

2. Terrorism in the United States and abroad has prompted many national leaders to publicly decry the “climate of violence” which has been spawned by the less-than-civil rants of talk-show hosts and other ideologues. “Climate of violence” arguments are so absurdly obvious that it has taken six months of national commentary to render them as obtuse as they have become. Tim McVeigh learned to play with guns in that state-sanctioned ass-kicking known as the Gulf War, and then he blew up a building in Oklahoma City. Of course there’s a climate of violence. Israel was created in response to a Holocaust and only exists by virtue of the perpetual ethnic cleansing of its previous landholders. Did it take reactionary ideology to put a bullet in the prime minister? Of course, there’s a climate of violence.

3. A few thoughts about the pope: “They” never slam the pope. What do the quotes printed around the word “they” mean in that last sentence? They exude paranoia. You might have thought we were dealing with a secret cabal of white guys in Masonic robes, controlling the thoughts of a newspaper-reading public. Actually, the word “they” just referred to “newspaper editors.” In fact, I didn’t originally write the sentence with scare quotes. A newspaper editor put them in. I am not a deluded paranoid. I am very informed paranoid.

4. This is only a partial list. Noam Chomsky has pointed out that the American media isn’t necessarily biased, but that it simply operates in increments tiny enough to render impossible discussion of any but the most established ideas. And Chomsky, the single most quoted scholar in the world, can’t get on the air in the U.S. A. This is only a partial list.

5. In the recent Congressional debate over late-term abortions, the press did not hesitate to quote verbatim the gory placards displayed on the floor – as in “the doctor” punctures the baby’s skull with scissors, etc. Excuse me? Last I heard, “babies” lived inside cribs, not women, and were pink-blue coded for easy reference. When the press doesn’t correctly supply the terms for the debate, paranoia encourages folks to begin poking at the newsprint curtains, attempting to glimpse and the men working the pedals and levers.

6. G. Gordon Liddy has had a commendably consistent career undermining the American People’s faith in their own government. He started out as a jackbooted thug for the FBI in the sixties, busting up Dr. Timothy Leary’s LSD-addled parties. He moved on to work security for Nixon, and as one of the Watergate plumbers he led the strong arm of the most obnoxious presidential crime rings in modern history. Now he’s a talk-show host who encourages listeners to “aim for the head” when Kevlar-protected federal agents bust up their Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearm-addled parties. That’s a man who sticks by his principles. (Corollary: In the 1960s, leftists were paranoid and thought that the FBI had infiltrated their meetings. Then the details were leaked of the federal operation called COINTELPRO, and it turned out they were right. In the 1990’s, rightist’s were paranoid, and thought that the FBI was trying to kill them and take away their guns. Then Ruby Ridge got on TV, and they found out that the FBI was trying to kill their dogs, too. Paranoia against the government is usually well-founded but never sufficient, because the two-party system ensures that it’s always somebody’s turn to be paranoid. Really worthwhile paranoia aims at corporate wealth and mainstream media.)

A final warning: The biggest problem with paranoia is that it takes religion. Severe paranoiacs imagine an ordered cosmos, like the angry inhabited concentric spheres of pre-Copernican days. Those who imagine a perfect conspiracy of two polls – the world conspired against the individual – fail to see two things. First, that the conspirators do not care about the individual. secondly, that the world could be run differently. Heck, better.

Claims of Nazism run rampant in the U.S.

Published Student Printz
Summer 1996
University of Southern Mississippi
Hattiesburg, MS USA

Imagine this scenario: The defeat of the Germans in 1945 was actually their victory. The invading armies were brainwashed; the generals replaced by german-constructed, English speaking cyberbots; allied governments infiltrated and commandeered.

The armies returned home, and their German automatons became presidents, members of Congress, and agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Meanwhile, German POWS, picking cotton in Texas, fled to Montana, forming militias and awaiting the Reich’s rebirth. Sound preposterous? Not really, if you’re listening to the tone of American political hyperbole. The Nazis are everywhere.

“GENOCIDE!” screams Rep Major Owens (D-NY) at Republicans across the aisle. His reason? Welfare cuts, that in fact don’t go much farther than those his own president suggested. He goes on to call House Republicans “worse than Hitler.” A colleague, Sam Gibbons (D-FL), matches him. “A bunch of fascists,” he screeches. A World War II veteran, he exclaims, “I had to fight you guys 50 years ago.”

A National Rifle Association mass mailing calls agent of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms “jack-booted government thugs.” The reason? It seems some gunrunners trafficking in illegal weapons objected to the forceful confiscation of their contraband. One in particular accused the agents of stepping on a cat. Lest we miss the connection between cat abuse and fascism. Patrick D. Cupp, a Republican candidate for Senate, circulates a campaign flier that says, “When the Nazi Party came into power in Germany under Hitler, the first thing they did was to confiscate all guns.” And, presumably, all the common sense.

In San Francisco, conservative activist Michael Savage dubs homosexuals, “Nazis trying to steal our freedom.” When Limbaugh fumes about antismoking ordinances in New York City, he denounces the laws’ supporters as the”antismoking Gestapo.” Help! American hyperbole is out of control, and I’m choking on non-sequiturs!

Here’s Mary A. Carroll, an editorial writer in Chicago: “I’m not suggesting that folks like Newt Gingrich and Robert Dole are card-carrying members of the Fourth Reich.” Oh. “But I am suggesting their vision of the United States has more in common with German fascism than with the more admirable moments in the history of American democracy.” And blah, blah, blah. Carroll would do well to aim her rhetorical attacks with more precision; one man she demonizes, robert Dole, has done more to combat fascism in a very direct fashion then her sad and confused pontifications on political philosophy ever will.

This kind of rhetoric isn’t exactly new. In the 1960s, the left often called Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon fascists. In turn, supporters of Nixon and Johnson called their critics “the real fascists,” in the prelude to an interesting game of less-fascist-than-thou. but our times are different, because the charges of fascism are so widespread. Americans simply don’t know how to discuss politics with civility anymore.

You know the horses are loose when a web search engine is used with the keywords “Gringrich” and “Nazi” brings up more than 1,000 documents. The charge of “fascist” can take many forms, and one ubiquitous form current today is the phrase “politics of hate.” The only noteworthy characteristic of this phrase is that, like so much of political hyperbole, it means nothing. Calling someone a practitioner of the “politics of hate” is just another convenient way of assuming that your ideological opponent thinks the way he does because he’s a jerk or evil or both. And fighting the forces of evil is much easier than arguing against the philosophy of George Will.

Let’s take an example. Does Patrick Buchanan really practice the “politics of hate”? It’s true that he seems to think more with his shriveled ego than with his brain. But Buchanan is no fascist. More important is the very well articulated attack he makes on the basic unit of production of the modern era: The corporation. Here he has many potential followers and a long tradition of socialist philosophy to support him.

The obsession with Nazitis has ever spread to our little campus. One student a short while ago was quoted as supposing the university guilty of having a “plantation mentality,” which is a step away from calling Aubrey Lucus a klansman. And in case you missed it, the Hattiesburg community recently was treated to the fascinating spectacle of two conservative columnists Matt Friedeman and Deborah Mathis, accusing various individuals of different forms of fascism.

Look: we’re all basically democrats; there are enough kooks out there that we don’t have to run around inventing new ones; and anyone who can seriously think the term “Nazi” even of the most extreme of us has already demonstrated himself incapable of taking part in rational debate. Which, I fear, includes most of us.

My Head Hurts!

Resolution

“I’ve always been more interested in the connotation than the denotation…My sphincter squirmed. My pharynx quivered. I wanted to fart and burp at the same time” … sensuality tenderness love are not the borrowed salient features of sexual exuberance – pace, bleeding letters, frozen object … “I stepped out into the light and realized I was nude … hot, sweaty, scared, terrified, wet, defiant, angry, desolate, hopeful … I do have control over my life at this point.”

Transgressions

“The old man wasn’t really old … They were at a bar … Humiliation was his triumph … Clarity was usurped by absolute stupor … But the boy didn’t say anything … The street was empty … he felt a great sense of relief” … I know the dust of myself (abject center – penetrate – history – totem) … “It was off to the side a touch … like a child … All he knew was that the recognizable had finally and permanently disappeared.”

Another Round

“This situation doen’t require a good, hard look to recognize or name for every moment far from being blurred is clear because it’s a redundancy” … gold routs body corps tomb vein solidarity red lice fetus insane old warrior necessary cruelty … “Draft … Good morning … Thanks …. I really enjoyed myself … I’m not interested … These eggs taste great … Do you often go to … I can’t remember your name … You’re so cute … You’re not interested in cruelty, that’s not your intention, but the planting of suspicion has become a reflexive act reminding you that these answers are in fact meaningless.”

Slap Happy

“There was nothing exceptional about the toy outside of its complete lack of defining features … Two boys crouched attentively over the toy … All in the name of science … Does it hurt? No it feels weird … Hello? … Don’t come in here … Is everything alright in there … Son, what happened … David, what happened … Joe played football and fucked girls … David had less luck sexually” … Continuity replaces bone torn jagged rested we move again into the flame afraid of showing the bone … “Harder and harder he slapped … he bit his lip … He wasn’t thinking of a man. He was thinking of his mother.”

Stops and Starts

“The moon is a secondary source of light … Dreams surface … Ideas and desires corporealize … He was looking for love” … cut out the tongue canal shit death absent void syringe affirmation … “He was getting older … the two became interconnected … Surprise one … Surprise two … Surprise three … Bears where ideal … This skin was ephraim … A voice said, harder … Without further ado … The other sits up with a start.”

Gender Studies

“In the playground there’s a specific section where the older girls play … Feminine opportunity … How he loved to swing … His face was ambiguous” … joy death we know well enough multiplication upsets requests untie madness indeed transposition all … “Territories were staked … At least the stench was honest … Outside … Doors closed … the situation was out of hand … The outside came as a present.”

Stripped

“I was at a bathhouse … We were jazz … I put a towel at the crack of the door … Even the blue of it, licked at me” … ontology justified death by language death in a box idea of body negation … “I went to the West … The height gave new perspective … It was silence itself … Up, up, up … Inside a gigantic globe … I saw blackness … Fat ephraim of earth … My perspective went awry … But it never came.”

Drunk Culture

“The conversation was ebullient, intoxicating, three men were laughing in the best of spirits … He was trying to get away … he chose to attack the crowd” … Degradation condemnation erotism corporal rites black life absent plane constructed suffocation … “Eventually the cock did slide … He disengaged … He struggled toward unconsciousness … But those two were already asleep, and having the most unpleasant dreams.”

Gertrude Stein is Dead

“There is only one end in life and an end is by its very nature abrupt, short, curt, final … Or life perhaps … Am I a participant … You’re there. I’m here. It’s over. You’re done” … blue face long blue dress decorated with monkeys and fruit She enters when the curtain has risen but from the moment that the curtain begins to rise she attempts to dominate the sound of the orchestra … “We don’t need more … Everyone will sense it … I’m there. I’m here. It’s over. I’m done … Same, the same. Same. Same. Same.”

Miss Piggy Boldly Goes Where No Man Has Gone Before

Student Prints
University of Southern Mississippi
Hattiesburg, MS
Published Summer 1996
The reader may not be surprised when I declare that I have never been attracted to a large blonde pig with lavender gloves. What may shock is that I regret this fact, for Miss Piggy is my shining ideal of a lady. Feminism means many different things for different women, but for me that foam, porcine Muppet has embodied its essence. As a way of introduction, let us compare Star Trek: The Next Generation’s beautiful Counselor Troi to Swine Trek’s equally stunning First Mate Piggy. Both shows are now in reruns, had male captains with problem hair, and featured “space age” uniforms.

Miss Piggy was first mate in 1981. Yet on the 1990s Starship Enterprise, the highest ranking women are only caretakers. Troi is subordinate to two men, one of them a former lover. One the other hand, Piggy is only technically a first mate; it’s clear from her behavior that she is the one who runs the show; Captain Link is simply a buffoon. Which of these two seemingly similar women is the true feminist? Besides, Piggy would never be forced into a v-neck ployester body stocking; too utterly tacky for her!

A friend argues that Miss Piggy is “too frilly,” but isn’t that perchance the choice feminism makes available? Although I must question if a ruffled Scarlet O’Hara type skirts my beautiful, porcine idol has been known to don are in the best taste, no hero is perfect. Wearing large plastic jewelry is hardly an anti-feminist statement; a poor fashion choice perhaps, but hardly akin to voting for Bob Dole.

In fact, Piggy’s beauty is a peculiarly empowering example. I never read most of Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth. I didn’t feel i particularly needed to. Piggy was enough to show me that iconographic, anorexic models with augmented breasts are hardly the only claimants to beauty. Piggy knew she was beauuuuutiful. That was enough to convince the world, and to set an admirable model for many a young people. Besides, Ms. Wolf probably wouldn’t understand why a lady sometimes just needs to carry a pink frilled parasol.

Piggy also set a wonderful example as an aggressive, successful woman who got what she wanted not by visual or political prostitution, but through hard work and determination. Piggy was not afraid to halt a skit, calling the script worthless on no uncertain terms: “This is a cheap-shot comedy sketch.” Nothing stood in her way, not even the puny chicken-loving, blue “it” with the big nose (why Gonzo never learned to stay out of her way I’ll never know; he went flying head over heels across the stage enough times). Perfection was her unequivocal goal – well, perfection and The Frog.

This example of not just an interracial but inter-species relationship also made me open to ideas outside of the close-minded world in which I was raised. Despite some very public questions like, “what will the children look like, ” Kermit and Piggy held on to their love, answering, “they will be small.” Pig Power fought not just sexism, but racism, too.

I wish I had one one-thousandth of the courage she had. Miss Piggy embodies an ideal to which i still aspire. how many women today can even call a man up? What small number can demand he take the relationship on her terms, no ifs, ands, or buts?

I contemplate that perhaps Miss Piggy was too forward, too aggressive. Then I realized that a man exhibiting such behavior would only be one-tenth as obnoxious as, say, Sam Malone.

Moreover, I cannot but feel that dear Kermie was playing hard to get. When the chips were down, it was always to Piggy’s side he rushed.

Some hecklers from the balcony might argue that Miss Piggy cannot be a feminist because she is (admittedly) a bit vain, loves an amphibian, or simply looks like a surreal Marilyn Monroe. However, as we try to create a better world for women and achieve equality between the sexes, consider what from this equality we should take. As its means feminism depends on equal freedom of choice; it is when women exercise these choices that the personal becomes political. Miss Piggy never let others dictate her choices, she never let society or a man dictate her role in life.

As I wandered the streets of Malian worried over my all toupee worthy pockets, I remembered this and held my chin high. The force, the Pig was with me, carrying it on as it had since my years as a kindergartner wearing socks. It was purely attitude, but effective in keeping away the pinchers.

Anyone messing with a awesome, self-empowered, feminist self would find themselves meaninglessly hiyahhhed, much as Piggy kicked the ass of her would-be manger in The Muppets Take Manhattan.

“That’ll teach you to mess with a lady!”

Love?

Because you will never know the answer until after we are done. Is your faith really that strong? I understand the need to move on. It is something that happens too us all. And if your time has truly come. I also understand that with the beauty of this love there comes pain and despair. no one is immune! But consider what you have in your hands. Before you give it up. Don’t trade a treasure for an empty box.

“When you stop contributing to life. You become a burden, it’s time to move on.”

Love, it warps our senses, twists our souls. It can take us past hope, past care, past help. I know about love, its suffering, its anguish, its pain. Heaven means to kill our joy with love. And yet we must have it at any cost. But are you so enamored that you will over look your love for me. You do love me, I’ve seen you smile into my eyes like stars in the night. Are you willing to sacrifice our love for another? Look into your heart, and tell me you are willing to make that choice?

Haven’t you tired of the incessant quilt. Hasn’t it swayed your back, and stooped your shoulders to the point of throwing them off. You insist on taking responsibility for the actions and emotions of those around you. When they alone are truly responsible. It is so foolish so unnecessary, it’s so weak. And it must stop. This and all else that has happened, should make that clear to you.

For all the things that we are; there is a price to be paid. Love may be tasted never savored. In our darkest moments we may end our relationship, we should never aspire to it. Quit is a poison and staying past our time is death. But it need not be! If we truly care for another, truly love another, then we must go. That’s something another taught me. Leaving is the purest form of love.

“How can such a cold still heart feel such pain?”

Have you thought this through? Our love lies at the brink, its fate is in your hands. Bring it closer or let it die. You must decide?

“Is it possible for a soul to love faithfully?”

Be done with him. Time heals all. We must move on! You can not deny what you are. And I can not condemn you for that.

Indictments

Desires

Rain, snow, ice storms, peaceful sunny days. I was riveted to life, a beggar cruising the endless alley. Oblivious, stupid, proud, supernatural, calm, who needed friends or lovers? O my rapturous childhood, I was right to hate what I hated. Listen: in Hell we don’t give the dying a penny, but we’re civil. We see the world correctly. We’re not salesmen. Nothing hurts us, not even the surly, confident ones, the false elect,who humiliate us, refuse to bless us. Southern swamps, you’ve sponged up all the light. My soul won’t stop grieving. I’d have to strangle myself to end these bleak hymns honestly. When I confronted the King of Hell, I said; Fuck martyrdom, fuck the sublime glow of art, the seriousness of inventors, the passion of business men and thieves. The East is a dream of never waking up. I wasn’t pondering my escape from contemporary anguish. I wasn’t exploring the spooky bible. Ever since Science took over, Man hides from himself. We cultivate fog, eat fever with our watery carrots and broccoli, get drunk,smile, sacrifice ourselves. Infinitely distant from the root, we exterminate ourselves with our own poisons. Rabbis and priests, this is not Eden. Time doesn’t exist. the world has no age. Formulate your own East, older than the stars. Don’t give in. You’re free to live beyond suicidal schemes of salvation. Science is much too slow for men like us. Cherished citizens, wake up. Your souls are asleep. You’re still addicted to the human. Truth’s everywhere, as close as our own hands. Weeping angels hover close to us. Soul, soul, this pure, radiant instant-sinister turning of ten windmills by the edge of some bare field in a black and hungry year-crucifies us.

Quest

Each of us is doomed to live many lives. Each of us will be crushed on the anvil of terror, reborn by awe. Action isn’t life, it spoils God’s power, it drains the last prayers from our throats. the soul’s theatre is invisible-sight, hearing, taste, smell, sense without organs. Listen: each of us lives many lives-plumber, angels, athletes, electricians, gods. Once I was a pig. I champion all laws of madness. I lived them all, I know the system. Terror gnaws my mind. the same dream drags me back into it, destroys the real world, calls me to inhabit it permanently. I’m ready to die, ready to be wind, darkness, ghosts. It’s as if God’s final curse is a live coal broiling my mouth. Islands and crystal blue sea. I dream you’ll wash away this disease of unspecified truths. I see the cross loom like redemption. The rainbow led me here, where remorse gnaws like a tapeworm, dragging itself out past my lips. My life is immense. I won’t dedicate myself to muscle and rhyme. Deadly sweet tooth of bliss, aria-in the gloomiest dungeons, at dawn, you warn me. I hear your first in the gossip of the men who raped my mouth and body. Then in the windswept leaves. Two truths, One truth. That’s the final terror we all have to accept-not one or the other, like a friend’s face whose torn-out eyes still recognize you.

Gratification

The tiny bud scared me. Vicious landscape. I did everything to escape it. I told people I could visit them inside me, mocked the current darling of poetry. Their courteous bows to the smug audience of approval made me puke. Porno magazines, rotting Victorian travel books, medieval passion plays, junked movie sets, refrains from old songs, languages long forgotten, musty albums packed away with snapshots of the family desperately trying to smile-through all of it I saw that hard young body begging to be loved. I even invented a religion without icons or rites. I wrote a brief manual of prayers and regulations, I established walking and sleeping as two basic forms of sacrifice. I described God; obese, lazy, dressed like a stockbroker in His pink shirt and his chalked-striped flannel suit, smoking a cigar. I invented vowel colors, reshaped the cadence of consonants, consigned each syllable to a branch on the oak outside my house. I deleted the sense from poetry until all could hear was a faint abstract whisper like the breathing of a horse thirty feet away. English. English, my precise identity babbled its proofs in dreams. Nothing worked. I wrote silence. I wrote night. On scraps of paper. I scratched down hopeless love. I paced my crummy room like a squirrel-significant, hyper-acute, pathologically quick-but he would not be erased, a thousand years younger by then spread-eagle across my mind, inches from my face, the bulge between his legs, its gossamer brown hair and wild node, a crown I licked all over until he came.

Regrets

The rich can’t sleep. Wealth should be everyone’s. All the rich know is lineage’s, but I’ve had to transcend my own suicidal habits, my own mute gift for oblivion. Now I’m good. Nothing to repent. But the clock still strikes the hour of absolute pain. Will I end up like a child, in Paradise, without sorrow? Divine love’s the only key to knowledge. Nature’s a display of pure goodness. I’m through with demons. the rational song of angels teaches salvation: Divine Love. I’ll die of worship, of loving the bare earth-both. I condemn anyone my departure would destroy. Save my friends, save the shipwrecked passengers. The ground under my feet is good. Sane at last. I’ll bless life, love my brothers. No more childish promises. No hope of escaping old age and death. My strength is God. Praise God. His omnipotent, abstract, transparent hands soothe my head. No early death for me-sons of good families, coffins glistening with crystal tears. I’ve been rescued by a man, converted, baptized, dressed in work clothes, chained to a job. What a relief? Christianity’s blade, stuck straight through my heart.

Revelations

Beggars are too honest, they disgust me. Blue-white eyes, skull narrow as a broom closet. I’m like the Gaul’s, I don’t butter my hair. With the splendid disdain of kings. I love all the vices. Bosses and workers, slaves, the hand that writes with the pen guides the plow. History is hands. Will I never possess my hands, be cared for by invisible gods, fed by the sky., entertained by water? Devious tongue, I am lazier than a toad, Feeble, Christian notes, love song, what was I in the last century? You geniuses at profit and loss, what is the body? do you recognize your body? Progress is a great god with a mouth and no anus. The cosmos is a mechanical toy. Chemistry in a teaspoon. The world moves forward, an army without shoes. The revelation of fate in numbers is clear. I can’t explain what I mean, I’m not a ditch digger. I don’t fix wagons or doors. Driven toward the Soul, like a hungry steer. I heard sounds without reference to things outside themselves-the poor a clashing Hell of symbols. Your demolished silence, a king with no mouth.

Re-Birth

Fire in my guts, dose of holy poison, crippling me. I’m a living corpse almost reborn, but I slipped away, Happy, Good. I’m ready for salvation, and yet Hell won’t tolerate my song of insolent hope. Life grinds us into ash. My parents baptized me, that water bliss enslaved me, slaughtered me with ardor, Hell, bless me. Only fresh crime could plunge me into nothingness. Give me justice. Her scales emptied of the past. Childhood comes back; grass, rain, belfry when the bell struck midnight. Fatal ignorance,nursery rhymes, Mary, Virgin Mary, you’re a lie. Don’t touch me. I smell like roasted skin. This is truth-There’s no history. Wealthier than a king, I decode secret wisdom’s, postulate the immortality of tables and chairs. Life’s clock stopped hours ago. Theology is somewhere else. Straddling a green wave, Jesus walks on purple thistles, Jesus walks on stormiest water. The ecstatic sleep of mine unveils the mysteries. Have faith, follow me, pathetic, exhausted laborers, fragile children-astonishing human heart, Hell, I’m sold on your glory, your worms and pitchforks, holocaust of lust-I’ve decided to be reborn and study every maimed piece of myself, kissed by Mother Earth. God, hide me, hold me; these words sniffing the ground are starved dogs, packed with sores. I’m hidden and absolutely clear. Smear dress-shop mirrors with wet dirt, choke lovers in bed with powdered rubies-change me. I live and live and live.

Gay Marriage Should Be Legal

Published Summer 1996
Student Printz
University of Southern Mississippi
Hattiesburg, MS USA

The gay marriage debate has produced some of the wackiest doomsday scenarios since nuclear winter. An idea fixation runs through it all: Allowing people of the same sex to marry will open floodgates on every form of human perversion.

Consider William Bennett’s recent screed in The Washington Post. “On what principled grounds could the advocates of same-sex marriage oppose the marriage of two consenting brothers?” he wonders. “How could they explain why we ought to deny a marriage license to a bisexual who wants to marry two people?” In a sane world, it would be considered bigoted to presume that homosexuals don’t share the general attitude toward polygamy – or, for that matter, the incest taboo.

But the New York Post takes the wedding cake. A recent editorial urged that gays be denied the right to marry because their sexual practices differ from those of straights. Never mind Madonna’s popular forays into sadomasochism or the rise of Leather-and-Chain Versace wear. To the Post, S&M; is something only queers do. And even those who aren’t oriented toward sadomasochistic encounters with strangers are plotting to engage in another apparently prominent – and distressing – feature of homosexual life: child molestation.

It’s said that opposition to gay marriage reflects anxiety about the changing state of the American family. But there’s another possibility. the issue has given straights an occasion to project their fears and fantasies onto gays. For liberals, that’s entertainment, bur for the right, it’s politics. Now on a more serious note. Activists anticipate that it will take more than a year for the Hawaii Supreme Court to decide whether marriage licenses should be granted to same-sex couples. In that time, the concept of a Hawaiian wedding may enter the American language, much as the term “Boston marriage” did in the 19th century as a winking way to describe lesbian couples. Thousands of gays are gearing up to honeymoon in Hawaii, and when they return to their respective states, the courts will be clogged with litigation as they demand their spousal rights.

The states have always honored each other’s marital contracts, even when they did not agree with them. Once the California courts threw out laws banning miscegenation in 1948; interracial couples who married there were legit even in states where such unions were still forbidden. Indeed, the case that finally inspired the Supreme Court to void all miscegenation laws in 1967 involved an interracial couple who had married in Washington, D.C., only to find themselves regarded as criminals when they returned home to Virginia. Such echoes will be hard for the Supreme Court to ignore when it considers the rights of gay couples, unless, of course, they justices find such discrimination rational.

But even if the courts fail to offer gay couples relief, state legislatures may. Though 16 state houses have already passed laws defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman, such bills have failed in 19 other states so far – including redoubts of the right like Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. One reason why is the attachment of such states to their own eccentric marriage laws. For example, common law marriages are legal in Louisiana but not in new York; however, the courts here recognize such unions. California has one law defining marriage along strictly heterosexual lines and another stipulating that the state must recognize license issued elsewhere. The Hawaii courts are likely to put this contradiction to the test.

Don’t Let Fear Dominate

Student Printz
University of Southern Mississippi
Hattiesburg, MS
Summer 1996

Fear is a funny thing. It stops us from doing a lot of stupid things, but it can also ruin our lives. As I start y senior year, I am having to face many of my fears. Will I get a job? One that I like? What kind of job do I want? have I done everything I can to prepare myself for the real world? Do I have enough courses to graduate? What will happen to me once I leave the security of the university? Where will I be this time next year? In five years? Ten?

Seniors face these questions everyday as we go to seminars on job hunting, meet with our advisors and prepare for graduation. And it is very, very scary.

It is easy to sit back and follow the path laid out for you. It is well traveled and secure. For most of our lives, whether we know it or not, we have been following “the plan.”

You know which one I mean. You do a good job in high school, go to a good college, get a good job and live a good life. “The plan” will give you just that – a good life, not a great one, and if that’s what you want, then good for you.

However, many of you out there want much more than that. I, for one, do not relish the thought of waking up every day, going to the same office and looking at the same people for the next 30 years until I retire.

If you get people to be totally honest with you about what they want they would like to do in life, you might be surprised at their responses. Everyone has dreams and aspirations that are not commonplace or easily accomplished.

Few people become millionaires by following “the plan.” If you want to be happy and successful, then you have to take risks. You may spend the next few years struggling to survive. But what is more important, immediate financial security or long-term fulfillment?

There are so many people who choose to simply follow “the plan” and then at some point realize that they regret all the chances they did not take. But no one should have regrets in life. To have to look back and thank, “What if?” is one of the worst things in the world.

Now is the time to take risks, before you have a family, car, mortgage and all the other responsibilities that come with adulthood.

College is the perfect place to pursue your dreams. If you want to write, call up the paper. College is little world where if you mess up, it is not that bad. you can be anything you allow yourself to be.

This is my senior year. It took me two and a half years to get up the courage to do what I want, not what my parents, teachers and society want for or expect of me. I only have one year left here, and I plan to make the most of it.

As the Class of 2000 enters the university, many of you have no majors or any idea about what you want to do. That’s OK.

Take this year to get involved in whatever your heart desires. Do not succumb to the pressure to declare yourself pre-med, pre-law or anything else. If is your life to do with as you want. Upperclassmen, it is not too late. TAke control of your life and do not be scared to take a chance. I read a No Fear T-shirt that said “Are you afraid to die, or just afraid to live?” I am no longer afraid. Are you?