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Jest in Literature - Burn the Damn Thing !!??  Gunjan Saraf
 Jul 30, 2002 19:05 PDT 
29th July 2002    #     018

Burn the Damn Thing !!??
                          ~ The Doc

Poetry Corner
                         ~ The Doc

Writing Prompt -
                         ~ The Doc

Inspiration Corner -
                          ~ The Doc with Gunjan chipping in

Winding Up Cartoons


----------------   MESSAGE   -----------------

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====> Burn the Damn Thing !!??

Hello, and welcome to Jest-In-Literature. This is a newsletter
in which we hope to trip you up on your way to thinking you
have learned all there is to know about some work of literature
or author. We'll do it, even if we have to make things up.

What follows is an abbreviated list of books that have been
banned at one time or another. These books have been
banned in one or more of several places including high schools,
colleges, and other institutions of learning, but all of them
have been banned at various times in Public Libraries.

Dorothy Allison - Bastard Out of Carolina
American Heritage Dictionary
The Anarchist Cookbook
Maya Angelou - I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Anonymous - Go Ask Alice
James Baldwin - If Beale Street Could Talk
Frank L. Baum - The Wizard of Oz
Judy Blume - Deenie; Forever; Tiger Eyes;
                     Blubber; Wifey.
Boston Women's Health Book Collective
   - Our Bodies, Ourselves
Ray Bradbury - Fahrenheit 451
Edgar Rice Burroughs - Tarzan
William Burroughs - Naked Lunch
Robert Cormier - The Chocolate War
Roald Dahl - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory;
Charles Darwin - On the Origin of Species
Ralph Ellison - Invisible Man
William Faulkner - As I Lay Dying;
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
Gustave Flaubert - Madame Bovary
E.M. Forster - Maurice
Anne Frank - The Diary of a Young Girl
Gabriel Garcia Marquez - One Hundred
                                         Years of Solitude
Nancy Garden - Annie on My Mind
Allen Ginsberg - Howl and Other Poems
Nikki Giovanni - My House
William Golding - Lord of the Flies
Bette Green - The Drowning of Stephan Jones
Judith Guest - Ordinary People
Alex Haley and Malcolm X - The Autobiography
                                             of Malcolm X
Joseph Heller - Catch-22
Langston Hughes, ed. - Best Short Stories
                                     by Negro Writers
Aldous Huxley - Brave New World
James Joyce - Ulysses
Norton Juster - The Phantom Tollbooth
Stephen King - Cujo; The Shining
John Knowles - A Separate Peace
D.H. Lawrence - Lady Chatterley's Lover
Harper Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird
Henry Miller - Tropic of Cancer
Toni Morrison - The Bluest Eye;
                          Song of Solomon
Leslea Newman - Heather Has Two Mommies
Eugene O'Neill - Desire Under the Elms;
                           Strange Interlude
George Orwell - 1984
Katherine Paterson - Bridge to Terabithia
Sylvia Plath - The Bell Jar
Pauline Rage - The Story of O
Luis Rodriguez - Always Running
Salman Rushdie - The Satanic Verses
J.D. Salinger - The Catcher in the Rye
Hubert Selby, Jr. - Last Exit to Brooklyn
Maurice Sendak - In the Night Kitchen
William Shakespeare - The Merchant of Venice;
                                    Romeo and Juliet
Jane Smiley - A Thousand Acres
John Steinbeck - The Grapes of Wrath;
                           Of Mice and Men; The Red Pony
Mark Twain - Huckleberry Finn
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. - Slaughterhouse-Five
Alice Walker - The Color Purple;
                        In Love and Trouble
Walt Whitman - Leaves of Grass
Michael Willhoite - Daddy's Roommate
Edmund Wilson - Memoirs of Hecate County
Richard Wright - Native Son; Black Boy

The list reads almost like a who's who in literature,
doesn't it? Having one's book banned by short-sighted,
well-intentioned, thought police is almost the same as
receiving an award, so I do hope it continues. A
banned-book list is one of the best ways I can see for
a person to determine what works have merit. Grab
one of these lists, and read everything on it. It would be
the start of a grand education.

There are a few things that I get way too worked up over,
so I'm not going to load my cannons about book banning. I
think it is sufficient to hold this practice up to the light and ask
it a question. I also think it deserves this, because I do
believe those who parade for control of a library's content are -
at least in their own minds - well-intentioned. The question that
needs an answer is: do you want to protect your children, or
prepare them?

The truth is, we cannot protect them, so the best thing we can
do is prepare them.

The books on this list and others like it deal with some of the
harsher realities of this life, but it is life, and it can be harsh.

As I prepared this abbreviated list of banned books, two things
struck me as incongruous about the whole issue. The first thing
was that the American Library Association was calling for
volunteers to read excerpts from any banned books in a
public square in Boston. The Association announcement says
that "Readers can, for the most part, choose the sections that
they will read." For the most part? For the most part? What the
hell does that mean? Does that mean that the host of librarians
will allow you to read the section of your choice as long as they
approve of it? Does that mean they are reserving the right to ban
a person from reading certain sections of a banned book in
objection to the banning? Well, this ought to play really well as
a protest.

The second thing that struck me was this simple little fact: before
a book can be banned, someone has to read it. Then that person
has to determine whether or not it meets some standard that allows
the banning. As I understand it, a book may be banned if it might
move the reader to do something against his nature or against
the laws of society. Well, if a book manages to do that, what are
we doing taking the word of someone who has read it? That
would seem like the first person we should distrust with a
decision like this. The only reasonable way to ban a book is
to do so without reading it. Then we can be sure the
non-reader's opinion is untainted by the evil epistle in

And that makes as much sense as banning a book in the
first place, so it must be unarguably sound.

I am reminded of a saying the source of which I do not know:
"It is the educated mind that can entertain a thought without
adopting it."

Comments or Questions :

Make U Grin
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and weird links, and a great recipe to satisfy. Remember...
Always laugh when you can ! It's cheap medicine !
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===> Poetry Corner

The following poems are part of those submitted in response
to the single word, PREJUDICE.

Thanks to each of you who did respond.

I'm not going to be silly and say they are all Nobel Prize winners,
but certainly each has a great deal of merit. I am especially awed
by the amount of earth they cover, yet they all seem similar in
intent and in self-awareness. I chose the word prejudice hoping
it would spur some attempts which might give us hope that this
section can continue. I think the hope is fulfilled.

So, from India, the USA, and Africa, these three poems give us
a taste of how prejudice is viewed when it is a single word prompt
with absolutely no context. Since none of these poets said whether
or not they wanted to be identified, I would rather err on the side
of caution, and I will only identify them by the country of their

My comments are more my reaction to these than any helpful hints.

from Zimbabwe, Africa:

     Of what nectar is prejudice
     But the bitter juice of alum
     To spurn, dispose and umbrage done
     Begone the inequity of bias
     To taint not the runes of wraith.

( I have spent an incredibly long time with this poem, for
several reasons. One is that I have attempted to receive
some feeling for the culture from where it arises, and with
which I am totally unfamiliar. The images are grabbing; so
seldom does one find a poem which relies on the sense of
taste as this one does.

Another reason is I really like the brevity which helps create
the power. The diction is methodical and sharpened like a
razor. It cuts quickly and cleanly. My only regret is that, try
as I might, with every book I can muster to assist me, I do
not have the knowledge to put the final word into a picture
that fits the rest. A wraith is usually a ghost, so I have tried
this as a ghost (literal), a ghostly thought (figurative),
a ghostly notion, a ghostly horror and so on, but I'm not
certain I have hit upon the author's meaning, so I am afraid
to let it go.)

from Florida, USA:

          My brother, you are me.
I see in you
what we share -
what I do not want to see in me.
Turn away so it will be gone.
Don't look at me;
I do not want you to
see me.

( How can one do anything but respect the introspection
and courage to discover prejudice within one's self and
admit to it. Other faces mirror our own, even, and especially,
those things we would rather not see so well. Nicely done.)

And from India:

Brought up in a family full of prejudice,
It's been a long climb out of the abyss.

Unlike them I don't hate Muslims,
just 'cause they have different whims,

Women were not made to cook,
Men probably altered the Good Book.

Sardars (or blondes) aren't dumb,
As a general rule of thumb.

I don't think every American
should be labeled as a Satan.

The Jewish geniuses at every turn,
Make one yearn to be a chosen one.

I could go on and on .... and on
But I won't, I'll get to the crux anon.

Now I hate people full of prejudice,
if my own is showing... excuse me pliss!

( I'll have to admit that my stomach drew up in knot when
I hit that last word - if it can be called such. My knee-jerk
reaction was to assume this was a writer who was
determined to make things rhyme come hell or high water.
So many good poems go a-wasting because of the notion
of rhyme. But, I set this aside for a day or two in order to
overcome my own prejudice - thankfully. When I returned
to it, I found that my knee jerk had gotten in the way of my
eyesight, which is what prejudice usually ends up doing.

Fortunately, my short-sighted initial bigotry took a nap, and I
was able to read this and make note of not only this poem's
strengths, but the purpose of that last abysmal word.

The focus on prejudice as a stereotype is not shy at all. From
Muslims to Jews to simply people who are prejudiced, the
poet shoves the stereotypes right out into the light in a
seemingly innocent way. But the understanding that comes
behind those images is certain and secure. I think the poet
gets away with this blatancy because he is using himself as
the example rather than some other person or group.

He exposes first his own weakness, states that he has found
a way to rise above his training, and then double-faults himself
by saying - with prejudice - that he hates people who are
prejudiced. Of course the dilemma is that he must therefore
hate himself. Except he doesn't.

One can't help but notice that the poet does abide one prejudice,
and that is the one against people who are prejudiced.

Nicely done, with demonstrated courage, and self-effacement
while congratulating himself for his ability to find a way through
the prejudice he would have a right to if he had followed the
beliefs of his family. And I must admit, the final "pliss" is much
more than an inability to find a rhyming word. It is a touch of
humor in a serious cause. It is a word chosen to compliment
the diction in the rest of the poem which appears at first
elementary, loses that garb quickly, and then allows us to
re-clothe it if we are foolish enough to have not seen
how serious this poet is. I must bow to a poem that exposed
my own prejudice, and in so doing accomplished what this
poem intends. Thank you.)

Last week's word was DENIAL. We have received some
poems dealing with this word, but it seems that the pickings
grow riper if we allow a couple of weeks to elapse before
presenting the results. So, if you have not done so, please,
let the muse direct you to some poetic turn, and go ahead
and send it in.

In the meantime, the word this week is a bit more ambiguous,
which is what promotes different views and which is also why
we offer only the word bereft of any context. Let the context
be yours, and let it guide you.

The word is: BETRAYAL

Poetic Submissions For Denial

Poetic Submissions For Betrayal

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==> Writing Prompt

The writing prompt (so, go ahead and write already).

Audi partem alterum.
     Saint Augustine [354-430]

More mistakes can be avoided heeding this advice than one
can imagine. Without it, you're as effective as a one-legged
man in a butt-kicking contest. Without this, you might be a
dead-eye shot, but you're just shooting blindly into a crowd.
You are rowing with one oar. You are behind the mirror
wondering where your reflection disappeared.

If you want to live a life in which you find yourself saying you
are sorry to other people about half as often as you might,
then follow this advice: "Hear the other side."

The single best way to recognize the sincerity and power of
this adage is to have even once been on the wrong side of it.

Take a moment and recall a time in your life when you were
presumed to have done or said something for which you were
judged. You may not have even been aware of what you
supposedly said or did to deserve social exile at the time,
but when you did find out, you knew what it was to not be
allowed to speak on your own behalf. You had been condemned
by a one-sided story. Even if you had done whatever it was you
were being condemned for, you wanted a chance to explain your reasons for
doing it.

That memory should give you a sharp feeling about why it is
important to "hear the other side."

Now, as that sharpness lingers in your mind; as the frustration
tears at your security; as incredulity rocks the safe harbor of
your existence, for a writing exercise, recall, in detail, a time
when you believed half of a story and did not hear the other side.
Write about a time when you negligently presumed something
about another person without ever listening to that person's side
of the story. Write about a time when you condemned someone
without asking them to speak, and if you can, write about a time
when you later came to understand that your judgment was

(If you respond to these prompts, make it a growth exercise
by remembering that sometimes figurative language is more
effective than just "saying it." Using metaphors, similes,
analogies and so on allow a reader to become involved in
what you write. It is also easier to use a metaphorical
comparison sometimes than to just come out and say it,
especially when "it" is very loaded and powerful.

When something is too big to say, remember that
understatement is sometimes the best way to say it.)

Comments or Questions :

Turning Dreams into Dollars...

An ebook in which you won't find the get-rich-quick
garbage or motivational fluff that sounds good but never
works. Not too surprising, since the editors of
Internet ScamBusters are publishing it."


==> Inspiration Corner

Inspiration to kick you into gear. (Some gear other than
reverse, I hope.)

"The genius of you Americans is that you never make any
clear-cut stupid moves, only complicated stupid moves that
leave us scratching our heads wondering if we might possibly
have missed something."
Gamel Abdul Nasser [1918-1970],
Egyptian premier

(Ouch! Sometimes it's so embarrassing to be found out so easily.)

{Doc, Can I add to that Winston Churchill's -
"The Americans will always do the right thing...
after they've exhausted all the alternatives."

Off course I wouldn't even think of adding Charles Dickens...
"I do not know the American gentleman,
God forgive me for putting two such words together."
~Gunjan ;-}

(Excerpted from a real courtroom cross-examination)
Q. Doctor, did you say he was shot in the woods?
A. No, I said he was shot in the lumbar

(I'm listing this one in the hope that it happened in Europe
or Africa or Australia or Canada. Hope springs eternal.)

"Cunning and treachery are the offspring of incapacity."

(This one has me wondering, if these traits characterize the
perpetrators, what traits characterize the victims?)

Comments or Questions :

If you're looking for a really fun way to earn some
extra money with humor, check out John Cantu's ebook -
Getting Paid to Make People Laugh
(Without Being a Comedian)


[John is the guy who showcased Robin Williams, Paula
Poundstone, Kevin Meany, Rob Schneider, and Dana Carvey.]


===> Winding up Cartoons

Desperate Measures


What more can they do?

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