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Poetic Inspiration

The story on the new Poetry Center Digital Archive (Fall/Winter 2011) made me wonder what Allen Ginsberg would write about today's generation, so I gave it a try. Nowl is a contraction of Now and Howl.

I saw the best minds of my generation
sit in coffee shops
laptops propped up like rows of tombstones.
They stare down, as if visiting a cemetery.
I hear Eleanor Rigby’s "look at all
the lonely people."


Imagine a world free of Holy Mother Media

and its Ministry of Truth

It's easy if you try.


What a Brave New World

where the first cell was a phone.


They walk the streets like zombies,

eyes dead, talking to themselves.


Readers from "Farenheit 415" ?

No. They are not memorizing books

which will be burned

for taking up space and trees.

--James O. Clifford, '63 Redwood City, Calif.

Rumor Control

I found the Q and A with Daniel Bernardi (Fall/Winter 2011) concerning the $1.6 million grant from the U.S. Navy disturbing. What is missing is any kind of assessment concerning the mission of the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan and an accounting for the tremendous suffering that has accompanied the U.S. occupations of these countries. Without addressing these issues, the article amounts to de facto support for U.S. military efforts.
--Allan Fisher, B.A., '83 San Francisco.

Professor Bernardi responds:
I agree with the spirit of Allan Fisher's criticism. Indeed, both the journalistic and academic communities need to offer more criticism of both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. My new book (co-authored), "Narrative Landmines: Rumors, Islamist Extremism, and the Struggle for Strategic Influence," makes the case that the invasion of Iraq was motivated by a whisper (or rumor) campaign. But I do not agree that every interview on a Navy-related grant, including this one, needs to come with a critique of these wars. Indeed, I don't see where one can read either support for the wars or a critique of them in the interview, and that seems equally appropriate to me.


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