“Academic Wankery” and the Rise of the Uninformed

by Don Herron

Howardian academics confronted with a Deconstructionist Debacle — image itself, a Footnote to the Great Flivver War of 2015  (academics love their footnotes, and this pic precisely captures my view of academics and their apparatus).

While of course I intend to keep posting about Texas writer Robert E. Howard in a serious manner (he is one of my top guys, after all), I realized I could stop crapping up the landscape on Up and Down when dealing from time to time with fanboys such as Al Harron or the pathetic attempts by academics to get books on REH out — not good books, any books.

Since Leo Grin revived and reopened The Cimmerian blog, I can do that sort of thing over here from now on — he’s used to dealing with the hysterics and pretenders, and I see that categories have been set up for just such things: Fandom, Critiquing the Critics, and How We Do Things Uptown. I told Leo he could cross-post anything he wants from my blog to here, even as I do original posts just for TC (beginning with a review of Will Murray’s book Wordslingers).

The revival came about in an odd and unexpected manner, as Morgan “The Morgman” Holmes was attacked in no less than two amateur press organizations — REHupa and the Pulp a.p.a. PEAPS — with a call for his expulsion. Cut to the chase, the big reason seemed to be that Morgan was blogging on the Castalia House site for publisher Vox Day a.k.a. Theo Beale (involved in the recent dustup over the Hugo Awards — trust me, Google one of his names and Hugo Award and you’ll land more verbiage than you’d ever want to skim).

Now, the person putting forth the idea that Morgan was a Bad Actor and needed some penalizing sometimes blogs on Black Gate — where none other than Theo Beale once blogged. Where they still have lots of posts by “Theo” up and active in their inventory. By any reasonable standards, if Morgan is branded bad and is a prime contender for Outcast of the Month, why is this other person exempt after also posting on a “Theo-tainted” blog?

Your guilt by association is worse than my guilt by association!

These pompous self-righteous types kill me.

Of course, suggesting Morgan be expulsed and then getting him expulsed are two different things. The a.p.a.s come out every couple of months, with new mailings of both due within days, then the next ones in December.

Will the memberships rise up in fury to kick poor Morgan out?

I very much doubt it. I have been in the REHupa group before, where almost any idea or call to action crashes against a Titanic Escarpment of Indifference. They don’t know and they don’t want to know. Get those guys stirred up enough to boot someone, and you could find yourself a job out in the real world.

The funny thing — and I find it extremely funny — is that Morgan had grown tired of REHupa and kept mentioning to me how he was going to quit with the December mailing, when his current dues expire. If the person who wants him out had just kept the old yap shut, hey presto! He would have been gone. Now, I think he intends to stay in forever  — or until the Iago-style plotter croaks or leaves the building. The worst expulsion plot ever!

Thus was The Cimmerian blog kicked back to life. Seeing Morgan called a troll and put up for expulsion got Leo mad, so he took the inventory of posts the plotter of low cunning had up on the old TC blog and summarily removed them.

How We Do Things Uptown.

You threaten one of our guys.

We send your posts to the morgue.

And that got other former bloggers on TC all excited. Didn’t bother them one bit that someone attacked Morgan in two a.p.a.s, but kicking those posts to the curb? Horrors.

So a bunch of former bloggers asked to be removed, a show of sympathy, and Leo cheerfully redacted them. Except for a notable post here or there, at this juncture it was akin to clearing out dead wood. And to replace the missing material Brian Leno and Morgan volunteered stockpiles of their blog material — more than enough to replace all the wordage, and as Leo says, in general much better posts. He’d rather have Brian and Morgan in TC than any four or five of the redacted posters. He’s happy. Chatting with him last night he reminded me that Mark Finn, one of the guys who asked to be removed (and waxed sanctimonious on his own blog about it), was fired from the TC blog years ago because he wasn’t pulling his weight. Wasn’t keeping to the schedule. And now suddenly it is a noble thing he is doing, removing those glorious posts of yesteryear! Please.

Another redacted blogger was Jeff Shanks — as I mentioned the other day he was the main reason Leo decided to call the blog quits back in the day. Even before he asked to be removed, Leo had made up his mind to delete his stuff, too — it worked out well for all concerned.

The flashpoint: Shanks did a post about King Kong thinking he’d discovered something — but Brian Leno already had written a whole essay about it in The Cimmerian print journal. Shanks’ excuse was one a lot of the academics use in defense of not knowing the critical literature — the magazines cost too much, it’s hard to find those old books (and they cost too much).

How are they ever expected to know as much about the subject as someone like Brian Leno or Morgan Holmes, who have read and collected in the field for decades?

You can’t get that kind of experience surfing the web for a few hours.

Let’s take stock of where we stand today. Shanks is co-editor of a new book of litcrit, mostly academic, on the magazine Weird Tales. Keeping with his idea of things costing too much, it is amusing to see that the price point is $80 for a book of barely over 200 pages (and $50ish for the e-version). My Megapack of Howard litcrit goes for $4.99 for over 600 pages — that’s an idea the academics could mull over.

Seriously. Someone like Shanks could round up each and every academic essay so far written on Howard, put them into an eBook of however many pages they’d fill, and price it at 99 cents. Nobody would buy it, but it’s a swell idea nonetheless — a meaningful gesture.

And who, I think to ask, might we find contributing to this new Weird Tales book co-edited by someone bailing in horror from the TC blog over some perceived association with Vox Day?

After all the drama, which essayist of all the essayists in all the world would you least expect to see in its pages?

Shanks uses an essay by none other than Morgan Holmes — who continues to blog for Vox Day. That Shanks guy has such intellectual and moral integrity, I have to take my hat off to spit in his honor.

And by the way, The Morgman’s most recent blog for Castalia House announces the publication of the Shanks tome, which he notes is filled — with the exception of himself and Scott Connors — with “academic wankery.”

Good one, Morgan. Might be the best review the book ever gets. And the most honest.

Read more posts from the World’s Greatest Robert E. Howard Critic at DonHerron.com.