Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Memories on a great day for gay rights--Whitman, Parker, Sendak, and "Live Oak, with Moss"

Memories on a great day for gay rights--Whitman, Parker, Sendak, and putting a joyous love sequence in a major American Literature anthology.

5 March 1992 Xeroxed Oak Leaf cluster for e/o [in class] from SB [Studies in Bibliography]—Thought later, at home, of putting it (the 12 [poem sequence]), in [next edition of] Norton Anthology of American Literature.

12 March 1992  MS [Maurice Sendak] called 9:30—good talk. Told him my “Live Oak, with Moss” idea (NAAL)
Read all 12 parts to him on the phone.

5 April 1992 Wonderful hour long call from MS. Grateful to me for opening him to WW.

6 April 1992 Want to emphasize the joy of Maurice’s reading of WW. I gave a great gift to the man who has everything--& he says it is already changing his life—he feels it will s/h affect Dumps.

18 April 1992 Julia Reidhead [at Norton] said OK on “Live Oak, with Moss.”

MELVILLE BIOGRAPHY: AN INSIDE NARRATIVE, p. 110: 18 April 92—Julia Reidhead agreed to print Live Oak, with Moss in NAAL. [First time this gay love sequence was printing in an American literature anthology. I still believe printing it was the most important thing I ever did for the profession.] {The bracketed comment is in Melville Biography: An Inside Narrative.}

26 June 2013. Relief and hope.

Peter Wood on Brodhead's "Wretched Defense of the Humanities"

June 23, 2013
A Wretched Defense of the Humanities
By Peter Wood
The American Academy of Arts and Sciences has just issued the Heart of the Matter, a 61-page report (plus appendices) aimed at persuading Congress to spend more money on the humanities.  This is one of the report's immediate goals, phrased of course in the financial imperative, "Increase investment in research and discovery."  The report as a whole is presented as a response to a "bipartisan request from members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives" in 2010.  The American Academy took up this request and appointed a 54-member commission to figure out what "actions" are needed to "maintain national excellence in humanities and social scientific scholarship."
Let's see.  That works out to 1.1296 pages of report per commissioner.  Many of the commissioners also appear in a 7-minute accompanying video, which begins with the actor (and commissioner) John Lithgow explaining that the humanities are the "beautiful flower" at the end of the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math.)  With a piano softly playing Christian Sinding's Rustles of Spring in the background and a camera exploring the petals of a yellow gerbera, Lithgow continues, "Without the blossom, the stem is completely useless."  Cut to George Lucas, Rustling Spring pianissimo: "The sciences are the how and the humanities are the why." Cut to the Milky Way with Lucas's voiceover, segueing to architect Billie Tsien, "The measurable is what we know and the immeasurable is what the heart searches for." 
The video portion of the Heart of the Matter is beautifully produced, as I suppose one might expect from a commission that included Ken Burns as well as George Lucas.  But it is, I suspect, not terribly persuasive.  It comes across as the high-minded extolling high-mindedness and perhaps thinking a little too well of themselves for their act of generosity. 
The humanities does get the privilege of contemplating some of the more uplifting aspects of our kind.  Courage, kindness, and faithfulness come within its compass.  But so too do humanity's deepest dyed iniquities.  It takes a humanist to plumb treason's serpentine pride; to come alongside Othello's green-eyed monster; or to exalt over the corpses of his enemies with Achilles. That side of things is, let's say, not part of the pitch in the video or the report.
Although it may have a ghost-like presence in the title.  The Heart of the Matter, of course, was the title of Graham Greene's great post-war novel about a guilt-ridden British policeman in colonial West Africa whose altruism is confounded by his fecklessness.  His final act of supposed generosity is suicide, but even that fails to achieve its intended purpose. 
But I rather doubt that the Commission was being so ironic.  Its tone is much too sententious to have reckoned with the possibility that the humanities have charted a course in recent years in which high aspiration is so inextricably mixed with self-destruction.
The opening statements on the video do quite accurately capture the anxiety at the heart of the report itself.  The sciences are thriving.  Captains of industry, political leaders, and the opinion-shapers of all sorts thunder about the importance of educating the coming generation in the sciences.  Are the humanities to be left in the dust? 
It is a fate not easily skirted.  The New York Times put the report in context by noting the mere 7.6 percent of bachelor's degrees granted in the humanities in 2010 and the long, steep slide in humanities majors at Harvard from 36 percent of the undergraduates in 1954 to 20 percent today. Where have the students gone?  It is not that they are defecting en mass to biomedical engineering or fractal geometry.  The burgeoning undergraduate majors are fields such as business, economics, and international relations.  Economics can be squeezed into the humanities, and the Commission does mention economics as one of the valuable social sciences, but it doesn't really appear to be "the heart of the matter."
The report is actually a bit vague about what the humanities actually are.  The executive summary throws a wide lasso:
Emphasizing critical perspective and imaginative response, the humanities--including the study of languages, literature, history, film, civics, philosophy, religion, and the arts--foster creativity, appreciation of our commonalities and our differences, and knowledge of all kinds. The social sciences reveal patterns in our lives, over time and in the present moment. Employing the observational and experimental methods of the natural sciences, the social sciences--including anthropology, economics, political science and government, sociology, and psychology--examine and predict behavioral and organizational processes. Together, they help us understand what it means to be human and connect us with our global community.
Wide lassos are good equipment for capturing concepts as big as "the humanities," but the Commission's list lacks the basic sense of order.  It comes close to admitting that the humanities are just the category of "everything else" after you subtract the sciences from the curriculum. 
But let's take the formulation at face value.  The key ideas are (1) critical perspective, (2) imaginative response, (3) creativity, (4) appreciation of commonalities and differences, (4) knowledge of all kinds, and adding the social sciences, (5) examining and predicting behavior.  All these together conduce to (6) understanding what it means to be human, and (7) connecting us to our global community.  If you take the first item seriously ("critical perspective,") the rest of the list looks a little wobbly.  That's because the natural sciences are every bit as creative, focused on human commonalities and differences (think of DNA), deal in "knowledge," etc.  What it means to be human is at least as much a scientific question as a humanistic one.
I don't really want to be obstructionist.  The humanities are important and, in principle, deserve a robust defense.  But I have to wonder how carefully thought-out The Heart of the Matter is.  If the goal was merely to perform some old songs from the songbook, or to twirl the lasso around in lasso tricks, I guess these bland formulations will do.  But it would have been nice to see an intellectually more serious effort.  The humanities haven't existed forever.  They are a division of human inquiry and teaching that grew out of a particular tradition.  Humanistic learning was, for many generations, deemed essential for the man who sought to enter public life, and it was also taken as the indispensable grounding for the worthy life of a free individual. 
Those views may have been mistaken, but mistaken or not, they no longer have much grip on Americans.  We have been slowly dispensing with humanistic learning for a very long time.  Think back to Justin Morrill, the Vermont Congressman who in the midst of the Civil War succeeded in passing the bill that authorized the creation of the land grant universities.  Morrill fiercely opposed having the humanities play any part in these new institutions. His opposition was eventually worn away by the universities themselves, but he stands as perhaps the best expression of 19th America's distrust of the humanistic tradition.  How many Harvard graduates did America need?  Morrill thought, 'not so many.'
The great 20th century democratization of higher education was intermittently friendly toward the humanities but mass higher education is not really a great fit with the strenuous ideal that students should wrestle with the obdurate materials of human excellence and folly.  Mass education throws its emphasis on credentialing students for productive and prosperous careers.  The humanities occasionally lend themselves to that purpose, but it isn't their primary business. 
We can inventively shoehorn the humanities into serving practical goals.  And that indeed is what the Commission seeks to do.  Study the humanities, it says, because if we don't there will be "grave, long-term consequences for the nation."  But what they mean is that mass literacy is a good idea; voters and consumers should be "informed"; lots of "resources" should be available online; teachers should be well-prepared (and have their student loans forgiven!); foreign languages should be taught; and we should encourage more study abroad.  That's not the whole list of desiderata but the rest of it is similar--practical policy proposals that have thin connections to the humanities as such. 
Unless, of course, you redefine the humanities as whatever college professors in the traditional humanities disciplines happen to be teaching at the moment. 
And that seems to be the whole game. The Commission pretends to speak with the authority of Erasmus or Diderot about the importance of a human-centered curriculum, but all it really musters is the voice of a middling utilitarian.  Reading the report brought to mind Jonathan R. Cole's The Great American University.  Cole, a former Columbia University provost, delivered this tome several years ago in which he rehearsed the great accomplishments--mostly in the sciences--of American research universities as part of an argument for more and still more public funding. 
The Heart of the Matter has still other ventricles.  For unknown reasons, the Commissioners devote several pages to plumping the importance of the Common Core State Standards for K-12 education.  Whatever the merits of those standards, they have virtually nothing to do with improving the situation of college-level humanities.  Possibly they cut in the opposite direction through their emphasis on reading "informational texts" and their pedagogical focus on minimizing attention to historical context and background knowledge.  But in The Heart of the Matter, we get eight pages of explanation of how the Common Core will strengthen literacy, prepare citizens, and support teachers. 
The Commission was co-chaired by Richard Brodhead and John Rowe.  Rowe is the retired chairman of Exelon Corporation, who has contributed a lot of time, attention, and money to promoting charter schools.   Brodhead is the president of Duke University and I suppose such an established figure that, at least in the eyes of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he has lived down his infamous behavior during the Duke lacrosse affair.  Perhaps in polite company that shouldn't be mentioned, but I confess I was astonished to see him put forward as the primary academic figure behind this report.  If we are to make the case for the humanities as the ennobling part of higher education, might it be better to do so under the symbolic leadership of someone who has modeled courage, temperance, and faithfulness to the actual ideals of disinterested judgment?
But that's just a petal falling from the "beautiful flower."  The video, with Rustles of Spring tinkling underneath the somber voices of Yo-Yo Ma, Earl Lewis, David Brooks, Kwame Anthony Appiah, Sandra Day O'Connor, etc. is little more than a parade of balloons but it has the charm of well-picked metaphors.  The report, alas, has not even that. 
Is there a better way to promote the humanities?  I am inclined to think the humanities thrive when the humanists are self-evidently offering good and important work.  The humanities decline when they descend into triviality.  The answer to a nation skeptical of these disciplines is not more balloons, nor better metaphors, or even better-crafted reports.  It is better work.  
Peter Wood is president of the National Association of Scholars

Friday, June 21, 2013

Hershel Parker as Michael Cassio--56 years ago

Posted by Picasa

Costner, Bell, Dougherty consanguinity in Mississippi--Hershel Parker and Hayes Miles

First cousin with a son, first cousin with a son.

Martha Parker (daughter of Gene Costner) and Hershel Parker

Doris Miles (daughter of Gene's sister, Ida Costner Edwards) and Hayes Miles

But this is Mississippi, so the sons are not merely Costner 2nd cousins. They are also Bell cousins through Doris's husband Victor and they are also Dougherty cousins through Doris's husband Victor. Time to devise a consanguinity chart.

A Summer Project for Melville Researchers--Any Takers?

Here is a little challenge—a SUMMER PROJECT that could win someone Temporary Provisional Immortality in a Northwestern-Newberry Historical Note--in the last chance for such factitious transitory immortality in the last such Historical Note to be published in our lifetimes.

No one has really demonstrated that Melville used Lanzi or Vasari in "At the Hostelry." Lanzi, of course, does not include the Dutch artists. By the time Melville had his own copy of Vasari, I am convinced, he had moved on beyond interest in the picturesque. Can you demonstrate otherwise? The 1871 purchase of the 1854 EMINENT MASTERS seems way too late for use in "At the Hostelry." Did he have access to parts of it in the late 1850s? When did he have parts of a periodical version bound up? Did he really use anything from the periodical version or the 1854 London edition for any of the details in "At the Hostelry"? How much did he rely on guidebooks? What other possible sources should scholars have checked out? Nowadays, the Internet resources await wise scanning!
Here is your chance to have a memorable story all the rest of your life about what you did all summer back in 2013. A Take Home or Take to the Library Topic:

Demonstrate what Melville's sources were for the characterizations in "At the Hostelry."

Dishonesty in the CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION--Shielding Lying Ivy League Reviewers

This needs to be posted again.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013



This is a topic worth pursuing until the CHRONICLE apologizes for what it did on February 11, 2013 in “A Leviathan Task of Biography.”

It looks to me as if the CHRONICLE will go to great lengths to protect eminent Ivy League professors from the consequences of their own actions—outright lying about the state of scholarship in order to discredit a scholar.

Let’s review. I am talking about actual lies, not comments about my weak prose or flimsy logic in my biography of Melville, and not gaffs by the reviewers, not simple misconstruings of my presentation of events.  There are such things as outright lies in reviews, and lies can have devastating consequences on the reputation of the one lied about. I did not sleep peacefully one night between the reviews of Richard Brodhead in the New York TIMES and Andrew Delbanco in the NEW REPUBLIC in 2002 and the time I began speaking out in 2007. The lies did horrible damage to my health. By the time Elizabeth Schultz copy-catted the big boys much of the damage had been done, although she drove new twisted nails into what closed upon me as if it were the coffin of my reputation.

Let’s look at the lies, remembering that evidence was laid out right there on the pages of the biography for any casual reader to see. If a casual reader can see something, paid reviewers have an obligation to see it and to avoid wrongly defaming the author of the book they are reviewing,

Let me review the situation. In 2002 three prominent Melville critics, Richard Brodhead, Andrew Delbanco, and Elizabeth Schultz, warned that my biography was unreliable by citing my treatment of THE ISLE OF THE CROSS (1853) and POEMS (1860). The second of these reviewers, Delbanco, did not cite the earliest, Brodhead, as his authority, and Schultz cited neither Brodhead nor Delbanco.

Brodhead in the New York Times for 23 June 2002 disparaged “Parker's surmises about works Melville never published that did not survive,” the first “a novel based on materials he shared with Hawthorne about a sailor who deserted his wife. . . .  Parker is also convinced that Melville prepared a volume of poems in 1860 that failed to be published. If this is so, a stretch that had seemed empty of literary strivings was instead a time of new effort and new failure--a black hole Parker alone has the instruments to detect.” The prose book was not surmised: we had known since 1960, for sure, that Melville completed a book in mid 1853. To say that I alone in my “black hole” had detected POEMS was an outright lie. As was clear in my biography, every scholar and critic had known about POEMS since 1922. If I was in a black hole, I was far from alone there! Willard Thorp, move over—make room for Jay Leyda and Leon Howard and all the rest!

Similarly, Andrew Delbanco in the NEW REPUBLIC (September 2002) warned that my second volume, like the first, “must be used with caution.” [Here I do not note his errors in describing what I said.] Delbanco: “For one thing, Parker is amazingly certain of his own conclusions. . . . He is sure that immediately after completing ‘Pierre,’ Melville wrote an unpublished novel (Parker implies that after failing to find a publisher, Melville burned it) inspired by a story he had heard about a sailor who disappears for thirty years, then returns to the wife for whom he has become a distant memory. He is sure that when Melville traveled by slow boat to San Francisco in 1860, he expected to find waiting for him a finished copy of a book of poems that he had entrusted in manuscript to his brother for transmission to his publishers before leaving the East. (Such a book was never published--and it is a surmise that Melville ever wrote it.) . . . . In short, Parker trusts his own intuition completely, and, presenting inferences as facts, he expects his readers to trust it, too.”  My talking about the completion of POEMS was not a surmise, the word used by Brodhead and Delbanco: we not only know he completed it, we even know of two publishers who looked at POEMS and rejected it.

Brodhead and Delbanco refrained even from naming THE ISLE OF THE CROSS, as if the title gave it too much actuality. Elizabeth Schultz in THE COMMON REVIEW (Winter 2002) mentioned the title skeptically in her complaint: “Parker also reads betrayal and despair into the disappearance of two manuscripts, which he contends Melville completed--a novel, putatively titled The Isle of the Cross, and his first collection of poems. Throughout his biography, Parker bemoans the loss of The Isle of the Cross's ghostly manuscript, imagining Melville's regret at never having found a publisher for it. Although there is only tentative evidence for the manuscript's existence and submission to a publisher, its ostensible rejection leads Parker to view his heroic author as victimized: ‘masterful as he could be, [Melville] had a way now, after the failure of Moby-Dick and Pierre, of seeing himself as passive victim to whom things were done.’" Tentative evidence? Did Schultz assume that the editors of the LETTERS lied about an 1853 book years before I lied about one entitled THE ISLE OF THE CROSS? “Throughout” my biography? Where, after the initial discussion? What does she mean by “putative”? Hers seems to be an ignorant, disdainful elaboration on what she picked up from Brodhead and Delbanco.

In their accusations none of these three reviewers mentioned the existence of any documentary evidence that earlier scholars and I had brought forward concerning these two lost books. All three critics ignored a full half century of accumulating evidence about a book Melville completed in 1853. The publication of LETTERS (1960) proved the existence of the novel finished in 1853, although it was 1987 before I discovered the title, THE ISLE OF THE CROSS, and 1990 before I published the evidence in AMERICAN LITERATURE. All three ignored extensive evidence about POEMS, most of which had been available for eight decades. In my biography, of course, I quoted Melville’s well-known 12-point memo to his brother Allan on the publication of his POEMS! The evidence for both lost books was laid out right there on the pages of the biography.

Some lies don’t matter. If a reviewer says I mistook a letter by Helen Melvill for one by Helen Melville, that would not matter much, even if I had been right. The reader of the review would just say, hey, Parker’s not so careful after all. (I confess to being so in thrall to Emily Bronte that I looked at “Linwoods” in a manuscript and miscopied it as “Lintons”!) But false accusations can be deeply damaging.

Paula Backscheider says this in the Introduction to her REFLECTIONS ON BIOGRAPHY: “For an academic to be accused of ‘making things up’ or ‘conflating’ quotations and evidence is the most serious charge that can be levelled against him or her and may discredit that person forever.”

In the March 30, 2013 WALL STREET JOURNAL Carl Rollyson confirmed Backscheider: to suggest that I “invented details” to suit my ‘all-consuming quest’ to tell Melville’s story was “a nearly mortal blow to a biographer who has spent his entire career documenting every aspect of his subject’s life.”

I felt from June 2002 to March 30, 2013 that I might indeed have been discredited forever by Brodhead and Delbanco’s lies, which flourish still on the Internet, brazen as ever. Liberation came when Rollyson discussed some of my charges against one slandering reviewer, Delbanco. Say it bluntly: Rollyson was the first reviewer in an NYC paper who ever dealt honestly with a book of mine, without overt or hidden personal-political agenda. The only bias I can see in his review is against ignorant, flippant, or malicious reviewing of worthy biographies, for he has not only written many biographies but has written books on the genre of biography.

As it happens, Rollyson in the WALL STREET JOURNAL did not specifically look at the lies Brodhead and Delbanco told about my inventing lost books of Melville’s.

Earlier in 2013, I had hoped that the CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION might be the paper which first set out my grievances against Brodhead and Delbanco. That did not happen. Indeed, the CHRONICLE set me up for scorn instead of vindicating me.

Here is the sequence as I reconstruct it. The NEW YORKER blog for January 2013 listed MELVILLE BIOGRAPHY: AN INSIDE NARRATIVE among the “Books to Watch Out For” that month. Reading that “Parker writes with a rare combination of humor and passion,” someone at the CHRONICLE decided that reviewing the book would be a good idea. Northwestern University Press promptly provided a review copy and on January 18 a reporter emailed Northwestern wanting to have some kind of interview with me because the book “would be a great fit” for their “Books & Arts” section and they wanted to hurry because they wanted to print the article as close as they could to the official publication date, January 15.

In the next days the reporter and I settled on January 28 for a telephone interview. We talked for over an hour. I told the reporter how damaged I had been about the accusations that I had merely “surmised” or actually made up THE ISLE OF THE CROSS and POEMS and went into some detail about the psychology of being slandered. I told him how the victim internalizes shame and does not sound convincing when trying to defend himself. In fact, there was in 2002 a new director of the Johns Hopkins University Press and I never felt I had convincingly conveyed to her that I had been horribly abused. When you complain about reviews in the New York TIMES and the NEW REPUBLIC—reviews written by chaired professors at Yale and Columbia—you inevitably sound as if you are being overly sensitive and defensive about what must have been justified criticisms.  Reader, try it the next time someone says some horrific lie about you—try explaining that you really don’t often beat your husband with a harpoon handle. Anyhow, I went into some detail with the reporter about the lies about my inventing POEMS, in particular, and the damage that had done to my reputation and my health. I mentioned that Delbanco’s slanders had been picked up by others and elaborated. Alan Helms was guilty of this in Nineteenth-Century Literature—using Delbanco’s words to slander me all over again as a “slippery fish” with evidence--after all, Delbanco had said so, although not in those words.

So, I had said my say to the reporter from the CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION, and put my grievances on record, I thought. On February 1 Rose Engelland emailed from the CHRONICLE to ask permission to put a photograph of me in the CHRONICLE—the picture she had taken from my 2008 MELVILLE: THE MAKING OF THE POET. I said yes, at once, without comment on the fact that the beard in that picture had been shaved off and without offering one of the trial photos we had taken in the fall of 2012 for MELVILLE BIOGRAPHY: AN INSIDE NARRATIVE. Don’t rock the boat was my motto. Harold Bloom wants to reprint my 1963 article, I don’t ask to make any changes. Don’t rock the boat.

Then on Friday February 8 the reporter thanked me for working with the art department on the photo and asked me to confirm a few details about my age, residence, and so on. Fine.

On Sunday 10 February the CHRONICLE posted a teaser: “More than a decade after the publication of his career-defining Melville volumes, Hershel Parker strikes back at his critics in a genre-bending new work.” I loved “genre-bending,” for the book in fact was in part autobiography of me as biographer, in part a history of Melville biography, in part a history of criticism of Melville biography, in part a set of demonstrations of a biographer at work, and finally extensive endnotes which (while starting with problems I recognized in Melville) constituted a seminar of British and some American biographers on biography as a genre, not just on Melville.

What happened between Friday and Monday? It looks to me as if someone intervened. The complimentary-sounding title remained—“A Leviathan Task of Biography.” My photo was dropped and a picture of Melville was run in—my face being no great loss in itself but a strong indication that someone had made from up high an executive decision: Parker was not to be honored by this impulsively commissioned article. The second paragraph is shamelessly falsified and to my textual scholar’s eye it looks like nothing so much as an editorial intrusion:

Instead of moving from the first paragraph (“to Parker’s mind, unwarranted condemnation from many within the academy”), the CHRONICLE report proceeded to this second paragraph:

Critical reviews appeared in newspapers, magazines, and journals, and Parker, a professor emeritus of English at the University of Delaware, found himself at odds with such Melville scholars as Richard Brodhead (who raised questions about Parker's "editorial principles" in The New York Times) and Andrew Delbanco (who, while criticizing Parker's misreading of sex and sin, did declare, in The New York Review of Books, that "Parker's biography is written with love and devotion"). Critics' skepticism centered on two issues: the name of a lost Melville story ("The Isle of the Cross") and the importance of an 1860 manuscript called "Poems." A falling-out followed, and Parker, who felt he had been victimized, drifted away from groups like the Melville Society.

What happened? This is a totally fabricated paragraph.

I can’t find “editorial principles” in Brodhead’s review and can’t find it in MELVILLE BIOGRAPHY: AN INSIDE NARRATIVE. Of course, my quarrel with Brodhead had nothing to do with editorial principles but only with his saying I merely surmised the existence of two lost books, and in particular that only I in my “black hole” had identified POEMS. Why did the CHRONICLE reach back to a review by Delbanco in the NYRofB in 1997 to find a complimentary phrase instead of looking at his accusation in 2002 that I had made up two books which I claimed Melville wrote but which are now lost? And of course the “name” of THE ISLE OF THE CROSS is not in dispute but the existence of the book, and of course it’s not “the importance of an 1860 manuscript called ‘Poems’” but the existence of that book. The last paragraph says a “falling-out” followed—a falling out with Brodhead over “editorial principles”? and a “falling-out” with Delbanco over what—his criticizing my “misreading of sex and sin”? Anyhow, who was misreading? Feeling victimized, after 2002 I “drifted away” from the Melville Society. No, after the new-leftist takeover in 1990 I stopped going to Melville Society meetings, except when I got to climb pyramids in Central America one year. My standards are flexible!

Now, the damage does not stop with the one phony paragraph. Any good critic, and not just a New Critic, will read every following paragraph with this fabricated second paragraph in mind. What made the New Criticism so easy to apply that much of it is based on how real people read all the time. You put that second paragraph in, the one about “editorial principles” and “misreading of sex and sin,” and every harsh thing you quote me as saying after that is transformed into the rantings of an old codger who believes without warrant that he has been criticized too much by reviewers, who really had merely disagreed on editorial principles (principles, after all) and who really recognized that he had written with “love and devotion.”  You would have to be loony to complain about such reviewers. So with this setup, was it any surprise that the first comment in the CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION starts “Hershel Parker Crazy”?

By the strategic fabrication of the content and by the strategic placement of the 2nd paragraph, the CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION defended the President of Duke University and a chaired professor at Columbia while injuring me all over again. Rather than laying out the genuine grievance, the CHRONICLE damaged me all over again. 

If Tesla can shame the New York TIMES into an apology over its review of Tesla's Model S sedan, can I shame the CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION into printing an honest paragraph in place of the fabricated 2nd paragraph?