Posted by The Happy Tutor
Frederick Turner is a famous man, apparently. Oxford educated, much honored, verbose. He is a worthy adversary. I would be much in his debt for any invective, he might hurl my way. Any Dojo! Any time, Fred. Dallas isn't big enough for two Dungeon Masters to the Stars! If you are to wear Candidia's collar, you must get by me first! To earn Candidia's respect, to feast with the Knaves at her table, or even under the table, gnawing on the bones she tosses your way, you must do more than box strenuously with your own shadow. You must land a blow on those who hit back. Strutting and shouting, alone in the ring, you throw wild punches, and hit only yourself.
Fred, I find your honors perplexing. You write, as others have noted, "like crap"! A stanza of your verses is almost unbearable; two drive a strong man to his knees. Three are beyond human endurance. No reader ever finished one of your poems. You yourself could never read them, unless your sensibility is now totally shot. Were you to read one aloud, like the one on the grackle,(fit image for your verse) you would empty all rooms within earshot. You have long since sold whatever talent you had, and the muse has turned away in disgust. Your jokes are not funny. Your invective is puerile. Your father, Victor Turner, was a fine man. A legitimate intellectual. A man of stature. Your work on philanthropy (pdf) is broken-backed. A beast of burden for your funders, a donkey staggering along under its load of ideology. You are a lap dog, licking the hand of Mistress Candidia, though she finds your fawning embarassing, even by her own standards, those of a conservative think tank. Forget Michael Moore, pick on someone your own speed. Black belt or not, you have led a soft life. You will cry like a baby across my knees. Even now, I will do what I can to improve your taste and your morals, for I bear you no ill-will, having only your salvation at heart. There is hope in confession, penance, restitution and reform, Turner, even now, even for you. Drop your pants! And take your beating like a man.
This sample invective, patterned on Turner's own, though far better written, is spoken with great respect for Turner the man, for he is a fine man, though a journeyman at the satiric trade, whose work is sadly botched. I seek not to injure Turner but to reform him, or at least to help him make the most of his meager talent as he enters the public arena, and to keep him from seriously injuring himself in the process. I suggest, as a Next Step, an edifying Battle of Champions, like that between Sampson and Harapha in Paradise Regained, or the boasting contests that precede the staged Bouts at the World Wrestling Federation. Be good for both our careers, Fred. We could go on TV, with Bill O'Reilly. You would like that, wouldn't you? It would be a feather in your Dunce Cap, perhaps the highest honor you will ever attain. And, I will split my purse with you 50/50. Nay, take it all, every coin from the floor. Here's a penny, Sirrah; come and get it. I am sorry to have pulled my punches in this post, I don't mean to imply that you can't take the shots, but I don't want to hurt you, until you come forward willingly, vaunting in words, though trembling and knock-kneed beneath your robe. Then you can't blame me for going full speed, as the crowd rises, cheering hoarsely, knowing that only one Empty Boaster will walk out, the other a joke, and a byword, for all eternity. Until then....may you sleep well, as your verses have given sound sleep to so many.
The Art of Invective is not dead! The Tutor, rumored to be a priest, defrocked for telling the truth, bloodies his opponent's nose with his opening jab. The scripted exchanges of the dojo have never been match for the fast moves of the alley, and the Tutor has been defending his Dumpster for years. I am now giving 5 to 1.
Posted by: Harry | July 31, 2004 at 04:40 PM
Why, as The Tutor administers his art, do I think of Vogon poetry? Poor Fred, I do not think this "black belt" of Karate (no do) would last long against Tutor's mastery of the internal martial arts. Hmmm, speaking of internal martial arts: "Make your opponent feel that when he looks upward, you are much taller and when he looks downward, you are much lower. When he moves forward, he should feel that he cannot reach you and when he retreats, he should feel that he has nowhere to escape."
Posted by: John | July 31, 2004 at 07:43 PM
Vogon Poetry, since the entry is a WIKI you could link to Fred's poem about the grackle, by way of illustration.
Posted by: Tutor | July 31, 2004 at 09:39 PM
Go on, just poke him in the nose. All you girlie-men would start apologizing right away, especially if any blood trickled out.
Once you've all made up, you could then go slam-dancing at the nearest poetry cafe and see the real world of poetry ... where tomorrow's WWF'ers are born.
Posted by: Jon Husband | August 03, 2004 at 03:12 AM
Thanks Jon. You strike the right note. We are overcompensating for having read literature.
Posted by: Tutor | August 03, 2004 at 10:42 PM