Friday’s Weekly Round-Up – 503

Outrage! – The watering down of the African-American curriculum in American schools under obsequious capitulation to political pressure.
Frank Scandale’s article on the posthumous censorship of Amiri Baraka (quoting heavily from his son, the Newark mayor, Ras Baraka) is one you simply must read.

“In the AP curriculum, (the College Board’s Advanced Placement course in African-American Studies)  Baraka’s references were listed under “Black Power, Black arts, Black Pride and the Birth of Black Studies'” – .“This topic explores the influence of the Black Power Movement on the emergence of the Black Arts Movement’s artist-activists and intellectuals in the 1960s and 1970s. Students may examine various forms of visual art and an example of the writings of Amiri Baraka (sic).”
Under the topic of “The Evolution of African-American Music”, this section urges students to study how African-American music influences the production of the broader American music – “Students may examine performances and scholarship in ethnomusicology from a writer such as Portia Maultsby and Amiri Baraka (sic)”

Both these references have been willfully expunged. They no longer appear in the curriculum.


Pablo Neruda (1904-1973)

More blockbuster news – Pablo Neruda – The news emerged this week (long-awaited and long-suspected), following exhumation and extensive post-mortem, that the Nobel-prize-winning-poet did not die from cancer (as was originally presented as the case) but was poisoned.

Yesterday’s New York Times reports:

“On Wednesday, after a decade-long investigation, a team of international forensic experts gave a Chilean judge their final report about their analysis of Mr. Neruda’s exhumed remains. It was a moment Chileans had long been awaiting.
So, was Mr. Neruda murdered? Their answer was not very satisfying: Maybe.”


“The scientists found in Mr. Neruda’s body a potentially toxic type of bacteria that would not naturally occur there, and confirmed that it was in his system when he died, according to a two-page summary of the report …But they could not distinguish whether it was a toxic strain, and they could not conclude whether he was injected with the bacteria or if, instead, it came from contaminated food.”

Maybe? –  The Guardian, the previous day,  drawing from an AP report, published prior to Wednesday’s announcement (and picked up by much of the international press), had a somewhat less equivocating report, drawing on the assertions of Rodolfo Reyes, Neruda’s nephew, who has long been central in pursuit of the truth and persistent in the on-going   investigation.

Who administered the poison? – Why was it administered?  He has long asserted that Neruda’s death (occurring just days after Chile’s 1973 military coup) was political assassination.
Neruda, a vociferous supporter of Salvador Allende, (Allende rewarded him with the position of ambassador to France), once Augusto Pinochet assumed power, was clearly a significant and potential threat to the Pinochet regime, a galvanizing, charismatic figure.

More than 3,000 people were assassinated, 40,000 forcibly disappeared, and thousands more detained from 1973 to 1990 during Pinochet’s rule. This included several high-profile cultural figures such as poet, singer, activist, Victor Jara. State-sanctioned murder would be very much in keeping with what we already know.

“The bullet has been found, but who shot it?”, Reyes declared to the Spanish press,
“We’re yet to find out but what is now known for certain is that he was killed and someone was involved”


Censorship –  (it seems to be the theme this week) – Amanda Bartlett in The San Francisco Chronicle looks back to the ‘Sixties  (post-“Howl”) and an extraordinary example of erotic censorship – Lenore Kandel‘s 1966 volume, The Love Book

“I kiss your shoulder and it reeks of lust / the lust of erotic angels fucking the stars / and shouting their insatiable joy over heaven.”

Is there really anything so terribly offensive about that? – In fact, quite the contrary.

More ‘Sixties curios – Allen features  (via Benedict J Fernandez’s classic image) in a curious show, “Am Yisrael High: The Story of Jews and Cannabis”, currently up in New York at the Yivo Institute for Jewish Research  for a couple more months.  Billie Anania reviews the show for Hyperallergichere

The Beat Generation in Spain  –  For our Spanish-speaking readers,  Pablo E. Zorrilla López presents a brief and informative introduction – here 

The great Thelonious Monk passed away on this day, 1982.  Here’s Monk:

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