Monday, December 27, 2010

Note: Satan and Prometheus

Milton's Satan is a multi-dimensional and transformative figure, and in order to understand the significance of this Satan we must "connect" with Milton's anthropological concerns, and Milton's related analysis and exercise of mythopoetic language. But before we do that (rather my on-going project), let's have a look at what Shelley has to say about Satan as a "political" model.

The Romantics were interested in Milton's Satan because he resembled a liberal and a rebel, but he remained for them a diabolical figure. In his Preface to Prometheus Unbound Shelley neatly characterizes Milton's Satan, and argues that Prometheus is a more fit exponent for the treatment of the liberal political vision Shelley is seeking to express. I believe Milton would agree. Miton's Satan is an unsuccessful rebel, and Milton shows us why. And of course Milton's hero is the more morally intelligent and more politically capable Son.

From his preface to Prometheus Unbound, Shelley on Satan:

The only imaginary being, resembling in any degree Prometheus, is Satan; and Prometheus is, in my judgment, a more poetical character than Satan, because, in addition to courage, and majesty, and firm and patient opposition to omnipotent force, he is susceptible of being described as exempt from the taints of ambition, envy, revenge, and a desire for personal aggrandizement, which, in the hero of Paradise Lost, interfere with the interest. The character of Satan engenders in the mind a pernicious casuistry which leads us to weigh his faults with his wrongs, and to excuse the former because the latter exceed all measure. In the minds of those who consider that magnificent fiction with a religious feeling it engenders something worse. But Prometheus is, as it were, the type of the highest perfection of moral and intellectual nature impelled by the purest and the truest motives to the best and noblest ends.
A little lower, Shelley has this to say on Milton:
We owe the great writers of the golden age of our literature to that fervid awakening of the public mind which shook to dust the oldest and most oppressive form of the Christian religion. We owe Milton to the progress and development of the same spirit: the sacred Milton was, let it ever be remembered, a republican and a bold inquirer into morals and religion. The great writers of our own age are, we have reason to suppose, the companions and forerunners of some unimagined change in our social condition or the opinions which cement it. The cloud of mind is discharging its collected lightning, and the equilibrium between institutions and opinions is now restoring or is about to be restored.


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Call for Submissions: Emanations


The editors of Emanations seek fiction, poetry, essays, manifestos and reviews. The emphasis is on alternative narrative structures, new epistemologies, peculiar settings, esoteric themes, sharp breaks from reality, ecstatic revelations, and vivid and abundant hallucinations.

The editors are interested in recognizable genres—science fiction, fantasy, horror, mystery, local color, romance, realism, surrealism, postmodernism--but the idea is to make something new, and along these lines the illusion of something new can be just as important. If a story or poem makes someone say, "Yes, but what is it?" then it's right for Emanations. Essays should be exuberant, daring, and free of pedantry. Length is a consideration in making publication decisions, but in keeping with the spirit of the project contributors should consider length to be “open.”

Our editorial vision is evolving. Contributors should see themselves as actively shaping the "vision" of Emanations.

Send files with brief cover note to Carter Kaplan:

Board of Editorial Advisors

Ruud Antonius

Horace Jeffery Hodges

Dario Rivarossa

Norman Spinrad, blog

Vitasta Raina

Michael Beard

Elkie Riches

Mike Chivers

Carter Kaplan

Kai Robb, 2

Tessa Dick

Michael Moorcock

Joel K. Soiseth

Mack Hassler

Darren R. Partridge

Emanations is a not-for-profit literary project and contributors cannot be compensated at this time. All proceeds from the sale of Emanations will support the efforts of International Authors to publish new voices from around the world.

Published By International Authors

Please post questions, suggestions and ideas. The project is a collaborative effort, and as we share ideas the "vision" transforms, evolves, and grows. When we write stories and poems we hope to bring to bear the entire battery of modern and postmodern literary devices. More simply: we like good, strong writing. Our essays are incisive, precise, keen, challenging, and driven by the writer's desire to advance an intelligent audience's understanding of important subjects.

Intelligent people find themselves set between two fine-tuned extremes: the narcissistic communities made possible by the internet, and the micro-managed "fields" that are driven by an academic culture that forces people into narrowing corridors of specialization. Emanations is an artistic "way out" for intelligent people to create an exuberant, challenging and meaningful culture. We are pursuing a freedom of sorts, bringing liberty to intelligence. Whether this intelligence is human or perhaps something larger remains to be seen, but by looking into our emanations we might find an answer.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Additional Gloss on Book X and Milton's Project

Apropos to my claims concerning Book X, suffice it to say PL is really good existentialist science fiction, and Milton knows this. The Biblical and the hermetic material in the poem are the carriage but not the tenor. This presupposes that a truly accurate reading--anyway an "Independent" late-Calvinist reading--of the Bible will yield the worldview Milton seeks to exercise and represent. Thus modernism is in essence a Christian philosophical project, sort of an analytic anthropology of shamanism, poetry, religious myth--altogether forming a somewhat acerbic-though-accurate survey of the human condition. As to the Independent English Calvinist foundation: little wonder then at the wrath of the tin pot gods of "postmodernism" and other forms of German mental disease. If we look backwards at Milton trough the lenses of Wittgenstein, Hawthorne, Jefferson and Locke, it seems clear enough. Anyway, that's a potted but essential statement of my critical position.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Book X and the Nature of Paradise Lost

A recent reading of the tenth book of Paradise Lost has embellished my understanding of the nature of the poem.

Book X as an expression of a distinct mytho-analytic problem: Milton is dilating on lines 842-844:
O Conscience, into what Abyss of fears
And horrors hast thou driv'n
me; out of which
I find no way, from deep to deeper plung'd
His analysis of this theme is necessarily forced through the context of the plot and the terms of the characters and language he has to work with, but the entire book seems to be a response to 842-844.

A "reader" can pursue other avenues, but to do so is to mistake the particular character of the poem, and to go astray--and so generate various
het readings, if I may deploy a little Hebrew here.

That is, PL is not an exercise in Biblical exegesis or a celebration of the coarse associations produced by commonplace poetical mechanics, but is rather a sophisticated modern poem bringing to bear the remarkably protean tool of "mythical-epic" language to express a manifold of analytic procedures. It represents modern analyses of modern problems. The Biblical stuff, the story, the characters, the music, the emotional content--all are points of departure, and to some extent the vehicles, but not the destination.

Another way to figure this: The appropriate cover for PL should not
be a sharply-drawn realistic illustration by Dore or Durer, but more properly a well-theorized abstraction by Kandinsky or Tanguy printed on thin translucent paper, and which turns over to reveal a closely-controlled dreamscape by Dali--and vice-versa, if you will.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Everglades Photo Journal by Margaret Evans

Photographer's statement:
The Everglades: Unique, Magical, Mystical. Photographs taken by Margaret Evans October/November 2009. It may take a lifetime to fully appreciate all that the Everglades National Park in southern Florida has to offer. The territory covers 1.4 million acres of water-covered land and is home to more than 300 species of birds in addition to numerous reptiles, invertebrates, mammals and innumerable species of trees and plants. The Park has been designated a World Heritage Site, an International Biosphere Reserve, and a Wetland of International Importance. This mosaic of mangroves, cypress swamps, hardwood hammock, and sawgrass wetlands is the only subtropical preserve in North America.

Professor Margaret Evans is a faculty member in the Communication/Journalism Department at Shippensburg University. The photographs in this exhibit were taken during a fall 2009 sabbatical leave project in the Florida Everglades.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Milton's Project

Milton's project is to take the Independent Calvinist worldview and from it render a secular anthropological and political understanding. This worldview is "modern" in the sense that religion and the power of the church are mitigated (first) by knowledge and scientific skepticism and (second) by constitutional policy that denies magisterial power to churches. Magisterial power is reserved exclusively to the state--this is the substance of Locke's Letter on Toleration and Jefferson's Virginia Act of Religious Freedom. In this particular and others, Milton laid the groundwork for Locke and Jefferson, who carried Milton's project forward, refining the modern worldview by defining and designing institutions--education, balance of powers, property and labor rights, natural rights, the obligations of governments and the duties of citizens, a free press, the fair and equitable distribution of wealth, and so on--that would establish and maintain the processes of an open, free and liberal society.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Jefferson on the Presumption of Uninspired Men

"The impious presumption of legislators and rulers, civil as well as ecclesiastical, who being themselves but fallible and uninspired men, have assumed dominion over the faith of others, setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and as such endeavouring to impose them on others, hath established and maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world, and through all time."

—Thomas Jefferson, The Virginia Act of Religious Freedom

Monday, August 23, 2010

Political Science: 1933 & 34

Hitler addresses the folk, 1933:

Hitler addresses the party, 1934:

It is important to note the following distinction:

1) The 1933 speech was for public consumption and rolls out the talking points and especial "codes" that lead the party to power.

2) The 1934 speech addresses NAZI Party concerns, which rather comes off as a mix of corporate religion and politics.

While the former speech is of interest to history, the latter is of interest to political science.

It's clear to see in the 1934 speech (and I have seen this described elsewhere) that Hitler set party members against each other to enhance the "strength" and "integrity" of the power structure, as well as to enhance his position at the top.

In regard to Hitler's language, figures of speech and logic in the 1934 party speech: The subtitles either represent a poor translation, or this is indeed the face of ruptured sense and meaningless language, the very mark of totalitarian madness.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

From Mod to Chav in Three Generations: Historical Footnote on the Death of the British Working Class

The traditional British Working Class came to be regarded by their masters as "redundant" for various economic and political reasons: the former role of imperial soldier was taken over by assets of the American Global Police Force, manufacturing was transferred off-shore, and the political obstacle to efficient social and economic management represented by the working class was widely recognized as an interrelated and compound problem. For these reasons (some would also emphasize "aesthetic considerations") an effort was mounted to mitigate and, eventually, remove this sector of the British population. Globalism afforded an opportunity to achieve these ends. A sector of the British working class, the hard-working lower-middle-class clerks (especially the highly-motivated class of self-styled “progressives”) would, as usual, play its functionary role; and popular media, itself enhanced by progress made early in the process by methods of cultural exploitation pioneered by the working class themselves, provided an useable instrument of control. Through Globalism, the means of production was moved to zones of enhanced profitability, and through the apparatus of the welfare system the workers were made dependent upon the state for their support and sustenance. Meanwhile, the entertainment industry provided workers with role models that valorized self-destructive behaviors. The project was successful, and within three generations the mass of the British working classes was weakened to a point where their political clout was thoroughly mitigated. Meanwhile, traditional Liberal forces--middle class traders and professionals—finding themselves discouraged by the behavior and the appearance of the working class, were alienated from it, and the traditional political, cultural and ideological ties which had previously strengthened both classes were cut. Systems of social support were now removed, and the working class, or rather the spectral shadow of the storied British Working Class, was purged.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Future of the Library

Interesting report here on a meeting held last week exploring the future of the library:

Participants included Prof. Mack Hassler of Kent State University; Liz Murphy, proprietor of The Learned Owl Book Shop in Hudson, Ohio; and Ed Rossman, Adult Services Librarian at Shaker Heights Pubic Library. Mr. Rossman is also the author of Castles Against Ignorance: How to Make Libraries Great Educational Environments. Carrie Baker Dubiel, reference librarian at Twinsburg Library, moderated the event.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Crawl Out of Your Pupa

I don't think crying will help
There's nothing good on TV
Rock stars take up your time
Books are good can you read?

Crawl out of your pupa
But don't come crawling to me
Crawl out of your pupa
Create you own destiny

Love is something we live on
Like flowers rolling in weeds
So drop your play acting
Roaring wind shakes the trees

Crawl out of your pupa
But don't come crawling to me
Crawl out of your pupa
Create your own destiny

Spend your life in a pupa
A butterfly building its wings
Cicada sings in the oak tree
You were born to float on the breeze

Crawl out of your pupa
But don't come crawling to me
Crawl out of your pupa
Create your own destiny

Thursday, April 8, 2010

XB-70 Aesthetics

I do not know nor
May I ever know
Mach 3 at 70,000 feet
But I approve it
Just the same
As falling in Love
With a good-looking
Blonde who shines
Bright as a Valkyrie
Sent by the gods
To drag the dead away.
"Do you believe in Love
At first sight?"
"Yes," Ringo sang,
"I'm certain
That it happens
All the time."

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Art of the Prose Poem: From the Secular Iconography of Inevitable Progress to the Valorization of a Dreadful Absurdity

"Up, reach up! Higher! Higher! Rise and ascend!" we cried. "Roar forth against the brow of the boundless sky, O bird of silver steel and singing flame!" And, dog-gone-it, up she went!

In those days we were all rocket scientists, our ballistic fleets mere child's play, day after day seducing us, propelling us, thrusting us, exalting us toward an effortless sense of glue-together achievement transcending the mundanity of worldly morality and the neck-breaking burden of the geopolitical albatross!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Author Function and the Author's Work

Various lines from wikipedia outlining Barthes' thoughts on the Death of the Author and Foucault's concept of the Author Function:

In ["The Death of the Author"], Barthes criticizes the method of reading and criticism that relies on aspects of the author's identity — his or her political views, historical context, religion, ethnicity, psychology, or other biographical or personal attributes — to distill meaning from the author's work. In this type of criticism, the experiences and biases of the author serve as a definitive "explanation" of the text. For Barthes, this method of reading may be apparently tidy and convenient but is actually sloppy and flawed:

"To give a text an Author" and assign a single, corresponding interpretation to it "is to impose a limit on that text."

In [his essay "The Author Function"], Foucault posits that the legal system was central in the rise of the author, as an author was needed (in order to be punished) for making transgressive statements. This is made evident through the rise of the printing press during the time of the Reformation, when religious texts that circulated challenged the authority of the Catholic Church.

The author function does not affect all texts in the same way. For example, the author of a science text books is not clear or definable as the author of a well known novel. It is not a spontaneous creation or entity, but a carefully constructed social position.

Critics interested in pursuing such matters will be pleased to learn that Tally-Ho, Cornelius! is a good point of departure for an inquiry into the nature of authoriety, the deconstruction of the "author function," and the nature and genealogy of transgressive statements. Indeed, these issues form deliberate themes (and meta-themes) in the novel. Jerry Cornelius, which Mr. Moorcock created as a sort of "share ware" trademark everyman (see the wiki article on JC, here) has been utilized by many authors over the years. This shared control over the character is part of his meaning, which plays upon a range of Continental ontological theories ranging from Rousseau to Foucault, meanwhile bringing to bear an incredulous (some might say "flip") British skepticism that, when it's all mixed together, produces fascinating literary/philosophical effects, as well as some unusual comedy.

What I found rather curious as I composed the novel is that the humor reminded me a lot of the aesthetic I find in Hawthorne and Milton, and I think often the reader can tell (perhaps it seems more obvious to me) that the writer--that is "I"--was evidently deeply impressed when he--"I"--read Paradise Lost and The Scarlet Letter. Significant to me as a reader is how Tally-Ho, Cornelius! brought me into a greater appreciation for Milton's and Hawthorne's humor. Moreover, I think Hawthorne and Milton are more hilarious fellows than most critics are willing to admit. Along these lines, I think this is true also of Gurdjieff--who is a capital joker, though you wouldn't necessarily get this from reading the people who write about Gurdjief, whoever they are.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Succulent Suite (The Astral Plane Song of Karak-kar-ka-krak-sha)

Through sticky strands of flying tales
My friendships seem to pass,
Where wise old owls and little girls
Are laughing at the past.

Into the sun the flowers turn
Their petals brush the sky,
Honey bees fly into them
If you follow so will I.

A spider spins a web
And seems to go away,
But she remains to hatch her egg
Just watch the shadows sway.

If some song’s seven meanings
Leave much unexplained,
Open your eyes, don’t cheat yourself
What will be will save the day.

About elliptical clouds of ellipsoids
My refractions fly so fast,
Where crooked, aglow the dying woes
Are sailors before the mast.

Through corridors of spinning stars
A looking glass leads the way,
Against the frozen dust of a silent moon
The fires of the sun display.

Large corpuscles sublime appear,
They inflate amongst the mist.
Toward the goal they seem to soar
They lead the Just to bliss.

If you say your name backward
Does it sound the same?
Aleister Crowley has a job for you
On the Astral Plane.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Another Introduction to Analytic Philosophy

The context is learning about the Talmud, and the humor is dry, perhaps boring for some, but the main thrust of the story says a lot about the essential meaning of Analytic Philosophy:

The Priest meets his friend, the Rabbi, and says to him "You have taught me many things but there is one thing in particular I want to learn very much but you do not wish to teach it to me. I want you to teach me the Talmud."

The Rabbi replied: "You are a Non-Jew and you have the brain of a Non-Jew. There is no chance that you will succeed in understanding the Talmud."

But the Priest continued in his attempt to persuade the Rabbi to teach him the Talmud. Finally, the Rabbi agreed. The Rabbi then said to the Priest: "I agree to teach you the Talmud on condition that you answer one question."

The Priest agreed and asked the Rabbi "What is the Question?"

The Rabbi then said to the Priest: "Two men fall down through the chimney. One comes out dirty and the other comes out clean. Who of those two goes to wash up."

"Very Simple," replied the Priest. "The one who is dirty goes to wash up but the one who is clean does not go to wash up."

The Rabbi then said to the Priest: "I told you that you will not succeed in understanding the Talmud. The exact opposite happened. The clean one looks at the dirty one and thinks that he is also dirty, goes to wash up. The dirty one, on the other hand, looks at the clean one and thinks that he is also clean and, therefore, does not go to wash up."

The Priest then says to the Rabbi: "This I did not think of. Ask me, please, another question."

The Rabbi then says to the Priest: "Two men fall down through the chimney. One comes out dirty and the other comes out clean. Who of these two goes to wash up?"

The Priest then says to the Rabbi: "Very simple. The clean one looks at the dirty one and thinks he is also dirty and goes to wash up. The dirty one, on the other hand, looks at the clean one and thinks that he is also clean and, therefore, does not go to wash up."

The Rabbi then says to the Priest: "You are wrong again. I told you that you will not understand. The clean one looks into the mirror, sees that he is clean and, therefore, does not go to wash up. The dirty one looks into the mirror, sees that he is dirty and goes to wash up."

The Priest complains to the Rabbi "But you did not tell me that there is a mirror there."

The Rabbi then tells the Priest: "I told you. You are a Non-Jew, with your brain you will not succeed in understanding the Talmud. According to the Talmud, you have to think of all the possibilities."

"Alright," groaning, said the Priest to the Rabbi. "Let us try once more. Ask me one more question."

For the last time, said the Rabbi to the Priest. "Two men fall through the chimney. One came out dirty and the other came out clean. Who of these two went to wash up"

"That is very simple!" replied the Priest. "If there is no mirror there the clean one will look at the dirty one and will! think that he is also dirty and will, therefore, go to wash up. The dirty one will look at the clean one and will think that he is also clean, and will, therefore, not go to wash up. If there is a mirror there, the clean one will look into the mirror and will, therefore, not go to wash up. The dirty one will look into the mirror and will see that he is dirty and will, therefore go to wash up."

The Rabbi then says to the Priest: "I told that you will not succeed in understanding. You are a Non-Jew, you have a Non-Jewish Brain. Tell me, how is it possible for two men to fall through a chimney and for one to come out dirty and for the other to come out clean?"

I should also suggest this sort of thing is key to unlocking the humor--and there is a lot of it--we find in the Gospels.

Click here for source.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Yes, but where does this "Donkey Ride" come from?

The critical reception for my "Donkey Ride" has been positive, thus far. There has been some small confusion regarding the, ahem, "reactionary subtext" of the poem, but acting swiftly and with the aid of an amanuensis, I have put an end to the rumor (perhaps started by an emulator?) that the poem is in any way a squib tossed in the direction of Mr. Arthur Quiller-Couch, or, for that matter, any other fellow traveler. Still--alas, still--while critics are unanimous in their approval, no small controversy has emerged over the question of the fountainhead of my vision. What, they demand, could possibly be the source for this new (that is to say never-before-seen) extrinsic phantasm? "Surely," as one critic fleered, "Mr. Kaplan is not asking us to ponder Wittgenstein, again?" I should retort the origins of that statement are obvious, and I am not, I repeat not going for that bait, again. Ha, ha, ha. Really, my friends, while it is usually incumbent upon the literary artist to smile coquettishly and demure when prodded to reveal the source of his inspiration, I think I should (to confound my nemesis, if nothing else) break the rule this one time and hint, and not without some indication, that the muse which moves my pen in the case of my animal poetry, at least as it concerns six-legged subjects, is in fact Italian composer Antonio Vivaldi.

But wait, a donkey has only four?

Ah, but does it!

An Invitation to Ride a Donkey

The Donkey Ride

Riding down the dusty trail
The desert smells like bones
The horny toads feed the owls
The black crows laugh and caw

Over the hills your donkey goes
His foot is true and sure
Jumbo jets etch the sky
Time has turned to stone

You think you lost your way
But your donkey is not slow
Bankers and pirates have no claim
‘cause a donkey needs no roads

Across a desert wide and cruel
Across to the other side
Any old donkey will take you there
If you have the guts to try

So ride a donkey if you dare
The good Lord holds it dear
He won't forget the pact you made
When you scratched that donkey's ear

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Milton Presents the Fall

When precisely in Paradise Lost does the "fall" take place? When Adam makes the mental decision to follow Eve's advice? As they actually share the apple? When their transgression is discovered by the angels? When they are expelled from Paradise?

As an overture, the question that first comes to mind is this: does Milton present any contrasting theological positions in Paradise Lost and De Doctrina? That is, is he writing for the same purpose, or does each work address similar subjects but for different purposes?

Similarly, might Milton's gloss on the supralapsarian and sublapsarianism doctrines (does Milton comment on the Synod of Dort?) inform our understanding of where/when the fall took place? Or, like Calvin, does he simply set forth the doctrine and then retreat from elaboration. Calvin is moving on for his own purposes, while Milton—or so it would seem—is using the question as a point of departure to display his learning, spin myth, and crack jokes to delight his fellow travelers?

The poem's initial descriptions of humanity's fall are not humorous, however. Consider Milton's descriptions of the universe going through various contortions.

When Eve plucks the apple from the tree:

Earth felt the wound, and Nature from her seat

Sighing through all her Works gave signs of woe,

That all was lost. (PL 9.782)

As Adam eats the apple:

Earth trembl'd from her entrails, as again

In pangs, and Nature gave a second groan,

Skie lowr'd, and muttering Thunder, som sad drops

Wept at compleating of the mortal Sin

Original; (PL 9.1000)

It is important to consider that in Paradise Lost it is not the contemplation of transgression that precipitates the fall, but the actual act of transgression itself. As evidence, consider Eve’s dreaming of disobedience in Book V. As Adam advises her, sinful thoughts are not themselves sinful unless they are “approved;” that is, acted upon. Too contemplate sin is not to sin.

Evil into the mind of God or Man

May come and go, so unapprov’d, and leave

No spot or blame behind: (PL 5.117)

So it would seem the specific act of eating the apple precipitates the fall.

Though the specific act of eating the apple precipitates the fall, the nature of that fall is rather curious. The conclusion of Book IX shows us that the "fall" is characterized by, first, enthusiastic love-making, and then, second, by an absurd domestic squabble, in which Adam and Eve blame each other for the transgression. Indeed, Milton's comedic hand is quite plainly evident at the end of Book IX: The "Fall" is an archetypical domestic argument between husband and wife. What is even more absurd is that in this case they are arguing over who is to blame for the Fall of Humanity. The passage is a delightful drawing-room farce, pure drollery.

Though, indeed, is there any state more "fallen" than a knock-down quarrel between a husband and wife?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

How to Write a Proposal Letter


All this exciting talk of business conferences and leadership seminars has me thinking about the vast motivation conference industry. Why shouldn’t our own organization, Kaplan and Martindale, Inc. try its hand in this field?

What I propose is a series of conferences called “From Schlemiel to Schtoonk: Action Power Seminars.” We’ll put our clients on a track that will correspond to how many times they attend our meetings, for which we'll charge a nominal admission fee of $579 dollars. In order to enhance a sense of progress and success, our clients will receive certificates that recognize their progress as they move up from “ Schlemiel to Schtoonk.” Here are descriptions of the success levels:

Level One: Schlemiel.

The Schlemiel is the real bedrock of corporate organization. He or she is in a unique situation to grapple with entrepreneurial opportunities where the rubber really meets the road, where, in fact, the Schlemiel often gets run over. Certificate fee: $25 dollars.

Level Two: Schmuck.

What can I say? The Schmuck is probably the most recognized face in the business world today, and the occasion of clients receiving their Schmuck Certificate always creates great excitement at the seminars, where becoming a Schmuck is followed by heavy drinking. Certificate fee: $75 dollars

Level Three: Lucky Schmuck.

A real milestone. The Lucky Schmuck is recognized for his mastery of the art of getting paid for doing nothing. And who says doing nothing is without value? It beats working! And, anyway, not having something to do is of little concern to the Lucky Schmuck, because he doesn’t want to do anything meaningful in the first place. Certificate fee: $178 dollars.

Level Four: Lt. Schmendrick.

Our Lt. Schmendricks are real go-getters. You can recognize them by their chiseled features, beady eyes, and that radiant aura of keen entrepreneurial ability that says, “I’m ready to kick my fellow Schmendricks down stairs!” Certificate Fee: $237 dollars.

Level Five: Full Schmendrick.

Very few conference clients ever make it to full Schmendrick, and I’m going to tell you why. First, the requirements to become a Full Schmendrick are very difficult to achieve. Characteristics such as good grooming and meticulous personal hygiene, finely chiseled facial features, and the ability to speak to large numbers of people and successfully deceive them are rarely found altogether in a single individual. Indeed, it’s rare to find these qualities in twenty Lt. Schmendricks combined. Also, the Full Schmendrick must possess the ability to make things happen around him without people’s knowledge. This is not to say that our Full Schmendrick is a Machiavel, but it is perhaps indicative that our Full Schmendrick is most often found working in black budget government intelligence departments, or in the motivational speaking industry. Also, the certificate for this level is quite expensive, and anybody willing to pay for it has got to be a Schlemiel! Certificate Fee: $925 dollars.

Level Six: Schtoonk.

Our highest distinction. Everybody hates the Schtoonk, talks behind his back, envies him, but at the same time obeys him without question, flatters him to his face, and secretly wishes he could become a Schtoonk himself. Really, to be a Schtoonk is the Walter Mitty dream of all our clients. Schtoonks are very wealthy, and they are welcome to attend our seminars free of charge. Actually, people who pay for our meetings are forever disqualified from obtaining the level of Schtoonk, but only you and I are privy to this information.

It's a great opportunity, Chip, and I suggest we move on it pronto!

Talk to you soon,