A Sort of Rebuttal A couple of days after the last Observer came out, publishing the criticism of a UT-Arlington professor, Tom Sutherland, of the new literary quarterly at that university, the Dallas News delivered, in an editorial, what might be considered a sort of rebuttal, though the News didn’t mention the Observer article. The News editorial said, in part: “UTA and the Dallas-Fort Worth area are receiving increasing cultural acclaim as a result of the addition_ of this publication to those issued by other universities of the Southwest. Editor [Maurice] .Carlson and his associates at the school deserve support and appreciation for their foresight and accomplishments.” probably be tossed Maya-style into the sacrificial cenote; Democrats heaved a sigh over his fate while the Republicans were able to endure it with more equaI could produce a book for which I have several unfinished drafts; and had ingested several glasses of scotch and several varieties of cheese, ham and uncooked salami. Space, or .at least discretion, does not allow a full account of what follows the punctual adjournment of the Friday Club at six. Let it suffice to say that at this moment of life some members of the weekly concourse do not feel that the day is yet done. There is, indeed, such an inclination to continue moving the moveable feast that wives and other non-participants have questioned the Friday Club as a useful institution. Put them down as nay-sayers and let us proceed. SOMETIME later, when I believed myself in bed, I discovered that a mistake had been made. The space ship in which I sat strapped and armored blasted loose from the the earth with an eldritch scream. After what may have been seconds or years, a timeless plateau entered my mind and I looked out the window. I first looked for Texas and could not find it. I then looked for the earth and could riot make it out either. Turning I saw that I had a companion encased in space’ armor like mine. “Oh, hello, Hanks,” I said. “You still here?” The voice that reverberated through the speaking system was not Hanks’. “This is Dante,” the figure inside the thick space clothing said. “Not Dante Volpe from Zapata county?” I said with emotion, extending a fraternal mitten. “Hell!” shouted the man, “Don’t try to kid me.’ I have been kidded ‘by experts leopards, wolves, lions, princes, popes … I am Dante Alighieri, of noble lineage but humble circumstances, native of Florence, exiled for my defense of right action and civic duty and honored wherever poets are known. Who are you?” “Excuse me,” I said, humoring him, “I am Vergil.” “Where are we?” the poet asked, giving me a penetrating look. “We are ascending into the immense invested funnel of paradise,” I said, checking the log. “We have left the unbaptized children and righteous pagans far behind. We are now passing the hippies and acid heads, the divorced and the haplessly wed, those who make love to one and wish it were another and those who punish themselves in order to have revenge upon kind neighbors.” “Let me speak to one of them,” said Dante. “Let me speak to that fair young gypsy who seems to spend. her time forever grading papers. These people suffer so beautifully!” “It is too late! This rocket is moving at incredible speed. We are now passing the newsmen, teachers, preachers, people who tell it like somebody else says it is.” “Then let me speak to one of them. That man there doing his doctorate forever on Realism. They are so dedicated to error.” “Too late! Too late! We are passing the politicians, advertising executives, physiciansthe people who know the score but won’t tell it.” “Call one over at once,” said the bard. “They are such experts at disguising the truth that they must understand it better than anyone.” “Impossible. The speed!” “Hell!” said Dante, “There must be something wrong with the system of this rocket.” “It is the best that we have in Italy.” AS I SHOUTED, these words, the rocket suddenly jerked, spun, tumbled, and settled slowly onto a waste cra ter that appeared to be a football field surrounded by a vast, deserted and scattered complex of block-like and circular buildings. Beyond, construction was eternally sounding like the surf, as far as the eye could see into an endless level space. There was a sense of eternity and of weather changing, lifting, forever on the waste. The sandhills were antiseptic and comforting. Nothing could grow and nothing could rot. Hardly anything could rust. A yellow dog came out and lay down on a dune, waiting. “Where are we now?” said the poet, when he could speak. “If I am not mistaken,” I said, \(still the University of the Moon. And a thriving place it is too. I hear and see nothing but construction on a panoramic scale. It must have a terrific future. And to think we Italians got here first!” “I am suspicious,” said the Florentine. “There is something unItalian about this whole business, Vergilius. Where are the students? And where are the teachers?” “Let us walk on a little farther past this huge pylonor what is it? Oh, yes, ‘The Bill Marshall Logical Atomic Center.’ I knew him, Dante! A fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy. He poured a flagon of scotch on my head once.” “Stop showing off, quoting Shakespeare,” said the Italian. “After all, he is only an Englishman and a latecomer. And stop calling this a university. Take me to the students and the teachers. Any medieval fool knows that students and teachers are the only proper ingredients of a university.” “You’re out of touch, Alighieri,” I said. Fools aren’t as smart as they were in your time. Anyhow, note this warehouse or is it a building? Oh, yes, it says ‘The Harry Hanks Memorial Administrative Center.’ I knew him, paesano. A Daniel come to judgment. A Horatio at the bridge .. .” “Knock it off,” said Dante. His voice fell to an awed whisper. He clutched my arm, “I see something through that door. Dio mio, it is huge . . . rubbery .. . green. Can it be alive . . I believe it is moving . . . I thought these wretches never lived.” I stared in disbelief. “That,” I whispered spine a-tingle “is the dean.” “Angels and ministers of grave defend us!” said Dante, lifting his sword before him as a crucifix. “Be thou a spirit of wealth or goblin damned? Thou com’st in such questionable shape that I will speak to thee.” “SPEAK ANYTHING,” said the towering creature through a slit that at first I took for a blowout but proved to be his mouth. “I WILL . . . TAKE .. . IT . . . UNDER CONSIDERATION. . . . AND PASS . . . IT . . . ON . . . THROUGH HIGHER CHANNELS.” DANTE LIFTED the hilt of his sword and held it full length toward the dean, not without trepidation “Where are the students and the teachers?” he breathed. The dean ballooned as if injected by more air. “THEY ARE MINUTE MINISCULE* . . MICROSCOPIC. YOU HAVE COME WITHOUT THE NECESSARY REQUIREMENTS: OUR SPECIAL GLASSES SOLD AT THE BOOKSTORE AT AN EXCELLENT PROFIT UNDER DIRECTIVE NO. 22222220.” “Incredible,” exclaimed Dante. “Unspeakable!” “LOOK THROUGH THESE THAT WERE LEFT BY MY PREDECESSOR. THEY MAGNIFY EVEN MORE THAN MINE.” “Amazing,” said Dante, peering. “I see small students running around with placards. Some new pedagogical technique? I see other students who seem to be ired, for they are lying down in front of large vehicles.” “YES, THOSE ARE THE STUDENTS. LOOK A LITTLE HIGHER. THE GLASS-ES ARE BIFOCAL. DO YOU SEE TEACHERS?” “But even more strange! They are bent over almost to the ground where they December 13, , 1968 3
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