And Now For Something Completely Different: Cults of Personality

Quotes following are from an article in the 16 December 2004 Economist (“The Last Great Personality Cults”)


When a train carrying explosives blew up in North Korea last April, setting fire to nearby buildings, several people died trying to save portraits of their “Dear Leader,” Kim Jong Il, from the flames.  Some rescued pictures of the pudgy dictator before searching for trapped relations.


“Communism was brought to its knees because nobody wants to wear Bulgarian shoes.”  (quote attributed to P. J. O’Rourke, “an American humorist”)


In North Korea, “chaperones escort foreign visitors everywhere, lying constantly.”


The population there (North Korea) falls into three classes:  loyal, wavering and hostile.


The hysterical mourners at Kim senior’s funeral in 1994 were not all faking it.  Some people, it seems, really do yearn for a leader so strong, virtuous and brilliant that he will solve all problems —  and moreover they believe that such a person may exist.

Self could go on and on and on.  But she has a Stanford class to visit today, and books to write.  Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

What Self Learned From Reading The Rumpus on the Subject of the Recent AWP Conference

The funniest stories self has thus far encountered on the just-concluded AWP Conference are on

The Rumpus

courtesy of Grace Talusan’s blog.

Grace, self didn’t know you had pneumonia when we had the panel. You are such a trouper.

But, self digresses. What self would really like to do is address the following:

  • Why is The Rumpus so heavy on observations by Stanford lecturers?
  • Where was Nicholas DelBanco? Self never saw hide nor hair of him. If she had known he was present she would have made sure to try and bump into him.

With regards to the “family reunion” comment by Grace, self had three encounters with friends she hadn’t seen in years — all within five minutes, while traversing the 3rd floor hallway, on the way from the Waldorf Room to the elevators. Also, on her next to last day, as she was exiting the Hilton, she bumped into Star, a fellow-VCCA fellow. And Star was taking pictures of a gorgeous, tall, statuesque African American woman in a blinding white coat, with matching flower in her hair.

In addition, self was so glad she didn’t need to attend the “Shameless Book Promotion” panel, for that job was performed by Louise Nayer of City College of San Francisco, who summarizes it all on, again, The Rumpus.

As for the “very innovative bookfair table ideas” cited by Laura Van den Berg, who declares One Story to be the winner, self begs to disagree: that honor has to go to Miami University Press, which had a run on its neon-colored back-scratchers. Self was there in person to witness how student Nora had to replenish supply, after less than an hour.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

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