Mark Edmundson (who teaches English at UVA) has a very amusing, slightly rueful memoir in the Chronicle of Higher Education recalling his youthful animosity to tweeds, Bones, the American reactionary establishment and his enthusiastic embrace of the theoretical tools of deconstruction as a means of sticking it to the Man.
You couldn’t see Skull and Bones from the seminar room in Linsly-Chittenden Hall, though it was directly across the street. But the building was much on my mind the afternoon of the reception and had been from the day I got to New Haven. To my 26-year-old self, it seemed nearly impossible that literature—Keats, Shelley, Shakespeare, Whitman—was sharing space with Skull and Bones. I did not know much about Bones, but I took it to be a bastion of reactionary America. The society reached out its withered hand to tap future Wall Street pirates, CIA agents, and the sort of State Department operatives who had leveraged us into Vietnam, where a number of my high-school buddies had gone to be maimed and worse.
At least the Skull and Bones building looked its part. They called it the Crypt—and it did look like it was designed by Edgar Allan Poe. It was all stone and metal, with no real windows, and doors of enormous weight. Those doors must have closed with the grimmest finality, though never in my five New Haven years did I see them open or shut.
The Crypt was a monument to the dark. It looked like the temple of a demon—Moloch or Beelzebub—one of the devils we discussed in our Milton seminar in the elegantly decomposing room of the Munchkin party.
One day I saw that the Crypt’s front door and the wall next to it were blotched with red: the red of the anarchist flag, the red of rage and retribution. Someone had taken a couple of cans of yowling crimson paint and thrown them at the facade of Skull and Bones. I loved it. Perhaps that night people would mass in front of the building, carrying rakes, scythes, and wrenches. A strike force would arrive armed with five-pound sledgehammers and the requisite silver stakes to take care of the nightwalkers inside.
All right, I got a little carried away. I knew that wasn’t really going to happen. But something might. The university and the community were finally showing distaste for the monument to plutocracy and (why not say it?) death.
This was not what I associated with American education. I’d come from Bennington College, a small liberal-arts school in Vermont, where people worshiped Martha Graham and poetry. After I graduated, I taught at the Woodstock school, a Bennington for high-school students. Woodstock was about playing music and smoking weed, writing spontaneous bop poetry and reading Marx and Kerouac. When they completed the curriculum, the kids applied to college, and things being what they were in America circa 1977, they tended to get in—though not to Yale.
I’d been deluded. I thought that university education entailed reading Whitman during the week and listening to the Grateful Dead on weekends. (“I never cared about money,” the New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd once wrote. “It was not what Country Joe and the Fish taught me to value.”) It seemed that here at Yale, education might be about William Howard Taft and Averill Harriman, all the time. I knew that Yale was renowned for Wall Street connections; I knew that it sent recruits to the CIA; but I thought—what did I think? I thought that the English department, in conjunction with the spirits of Emerson and Whitman, would be at war with what was dark and outdated about Yale. I thought that the English department would win, hands down. But there was the Crypt across the street, and no one was doing anything about it. No one even talked about it.
Then I discovered the opposition at Yale—or at least I thought I did. When I arrived, I was devoted to literature straight out, and my goal was to become learned enough to pass my affection on to students. That was about it. (Though I also liked the hours that professors were rumored to work—I was an expert at engaging in prolonged bouts of doing nothing.) “What we have loved,” Wordsworth says to his friend Coleridge in The Prelude, “others will love, and we will teach them how.” I could teach others how to love Whitman and Ginsberg and be paid for it, if only a pittance. Sign me up.
To my 26-year-old self, it seemed nearly impossible that literature—Keats, Shelley, Shakespeare, Whitman—was sharing space with Skull and Bones.
But the stuff that had the aura of subversion about it wasn’t literature, it was theory. Maybe that was the true alternative to Bonesmanship. After a while, I dropped any illusions I might have had about running the Bones gang out of town. Still, there had to be some kind of alternative culture to Bones culture, to succor the grad students and maybe even save an undergraduate or two from being swallowed alive by Moloch. Maybe theory was 1968 by other means.
Jameson, Hartman, Bloom, Derrida, de Man: All seemed rebellious, and all were right here at Yale.
The Atlantic smiles approvingly and congratulates that dreadful conspiratorial society formerly comprised nearly exclusively of elite white males for going all PC diversity.
The class of 2010 included more ethnic minorities than Caucasians; 2011’s delegation included two gay students, plus one bisexual and one transgender. Last year, women and men were equally split, according to Yalies familiar with the members.
“We try to come up with a group that is representative of the diverse social elements Yale offers,” says a Bonesman from recent years. ...
The organization’s seismic shift also affects the way new members are selected. Bonesmen now actively seek out diverse candidates, in some cases to atone for their predecessors’ role in shunning them.
“Some of us wanted to undo certain attitudes of the past,” says E., a woman selected in the 2000s. “We wanted to actively negate them.”
Actually, the truth of that matter is that Bones was always eminently politically correct, in whatever sense of correctness dominated the politics of the day. One of the surest ways to get tapped for Bones for many years was to be the loudest leftist agitator on campus. The last time Bones tapped an actual known conservative was probably in 1956, when one chairman of the Party of the Right was selected for membership.
The core philosophy of Skull & Bones would be in complete accord with that of Lampedusa’s Don Fabrizio, Prince of Salina, in The Leopard:
“If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change.”
The website WikiLeaks has continued releasing for a fourth day what it says will eventually be 5 million e-mails sent between July 2004 and late December 2011 by the private intelligence company Stratfor. ...
Wikileaks claims that Osama bin Laden’s body was transferred to Dover, Delaware on a CIA plane. An email dated May 2, 2011 states the body will then be moved “…to the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Bethesda.” Two US Air Force Airlift Wings are based at Dover Air Force Base in Dover, Delaware. In another email dated May 2, 2011 a Stratfor staff member expresses doubt that Bin Laden’s corpse was buried at sea and mentions, “We would want to photograph, DNA, fingerprint, etc. His body is a crime scene and I don’t see the FBI nor DOJ letting that happen.”
According to leaked secret files of Statfor, a US security agency, Osama was not buried at sea in an Islamic ceremony but his body was shifted to the military mortuary in Dover, DE, on a CIA plane.
Then it was shifted to the medical institute of US armed forces in Maryland for examination.
At 5:26 a.m. on May 2, the morning after Barack Obama announced the successful raid on Osama bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound, Stratfor CEO George Friedman sent an email that said: “Reportedly, we took the body with us. Thank goodness.”
Fred Burton, Stratfor’s vice president for intelligence, followed that up at 5:51 a.m. with an email titled “[alpha] Body bound for Dover, DE on CIA plane” that said: “Than [sic] onward to the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Bethesda.”
At 1:36 p.m. Burton replied to a thread named “Re: OBL’s corpse” with the message: “Body is Dover bound, should be here by now.”
That contradicts the official story that bin Laden’s body was handled in accordance with Islamic tradition and released into the sea from a U.S. Navy vessel.
If this is true, we need to elect another president from Yale who can see to it that Osama’s skull winds up (along with those of other enemies of the United States like Geronimo) preserved for long-term private appreciation and ridicule inside a certain windowless building on High Street in New Haven, Connecticut.
That Skull and Bones balloting box was not actually sold. Apparently, Christie’s withdrew it from the sale late last month, IvyGate reports, after receiving a mysterious “title claim.” The Russell Trust has plenty of lawyers.
Hot Air (one of the most important conservative blogs) has been sold to Salem Communications. Congratulations and good luck.
As part of the Carnival celebration, preceding the beginning of Lent, in the Spanish village of Laza, “Peliqueiros” or ancient tax collectors, are portrayed wearing warning cowbells and prepared to beat the villagers with sticks.39 Carnival photos.
Stratfor: Tradecraft in Dubai Assassination
Christies will be selling at its New York sale 2287, titled Important American Furniture, Folk Art, Silver & Chinese Export, on January 22nd, lot 157, a Skull and Bones balloting box, along with a membership book dated 1872, the graduation year of the former owner, Edward T. Owen (1850 – 1931).
Owen, after Yale, studied at Gottingen and the University of Paris, and became in 1878 professor of French language and literature at the University of Wisconsin. He taught for one year (1886) at the University of California at Berkeley. Professor Owen was also a successful real estate investor and played a prominent role in creating the park system of Wisconsin’s capital, personally donating significant portions of the city’s parks and drives.
Professor Owen apparently, as a hobby, amassed a very important collection of “lithodoctra,” which he he left to the University of Wisconsin. I am particularly impressed myself, finding the word completely unknown to both Google and the Oxford English Dictionary. Litho is obviously “stone” and doctra “teaching, instruction.” But what on earth are lithodoctra?
Professor Owen’s Bones material includes 50 photographs of members of the Yale Senior Society, including future President William Howard Taft; Morrison Remick White, who later became Chief Justice, and William Maxwell Evarts, who went on to become US Secretary of State.
A long-winded University of Florida student who was asking John Kerry a series of rambling questions had his microphone cut off, then was arrested by a group of uniformed University police.
Andrew Meyer, 21, asserted that Kerry had really won the 2004 election because of Republican suppression of minority votes and voting fraud. He asked why no efforts were underway to impeach Bush, and then proceeded to inquire whether Kerry had belonged to the same Senior Society as Bush at Yale. (The answer is: Yes, he did.)
An explicit reference to oral sex in relation to President Clinton’s impeachment evidently provoked the authorities to turn off the microphone. That level of monitoring seems unusual and excessive in a university context to me.
The same authorities evidently sic’ed their cops on him as well. Someone mildly disrupting an event in this way in many universities might very well be escorted from the room by local security. But, in this case, University of Florida cops responded to Meyer’s protests, questions, and pleas for assistance by throwing him to the ground, hand cuffing him, and administering incapacitating electrical shocks with a Taser as he pled for mercy.
John Kerry, meanwhile, made feeble and ineffective attempts to calm the situation, demonstrating just how decisive he would have been as president in a crisis. The police simply ignored Kerry, and went on brutalizing the screaming student. Throughout the incident, Kerry’s pompous throat-clearings proved inadequate either to stop the violence or to regain the center of audience attention.
Mr. Meyer was evidently charged with resisting arrest and disturbing the peace. Watch for Mr. Meyer’s lawsuits against the University for false arrest and application of excessive force. And be sure you don’t ask John Kerry any questions about Skull and Bones!
AP is reporting that an alleged great-grandson of the fierce Chiricahua Apache warrior Geronimo has heard the urban legend that claims that some Yale men belonging to a well known Yale senior society, while stationed at Fort Sill, Oklahoma during WWI, “crooked” (a traditional society practice meaning “to appropriate for permanent addition to the society’s memorabilia”) Geronimo’s skull, and the alleged great-grandson is writing to the White House and demanding the skull’s return.
Legend has it that Yale University’s ultrasecret Skull and Bones society swiped the remains of American Indian leader Geronimo nearly a century ago from an army outpost in Oklahoma, and now Geronimo’s great-grandson wants the remains returned.
Harlyn Geronimo, of Mescalero, N.M., wants to prove the skull and bones that were purported spirited from the Indian leader’s burial plot in Fort Sill, Okla., to a stone tomb that serves as the club’s headquarters are in fact those of his great-grandfather.
If so, he wants to bury them near Geronimo’s birthplace in southern New Mexico’s Gila Wilderness.
“He died as a prisoner of war, and he is still a prisoner of war because his remains were not returned to his homeland,” said Harlyn Geronimo, 59. “Presently, we are looking for a proper consecrated burial.”
If the bones aren’t those of Geronimo, Harlyn Geronimo is certain they belonged to one of the Apache prisoners who died at Fort Sill. He said they should still be returned.
Harlyn Geronimo sent a letter last year to President Bush, asking for his help in recovering the bones. He figures since the president’s grandfather, Prescott Bush, was allegedly one of those who helped steal the bones in 1918, the president would want to help return them to their rightful place.
But Harlyn Geronimo said: “I haven’t heard a word.”
The White House did not respond to messages asking for comment.
Their alleged custody of Geronimo’s skull is just one of numerous self-aggrandizing legends artfully disseminated by mischievous members of a certain Yale senior society over the course of its long existence.
But some politically correct and probably deluded younger alumni in a recent article in the alumni mag swallowed the yarn hook, line, and sinker.
The Wall Street Journal today published a story (based on an article in the Yale Alumni Magazine) featuring just the kinds of themes illustrative of the arrogance and oppression of the ancien regime beloved by the hearts of liberal journalists.
Skull and Bones, the most prestigious of Yale’s senior societies, derives its public name from its use of that emblem, typical of the Freemasonry-inspired imagery adopted unversally by student fraternities founded in the 19th century Romantic era. Memento mori were characteristically exhibited to remind fraternity members that life is fleeting.
Skull and Bones, from the time of its foundation in 1832, has had a policy of deliberately encouraging wild rumors of its own dark secrets, influence, and power in order to enhance its prestige. One of the most popular legends, right up there with tales of guaranteed lifetime incomes, and Skull and Bones’ alleged control of governments and national economies, is the legend of the Bones collection of the skulls of famous individuals, including that of the famous Apache warrior, Geronimo.
The association of skulls with the society’s emblem supposedly makes their aquisition highly desirable to the society, so generations of enterprising and influential Yale men have spent their spare time bribing officials and excavating graveyards by moonlight in order to carry back prizes to be housed in the recesses of its High Street headquarters. The reality seems to be that the senior society does possess a human skull and pair of femurs, purchased as anatomical specimens back in the 19th century, which have been used emblematically since in annual photographs of class delegations.
A skull is a skull is a skull, and nothing has ever prevented dark hints that this particular skull is Geronimo’s, or Pancho Villa’s, or President van Buren’s. And like the legends of subsidized incomes, or the immense swimming pool supposedly in the club’s basement, the wilder the story, the more eagerly it was taken up and repeated as gossip in the college community. Bonesmen smiled behind the closed doors of their impressive clubhouse, as the hints they dropped, and the rumors they spread themselves, blossomed into wide acceptance, inspiring outsiders with awe.
The Geronimo skull legend made the news wires back about a generation ago, and in 1986 the Yale Society offered to return the supposed Geronimo relic to Indian possession, but Indian representatives were not satisfied with the skull they were offered and were unwilling to sign a receipt for its delivery.