Wednesday, August 15, 2007

“All we are is dust in the wind, Dude.” Ted to Socrates in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.


I wonder if one can be bemused and saddened at the same time. Socrates claimed that sensation at his trial; the day he left the Agora for what he hoped would be a better world.

My last post before the summer break was a rather hurried and terse pictorial observation on the differing fates of Congressman Jefferson of Louisiana and Paris Hilton of inherited millions. My point was that Jefferson's “sins” were eagerly set aside by a Democratic controlled Congress and media while Paris got a taste of what she deserved; despite her parent’s money.

I return from a paradisiacal summer to find that my message had been read and commented on by two blogers who claimed to have known me in their youth. I am forced to ponder who they really are. I will quote them here:

“Steve said...

Lysis,I'm assuming your initials are D.C. I worked at Camp Bartlett for seven summers, including one summer when you were the Camp Director. I quickly grew to love and admire you. That was one of my favorite summers.Luckily, we didn't talk about politics at camp.What a shock to look you up years later, only to find your blog filled with such vitriolic nonsense, cloaked in a veneer of nationalism and self-righteousness. I would have thought that of all the figures of my youth, you would be the one to show a little compassion toward humankind.To say I am extremely disappointed is putting it mildly.
1:48 PM”



I have known several Steves in my years as Camp Director. But since this one gives no real information as to his identity, I am afraid I cannot even guess who he is. I am inclined to think that the post is a fraud . It is a sad truth about the blogger’s world that most anyone can claim most anything and then watch the effect of their mischief from the shadows. Anyway – Steve uses the term “vitriolic” to describe my questions and comments here in the Agora. If he really is a “former” friend, perhaps he could consider that the purpose of this forum has been to stir debate and that the taking of controversial stances in a method of stimulating thought. Argument leads us to truth; the gadfly stirs us to thought. On the other hand, I can only smile at one to whom the truth is bitter. That is the hallmark of the relativists; devoid of substantive positions; they are forced to deal in half truths, innuendo, name calling, and outright deception.

For tens of thousands of words I have presented arguments and facts; Steve neither cites nor challenges any of these; he simply spits bitterness from the dark recesses of cyberspace.

As for the poster who calls himself, “Enlightened Former Saint”; his post reads:

“Enlightened former saint said...

I echo what Steve said,In my youth I looked upon you Lysis as someone thoughtful and free. I was surprised to stumble upon this festering pile of ultra right wing nonsense. Indeed you have sucked down the kool-ade of those you seemed to ridicule. I don't know where the change came from. Perhaps you were just this loopy anyhow and adolescent passion, or as you termed it "romance" clouded my youthful mind. When did you abandon reason and inquiry for obstinate proclamations of fear and hate.
2:20 AM”
Once more the poster gives no clue to his real identity – sad indeed – and once more he also fails to provide a single example of the nonsense or proclamations of fear and hate he claims to find here in the Agora. I am forced to ask him if it is the truth that is “Right Wing”? As he calls himself a “Former Saint” I must assume that he abandoned his “romantic” faith in God along with his adolescent passion for me. He and Steve should have a good time echoing each other’s empty accusations.

Should either of them care to give examples from the materials posted here in the Agora of the “nonsense” they claim exists, I would be willing to attempt to explain or defend my positions. I have little hope of such a reasoned exchange, but I invite it in all optimism.

Now on to things more important, at least to me.

The end of my thirty-sixth summer at Scout Camp – my thirty-first as a director - has put me in a mind for ending things. I began this web-log as a kind of lark, a dabbling in the computer world of a friend. I had no idea I would spend so many pleasant and thought provoking hours at the Agora. In the past years I have learned much from many who have taken the time and trouble to post here. I have honed my own writing skills, and even improved my spelling – though I must admit that it takes a caring eye to detect that refinement.

I have spent the entire summer at camp,“cold turkey”, without news; no papers, no Fox , nor CNN, no internet, no hours following CSPAN, nor listening to Carl Castle and gang on the NPR. Monday, I came “down from my mountain” to find that the world had gone on the same without my tending to its problems. President Bush has continued to defend our nation and the West, - for this I thank God continually - the Democrats continue to choose party and personal power over county, over reason itself. Murder and lies are still the tools of the enemies of humanity, and salvation is still bought with the precious blood of loving heroes.

I am inclined to leave the Agora, to take a dose of symbolic hemlock, and pass into the unknown, seeking the reasoned company of whatever gods and heroes I find populating my next fields of endeavor.

For those who might be interested, I am planning to open a Web Page for the Camp Loll Alumni Association. There I will confine my efforts to happy memories of days without bitterness, and to dreams of future service in the Elysian Fields of Yellowstone. Perhaps some of you will join me there. I will post information on this string, should this dream come true.

29 comments:

Douglas said...

I noticed your spelling improvement. But as one of the privileged group that can call itself your staffers, I do have a caring eye for that. I have followed your blog with interest over the years, and look forward with delight to a Loll Alumni website. Bring it.
-pk

truth to power said...

Please don't go, Lysis! I was so excited to see a new post here. You're just out of the habit; once you get re-immersed in current events and we get some real debate going again, I hope you'll decide you don't want to quit.

a quiet listener said...

i look forward to your new website. it's long overdue. i'll be glad to still have some way to keep in touch with so many who have camp in common.

and of course it will give me a way to tell you all about this last summer spent out of the Elysian Fields.

RealFruitBeverage said...

Everytime I hear about the Loll Alumni I can't help feel like a human watching all his elvish friends prepare to sail off.

Silver Lining said...

Though I've no real authority to do so, RFB, I will venture to say that those who are Loll Alumni consider so much one of them and one with their ways that like Bilbo and Frodo, you would gladly be taken across the sea with the elves. You hardly look like a hobbit though.

Lysis said...

RFB – Not all elves crossed the sea the first time. Some stayed in Middle Earth until the end of that age – but then they were gladly received in the West. If want to sail with us accept our thanks for keeping us safe and our invitation to be forever with us.

Reach Upward said...

Argument may lead to truth, but that is not always the case. You of all people should know that debate can become little more than a sports arena, where the matters under discussion matter far less than the perceived outcome of "the game."

I don't know who the two real or concocted former camp staffers you reference are or what they are thinking. Having known and worked with you both as a youth and as an adult, I must say that you have been remarkably consistent. I think it is more probable that these gentlemen have changed. They even seem to admit as much in their commentary. I must assume that they have been away for so long that they have not seen for themselves the fruits of your labors -- actual outcomes that exceed words written or spoken.

30 years ago next month you called me on the phone in the capacity of your professional position at the time. That phone call led to a pathway that permanently changed my life for the better. Regardless of whether you choose to continue posting at the Agora, I will always thank God for that phone call and for the decades of great things that resulted from it.

Dan Simpson said...

Well, I hope this blog keeps going, but either way, I look forward to the Loll alumni page.

Oh, by the way, I got a job, I now work for the state attorney general's office

Lysis said...

Reach Upward,

Thank you for the kind words. The phone call you mention has made my life much better too.

Dan Simpson,

Congratulations, “The Race is not to the swift, but he that endures to the end!” I am sure I join all your friends in congratulating you on reaching your dream. I appreciate greatly your willingness to apply you talents and learning to the service of our State, to the support of each of us. Thank you – and well done.



NOW FOR SOME NEWS:

The Camp Loll Alumni Web Site is UP! Type in www.camplollalumni.org and you will see our first efforts. This is only the tiniest of beginnings. I hope to put up more items almost daily. If you have any suggestions for things that you would like to see at the Alumni web site, please post them here At the Agora for now. As time goes on there will be ways to communicate at the Alumni Page itself.

Well, here we go!

Anonymous said...

I would like to know how one goes about becoming a member of the Alumni and how to donate.

Lysis said...

Anonymous;

The Alumni we are reaching out to are those who have been members of the Camp Loll Staff at any time in the past. However, I feel anyone who has an interest in the success of Camp Loll is free to participate.

How we will contact each other, and the policies by which we will collect and administer funds to Loll have yet to be established.

On the web page I reference here I simply hope to develop a place for us all to iter-act and present the progress made at Loll and evidence the efforts of our group.

As the goals and organization of Camp Loll Alumni Association develops I will post information at www.camplollalumni.org.

The plan for the web sight is to develop a way to communicate and interact through the internet and also a place to showcase Loll over the years. I promise to keep everyone informed.

Reach Upward said...

Most excellent!

Buzz Carter said...

Lysis,
As one of several family members who have worked for you at several camps, I applaud the decision to create the Loll Alumni website. I also thoroughly enjoy your opinions which you express here. After all, they are just that: OPINIONS.

It distresses me that anyone would be so intolerant as to suggest that you are not entitled to that. Individuals who spout such drivel are the first to claim injury when they feel infringed upon, yet they are the least likely to allow others the privileges they demand as rights.

Of course, this is a gross generalization, and it is also my opinion. Opinions are like hineys: everyone has one, and everyone thinks theirs smells better than everyone else's. But I would defend with my dying act the right of everyone and anyone to express theirs. Their opinion, that is, not their hiney.

Anyway, that's my $0.02. And worth every penny.

I tell ya, though, that picture of Union Falls brought tears to my eyes.

DeadChickenMan said...

Oh Lysis--- I see you've been going on too many Bear Hunts in the interveaning months. As long as I have known you, and yes I do know you, you have always seen the world a little different than I did: One of the more memorable moments came when, with a straight face, you said to a female student, "you think its hard being a woman? Try scraping the top layer of skin off your face every day for the rest of your life." (We were on subject for the next two hours.) ...but I have ever learned from the dialectic.

I still remind people "when women got the right to vote, they lost the right to hide behind the petty-coat," and ocassionally remind my son, who carries a name identical to yours, that cheese does indeed make the world go round.

Studying political science at Utah State, after winning a national, junior college debate championship, I studied Plato and finally saw into your soul. The whole time you were looking for the best and brightest, to mold and teach to be the leaders in the Republic.

A key part of that process is the dialectic. Don't think we're not listening. GenX is indeed both the best of generations and the worst of generations, but most of us realize the Republic isn't just a dream, its a responsibility.

I don't think Socrates would ever stop, and I don't think you can either. Take longer between your blogs, there's often more in less, and we'll keep touching base from time to time. You're far from the havens, it sure would be a sour time to stop and rest.

Your loving friend. TB-

Find me at ArtZone.com too.

Lysis said...

I am very grateful for those of you who continue to post here At the Agora. To Buzz Carter and Deadchickenman; how nice to hear from you. Thank you for your kind words.

Buzz, I believe writing at the Agora was good from my writing skills, and I know it helped me think more clearly about current issues and forced me to seek out facts and consider history. I wish you good luck in your new enterprises and give you my heartfelt thanks for your service to America and to me. I will be looking in on you.

T.B. Nice to see you and to look at your web page; I will be spending some more time there as well.

To any who might be interested – I have posted my first link on the Alumni page. It is some pictures of Camp Loll Patches. Maybe your can find your years or years. I hope you enjoy taking a look.

I am in the process of developing other links on various themes of interest as well, and am hoping to soon give all of us a way to comment on the Web Page.

Last Lightbringer said...

I once had the great honor of being a student of yours. For this you have blessed or cursed me with a craving for knowlage, and the great realization that its is a hunger I can never fill and thirst I can never quench. So I thank you and curse you for that. Also for teaching me to question all things, and not to take them as fact with a blind eye to truth and reason. A blessing and curse with in it's self. Although I recived a well deserved U for tardys in your class (in my defense you where fascist in mercy and surgeon skilled in passing them out). You easily taught me the most. I knew all the common civics entering the class, but then i learned so much more, and for this I thank you, also just so you are not mistaken about my legitimacy as one of your students I fly the LL, and the Albert Enstine poster in the NW corner if i rember correctly, also the statue of Athena behind your podium. It is my dear hope that when your alumni site will still have debates, and poltical blogs such as this one. Many thanks from an past and student, but forever learning
-Last Lightbringer

Anonymous said...

I was one of your sophomore students when you first started this blog, and now I'm starting my freshman year at a university and I'm still reading it. Thanks for everything, especially all the thought provoking ideas. :]

Lysis said...

To the last two posters – Thank you. Sometimes those who do not teach wonder why one would. Your kind words are the best type of reward. As in all things where one gives – and I feel I do give to my students – one receives far more in return. Thank you again, and good luck in the adventures and learning opportunities that are ahead for you both.

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Anonymous said...

Vegimatic Here,

Sad to see you shut down the Agora. I understand why, but sad nonetheless.

My eldest daughter is now an AGGIE going into Math Education and Speech education as a minor. She could end up as a debate coach.

I the past year my job has taken me all over the globe. I now work from the computer in my basement. Same company, different job.

We we seek to counsel our God we are sentenced to our own demise. You have just tried to show us from an intellectual view that this is the case.

You have effected many generations from your dedication to education. And you raised all those kids on a teachers salary. That makes you my hero. I haven't figured out how to do that yet.

I am pleased to call you a friend of my youth. I met you in 1976 at Camp Bartlett. The same day that Jed Stringhams ear fell in my breakfast.

We build the "Jedwork" Memorial Drinking Fountain together.

Many adventures, many hours of John Denver and road trips.

I am pleased to call you a friend of my adulthood and hope to call you a friend in my old age.

My middle daughter and all her friends just came in and are kicking me out of the room. She just turned 14. The same age as when I met you.

The Loll Alumni pages are great. It needs a blog. I would love to tell the story of the Six Foot Duct putting Cory in the lake.

See you in the movies.

Edgar Lipsey said...

As a silent observer of the Agora for a year or so, I feel that I should finally speak out and thank Lysis and fellow posters for the fun and interesting debates. I suppose now I'll have to actually use my prep period for preparing lesson plans (drastic, I know).

I'd also like to thank Lysis for the fantastic summer at Catalina. I've always hoped to work for him again, but it has never worked out. Oh well, I'll hold on to the memories, and I'm sure we'll see each other again.

Dan Simpson said...

one question. There is no info anywhere on how to become a member or get any other information or anything.

Nester Thibadeoux said...

The day you throw in the towel on this blog will be a sad day indeed. As a former student and long out-of-touch friend I have enjoyed the connection to life back in L-town. I have grown to relish each post and yes, even the absurdity and brash naiveté of your posters and the bitterness that only comes from young high school students dragged kicking and screaming into the light of greater understanding (oh how I miss debate class and “Great Books”!) It's been fourteen years and I'm still a fan.

As thou goest onwards…tell us where you’re headed. We’ll follow.

Anonymous said...

Didn't you have other people fired up about this last fall? Did they abandon you to create this alumni association on your own?

truth to power said...

Shut up, Nester!

rapazsud said...

¡Bring back the ágora!

Apollo said...

"Leave you people alone for one minute and the whole world has gone to pot!" True words spoken by Mr. Depp, Lysis, and now myself. To Steve and the "Saint", I very much doubt your credibility as I have spent a summer at Lysis' camp and at supper, when were are all seated in the dining hall, after we gave sung a merry tune, the night is overcome with the nonsensical ravings of men and women arguing over politics! Camp is not a place of peace when you go with Lysis, for there the Agora leaves cyberspace and becomes an actual place. Up at Lake of the woods we instruct and are instructed, for there we have the maturity to talk about the issues and we seldom encounter an insult to those brave enough to put their personal views out about the subject. It is this very reason that I have not posted upon the cyber Agora, for which I appologize to Lysis. Once you have seen what you can do in person it is hard to return to the cyberworld and take up heated conversation with someone who, when with nothing else to say that is of any substance whatsoever, will lash out at those who only wish to help them grow to a fuller knowledge about those issues that mean so much to all of us.

I pray that this is not the end of the Agora, that it will come back to live up to it's true beauty, and that we may continue to grow with it. But if this is truly the end of the cyber Agora, the actual Agora will always continue on, no matter how men may try to bring it down, so if it shall not be "Long live the Agora!" Then let it be "Long live Lysis! May his teachings always live on in us, his students!"

Apollo

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Anonymous said...

I too was in a class of yours the year you started the Agora. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the discussions every few months since then and am sad to see it stop. I will never forget the two classes I took from you.