The Patron's Post
Patrons of the Pollak Library
California State University Fullerton
Albert R. Vogeler
To say that palindromes are the smarter cousins of puns and anagrams is not really to diminish these other stimulating forms of word play. But palindromic sentences (not single words like “Otto” and “radar’) have a richer content, make more difficult demands, and yield greater rewards. Palindromes have long been regarded as trifling entertainments that display ingenuity at the expense of intelligibility. It is precisely the question of intelligibility –of meaning-- that needs to be examined. The most familiar one, “A man, a plan, a canal—Panama!,” makes perfect sense read both ways, and so do many others. But even here there is a touch of unnatural exuberance characteristic of the genre. Similarly, “Madam, I’m Adam” is a clear but strained locution, as is "Able was I ere I saw Elba.” “Dr. Awkward,” “senile felines,” “lonely Tylenol,” and “add A” are simplistic and have no context, and neither do “bird rib,” “tie it,” or “solo gigolos.” Short palindromes tend to be artificial constructs specifically designed, and easily seen, as palindromes.
Longer palindromes demonstrate a warping of reality to accommodate the word and letter reversal. The pleasure of palindromes lies precisely in imagining the surreal circumstances that would make them true statements—that is, in creating a context in which they might actually exist. They are true in a world behind the Looking-Glass, a Jabberwocky world of the paradoxical and the perverse, where the rules of our reality do not apply. They may be oddly vehement or curiously passive, innocently frank or frustratingly obscure. Palindromes can be funny but also unsettling, profound but also inane, bizarre, compelling, grandiloquent. They offer unexpected ways of seeing and of saying things. In their sometimes stilted locution they may resemble eccentric translations from obscure languages.
To appreciate palindromes we must give free rein to our imagination. We must be ready to be mystified and possibly scandalized. I suggest that palindromes are a special sort of experimental literature. A kind of verbal Rorschach test, they elicit our imaginative response, challenge our inhibitions, reveal our values, and satisfy our craving for stimulating mental adventure. I give two sets of examples.
In the following palindromes, ideas and events are compressed and dramatized. I provide either a translation in normal language or a context in which the words make sense.
Homicidal drunken monks are warned away
STOP! MURDER US NOT, TONSURED RUMPOTS!
Honeymooners entreat a dammed-up waterfall to resume its flow
NIAGARA, O ROAR AGAIN!
A college is urged to prohibit a Scottish drinking song
BAN CAMPUS MOTTO, “BOTTOMS UP, MACNAB!”
A courtier shows the king a new invention
LOOK, SIRE! PAPER IS KOOL!
A family tradition:
MA IS A NUN, AS I AM
A stern father inculcates patriotism in a sleepy son
YAWN A MORE ROMAN WAY
Surprised Hebrews leaving Egypt:
EGAD! NO BONDAGE!
A deep speculation on avian spirituality
DO GEESE SEE GOD?
Cult leader proclaims:
DOGMA: I AM GOD
Some people really hate golf
GOLF? NO SIR, PREFER PRISON-FLOG!
Humanist scholars should not be judged by their arithmetic
SUMS ARE NOT SET AS A TEST ON ERASMUS
Laconic comment on the Vietnam conflict
NAM? RAW WAR, MAN
And on the recent Balkan war
BOSNIA . . .PAIN . . . SOB
Vast historic vistas are revealed:
ARE WE NOT DRAWN ONWARDS, WE JEWS, DRAWN ONWARD TO NEW ERA?
A dog’s favorite perch
TOP STEP’S PUP’S PET SPOT
A tired, dangerously violent lunatic on the run
I MAIM NINE MEN IN SAGINAW; WAN, I GAS NINE MEN IN MIAMI
A botanist is vague in describing his crab-grass inhibitor
NO, IT NEVER PROPAGATES IF I SET A GAP OR PREVENTION
A reminiscence of refreshment at a Polish track meet
WAS RAW TAP ALE NOT A REVIVER AT ONE LAP AT WARSAW?
A slip-up at FedEx is corrected by telegram
REMIT ROME CARGO TO GRACE MORTIMER
A disillusioned female Egyptologist reports to her boss
SIR, I SOON SAW BOB WAS NO OSIRIS
An embarrassing gender mistake in a bar
NAME IS ORTON, NOT ROSIE, MAN!
Human pretensions dashed by the apparition of a god
SO REMAIN A MERE MAN. I AM EROS
Not everyone loves this pie
KEY LIME, EMILY? EK!
A primal myth is merely pathology
CAIN: A MANIAC!
If not washed
A meat eater wants it all
I’M A LASAGNA HOG! GO HANG A SALAMI!
A reformed smoker laments
CIGAR? TOSS IT IN CAN. IT IS TRAGIC
Patient disputes diet doctor
DOC: NOTE, I DISSENT: A FAST NEVER PREVENTS A FATNESS: I DIET ON COD
Uncommonly frank about his father
PA’S A SAP!
A cynic sees no altruism in humanity
MADAME, NOT ONE MAN IS SELFLESS; I NAME NOT ONE, MADAM
An excited voyeur
FLESH! I SAW MINA WASH SELF
Perverse desires in a private club
O LACE ME, PORTIA! WAIT! ROPE ME, CAL!
Descending fast, co-pilots win an air race
PULL UP, EVA! WE’RE HERE! WAVE! PULL UP
Maternal grandfather and paternal grandmother. ( Or, both parents switch gender)
MOM’S DAD AND DAD’S MOM
Drinking habits differ among classes
NAÏVE PALS LAP LAGER, REGAL PALS LAP EVIAN
Love triumphs over religious vows
NOW, NED, I AM A MAIDEN NUN; NED, I AM A MAIDEN WON!
Women racing executives plan to extend the competition
ANNE, I VOTE MORE CARS RACE ROME TO VIENNA
Our first astronaut on the moon gets a surprise
NEIL A SEES ALIEN
Loose canine in a Japanese shrine
A DOG! A PANIC IN A PAGODA!
A serious option in hard times
BORROW OR ROB?
A car ad justifies speeding
A TOYOTA! RACE FAST, A SAFE CAR. A TOYOTA!
A numerical impossibility
NEVER ODD OR EVEN
A Jamaican calls for fruit
YO, BANANA BOY!
A self-satisfied chief
O GERONIMO, NO MINOR EGO
Preferred sales mode for agricultural fairies
ELF FARM RAFFLE
The TV celebrity gets praise for her morning show
MAN, OPRAH’S SHARP ON AM!
All politics need not be serious
STAR COMEDY BY DEMOCRATS
An Indian foresees how the Arab-Israeli conflict will end
NOW, SAHIB, BAR ARAFAT AFAR, A RABBI HAS WON!
The President is waiting for this message from General Petraeus
NOW. SIR, A WAR IS WON
Rationalizing a low salary
NOMINAL PAY—A PLAN I’M ON !
Scotsman’s Egyptian guide tells him he has lost his beast of burden
CAMEL IN NILE, MAC
Longing for better audio equipment
IF I HAD A HI-FI
Old fairy escapes experiment
BALD ELF FLED LAB
Bird, unhappy with wings, seeks exchange with dog
SWAP FOR A PAIR OF PAWS?
The following snippets of conversation, hinting at some peculiar personal and family matters, are the stuff of soap-opera. I will let the reader provide the narrative context needed to appreciate the hidden drama behind each of them.
NELLA RISKS ALL: “I WILL ASK SIR ALLEN.”
NED, GO GAG OGDEN!
BOB: “DID ANNA PEEP?” ANNA: “DID BOB?”
DID IONE TAKE KATE? NO, I DID
MARGE LET A MOODY BABY DOOM A TELEGRAM
NOEL, DID I NOT RUB BURTON? I DID, LEON
“NORAH’S MOODS,” NAOMI MOANS, “DOOM SHARON.”
NED, LET’S EGG ESTELLE ON!
MARTY, BO GOT HANNAH TO GO BY TRAM
MARGE, LET’S SEND A SADNESS TELEGRAM
NOW, EVE, WE’RE HERE, WE’VE WON!
OTTO MADE NED A MOTTO
NORMA IS AS SELFLESS AS I AM, RON
SO MAMA, I WON—NOW I AM AMOS
“NOT FOR CECIL?” ASKS ALICE CROFTON
DENNIS AND EDNA SINNED
“DELIA WAS ILL,” LISA WAILED!
O, DIANE, I DO!
BOREDOM A LA MODE, ROB?
“AM I MAD, EH?” GISELLE SIGHED. “AM I MA?”
NELLA’S SIMPLE HYMN: “I ATTAIN MY HELP, MISS ALLEN”
My Sherpa guide begins to question his own identity when I tell him I think he is really from the lowlands
NAY, AL, AM I HIMALAYAN?
Dr. Ron Carlson, Director of the UC Irvine Master of Fine Arts Creative Writing Program was our first speaker in the series, on January 25. Dr. Carlson’s short stories have appeared in the New Yorker, Harper’s, Esquire, and Gentlemen’s Quarterly. His ability to inspire writers and fellow teachers was evident the minute he began to speak.
On January 31, Patrons were privileged to serve as hosts for the California Map Society biannual meeting. The California Map Society preserves and disseminates historical and contemporary cartography, primarily of California, for its members as well as the general public. The date also celebrates the completion of the map digitization project which incorporates the library’s extensive Boswell collection. At the time of this writing the digitized maps should be online to students and the public-at-large.
CSUF Emeritus Professor of History Dr. Jackson Putnam discusses his most recent book, Jess: The Political Career of Jesse Marvin Unruh,, on February 22.
Back from his recent sabbatical, Dr. Raphael Sonenshein, professor in the Division of Politics, Administration, and Justice at CSUF, joins Patrons on March 29 to shed light on the international scene, the national arena, and State and local politics.
Last but not least, the annual meeting is scheduled for May 16, and Patrons are honored to have Dr. Martha Vogeler, Emeritus Professor of English at CSUF, who will discuss her recently published book, The Private Reflections and Opinions of W.H. Hudson (1841-1922), the First Literary Environmentist
All of the lectures and the annual meeting begin at 2 p.m. and are held in Room #130 of the Pollak Library. Parking is free. It is not too late to reserve tickets for the February and March lectures. Just call Carolyn Eckert at 714-870-7208.
I feel privileged to be working with so many talented people on the Board of Governors who devote much time and energy to all aspects of this organization. You will be reading about more of our many activities as you continue to peruse this newsletter.
And finally, we hope that you will call upon Patrons when your shelves become overlaid with books. The Book Sale Center is an essential part of our fundraising efforts.
We look forward to seeing all of you at the last two lectures and at the annual meeting on May 16.
BOOK SALE CENTER REPORT
With the start of the spring semester, the Patrons and Emeriti Book Sale Center has reopened, fully restocked. We sell used books, both from donations and excess volumes from the CSUF Library. Our very low prices of $1, $2, or $3 per book are set to help the CSUF students and others purchase books which are usually extremely expensive. All proceeds from sales are designated to purchase books for the Library, vitally important in this era of drastically reduced state funding.
Our regular hours are 11 to 3 on Tuesdays, 11 to 7 on Wednesdays, and 1 to 5 on Thursdays. Please visit us regularly. We are open throughout the fall and spring terms, but not during intersession or summer.
As always, we need your donations to keep the shelves stocked in L 199. Please call Lorraine Seelig at 714-278-2182 to make arrangements. If you are interested in joining the Patrons and Emeriti volunteers working in the Book Sale Center, please call June Pollak at 949-661-0463.
The Patrons of the Library is the University’s oldest support group. Membership is available in a variety of categories, from Alumni, Basic, Benefactor, Enhanced, Family, Faculty/Staff/Emeriti/Student to Life Membership. In addition, we are pleased to offer an annual honorary membership to each winner of our Student Book Collection Contest.
Recently, we initiated an outreach to faculty emphasizing the Patrons purchase of Library recommended titles and supplementation of the Pollak Library’s book budget. The Patrons also continue to focus on a variety of support services and sponsor lectures, activities and the Student Book Collection contest. This year, we have experienced a small decline in membership so please share information with friends, family and colleagues about the Patrons and their valuable services to students, faculty, the University and the community
Visit our website for more information regarding the Patrons. The site is accessed from the Library web site: www.library.fullerton.edu, under Information, Patrons of the Library. Should you have questions or need additional information, please feel free to contact me via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone 714.738.5590.
Howard Seller and Lis Leyson
The special activities for the members of the Patrons began last November 15, with a visit to the International Printing Museum in Carson. We heard a presentation on the history of printing, with special emphasis on Benjamin Franklin and the development of printing in the United States, and we saw numerous rare and significant objects and machines that are part of the Museum’s impressive inventory of printing equipment.
This year’s Patrons’ Lecture Series began on January 25. Ron Carlson, a prominent writer and the director of the Master of Fine Arts Writing Program at the University of California, Irvine, was our first speaker. He read several short pieces he has written and spoke about what inspires him to write and the challenges and pleasures he experiences when writing.
The second lecture is scheduled for Sunday, February 22, at 2:00 P.M. in Pollak Library 130. Dr. Jackson Putnam, emeritus professor of history, CSUF, will discuss his book Jess: The Political Career of Jesse Marvin Unruh. Professor Putnam will also discuss Governor Ronald Reagan, who was the subject of his most recent article, as well as his current research to study some current dilemmas in California politics.
Our final speaker, on Sunday, March 29, at 2:00 P.M. in Pollak Library 130, will be Professor Raphael Sonenshein, chair of the Division of Politics, Administration, and Justice at CSUF. He has written numerous articles and two books that focus extensively on political and social issues in Los Angeles. He has often been a guest on radio and television, including The News Hour on PBS. Professor Sonenshein recently returned after spending the fall 2008 semester as a visiting professor at a university in Paris.
Our final event of the year will be the Patrons’ Annual Meeting on Saturday, May 16, at 2:00 P.M. in Pollak Library 130. This year’s speaker will be Dr. Martha Vogeler,, professor emerita of English and Comparative Literature, CSUF. Her first book, Frederic Harrison: The Vocations of a Positivist, was a biography of the father of Austin Harrison, the subject of her recent book, Austin Harrison and the ENGLISH REVIEW. This book as been described as “a compelling personal and family narrative and a new perspective on British literary culture and political journalism in the years just before, during, and after the First World War” that ranges “widely across literature, foreign relations, national politics, the women’s movement, censorship, and sexuality.”
We hope you will attend all of these events and look forward to seeing you there.
Book Discussion Group
We are in the eighth year for the Patrons Book Discussion Group, which meets on the fourth Thursday of each month 3-5 P.M. in the second floor conference room of Library South. We meet September-November and January-May. For two consecutive months, one of the members assigns a book for everyone to read, then leads a discussion about it. In the third month, each person may select his/her own book and gives a brief (10-15 minute) report. Here are some past "group read" selections:
The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann
Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Garcia Marquez
The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger
Half a Life by V.S. Naipaul
Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner
The Future of Life by Edward Wilson
Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
The European Dream by Jeremy Rifkin
Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee
The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman
The Control of Nature by John McPhee
Doubt by John Shanley
American Prometheus by Kai Bird and Martin Sherwin
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Soul Circus by George Pelecanos
On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan
The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy
Participation in the discussion and in the book reports is voluntary. If you attend and enjoy the group, we ask that you join Patrons of the Library after attending three times. The cost is $25 per year for CSUF faculty and emeriti, $50 otherwise.
For further information contact Herb Rutemiller at (714) 528-4475 or
(714)278-5413, email email@example.com .
California Map Society Meeting
Boswell Collection Digitization Debut
Farron D. Brougher