The Likes of Dr. Joseph Suglia – An Unauthorized Microbiography

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So the post by the present writer, “Why I do not Believe in Edenics” received a “Like” from a Dr. Joseph Suglia.

Others have received his “likes”. They respond positively. One created a web page in appreciation – though that was all1. Another practically exclaimed, “Wow! A like by Dr. Joseph Suglia”.2 It is reasonable to suspect that there are more articles that Dr. Suglia appreciated, but no special significance was attached to the occasion.

How elated anyone should feel upon receiving such a distinction may be gleaned from the compilation of information in the text that follows.

We will return to the question of the “likes” of this person further below, under “Summary”. The immediate task here, as we pretend to give some biographical information, is to define a person, the likes of whom one may rarely get to know.

There is a Wikipedia page dedicated to Joseph Suglia, giving a four-line description of a screenwriter, producer, and novelist. His movie script – and we must speak metaphorically here, because the present writer’s web pages are not meant to be restricted as to age – might be described either as dealing with a kind of beast with two backs, by which we invite any children to look up dromedary; or, with a bit more imagination, one might think of piggy-back riding. (Getting warm!) Shakespeare fans are the cognoscenti here.

The milder illustrations for the movie (or the book preceding it – I do not know which) show a piece of meat. The idea is somewhat connected to the idea of the 1960s discos as “meat shops”, with the pun on immediate intention of visitors to such places.

We might also consider the central theme of the book about two persons becoming one flesh – a different take on the two-backed beast idea. The only problem is, if we can speak of two such humps, there would, in the specific case here, be one hump upon another. At any rate, “hump” is a word relative to the book or movie. Some may find it, if watched, a bumpy visual load. And it is not two that become one flesh, rather it is the one giving himself his own feedback, – a Moebius strip of humanity on a flat surface, a 3 – dimensional Klein bottle where in and out are the same – and the [anti]hero wants in.

The preceding is not meant as an endorsement. Even one of the persons enthusiastic about the “like” found the material to be, shall we say, tainted. The film based on the book has been described as “not a nice movie for nice people”.3 This writer prefers to know the Dr. Suglia described next.

Here on WordPress, one finds two web pages, one doctorjosephsuglia.wordpress.com, and the other, drjosephsuglia.wordpress.com. The former shows a list of words, or pairs of words, which might cause confusion among both unwary and weary writers – I would suspect that this page is directed specifically to students of the professor.

The second page deals with writings by Joseph Suglia, including a book not yet published. A lot of the material is about philosophers. Alexa recently ranked it at 5 million, making it a page in the g group of the 1 % most viewed (more like top 0.5% – see the article “How to Identify Yourself as Having a Website in the Top One Per Cent” on the current web-site for information on how this was calculated.)

So, if we were to use the words of a 1960s television program, apparently Truth or Consequences, we request, “Will the real Dr. Suglia please stand up.”4 We seem to have multiple personalities here.

He has been called a self-important [*(*)(**)[**](***)].5 (Children – and even adults – and even adults – may interpret this as meaning that he is a star.) This is probably on account of his having claimed to be the greatest author in the world. On the useful side, we learn that Joseph Suglia has a Ph.D. in comparative literature from Northwestern University, that he knows French and German, and an interest in German philosophy. That would tie him in with the doctorjosephsuglia.wordpress.com webpage; and, because of the reference to one of the works mentioned in WikipediaWatch Out – we now know that we are talking about one and the same person, inadequately described in that on-line encyclopedia.

A blogger, Peter Hammarberg, claims Suglia is difficult to describe, with admirers and enemies, but with a “cult super-status”.6

Dr. Suglia hardly seems to have existed before his graduate school years. To venture a guess at the year of birth, we would place it around 1976.7 It is said that this was in Buffalo, New York.8 His full name is Joseph Vincent Suglia.9 and his name crops up in a 1998 publication, where he is thanked for helping prepare the index.10 We find that in 2003, he published a paper in the annual journal, Focus on German Studies, and that he was a graduate student reviewer in the following two years.11 We are almost forced to wonder if there really is another Joseph Suglia, based on the following information gleaned after writing the initial version of this article:

J. Suglia is listed as a part-time lecturer in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and Discourse, in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences of DePaul University in 2012, and listed as having an M.A. from Northwestern University.12

As a lecturer of the same college in 2014, he spoke very highly of the “scholarly” book, Free Hugs: It’s More Than A Campaign — It’s A Lifestyle, written by freshman David Melia.13

In both 2014 and 2015, he taught a course three-hour and fifteen minute course on the New German Cinema at DePaul University.14

On WordPress, he introduces readers to what will be his next work, to appear in 2018 or 2019, Table 41.

As a professor, he was mostly rated “Awesome” at Malcolm X. College in Chicago. The same situation occurred at Loyola University, located in the same city as the preceding academic institution.

As this is being written, he is at Truman College, Chicago.

Publications

There are at least 26 published essays, according to The Works of Joseph Suglia (site last updated 2013). The following information is obtained from the web page(s) accompanying the name of the work in question:

The Communication of the Impossible (Diacritics Vol. 31, No. 2, Summer, 2001). Here he is listed as a lecturer.

On the Question of Authorship in Maurice Blanchot (May 2002), American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 76 (2):237-253 (2002)

On the Nationalist Reconstruction of Hölderlin in the George Circle (Jan. 2003). [We find another reference during the same year: “Empedokles and the Absence of Sacrifice”, Focus on German Studies 10 (2003), cited in the article by Rebecca Prevoo and Joachim Duyndam, “Das Opferthier, das nicht vergebens fällt”: The Meaning of Sacrifice in Friedrich Hölderlin’s Der Tod des Empedokles , note 29, p. 79; in Joachim Duyndam, Anne-Marie Korte and Marcel Poorthuis, (intro), Sacrifice in Modernity: Community, Ritual, Identity: From Nationalism and Nonviolence to Health Care and Harry Potter, Brill, 2017.]

Putting God on Trial: The Relationship Of Kafka to Leibniz (Jan. 2004), partially viewable in: Michael Meyer, ed., Literature and Law, Rodopi, 2004, p. 145

The above four (excluding the parenthetical item) are labelled “Joseph Suglia’s scientific contributions while affiliated with DePaul University (Chicago, United States) and other places”.

Also in 2004:

Hölderlin and Blanchot on Self-Sacrifice. New York: Peter Lang (Current in Comparative Romance Languages and Literatures, Vol. 139, cited in Comparative Critical Studies, Volume 3 Issue 3, Page 422-426, available Online Jan 2008, partially viewable.

Years of Rage, 2005. A controversial book about the Columbine Massacre. Here, Dr. Suglia got himself some international coverage in the British newspaper, the Telegraph, in a review by Helen Brown, titled, “Murder in mind“, (20 March 2005). Friends were allegedly lost because of the way the book was written. This writer prefers the unsigned review, “Joseph Suglia reads from Years of Rage“, Feb. 19, 2005, at quimbys.com.

Watch Out! 2006. Mentioned metaphorically further above. Here, we suspect that this work may have cost Dr. Suglia his job at whatever university he was working at, although personally we would say that it reflects “Chicago Style”. Whatever the truth may be, at the time of this writing, nothing has been found about his activities between 2006 and 2012.

“Tomato Lust” 2009. A (very) short story in a publication edited by Jon Konrath, Air in the Paragraph Line, Issue 12, p. 80. In the listing of contributors, Suglia’s “Watch Out” was claimed to have been “the greatest novel of the last 30 years”.15

Table 41 pending before end of the decade, but viewable on-line for critical inspection.

Summary

To summarize, the likes of Dr. Joseph Suglia and his likes, we would say the following:

Based on his academic career, or his earlier boast to greatness, “there’s Jesuitry in it”16 – well, maybe. At any rate, his claim to be the greatest writer in the world may be considered advertising. Our research into moral theology suggests that one who advertises is not lying when making claims to the having the best product, because no intelligent person is expected to literally believe the claims – to which the present writer would add, that in his Canadian province of Ontario, the principle of caveat emptor (let the buyer beware) was learnt in 4th grade spelling class. Ergo, he may make whatever claim he pleases.

Where we have news of the blogs that he has liked, or in the ratings of him as a professor, there are no indications of an arrogant individual stuck in an ivory tower. Rather, here we have a person with a Ph.D. not just taking the time to do his job, correcting the work of students who directly or indirectly have paid him to do so, but also reserving moments to look at the material written by ordinary free-lance bloggers – an activity done for free, without corrections made, without criticism given; with the higher descending to the lower, freely giving of his time, lifting up the writers of the liked articles with that oxytocin hormone. As a further example of what we perceive to be his fundamental humility, one of the articles on “Standard Written American English” even mentions a difficulty that he has had in choosing between “masterful” and “masterly“. The charge that he is a self-important [*(*)(**)[**](***)] rather is a reflection of the accuser’s deficiencies, a psychological transference of inadequacies by someone who fears to have done much less (we assume).

It may be possible that he has mellowed through the years, because he is also alleged to have said that he enjoys “a violent response” and welcomes hostility to his writing,6 but this is not what he asks for in Table 41, where the preference is for “nonscurrilous” reviews.

That said, a “like” by Dr. Suglia is not the result of a reflexive movement of his finger, but of the deliberate action of the mind.

Dissonant Creation

This modified image of parts of Michelangelo’s Creation emphasizes the look of the mind vs. a dissonant action of the arm, the hand, the finger. Files: for the face: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/26/Michelangelo%27s_%22God%22%2C_from_%22the_Creation_of_Adam%22.jpg, and for the finger, https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/39/Creation_of_Adam_%28Michelangelo%29_Detail.jpg

 

Thankful to an Academic (a Vulgar Verse)

Watch Out – Look out! It’s eye-candied tainted meat,
Paradise’s candied apple, prohibited to eat –
Or is it that evil thou hast got to know.
Careful then, the bad seed winds will blow
Afar. Where’er thou goest, thou wilt reap
From ‘mongst stones, and e’en upon them sleep.

‘Twas that story with some imagination
That possibly led to academic defenestration
After weighty titles on Hölderlin ‘n Self-Sacrifice.
Did our Doctor pay a way too heavy price?
From “Of the Impossible: Its Communication”
To “Years of Rage” – 1st person simulation.

We’ll comment not on his social web pages,
They’ll definitely not survive the ages
But the author returned on a more prestigious site
And has not denied his imagination’s flight
But also showered on bloggers his varied praises
Proving he’s no captive of iv’ry tow’rs mazes.

His name, I’ve not the skill to rhyme
Perhaps I could, had I more time,
But some of us are thankful, this we can say
And for that reason, Doctor, we took the way
Of revealing it on pages of the Internet
Even if our posts ‘n poems a “very good” won’t get.

March 16, 2018.

© 2018, Paul Karl Moeller

Footnotes

Unless otherwise noted, all files were accessed on March 16, 2018. Links in main body of article serve to complete any data not included below. (A handful of cross-references require correction.

Before finishing this article, Google seems to have modified the URL linking code. In order not to abuse the good graces of that company, we have not attempted to re-check the links already provided.

1 Kitt O’Malley, kittomalley.com, “Joseph Suglia Liked Language Frustrates Me” September 27, 2015.

2 That was how it was remembered from a search on a prior day, so the true text took some extra digging. As the web site requires a member log-in, we print what information Google offers: “Oh my word! This guy has a Ph.D. in Comparative Literary Studies (based in German Literature and Critical Thought.) There is also a Wikipedia on him! It’s really cool that I got noticed by that guy, and that he thinks my blog is good enough to follow it!”

There is no indication as to who wrote the above, nor when. The web page is called The Ron Paul Curriculum.

3 dikenga.com/watchout. [EXTREME CONTENT WARNING!!!]. Accessed 20180323.

4 Wordorigins Discussion Forum, ‘The Origin of “Will the real XX please stand up?”‘ The best answer is #9, by Eyehawk, submitted 10 Nov. 2002, 05.36.

5 As already explained, this web site is intended to be accessible to all, thus the word is censored. The curious can always go to the link. Liz Armstrong, “A Self-Important [***]: An exercise in writing to repel from PhD Joseph Suglia”, The Chicago Reader, Nov. 2, 2006. All other data in the paragraph is from the same source, excepting the middle name, which was taken from Diacritics, Project Muse.

6 Peter Hammarberg, “The Process: Dr. Joseph Suglia“, Write Club, writeclubpodcast.blogspot.com, May 6, 2010.

7 Based on the information obtained from Northwestern University’s One Hundred and Forty-Fifth Annual Commencement information (June 20, 2003, he graduated with a B.A. from Binghamton University – State University of New York in 1994, and we have deducted 18 years.

8 Kemberly D. Goodyear, “An Interview with Controversial Author, Dr. Joseph Suglia”, AuthorsDen.Com., n.d.

9 Information gleaned from a listing of books, of which Suglia is listed under “Similar Books and Articles” for his Ph.D. dissertation. This is reasonable, given that Northwestern’s One Hundred and Forty-Fifth Annual Commencement information (see note 7) gives his name as Joseph V. Suglia.

10 Scott Durham, Phantom Communities: The Simulacrum and the Limits of Postmodernism, Stanford University Press, 1998, p. 5. If page does not show, try this snippet view.

11 These are content summaries only: Joseph Suglia, “Empedokles and the Absence of Sacrifice“, Focus on German Studies, Vol. 10, 2003; Vol. 11, 2004; Vol. 12, 2005. Accessed 20180317. The idea that Suglia was a graduate student reviewer possibly contradicts that he had earned a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature Studies at Northwestern Univesity in 2002 (see Years of Rage, Quimby’s, in main text), though he seems to have taken further courses (suggested by Liz Armstrong, n. 5, q.v.), which account for a delay in obtaining the Ph.D. A further contradiction has been pointed out in the reference found for the year 2012, notes 6 and 9, q.v.

12 Mentioned in The Word, publication of the aforementioned university department. Accessed 20180322. With regards to the academic degree, see also notes 6 and 8.

13 Mentioned in DePaul University Newsroom Archives (1997-2014), in “Just in time for Valentine’s Day: Insights from a professional hugger”, Feb. 10, 2014. Accessed 20180322.

14 Accessed March 22, 2018, here and here, respectively, in the First-Year Guide of Program Studies.

15 Accessed March 23, 2018. While the table contents shows the article as beginning on page 80, we have chosen to link to the previous page, to avoid a certain confusion that could be caused by the dedication to Joseph Suglia – a relative, or himself?  The reference to the greatest writer is on page 229.

16 Meant humourously, but it seems that this line has been read somewhere before. The closest that a web search brought us to such and expression was the accusation that Jesuits filled Cromwell’s Parliament “Jesuitry in that Parliament”, in an 1824 book by James Nichols, Laurence Womock, with a title so long that we reduce it to Calvinism and Arminianism compared in their principles and tendency. [Accessed 20180322.] We give three reasons for this statement. (1) Suglia has taught at a university run by the Society of Jesus – Loyola; (2) his one-time boast about being the greatest writer, which we have justified as potentially valid if we base ourselves on readings of a certain books on morality, and this “Snippet View“);17 and (3) the writing style chosen in Murder in Mind [see link in main body of article] has the author thinking like the Columbine killer, and we can compare this, with some justification, to what a Jesuit writer, Thomas d’Esterre Roberts, claimed that Ignatius Loyola “wants [his sons] … think as the superior thinks…” Black Popes: Authority: its Use and Abuse, New York: Sheed & Ward, 1954, p. 15.  A late discovery found in the just cited book, reminds the present writer of the pun about “likes” in this article, with this apparent amphibology:  “As good human parents must want to see their children like them in body and soul … ” (p. 132).  We might also mention a famous Jesuit novelist of Chicago, Andrew Greeley, who wrote books that some would consider immoral.

We would like to emphasize that the quote has perhaps been applied to flexibly; and that the title of the book is a misnomer, dealing neither in the types of Popes defined except remotely, and saying rather little about authority, especially after “commending” obedience.

17 “Neither metaphors nor hyperbole nor nonsense expressions are lies, since listerners [and readers – P.K:M] can, and usually do, [suelan y pueden] understand these in their true sense.” – taken from a Jesuit book on morality, Juan B. Ferres, Compendio de teologia moral, [Barcelona: Eugenio Subirana, 1925], p. 386. Text translated by the present author. Kenneth Escott Kirk, Studies in Moral Theology: Conscience and its Problems, Longmans, Green, 1927, p. 370.

1 Comment

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  1. Tosha Michelle

    Maybe he’s just a humble, quiet, socially awkward, slightly neurotic, brilliant nerd with a nice face and soothing voice. One that sees on harm in having a little fun playing with perceptions. Less Jesus, more Ross from Friends. Kudos to him for creating mystic while maturing and evolving.
    ——
    P.K.M. Note: I find the above comment about two thirds positive and perhaps one third negative. The perception here is that the commenter knows Dr. Suglia. That might make the comment excessively personal. Some of the wording, depending on how it is taken, may be considered injurious, hence, if I am requested to delete the above comment (with this addition), I will feel duty-bound to do so.

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