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New Writers Series Hits BCC

February 26, 2013 by admin

By Daniel Natale

     An unorthodox Visiting Writer’s series posed some heavy moral questions; Should torture ever be permissible, how do we use language to twist logic, and is plagiarism a good career choice for English majors?
     On Wednesday, Feb. 18,  Brookdale English Professor Michael Broek’s work was presented to a packed Navesink room. Broek alongside professors Jack Ryan, Laura McCullough James Cody, Joe Varone, and student Sarah Van Clef performed Broek’s unique hybrid of poetry reading, and visual art-- The Logic of Yoo.
     Broek’s work was first                   published in the Beloit poetry journal in February 2011. His editors admired his work enough to ask Broek to transcribe his work into the play that it now is.
    The Logic of Yoo is about a Harvard-bound High school  senior who hires a Plagiarist to write her senior thesis. The topic of the paper revolves around John C. Yoo. Yoo served as the Assistant U.S. Attorney General in the Office of Legal Counsel, Department of Justice for George W. Bush from 2001-2003. He is famous for writing ‘the torture memos’, which made practices such as waterboarding permissible as “enhanced interrogation techniques” on suspected terrorists held overseas.
     One of the main themes of the play was how individuals use language to twist logic in order to serve thier agendas. “I have a real fascination with legal writing or legal arguments,” said Broek. “That may sound bizarre, but I think it’s fascinating how you create the justification for doing certain things.”
     “Senator McCain just last month has been in the news speaking about zero dark thirty, the movie that came out and is up for an Oscar which depicts waterboarding and raises the question of what can be done and to whom,” Broek said. 
      Broek later mentioned the memos released under the Obama administration that legally justified the drone strike murder of American citizens linked to Al-Qaeda. He said that this was another example of how legal writing could be used to  justify any action.
     The main character of the play, “The Plagarist,” eventually develops a moral dilemma because his work forces him to defend the act of torture. Joe Varone, the English professor that played the character had a surprising confession to make. “I actually lived that life,” said Varone. “I never wrote papers for undergraduates, but I did have a sideline business when I got out of college. I called it dissertations in a box.”
     Varone’s job at dissertations in a box involved writing theses for people working on their masters degrees. Varone said that Broek captured the lifestyle and the feelings that it caused accurately. He said that he felt, “a mix between self loathing and smugness” He remembered feeling superior to his clients because they paid him to write their papers, yet inferior at the same time because of the unethical nature of his business,
      Staff and students alike commended the play for its merit. “You wrote something that is really a work of art,” said one of the actors, Professor Jim Cody. “Michael has done something that is truly innovative and exciting. Some poetry is written to be spoken, some is written to be read individually. Michael has done something that you can do both with.”
      “I thought the combination of poetry along with the digital aspect of the performance were engaging,” said Darren D’Amato. Megan Cushing added that it was the most interesting thing that the Visiting writers series has done.
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