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St. Bonaventure University: A Gulag of Indoctrination

St. Bonaventure University: A Gulag of Indoctrination

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Published by Anthony St. John

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Published by: Anthony St. John on Aug 16, 2009
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St. Bonaventure University: A Gulag of Militaristic, Sexual &Philosophical Indoctrination
enjoy a daily morningroutine which I have followedfor more than two years andhope to hold forever. It isalways being interrupted byone event or another, butnever broken long enough tomake me lose it or forget it.
I awake at 5:45 a.m. and listento the radio until six when I situp and meditate for twentyminutes. Up to the time that itis eight o’clock I perform aseries of exercises includingcalisthenics, jogging in place,and light weight-lifting. Afterthese ritualistic performances Ihead for the shower continuingto think about ideas for living,for writing, for studying, forwhatever.At times, the shower conjuresmany intense feelings: theycan be very frightening oreuphoric in construct. I haveself-analyzed these sentimentsthrough some psychoanalyticsystems of thought, and I knowwhy they come about—even,when they will happen. Thereasons are not crucial to thiswriting. My subjectiveresponses spring out of themucky imprints of my life whichlie fixed below myconsciousness and, as theyears pass, occasionally meltaway wholly involuntarily.Nonetheless, there are many of them simmering, and they donot disappear as quickly as Iwould wish. They are downthere, and every so often signalto me—through bodily tremorsand nervous tension—theirdesire to find release in adefinition of their reality. Thescreams for escape tell me I
must begin to assort mynotions, because if I do notattend to these hiddenpredilections which may notpass away with time, I willsuffer painful consequences formy neglect. These psychicreactions demand immediateattention. The action or process of stating, of describing, of explaining, or making definiteand clear is best done for mewhen I take pen in hand andwrite. I do not know why. And Iam not always prompted towrite when I am psychicallydestroyed of tranquillity orcomposure, but when I do writeabout what I am cajoledemotionally to create, I feel asense of well-being for bothconfronting what I could nothave faced before, and forexplicating something whichothers may enjoy braving withme and which they may findrelief in as much as I do.On 7 June 1981—a balmy,cloudy Sunday morning inCaracas, Venezuela—I emergedfrom the shower with a bevy of horrifying reminiscences of theyears I spent in apredominantly men’s RomanCatholic university (St.Bonaventure University) inupstate New York. Excitedly, Imulled over these bits of impressions knowing only toowell that they would eventuallyfind their way to these pagesexpressed in an interpretativeliterary composition dealingexclusively with my limited,personal point of view. Foryears I had had darts of thoughts about a very terribleexperience, but on this tropical June morning all became “co-ordinated” for me. The way tocatharsis had been set inmotion, and when I went out tohave coffee and mineral waterin a local snack bar, I fidgetedand shook with anxiety aboutmy recently-discoveredrepressed ideas—nowdischarging and soon to bedefined. The urge to committhem to paper for myself andmy audience gave me aconfident, good feeling. Aftermany years I was finally goingto react against and defy theterrors of buried bad memories.From this act I would becomestronger and more satisfied.My being would be cleansedfurther. I would go beyond, andin doing so, come closer to thecore of my existence. My act of purifying would enfold, and Iwould present it as a gift to mylisteners.A purgation of the emotionsthat brings about spiritualrenewal or release from tensionis not easy to achieve. Firstly,it involves work and keen,unrelenting dissection of thepassions. But this effort is not
as difficult as is the struggle tokeep a mental balance duringthe unburdening. The strengthof the checked passions—oncethey are ready to let loose—plays havoc with good senseand clear thought, and itspower demands excruciatingself-discipline on the part of theself-analyst. The hiddenturmoil must be liberatedgradually; it cannot burst forthas it wants to. The battledrains one. It leaves theemotions rent of any might. Iremember when I ousted theappalling mental souvenirs of the death of a comrade killed inVietnam, I had to stop everyfifteen or twenty minutes inbetween the paragraphs I hadwritten about him. The ordealwas so exacting for me, Inapped to gain my verve backand only then was I rechargedand ready to continue.Fortunately, the rewardsoutweigh the rigors and throes.A sense of well-being andcourage forever remain todelight and fulfil once thistorturing road has beentramped to emancipation. The undercurrents of painwhich have seethed below mygood sense until now, farexceed the pleasant memoriesI took away with me from St.Bonaventure University. Itcannot be said that there wereno real happy recollections.But those are not what occupymy mind. The wretchednessesof my psyche admit little of what was good in thatinstitution. Suffice it to saythat most things were bad forme there. The alarming glimpses at theseunfortunate mental records didnot, until now, appear in anyorganized pattern—they weredisjointed and they werespontaneous. They repeatedthemselves intermittently, andthroughout their lifetimes,there were lapses of longmonths when they did notsurface to vex me. I havecollected these revoltingmemories for almost twentyyears, and they fall into threegeneral categories: militaristicindoctrination, sexualindoctrination and philosophicalindoctrination. I attest that thefour years at St. BonaventureUniversity was a time lost inthe worst of prisons: the stateof confinement where the mindis worked over to be bent intoshape to conform to anideology. My four years weredissipated in a “gulag” of emotional and mental restraint,and the cold winds and blindingsnows which blew down fromCanada into the western New York State “snow belt” to chillliving beings at the foothills of 

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