Sunday, November 29, 2009

Kinda not feeling this grad-school application process:


I need to submit a 10-page writing sample if I intend to apply to the Germanics PhD program at Washington University. It’s annoying that I also have to take the GRE. I doubt seriously that I will finish both by the deadline. Which makes me appear lazy, and anything but a competitive candidate. And honestly, I feel less competitive even though my resume is now stronger. Stronger, I would venture, than many, even most, other applicants. Why not feeling competitive then? Something broke the wrong way in me. Long have I hoped, daydreamed, that one day something would snap, and presto, a Chell untethered, taking his place among the geniuses of the age. But no. There was no snap, as it turns out, just a slow developing. And what have I become? That is the question. Less obvious than what I was before, that’s for sure. More unusual. Less intelligent perhaps--I’ve definitely lost some learning at least. Unimpressed, less patient; the rise of vice spurred by a doubt of virtue’s asset. Lazy, addicted, barren, enlightened. I am convinced of something more important. I can almost hear the uncanny ahoy! sounding from all the little places most of us long ago forgot. I find myself starring at things I’ve seen ten-thousand times before: little balls of dust or a rotting leaf, the accumulation of hair in the bathtub drain, a light socket or a bit of faded graffiti. These things are not new, and neither do I see them in any sort of new light. They retain, in my unthinking, pondering-less gaze, all of their mundanity. What do I see? Why are these objects so captivating? It’s not nausea, although thinking about it might make me nauseous. It is most surely not something philosophical! The best I can say is that it is absence. That these things are in fact absent. And that I am merely curious that they persist nevertheless. If I were more inclined to tidy up a bit, then perhaps they’d cease to not exist and I’d know just what to do: throw them out! But being indifferent to their usefulness, and content to just let them be, I find myself confused, from time to time, that they are there at all. And I stare at these objects for long moments. Hoping and dreading secretly that the insanity they promise would hurry up and be manifest. What do I do then? I run. I run as fast as I can into my head. And there I slay dragons, become a cybernetic god, have carnal relations with women I’ll never know, write a novel, open an underground club where we plot the overthrow of a fascist USA and generally avoid what must be, I am told, death.

So is this an appropriate beginning for a grad-school writing sample? Or, more importantly, could I keep this up for ten long pages? I’d hate to seem some whimpering bitch, lazy, and so-fuck-it my attitude. Worse still: pretentious; a kind of “academics is so blasé, and this is my middle finger to your decadence…” I do not want to seem to be saying that, because then I'd never be accepted. And besides, who wants to be that guy? Because that guy’s an asshole in all the wrong ways. And this raises another very good question: do I have any choice? It is my experience, as well as yours, that people don’t ever choose who they are. Annoying people (an easy example) know, despite all signs otherwise, that they are annoying people. Of course they feel bad about it! They hate themselves sometimes, and would rather be somebody else. So if I am a pretentious asshole who projects his own doubts about his academic potential onto the institution he’s afraid will fail to recognize him, can I be held accountable? The answer is yes, if said projection takes the form of my grad-school application.

(It is important, before I go any further, to clarify that I am not an annoying person. The other we are still not sure about, although I think my show of self -perspicacity ought to establish some confidence against the assumption that pretension-hiding-insecurity is in any way my defining characteristic. And quite the opposite actually; I’m the sort of person who looks down, averts the eyes, when others laugh at my jokes. The implicit compliment of laughter--that I’ve brought to others pleasure--is wonderful but above all embarrassing. However, annoying I am not! The annoying person from the paragraph above was meant only as an example, not some accidental elucidation of another suspected character flaw. I digress.)

Where to go now? I’m just about three pages down. If I actually submit this, I’d have to be crazy or use a fake name. Who knows, maybe its uncommon enough to be refreshing, but most likely it’ll be interpreted “not-taking-this-seriously.” That is not the case; by the time I finish writing this I will have already re-read it upwards of 100 times. This writing-sample is really an exercise in writing, and as such I hope it will not be so quickly disregarded as something insincere! Writing is serious. If for no other reason than the difficulty required to put all the little morphemes together in significant order. And also the constant disagreements over possible revisions, the frustrating minor changes that already appear somehow in the next sentence prompting undo and again more conflict! The labor reminds one of swimming through molasses, or that dream-state where our most desperate punches are also our least effective!

You: “The act of writing may very well be difficult, and therefore serious. About this we have no disagreements. What is, however, disagreeable to us, is your failure to take seriously your task: to write an acceptable writing-sample!”

Me: “At the risk of sounding like a smart-ass, this is a sample of something I’ve written and so, ipso facto, a writing-sample. It was never up to me to decide on its acceptability. But I am no fool, and I understand your concern. However, I have nothing scholarly of appropriate length to submit. And the reason is, in all my years of study I’ve never written anything honest. Every essay I produced was always already contaminated; compromised for the politics of undergraduate grade-grubbing! This present writing-sample may be little more than barely comprehensible, unthematic splatter writing, but at least its honest! Penned from that place where my words come as authentically as I’m able, and hence more apropos to your assessment of my candidacy than any paper already written for another purpose could be!”

And then there were four. To do six more seems an almost insurmountable task. And so i'll leave this for the present a fragment, and return to it hopefully never...

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Burn Palin's Book, Just Don't Buy It First


I'm joking. I'm wholly against book burning. And, in fact, I wish Palin a measure of success. Nothing would grant Obama a second term more swiftly and cleanly than a messy struggle within the ranks of the GOP. In one corner we could have the conservative establishment, and in the other, the conservative "rogues". The establishment, with all their facts and psudo-higher education certificates, not to mention their more or less concrete policy positions, would appear WAY too elite to all the joe (and especially jane) dumbasses in our country. When you're really stupid, even an honorary degree from community college is threatening. Palin galvanizes these people. They've had a little taste of a country fueled not by ideas or even plausible solutions but rather by angry religious fervor and celebrity worship, and boy does it feel good! Now, with any luck, they'll only vote for Palin or someone who wears Palin's brand. Every other conservative in this country, who doesn't give a shit if the president is on a first name basis with a chunk of Hollywood's a-list, might just refuse to vote altogether for any of these Palin-people. Who would the GOP pick then? Some right-center-right candidate? Someone who wears enough Palin brand to get enough crazies to the polls without discouraging too many of the establishment voters? And what would happen? Well, independents wouldn't vote red because the party will have moved further to the right. The dems will appear to be the only center-oriented party out there. And bam! four more years. Best case scenario: the "rogues" actually go rogue and break off from the GOP. An nice clean split right down the middle. Three mainstream presidential candidates in 2012. Obama vs. Palin vs. old-fart-republican-nobody-knows-guy. Or something like that. Then it would be 30 years of unchallenged democratic rule. Not that I'd ever advocate for that. I mean fuck, the dems ain't that much better, not really. But it would be fun to watch.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Sam's Secret

“So, Sam, what do you do?”

“Oh, I’m an artist,” Sam said dully.

“Oh really? And what is your medium?”

“Uh, no medium.”

“No medium?”

“Yeah.”

“So what do you make?”

“I don’t really make anything,” Sam said slowly.

“Then how are you an artist?”

“Oh, I’m an artist in pretension only, no production.”

“So you’re telling me that your just an unemployed asshole?”

“Yeah, yeah.” Sam appeared to be uninterested. “I’m happy you got that.”

“So what do you want to do with your life?”

“Oh, I’m pretty happy the way it is.”

“How do you make money?”

“I sell drugs.”

“You’re a drug dealer.”

“I prefer artist.”

“What do you sell?”

“Pot.”

“How much pot?”

“A lot, a lot of pot.”

“You know I’m a cop?”

“Yeah, yeah.” Sam was leaning back, his eyes looked bored.

“Do you want me too arrest you?”

“I want you to try.”

He went for his handcuffs, but they weren’t there. He tried looking for them, but he could not find them. He had never been in this room before. He thought he was eating dinner with his family. Wasn’t this man his daughter’s boyfriend? He was interrogating a murder suspect. He already knew this man was a drug dealer. His honesty was not comforting. Is this some new interrogation room? Had the precinct been remodeled? He tried to stand but a great amount of water weighed him down.

“I can’t find my handcuffs.”

“I knew it. I sold you some pot earlier.”

“Did I smoke it?”

“You smoked a lot of it.” Sam said with a smile.

“Oh God.”

“Do you deny it?”

“I don’t know where I am.”

He was naked. This was his first day of work. Where were his registration papers? Why had they put him to work interrogating this man without his uniform?

“Are you interrogating me?”

“Of course I am,” Sam said. His smile became menacing.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Was I fooled too? Or deconstructing(?) Ann Coulter...

So I've given it more thought, and I'm starting to think that maybe Ann Coulter is in fact a liberal in disguise. Which would, ironically enough, only futher my thesis that she is part of a conspiracy to destroy any hope of political consensus in our poor USA. Here's a link. I'm espically interested in the one guy who writes: "When I listen to them it makes me more liberal rather than more conservative (just like Colbert) -- maybe they're trying to accomplish the same goal?" Moreover, in Ann's most recent post on her hompage, she begins by citing an MSNBC repot on Robert McDonnell, in which the poor bastard is completely ripped apart. She does so ostensibly to rub the liberal's face in it since he just got elected as governer of Virginia. But she says nothing to contradict MSNBC Keith Olbermann's diatribe. Hell, even Ann Coulter can't be against women having jobs (although the end of the post, "When conservatives take control of the Republican Party, Republicans win" seems to suggest otherwise, since she's really saying "I support conservatism, go us!" and the definition of conservatism she's working under is, implicitly, the one cited in the beginning from Olbermann).

My impression, after reading Ann's latest post, is: conservatives just elected another sick asshole to office. And I believe that is intentional. Ann Coulter is writing for liberals! She wants the liberal to think that conservatives would, if given the chance, elect only crazy assholes to office. She wants to confirm the liberal's suspicion. After reading anything Coulter writes, the only person who wouldn't walk away thinking "Jesus! I'm going to distance myself as far as possible from the conservative movement," would be a die hard conservative. Hence, political consensus, impossible.

Reptilian Aliens?

So I don't usually go in for the whole shapeshifting, reptilian alien thing. In fact I only ever talk about it to highlight the spectrum of conspiracy theories, and thereby (hopefully) led us mainstreamers a tad bit more credibility. For example, the fearmongering perpetrated by the media about H1N1 is far more likely the result of the decision, on a political level, to buy hundreds of millions of vaccinations with taxpayer money plus the realization that that was stupid and unnecessary (since it's a very mild flu and the number of infected people is wildly, outrageously exaggerated), than that shapeshifting reptilian aliens are afraid the spiritual awakening in 2012 will empower humans to shed their invisible shackles and must now try to limit our supernatural potential by vaccinating us against it.

Nevertheless, if there are shapeshifting reptilian aliens, then Michael Specter, author of "Denialism", is definitely one of them.