My decision to shed my anonymity has some consequences for how I think about the MLA and how I write about it. "Imagine" I went to a panel in which I heard the following statements in this order:
I didn't have time to think about this.
This goes way beyond dialectic. I'm talking paradox here!
I wish I had 15 minutes to talk about zero.
How do I represent this in words? I can't. But I brought lots of examples.
What? What is that? I had to think really really hard about that.
Dare I say it? "Everybody gets it wrong." Not that I get it right.
We need to have a BREAKOUT!
As an atheist, I have a thing.
I have (holds up three sheets of paper) one paragraph left.
I shouldn't say anything about this because I haven't thought about it yet.
(trying to recall the title of a book) The [place] something something something and [place] something or whatever.
I can't believe I'm telling you this.
I am BREAKING OUT!
Really there's nothing really there but I think it's important.
I had to alter a few of those (and excise some of the best) because then the victim would be able to recognize him or herself. Were I still anonymous this post would have been far funnier. I don't recount this for its sheer entertainment value. (Though I could.) What strikes me about this "imaginary" performance is its breathtaking unprofessionalism. Now you could complain that I'm unfair because written language works differently than spoken language. (There's an old story in linguistic circles about Noam Chomsky being the only person ever who speaks in paragraphs. But I digress.)
Every journalist knows how terrible transcriptions of the spoken word read. For this reason I find mocking of a political speech for its grammatical infelicities a cheap tactic. The mocker would fare no better than the mockee did. So you may have read the above and thought it absolutely unfair. The problem with that (otherwise legitimate) criticism would be that about half of those statements were not asides. They were written into the essay being read.
That still might seem like a cheap shot. I know when I write a conference paper I include potential and planned asides in the body of the text. But those asides are substantive and said in a slightly different timbre than the rest of the presentation. This panelist delivered his/her asides with the same authority with which he/she delievered his/her thesis. What would possess someone to incorporate "As an atheist, I have a thing" into the body of his/her presentation? What point could that statement possibly further?
Why yell "BREAKING OUT!" not once but twice? What does that even mean? (Full disclosure: I couldn't tell if he/she scripted "BREAKING OUT!" or it it was an actual BREAKING OUT! of something something something and something or whatever.)