Tuesday, 24 July 2007

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Dear Person or Persons With Whom I Share Plumbing, I appreciate you sharing the reek of cheap ganja with anyone who enters my apartment. Showering to the smell of stale bong water invigorates my soul. Watching your morning fog on its miasmatic creep from the bathroom into the hall, then from the hall into my office, is the highlight of my day. You have a kind heart. However, I find the material I produce in the wake of your morning ablution decidedly subpar. This morning I transcribed a passage from Herbert Spencer's Psychology thus: "Every form of Intelligence being, in essence, an adjustmust of inner to outer relations; it results that as, in the advance of this adjustmust, the outer relations increase number, in complexity, in heterogeneity, by degrees that cannot be marked." Granted, in terms of Lamarckian adaptation, the neologism "adjustmust" has some traction: individuals who "adjustmaybe" are less likely to survive than the "adjustmusters" who crane their necks for the next highest leaf. But I digress. (I do that a lot lately.) I know what you're thinking: "Dude. Just 'cause you see my smokes in your place don't mean you score a contact high. Seriously." Perhaps. You do know about those scientific studies of scent and cognitive function, right? The ones saying strong scents like peppermint work as mnemonics, and that you remember what you were thinking when you first smelt those smells? Because let me tell you: The crap my brain excavates every time you pump my place full of your noxious weed ain't exactly helping me finish my dissertation. Quite the opposite. It would be awesome if you could do your business in some room not connected to any of mine. If you must—€”if it's bathroom or bust—”maybe not toke so early in the morning or keep it up for quite so long. You have work to do, and I'm sure the shirts you smoke don't help so much. Make an adjustmust. All will be cool.
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By which I do not Mean; or, How to Turn a Dissertation into a Book As I struggle to finish the Wharton chapter without any of the books I requested through Interlibrary Loan—including The Ethnography of Manners, recommended by Luther; Edith Wharton's "Evolutionary Conception": Darwinian Allegory in Her Major Novels, which any fool can see's essential; and the unexpurgated letters of Edith Wharton, which unlike their cleanly brethren, don't gloss over her racist taxonomies—so as I struggle to finish that in light of all I lack, I can't help but look for ways to elongate, by means of utilizing a protracted lengthening of prolongment if need be (and it be), my current chapter. Luckily, today I chanced by accident upon a monograph which shows me exactly and precisely what I must not do if I hope to finish this chapter (and I do). What I must not do is define my terms in the affirmative, because as everyone knows (and they do), everyone else has preconceived notions of what words mean—especially when they refer to concepts instead of things—which means that if I wish to be precise to an exact degree, I must specify both what my words mean and what they decidedly don't. In order to make this relevant, I will replace the actual name of the monograph I chance upon with one under more frequent discussion in the present moment of the now, i.e. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: The print market in which [Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows] appears may be described as an "open" system. By this I do not mean that it is a self-regulating totality that sustains some essential character through the sort of homeostasis that is characteristic of, for example, many biological systems. The print market is a system of production and consumption in which no one can control or guarantee the meanings that sweep through its texts. It is open to seismic shifts and dislocations ... The market for [Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows] isn't analogously biological but geological, a fine distinction of precision which takes the better part of three whole entire paragraphs to draw. To think that all this time I've been arguing affirmatively! I could've been done, finished and completed by now had I but begun by demonstrating everything my every claim was not. If only I believed in a next life, this would all have been worthwhile.

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