Tuesday, 21 February 2006

Productivity, The Lack Thereof, & Stuff At Which To Point With Mirth I've acquired a reputation for merciless self-deprecation. As tempting as a meta-merciless account of earlier merciless self-deprecations sounds . . . I do this to feel like I learn good. That I progress. That I'm smarter today than yesterday and that I'll be even smarter tomorrow. To experience daily what in the Kaufman House Patois we christen a "productive" day. As Michael Szalay argues in that nifty little book of his : when poor people become intellectuals they fret endlessly over the immaterial nature of their production. Just as Jack London quelled his conscience with vigorous assertions of the workiness of his labors, the Kaufman household obsessively catalogues its "work performed." So when an entire day passes in which I haven't marked a lick or thought about my dissertation . . . you can only imagine. I feel less than useless. My father drove an ambulance. Saved people's lives. I read books. The guilt threatens sanity and suggests a fulfilling career in alcoholism. The sole bulwark? The notion that I'm more smart today than yesterday. So I mock my former self. He thought he was so smart. I'll show him! (Sometimes I do too. Only I come to my senses quickly now.) Tonight I slam him to the mat again so that I might pick myself back up. What follows are excerpts from an essay I wrote my senior year entitled "Poe and Lacan Unpurloined, Revisited, and Revised." Even the title—despite its prescient nod to the Matrix sequels—blows hurricane-strength gusts of utter suck. But the title is just the beginning. (As titles are wont to be.) It's all downhill from there: The forces acting upon the narrator in "Usher" are not unlike those Poe's Style imposes on the reader. Those dastardly forces! Who are they to act upon the narrator? Why did I capitalize style? What do I think I am, German? Just as the reader is overwhelmed by the Stylistic effect which connects the narrator’s observations, the narrator is overwhelmed by the concerted effort the world of Roderick Usher makes to assault his Emersonian self-reliance. In other words, just as Poe’s Style makes the unintelligible intelligible by creating an illusory uniformity on otherwise unrelated statements, the world of Roderick Usher makes the unintelligible intelligible by creating an illusory uniformity on an normally disjunctive world. Nothing is more awesome than saying the same twice. Seriously. Nothing is more awesome than saying the same thing twice. To this point this essay seriously lacked penis-talk. Not anymore! In a post-Freudian/Lacanian world, this recognition is healthy precisely because it undermines the illusory nature of the Ego. Unfortunately for the narrator, the Emersonian concept of self-reliance to which he adheres is completely incompatible with this realization, in that one cannot "carry himself in the presence of all opposition as it every thing were titular and ephemeral but he" when he knows that the "he" to which Emerson refers is the illusion which Lacan refers to as the function of the phallus (1624). That Jesus...

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