Wednesday, 10 May 2006

Those Who Can Do, Do. Those Who Can't, Do Anyway So I've decided to write a book. This soon-to-be-dearly-missed fellow suggested it first. The credit is rightfully his. In the past couple of weeks a couple of other folks have also decided that I possess the requisite wit and insomnia to research and write a book while researching and writing a dissertation. Since they know people who know people—and since with each passing day my dreams are shoved, stopped, started, carried, routed, rerouted, diverted, guided, and conducted to avenues that lead to avenues that lead to cul-de-sacs—I think I'll take them up on their advice and spend time otherwise "invested" in re-re-re-watching some familiar film in a desperate attempt to stuff a stopper in the day's thought doing something productive instead. Like writing a book. What will this book be about? Why me of course! What else would a solipsistic fraud like me write about? I've lived a quaint life, yes, but I've lived the whole damn thing deaf. When you talk to me about your work, do you know what I hear? This: ə wə hə əw də ən m əlmo fənəsh wə də gəchə. ə thəm you wəl ləg ət. That's not accurate at all. I've basically clipped all the hard consonant sounds and schwa'd all the vowels, but since I ain't written the book yet, I haven't thought too deeply about what exactly it is I hear. I'm so accustomed to seeing the words I hear that I'm not actually sure what it is I actually here. I'm going to have spend some time transcribing with my eyes squeezed shut and my headphones nestled before I can transcribe what auditory cues I actually hear. I'll also be experimenting with ear plugs in order to figure out the exact extent to which I lip-read. In short, much like Joan Didion in her deservedly acclaimed Year of Magical Thinking, I'll be spending some time researching my own life. I'm looking forward to interviewing my parents. My wife. My friends. My doctors. The people I work with and the ones I work for. In my spare time, I will rewrite proverbial history: "Those who can, do. Those who can't, do anyway." I'll write in the genre I've taught to so many students whose prose talents, frankly, far outstrip my own. I'll increase the value of my name in this reputation economy by becoming more than "Professor Office Sex." (Which is still better than some people I'd rather not know. Better to be "Professor Office Sex" than "Adjunct Attacked a Group of Women of Color in a Parking Lot for No Reason.") What does this mean for you? Probably more self-involved posts about what it's like being deaf. I envision the finished product to be a John McPhee-esque memoir in which the personal collides with the researchical in ways which entertain and inform all. Something along these lines. If my best and brightest can appreciate the form, I have no doubt others can as well. (Those who can't do but teach...
I Am Become Plagiarism Bailiff: Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God? Scott: I do. (Assistant District Attorney John Wells strides forward and begins to question Kaufman.) Wells: Is it true that on the tenth of May you wrote a post on your blog called "What's the Word I'm Looking For? The Opposite of 'Disgruntled'"? Scott: I did. Wells: And did said post contain the sentence "Today, for some apparent reason, I had my first choate idea in weeks"? Scott: It did. Wells: Now refer to Government's Exhibit 643. Read the highlighted section. Scott: "But then, all at once, for some apparent reason, she looked in my direction and smiled in a way that I could make heads and tails of." Wells: Notice any similarity? Scott: The phrase "some apparent reason" appears in both. Wells: It certainly does. Now could you read the next highlighted part? Scott: "The conversation become more and more choate, and we spoke at length to much avail." I know what you're thinking, but I'm no plagiarist! Wells: Will the court please instruct Mr. Kaufman to only answer the questions asked? Judge: Consider yourself warned. Wells: Thank you. Now please read the rest of the highlighted words. Scott: Gruntled, nomer, shevelled, kempt, godly. Wells: If I were to tell you all those words appeared in your blog post of 10 May, would I be correct? Scott: They're all there, but . . . Wells: You'll answer the questions I ask with a simple "Yes" or "No." Scott: Yes. Wells: The State enters Exhibit 644 into evidence. (hands an oddly shaped box to Scott) Mr. Kaufman, will you please tell the jury what you have in your hands? Scott: A copy of The Complete New Yorker. Wells: What would happen if I handed you a laptop and asked you to do a search for an article in the 25 July 1994 issue written be a man named Jack Winter? Scott: Nothing. Wells: Nothing? Scott: I stare at its outrageously complicated search interface for a couple of minutes. Then I'd type in his name and be taken to a screen which listed the articles he'd written. I'd try to access them, but would fail miserably. Wells: And why would you do that? Scott: Because it's designed so counterintuitive that you need a doctorate in Computer Science to navigate it. Wells: You want this court to believe that someone as technological proficient as you is unable to operate The Complete New Yorker's search function? Scott: It's true. Wells: (looking flustered) So what you expect this court to believe is that despite you teaching articles from The New Yorker on a regular basis, you had no idea of the existence of Jack Winter's "How I Met My Wife"? Scott: Yes sir. Wells: And that the numerous identical "words" in the two text appear through sheer coincidence? Scott: Not by coincidence. We—Mr. Winter and I—were both aiming for the same effect. There aren't...

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