Monday, 22 January 2007

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Because I'm a Stylist Pure After compressing 133 pages into 34, then 29, I felt drained. After expanding 29 into 37, then 43, I teetered on the edge of exhaustion. Now I've condensed 43 into 32 and the light is fading from my eyes. Fortunately, all I need to do is one more edit—longhand, in red, without mercy—and I will be finished with it. For now. I've written an angry, verbose post concerning the conflicting demands of historicism and the dissertation, but I'm placing it in my back pocket for the time being, as I lack proper distance from my frustration to be even remotely objective. In its stead, I present the following passage from Tom Masson's parodic play, The Toilers (1901), in which Henry James lays claim to his greatness: (A HERALD approaches, bearing a combination flagstaff, with the English and American flags waving together, and after him, clad in a costume of pure white, steps HENRY JAMES) SONG OF MYSELF. HENRY JAMES I'm a solemn sight In my robe of white, Which all of you must endure— Though you secretly sigh And wonder why— Because I'm a stylist pure. My sentences long I twist with a strong Right arm that is safe and sure, And commas I cram Where the sense they'll dam, For I am a stylist pure. My plots are dull And unbeautiful— Insomnia they will cure; But the cultured few Say I'm an artist true Because I am a stylist pure. (He trips calmly to right and left, performing a modest and stately skirt dance, and concludes) I'm a stylist pure whom you all endure for the sake of the cultured few, Who hysterically sigh and raise an eye, and exclaim he's an artists ture!" Which, as every one knows who is fond of a pose, is the elegant thing to do. CHORUS For he is a stylist pure Whom all of us must endure, Because of the few, Who are cultured and true, Proclaim it's the thing to do. If you think that is cruel, you should see the tripe Silas Weir Mitchell spouts.

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