Sunday, 04 March 2007

"Show Me Your Work," Filthy-Mouthed Liberals Politely Demand So that thing about filthy-mouthed liberals? Something seemed—I don't know—off about those numbers. Quick exercise: I'm from the South. I know what patriotic Americans sound like after church on Sundays when, for example, someone scores on 'dem Saints. I also know many people in the service. I've driven hours into the desert to hang out with them as they passed through Fort Irwin. And you know what? Those guys who used "fucking" as an adverb in high school? They're still fucking awesome. So I re-ran Patrick Ishmael's experiment using his instructions: How did I get this result? I searched Google using the following format and recorded the page results that were returned: "search term 1" OR "search term 2" OR "search term 3"... Nine search terms total—the seven profanities as single words, and two of those as their own two-word variations. I then added the individual site results together and compared them. Some of his results are, shall we say, a little misleading. Just so you don't think I'm inventing this, I'm going to link to the very searches he claimed to do. Here's his entry for Daily Kos: Daily Kos 146,000 I'm not sure where that number came from, because when you do the search he claimed he had, these are the results: Daily Kos 9,960 Don't believe me? Click on the link. Where did those other 136,000 or so instances come from? I'm not sure. But I think I've figured out why the Huffington Post came across so salty. His number's on top; mine, complete with link to his search, on the bottom: Huffington Post 109,000 Huffington Post 10,600 Throw in a little Google invariability, and what you have here is a simple transcription error. Wonkette, on the other hand: Wonkette 78,200 Wonkette 3,960 The only major error of this sort I found on his list of conservative sites was Ace of Spades, who ain't quite as profane as Ishmael estimated: Ace of Spades 9,730 Ace of Spades 7,480 Now, I don't necessarily believe my numbers are correct. But I do know that his numbers should be similar (considering the inevitable Google waggle) to mine, since I used his methodology. But some of them aren't even close. I wonder why that is? [Those interested in witnessing counter-counter-methodology slams are encouraged to check the comments. Also, I'm more than willing to be wrong about this, as Ishmael's numbers jibe with my intuitive sense on the matter.]
Cerebus and Modernist Freedom, Part III: Homosocial/Homosexualist Frames (They're Fabulous!) The oddest thing about Jaka's Story is the relation of its frame-narrative both to the ongoing story and to the overall narrative. As I mentioned in the previous post, much of what we know about Jaka's life in the royal palace comes from Jaka's Story. In those later interviews, Sim himself suggests that we can trust the information communicated in this book—which is strange considering it is it delivered, secondhand, by Rick to Oscar Wilde, then embellished by the latter in an attempt to extort more money from his stingy publisher. Those of you who haven't read the book are no doubt confused, so let me back up. Here are the panels of the frame narrative from the first number of Jaka's Story (click to enlarge): Sim interleaves these images of Jaka's childhood with the main narrative—which involves, among other things, the return of Cerebus in Jaka's life and the consequences of the abortion I discussed last week—but as a frame composed by a notorious embellisher, the truth-content of these imbricate panels shouldn't be taken at face value. This is not to say they brim with conscious lies; only that of all the narrators ever, Oscar Wilde stands astride the pile of those I would trust the least. Consider this: the information contained in these panels is related to Wilde by Jaka's insecure husband, Rick. That's one layer of interference—and a significant one, given that the entire book will, in the end, turn on the breach of his trust. But more on that later; for now, I want to talk about what the habitation of Wilde's voice freed Sim to accomplish. Sim revels in ventriloquism—and well he should, as he is among the most talented literary ventriloquists I've come across. He's no Pynchon or Gaddis, mind you, but the man has talent. In addition to Wilde, Cerebus features believable impressions of the Marx Brothers, the Three Stooges, and the Rolling Stones, to name but a few. When he decides to inhabit the voice of Oscar Wilde, he frees himself from the constraints of the narrative voice he's established in Cerebus. (This goes without saying. And yet, here I am, saying it.) At this point, I should mention Wally's desire for me to account for the introduction, because it would seem to be important here. After all, in it Sim says that he never considered Oscar a "homosexual character" per se (though homosexualist he is). First, last and always (to me) he is an Artist and the tragedy which befell Wilde, [he] can't view in any other context than "Society vs. the Artist." (8) All well and good, and yet the relationship between Oscar and Jaka's husband, Rick, entails oodles of what we literary types call "homosociality." I know, I know, you don't come here for the queer theory; but the drawing rooms in which Oscar and Rick meet; their secret liaisons, which Jaka spies from a distance; the fact that the sole topic of conversation when they meet is Rick's...

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