Sunday, 08 April 2007

A Taxonomy of Deceit: The Sanity Preserver Circumstances have forced me to spend a good deal of time this past week thinking about lying—so much so that as I sit to write this, I feel equipped to present a taxonomy of deceptiveness, one able to account for everything from the Big Whopper to the Intentional Omission, the Unintentional Omission, the Unconscious Omission, and the prodigal son, the Sanity Preserver. Yesterday, I discussed the academic variation of the Sanity Preserver, in which the time invested in learning the nuances of a particular body of thought leads to an irrational investment in the thought itself. I am convinced that this investment is different only in degree from the very bane of our existence: the student complaint that the effort put into writing a paper should determine its grade. In both cases, the quality of the work is back-seated to the time invested in producing it—although in its more "mature" form, the time invested is more likely to approach the time the complainant claims to have invested. Not that the outcome is altogether different. The rigidity of thought and distortive perspective persist, only now bound to an insufferable academic identity. More often than not, it is now that the Sanity Preserver passes the torch to the Intentional Omission. One could argue that the Intentional Omission is as unconscious as the Sanity Preserver, that the intentionality is merely the byproduct of years of refusing to countenance uncomfortable facts and arguments in the effort to preserve sanity. There may be something to that, inasmuch as the temper tantrum inevitably following any inquiry suggests some shoddy preservation. Once the stomping stops and the spittle dries, what remains is a picture of academic failure: intelligent enough to have mastered a complex body of thought but lacking the confidence to admit of its shortcomings, this "scholar" has no choice but to turn to the Intentional Omission. This flaw may be summarily dismissed—the illusion of an openness to criticism must be maintained—but that one must never be acknowledged. And so the Intentional Omitter carefully builds the wall behind which his expertise will be expertly defended by himself, a noted expert. As he slides in that last brick, His Expertness sighs a knowing sigh of relief. At long last, he thinks to himself, I have my wall. That it is in his basement, and he behind it, matters little. He will lord over these sad dolls, his only company. Bricked in, he will be free. Experto crede.
Classic Acephalous: Sadly, All Too Relevant Still Acephalous's Index Minimum number of deities Scott Eric Kaufman cursed for failing to assist him in the completion of sentences today: 43 Number of sentences Kaufman completed: 8 Estimated number of calories burned in the Kaufman household dissertating: 1800 Percentage of which comes from cheese: 75 Number of days since May 2001 Kaufman has not worked on his dissertation: 16 Number of days he has not thought about it: 0 Chance that someone arrives at Acephalous via a Google search with the word "sex" in it: 1 in 2 Chance that someone arrives at Acephalous via a Google search for "Scott is the best person ever": 1 in 23,792 Estimated percentage of students Kaufman believes do all the reading: 80 Actual percentage of students who do all the reading: 3 Portion of this "Index" which is self indulgent and solipsistic: 3/4 Average number of CFPs Kaufman receives every week: 70 Percentage of CFPs Kaufman could respond to without everyone pointing at him and calling him a liar: 1 Chance that a former student thinks Kaufman is "rude and overly critical": 1 in 9 Percentage of students who do who refuse to edit their work ever: 100 Number of footnotes about Caesar's Column rewritten from scratch today: 7 Chance that it will be rewritten from scratch it again tomorrow: 1 in 3 Average amount of vodka in ounces required for Kaufman to forget about his chapter and enjoy a television show: 17 Percent change in evenings under the influence since 2000: +98 Number of times the author of the last article Kaufman read trumpeted the importance of his own work: 13 Number of sighs Kaufman exhaled while reading it: 189 Percentage of female occupants of Kaufman household who are evil: 50 Chance said evil female occupant weighs 20 lbs. and is covered in cat fur: 1 in 1 Estimated number of words Kaufman has deleted from his current chapter: 9,478,901,092,618 Projected number deleted by the time he files: ∞

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