Wednesday, 17 October 2007

For John Emerson's Eyes Only It is a Friday night in a posh "green" hotel. (Meaning there are no phone books and the toilet paper scours tender bottoms.) Blogging mega-stars Scott Kaufman and John Holbo convene in the lobby. They come prepared: Holbo wears a leather jacket, Kaufman a corduroy one. They sit pensively and discuss a lecture Kaufman didn't attend. An elevator door opens. Out walks a young man who has also come prepared: it is Adam Kotsko, clad in a jacket made of leather and rage. Kotsko: (bears his teeth with a growl) Are you ... ? Kaufman: (politely) Yes. Nice to finally meet you. Holbo: (unbuttons his shirt to reveal a chest oiled for battle) Likewise. So we were just saying ... Kaufman: (politely) ... that we didn't think it was going to be any big deal if we ... Kotsko: (reaches behind his back for a cudgel) Wait, which one is "we," I mean ... Kaufman: (politely) Sorry. (handsomely) I'm Scott. He's Holbo. Kotsko: (eyes oozing hatred) Adam, nice to meet you. Holbo: (with violence in his heart) So we're waiting for Wilczak, right? Kaufman: (politely) Yep. He's one of Meg's oldest friends, and he has this Ethiopian restaurant he wants to take us to. Kotsko: (lasers shooting from his eyes) Works for me. Holbo: (shields holding at ninety percent) Sounds delicious. Kaufman's cell-phone rings. In the background, Holbo and Kotsko viciously compare jackets. Kaufman motions them to follow, and like two beasts leashed to the same master, they oblige. They walk out of the hotel and under a heating lamp. Kotsko: (full of lunatic rage) Is that really necessary? Holbo: (genocide on his mind) I don't understand that. Kaufman: (politely shivering) It's not like it's c-c-cold out. Wilczak: (unaware of the lurking violence) So how you been, Scott? Kaufman: (politely shivering) C-c-can't complain ... The group makes its way to Wilczak's nifty new Volkswagen Jetta. Kaufman offers the taller Holbo the front seat. Holbo declines. Thoughts of Back-Seat Thunderdome pulse from his and Kotsko's eyes. The car starts and they chat idly for five minutes, until ... Kotsko: (with a look that would wet Steven Seagal's trousers) ... and then we realized where the loufah came from. Kaufman: (his polite eyes politely aglow with prophecy) This play sucks. Four people went out for a fun dinner. We laughed with and at each other. It was fun. Emerson's trying to stir shit up because he's bored. Kotsko: (needle laser pellets firing rapidly from his soulless eyes) What? Holbo: (fingers threateningly a-crackle with the dark power of The Analytic) What? Kaufman: (his polite voice thundering with polite portents of future inquiries) I CAN HEAR THE EMERSONIAN. HE SPEAKS IN PLAIN TONGUE BUT MEANS HARM. HE CAN NOT LET THE SHIT SETTLE. WHEN THE RAINS COME TO THE SOUTHERN LANDS HE MUST STIR THEM. HEED MY WORDS. LINK TO THIS POST. DO NOT LET HIS SINGLENESS PERSUADE YOU TO ... (coughing) ... to ... (coughing) ... sorry about that. Got something caught in...
What Are Qualifying Exams Good For? Short Answer: Absolutely nothing. Longer Answer: Abso-fucking-lutely nothing. Actual Answer: You have three lists: one for theory, one for genre, and one for period. (Some substitutions are allowed.) Each should contain thirty works. None ever does. At your list-meeting, the members of your committee decide what belongs on each list. They never reach a decision. They "compromise" by including every work any of them mentioned. You now have nine months to read three lists. Each consists of sixty works. Let me do the math for you: 270 / 180 = FUCKED Because you are. You cannot read a book every 1.5 days and have anything intelligent to say about it. But you must read a book every 1.5 days and have something intelligent to say about it. You must also remember these intelligent things because one day soon the graduate coordinator will escort you into a room in which you will sit with all the books on your lists and write for six hours. On Tuesday you will write about your A List. On Thursday you will write about your B List. Only "write" is not an appropriate word for what you will do. You do not write: You eject words. Your committee wants words, damn it, and you will give them words. You will not give them punctuation because punctuation is for chumps and you will not give them grammar because they wants words not grammar and they cannot has big word because big word not available in time are been allotted and your word cannot do sense because you to be in rooms for six hour and is under pressure and if you does not performs good you and your asses are to be kicked from grad schools to curbs and then you died. Fortunately, the qualifying exams have a purpose: namely, to have you do something you'll never again be asked to do in your professional career, so that you may better appreciate how well-suited you are for it and only it. Because no one does well on their exams. No one "passes" in the conventional sense. Your committee is always disappointed. Everyone on it thought you were going to be the first person in the history of academia to perform exceptionally under extreme duress and on a exam the likes of which you've never taken (nor will ever take again). This disappointment is reasonable. To be expected. You will do equally poorly on your oral examination (covering your C List). Your committee members will lower their eyes and shake their heads. That is what they are there for. They want kabuki from a method actor. You are there to oblige. You dance inappropriately and they try not to laugh. You are tell them sentences with some word and they try not to laughs. Then they are pass you and you can have happy and alcohol. Your life are now for good. You is ABD.

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