Monday, 14 January 2008

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Funyunization; or, How to Add Bulk to Dissertations Until last month, my advisor and I thought it best I write taut thirty-page chapters. Why? More like an article and thus more easily edited into one. I have no problem produce reams and reams and reams of prose. You want an 84 page chapter with a 129 footnotes? No problem. Want something with a shot at publication? Force me to be selective. Abandoning this plan is necessary if I'm to finish by 14 March. But a 50 page introduction and four 30 page chapters does not a dissertation make. So I'm currently revising back into my chapters the ancillary material I earlier edited out. I'm not adding fluff—I'm funyunizing. For those unfamiliar with the term, a "Funyun" is an "onion flavored ring" with absolutely no nutritional content. Just as daily consumption of Funyuns results in unadvised weight gain, daily funyunization of dissertation chapters transforms dutiful acknowledgments of previous scholar's work into winding engagements with their minutiae; brief explanations of historical events into expansive as the rhetoric originally used to describe and descry them; minor characters from minor novels into major players in marginal disputes; &c. You know, all the extraneous material that separates a dissertation from a first book. You could say I'm unbooking my dissertation. I'm packing on unhealthy pounds, chancing the dangers attendant upon spare tires, knowing that I'll need to unfunyun it back into a lean beast if I ever want to see it in a university library. (I'm saving copies of its svelte youth to accommodate the inevitable montage.) But all this talk of health must step aside for the moment. I need to funyun ... and an essay I was reading earlier today tossed me a bag of onion-flavored deliciousness: The most striking feature of this account—second only to its blatant racism—is ... How could I have missed this? I can open damn near every discussion of every Nineteenth Century novel and poem and study and article I address with this very sentence. That must be what? An extra five or six pages righteously funyuned in right there. Into the boilerplate with you!
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Liberal Fascism? Try Conservative Fascism (Very Seriously Thoughtful, Dripping with Unprecedented Care and Detail) In the wake of the success of fellow Jew Jonah Goldberg, I've decided to quote-mine my way into a publishing deal with a reputable firm. My thesis: Bush is not only a fascist, he is the direct ideological heir to the fascist, Benito Mussolini. We begin (where else?) in Iraq: "Italian Oil Group Fight Iraqui Grant," New York Times, 30 September 1930 The stakes are the rich and as yet unexploited oil fields of Iraq, and the contestants are the present holders of an exclusive concession ... and an entirely new international oil group in which the guiding genius is understood to be Benito Mussolini. The troops? As of 9/11, they'll be there indefinitely: "Long Occupation Indicated," New York Times, 12 September 1923 ROME, Sept. 11 -- All present indications are that it will be a long time before the Italian troups evacuate. It is obvious that bringing the ... murders to justice must be a long and difficult if not impossible task. Two weeks have elapsed since the crime was committed ... It is considered doubtful whether the ... If the real murderers are not found it is improbable that the Italian troops will ever evacuate. Like Bush, Mussolini believed the free market can do anything the government do, only better and more efficiently: "Mussolini Greets Business Congress, Tells the Delegates Paternalism Must Go and Capitalism Will Stay," New York Times, 19 March 1923 "It is my conviction," said Signor Mussolini in his address, "that the State must renounce its economic functions, especially those of a monopolistic character, for which it cannot provide. The Government must give free play to private enterprise, and must forego any measures of State control and State paternalism. Such measures may satisfy the demagogy and ambitions of Socialists, but as shown by experience, will in the long run turn out to be absolutely fatal to the interests and economic development of any country." "I do not believe the complex of forces which is known by the name of capitalism is about to end, as has for so long been announced by several extreme Socialist thinkers. Events have shown that all systems which interfere with initiative and individual impulse fail more or less in a short lapse of time. Like any neoconservative, inchoate or not, Mussolini wanted to privatize everything in sight: "Mussolini Starts Drastic Reforms," New York Times, 3 November 1922 [T]he State will sell or lease to private enterprises all the State monopolies ... These include the parcel post, the telegraph, and the railways. He and Bush share a hatred of the Ivory Tower and a desire to defund the elitists who live in it: [T]he State will abolish ... all universities[.] And the poor are, of course, lazy. Something must be done about them: In any case [the State] will oblige the unemployed to go to the places where they can be usefully employed[.] Perhaps the army can usefully employ them? If not, there's always the other army, a.k.a. "Mussolini's Blackwater": "Fascisti...

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