Saturday, May 25, 2013

"Writes Blog Posts No One Cares About"

So this article.

For those unwilling to click a blind link, it's a Jezebel article, and a comedy-based one. Essentially, it's a list of traits that the author thinks should have warned her right off not to take up with particular gentlemen or lady, and invites readers to send in their own regrets, of either male or female persuasion.

I bring this up in part because it inspired one of my better comedy routines (apologies for those who already read it from my Facebook feed):
"Guy whose fantasy was to bone a girl on a washing machine wearing hockey gear." Well, that's just unclear. Who is wearing the hockey gear? Is it the guy? Is it the girl? Is it the washing machine? Is the Samsung 2008 Frontload decked out in jersey and pads? Is the stick laid out in front, or does it dangle outside the portal? Where do you put the cup and jockstrap?
Now I'm entirely distracted. I'm going to go home and start some major appliance cosplay sessions.

And I'm certainly going to use that joke yet again when I teach my class next, and instruct everyone on the importance of not leaving any dangling modifiers.

But at the moment, I'd like to talk about a different item on the list:

"There are certain male authors who, while their works are not bad per se, they, through maybe no fault of their own, attract a male fanbase that is disproportionately douchey. If a guy is obsessed with David Foster Wallace, Kurt Vonnegut, John Updike, Philip Roth, or Richard Brautigan, I consider that a red flag. Jonathan Franzen is borderline. Chuck Palahniuk is part of this group, only unlike the aforementioned, his writing is genuinely awful. (I wonder if this also works for women and female authors? If I were a guy I might not want to fuck a woman who was an obsessive fan of, I don't know, Jane Smiley?)"

I'm no fan of most of the authors listed there, and I don't even know who Richard Brautigan is. (Read his wikipedia page, and still don't recognize anything. It's the perils of having an English background but relatively no specialization in American lit.) I do, however, wear as a badge of pride the fact that I actually finished Wallace's Infinite Jest, and I did go through a very prolonged Vonnegut phase--albeit one that's now ten years old. But I wouldn't call the Wallace interest an obsession, and the Vonnegut stuff faded some time ago. But I still think I've been guilty of some of the excesses this list item is touching on: not the quasi-ideology that you can cobble together out of these novels (that's a different article) but the sort of literary snobbery you get when you focus on a degree that prepares you for such exciting careers as proofreader or tech writer. One of the reasons I read so much sci-fi and fantasy is to keep myself humble, to a degree. (Another is that space stuff and magic and elves and junk are really cool. No, they are.) Even then, though, some academic snobbery seeps in, even if the lit doesn't. The worst arguments I've ever had with my brother were over his efforts during his year of university, and it took me a long time to accept that he had a perfectly valid career without it. And even that statement displays some of the arrogance till in my stance, that his choice of career was something where my acceptance mattered.

But now I'm drifting now, without really reaching a point. I guess what I'm trying to say is that the point that seemed to resurface over and over in this list is that a certainty in one's beliefs can lead to unfounded arrogance. (Okay, you need to squint a bit to read that from "Wore a white beret." Work with me.) It's one thing to honor something that's been meaningful to your own identity, but when that honor becomes obsession, it's time to step back and re-evaluate what kind of person you want to be.

Or: my literary snobbiness isn't a good reason to object to me as a potential date. Not when there's my hygiene, my sartorial tastes, my eating habits, my choice in movies...

Later Days.

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