Saturday, January 19, 2008

MLAde 2007, Stanley Fish, and an Oblique Connection to that Crazy Tom Cruise Video

So a few of us somehow ended up at the Modern Language Association Convention in Chicago, where we donned disguises and distributed gurrilla-style (OK, gorilla-style: they were gorilla costumes) 1,500 copies of a parody of the Convention Guide. It's called the MLAde, and you can read it online here.

Shockingly, the only real backlash seems to have been the Horrible Food Poisoning each of us got on the second to last day. At one point we did see Stanley Fish (pictured at right) sneaking around the kitchen of the Corner Bakery, but we all just assumed that that was something doddering literary critics were allowed to do.

Stanley Fish, by the way, has recently lost his mind, as is proven by his recent NY Times columns on the Uses and Abuses of the Humanities. It seems to us that there are any number of ways (hundreds) to critique the way the humanities work, or the way literature or philosophy or history is taught, but Fish's arguments are unworthy of both his previous intellectual standards and of the reading public. Like the passage from the George Herbert poem he "analyzes" in the opening of his essay, his arguments undermine themselves on their own, so we won't waste our time doing so.

But here's a theory: the reason Dr. Fish gets to stand on the Enormous NY Times Soap Box, when there are literally dozens of more vibrant and interesting literary theorists out there, is that he confirms anti-intellectuals' (known in academia as "haters," and in Scientology as "SP's" or "Suppressive Persons") poorly formulated suspicions about the usefulness of thinking. Oh Stanley.

In the words of Tom Cruise, "I have canceled him from my area."

Friday, January 4, 2008

"The Trash Heap Has Spoken": Alan Greenspan and Prophetic Garbage

Our good friend Minh, over at his incomparable Bottom Shelf Books, pointed out something else interesting concerning the Fundamental Asymmetries of Fragglenomics: that it works by the manner in which the Fraggles continuously mooch off of and munch on the congealed labor and radish-y infrastructure constructed by the Doozers. This reading adds on yet another layer of allegory to the already seven-layer-dip-ish story of Fraggle and Doozer relations.

The allegory is this: the Doozers are the Clintonian democrats who mined the radishes and built a Radish-y Surplus, and the Fraggles are the frenzied neo-conservatives who gobbled up this infrastructure and surplus, invaded a foreign land (Iraq = Doc's workshop), and handed us and our grandchildren the LARGEST DEBT IN WORLD HISTORY.

The only problem with this scenario is that Fraggle Rock aired from 1983 to 1987, and could not possibly have predicted the ascension of the Clintons, much less 9/11 and the Bush Administration. I mean seriously, who could have predicted that crazy s@$%? Anyways, we believe that we've found a solution, and that it involves former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan and the Fraggle's trusty prophet, the "all seeing, all knowing Trash Heap." Just look at the resemblance:


Each is utterly hermetic and speaks only in riddles. Compare, for example, the Trash Heap's inscrutable advice on the collapse of the Trash Heap's way of life:
Weirdo Helper#1: "It's the end!"
Trash Heap: "Nonsense, Gunge, it's hard to kill a Trash Heap... It could change a person, it could change me for ever."
Weirdo Helper#2: "But what can we do!?"
Trash Heap: "Bring me some Fraggles. Let them be the heroes... Why not? Take the right Fraggle, put him in the right place--he might rise to greatness.
to the chronically cryptic former Fed Chairman Greenspan's advice on the collapsing American economy:

Weirdo Helper#3: "How do we know when irrational exuberance has unduly escalated asset values, which then become subject to unexpected and prolonged contractions as they have in Japan over the past decade?
Weirdo Helper#2: "It's the end!"
Greenspan: "Indeed, the sharp stock market break of 1987 had few negative consequences for the economy. But we should not underestimate or become complacent about the complexity of the interactions of asset markets and the economy. Thus, evaluating shifts in balance sheets generally, and in asset prices particularly, must be an integral part of the development of monetary policy. Bring me some Fraggles."

Plus, just look at the huge glasses!

It makes you, or at least us, wonder...