On Literature Papers, Stephen King, and…Wait. Not Stephen King

I’m taking a class now on Contemporary Postmodern Lit that ends this week. The class has been great, the professor is illuminating and cool, the style of the class is engaging despite being almost 4 hours long twice a week, and the readings are, for the most part, thought provoking. We’ve read stuff by Delilo, Vollman, Pynchon, Barthelme, Laurie Anderson, Mark Leyner, and David Foster Wallace, among others. But now I have to write a 20 page lit paper. Due this Wednesday. Which I haven’t started.

I have my topic, sort of: An analysis of three Foster Wallace short stories through the lens of Umberto Eco’s take on Irony in Postmodern works. (Life Note: any time you say “through the lens” of someone obscurely Italian, you sound smart)

I have my sources: 4 analyses of Foster Wallace in lit journals, a few of the more highbrow Foster Wallace book reviews, an interview with him, some sheet I printed off a website with “Fun Facts”, some stuff i can’t cite from Wikipedia, a fake Foster Wallace MySpace page, and a print out of what the American Apparel store in Second Life looks like.

I’ve read the stories I’m going to use. I’ve made an outline, kind of, which more or less is a flow chart in which I’ve written down things like, “make insightful analysis here” next to an arrow and then made well stenciled smiley faces around the arrow to provide motivation/excitement.

But I can’t write the paper. I have no thesis. And this, friends, is not, as the Digable Planets would say, cool like dat.

Fortunately, this has not stopped me before. I have written several papers without actual theses, most of which used complicated words to obfuscate the glaring point that I didn’t have a thesis and tried to jazz up the fact that, for the most part, I was giving a well-written book report using words like obfuscate. Other times I have a thesis that sounds money but when i really dig through my material, I find that the stuff doesn’t quite match up to my money thesis, so then I end up really, really stretching for quotes and using parts of parts of phrases to strenghen my argument, making the paper sound like an Associated Press newspaper story with misplaced, ironic quotation marks: Sherman Alexie’s “use” of “Native American” dream stories is not at all “like” the classic adaptation “of Stephen” King’s Dreamcatcher, even though both involve “multiple usages” of the word “dream” and two or more “references” to Morgan “Freeman” (Bell Hooks, “624”).

And now I really, really need to go write this. Like I need to stop trying to come up with “clever” places to put quotation marks in fake examples of past lit papers and just leave my apartment, walk down to the Espresso Royale on the corner, order something with caffeine in it and maybe one of those delightful, cutesy, little pastry things with the jam, and get this party going. And i need to do it soon because I have class at 6. Till 9:45. Wait. Ssshhhh. Listen: If you put your ear up to the computer and mute “L.O.V.E.” by Ashlee Simpson that’s “accidentally” on repeat on your iTunes, you can almost hear the violins playing my pity party. Woe is me.

If anyone has the time and extensive educational background, I’m open to any sort of thesis ideas involving Foster Wallace, irony and Stephen King films, you know, something else smart sounding. And just because this is more entertaining than writing a lit paper, I’ll drop back in later on tonight to give you a real word count and the worst best quote from said paper. Because who doesn’t like reading succinct, well-thought out totally non-b.s. literature analyses via the Web 2.0?

That’s right. Chuck Sambuchino. No one.

Until later on tonight, friends.

I’ll Make it Rain on Them (remix),


PS- Pictured Below: Actor Damian Lewis of Dreamcatcher gives a sidelong glance to his competition after placing third in the “hurt dog carry” in the 2003 Lumberjack Games at Colby College and rapper Fat Joe “ironically” snacking on KFC minutes after coming out against trans fats on The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch.

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