Archive for the ‘ufuckery’ Category

Notes on an Autobiographical Account of a Case of Disintegration, or I Broke My Dick Once, Part I

October 9, 2008

I broke my dick once.

It was the swampy summer of 2003 and one morning in August, I woke up already frying in the heat, cringing under the air-conditioner, with a broken dick.

To be more accurate, I woke up one morning and found my penis dislocated. The penis-entity could be found at the usual place on my body, but the organ itself was distorted. Unerect, it was a tiny bulbous mass pulling into body for shelter. Erect… let’s just say that two heads were forming. Peeing was a trial as the pee-hole leading out of my penis was no longer directly connected to the “inner tube” from whence water issued.

As calmly as possible, I assessed the injury and called Michael (we were still together) who was in Michigan working on the hardwood floors for the house or something. I have no idea what he was up to. All I know is that I didn’t want to spend time with his cult-like family and had proffered one of my panoply of ready excuses to avoid the visit. But I needed him with me now. Moving across the apartment with painstaking care, my penis was clasped in my hands gently – as I would carry a bird with a broken wing. It wasn’t a bird that was broken, though. It was me. I needed care. To Michael, I explained that my penis was broken or dislocated. I described what was happening. He laughed. He told me “your penis isn’t broken. It will go away. Cancel your tutoring appointments. Just take it easy for the day.”

Bar none, it was the most shattering moment of my life. I was not going to “take it easy.” My mind ran through the possibilities at the speed of paranoia. Thomas Laquer had written about cases in the eighteenth century where clitorises “descended,” dropping out into full-grown penis and testes. Was the opposite happening? Making matters worse, I’d recently been reading about eighteenth century medical debates about “spermism” and preformation, giving my mind material to introject the moral into my medical concerns. I’d read about people who were born hermaphrodites and whose doctors had sewn up the vagina or snipped off nascent penises. Not knowing much about female anatomy, I wondered if perhaps I was one of those cases. Had a doctor (my own father, the Obstetrician who delivered me) stitched up my vagina, and was it now opening up causing my penis to cave in? I cursed him. In my panicked, paranoid rage, I cursed my dead father. Better he had drowned me in a tub after I was born, then risk a life of hermaphroditism for his own “son.”

Or maybe an erection had come upon me at night, and in an effort to avoid sleeping on our cat, (and to hide the shameful erection from her), had I rolled over onto the erection and broken the shaft of my penis? Was the bulbous entity pulsing on the shattered remains of my groin now filling with pus and blood?

Three months before I would begin to find myself in total therapy meltdown, I was already exhibiting symptoms of several kinds of madness. Some of my eccentricity had always been part of my cultivation of personality, but I look back at my cover story and know it wasn’t all act. Was this the tipping point? That period of time moved so quickly; I’m grateful that it remains a blur. I know that my life would soon completely change. Veering from one scenario to another, one thing was certain: the Cronenbergesque mass on my groin was no hallucination.

Coincidentally, this development occurred just as campus graduate students were furiously debating the issue of health insurance — the university provided it to some incoming students, but not universally. The thought that someone would not only go into debt for graduate education (understandable if you are talking about a technical school such as law, medicine or social work), appalled me. That anyone would accept a funding package without tuition coverage or even mere health care included convinced me that there truly were people who would sell their souls to a faculty and administration of Caligula-level sadists for a chance to frolic for a few more years in, what Jerome McGann once called, America’s “retirement homes for the young.”

Remember that it wasn’t simply the desperation of students to get into graduate school at work in the mind-set of my colleagues that led to a “debate” about the advisability of pressuring the university to provide basic health care for all its working teachers (at a university that was famed for driving students insane), the debate was also riven by the cronyism of graduate students who would never EVER stand up to the administration for fear of being black-listed.

Given the events of the years prior, fear of the academic black-list was not baseless. Following the strikes of their teaching assistants, Yale University actually compiled a list. Everyone in the field knew whose names were on the list — they were the applicants whose letters of recommendation were unusually cruel, even for Yale. Tenure was infamously denied to professors who openly encouraged the graduate student union’s strikes. At my university, I sat through a job talk from one of the strike organizers — a sensitive, intelligent, man who worked on 20th Century working-class literature and who had fascinating ideas about how the genres of the picaresque and picturesque worked. He was one of the few job candidates with whom I’d ever had as candid a conversation about my work and his – he seemed genuinely engaged in what other people had to say. At the time, I knew nothing about the politics of his job-talk but I did notice that some of the more advanced students in my program treated him with an unremitting smugness. I wondered if there was a “class” thing going on since this guy was clearly from a blue-collar background. Was Sam, one of my nemeses, smirking at the heavy arm hair emerging from this guy’s shirt sleeve? At his job talk, two of the most senior professors in the department sat in the back loudly gossiping while the the applicant lectured without notes. An assistant professor curried favor with her seniors by attacking his thesis like a rabid dog. You could probably still find her dental records by referring to the bite marks on his leg.

Like Yale, my university was deeply hostile to student organizing. The journal where I worked was directly across the hall from the Romance Languages department. Their department had posted on their bulletin board a photocopy of a story that ran in the undergraduate paper about the proposed Graduate Student Union. It explained that the main organizers behind such a union had taken their degrees and gone on to the job market. Administration officials forecast no imminent organizing on the horizon. Someone had ominously underlined, prior to the photocopying, a chilling quote from a dean mentioning that the university “discourages” any new graduate students to follow the lead of their predecessors. The Department of Romance Languages would not brook a repeat of the Revolutions of 1848!

As I was nursing my broken penis with tender strokes, emails from the graduate student list-serve were flashing across my computer screen, debating a meeting that had been scheduled where we were to consider approaching the university about providing the “basic” insurance plan to all its graduate student employees. That we were asked to live on a pittance of $4,000 to $12,000 depending on the grade of one’s fellowship – plus $1,500 a course for every quarter’s teaching ($1,500 over two and a half months of work, facing the impudence of entitled little undergraduates who constantly liked to remind us that their parents were generously paying our salaries) – was not up for discussion. Rather, we were far more abject: we simply wanted the university to pay for part of our anti-depressant prescriptions. Dissent came from a contingent that opposed any body that would organize such a demand on their behalf.

I remember one particularly noxious character who I’ll call “Matt.” Matt entered the program a year before I did with his future girlfriend, “Scarlet.” Quickly they began to date. Soon they were engaged. Even sooner, Scarlet would take all her classroom queues from Matt. If she was about to make a point, not only would she need a nod from the professor to speak, she’d also look for one from Matt. He completely dominated her. A once beautiful young woman turned into a crony of a crony. Matt cronied himself to the Modern poetry professor. A man with a Germanic name who had added a “Von” to his name in order to feel more legitimate teaching about the importance of Rilke. “Von” was a strange guy on his own; his second wife was a young black Classics Professor a quarter of his age. When teaching Othello to freshman, he would stop at Iago’s inflammatory line, ‘An old black ram is tupping your white ewe,’ and not ask the students to meditate on race relations; instead he asked them consider Iago’s disdain for inter-generational relationships. “Von” is a consummate name-dropper. One of my fellow students reports to me on the condition of anonymity, “The best part of his class was the literary gossip he would gift us with, always being sure to lay out each of the degrees of separation that tied him to some woman who had the dorm room across the hall from Elizabeth Bishop.”

But I digress. Matt was one of those douche-bags with an electric socket tattooed on his ankle. His favorite band was probably Everclear; no, the Foo Fighters. We all hoped that Scarlet tied him to the bed at home and whipped him every night to compensate for his obnoxious extroversion and her invisibility in his company. In a seminar, I once debated a question about the Protestant Reformation with one of his professors when Matt was not even present, and based on hearsay he sent me an email about the importance of knowing “one’s place” in the university system.

Matt was opposed to our attempts to “socialize” health care. When I weighed in on the list-serve about the matter, he referred to my thoughts as “spam” and rattled on about “rocking the boat.” A few nights prior to the broken penis, Matt had personally called me out on the issue even though I wasn’t one of the organizers of the meeting and wasn’t very invested in the issue. I think my stance boiled down to “of course all of us should get health insurance.” Lately, he had taken to sending me messages directly from a non-university account, arguing with me on a one-on-one basis. I asked him several times who his pseudonym stood for (“You seem to know me. Do you want to tell me who I’m conversing with?”), but he steadfastly refused to name himself not realizing that I already had him pegged from a signature on a previous mass-email exchange. I respected his need to imagine up some privacy in order to have a discussion. It fit his profile of someone trying to climb out of his social rank through a Ph.D. program.

Matt’s emails consisted of impassioned bullet-points that spilled out over several lines. I’ve never understood people who write paragraphs in a bullet-point form. Either make your point quickly and get out, or write an essay. The bullet-point disorder probably has a similar aetiology to whatever disease causes people to write long, manic, emails without ever using single a paragraph break. He wanted me to “see reason.” Me, personally. Not everyone else. I had taken on meme-like status for him. I represented the idea of the impudent student, the malcontent. His emails impicitly proselytized the Virtues of Cronyism as a way of life. Matt believed that graduate education was a benefaction upon us, not a full-time job. He discussed Marcel Mauss’s essay,”The Gift,” claiming education as a gift given with the expectation of reciprocity. Was Matt’s cocksucker’s position his counter-gift to the university? I found all this funny as I’d seen him walk Von’s wife’s dog on campus as part of his editorial duties at Von’s poetry magazine. Had he never read Derrida’s response to Mauss?

darknessatnoon@redacted.edu to “Matt”psp2@hotmail.com
Subject: RE – The Gift

Dear Interoluctor,

A true gift is given without the demand for reciprocity. Derrida says: “For there to be a gift, il faut that the donee not give back, amortize, reimburse, acquit himself, enter into a contract, and that he never have contracted a debt.”

Don’t give anything back during these apprenticeship years other than labor, time, sanity and intelligence, of course. Those are merely “symbolic equivalences” for him. Not the real thing. So of course, those things don’t matter.

Are you now, or have you ever been, a deconstructionist? I am not a commodity fundamentalist, but my political affiliations are Marxist.

Sincerely yours,
darknessatnoon

A Vizier of bullshit, Matt had a list of words such as “hegemony” and “episteme” he’d kept since before I’d known him that he felt needed to be used in his dissertation. I speak of Matt with contempt because he is a contemptible person who bullied his students, his girlfriend and his peers, but I really did feel sadly towards him. I had come to realize that replying to his emails constituted a form of medical relief for the overbearing egomania and tension that built up in him daily. I once asked him, “How shall I bill you for our sessions? I take it you’re not covered, so will I send the invoice directly to your home? What is your address?”

As I said earlier, I couldn’t just sit around taking it easy. I was not going to spend this day waiting to see if my penis would put itself back together while I discussed trade unionism with Matt who violently opposed me with his jargon. The only course of action would be to somehow get to the hospital. I couldn’t ride my bike there, could I? …

Coming Soon in I Broke my Dick Once!

darknessatnoon worries about penis theft! He confronts Judge Schreber and a doctor with long fingernails asks to stick her fingers up his ass! All this and more in the finale to I Broke My Dick Once!

Fuck U

March 6, 2008

Ufuckery* is a term that will now refer to egregious acts of rudeness or cruelty inflicted upon people by the university system.

A loyal reader, who is applying to Departments of English at a good sampling of universities, recently sent me a flustered complaint. This applicant’s materials include a fantastic transcript with a healthy share of graduate level course-work — an almost perfect 4.0 average in lit courses –, fantastic letters of recommendation, verbal GRE scores in the 98th percentile, a perfect analytic score on the GRE, and a sophisticated writing sample. Also, the applicant described one of the most innovative projects I’ve ever seen. The applicant, did not, however, take the GRE Subject Exam in English Literature in time, which effectively disqualifies him from consideration by most American universities. Fair enough.

The rejection letters that came were almost all identical. They were polite, measured, and hopeful about the applicant’s chances elsewhere or the following year with high scores on the wanted exam. Still, I warned the applicant to watch out for unique treachery from Berkeley. Here is their letter.

Dear [redacted],

I regret to inform you that you have not been accepted for graduate study in English at Berkeley.

All of the material submitted with your application has been reviewed by our department admissions committee, which has not recommended you for admission to the Ph.D. program.

I am sorry that we do not have a place for you, and I hope that you will be able to make other arrangements to pursue your academic goals.

Whatever,
[photocopied scrawl]
Chair, Graduate English
[Bitch]

This letter treats the reader like a moron who is not intelligent enough to understand that Berkeley has said NO.

The following is the response I recommend:

Dear WhoreMaternalPhallus,

OMG,

I got in? Your use of the English language was almost a little too subtle for me! I can’t wait to take your course on “Tact, Politesse & Basic Manners From the Eighteenth Century to the Present,” with readings from the works of Jane Austen, Roberts Rules of Parliamentary Procedure and Emily Post.

Sincerely Magnificently, and looking forward to spending many office hours with you,
a bastard

Seriously, though, it’s probably difficult to write an acceptable rejection letter. This one utilizes a no-frills repetitive approach that underscores the pure sense of privilege this department enjoys. Sadly, it isn’t the most egregious thing I’ve seen. I warned the applicant that when I applied to grad school, though I was made offers by several top-tier schools, Berkeley didn’t even bother to send me a rejection letter. I had to call them and ask after my application’s status. A secretary told me, “well, if you haven’t heard from us already, of course we rejected you.” A friend of mine in the Anthropology Department here applied to Poli Sci at Berkeley. Their rejection consisted of a mass email that included all the rejectees names and email addresses in the copy line. They didn’t even bother to blind-copy it.

Other examples of ufuckery sent in by readers include:

  • retroactive tuition for time withdrawn from school charged to graduate students who have left university for a quarter or more, upon the student’s return. As this has been explained to the student by both a Dean and a Professor, the purpose of the policy is two-fold. One, it keeps ’38 year olds who don’t know what they’re doing in life’ from coming back and wasting everyone’s time. It also prevents the university from being cheated by students who withdraw, write their dissertations, and then re-enroll with dissertation in hand. Lesson? Don’t grow old or pregnant!
  • rejection letters for academic positions that tell you that you didn’t get the job, “but we are pleased to announce that we have hired ‘so & so’ for the position.” Does anyone need to be told in their rejection who exactly was offered the job? Way to rub it in!
  • I once witnessed a dean warn a suicidal student that expulsion would occur if an “attempt” were made. Upon asking the dean what that was all about, he explained to me that suicidal students “cost the university a lot of money.”

I would like to add to this list, so please send me your stories.

*I credit loyal reader, Luches, for coining this phrase. The term is now available on http://www.urbandictionary.com so it is officially part of the lexicon. Use it without reserve.

Concordances

August 5, 2007

“We can’t hear ourselves speak.” — Ian McEwan, Enduring Love

Liz was a linguistic anthropologist with a strong bent towards neo-pragmatism. That meant she couldn’t flat out admit she was a stalker. Her motivations were too “over-determined.” Liz only considered that her statements indexed “something,” but was — like the late, great, Susan Sontag — against interpretation. She encouraged her graduate students to compile indexes for their dissertations, lists of what their objects of study were referring to when they spoke — never what the natives meant. Melanie Klein’s writings would appear on her syllabuses as examples of the kind of too-free-thinking that, as compelling as they were, should be discouraged. They were signs of a bygone day. “We know better now.” Liz was secretly ashamed of the days when anthropology was a tool of empire. When she encouraged her female doctoral candidates to study ‘indexicality,’ she failed to realize that her turn from imperialism sent them all back to the days when women in Ph.D. programs wrote concordances instead of dissertations. Concordances are lists of words and where they appear; such as where the word “eye” appears in all of Shakespeare’s plays. They were popular in the days when women were encouraged not to hold a thought; to barely filter the material they wrote about. Though she was an out and proud lesbian, Liz was ashamed of her own intelligence.

Liz saw signs everywhere. First she liked C.S. Peirce and his semiology because it avoided the binary of Ferdinand de Saussure’s semiotics. Later Saussure was preferred because “the post-911 political situation had reinforced the dialectic between binary utterances.” Liz felt that “theory is a tool box.” She would reach into the tool box for whatever equipment suited her at a given moment. Lacan was useful to quote whenever she wanted to go into denial about any aspect of her personality. She felt that she was the last person to be bothered to look at herself objectively given the inevitability of “misrecognition.”

That night Chamberlain and I ran into her at the Medici, I ordered an ice-tea. Liz needed no caffeine. She was wired from an exciting “constellation” of influences she had seen appearing in the work of various papers at that afternoon’s series of panels on Otherness. Talking and gesticulating excitedly about the difference between “the event of narration” and “a narrative event,” she didn’t notice what a scene she was making. Graduate students I knew at other tables were pointing to ours and whispering, giggling.

Liz brought up her mother to demonstrate a point about how “the Other enrages for no apparent reason.” It was the drapes that did it. Liz’s mom would constantly bring up inane topics, like the new drapes. Visiting her family, the last thing Liz cared about was the drapes. Discussion of drapes would fill her with rage. Liz had no drapes in her apartment. I’d seen it: in fact, she had no furniture at all. The natives she worked with had no furniture. Why should she? (Her allergy to domesticity hid behind a cover story of political commitment.) The unfortunate drawback of living without drapes, Liz raved, was that the object of her obsession lived one story above, across from Liz’s unit. She did not call this fellow professor “the object of my obsession.” She referred to the woman she loved by name. She would spit that name out as if it were an insult or speak it with the vastest condescension. This woman did not sleep regularly. “The light from her window is like a spotlight in my apartment all night,” lamented Liz. She easily segued into self-pity,”I can’t sleep at night because of it.”

As Liz told us of her predicament, Chamberlain refused to make eye-contact with me. He nodded politely and told her what she was saying was interesting, being almost encouraging. He was embarrassed by expressions of desire that weren’t camped up by references to coke or public sex. Why would anyone talk about an unfulfilled desire? To Chamberlain, expression of longing was unseemly. We were both trained literary critics, and Liz’s longing was obvious to us both. Why wouldn’t she see it? Or, did she see it? Was it part of her routine of self-deception to make bald admissions about herself through ‘deictics’ and ‘indexicals’ that merely gestured to her?

Secretly, she denied her intellectual positions and thought her subtlest gestures counted. In her most depressed moments she would quote Erving Goffman on the importance of posture to identity formation. The spotlight put her on stage all night long, so that in her exhausted stupor even the boyish slouch of her shoulders would send a secret communication across the courtyard, up one floor. In reality, subtlety escaped her. She was loud and obnoxious. At lectures by other academics, she would chit chat like she were in some high school cafeteria. I shushed her while Victor Burgin spoke; I shushed her at a lecture on Typhoid Mary. During question and answer sessions, she wouldn’t ask the normal questions that usually translated to “Why isn’t your work like my work?” Instead, she would ask long rambling questions that would turn into a second talk — one that wasn’t actually saying anything. She talked until it stopped being actual talk; the stream of words coming from her mouth would only look like talking. At some low animal level her body registered constant frustration that the one she loved wasn’t paying close enough attention, and neither, ‘damn it!’, were the rest of us. I used to wonder if she was experiencing a condition to which only academics were susceptible — metapause. When she would ask questions, you could practically smell the engine burning. She would press on the theory, and all that would come out amounted to a loud jungle screech.

It’s the demand inherent to making a spectacle of herself that counts. That demand for a patient reading meant that Liz struggled with the understanding that she wasn’t loved. “You can never be too patient with the ones you don’t love enough.” This stubborn refusal of interpretation was her way to remain in denial about her loved one’s non-affections

Over the years, I’ve spent a lot of time looking back and trying to understand Liz. Friends and colleagues dismiss her as a kook. When a friend mentioned that her dissertation topic would be about slapstick comedy, Liz stopped and started to hit herself. Her voice widened and she began shouting for “water” with each slap. A few minutes later she explained that she was performing an aboriginal rain dance. Once, when escorting a famous philosopher around campus, this woman asked me expressly to keep Liz and her mania away from her person at upcoming public events. For a while, I gave up and trying to figure out what was wrong with Liz and, if asked, would go with the flow by summarizing her as ‘nuts.’ I would argue in vain against her intellectual positions as if they were truly intellectual and not simply painful formations of emotional immaturity grinding against a stubborn refusal to be “fragile” in the face of adversity and intellectual complexity. It wasn’t until I was myself carried away by an under-current of obsessive feeling that I began to relate to her. Reading around, I came to understand that Liz was an eroto-maniac.

Ian McEwan’s creepy novel, Enduring Love, puts a spotlight on eroto-mania. In the aftermath of a ballooning accident, science writer Joe Rose meets born-again layabout Jed Parry and “something” passes between them. Jed begins to stalk Joe, talking endlessly about what Joe communicated to him on the fateful day they met. He accuses Joe of using curtains to send signals that torment him. Over the course of the novel, no one believes Joe is being stalked. He is the one accused of having gone mad, living a life of delusion. Eventually Joe remembers a case he once read about:

This woman was convinced that all of London Society was talking about her affair with the king and that he was deeply perturbed. On one visit, when she could not find a hotel room, she felt the king had used his influence to prevent her from staying in London. The one thing she knew for certain was that the king loved her. She loved him in return, but she resented him bitterly. He turned her away, and yet he never stopped giving her hope. He sent her signals that she alone could read, and he let her know that however inconvenient it was, however embarrassing and inappropriate, he loved her and always would. He used the curtains in the windows of Buckingham Palace to communicate with her. She lived her life in the prison gloom of delusion.

The condition comes to be known as de Clerambault’s Syndrome for the French psychiatrist who eventually comes to treat her and make her his most famous case-study. The novel may be the best of Ian McEwan’s positivist novels. If you’re familiar with his work, especially his 911 themed novel Saturday, you’ll know that McEwan believes in science above all else. Every character insight his novels make are taken from references to diverse discoveries in neuroscience, evolution or even meteorology. But in Enduring Love, the science writer is faced with having to dissect the concept of love. Someone who lives in a world of clarity where love consists of drives and evolutionary imperatives, is suddenly forced to face a ‘pointless’ homosexual obsession without reproduction as an end. Moreover, this love is sublimated into a Christian desire to bring Joe into union with not only Jay, but Christ as well. With his atheism threatened, Joe loses all objectivity; he destroys Jay’s love notes and shoos him away before anyone can witness them together. For a while even the reader wonders if Rose is an unreliable narrator who has lost his mind, wishing up a stalker for the attention; it’s the gothicism of obscurity, desire, confusion, being pissed off, that is the horror of positivism. Luckily for Rose, psychology is also a science and once he arrives at the breakthrough that allows him to pigeon-hole Perry, the novel reaches a tipping point. Joe seems reliable once more, and the horror recedes. By the end of the story we find ourselves back in familiar McEwan territory of pithy observation and pop science analogy, out of the very interesting ambiguity into which he had too briefly plunged we readers.

Liz feared and loathed the signs she saw all around herself for just that sort of ambiguity, and being unable to see the forest through the trees she couldn’t understand that they spelled out the same old formulaic “love” script Jay Perry and all other stalkers read: the script which promises “you are important since you bring meaning to others, especially your extra-special, super-duper, true love with a cherry on top.” Or maybe she could read the script, but also understood at a deeper level that though this script was written to adhere to unchangeable rules and formats that apply to everyone, it also, nevertheless, singled her out as unique, concrete, singular.

Liz tacitly acknowledged her compulsion to stalk and veiled it over by the old anthropological stand-by of “culture.” Once, she confided in me, “I’m Siccilian, and my people understand revenge and the vendetta better than most. What I’ve learned is that the reward of revenge comes at the moment where your target finally understands all the years of effort, of labor, of calculation, that went into hurting them at just this moment. It’s that look on their face as they realize how well you’ve crafted their punishment that makes it all worth it.” Three years later, while teaching a class with her, I told Liz that her long-term sociopathic revenge plan against the object of her obsession had to end. It had gone too far. I explained that I would bring her machinations to light if she persisted.

Liz took great measures to try to silence me. She confiscated the “golden age” gay porn that I had lent to her “for research” (these were vintage, mint condition, issues of Straight to Hell). She tried to intimidate me through my friends, threatening to ruin their careers (even when they were in completely different disciplines). Liz appealed to my professors to mediate. When that didn’t work, she contacted the dean and accused me of being a “terrorist.” The same woman who once told me that she finds violence to be “thrillingly enabling,” dredged out an email where I had referenced suicide bombing. The dean denied her request to have me kicked out (she hadn’t edited out her psychotic emails from the ones she forwarded to him). He asked her if she was holding my porn hostage. She told him that she would not be returning it under any circumstances.

In a psychotic outburst, Jed Parry tries to kill Joe’s girlfriend, Clarissa. Liz, on the other hand, parceled her violence out over time. She put the lie to the myth that these breakdowns are spontaneous. They are in fact, planned, fantasized about. The fantasy is that violence will enable meaning. It filters what has been indexed and allows the “love-script” to speak. Liz hoped that all her cruelty and aggression would be recognized, and even, despite the pain she caused, appreciated.

Stalking was a perfect past-time for Liz. Her intellectual positions, which centered on flirtatious vagueness, became a screen on which she projected this feeling that she’d reached the threshold of politics. Since she was queer, it was convenient to feel oppressed and transgressive when opposing society’s hard core stalking laws. Instead of just watching tee vee like the rest of us do when we can’t sleep, she spent those long insomniacal nights putting together an action story with herself at the center. Of course at the end of her nightly battles with ennui, she’d get the girl. Whenever she would pause a moment to consider the collateral damage, she could delude herself into thinking her fantasy was meaningless. Liz is one of the ideal case studies of what the theoried classes do with their leisure time. I have more to say about Liz, and not all of it bad. One day I’ll discuss the time when Liz intervened and prevented a professor of Philosophy from stabbing out one of my friend’s eyes with a pen.