All too often, students learn Composition under the rigid grammatical Fascism espoused by most AP and ENWR instructors; expending far more energy on run-on sentences and split-infinitives, than mastering the richness and instrumentality of the English language. The student becomes alienated from his own prose, never to regain his love of language. Below, for the benefit of our underclassmen, are Brandon Joyce’s Guidelines to Free-wheeling English Composition. Culled from personal experience, these pointers can lead to endless hours of self-indulgent entertainment, and the chagrin of your more priggish professors and teaching assistants. This is a rubric for the literary Kamikaze, embodying the very antithesis of the MLA. The six easiest steps to put you on the road toward that ever-elusive figure, the F minus.
1. EMPHASIS. Emphasize your stronger points, exploiting all the options that Microsoft Word has to offer. Write your conclusion statements in ALL CAPS, in a baroque or size 18 font, or change the text color to a vibrant hot pink or tangerine. At the very least, follow your central theses with at least three exclamation marks!!!!! When all else fails, resort to foul language, for rhetorical flair and street credibility. “The accusation of irrationality here is completely fucking absurd” or “The point remains: Jarvison simply does not give a flying fuck about theological conceptions of Man.” If you believe a particular intellectual historian is “full of shit,” level with the reader. He just might appreciate your honesty.
2. WARMTH Give your next research paper that special something, an added personal touch for them to take home to the wife and family. Address the professor in second-person, by their first name only. This indicates an equal intellectual exchange and friendly rapport. “So, Bernie, what I’m trying to say here is…” “As much as I respect your opinion, Todd, you may have overlooked…” Or, organize your paper in the form of a letter, printing up the final draft on perfumed stationery. “Dear Louise, I ‘ve been thinking a lot about what you said yesterday, about Supply and Demand…”
3. INNOVATIVE PUNCTUATION Are your fingers happy fingers? Explore the entire keyboard, and electrify your grader with the more cutting-edge characters of the ASCII menagerie Replace “Thus, Socrates is a mortal” with the more dynamic ” >—-> $0cr@+-e$ i$ @ m0r+-@1 ” Better yet, try formulating your insights in the moonman language of Wing-Ding, for a change of pace “This is the fusion of comedy and catharsis I will henceforth refer to as !@$%&*”…. Better now than in the workforce.
4. COLORFUL EXAMPLES. Many departments, such as philosophy, fancy themselves more-or-less as quasi-scientific enterprises– they envy the hard-headed data, the verifiable progress, and the no-nonsense professionalism of the empirical sciences. To their dismay, these kind of results are impossible and unnecessary in their field of study, for reasons which I will not go into. So instead, they validate their allocations by parroting the arid language of Scientific Research, and expect you to follow suit. Even your hypothetical situations must bore the reader. I on the other hand put great care into my literary stage-setting “…a propositional attitude such as ‘Kevin wonders if fat kids go to heaven’” “…levels of primate communication such as sign language or the fury of a feces tantrum” The grader will thirst for your blood, and fill the margins with red-ink and words like “childish” or “disrespectful,” though the examples are perfectly applicable to the concepts at hand. Just repeat to yourself: I only need to amuse myself, not the grader. He has no business telling me how to write my paper.
5. ILLUSTRATIONS, ILLUSTRATIONS, ILLUSTRATIONS. Include illustrations, even if they have absolutely nothing to do with the subject-matter. Naked African tribal women, torn from the pages of National Geographic, make a delightful contrast to the work-a-day world of Macroeconomics. Or, frame your coversheet with a headshot of your grandmother, for a sprinkle of color. I once clipped a handful of advertisements from the local newsweekly- for barbershops, escort services, what have you– and patched them into my philosophy term paper. In the footnotes, an apology claimed that “I’ve been running low on cash lately, so I sold advertising space in my papers for pocket money. I regret any inconvenience this may have caused.” That term paper, I’m proud to say, was the single lowest grade on my collegiate record.
6. ENDPOINTS. Some points to remember: Never, ever make an outline, it cripples the writing process. To free up the imaginative faculty, watch cartoons, play Ping-Pong, or summon the Muses by setting your Anthro paper to rhyme or song. Refuse bibligraphies– keep them guessing. Never, ever hand in papers on time. Tease them with hollow promises. Make them want you. The important thing is for everyone to remember who’s boss. They can’t curb a man with a deathwish. The damage is done–you’ve pissed away your chances at Academic Superstardom. Hopefully, you’ve done it in style. Class dismissed.