Friday, January 20, 2006

How to Pretend to be an English Major

First, you must be ready the second week in to show off your stuff. This way the illusion hits them fast and hard. Second, participate in class. Listen to what's going on. For example, today they might happen to be discussing formalism in a fish bowl-style setting. While listening, it is best to note what the other students are saying.
For example, "I think the rules just fence-in the creativity; it's art; you can't fence that in," is a good example of a generic English major comment (in fact, it's genuine, too). Watch closely as the other students get in on the conversation.
You may notice, that as a math major, you agree with good form. It's in your blood and this push for free-verse "creative" poetry is rubbing you the wrong way. That's ok. Watch what happens. Come in at the appropriate time.
Yes, this is the single most ridiculous scene you've ever witnessed. This is why you have to beat them. You have to join with their ludicrousness. There's no other way to pull off "genuine English major" well if you don't. Join them. You must. Resistance is futile.
You know what you must do.
Yes. Yes. Untie your shoe. Take it off your foot. Walk to the center of the classroom and place the shoe on the floor. Get down on the floor with the shoe. Watch the shoe. Be the shoe.
It is at this point, that the class's attention will be focussed on you. You must do it this way. You have to show them that you are one of them, not an alien from the School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences. In the background, you will hear a few of them laugh nervously. This is normal. English majors are cautious about letting an outsider in.
Shush them. You hear their nervous laughter? End it. You will not be laughed out. Say your lines clearly now:
Pause for dramatic effect. Stare the shoe down as if your life depends on it.
Slowly now:
"It's speaking to me."

And then it'll all happen at once. The room will go quiet. You've just added more with your shoe to their conversation than they did with their five paragraph essays. Now your life is a commentary. A commentary on form. A commentary on modern art, free-verse poetry, and all things abstract.
And this is what it's saying:
Putting something on the ground and saying that it speaks to you, does not make it art. I'll show you free-verse! A free-verse with thoroughly thought-out rhythm and structure.

Thank you.

This has been a message from your local math major. It works. Tried and true. Huzzah!

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