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Past Dense: Clothesline Saga

by Robb Hibbard Modified: April 18, 2013 at 1:35 pm •  Published: March 27, 2013
NATIONAL HARBOR, MD - MARCH 15:  Wayne LaPierre, CEO of the National Rifle Association, delivers remarks during the second day of the 40th annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) March 15, 2013 in National Harbor, Maryland. The American conservative Union held its annual conference in the suburb of Washington, DC, to rally conservatives and generate ideas.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
NATIONAL HARBOR, MD - MARCH 15: Wayne LaPierre, CEO of the National Rifle Association, delivers remarks during the second day of the 40th annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) March 15, 2013 in National Harbor, Maryland. The American conservative Union held its annual conference in the suburb of Washington, DC, to rally conservatives and generate ideas. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

A text whose content is solely comprised of bulleted items: a. Makes Wayne LaPierre very happy; b. is indicative of sheer authorial laziness; c. is a metaphorical clothesline of sorts, as each bulleted item, while lent contextual meaning via the other items, is ultimately left hanging, or … umm, something-something.

Doris Lessing: Knocked Golda Meir out with one punch in a Tijuana bar.
Doris Lessing: Knocked Golda Meir out with one punch in a Tijuana bar.
  • Back when I was an English undergrad in the mid-1990s, I formulated a half-baked method of literary criticism termed mimetic exegesis. Essentially, if you were capable of producing a text that could subjectively serve as prologue, epilogue, sequel, prequel or toilet reading material for any of the characters in the original text, you’d proven your innate grasp of said text while having also created a self-aggrandizing text that you could term literary criticism. And you wouldn’t need footnotes, endnotes, or any of the other fripperies endorsed by the National Rifle Association … I mean, the Modern Language Association. My lone attempt at demonstrating this method of literary criticism, this mimetic exegesis, involved Doris Lessing’s “The Golden Notebook.” Specifically, I created a character who, having obtained the narrator’s notebooks, pulped them into a mass of papier mache from which he created a pinata depicting Wayne LaPierre … I mean, from which he created a pinata depicting Doris Lessing; which, when you consider it, would require a great deal more skill than actually employing vocabulary to … um, something-something.

 

This pjnata is seen in its larval stage.
This pjnata is seen in its larval stage.
  • Thing is, this bullet point’s in honor of Raymond Carver. I sat down, started typing. My fingers got tired. I got up and went to the window. I opened the window. Charles Bukowski snuck up and flung me out the window. Next thing, I’m talking to Wayne LaPierre. But he’s talking bullet points and I’m talking Doris Lessing. Raymond Carver drives up in this rattletrap Ford Falcon, backseat full of dead soldiers; half-gallon empties of vodka, what have you. He stops the engine. It’s still knocking when he points at me. “You the guy who made the pinata depicting Doris Lessing?” I keep quiet. I focus on the engine. It keeps knocking. Wayne LaPierre opens the passenger door, brushes manuscript pages off the seat, and gets in. He shuts the door, reaches down. He’s got a handful of manuscript pages. He holds them like playing cards. He turns to Raymond Carver. “What? No footnotes? No endnotes?”

 

  • Mandatory wearing of coveralls emblazoned with various patches denoting corporate ownership of the political meat inside? Yes, a good idea. Ah, but who knows? Maybe they’re talking bullet points, and I’m talking Doris Lessing … or, umm, something-something.
Charles Bukowski re-enacts dancing in the moonlight with "some broad he planted" (unpictured)
Charles Bukowski re-enacts dancing in the moonlight with "some broad he planted" (unpictured)

by Robb Hibbard
Senior Online Editor
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