Friday, January 28, 2011

Lamentations of an Unintelligible English Major . . .

            And by you, I mean me. I’m not trying to walk a tightrope act here by means of daring second person narrative. I just want to vent. Why didn’t anybody tell me English was going to be so hard? The revelation that I am, in fact, an idiot, was difficult to come to terms with. Do you have any idea what it feels like to have to relearn a language you’re already supposed to know? Do you have any idea how many grammatical errors I’ve already made on this page? Because I sure don’t, and I doubt you do either. Or maybe you do, actually, and I really am just that dumb. How in God’s name have I been articulating? How on earth am I going to survive the pedagogic environment? Do I even know how to use pedagogic in a sentence? And my ultimate goal is to teach?
            Ultimately, the decision came to me because I wanted to dedicate my life to meaning, to purpose. I had accepted the fact that my fragile emotions would be shattered mercilessly in corporate America, that my kindness would make me a target of the ruthlessness that thrives in the Advertising world (Where the focal point of my studies had previously resigned). I thought it would be great fun to make commercials, sitting in a room full of barcaloungers in a semi circle, while we talked about the best way to sell Coors Lite.
            “I think it would be best served cold, guys. Whaddya say?” 
            “Great! Let’s expand on that. But first, let’s discuss the semiotics of this Victoria’s Secret commercial, and how we can cross-promote Lubriderm, Kleenex, and Viagra.”

Ah yes, the holy trinity.

            But that wasn’t the case. And little did I know, there would be even less encouragement in the Literary world. An example of this would be my writing professor’s praise of a short fiction piece I wrote, to which he said: “Well, I didn’t totally hate it.” When I tried explaining to him that I had purposefully injected a meta-fictional nuance into the story – he laughed at me. “Oh, that’s rich,” he said, chuckling to himself. He then proceeded to write my statement down onto his hand, presumably so that he could recite the hilarity later to his friends, verbatim. This wasn’t what I had in mind when I switched my major. I switched because I wanted to ask all the big questions.
What is honor?
            What is love?
            What is the meaning life?
Advertising asks all of these questions, too; their problem is just that they have all the wrong answers.

            Q. What is Honor?
            A. Armor All.            

Q. What is Love?
            A. Snickers.

            Q. What is the meaning of Life?
            A. To have lots and lots of things.

            I recently read an article in GQ that said Coke-a-Cola actually owns the rights to happiness. Excuse me for dropping my pseudo-articulate guise here for a moment, but – what the fuck does that even mean? I learned very quickly that advertising was actually a PR term. I was in the market of Corporate Racism.

            Black people will buy anything if you embroider it with gold.
We need to face the facts, class. The Hispanic community doesn’t eat peanut butter.
White people will buy anything if you put it in a funny commercial. 
Jackie Chan can sell anything to the Asian market.
            Tide understands that lower class families can’t afford to keep their colors from fading, that’s why they don’t market to them!

Everyday I would sink lower and lower into my seat as these advertising mantras bored their way into my skull. They haunted me. Pretty soon I became depressed. I hated what I was turning into. I could have done something about it; I knew every available medication on the market used to treat depression because we had studied their commercials and even wrote a paper titled “If I Was Depressed, I would take . . .” But that only succeeded in making me feel worse. I couldn’t even see a newborn baby without thinking: Yes, but can I make you a Gerber baby?
So, I switched tracks, assuming I would be met with open arms by the study of the greater good. What I found instead was an austere rigidity. This is English, you fool, it seemed to say. And just because you’ve read all seven Harry Potter books doesn’t mean you can just dance your way in here. No, my friend, you must earn your keep! Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to masturbate over a thesaurus . . .
I’ve been trying to write my statement of transference.

             I wrote this instead.


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