My throat is sore and I REALLY need to get down to work. *sigh*. In Vice city if you're bored you can always go trolling for whores and then kill them when you're finished and reclaim your money, yet our represive government in the United States frowns upon such activities. It's criminal if you ask me. Simply criminal.
All Hallow's Eve, a day when small children dress up in cheap plastic and rubber and try to extort candy from mildly annoyed adults whose fear of eggs and toilet paper overwhelms their desire not to get up for the 5th time in 7 minutes and hand out more brightly colored tooth decay to the next group of undersized people, conveniently all dressed like Spongebob Squarepants. There are many things about this holiday that can be criticized, from the obvious lack of wisdom inherent in encouraging everyone to wear masks, thus enabling suspicious characters to hide their identities without looking…well…suspicious…to the sheer economic inefficiency of buying a $15 dollar costume in order to obtain $9 dollars worth of candy, some of which may be tainted or may include foreign objects of one sort or another, such as razor blades or nougat. Those issues are not what we shall concern ourselves with today, however. No today we will be discussing the predictability of Halloween and how it interferes with the True Spirit of the holiday. You see… Halloween always comes on the same day every year. It has gotten complacent in its scheduling. Every year rain or shine, full moon or new, without fail, it's scheduled for October 31st. No surprises. This causes a problem.
See, the true joy of Halloween comes not from seeing the larger children smile as you succumb to their threats, but rather from hearing the little ones scream when you scare the crap out of them. Whether it's double masking "Hey Timmy, I'm not actually an alien…I'm your good friend FREDDIE KREUGAR" or offering a bowl containing a rubber face floating in diluted ketchup instead of the expected pile of individually wrapped sweets, the success of any Halloween can be measured in the tears of the wee ones and the scowls of their parents. The problem is that it's hard to produce this effect when the tykes know it's coming. Little children learn all too swiftly that come October 31 they are going to see a lot of scary things, but it's really just their neighbors in cheap rubber masks from the local Target. What fun is that?
Imagine, however, the fear that could be inspired in their small hearts if instead of them coming around to tithe candy every 365.25 days, at some random interval the adults came around to scare the puke out of them. Think about it. At the beginning of each year a random day would be assigned to be Halloween. This date would be distributed to all those interested in provoking mortal terror in the nations youth…and on that day those people would get together…don costumes…and go house to house freaking out the neighborhood kids. Here is a heartwarming potential scenario. Little Joey is walking home from school when suddenly he spies a scary looking man he has never seen before, in a big trench coat slowly walking toward him carrying a big sharp scythe (also purchased at Target.) and pointing a bony finger at his little heart. Since his mommy has taught him that strangers are evil and should never be approached or interacted with, he decides to take another route home, but when he turns to go down Mulberry Lane a wolfman leaps out from behind the bushes and snarls. Frightened now he dashes off to the nearby house of his best friend Hubert to seek protection in the form of Hubie's parents…but when he arrives he sees that the door is eerily ajar. Pursued by the Wolfman (who is gaining on him fast enough to provoke anxiety but slowly enough to allow him to make it to Hubert's house) he runs through the open door only to find Mr. and Mrs. Nutfarber have turned into zombies, a hunger for the flesh of young boys burning in their dull green eyes. They turn to him chanting "Brains, BRAINS." He rushes out from THEIR house and towards his dad's office…but when he gets inside the building instead of the receptionist he sees a bunch of aliens holding some sort of ritual…and they seem to be preparing to consume the still beating heart of a slaughtered infant (Once again, purchased at the local Target.). When little Joey wakes up he's back in his little bed and the only evidence of what happened to him on his way home from school is a nice sack of assorted candies left on the nightstand…with a faint smearing of fake blood near the top just so he knows that it wasn't a dream.
Everybody wins. Granted this would require significant planning and expenditure…but the money saved on those stupid costumes for the children would probably make up for it, plus you would only have to "service" each kid once every four years, putting them on a rotation scheme (since it's rather silly to think that this could be done for every child on an annual basis.) Sure each kid might only have 2-3 Halloweens before he got too old for them, but I guarantee that they would be memorable.
In fact I think that all holidays should be put on a rotation basis. They're entirely too predictable these days…it would be good to shake things up. We could rotate president's day by celebrating DIFFERENT presidents' birthdays every year…or even just the birthdays of people vaguely related to the president. Heck who wouldn't want a day off to celebrate the life of Checkers, first dog during the reign of Richard Milhouse Nixon, the president who had the courage to stand up and say "I am not a crook" even though it was painfully clear that he was lying out of every orifice in his body. Cute dog though. Anyway the point is it wouldn't be hard to find some excuse to move President's day to some other place on the calendar. Almost all of the secular holidays would be equally easy to shift around in the same manner.
As for the religious ones…well they're even easier. Frankly I think that Christmas might have been a good idea a millenium ago but by now it's just insulting. I mean does Jesus REALLY need to be reminded of his age every freaking year? He's probably up in some dive bar in the armpit of heaven saying "2002? Fuck that. Do I look a day over 1958? I don't THINK so. Feel these pythons. FEEL THEM. Fucking mortals…THEY won't look this good when they're into their third millennia I guarantee that. How'd they like it if I dug THEM up on their 2000th birthday to rub it in their face? And all this shit about the wise men. Please. If they were so wise what the fuck made them think that a BABY wanted Frankincense and Myrrh. I mean yeah I'm the Son of God so I don't need one of those stupid fucking mobiles or anything…but Frankincense? I was fucking one day old. A rattle…a stuffed animal…something clean to poop or vomit on…that would've been nice. Instead I get Myrrh. Thanks a lot "wiseguy". Thanks for the Myrrh. That's just what I wanted. Myrrh. What're you looking at Methuselah? You may be a spry 956 but I can still kick your ass. I am NOT being hostile What I should leave? I should leave? Do you know who my fucking father is? Yeah that's right…I thought that'd shut you up. Drink up you old fuck" Frankly I think that by celebrating his birthday we're not only testing his patience but also our own luck.
In addition to the whole Jesus thing, there's also the fact that Santa Claus has…well… gotten pretty damned lazy over the past couple centuries. Yeah yeah there's no way around it…Saint Nick has let himself go. He knows that come December 25 every year as long as he can cram his ample bottom into that sleigh of his and distribute cheap elf slave labor produced crap to the boys and girls of the world he will continue to be more popular than just about any other Saint, most of whom didn't do much more than die in extremely painful ways (and let's face it, if you're a kid who do YOU prefer…the saint who brings you an Action Jackson doll or the one who's only accomplishment was being eaten alive by ravenous ferrets?) However…if Christmas can strike at ANY time suddenly things get a lot more interesting for Ol' Santy. Suddenly he has to maintain flight weight at ALL times of the year, make sure that his production facilities can work both more efficiently and more quickly…and just generally deal with a much more demanding job description. It'll encourage him to eliminate bureaucratic waste in the North Pole and streamline his operation to bring it in line with the digital age. We can see what the old man has left in him…and if he can't hack it well I'm sure that we can get some young eager mascot like the Easter Bunny to step in and fill his shoes. Let's introduce a little competition into the job. Make him sweat. Frankly I think E.B.s talents are wasted with the stupid painted eggs and whatnot. Let's see what he can do in PRIME TIME.
Basically I think that in an age of fluid capital, information processing, and globalization rigid adherence to tradition with respect to holidays is silly. In the olden days you NEEDED to have regular holidays because it would have been impossible to distribute the new dates to everyone through the limited communication networks. Minstrel Mail was hardly instantaneous. Now it's a different story and it's time to allow more flexibility to the holiday process. Eventually we can even achieve the goal of personal holidays, where Christmas and the like will fall on the day most convenient for YOU, rather than that which the calendar prescribes, and we're not tied down by other people's holiday practices. If you're dreaming of a White Christmas you can move it back to January 15th to combat El NiÑo. If you just LOVE wearing white…why not eliminate Labor Day altogether? And let's not forget Halloween. How much fun would it be if you could just scare the living crap out of random children whenever you wanted and explain to their enraged parents that you were merely adhering to a valuable cultural tradition? Our only limitation is our collective imagination. That and the cops.
THE OTHER ESSAY
Postmodernism. The word sends swells of joy into the hearts of students who have nothing to say and a lot of space to say it. Indeed it may be the greatest invention for the academically uninspired in the last 50 years. Greater even than Cliff Notes, No-Doze, or those little executive desk toys where you pull back one of the balls and release it and it makes the ball at the OTHER end of the group fly out while leaving the rest of the balls virtually UNDISTURBED. Indeed postmodernism almost rivals the computer in terms of the savings it provides for those who would speak but prefer not to think. Today I'd like to explore the process of post modern essay writing. Won't you come along?
The first step in the construction of a piece of postmodern writing is topic selection. You have to be careful here, because if you don't watch out you might end up saying something meaningful or even insightful. This is a terrible rookie mistake that leads to such pitfalls as contemplation and even…research. Once you go down that road you might as well be writing a legitimate academic paper. That takes time and effort, two things we don't want to waste. Try to avoid contextualization or limited deconstruction, instead opting for oppression narratives or full blown deconstruction where you can shred something to the point where it stops making any sense at all. It is also wise to avoid the truly and obviously ludicrous. It takes enough work to form an even semi-coherent argument about color and sound not being different phenomena that you might as well be saying something of value. In general you should try to work teleologically…coming up with a thesis and then justifying it rather than following an idea through to its logical conclusion. Inductive reasoning is merely a cultural norm of the repressive scientific hegemony.
That leads us to another important element is the use of jargon. Jargon is what differentiates academia from thought. It serves a gatekeeping function for knowledge…philosophers were just really thoughtful dudes until they started bandying about terms like "arete" and "virtue." Generally speaking it is good to include a piece of ill-defined jargon every two sentences or so. Sprinkle terms like "pastiche," "sublimity," "histerysis," and "simulacrum" into your text liberally, taking care not to define them or refer to anyone else who defines them (although it can be useful to refer to authors who have ALSO used those words without defining them, creating a lovely circle of ambiguity that's fun for the whole family and low in brain clogging substance.) Also make sure to borrow jargon from other disciplines. Marxism has a vast store of lovely adjectives you can make use of…and like all fine whine it only gets better with age. Finally, remember that the word "Hegemony" has a special place in your repertoire.
Once you have a teleological conclusion and a nice supply of Jargon you have the two basic building blocks of nicely packaged bullshit. All that's left is to synthesize it. Here I will give an example appropriate to this day. We will take the thesis "The commodification of Halloween is a symptom of the hegemonic oppression of female power in the European milieu." This is a good prototype for a variety of reasons. A) It is long enough that half of your readers will have forgotten the beginning of the title before they reach the end, B) it offers a very subjective and politically correct argument and C) it is filled with lovely life-affirming jargon. The first step is to flesh out the idea being presented, which is that the transformation of Halloween from a pagan celebration into a sanitized commercialized holiday for children was not about making money or eliminating competing religions but rather about subverting a symbol of feminine power into a harmless re-enforcer of cultural (masculine) norms of the hegemony. In the body of the paper you'd present "Evidence" like the sanitization of the "witch" figure from a magical symbol of feminine power to an ugly but relatively harmless and pitiable creature…the reduction of a religious ceremony to a holiday for children…the focus on mass produced candy and costumes…the commodity form as the familiar…normatively enforced costuming, where hegemonic gender stereotypes are re-enforced through the marketing of mass-produced commodities and all the threats to an ordered society are rendered impotent by the subversion of their simulacrum forms. The exchange of feminine power ceremonies for the male dominated practice of "tricking." You get the idea. Your conclusion should probably involve a "hopeful" reassessment of modern Halloween trends (I.E. Look Ma, girls can be batman TOO) that claims to be entirely nonjudgmental (for in postmodernism it is unseemly to admit to privileging one idea or perspective over another just as it is unseemly to privilege truth over fiction.)
Regardless I think you can see the benefits a postmodernist perspective has to offer people who have everything necessary for writing works of staggering insight with the small exception of valid ideas. Through the rejection of standards and norms we have achieved true equality of expression, where the ludicrous and inane takes its rightful place beside the insightful and the brilliant in the literary cannon. Of course the beauty of postmodernism is that even this cynical essay cannot be questioned, because who's to say that my motive for writing it (Nobody else was raising their hand to present a lit-ex) is any less valid than that of someone whose motive is the expression of interesting or valuable thought? Only a benighted agent of the hegemony whose passe use of standards is more a cause for laughter than shame. I believe I have now succeeded in filling up my time allotted and I only hope that the critic realizes the futility of levying criticism at someone who has fully bought in to the idea that mental masturbation can be high literary art.