ZDMT #19 - Widener Library @ Harvard University

Thoughts on Snow White after watching it last night for the first time as an adult: . . . Snow White has a voice like a songbird. Additionally, the film exhibits various prejudices towards dwarves, e.g., the assumption that they live together in relative harmony in a kind of Davidian compound, and they exhibit a decidedly Amish work ethic, and more importantly, their identities are signified by one idle emotion, despite possessing a clear range of emotions, from end of the spectrum to the other, except for Doc, the only dwarf whose identity is signified by his profession. All this seems terribly wrong.

After a 10-day hiatus, the Zero Degree of Meaning Tour plods forward like a disabled clay ox in stop-motion animation. Who gives a shit?

I used to work at Widener Library when I was in graduate school. Blah fucking blah.

Besides giving up writing, I’m considering giving up reading. I’ve read enough. At this point it will only accelerate the deterioration of my already horrendous eyesight. Reading is overrated at any rate. Finally I will subscribe to what culture tells me to subscribe to: the screen, and the screen alone.

I recently discovered something. My efficiency is a detriment to the academic life. In my profession, I get things done quickly and cleanly and dynamically. By things, I mean pedagogy, scholarship, and service. This altogether conflicts with the character of academia, which is slow, disheveled, clumsy and lethargic. Academia is perhaps the only profession in which competence is discouraged.

I read the same old bullshit from my stupid book in the Big Room of the library. Attendance: approximately 1,000 assholes. Some of them had to sit on the bowls of the organ pipes. I made no effort to conceal how much I hated writing and hated reading and hated people in general. I did this with my tone of voice and then I told everybody exactly how I felt about them and what was wrong with them and when they started making faces I told them to blow it out their asses.

During the Q&A, a student, or somebody young and stupid-looking, said, verbatim, “Don’t you think you have a responsibility to readers that you’re not living up to? I’m not talking about your attitude. [Laughter.] I mean your writing. Not being serious and leading people astray. I mean, heh, Codename Prague is all over the place. I get it. I get what you’re doing. But I think it’s sloppy writing. It’s irresponsible writing.”

I don’t remember how I responded. Something along the lines of: “Look, fucker. That’s not how it works. The way it works is you’re stupid and I’m not. I don’t have a responsibility to fucking readers. They have a responsibility to me. And they fail me every time. All of my writing is essentially a map of how readers fail. Fuckhead.”

Afterwards Skip Gates Jr. and I went out for lunch at Au Bon Pain and made fun of Samuel R. Delaney’s fiction from the 1960s.