Oh Shit! (It’s Crunch Time)

I planned to have finished my 2007 in music and film posts by now, but I’ve been preparing for exams. I won’t be in the clear until Jan. 24th. Here are the things I have to do by then, rated by difficulty:

-Five pages in English on Andy Warhol’s Empire. I’m halfway finished. I identify a new kind of art somewhere between traditional and conceptual. I’d to call it hors d’oeuvre [lit. “outside of the work”], but that has culinary connotations. Due: Tuesday afternoon. [2/5] difficulty. The professor is one of my buds, so I have to finish it and it has to be good.

-Ten to twelve pages in French on Stephen Davies’ Musical Works and Performance. I focus on the value recorded music. I have a DVD where John Cage condemns recordings as the erosion of music. He tells a story about a little boy at a Stravinsky concert conducted by the composer. Familiar with the recording, the little boy complains to his mother: “That isn’t how it goes!” Very clever, Mr. Cage, but I have this extended Stravinsky quotation defending recordings. So I’m going to set them up against each other and include as few of my own ideas as possible. Due: last Thursday! [4/5] difficulty. You know you really fucked up when you send a professor an e-mail that says, “Can you tell me more about the paper,” and he responds, “Well, it’s due tomorrow.” Apparently, no one turned it in, however, so the new deadline is this Tuesday. I think I can tack on another 24 hours.

-Ten to twelve pages in French on the stupidest idea I’ve ever had. I’m going to deconstruct the common criticism that something in a film is “unbelievable.” Like, why is it acceptable for Luke to use The Force and not Michael Corleone? The reason is that a contract of reality is established at the beginning of a film. George Lucas says, “There’s this thing call The Force, okay? And you can move stuff with it, and, like, sense stuff with it.” The audience member thinks, “Fair enough.” The Force is now an credible element of the reality of Star Wars. When Luke is on Dagobah and senses that Han and Leia are in trouble, we think, “Oh, of course: The Force. . .” When Don Corleone says, “Michael, when I die, the first person that comes forward to make a deal is a dirty quisling,” and Michael says, “How do you know?” the Don cannot say, “The Force.” Why not? Because the reality of the Godfather, the contract Coppola has established with the audience, does not accommodate The Force or anything else supernatural. An audience would find such an explanation false and a valid reason to critique the film. I also have to find someway to talk about Arthur Danto’s The Transfiguration of the Commonplace. Due: Wednesday. [5/5 Difficulty]. I am fucked.

-Three-hour written exam in French over seven sections of linguistic phenomenology in Heidegger’s Being and Time. . . Wow. I really don’t know what to say here. This isn’t for another week and a half. It all seems so distant, like death. The difficulty cannot be expressed in numerical notions conceived by man. I think I might show up naked, grinning, covered in powdered sugar, pull out my eyebrows, stack them neatly on the exam, urinate on the exam, then descend into the ancient Gallic tunnels under Paris and wed the shadows.

-By tomorrow morning I have to translate about ten pages of text for an audio art exhibit presented by a major French fashion label. (Cool. That was the first time in my life where I was inhibited from saying something by a professional sense of decorum. That’s why they pay me the big bucks.) A very famous French actress who also happens to star in one of the worst films ever made is going to record the text tomorrow afternoon. Thus, an all-nighter is de rigeur. I think I’ll make it, even though there are a few more slugs of Graves in the bottle in front of me and the vow I made to only listen to Beethoven’s Violin Concerto (Milstein and Kremer, alternating) is starting to wear on me. The translation is fun. I’m tailoring the words to flatter the tone of a mature French sexpot speaking English; what might have been “blurry” (“bhluree”) is more charming as “hazy” (“aizee“). I’m also getting a kick out of punctuation. It’s like I’m the verbal puppet master of, well, this leading French lady you all know and love (or hate, if you’ve seen that movie); I control her every intonation. I can see her ripping off her headphones in the studio: “But ‘oo is zees translation genius!” The only problem is an individual from a certain obese, Western empire who keeps sending back the translations because they are too literal interpretations of the text. Excuse me, do you speak French? No? Well, I can’t really, either, but can you stop making me look bad in front of the boss?

One of the great motifs of my life is academic success in the face of incredible odds. True, the success is often effected by deceit, self-abasement and substances, but I accept a Pyrrhic victory if it’s only dignity’s dog tags piling up. My fifth grade teacher, a brash, handsome woman whose image remains in my mind as a Platonic form of lesbian, instilled in me the insignificance of almost achieving something: “Horse shoes and hand grenades, Hermann.”

Maybe that faint wail in my ears isn’t tinnitus; it’s the wild-haired homework banshee finally o’ertaking me. I see in her withered face the wrath of sixteen years of outfoxéd faculties. Oh, eldritch denizen of the corpse-city of R’lyeh! will Krapp succumb to your calls?

I’ll keep you posted, dear reader.

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~ by ohkrapp on January 13, 2008.

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