Thursday, June 12, 2008

Studying For A Comprehensive Exam With Stacey Kent

There's a commercial on TV that uses the lyrics from Cole Porter's You're the Top. I think the lyric in the commercial is, "You're the Coliseum...You're the Louvre Museum." Then, "You're Mahatma Ghandi...You're Napoleon Brandy."

The words, at least for me, are now playing on a 24-hour spin cycle. I found the song--a version by Stacey Kent--and listened to it. "You're a melody from a symphony by Strauss...You're a Shakespeare sonnet, a Bendel bonnet...You're Mickey Mouse."

This morning I studied for a comprehensive exam with You're the Top playing on repeat. I read W.H. New's Articulating West with "You're're a turkey dinner...You're the time...of the derby winner," playing over and over and over again.

It took me seven hours to read the book. The song is two-and-a-half minutes long. I listened to it 168 times. I didn't even know that it was playing. It was just me, Henry Kreisel, New, and the song.

I think Stacey Kent lives on a diet of refined sugar.

But I am no longer sane and balanced. Contemporary Canadian Fiction is getting me, is turning me into a near-sighted, low-key machine. Only Stacey Kent can save me. She can take me to Connecticut. Maine. Any of the New England states. Away from George Grant and George Woodcock. Why is every Canadian writer Protestant?

I know another PhD student who broke down during the oral portion of his field exams. An examiner had asked him a question about the representation of women in Canadian urban fiction. The student started talking about a Polish sausage he'd eaten for lunch. He described the way the sausage was cut, the way the bun was toasted. This lasted for about ten minutes. When he was done, the examiner said, "That's fine, but what about the question?"

The student looked at him, looked at the other two examiners, and said, "I'm blind!"

He actually experienced hysterical blindness.

"Don't worry," one of the examiners assured him, "you'll be fine."

"But I need these eyes. I need them to read M. Nourbese J. Fox."

That's why I laugh when people say that the academy is one easy ride. Short hours, etc.

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All Posts On This Site Are Intended As Juvenalian Satire. If They Veer Into Horatian Satire, That's OK Too. Just, Please, Don't Take Them Too Seriously. PhD Students Can't Afford Libel Suits. CUPE Doesn't Cover Court Costs.
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