Sunday, July 30, 2006

Sweet Spot

'You just have to find the sweet spot.'

We're talking about writing papers, Kirk and I. Our techniques differ a bit.

I choose my topic the day the paper is assigned. Then I spend several months researching it backwards and forwards, and getting a bit sidetracked by all the cool stuff that almost has to do with what I'm supposed to be writing about. Then I spend the final 48 hours frantically writing the 20 pages, mumbling under my breath and swearing next time I'll start earlier.

Kirk has two techniques. If he's interested in the class and respects the professor he chooses his topic, realizes that he already knows more than the seven experts who have written on the field, and reads four books to fill in the bits of arcane knowledge he didn't have (but which are now a permanent part of his mental architecture). Then he sits down and bashes out a masterpiece that has his teachers rolling on the floor and clutching themselves in extasy. If he doesn't respect the professor, he whips together a 20 page thesis constructed entirely of babble, served up with a solid dose of irony and spread liberally with implied patronage. Also he throws in, gratis, one horrendously, screamingly false 'fact.' And he always gets an A. It's all due, he claims to the sweet spot - the one phrase or topic that the professor finds utterly irresistable.

'Right. So what was the sweet spot for that art history guy? The one you wrote a paper for about the Old Town church even though you'd never even been inside it?'

'Easy. Deeply recessed fenestrations.'

'What??'

'Deeply recessed fenestrations. He said it at least twice a week. "Observe the spectacular play of light achieved with the Deeply Recessed Fenestrations." So I just wrote "Adobe blah blah religious blah blah deeply recessed fenestrations."'

I'm quiet for a moment, wondering about the symbolic nature of this particular obsession, but realize that I've seen some of the art history profs and I really don't want to go there. Then I happily remember that I know what the verb 'defenestrate' means which makes me really, really cool. Then:

'Kirk?'

'Yep?'

'Does the Old Town church even have deeply recessed fenestrations?'

'No idea.... what?'

'Oh nothing. I'm just silently resenting you.'

3 comments:

child 2 said...

you spelled ecstasy wrong.

For Kirk said...

pedant - check this out!

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/extasy

Ha! Turns out it's an alternate use. Although it does look totally wrong and isn't standard. But I'm too stubborn to change now!

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