Six-Actors-Poster-WebI had a dream about Wikipedia once. (I know, right?)

If you analyze the format of a Wikipedia page, you’ll see that, at the top, there’s the main concept, and the page becomes increasingly detailed and fractured the further down you look.

Well, as my dream opens,  I’m looking at the very bottom of a Wikipedia page—at the “External links,” probably—and then I begin visually scrolling up, higher and higher, with an increasingly urgent need to reach the controlling Word, where all the scattered instances will finally fuse together into One, the only One there is.

I woke up about 2″ from the top.

Anyway, sometimes I think that the secret of academic writing is not to look for examples to support a thesis, i.e. “cherry picking,” but to allow examples to suggest a meaning, to hint, tantalizingly, at a concept, just as they are wont to do in waking life. Similarities propose a marriage; resemblances suggest a unity. Find 3 or 5 or 7 of these things and you’ve got yourself a paper.

I just watched a YouTube video of Collin Raye’s 1993 country classic, “That’s My Story,” while I was doing some research. (It’s complicated.) At the beginning was an ad for Tough Mudder. I never watch the ads, but the text of this one caught me. Here it is:

Immediately, I was reminded of a number of similar texts we went over in my ENG101 sections just this semester. The first is an entry in the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, “Yu Yi”:

Some Mudders might find it strange—or annoying—to be lumped in with the existential lyricism of the Dictionary, but tough. It works.

A second example is “Cycle of Fear,” an article in the New York Times where Tim Kreider writes about how he deals with his anxiety by bicycling at high speeds through Manhattan traffic:

I’m convinced these are the conditions in which we evolved to thrive: under moderate threat of death at all times, brain and body fully integrated, senses on high alert, completely engaged with our environment. It is, if not how we’re happiest — we’re probably happiest in a hot tub with a martini and a very good naked friend — how we are most fully and electrically alive.

I could go on. There are many other examples, but they all add up to one thesis: something’s missing, I know not what. Is it a nostalgia for a fresh and exciting world? A fealty to some atavistic trait long forgotten? A longing to express a kind of immediate, pre-linguistic experience that language itself has absorbed into its dry concepts? How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable seem all the uses of this world.

We seem to have gotten everything backwards.

Pick the cherries first, then dream of red.

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