January 12, 2005

Kepple Deconstructed

WE NOTE with approval that much scorn has been directed at the North Korean Government's recent propaganda campaign to have its citizens cut their hair in accordance with Kimilsungism. In such conversations about this, we note further that talk often naturally turns to the question of whether the Dear Leader has all his marbles, whether his elevator goes to the top floor, etc.

Our answer to that is simple: we don't know, Babs. But we do believe the Dear Leader is certainly evil, based merely upon the weird and obsessive personality cult which he has forced upon half the Korean people. We base this observation on one particularly interesting experience which happened to us long ago, the end result of which we recently learned about.

You see, we can assure you that a Major Textbook still being used today, in introductory English college classes all over this great nation, features one of our essays as an example item. As such, untold thousands of students, fresh out of high school, are studying our work. This is the "upside."

The "downside" is that it features one of our collegiate essays. As such, we won't mention the text nor the book nor its publisher; for not only can we not bear to look at the thing without groaning in agony, we expect readers would react the same way we do upon reading it: with a bit of nausea. Not merely because we can't bear to look at our collegiate work, but because we can't bear to think we didn't get any money out of it.

After all, this textbook sells new for close to $60. It is a giant tome. The publisher offers a companion CD along with it. If we had a nickel for every book sold, we'd probably have ... we don't know, more money than we do now. We don't know what's worse, really: that some college students are paying full freight for it, or that we're not getting any of their money. (Clever students are buying the book second-hand on-line, for roughly 25 pc of the price).

We do not intend this as a complaint, of course. In all seriousness, we were very flattered and remain very flattered the professors who wrote the tome were interested in our work. So we gave our permission willingly and are glad we did, for in terms of getting our name out there, the investment paid off in spades.

But we digress, something of which the authors of the tome in question would undoubtedly disapprove. Anyway, we stumbled across this text completely by accident a few weeks ago, and we saw what went along with our work. (We had, naturally, completely forgotten about the whole thing; it had, if we recall rightly, been like five or six years since we'd given our OK).

We can assure you there are Actual Textbook Exercises devoted to deconstructing our essay. (What does Kepple mean, why does he use this-or-that phrase, etc.) The whole shebang takes up like ... dear God, like eight pages of this book. It's astounding. It's unbelievable. More than that, it's disturbing, for two reasons. Either college students are so ill-equipped these days they must read a textbook to discern what we meant, or we wrote it so badly they need prompts from the tome's authors. In any event, we felt quite discomforted upon reading these exercises.

After all, we wrote the damn thing in like an hour. We were 19 years old when we wrote it (and 20 when it was originally published). We're not people who write things well enough to be deconstructed as if they were the Gospel. And Jim Roberts kicked our ass in the counterpoint! So what the devil made it so great, anyway?

We submit this is the proper internal response for having one's work deconstructed. North Korea's Dear Leader, on the other hand, seems to think that people ought by rights hold him up as someone to be examined and admired and studied and what not. Therefore, we can deduce his psyche has been rather warped over the years, and he is a clear and present danger to himself and others. And, while we're at it, we would note for our collegiate readers that The Rant is the only Official Canon of Benjamin Kepple Thought.

Sorry. Couldn't resist that last bit.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at January 12, 2005 10:41 PM | TrackBack