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literary celebrity

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How do you know when you are one? You start rolling a cigarette while sitting in the pub with the academics who have paid you (£250!) to come talk to their students. When your handler asks you if you want to go outside to have a cigarette, you are able to reply for all to hear “No actually I just want to go, period.” And then you do. No excuses offered, even though there are likely good ones available.

But there’s a sadder truth to this sort of gig, and it is related to the cash figure I named in the previous paragraph. Twenty minutes later, you return, because you’d forgotten your package of rolling tobacco (£2.75) on the pub table. You retrieve it, make a politically incorrect joke about it, and then leave again.

UPDATE: My wife just accused me of being mean in this post. Really wasn’t my intent. It is a bit funny I think, but mostly this is an anecdotal exercise in the sociology of literature at present day. In what other field, nowadays, would you find such a conjunction of events?

Written by adswithoutproducts

May 7, 2010 at 7:16 am

Posted in academia, literature, london

11 Responses

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  1. Thanks for this gem, man. And I’d bet you are underestimating the art world with your last question – my ex-wife was (is!) an artist, and I’ve seen things.

    I’ve been trying to work out some way of doing this kind of “anecdotal exercise in the sociology of literature ar present day” here – I’ve been peppering every paper I write with some allusion to what happened between me and a certain unnameable author, or to what a student asked, or another said in retort to one of my classroom comments.

    Lacking systematic attempts in this area and with the resistance to empirical matters – that is, those involving more than one reader, the author of the paper – that characterizes this field, what is one to do? Let’s go anecdotal, post-davidshieldean.


    May 7, 2010 at 3:16 pm

  2. Not the point, I know, but I can’t for the life of me think what a politically incorrect joke about rolling tobacco would be. (Though I have the sense that it would not be funny.)

    David R

    May 7, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    • Urg, I shouldn’t say. It had something to do with what one would and wouldn’t come back to a bar for.


      May 7, 2010 at 3:41 pm

  3. Antonio,

    Oh sure, I’d lump the art world in the literary world to be sure.

    But yes! In a sense that’s what I’m (starting to realize that I’m) doing with this blog: the anecdotal and the personal somehow wedged, through accumulation and contextualization, into a somewhat coherent picture of the world and its writing. We should talk more about this.


    May 7, 2010 at 3:43 pm

  4. ads,

    Having your wife tell you you were being mean in your post is a truth test, it means you were doing something right.

    As it appears you are kicking around the Goalie’s Anxiety these days, thought you might be interested in this.

    (For those who enjoy existentialist trivia, PH’s translator comes on in the comments thread and kicks around every link to the Goalie’s Anxiety that has ever existed; and there is also a link posted by the host to a video clip posted by a Dr. Johnson-ish critic who kicks around the Goalie’s Anxiety in that old thus-I-refute-Berkeley way… not that Berkeley was ever so simply refuted, but still.)

    Cheers, then.


    May 9, 2010 at 11:43 am

  5. Sorry about that, forgot to fill in the appropriate box, “Anonymous” commenting should be banned.

    tom clark

    May 9, 2010 at 11:46 am

  6. Wow, you sound like an asshole.


    May 10, 2010 at 11:24 am

  7. So what’s the deal ads, now you’ve got your wife commenting under the pseudonyms of dead literary celebrities?

    To say it again: you must be doing something right.

    tom clark

    May 10, 2010 at 1:36 pm

  8. “* Asshole, in American parliance (and it’s really ours, as they’re never quite sure whether or not to convert it to arsehole, which we’ll all agree just don’t carry the same punch….) is an interesting one as well, as it generally carries at least a tiny bit of respect along with the disapprobation. They guy who cuts you off in traffic is an asshole. Wall Street types are as a rule assholes. Somebody who knocks you down a bit, especially if unjustly, is a bit of an asshole. Hmmmm…. Do most Americans aspire to be assholes? Does America as a whole?”

    tom clark

    May 10, 2010 at 1:54 pm

  9. Please, Gentlemen, let’s not insult a man on midterm vacation.


    May 14, 2010 at 2:36 am

  10. […] e esse anônimo blogueiro que descobri graças ao DP (veja que manifestações magníficas essa e essa aqui – observe como o segundo é uma cápsula de etnografia da literatura contemporânea, ou das […]

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