I have less than four weeks to write four papers that stand between me and finally graduating. 2K16 was a year of self-destruction, but 2K17 is about rebuilding, remolding, and blooming from where I’m at.
Anyway, I’m gonna model my plan-of-action like a
poorly-imagined video game walkthrough because I’m running low on ideas on how I can make this at least a little bit worth my time.
Twenty-five days. Five papers. Twenty-eight pages. An email to be sent over a lost prompt.
WORLD: FINNEGANS WAKE // BOSS: …FINNEGANS WAKE BY JAMES JOYCE
So a white man intentionally wrote gibberish in a book that is now claimed to be one of the greatest works in
Eurocentric literary canon. What else is new.
This isn’t a conventional video game where the bosses throughout get increasingly difficult. This time the first boss is the most difficult one because, here, it’s necessary to knock out the biggest, hardest one first before even getting through the others.
This one’s the biggest–or rather, longest, at a hefty twenty pages. And twenty pages is a lot to write about something you are totally disinterested in. Things you have to be mindful of when you beat this boss are: A. your total disdain for this book in all its difficulty B. your political snobbery (because yeah, this book sucks, Eurocentric literature sucks, but you know what–you refusing to do this paper is not fulfilling any transformative political objective. You can’t get your degree until you write this paper so just do it, goddammit.).
What will help you defeat this boss is not randomly smashing whatever buttons are on your controller, hoping that some random combination of buttons will get you a critical hit. You gotta break it down into parts–maybe three? Four? (Then four-five pages for each part). Take it part by part, focusing on defeating each before you can move on to the next.
BUT you gotta know your parts first. (This shit may not make make sense without knowing context of the book, so bare with me.)
One part is an examination of Question #4 in the game show as it highlights the gendered and sexualized ways in which colonialism is imposed onto its subjects/how land is viewed in a gendered/sexualized way. Another part is on Tristan & Isolde (not really sure what your analytical stance is on this yet, but it’ll get figured out through outside research). Another is on Shem as a reflection of Joyce (whatever), and the other is on ALP’s soliloquy because honestly it’s the only thing worth reading and looking into throughout the whole damn thing.
What’s especially tricky with this one is that’s it’s pretty unclear what your thesis is. You need to find it, but you can only do that at this point by
WORLD: WESTERN BACKGROUNDS // BOSS #1: DANTE’S INFERNO
To be honest, this one isn’t so bad because Dante’s Inferno is pretty punk. You know, going through hell and shit. Meeting some literary OG’s only to find out they’re in one circle or another. This one isn’t a pain to read or write about, but the issue is that you haven’t finished reading it. And you need to fight your habit of reading everything front-to-back because it’s leading to your demise.
You’re really slow at writing papers–especially when it comes to research and quote analysis. You write down/type out all the quotes from works you think could potentially be useful (there’s something terrifying to you about reading a quote you think is useful, moving on without writing down, wanting to use that quote later, but not. being. able. to. find. it.) and so paper writing is like putting together a puzzle–or at least that’s what it feels like as you’re doing it–where you’re fitting quotes in different places and trying to make it all work.
So this one is not so much about patience but about efficiency
and also someone lighting a fire under your ass because you don’t need seven pages of quotes for only six pages of content. And you don’t need to read it front-to-back in order to make your point. A defeated boss is a defeated boss.
WORLD: STILL WESTERN BACKGROUNDS // BOSS #2:
CORIALANUS? CORIALANIS? CORIOLANUS (I needed to Google for correct spelling)
Yeah, sorry, you’re not done with this world yet.
You only watched the movie because of who you are as a person. You have no walkthrough for this one except that you should actually read the play?
Ok and maybe the prompt will help: “Coriolanus the character identifies then dis-identifies with different forces–governments, individuals, blocs of power, class formations and class based allies, his Mother. Construct an argument that charts an aspect of this identification/dis-identification in the play. Remember you have to actually define how you are understanding identification/dis-identification in the work.”
You should’ve chosen to write on the Bible instead, goddammit.
WORLD: MONEY, SEXUALITY, AND RACE
FINAL BOSS: MEMO ON LABOR EXPORT POLICY IN THE PHILIPPINES
Is there anything more terrifying than a blank email.
I may have lied. This might actually be the most difficult boss.
So technically this one should be the easiest one because it’s on a topic that you care about and have a strong analytical position since it’s one you engage with in your organizing/political work.
But *deep breath* no.
Because turns out you don’t have the prompt. You went to check your BlackBoard account two weeks ago to download the prompt only to find that that your professor took down the class soon after it was over last spring (a former classmate informed you after asking her if, by some grace of God, she had the it). And since then, you’ve been panicking, ruminating, wasting emotional and mental energy
that could be productively channeled toward other things, like, I don’t know, writing your papers on what you can do, when you know the only thing you can do is email your professor.
And You! don’t! want! to! Because: guilt, shame, fear.
You feel guilty for putting off papers for long
when, really, you needed this time to focus on genuinely taking care of yourself by going through therapy, by reintegrating back into your communities and organizing work.
You feel ashamed for asking because you shouldn’t be asking for a prompt. You should have gotten them done.
But you weren’t in a place to do that. You were sick. You needed help. You needed to become healthy again.
And you feel afraid for being rejected
but, if you are, then so what? Then you bite the bullet, take another class, graduate, and move on.
You’ve spent a lot of life equating who you are as a person to who you are as a student. Based on what grades you brought home, you often felt like how good of a kid you were depended on how good of a student you were. You let arbitrary numbers and letters to not only validate your self-worth but have allowed them to dictate your goodness (Catholic school fucks you up real good, in case you didn’t already know.) And even “good students” need a break sometimes.
You can look at these past few months as all this time that you have chosen not to finish your papers right? But choose not to. That won’t help you win.
These past few months have been as incredible as they have been difficult. You have sat through hell by sitting with yourself, in all your shit, in all your ugly, in all your messy. And in doing that you have found an indispensable strength, a deeper sense of gentility and tenderness that you have been so ready to give
and maybe even impose on so many others but are now learning how to extend to yourself.
You are learning to forgive yourself.
So this final boss–it’s not about the paper. It’s not even really about the mail, but maybe what it represents for you–this fear of rejection, of mistakes, of genuinely fucking up and having to forgive yourself for fucking up. Because remolding as a a friend, a daughter, a comrade, a person–it takes some fucking up along the way to get it right.
So forgive yourself–now, for where you’re at, and for whatever happens between now and February 1st.
And then go send that fucking email.