Sunday, May 27, 2007

Like, like, like

I've mentioned previously that I have an indestructible tendency to metaphor -- or more accurately analogy, I suppose. Even at my lowest ebb (witness today's sad little tideline) I am irresistibly playing with is-likes in my mind.

Of course, there is a special problem with pervasive, enduring, or otherwise paradigmatic things like love or marriage or heartbreak or graduate school, and that is from the inside everything is like them. Love is like the sand, or the flying bird, or the broken-down car, or the favourite pair of shoes, or whatever the hell you like --- frankly, the more outré the better, since if it's not way out there it's a cliché by now. In truth, I think that any analogy abut love, especially heartbreak, even the truly left-of-field, is instantly a cliché, because the very effort of trying to say what that vicious, searing, sickening, free-falling feeling is like is itself hackneyed.

Grad school, however, hasn't quite reached that particular pass and we can still amuse ourselves coming up with is-likes for it. Emphasis on "amuse" --- seriousness is a pain in the ass and I really don't want to hear how it is like a mountain or a journey or an initiation or like trying to find something in a library with no titles on the books or whatever.

The most distinctive thing about this whole process, or so it seems to me, is the whackaloon combination of seductiveness and nightmarishness. Basic Instinct has nothing on this shit. Bait-and-switch does not even begin to describe, and the truly incredible part is that the bait-and-switch happens practically every single damn day. My lord! one thinks, wandering the dusty, fabulous-smelling stacks of one's university library, or talking about arcane corners of your discipline with your friends; I am the luckiest person in the whole wide world! How did I come to deserve this life?

And then later ... pow! ... you're trapped again in some sisyphean paragraph you've been trying to get to express half a thought for three weeks, surrounded by photocopies of the lucky sons-of-beehatches who've actually gotten their shit together to the extent that their half-thoughts are like, you know, published and shit. And who you know, got their PhDs somehow.

Possibly, my ultimate metpahor for the whole thing is still this.

But today, I also like the Penguin of Death, who is pictured above. He comes with the following caution:
Things You Need to Know

1. He is strangely attractive because of his enigmatic smile.

2. He can kill you in any 1 of 412 different ways.


Scrivener said...

The penguin of death is not a bad metaphor for academia, really.

I commiserate with you, once again, on the dissertation. I know exactly whereof you speak and have absolutely nothing especially useful to say in response except that I wish you well.

Xtin said...

Scriv, you know? That's pretty damn useful, let me assure you. And thanks!

Puzzled said...

Your post is like a simile, and a simile is like a smile with two i's.

(Sorry for the deleted comment on the previous post...the comment, in all its glory, was meant for this one.)