B. Franklin left it at death and taxes, right? As I teach SU’s research-based
second semester writing course to seniors (and only seniors), I’m feeling the
weight of the death-n-taxes counterpart in academic writing: length limits and
deadlines. Two unavoidable encumbrances. Give either of them a liberatory shrug–whatever–and what happens? So we need, instead, to
declare two-thousand words by Friday, and so on, arbitrary though it might seem. What, besides length
limits and deadlines, structures the writing activity one does for academic credit?
Sure, there are sentences and paragraphs (utterances, gestures, etc.), but I’m not talking
about language forms. Length limits and deadlines certify the institutionality of
the writing. Institution-free, the writing need not adhere to either
staple, right? With blogging, for instance, what of deadlines? What
of length limits? But figure blogs into a course, what will happen if matters of
length limits and deadlines or frequency, even if left to such vagarisms as
"flexible" or "open," are not otherwise determined? Just a few
I did the annual income taxes this morning, filed them electronically,
and then realized I had Is.’s SS# wrong. But the fast-acting S.S.
Administration databases couldn’t match the number with any person they’d heard
so the flub was caught and corrected and the forms re-submitted. I was able to
move on with the day, tax-collectedly ever after.
About the certainties in my own work of late as it relates to the
counterparts deadlines/death and limits/taxes: for the past two weeks I’d probably fall in the category
Willie Nelson* at the slot machines in the lounge of a
which is to say, avoiding the so-called certainties or producing at a rate not
so much frozen as vitric.
*Neither an endorsement of Nelson’s habits of interaction with
the IRS, nor any acknowledgment of a belief that cryonics legitimately extends
human life (what if?).