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Demonstrated Aptitude for Copyediting and Substantive Editing

February 8, 2010

This week I’ll be applying for a spot in an intensive six-day editing immersion workshop. I imagine the competition will be rather intense, and because I have no professional editing experience, I thought it might help to give the application judges a taste of the kind of editorial intuition I am just waiting for a chance to bring to an entry-level-with-opportunities-for-advancement Vancouver-based position at a publishing house. You might argue that this evening would be better spent writing cover letters to be included with applications for the latest crop of ineffably tedious academic administrative positions that I am trying to get for no other reason than that they pay a salary. To which I would argue in response: go fuck yourself, and be sure to do it in a really fumblingly incompetent and unsuccessful way so you have to spend the rest of the day submerged in the shame and frustration of your own lack of self-awareness.

Below is a well-known text. Let us suppose that it has been sent to me for editing. The original is followed by my edited version. You will see immediately that the second piece improves upon the original in manifold ways, artfully transforming it from an ungrammatical and ill-conceived piece of narrative into one of the glorious academic literary achievements of our time.

“The Thong Song”   (Sisqo, 1999)

This thing right here
Is lettin’ all the ladies know
What guys talk about.
You know –
The finer things in life.
Check it out:

Ooh dat dress so scandalous,
And ya know another nigga couldn’t handle it.
See ya shakin’ that thang like “Who’s da ish?”
With a look in ya eye so devilish.

Ungh –
Ya like to dance at all the hip hop spots,
And ya cruise to the crews like connect da dots.
Not just urban, she likes the pop,
‘Cause she was livin’ la vida loca.

She had dumps like a truck, truck, truck,
Thighs like what, what, what?
Baby move your butt, butt, butt.
Ungh –
I think I’ll sing it again.
She had dumps like a truck, truck, truck,
Thighs like what, what, what?
All night long,
Let me see that thong.

And now, the revised version. I used my editorial perspicacity to determine that this piece would work better as academic prose. An author often submits a selection for publication under the mistaken impression that it is “finished” or, at least, acceptable in more or less its current form. In fact, a publication contract often stipulates that the author must make substantial revisions to the piece, and a massive structural or genre overhaul can be part of the required changes.

Feminism and Sexuality: The Anatomy of a Modern Paradox

In this essay I will argue that male discourse about the female body has reached a crisis point due to the ongoing influence of feminist literature in all academic disciplines, but particularly the Humanities. The crisis is composed of three key elements: the impotence of metaphor in the face of new rhetorical power-structures, the rise of intellectual fantasy at the expense of physical reality, and the ubiquity of women in academia.

Since the beginning of time, men have been attracted to women, and it is a proven anthropological fact that for tens of thousands of years, men were gladiatores who dominated their vaginate counterparts. Only recently has the “fairer sex” – arguably, “unfairer” would be a more appropriate designator – begun to demand equal representation under the law. Never mind that men had constructed the grundlage of human civilization as we know it, or that until comparatively very recently, women were not even literate: like a contingent of androgynous Amazons shrieking in the night, they attacked male laws and institutions with pitilessly sharp tongues and barbed arguments until the Academy resembled a battle ground. The blood ran thick and there were casualties on both sides.

Men’s attractedness, if you will, to women’s secondary sex characteristics and other incidentals of their appearance is a natural, biological phenomenon. Both in and out of the Academy, men have long been prone to participate in what are known in vulgar or lay discourse as “bonding sessions,” in which they take turns praising the physical features of women. This harmless and jocular activity has been ruthlessly rent like the flesh of Pentheus by feminist scholars who would have us believe that to compliment the sturdy thighs or bulbous hindquarters of a female colleague is somehow demeaning or dehumanizing to the lady in question. This despite the fact that she may well be – no: is – dressed in such a way as to draw attention to the very features her colleagues are admiring within a contextual framework of masculine amicitia. For example, the size or shape of her mammaries may be accentuated by a low-cut and/or diaphanous chemise, which may be complemented by a flatteringly minimalist skirt and perhaps additionally a pair of shoes with 2″ to 3.5″ heels. The overall effect of such a sartorial ensemble can be most invigorating for the male spectator, and he cannot be faulted for encouraging her – particularly should both individuals find themselves in the auditory presence of a certain up-tempo melody traditionally performed by a gentleman of Latin American descent – to shake that which she has been given by her maternal parent; nor can she be faulted for appreciating positive attention from an admirer or even reciprocating it by means of ocular semaphor or the like.

Feminist scholars would have women be incorporeal. Leaving aside the vexed question of how procreation could occur if they were to obtain what they claim to desire, this scholar asks how men are to conduct themselves within a discourse community that precludes the possibility of appreciative and positive metaphorical reference to female anatomy, e.g., “big melons,” “candy ass,” vel sim. In these examples, the nourishing function of the human woman is stressed and complimented, but feminist scholars have injected their poisonous convictions into even such positive phrases as the aforementioned, and what was once high praise is now “sexual harassment.” Men are so tongue-tied in this modern millennium that upon catching sight of a woman with, e.g., attractive thighs, he is oftentimes unable to compose a simile or metaphor by which to compliment them.

Along with the feminist desire that women be treated as unembodied comes an untraversable dichotomy between male reality and female fantasy. Naturally, upon viewing the erotic shimmyings of a comely female, a man cannot but direct his gaze thither. No quantity of scholarly papers will negate the undeniable fact of women’s physical presence in the world and its effect on their masculine counterparts. A man cannot be faulted for feeling, upon witnessing gyrations and undulations such as the above-described, that it would be pleasurable to engage their subject in such activity as the removal of outer garments. Unmentionables of the “thong” or “t-back” style are of particular interest to men due to their (viz., the unmentionables’) propensity to accentuate and highlight the buttocks. Indeed, the enthusiasm of some men is so pervasive that they are able to provide their undivided attention to a bethonged lady not merely for a handful of hours but for an entire nocturnal period.

Gone are the days of the “Old Boys’ Club” – and more’s the pity! Surely the presence of women in academia could have proven a sordid boon, had the representatives of the second sex but agreed to comport themselves in a manner befitting their station! Women have long demonstrated their capacity to serve as effective employees in the hospitality and mature-entertainment industries, and, it may be argued, the Academy might have benefited in manifold ways from their presence had they not sought to pursue intellectual distinction at the expense of physical upkeep.

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