Take the test!
Calling all PhD students, English professors, the slackjawed, public-library-lurkers, the learned and the unlearned: here’s a high-stakes entrance examination for your exexexmatriculation. Take “The Exam” by Tom Whalen in the Brooklyn Rail.
In Washington Irving’s “Rip Van Winkle,” regarding the comparison of the rolling of the balls in the game of nine-pins to “rumbling peals of thunder,” why is it impossible to state definitively which comes first, the nine-pins or nature? Offer three refutations to Sedgwick’s (“homosexual panic”) and Morrison’s (Afro-centric) remarks on “The Beast in the Jungle.” How often did your parent(s), guardian(s), institution(s) read aloud to you before the age of five? three? one? On a scale of one to ten, with one being “calm” and ten “psychotic,” how nervous are you? Do you see the exam as a challenge or a threat, considering that if you do not pass, you will not be allowed to hold a teaching position in this country? Compare your anxiety to that of two of the following: Ichabod Crane, Young Goodman Brown, the narrator of “The Black Cat.” Hurry. The exam has barely begun, and already you’re falling behind. Perhaps the consequences of your failing are even more severe than you’ve imagined.
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Whalen will read at Unnameable bookstore on Thursday March 21, 2013.