Rock, Paper, Scissors

, Malcolm A. Kline, 1 Comment

It’s interesting that some of the same people who go ballistic at the suggestion that corporations are people are quite willing to ascribe human attributes to inhuman things.  “I’m out to prove that rocks are alive and humans are not,” Simon Porzak, a writing instructor at Columbia said at the Modern Language Association (MLA) convention in Austin last week.

porzak bio

Porzak had a slew of lines that kept the crowd at the MLA in stitches:

  • “Can I baptize a dog?” (he and his source left the question open)
  • “Crossing boundary lines with a pigskin”
  • “We never judge other humans in a thinking/non-thinking binary”
  • “Our task being clear, how do we build a Ph.D. robot?”

According to his vitae, Porzak’s interests include comparative literature, decadence, French Language and Literature, French Studies and Gender and Sexuality Studies. He is the author of a number of papers including “Inverts and Invertebrates: Darwin, Proust, and Nature’s Queer Heterosexuality.”

“At the midpoint of a journey through that life-within-a-life that is Marcel Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu [Remembrance of Things Past], within the obscure forest of symbols that is an everyday Parisian courtyard, the reader (and the narrator, Marcel) encounter three portentous, chimerical beasts: the Duchesse de Guermantes’s spectacular orchid; the vest-maker Jupien; and the Baron de Charlus, the very specimen-type of aesthetic dandyism,” Porzak writes in this paper. “Proust and Marcel seize upon this encounter to introduce a new narrative code into the novel, finally allowing the reader entry into the blazing hell of same-sex desire—the titular Sodom and Gomorrah—that has until now remained an indecipherable secret.”

“The volume’s brief introductory chapter, a whimsical biological treatise on ‘inversion’ that will determine the definition and value of what we more generally call ‘homosexuality’ within Proust’s world and work, climaxes on the image of a lonely invert, alone on the beach after a day of unsuccessful cruising, ‘like a sterile jellyfish (méduse) that will perish on the sand.’”

Well, he caught something that all the reviewers on Amazon missed.

 

One Response

  1. Marcelita Swann

    January 12, 2016 9:19 pm

    True Proustians would never reveal such a spoiler. 😉

    Also, as the novel can be read as a mystery, close readers have detected several clues, so we are not as surprised as someone starting, shockingly, in the middle.
    With Proust’s brilliant construction, the Baron and Jupien echo the “same-sex desire” that is found in the first volume, “Swann’s Way.”

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