Von Korncrake in Kalamazoo, Part 5

Parts 1, 2, 3, & 4.

Since the presentation of my opus, “Cultural Semiotics, Semi(n)ology and Semiotics: scientia omnis aut est de signis aut de rebus significatis: Text, Textuality and Semiosis”, would not take place until Saturday afternoon, I abandoned the second Friday afternoon session, a tedious discussion of Carolingian numismatics I had wrongly thought would be good for a few chuckles, and stolled over to the exhibit halls.

Here I found the booths of the academic publishers, around which were gathered knots of supplicant scholars.

Finally, a spectacle worth watching!

Shabby academics, the stench of publish-or-perish desperation clinging to their ratty tweeds, threw themselves at the feet of the well dressed representatives, fairly begging for sweet release from their misery.

“I’ve just finished the fourth revision of my dissertation,” said a young man in a leather jacket, Converse All-Stars, and hipster glasses, “it’s about the hermeneutics of transgression in the Geste de Garin de Monglane.”

“Ah, interesting,” said the representative of a major university publisher, by which he meant not at all interesting.

“I’m at the stage now where I’m starting to look for a publisher,” there was a sad but insistent rising inflection in his voice.

“Well, the market has shifted,” the representative edged slightly away, “but here’s my card. When you get home drop me a note.” By which he meant, go away, and send over someone who can write the scholarly version of the Da Vinci Code.

Of course, the economics of publishing demand that the suavest of publishers’ representatives must be polite to the scruffiest of scholars, for that soon-to-be-rejected-as-unpublishable hipster doofus assigns the books to the undegraduates. Thus, academics who’ve written manifestos that are less intelligible and less entertaining than the screeds handed out by street corner prophets are not rousted from the premises by the security guards.

So, I pretended to browse through the stacks of the dreary books at the publishers’ booths while secretly listening to the minor-key squeaking of the minor scholars.

And the blackened coal of my heart vibrated in time to the music.

Tomorrow, dear readers, I shall continue this story.


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