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Another policewoman points out the entrance to Pavilion B, housing the Shining Path inmates. I’m signed in a third time, and am being escorted up a staircase when a figure darts forward. Trout-brown eyes, long dark hair parted in the middle, and a muslin scarf draped over her shoulders, embroidered with small flowers. Her face is thinner, more striking than in photographs. She wears loose black trousers and blue high-heeled shoes.
She nods, smiles.
Instinctively, I embrace her. –“The Dancer and the Terrorist,” Nicholas Shakespeare, Intelligent Life
There is further misdirection in the invitation to see Ferris’s evasiveness as an achievement. Ferris has mastered a technology newly emergent in the 1980s: the combination of computers, telephones, and digital audio sampling. We see answering machines that Ferris has rigged to play false messages; we see his stereo amplifying digital samples of his coughs and snores to create the illusion that he’s at home in bed. The director Hughes has cleverly divined what this new technology will come to be used for; it is for not being there. A few years after the movie, one imagines, Ferris will start a company that designs phone trees and voicemail systems; he will be a millionaire by 1990. The frustration, the sense of having been hoaxed, that is felt by the dean of students when he realizes that he isn’t really listening to Ferris through the intercom of the Bueller family home but only to a recording of Ferris, delivered to the intercom by a computer—you felt the same frustration yesterday when you dialed your health insurer and were led into a maze of cheerful, obtuse recorded voices that by design denied you an opportunity to say what had made you angry enough to call. –“Totaling the Ferrari: Ferris Bueller Revisited,” Caleb Crain, the Paris Review
Because we’re both writers, a lot of our sex has been textual. That’s why it baffled me, a couple of years into this, when I realized that my email server had an automatic but seemingly very arbitrary spam filter that trapped certain messages with the kinds of dirty words that tend to appear in those random sex-oriented messages we all receive on occasion. I had no idea I had a spam filter. I get plenty of spam, and as you can see, my correspondence is hardly pristine.
–“‘Le Rire de la Meduse’ – an excerpt from The Correspondence Artist,” by Barbara Browning, Fanzine
More from gabriel:
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”