2007 Second Prize in Prose

Academic Lunacy
Jared Gimbel


I'll tell you the best way how to speak to a teacher: be friendly, ask questions, and clarify misconceptions. Maybe I should tell you how I spoke to mine. Maybe this won't make absolute sense, but yet again, does the world make sense?


"I take it that fluorine and chlorine are the most reactive elements in existence."

"Um…yes. That would most possibly be correct."

"And most of the world is carbon, I take it?"

"I'd say so".

"Because the one thing I want to do in this class is to destroy stuff!"


"I'm joking, here, I hope you know."

"Just…be careful where you say that."


"Art has its limits, however. Dipping a picture of Jesus in white paint isn't art, and anyone who thinks it is, ought to have his head examined."

"I really like the idea. Maybe I'd try it. By the way, you try to tell me that everything in art must have a theme and context. I'm still trying to break that rule. But no matter what I do, I can't do anything without expressing something. Even if I take a tin atom and cover it with five pieces of scotch tape, I'd still be giving a message. Same if I got up on stage, rolled a die five times, and read random pages from Faulkner and Toni Morrison based on the results. I want to try to find a way with which I could express nothing"

"It can't be done."

"Ha, ha, ha, that's what you think…I'm still trying to brainstorm…"


"My friends recommended that I find some crazy organic compound like the one I showed you the other day and name myself after it. Is that possible?"

"That compound is too complicated to exist in nature."

"Well, what if I could make it exist?"


"Theoretically, if the numbers are going onto infinity, then they have to reach zero some time, because maybe in the process of going to infinity, then maybe the whole concept would collapse and it would reach."

"Oooooohhh! You have something wrong here, don't you?!!?"

"What do you mean I'm not right? Do you understand the concept of infinity? Is it to be humanly understood? What are you doing near that scoreboard? Leave our personal battle-of-wits tally out of this! Eh? You get a point?! SHUUUCCCKSS!"


"I have it, sir."

"I don't like being called sir. It makes me feel old."

"Fine, then. If I scrawl on a giant canvas THIS PAINTING IS MEANT TO PORTRAY NOTHING, then do I have-"

"You do have a theme. Human impossibilities in art."

"Human impossibilities in art? How about theoretical impossibilities in art? I concede...or do I? I'll get back to you later!"


"What is the purpose of the reflexive property? Is it not fairly obvious that an entity equals itself? What? Sheer nonsense!"


"Professor, mind if I speak with you for a second?

"Sure, go ahead."

"My siblings are expressing skepticism in terms of quantum theory. They find the idea that a small chance exists that I could put my fist into the computer and it would go through without it breaking crazy. I try to tell them that it happens to supersede and subvert intuition, but they still don't believe me. Even if I tell them that computers would barely exist without tunneling, then…they still won't. I personally find it fascinating. However, how should I refute them?"

"Perhaps you should tell them of the four problems of quantum mechanics-"

"You might not understand, sir. Not only would they not understand those, but they want evidence. Material evidence."


"I have a really hard time understanding this piece."

"What piece? This here? 'Academic Lunacy'?"

"Yes. It's the style that gets to me. I want clarity here."

"Stream of consciousness is probably the best literary form there is, in my opinion. And you tell me that I should sacrifice it for terms of clarity. I feel offended. Deeply offended."


"As for the slaughtering machine, what if I cut and paste the command into the machine, then I would control the action, would I not? And you said that the process is kosher if a human manages to control it. That is, if I tried to press a button and perform the function continuously, then the first one would be kosher, but not the rest, because I only press the button once."





"Rabbi Jared…"

"Did you just call me a rabbi?"




"I can't believe this! Even if a piece has no theme, you tell me that the theme would be "no theme in art". Well, sir…"

"I don't like 'sir'."

"All right, sorry."

"It's okay."

"Your idea falls into a contradiction with the first rule of logic. My piece cannot both possess a theme and not possess a theme-"

"You're muddling two fields. Stay within the field."

"Logic may not be art, but art must comply with logic. You know that, of course, do you not?"


"I want this written in a way in which I can understand it."

"What, this piece? Some good pieces are not made to be understood at first sight. What would happen if you'd read it a few times?"

"I want this written in a way in which I can understand it the first time around."

"Why can't everybody apply principles from complicated literature analysis? And even if they don't, they could find fun in confusion. Chaos is good. Think of Jackson Pollock. Chaos is a way to connect with the deepest level of the soul."

"Get to work."

A. Paradoxism Journals from New Mexico

B. See top of first page

C. That which is not traditional-usually avant-garde-but traditional poetry shall do.

D. See C.

E. It's a multilingual paradoxism hub

F. No deadline

G. No price

H. Very not traditional-try imagine The Serpent or The Gray Rainbow in writing…ouch…


<Thornton Wilder Writing Competition