The Four Fundamental Factors of English Composition

The systematic order above is perfectly clear. In theory. You know what was the highest mountain in the world before Diddy got all uppity and went and discovered Mount Everest? Do you? It was Mount Everest. Get some rice wine, find a river, sit down, and think about it. I’m just trying to hone your mind for teaching Composition here. I guess we should get to the factors; I said I would, in the blog title up there near your forehead.

* The Four Fundamental Factors are…wait a minute. Where are they? Confound it! Hey now. I got them here, in my rock purse somewhere. I mean pouch. It’s not a purse, it’s a pouch. For rocks. Confucius made it, out of Asiatic bear cub, the finest. See that—those are zippers. The guy can sew. Makes a quality cheese ball, too, mutton and horse milk, if you can ever get him to stand still a minute. Where are they? Just a second. A feather, two twigs, bottle of Ritalin, pencil, dried up grasshopper, empty address book, nacho bowl, Chap Stick, hand mirror, flask, lotion, radish, bottle opener, book of matches…Hold up…ah, here it is: The Four Fundamentals. Ok.

Dress. Weather. Publication. Alcohol.

1.) By dress what I mean is eyeglasses. You already have the leather satchel and the laptop computer or you wouldn’t be reading this far. Important point: Your spectacles need to be in harmony with your intentions. Sever the ponytail! Let it go. He who has need of glasses, get them tonight. He who has no need of glasses, get them tonight. Frames strong, screws tight, nosepiece fit, lenses clear—you are now ready to conquer the parking lot, classroom, mountain trail, faculty lounge, dusty conference backroom dealings. I’ll trade you one Prague grant, a monkey pelt, and this Sony Walkman for a month at Yaddo. Throw in a library job for your sister. And so on. Pay heed to the advantages of size and shape. The smaller your eyeglasses, the larger your brain. As for shape, some type of shellfish is preferred, a river mussel, or a baby clam. Ever had baby clams sautéed in milk curds? I have, twice, but once it was during a dream.

2.) By weather I mean the interaction of natural forces. Also the conduct of teaching operations in accordance with the seasons. What’s this got to do with English Composition? I hear you asking. I hear lots of things. Sometimes I hear the stars crackling, or the sun yawning in the morning. I once heard milk ferment from three miles away. One time Confucius said he heard the mating call of a Eurasian Wild Ass outside his window and I know that wasn’t possible. He was in Chicago, at a rhetoric conference. This one spring it rained outside for thirty straight days and I went around telling everyone, “It’s raining like a king!” Another of my puns, and so that’s what I mean by weather. Maybe. God, I’m hungry. My neighbor’s pancreas for a blackened otter! Speaking of, one year Diddy had this big plan of opening an archery range and pizza salon up on the High Steppes of Lairn, right on the Chinese border. This ended up being a bad idea. One, the Chinese kept dropping by for taxes, fees, penalties, and free calzones. Two, he hired Mia Farrow to do the cooking, and Mia Farrow is a notoriously lackadaisical cook. Three, the High Steppes have been a migrating corridor for thousands of musk deer for only about ten million years, but go figure with Diddy. Anyway, I was in there shooting my long bow at these bales of yak straw Diddy had set up in the dining hall and Mia comes gliding in on her camel at least three days late. She looked amazing: like if the sun and moon fell in love and had a daughter. That’s Mia Farrow. And where was my rival, Jeff Goldblum? That’s what I was wondering, my heart floating with hope. Well, Diddy starts yelling at her, swearing and stomping his boots and pulling his hair, until Mia calmly hands him the reins of her camel. She says, “Would you ask each snowflake the hour of its fall?” I hadn’t heard that one, before or since, but it was a mighty blizzard outside, and if nothing else these words left Diddy speechless and so Mia just kind of slipped out the back door. She’d only dropped by for her paycheck anyway. She spent that night in Goldblum’s house. There was laughter, but then later a shout, and the breaking of glass. I know; I followed her, and huddled shivering below the kitchen window. This is what I mean by weather.

3.) When he is united, divide him. Who is he? Good question but Confucius told me if you are ever in an American hotel with a wet bar remember they just charge you by measuring the bottles. Drink what you need and fill the remainder with tap water from the sink. Also never play poker with the lights out. You ever tried to give a kid a set of writing blocks? It won’t work. When I say publication what I really mean is form your own literary magazine. Get some copier paper, a stapler, maybe some stickers for the cover. Step one: Publish all your friends. Step two: They’ll publish you in their magazines. Step three: Form a new magazine and repeat steps one, two, and three. As Mia Farrow once said, “Why not the falcon’s way?” Your vita will growl like a snow leopard.

4.) I am going to write of alcohol and drink of teaching. Remember, the wise teacher sees that his pupils have tall pencils. Otherwise, don’t neglect quality ale. One day you’re going to walk out of your classroom with your head rattling like a poppy field in a Sirocco. A Sirocco is a desert wind. One wonderful summer a Sirocco caught Jeff Goldblum broadside on his camel and next thing he knew he was on a beach in Guam. Had to swim back, then hitchhike through Kazakhstan. You ever hitchhiked through Kazakhstan? I think not; no one has, twice. So you walk out of class and it was one of those days—ink spills, chalk dust typhoons, a front row student called you on some grammar question you answered like you knew but deep inside you didn’t really know—and you feel like a silver lemur fallen from its Buckberry tree. So what do you do? You gallop home too fast and your camel collapses in a heap of spittle. You get hungry, make a sandwich out of sand, take a bite and regret it. You lose a boot, a sock, a stapler, your best helmet, self esteem. You limp seven miles and slam the tent closed and the sheepskin rips and you’re not worth a damn with sewing. You drink a bottle of cooking sherry, no chaser. You look at your pet yak. It smiles. You kick it in the forehead. The yak runs wounded and confused out the open tent and now you spend all night stumbling around a mountain forest in the dark. Yak? Yaaakkk? I didn’t know what I was doing. I never know what I am doing. Yaaakk? One who seeks a yak in the night will not obtain it. What was that? Cloud over the moon like a goat turd. Tumbling rocks. A cough. Leopards cough, don’t they? Shit. Loose gravel. Stomach. Off a crevasse like some graduate student. Ahhhhhh…You’re dead, freak-o. They say it’s going around. You should have had a beer.

4 responses to “The Four Fundamental Factors of English Composition

  1. I have not had a drink in two days, and boy is my head clear. I went on somewhat of a drinking binge following gustav…post traumatic stress.
    Oh, Lauren said good luck finding another bottle of dark horizons. that was one reason that gift was so special, ITS FUCKING HARD TO FIND!
    And we just got whipped,
    we should have savored that moment by friend.

  2. TWO DAYS! What are you, religious?


  3. Excellent advice. Today they made me sit in a “fishbowl” for a teaching demonstration . . .

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