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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Someone Stop Me Before I Footnote Again

I have become a compulsive footnoter.[1]    It began when I first read Cuppy’s Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody.  I was too young to get most of the jokes, but even then I could tell all the best lines were in the footnotes.[2]  Then, when I was somewhat older, I read Carel Kapek’s War with the Newts.  Kapek is best known for giving us the word “robot,” derived from the Polish for “work,” in his play, RUR.[3]  War with the Newts is riddled with footnotes, making references to everything from Karl Marx to Johnny Weissmuller. [4]  Later, I read the hilarious and trenchant political biography, Making of a Prefident.[5]  I don’t remember the author[6] but, like Cuppy, he was a master of the footnote.  It reached a crisis point when I came across David Foster Wallace.[7]  Wallace irritates me sometimes, but I glory in his extensive, relentless footnoting.  Now I’ve begun footnoting everything. [8] I can’t help myself, Lord help me.  I’ve become convinced the most interesting part of my writing is the footnotes.[9]  When I die, I’ll need a twenty-foot gravestone: the top will say simply, “Man Martin, Husband and Father.”[10]


[1] Is this even a real thing?  My spell-checker doesn’t think so.
[2] Cuppy writes that Alexander was called “The Great” because he killed more people of more nationalities than anyone up to that time.  A footnote goes on to explain he did this to impress Greek culture on them.
[3] I’ve never read RUR.  Is it any good?
[4] The conclusion of the novel has eerie resonance with Global Warming.  Intelligent super-newts are gradually destroying the continents, undermining the coastlines to create salt-water shallows in which to breed.  Humans continue abetting the process, supplying the newts with dredging equipment, etcetera, because there’s money in it.
[5] The misspelling was deliberate; the author was spoofing 18th Century orthography.
[6] Marvin Kitman.  I just looked it up.
[7] Although Infinite Jest was a little too infinite, if you ask me.
[8] This, for example.
[9] And it is, too, isn’t it?
[10] Everything else will be footnotes.

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