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By Rob Chambers:
Everything fell apart deep in the first year of his Administration. Economic and social chaos led, naturally, to a somber meeting between President Merkin Muffley, the Cabinet heads, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, the chief officers of the Congress, and a few key outside figures who had become the nation’s primary sources of news, Jay Leno, David Letterman, Jon Stewart, and Stephen Colbert.
In his recent novel, Sweet Tooth (2012), British author Ian McEwan plays timeless illusionist games with the reader—in the manner of his earlier novel, Atonement (2001). Both works feature scandals; these emerge near the beginning of Atonement and near the close of Sweet Tooth. More importantly the gamesmanship in both cases can be traced in large part to the creation of a character that is very belatedly identified as having written all or part of the novel in which that character also appears.
This tactic and its many variations are generally referred to as “meta-art,” but I prefer to use the terms “reflexive art” or “reflexivity.”
“John Keats was an opium addict, claims a new biography of the poet/ The author of Ode to a Nightingale wrote his greatest poems with the aid of opium, believes Prof Nicholas Roe” – Headline, The Guardian (UK), September 21, 2012
As every new Ph.D. learns, two giant metaphorical dragons stand ready to incinerate the questing scholarly squire. The first toasting, of course, occurs during the search for a job, any job. It’s difficult even to collapse into pre-feudal academic peonage as an “adjunct” (calling adjuncts “pre-feudal,” as Prof. Grendel Hrothgar has explained, is appropriate because peasants, bound permanently to the land in manorial times, had at least some semblance of job security).