Digital Places of Interest

Monday, July 23, 2012

Post #11: Hell Week

Hey Folks!

It's Monday, July 22, and you know what that means: we have officially launched Week 5 of Bread Loaf, often referred to by experts (me) as "Hell Week." Week 5 is termed Hell Week for several reasons, but chief among them is the allusion to the last week of the Navy Seals' basic training when aspiring soldiers are pushed to the limit of human endurance. Often the soldiers are forced to hike hundreds of miles in harsh terrain, on little or no sleep, while lugging cumbersome battle gear, knowing full well that failure to complete the course will eliminate any chance of becoming a Seal.

If you boys let go of this log, which may or may not be a phallic symbol, the terrorists will win, damn it. 
For Bread Loafers, the tests of Hell Week are equally grueling, the punishment equally severe. Hell Week is a veritable existential nightmare filled with sleepless nights and long hours spent in the library plumbing the depths of Milton, Shakespeare, and Chaucer, hoping against hope to say something original. In 10 pages or more. Often in the wee hours of the night one will hear maniacal laughter bellowing from the bowels of the Davison Library. That laughter is the surest and saddest sign that the English Nerd has thoroughly cracked. Usually from staring at a blank computer screen for one too many hours. Hell Week is not for the faint of heart, folks.                              

"Say something new about Hamlet. I dare you." 

And should the English Nerd fail, the punishment is harsh and terrible. The consequence for the soldier who cannot complete Hell Week is merely the crushing disappointment of not being accepted into the ranks of the Navy Seals. The punishment for the English Nerd who fails is something beyond all evil, beyond all malignancy: a grade of B-. I shudder to write those words, folks. Somewhere a fairy elf just lost her wings.

We're not sure this English Nerd survived his grade.

It is at this point that the role of the Front Desk Maven begins to shift. During Hell Week the Maven becomes sounding board, tutor and counselor. Bread Loafers desperate to find their way out of their own intellectual abyss will humbly petition the Mavens to listen to excerpts of their writing. Maven Overlord Edward Brown's "advice" will often be to "start over." In response, the English Nerd will  begin what trauma experts call "crying." Finally, the Mavens are on hand to remind English Nerds in the throes of essay-writing lunacy to remember basic things in life like the location of the cafeteria. And pants.

Maybe Edward is right; maybe my writing would benefit from total incineration. 
Interestingly enough, at the conclusion of Hell Week, on Saturday night, just when the typical Bread Loafer is at wits end, thoroughly exhausted, and on the point of sheer spiritual collapse, it's time for the Suppressed Desires Dance. I won't say too much about this revered and hallowed annual event, but remember that Zion Rave scene from the second Matrix movie where there thousands of semi-clad bodies are writhing ecstatically to the pulsating rhythms of the music? It's sort of like that, just subtract underground freedom fighters and insert sexually pent-up Nerds.

Her: I loved what you said about temporality in Swan's Way. Him: Hold me.

And so, folks, let Hell Week begin.
And may the Loafers rise to the occasion.
Semper Fi, English Nerds, Semper Fi.

Christian Patrick Clark
Front Desk Novitiate, 2012
Hic et Ubique

And now for today's installment of Edward Insults Me: recently, during a conversation with fellow Mavens I expressed disappointment that I would not be working during the upcoming Writer's Conference, when dozens of world class novelists and poets will be filling up the Inn. I even offered to work for free. Edward smirked and said, "What are are you going to do, stand around and act creepy?" He then walked away before turning around and adding, "By the way, there wouldn't be much acting involved with that."

1 comment:

myannteejam said...

Hey! You're really good at captions! Is that why you went up to writing camp?