PK: So just from a technical standpoint, I’d say EG submitted a basically fine sample. It’s formatted well, it looks pretty good on the page, and that’s—you know, that’s actually not always so easy to pull off. So that’s good. You can definitely tell that EG put some thought and effort into this sample. That being said, the sample itself is, I would say, flaccid? And EG is clearly underqualified for the position. The “Experience” section, to take an obvious example, is practically empty. What little he put there is hard to parse and as far as I can tell irrelevant, it looks like he’s just trying to avoid answering the question. So I don’t recommend EG for membership.
AL: I agree with KP’s point about EG’s qualifications. In EG’s defense, I would suggest that the brevity of the “Experience” section could be read as an ontological comment about the status of experience as such. As in, the category of “Experience” forcibly delineates named experiences—i.e., those categories of experience recognized as experience as such—from unnamable experiences, which would favor the structured, institutional, and hieratic over the private and personal, with the possible implication that the private and personal don’t exist or are otherwise invalid in some way. So EG is actually demonstrating a keen awareness of the violence of phenomenological naming, which he simultaneously enacts and destabilizes.
PK: I think that’s being kind of charitable.
ZJ: Let her finish.
AL: Well, no, I think you’re right, it is charitable, like it isn’t how I personally read it. But I think it is open to that reading, specifically if you look at the hyphens. To continue: at the same time, several lines in EG’s personal statement, specifically towards the conclusion, carry a hint of desperation. For example: “I would really love a spot in your organization.” Or: “I think this is such a cool group and I would be totally honored if you considered me for a chance to join it.”
ZJ: Yeah, that word “really”…
AD: “Totally,” too.
AL: Right, all the adverbs. I do not recommend EG for membership.
TB: OK, so I’d like to go back to what was said earlier about the formatting. I think it’s actually a bad thing. It’s like the adverbs: like it’s too deliberate, too effortful, you know?
TB: Exactly, overdetermined. I think of us as more of a loose, easy thing, where the looseness is a way of responding kind of to the overly regimented—I don’t want to say bourgeois, but basically aspirational, materialistic, non-literary—
PK: Yeah, and it’s also about problems of expression. I see that.
TB: Exactly. Anyway, the formatting I think belies this need to compensate for something unoriginal and grasping in his thoughts. I do not recommend—
ZJ: You’re supposed to start with something positive.
TB: Oh, right. OK. I guess he does something interesting with the word “love.” I’m mainly thinking of the line that was quoted earlier—“I’d love a spot”—as well a line in the “Reasons for Interest” section: “I love literature.” And there are some more. It’s almost like by repeating that word over and over he empties it of its meaning and shows how all love declarations are, in a sense, absurd. It’s almost Dadaistic, like he’s reducing a cliché back down to its sound component, so it becomes meaningless again, but at the same time it’s always been, and we’re just left with that sound, repeated over and over: “love.”
ZJ: It’s kind of an ugly word, isn’t it.
TB: Well I think the point is that now we’re in this new interpretive realm. We’re formulating questions of meaning, evaluation, etc., outside some of our, like, inherited—meaning hegemonic, patriarchal, whatever—hermeneutical assumptions, which are really encoded in the language. Anyway, I do not recommend EG for membership.
ZJ: Who else?
AD: I think just me. So I know EG personally. He’s kind of, well—like, he doesn’t usually do this kind of thing—but I actually encouraged him to apply.
DA: Well, yeah. I mean, listening to all of your points I’d say I kind of see what you’re getting at. The desperation thing, for example. He does really want this (and I’m using the word “really” deliberately here), and the “Experiences” thing—I loved the reading that was said earlier, but I’d say you’d have to be pretty generous in how you interpret some of the personal statement in order to ascribe that level of sophistication to the text as a whole, as in, I don’t the text can sustain it. Anyway, after listening to all of your points I’d say I agree that some elements of EG’s character aren’t totally suited to this organization. And now that I’m thinking about it, reflecting on my own knowledge of EG, there’s even more stuff to confirm it, like the way he dresses for example. That’s actually really interesting in tandem with the text or considered as a sign system of its own, I would even call it a metatext.
ZJ: OK, interesting. So what’s your verdict?
DA: I don’t recommend EG for membership.
ZJ: OK. So I’ll just conclude with my comment. Going back to the formatting, EG does something cool by forgoing the indent. There’s this immediacy, an undercurrent of trauma, that takes us beyond style, beyond text. Sort of like what was said a little earlier, but I’d say the referent is less Dada than Suprematism—
ZJ: —not so much as it was formulated by Malevich as in its interpretation by Kseniya Boguslavskaya.
ZJ: But, to the extent that we can extricate content from form—and I think, in this particular text, to a large extent we can (and I can show you my reasoning here after we’re done if you’re interested)—the content of EG’s sample betrays an unoriginal mind. If I had to speculate, I would say that EG lacks the sense of identity, not to mention the basic social ability, to be a worthwhile member of our organization. His transparent attempts to please—almost pathetic in my reading (and again, I can point to passages)—are, for me, the crux of the matter. I do not recommend EG for membership.
[nods of assent]
ZJ: OK. If there are no final comments we can move on. Does anyone have any final things to say?
EG: Thank you all for your consideration.