Interviewer: I really enjoyed your last piece, “Well Endowed By Our Creator: Did George Washington Really Invent Viagra?” It got me thinking about how people use the phrase “our Founding Fathers” as shorthand for “I don’t like the present. Take me back to the past, as long as the past has plumbing, central heating, and cars.”
H. Paunch: Are you talking about me?
Interviewer: Our readers would like to know a little more about you. You’re working on a project called “Rewriting History”?
H. Paunch: I prefer for the work to speak for itself.
Interviewer: Any other irons in the fire?
H. Paunch: To save my readers the trouble, you mean?
Interviewer: Your press kit mentions two other works-in-progress. Our Sad World . . . .
H. Paunch: I’m comprising a catalogue of how sad the world has become–a sad history of the current sad state of affairs you might say.
Interviewer: Care to share a bit with our readers?
H. Paunch: (opens laptop, looks searchingly into the glowing screen, then reads).
Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain said it was “a desperately sad day for our country, and desperately sad, of course, for the families concerned.”
Interviewer: Is there more?
H. Paunch: (offended) Of course there’s more. I know we live in the age of the soundbite, but, really, the book isn’t that brief!
Interviewer: No, I meant . . . .
“The sad fact is that the morality of the US is dying off…..Today there is nothing that resembles morality and that’s sad.”
Oh, and this one’s particularly sad.
“i have plenty of vegan friends, but they’re not the type who insist animals are better and the human race is evil, and they don’t push their views on me…you’re the type who hates people who don’t agree with you, and that’s sad…”
Interviewer: So you’re collecting instances . . . ?
H. Paunch: I’m compiling a comprehensive list of every reference to sadness that has occurred in this century. It’s a massive data mining project that will establish, irrefutably, that the world became demonstrably sadder after September 11th.
Interviewer: Well, if true, that is sad.
H. Paunch: Oh, it’s true.
Interviewer: And the other project? Your press kit provides a cover that is quite intriguing:
H. Paunch: As you know, my original training is in grammar-tology. I’m particularly interested in the intersection of grammar and ontology. Horton Hears A That! is my study of the contemporary elimination of the self as evidenced by the disappearance of the pronoun “who.”
Interviewer: Fascinating. Pray continue.
H. Paunch: “Who” is the canary in the coal mine, if you will. When it has finally been eradicated from written and spoken speech, human kind will have achieved a cyborgian state somewhere between human and object-agent.
Interviewer: Can you give me an example?
H. Paunch: Go to msnbc and you’ll find this summary of Chris Matthew’s recent discussion of Santorum’s staying power:
Hardball’s Chris Matthews and panel discuss how Rick Santorum — a candidate that didn’t have much support – can now be threatening Mitt Romney’s frontrunner status.
H. Paunch: The grammar reveals the secret: Santorum isn’t a person; he’s something else.
Interviewer: You’ve got a whole book on this?
H. Paunch: Well, the book will come with stickers as well, so the readers can help track this phenomenon. Anytime they see evidence of who-eradication, they are invited to slap one of the stickers on their find. Together, we can track the dying of this grammatical form. By coordinating this with Google Maps, we can create a global, real-time feed that will allow fellow grammar-tologists to visit sites where Horton will forevermore hear a “that.”
Interviewer: Can you give us a sense of what you’re working on for your next “Rewriting History” piece?
H. Paunch: Connecting the dots from John Lennon to Andrew Brietbart.
Interviewer: Can’t wait.