Whoa, Grad School!

Just got this acceptance to Columbia! Check it out:

Dear Mr. Segal,

I was awake last night, late, thinking of my father, vacuums, my father’s speech suspended in a vacuum and on hooks. I was reading a small online journal to feel like I was ‘supporting independent literature’. When I am feeling like my work is meaningless, I like looking at small online journals to see all of the people who take on my voice in the hopes of becoming ‘important writers’. Lately, I’ve taken to throwing ‘scare-quotes’ around phrases that make me uncomfortable, as if by bracketing them as such, I can re-animate and heighten their meaning. As if I can distance myself from the draining-power of dessicated cliches.

One thing that did not make me feel the need to employ ‘scare-quotes’ was your writing. I have been google searching you since 2:00 AM this morning. I found pictures of your face that I’ve printed out with an ink-jet printer and drawn hearts on. No, that is a lie. But what is not a lie is that I think you are doing a kind of new weird that is newer and more pure, that is secretly activating otherwise vestigial brain-parts, that is apt to set real physical fires all on its own, independent of readers. What I’m saying is that if this were seized by the state as samizdat, the text would leach into the steel containers in which it was locked and re-figure the metal in its own image.

So here is what I am thinking: I am thinking you ought to be at my side, co-instigating the destruction/revival of American Letters. We will write books that get up in the night and crawl down Jonathan Franzen’s throat, and Jonathan Safran-Foer’s, and every other middle-brow Jonathan within a 200-mile radius of New York.

All this to say: Congratulations on your acceptance to the Columbia University MFA program in Creative Writing. Although you did not apply, I have taken the liberty of accepting you and waving all fees and application requirements. You will also be given a full tuition waver and stipend. Please respond to this offer as quickly as possible. Language Helmet fittings begin next week.

Ben Marcus


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