The Real Paul Jones

Accept no substitutes

Date: 1/22/2005

Clarifying Thoughts: Ain’t Gonna Bump No More

Having just finished blogging about clarity and handwriting/typing, I picked up the resurrected Oxford American‘s latest issue. Michael Parker has a very very funny story in the form of a student paper called “Hidden Meanings: Treatment of Time, Supreme Irony, and Life Experiences in the Song ‘Ain’t Gonna Bump No More No Big Fat Woman.’” The story isn’t online, but it has already been taken on a kind of “Supreme Irony.”

Parker read the story at a Literary Symposium at East Carolina University this fall. The reporter for the East Carolinian wrote:

[Parker] presented a detailed analysis of a song entitled “Ain’t Gonna Bump No More No Big Fat Woman.”

Well, not exactly. Parker is a very good writer writing as a very bad but honest writer who has a lot to say to and about her teacher and much more in the course of the paper. I’m not giving away any secrets when I say that the teacher has been right in saying that the writer “sprawls lacks cohesion or is not well organized.” But that is the point, of course. The story is not just a parody of student writing but a story that sprawls it’s way into a kind of tenderness and honesty and self-revelation that keeps you in sympathy with the writer even as you are laughing out loud.

Any story that begins:

In the song “Ain’t Gonna Bump No More No Big Fat Woman” by Joe Tex, the speaker of narrator fo this song, a man previously injured before the song’s opening chords by a large, aggressive-type woman in a disco-type bar, refuses to bump with the “big fat woman” of the title. In doing so he is merely exercising his right to an injury-free existence thus insuring him the ability to work and provide for him and his family if he has one. I don’t know it doesn’t ever say. In this paper, I will prove there is a hidden meaning that everybody doesn’t get in this popular Song, Saying or Incident from Public Life.

has an awful lot going for it.

UPDATE: Here are the all important lyrics to the Joe Tex song, “Ain’t Gonna Bump No More (With No Big Fat Woman)”

Wired by cursive or by typing or by keyboarding?

We all know that having to explain things in writing helps you clarify your thinking and helps you remember facts. Well at least for most of us. Good writers, that is those with good handwriting, have better grammar and better test scores or so say education researchers in a recent NYTimes article.

However, another handwriting expert, Albany -based Kate Gladstone, is quoted as saying “that while a student needs to jot down 100 legible words a minute to follow a typical lecture, someone using print can manage only 30. ‘That’s fine for class,’ she said, ‘if the class is first grade.'”

I was sent a reference to the NYTimes article (which is heavily discussed on the blog Collision Detection) by the person who has the worst handwriting, does the most compulsive note-taking, and is the single fastest typist of anyone I know.

Where does that leave the rest of us? Those of us who never managed even a C in penmanship as it was called back in the day. Those of us who were required to take typing in what was called “junior high.” Those of us who were forbidden to take any classes in creative writing or journalism until we had completed two semesters of typing. Those of us who have tried to become poets instead of novelists because we can’t imagine writing more that 5000 words on anything — and having to edit our own writing. Those of us so dyslexic that any grouping of letters seem like they might be an actual word if we could just work out the anagram in front of us.

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