Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Summary of Appearing to Study Particle Physics

    Appearing to Study Particle Physics is a narrative, not a textbook.  The appeal of its resemblance to academic curriculum is in its refusal to take itself seriously while moderately presenting the academic content promised by its labels.  The first segment focuses on Physics but is largely not technical in nature, and entirely non-mathematical.  "De-constructing Quarks," tells the story of Dr. Jeremy Wraxtiorre trying to defend a sociology-based history of the development of the Quark theories while I (in the role of first-person narrator) was trying to read it--and constantly complaining about how much I didn't understand it.

"Dissing Economics" is a continuation of the narrative, following Dr. Jeremy Wraxtiorre as he attempts to explore another topic of academics.  The scenes play out as silly, unrelated and disrespectful for the first seven chapters, but the added chapters take place in a lecture hall actually discussing key points of several economic theories--as presented by a topless secretary who eventually reveals that she has ghost-written all the textbooks her boss has been praised for.

"Misguided Notions of Internet Journalism" is a mockery of Youtube video journalism--and by extension of TV photojournalism in general.  However, its academic content seems to focus more on theories of media presentation, more attuned to page layout and internet marketing strategies.  It also discusses the scattered writings from my Yahoo!Answers days, including the Stoic Cat and Cartoon Dog stories.  Story-wise, it portrays the beginning of the efforts to get St. Sixedog out of the hospital.

"Against Conspiracy Theorists" is also a mere continuation of the narrative, with much of the dialogue provided by research from an actual student of conspiracy theories.  He was a bit displeased with my portrayal, partly because of the embellishments which play up the madness of the conspiracy theorist's behaviors, but also partly because I portrayed conspiracy theory studies in a negative light.  My defense was that it would appeal to non-conspiracy theory readers, and yet present the content to those who wouldn't have approached conspiracy theory studies otherwise.

"Inappropriate Pictures in Hospital Walls" portrays the reunion of the Itinerant Philosopher with St. Sixedog, and presents the discussions of Descartes, Wittgenstein, and mysticism.  The second chapter needed to be revised for legal reasons--the pictures used in the blog to enhance the context were permitted in the non-profit environment of the blogosphere, but I could not justify the costs of licensing them for the publication of the book.  The revisions played up the fact that images were present in the text, but have been removed. (And no, I will not name-drop the source of the pictures.)

"Misguided Notions of Journalistic Intent" presents the proper closure of the storyline, pitting Dr. Wraxtiorre against his friends in a Reality TV show.  Meanwhile, the dynamics of Reality TV as a component of society are discussed in some detail, as well as the dynamics of society as a public sphere.

"Unrelated Content" is an arrangement of separate articles, essays, and poems, forming a coda for the story line.  The much-praised slap-in-the-face essay, "Hermagorus Forgotten" is here, as are the popular articles, "On the Winners of Wars," "De-Moralizing the Ego-Centric Optimist," and "Unpublishable Content."  The notorious Yahoo Answers text "Morsel Transcendentalism and the Challah Metophor" has been greatly expanded and rewritten but maintains its hostilely anti-transcendentalist tone.  The charming poems in "The Pumpkinification of Brash" are included, as well as the new "Poems Best Left Unwritten," and the controversial "Regressive Traits of Anal Hominids."

In The Appendix, I presented the complete text of "The Behemoth Saga," expanded from its original drafts and interpolated with the Street-date Announcements from this blog.  It is important to stress that The Behemoth Saga is the actual beginning of this book's story. The Stoic Cat and Cartoon Dog Stories from my Yahoo!Answers days are arranged in a sequence, along with several significant texts from Yahoo!Answers, and some of the blog-prefaces for these article-series when I had written them online--well, there's also an acknowledgements and a bibliography as well.

The beginning of the value of this book is the joke of being seen reading it in public, because it is clearly not about physics--so you really are only pretending to study particle physics.  Once you become comfortable with reading a book that is not really about physics, it is a delightfully silly romp, interlaced with some academic content, some philosophical discussion, and a bit of challenging complexity, but not much--until the end.  The book will become available at Amazon.com soon, but it is already available at Lulu.com!

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