The Counterfeiters: An Historical Comedy

The Counterfeiters: An Historical Comedy

The Counterfeiters: An Historical Comedy

The Counterfeiters: An Historical Comedy

Excerpt

This book is about the familiar world, three cross-sections of which yield the following:

(1) Counterfeiting . Undergraduates used to affront the System by staging a juxtaposition, inventively incongruous: the horse in the bedroom, the Chevy in the lobby, the cow in the bell-tower. But today's fashion is to create a nonexistent student, who by outwitting the System's punchcards may be carried from Freshman English to Senior Math (Phys Ed being the dangerous salient) and at last installed, in full Bachelorhood, on the Alumni mailinglists. There is scarcely an academy in the country where this folk art of IBM man has not been attempted.

(2) Phosphorescent Quotation . It was long supposed that a politician was best mocked by parody: by isolating traits and exaggerating them. But in the mid-1950's satirists discovered that to mock Dwight Eisenhower it was sufficient to quote him verbatim. Nor was this a function of presidential dyslexia; for in 1961 verbatim excerpts proved John Kennedy's press conferences to be indistinguishable in detail from those of the previous regime. It is now commonplace to remark of a wide range of phenomena that they "parody themselves." Pop art--the contrived application of this principle--was a product of the Kennedy period.

(3) Connoisseurship . Antiques were once sought out because they embodied a timeless authority of design sup-

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