Margerye Kempe at the Feest of MLA
Gentil rederes, ayen ich crave yower pardoun. Of late, ich haue ben busier than Britney Spearses PR agentes. Many dayes haue passed sithen ich haue last y-blogged. But for to yiven yow sum mattir for redyng, ich haue a text of gret sentence to share, thogh nat by me ywrit. Ich haue many freendes across thys gret erthe and oftimes thei sende me their werkes and such. Oon of hem ys a ladye of much spirituale knowledge who oft writeth of her aventures. She hath sent me thys her latest tretys, the which speketh of a straunge festival ycleped MLA, be it of fayerye or of devilrye ich knowe nat. Ich nam nat no theologien, nor nam ich a mystique lyk my freend Margery. Ich shal poost her boke heere and ye maye maken yower owen interpretaciouns.
Date: 3 Janvier
From: KEMPE, MARGERYE (firstname.lastname@example.org)
To: GEOFFREY CHAUCER, M.P, J.P., D. D. S. (email@example.com)
Re: MY MOOST FRESHE AND NEWE TRETYS ON MLA - FOR YOWER BLOGGE
(Ye maye just poost the text belowe. My loue to Lowys and Philippa and Thomas.)
Here begynnyth a schort narracioun for synful wrecches, of the gret merci that ower Lord Christ Jhesu did unto a synful caytyf at the rite of MLA amonges the paynims and the scolers of blakke magick. (Thys synful caytyf and creatur is callid Margerye Kempe and her bookes can be yfounde in many fyne scryvyneres shoppes).
In the seson of Cristemasse, thys pore creatur and caytyf did fynd herself in a straunge launde. For sche had maad passage to Ba'alt-Ymoor, the which citee she thoghte was yn the launde of the Sarazines ner the citee of Jerusalem. And she had gret compuncion and wepynge for the synfulness of her ignorance of geographie, for Ba'alt-Ymoor was in no wyse close to tho placez wher ower Lorde dyed on cross, but was in sted across a gret see and ytself was a place of passinge foulness wher ffolke did etyn only of the crabbes that walked on the floor of the bay Chesupyk and did watch the filmes of Johannes des Eaux (Pink Flamingoes did frighten her gretly). And thys creatur was sore afreyd of the synneres of that place and so sche went forth northewardes on the heighway XCV. Yet the way was long and her feet ached swich that she threw off her manohlo blahnikes and sat by the syde of the heigh way wepynge. And this was on the feest of Seynt John. As thys creatur lay in contemplacyon, sor wepynge for the peyne of her feet sche prayid to ower lorde for deliverance from this launde. And ower lorde seyde to her, “A, dowter, why wepest thou for the peyne of thy feet for thou knowst how soore my owene feet were woundid on mount calvarie? And therfor to bringe the to spiritual helth and contemplacioun I shal sende thee on a desperaat tryal and a terribil oon amonges devils and hir ministeres and necromanceres. For thou shalt fynde a tan volvo that schal be ful of clerkes and thes clerkes shall taak thee to the moost terribil place on al the erthe.” And the creatur seyde, “A, Lord, what ys this place so terribil?” And the lord seyde to her, “It is callid MLA.” And ther cam gret thundirkrakkys – thogh cleer was the daye – in the maner of a film of James Cameron.
And right so it befel in dede that a volvo did pulle up and a voys from it seyd, “You going to Philadelphia?” And thys creatur seyd, “I go to MLA,” and the voys seyde that MLA was part of Philadelphee and thus sche cam with hem. And in the volvo was a cumpany of thre yonge scolers, to wit I woman and II men. And thys creatur spak to them and seyd, “Tell me what maner ffolk ye aren.” And oon the men seyd, “My dissertation addresses the pressing question of the relation of the Owl and the Nightingale to the paradoxes of materiality and to changing ideas of spirituality at the same time that it questions what I would call outmoded models of allegoresis. Essentially, I propose that this heavily mediated text engages with debate poetry not as a generic exemplar but rather vis-a-vis an interstitial combination of truth claims and bestiary passages about cephalopods.” And thys creatur was soore confusid, and sche prayid to ower lord and wepid gret teares for the passioun of the child Jesu who had been born in a maunger to taak awey the synnes of all ffolke and also to deliver her from MLA. And alle the cumpany did wepe with her vntil the ladye who drof the van schouted at the oothirs and seyd, “Could you please be quiet? I’m trying to listen to the sparknotes for ‘Beloved.’” And thys creatur knewe litel of thes wyse clerkes wyth whom sche travilid and she askid what maner ffolk thei weren. Oon the men was named Genderstudyes and the othir man was named Medievaliste and the woman was named Americaniste-but-really-Faulknerstudyes. And thei were from Bigresearchuniversitee.
Than thys creatur and her felawshep cam to Philadelphee wher thys MLA did stonde. And Sir Genderstudyes seyd that al the cumpany scholde be herberwyd in I room togedyr and this creatur assentid for sche had but litel goold. And thei took hostelrie at a gret paleys called the Merry Ott and thys creatur seyde, “Forsooth thys name ys contrarie to the wordes of ower lorde for we oughten nat be merrye but rather we oughten be sadde for ower synnes.” And Sir Medievaliste seyde, “That’s pretty Robertsonian of you.” And thei cam to the room and sche had gret feere for her chastitee but eftsoon sche saw that the yonge clerkes cared oonlie for lamentaciouns and for gret studye of manye smal pieces of paper and the seyinge of preieres yn quiet voys and sumtyme gret wepynge.
Thys caytyf had ben in many cumpanyes and in all of hem sche had ben the moost ful of wepynge and sorwe. But amonges the thre yonge clerkes, and amonges the othir yonge scolers in the Merry Ott, sche felt lyk the oonly cristen soul whos puppy had not given up the goost the day bifor. Trewely, thes yonge folk wyth hir lamentaciouns and hir gret vigiles and fastinges did semyn to be trewely greved by the synnefulness of the world. And thys creatur tryed to cryen and wepen wyth sumwhat greter force and yet sche stil semed to be right joyeful in comparaisun to thes scolers.
And thys creatur had grete wondir at the holiness of thes yonge clerkes, for thei weren nat full of pryde and vanitee as were the friares and bishoppes yn Engelonde who lyved in ese and wyth pleasaunce. And sche wondrid that Ower Lord had in his revelacyons to her seyde that MLA was a desperaat and terribil tryal, for to her it semed the oonlie place on erthe sche felt at hoom. And sche seyde to Ower Lord, “A, Lord, wherfor sholde I feere thes folke? For thei aren lyk the harlem globetrotteres of self-mortificacioun.” And Ower Lord seyde, “A, dowter, ask thes folke to what seyntes thei prayen and thou shalt see.”
Than sche askid the clerkes to which seyntes thei prayid, and nat oon seyde a holy cristen seynt. For sum seyd thei prayid to Seynt Agamben, and sum to Seynt Schischek, sum to Seynt Foucauld and sum to Seyntes Deleuse & Wauttaure, and sum to Seyntes Jamison and Egleton and eek sum to Seynt Blume. And lo thys creatur had gret feere and terror for thes weren nat holy cristen seyntes. Hir names weren al straunge and were nat writ in ony legendes of seyntez and thus thei weren assuredly the names of devylles and feendes of helle. And thes clerkes seyd thes devils gave hem grete powers for to undirstonden textes and to gloss hem, and also gave hem poweres to deconstructen thinges and to unpacken thinges and to see the privee menynges of wordes. Than the creatur knewe that al the semynge holiness of thes yonge clerkes was but devocioun to ower goostly enemy, and hir gret piles of papir were but devylles writtes and hir gret tomes weren but grimoyrez and bokes of necromancie. She tok hede to listen to the murmuringez of the clerkes, and thei al spak of “My dissertation addresses the pressing question of...” the which ys nat a prayer but an incantacioun. And than she fled doun-stayres to get a frappucino for she was so soore adraad so sche cam to the elevatours.
And yit thys creatur got out at the wronge floore for sche had so much drede, and sche found herself in an halle of the same lengthe and breadth as the halle aboue wher the room of her cumpanye was. And ther thys creatur saw II men clad in clokes, and oon wyth a laurer wreath vpon his heed wyth a mighti grand nose. And the othir did shimmer lyk vnto the proiection of Obi-Wan Kenobi that out of RII-DII’s holographick projector y-came – for it semed hys body was goostli. And thogh thes men spak nat on Englysche, Ower Lord gave her grace to undirstodyn hem. And yet thogh sche herd hir wordes, thei made but litel sense.
(he wyth the nose and laurer wreeth spak):
O great Mantuan, you who lead me through
This hosteltry of madness, at your will,
Do tell me what transgression these souls made
To be so foully ensepulchred here
Among such reams of paper and such cries-
Do we draw near to hell’s frost-covered core?”
(he who did flicker lyk a flourescent light yn the bathroom of a nightclubbe spak):
O Tuscan, at the gates of Albuquerque,
We should have leftwards turned our path, for see:
This is not that despairing pit we seek,
Only its earthly image, where the faction
Of those with suits and snappy colon titles
Comes to seek reward at price. Let’s go
And get some water-ice before we leave,
For in the miserable place we seek
The only snack is Ruggieri’s head,
And I could use a nosh.”
And as thys creatur stood in gret mervayle at thes men sche saw nat that a door had opened behind her. And a man yn a navy blue suit cam out of the door and addressid the creatur, saying, “Are you the twelve thirty?”
And the creatur seyd to hym, “Sir, I am afreyd of the folk heere and I prey yow nat be desplesyd yf I ask yow to take me into secrecee and safetee from the many cruel folke and necromanceres who are heere.”
And he laughed, “That’s one way of putting it. Please, come in.”
Than in the room thys creatur saw the two felawes of that man, and the man bad her sit vpon a smal chayre while he and the oothirs sat vpon a bed. And sche bigan again to be soore adrad, for thei also had many paperes and portfolios and semed to be necromanceres and clerkes of derke knowlech. And it semed thei wolde interviewyn her, and sche was basicallye freakinge out and hyperventilatinge. Owr mercyful Lord, spekyng in hir mind, blamyd hir of hyr fear, seying, "Why dredist the? Why art thu so aferd? I am as myghty her at MLA as in the paleys of a Bishoppe or in the land of Judee. Why wilt thou mistrustyn me? Suffyr paciently a while and have trost in my mercy. Wavyr nowt in thy feith and answir all questions quicklye and honestli and make sure to emphasyze thy research.”
And the man in the suit put doun hys papirs and portfolios and seyd, “I’m very sorry, but we seem to have misplaced your CV. Could you please refresh us on your name?”
“I am a wrecchid synnere and a pore caytyf who seekes God. And for that sum call me a lollard and a heretik.”
“Okay Ms. Anda-Heretic. We were all very interested in your work; really, it’s very affecting. Could you tell us a little about your future plans?”
“I schal spekyn of God and chastise folk that sweryn gret oathes whersoevyr I go unto the tyme that the pope and holy chirche hath ordeynde that no man schal be so hardy to spekyn of God.”
And oon of the mannes felawes than seyd, “So you work on control of speech in religious discourse?”
“I praye that Ower Lord Jesu may grant me the grace of undirstondynge yower discourse, madam. And eek I wepe for synnes, rathir a lot of wepyng for ther are rathir a lot of synnes.”
“Okay. Well, could you describe for us your teaching style? How would you, say, teach a lesson about this religious discourse your project deals with?”
"I preche not, ser, I come in no pulpytt. I use but communicacion and good wordes, and that wil I do while I live."
“That’s great. It sounds very student-centered. Now, as you know, research is very important in this department. Do you have any plans for publication?”
“Sir, unworthy creatur thogh I am, I was oones charged that I schuld don wryten my felyngys and revelacyons, so that the goodnesse of Ower Lord might be knowyn to alle the world. And so I had it wryten doun by a man from Dewtchland and then a preest put it into Englysshe.”
“A book, really? You've got a book already?"
"Two, in feyth, sir."
"Well, that’s very impressive. Look, I know this isn’t supposed to be done, but I think I speak for all of the committee when we say that we’re very interested in your application. But we’ve had problems in the past when candidates couldn’t -- well, you know, they couldn't make their personal lives really fit with their plans. Now, you don’t have to answer this, but – what is your family situation?”
“I have a good man, a burgeys of the town of Lynne, to myn husbond.”
“Oh, overseas. That's - unfortunate. Do you think that will be a problem, you know, bringing him over?”
"I prey yow, ser, put me not among men, that I may kepyn my chastité. Myn husbond gaf me leve wyth hys owyn mowthe that I schold goon on pilgrimage and livyn out of hys presence."
“Well, Ms. Anda-Heretic...may I call you Alollard? I know this is quick, but I’d like to extend the invitation of a campus visit. You sound exactly like the kind of candidate we could do with at....”
And thus thys creatur now dwelleth at a universitee wher she giveth instruccion in the wayes of Ower Lord and sche ys called assistante professour. Her studentz drawen much edificacioun from her wepynge and her research assignmentz. And sche praiseth Ower Lord everich daie for he did deliver her from the necromanceres and the sorwe at the hostelrye of the Merry Ott and the derke rite of MLA, in the maner that he deliverid Danihel from the Liones Den and Jonah from the Whale and Sir Neville de Flynn from the Serpentes on a Shippe. And thos of the universitee scholde knowe that thys short tretys counteth as a publicacioun towardes tenure for it was blinde-peer-reviewede by II hooly eremites. Worschepyd be God. Amen.