The Perpetual Three-Dot Column
The Perpetual Three-Dot Column
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

by Jesse Walker

Tuesday, January 16, 2007
column for Reason is a tribute to Robert Anton Wilson.

In further tribute, here's an excerpt from one of his early articles, a memoir of a job at a schlocky tabloid:
The staff would have a bull session each Monday morning and work out 15 or 20 ideas for the next issue. "Say, how about this," somebody would cry. "Mad Hunchback Sells Hunch to Butcher/Woman Poisoned by Hunchburger?"

"Nah," the editor would say, "Too far out in left field."

"How about, 'Vice Squad Cop Catches V.D. From Prosti­tute He Arrested'? "

"Great, " the editor would reply, "We'll use that one."

And so another "news" story would be born. I often reflected that we represented the next stage in journalism, after The New York Times. The Times merely alters and selects facts to fit a particular political line. We invented our facts on the spot, a much more creative process. If it is the destiny of man to "transcend mere reason and empiricism," and to "achieve a rebirth of myth and magic," as many modern philosophers think, I can safely claim that we schlockscribes in our grubby offices were doing more to further that end than the Times.

I soon discovered that my predecessor on the men's pulps had applied the same formula: "Woman Gives Birth to Pup­pies" appeared in the tabloid; "Women Who Have Given Birth to Animals" had appeared several issues back in one of the men's pulps. A girl who regularly had intercourse with a dog­ – a spectacle she performed for money in a Mexican whore­house – had "worn down her immunity" to dog sperm and thus became impregnated. The pulp archly stated that the story had appeared "in several Mexican newspapers" but that "some doc­tors" claim it is impossible. The tabloid picked it up without any reservations. Folklore students of the future will have to wade through tons of this schlock in stalking down the origins of various contemporary folktales.

The schlock-sex field is much tougher than schlock-crime or schlock-ESP. "This is kind of tame," the publisher, or schlock­fuehrer, would say occasionally. Since he fired one person every week without fail (and thus kept us all in that half-mad kind of frenzy necessary to the production of true schlock), this remark would spread terror throughout the factory. We would outdo ourselves with "Teen-Age Sex Club Seduces Parents" or "Wolf-Men Who Drink Blood for Lust." Then, the schlockfuehrer would come around again, looking worried. "Take out 'cunni­lingus,' " he would say (referring to a factual story, for once, about a crusader for sexual freedom), "you gotta be careful in this business. "

My predecessor, I discovered while going through back is­sues, had named one model "Senora Maria Theresa Fellatia" and said she was waiting for an appointment "with her phy­sician, Dr. Cunnilingua." Somehow, this one went through. It is altogether possible that the publisher didn't know either of those words at the time.

posted by Jesse 1:48 PM
. . .

. . .

For past entries, click here.

. . .