Bad Ideas

A Thesis by Adeline Manson

May, 2016

Eugene Lang College The New School for Liberal Arts. New York, New York

Literary Studies, Writing Concentration – Nonfiction Track

For his guidance and patience, I offer my sincerest gratitude to Professor Alexander Halberstadt .



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Below: a brief critical description


Bad Ideas is an interdisciplinary study of mourning. Mourning is located in several matrices and operates on nonlinear time. February, the initial metaphor, is immediately enlarged – ascribed a physical place – only to be broken down to its Ancient Roman roots. This process of continual construction and deconstruction is mimicked narratively, formally, and metaphorically throughout the text. In how many directions can a single root diverge, and how large can the ensuing blossoms grow before each petal returns to soil?

Addressed in the second person, the reader is asked to inhabit February’s world: mourning, amending, unknowingness, failure, regression, forgiveness. However, the second person slowly reveals an address to an elusive character; it is for this elusive character Bad Ideas ultimately mourns.

While citations of other authors anchor the text to its influences and propel its narrative, the photos serve to orient a time, situate a place, or enhance a tone. A screenshot of a cursor scrolling through a YouTube clip of Allen Ginsberg reading “Kaddish” locates the brief moment in which Bad Ideas was written while simultaneously referring to an ancestry. The pairing of text and image, especially the uncanny stock images of flowers, candles, or conch shells, helps deconstruct any potential sense of aura. The more successful this deconstruction, the more alienated the reader and text become from one another.

Fragments of text vary in length, testing linguistic boundaries and the capacity of association. At times these boundaries are exceeded and the text is less than successful. Such failures are not intentional.