A Supposedly Scary Thing

I’m working on an essay for my writing class right now about “authority” as a writer’s tool, and how excessive use of technical jargon is a short-cut of sorts for an author to establish “authority.”  One of the examples of this that I’m referring to in the paper is DFW’s essay, “Rhetoric and the Math Melodrama.”  There’s a point where he begins exploring the average person’s fear of math and the associated nightmares, and it reminds me of my worst math nightmares–which actually aren’t all that bad (and only occur the night before I had math exams in school):

I’m usually sitting in a desk in the middle of a boarded up classroom.  I’m taking a math test.  Zombies are breaking into the room and eating other students.  I think to myself, “Well, shit, I’d better finish this test,” in the same way one might think, “Well, shit, I’d better pay this parking ticket or the fine doubles.”

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