Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Two letters from my departmental mailbox

(1) A typewritten missive that reads
Dear Professor Cohen

Responding to your appearance on "Quest for Dragons" (HISTORY CHANNEL, 28 Mar. 06), what could be more perfect than to introduce a NEW dragon of light through Algebra as applied to the English language?

Nonsense, you say? Right: Lewis Carroll's (see, ABSTRACT).

Please understand, the BBC has INSTRUCTED me not to write to them again. Oxford University refused (or destroyed?) my last letter, 30 years ago, for which I was paid $1.00. DISNEY, Inc., wanted all Rights-and-Title signed over to them, no purchase! Etc.

Thank you for your time.

[Enclosed is about 30pp of material, mainly typewritten. The pages are numerated, though they jump around (p. 65 is the first, p. 1216 the second ...) Many include illustrations of Lewis Carroll, sometimes with one fingernail hand colored with red ink.]

(2) A handwritten letter that reads
Dear Literature Professor

Included in this is startling, although possibly inaccurate, new information about Abe Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., Babe Ruth, Gandhi, Stalin, Lenin, the Prophets, Madamme Curie, Eleanor Roosevelt and others. I am interested in your opinion. What I have written I am not sure should be published ... Here are copies of the pamphlets and leaflets I distributed soon after my last incarceration in a mental hospital. I distributed thousands of them on windshields and doorsteps.

[Enclosed is a xerox of many typed pages about reincarnation, filled with statements like "Stalin was the reincarnation of Braxton Bragg, the Civil War general" and "The female prophet has been Madame Curie the scientist, Sarah wife of Abraham, and Cleopatra." All in all the writings amount to a full blown cosmology.]

6 comments:

Just Another Traveler said...

How odd. Or perhaps not-so? We've been receiving the same type of letters (though mostly typed) addressed to our professors (seemingly with no concern for the prof's area of study). We received a letter recently stating that so-and-so was working on a historical novel and in the course of his research, he came across the word "southerly" and wanted to know its meaning. Who writes letters asking such things? Or better yet, who writes a novel and never bothers to employ a dictionary? Included with the letter was a packet of structural diagrams and blueprints (you know, just in case we needed a visual aid).

We've also have a recent incarceree who calls on a monthly basis asking for help in getting a MS published. By now, the main office secretary recognizes his called ID.

Anyway, glad to know we aren't the only department being spammed the old fashion way.

J J Cohen said...

"Spammed the old fashioned way" is right -- I didn't even realize that working manual typewriters were still to be found ... can you even buy ink ribbons for them anymore??

On the positive side, though, at least I don't have to worry about these letters I've posted being found by their authors via google searches.

JKW said...

Just out of curiosity, where were these old-fashioned spam messages from? Altoona? Long Island? Sarasota?

J J Cohen said...

Though they ultimately may have been sent from another planet or dimension entirely, both bore local postmarks and no return addresses. Telephone numbers were supplied to initiate contact.

JKW said...

Local postmarks? That's not good, man. You'd better start taking various routes home, and I'd suggest investing in some new hats and sunglasses...

Karl Steel said...

Rick Emmerson (Antichrist expert, for those not savvy to the profession) told me that he'd received a letter in the 80s trying to warn him that JFK was Antichrist and would return 33 years' after his (JFK's) assassination. Makes sense, right?

Well RKE wrote back, as he tells me, that: a) his expertise extended only to medieval Antichrist; b) if, in fact, JFK did return from the dead to rule the world in 1996, RKE would revise his Antichrist book accordingly.

I can't see any analogous maneuver for you, JJC. Too bad!

--

But of course, we know from McCain's new buddy Jerry Falwell that JFK couldn't be Antichrist, since Antichrist must be Jewish. And male.

--

JJC, looking forward, by the way, to wending my way through your D & G article in its entirety and leaving my little comment droppings: it's just I'm trying to push Chapter 2 over into submission, and the Wild Herdsman is giving me the screaming fantods.