by: Jonathan Marcantoni
An idiosyncratic introduction to an educational program aimed at enlivening the business of literature…
Radio static flips through several channels before settling on one with blaring horns and a rapid fire announcer…
Announcer: For those seeking the meaning of life in billboards and car magazines, have you ever considered that maybe there is more to this world, more to your job, your plans, your marriage, the breath in your lungs or even the beat of your heart? There is an answer, but it won’t be found in paying an overpriced membership to an organization full of people you dislike. You will see that your so-called saving grace leads to the complete abandonment of well-established principles, of moral prostitution, and you will feel even more alone, more confused, and more maligned, and in time you will see that all along your perception of success was a fraud. There is no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. There is only pain. PAIN!
And now, a word from our sponsor…
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Announcer: Keesler Nuts, promoting arrested development in grown men since 1935!
Radio static as the channels flip, producing quick snippets of rock, hip-hop, pop, salsa, country, and talk radio. The dial stops on a news station….
News Anchor: At a press conference today, YouNiversity founders Jonathan Marcantoni and Chris Campanioni addressed the recent accusations that their mentorship program is a front for an extensive criminal network that includes convincing young people to take out loans and travel cross-country without paying them, training child soldiers to overthrow foreign governments, trafficking in Persons across the Mona Channel to Puerto Rico, running Modeling Houses where men are exploited for their looks and coerced into prostitution, random acts of vandalism, robbing banks for thrills, and perhaps most damning of all, cultivating terrorist cells targeting tourist traps around the world. We go now, live, to the press conference in New York.
A cacophony of people yelling out questions and cameras clicking reverberates throughout the room…
Mr. Marcantoni: One at a time people!
Mr. Campanioni: Yes, you in the front.
Reporter #1: Mr. Campanioni, do you have any comment on the accusation that your “Treatise on Time”1 is overinflated and contradictory and that the YouNiversity has twisted your concepts into a misanthropic cry for help? That you have latched onto the infamous concept, “Time is a flat circle” and as such, doomed a generation to believing it is okay to bomb tourist traps in the name of finding meaning?
Mr. Campanioni: First of all, who sent you? Second of all, time isn’t a flat circle, it’s a (beep) oval, and we traverse it at our own risk.
Mr. Marcantoni: If I might add, time is a fixed object which only seems to progress due to our being within it, the opposite of the effect of global movement. Only when we detach from time’s enigma can we see that all of existence is, in fact, stagnant. Next question.
Reporter #2: Mr. Marcantoni, how do you respond to reports that you have been propping up guerrilla movements in the Caribbean with the help of a known trafficker and smuggler who goes by the name of Ilan2?
Reporter #3: Are you El Chapín3?
Mr. Marcantoni: One at a time, Jesus! This isn’t a circus, people. To answer your question, El Chapín is within all of us. It is the spirit of those who wish to mold the world to benefit the many instead of the few. Next question.
Reporter #4: Mr. Campanioni, do you have any comment on “The Chris Selden4 Event” that ended with blood and whipped cream balloons exploding all over unwitting victims, and interpreted as a message from the Situationist International?
Mr. Campanioni: Yes, you have all been lying to yourselves for too long. The status quo cannot hold, and SI will no longer stand idly by while corporate forces delude the population into thinking this life is any more than a dream of itself. We need to wake up, and whether you call it SI or YouNiversity, the purpose is the same.
Reporter #4: Then the accusations are true?
Mr. Campanioni: What is true is that if we want any sort of change in this world, we have to be bold. We can’t expect people to make a difference while walking around like zombies staring at their smart phone. This technology, and those like it, promote distractions that keep us from using them as tools. It will be the artists, as it has been since the beginning of time, who will bring about a new awareness, and this starts, we believe, with the YouNiversity.
Mr. Marcantoni: What you all have experienced is a mass conspiracy to de-legitimize our movement. What you call crimes, we call acts of imagination. Our students are merely pursuing the creation of worlds as wondrous and dangerous as their minds will take them.
Reporter #1: So you are using the South Park Defense, from the “Imaginationland” episodes?
Mr. Marcantoni: Excuse me?
Reporter #1: That what we imagine is real, and therefore our imagination has consequences outside of the mind.
Mr. Campanioni: This press conference is over.
Static fades in and out as we pass by several pop music and Indian music channels, stopping once again on the Announcer, speaking over a rapid conga beat….
Announcer: Do you believe that the stories we have been told about our future are correct, or is there something more profoundly fulfilling awaiting us? If only we could break the mold of what the “Culture Industry”5 has laid out to convince us that our freedom is bought by our purchasing power. Literature has no bounds, no codes, only free-thought manifested through the Word; the Word that seeks to reinvent the status quo in the image of the artist. It is up to each of us to listen to the wisdom that endures within you, that brings with it the ability to create worlds, and make them known to others to connect and be connected to if….
The music abruptly stops and a voice speaks urgently over the silence….
Voice: Are you lost? Are your dreams pulling away from you under the weight of your responsibilities? Do you seek to be an artist in a world that undervalues you? Then join us at the YouNiversity. Develop your skills. Make connections. Make your presence known online and in life. Your world is the one you create, so whatever you do, don’t make yourself a slave in your own kingdom. Join us today.
The YouNiversity is a multimedia mentorship program geared toward educating aspiring writers on the business, promotional, networking, and creative aspects of pursuing a career as a writer. For more information on the YouNiversity, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- “Treatise on Time” is a description of the soon to be released book Fashion of the Seasons by Chris Campanioni, which is a series of short stories and philosophical musings centered on the concept of time and our emotional, mental, and physiological relation to it. [↩]
- The protagonist of Jonathan Marcantoni’s novel, The Feast of San Sebastian. [↩]
- El Chapin is a character based on Che Guevara who appears in Jonathan Marcantoni’s soon-to-be novel, Tristiana. [↩]
- The protagonist of Chris Campanioni’s novel, Going Down. [↩]
- “Culture industry” is a term used by Chris Campanioni in his books to describe the industry that has developed worldwide to exploit culture – mostly in reference to popular culture such as music and movies, as well as fashion and exploitable cultural customs (such as folk dance and crafts) and historical sites. [↩]