While working on my paper, I’ve been attempting to use the many typos in Zulus as an example of the novel resisting attempts to be analyzed with guidebooks or archives. Every time I type a sentence, however, I get caught up in wondering what the purpose could have been at all. I’ve assumed there’s some thematic meaning to the typos; in class, we brought up the possibility that they are purposeful results of Alice endlessly reliving the story. No matter how many great theories we think of, however, it’s likely that we will never know for sure what Percival Everett’s purpose was in writing in all of these typos. Honestly, we don’t even know that they aren’t just a mistake on the publisher’s part. Although this uncertainty is great in that it supplies a decent example for my paper, it’s also a bit frustrating. As much as readers analyze and theorize about some texts, we may never be able to understand the author’s thought processes.

This uncertainty isn’t confined to literature. I’ve seen it in a variety of disciplines; in percussion, there’s a maddening sequence of quintuplets I have to play while everyone else in the group is playing a conflicting rhythm. Although I assume this conflict contributes to the meaning of the piece, it’s similar to Zulus in that I will never be able to know for sure. Maybe the composer just hates the bells and thinks it’s amusing to throw the player off. Maybe he was bored while writing the piece and arbitrarily decided to complicate some of the rhythms. The point is, I’ll never know the answer but must keep working with what I’m given. Texts also create uncertainty in disciplines such as the sciences, where it’s traditionally believed that objectivity and facts lead to absolute confidence. My roommate is a biology major who often complains that her guidebooks and archives – textbooks and practice questions – don’t supply the guidance she is looking for when studying for a test or working on a lab. Even though my paper focuses on Zulus, it can also be considered interdisciplinary in nature because the conflict between guidebooks and the object of study is present in many areas. Uncertainty is not confined to confusing English books.

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