A Self-Referential Story

One of my freshmen recently submitted a paper about how to overcome writer’s block.  It reminded me of this story, which I came across many years ago and was able to find again fairly quickly with Google. Fun stuff.

The purpose of this sentence (which can also serve as a
paragraph) is to speculate that if the Declaration of
Independence had been worded and structured as lackadaisically and incoherently
as this story has been so far,
there’s no telling what kind of warped libertine society
we’d be living in now or to what depths of decadence the
inhabitants of this country might have sunk, even to the
point of deranged and debased writers constructing irritatingly cumbersome and
needlessly prolix sentences that sometimes possess the questionable if not
downright undesirable quality of referring to themselves and they sometimes even
become run-on sentences or exhibit other signs of inexcusably sloppy grammar
like unneeded superfluous redundancies that almost certainly would have
insidious effects on the lifestyle and morals of our impressionable youth, leading
them to commit incest or even murder and maybe that’s why
Billy is strangling his mother, because of sentences just like this one, which
have no discernible goals or perspicuous purpose and just end up anywhere, even in

Bizarre. A sentence fragment. Another fragment.
Twelve years old. This is a sentence that. Fragmented.
And strangling his mother. Sorry, sorry. Bizarre. This.
More fragments. This is it. Fragments. The title of this
story, which. Blond. Sorry, sorry. Fragment after frag-
ment. Harder. This is a sentence that. Fragments. Damn
good device.

The purpose of this sentence is threefold: (1) to apologize for the unfortunate and
inexplicable lapse exhibited by the preceding paragraph; (2) to assure you, the
reader, that it will not happen again; and (3) to reiterate the
point that these are uncertain and difficult times and that
aspects of language, even seemingly stable and deeply rooted
ones such as syntax and meaning, do break down. This sentence adds nothing
substantial to the sentiments of the preceding sentence but merely provides a
concluding sentence to this paragraph, which otherwise might not have one.

This sentence, in a sudden and courageous burst of
altruism, tries to abandon the self-referential mode but
fails. This sentence tries again, but the attempt is doomed
from the start.– David Moser