A poem I wrote some time ago when in a joking mood. It's somewhat Kit-Smart-ish in style, although, of course, it is mock serious in tone.
A Graduate Student Thinks of Footnotes
There is a power and a danger in footnotes. Amen.
For the footnote is a text of its own, and is not.
And the loosening of this paradox has loosened many minds.
For they have grown churlish with useless detail.
For detail like coral builds up into great reefs of madness.
For many minds have been shipwrecked by their own footnotes.
And many minds have thereby been put out to sea.
And footnotes, like coffee, add nothing to learning but are addictive to those who learn.
So avoid footnotes, my child, like Pythagoreans beans.
For they both cast out the Spirit and are an affront to number.
For they exceed the bounds of the discussion.
For they are απειρον.
And they are disruptive to the reasonable order of plot and argument.
And many more have been led into folly by footnotes than by strange women.
For the footnote is taken as a license for promiscuous thought.
For the standards of the footnote are not the standards of the discourse.
And many have said things in footnotes of a stupidity they would not pronounce in the text.
So, my child, in life and in word, learn that footnotes lead away from the way.
And that silence is golden even for fools. Amen.