So I am looking at this guy Scott’s site, and I check out his blogroll to get a sense of his constellation placement in great virtual universe, and I recognize about two: one of which is this site (yay!!), and the other is Michael Moore (boo!!). Who are the rest of these people? And then I realize he is a teacher, a LITERATURE teacher, and it all starts to fall into place (see the dormant Jeff Goldstein for a discussion of such things).
But then I read this lecture he gave to his students on the importance of being able to interpret literature:
- Because if you can’t do these things, if you can’t read a speech by a politician and see the various ways you’re being manipulated, being positioned, and being “played,” then (here it comes) you will be a victim of every politician and advertising executive you ever encounter.
But I’ve changed my mind. I no longer see this as the primary importance of classes like this one.
You see, I’ve come to a realization. I’ve had an epiphany. And here it is:
The reason it is important to learn to read and think critically about the various texts you encounter over the course of your life is, quite simply, so you don’t embarrass yourself in front of all your friends and loved ones by having Meatloaf’s “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad” (“I want you, I need you, but there ain’t no way I’m ever gonna love you…two out of three ain’t bad”) sung at your wedding. Or Extreme’s “More Than Words” (“yeah, yeah. You can say you love me all day long. Have sex with me, and I’ll know for sure.”) as your first dance. Or the Black Crowes’s “She Talks to Angels” (which no one seems to understand is a song about heroin–“She gets a smile when the pain comes / Pain’s gonna make everything alright”). Or Ben Folds Five’s “Brick” (which is about taking a girlfriend to get an abortion on the day after Christmas).
This, then, is why it is important to learn to read and interpret. Forget the political stuff. Don’t worry about citizenship. You don’t want to make a fool of yourself in a highly public manner.
As a former wedding DJ, I have steered people away from some of these very songs, and others even more inappropriate: thank goodness for my literary education.
I can’t decide if this speech is consummately cynical, ingeniously practical, or merely an expression of aesthetic taste, but I’ll bet it worked. This is not a pedagogic mind constrained by theory.
He even agrees with regime change (well, of President Bush, but what do you expect from a literature teacher?)