Monday, July 9

A modest proposal as regards education

Turns out having more free time in the summer does not necessarily translate into more blog posting. I don't even intend for this to be much of a post. Am, however, pressing on with my short fiction. Sorry if you were greatly anticipating whenever I said I would have a rough draft up, but yeah. As you can see, that didn't happen. Instead, I am now opting to work on four stories simultaneously. Quadruple the fun, that is, if I get them to a point I like.

To get to the title of this particular post and away from my less interesting plans, I would like to propose that the classic works in all the arts, from creation and criticism, to journalism, be given less attention at all levels, excepting 300- and 400-level undergraduate classes and all graduate programs. but the highest levels of education. In their place, absolutely abysmal works should be presented. I'm thinking Catwoman alongside Kubrick's best and soft-core grocery store porn in between Vonnegut and Updike.

Besides the fact that these sorts of things have their own quirky charm for me, I feel I do have a couple of legitimate reasons for this call. First of all, how are you supposed to judge the highest summits attained when you don't have no idea what it's possible to scrape off the bottom. Freshman year of high school, Shakespeare was really underwhelming. A playwright and poet popular enough to warrant his own section at Barnes and Noble really did nothing for me. I could appreciate that he has a way with words, but that's about it. How could I respect a man when I have no idea what drivel he rose above and continues to do so? Just a little context would be nice.

For people with aspirations in some art or another who have finally realized how great some of these people and their creations are, there is an opposite problem. They/I become overwhelmed. The screw-me-because-I-have-no-chance-of-measuring-up-to-them-in-any-possible-way mindset takes hold. Seeing the lazy/insipid/uninspired attempts of other artists serves to mediate this feeling a bit. Besides, good art typically only reveals competence. Those artists we still study today are the revolutionaries. Holding up their works as the greatest the world has e'er seen will inspire more imitators than true artists. Show the budding writer a lifetime of cliches and the young composer something that has been done a hundred times before, and let them run wild, knowing what not to do.

1 comment:

Emmett said...

I like the idea, but I think I would get real sick of going through sophomore year still studying the bad ones. Could you scale it back; just have English 101 be a comparison between Tolstoi and Tom Clancy? War and Peace vs. Patriot Games?