Ah, the problem of opening one's big mouth is having to explain all
one's cavities. Like Jamie, I will respond more carefully later, perhaps
when a few more people have jumped in, so I hope these brief responses
suffice to keep something going.
>I'll jump into this more thoughtfully at a later date, but for now, two points
>I'd like to make to Anthony.
>1. I'm interested that you'd use a common, shared forum to indicate your
>"dread" of "the idea of" of common, shared culture. You ask "which
>poetry, whose culture?" Two answers: One: As long as we live in
>communities, it will be the poetry and the culture of our communities.
>Two: The best poetry from all cultures.
This CASLL list is a common forum frequently used, as now, to explore
differences. The dread I feel has to do with the end of debate, the
bland oppression of consensus. I'm all for access to discussions and
displays of difference, and I don't think the purpose of this or other
forums is to erase or even necessarily to reduce difference; instead, I
think the purpose is to create some new ideas - that is, to make rather
than remove difference. I think of culture, like knowledge, as a process
rather than a product. Do we have to go back to "In Flander's Field" to
consider the horror of war? There are immigrants and refugees coming to
Canada on a daily basis who are escaping from some war somewhere. This
multiple, fragmented, contradictory, ever-changing culture we live in
will not stand still long enough to allow the shaping of a "common"
culture, and for that I am extremely grateful.
>2. I'm interested that you, who have gained so much from acting, would
>be "thankful that students do not have to memorize poetry."
>Sometimes it seems to me that canon bashers are the same people who
>have benefited a good deal from being exposed to a tradtional canon.
>Anthony, without some common culture, how do citizens in a polity work
>toward (or even engage in) a civil society? And what the heck is wrong
>with knowing some poetry by heart?
I am not sure why you are linking the memorization of poetry to acting.
I chose to be in plays, and once the choice was made I memorized the
lines so I wouldn't look like a complete idiot as I stood on stage in
tights. Seriously, though, I'm not sure why you've linked the two. I
despised having to memorize poetry and, along with other force-feeding
techniques, memorization made me despise poetry and all the high
culture it was associated with in my schooling and the adult society
that foisted it on me. I loved the theatre and memorization was simply
one of the steps necessary. In fact, although I had most of King Lear
memorized just over a year ago, I have forgotten pretty well all of it
now. It was a strictly utilitarian move: I needed the lines to do
something else I was interested in. Same reason I've learned just about
eveything of value that I know. And I have learned to love poetry, but
only after I quit high school because I hated the "benefit" of a forced
exposure to THE canon.
Anyway, I'll shut up now.