Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Society of Dead (and very alive) Poets


As my semester comes to a close (and I write my final paper before the holidays), I recall the classic Robin William's film, Dead Poet's Society. Yes, it is a white tale - a rich, traditional, canonized white man's tale - but I'm thinking about its merits, anyway.

Keating challenges the space of the classroom, and as a result he is let go of his job. Still, the respect his students have for him is obvious. For him, language and words aren't contained and constrained by the banners presented at the beginning of the film. He teaches his students to be alive, and being alive is far from what the elders in this tribe want.

While I comb through course readings trying to figure out whether or not the educational field can ever be a science (well, at least English, anyway), I'm reminded of the scene where Robin William's tears out the pages of the textbook during a lesson on poetry. That scene, and that scene alone, is at the heart with my frustrations in academia. I doubt that words: poetic, fictionalized, autobiographical, editorial, etc. are meant to be scrutinized in the scientific method. Even so, that is what my readings at SU will have me believe.

No, to Carpe Diem, one needs to tap into heart and soul. My subject area is not one to be studied in a petri dish or under a microscope. It is not the work of scientists. It is the work of artists.

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