I am the idiot whose job it’s far to instill in those folks, in only some weeks, now not handiest an appreciation for Emily Dickinson’s poetry however additionally an capacity to write approximately it. And the process is so invigorating that I sense like I’m getting away with something, that at any minute some match will appear in my workplace annoying that I perform a undertaking as repetitious and thankless as the manufacturing unit work that consumed a median of 4 a long time of my loved ones’ lives. There are moments, though, when the anti-literary climate leads me to wonder whose undertaking is extra Sisyphean—my father running the same device inside the identical building for years, or my preaching Emily Dickinson to the same degree of resistance and apathy for years.
Most mornings I watch a couple of minutes of Ken Burns’s eleven-hour The Civil War, sobbing into my Cheerios at the poetic diction and figurative capacities of even the maximum irascible politicians and stupefied infantrymen. Alas, the generation of knowing Shakespeare through childhood was earlier than my time. Research shows that the countrywide vocabulary is shrinking, and the language seems to be dealt new blows each day in the interest of business culture, from the advertising shorthand of shops named EZ-Save and eating places hawking Stuft Burritos to the deadening use of superb and modern when describing facial cleansers and paper towels. To combat all this, I try to whip my students right into a frenzy, imparting our global as deadlocked in a crisis of dulled belief and restricted articulation.
My college students are greatly surprised to be anticipated to study or produce greater than a valid chew. Hundreds of them have claimed to be not able to generate three pages on any subject, but you couldn’t convince them that there are deficiencies of their global of surfaces. They depend on pictographs, like cavemen, and the conversations I overhear within the hallway are ceremonies of largely nonverbal calls and responses: “S’Weekend?” “Uhhn.” “Guh?” “Hrrn.” “Tch.” Since we already supposedly think and compose in spatial correlation to the eight-by means of-11 sheet of paper, or the scale of our computer screens, I fear the effect of such tiny gadgetry as hand-held conversation devices. Will sentences come to be brittle speech-turds? “Beer?” “Tonight?” “Shoes first-rate.” “Help no.” “Good sure.”