I’m over halfway though my second semester of school and it occurs to me that I haven’t posted anything about my new classes. Time to remedy that, I guess.
I have two classes this semester that I didn’t have in the last one. They’re both English classes, one an Introduction to Prose and Fiction, the other a Reading Popular Culture class. Each class has its ups and its downs, the ups mostly being that they introduce me to new works and then discuss them. The downs being all the same stuff I’ve complained about in other posts about school.
I really don’t enjoy literary analysis. No, that’s not entirely accurate. I don’t enjoy doing literary analysis because I’m told to. If I read something and I’m struck with some opinion that I’d like to discuss, just try to stop me from sharing that opinion (and I’ve picked up plenty of things for writing such opinions in essay form that I quite appreciate). But in these classes you’re expected to force yourself to come up with some opinion and then dress it up like you’re not just doing some homework, but like you actually care. And, furthermore, you’re supposed to frame your essay as though you’re certain about this opinion you’re pretending to care about. You can’t say “I think John Authorington’s use of a radioactive lobster is pretty neat because he also used a giant red monster the other time Protagonist Joe was nervous. I wonder if there’s something to that. Let’s look at the evidence…” but you are absolutely expected to say “Authorington uses the radioactive lobster, and other red monsters, to represent Protagonist Joe’s nervousness FOR ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN JUST LOOK AT ALL THE PROOF…” I don’t care for that. I hate pretending that any of my opinions are absolute certainties even when I care about them. When I’m making up crap just to pass an assignment and I’m expected to act like I’m so committed, I feel terrible about that. At least if I could write about stuff I had an opinion on, I’d be able to at least put some gusto into my arguments.
I suppose the argument from the school’s point of view is that they’re trying to teach you how to do analysis of things you do care about, but they have to teach you somewhere. If you don’t find something to opine about in the works that the teacher is teaching, you can’t expect to get to switch to something the teacher doesn’t know just because that’s what you want to write about. My rebuttal is “Fart sound, middle finger, don’t care, shut up.” It’s the same thing that’s bothered me time and again: I don’t care if the school can tell if I’m learning, I care if I can tell that I’m learning. I know, I know. School doesn’t work that way, I know, but the fact that “school doesn’t work that way” is not a reason for me to stop complaining about it. It is, in fact, the reason I keep complaining about it.
These classes have got me to read a number of short stories and stuff, though, which has been nice. And a couple novels too. Tarzan of the Apes and Oroonoko. I might, conceivably, have wound up reading Tarzan someday, but I had never even heard of Oroonoko, so I’m glad I was introduced to it. I like reading books.