Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Oh, the fun of an "English Class"

It may seem oxymoronic, being a writer and all, but I never enjoyed “English Class”.  Back in high school, this covered lessons grammar, composition, writing, Shakespeare, poetry and story analysis.  Okay, some it ain't so bad.  Shakespeare is good.  Poetry rather depends on how much nuts a person can tolerate in their ice cream.  So, I should be more precise in saying I never enjoyed the “story analysis” part of any of these lessons.  Nothing kills "Hamlet" for more students than spending a month mulching every Act and Scene for its secret meaning.  Poetry lies lifeless and dead after each stanza is wrung for every drop of "what is the theme"?

For years upon years I have avoided the scenarios where fiction is formally scrutinized to find the allegorical subtext of the underlying metaphor’s inherent flaws.  This month I voluntarily entered that realm again.  It’s a non-credit university class in Canadian Science Fiction.  Based on the recommendation that the professor possesses a dynamic, congenial and open-minded style, I decided to go for it.

After four classes, the professor’s reputation is well-deserved and my classmates are a friendly bunch.’s still an English Class.

If you will permit me this analogy:  imagine a group of us being served a “Fiesta Omelette”.  First impressions agree that the cook diced up ingredients to create a flavour evoking the cuisines from south of the Rio Grande.

Then we start discussing just what ingredients are in the recipe.  The teacher knows, but wants us to figure things out.  We list mushrooms, tomatoes, bell pepper, maybe some jalapeƱo, and the we start to peter out.  Coaxed by the teacher, we are intrigued to learn the cook’s secret ingredients are a splash of tequila and a pinch of oregano!

And that’s interesting and I’d be a happy puppy to stop there.

However, the analysis proceeds.  Someone read the cook is a fat, lesbian Baldonian.  Is it appropriate that she appropriate the Mexican culture?  Another suspects the eggs weren’t locally-sourced from free range hens, so does it even qualify to be called an omelette?  Encouraged by the teacher, the babble rises about whether the tequila is a sexist attack on the values of new immigrants?  And the mushrooms, well, the mushrooms are an obvious penis substitute.  Furthermore...

The "omelette" in this analogy is sitting in my mind like a glop of cold mud.  I don't care if I ever read anything by this author ever again.  My high school reflexes come out.  As my classmates vigorously debate whether the story has an anti-homosexual agenda, I start to doodle in my notebook...

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