Lost In A Good Book (lostinagoodbook) wrote in the_proseportal,
Lost In A Good Book

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"This one will be a poet"

I have just found (belatedly) a program on PBS called the American Masters. It is short, 90 minute, biographies of exceptional artists and the ways that they affected society and the times they lived in.

Last night they focused on Ralph Ellison, author of The Invisible Man. No not that invisbible man, that is by H.G. Wells. This was an incredible book about a young black mans search for identity and meaning to life.

I remember reading this book in high school. I was fortunate enough to have a Mr. Chaney for my AP English teacher. He was interesting, slightly caustic, incredibly intelligent and in some strange way I couldn't define, lived in a different world than any other teachers in my school. Of course they hated him for it, and the feeling was mutual. I learned two important lessons from him:

1. Think for yourself. Just because a teacher, official, authority figure tells you a certain viewpoint is right, doesn't make it so. Test it out and see for yourself if it's truly right, and then don't be afraid to lay claim to it.

2. I am a smart cookie. He was the first teacher to verbalize to me, that there really was something good going on in that brain of mine, and no amount of pressure from the other students was going to change it. Is it easier for me to write a grade A paper than they? Well they could just get over it, but don't you dare dumb yourself down because someone else is afraid.

3. (and this one should have been obvious) Not all good thinking comes from Anglo/America. In his class we didn't read the usual English literature ... Shakespeare, Chaucer, Steinbeck. We read Ellison, Wright, Dostoevsky. Voices from other places, other races, almost a different universe than the one we'd been sampling from all the rest of our school life. Like I said, this should have been obvious, but how can you know whats out there 'till someone shows you?

I didn't GET most of the things I read in his class, but the ideas were left to germinate.

So back on my own topic (lol), I found the program last night about Ellison to be very interesting. I hope you all can watch

American Masters on PBS

Coming Schedule:
F. Scott Fitzgerald: Winter Dreams August 31
Willa Cather: The Road is All September 7
Ernest Hemingway: Rivers to the Sea September 14

x-posted to the_proseportal
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