Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Mr. Bush

We expected to see an author, and we find a person.

Blaise Pascal
Hello Marty
An early moment, and perhaps the first, of my intellectual awakening, came in high school. It was an English class taught by a fellow named Bush. (Sorry Mr. Bush, I don't remember your fist name, but I'll never forget you.)

We read a short story by Edgar Allan Poe and during the discussion I asked a question about whether he chose the right words to tell the story. Mr. Bush replied that for Poe they were the right words.

That remark led me to the first step on a long and fascinating path which I am still on today. I wondered what it would be like if some other writer had written the story. What different words would he have chosen? Then I wondered why Poe had written the story. What motivated him and inspired him to choose that particular tale to tell? Already I was beginning to seek the person behind the story.

My mind was then opened up to considering those questions about everything I was reading, including novels and newspaper articles.

Eventually I became an actor and then had the same experience of inquiry doubled up. Why was the character I was playing express himself in those particular words? Why did the playwright give my character those particular words to express himself? In fact, why did the author invent that character in the first place and why did he write that particular play? I realized how important it was to speak the lines exactly as they are written so as to be true to the person behind the play.

The next step on the path was delving into books on psychology and philosophy, trying to understand the human mind and why it does and says what it does. As a result of that study I found I was a more thorough actor.

It wasn't and isn't just a matter of "figuring someone out." When an author approaches the task of writing, many parts of his or her personality are set aside, and the more important parts take over. With a great writer there is a transcendence at work in the process, and the reader receives more enjoyment from the work if the reader is willing to meet the author at the point where that magic takes place.

It has been said that a great novel is a conversation between the author and the reader. I know that's true. And that discussion takes place in a rare and mystical place where two persons meet.

I am on that path of discovery and hope to never leave it. Thank you Mr. Bush.

DB - The Vagabond Journey
Never Give Up


What event over the past year changed your life, a lot or a little?

Only 4 answers so far.


I await your answers.


Geo. said...

DB., I sure liked this post. Your Mr. Bush proves the idea that a teacher's influence never ends. I also identify personally: You may have noticed a fellow named Willie often comments at my sites; he was an english teacher and I, a student, when we met at my high school in 1965. I have retained him and he still follows me around correcting my grammar.

Vagabonde said...

I love Vagabondism no. 160 “Every Garden is a Library” I’ll quote that for sure.

Some (good) teachers can influence their students' future. In high school my English teacher was very demanding. She gave us load of homework – kids did not like her. I had to study the English language every day. I wonder if I had not spoken English well when I came to the US if I would have been able to find a job. I might have returned home to Paris. Come to think of it, that might have not been that bad in the long run…. But in the 60s I did not know how conservative this country would become.