Thursday, October 15, 2009

BSA Week 1

Well, I taught my first two classes at BSA last Friday morning, the first one a group of about 23 and the second, around 17. These are smart, confident kids, which makes life a lot easier for me. It's something to appreciate for sure. 

I brought in a story that, if I had a mulligan, I might not have begun with: Vladimir Nabokov, "The Fight". It's an early story of his, obsessively descriptive and unconventional in its development and conclusion, but I chose it because it is a writer's story. The concept of sight, the "oculus", comes through very strongly, and I think that's important.  Nabokov could have written the whole thing in a page but instead felt (or his translator did) like using every uncommon adjective in the scribe's giant lexicon. 

The kids were split in their feelings for it.  Some found Nabokov grating, a mental image control-freak, while others loved his strangely beautiful observations, the kinds of things we realize in life, to ourselves, and never think to discuss. Like the momentary blueness that coats your vision of everything when you get out of a lake after swimming on a cloudless day. 

We talked about why writing is worth anyone's time. How it can create or repair the sense of continuity in our lives, by attesting to a former, maybe alien thought process.  I assigned them a 2-4 pg story about a fictionalized "lesson" learned in life: good, hard, deceiving, etc.  I think it's a good exercise because the form has a conclusion built into it.  I'm excited to see what they produce. 

One last note. Everyone is NICE! The students thanked me after class, said I did a good job, smiled, the whole thing was bizarre. 

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