Tuesday, January 29, 2008

3 loveable things

I was tagged by Dr. Write for 3 Things that I love. I hope when I return from NYC, I will have even more things to love.

I love Lord of the Rings and not because I love hobbits or fairies but because I love broad images forests and mountains, the horses—there’s something of the western to the movies because landscape provides its own narrative arc. Because I love images that are tucked into the narrative. But mostly because the movies are Shakespearean—high drama not because it’s exciting but because it affords good language. Gandalph says, “I come to you at the turn of the tide.” And “I will draw you Saraman as poison is drawn from a wound” “Your fingers would remember their own strength better if they grasped your sword” and, the rain-compounded: “And so it begins.” (Can you tell which of the three I’m watching now?) Without really worked high drama, those phrases would fall flat and sound overwrought. The image of Aragorn returning from his near-death cliff-fall as he pushes open the castle door with his right arm is the fulfillment of the tragic hero I’d always imagined.

Mushrooms. If you slice shitakes up and fry them in hot oil, just barely letting go their juices, they can taste like wood-fired steak. Slice chanterelles and bake them in potatoes and cream, they become like butter—butter that resists the tooth and does not melt. Boletes bring out the nuttiness of spaghetti. Dry button mushrooms on pizza counterpoint the liquidy cheese. I miss hunting mushrooms. Erik and I found a few boletes this fall when we went camping with Z but not too many. I love wandering the forests, looking at the moss and the slugs and the ferns—the way the orange, fluted tops of the chanterelle is the perfect counterpoint to all that green and yet are camouflaged by the red bark flaking off into the duff and the dead needles. Looking down for a long time—it’s not something I do very often and it’s a cool upside down world.

My students. Even when they’re failing, even when they don’t show up, even when I ask them what I obviously the most stimulating questions and they stare back at me in silence—I still love them. They have interest. Curiosity. They are not burnt out on lit mags, or poetry contests, or lit theory. They have, when I bring all the tools at my disposal, the capacity to make connections and comparisons that are beyond what I can do alone. When I read a poem for the first time in my introductory class and we go line by line and the students make various associations but learn how the poem builds its own argument, I am back to that place when I first read a poem and saw the way the poem was built. I love how they’re willing to do something new. To experiment. They’re not afraid of thinking that they’re not new. They just believe what they’re doing is new. And so it is.


Lisa B. said...

Thank you for that last part about the students. Of course, you're exactly right--that's what is loveable about so many students, that because they haven't been burnt by the literary world, they still see what is wonderful about literature.

Dr. Write said...

Yes. Good reminder about the students. And mushrooms. Man, I want a mushroom right now. yum. But we will eat plenty of mushrooms in NYC. Oh yeah.

Valerie said...

One day I will blog again.

Anonymous said...

those are exactly the reasons I love LOTR -- the way the landscape informs the movement of the story and the development of the characters, the way the language builds on what the landscape is doing, the way it all spins together and the whole breathless arc of the thing. I once talked a friend who had a home theater into letting me watch all three extended parts in a row, non-stop, and I felt glutted on drama and grandure.

And mushrooms are good, too.

P said...

A perfect visit to Niks house... Mushroom hunting, pizza hunting, and then to the mines of mordor. Love ya!

brazilian girls said...

i feel lucky to have wandered in here.

i too love lotr.
i loved the books, but really enjoyed peter jackson's films...so lush and yet crisp and real.

and *mushrooms*! i don't personally know many other people who go mushroom hunting besides my group of friends. i love the quietness - oftentimes a buddy will round a log and find me splayed out on the forest floor, flush happy in my warm goretex, smiling with my eyes closed, just smelling and listening.

and then the eating and the gorging and the num-num-num later that evening, as we laugh and pass a platter and pour more wine.

thanks for the post. i'll come back to listen again.

Molly said...

Students are both misery and mindmelt.

As for mushrooms, alas, I will have to pass.