Monday, December 25, 2006

The Emperor's New Haircut

I'm a geek who writes. I've also been a voracious reader for all my life. In high school my dad bought a collection of O Henry short stories that I absolutely loved. I also took lit classes in high school and this was my first exposure to Ernest Hemingway. I would read Hemingway stories and think "what's the point?" I figured contemporary literature was much like the emperor's new clothes.

This is why I became a geek. Later in college I took Contemporary Literature and I had minored in philosophy. My opinion of contemporary literature changed somewhat. I figured (accurately) that I could always bamboozle any lit prof by just putting in existentialist philosophy.

A few years ago I started writing and I wanted to write well. So, I started reading contemporary literature again. This included a revisit to Ernest Hemingway and other stories that I'd put down and think "what's the point?" This time I noticed something different. There still wasn't any point to the stories, but I was middle-aged and I had done some living. These "pointless" stories were able to convey something about life and something about human nature.

Mary and I were discussing this on our walk. She mentioned that it's sort of stupid to teach this stuff in high school to kids who haven't lived enough to recognize the truth of such character-driven stories. I agreed. I still think the emperor has no clothes.

All the fuss and bother about Hemingway is indeed the fuss about the Emperor's new clothes. The thing about contemporary literature is indeed much ado about nothing. The Emperor is naked. But he does have a new haircut.

If you're a geek who writes, the way to bamboozle the English majors who happen to be Editors is to make sure you know howto cut hair.

No comments: