03 April 2011
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Jane Eyre's Activated Paranoia


"Activate Me" mailers You know how you hear or see something once, and suddenly it's everywhere?  It seems as if every piece of junk and no-so-junk postal mail I receive wants me to "activate" something.  Here's just one day's selection, a pass to be activated and a request to be activated.  If I activated everything I received I would have no time for my own activities and you'd never see another blogitem.  Whence came to my hand this miracle of activation?  Can't these things be pre-activated "for my convenience"? 


Nooooo!  I am not going to start a "quote of the day!"  But I was reminded of this when seeing a different Tom Robbins quote in a friend's email signature:


“About those men who are following you around and watching your house at night: don’t be alarmed. Try to think of them as talent scouts from Hollywood.”

Jane Eyre

I am about to assert a theory about education.  I would normally issue a disclaimer as I do when I prattle about subjects of which I know nothing.  E.g.:  "I have never had to take responsibility for anyone's education other than my own.  I have never had a course in educational theory.  I have little experience with school-age humans."  But, given the interminable discussions about education and the current fights among parents, the unions, and government about budgets, class sizes, seniority, etc., I think it's fair to say that nobody knows much about education, whether he claims to or not.  Thus establishing my lack of credentials, I state with confidence:

Richard's Education Theory:  Don't try to force young boys to read Jane Eyre. 

As a result of this long-ago attempted torture-by-literature, as an alleged adult I have actively avoided what is commonly regarded as a great oeuvre of works in English and deprived movie makers of my contribution to a perpetual source of income.  Elaborating on my theory just a bit, I should point out that I now do read "literature," and find that my taste is dangerously catholic, to the extent that it partially deprives me of the time for more lucrative pursuits.  In other words, my tenacious resistance to Jane Eyre did not somehow ruin my enjoyment of reading, it just made me think my elders at the time were being stupid and trying to destroy my life.  (I believe they failed, but who knows?)  Older people give children so many opportunities to think they're idiots*; why gratuitously compound them?

If you are a young person coming upon this blog before you have developed the understanding that "Jane Eyre" is a metaphor for any book you really, really don't want to read, let this sentence make that clear.  My educational theory doesn't extend to your not wanting to read anything, at least not unless you're going to grow up to be a spectacularly talented athlete, which I didn't and you probably won't, either.

*Did you know that some adults smoke cigarettes?

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Richard Factor

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