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Monday morning musingsPosted Friday, September 25, 2009, at 7:32 AM
This is the view from my front porch on this misty Monday morning.
I'm reading a book that a friend loaned me; it's called Hare Brain Tortoise Mind: How Intelligence increases when you think less. The author, Guy Claxton, tells about the strange conditions under which some authors can write. It seems that Pearl Buck had to have a vase of fresh flowers on her desk, Jean-Paul Sartre hated the country and had to see the chimneys of Paris outside his window. Schiller couldn't write poetry without the smell of rotting apples (now there's a weird one). Sigmund Freud had to chain smoke, Carlyle had to be in a sound-proof room, and Emerson had to be in a hotel room. I remember that Robert Frost made notes on bits of paper, which he pinned to his jacket as he walked in the woods.
These days, if we can't write in front of a computer, we're out of luck! And that is getting me close to the topic rattling around in my mind.
I find myself increasingly worried about the state of the English language. I recently had a conversation with a local pastor, who came into the office to pick up a copy of our Progress issue. First, he insulted the newspaper business by telling me that it was on its last legs ("Nobody reads newspapers anymore.") Then he alarmed me further by telling me that his youth don't read much of ANYTHING, besides text messages and Facebook! He said that they don't even e-mail. They exist in abbreviations: LOL, FYI.....etc. and etc. and etc.... He even tried to tell me that the colleges are "accepting" this form of communication.
In the latest ARP journal, one author stated that the reason it's so hard to get out accurate information on the health care debate is that Americans are getting their information from e-mail, blogs (uh, oh!), and talk radio. The author spoke of "the decline of the print media" as one of the reasons that mis-information and downright lies are so prevalent.
One of our faithful teacher bloggers told us recently that her high school students say they can't read her cursive writing on the board! They aren't using cursive writing anymore! Then she e-mailed me a Yahoo article about the decline in cursive writing: Some schools teach it in third grade only. After that, the students never have to write in cursive, because they use the computer for all their writing. The title of the article, written by Tom Breen of the Associated Press, is "Cursive writing may be fading skill, but so what?" The clear question is - Should we try to save the skill of writing in cursive script or is it hopelessly outdated?
I'm on our local library board, and we recently made the reluctant decision to cancel our magazine subscriptions and use that money for a yearly subscription to the MoreNet online library, whereby our patrons could access hundreds of magazines, newspapers, and journals. My question is - What happens if all the magazines and newspapers go under, and there's no one to get out there to do the research to write the articles in the first place?
Is it time for the old question, "What is this world coming to?"?
All these issues are clouding my brain this morning, while the fog continues to settle on field and pond.
I wonder if the smell of rotting apples would help my writer's block?
From the distant, fog-bound hills of rural Tillman, this is Madeline signing off on the First Day of Autumn.
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Madeline (Giles) DeJournett is the Advance writer for the North Stoddard Countian. A retired high school English/history teacher, she spent 32 years teaching in 5 schools in Missouri and Alaska. These days, she lives quietly with a menagerie of wild and domestic animals on 52 secluded acres in the remote Tillman hills south of Advance. She graduated from Dexter High School in 1960 and Southeast Missouri State in 1964. She can be contacted at email@example.com.