Teaching English 1A

Prose by Jason Badgley. Photo by Ira Joel Haber.




Emotion feeds off the palpable.  Nothing can come through a computer screen and be considered final.  A fact I realize while typing this page.  Right before, I was lying abed meditating on past romances.  It is morning here, and I have only slept with women.  But, perhaps I should sleep with men too.  Ishmael sleeps in the same bed as Queequeg in Moby Dick.  It’s all in the book.  Which leads to the question: could men love men in Melville’s time?  Is that a question for poetry today?  I think Melville shaped Ishmael’s primitive companion on a combination of Thoreau and the animistic tribes he encountered during his travels in the South Pacific.  I’m no Thoreau, but I do believe in the life of a wide margin.  Maybe I show animistic tendencies, but I’m no Queequeg either.  Least of all, I am not Melville.  He wrote naked in his attic.  I write in my pajamas, sometimes.  Naked never.  I am an English 1A teacher.  Ironic because two sentences back I wrote an incomplete sentence.  I don’t let my students do that.  They may write naked, they should enjoy a wide margin, but where their writing displays incorrect grammar, I ding them.  Now, computers correct grammar too.  What does that say about grammar?  And me?  Computers change everything.  For example, were one to read Moby Dick on a Kindle, Queequeg might have to be considered a binary construction.  Figuratively.  But, I don’t doubt a Kindle would make a good traveling companion. Queequeg, that’s another story.  Which brings us to Twain.  He also wrote about travel.  And, didn’t he say something about its relationship to marriage?  Which, surprisingly, allows me to talk again briefly about feelings and a computer.  Which go together like an anchovy and whaling.

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