Friday, March 05, 2010

Quote of the Day

I was pretty intrigued by this quote:


"Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for their elders and love chatter in place of exercise; they no longer rise when elders enter the room; they contradict their parents, chatter before company; gobble up their food and tyrannize their teachers."

When I read it I got a knot in my stomach thinking, yes, this is exactly what is wrong with the children of today. However, the quote is attributed to none other than Socrates in the fifth century, B.C.

I think we all believe our problems, conflicts, and issues are new, but we are always talking about the same thing.

I saw on Jeannine's post that someone was griping that there are "too many poets, too many MFA programs, too many poems being written..." And this is a bad thing, how?

Perspective is an interesting thing. You can make anything appear to be good or bad. Someone's actions-- say your daughter is a little outspoken, is she assertive, strong and able to say her opinion or is she bossy, selfish, and only concerned with herself?

When we look at the world, sometimes we see what people tell us to see. Too many poets, too many poems, too many writing programs. I'm looking at the world and thinking there could be more-- poets, poems, and writing programs. There can more artists too. And girls who are not afraid to speak their minds. Boys too.

You can look out and scarcity or plenty. It's your choice.

I'm challenging myself today when I hear a negative to figure out the positive in it. Since I've been in a cranky mood this week, it's a good practice. I'll let you know how it goes. Why don't you try it too, tell me how it works out.


Post for tomorrow: The Two I's.

4 comments:

Jeannine said...

Loved the quote. It just shows things go in cycles. One generation - pressed by need, perhaps by something like a great war or depression, becomes disciplined and sour - and the next generation lives it up, which of course makes the previous generation even grumpier.
I've always thought the y-ers are the partyers, and the x-ers are destined to be the disciplined, grumpy ones. Of course, the boomers were partiers, and the WWII generation the disciplined grumpy ones. And so it goes...

Lyle Daggett said...

I recall years back, sometime in the late 1960's, some radio announcer one evening read the same quote on the air, also revealing afterwards that it was attributed to Socrates.

I don't think that means that nothing ever changes, though I think it may mean that some ideas can remain relevant over a long period of time.

The whole discussion about whether there are too many poets (I don't think there are), or too many poems (also don't think there are), or too many MFA programs (I might think there are), is a tricky stream to stick my toes into, because I can become so vexed about it so quickly.

I like what Sam Hamill said on the subject somewhere once, to the effect that all people in a civilized society should be able to write poetry (not necessarily saying that everyone would make a habit of it, or that they would consider themselves poets); but that the idea of offering a degree in poetry writing is something else again.

I'm not opposed to MFA programs in principle. I think the whole industry (for lack of a better word) has suffered from a lot of the corporate mindset that has affected many types of academic professions; so that a lof of MFA programs do pretty well at teaching young writers how to write poems and stories that can be published readily in English department literary magazines, but don't necessarily teach how to write literature.

I do believe that in general it's a good idea for writers to have a breadth of experience (outside of or separate from academic work and life) to draw from in their writing. It can be difficult sometimes to teach that in a classroom.

Stephanie Goehring said...

I love this. I feel like I have a big post brewing about all this talk about too many poems, how writing programs are the devil, etc.

Jessie Carty said...

as an MFAer, it is a tricky debate. Although I can't help thinking having people loving the act of writing and reading is never a bad thing. I think when it gets icky, is when people think of it only as a "career" (ie having to be tenured professor) vs a "vocation" -by which i mean something you love.

great topic

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