Liquid Ink

The official website of Gint Aras, Finalist 2016 CWA Book Award


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A student weighs in on Palin

One of my students asked me this morning if I had heard the junkyard of syntax Sarah Palin had delivered at Trump’s event in Iowa. I told him that, yes, unfortunately, I had heard it.

This student wondered how this could happen. Shouldn’t the college teach him how he could become Palin? Instead, the college found it necessary for him to learn the details of grammar and the nuances of English prose, this when a woman of Palin’s stature was allowed to vomit a rat nest of phrases and neologisms, and to do it on television, broadcast it around the world, utterly unaware of her ignorance.

Well, I said, he was also “allowed” to babble whatever came to his head in public, if he wanted. No one would stop him, just as no one had stopped Palin. Did he really want that?

That’s not the point, the student continued. The point is that Palin was less articulate than the sounds of a tin can  blowing down the sidewalk, and had fewer points than a cluster of fishhooks in some drunk’s tackle box, yet it did not interfere with her ability to have a career or cost her any money. In fact, she probably made money by going on stage and unloading her crap. She probably sold some books. She probably got more followers on Twitter.

Sure, I said. That’s what happened. That’s the world we live in.

If the student did this, he complained, he’d be punished with low grades and might not pass his classes. He’d never achieve his dream of becoming an accountant. He could see no route to Palin’s stature that did not also require him to correct his thought process and language skills.

Yes, I said. That’s true.

The student wanted to know what somebody was going to do about it.

I don’t know, I said. It seems everyone’s perfectly well entertained, at least for the moment.

“We have bigger problems than anyone’s talking about,” he said. “This isn’t a joke.”

I agreed with him, a young man of nineteen, born to recent migrants, paying his way through community college by making deliveries, working over 20 hours each week while taking on a full load of classes.

Anatomyofafishhook

Photo from Wikipedia


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Dead Poets Society

Back in March, I wrote this article regarding my love of Dead Poets Society, and I admit what an influence the film and Williams’ interpretation of Keating were on my teen years. They led to me becoming a teacher, and of taking the writing life seriously.

I’ll be publishing an article about Robin Williams in today’s True Community. I’m shocked, reading back, that I wrote the previous article as I did, contemplating the film’s lessons about mortality, in the same year that Williams would end his life. Fans of his work, and those moved as I am by his loss, will appreciate it. Please share.


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Living an examined life

This week’s installment of True Community tells the story of the moment when I faced my mortality. I was sixteen, and it happened while watching Dead Poets Society. The event inspired me to become a teacher (I already knew I wanted to be a writer).

I used to directly teach the concept of the examined life. But various pressures conspired to see me give up the topic. It also got too exhausting because students didn’t respond well to questions like “Who are you?”  and “Where does the world come from?”

These days, I try to teach the lesson through the back door.

Hope you’ll check it out.

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