Thursday, July 9, 2009

There are English Majors and there are ENGLISH MAJORS...

I had dinner with a friend last night who was telling me that she believed that she and her new roommate are going to get along great because they can both talk about celebrity gossip for hours.

I didn't tell her that I don't even own a TV and have no idea what's going on in the "celebrity gossip" world, but she must have somehow picked up my lit-nerd vibes because she said, "I mean, my last roommate was ... different. She was an English major, and she once said she read War and Peace and then wanted to talk about it!"

God forbid! I tell you what, folks, if I ever manage to read War and Peace, I'm going to get the date and time of the miracle tattooed on my forehead. I neglected to mention this, but she must have realized she was talking to an English major and hurriedly said, "I mean, I have lots of English major friends, but they're all the 'Jack Kerouac' English majors--they smoke a lot of pot and throw great parties, you know?"

In an effort to keep the conversation moving (which I had obviously thus far not been doing), I said, "Oh, I like the Beats. Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghettti..."

"All I've read is Kerouac," she responded firmly, ending that particular conversation.

She got me thinking, though, about the difference between loving literature and merely studying literature. I think in the minds of some people, literature is a kind of default for those who have nothing better to study, if only because we were all forced to take four years of English in high school. I don't understand, however, why anyone who study such an un-lucrative field if s/he doesn't have a passion for it. Why would anyone pay $20K a year to study something they don't care about?

(The other possibility, of course, is that these "Jack Kerouac" English major friends really do love literature and have, in fact read and discussed amongst themselves War and Peace and then go on to smoke a lot of pot and throw kick-ass parties with their non-English major friends. Personally, I have about 3 or 4 people with whom I'll discuss what I'm reading and writing (and of course, you, my loyal readers). Everyone else just has to struggle along without my inspired insights on the Beat Generation.)


Chatty Cathy said...

I hope your book is going well...I wish I was there to witness another one of your literature conversations...always the best.

Lindsay-with-an-A said...

I think she knew I was silently judging her, but since she was judging "my kind" out loud, I think it's all right.

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