Wednesday, November 17, 2010
I sit and stare at this screen trying to come up with stuff to write, and put myself in the shoes of some of my heroes in the writing world. There are several whom I like to read and admire. Since I have trouble reading long drawn out stuff online, like most folks do, I try and find only those authors who keep things to your basic news column size.
Bill McClellan of the St. Louis Post Dispatch is pretty much the schnizzle up here in the Lou, and he has a wonderful connection with those themes in life that most stories fall in to. Bill spoke at a graduate course in communications that I enrolled in (snuck into) at Lindenwood. I wasn't supposed to be there, and was not really equipped with the standard download of liberal arts education necessary to "get" what was being doled out. What I got from Bill, one of the most recognized commentaries in the region, is that life's struggles are most certainly funnelled into the common themes of literature. The things that we speak about, write about, think about, fall in to that which is categorized and labeled. Same with the movies.
I should have been educated on this stuff from high school, I reckon--just didn't get it, and whatever teaching methods that were soon to be developed in the late 70's to solve the problem with students like me, well, I had hot dogs to prepare. I am still catching up and am cool with it, recently equipping myself with an Ipad to download books like Anthem, by Ann Rand, Civil Disobedience, by Henry David Thoreau, The Peoples History of the United States, by Howard Zinn, other kick ass "people wake up and look in the mirror" stuff.
Yup, it was a clear understanding of those themes that I lacked the most; concepts in literature. Had I gotten that in to perspective at around age 10, It would have been good.
I was able to jump into the graduate class because I showed a little promise as a writer and did well in a couple other courses that were very heavy on writing, poetry and other stuff, deep, emotional and edgy, gooey stuff. I didn't care and neither did my instructor, who would occasionally meet us after class to slam our poetry. We would write, write and write. Doing "it" was the key. That was all we did was write, and when we were finished each week with our papers, usually an essay or an explanation of something that we had read (a classic short story), we would identify the themes, those most common themes in nature, in literature, in life.
It was what I needed, this type of approach to learning. I had tricked myself into understanding the material, while having a pretty good understanding of the themes that we were studying. I would write two and three papers a week, pretty much like I do now on this blog, in addition to the regular homework, or whatever my regular workload. Because writing is what teaches me about content, and content is always categorized into the themes. Silos of information painted in to a picture. Stuff like that becomes very clear to the attention deficit. And over time a visual depiction of things comes in to play.
I have taken the liberty of outlining these things below. I sure wish I would have been "awake" when Mrs. Dix rolled this out. Enjoy.
12 Most Common Themes in Literature By: Rachel Mork
Man Struggles Against Nature: Man is always at battle with human nature, whether the drives described are sexual, material or against the aging process itself.
Man Struggles Against Societal Pressure: Mankind is always struggling to determine if societal pressure is best for living.
Man Struggles to Understand Divinity: Mankind tries to understand and make peace with God, but satisfaction is elusive and difficult.
Crime Does Not Pay: A popular theme played out in books throughout time is the concept that honesty is honored and criminals will eventually be caught.
Overcoming Adversity: Many books laud characters who accept a tough situation and turn it into triumph.
Friendship is Dependant on Sacrifice: This is the idea that you can't have friends if you don't act like a friend.
The Importance of Family: Sacrifices for family are honored and explored, as are the family bonds that survive adversity.
Yin and Yang: Just when you think life is finally going to be easy, something bad happens to balance it all out.
Love is the Worthiest of Pursuits: Many writers assert the idea that love conquers all, appealing to the romantic side of us.
Death is Part of the Life Cycle: Literary works with this theme show how death and life and intricately connected.
Sacrifices Bring Reward: Sacrifices and hard work pay off in the end, despite the challenges along the way.
Human Beings All Have the Same Needs: Book after book asserts that rich or poor, educated or dumb, all human beings need love and other basic needs met.