First of all, I would like to apologise for using a Shakespearean reference as a title for this editorial. In reality, I’m not planning to talk about the Bard’s work. My title is just a strategy to catch your attention. For a long time I’ve been meaning to write a text about writing, and invariably, whenever I think about it, Shakespeare is the immediate mental picture that comes to my mind. But, then again, why do we, to a greater or lesser degree, feel this urge to write?
Unarguably, words facilitate our lives in that they are perhaps the most precise way we have to express what is in our minds or hearts. By formulating words and eventually creating texts, we are able to express the subtleties of our subjectivities, revealing, to a certain extent, the intricacies of our personality with a certain number of details. This is especially true in the case of well-accomplished writers!
Nevertheless, compositions are not the most popular activity among our students, and among some teachers. Perhaps, because writing demands a certain level of personalisation, sometimes it is really difficult to notice what is written between the lines, that is, what is the actual message our students want us to decode and what is basically implicit.
Moreover, some people do have problems to leave their individual mark on their texts which might compromise the fluency and readability of their work, turning their compositions into a sort of a collage of loose ideas, not to mention the grammar slip-ups and hieroglyphic hand-writing.However, there are some texts which, in spite of some minor nuisances, say so much that a few teachers end up flabbergasted by the compositions they’ve just corrected. Here, perhaps a little anecdote might further illustrate the point I want to make.
When I was a teenager, before knowing some of the words of William Shakespeare, which now are always in between the lines of my own life, I used to spend whole afternoons reading comic books, and I have to confess that some of those stories greatly helped me to develop an important part of my own aesthetic paradigm. Particularly, I vividly remember a very special issue in which, for some reason, the Fantastic Four had to fight against X-Men. In a given moment of the terrible battle, Rogue, a heroine whose superpower basically consists of absorbing the abilities and memories of those she manages to have physical contact with, decides to kiss the Thing, a super strong stone-bodied behemoth, to assimilate his power.
When she kisses him, thus absorbing his strength but also a part of his soul, she produces a thought which was etched on the heart of a boy who would dedicate a very significant part of his life to the study of Literature. As Rogue touches the Thing’s deformed rocky lips, she thinks, ”Sometimes you think that you are kissing a frog, but then you realise that actually you touched the soul of a prince”
(my English version taken from the debris of my own memories).
By the same token, since compositions are not generally students' cup of tea, when we correct some texts, we often expect to find clumsily written pieces. Nonetheless, there are cases in which, as a matter of fact, we find more than meets the eye. In some occasions what a bunch of fortunate teachers encounter is a very rare opportunity to sneak peek at some students’ subjectivity in accordance with their own alterity, with their own style. Then, what could be a mere text correction turns out to be an exercise of confidence, the best indicator that a good student-teacher rapport has been successfully established.
In a nutshell, one could say that there are times in which more than just a combination of words, a text is an invitation to someone`s identity and consequently an invitation to a kind of friendship which potentially challenges false appearances and misconceptions to bravely unveil part of the soul of a human being. Hence, hail to the frogs…
JORGE LUIZ MONTEIRO PEÇANHA
Jorge teaches in our Vila da Penha branch. Besides working for Cultura Inglesa, he also works in municipal and state schools. Jorge holds a Master’s Degree in Literatures in English from UERJ. He has worked as an English teacher for more than 15 years.