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Gretchen Martin <[log in to unmask]>
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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 21 Nov 2013 19:12:03 +0000
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I certainly did not find John's "naval gazing" essay a waste of time and tried a version of his approach in my class with great success!  My students found their own navels (interpretive reactions) fascinating!

-----Original Message-----
From: Mark Twain Forum [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of John Bird
Sent: Wednesday, November 20, 2013 7:06 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Fw: Your article

David Fears asked me to forward this message to the list. I apologized = to him for wasting his time with my navel gazing.

John Bird

From: David Fears=20
Sent: Tuesday, November 19, 2013 4:17 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Your article

John, I read your interesting article "Mind the Gaps, etc." and wrote a = reply for a friend of mine to post on the Forum (because as you may = recall I was banned from with support by you and others back in 2008), = but his post was rejected. (we often use this same computer) Because I = have scholarly questions about this approach of yours, and the possible = use of it in the classroom, I send the post to you direct, below:

In John Bird=92s =93Mind the Gap=94 article, I am reminded of = experiments in composition by Flower and Hayes (=93Images, Plans, and =
Prose: The Representation of Meaning in Writing=94 1984). As =
=93formalists=94 Flower & Hayes constructed experiments where writers = would make notes aside during drafting and/or revising texts.=20

Though such an exercise as Bird makes in dissecting or deconstructing = _Adventures of Huck Finn_ can bring interesting and unintended results, = the primary weakness of such a methodology in creating =93virtual =
texts=94 is the very procedure itself. That is, the very act of stopping = to write a thought here and there at a word or a phrase _alters_ the = reading experience into something akin to analysis rather than creating = a true virtual text. Reading straight through a passage and then = commenting would create a vastly different result. Stopping umpteen = times in a text surely eliminates the flow the author intended, and as = such whatever virtual realization that is derived is a paltry shadow of = the real thing. Or is it? Such questions may be unanswerable.=20

And, it may seem counter-intuitive to focus on what is NOT in a text = rather than what IS in a text. This makes for great academic papers but = I wonder if it has any other value? Indeed there is then no limit to = what the mind may fill-in, extrapolate, imagine, guess, surmise or = inject. No matter how true it is that your first reading is not my first = reading; your twelfth reading will never be my reading, etc., the = question begs asking=97do these realities lead us into a greater = understanding of the writer=92s intention? Or, do they simply involve = some sort of =93video game of the mind=94? that is a form of = navel-staring. How do we teach literature by such methods? Bird suggests = using it in a classroom setting, but won=92t that very setting and that = methodology change the reader=92s vision to his detriment as well as to = his insightfulness?=20


Bill Owen

c/o David H. Fears


Mark Twain Day By Day in 4 volumes=20
Mike Angel Mystery Novels