Two things collided in my head today: one, a student in one of my classes asked me a fantastic question, and two I finally read up on all the controversy surrounding the US covers of both Liar and Magic Under Glass.
I can't remember the exact phrasing of the question, but it was basically as the title of this post: miss, will it be like this forever?
To which I of course responded with puzzlement - will what be??
My student explained that she was finding it difficult to watch certain movies without being constantly conscious of shots and angles and themes and characterisation and and and... And that her elder sister had told her that after completing a major in English in her high school studies, this got worse, not better.
I remember lamenting similar things when I was in highschool, and I know it's an all-too-common complaint that studying a novel in English class ruins an otherwise good novel.
In university, my creative writing lecturer noted that he never read without his 'editing' brain in gear anymore; that he couldn't enjoy certain books because of this.
What was my reply? That like many things in life, things get worse before they get better; that eventually, if you want to, you'll be able to turn the editing part of your brain off and enjoy something for what it is, without criticism.
And this is where the question collided with other things in my head.
A lot of people might argue that English ruins novels; that studying them and pulling them to pieces robs them of all enjoyment. That's it not worth going through the worse to get to the better; why bother at all?
Because it's important. I'm preaching to the choir here, I know, but it is important. Learning critical thinking, learning to think about what something is trying to say and how it's going about doing it - that's not only an English skill, that's a life skill. To be active, informed, global citizens, it's vital that we know how to interpret and understand the plethora of information that's thrown at us every single day. We need to know what hidden messages look like if we are ever to spot them; and if we have not studied texts in order to discover the meaning of life, of love, of joy or pain or sorrow or injustice - how are we to recognise it hidden deep in the texts of everyday life?
Bloomsbury's covers are a case in point.
Ignorance is no excuse for allowing injustice to flourish; and 'too hard' or 'uncomfortable' is no excuse for allowing ignorance to flourish.
We need the skills that tearing texts apart furnishes us with - even if they come at the cost of the enjoyment of a handful of novels and/or films.
Miss, will it be like this forever?
I certainly hope so.