I have two classes with him this semester, so I get to see him every morning of the week. This morning's class was American Short Story Since 1945. I love this class especially, because it is the one that he talks the most in. Being a grandfather sort of man, he lived through most of what was going on while these brilliant writers were creating their tales. I feel so silly to say that I have yet to dislike a story Prof. KH has assigned - it makes me sound as though I have no opinion of my own - but it is the truth. They have all made me feel differently; sad, depressed, happy, thoughtful or regretful, but I still have enjoyed reading all of them. The best part is that he always has an experience and an opinion to add to the story. Today's opinion was the insanity of America, which I've come to believe is one of his favorite subjects.
The story we had to have read today was 'The Oranging of America' by Max Apple (KH said that it always bothers him that a man named Apple wrote a story about Oranging). It was about Howard Johnson, the guy who created all the orange roofed motels and ice cream parlors. The story was about real people, but totally fictional. However, supposedly after becoming fantastically successful, Johnson apparently went berserk, which is where KH got the basis for his theory
KH's theory is that America has the ability to create heroes that eventually go insane. For instance? Elvis Presley, changed the world with his rock&roll, beautiful voice, and impressive pelvic movement. Where did he end up? Coked out on drugs in his house, slowly dying a long death. Howard Hughes, quad-billionaire, extremely successful, brilliant, famous - ended up locked a 'germ free' room in his house, with foot long fingernails, talking to himself.
Britney Spears? Perfect example. And so on and so forth.
Why is the American Dream something that makes people go nuts? KH says.
I say, I don't know, but why does everyone think that you have to be crazy, mean and dreadful to make true art?
He doesn't answer, because he doesn't know.
I don't answer either, but sometimes I wonder if I do know, but am to afraid to say it aloud.
Thank goodness L. plays pretty music at work; it helps to lighten these heavy thoughts.