Sunday, June 28, 2015

Yukon (The Expatriation of Johnny "Buffalo" Flynn)

I remember the exact moment when I decided to drop out of college. It was during a creative writing lecture on pathetic fallacy. Our professor, the intimidating Dr. Henry Strong, began the lecture by writing the following on the chalkboard:


That example, taken from a text that probably existed only in Prof. Strong's head, was Exhibit A of "bad writing" as it related to pathetic fallacy.

I liked it, though. Actually, I loved it. Not only was it euphonic when read aloud, it was also imaginative. I didn't care that the clouds were personified to be mentally angry and physically expectorating. If that wasn't creative writing, what was?

I was young then, and hesitant to challenge those who were deemed and documented to be my intellectual superiors, but I felt that I had to represent a dissenting voice. So I spoke up. And I became cheekier the more I spoke. The asshole part of my brain picks up locomotion the more my jaws move up and down.

"Doctor, while I agree with the crux of your argument, I think that it's against the very nature -- pun acknowledged -- of literature to discourage pathetic fallacy. I'm not saying that tree branches playing billiards or a river smoking a cigarette are fine, but your example is imaginative and expressive. It conveys the literary environment, doesn't it?"

Doctor Strong looked at me with blue eyes masking crimson hatred behind their irises.

"Mister Flynn," he said, "if you are so passionately married to embracing the pathetic fallacy, nothing I can say during this semester will change your mind. Perhaps 'pathetic' will also be an apt description of your higher education."

That stung.

"So go ahead and personify raindrops and train stops," he continued. "Write that the sun is hugging the fucking earth with its warmth. The grass on my front lawn was jubilant this morning. But trust me, that sort of literary shorthand doesn't go far. It's mimicry from a dummy's mouth."

Only he pronounced "mimicry" mee-mee-cry.

And that was the exact moment when I decided to drop out of college. Throughout my formative years, I sporadically suspected that I was smarter than my educators, and that was cumulative proof .

So I withdrew from the program, taking my fortune elsewhere, looking for I don't know what.

Gold, probably. Hopefully.

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