Jul 31, 2009



Maybe I hate golf. At least I’m uninterested in it. How can you make me care about the game in general or your particular interest in it? What makes three or four hours on a golf course worth a story? Worth an essay? To some withered nerd of a skeptic?

Soon I’ll be back in the classroom, teaching Basic Composition. In an attempt at a unifying, useful, thought-provoking question for the course and for the rest of our days, I’ll probably offer this to the students: “What makes it good?”

Whether we are evaluating a golf outing, or a blog, or a poem, or the architecture of a building, or a car, or a C.D., or an assist in basketball (only assists and defensive moves are interesting), or a strategy for starting up a business, or choosing a prospective date, or approaching her or him, or finding a restaurant or movie, or decorating a home (dorm room or house), the question arises, “What makes it good?” Isn’t it possible that there are at least a couple of answers that would apply to any human endeavor?

Surely the question of what is good might also include, "What makes it beautiful?" Or, "What makes it functional?" Must it include those? Surely it would include the question of what is important.

Or would it? Is there something I’m not seeing about the question? Or the nature of eighteen-year-olds? How much would, and should, answers change according to age, gender, ethnicity, and background (suburban, urban, small-town, farm), or region (Northeast, South, Midwest, West Coast)? And those factors don’t even take into account, as they might, parts of the world other than the U.S.

Have I gone totally pie-in-the-sky to think this is, and should be, more interesting than golf? Or brands of beer? Or models of cars? Far, far beyond a course in basic composition?

And if all this sounds elementary or condescending, if you’re thinking I should just re-take Dormitory Bull Session 101, please think back to conversations or other social situations (like poetry readings, concerts, golf outings) you’ve recently been involved in. Were you a participant, an interested spectator, or a victim? Why?

To leave a comment, see below. Click the underlined word, "___comments" or "post a comment." A white box will appear, where you can type in your comment. Below that, click "Name/URL" to create a name for yourself , or simply use your Google account or blogger name).

1 comment:

slowmo said...

In answer to your question "what makes it good?" I can only add my simplistic hunch. Perhaps what makes something good on a very practical level (avoiding all those aesthetic questions) is, simply, that it is what I need: now, at this time, at this place, with my own peculiar mix of motivations, inclinations and limitations, at this particular way station on my life's journey.
Wow! that got to be pretty long-winded for me.

Enjoy your blog, especially it's balanced combinations of seriousness and humor.

P.S. I also loved the Hurt Locker and appreciated your review. Why not post it on www.metacritic.com in the viewer section. Metacritic is an excellent rating site.

Lovers' Lane