There is No Spoon

November 7, 2008

In high school, English class was all about The Point. We’d read something, talk about it, and get well and truly confused before the teacher stepped in and told us The Point. The big revelation that explained everything about the poem or book. The tendency to look for a Point has stayed with me until today.

Today I remembered my AP English teacher from senior year of high school. She would let us think we had figured out the Point, the swoop in and smash it all to pieces. I remember one day we talked about a poem centered on a funeral. We were all saying we hoped people would be at peace when we died, because we didn’t want them to suffer the way the author had. Just as we reached a fever pitch of idealism, my teacher held up a finger. “Ah,” she said, in characteristic fashion, “but wouldn’t you like to know that you meant so much to a person that they felt absolutely miserable without you?”

“Oh,” we said. “Damn.”

I’ve never resolved that question, and it made me realize something. For all my babbling about not fitting in boxes, there is nothing I like better than putting something in a box. Bang. Definitive. Done deal.

Then today I found the 33 1/3 series, a group of short books each dedicated to a specific album. The author gives their take on the music, the band in general, and whatever else they like. Reading Nicholas Rombes’ Ramones, I came upon this sentence about the song title “The KKK Took My Baby Away”:

“The sense of disequilibrium and unease that’s generated by moments like this is perhaps something that we ought to preserve, rather than justify or explain away…” (pg. 61).

In other words, stop looking for a Point in everything. It’s those enduring, impossible to pin down questions that make life interesting, because they lead to real thinking. I was the first part of the spoonfed generation, and I have a feeling it’s going to get worse. So I’m getting rid of the boxes. Who really cares just exactly why I love punk, or metal, or dreamy British pop music? Even scientific experiments don’t usually come to a solid conclusion. There should be more people like my teacher and Rombes. Except for whoever invented sporks.

*If you’re still reading, I adore you. I’m afraid I’m feeling very chatty (typey?) today.



  1. You are right. Dead on spot. I liked this writing. In fact you’ve just got blogrolled. Hope you don’t mind. :o)

  2. On the contrary I’m quite flattered. Thank you 🙂

  3. Very glad you liked that sentence from the Ramones book–the trick about writing about something is to try to do it without draining it of all mystery. Sometimes–with luck–through writing we can add to the mystery, not drain it away. Some of my favorite authors–especially George W.S. Trow–do just this.

    Keep up the good writing.

    Nick Rombes

  4. Thank you for the wonderful comment, Nick. Preserving the mystery is definitely something I aspire to. I’ll have to check out George W.S. Trow.

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