Tutor profile: Natascha T.
Analyze the power politics immersed in the Miller-O'Gorman correspondence.
The date is 2.22.66. Ned O’Gorman is courteous in the way he begins his letter, and chooses to address Henry Miller as “Mr. Miller.” By doing so, he is already establishing rapport between himself and his addressee. He then writes, “I send along to you this outline of a book I begin to edit for Random House. I seek your guidance.” His language is formal but only in that it illustrates Miller as the superior party or, in simpler terms, the benefactor. Indeed, the aforementioned sentence in and of itself positions Miller as the potential recipient of power and founds their relationship on a pedagogical basis. Furthermore, to elaborate the nature of his request, O’Gorman writes, “I am searching for the revolutionary mind… There must be a chapter in this book written by a poet who can write of hallucination; of the modes and poses and masks of madness… Who would that man be?” In this excerpt, O’Gorman’s language becomes flowery and poetic and derives from an obsequious motive, intending to impress the addressee (as indicated by what he asks next: “Would you have the time to guide me in this cumbersome task?”) Not only that, but he also feels the need to enclose in his letter a paragraph designed only to express his gratitude and admiration for Henry Miller. Illustrating that, he writes, “There is… no need to say that your novels and your sublime book on Greece are to em the dayspring of much of my thinking and dreaming.” This, again, places Miller at the top of the power pyramid, and suggests that Miller is willing to accept and cherish whatever response Miller sends back. It is also worth noting that O’Gorman’s letter is typed, which suggests that he wants to come off as respectable. Miller’s response to O’Gorman, on the other hand, is not typed. As a matter of fact, it is handwritten, disorderly, and raw in the most constructive sense. Upon receiving the letter, Miller takes on the role he is granted by O’Gorman (that is, the role of the mentor or teacher), and is not embarrassed to express his frank opinion about O’Gorman’s work. Almost unapologetically, he begins the letter by informing his addressee that he is “laid up with the flu and also have great trouble reading.” This I believe is his way of asking O’Gorman to be patient with him. Following that, he writes, “It seems to me you are trying the impossible,” a fair comment that teachers often make responding to ambitious students. Furthermore, it appears that Miller’s main concern is that O’Gorman may not find the ‘poet’ he is searching for—that even if he does find the “poet [O’Gorman] speak[s] of, would he be listened to?” This criticism of O’Gorman’s approach seems harsh in the way it is presented but also appears to make sense and to be constructive. It is also reflective of Miller’s authoritative aura from which he gathers the strength to advise his mentee. What is also interesting about Miller’s didactic response is that just as it appears frank in some instances, it also works to console the addressee as indicated by, “I hope I don’t sound pessimistic to you. I know we can’t go on forever as we are now. But I am not enough of a visionary to say how , when, where the great change will come about.” This ingenious line is offered by Miller to O’Gorman as a glimmer of hope. Moreover, Miller refers O’Gorman to two books “which I [Miller] turn to time and again when in doubt or despair—“Siddhartha” by Hermann Hesse,” and “The Absolute Collective.” Since O’Gorman establishes from the beginning that he looks up to Miller, Miller proffers books that he himself has used as tools for positive change. This suggests that Miller wants O’Gorman to succeed in his task. Although this advice is concrete, Miller also has the tendency to counsel his mentee by using cryptic language. That is by ending his letter with the words of his “favorite poet Rimbaud: “…puisque tout ce qu'on nous enseigne est farce,” which translate to: “Everything we are taught is a lie.” In knowing that he has the power to make or break O’Gorman, Miller chooses to end with those words—to conclude with an open ending; one that is so abstruse that it leaves the addressee flabbergasted and hanging right on the bottom edge of the power pyramid.
Subject: English as a Second Language
Write an introductory essay about yourself.
It takes passion, composure and a minimal level of transcendence to compose a valid description of oneself. Therefore, it is only fair for me to begin by introducing the simplest aspect to my existence; I am human. I am prone to curiosity. I am prone to error. With that stated, it is safe to say that life has taught me well. Born in Jordan, I grew up knowing what it’s like to have ambition, to aim high, and to fight for what’s right. My parents taught me to earn what I get, rather than to ask for it, and I live by this mantra. Everything around me inspires me in impossibly different ways. I learned how to approach people by watching others do so. I learned that high goals are set to be accomplished, and that failure must go along the lines of a second chance. Therefore, when I draw I prosper. When I write poetry, I flourish. And when I run, I feel alive. My interests are no different than any other’s. I like to question a lot, I like to listen, and I like to prove points. When given an argument to work with, I like to compromise between both ends before I start to argue. When given a pencil, I like to sketch my fears. Literally. And when given the freedom to express, I like to think myself a poet. Even if it is only imagined, my passion towards writing never stows. I’m not saying that I am the best out there, but the courses that my life has taken taught me to empathise. My strengths as a student include my ability to connect with people and to concentrate, and my weaknesses as a student include my ambition. I would like to become a person who has the confidence to always move forward despite the challenge. I would like to improve my writing skills, to broaden my perspective, and to start shaping my own world. With all the effort I promise I will pour into my work, I hope I can gain that spark and the ability to achieve and learn from my mistakes.
Does natural poetry exist?
It often dazzles me, the lunacy which accompanies my contemplation of the power of poetry. It also leaves me spellbound and forces me to deem natural poets oracles of divination. I have read once and will recite the following words to make clear as to why it maddens me, pondering over the power that lies in the hands of a poet. John Kehts had said, “if Poetry comes not as naturally as the Leaves to a tree it had better not come at all.” This to me translates to: Only natural poets shall attempt to write poetry, and according to such reality, natural poets exist to do so. How frightening it is to believe such words yet how comforting; I certainly do find truth—that which petrifies me—in Kehts’ revelation. And the reason why it scares me is because it is also suggestive of the scarceness of natural poets. You see, in a universe like ours, poets are the black sheep; they are the bearers of the word of God, the prophets of today. They are the ones who find ease in shapeshifting, who mould their souls into those of others to find the right words to divulge. They are those who dissociate themselves from the realm of reality, who die every day to write of death, who are born every day to write of birth, who are the speakers of the language of the soul, the apprentices of elegance and finesse. They are the breath of Brahman, the sempiternal. They caress words with their expertise and make their poems such that they have the eloquence to sway a newborn. And to find a natural poet in someone is decadence, let alone in yourself. Therefore, let us think not of searching for those lunatics, not even in ourselves. Let us instead write as if the skies have asked us to compete and we shall all compete. Those who prove themselves insane, who find themselves vomiting words on paper, who think less of the prize and more of the beauty of the journey—they are the ones who shall, once truly dead, be throned as the mothers and fathers of natural poetry. And their words shall live on.
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