Do I Make Myself Clear?

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“Listen carefully. America had burned his books, because he told the truth and expressed his sincere feelings. He showed his anger at his own country without any reservations. He criticized American society system and way of life forthrightly. He wanted to change the world for the better, you know….”

“But it broke the ice eventually.”

“Yes, that’s correct. It broke the ice eventually, for he was a great writer; his writing has the power to influence a great deal of people. Even these days a lot of people still admire him and read his books in order to be enlightened. I’m telling you this due to your ignorance. Henry Miller believed in himself faithfully and never wrote for majority in order to earn money; he wrote his books, so that he could express his true feelings. Fame and money were doodly-squat to him. His only concern was expressing himself ultimately. Do you really think that this sort of man’s opinions is low level? You can insult me anytime you want, but I can’t allow you to insult the man, whom I revere to the heaven. Do I make myself clear?” I countered emotionally.

Pause.

“Maybe, Henry Miller was a rare man who didn’t concern about the majority. However, in reality, writers concern about the majority when they write books; otherwise, nobody will read their books.”

Her pride did not allow admitting her mistake, that was the last straw for me. I had to fight for what I believed in. Thus, I said what I had to say, “I totally disagree with you; I think you’re hopelessly erroneous. I don’t want to fritter away my time anymore. I’ll drop out the course with pleasure. It’s already too much nonsense to me.”

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I Do Really Care of My Hero

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As I entered the English department with a full of resolution, she was talking to her colleague in an obviously good spirit, that made me infuriated. I uttered sharply, “Excuse me, may I talk to you? It’s urgent.”

My unanticipated reappearance on the scene spooked at her morbidly, as if she saw apparition before her eyes. She fidgeted, “Why are you coming back? I thought we are quits… please sit down here….”

I sat on the chair agitatedly and stated firmly, “I just let you know that I’ve talked to the principal. And most importantly, he’s asked me to talk to you about the situation all over again.”

Her face became pale, and she muttered, “Why did you do that? You’ve consented to the arrangement. And you said you don’t care about the grade.”

“I don’t care about the stupid grade. But I do really care of my hero. You simply can’t talk about Henry Miller like that. Your opinion of him makes me embarrassed. You’ve never read his books clearly, for if you’d had, you would’ve never blabbed such a shockingly unintelligent comment. He was the man, who always sang his songs in his own tune at the top of his lungs in his whole lifetime. Shame on you!”

“What on earth are you talking about, Shogo? What do you want from me?” she was totally bewildered by my incensed tone.

“You should know, when he published his first book, Tropic of Cancer, in France, America rejected his book. What’s more, his books had been burned in his own country for over thirty years. Meanwhile, his books had become international best seller in France, Japan, etc. Do you know why his books were burned in his own country?”

She glared at my eyes and retorted, twitching on the corner of her left mouth, “You tell me.”

Her Parting Words Outraged Me

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She nodded pensively, “Well, Shogo, I need to give you a grade on this essay.” She pretended to be looking at her note in order to give me an impression. She wrote down the grade on the last page of my essay, handed over it to me, and resumed, “I gave you ‘F’ on this essay. You failed on this time. I think your essay is quite off topic. I read your essay very carefully with extra attention and reached the conclusion. And you don’t care about grade, so….”

“It doesn’t matter. I didn’t expect that you’d understand my essay anyway,” I was standing up and walking to the door. As I was about to step out the threshold, she gave me Parthian shot, “Shogo, I forgot to tell you one thing. Many critics said that Henry Miller’s opinions are very low level and laughed at them.”

Her parting words outraged me. It was okay with me that she insulted me and failed me. As a matter of fact, I put up with this frivolous reality, notwithstanding I was nauseated of preposterous education system to the hell. Still and all I could not allow her to insult my hero. “Why did she insult Henry Miller?” I was talking to myself aloud while waiting for an elevator. I could allow her to insult me as much as she wished but never my hero. I could not forgive her and determined to make her apologize for gibing my hero. I decided to decline her proposal flatly and made my mind to have a straight talk with the principal.

Thereupon, I dashed to the principal’s office as fast as I could carry my legs, with indescribable indignation. I told the principle everything down to the last details. He thought that some misunderstanding must have occurred between us. For that reason, he wanted me to go back to the English department to talk with her again and come back to his office to let him know of denouement.

It Was Beyond Insulting

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“I think we should find a few adjustments in somewhere between us. I now know that you apparently have your unique thoughts. What I’m concerning is that your opinions are too strong. I’m worried about an upcoming presentation. You know, we’ll have the group poetry presentation soon. Anyway, to make a long story short, I want you to pretend to agree with your team-mates’ ideas, and I don’t want you to say anything about your thoughts during the presentation. I don’t want you to say, for example, ‘I think that the poet didn’t feel nature; he just wrote with his technic, etc.’ – something like that. It’ll certainly give a bad influence on my students. Listen to me, Shogo, I’m not finished yet. If you agree with me that you’re not saying anything during the presentation, I’ll allow you to do whatever you want to do in the rest of semester. It means that you can read books whatever you fancy during the class and that you no longer need to give your attention to what I’m teaching; you just sit down to be quiet and don’t say anything – don’t rock the boat. I don’t want you to say anything for the rest of semester, do you understand? In addition, you can choose topics whatever you’d love to write for other essays. I won’t correct any grammar mistakes and won’t write any comments on your essay, because you apparently don’t care what I write. I think you care only what you think. As a result, I’ll simply write a grade on a last page of your essay and give it back to you henceforth.”

I was shockingly befuddled by her proposal. It was beyond insulting; I had never been so offended to the highest degree in my life. I was awfully disappointed in her and just wanted to end this degrading discussion forthwith; therefore, I simply said, “I don’t care what you think of my writing.”

“I take it as Yes,” she seemed relieved somewhat, smiling.

“Anything else? Can I go now?” I asked as casually as possible.

She looked at me satisfyingly and inquired, “Why did you choose this course, Shogo?”

“I had no choice. The counselors told me that I need to get nine English credits.”

I Wanted to Express My True Feelings

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A couple of weeks later, my professor gave back our essays to us. I was extremely curious what grade she gave me. At my great surprise, instead of giving me a grade on the last page, she just wrote: To see me.

When I entered the English department, she was expecting me. She brought a chair and asked me to sit down. As soon as I sat on the chair, I began studying her desk. Lo and behold, there was an over-sized James Joys’ poster was pasted on the wall right before her desk. She was writing something on her note and then turned back to me. She looked at my eyes squarely and said, “Do you know why I’ve asked you to see me?”

“You want to talk with me about my essay, I assume.”

“Yes, I actually need to talk to you. I’ve read your essay a couple of times. In fact, I’ve spent a considerable time on it. I just want to know why you wrote it in this specific way.”

“Just because I want to express my true opinions, instead of writing what you want to hear.”

Her face became serious, and she begun cross-examining, “What do you mean? And why did you quote from Henry Miller? Why did you talk about James Joyce in this unfriendly fashion?”

“I just wrote my true opinion about James Joyce. What’s wrong with that? Am I forbidden to write what I truly feel? Furthermore, what is wrong with me to quote from Henry Miller? He was a great writer. I quoted from him, for his opinions of James Joyce happened to agree with mine. You said that I had to quote from some credible statements to support my opinions; therefore, I quoted from Henry Miller.”

“Sure, sure, of course, there is nothing wrong with you to quote from Henry Miller, who was a great writer, and so was James Joyce; nevertheless, I totally disagree with your opinions. Besides, you didn’t use any statements and opinions what I’ve taught you in class. Why is that?”

“Because I’ve been sick of writing what you want to hear. I wanted to express my true feelings.”

“Shogo, you don’t care about your grade, do you?”

“Nope. I don’t care anything about grade.”

“I’m just beginning to know you….”