Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Opinion

June 19, 2012

RANDOM THOUGHTS: Plateau blessed with talent

CROSSVILLE — Our Plateau is blessed with talented folks. Jym Mitchell, a writer of poetry and prose, is one of those people. His second book “Simple Dreams” is now available at Shanks Center For the Arts.

Jym is a life long resident of this area and he began writing poetry and prose during his years in junior high school. Unfortunately all those pieces were destroyed when his family home was destroyed by fire in 2000. 

Expressing his thoughts through writing continued and he was encouraged by several knowledgeable poets to publish a book. In 2011 “Dilemmas” was published. This second book, “Simple Dreams,” continues with stories about family and places familiar to people in this area — Pleasant Hill, Ozone, Falls Creek, Crab Orchard and Grassy Cove.

Mitchell also takes the reader into the mind of many who have lived through bad experiences such as the Holocaust. He was asked to read his poem on that “Ghastly Dream” at the annual Days of Remembrance ceremony held in Cookeville in May 1911 by the Tennessee Holocaust Commission.

This second book is worthy of being added to your collection of books. It stirs memories as well as addressing a number of injustices many face silently.

***

Once there was a time called the age of innocence. Its decline began when Edith Wharton’s novel by that name was published in 1920. The actions of characters in that book showed the fallacies of such a belief.

During that age of innocence, educators in late 18th century England called for a return to traditional speaking and listening methods in the schools. Changes were made and after they had been used for some years a study was done in 1911 on the results.

It concluded the greater the expectation placed on people, often students, the better they will perform and described it as the Pygmalion effect. In mythology that was the name of an early Cypriot sculptor who carved an ivory female statue and fell in love with her. She became human because of his wishes.

In 1912 George Bernard Shaw wrote a play called Pygmalion. It was a tale of a professor of phonetics transforming a young woman who spoke with a cockney accent into a lady speaking excellent English. In 1956 Pygmalion became My Fair Lady and the scenes of Henry Higgins teaching Eliza Doolittle proper English continues to delight audiences world-wide.

In the late 1770s English actors were giving lectures and publishing information on speech. Those youngsters taught privately learned the importance of speech but those of the lower class were neglected. Not only did the call for a return to traditional speaking methods in schools have an effect on entertainment but on the general public. Interest in speaking the Queen’s English became important and elocution entered the scene. 

Elocution is defined as one of five core disciplines of pronunciation and soon both private and public classes in the art of public speaking were offered. By the early 19th century elocution became a staple of American public school’s curriculum.

McGuffey published several books on the subject. They included chapters on articulation, accent and emphasis, inflections, the voice, gestures and instructions on reading verse. That period of enlightenment didn’t last long.

Today the masses communicate by texting, tweeting or twittering  Could this be the century there should be a call for the return to traditional speaking? 

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