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- The Evolution of Expression Vol. I - 3/20 -
(NOTE.--Let the teacher and student remember that the headings of the chapters name effects rather than causes, signs rather than things signified. They are not, therefore, objects of thought for the student while practising; they are finger points for the teacher; the criteria by which he measures his pupil's development.)
Reading is a communication of thought; a transference of ideas from one mind to other minds so as to influence their thinking in a definite manner. The process is distinctively communicative, involving two parties, speaker and audience, equally indispensable. As well might the student of manual training attempt his work without materials, to paint without paper or canvas, carve without wood or stone, model without clay, as the student of expression to read or speak without an audience. For this reason in all his private practice as well as class drill, the student should hold in mind an audience to whom he directs his attention. The office of the teacher is to hold constantly before the pupil these two mental concepts, his thought and his audience, or his thought in relation to his audience. The pupil must be taught to respond to the author's thought as to his own, and at the same time he must be inspired with the desire to give that thought to others. In his endeavor to awaken other minds his own will be quickened. This mental quickening reports itself in animation of voice and manner. Herein is illustrated a fundamental law of development; what we earnestly attempt to do for another that we actually do for ourselves. The constant endeavor of the teacher, therefore, must be to inspire the pupil to serve his audience through truth, the truth of his discourse. His attempt to gain the attention of his hearers and to concentrate their minds on this truth will secure such concentration of his own mind as will stimulate his interest, and interest is always vital.
Let no one mistake loudness for animation. A whisper may be more vital, more animated than a shout. The slightest quiver of a muscle may reveal greater intensity of thought than the most violent gesticulation. Yet since freedom and abandon of the agents of expression are necessary to their perfect service, let the teacher invite that freedom and abandon without fear of sacrificing good taste. He is not to be regarded as an artist yet; nor is it now profitable to measure him by the criteria of art. Let the form of his expression be as crude as it may, only let it be born of the thought. The student is learning to think on his feet; and the act of mental concentration upon his author's thought in relation to his audience is not at first a simple task. Do not hurry him in his development. Remember that expression to be truthful, must be spontaneous. The teacher needs only to hold the right objects of thought before the pupil's mind, then stand aside and let him grow in nature's own way. No thought of the HOW should be allowed to enter the student's mind while he is speaking, it is only the WHAT that concerns him. Form is born of spirit; the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.
The requirement of the present chapter is met when the student is able to fix the attention of those who listen upon the central idea or theme of the selection. The WHOLE or unit of thought should be held before the pupil's mind, and by him, before the mind of the audience, attention not yet being directed specifically to PARTS.
The basis of intelligent vocal interpretation of literature is careful analysis. One cannot express shades of meaning that are not in the mind; until one clearly perceives the motives and relationships of the selection, he cannot reflect them to others. Too much cannot be said upon the importance of thorough thought and study of a selection previous to any effort toward expression. It is needless to explain that one cannot give what he does not possess; and it is equally self-evident that one gains by giving. Long and thoughtful quiescent concentration should precede the concentration of mind while speaking. The author's words are like a gold mine which must be searched by thorough digging for the nuggets of thought beneath. The pupil must live with his author, see through his eyes, think with his intellect, feel with his heart, and choose with his will, picturing to himself every scene, putting himself in the place of every character described.
Like every organism every true work of art has organic unity; it represents a unit of thought, the WHOLE, made up of essential PARTS. Each part is a part of the whole, because in its own way it reflects the whole. The perfect unity of an organism or of a work of art results from the service rendered by each part to every other part.
Here, then, is the logical order of analysis: first, the WHOLE or unit of thought; second, the PARTS; third, the SERVICE, OR THE USE OF THE PARTS; fourth, the RELATIONSHIP OF THE PARTS which is the highest service and results in revelation. In determining this higher service we are reconstructing our whole from the unit of the selection to the revelation of truth resulting from the relationship of parts; the analysis must culminate in synthesis, else it would defeat its purpose. The end of literature, as in other forms of art, is revelation. The end of analysis is to lead to the perception of this revelation. In the earlier stages of development the pupil's attention should not be directed toward minute analysis. At this period his mind is engrossed with the principal thought or unit of the composition,--the dominant theme which is developed in every organic literary composition. Let his mind rest upon this until he lives in the spirit of the theme through a passion for reflecting it to others.
Inasmuch as an attempt to define always limits, it is a question how far it will be profitable to formulate definite statements of the whole, parts, etc. Written expression, as well as oral, is individual. Each pupil may have a different formulation. Inasmuch, however, as every author is possessed by a definite purpose, we may suggest, for the guidance of the student, a tentative analysis of a selection which may aid him in reflecting its truth to an audience.
It is hoped that this brief study of one selection from each chapter may be acceptable as a working basis, a hint of the logical method of procedure rather than an arbitrary model. The elaboration of these principles is without limit and must be left to the teacher. It is the purpose here to give only simple statements intended to be suggestive rather than final.
Example: "The Cheerful Locksmith." (Page 46.)
The Unit, or Whole for working basis: The character of the Cheerful Locksmith.
(a) The sound he makes. Paragraphs 1, 2, 3, 7.
(6) His personal appearance. Paragraph 4.
(c) The appearance of objects around him. Paragraphs 5, 6.
The Service of the Parts:
(a) Serves the Whole by engaging the interest at once in the Cheerful Locksmith, whom it introduces, and whose nature it reflects.
(b) Serves by presenting a definite picture of him, radiating cheer.
(c) Serves by revealing further his cheerful personality through its effect upon surrounding objects.
The Relationship of the Parts:
(a) Foreshadows (b) and (c).
(b) Fulfils the expectation awakened in (a) and helps to prepare the mind for (c).
(c) Is a natural outgrowth from (a) and (b).
The revelation of truth through these relationships gives us a "New Whole" which maybe stated thus: The spirit of cheerfulness, radiating from the Locksmith's personality and expressed through his work, is reflected by all around him.
The above analysis is suggested as a guide for study. A tentative analysis of each selection might be offered here; but it is better that the student develop his own powers of discrimination by doing this preliminary work himself, directed, as far as necessary, by the teacher. However, it is not essential that a formal analysis of every selection be made; indeed, as has been already implied, minute analysis may even defeat the end of these opening chapters. The question of formal analysis may be left to the discretion of the teacher, who must determine how far it serves his purpose in each individual instance.
The criterion of Chapter I. does not demand an interpretation based upon the complete analysis given above, which is intended as an illustration of all analysis; if all the relationships suggested above be reflected through an oral reading of "The Cheerful Locksmith," the reader has attained the steps of development embodied in Volume IV. However, in drill on the selections in Volume I., the teacher should never think of limiting the pupil to the significance of that volume; every student should be encouraged to reflect as much of the truth, literal and suggestive, as his degree of discernment and of freedom will allow.
The immediate aim of drill on "The Cheerful Locksmith" should be a hearty response to the spirit of the Whole, however much beyond that may be achieved. The student must be inspired by an ardent desire to awaken the interest of his audience in "The Cheerful Locksmith," as does one who through introductory remarks presents the "speaker of the evening."
It is to be thoughtfully noted that all the selections in this and the three succeeding chapters have been chosen for their easy
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