For several years, off and on, I have been thinking about what it has meant to my life that the first 20 years of it were dominated by my involvement with horses. On Sept. But some activities, equally difficult and, one would think, equally interesting, fail to arouse this response. Surgery, for example. I once thought I would be a biologist, and was at ease with dissection; but watching surgery, even when I am the patient, does not give me the same charge as watching a man operate a backhoe.
I think one reason for this tendency to be choosy about the skills I envy is that I have been lucky enough to develop a few skills of my own, some of them rather distantly removed from the business of writing or teaching. It is hard to think of an ingratiating way to put this, but my envy of certain skills does not arise from a general sense of my own ineptitude.
When I was in my late teens and early twenties, I moved toward a turning point in my life that launched me on the lifelong business of learning this lesson. In those days, horses and equestrian competition were central to my life and seemed likely to stay there. I had worked hard and had been lucky in the horses that came my way; so when, in , I tried out for the Olympic Equestrian Team, I was doing something difficult, but not unrealistically so.
"Horses of the Night" by Margaret Laurence.
I did not make the team on that occasion, but I saw fairly clearly what would be called for over the next year or two if I did want to make it; and that was the beginning of my decision, which took several more years, to concentrate on literature: there were things about education and books that I was going to have to give up if I wanted to make the equestrian team, and I realized that I did not want to give up those things.
It took me many years to put aside my daydreams of eventually making the team, and for a long time it was impossible for me to ride at all, because of my frustration at not being in circumstances that would allow me to ride in my usual way, which was based on the idea that every time I got off, the horse knew something significant that it had not known when I got on. But having given up on competitive riding did not mean that I put horses out of my mind; they have come into my other work, providing anecdote or metaphor, and even a way of thinking about what I am doing; so my conviction has deepened that a writer is helped by being good or at least having been good at something besides writing.
I have decided, on reflection, that it is not an exaggeration, but a simplification. Two or three years ago, for example, a couple of other poets and I took our turns before an audience, talking about how our teaching and writing styles had evolved, diverged, coincided, helped, or hindered each other. I had prepared remarks, but right there for the first time, I realized the significance of my earliest teaching experience, which was equestrian. When teaching riding, it is important to be audible, and experience shows that people on the ground have to speak right up if they are to be audible to people on horseback.
It has something to do with the wind past the ears, the sounds of hoofs and leather in the more immediate surroundings. Some people, seeing a riding class for the first time, think the teacher is shouting unnecessarily.
It is also important that students react as quickly as possible to instructions; you can prevent a fall if your student can stay in touch with what you are saying, even as something is going wrong. So I came to the college classroom having taught in a loud voice, in expectation of immediate obedience.
Some people will doubtless opine that this is poor preparation for a writing teacher; I am tempted to suggest that you not knock it till you try it, but honesty requires me to admit that I have tried to soften the drill-sergeant image somewhat. Nevertheless, it remains fundamental to my life that my knowledge of poetry is more tentative than my knowledge of horses, though by now it is probably no less thorough.
Take, for example, the fear of undeserved good luck. A complex emotional and intellectual apprehension with which many writers are familiar, to which I came most memorably one afternoon during a fit of temporary insanity—or hubris. The summer that I was 18, 1 took over from one of my sisters the training of a capable but difficult mare.
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She was intelligent and physically quick—a fine combination of attributes, you might think, unless you already know that smart horses expend much of their intellectual energy trying not to do what they are being asked to do. Her background was unusual, so I should fill it in; background is desperately important to most practitioners of Southern autobiography. A friend of ours named Russell Dart had got hold of a palomino stallion of unknown provenance, and spent a few months trying to get along with him.
He was large and athletic, a talented jumper, and seemed mostly willing. But located here and there over the portions of his body that a person could reach from the saddle, there were strange—buttons, you might call them, hidden switches that, when pressed, would cause him to kneel, rear up, fall down and play dead, or something equally irrelevant. So he sold the horse to a man who had the time and the inclination to seek out the pressure points and divest them of their significance.
Throughout this brain-washing, the horse never lost his quickness; it eventually became possible to show him as a jumper, but when he stopped at a jump, he was so quick and so dirty that I would not have believed it if I had not seen it for myself.
Chris’s major flaw in Horses of the Night
A few weeks of work reinforced her in the conviction that it would be better not to stop with me. At this point, unfortunately, I began to over-ride her; I kept her between my hands and legs, building in her gradually the notion that she did nothing on her own.
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Although he is innovative though his business ventures it still cannot overcome the fact that his circumstance I far too much for him to handle. Even though Chris persistently tries to realize his dream the reality of his circumstances could not be escaped. Chris is cynical because he realizes that his once hopeful theory is now crushed by reality. What else could He be? Ironically, Chris escapes the reality of his circumstance by facing the reality of war.
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Even though he escapes so many times he cannot physically escape the reality of war. Chris comes home, insane and hospitalized. This implies that Chris escapes into his imagination, going insane. Chris never faces reality. When reality is all around him there is no way to ignore it. Before he could merely shut himself off to the world, but in war there is nothing you can escape to, only insanity.
Dreams need to be grounded within the boundaries of circumstance or else they will never come true, because reality will trample over imagination.
Home Law Chris's major flaw in Horses of the Night. Vanessa is cognizant that she is populating during the Depression. From her position. Chris attempts to get away from his adversities by taking a point of view of optimism. For illustration. Chris tells Vanessa he is traveling to be a universe traveller when in world he is merely going a going salesman. One of the grounds he is fond of kids younger than himself is because of their worship for him. Vanessa is besides cognizant of being judged ill.
Although Chris is ever hopeful on the exterior.
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