Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Zipped Lips Preserve Bookclubs

I'm the newest member, this was my third meeting, and I am still meeting members who weren't there before. The first meeting was such a stimulating experience, I worried afterwards that maybe I had talked too much in my rush of enthusiasm for "lit talk" with very smart, very insightful readers.

I certainly didn't mean to dominate the conversation. But I made a mental note to remember my classroom mantra: "Don't be a gunner,* no matter how much you enjoy the material." The corollary to this is "Don't drink too much coffee before class."

Last meeting I met a member who hadn't attended the first meeting. This person has quite a "big" personality. But I figured that, as the leader of that meeting, she was doing her bit to keep the discussion lively.

This past meeting she was not the leader, but did a lot of the talking anyway. I thought this dampened the contributions of other members who are not so outgoing. Often her insights were helpful, but after she launched her opinion one too many times for my taste, I was tempted to say "And I think it's dangerous to project one's own views of male-female relationships onto characters in literature and then present them as gospel." **

But I didn't say that. I also remembered that someone famous--or at least someone very wise--pointed out that the things we dislike most in others are often the things we dislike most in ourselves.

Food for thought, that.

*In law school, gunners are those eager beaver, goody-two-shoes types who raise their hand to answer every question. If you are interested, I will write a post in defense of gunners, who actually serve a valuable classroom function. Let me know!

**We read Grace Paley's short story "An Interest in Life," for anyone who must know. Good stuff: a very funny and insightful character study.

2 comments:

  1. Yes please about the gunner, that would be interesting. Seems you got out gunned this last time;-)

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  2. I go to philosphy meetup, which sometimes involves interesting discussions, and sometimes involves people who have claimed they are there to listen dominating the entire discussion - as the group organizer remarked, all of the people who show up for a philosophy meetup are likely to possess incompletely developed social skills.

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