October 17: my pool of light

I teach languages by the pool of light method. It is a revolutionary method.You start with a small pool of light. In that pool you have your basic verbs: verbs of discourse (speak, say); movement (go, walk); sensation (see, look, hear), little gesture (take, put, prepare), routine (sleep, work). Just these small good things, as Raymond Carver says. They are in our pool of light. Beyond the pool of light is the dark. The dark stretches for miles. It is all the words we do not know. There are many of these. It is dangerous, the dark. You must learn to stay in your pool of light. People find it hard to stay in the pool. When they speak they immediately wander out of the pool of light into the dangerous woods. They want to say I pick up. They cannot. Pick up is not in your pool of light, I say. Take is in your pool. Say take. They want to say cook. Cook is not in your pool of light, I say, but prepare is in your pool. Say I prepare the steak, not I cook the steak. You can say I prepare the steak. Stay in the pool. They want to say combined harvester. Combined harvester, or for that matter any farming vehicle or agricultural accessory, is not in your pool of light. It is right in the middle of the evil forest. You cannot say combined harvester. You have been studying this language for half an hour. Stay in the f—ing pool of light. The pool of light I have built for you, painstakingly built for you. Do not step outside. The woods are perilous. They want to say saunter. I nod, hardly containing my exasperation. Yes. It’s that pool of light again. Saunter is in the forest, off the path even. Walk. You can walk. That is in the pool of light. What’s that? You have a question? Of course you can ask a question. Fire away! What’s that? You don’t understand the pool of light. All right. That’s fine. Shall we have a little break now and come back to this later.


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