Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Six-word stories

Ernest Hemingway once wrote a story in six words: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” He is reputed to have said that it was his best story. To me, the story is about innocence and tragedy existing in one seamless whole. Last night, I watched Pan's Labyrinth, one of the most profoundly beautiful and tragic films I've ever seen. The protagonist, Ofelia, escapes the horrors of her life in a world where cruelty and injustice seem to reign, into a fantasy world where innocence, courage, and love thrive. In the end, the question is not whether the fantasy elements are indeed real, or whether they are just within the mind of a lonely, grieving child, because innocence has the miraculous ability to transform magic into reality. So, even though the film is distressing, as we witness the ravages of war on the innocent, there's an uplifting quality fighting to be felt as well.

In Norway, there were thousands of children known as "Lebensborn" at the end of World War II. They were the products of Heinrich Himmler's experiment to create a “pure” Aryan race, when he encouraged German soldiers to breed with Norwegian women. These children were often abandoned by their mothers, left for the Norwegian state to do with them what it will. Many were institutionalized, ostracized by all who met them. They were called “Nazi brats,” and became targets of revenge. I can't imagine what it must have been like to grow up and to be treated like a monster from the moment of birth. Everyone is born innocent, regardless of who his/her parents are. In a world where innocence is so easily tainted, shouldn't we try our best at maintaining it where it exists, instead of taking our own anger and hurt out on those who do not deserve it?

I'm just particularly disillusioned today. My students are all teenagers, all jaded and disillusioned themselves. However, I catch glimpses of innocence in them still, and I want so very much to protect them at all cost. Most of the time, though, I just feel helpless.

Pardon my pessimistic outlook. I've been feeling poorly since Sunday, and am in denial about having caught the bug that's circulating around town.

My six-word story: In search of something, but what?


  1. I really loved Pan's Labyrinth too! Hey, just live, and don't worry too much about searching. You are in the right place, and never doubt it.

  2. My six words for you: Get some Buckley's quick, Liebling.

  3. That's not six words, I just realized! OK, let's try this again: Get some Buckley's quick, my Liebling.

  4. Hey there, where have you been lately? Hope all is well, and that your disillusionment has abated somewhat.