I have just found myself sighing in amazement at something the students around me probably would think me a crazy adult for doing – I was that nonsensical old teacher, who got all excited about nothing special, because she/he was a total nerd, just now. Who’d have ever thunk that I’d be that person when I grew older?
Anyway, the girls were talking about books for school, and I mentioned how using the audiobooks can be really helpful, whenever one finds it difficult to read the actual text of a book – it was how I managed to read lots of school books that I just didn’t like (and therefore struggled to sit down to read). It was also how, I mentioned, I read Huckleberry Finn. The language was written down for the story, but it was a set of spoken dialects that really weren’t written at the time. My being from the southern US, I can understand most of those spoken dialects referenced in the book. However, I never would read them. They were, as I mentioned, always spoken. So, when we read the book in school, I had to read a sentence once to figure out how to pronounce the words written there, and then I had to read it again aloud (either aloud in my head or actually aloud with my voice), so that I could hear what it was, and then I was able to understand what was written on the page. Suffice it to say that this took way longer than I was interested in managing for an entire book. Thus, the usefulness of the audiobook, which allowed me to understand everything immediately.
After I explained this, one of the girls mentioned how she would have found that useful for Pygmalion, the story of “My Fair Lady” that was written by George Bernard Shaw. She said that the language in the beginning was incredibly difficult to understand, such that she was somewhat dumbfounded with it at first.
Now, that reminded me of how I keep forgetting to add Pygmalion to my reading list. I’ve wanted to read it ever since I first learned about its existence, back when I was in high school. But, I keep forgetting to add it to my list, and so I forget about it any time I’m on the quest for my next read. Therefore, mid-conversation, I turned to my computer, and I added it to my reading list on GoodReads.
While there, I read the little blurb about George Bernard Shaw. I was amazed at his years of life. 1856 to 1950 was his lifetime. I began considering the historical events that occurred during that time span, and I was dumbfounded at how life might have been for this man, or even for any person living during that span of time, especially in the US, though he was in Ireland and England. I then saw that he had won the Nobel Prize in literature (and refused the money, asking it to be donated to book translations into English instead), and he also won an Oscar. And that second award struck me as odd.
He was born in the 1850s. But when was film first an actual public thing in the world? How do we go from the 1850s to an Oscar? I checked. It looked like film started to become a public thing around that 1880s. Before that, it was the little wheel things (zoetrope and praxinoscope, the predecessors of the flip book), like the one with the images of the man riding the old bicycle, where it looks like he is riding, because the pictures are rotating so quickly, but it is just the one single loop, repeating over and over again. (I looked quickly, but didn’t find a video or photo of that particular one, though it is the one I best remember from originally learning about them.) So, essentially, this man went from a world with no film to winning an Oscar for a film on which he worked (specifically, he wrote the story and script).
Is that not a crazy concept? It, I suppose, is similar to someone being born in, say, the 1960s, and being alive today, doing spectacular things in the computer industry. (Think Steve Jobs, even though he is not actually alive today.) Going from almost no existence of the world of the computer, to a time where one can become an expert and award-winner in the work of the computer. Except, for George Bernard Shaw, there were also two world wars that happened, and a million other huge historical events. What an amazing time to have been alive. What a terrifying time, as well, to have been alive.
So, anyway, I found myself gaping and sighing and “Wow”-ing over this new-to-me information just now, as the girls likely saw nothing spectacular for me to be “Wow”-ing about, and didn’t really care anyway, since I hadn’t really shared the information with them. But I just had to share this with someone… isn’t that an amazing time to have been alive, the lifetime of George Bernard Shaw? It’s like “Midnight in Paris”, except that I don’t actually want to go back to that time – it’s just a spectacular concept to me, being alive in that specific stretch of time.
Anyway… yeah. 😛