I'm reading Ben Lerner's book The Topeka School and there is a reoccurring idea in the text called "the spread," a linguistic device used by high school debaters in a policy debate to overwhelm their opponents with information that they won't have time to rebut. There is a beautiful line late in the book: "But there are no grown ups, that's what you must grow up to know fully; your parents were just two bodies experiencing the landscape and weather....cutting profound truths with their opposites as the regimes of meaning collapse into the spread" (226).
Two ideas about the regimes of meaning collapsing under the spread--
1. I thought age and experience brought certainty. (Maybe it does for some people, but not for me--see, an example). Instead, as my knowledge and experience compound, I get lost in the spread of facts and experiences. This is especially happening at school where, after 17 years of teaching, I have accumulated so many different techniques, projects, passions and ideas the hard part is just shifting through it all.
2. The spread is also the internet (obviously). Waves after waves of little bits of information until truth doesn't seem knowable or even objective.
3. The Topeka School is so much a book for me that I feel like it was a book written for me. I want to write the author a letter and call him Ben and talk about growing up in the 90s and how language makes and simultaneously obscures our identities, how everything feels like the spread when you are in your 40s and decades of songs, phrases words and sounds vie for space in your head.
If you read it, tell me what you thought.