For all my students today would know, Royal Wood is another name for rare oak. I was trying to remember the line from one of his songs: what good's a mirror without a face or, I wondered this aft, what good's a face without a mirror. Although I should know better by now, I was surprised no one in the room had heard of Royal Wood. (Later, in a Sven Birkerts essay, came an allusion to Kooky from 77 Sunset Strip, a tv show I barely remember myself. shhhhfflltttt said one my students, making the fly-past motion over her head. Now that was no surprise.)
See, the problem is, we're not talking about the face and the mirror or the mirror and the face, part of what their current assignment is about.
In another class we're reading The Things They Carried and I've issued a couple of half-hearted language and content warnings. Much eye-rolling (which we do, we humans, if we sigh or gasp) when I say this, but with loads of assignments and midterms and labs (whatever they are) my students, I'm wondering tonight, might find episodes of violence and other nonstandard behaviour, rendered with grim certainty along the trail in South Vietnam circa 1968, too much to carry. Even so, this will help with their assignment, which is to write an essay on what they (university students) carry, in the manner of O'Brien's fiction.
I'm thinking about tomorrow's class, in other words, on the O'Brien stories "Love" and "Spin".