During our second day of classes this semester, I made an early attempt to inspire my writing students. I hope to have set a tone about the spirit of writing, the spirit of invention, the potential permanence of both. Through the projector, I displayed the following quote and correlative images:
“If you would not be forgotten,
As soon as you are dead and rotten,
Either write things worthy reading,
Or do things worth the writing.”
-Benjamin Franklin – Poor Richard’s Almanac. May
After I read this entry aloud, I asked students to write down their interpretations. We next shared. One student said that Franklin was saying the best way to be remembered is by writing something that will last. Another student said when she finds a cure for cancer she’ll be written about for the rest of her life. A third student said a preposition was missing between “worthy reading.” Finally, a student said, “He’s saying that we can survive death by what we write.” What more could I say?
Whit Hubbard, Instructor, Ole Miss Department of Writing & Rhetoric