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Monday, October 14, 2013

#Mimesis in Junior High. By John von Daler

                 I noticed the differences immediately when I arrived in my new class in the ninth grade in #Norwalk, Connecticut. We were many thousands of miles closer to Greenwich Village than #Tulsa, Oklahoma where I had spent my first thirteen years.

                For one thing the dress code had been decoded. These kids were relaxed, you might even say sloppy. There were no home queens here. The studied mannerism of my polite friends in Oklahoma was replaced with a kind of nonchalance, an anti-authoritarian grunginess and devil-may-care inquisitiveness that suited me just fine.
                I worked on my clothes and my attitude and made great headway within a few weeks. After all, survival of the fittest means learning to fit in. Soon I was on a par with the best of them. At a certain distance you could not have seen any significant difference between my classmates and me. We were peas in a pod.
                That is until I spoke. One day we were supposed to read a  literary piece aloud into a tape recorder. We went up one by one to record and then the teacher played our declamation back. I think we recited Shakespeare.
                When I heard my own nasal voice sounding out The Bard with something like "Tamarreh an Tamarreh an Tamarreh, Creeps inn thes peddy payce frum deh ta deh..." my internal alarm system sounded off just like the bomb-alert sirens we were taught to respect and obey in those Cold-War days. I went home with the clear feeling that I never should or would open my mouth again until the sounds coming out of it had turned native.
                Within hours I was speaking Norwalkian. To make things even easier I worked in a lot of, "like, man"s and "cool"s and muttered a lot. Within months I had started in a jazz band. I even got some girl friends. Mimesis makes the world go round.


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