Today I learned that my high school English teacher, Miriam Rapport, died back in June of 2015.  My heart aches with the knowledge that she has passed from the world, but I am also filled with fond memories.  She was a Jewish woman of Russian descent, and spoke often of what her family had been through both in Russia and during the war.  She was uncompromising in what she expected from us, who was charmingly cantankerous, and who had a quick, sarcastic wit and a profound love of teaching and her students.  In many respects, Mrs. Rapport taught me how to read.  Our class would sit in a large circle, reading Shakespeare, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Beowulf, and so many other things line by line.  She shared my love of the existentialists and directed me to a variety of things to read.  She introduced me to Dostoevsky and Kafka.  I would describe Mrs. Rapport’s theory of reading as “paranoid”.  “Everything, down to the most insignificant detail”, she would say, “is there for a reason and the task of a reading is to uncover why it is there.”  She would then add, “the author might not have known that reason nor intended that thing, but nonetheless, that purple umbrella somehow contributes to the text.”  Clearly she had read the French literary theorists.  That was her theory of reading, and it is one that I have carried with me ever since whether it comes to critiquing novels, films, or television shows.  There is a reason Bruce Willis’s character is hitting golf balls from an oil rig at a Greenpeace at the beginning of Armageddon.  It is part of the key to understanding the entire film.  It is not merely an amusing plot point.

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