Wednesday, May 5, 2010

I wish I was an English Muffin

I love Simon and Garfunkel, most especially Punky's Dilemma, which inspired my toaster header. Here are some of the oh-so-delicious lyrics:

I wish I was an English muffin
'Bout to make the most out of a toaster
I'd ease myself down
Comin' up brown

Personification is so much fun! And so natural. I have feelings. I have desires. I have intent. Why not project those same levels of consciousness onto an English muffin? My imagination wants that soft and chewy snack to anticipate the toasting experience, to approach the toaster with casual purpose, and then to reappear from its tanning booth equivalent a new and improved breakfast bread.

Personification can get old. If you're going to write a whole novel about, say, rabbits, it needs to be about more than just rabbits with feelings. The rabbit veneer needs to veil very real and complex human issues, at least if you want it to be as good as Watership Down.

Isn't personification done well like fantasy done well? To me, it's not for the angle in and of itself. The angle merely provides a layer of distance from the real issues that allow the reader to absorb ideals without feeling the preachy factor. An author's opinions on what makes an action noble or ignoble are much more palatable if they are wrapped up in the story of, say, an elf or a rabbit.

Or even an English Muffin. Now I wonder what Simon and Garfunkel think about the vanity of tanning beds.

As a writer, I also wonder why they used the Indicative 'was' instead of the Subjunctive 'were'. Surely, the wish to be an English muffin would be purely hypothetical. Then again, perhaps they are holding out for the possibility that one of them might have been an English muffin in a previous life. Or they plan on discovering a genie and/or a time machine to make their past tense pie-in-the-sky wish a reality.

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