Slide 9 of 11
In some novels, we benefit from such experiences, But in these seven books, the vicarious experiences mean the reader must leave the observer’s vantage point and live through the protagonist’s wretched experiences in a first hand justification of wrongdoing with a lack of moral reasoning.
Vicarious experiences in these books include shame-filled behaviors of voyeurism, sodomy, rape, ritualized sexual power abuse, sex orgies, stalking used as courtship, and animal mutilations. These experiences are NOT offered for a value judgement, but instead justify themselves by the protagonists advocating his own misbehavior.
We have heard the “immunization theory” that literature can help students make good choices after they have lived through the bad choices of a protagonist. Surely this theory has a breakdown somewhere in the area of pornography, where there is, instead of inoculation, an exposure that results in an additive behavior. Can you determine that living with a protagonist through voyeurism will not introduce a student to this addictive behavior? That happens in Sometimes a Great Notion. Can you determine that living a life of stalking through a protagonist will not introduce a student to such addictive behavior? That happens in In The Lake of the Woods. Can you determine that living with a protagonist through the headlong rush toward suicide will NOT result in dragging some student along to his own suicide? Jay’s Journal and The Bell Jar do that. Where is the line drawn between inoculation and addiction? The point of immunizing is that a small dosage of dead virus is introduced into a body so that the body can build immunity to that virus. The vicarious experiences in these books neither come in small doses nor are they dead. These are living experiences, where the author is able to cause the reader to live through the experiences presented. That is particularly easy to do when the experience is prurient in nature by writing in a titillating manner. These books don’t work as immunizations against bad decision-making. They cannot immunize against the very behavior they advocate. That is like introducing living virus into the body...it will simply cause disease. With parental input, this statement most likely would have read - “provides positive ( or beneficial ) vicarious experiences,"
Language Arts Curriculum was adopted in 1998