|Of Rimbaud and the Importance of Love
Author: Diary PM
"He's changing your world," she corrects. "It's not the same thing." Complete. Edited slightly.Rated: Fiction T - English - Friendship - Kenny - Words: 1,532 - Reviews: 1 - Favs: 2 - Published: 12-04-11 - Status: Complete - id: 7610594
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Incorporate this quote into your fic: "Professional certification for car people may sound like an oxymoron." -The Wall Street Journal, page B1, Tuesday, July 17, 1990.
Disclaimer: I do not own A Single Man.
Author's Notes: This takes place pre-Jim's death.
"Poetry is meaningless," Lois informs him.
Kenny leans back. "You don't understand the-"
"Brilliancy of being able to mould social commentary, biting wordplay, and sharp characterisation into non-standard format," she finishes, tone bored. "You do realise that poetry used to be the standard format? Eventually, people got frustrated and learned how to craft actual novels."
"You're not going to help me write a letter of protest, are you?"
"You need to invest in a typewriter," she tells him, seriously.
He sighs, wondering if he should bring up her vehement disapproval of censorship; granted, this isn't the precisely the same thing, but-
On the sidewalk, Professor Falconer walks by, and Kenny finds himself smiling, sitting up fully. "We have English this semester."
As soon as the words are out, he realises how he sounds, and a second later, he feels Lois's stare bore into him, the one that calls him an idiot without her customary neutral expression actually changing.
Grinning, never one to particularly care if he looks like the fool when it comes to her, he turns, explaining.
Later, after class, Lois gives him a look, and he'd lay odds she's judging him. For every quote extolling the virtues of love, she can pull one up about how love is a trite, overrated, almost completely non-existent concept that people force themselves to believe in due to humanity's inherently evil, pathetic nature. Her favourite is probably, 'The one who loves less always controls the relationship.'
Of course, Kenny isn't in love with their professor, but that's mostly her attitude towards everything involving interpersonal relationships. She thinks polite indifference and icy glares when it's not returned is the best way of dealing with people. How they ended up friends is still a mystery, actually.
"Good luck," is all she says, however, briefly pinching his wrist before taking his bag and leaving the classroom.
He walks up to Professor Falconer's desk, and the man looks up, a fond look crossing his features. "Kenny," he greets. "Come to steal Miss Yamaguchi's papers, again?"
"I thought Lois forgot to add her name, sir," he says, easily. "I didn't steal them."
In a sense, he had and hadn't; he'd switched them, but since their professor had seemingly accepted his explanation, he wasn't going to keep defending himself. At the beginning of the year, Lois had decided to write a pro-communist essay. As much as Kenny respects her bravery, he also loves her grandmother. So, he'd found a paper she'd wrote in high school and switched the two essays.
Professor Falconer had caught him, but he'd quickly come up with the explanation that Lois had thought she had forgotten to put her name on the papers. After seeing the papers were in her handwriting and hadn't left the room, Professor Falconer had dryly pointed out her name, written uncharacteristically in pink ink, was present, before correcting the wrong date on them and dismissing him.
Lois is still probably plotting his painful death in retaliation for the C she got.
"How can I help you, Mister Potter?"
"I was wondering, sir, if you know where I can get a copy of some of Arthur Rimbaud's works? None of the libraries around here carry them."
"An interesting choice," Professor Falconer notes, a touch of something Kenny can't identify in his voice. "I think I can find out for you."
Kenny grins at that, saying, "Thank you, sir."
The other man nods, looking contemplative. "Anytime."
For a moment, Kenny hesitates. "What do you think of his works, Professor?"
"There's no denying he was a genius," Professor Falconer answers. "However, I find most of his work rather depressing. I imagine Mister Rimbaud was, underneath his libertine lifestyle, a very lonely, troubled soul."
"Isn't that common knowledge, sir?"
That causes a momentarily sharp look, and Kenny belatedly remembers whom exactly they're talking about it. "No, I dare say it's not. Americans are usually very careful about what is and isn't known about the personal lives of those who make a lasting impact on humanity."
"I know better than to rely on most teachers when it comes to getting the whole story," Kenny says, cheerfully mild. "However unhealthy, it seems as if Rimbaud was at his best when he was with Verlaine."
A sigh followed by a heavy silence is his professor's response, and a suspicion of where Professor Falconer's thoughts lie, part frustrated the professor clearly won't be voicing them, courses through. Granted, Kenny doesn't often voice his thoughts to anyone but Lois, but he's not a professor, nor does he have truly nuanced way of looking at the world, something he admits to. Professor Falconer clearly cares about knowledge and takes his duty of trying to teach how to gather and apply it seriously, even when it comes to those often overlooked, such as Lois and the Negro and Jewish students, yet, despite his caring, he always holds some part back, for reasons unknown.
"Many would say he wasn't at his best," Professor Falconer says, startling him. He seems to make a decision. "If a person isn't in a healthy relationship with those they hold dear, they can never be at their best, even if they are producing their best work. I imagine, someday, you'll find the right person, and you'll be able to more fully see and understand what I mean, Kenny."
"I hope so, sir," he answers, noting the 'person' rather than 'woman'. "Good afternoon, Professor."
"He is out to corrupt his students, then," Lois says, unimpressed.
"You disagree with him," he asks, genuinely surprised.
She exhales, smoke wafting around. "A person's work is all they are; it's their one shot at truly making an impact. Professional certification for car people may sound like an oxymoron, but if someone's best talent is at fixing cars, they'd better stick to that and jettison anyone who tries to get in their way out."
Kenny's not sure if her rant really doesn't make any sense or if he just doesn't understand the point she's trying to make. "Lee," he says, defaulting to her grandmother's pet name for her, "what in the Hell are you trying to say?"
"Rimbaud and Verlaine might have been terrible together, but together, they changed the world. Changing the world is more important than being happy."
"I think the point is to find a way to be happy while changing the world," he reflects, inhaling.
"Changing the world always involves sacrifice," she answers, giving him a pitying look. "It means hard, relentless work, sweat, and usually blood. Only the mentally strong have any hope, and that's because they aren't afraid of being unhappy."
Sighing, he reaches over to tug her hair, a childish gesture but one of affection she won't otherwise allow. Lois is bitter, sarcastic, and so brave that she's probably going to die horribly before she ever reaches middle age, but like their professor, she doesn't mindlessly follow the thoughts of others, preferring to develop and find her own. He's never known of any women professors, but he thinks, if she makes it past young adulthood, she should consider a career as one. Philosophy, political science, or perhaps, ironically, ethics would suit her best.
"Professor Falconer is happy, and he's changing the world."
"He's changing your world," she corrects. "It's not the same thing."
Next class, he finds a bound-leather book of Rimbaud's complete works on his desk.
Lois trails her fingertips over it and tells him, "He'll never admit to being the anonymous donor."
Kenny, however, smiles.
Author's Notes: Originally, I had Lois's surname as Albert, but I've recently read some of the book the movie was based on. In it, Lois is Japanese-American, and her canon surname is Yamaguchi. For an undisclosed reason, the script of the movie deliberately called for a white, blonde woman to play her. Also, in the book, Lois was sent to an internment camp when she a small child. Personally, I'd have thought Kenny's small mention in the book about that would have really helped empathise the world they're living in and show more dimension to all three characters, but I also wouldn't have changed a character's race unless I literally couldn't find a proper actor(ess) of said race. Considering that she didn't even have a speaking role, I have to wonder how hard it would have been to find someone who looked like book!Lois to sit next to Kenny for the two or three scenes she was in.