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Extra resources for ACTIVE Skills for Communication 1: Student Text
He is an angry man, but he is also vulnerable. We cannot forgive him, but suddenly we feel compassion for Cholly nonetheless. It is interesting to note that judges participating in our CLTL program often responded in a similar way. Cholly’s story compels them, they say, to see offenders appearing before their bench from a new perspective. Each offender has a richly complex story, the judges agree. Such complexity makes judgment difﬁcult, but it deepens their sense of purpose. Such a reminder of the human complexity of experience itself raises questions about the perplexing relationship between mercy and justice, between compassion and judgment.
Language itself provides the medium or conduit for activating the imagination and for understanding both self and others. Language is our home, as the German philosopher Martin Heidegger suggested in 1947 in his ‘‘Letter on Humanism,’’ where he argued: Language is the house of Being. In its home man dwells. Those who think and those who create with words are the guardians of this home. (Heidegger, 1947, p. i) Language, as scaffolding for understanding, is not to be considered a shelter for protection, but a way to think and a place to grow.
Narrative language is embodied language, meaning that it is felt on the pulse of the reader as a fully human experience. What role the imagination plays in all this we will take up in more detail later, but we are here reminded of a quotation from Shakespeare’s Act 1 of ‘‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’’: And as imagination bodies forth The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing A local habitation and a name. (Shakespeare, 1937, p. 185) The difference between the language of a narrative story and the language of some other types of prose is, in one sense, the difference between embodied and disembodied writing.