Literary Reflections–Chopin

What is the point of literature if not to make you feel! Sure, a point of literature can be to bring about change, but the great literature does that by making characters so real, in settings, and situations so identifiable that we can’t help but put ourselves in their places. Whenever I read The Awakening, I feel feelings. And I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t always like to feel feelings. They’re unsettling, even when they’re good because then I want to keep feeling good. I think this must be, at least in part, how Edna Pontelier felt. After feeling lovelusthappiness for the first time in years, she set out to feel more of it. She set out to live deliberately, by her own rules, seeking her own feelings. And I hate how this novel ends. I hate that she ends by walking into the sea, where her feelings were first awakened, but this hatred is a feeling too and perhaps it’s one that could, that can, bring about change.

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A Heart of Flesh

the sieve and the sand

A heart of flesh

is a dangerous thing

because it causes so much pain.

How much easier I always find it to be

to live with a heart of stone

inside of me.

Because a stone does not feel.

Because a stone has no need to heal.

Instead, it just chips away,

weathered and ripped apart

by the wind and the rain.

And flesh is just so weak,

able to be stabbedtornbroken

by the hands of man.

And it hurts so much to feel,

because every piece that breaks

causes so much ache.

So the temptation is so strong

to be a stone that rolls along

without feeling,

without touching,

without purpose.

But that life is not for me,

not since I looked at that tree.

And that life is not for me,

because even through the pain

a heart of flesh can find joy in the rain.

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Writing, Revision, Whatever

Waiting is hard. I find it easy to get impatient and to want to move on to the next step. It’s hard not to when I’m so excited for what the next step might be and have so much hope. But between now and the next step is at least several weeks and possibly several months of work. Work that needs to be done but also work that stands in the way of what I want to do. I know that the work is needed though. The revisions that I’m working on are things that I know will make the book better, more forceful, more moving, and just better written in the end. I know they need doing and knowing that makes the waiting a little easier. Though I still would love to pull out a magic wand and make it all happen right away.

Literary Reflections–Hemingway and Eliot

This last week I got to teach Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” and Heminway’s “The Snows of Kilimanjaro.” In a semester full of inspiring literary works, perhaps these two are among the most inspiring, not only because of their subject matter but also in terms of their composition and innovation. No matter how depressing “Snows” is, Harry’s regret that he never wrote what truly mattered and continual remembering of what he never wrote about underscores the need to do today whatever it is that we all want to do someday. The same theme permeates “Prufrock,” with the continual repetition of “There will be time,” “Do I dare?” and “Would it have been worth it all?” because there will never be time if we do not dare that it may be worth it to risk it all. It is so much easier to choose the safe road that leads to comfort, but as “Harry’s” regrets show, that comfort is the death of ambition, slowly suffocating his talent until in the end, all he had left was regret. So, rather than “measuring out my life with coffee spoons,” I choose “to descend the stair” in hopes that some day the mermaids will sing to me.