So, another day another dawn as Sean Puffy Combs would say. Maybe. But I digress.
I am actively seeking to make this approach work for me, and I think I am making strides, albeit slow ones. I don’t think there is much more to get except for learning to practically apply the aspects of formalism, which we began with the Sonnet. I accept its existence, its backgrounds, and its tenants, I just personally do not think that I am at the degree of proficiency in which I could do a formalist critique myself if left to my own “devices.” I guess this is just a confidence issue in whether or not I have ingested the ability to act on these points we’ve been discussing.
I am also led to a curious epiphany in that it seems that the structure of this class (from the schedule) is solely around criticism, and it seems that criticism is the majority of English studies (I’m not saying it is, just seems that way at this point). It seems strange that we take in different lenses with which to analyze scientifically or quantify the material brought to us, and in focusing on this, it seems that something is invariably lost. I cannot help but think of my own writing, and think that I am not looking for it to be analyzed or compared. I partially want it to be entertaining, but I really want it to convey a message. You could take every filter you want to a story or poem I wrote, and you could still fail to see it for what it is. Almost like (I know, too much use of the Dead Poets Society) in the Dead Poets Society when Robin William’s character instructs the class to remove the page from their texts in which the value of a poem is quantified by a linear graph. I understand the dichotomy(see, love dichotomy) of this position, and I can see both sides. Eventually, you have to have something more tangible or empirical to ground your studies. But this also holds your studies back from their full potential. It takes the pleasure out of it. It makes us the people Samuel Clemons would all too happily execute or something(see? wow I can insert hyperlinks and everything. Woah. No worries, I’m taking this aside out of my word count for credit…).
I just get the sense that we are removing the key purpose for writing: to inform, to entertain, to open up subject-matter itself. Sometimes, a tree is just a tree. Sometimes it isn’t. But this seems somewhat forced and contrived if criticism is the end all to English studies. The human element seems to me inseparable. And whereas we claim that we are not removing it with multiple criticisms, or we second guess people making blatant statements (like maybe Mark Twain was trying to make a hint in telling us not to look for hints), it seems that appreciation and study of a subject is more about riding a wave than it is controlling a river’s flow. Sorry if that’s out-there/sounds-like-hippie-bullshit. I think I should have shut up around paragraph 2. I am going to review what I have written and continue (because I think this gives me the ability and opportunity to argue with myself. someone hide the gun.)
Having re-read the above paragraphs, I only wish to contribute that I am not saying that we just sit around in English studies and talk about how texts and authors make us “feel.” But more so, discuss the impacts and implications of works themselves, as to original intent. In this way, as history is cyclical, so all of a sudden, Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” works multi-generationally for fighting poverty and oppression. Stuff like that. Yeah. Didn’t really give myself an exit strategy here, did I?
Sum up in one sentence or less? Criticism is part of English studies but is not the end all. It just has appeared this way for the majority of my “Literately aware” life. For the record, I hope my premises and assumptions are wrong.