". . . little shall I grace my cause

In speaking for myself. Yet, by your gracious patience,

I will a round unvarnish'd tale deliver . . ."

(William Shakespeare's Othello, I.iii.88-90)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Something Has Changed

Thirty years ago one of my favorite things to do was to take a piece of literature and pick it apart in that way that so many high school students despise. It was what led me to follow up my music studies with undergraduate and graduate degrees in literature. For a number of years I put those English degrees to good use, teaching first high school, then college English, and sometimes I even stumbled on students who seemed to enjoy the subject as much as I did. But the longer I taught English the more discouraged I became at the shocking unpreparedness of many of my students as well as the socio-political agenda that seems to drive many college English departments. I ultimately left English teaching behind and returned to my first love, music. 

For the last ten to fifteen years I have worked much more in the musical than the literary realm, and the older I get, the more I think I want it to stay this way. These days when I read I just want to read. I have little desire for the sort of close, analytical approach I learned in my English classes. It's hard enough just to read! I also can't help wondering whether something has changed in me beyond the length of my attention span. There is something about literary analysis that seems inherently destructive. That is not to say there isn't value in it for the deep understanding and appreciation of a work. Sometimes to truly understand something one must take it apart. But I think I may be at a time in my life when I am much more interested in building up than in tearing down. And music is about nothing if not building. Whether it's the practicing, or the composing (which I don't do), or the putting together of all the parts within an ensemble, the goal is synthesis, the creation of something beautiful. In literary analysis, all the effort is in the opposite direction, towards taking apart rather than creating.

Maybe that's why I have also continued to blog. Even if I didn't have the few of you reading that I do, I would still get the satisfaction of creating something, however small. Maybe one of these days I'll write something bigger than a blog post, or maybe I'll learn a new musical skill. Then again, maybe I'll just do more cooking. . . .


Susan said...

Cooking = building.
Building happy taste buds and satisfied tummies. (Can you tell I like eating??)

Cheryl said...

Susan, exactly!