Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Literary studies...

Becoming a student at this stage is the smartest thing I've done so far in my academic life.
Like many of you might have picked up on, I'm currently a student, and my subject of choice is English. In the English course we are expected to learn grammar, lexicology and phonetics (the last two for next semester), and British, American and Global literature (the last one for next semester).

When I was fresh out of high school I went on to study music, and I did so for several reasons. For one, my parents are musicians. Then there is the undeniable fact that I am a talented singer (and I still am...). Further I felt a certain expectancy from family and everyone who had heard me sing... "You're such a talented singer, you should totally go that way" (I paraphrased several comments of this kind into this juvenile thing as I was quite young at the time...), and being a young woman I was easy to convince. What's more, at that age you're completely convinced the world is ready to listen to whatever you have to say (or in my case, sing). When it then becomes apparent that the world has more than enough with what's already in it, it's rather depressing. And I couldn't cope. There are obviously several reasons to my leaving the conservatory, but I can't reveal everything... I always loved Mozart...even through the hard times, he was the only constant in my life at the time!
I had some bad teachers back then, I know I did (because I have now had the honor of making good teachers acquaintance, and it really, really matters...), but in the end I made a choice of not continuing my fight with the theory of music (I must add, the presenting part of music was never the problem).
So going back to school was a big deal for me...
Now I'm enrolled in classes where I get to read a lot, and I also get to share my thoughts with my classmates. Whether or not they enjoy my sometimes strange comments, that's not a topic for discussion. But reading Romeo and Juliet and Moll Flanders as homework, that's really my cup of tea.
Reading Frankenstein and To the Lighthouse as well.
Getting to know Art Spiegelman in his meta novel, Maus, and experiencing how cruel a writer has to be to tell stories that are really upsetting in Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian is really lifting my spirit.

Yes, even here we came across stories and writers who must have lost quite a bit in the head department to even write a small part of what they did write... Like Sarah Kane and her  Cleansed. I mean, and this I stand by, she needed doctors, not publishers... My point is sort of underlined when we know she ended up killing herself. But now comes another question I have asked myself this semester. In order to write stories that are noticed among all the white noise out there, do you have to be cracked? Virgina Woolf didn't live an easy life, and she chose to end it. Mary Shelley experienced severe loss in her life, and still she continued writing.
Shakespeare himself lost his son, and we still read and perform his plays. So I am sensing a pattern here. In order to write stories with literary depth, the writer's life can't have been empty.
But all in all I have enjoyed my literary journey this semester... I think myself a better person for it.

I'm sitting here now preparing for my final exam before Christmas... British Literature, my favorite classes. Our teacher could easily have taught at Oxford, she's that good.
 Whenever we have a comment, no matter how far fetched, she plays off it, and manage to use it to teach us even more. She turned me completely around on the Cleansed part... I was, before my lecture, convinced that Cleansed must be the most revolting and appalling thing written in the history of literature...
I did, however, consider the play (Cleansed is a theatre play) for its worth after the lecture. She also managed to make To the Lighthouse interesting. When I read the novel I felt that it was a tiny bit dull. But having attended the lecture, I saw so much deeper (one of my favorite lectures this autumn, by the way). And I can't remember even one teacher from the last time I was a student managing this, to engage the students in a way that inspire in stead of destroying...not one teacher... I'm using strong words like destroy, because after ending my music studies, I couldn't listen to music with meaning for many years...I'm not saying the teachers of music destroyed everything, but they didn't help...that's for sure...not at all resentful, no really, I am feeling better :-) Besides, finding Marillion and Muse made up for many years of longing for that lost music part of me (which is quite significant). I mentioned that Mozart never left, but some things are constant, like Mozart and Shakespeare...Marillion and Muse!

For years I have enjoyed English, and then in particular British. I discovered Shakespeare at an early age, and wouldn't have it any other way as Shakespeare has given me so, so much (here represented by Fiennes...mmmm)!
I probably could have gone back to school at an earlier stage. But playing that "what if - game" is not helpful... I'm at university now, and feel very comfortable being a student. I'm also lucky enough to live in a country where being a grown up student is possible. So there are several things for which I am grateful. And the being grateful part out-wheigs the being nervous about my marks... Because I know I am a better person now than what I was only four months ago! I still love the things I loved before getting back to school (here represented by Kenneth Branagh from Much ado about nothing), but now my heart and mind are filling up with more...and I love it!

Knowledge really is power!

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