Beauty is Beauty
04 February, 2002 :: 6:51 a.m.
My prof for American Romanticism is great. I've never cared much for Emily Dickenson's poems, so I was slightly dismayed to find that her works were part of the required reading for the class. Every Friday we discuss poetry and Dr. K informed us he wanted everyone to show up every Friday with a particular poem by either Whitman or Dickenson picked out and that we should be prepared to read it for the class and discuss why we like it. Crap. I've always hated that sort of classroom environment.
Dickenson's poems have always been a royal pain-in-the-ass for me since, even when I like a poem of hers, I'm not always sure what the hell she's saying. Some I get, but others just don't have anything to do with anything as far as I can tell.
But I realized quickly that Dr. K is a cool professor. You can read a poem, and that's mostly voluntary, and give your reason for picking it simply as, "I really like the way it sounds." That's good enough for him. And no, it's not some cheap cop-out because he's not a good professor. He's really intelligent, but even he admits he doesn't get some lines of some of Dickenson's poems. But he also says there's nothing wrong with thinking the poem is beautiful just for the way it sounds.
On some level art speaks to you and you may not always understand what there is about art, be it music, photography, painting, whatever, that draws you to it. Dickenson has lines like, "SHadows-hold their breath." Dr. K's like, "Isn't that beautiful? I don't know what the hell a shadow holding it's breath is supposed to mean, but isn't that a beautiful line?"
Beauty is beauty. It doesn't need to be explained. Dr. K said it best when he said, "You can look at a flower and just think, 'That's a really beautiful flower.' you don't have to look at the flower and try to figure out, 'what do you mean?'" Something can be great or wonderful or really touch you without having a profound and hidden meaning. That's something we should all try to remember. If we stop too long to ponder the beauty of a sunset, we might miss the damn thing. Find joy in things and don't try to overanalyze the reason you enjoy it. Thanks Dr. K. We're heading into our fourth week of the semester and you already pointed out something that I'll carry with me and that I should have already realized.
On the other hand, you're making me read Moby Dick--a book I've tried twice to read myself and never even made it out to sea. I'm hoping that with more years behind me now and your enthusiasm for the book I can finally find out why so many people think this is one of the best books of all time. But know, Dr. K., that I go into this very jaded.