I forget why I am here. I forget why I do the things I do. I read books. I love books. If nothing else, I read. I am a student in a college. I read assignments and think things about them. Sometimes I think merely the things I am told to think about them, sometimes I think of new things to think about them. Sometimes, the assignments are read without any understanding whatsoever. I am occasionally just another one of those people who reads without imagining or interpreting anything at whom I, utterly elitist, shudder. I forget that I am not here simply to go through the mechanical motions of the student life. I read what is assigned. I learn the facts about it. I make a few comments in class so that my teachers know I am interested and thinking. I turn in papers and homework on time. Etc. I do these things; I do these things well. I am a good student. But, regardless, that is not why I am here. I have long repeated the mantra that “grades don’t matter”. Over and over, this statement was kept floating at the surface of my thoughts. And yet, somehow, it has never cemented itself in my thoughts. I believe it, certainly, but I believe it as I revel in that 4.0. (Well, for all semesters but one—thank you, Dr. Mac, and your infuriating A- that will forever elicit imprecations.) I read the Iliad and Beowulf and know things about them. I can say smart things about both. I can talk about themes and underlying assumptions. The way the Iliad portrays mortality, how Achilles and Hector contrast one another are both fully within my consciousness. This knowledge comforts me, warms me, befriends me, and consoles me. And yet, in the midst of its presence, I forget why it matters to me. The mechanical habits of school seep into my blood while the purpose behind it is pushed to the wayside. That they are important and relevant is never forgotten. Instead, I simply forget to relate them. My pursuit of learning has become so mechanized that I forget they should. I collect information, I analyze it, sort it, label it, and hide it away for future reference. Slowly, ever so slowly, I think I am dying.

When I escape from school, I read excerpts from Middlemarch, from Lewis, Tolkien, Donne, Milton, and so forth, and it hurts so that I can barely stand it. It is terrific and terrible. At the Back of the North Wind broke me. Yet, it is only these, when I am away from the routine of academic travail. This is not how it is supposed to be; this is not why I am in school. I do not care for the facts. I care for the stories that pierce like arrows and burn like frozen iron.

I give up. I cannot write at this hour, when I can barely form a thought. I will shudder at these paragraphs in the morning.

This song has been incredibly pleasant: perhaps someone will enjoy it.

  1. #1 by Derrick on February 6, 2011 - 5:48 pm

    Of the making of books there is no end . . .

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