The great thing about Language and Literature classes is that you never spend any time relearning anything. We’re in a perpetual present, baby, an all-powerful now that focuses on every faculty of the written word all at once. These past two years have been no exception. I’ve found myself departing from the cloistered world of “pure literature,” and into the (very IB, I might add) paradigm of global context. I honestly do feel like my ability to analyze texts has been honed by this new approach. Art is good and all, but it really starts to burst with meaning when you think about what it means to us - not on a spiritual level, but on a societal level. Our exploration of critical lenses, in particular, was particularly memorable to me for this reason. If you can figure out the trick to discerning which lens is most pertinent to a given text, you can draw out from it at least twice the amount of information you would have gotten had you looked at it from a purely literary point of view.
Here’s an example: Analyzing Paprika by Satoshi Kon through a New Historicist lens quickly got me and Kai straight to the heart of the movie. When you go beyond the naive assumption that Paprika is just a general indictment of post-Y2K society and explore the specifically Japanese identity and historical context that spawned it, its ethos becomes so much more clearly defined. Kai gleaned that the twin social concepts of honne (one’s true feelings) and tatemae (one’s public persona) were key to the film’s narrative - the parade, despite its grotesqueness and ravenous dysfunction, is bright and manically happy. Kon (as the author) is attacking his own society, his own culture’s ingrained prioritization of optics over right action even as the world teeters on the edge of chaos. Now, that’s one facet you wouldn’t have gotten without using critical lenses!
I could talk about what I learned in this class all day, but I’m unfortunately not here to do that. I’m going to instead engage in that vain, unsteady pursuit - thinking about the future. There’s a balance I want to achieve after high school. Each past year has had its share of specificity. Now it’s time to synthesize every approach to literature that I know. I want to pick at more James Joyce, more Flannery O’Connor, more authors whose prose tickles a nerve in my brain and makes me shudder like a small animal. But, you know, who am I to say that it’s time to focus on synthesizing? There’s still a lot I don’t know yet. It’d be really presumptuous of me to think I’m even halfway done with my learning. Far be it then from me to focus on something now. I’ll probably take more classes in post-1800s literature, but that doesn’t mean I’ll deprive myself of the classics. Que sera sera. I will simply open myself to learning as much as I possibly can, like a big old woman-shaped sponge. Guerilla Toss’s song Own Zone is a pretty close description of how I feel now:
[Clumsy and uncomfortable / Hungry but I'm never full]
Well, I suppose it’s time for some final wishes. I’m not a sentimental person, so I’ll keep these short.
To this batch: As callous as it sounds, parting here isn’t that sweet a sorrow for me. (I HAVE only been at this school physically for a month.) My eyes are dry as yours are wet. Still, I think you are fine people. Good luck on all your future endeavors. Don’t be afraid to explore cool, new things. I’ll beat you up if you cheat on any work in college. That’s all.
To this class: Heed the advice above, it still applies to you. Read more, watch less.
To myself: Nolite te bastardes carborundorum.