Big Aspirations, Big Leaps, Big Chasms
My last post had been written a few years ago, and this blog has unfortunately been neglected yet again. I am still engrossed by the same field of study, and the lack of posts is not, therefore, due to lack of interest in literature. I am in fact more deeply rooted in literary research and in reading than I had been in 2017, and my passion has in no way dwindled between then and now. On the contrary, I would dare to say that I am more passionate; and still, I write no posts and I share no opinions, shying away from The Big Lit Eye. It seems that I have backed away and repeated the mistakes of my last attempt. I hope, however, to be able to explain myself.
In the last three years, I have read and re-read certain books, oftentimes before bed, and traces of them lingered on my mind the next day. My thoughts on my daily habits, the thoughts that arise naturally and regularly as one tidies or gazes listlessly at their phone, moulded themselves according to the book I was reading. Sometimes it was as if I was seeking to voice a response to the book itself, shaping it, however, to my immediate and rather unassuming surroundings. I did record these thoughts, but they also stayed in my notebook if not only in my mind. They were, after all, merely wisps of thoughts, fluttering briefly and excitedly in the morning before falling away into the realms of simple impressions and fading memories. I knew they had no academic grounding or validity to them, and though I treasured the mornings after finishing a book, during which my thoughts clung onto a certain section or character that filled me with awe (horror, too, inspires awe), I felt that a cascade of musings would be an inadequate contribution to literary studies and the intellectual domain within which I hope to flourish.
My notebook is nameless. The pages lie within a hard black shell with an additional elastic band to pull over the notebook, thereby ensuring that it remains closed, and I only open the notebook to write: I open it, forgetting at times to date or title, I write, I close. The materialisation of thoughts has been achieved and I could therefore put the notebook away. I don’t re-read; why should I? My words are only scrambled pieces, casually tossed together in a moment of creativity, illegible to others but myself. Strangely, though, the lack of audience allowed me to write more fanciful thoughts, unbridled yet still relating (albeit sometimes in less concrete or visible ways) to the book.
As many literature students probably do, I feel that the intellectual and creative areas of our work constantly flow into and over each other, despite the distances that we ourselves place between them. We are of course researchers and thinkers, meaning that we explore the web of links that a piece of writing may develop with society, with historical research, philosophical ideas, political movements, cultural studies. Yet as I read, I imagine. The text evokes emotions and brings my thoughts to certain places, but the creation of the images lies in mind and I then complement it with my own knowledge; my past research influences my reading and serves as the base for any further probing questions that I may have and may desire to pursue. In seminars and discussions, therefore, as well as in text-based research, we further widen our abilities by reflecting on different thoughts and ideas. These reflections are active and perhaps disgruntling at times, for we find our thoughts questioned and even dismantled by our peers, but they ultimately add to our thoughts and are highly rewarding.
Thus I have, in a nutshell, outlined my experience of literary study as an intellectual activity. The act of writing is also intellectual: we organise our thoughts and develop arguments that may not have been otherwise able to formulate themselves, or even exist, if not for the writing that we carry out. I find, however, that I feel the desire to follow the creative writing that I see before me, and that my own reflections on it may also border on fictional writing, despite containing thoughts that have been nurtured from the very same seeds of any essay that I could write as a response.
My research, be it for a short essay or for a much larger piece of work, is my outlet for intellectual activity and has been leading me along a route that allows me to engage with the world and humanity in very real ways, all departing from my passion for literature. It has, rather strangely, taken me a long time to acknowledge that side of my work, though it has luckily been apparent since even the beginning of my teenage years. I read Langston Hughes when I was sixteen, yes, but not without reading the Harlem Renaissance and therefore not without reading racial tensions, racism and the United States. Of course, my sixteen year-old self engaged with Hughes on a superficial level, but this in no way denies or undermines the relations between the literary and the real world, nor the place of the Humanities.
There is, nevertheless, a desire within me to engage with creative writing. Perhaps this explains that lack of my writing in this blog, for I had been hoping to apply – to my personal reading – the same processes that I currently apply to my project research. However, I intend to apply the rigour of literary research and scholarship to my project and create a separate blog dedicated towards it, where I hope to reap the rewards of sharing ideas and thoughts with others.
I enjoy reading for pleasure, and I would like to try writing for pleasure too. I am acutely aware of the bizarreness of the weight of such a decision, from the perspective of someone who sees that my current blog only contains a scattering of posts in the first place. It may even seem absurd to some, but I suppose that I am simply aiming to explain how I perceive the ‘personal’ element of my blog: I hope to be able to write about what I read in a manner that suits the reality of my casual reading, which is that the exterior elements (my mood, the environment, my own memory of what I had read previously and what I could recall from the text) play a much larger role in my response to a text when I am not concentrating on analysing it in any deeper manner. Perhaps I will occasionally refer to other texts, even academic writings and specific theories; I may also refrain from doing so.