Beyond the End

The End is a narrative concept. We live our lives forwards, and we make sense of them backwards, through narrative. That is the foundation of biography, which is no more than an ordering of disparate events. So when I say that my year at Cambridge has come to an End, I am fully aware of the artificiality of that statement; and that this is an End that I have, somehow, constructed to fit the narrative arc of my life. This knowledge makes the End no less painful, no more comprehensible than it was before. Truth is skittish, and never stays in close proximity. Continue reading

Certain Liberties

I have dreams about the wild places of the earth: the open fields of Iowa, where the corn blooms and U.F.O. sightings happen more than once a year. I walk down a dusty country road, past the purple haze of nettles and shelter belts, under a blue-bowled sky. Images coalesce. Colours blend. I play with my thoughts without thinking. Walking through this field of vision, I follow the never-ending fence and sigh, my soul moving with the grass. I could lose myself here, beneath these elm trees. I never feel so alive as when I’m walking outside with the wind in my face. When I wake in the mornings, I find my eyes brighter and my heart lighter. There is no feeling like this, being so close to the grass, the pine, away from men and the restless social climb. I have seen Truth, scattered amongst the rocks on the riverbank. I can sing a song with my hands. Clouds roll in. They cover the land in darkness. An otherworldly fire. Continue reading

The Beauty of Monosyllables

Research has taken me by the hand and led me in new directions. Proudly I came with The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, and humbly I leave with the King James Bible. Perhaps this theological turn is unavoidable in a place like Cambridge–dominated, as it is, by gothic spires and church bells. I always felt, for some inarticulable reason, that I was meant to come here; that no sacrifice was too great to walk where Spenser, Marlowe, and Coleridge walked. Continue reading

Start Defending the Humanities: A response to Simon During’s review of “The Humanities and Public Life”

Reading Simon During’s “Stop Defending the Humanities”, a review of Fordham UP’s The Humanities and Public Life (2014), left a bitter aftertaste in my mind. To quote a friend and T.S. Eliot, it left me with an overwhelming question: did During actually say anything in his article and, in the end, what was his point?

How should you presume, you ask. Oh do not ask “what is it”, but let us go and make our visit to the undergraduate and postgraduate classrooms where the students come and go, talking of Michelangelo–making a hundred indecisions and revisions of an art history argument. Continue reading