Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Articulation and Authenticity

I've been thinking a lot lately, as the deadline for my first grad paper of the semester approaches (on Friday--short one, but still the first paper of the semester) about the pressure of articulation. It seems, sometimes, as though with all this communication swirling around us, there's less patience than ever towards inarticulacy, unformed-ness and messiness of things.

Ironically, this is at the same time when the world has begun to accept and praise messy and less-organized written forms. The pressure, I think, is to be articulate even in our first drafts, because the pace is fast, the forms are informal, and there's much other writing that we could turn our attention to at any time. More so in grad school, where the pace is fast, but the forms are formal.

How, I wonder, to continue to be consistently articulate in this climate, while being at least somewhat authentic at the same time? It feels like a high-wire act at times...

Sigh. I'm sure I'll find something to say in my paper. It's only 3-5 pages, after all. It's not so much this one, but the weight of all the ones that will follow it this semester and next that I feel, swirling in their now-chaotic, un-thought-out state, the not-quite-right words flying around me in their yet unordered state.... Like Eliot says so eloquently in Four Quartets:
Words strain,
Crack and sometimes break, under the burden,
Under the tension, slip, slide, perish,
Decay with imprecision, will not stay in place,
Will not stay still. ("Burnt Norton" ll. 149-153)
I've always hated the beginning part of the process. It's the middle and end for me. (Of course, talk to me again in a month or two and I'll tell you it's only the end, at least when it comes to the writing associated with the semester.)

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