Response to three sentences in The Essayification of Everything
1.“Because it brings miniature joys to its writer and its reader? Because it is small enough to fit in our pocket, portable like our own experiences?”
This sentence gave me some cause for pause and after reading it over several times, it seemed an appropriate one to reflect on. The term miniature joys is poetic, and could be just as appropriately in prose than in an article or essay. In one sense that is what reading it, the miniature joys that occur during a certain passage which are quickly left behind as the reader embarks on the next passage. Ultimately, a reader is not reading to get to the end, if they were, they would not bother with the opening pages and would just skip directly to that. A reader reads to read.
Through reading they are both doing something, hopefully, enjoyable in the present, but they are at the same time are doing themselves a favor in the future, since education is only ever a service and through reading we are absorbing new information and a variety of perspective.
- “But this is the force of the essay: it impels you to face the undecidable. It asks you to get comfortable with ambivalence.”
We face uncertainty in a lot of ways. There are religious text that many people turn to in order to “face the undecidable” with different dogmas. What these two sentences are ultimately saying is about truth. This is quite a departure from the ideal world and society that some people wish existed in the world. If the essay is uncategorizable and undecidable, the perhaps it is because human kind is the same way. Maybe the reason it is so popular is that it reflects something about human nature, how we prefer to communicate, with tangents and asides, and with having a whole background context. It makes me think about humanities search for Utopia.
As far back as Western thought dates, thinkers have endeavored to define, or create a framework for what they term as The Ideal Society. Such an undertaking presupposes an understanding of human nature, which endeavors to understand what brings an individual person happiness and contentment and how can a society be structured to maximize that. It is not surprising then, that many of the important Utopian society texts spend as much time discussing human happiness as they do building a framework for an ideal society to operate. Examples include Plato’s “Republic,” which begins with an exploration of human virtue and uses that micro-view to explore the virtue of a state. Though history changes the manifestation of it, most thinkers, both modern and ancient, believe that an ideal society is one in which happiness is maximized by the whole, and people are free to pursue the occupations of their choice.
- “These texts are not attempts; they are obstinacies. They are fortresses.”
It seems the author Christy Wampole has it out for any sort of concreteness. She wants essays to be indefinable, but has what is not an essay clearly defined in her mind. It seems to me though that there can be essays that set out to do something in particular, to demonstrate or teach something, and still be considered and essay.
I’m realizing now that part of the point of this assignment is that we are able to go on tangents, which is usually not acceptable in academic writing, but we are doing it to minic the form of the ssay as defined by Christy Wampole.