I’m gonna miss it 🙁
Well I just handed in my final paper for College Writing 2. It just hit me that I’ll never have to take another English class as long as I live if I don’t want to. Which is kinda weird. Remember how English was a requirement every single semester of high school? I’ve pretty much been taking it for as long as I can remember.
And it kinda sucks just a little bit, because I was just really starting to get into the readings. I don’t get that much exposure to the material outside of class, because it’s not one of those things I think to do in my spare time.
The one thing I probably won’t miss is the essay writing. It’s true that all the practice over the years has helped me get pretty good at cranking out decent essays at the last minute. But it did add a whole unnecessary dimension of stress to my existence that frankly I can live without.
So in honor of the end of my English-paper-writing days, I decided to write one last short essay, as a tribute to this semester of English and to English class in general.
Philosophy and The Art of Exposition
by Jared Banta
Throughout time, there have been many ideas. Many people have taken these ideas and used them to create personal philosophies. This semester, we have read about the personal philosophies of many different writers and poets. Generally, their ideas deal with the issues of aesthetics, since they each have their own unique way of tackling the problem of creating art. Although their philosophies are each very different from one another, I think that there is one thing upon which all of these writers would agree, and that is that this essay I am writing right now is dull. Very very dull. And boring. Three such writers are Gertrude Stein, William Carlos Williams, and Robert Frost.
Even though Gertrude Stein is very quirky and seems to have a rather liberal view on what is and isn't art, she definitely would have no interest in reading this essay. In her essay What Are Master-pieces and Why Are There So Few of Them she says, "Any of you when you write you try to remember what you are about to write and you will see immediately how lifeless the writing becomes that is why expository writing is so dull because it is all remembered" (135). Her idea is that remembering makes creation impossible, and while you are creating true art, you are not using your memory during that time. Since I planned what I was going to write beforehand, I am remembering right now. That, along with the fact that this essay that I am writing is expository, serves to indicate that it is very dull according to Gertrude Stein.
While Gertrude Stein states outright that essays like this one are dull, William Carlos Williams has a more subtle way of averring its tediousness. In his autobiography, Williams sets down the theory of Objectivism, which he himself helped to fabricate and which he employed in his own poetry. "The Objectivist theory was this:" he writes, "the poem, like any other form of art, is an object, an object that in itself formally presents its case and its meaning by the very form it assumes" (264). Williams is saying that form in a piece of art is just as important as content in conveying meaning. You will note that I have employed a very standard five-paragraph format that I learned in high school. The reason that it is taught in high school is because it is a very versatile form; that is to say, you could use it to write about anything. Therefore, the form has absolutely no bearing on the overall meaning or effect of this essay. By the above quote we can draw the conclusion that Williams would certainly not consider this essay to be a work of art at all, by any stretch of the imagination. It is artless, like a boring newspaper article or boring history lecture. And man are those boring! Just like this essay.
Another writer who would certainly not enjoy this essay is Robert Frost. In his essay The Figure a Poem Makes Frost says of writing, "It begins in delight and ends in wisdom. . . . No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader" (1940). Frost's conception is that when a poem is written with a purpose, or a destination in mind, it comes off as contrived and gimmicky. Perhaps this idea can be applied to expository writing as well, because I'm looking at my outline here, and I assure you there is no delight or wisdom waiting for you at the end of this essay. Just another funnel paragraph. We can be pretty sure that Robert Frost wouldn't have any interest in this paper either.
In conclusion, according to many of the great American writers of the 20th century, this essay is not a "master-piece," or even art for that matter. In fact, it's not even worth reading probably. Gertrude Stein comes right out and says that expository writing like this essay is dull. William Carlos Williams theorizes that expression is in the form of a piece, and this essay has a very usual, very uninteresting form. Robert Frost believes that writing should be spontaneous in order not to be dull, and this essay was meticulously planned from the start. So what is the point of writing it in the first place? The point is, so I can get a good grade in English class, because my own personal philosophy tells me that I don't want to have to take English over again. But that is just one philosophy of many. Only time will tell how it ranks among all the myriad ideas and philosophies that have come into being since the beginning.