A quick recap of today and history

Something must be in the air, or the water; or in the specific air I breathe or the water only I’m drinking. I haven’t been this cranky in a long, long time. Is it the springtime? Is something bestial or primitive or Id-aggressive waking from hibernation? Does anyone else feel this way?

The trees are budding, though. Little, sprouting leaves will become bolder as the season progresses. This makes me happy. Or, at least, something inside fights for the sunshine and cheer.

I won’t be able to raise my history grade. I guess I’m okay with a B. The last exam was really close to breaking 90%: the essay section even earned “nice analysis,” “cool analysis,” and “nice turn of phrase” in the margins, which says more of my critical thinking than my ability to regurgitate information. Fine by me, I say. This is so much better than I was doing the last semester I was here. It would be nice to have a better rote memory, though. … I do love the class, nevertheless. That I can pay attention the entire 150 minutes says a lot about the subject matter and the instructor.

I spoke with my academic advisor today. I really need to take intro to creative writing. While short stories and essays have my utmost attention now, I’ve also developed an affinity for poetry that I can’t explain. We discussed Gertrude Stein today in history class. We read the first four sections from Tender Buttons. If you haven’t read this, give it a try. It’s a trip. It might help to know Cubism heavily influenced Gertie’s poetry. Anyway, I commented on a part of it in class, and I felt comfortable doing it.

We also discussed T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” and I fell in love with words and language all over again.

Another thing about my history class: The text has a color photo section, and the last leaf has a picture of The Gates exhibit that was in Central Park back in 2005.  I stared at that photo, and deep nostalgia took over me. I almost cried.

Well, I have less doubt that I’m in the right major. This feels pretty good.

Now, if only I can fight the urge to wring people’s necks.

Because I’m in the Mood for T.S. Eliot

The dove descending breaks the air
With flame of incandescent terror
Of which the tongues declare
The one discharge from sin and error.
The only hope, or else despair
Lies in the choice of pyre or pyre —
To be redeemed from fire by fire.

Who then devised the torment? Love.
Love is the unfamiliar Name
Behind the hands that wove
The intolerable shirt of flame
Which human power cannot remove.
We only live, only suspire
Consumed by either fire or fire.

–From “Little Gidding,” part of The Four Quartets

The other stanzas are at least twice as long. This is the entire fourth stanza. That’s all it needed to be. Check out the way the fifth stanza closes:

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, unremembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.
Quick now, here, now, always—
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flame are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.

Read the whole thing sometime. I mean, all quartets. It’s powerful; it’s worth it. You’ll see why the man received the Nobel Prize in Literature.