First read this:
Then listen to this: (or listen while reading)
Seneca, “On the Shortness of Life”
ASSIGNMENT OPTION #1 (Due March 8)
Zadie Smith writes about her Joni Mitchell epiphany. Have you had a similar experience with an artwork or artist? In 500 words (on your blog), describe your “conversion” experience. Be precise – like Smith: set the scene. Imagine who you were before and after you had your epiphany (or was it an epiphany? Did it happen like lightning or did you learn to love – or hate – this art over a long period of time?). Dig deep into the reasons behind your change of heart and mind. Do you believe, along with Smith, that human lives are fundamentally discontinuous?
READ: William Wordsworth, Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey, On Revisiting the Banks of the Wye on a Tour. July 13, 1798
READ: Allen Ginsberg, “Wales Visitation”
WATCH: Ginsberg on Firing Line with William Buckley
ASSIGNMENT OPTION #2 (Due March 8):
Both Wordsworth and Ginsberg write about Tintern Abbey, the ancient Welsh monastery. Tennyson wrote a famous poem there, as well, and myriad artists have painted it. Write a long(ish) poem, à la Wordsworth or Ginsberg, about your visit to an important site, preferably one with some history. You should begin writing at the site itself; go to the place and record your observations. Notice particularities, as Ginsberg admonishes. What parts of the place reverberate (echo, resonate) with you? A 33 year old Zadie Smith found herself humming a song she detested, longing for a sausage roll, while prowling the precincts of Tintern Abbey. Who are you in the place that you’ve chosen? What have you been, and where are you going? Remember: this should be a poem, not an essay or a statement of purpose. Even Ginsberg, tripping on LSD as he apparently was, is formal in his poem. Experiment with word choices, with line breaks, and with the spaces between stanzas. Perfect the cadence of your words (a poem should have musical qualities – read it aloud before submitting; if it doesn’t sing, it’s not working). Rhyme if you must. Be formal.
READ: Soren Kierkegaard, “Introduction” & “Exordium (Preparation)” from Fear & Trembling (1843):