Perspective

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(Image is my own)

We’ve been discussing Marilynne Robinson’s novel Housekeeping in American Literature. I haven’t gotten around to reading the novel yet, but it sounds like an interesting read. In lectures, we discussed the background of the novel, the author and some themes that appear.

Something that was brought up that interested me was this idea of light and darkness. Writers will often use images of light and darkness to elicit certain feelings in their readers. I think for most people light would be associated with good things and darkness with bad things.

I found it interesting that Robinson flips this idea around in her novel. Light is bad and darkness is good.

Looking at things from Robinson’s perspective I think I can see what she’s doing. In the light, we are more aware of our surroundings and more aware of ourselves. Sometimes this self-awareness can be hindering rather than enlightening. It has the potential to make you view the world in a materialistic way.

In the dark the materialistic side of life is less prevalent, maybe even non-existent. The way you look, what you have, what you own do not matter when you cannot see them. Maybe sometimes it is better in a way to be blind to these things.

It was interesting to reflect on light and darkness from a new perspective, but it’s probably better to be enlightened than in the dark when it comes to matters of life.

Sunflowers

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Source: Pixabay CC0 Public Domain

This semester I’ve been taking a module on American Literature and I’ve been enjoying it mostly. It’s introduced me to writers I’ve never heard of before and also a history of black rights I didn’t know of. Recently we’ve been discussing writer Allen Ginsberg and some of his poetry. He didn’t particularly stand out to me at first but when we discussed his poetry in more detail in tutorials I found myself starting to enjoy his work.

Ginsbergs’ “Sunflower Sutra” stood out to me the most. The poem is about an America destroyed by modern society, but the overriding feeling of the poem for me is a positive one. There are desolate images throughout the poem but amongst the bleak landscape is sunflowers; bright yellow sunflowers. They add an element of light to the bleak world they grow in.

While the poem overall is an interesting read the one thing that stood out to me was the sunflowers and what they represent. There’s always something wonderful happening somewhere even amongst ruins.

I find this metaphor ‘cheesy’ and uplifting at the same time, it made me laugh but also made me smile. Ginsberg says that we are all sunflowers inside, “We’re not our skin of grime, we’re not dread bleak dusty imageless locomotives, we’re golden sunflowers inside”. I think sometimes the cheesiness is needed.

Life ain’t that bad.