Today, I spoke briefly with C. S. Prælucor, a professional cubist. The topic drifted to literature.
(I love literature. I ought to. I'm a Literature student)
I often become discouraged and disillusioned with the study of literature. I sometimes even despise the study of literature.
Is this just the frustrations of a student tired of work? No.
C.S. Lewis once said, "We read to know we're not alone." In Literature, it seems like everyone is dying to be an individual. We are encouraged to formulate theories and identify themes, and defend our opinions. But why do we rarely savor beautiful writing or praise the author's creativity?
Studying Literature reduces it to a topic, when it is something far beyond. I didn't notice, so eager was I to do well and think well, but I have cast off the awe, wonder, and simple joy I once had in reading. Always an idea, always a theory, always trying to piece the world together in my thoughts.
The problem, of course, is that good writing is a good way to develop powerful thinking, and powerful thinking is helpful. So, due to the nature of many people over many years studying literature, we end up absorbing ourselves in stupid topics and petty arguments just to be unique.
This problem seems to be common in all disciplines. It has happened even the sciences, where the joy in nature has been replaced by an endless meticulum of detail discovery.
The cubist agreed.
But, on the other hand some theory is useful. Studying Bakhtin's views on voice and dialogism in the novel really helped me appreciate what was going on inside a number of works. But I would rather spend time appreciating a novel than debating it for hours about it in class.
I suppose it has to work that way; most people wouldn't read if there were no class. Most people do their learning in the classroom.
Sometimes, I wonder if I would do better without classes (England Ho!). But Argh! There's that individualism again.
Things happen differently in Bible studies -- when they go well. A good Bible study is a bunch of people getting excited about God and His ways as they read together. A good Bible study includes people who can do the literary thinking but who realize its importance in enjoying, savoring, and learning the ways of God.
I am grateful to be in a good Bible study. They put up with my rambling and have the wisdom to keep it real.