A Re-Do

20 01 2007

Now, I’ve heard it all. No regrets. No looking back. No what-might-have-beens.

And, yes, there is some sense in it. On a logical level, I understand that I’ve need to do everything I’ve done and gone through everything I’ve gone through to get to where I am right now.

All the same, there are some things that if I had a chance to do again I would do differently. At the top of that re-do list is my degree.

If I had it to do all over again, I would never have gone through for English.

That’s probably a shocking thing for a self-professed book junkie to confess (nevermind one who got the PhD level), but there you have it. That’s my biggest re-do.


Primarily because it changed the way I read. Why did I choose English as a major in the first place? Because I loved reading. But is English the best major for someone who loves reading. Well, that depends. It depends on what you want to do which I didn’t know at the time so it seemed the best choice. Do something you enjoy. I’ve still an advocate of that, but in a different, more realistic or common sense kind of way.

Where was I? Oh yes, I wouldn’t do an English degree again because it changed the way I read. For some time it was impossible for me to read for pleasure. I couldn’t shut off the analytical side of my brain that I had paid ten of thousands of dollars to develop. As a student, I fought the annihilation of a text tooth and nail. There were students who ripped a book to shreds, others who were more careful, peeling back the skin and then dissecting it, but the result was always the same: a massacre. I never got to that stage; I never took apart the pieces and forgot the whole. I never used a book to illustrate a particular critical theory, but rather used the theory to support something I saw happening in the book or a point I was trying to make.* But all the same, my ability to get-lost-in-a-good-book vanished as soon as I started my first year survey course. It got to the point that I couldn’t even read Harry Potter (which for awhile was my one refuge) without plotting ideas for seminars and essays.

It has lessened over time, now that I’m away from having to come up with essay and seminar ideas on a daily basis. And that feels good; it feels liberating.

And yet, it still isn’t the same. There isn’t that same intense joy of musty smells and cracking spines as a fourteen-year-old me sits down for an afternoon to be spellbound by Wuthering Heights or deliriously lost in The Blue Castle.

Yes, maybe it’s age and the increased consciousness and all that malarkey. The logical part of my brain will acknowledge that.

Then again, when in doubt, blame the English Degree. It’s such a useful excuse for so many things.*

[Those Silly] Footnotes:

*1: I’ve always thought the book came before the theory, like the horse before the cart, and even though my grad school profs rapped my knuckles to beat that backwards out of me, it’s one of those old-fashion ideas I cannot shake.

*2: It’s a particularly useful excuse for having no career prospects and no common sense.




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