Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Years of Wandering

I've been reading a biography of Samuel Beckett written by Deirdre Bair (who some of you might remember as a guest teacher at Bennington back in '06), as I've become more and more curious about what my favorite authors were doing before they became authors. So far I'd just like to say that if you thought your life was horrible when you were a twentysomething, you've got nothing on Beckett, who was stuck on his parents' estate in Ireland with no money and no job until he was into his thirties. During this time, he also wrote an amazing poem, entitled "Gnome," that speaks pretty well for his feelings after leaving Trinity College and the Paris literary community:
Spend the years of learning squandering
Courage for the years of wandering
Through the world politely turning
From the loutishness of learning.

Is it common for people to shun learning after that final graduation ceremony? In many cases, yes. Does the pedantic learning of post-secondary education turn out to be less useful than we thought it might be? Again, I think so. Is the rhythmic structure of those years of formal education far easier to face than the uncertainty of the big world outside? Definitely.

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