Friday, October 12, 2012

An Argument Against Analysis

Call me crazy, but I'm listening to John Milton's 'Paradise Lost.'  I could be crazier still because I like it. 

I have to admit, though, that unless I'm really focused on the content and not thinking too much about the dishes I'm loading into the dishwasher or whatever else I'm doing, I don't understand a good part of it.  Is that pathetic, or is it normal?

Did you ever want something to wash over you without questioning it?  Maybe you've gone to a Catholic mass in Latin?  Or an opera?  Or all those heavy metal songs with words obscured?  Oh, it is a lovely thing, to be washed clean without benefit of comprehension.  Watching a movie in Spanish is a little like that too, but since I know just a little Spanish, I usually end up struggling with it and losing that ease.  I forget to hear the beauty of the language and let the comprehension come as it will. 

Maybe people should just listen and not work so hard to understand things like this?  Maybe true comprehension really comes in the repetition rather than a close reading of Wikipedia or even Shmoop, a website for those poor schmucks who have to talk intelligently about Milton's work in a classroom.  If I were taking a class about 'Paradise Lost,' I'd most certainly be studying Shmoop's wonderful analysis of it or Wikipedia so that I might be able to wow my teacher with some of my most amazing insights.  Ha!  I'm a fraud!  Didn't you already know that?

Maybe there's a time to let go of forced comprehension.  Maybe I'll let the sound of Anton Lesser's voice flow over me.  He's the one reading this version, his voice lovely and soothing.  Maybe I should let the images swirl in my mind the way I did when I listened to Ian McKellan read of Homer's 'wine dark sea' in 'The Oddessy,' to relax since I'm not a poor schmuck in a class, to enjoy the experience of hearing this book instead of picking it into little bits.  Analysis, after all, can cause damage to the original.  Like carbon dating, it burns at least a little piece of the original.  Maybe, in the end, I will feel like a child who is falling asleep to the story, the words and images blending with my dreams, the sounds of the words flowing over me like water over stones.

Thank you for listening, jb

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