Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Coming to My Senses: Reading #1

I roamed the rows of the BYU Bookstore on two different occasions, for significant amounts of time in search of the book, Coming To Your Senses: Making Sense of the Arts, 8th Edition by Jon D. Green. In the end, it was all thanks to a girl on the BYU Bookstore Help Desk Squad, who ran into the storage room and grabbed me a book before they ever hit the pallets. Thank you Help Desk girl. Anyway, this is all very pressing, because of the reading assignment that was given for HUM 101, due on the 24th, which required my owning said book. And as a digressive side note, whoever's idea it was to organize books according to Author's last name, instead of course, I give my thanks to that person. I never had so much ease in finding book (no sarcasm intended) on the BYU campus.

I mentioned in a previous post about the 'refreshing' nature of an education. I felt mighty educated after reading the first three chapters of Coming To Your Senses: I felt as if I had, oddly enough, came a bit more to my senses. Although I did find the severity placed on the subject of getting a "general", "holistic" education, versus over-specializing in any given field, was at times hyperbolic, with statements like:
"The PhD should cease to be the sine qua non for the appointment of college teachers...The members of a college faculty should not be professors of this or that subject matter, or even members of this or that department in that graduate school...[but rather] should be completely autonomous, completely emancipated from the influence of graduate school. The elective system, with its majors and minors, should be abolished." (Green, p.5)
but then completely would redeem itself with coupling sentences such as:
"Parents should not send their young to college and the young should go to college not, as at present, mainly to acquire highly salable skills or to earn good livings, but solely for the purpose of becoming cultured human beings Corporations should recognize that the most important posts they have to offer can be better filled by broadly trained generalists than by narrowly trained specialists." (Green, p. 6)

I think all college students everywhere need to hear that. We often get 'caught up' in the obvious need of "providing", and forget the very essential purpose in an education, which is, to develop a character that understands and comprehends. An education was always about learning, and from learning and doing, we will be providing and also giving. Those quotes were refreshing.

I loved the stress that the text placed upon actually experiencing art, culture, and thereby life. Art seems to speak to those parts of of our created masses that can't be satisfied by material matter or mere consumption, but rather by understanding the expressions and impressions of another person. 
"Sometimes the best fare is not that "tasty" (easily accessible) at the outset; it takes time to assimilate, but the result is often more emotionally and intellectually nutritious than what the media serves up for mass consumption." (Green, p. x)
I saw a movie tonight called Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. I did not find it impressive in any technical film regard, but I surprisingly enjoyed it thoroughly. The editing was atrocious, the sound unimpressive, the cinematography nearly offensive, and the acting overbearing. I learned from my freshman year TMA 102 Professor (Dean Duncan, awesome) to ask yourself, "What is trying to be said, what does the director/writer/cinematographer want to say here?" 

I loved the message of the film. I loved the main character's integrity, Jefferson Smith. He left us on this line, which corresponds with a snip out of the reading, Jefferson says at the end to his friend/fellow senator who betrays him, "I wouldn't give you two cents for all your fancy rules if, behind them, they didn't have a little bit of plain, ordinary, everyday kindness and a little looking out for the other fella, too. Because of just one, plain, simple rule: Love thy neighbor. And in this world today, full of hatred, a man who knows that one rule has a great trust. You know that rule, Mr. Paine, and I loved you for it, just as my father did. And you know that you fight for the lost causes harder than for any others. Yes, you even die for them, like a man we both knew, Mr. Paine." You might have to watch the film to feel the impact of that scene.

The corresponding quote in the reading was, "It matters that we learn to feel deeply about another's suffering or success, because we grow most by sharing each other's burdens trough communicating sympathy and understanding. The arts are a particularly exacting forms of human communication." (Green, p. 10)

The reading was interesting. It was somewhat critical on sciences, and favorable of the more mantic studies. But art is about joining the two and having emotion with reason. I think art is trying to achieve what Henry David Thoreau expressed as a miracle when he said, "Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other's eyes for an instant?"

That is the true aim of all art, and our goal in experiencing all forms of art: to see the world through the eyes of another, and become a caring and informed critic of such.

1 comment:

  1. The earlier parts of this post reminded me of a pithy quote:

    "At its best, schooling can be about how to make a life, which is quite different from how to make a living." -Neil Postman, The End of Education, p. x

    Sadly, it seems that many college students become so overwhelmed with making a "decent living" that they miss out on making a "good life." They often forget (or just never realize) that education isn't just a means of preparing to DO something for others; rather, education is a process by which we BECOME something for both ourselves and others.

    However, during this process, I think we also often fail to realize that not all of our "schooling" actually happens in school. In reality, there is just as much that has happened, is happening, and will happen outside of official institutions of learning that contributes to the type of education we obtain, the type of person we become, and therefore our utility to humankind.

    Indeed, when viewed via an "earth school" perspective, education becomes a much more unstructured yet divinely driven process. Unlike a "general" and "liberal" undergraduate education that is similar for almost all students, each of us receives an idiosyncratic life curriculum--designed for us alone!