Sookie: You know what I think when I’m this close to another body? I think one day, at one moment… this body that I’m holding in my arms will stop breathing, stop living. Just… stop. One day you’ll happen upon my name in the obits and you’ll remember this moment when we were so close.
Igby: You’re a real fuckin’ upper.” — Igby Goes Down (2002)
Lit majors are among the last true conquerors. In a world where we have defined and measured everything, from the smallest particle to the distant planet, it is the lit major who braves unexplored frontiers: the ever-shifting realm of pain, love, and unrealized dreams.
Lit majors know. They understand the importance of handwritten love letters. They know the power of a well-placed comma. They can free words from the dictionary and make them do their bidding. They can enter a conversation and leave you flustered, wondering what you really intended to say.
Everyone has struggled with archaic texts in college, but lit majors cherish their battle scars. They are the curators of revolutions, great escapes, and the launching of a thousand ships. While we are content with our statistics and bestsellers, lit majors dare grapple with the gods.
This piece is based on my observation of friends who are taking Literature. I admire them. I’ll add that I wrote this with only a little bias — I am a double major in Communication and Management and my only regret in college is that I didn’t take a minor in Lit.
I find this a very accurate description, if not of me then of my fellow literature majors.
“Everyone has struggled with archaic texts in college, but lit majors cherish their battle scars.” Yes. Yes. Yes. If you mention The Brothers Karamazov or The Trilogy of St. Lazarus or Balagtasisimo vs. Modernismo to anyone in our lit class, the reply you will get will either be a groan through gritted teeth, an ironic scoff, or a sigh of “HAY GRABE.” It’s an automatic reaction, like a reflex. Even then, I know we loved having to read such difficult stuff, if only to earn the right to say at the end that we got through the muddle of words we didn’t even know existed, sentences constructed in ways we never thought could make sense.
Even if finding a job is harder than usual, and even if on some days it feels like other graduates are so much more equipped than I am what with their marketing and engineering and advertising degrees, I will always, always, always be proud that I took up Literature.
Amen and an hallelujah chorus.
standing in the rain
so crystal i could see the city lights through your chest,
heart out of focus,
illuminating the flock of birds
resting in your head
ordered in binary:
01101100 01101111 01110110 01100101
01111001 01101111 01110101
but it was a language i could not translate
because all i understand is touch and
a study of distance in code
these words whose meanings fade the more you say them
scared, you said
took you down to the cellar.
i’m sorry for burying you there.
i was scared too.
He asked her, “What does madness smell like?”
She answered, “Like oil paints and phosphorous, like sex and wildfire.”
“Asking someone if they’ve ever been in love is like asking if they’ve ever been mad,” he states to no one in particular. Sometimes he forgets she’s there, imagining her replies were the city’s, talking back through the morse code of her twinkling lights. Man’s way of mimicking (or mocking) the heavens, playing god in a microcosm.
“Mad to trust, mad to learn, mad to reach out and touch someone, mad not to feel alone?”
“We’re all alone.”
“We deserve rarities, whirlwinds and lightning storms and tragedy and laughter.”
He blinks and turns to her, hair whipping in the chilly February air, wondering if she felt like she was talking to the city too. “How do you figure that?”
She shrugs and asks him if he’s happy.
He answers no. Who really is these days? Modern science has come up with too many disorders for people to collect and covet like trading cards, technology has given too many things to want.
“What do you want?”
The city stutters, glows effervescent. A man-eater, glowing with vacant promise, glittering with hope and porn stars, a glimpse of probable future.
“To not feel alone.”
She smiles at him. “Then you’re just as mad as the rest of us.”