Wow. I was looking through this blog and apparently it’s been a year since my post, “Adapting Classic Works.” I can’t believe I put off blogging for so long. In my last post I said that I’d write about how what I wanted to achieve with this blog is actually very close to what I’m doing as a Literature major: analyzing text.
When I made this blog, I wanted it to be a collection of “intelligent” essays to encourage me to write more and produce a portfolio. But I find blogging addictive and I felt the need to fill the space with writing, good or bad. I’m the same with journaling, I write until my hand aches.
I love books because I love the escape they offer. Eventually, I also learned to appreciate them as “intelligent” and see them as ways to access knowledge. I thought that by studying them, I could read more, but that hasn’t been the case. I’ve actually read less books since I started college, but I don’t dislike literature for that since it’s also taught me to read better; it’s taught me to make certain observations about a text, evaluate a text’s form versus its content, and analyze texts in a certain way among other things. In short, everything I wanted to do in this blog.
Learning to read better is something one can learn on their own by simply reading many texts. The last book I read before leaving for college was a collection of short stories by Herman Melville. It was the first time I read something and had to constantly look at the footnotes because I didn’t understand the references. It was hard work, but it was fulfilling. I finished it after going back home for the break before summer classes.
Studying literature, however is learning how to read in a certain way; reading in the context of feminism, or Marxism, to name the most common examples. To do that, one must also read texts about the said subjects. This semester for literature class, we read parts of a book by Harold Bloom, a literary critic and scholar of the so-called “Western Canon.” We had to write an essay that showed our understanding of what the Western Canon is and I chose to support Bloom’s opinion that the Western Canon is made up of works that are original while simultaneously giving homage to predecessors.
My essay was crammed. I didn’t have the luxury of re-reading Bloom at my own, relaxed pace. Many people often say that the courses in my university are crammed and that college education here in the Philippines is much heavier than abroad. It think it’s because colleges have to make up for the low standard of education in our high school levels here. For example, I’m terrible at math, but I miraculously did well in the school entrance exam and was put in the Math 11 class which is the first of three math subjects that students from most courses in the School of Humanities must take. Before proceeding to the class material, however, we had to take a diagnostic test. I passed mine by one point and I was advised to transfer to Math 1 which is a sort of remedial class that doesn’t affect your QPI (or GPA for other countries). If we didn’t have to take these basic subjects, if the standard of education for the high school level were better, we at university could devote more time to our majors and (perhaps) write better papers.