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the common blues

Saturday, 28 January 2012

As a PhD student in English, I’m a writer by profession. (Only, of course, if 5-7 years spent crossing your fingers that you’ll end up with a real job someday while you read theoretical essays, grade undergraduate essays, and slave over your own essays in a patchy caffeine-and-bourbon-engendered haze can leniently be referred to as ‘a profession.’)

Nonetheless, I spend my days engaged with words – on the page, on the screen, in discussions – and I can feel the way that following them changes me, my paths of thinking, and my sense of humor, although they don’t always make it onto a page or even stick around in my memory. Too often, in fact, they flit away soon after they alight. 

There are many kinds of writing, of course. I’m also a writer of lists, schedules, and recipes, a dabbler in poetry and fiction, a former devotee of the humiliating diary of teen angst, and an avid letter-writer, not to mention my throwaway creations in the forms of photo captions, emails, status updates, and texts. But while I’ve catalogued many species of my formal writing, I would like  to begin collecting and observing, pressing and preserving, other lovely specimens from life, to keep, to turn over, and to share (and to you in the back questioning my metaphor, YES, even if it means chloroforming them and pinning them into a frame and then hanging them up somewhere really creepy, like over the toilet).

My favorite novelist, Vladimir Nabokov, was also a great lepidopterist. He contributed much to the study of butterflies, including the Common Blues, or Polyomatus icarus, pictured here. In his devotion to perception and expression in both nature and fiction, Nabokov had something in common with Ralph Waldo Emerson, I think, who reminds us of the importance of renewing our vision in his essay ‘Experience’:

Sleep lingers all our lifetime about our eyes, as night hovers all day in the boughs of the fir-tree. All things swim and glitter. Our life is not so much threatened as our perception. Ghostlike we glide through nature, and should not know our place again.

I hope this will be a place to pin some words and thoughts down before they fly away, and to preserve and renew perceptions, whether they are magnificent reads or only the common blues. As the Romans said, “verba volant, scripta manent“; that is, “words fly, writing remains.”

P.S. Many thanks to my friend Melissa, whose own wild and wonderful blog inspired me to start mine. Check it out by clicking “How to Be a Wife from 2,568 Miles Away” in my blogroll.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Saturday, 28 January 2012 2:55 pm

    I am incredibly moved by your writing. This is gorgeous and inspiring and so, so lovely. It makes me feel slightly embarrassed I write about smelling like ham.

    You are an amazing writer. I cannot wait for what is to come!


  2. Susannah Grossman permalink
    Saturday, 28 January 2012 6:34 pm

    I look forward to reading about your love affair with word “queynte” and so many others 🙂 So great!

    • Tuesday, 31 January 2012 7:59 am

      Indeed. You and I have quite a long history with language.

  3. Sara Veale permalink
    Sunday, 29 January 2012 3:55 am

    This is really fab stuff, Katie. Very excited to read more!

  4. Joshua Zvi Goldenberg permalink
    Sunday, 29 January 2012 2:38 pm

    Looking forward to your pinned and framed words.

    • Tuesday, 31 January 2012 8:00 am

      Thank you! I’ll leave you to critique any missteps in the field of biology.

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