Snip, snip, go the scissors of the Fates.

Sometimes, my life lies in pieces around me. Consider my apartment: books everywhere, post-it notes with lists of readings, essays to edit; literal pieces (of literature) splay my education languorously across minimal square footage. There is a papered materiality to studying English that I cannot escape. My schoolwork surrounds me in fragments. Loose paper, all my pens four-fifths out of ink.

I begin to think that this is how life works: perhaps it is that everything of import has been sent through a shredder and then lies around you, waiting for reassembly.

Georges Seurat’s A Sunday on La Grande Jatte

Georges Seurat’s A Sunday on La Grande Jatte

Near the end of reading week, I was standing in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, staring at Georges Seurat’s A Sunday on La Grande Jatte – you know the painting I mean, the Pointillist one, with the woman on the right side who has a pet monkey. I’ve liked it since I’ve known it, which dates to my art history class in second year. I never thought I would see it in real life. I don’t know what it is about the Met, but it pulls together disparate things. There I am, in 19th century European Paintings, reliving art history. Then, downstairs, to Greek and Roman art, where I find stelae from the Temple of Artemis at Sardis and the gymnasium at Pergamon, places I visited in a study abroad class with the Greek and Roman Studies department in Summer 2015. And so the windy day on the Pergamon acropolis is before me.

 The column from the Temple of Artemis at Sardis, ca. 300 B.C. (Photo: Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art)


Stelae from the Temple of Artemis at Sardis, ca. 300 B.C. Greek and Roman galleries at the Met. (Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art)

How do you – suddenly and obliviously, and in a strange city no less – find yourself confronted by the missing pieces? In the case of the stelae, I mean that literally; they were pieces missing from the places I’d gone across the globe to see. Does it happen often that a poetic and cyclical pattern shapes your life? How do you ever find yourself in this position you’d never thought you’d be in, a position of ecstatic recognition and overwhelming privilege, as though the world literally revolves around you, for you?

When I write an essay, I have to wander around the space I occupy and find the scraps of paper on which I’ve written my thoughts – single words, exclamation points, long block quotations. I gather, compile, assess. This is the puzzle I’ve made for myself, whence the thesis emerges. I draw it out slowly, tease meaning, solve the mystery. Somehow, over the course of five years, my life has worked itself into something similarly cohesive, emergent, and true.

I blame my education, the thing that has taught me to un-puzzle the pieces and to puzzle them further; the thing that has inspired in me a desire to see. I’m not sure when I became willing to travel in spite of fear, when I put the desire to know more about the world over the desire to be comfortable and safe in my own home. Perhaps it’s been lying latent, but recently – in the rooms and halls of this university – the careful hands of brilliant teachers, the ideas and adventures bound up in pages and pages that have passed through my eyes/fingers/brain have drawn it out, teased the meaning out of me, begun to solve the endless mystery of my own life.

One thought on “Paige’s Blog – On learning, re: my life in pieces”

  1. Catherine Khordoc says:

    I love this blog, Paige! It is so true, how sometimes, pieces of a puzzle somehow fall in front of you, but I suspect it is indeed your education and knowledge that allows you to recognize these as pieces of your puzzle!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *