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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Limits of Essays

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Last winter, I took a philosophy class called, “Philosophy of Love and Friendship,” and it’s the reason I now have an anthology called, “Philosophy of (Erotic) Love” on my bookshelf. The cover art, of course, is eye-catching. However, I haven’t found it in me to read any of the essays in the book that weren’t assigned to me last winter. I flipped through the book, and believe it or not, it’s quite dry.

I think this is the case because when in the throes of romantic passion or despair, most people’s first response is not to write an essay. Often, the response is automatic: a cry of satisfaction at a gentle touch, a cry of anguish at an unexpected fracture. Cries turn into music sometimes as we search for ways to release a new internal world. Poems are dashed off to capture a fleeting joy or fear before it flickers into the next one.

Besides, love is not a thesis-driven thing. Beyond the exposition traumas that come to your knowledge only with time. How to write these things into an essay? How to capture the large and small intimacies in one place? How to dare to speak in the first person and hold your heart out to the readers?

Well, I’ll do what I can. Falling short of ideals, of course, is something that both essays and relationships do well. I can’t promise perfection in either realm, but I can promise my good intent to love and to write with love. And that, at least, is something.

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