The Friendship of Phantoms: How Literature Kept Me from Loneliness

May 29th, 2014 § 0

Since I was a young child, I have carried a knife by its blade. No matter how many times I prayed, no matter how many times I dug into my heart trying to pick out the blade, the feeling would not go away. Hell remained within me as if I were Satan from Paradise Lost wandering the earth, except instead of seeking revenge, I sought a way to assuage the pain.

I don’t know why I gravitated towards novels. Maybe it was because when I had a character to cling to, I was never truly alone. The library was where I first found friends. Books are quiet, orderly, accepting creatures, and, for a while, I could forget about the knife I carried.

But the mere act of reading is not enough to save oneself from loneliness. As I grew older, I found that the old stories of talking animals, knights and dragons had begun to lose their luster. I needed a story that would touch me deep within my bones and understand my pain.

My first gothic novel was The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux. Within its pages, I discovered a character who understood what it was to be alone. The Phantom was a character with a kindred spirit, someone I could look towards whenever I thought I was alone in my suffering. I had finally found a friend who understood. The realization that there were authors who had created characters I could sympathize with gave me hope. I no longer had to carry the knife blade alone.

Now in my final year of college, I am finally starting to let the blade go. The knife is slowly dissolving in the camaraderie I have found in my closest friends. But even though I now have friends of flesh and blood, I will always have a special affection for the fictional friends of my childhood—the Raskolnikovs, the Frankensteins and Phantoms who taught me that no one, not even someone who feels like Satan from Paradise Lost, is truly alone.

–Jay Payne, Senior English major

Art Is

May 20th, 2014 § 0

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What is art?  Some of it is tangible, while some of it is not.  It has no limits except creation itself.  It is an inward feeling–an emotion–that builds up inside the artist, waiting to burst out.   Art is an expression, a method artists use to interpret the world and connect not only to fellow artists but all others.  Art creates opportunities.  It opens a space where anything goes and any experience is worthwhile.

Art is predominantly about understanding.  It is a way for us to understand each other, new cultures, and other ages.  In art we are able to try on different experiences, different passions, different beliefs.  We learn about our neighbor and our neighboring country.  We can better sympathize with them, and can realize that we all are not that different from one another. Art creates unity, a place where we can become one, all desiring the best for the world and discovering more about our individual selves in the process.

Creating art is a holy act: one that gives us the ability to see something from a new perspective; one that allows compassion where there had been only an emotional void.  Art is also prayer.  The art we experience and react to is us uttering a call that can only be answered by a divine creature.  We guess in our art, we attempt, and we mimic, but without the aspect of prayer art goes nowhere.

We love this, this communication that binds us together as one.  It allows us to see, to create, to be.  These are the things that make art special.  We need it.  Life without art lacks understanding.  It is action with no contemplation; reaction with no expression.

Art is, in its essence, us in our rawest form.

–Zoey Wilson, Senior & Creative Writing Major

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