Happy Coincidences

I’m quite lucky with my classes this term because they are all electives.
I got into pretty much every top choice I had, and I love all of my teachers, topics, and classmates. (Of course, I loved my classes in past years, but there’s something special about diving into precise topics, such as Quantum Mechanics.) 

I’m pretty sure the only elective I didn’t get into was an English one for winter term. Instead, I landed in The Waste Land, taught by Mrs. Sen-Das, which focuses on T. S. Eliot’s modernist poetry and specifically his poem “The Waste Land.”  I went in with no preconceptions, no expectations, and no clue what we were going to learn.
Unbeknownst to me, this class fits so many aspects of what I find most deeply engaging: discussion about ways to find meaning, examining the effect of structure on a message, and how to apply learning into the future. “The Waste Land” is split into five sections, and each has different voices that weave into a narration.  Its binding work is the Legend of the Holy Grail, so it roughly follows the journey to spiritual awakening and finding meaning to restore health to the land and its people. Next week, we’ll start working on our own versions of “The Waste Land,” with our own binding works and theme.

Also unbeknownst to me, my Spanish 6 class in the winter would be reading the book Pedro Páramo by Juan Rulfo, which is a lovely book whose title translates to “Peter Wasteland” (and the name Peter comes from a word meaning rock). Beyond the title, this book mirrors the poem "The Waste Land" by using fragments with different narrative voices, all of them circling around the issue of finding meaning and growth in a wasteland. 

Juan Rulfo goes a step further than Eliot, and not only mixes together different voices and narratives, but actually erodes the chronology of his own writing by creative use of verb tenses and transitions between fragments. This creates the effect of simultaneity, a valuable perspective (especially when examining the difference between life and death, as Pedro Páramo does). Although both works have quite some significant stylistic and structural differences, each offers a really compelling view of the world and opens our classes to fascinating discussions about meaning, allusions, broader context, and more.

Pretty much everyone else besides me chose The Waste Land as a top choice for their electives, and I certainly would have too if I had understood what I was getting into before taking the class.