I receive many notes about my posts. They help me navigate “blogland.”
This morning, I received a valuable note. My reader wrote to tell me that I should write about something important. She was commenting on my blog on the idea of “absolute music.”
Well, many years ago, one of my students commented that studying Jean Racine‘s Phèdre was not important.
I told her that sub specie æternitatis, studying Phèdre was not important and that, in fact, despite what psychologists tell us, we are both important and not important and then asked the class to look out the window. We could see a cemetery in the distance.
They did and then returned to their respective chair.
It was a small class of about twelve students, a nice mixture of people. So, to continue the narrative, I invited them to discuss the idea of “importance” as it was an “important” idea and, therefore, that it had to be addressed. Our discussion of Phèdre would simply have to wait.
Suddenly, they turned into “philosophers.” You’ve no idea how impressed I was. I had of course withdrawn into the role of moderator. When the class was over I thanked them for what had been a great discussion.
They had spoken about relativity. What was important to one person was not important to another. Some like tea, some prefer coffee. But, but more importantly, they had talked about the big questions: life and death.
I ended up telling them that, for me, what was important was to give meaning to my brief journey on earth and make it pleasurable, not only for me, but also for those who are journeying with me.
Some will like my posts and some will not. It depends on my reader’s tastes, needs, and goals in life.
As for seventeenth-century French literature, one reads Phèdre and/or another play by Racine. He is one of three major playwrights in seventeenth-century French literature. Racine is on the programme and in the context of the course, Phèdre is important. I had to teach Racine.
I have fond memories of my students.
24 October 2011