At the begining of this class, I was very confused concerning the matter of death. OK, to be honest, I was downright terrified. Having no relgious background to speak of, and little to no experience reading tragedy, I maintained sanity by merely pushing any thoughts of death, my own or others, out of my mind. I felt that ignoring death until it forced me to pay attention was the best route to take. Every now and then I would have a mild existential crisis and find myself consumed by frightening thoughts regarding my own mortality. However, on that first day when I walked in and heard "the past possesses the present," I was hooked. I had to know more. I didn't know what this class was going to encompass, but I felt the potential of finding the answers I had been unconsciously groping for in other areas of my life. At first, the connections didn't come quickly or easily, but gradually it got easier. Finally, while we were discussing the concepts of tragedy and and catharsis, it hit me. "It" being the overwhelming understanding of the power of literature to heal.
Previously, any mention of the D word would launch me into a nostalgic bout of reminiscence, calling to mind the few close friends I have lost in my lifetime. And by few I do mean three. I have been extremely lucky thus far, and the fact that death had such a stranglehold on my daily consciousness scared me. However, when we began to read tradgedies like Antigone and The Trojan Women, and our readings were combined with some crucial lectures by Dr. Sexson, the imminent reality of death didn't seem so intimidating anymore. To my amazement, when I read our tragic works with the concept of catharsis in mind, I found that my long-standing fear transformed itself into the begining stages of understanding.
My transformation or metamorphosis was complete when I heard Dr. Sexson say "Death is the mother of beauty." Finally, after all these years, after all that irrational fear, I actually understood. Life, every waking second, would not have any significance if it were endless. The fact that our time in this world is so brief is what causes matters of beauty to carry any significance. I realized that by ignoring death and keeping it out of my mind at all costs, I could never really appreciate what I was doing. Since that time, my personal philosophy has done an abrupt about-face. By trying to feel my own mortality every day, by acknowledging death as a quickly approaching deadline, I have at the very least begun to gain an actual appreciation and understanding of the beauty of existence.