“The Threshold and the Jolt of Pain” by Edward Hoagland

I had never realized before that beautiful sentences can have a beauty not just from their musical qualities but may originate just as much from their catalyst. What I mean to say is that beautiful observations alone can make a sentence beautiful, even without musical or poetic qualities attached to them. This makes me want to spend more time noticing and observing beautiful events or minutiae. One such example from Hoagland in this essay is, “When I went into my [stuttering] seizures at parties, if a woman didn’t step back she stepped forward, whereas the men did neither.” I couldn’t help but find this observation beautiful, yet it doesn’t have any ring or music or poetry to it; it’s just a simple observation. This is what I am arriving at: first, simple observations can be beautiful; second, observation, not poetry will often make the beautiful difference. I think many of the times I am caught up in the poetry or image of many things. I abandon  simplicity. Also, sometimes I try to complicate something that is not beautiful, I try to apply too much make-up or even plastic surgery to the idea, rather than spend the time that is needed to arrive at an observation that is beautiful in and of itself. There is power in poetry, but the essay has taught me the ability to make analytical noticings, or rather to spend the time to get at a deeper meaning and insight. The essay has taught me to explore the spacial elements of an idea through both analysis and association. By a cycle of indicating and inquiring I can explore the depths of a subject or theme, and then by associating, by careful mixing of topics I am able to explore the breadth of a topic. This is how I move around. Whenever a writer or any thinker approaches me with the feelings of being trapped I explain these two ideas of analysis and association, and the result is a sense of freedom. I can take something deeper. I can take something farther. I can take anything in any direction that I would like. And what should be kept in this kind of exploration are those simple observations that don’t rely on make-up. It reminds me of an essay that I read by David Foster Wallace, in which he states that the more money a movie production spends on special F/X the less evocative the story or ideas are behind the movie. I don’t want to be superficial in my writings. I am grateful I have this takeaway from Hoagland’s essay.