“To err is human; to forgive, divine.” So says Alexander Pope, 18th century poet in his rare poetic essay, ‘An Essay on Criticism: Part 2.’
Most essays are written prosaically. Hence, our expectations so disturbed, we might fault Pope for having surprised and confused us. Transferring the embarrassment of surprise from ourselves to him has some advantages. But greater advantages are had from embracing rather than criticizing this work regarding criticism.
That really is the point, after all. For every single writer, ten critics wait in the wings. And too often, those critics – joyless in their outlook – rob joy from others even as they criticize for the sake of criticizing.
So what if Pope wrote his essay in poetic form? Perhaps that is not a mistake, as Bob Ross would say, merely a happy little accident. And where is it written that persuasive essays have to be prosaic rather than poetic, mathematical rather than artistic?
Head and Heart
In every man, woman, and child there is both a head and a heart. Some live the life of the mind, while others are carried along by the wind wherever their emotions take them. But if we – as writers and critics – can endeavor to show up as the whole person, both head and heart, in whatever our hand finds to do, as unto the Lord, that is much better than half-heartedness and half-baked ideas.
Once upon a time, before my wife Lauren was Lauren Mullet, back when she was Lauren Duff, she had a Yahoo email address. ‘Entiercoeur@Yahoo.com’ is where I sent my letters to her when I did not handwrite them. And when I first asked her to be my girl in high school, it was over Yahoo Messenger, and it was to Entiercoeur that I messaged. That was her name, and that was how I knew her. And that was, whether I knew it at the time, a large part of why I loved her.
If I had taken French instead of Spanish as my second language, and if I had tried to dress to match her after a fashion, I might have called myself ‘Entieresprit’ – Whole Mind – for I was living the life of the mind, and I still am. But how much better am I to be completed, challenged, encouraged to a full heart in addition to a full mind?
“It is not good that the man should be alone,” the Lord God says in Genesis when first a thing that is not good is commented on by the Supreme Judge and Creator of the universe and mankind. “I will make a help-meet suitable for him.”
Just so, I imagine that God looked on a young Garrett Mullet much the way he looks on this now older self of mine, commenting in High Heaven that it is not good for me to be alone and that a help-meet suitable for me has been fashioned and provided.
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