ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
A BABBLE OF VOICES by Kristin Baresich Books are the obvious choice, but movies and songs work too. Shawshank Redemption, Middlemarch, Harry Potter, Catcher in the Rye—what they have to offer cuts across genre or literary quality or even media as a whole. Anything that tells a story has layers of meaning and little tidbits of wisdom embedded in the plot, and I’m addicted to collecting it. Sometimes it’s just a phrase that catches my eye, sparks in my head, and makes me think, “I know exactly what you mean.” I never get tired of the little thrill that comes with finding something true and thought-provoking or the weird relief in knowing that my trove of good ideas is well-stocked. Whether I’m reading an article for my lit seminar or a fortune cookie, I’m always on the lookout for new insight. Sort of the moral equivalent to “When in doubt, throw it out.” When I am in doubt, which is often, it’s always nice to have a little perspective so I make fewer of the stupid decisions that come out of a frazzled, over-analyzing brain. So I scribble down all the pseudo-philosophy that comes my way. But when I look back on the corners of my notebook pages and the sticky notes taped in discreet places on my desk, it all seems so stale and f lavorless. The quotes that read like modern-day Nietzsche two weeks ago now feel like picture frames emblazoned with “Live Love Laugh.” The substance is still there, but it’s hollow. “Nothing gold can stay,” indeed.
What does this mean? Is nothing unconditionally true anymore? Has my assortment of observations become worthless (excluding, of course, “Things fall apart”)? I don’t necessarily think so. Perhaps I do need to be a bit more discriminatory in my collection. But for as many astute observations that can stand on their own, there are plenty more for which the focal point does depend on the context. If I could only notice the full effect of one line when it was sprinkled into a scene on a page, I cannot expect it to retain its luster when it is isolated, typed hastily into the Notepad on my phone. It’s a matter of keeping the connection to the original experience. Just as “Don’t touch the stove” doesn’t mean a whole lot unless you have the memory of burning your finger to support it, my bits of wisdom have much more significance when blended with the details of the situations that prompted them than they have when mushed together in my clumsy anthology. And in the words of writer Justin Chin: “Along the way, you will find a babble of voices: others, based on their situations, who will tell you where and what you are whether you choose to believe it or not.” Maybe it’s enough just to discern the melody in the babble of voices without extracting it so that the rhythm doesn’t break.
September | October 2012 THE RUTGERS REVIEW
Featuring: Student Life Secrets, Culture Jamming, YOLOLOL, Seeking Wisdom