A Reflection and Evaluation of my studies in English and Life
Aaron Broughton ENGL 600 Stacey 12/6/07
A reflection on why I am in the English MA program, where I’m headed, and what I am going to do with it, is what you are asking us to address in this self-evaluative essay. Well, that is a tough question, because I really don’t have an answer to that question. I guess I do have an answer, but it would really only take one sentence to explain, because I really don’t know where I am going with my education in English. I know that is hard to swallow as an English professor, and I'm sorry for that. I guess I’ll begin by explaining why I initially moved to Arcata to study English as an undergraduate back in 2000. It all started sophomore year in high school, because that is the year I learned that I enjoyed to read. Prior to that revelation, despite my ability to excel in English, I had always been relatively opposed to the act of reading. It was something that I did not enjoy, until I discovered Jack Kerouac. I know, I know, this is the same revelation that countless English undergraduates had at some point in their adolescence, but regardless, I am happy to say that Kerouac is the sole reason why I fell in love with reading. With this new-found love for reading, I gained an interest in creative writing, and started scribbling pages and pages of poetry, thinking I was going to become some new age Kerouac. I know it sounds pretty ridiculous and unfounded, but that’s how it all started. From that point on, I was positive that English was going to be my area of study if I was going to pursue any kind of secondary eduction. And having grown up on the California coast, I was really closed to the idea of moving anywhere away from the Pacific coast. I wanted to be a writer, and at the time there really weren’t any English departments that offered a BA in creative writing, so I settled for a BA in English literature. That is essentially how I found myself in the middle of nowhere, studying English literature as an undergraduate at Humboldt State University. I never intended to be a literary scholar, an essayist, or a teacher, I just wanted to write. Perhaps that is why I am one of the few literature MA students lurking around the English department. Despite being in a program dedicated to reading creative writing, rather than a program dedicated to writing creatively, I feel as if my skills as a writer increased over my five-year undergraduate career. In 2005, I graduated from Humboldt State University, and had to decide rather quickly what I was going to do with my life, and my newly earned BA in English. I decided that one enticing option was to stay in Humboldt, and continue on to the English MA program. So that essentially chronicles my academic love affair with English, and leaves me at this juncture, where I am left with one graduate level course to take, and an enormous thesis to write. So…to reiterate the answer to the question, where am I going with my MA in English literature? I don’t know. I still haven’t gotten any closer to any sort of instruction as to how to write creatively and I haven’t published any volumes of poetry, or fiction. My one notable achievement in creative writing was having one measly poem published in Humboldt State’s Toyon magazine, which is ironic because it is a publication dedicated to creative writing at a university lacking any sort of real creative writing instruction. So, I guess that's where my education has taken me. Fifteen minutes of fame for an eight-line poem. What a glorious English career. Okay, enough with the sarcasm. I have two primary avenues in which I might explore; one relating directly to English and the other is a tangential deviation from what was supposed to be a career in English. I’ll start with the deviation first. Due to my preoccupation with my linear English schooling, my inspiration to become the next Kerouac was and still is severely stunted. Hopefully at some point my inspiration to write will reemerge. At some point during my schooling I redirected my creative inspiration to the creation of music. I have been reading, writing, and playing music since I learned to play the clarinet in the sixth grade, but had never considered studying it at school. If I had, I probably would have experienced the same lack of creative inspiration that I am now experiencing in my writing. I know what I’m writing about doesn’t really pertain to my English education, but this assignment is open-ended, and my interest in composing music really flourished during my time studying English at Humboldt State University. Not to mention, my tentative project proposal directly correlates with my drive to create music. My first step into the realm of music production began a few years ago, when I bought a sampler, a digital eight-track, and music editing software. At the time I really had no formal training in music production, so I kind of dove into this blindly. I didn’t even really know what a sampler was, but I eventually figured it out. Since that time I have dedicated much of my free time to learning as much as I possibly could about the creation of hip-hop. It is a genre of music that has always been a large part of my life, and I feel as if it is a medium that allows me to creatively express myself in ways that I could not capture in writing. So that really sums up my interest is music up until the current moment. I want to be a music producer, and I want to create instrumental hip-hop music. Whether it makes me enough money to subsist on or not, doesn’t really affect my obsession with this particular art form. First and foremost, I need to express myself creatively, and if my career has nothing to do with my art, I am okay with that. But if it does, and I can somehow make a living creating art, then that would be something that I would gladly accept. On the contrary, if it does turn out that I can potentially earn a living making music, I fear that, much like my extinguished creativity in writing, my motivation and ability will be negatively affected by the necessity to be creative in order to make a living. But for the sake of making money, and art, I hope that proves to be untrue. At this current moment, aside from creating on average of three to five songs a week, I have been rigorously promoting myself, hoping that I can establish a name for myself in the world of hip-hop. Currently, I am working with a Puerto Rican poet, or more appropriately a lyricist, from New Jersey. We have teamed up to create hip-hop, and are currently in the process of creating a collaborative album, where I compose and produce all of the instrumental work, and he raps to the songs. Hopefully within a year, we will have completed an entire album of collaborative songs. I am also in the process of collaborating with another lyricist from San Francisco. We have yet to collaborate, and create any songs together, but are in the beginning stages of developing some sort of musical collaboration. I have sent him a variety of hip-hop instrumentals, and he is hopefully going to select some songs to use in his upcoming musical projects. I know all of this sounds pretty far fetched, but I believe that if I try hard enough, my aspirations will soon actualize themselves. It is extremely inspiring for me to create art, and that is really what I want out of life. I know that this will cause many of my English professors at Humboldt State University to cringe, and regret permitting me to enter the MA program, but I must be true to myself, and pursue my creative talent. The second potential avenue in which I am considering is a career in environmental activism. I am deeply interested in the health of the environment, and am concerned with the detrimental relationship humans have with it. During my time as an English undergraduate, I earned a minor in Environmental Ethics, and I also completed numerous courses in the Journalism department. I also have surfed for the majority of my life, and because of this I have first hand experience with the rapid and severe deterioration of the natural world. Whether it’s garbage floating in the ocean, toxic river and creek run-off, or rashes that I have developed due to excessive human waste and pollution, I am well aware that the relationship we have with the natural world is destructive and anthropocentric. It is evident that the relationship we maintain with the natural world can only last so long before the damage is irreversible, and our demise is imminent. We are, as an anthropocentric culture, vastly contributing to our own demise, as well as the demise of all living and nonliving things. Something needs to be done immediately. I feel as if this is a cause that I can productively contribute to, due to my ability to write and communicate effectively, as well having first hand experience with this rapidly deteriorating planet. We need to depart from our anthropocentric ways, and learn to live in relative harmony with the natural world. This ecocentric perspective that I am insisting we adopt, has the potential to stop the mass destruction of the environment. My education in English, journalism, and environmental ethics would serve as a good foundation to pursue a career in environmental activism. The next step in pursuing this potential career opportunity would be to intern at any of the local non-profit environmental organizations, and get some firsthand experience in the field of environmental activism. Committing myself to a noble cause such as environmental activism, I am guessing, would be a great way to both utilize my skills as an English student, as well as contribute to one of the most pressing issues we face as humankind. Something needs to be done immediately, or life as we know it will cease to exist in the very near future. Before I offer a conclusion to all of this writing, I must apologize for my unfounded and tangential rambling about my goals in life. But again I must reiterate, that this assignment was relatively open-ended, and I feel as if I have addressed, rather briefly, what I plan to make of this education and life of mine. I know that the two potential directions I may take my experiences and education are completely unrelated to themselves and to my degree in English as well, but these are really the only two viable options I see for myself at the present moment. Maybe sometime in the near future, I may suddenly get an urge to become a teacher and dedicate myself to educating future generations of students, but right now these are the two potential directions I may want to pursue.