It’s a most sensible way to begin an essay, especially if one has nothing substantial to say on the subject, which is usually the case. It’s also preferable to quote from a book one has never read, as awareness of the entire work could contradict one’s intended purpose. The quotation acts as aloe vera gel, soothing the gaping wounds of logic and bleeding emotion to follow. It pleads, No matter what happens, you must remember the essayist had enough comprehension to select me as your host. You must remember!
The quotation is impressively terse and intelligent; it often inspires the essayist to write “the end,” since he cannot come up with anything significant to add. It’s a mercifully soft light, making everyone look better by its glow.
“The difference between guilt and shame is very clear – in theory. We feel guilty for what we do. We feel shame for what we are.” Lewis B. Smedes, Shame and Grace
I’m trying to quantify my guilt. Undeniably the best way to do this is a scale, from 1-5…1 being Martin Scorsese (mean guilt) 3 being Alfred Hitchcock (monstrous guilt) 5 being Woody Allen (maddening guilt). Since I can’t think of any other fitting film directors, and since within the series 1-5 evens are outnumbered, 2 and 4 have been prematurely and inexplicably eliminated. Also, this scale was computed by the directors’ work, not their personal lives (would this have affected anything? don’t ask that you dumbass, we’ll never get anywhere). So. I normally function at a 3.5, but presently it’s at 9,999,999,999, approximately, which in English is “my-very-existence-is-a-burden-to-others.” I am guilty of _________
That blank has such vast potential, let’s not fill it in or foul it up.
It’s appropriate that shame starts with a “shh” because it’s a secret. -Doesn’t that sound like something a Pastor who reads Family Circus would say from the pulpit? He’d punctuate it with satisfaction, thinking he got close enough to truth to pet it before it ran away. Guilt can turn into shame and shame can turn into guilt – they’ve got a co-op. And, there’s no system of measurement for them – so I’m always thinking I don’t have enough, even though I’m always thinking about how much I have.
I am conscience-stricken over my superficiality. I’m one of those enormous sheets with pictures of athletes or forest scenes they draped over unfinished buildings in Beijing during the olympics. Someone, some day soon, will tear it away, expecting to find something. They won’t. They’ll be disappointed. They’ll walk on.
Maybe instead of scale of 1-5, there are 3 levels. It’s all about levels these days.
We’re all parading around with sheets over our heads hoping no one grabs at ours. Maybe instead of being possibly being disappointed at what “they” see underneath, they’ll actually take the time to stop and smile, appreciating whatever there may be for what it is.
Often I don’t comment on your entries for much the same reason most writers really would be better off if they simply followed up a brilliant quote with “The End”: I know I cannot say anything that will add to what you’ve written, and there’d be no point in detracting from it. So I say nothing at all.
This would be another of those times except that the relationship between the entry and my regular commentless reasoning was just too uncannily close to not at least mention it…
I commented, and then the browser erased it. Angry, I leave this vindictive little alert to tell you I told you something. It ended with having guilty blanks like those is like having a tooth pulled without novocaine.
And I have students who start papers with quotes.
I didn’t realize you were back at home so quickly, Ben.
And I really have to agree with ^. Sometimes I don’t hav anything to say to your posts but I want to say something. So there, I said it.
You are fascinating.
I like how you effectively did NOT begin your essay with a quotation, incidentally.
But the buildings were under construction, right? It’s not like they were hiding radioactive powerplants or centers for torturing cute marsupials.
So there is progress, and there is work being done, and there is an architect with a dream yet unfinished — all under the sheet, waiting to be revealed.
And I always started my papers with a quotation. Always. Still have the temptation to, when writing my director’s notes…