Blog #2 “From a History and Poetics of the Essay”

According to “From a History and Poetics of the Essay” written by Jeff Porter, the original understanding of the essay concentrated on the essayist exploring their own character; their experiences and consciousness.  Furthermore the “trademark” of the essay is its intimacy, “the human voice addressing an imagined audience”. I had not thought of ‘essays’ as explorations or an intimate process before reading the article. It made a little more sense to me when I learned the word “essay” comes from the French “essai”. In its verb form  “essayer” means to try out or experiment.  For the earliest writer’s what would be more intimate than converting an abstract experimental unit, thought,  into the fixed form of a sentence?

It’s funny… my early essays like the earliest forms of essays were disorderly, rambling and disjointed. But not because my essays were playful and intimate experiences or because I let my consciousness freely flow from my mind to paper. They were disorderly, according to my freshmen English professor because I did not have a clear thesis or argument, my papers lacked supporting evidence, and overall they lacked structure. I had no clue as to what a thesis was my freshmen year. In my honest opinion I believed my essays were structured; they were written formally, there was an intro, a couple body paragraphs, and a conclusion. That is structure right?

My sophomore year of high school, my essay writing had gotten a little better. I had learned the MAGIC THESIS STATEMENT; By looking at (after reading/ analyzing)_______the reader can see that __________this is important because. Excuse my language, but to high school Marina this shit was gold. You plug it what you read, with what you took from it and then apply how it relates to or affects our world today. But remember your thesis goes at the very beginning or end of your introduction. This is what the institutionalized written essay looks like; a formula where you plug in whatever you want but just remember to follow the rules of providing evidence to support your thesis, avoid weak verbs like is and are, and don’t so to repetitive. And conclusions…. wrap up your essay without cutting it to short, also restate your thesis but not word for word like the one in your intro, and then tell the reader why it matters now in the most interesting way you can that will effect them just enough to think about what your wrote.

The essay has diverged from adaptable and has become fixed. I feel like it has become fixed because of the lack of intimacy involved in writing essays. Even in its most structured form, early essays were pieces of writing that could be informal or formal that gave the authors OWN argument. As authors of essays today we no longer give our own arguments. We aren’t writing pieces from our own experiences. My essays don’t display my character or give insight to my consciousness. I write/ wrote essays in school to argue someone else’s argument, to prove someone else’s point. Essays have become more direct and less intimate…..

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