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Day 10: Memorize “If”

August 28, 2011

The Art of Manliness post

So, this may be the first AOM post that I’ve distinctly disagreed with. There are some AOM posts that are boring or not applicable to my life, but I may just disagree with this one. But to be more precise, I disagree with the heavy-handed championing of memorization. I agree that a better man is a well-read man with a rich store of knowledge to call upon for discourse, confidence, and socializing. Maybe I have internalized modern-day views on learning a bit too much, but I don’t think making a repetitive exercise out of a good poem is a better way of absorbing it than reading widely and appreciating what we read. Most of us don’t set out to memorize our favorite songs. And the lines from Shakespeare that people use in their everyday speech are not usually the ones they have set out to memorize but the ones that struck their fancy or the ones from their most beloved plays. I liked “If,” but I didn’t feel the desire to read it over and over again. And if it’s not something that I want to stick with me, why would I memorize it if I wouldn’t be inclined to use it in my life? And if it is something I want to stick, then I feel like it would stick without me creating a drill to force it in my brain.

I did read a novel this morning though and I started my book club book yesterday.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Brother Lagos permalink
    September 1, 2011 1:16 am

    OK allow me to heavily disagree here. As someone who grew up memorizing Bible verses and several poems, including “If” at one point, and currently working on memorizing large parts of medieval poems in a language I haven’t even mastered, memorization has helped me quickly draw upon what I’ve read without having to look it up on Gogole, and it also helps me appreciate the beauty of such passages when the lines flow in an organized stream through my head, sometimes when I don’t even consciously summon them. It helps one become a better writer to have something vocalized and dwelling in one’s head.

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