By Dalton Craig, Copyeditor, Ivory Tower
For this post, I could choose to talk about any number of things. I could talk about how the date of the Launch Party is getting ever closer, and how you should come to it because it's sure to be an entertaining evening. I could talk about some of the books I've read for other classes, and analyze their literary significance. I could discuss the somewhat melancholic feelings brought about by wandering alone around the nearly-deserted campus on Spring Break, putting up flyers advertising the Launch Party. I could even go off on a tangent and give a detailed list of girls I'm attracted to, just to make the information known to them and to the public at large--although I'm reasonably certain our professor would flip his biscuits (and rightfully so) if I used this forum for such an esoteric topic. However, in lieu of those options, fascinating though some of them might be to explore, I will give my thought on a topic of more immediate import: Why does literature matter? Why does the U of M even have a literary magazine? Chances are if you're reading this blog, you already have an adequate answer to this question, even if it's just a feeling you get when you read something that touches you. But, if you'll indulge me, I'd like to give my thoughts on the subject.
As I see it, literature--and, indeed, all forms of artistic expression--matters because it's a way of expressing things that can't be so easily talked about in direct conversation. It's a way to indirectly express sorrows and frustrations, fears and regrets, joys and longings, and, of course, any observations that question the ideology of the society one lives in. Without such a way to relieve the pressure of suppressed thoughts, they might otherwise build up inside and lead to any number of unpleasant manifestations, from social awkwardness to mass murder (that last part is perhaps a bit melodramatic, but you get the point). Example: say you're single and you meet someone who seems perfect for you in every way. You can't just tell that person how much you like them: it doesn't work, and it may very well ruin your chances of ever even seeing them again (I know this from personal experience). But if, instead of telling that person how you feel, you write a story or a poem or even a memoir about the situation, or create a work of visual art inspired by what you're feeling, this can vent the feelings enough to prevent you from doing anything you'll regret. What you produce will most likely be an indirect enough form of expression that instead of being disliked for communicating too efficiently, you may be lauded for the quality of your artistic endeavor. This ability of literature, visual art, and the like to channel thoughts and feelings that can't be communicated directly into an acceptable medium is what makes these forms of expression important. And by providing a place for students to have their artistic expressions published, Ivory Tower gives these students a way to communicate what they want to say despite the barriers society has placed in their way. It's a way to circumvent the locked door of convention, to slip between the prison bars of protocol, and to breathe the fresh air of free expression, if only for a moment. Come to the Launch Party for our 2013 issue and you'll see what I mean: we'll be having live readings by many of the authors and poets in our magazine. Plus, there will be free coffee, tea, sandwiches, and other foods. And if nothing else, you can find me and chew me out for the hackneyed metaphors I used a few sentences ago. The Party is on April 24th at The Whole Music Club in the basement of Coffman Union from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Be there or forever wonder what it would have been like if you'd been there.