She emailed and said that she wanted to sit down and talk to me about Man’s Search for Meaning. I remembered how it had affected her last semester. She accidentally picked it up and started reading it instead of Candide and then wrote about it in her enrty on Wordsworth’s “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud.” Images of the daffodils as soldiers.
I wasn’t sure what she was looking for. But I’d never turn down a student who wants to continue learning. She explained that she was having trouble finding faculty who were approachable. She switched from design to illustration or painting (me and my bad memory) but the teacher who inspired her to switch went on sabbatical. She’s taking a psychology class to try to understand the pull of the work. She seems to be interested in Frankl himself, how he survived, how one could survive a horror and remain intact. Intrigued especially by the faith question. I think she’s a person of faith. Based on impressions from last semester’s discussions.
She said she did a new cover for Man’s Search for Meaning for her design class last semster (I’m eager to see it). But she seems hesitant to go too far with Frankl as an inspiration. “I wouldn’t want to offend anyone” I think she’s uncomfortable with appropriating someone else’s story.
She really couldn’t articulate what she was looking for but said she was intrigued by the fact I said my brother is an artist. I think she thought I might thus have some insight into the artistic process. I think she just wanted someone to talk to. She said she didn’t want to go to her art instructors because they would want to focus on techniqu, not ideas. She wants the technique to be her own. She needs help somehow with releasing or exploring the ideas.
For some reason I suggested Beloved to her. A story also about memory, what we keep, what we leave behind, how we rebuild a self when we have been degraded, dehumanized. I thought being American, esp African American it might appeal to her. I hope it didn’t seem condescending. I want to help her bridge the gap. Maybe Frankl will still be more useful for her, maybe she needs that distance. I told her about Tree’s Auschwitz journal and yesterday sent her a copy along with a Frankl interview from First Things and a Frankl bio webpage. I’ll send along more stuff as I find it. Could be a very productive dialogue.
She was very grateful. I’m just glad to have touched someone so they want to use what we’ve done. I hope all my students are able to have such a connection with at least something in the class. After all the goal of learning is the creation of something new.
What makes the art students such a great group to work with is sometimes you can directly see that process at work.