I really wanted to post my “unessay” (which is actually a comic) on the course blog because I want to share it with everyone. I’m hoping everyone will get something from it or at least enjoy it! I have a huge explanation underneath the images. (click on them to make them bigger – they should be in order)
My immediate thought for the unessay was “comic” because I felt as though I could get a decent amount of what I wanted across in an entertaining, fun way that lets me at least partially enjoy the project. I thought a lot about how “Darkness” relates to the current climate of the world. I would have liked to do a longer comic – one with more similarities between the poem lines and pictures, but I was already spending so much time on it that doing more would have taken probably a month or two. Therefore, I only had a handful of relevant lines from the poem.
I could have just as easily, perhaps more easily, written a six page essay talking about how Lord Byron’s “Darkness” relates to the COVID pandemic, but that sounded really boring and repetitive. Lets get on with an explanation of what is going on in the comic. It opens and ends with me contemplating this idea of similarities because I wanted it to read a bit like an essay – an amalgamation of one’s thoughts to explain something. So, my contemplation is something like an opening and closing paragraph.
The opening line of the poem I took metaphorically, the “sun” being the chatter and carefree lives we had prior. I symbolized this with word bubbles and different symbols. The next panel changes into fall leaves in the wind. This is because after the “sun” is extinguished, we have only the sounds of nature to listen to – no talking, laughter, or cars. In fact, the world’s pollution has actually done down since this pandemic started, so I guess that’s a plus.
The next line, “and the stars did wander,” I pictured somewhat metaphorically as well. The stars are us, people, and we are floating through the voids of our minds – lost in our thoughts, emotions, and sometimes destructive musings. We are wandering through space and the world itself feels like ice because some of us (though not all) are by ourselves – isolated and lonely. The line “Morn came and went” takes on a much more literal representation. It’s mostly relating to how all of our sleep schedules have started changing because those of us without “essential” jobs, we don’t have some kind of regimen to hold to. We’re waking up at night and it feels like we can never wake up again at a normal time. The line about losing our passions is also fairly literal. I, as well as my peers and teachers feel that it’s hard to focus on things right now. Reading is hard, seeing a point to video games is hard, sports are mostly unable to be played, and writing – perhaps while doable – also seems pointless in this time of fear and anxiety.
I represented the line “a desperate hope” as someone clicking news links on their phone. It’s shows a much more modern, common trait that connects the past to the present. We’re hopeful that the pandemic will end soon, but also terrified about it. We obsessively click on links with the hope that maybe the death toll isnt too high or maybe scientists have finally created a vaccine. Everyone’s talking about it. Everyone is up to date on it. The next line I used was half literal, half metaphorical. I imagined the people running around putting bodies on funeral piers were actually nurses and doctors. While they aren’t putting bodies on funeral piers, I couldn’t help but think of it similarly. We have these nurses and doctors running around frantically trying to cure patients while the death toll just keeps climbing. Going onto the next line, I imagine they are looking up to the sky with unease. In fact, there was a nurse who killed herself recently over this pandemic and my mother (an LNA) is certainly horribly stressed out. She works in a nursing home, but I stopped asking her how work was because it hasn’t been good at all since the pandemic started. Everyone is stressed out and looking for answers in the stars.
This brings me to my closing paragraph. I tried to bring everything together, as someone would for an essay, but I’m not sure how well I accomplished it. I wasn’t trying to point out a grand epiphany with this comic. I simply wanted to find similarities between then and now, which brings me to why this comic helps share why literature is so important, and thus answers the question of “what is literature.” Literature is a lot of things this day and age. It’s a gateway to another time period, our own emotions, another person’s dreams, or a call for help. Literature is a text that brings enjoyment, fulfillment, learning/ knowledge, or epiphanies. This particular comic brings to light how similar two time periods can be. Connecting bridges with older literature is important because it can help us through hard times. For example, Byron was going through a lot of stuff when “the year without summer” happened. Granted, being stuck in an amazing villa with amazing people doesn’t sound terrible, but when you compare it to our pandemic, it actually sounds pretty awful. There was famine and too much rain and storms during “the year without summer. “
I’m sure Byron was full of similar anxieties and fears that we are right now – perhaps more so. But Byron also spent that time writing non-stop. He threw himself into his passions as a coping mechanism. I’m not saying all of us need to be the next Mary Shelly, who wrote one of her best works in that villa, but maybe we could learn a thing or two from Byron and try to focus on something we love and enjoy while this is going on. I believe it would make this at least a little more bearable. Perhaps that’s partly why I made this comic. I want to make this time more bearable for people, even if it’s just a little.