By Edward McCourt

As a writer and teacher of writing, I am prone to saying that narrative is the most important thing we have.  It is pervasive in its macro sense – history, philosophy, politics, etc. – but in a more local, personal way as well.  When, after a long absence, we see the people we care about, what ritualistically ensues is a retelling of narratives from our time spent apart, as well as a recollection of our shared narratives.  In this way, all relationships are a kind of mutual storytelling.

But the praise of narrative assumes first the power of language.  Without attention to, immersion in, and mastering of language, the inexplicable around us remains just that.  Language is a contortionist; it can bend in ways that ignore our perception of its physical limits.  We understand the world with math and science, yes, but with language, we can take the back way and arrive at something valuable before we have ended a single sentence.  The always elegant Jorge Luis Borges (of course, solamente my second favorite author named Jorge) said:

Si pudiéramos comprender una sola flor, sabríamos quiénes somos y qué es el mundo.

We are shrouded in mechanism, in machines as small as our phones or as large as our economy, but to understand a flower, says Borges, is to understand oneself, and to understand the world.  How could that ever be arrived at without the art of language, without poetry?

We can hash it out with reason and logic, but we have argued over the nature of the universe and its gods as long as we have been curious as a species (the inclination to which was itself used by Aquinas as (onto)logical proof), but as a lover of words, I can simply say:

I had stayed up late, wondering if this was for any purpose, and awoke to find an aphid no bigger than a grain of poppy walking the concentric ridges of my thumb, and when it reached the center, it stopped.

Language is itself a metaphor, a representation of the transitory and categorical alike, hence the constructing of metaphor is a kind of double representation into something exponentially greater, which, like an atom, is at its most unstable right before an unseen power unfurls.

Ed McCourt is an Asst. Prof. of English and is the Director of the Writing Center, located in Council 143.

Be sure to bring all of your work to the Writing Center to be reviewed by one of their excellent tutors.  Appointments can be arranged ahead of time by stopping by or calling the Center during normal operating hours (10am-4pm M-Thurs), or you can simply stop in and check for availability whenever you have time.


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Douglas M. Hazzard.

Dean, College of Arts & Sciences; Associate Professor of Spanish; B.A., M.A., Johns Hopkins University; Ph.D., Duke University. Tel 904-256-7100

Therese Vitrant O’Connell

Professor of French & German; Licence es Lettres, Maitrise, Doctorat de 3e cycle, University of Lille III, France. Tel 904-256-7103

Jorge Majfud

Assistant Professor of Spanish; Portuguese. Architect, Universidad de la República del Uruguay; M.A., Ph.D., University of Georgia. E-mail: . Tel 904-256-7929   ​

María de los Ángeles González

Instructor of Spanish; B.A., Catholic University of Puerto Rico; M.A., Universidad de Salamanca. E-mail: . Tel 904-256-7383

Mary Johnson

Adjunct Instructor of French. B.A. Dartmouth College. M.A.T. French, Jacksonville University. Tel 904 646 0170 

Jessica Lee

Secretary. Tel. 904-256-7102. e-mail:

Contact Chair for the Division of Humanities:

Scott Kimbrough, Chair. B.A., Southwestern University; Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania

Office: Council 127. 904-256-7118 e-mail: