The Broken Bridge In Joan Didion's Essay On Going Home

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The Broken Bridge Against a white immaculate background an array of talismans of varied sizes, shapes and colors dot the canvas. Kerstin Bratsch’s painting “Unstable Talismanic Renderings-27” can be viewed as symbolic of the human mind. Furthermore, the diversity, confusion, energy and activity draw an analogy to the dynamics of the powerhouse, the human mind, whereas the absence of cohesion and clarity reflects the transient nature of our thoughts and the fluctuating shades of our emotions. The constant activity in our brain and this vigor shape the window through which we look at this world. Joan Didion’s essay “On Going Home” sheds insight into the dynamic human mind and nuanced and complex emotions when Didion explores the effect of visiting…show more content…
I drank it in, in a speechless rapture. The world was new to me” (Twain, 65). In his essay “A River Pilot Looks at the Mississippi,” Twain describes his first sunset on the waters of the Mississippi, as he stood there mesmerized by the beauty of nature. Gradually, training as a pilot, Twain masters the language of this water and begins “to know every trifling feature that bordered the great river as familiarly as the letter of the alphabet” (65). But along with this valuable acquisition he “had lost something which could never be restored. All the grace, the beauty, the poetry, had gone out of the majestic river” (65). After seeing this river for so many years he realizes what enchanted him has gone as he ceases from “noting the glories and the charms which the moon and the sun and the twilight wrought upon the river’s face” (65). All the value any feature of it has for him was the amount of usefulness it could furnish toward compassing the safe piloting of the steamboat. Naïve eyes can only see “pretty pictures in it, painted by the sun and shaded by the clouds, whereas to the trained eye these were not pictures at all, but the grimmest and most dead-earnest of reading matter” (64). This brings us back to the clear white backdrop in Kerstin Bratsch’s painting that can be seen as analogous to Twain’s clarity and certainty about the change in his outlook towards the river. But Twain argues that this understanding does not mean the mind is at peace as his mind is occupied with questions that arise from this awareness as he wonders “whether he has gained most or lost most by learning his trade” (66). He is questioning whether being the educated is the true advantage. Thus, Twain illuminates that as a person gains knowledge and experience, he gives up his simple perspective for greater understanding of what he is truly observing. Subsequently implying that beauty lies in mystery. Didion has not attained complete knowledge about the
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