Masterly Pursuits #4: Geoffrey Young

[Part of an ongoing series on Master’s Essay candidates that begins here.]

  • Working title/topic of your essay?

I don’t think I’ll have a title until the essay is complete. It should be about what it is to think poetically, but most likely it will be something glib and ironic and referential to a very specific portion of the essay. I find titles daunting.

  • Texts used?

W.B. Yeats’s poems, his book A Vision, and his essay “Per Amica Silentia Lunae.”

  • Why this topic?

Yeats’s A Vision is a strange book, as often brilliant as it is utterly confusing. It is, generally speaking, a metaphysics, and that includes a metaphysics logically described, but also evoked through poetry, and through letters, and through fiction, and whatever other little tool or flourish Yeats could summon. It got me thinking about what it means to think poetically and what type of knowledge poetry gives access to.

  • What’s the most interesting/funny/random fact you’ve discovered so far?

Yeats, in middle age, tried to rejuvenate himself sexually by having testicular extract from a monkey injected into his own gonads. I’m not positive this should actually be considered a “fact,” but it certainly is interesting.

  • What aspect of the Oral Examination are you most excited for?

I am excited by the possibility of getting gobsmacked by a tutor’s question, and having to struggle publicly with an idea – about a work I’ve studied at length – that I simply hadn’t thought of before.

  • What aspect of the Oral Examination are you most dreading?

See preceding.

  • What do you hope to do after graduating St. John’s?

I think I might love teaching. But, as I suss out how to satisfy that general urge, I will write, and I will read, and I will figure out ways to spend as much time in the halls of St. John’s as possible.


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