I haven’t posted in a long time. I’ve been getting lost in rabbit holes every time I sit down and try to write a post, and I’m finding myself attempting to make some massive work displaying the parallelism Morrison creates in Jazz to the structure of purgatory, first analyzing on a large scale, and eventually focusing solely on Joe and how he recreates himself seven times, and how his last name, Trace, is only two letters away from “terrace,” and how there is no way that that’s an accident… I could go on for a while.
It’s so, so easy to lose myself once I start travelling down the rabbit hole. So I’m going to pull myself out of this TODAY and finally post something, even if it’s not a “triple flip,” as Beth would say. Once I realized how necessary it was for me to escape the rabbit hole before this class ends, I went back to Reflective Writing and started looking back at my notes and highlights in the book. I found this one quote that really got me thinking about what I’ve been trying to do with this class, and in my life on a broader scale during this time of healing.
Reflection isn’t navel-gazing. It’s about moving on to an outcome. (7)
The book doesn’t include the name of person who said this; it’s simply credited to “Hospitality lecturer.” But thinking about outcomes intrigued me, and I began to consider what the outcomes are in Purgatorio, Jazz, and my own personal healing experience, respectively. And from there I found a notable connection that I said to myself, “Oh, I could write a blog post about this and it wouldn’t drag on for miles.” So here we are.
What I’m speaking about is the idea of forgiveness. The souls in purgatory, the characters in Jazz, and what I have realized about my journey of healing is that we have the common theme of searching for forgiveness. Inflicting harm upon someone or something is what has led us to be in the respective situations we are in (by we I mean the souls and characters I mentioned above, along with myself). And we’re all consciously searching for forgiveness, aware of the fact that we have done harm and that oneself is the only person to blame. This is something that separates the souls in purgatory from those in inferno, who refuse to accept blame for the harm they have inflicted upon others in their lives. While there is only suffering for the sake of suffering in Inferno, the souls in Purgatorio are treating “wounds that suffering will heal” (XV:80). Without the acceptance of committing sin, one can never receive forgiveness for sin, which is a vital component of the healing process.
Now, I probably should pull textual examples from Jazz and Purgatorio to support this, but I’m sifting through the texts and am getting caught up again, feeling myself slip away from my goal of writing a blog post by becoming too engulfed in finding the “perfect” (if that even exists) quote or passage from the books that would help support this idea. BUT what is coming to the front of my brain pretty quickly and does not inspire much digging through the rabbit hole is the Joseph stories in Genesis. It’s clear that both of these texts are heavily influenced by the Bible, so I don’t feel like it’s far-fetched at all to make this jump. But I see these texts responding to the question presented in Genesis: Am I my brother’s keeper? And as these characters progress in a forward direction (remember the throughline?!?) through the process of acceptance and forgiveness of others and themselves (that should not be looked over as it is as essential as forgiving others towards the healing process), they are learning that the answer to this question is, yes, just as Joseph was the keeper of his brothers and upheld the responsibility of forgiving them for the hurt they inflicted upon him and the guilt he inflicted upon himself, we too must be the keeper of our “brothers,” and thus do the same.
I’m not really sure if this has made any sense, but I guess to sum up what I’m trying to get across is that a successful healing process requires an outcome of forgiveness, which is something that connects these texts I’ve been studying with one another, and with my personal healing experience.