Great Books series – The Great Gatsby

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I first have to say…This is my all time favorite book. The reasons why could fill up many pages, so we will let that go for now. This is the 1st in the Great Books series!

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 classic The Great Gatsby is one of the most epically written books of all time and they went and made it required reading of every high school student in the United States. This is either the death knell or a stroke of unbelievable luck. This is, as all Fitgerald scholars and American Literature scholars agree, the greatest example of a novel which is a poem in pure prose form. In this way, Fitgerald was able to pack more meaning into every word and turn of the phrase using many of the poetic tools such as metaphor and symbolism…to name a very few.

gg3When you read The Great Gatsby, you must read it as an annotated version or with the ever popular cliff/spark notes. The best way to use the cliff/spark notes is to read the notes, read the novel with the notes, re-read the notes again looking back what you missed before. (The old English teacher in me coming out. J)

The idea of the novel is a man falling in love with being in love, and creating every moment in his life based on the embodiment of this emotion. However, if we fall in love with “love itself”, we can not connect it to a person because a person can never be ideal because there are still human. A fallible, imperfect, product of their upbringing and education human. You are setting yourself up to be married to a dream, an ideal, an image which will only lead to misery and sadness.

gg2Though each person will give everything they have, they will still be speaking in the language of their beliefs in a reality that will never exist.

Then the novel takes on time, that illustrious human creation that takes us away from living where we are – in the now!

What happens when we choose to work toward a goal, forsaking anything else but the achievement of that goal?

Let’s take a look at this thought: We create a goal now-March 12. Then we begin to work toward that goal that we created in the past, by a person who will not know as much as he will in the future. So when you do achieve it, you’ve achieved an idea that is 2 years old. You spent 2 year to be where you already wanted to be. Crazy? Yes, but it is the way we think when we go about making goals. We begin to shift our focus away from what we’re doing now, instead towards what we want to be doing. We are constantly living in a future that hasn’t been created yet. Cemeteries are full of people who had plans and goals they will never attain. The question is, is the goal more important than your life? Because life is what is happening now. Life is the world that is going on around you as you do nothing but look to the future.  Caution: Please don’t read this as an anti-goal statement, instead see this as a “have goals, but focus on the now…you’re goals should morph and change along with the changes of the world.” statement

This simply means that you are living your entire life either focused on a future based on an old idea, or focused on the past and living it into the future. The last are people you meet all the time. The people who can’t forget, let go of, or more on from an experience that will plague them all their lives…till they let it go. However, we are never achieving anything now. And the now – well it just drifts on by filled with worries of what the future will bring, and questions about why the past was the way it was.

Fitzgerald connects this all with one of the greatest quotes of English literature:

“Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter — to-morrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And one fine morning ——

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”   – The Great Gatsby, end of chapter 9.

The Great Gatsby shows you the human experience at it’s best, at it’s worst, at it’s most low, and it’s most high; all the while asking you why we focus on materialism and ideals that will never be achieved, rather than focusing on the ways of making it all better.

In the end, we only have now and all of the grand things we have the ability to do now. By us focusing on the “now”, we have the ability to create a new future. Forget looking back and asking why thing were like they were. Now is the time to look to NOW and ask:

What can I do now to create the positive future I want to see?

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1 Comment

  1. Pingback: A great motivational book list! | Motivating For Positive Change

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