The Brain—is wider than the Sky—
For—put them side by side—
The one the other will contain
With ease—and You—beside—
-- Emily Dickinson
In these days of ubiquitous search engines and searchable online books, it’s comforting to reflect on the fact that my students are entirely unsearchable. Unlike the Internet, which – immense as it is – can be systematically searched, categorized, classified, and labeled, my young English scholars are as immeasurable and inscrutable as the vastness of outer space. I must admit that I often pretend that my students can be uncovered, probed, analyzed, and diagnosed, but in my more sensible moments, I see the utter foolishness of this charade. It’s like looking at the sky through a transparent grid and believing the sky itself is divided into grid-like sections. It might make for interesting diversionary conversation, but it would completely miss the endlessness and incomprehensibility of the sky. Actually, I suppose pilots and other people who pass much of their time up in the air do benefit from organizing the sky into various “sections”, perhaps based on weather and winds and other flights, but surely they realize that this is only a convenient device superimposed on a sky that knows no end. Like me, they know they’re essentially working with something immeasurable – they with the heavens that have no boundaries, and I with students whose minds, as Emily Dickinson would agree, are even “wider than the sky”.