The last of three essays by Davis Plett
n the first of these three essays, I said that I would attempt to describe three things: a problem (the darkness and desertion of the adolescent), a solution (poetry to give the soul room to breathe, and fellowship to give it something worth breathing), and finally a manner by which the solution might possibly be carried out. This essay deals with this last point in the form of an idea and an invitation.
The idea is this: I want to gather a number of art pieces (in the broadest possible sense) by adolescents, by the sort of individuals I described in the last essay. Should interest prove great enough, we shall perhaps gather together to share our work, and possibly publish it in some kind of collection. There have been thousands of books written about teenagers and for teenagers, but there have been next to none written by teenagers themselves, and probably never one which tells their story through art: whether it be song, dance, story, essay, poem, or paint.
There are really two goals for this particular project. The first is this: the Poet must make poetry for his own soul’s health; perhaps it is equally urgent he make it for everyone else’s. Adolescents share much including, ironically, a belief that we don’t share anything, but are alone. There are few feelings as powerful as discovering you are not isolated in this world. So this project is partly to remind ourselves and our peers that we are not alone, and we walk this sometimes horrifying, often disillusioning, sometimes indescribably joyful road together – brothers and sisters.
This idea is also a rebellion against the monstrous message of mediocrity which permeates our age. The struggles of our souls matter, though we adolescents live in a culture which often calls them ridiculous. Yet the wisdom of our elders matters too, though we adolescents might often call it ridiculous. We are soon to inherit both the wealth and the problems of our age; we need adults to claim us, challenge us, mentor us, and guide us. Our job as adolescents is to try to make a shift in our culture’s ugly attitude, a shift which will not happen unless we make it known that we are willing to learn.
This project is an attempt to send a letter to our peers and our parents, a letter proposing a revolution. As Innocent Smith says in G.K. Chesterton’s novel Manalive, “I do believe in breaking out; I am a revolutionist. But don’t you see that all these real leaps and destructions and escapes are only attempts to get back to Eden – to something we have had, or at least something we have heard of? Don’t you see one only breaks the fence or shoots the moon in order to get home?” This project is about a revolution, a smashing of the stereotypes which bind us, and a questioning of a system which seduces us. It is about journey down a dark path, one which may lead us through stupidity, fumbling, grief, sorrow and nihilism, and one which ends in uncertainty; one on which we need companions. It is a revolution, a mad adventure, a desperate groping for home, a heart at ease, and a mind at rest, even though these stumblings may be as dark as night. It is about the first steps down a road of revolution which we shall travel the rest of our days.
As these articles will primarily be read by my elders, I would extend the invitation to you to please keep your eyes open for any adolescents you think could meaningfully contribute to this idea. Ask them to contact me at email@example.com, and I shall send them more information.
Davis Plett is a homeschooled grade 11 student. He is “seventeen and crazy,” and spends most of his time participating in the realms of writing, music, art, and mountain biking. He would like to thank Emily Baron for her delightful art. Emily is “seventeen and crazy” as well.