By Chandler Ryd
During the past four summers, I have worked as a gardener. I pulled weeds, cut grass, planted flowers, trimmed bushes, and raked leaves, and as I worked, I listened to audiobooks on Spotify. I fell in love with Hamlet, Don Quixiote, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and heard from G.K. Chesterton, Langston Hughes, and Jane Austen. Through those peaceful, meditative summers, I have become more and more convinced that the mind is like a garden.
As Michel de Montaigne writes in his essay, “On Idleness,” “As we see ground that lies fallow, teeming, if rich and fertile, with countless kinds of wild and useless plants, and observe that, to keep it serviceable, we must master it and sow it with various crops of use to ourselves . . . so it is with our minds.”
Hillsdale is a great fertilizer of this garden. Our professors and peers broadcast the precious wisdom of books, tradition, and experience across the soil of our minds, but its cultivating is our own responsibility. In the classroom and in conversation, we begin to excavate the prickly and gangly thoughts to allow the fruitful ones to flourish. But there’s a certain amount of cultivation that can only be accomplished through the written word. Just as the gardener has a weeding fork, so too does the thinker have a pen.
If the mind is like a garden, then the act of writing is like the act of gardening. Both are fundamentally solitary activities, but their effects can be seen by the community; both require mechanical knowledge alongside an aesthetic sense; and both require perpetual practice in order for their products to be any good.
Through the arduous work of writing and rewriting, the contributors to this issue of The Forum have brought their thoughts from germination to bud to blossom and now to the page, to be shared by many. Grace Link wrests a vision of the Good from the land of Upside-Down in Stranger Things. Katie Davenport, like Grace, examines cinematic pop-culture; she calls attention to the weedy proliferation of anti-heroes in the growing body of super-hero summer blockbusters. In response to his summer working on a farm, Mark Naida meditates on the intersection between material and function in a digital age. To provide more perspectives on art, Stacey Egger plumbs the depths of fracture in contemporary art while I bridge the gap between literature and cinema to find order in the fractured writings of William Faulkner. Emily Lehman guides us through the intersection of Christianity and pagan mythology, and Sarah Borger urges Hillsdale students to rest in God by returning to the old tradition of a regular Sabbath. To finish our October issue, satirist Noah Weinrich presents us with much-needed comic relief directly from Hillary Clinton’s inbox.
As the leaves begin to change, we invite you to pause for a moment and walk through a garden.
Chandler Ryd is a junior studying English.