Jacob Durden

“Not just beautiful, though—the stars are like the trees in the forest, alive and breathing. And they’re watching me.”

Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore




The places we frequent, the environments we inhabit, the external circumstances of our being. Our lives are dictated by the world around us in ways that we as individuals often cannot even comprehend or recognize. The relationships we have with the world around us are ever-evolving, uniquely personal, and vast. “Perplex” highlights some of these relationships, showcasing how even in the most mundane of circumstances, our links with the environment around us shape who we are. It demonstrates that connecting with the environment is something that we often take for granted, not to mention the problems that arise when our interconnections are weak.

Joseph Simmonds’ essay, “Living Deliberately,” is a musing on the ideas of Henry David Thoreau as presented in Walden and the relationship with the world that he cultivated for himself. It shows that our environments are in many ways over-stimulating and that sometimes, simplifying your lifestyle by limiting stimulation can be beneficial. Just as Thoreau’s ideas in Walden show a man re-evaluating his connection to the environment, the author of “Living Deliberately” also demonstrates that in the modern world, Thoreau’s words are more relevant than ever.

Thoreau’s Walden also heavily influences Jon Debly’s “Waldo,” a satirical piece that also takes a critical look at the modern connection between the self and the setting. In this piece, biting satire suggests that students should merely abdicate completely from anything that is not completely necessary for their survival to a degree that most would consider extreme. Similarly to “Living Deliberately,” it highlights the oversaturation in our relationships with the world around us, but also satirically examines the dangers in pursuing the other extreme.

Meghan Dewar’s poem, “oh bruce county” is similarly biting, critiquing the formula of the classic pastoral poem with snide passive-aggressiveness. It quite plainly shows that often, the world around us isn’t as beautiful as we may want it to be. Our interconnectedness may lead us to view our surroundings with rose-tinted glasses. This poem fights back against the imposed beauty we place on our world and adds to the normalization that our environment isn’t always what we may dream of.

Finally, “The List” shows that even at our most mundane, we are still intrinsically connected with the world outside. Joseph Simmonds’ short poem describes the tedious act of crossing items off of a simple to-do list. Yet, in doing so, it demonstrates that in those mundane moments that we likely forget immediately, we are still interconnected. “The List” subtly reminds us that even our most unremarkable actions are influenced by our world, even if we may not realize it ourselves.

As the concluding chapter of Silhouette, “Perplex” advocates for an engagement with the world around us. It encourages the reader to appreciate their connections with their environments, no matter how large or small those connections may seem. Overall, the following pieces help to highlight the perplexing, fluid nature of our relationships with the outside world.


Photo by Weiqi Tang


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Silhouette Copyright © by Jacob Durden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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