Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Emily Dickinson writes about college basketball (sort of)

"It makes more sense if it's 'March Madness,'" said my student, and he had a point. In Emily Dickinson's poem "Much madness is divinest sense," she describes how the concepts of "sense" and "madness" change with time, with the majority determining what counts as sensible at any given moment. 

Which, as my student pointed out, is exactly what happens with March Madness: If you're surrounded by people constantly yammering about their brackets, it's easy to see them as lacking sense; meanwhile, those caught up in bracketology see the non-participants as mad. 

And what happens when a bracketologist sits down at the lunch table with a bunch of people who don't care about college basketball, or vice versa? When the majority is empowered to determine what counts as "sense," then outliers can be deemed "dangerous / and handled with a Chain."

So "March Madness is divinest sense"--if only Emily had known!

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