Essay - Maya Normandie

Maya Normandie brings forth that confrontation with the numinous (the sacred) that had been a continuous encounter on ourArete trips. Sometimes, as in 1993, it was so overwhelming that "hysterical" reactions frightened two of the girls. Sometimes it took a student back to meaningful moments of earlier religious feelings. Each time, that which is ominous, of the soul, claimed us. Maya is attending Seattle University. A freshman, is this "Arete", or is this, Arete? Ironically, this photograph finds her on our Nietzsche trail above Sils Maria.

Bill Taylor

I've often thought about my experiences this past summer and throughout my studies this quarter, I've experienced certain triggers that connections between what I am learning in the classroom in Seattle and what I learned throughout my travels. For example, this quarter I am taking an English course that is focused on English and the Arts. My professor, Dr. Matriotti who is normally a history professor, has made it his task to allow us to immerse ourselves in beauty through the forms of poetry, music, and paintings from the Romantic and Baroque periods.

As a part of this assignment, students have been bringing in music selections from some of the composers that we studied throughoutArete. I remember one of the most emotional experiences for me on the trip happened during our visit to Florence, Italy. It was our first night exploring the city, and after eating a delicious looking yet bland tasting "authentic" pizza, you led us throughout the maze of side streets to the chapel that held the love story of Dante and Beatrice. While walking back, we heard the deep, vibrating sounds of an organ playing from a chapel along another side street, and you led us in.

I remember sitting in the pew, and almost instantly melting with the power of Bach's composition as the organs notes washed over me. I had never experienced music like that before. It poured over me, around me, and vibrating within and through me. Having spent half of my life dancing classical ballet, I remember imagining my body moving to the music as it lifted me up and around and left me thinking of little but instead feeling the power of the music. I don't remember if the music ended, or when. But I do remember realizing how powerful music could be and how that was the first time I was able to feel and understand the beauty of power it holds.

Maya Normandie
February 2014