Overrated Carpe Diem
Carpe Diem, the idea of seizing the day, is expressed by many authors in different kinds of arts, including poems, movies and paintings. But the core of idea itself is flawed in the aspect of logic, philosophy and practical application, which is why it’s overrated.
“Then be not coy, but use your time, And while ye may, go marry” (Herrick, 13-14). Written by Robert Herrick in his famous poem “To the virgins, to make much of that time,” it expresses a sense of limited times, urging people to go marriage as quick as possible. Seemly as an invincible idea, going marriage as soon as possible actually cannot hold water: it simply conveys a truth that time is very limited for everyone but then moving a step too further to make this argument tenable, declaring we should go marriage. Though the great leap in this argument makes it seemly implausible, many poets still take usage of it, like Andrew Marvell, in his poem ”To His Coy Mistress”, expresses an idea that because time is not enough, we should fleetly enjoy love (Marvell). Due to this false logic, Carpe Diem has been used so much to discuss love and marriage, losing its initial meaning and being overrated.
Dead Poets Society, an epic film in addressing the idea of Carpe Diem, shows the underlying philosophical conflicts between Carpe Diem, an analogue of liberalism, and external pressures from family, a miniature of collectivism. Encouraging his students to be themselves, Mr.Keating deeply carved the idea of Carpe Diem in every student’s heart in first class. As a flawed idea, though seemly outstanding and amicable, it causes clashes between freedom of heart and external pressures came from parents and teachers. Death of Neil, unpopularity and final oust of Mr.Keating all illustrate the result of these clashes, reflecting an eternal question - whether we should follow our heart and pursue our liberty or we should listen to others and fulfill the interest of an integral whole. Even though the movie provides an answer from the perspective of Mr.Keating who acts as the “Captain” that leads students to explore and to be themselves, we cannot deny that the conflicts between individual and the group still exists. In the face of such sharp contrast, whether Carpe Diem is worthy being zealously admired is questionable, which needs us to use a critical view to examine this problem.
The practical application of Carpe Diem is another reason why it should be considered as overrated, especially concerning its usage in modern society. YOLO, an abbreviation of “You Only Live Once”, is a modern interpretation of Carpe Diem. It advocates people to pursue everything they want because they only live once, which is seemly like a variant of the understanding of Carpe Diem in current era. It has the same logical fallacy as the old one that urging for love and marriage but it’s more radical. Medias like the Washington Post and the Huffington Post have described "YOLO" as "newest acronym you'll love to hate" and "dumb”. In “The Motto” by Drake and Lil Wayne, the singer sings that “You only live once that's the motto nigga YOLO We bout it every day every day … Every day every day f-k what anybody say” (Drake, 30-34), directly showing the kidnapped “Carpe Diem” in modern culture.
Considering the logical fallacy, philosophical conflicts and practical application of Carpe Diem, we cannot deny the initial sincerity in this idea but treatments of the idea is worthy being considered, especially in the era of unity and cooperation. Don’t make Carpe Diem unworthy of its name.
Herrick, R. "To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time." 1648. Poetry Foundation, https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/46546/to-the-virgins-to-make-much-of-time. Accessed: 18 Feb 2020.
Marvell, A. " To His Coy Mistress." 1681. Poetry Foundation, https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/44688/to-his-coy-mistress. Accessed: 18 Feb 2020.
Weir, Peter. Dead Poets Society. Burbank, Calif.: Touchstone Home Video, 1989.
Drake. Lyrics to “The Motto.” Genius, 2020, genius.com/Drake-the-motto-lyrics.
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