In the short essay “In Praise of Margins” Ian Frazier defines marginal people, places, or activities as “… the ones that don’t quite work out” (58 Frazier) since they are insufficient to meet the standards of the economic world. However, Frazier shows he values marginal activities and places because they allow people to be themselves without the worry and judgment. For Frazier and his friends, they viewed “The woods” (56 Frazier) as their place of margin Often times society deems marginal behavior to be unbeneficial, but Frazier states “..marginal behavior can be the most important kind.”(58 Frazier) because every purpose-filled activity starts off as a margin. Nonetheless, it is crucial for marginal things to exist as they provide many benefits and play an important role in the world we live in today.
Living in a society where we are constantly being told what to do , marginal activities are necessary because they can allow oneself to discover what one’s true passion is without any other influences. For example, in Annie Dillard’s “Hitting Pay Dirt” she describes the time she received a microscope kit, as a Christmas present, which she played with constantly in her basement. In the beginning, Dillard is unable to use her microscope properly, but ultimately succeeds as she sees an amoeba. Excited about what she had discovered, she immediately runs upstairs to show her parents; however, both of her parents are uninterested to what had seemed like “..a chance of a lifetime.”(95 Dillard) to Dillard.
As a result, she then begins to realize that every individual has their own pursuits and “…that you do what you do out of your private passion for the thing itself.”(95 Dillard). Dillard explains that ”[Her] days and nights were [her] own to plan and fill.”(96 Dillard) and her passions were her own and not her parents.
In a world where everything is constantly evolving and expanding , margins are much needed as they are the sole reason that helps the world continue to progress. Frazier states that “… marginal behavior can be the most important kind.”(Frazier 58) because it allows one to attempt new and different concepts without the needed approval of anyone else. In many cases, ideas start off as “marginal” theories, but later on can be acknowledged as something greater. Especially in a society where we demand things frequently, we often expect immediate results, thus making marginality difficult to understand for many.
For instance, Frazier uses the first person who decided to ride down a mountain trail with his bicycle as an example of someone who started off thinking he was doing a “…decidedly marginal thing.” (58 Frazier). However, this mountain biker’s mere “marginal” idea has become a widely known sport across the nation. Ultimately, without marginal activity the world would be unable to grow; margins are extremely important as they keep life exciting and new.
In the midst of everyday busy life, one is in need of marginal things every once in a while for the purpose of sanity. Marginal things essentially allow one to relieve stress by escaping the continuous demands of society, thus enabling many to obtain a peaceful state of mind. Frazier defines marginal activities as a “higher sort of un-purpose”(57 Frazier) as marginal activities can be viewed as useless, and yet can mean so much to a each different individual.
For example, Frazier and his friends find their marginal place in “The woods”(56 Frazier) since it was a location they were able to do senseless activities just for the sake of it. The woods was almost like a sanctuary to Frazier; it was a place where he was able to escape from the judgments of the outside world and the pressure of impressing anyone else. In essence, taking a break from the daily norm with marginal things prevents individuals from going insane.
Altogether, according to Frazier, “marginal” places and activities should be valued as they can provide numerous benefits to not only society, but to oneself. Marginal things allow many to truly find what their passion lies in, since marginal activities are not forced upon by any other influences. In addition, marginal behavior essentially keeps our world spinning as it brings new ideas that seem to have no purpose, but later on can bring something great.
Lastly, often times, one is blinded by the mentality that everything one does must have a purpose, therefore disabling one to realize the importance of marginal things as they keep us at peace. All in all, marginal things may seem worthless, but the only reason as to why they might be viewed in that sense is because of the perspective society views marginal activities.
Courtney from Study Moose
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