When I was still a psychology major I took an English class one semester and on the first day the professor started explaining literary theory and how different schools of criticism worked

(this was before they checked prereqs as thoroughly and you could just walk into an upper-level class)

and he told a story about how he had pursued his PhD, embracing difficult and abstract models of literary criticism and applying himself toward rigorous textual analysis, encouraged by the example of his father, who was himself a literature teacher. After completing his PhD, he, our instructor, had gone back home and visited his then-deceased father’s library and realized that he could now finally appreciate his father’s annotations and marginalia, as a fellow academic, as a newly-minted scholar himself.

So he started to peruse these books, but rather than references to other critics or to theory, his father had just written

“beautiful”

in the margins, next to particular lines, underlined passages.

“beautiful”

“beautiful”

“beautiful”