How Do Doubt and Recursion Connect?

“Doubt is the big machine. It grinds up the delusions of women and men.”- Victor LaValle, Big Machine

After reading Victor LaValle’s Big Machine. I’m still thinking about the recurring idea of doubt. My blog posts “Doubting Doubt” and “Cycling Through Doubt” both deal with what it means to doubt and why people do it. At first, I thought that the course epigraph, reproduced above, cast doubt in a negative light. After reading through Big Machine and seeing the quote in context, I realized that doubt is is a necessary human trait. But I still have one question: what does this have to do with recursion, if anything?

My answer to this question actually stems from this blog’s interface. When someone goes to write a blog on the (Im)Possibilities platform, there’s a “Revision” link under the “Publish” heading to the right.  This reminded me of our course concept of recursion through the lens of Suzan-Lori Parks’ idea of “rep and rev” so I clicked on it.

Not surprisingly, all of the revisions I had made to that blog post came up. This revision tab showed my progress as I repeatedly revised my post, including the quibbles over what ideas to include and ideas I questioned throughout writing the post that I went back to flesh out after the fact. Any doubts I had while writing were now right in front of me in the previous blog iterations. If someone were to look at this revision page, they would see how I got to my ideas, what was revised, where my doubts were (whether that be ideologically or grammatically). Working through the revisions and going back to the post repeatedly also honed my ideas and ground up any “delusions” I may have had in the blog’s thinking stages—I never really considered how much my perspective on some of my posts changed over time before looking at the revisions tab. This goes to show that doubting and questioning pushes people to revise, whether that be their own writing or their belief in institutions, perhaps.

Doubt makes people think and not just accept without question. Through this thinking and repeatedly revising perspectives they become more aware of their surroundings just like the blog revisions developed a clearer, more aware post. Doubting and the recursive process this elicits makes people take ownership of the information they have and spread. If only people could see the revision tab in their own lives to see where their own ideas, phrases, words, and perspectives come from and how they have been revised over time. This would demonstrate the need for doubt in daily life and how connected recursion and doubt are.

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