Nonlinearity in INTD 288 and Beyond

How we think determines how we perceive and understand the world around us. The integration of disciplines was not something I was expecting throughout the semester in INTD 288: The Art of Steve Prince taught by Dr. Beth McCoy. The integration of disciplines encouraged my peers and me to challenge ourselves when it came to our ways of thinking—something proven integral to our success in our course epigraphs. The intellectual progress participants gained through this course ultimately cannot be measured in a straight line; but rather through a course of nonlinear steps. In other words, the product of this course and the knowledge gained proves itself unique for every participant. At first glance, ‘nonlinear’ according to the Merriam Webster dictionary is vaguely defined as, “not linear.” Diving deeper, one can interpret the word ‘nonlinearity’ as: random behavior, or, unpredictable. Something that cannot be static or proportional. Since this course has come to a close, I can recognize not only my nonlinear growth, but the nonlinearity of SUNY Geneseo, and our nation as a whole through the teachings in this course.

In the discipline of mathematic, nonlinearity represents a curve rather than a line, creating interchangeable results. “The branch of geometry dealing with the properties and invariants of geometric figures under projection. In older literature, projective geometry is sometimes called “higher geometry,” “geometry of position,” or “descriptive geometry” (Cremona 1960, pp. v-vi).” Descriptive geometry was something Dr. Olympia Nicodemi of the mathematics department built on in one of our class lectures. By using geometry, our class was able to discover the focal points in pieces of art. By understand perspective in art, one not only has the chance to interpret their own findings of the work, but the artist’s as well. Dr. Nicodemi taught us how to use lines as a way to look at two dimensional art in the third dimension, once again creating more depth in intellectual understanding.

Disciplines that gravitate more towards the liberal arts can associate nonlinearity as a way of thinking. This abstract way of thinking produces creative thoughts. When given an idea, this type of thinking breaks the idea down to make several inferences. These thoughts assume that results vary from person to person, something encouraged to sustain the goals of our course.

The nonlinearity of SUNY Geneseo was a persistent discussion in our course. The always changing programs offered by the school create an unequal flow of ideas into our campus. With the destruction of the art department—in addition to the demise of the computer science and speech-pathology department— the school’s administration was met with backlash from the student and faculty bodies. These members believe that the University does not listen to what the student body wants, creating a faulty relationship between students and those making these decisions. This is not something only seen in the University’s academia, but also in the way the University deals with racism and other social injustices seen on this campus.

We can apply this discrimination as a small-scaled model for the rest of the United States and ultimately the whole world as well. Du Bois’s The Souls of Black Folk discussed the momentum towards to the civil rights movements through multiple narratives. One of the most effective quotes in the book to me personally was in Section IV of The Souls of Black Foul titled: Of the Meaning of Progress. The excerpt read, “My log schoolhouse was gone. In its place stood Progress; and Progress, I understand, is necessarily ugly” (DuBois 73). This demonstrates the always changing development of the nation— which are inherently and frequently bad on communities that are seldom communities of privileged white peoples.

White privilege proved evident in the beginning of European colonialism and its invasion on the African continent to the Native American lands. In one of my course blog posts titled, Meaning of Movement, I discussed the differences in African cultural dance and European dance and asked the question, “Why is that so many cultural dances from Indian, Latin, African, and other regions used loud, close to the earth movements, while growing up doing ballet I was taught to basically be an airy, flying, angel?” Beth McCoy helped me further question my on this topic by showing me Jame Snead’s work, “On Repetition in Black Culture.” The work further explains how repetition relates to culture and that can remain linear. However, cultures can change, making the changes in culture nonlinear. 

The first thought that always comes to me when I reflect on this course and my performance in it, is that if I had to do it all again, I would have tried to talk more. Living with anxiety makes it hard for me to raise my hand in the fear of being wrong, however the environment of the course was nothing but welcoming and collaborative. Working with others in small groups proved beneficial to me, and by building upon each other’s thoughts we created different learning outcomes for all, destroying a linear thought process.

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