Knowledge: How it brings us together

I have found that the way in which we connect with others says a lot about what brings us together with other people. Personally, I find myself being able to connect with others through my experiences as well as using our differences and similarities to push whatever relationship I have with them. For example, one thing that brings me closer to others is culture. Whether it is one that I consider my own, or one that I seek to know more about, culture intrigues me. 

Below are a few images of what brings me and many other families of Dominican culture together, a typical countryside home and food. 

A “campo” styled home in Dominican culture
el fogon dominicano | Comida dominicana, Fogones, Ciudad de santo domingo
Food made by “fogon” is more sustainable and tastes better. Dominicans tend to cook food this way for special occasions or if its their only way to cook.
A “campo” styled Dominican kitchen

What really brings us together is the shared idea that a simple life is a good life as long as you have what you need, food and some sort of company. Of course, there are other ways I become closer to others such as:

  • Having a shared goal 
  • Spending time together and making memories
  • Physical objects that relate to our relationship
In my first class with Dr. McCoy, African-American Literature, she gave us these beads and some yarn. If I remember correctly this was the first time I heard the term “through line.” The yarn provides a “through line” bringing these beads (individual ideas) together.
  • (And) Their interest in helping each other. Meaning we are actively finding ways to be better for each other and be better for the world.

While those are specific to me, there are more general ways in which others can be brought together and are done so through different subject areas and disciplines. For example, Humanities allows us to understand human society and culture. This is done through art, philosophy, history and literature. Science on the other hand, brings us together by allowing us to understand how we work and how other things work in a more concrete manner compared to Humanities. What is interesting about both is that when combined, Science Fiction is brought to the picture. This genre explores how we come together with ideas/objects and other beings beyond what we know. It the pushes us to question whether humanity is capable of doing so (come together) as it is something we continue to struggle with. Historically, bringing people together can be quite difficult due to our differences. Based on what I have been reading and doing since the course’s beginning, some critical questions that have come up are the following:

  1. How do I learn? What do I learn? And most importantly, what do I do with what I learn? 
  2. What kind of habits do I hold that are no good for me? But also, what kind of habits can I do to better myself and be better for others.
  3. Using questions 1 and 2 , I then ask myself if I trust what I learn and put it to use for any good.

Learning and the urge to learn is not always related to wanting to be closer to someone or a concept on a physical and emotional level. Sometimes what we seek is to understand them/it. And at times that is what we need at base level, to learn AND understand it. But what do we do with the information we learn, the things we notice? Knowledge is power because it can be put to use and action, if it is put to action it can make a difference. This reminds me of a class epigraph from Dawn where Butler writes “Learn and Run.” The purpose of learning is to use it. Learn, then “run” with that information, take it somewhere, don’t just leave it for you to have. While reading this epigraph multiple times I noticed I had to tweak it a bit to fit what learning also requires, reflection. Personally, I believe learning is incomplete without reflection. When we reflect we slow down. It allows us to notice what is easily lost if we just run. In one of our forums we had a discussion on noticing and noticing again. In a sense, we were put to run in the same place, with the goal, at least mine, to take notice twice. Doing so allows us to notice what we could have easily missed the first time. In my first response, I write:

 “Regardless, once you notice one thing, you start to notice other things as well, you become more conscious towards others and self conscious in a philosophical matter by trying to actively be more observant and take a note of things you could have not seen before.” – To the Forums! 3: Noticing

and  when I  encountered the text again I came to an additional understanding that:

 “We sometimes limit our experiences to just human experiences when in reality there is more than just us.”- To the Forums 4: Noticing Again

Being able to notice is crucial when we are trying to understand and learn but we must also actively notice and learn about what is outside of our interest and lifestyle. We see this happening in Dawn where Lilith is trying to teach others how to be sustainable on Earth. While the goal is to learn a different lifestyle not only for the sake of their own, when it is time to run, Lilith is scared. She had previously learned to work with and learn from those different from her, the ooloi. However, she believes that she is not on Earth but a simulation. Her perception of her reality makes it difficult for her to run.  Without running, Lilith is not putting her knowledge to practice.Trusting what we see can be difficult because we know oftentimes our perception can deceive us. Ultimately, wow we see things matters because it shapes how we feel about where our knowledge takes us, which is the run in this case. Is it a difficult run or an easy one? Slowing down (reflecting) during our run allows us to gain energy to continue running (share our knowledge with others). If there is something most us non-runners know is that running is hard, like actually. I then became interested in ways in which we can connect actual running with how Butler tells us to. Outside magazine has a list of running tips that I felt were applicable to the process on learning and noticing.

  1. “Strengthen Your Whole Body”/ Strengthen your mind and knowledge
    1. Don’t just focus on what you have learned. Try to find ways you use all of your knowledge  to strengthen/sustain what you have just learned?
  2. Run More Hills/ Challenge yourself
    1. Sometimes the knowledge that you carry can be heavy and difficult to run with, but it strengthens you. 
  3. Stretch and Refuel Immediately Post-Race/ Slow down 
    1. Reflect!
  4.  Don’t Run Injured/ 
  5. Make It Social/ Engage with others
    1. Share what you learn with others, it only makes the run more fun
  6. Visualize Success/ What you know matters!
    1. Can you see how what you know can cause change? 
  7. Find a Routine, Then Stick to It/ Practice what works for you
    1. How we use or present our knowledge is up to us. Find what works for you. 

That last running then brought me to another course epigraph:

“First forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not….Habit is persistence in practice. Forget talent. If you have it, fine. Use it. If you don’t have it, it doesn’t matter. As habit is more dependable than inspiration, continued learning is more dependable than talent.”–Octavia Butler, “Furor Scribendi” 

Out of all epigraphs, this one is my favorite. I think this one brings a rigid tone that the other ones don’t have since they seem more freeing and peaceful. In attempts to find a connection between this epigraph and what I have been learning in class it felt like this epigraph somehow clashed with what I have been learning offering a both/and. In the epigraph the habit is “continued learning” which in this case is a good thing. But habits are dependable, and sometimes they are not good ones like having a fixed perspective. I come to admit that this is something I struggle with. Because

“I think of perspective as something that is fixed and attached to a person rather than something that may shift.”- To the Forum 2: Good Faith 

I then came to learn that 

“our experiences as well as perception of others often construct a “fixed” idea on what exists and how it exists. Whether we try to deny it, facing it is a way to recognize that it is not necessarily a bad thing, but that there are ways in which we can reconstruct those perceptions into ones where we hold ourselves accountable. Jerry Kang gives us a few examples towards the end of his talk:

Re:THINK

Immaculate perception/ implicit bias

Explicit racism only in the past/ subtle discrimination right now

Don’t be a hater/ be wary of ingroup love

It’s not my fault/ we are the problem”-To the Forums 6: Implicit Bias in Dawn

The epigraph suggests a more positive outlook on habits while our discussion content allows us to see otherwise. The issue here is how we often miss the fine line between a growing habit and a fixed one that is bad. Nonetheless, growing and expanding our horizons (perception) is a good feeling when we see it in ourselves, but even a better feeling when we see others do so through us. Another course epigraph by Butler describes this exact sensation. A character (who I have not learned of yet)  “chose a spot near the river. There [they] prepared the seed to go into the ground. [They] gave it a thick, nutritious coating, then brought it out of [their] body through [their] right sensory hand. [They] planted it deep in the rich soil of the riverbank. Seconds after [they] had expelled it, (and) felt it begin the tiny positioning movements of independent life.” 
Having good practice and knowledge allows you to trust yourself to watch things grow on their own. Sometimes it’s important to take a step back and let things take its course which is a form of leadership and leaders bring people together. In Dawn the ooloi are trying to transform Lilith into a leader in order to bring the remaining humans together by helping them learn how to lead a new life. This is quite interesting considering how earlier in the novel, Jhadiyah, an ooloi, says that humans are hierarchical which led to their downfall. In To the Forums 5: Allegory anf Rejuvination I mention how

If Yertle the Turtle wouldn’t have the urge to be the ruler of all he could have just been happy with being the ruler of the pond. However, his selfish needs made it difficult for others to live a comfortable life. “

What both pieces show us is that leading does not require hierarchy (Yertle the Turtle) but a goal (Ooloi). A good leader is able to appreciate “movements of independent life.” Learning to lead others is just as important as leading yourself. My goals are to slow down, ask myself questions, to be an active learner and find use to what I learn.

2 Replies to “Knowledge: How it brings us together”

  1. Hi Yadelin! I really appreciated the opportunity to read your work here, thank you for sharing your thoughts in this introspective manner. Even though we don’t have an opportunity to get to know each other in-person in a typical class setting, I enjoyed reading this essay because I felt I was able to get to know you a little better, even across an electronic platform. One thing I really liked about your Goal-Setting Essay was the pictures that you included that represent your Dominican culture. I loved all of the bright colors and how much information can be conveyed just from these few images. Words can be useful at times, but I feel like in this instance you made a great choice to use pictures instead and to use a brief caption to describe the picture.

    Also, I loved your inclusive explanation of your prior experience in a class with Dr. McCoy. Picturing the “through line” as a string with beads in it is a great visual for this concept. Sometimes when I sit down to plan my writing I struggle to get started, but I think that in the future when I keep this image in mind I will have a better idea of how I want to connect aspects of my work.

    I think your goals of “slow down, ask my self questions, and to be an active learner” are thoughtful and admirable. I have struggled with this at times and slowing down has been a goal of mine, as well. In our world where we are encouraged to be going a million miles an hour, doing as much as is humanly possible, it seems outlandish to actually slow down for once. But, I have found that slowing down actually makes the work go by faster because I have deeper interpretations of the text readily available because I took the time to really read, not just skim.

    I look forward to reading your work in the Forums! and getting to know you better through your writing. Thank you again!

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