Iterations Final Reflection

As I’ve worked with the literature and concepts provided to me this semester, I’ve come to reflect on how I view them as I also grow alongside my thoughts. Seed shape was one of the concepts I constantly found myself reflecting on. I constantly asked myself if I had really understood what it meant or if I had just developed a surface level understanding of the term. In February I had only simply understood that a seed shape was the beginning of something. In my seed shape essay I had written, “That beginning can be thought to be either when a person is born or the life a person leads before beginning a new life.” Now after returning the book African Fractals: Modern Computing and Indigenous Design by Ron Eglash I think I’ve developed a deeper understanding. In Englash’s book I think seed shape is best defined as, “He began with a triangular shape made of four line ^, the “seed.” He then replaced each of the lines with a reduced version of the original seed shape.” Similarly to the understanding I’ve gained from returning to Eglash’s work I’ve gained a deeper understanding of my own thoughts and values through working with the book The Water Cure by Percival Everett. The Water Cure had me looking into why I hold the values and thoughts I do and how distorted they can become through the lens of tragedy and grief. Literature plays such a large and important part in my academic career and through this semester I’ve learned a lot about the importance of handling literature with care, and allowing it to help you grow, whether that be through your own personal knowledge or self growth.

My growth in personal knowledge and self was never more evident to me then when I reflected back on my very first essay this semester, my seed shape essay. When reflecting on my writing I could easily see the lack of care I took into truly understanding what seed shape was. I took my first understanding of the words Eglash and carefully written and didn’t attempt to dig any deeper into my understanding. When reflecting on my new understanding of the word seed shape I find regret in my failure to understand sooner as now I read my essay and have so many ideas on how I could have connected the idea of seed shape to works of literature I was handling at the time. With my new understanding I thought about how lovely it would have been to talk about how Dee from Everyday Use had replaced almost every part of her own life to create a new version of herself. To her, her beginnings may only be able to be traced back to items from her childhood and to her those items can not be used as they are the only part of her beginning that she has left. In the same regret I carry for Everyday Use, I find myself regretting the lack of attention I paid towards Frederick Douglass’s Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave. In hindsight and I’m sure I knew it even then, I had a clear favorite between the two texts and took care to express more of my thoughts of Everyday Use and its connection to seed shape. If I could redo it now I would spend much more time on the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave. Looking back I think it would have been really interesting to explore how Douglass had to replace aspects of his story to meet other’s standards and how that resembles how every aspect of a seed shape is eventually replaced. Every detail of someone’s life contributes to how they’ve grown and changed as a person. Did Douglass feel like he sacrificed semblances of himself in order to get his story published, and do we see him differently because his story was changed.

Reflecting on my old work made me think a lot about my own integrity in my writing but nothing taught me more about my own values then when I was reading and writing short collaborative pieces for The Water Cure. When reading The Water Cure I often found myself frustrated with how hard it was to follow. Having read other Percival Everett works before I expected something in a similar vein but was surprised with how all over the place the narrative and writing was. As I continued to read however I slowly began to appreciate the work for what it was. The narrator, Ishmael Kidder, to me, was as close to an unreliable narrator as one could get. His mind was all over the place and yet so precise in some areas, it really felt like I was in his own thoughts. Everett didn’t need to spell out for me that Kidder might not be in his right mind, he showed it and let me come to my own conclusions. “Art is tied up down in my basement and will never again see the sun, will never smell a flower again, with never feel rain, hear the wind, touch a puppy or a child.” When reading this sentence about how Kidder had kidnapped a man and then would later go on to torture him even when he didn’t exactly know if he raped and killed his daughter had me so unsetled and I had to ask myself, could I justify doing something horrible to someone I didn’t know committed a crime against me or a loved one? My automatic answer is no of course not, but when I look more into the commentary Everett is making on real life events through The Water Cure I have to acknowledge that people are capable of justifying these things. When reading a section where Kidder essentially describes waterboarding I thought, who would do that, but then when sitting with the knowledge had to acknowledge that people had done that for what they felt were justified reasons. When people are grief stricken and angry I find they can justify many things but that does not make the actions themselves justifiable. When I return to the question of if I could ever justify these things I can not in good faith say I would never. Grief and anger are unpredictable and while I can say I think that my values and beliefs would never let me think these things are okay, I would have to be placed in a situation where I am feeling these intense emotions to confidently say I can not justify these actions. However I hope I will never be placed in such a situation where my beliefs and values are put to that test and I would like to think I would still find these actions deplorable without having to face as such. 

Now as there are a few day’s left in the semester I can really look at my past and current work and see my growth. While it’s not a new truth it’s always nice to look back and know that as I age I grow as a person and build upon the foundations of my education. If I looked back at everything I’ve written in life I could find places where I’ve focused too much on one thing and others where I’ve missed the mark in my interpretations and I can acknowledge that it’s okay. I don’t need to rewrite every work I find issue with, though I certainly could if I felt so inclined, but instead I can apply what I’ve learned to improve future works. It’s also good to let books make me think, it’s important to once in a while evaluate your own beliefs and values, ask yourself if they still align with what you want as a person. My academic journey is still one that has room for growth and now that my sophomore year is drawing to a close I’m ready to face my junior year head on.

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