Noticing to Notice

Noticing is something every single human on the planet should do. We should see when a situation or event in front of us is wrong and stand up for what we believe in. We should notice how what we say and what we do affects others. I would describe myself as a very observant person, I notice a lot and almost everything. However, it is hard to notice things when they are unspoken of, which I think happens a lot especially with the ideals of racism especially in the United States because I believe for most of us, it is something we are very ashamed of. This is why it’s important to discuss and talk about especially the history of the medical field. I believe power comes from knowledge. We learn from our mistakes, figure out where we went wrong and how we can fix and improve conditions as we move forward. 

The course epigraph, “my job is to notice…and to notice that you can notice” said by Dionne Brand, is important to everyone. This creates a through-line especially in this class with this subject matter. Specifically, in “Medical Apartheid”, we are shown the wrong doings to black people that were built and structured into the foundations of the medical field. It is our job to notice these wrongdoings, acknowledge that they happened and do better because we believe in change. Because unless we acknowledge these wrong doings nothing will change. We will not become a better society because we did not learn from our horrendous mistakes. In order for us as a whole society to grow from our mistakes, we MUST acknowledge them and figure out what went wrong.  To answer Professor McCoy’s question saying, “does it matter given GLOBE’s insistence that Geneseo students should gain practice in the ability to reflect upon changes in learning and outlook over time?”  Yes, we as educated adults should be able to have the ability to reflect upon our mistakes, learn from them and be better because of them. However, have we as a society become better from our mistakes? Have we fully understood the effects of forcing someone to do something when they are unwilling? Take for example the circumstances of “Clay’s Ark” written by Octavia Butler. These people were taken unwillingly, did NOT want to participate and did not want to be carriers of the disease that would completely change them forever; however, they were forced to do so by people of power in the circumstances. In a lot of circumstances that were written about in Medical Apartheid, the same is true. White people in positions of power and knowledge who should’ve known better based on basic biology and science (although they were not as scientifically advanced as we are now, however not a justifying reason to do the things they did to black people), made people forcibly endure traumatic and tremendously horrifying acts of “research” that more often than not resulted in that same individual’s meaningless death. It was their job to notice how cruel and inhumane they were being to people. The people who they were experimenting on may have looked different than them, but they should’ve noticed they were alike, the same species, that the person they were putting through the worst experience of their life was just like them. And by not noticing they have failed those individuals by becoming doctors who took lives rather than saved them. They have failed to notice and by doing so gives more power to ignorance and hate that had instated within our society. 

This semester, I have focused a lot of my thinking on the ever-changing word, consent. Consent is meaningless unless we learn something from our past mistakes and can notice what our mistakes were. Speaking in the course content, we must learn that consent is needed from the individual being researched on in order to do right by that person. In Medical Apartheid by Harriet Washington, we learned how mostly black people were taken forcibly and experimented on resulting in horrific deaths. We learned how black people were put in cages at zoos where white passersby looked and watched them as they would an animal in a cage at a zoo. They literally thought that a black person was a wild animal, inhuman in fact, they needed to be caged. But what they failed to realize is they were looking at a human who was forcibly held in a cage to gain a profit.  It was someone’s job to notice this was wrong. It was a time for someone to say, “this is not okay, this should not be happening”. People began to notice that their family members were going missing, that something was happening to their family members. That something horrible had happened or was happening to them. In these circumstances, Washington investigated. She told her readers that these people were taken forcibly, kidnapped, and experimented on. Although, it was difficult to do anything about it especially since both the hospital and the police force tended to turn their heads in the opposite direction and I think this still happens in the present. Instead of engaging in an uncomfortable topic or conversation, people tend to look the other way and pretend they didn’t see anything. This is why it is both important to notice but also to actively take action against what you think is wrong. 

Before this class, I had absolutely no idea that most of any of these events happened. But now that I do, how could I not notice. How could I not notice that people still are probably experiencing events like those in Medical Apartheid, how could I not notice how racism is still heavily engraved and rooted deeply within this country. How could I not believe that everyone should read this book? Everyone should know the truth about how the medical field was started.  And when I notice these things, how could I not do something about it? How can I go on as an educated adult who wants to make the world a better place but not even acknowledge that things like this actually happened? By acknowledging that it happened, by acknowledging that these attitudes are still very much present in our society, I can learn and grow. However may challenging this material at times was hard to read, hard to think about and hard to swallow, I think it was a necessary experience to be able to understand and empathize with others. 

Understanding Consent in Octavia Butler’s “Clay’s Ark”

During the initial contraction of the disease in Clay’s Ark by Octavia Butler, my mind instantly started thinking about consent and more specifically started thinking about our Skype session with Ben Chapman. 

            In Clay’s Ark, three characters- a father and his two daughters are taken hostage with the use of weapons. They are brought to a community of people who are living with an organism inside of them. Contracting this organism changes a human’s DNA sequence. These changes bring about an urgent drive to infect others, heightened senses and everlasting appetite for food. After being taken to this community, Blake, the father, is scratched by Madea, who is someone who has contracted the organism and is now living with it. This begins Blake’s process of being infected by the organism. 

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Interdisciplinary classes are something I have found rather amazing during my time at Geneseo thus far.  The idea that a class is made up of students from both humanities majors and majors in STEM is an opportunity for rapid growth. Because a class that is not a general education requirement, that students chose to take, that mixes disciplines gives students the opportunities to learn something they would’ve never learned from their own majors.

In the beginning of the semester, I was very hesitant to decide if I would enjoy an INTD class, seeing as it was not just a class for my major, it was a class any major could enroll in. This made me nervous because I was very comfortable in my English classes. I knew most of my peers in the English department very well and overall was just overly comfortable with the course load I was receiving from most of my classes prior. This class was different. The class make up included English, mathematics, natural sciences, psychology, sociology, and many other majors. Once the class actually was held, I was not so nervous anymore. Everyone in the class seemed eager to learn and actively participate in conversations. The atmosphere of the class was different than a class that students specifically have to take to fill a general education credit or just a class for a student’s major filled with all students from that same major. It was an environment I really enjoyed being in. No one walked in the class on the first day thinking they were more prepared than others and that alone contributed to what made the class such an incredible place to be in.

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A Needed Self-Confidence Boost

As I start writing my last official blog post of the semester, I wanted to take this opportunity to share how this class impacted my confidence not only as a writer but an intellectual. Before this class, my confidence as a writer had dropped significantly. But because of this class, I was able to rediscover my writing confidence.

I had previously had a not-so-great semester in the fall, so I was hesitant to have to start blogging again. I was scared my writing wasn’t going to be as skilled as others. I shortly discovered, however, this class was not like my previous class with Doctor McCoy. Since the class was an interdisciplinary course, there were many non-english major students who were feeling the same way as I was intimidated.

After the first few classes, I engaged in many conversations with others about how they were nervous to blog as well. Because of that, I was able to gain some of my confidence back because I realized I wasn’t alone.

Throughout the class, I became confident in my writing again & I am truly thankful I decided to enroll in this course, even if it was scary at first.

The Art of Teaching Art

As I was reading through the blog, I was reading Brian’s blog post titled Power In The Internet; An Artist’s Dilemma. I really enjoyed reading it. He says, “The option to teach is a gift which enables musicians to support themselves financially as they try and pursue the creation of music or visual art, as well as the continuation of the music tradition—of course, there also exist those who want to teach the future generations the tradition of art”.

Artists tend to have financial struggles throughout their career because as Prince stated in his first visit to Geneseo, “artists work on come and go paychecks, sometimes you have lots of money and then you go without receiving pay for months”. This leads to a lot of artists to pursue a career in teaching art. Continue reading “The Art of Teaching Art”

Dancing Queen

We express ourselves in many physical ways, just a few to mention are art, dance, writing and the theater. I have never been a dancer. When I was younger, my father would always tell me that I had no rhythm and couldn’t dance (he wasn’t being mean, he was simply stating the obvious). I am an artist but definitely not a dancer.

Before Mark Broomfield’s class, Doctor McCoy had told us to wear comfortable clothes that we could move around in. This caught my attention very quickly. I was hoping we weren’t going to have to do push-ups and jumping jacks. When the weekend ended and I walked into class that Monday afternoon, I was caught off guard with the idea we were going to dance. I had always loved to dance but only in private or at parties where no one would pay much attention to my horrible dancing.

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The Doves

“In Genesis 8:8—12, after the ark has landed on the mountains of Ararat, Noah sends out a dove three times to see how far the flood waters have receded. The first time it found nothing and returned to the ark. The second time it brought back an olive leaf, so Noah could see that God’s punishment was over and life had begun again on the earth. (The image of a dove holding an olive branch continues to be a symbol of peace to this day.)The third time, the dove did not return, and Noah knew that it was safe to leave the ark. A similar flood story is told in parallel passages in the ancient Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh. There, too, the hero sends out a dove, which returns to the ship unable to find a perch. In fact, from Ancient Near Eastern records to nautical practices as recent as the 19th century, sailors the world over used doves and other birds to help them find and navigate toward land. So, while Noah made use of an ancient sailor’s trick, the dove came to represent a sign from God.”                        -Biblical Archeology Society

 In class a few weeks ago, Dr. McCoy split us into three groups. Within our groups, we discussed Prince’s artworks, each group focused on a few pieces and gave a mini-presentation on what we talked about. My group focused almost completely on two pieces, “Second Line Rebirth” and “Requiem for Brother John”. These two pieces interact with each other, “Requiem for Brother John” comes first and “Second Line Rebirth” comes next.

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Everything is Not (But Sometimes is) What it Seems

When I view artwork, I always try to find a deeper meaning. But there isn’t always an implied meaning for artwork and that is what I discovered recently. For some reason, I always try to dig deeper into artworks, my brain automatically tries to find a deeper meaning, an underlying message or hidden symbols within the artwork itself. However, while making art, I don’t think about these aspects during the creation process and I found this rather interesting. While reading some of my classmate’s blog posts, I found Melisha- Li Gatlin’s most recent post very intriguing and helped answer my thought.

She says, “When I look at art, I assume that the piece in front of me is the initial message the artist intended for the audience. Now, I am starting to realize that some art can simply be a beautiful mistake. By beautiful mistake I am referring to obstacles the artists face during the process that turn out to make the piece into something the artist had not imagined. Another assumption I make is that there is a deep-rooted meeting behind each piece of art. This assumption was proved wrong throughout the exercise as my group and I started putting colors together just for fun”

I started drafting this blog post a couple hours before Prince gave his “Kitchen Talk”, which opened my eyes to the other side of the creation process- deliberate symbols and deeper meanings embedded in artwork. But some artists don’t use this technique when creating their artwork, which is something I had never considered.

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Science-Like a Fairytale and Modern Religion

I would have never compared fairy tales and myths to the natural sciences. It seems an unimaginable comparison to make, however, once putting some thought into it, it doesn’t seem like that far of a stretch.

Stories told orally, over time, tend to get more and more added to them overtime. Think about the game you played when you were younger, Telephone. When playing this game, through whispers and misinterpretations, some details can either be lost or added throughout the circle. If I said to you, in a whispered tone, “I love smart water”, it could be altered to “I love art water” or something else as the game goes on.

This helps me think about the comparison of fairy tales and science. Joe Moran compared these two things and I wasn’t sure I agreed with what he was saying, but after thinkingabout this for a while, I decided I agreed with his comparison. His comparison… Continue reading “Science-Like a Fairytale and Modern Religion”