Iterations Final Reflection Essay

Such an ambiguous statement as restrained, has many different meanings. According to  the Cambridge Dictionary, restrained means “acting in a calm and controlled way.” But, it can also mean something else, such as “something that is kept under control, such as a strong emotion or even physical movement” (

In the novel The Water Cure restraint is a recurring theme in Percival Everetts’s work, manifesting in various forms across the expansion of the novel, challenging readers to explore the complexities of human experience and society. His skillful use of restraint adds depth and resonance to his writing.

In The Water Cure the term “restrained” is applied literally to the victim “Art.” The victim is called “Art” by his captor, Ishmael Kidder. Art may or may not be restrained by his captor Ishmael, and held within his basement throughout the novel. “Art is tied up down in my basement and will never again see the sun, will never smell a flower again, will never feel the rain, hear the wind, touch a puppy or a child” (Everett 36). Due to Art being “tied up,” Art’s physical movement was restrained. This concept of restraint relates to the definition provided previously, “something that is kept under control, such as a strong emotion or even physical movement”.

In “The Water Cure,” the term “art” undergoes a metamorphosis, adapting to the diverse contexts in which it is invoked. On one hand, there is “Art” the person, a mysterious figure whose presence looms large over the narrative, potentially subjected to capture and restraint. On the other hand, there is “art” in its traditional sense, embodying the essence of creative expression and imagination, often manifested through visual mediums like painting, sculpture, or drawing. This duality underscores the thematic exploration of control, constraint, and the blurred boundaries between freedom and captivity within the novel. Within The Water Cure, Kidder draws a picture of his daughter Lane. The portrayal lacks intricate detail, rendering it akin to the work of a child of merely five years old (Everett 28). Kidder’s struggle to fully depict Lane in his drawing symbolizes more than just artistic limitations; it embodies his psychological and emotional state, constrained by the specter of impending tragedy. His grief manifests in uncontrollable behaviors, further restricting his ability to articulate his emotions and represent his daughter accurately. In this way, the act of artistic expression becomes entangled with themes of restraint and loss, highlighting the profound impact of emotional turmoil on creative output.

In the context of “The Water Cure,” Ron Eglash’s exploration of African Fractals in his book “African Fractals Modern Computing and Indigenous Design” provides a fascinating parallel to the themes of restraint and limitation present in Percival Everett’s novel. Eglash explores the intricate world of African fractal geometry, examining its cultural significance and the political implications embedded within its study. One of the key aspects discussed is the politics surrounding African Fractals and the constraints imposed upon them.

Upon Eglash speaking with chaos theorist Ralph Abraham, he explained that “analog systems were in his view the realm of spirit, the vibrations of Atman ” (193). In contrast to this theory, James Clifford insisted that only “digital representation is capable of the flexible rearrangements that constitute human thought” (193). This battle between theories has been played out in the history of African culture studies. In the 1960s realism was vogue, and what could have been a wonderful exploration of the analog representation techniques in African culture, “was often reduced to romantic portraits of the ‘real’ and ‘natural,’ while African symbolism systems suffered from neglect” (193-194). This clash of theories mirrors a historical struggle within African cultural studies, where differing approaches have shaped perceptions of African representation techniques. In the late 1970s, this began to reverse itself with the escapade of postmodernism. African culture portraits became increasingly focused on discourse and symbol systems, “even at the expense of ignoring analog representations” (194).

The constraints imposed upon these romanticized portraits echo the limitations faced by Kidder in portraying his daughter in “The Water Cure.” Both forms of representation are hindered in their own ways, ultimately failing to fully realize their potential. Kidder’s portrayal of Lane lacks detail, reflecting his emotional turmoil and the overwhelming fear of loss. Similarly, the reductionist approach to African representation overlooks the complexity of analog techniques, restricting the portrayal of cultural richness and diversity.

The restrained aspect of both books connects to the experiment run during class relating to Zeno’s paradox, the dichotomy. The paradox of dichotomy addresses the idea of reaching a distance through a series of continuous divisions of space and time. For example in the experiment in class, there was a group of 5 students with a destination in front of them of 5 Pikachus. The goal was for them to reach the Pikachus but with each step, they must go halfway. It goes as follows, suppose you want to walk from point A to point B. Before you can reach point B, you must first reach the midpoint between your starting point and the midpoint, and so on. In other words, to cover any distance, you must first cover half of that distance, and then half of the remaining distance, and so on, resulting in an infinite number of steps. Zeno argued that since an infinite number of steps cannot be completed in a finite amount of time, motion is therefore impossible. The concept of going halfway implements a restriction on the person trying to reach the destination, as reaching the destination becomes impossible. 

In Zeno’s paradox, the idea of motion is challenged by the notion of continually dividing space into smaller and smaller increments. This concept connects the “The Water Cure ” as the character Art as well as Kidder himself experience a sense of constraint and limitation on their abilities. Kidder’s portrayal of his daughter Lane, lacks detail due to his emotional turmoil and fear of loss, showing that personal restraints can impose on artistic expression. This also connects to Art’s physical restraint as his physical abilities may or may not be restrained. In a similar connection, the reductionist approach to African representation discussed in the context of Eglash’s exploration of African Fractals correlates to the infinite division shown by Zeno’s paradox. Furthermore, just as dividing space into infinitely smaller parts lends to an infinite series of steps, reducing African representation to simplistic portrayals overlooks the richness and diversity of the culture, restraining our understanding of it.

In conclusion, the dive into the concept of restraint in “The Water Cure”  and the examination of African Fractals in Eglash’s work offer profound insights into the complexities of human experience and cultural representation. Intertwined in these narratives we confront the concept of restraint, which can manifest in different forms. These restraints imposed upon characters and cultural representations echo the limitations faced by individuals in expressing themselves. 

Furthermore, the connection to Zeno’s paradox of Dichotomy illuminates the influence of restraint in shaping our understanding of time and space. Similar to Zeno’s paradox, the characters in “The Water Cure ” and the representations of African Culture, challenge the possibility of motions through continuous division. Whether through personal or societal restraints, the theme of restraint serves as a powerful lens through which to examine the human condition. 

Ultimately, the exploration of restraint in literature and cultural studies entices us to reflect on the way in which restraints shape our perceptions and experiences. But by confronting these restraints, we can strive towards a better understanding of ourselves and the world around us. 

Seed Shape Essay

As people every day we go through life working through the struggles and growing as individuals. When you apply the concept of struggles to literature, we can connect it to a seed shape. This seed shape is the concept of order → disorder → reorder. This concept shows how people have a life before a struggle, go through the struggle, and then come together as a changed person who has overcome the struggle. This seed shape applies to almost everything in life. A movie, a conversation, a song, a book, or even a day-to-day experience. This seed shape involves recursion. It is something that occurs every day over and over again. It can be going to the bathroom and finding out that there is no toilet paper on the roll, or making a mistake in life and pushing through the battles to overcome it. But on a deeper scale, it can relate to one’s education. When we are children we have fresh minds, and we are influenced by those around us, especially our immediate family. When it comes to family and our developing brains we can be influenced by something as deep as a political standpoint, or a view on the outside world. 

When children partake in everyday life they have a sense of order. Things like when dinner is ready every day, or when they have chores. These aspects of life help to shape their seed into who they are today. 

Alice Walker writes in Call and Response an expert titled, Everyday Use. In this piece, Walker invites the audience into the life of a young African American child and her mother. Describing the relationship between mother and daughter and the struggles of the time. Being African American during this time comes with its struggles, the time when African Americans and White people do not see eye to eye when the world is filled with hate. “Who can even imagine me looking a strange white man in the eye?” (Walker 1797). This is the order of her life. This is when looking scared into a white man’s eye was the “normal.” Not only is this issue applicable to the mother but it also is to the daughter. A child growing up with an order of life where being scared was part of growing up, being different and not fitting in was part of growing up, and working during the day was part of growing up. This was part of her premature life, her “normal,” her order. 

Until this child grows and learns more from the struggles of reality she will stay in a constant state of order. 

As a child develops the order will change and become disrupted, this will cause a disorder in the once-organized way of living. This is something that people go through as they come of age, as they are exposed to and understand the true struggles of life. As time moves on and we learn about the harsh realities we try our best to learn and adapt. But learning can be a struggle. Not only can learning be a struggle but so can teaching. When a person or student has grown their whole lives in a sense of order, it is hard to open their mind to new ideas and concepts. A child or teen who comes from a home where things are taught in a certain manner, or they are encouraged to perceive people in a certain way. As children grow and their minds expand then they are truly faced with the harsh truths of the world. These harsh truths disrupt their once-ordered minds. 

If there was a student, a white male student. Those who come from an order at the home of white supremacy, and are suddenly exposed to the truths of America’s foundation, or history, it would disrupt their order of life. 

In Barkley Brown’s essay, “African-American Women’s Quilting” she opens the audience to the world of teaching Black women’s history in the ideals that are consistent with Black women’s understanding of that history. When teaching a classroom full of students of different races and backgrounds, including students who have grown up in Western norms, it can be challenging for the teacher but eye-opening for the student. “ I do not mean that white or male students can learn to feel what it is like to be a Black woman. Rather, I believe that all people that can learn to center in another experience, validate it, and judge it by its own standards without need of comparison or need to adopt that framework as their own” (Brown 922). Students who have yet to be exposed to these truths or the true history of people from different backgrounds will learn new views. Although the students do not have to necessarily agree or believe the things being taught to them, it will still cause a disorder in the order they once believed in. Their “normal” and the order they have grown around, been influenced by, and constantly exposed to will become altered, and for some ultimately change for the better. 

As things change and time goes by, people in everyday life learn new things, discover new things, and challenge themselves to new levels, causing their order to be disrupted. But in the end, the order will be restored. When this order is restored, it doesn’t mean that the person had to like the change or change with it, but they will ultimately come out a different person or a new person. This concept can also be applied to things we do as a society. Something that was discussed in class was the difference in time periods. One of the things that I brought up was telephones. As a society decades ago there were no phones. Then as time went on and discoveries were made and technology was improved, cell phones were invented. As we know time never stops and neither did the advancements of this technology. The cell phone that we have today was once a rotary phone. But the advancements developed and things were changed causing the once order to be disrupted. Although the disruption was not drastic enough to the point where we don’t have any phones at all it was still fondled with. Now in today’s society, we still have phones, and there is order. But due to the disorder the phones have advanced technology, there is a difference in how they were decades ago. 

I think that this seed shape will recur until the end of time. The struggles of life are inevitable, all we can do is learn and reorder our lives. Do you think there are serious times in your life when this seed shape has been applied? What about the silliest little things that this seed shape can be applied to? What about when you go to the dining hall for soup and there is no soup left, so instead you get fries? You had an order going into the dining hall, then the order was disrupted, but in the end, you ultimately restored this order, but changed along the way. Things don’t always have to work out in the end, but it is part of life and we can keep on going no matter what life throws at us.