Having Faith in Doubt; Having Doubt in Faith

“Doubt is the big machine.  It grinds up the delusions of women and men.” — Victor Lavalle

As I begin writing my final reflection essay, I remind myself that at the same time, the act of writing this reflection marks not only the symbolic closing of a chapter — English 337: African American Literature, but the closing of a book: my college career.

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“Looking Back While Pushing Forward…” A Reflection

As many of my classmates have stated: it seems only appropriate to end this blog posting assignment with a reflection on what I have already done. Specifically, I’d like to look back on my first blog post of the semester.

“Doubt is the big machine. It grinds up the delusions of women and men.”  — Victor Lavalle, Big Machine

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“Doubt is the Big Machine…” but What About the Other Machines?

I definitely do not have an answer for anything I am about to express here, but it is something I am curious about. In his novel Big Machine, Victor Lavalle constantly engages in repetition and recursion. Many of the people and concepts that were introduced early (or earlier) in the novel travel with us until the very end… faith, doubt, the Washerwomen, Ricky’s relationship with his father… Even Peach Tree. Even the message, “Doubt is the big machine,” is right there on the last page. But what about the other machines?

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Still Here, Still Doubting Faith

Wow. I have so much admiration for Victor LaValle’s story-telling in Big Machine, and so I constantly keep it in conversation wherever I am, and whoever I am with. Every time I raise a question or make a point about the book in regard to where I am in my reading at the moment, Lavalle addresses that same point again later on in the book. What I am thinking about here is faith.

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“Straddling” Between Genres

The other day in class, we were asked to form small groups and discuss The Last Angel of History in conjunction with our course readings and concepts. Even though I had scribbled down several notes and quotes during our viewing of the film, I was not sure where to start or what to say. I had a bit of trouble following the film’s trajectory, but have since been actively trying to ground myself in any way I can.

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Did Ricky’s Faith Fail Him?

For this post, I’d like to look at “faith” and “trust” as two separate concepts. I have used them interchangeably in class, and even in previous blog posts, though they do not always have identical meanings. We have talked a lot about trust in Big Machine, specifically Ricky Rice’s trust in others and his trust in institutions. That is something I would like to get back to. Right now, I would like to look at Ricky’s faith in religion. His faith in the Washerwomen.

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SEE (Social, Environmental, Economic) Reflection

Group Members: Shakira Browne, Analiese Vasciannie, Sean McAneny, Tayler Thompson, Taylor VanTine, Evelyn Mendez, Sakshi Kumar

“My job is to notice…and to notice that you can notice.”–Dionne Brand

According to the U.S. National Environmental Policy Act, the goal of sustainability is to “create and maintain conditions, under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, that permit fulfilling the social, economic, and other requirements of present and future generations.” Keeping future generations in mind suggests an environmental component to sustainability. We can identify the three pillars of sustainability, then, as social, economic, and environmental. Within each of those domains, sustainability is seeking productive harmony and attempting to limit the harm that is done. In other words, the goals of one pillar should be attainable without compromising the goals of the other two. When there is tension between the pillars, careful reflection is required on the part of those individuals, or organizations, striving for sustainability. Because reflection is so essential to sustainable practice, we believe that reflection should be added to the definition of sustainability. In the metaphorical structure of the pillars holding up a roof of sustainability, reflection is the foundation.

Fig. 1. “The Three Pillars of Sustainability,” http://www.thwink.org/sustain/glossary/ThreePillarsOfSustainability.htm
Fig. 2. Our modification of “The Three Pillars of Sustainability” with ‘Reflection’ as the base

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