Final Reflection Essay INTD 288 – Perspective and Position

Perspective and Position: The Connotation of The World

There are two essential parts of perspective: the position and placement of what we see and the interpretation of what we see—the two parts work together and it is often the case that people manipulate the placement in their work in order to produce an audience interpretation within the range of their desire. In order to create a specific impression for their audience who will be experiencing, artists and individuals take extreme care in their choice of placement in their work or in themselves.

This manipulation with perspective is commonly observed in visual art; a visual artist has complete control of the placement on their canvas, which displays a single moment—this depiction of a single moment is different than the series of moments that happen in our real lives and cannot be revisited in real time, making art an excellent example of perspective and manipulation. With the manipulation of placement in a composition, an artist hopes to create their desired impressions and general interpretation of the piece upon the audience. Art compositions are often described as something that will push people to think beyond the artist’s intentions and discern their own interpretation, but the artist’s intention also holds significant weight. This importance of intention is supported by the artist Steve Prince’s work, both through his enjoyment of listening to our class interpretations of his work and his confirmation of certain meanings and intentions behind his work. Continue reading “Final Reflection Essay INTD 288 – Perspective and Position”

Looking at Folk: Black Rural Cultural Production and White Appropriation

To my knowledge, I’ve not had a professor or anyone in a position of authority in a classroom (where sincere questioning of power structures and imagining of new futures has happened) that has been visibly rural until this semester. In the first few weeks of class, I noticed our TA Katie’s accent. At first I wasn’t sure, but her lilting tone, rhotic accent (presence of the sound /r/ at the end of a word), and pronunciation of the short /a/ that’s characteristic of Rural White [Southern] English (my brackets) and Inland Northern American English. It was so gentle to hear. I did feel a little odd just asking sorta out of the blue where Katie was from (although I do try to use, ‘where’s home for you?’ to avoid the microaggressive implications around belonging of ‘where are you from?’). Continue reading “Looking at Folk: Black Rural Cultural Production and White Appropriation”

Strength

In one of its definitions, a veil is a fabric used to conceal, cover, or hide the real nature of a form or figure. It is often transparent but its presence is undeniable. In the case of the social world when connecting the idea of sustainability to the veil; it is clear that the veil hinders the possibility of such sustainability. When thinking about sustainability, how do we measure such an aspect? When thinking about the balance of economy, society, and the environment, we question whether such progress is possible. When defining balance in this context, we need to narrow down each subcontext of society, economy, and the environment to explain how each, need to be balanced internally, and then do play off of one another, creating this frame and template called sustainability.

Speaking specifically about society, I have never known of such internal sustainability in real life. The reason as to why this balance doesn’t exist internally is because there is division and disconnect present within it. This factioning is fueled by the fear of diversity. In this context, diversity can be defined as the mixture and assortment of people from different backgrounds of all types, political, socioeconomic, racial, etc.   Continue reading “Strength”

Repetition

I think in this class key terms kept coming over again and again, which is why I chose repetition. Even though we constantly had different professors talking about wildly different angles and viewpoints on Mr. Prince’s work, the Veil kept reappearing, as well as “process”, jazz, the Dirge, different ways of thinking about time, downbeat dancing et cetera. It very much seemed like everything converged back to the theme of repetition, as if, as Snead wrote in “On Repetition in Black Culture”, “Narrative repetition tends to defuse the belief that any other meaning resides in a repeated signifier than the fact that it is being repeated.” The cut back to original principles meant that no matter what topic our discussion meandered to, there was something familiar to go back, which strengthened the original idea. Continue reading “Repetition”

Growth within the Developmental Process

The terms growth and development are often used interchangeably, however the overall development process encompasses the many forms of growth we experience. The developmental process integrates and organizes all of the ways in which we have grown. Development is a lifelong process. Growth is quantitative, while development is qualitative. Development implies shifting, but it does not imply constant, consistent growth.  Growth is not linear, and so, development is a nonlinear process. Human development, identity development, urban development, the development of art, personal development, and communal development are all non-linear and not always visible or easily recognizable.

Without making an active effort to reflect on my experience in this class, I may not have noticed all of the personal growth I have made. The third learning outcome listed in the syllabus has advised us: To reflect upon changes in learning and outlook over time; to make personal, professional, and civic plans based on that self-reflection.” The reflection process has been put into action through our blog posts, class discussions, these self-reflection essays, and each of our individual interactions with the material Dr. McCoy has provided us. Over the development of this entire class, we have been given the task to both reflect and build upon everything that we learn – whether the knowledge was sourced from Steve Prince, guest lectures, Dr. McCoy, a fellow student, or from our own individual vats of prior knowledge. The ways in which this class has fostered my personal growth will allow me to continue my own journey of self-development long after it ends. 

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Interdisciplinary

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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Urban Garden Experience

The Urban Garden Experience on February 1st 2019 created powerful energy in the Kinetic Gallery, that I and many others in the room felt. Steve Prince and the jazz band and all of us gathered there together created a unique moment in time and space, and I keenly observed the ephemeral temporality of it all. This performance was just for us, but also open to anyone who happened to hear the music and poke their head in. Steve Prince was sketching the band in green and purple sharpie markers in front of us, and it was cool to see the layers of his process build on top of each other as he made his illustration in time to the music. This process of drawing that for him was so normal appeared to the audience as a live performance the same as the jazz. It seems like magic to watch a professional make art out of nothing in front of you in a few minutes. Steve Prince said he let the Holy Spirit move through him as he drew, and in his picture the Holy Spirit emerged out of the trumpet. Steve Prince was the focus in that moment, but the event was not about him. The crowd of people watching were also a participating community in the artwork surrounding Mr. Prince. I was very intimidated by the excellence of Prince’s figures and leaves, and hesitant to add something at first, but was convinced by other students that everyone is good enough to contribute. I drew a small figure climbing up a mountain, which represented exploration. I’m glad I made my mark I wasn’t sure what I had signed up for, but that day was a really great introduction to the spirit of the class.

light source and its forms

Energy comes in many forms and with that there comes new interpretations,“She handed me an AAA battery about as thin as one of fingers. The candle wouldn’t work unless you popped a battery into the handle. I looked back at the folks under the colonnade, reflexive hands over the plastic flame when a breeze started”,(Big Machine, 168). The idea of the light can be confusing because there is batteries being used to light this flame and there is still people having to use their hands to cover a flame that won’t easily burn out.The batteries I would also find a light source because there is fluid inside of them that allow them to connect with other things to produce a sound light or noise. One thing affects the other.

 

Sometimes drugs are able to make a person think or heighten your abilities which can either help or hurt the person taking them, “Ricky here was a heroin addict for almost twenty years, and somehow he thinks he’s better than you, Martin. I told you that’s how it would be, didn’t I?(Big Machine, 178) This was an interesting line to me because there are times where people seem to do better when medicated/ on drugs as in they feel as though they are able to grasp the concept because their mind is able to roam freely allowing more things to flow in. Light controls almost everything that we as humans use everyday for example the sun tells us day from night. The light source of fire is used to “shoot up” on heroin before it enters the body. Leaving from a job early can have both the positives and negatives,“Every bulb above my head had burst, and because of that every doorway was cloaked. When id left earlier that day, they’d been working fine. I turned around, confused by the change, and one foot ground into the shards of a lightbulb,”(Big Machine,196). This refers to the light bulb being shattered and needing to be used in order to have light for people to do their job the best way that they can.

 

This light can also have a double meaning because here at first I thought it was meant that the light inspired them by giving them hope and then when it was time to leave the bulbs shattered because they aren’t satisfied with whatever work was done or that they were afraid of not having guidance outside of the workplace. Having some of the workers doubt whether or not their working conditions are good enough throughout the book were questioned, “She said ‘doubt is the big machine. It grinds up the delusions of women and men,”(Big Machine, 205). Both men and women rely on doubt to help push them along to see the light that they all hope to get when succeeding at life trying new things bettering themselves and the people around them.

 

Awareness and Responsibility: Final Reflective Essay

To me, Dionne Brand’s epigraph “my job is to notice… and to notice that you can notice” speaks about how actively we must listen and pay attention, both in school and in life. Beyond that, we should use what we have learned to the benefit of ourselves and others. Keeping this epigraph in mind has helped me appreciate more what makes my life comfortable, realize my limitations and my advantages, and learn to be a more respectful person.

Initially, Brand’s quote speaks to an awakening, that realization that you’re noticing something previously in the peripheral vision of your mind. Throughout the course of the semester, there were various times both in and out of class in which I felt awakened, like something finally clicked. One such moment occurred when we took a class trip to the heating plant on campus. As I stood staring at the crisscrossing maze of colored pipes and tubes that covered the walls and ceiling of the plant, it dawned on me that beyond the few janitors and cleaning persons I had met over my time living on campus I had no concept of the complex system of working peoples that sustain SUNY Geneseo. Just like those pipes, every worker was at times alone and at times interacting with each other, but all were part of a greater institution that I have massively underappreciated. Continue reading “Awareness and Responsibility: Final Reflective Essay”

The Measure of Our Lives

In my first blog post, I wrote about an epigraph from Toni Morrison that says, “We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.” Morrison’s quote has been on my mind since I wrote my first blog post, where I only scratched the surface of what she was trying to communicate. I saw a few parallels between what she was discussing and what we addressed in class, but I nonetheless felt a disconnect between what I was learning and what Morrison was saying. However, I started to understand more as we progressed through the semester. Soon enough I could grasp important concepts and ideas, which I expanded in my blog posts and thought about in my free time. This process helped me reach a conclusion about Morrison’s epigraph and how it applies to the literature we have read throughout the semester, as well as my growth as a student. What Morrison is communicating is that language is powerful and that we engage with it on a daily basis through cycles of repetition and revision. It is through this process of constant engagement with literature, as well as with other art forms that I was able to recognize the themes, motifs, and greater ideas present in this class. While I still struggle with them from time to time, I nonetheless have the ability to discuss, think about, and break them down.

The first work of literature that put me in this cycle of intense engagement with language and literature was African Fractals: Modern Computing and Indigenous Design by Ron Eglash. Ironically, the realizations that I had about this book didn’t come until long after we stopped reading.  I was more confused than anything when I read the first few chapters. It would be a lie to say I wasn’t shocked by having a math book assigned as part of a three-hundred level English course. I took Dr. McCoy’s 203 class last semester, which also featured varied, abstract ideas and works of literature, but I had never seen anything quite like this and doubted how a math book could pertain to a course on African American literature. In spite of my confusion, there was a quote that stood out to me, “We will start by showing that African fractals are not simply due to unconscious activity. We will then look at examples where they are conscious but implicit designs…” (Eglash, 6). This idea was fascinating, profound, and yet I could barely relate it back to the course material. How could a geometric pattern relate to African American literature or culture? How could something this pervasive and widespread be an intentional design choice in so many cultures? These questions loomed over me as I read this book and while they troubled me at the time, I am glad I had these doubts since they made me more conscious and aware of what to look for as the semester progressed. This process of doubt and questioning helped me reach major realizations around the time we reached the group blogging assignment.

I wrote about the importance of this project in one of my blog posts, however, I want to address what exactly that assignment meant to me. Up until this point, I was struggling much more than I thought I would. After a few underwhelming, haphazardly written blog posts, I started to doubt my ability to succeed in this course. Needless to say, I found this assignment and the synthesis it required to be daunting. Tying together a food journal, books about African farming techniques, a chapter from Invisible Man, and a book of poetry seemed like an impossible task. I feared the worst when I was told I would not only have to write about these but to write about them in a group setting. Although it seemed daunting at first, I found that this challenge was exactly what I needed.

My anxieties over this assignment were not quite as founded as I made them out to be. In fact, I would say that they were just another part of the process of repetition and revision that I engaged with throughout the course. When I started this assignment I was analyzing the course material in the same way I had engaged with everything else up to this point. Only something about the literature made more sense, and the enormous diversity of these works became easier to digest and understand. As these things started to come together, I was reminded of a quote from the Snead article, where he claims that European culture, “does not allow for a succession of actions or surprises.” That’s when it hit me. I expected myself to make steady, measurable progress in a linear fashion. After all, that’s part of the deeply European idea of constant progress and forward momentum, which myself and others were taught time and time again. We are expected to learn something and get better, better, and better until we can perform a task with complete certainty and precision. I was forced to realize that such a thing is not entirely possible or true and that my ability to understand these materials was cyclical as opposed to linear. I had ups and downs, a dynamic cycle of change and growth. While I have a better understanding now, I’m still with faults and do not always have a perfect understanding. Regardless, I am more equipped to recognize patterns and ideas because I have engaged with these works.

It is here where the Morrison epigraph comes into play. The idea that language as the measure of our lives deeply fascinated me, esoteric as it was. In this class, we have spoken at length about the power of language and what specific words can mean. Dr. McCoy has pointed this out countless times, even pointing out the strange, possessive quality of expressions like “let you go”. Language is the measure of our lives because it has power, an intangible, pervasive quality that flows throughout all these immense, “fractal” thru-lines that run throughout the readings and course material featured in this class. People engage with language on a daily basis and are constantly learning and understanding the many different things that make language so influential. My failures and difficulties forced me to realize the importance of Morrison’s quote. Language may be the measure of our lives and I am just starting to engage with it on a higher level. There are ups and downs in that process, sure, but I am ultimately coming out as a stronger reader, writer, and thinker because of it.

Morrison’s epigraph absolutely matters when held up to GLOBE’s standards of revision and reflection over time. If language is “the measure of our lives” that means we are constantly interacting with it, much like how I was constantly engaging with the course material throughout the semester. In the same way that life follows cyclical patterns, so does language. The ability to reflect on this and look back ties directly into the core GLOBE standards that SUNY Geneseo promotes and displays a parallel between both the literature featured in this class and one of the core principles of this institution. Language is the measure of our lives because the things we convey throughout language pervades every aspect of our lives, existing in literature, art, music, and things as mundane as everyday conversation.