I have an obsessive personality. My dad attributes it to the ADHD that runs in our family; I am not sure if I believe him (though our work patterns are similar), but when focused, I can work at 110%, ignoring my own needs to accomplish my goal. On the other hand, if I am not focused, nothing can possibly get done, at least not in an efficient, timely manner, and it feels like torture. I have gotten very good at regulating this behavior after a while; my days are very regulated and task-oriented so that I can more easily redirect this obsession from, for example, spending hours upon hours playing Pokemon Soul Silver on an old DS to actually doing something that is productive and helpful (this is also the reason why I absolutely cannot have any games on my phone). I think that’s why blog posts are easy for me – I can just find something I am interested in and let my brain do its thing. A prime example of this is the very first blog post I wrote for this class on Immanuel Velikovsky. I googled the term “Veliskovskyan,” as is written in the introduction to Apocalypse by Amos Nur, and immediately needed to know more. In this case, my obsession seized upon how outlandish his theories were and at that point, it was easy to sit down and not move from my desk until three hours and 1200 words were done. Other examples of these include the ones I wrote on geophagia and the uncanny valley. In these cases, Octavia Butler’s “Positive Obsession” is spot-on in its analysis of the better side of obsessive mindsets: “I saw positive obsession as a way of aiming yourself, your life, at your chosen target” (129). In this way, obsession works very well for me in terms of productivity. Of course, perfectionism likes to intervene, so I never feel good about this work, but that is beside the point. Obsession rules my life to an extent that is perhaps more than I’d like to admit, and it certainly has affected my experience with this course and with the Broken Earth trilogy. Continue reading “Positive (?) Obsession*”
” In love, then, we shall seek understanding.”
- – N.K. Jemisin, The Obelisk Gate
Oftentimes, when I’m writing, I feel as though I’m carving something out of stone — I’m writing and writing and writing and slowly an idea emerges from the haze of dust and rock, at first realized only in rough outlines, in the hint of a general idea, and slowly, s l o w l y I polish away the hard edges. I have, truth be told, perfectionist tendencies that come into play when writing (when doing anything, really, god, you should have seen me try to play sports — practice does not make perfect when you expect yourself to be perfect on the first try) and these tendencies are most definitely not unusual, especially when many of us are released from a schooling system that incorporates in us a certain idea not only of writing (how to write, what qualifies as effective and acceptable writing) but how to work. Even now, in writing this, I feel the perfectionism — which is in turn symptomatic of both my education and my anxiety— rising up inside me, in the constant questioning (Is this good enough? Is this long enough? What will they think of this? Is this comprehensive enough? Is this good? Is it great? Is it the best it can be?) of my own work. In writing I sometimes feel trapped in my anxieties, in my thoughts, so judgemental of my own self, my own art, my own individual stories; I am caught in a spiral constantly folding in on itself as I question and question and question.
Continue reading “Carving (Y)our (My) Stories”
I actually really enjoy reflection. In fact, I am constantly reflecting on my personal life – whether that is either a symptom of my extremely high anxiety or because I am seeking to grow from my past thoughts and experiences is up for debate. I do find it more difficult to reflect on coursework while I am in the class. Which is the reason why I think getting started on this reflection paper has been so hard for me. I usually like some time and distance from whatever I reflect upon. For example, just this morning I was thinking about certain events in my childhood that lead to the often conflicting relationship I have with one of my siblings because I had visited with them over the past weekend. I drew some new paths of understanding and came to some conclusions, which was great, but I took me several years before I could realize the connections between the events and our present-day relationship. Then when it comes to thinking about this class, the connections are less clear and the conclusions are less apparent. It has taken me several weeks to sift through the work that I have done for this class to actually decide on a path or note or topic that I wanted to reflect on further. After I had reread my midterm essay a third or fourth time, I had realized that I had a topic that I wanted to expand upon more – and I had a little bit later in a blog post. I saw that I had gotten carried away with the idea of justice in the Broken Earth series. Continue reading “Reflection is Hard. Putting out Honest Writing is Harder.”
An Active Journey
Writing this essay, in and of itself, is a lot like writing the blog posts on which it is built. A huge problem I had initially was anxiety over how to start them. A fear over the uncertainty of their composition and structure led me to believe that I was not ready to write one. A fear of being unable to correctly execute the task given to be froze me and prevented the execution of the task like a self fulfilling prophecy. At the time it did not occur to me that the point was to try the first post anyway despite the possibility of failure so that I could learn by failing what to do for the future. Out of fear I prevented myself from growing in a natural and meaningful way. I could resort to blaming the environment around me for cultivating a sense of fear for failure and encouraging procrastinating behavior but that does not help me. By acknowledging my mistake, I’m allowing myself to know what I’ve done wrong and to think about what to do differently to create more favorable outcomes.
You’ll begin to question whether my telling of this journey is one that merely repeats the tale of every other passionate, black scholar’s revelations when seeing that the wall at the end (beginning?) of the dark tunnel goes further back than they’ve been taught. I ask that you keep reading nonetheless. My story is one that questions whether the tunnel is, in fact, dark, if that wall exists, if it’s creators—in whatever shape, color or form that they existed—wanted it to be used as a ‘tunnel’ at all. You might be confused and quite frankly I am too…well just a little but I promise to explain as much as I have come to know myself.
This structure of writing and the motivation for sharing myself with you in the way that I am was inspired by N.K. Jemisin and her Broken Earth Trilogy. She made me question how my interactions with you were reflective of my own internalized perceptions of my ancestry—an ancestry that society taught me. An incomplete one. One that (supposedly) started playing in the grass…just before the ships docked on the coasts.
There is a call for change, if not revolution, that is more powerful and cacophonous than anything my generations has heard so far. Annihilation mounts in a slow violence against humans. The real issue though is that the violence being committed is not dealt as fairly or indiscriminately as “humans” would suggest. Corporations with personhood and bigoted politicians make broad decisions that somehow keep themselves free from prosecution while destroying the lives of those deemed not worth the time or money. The corrupt ideologies that motive these people in power are actively being dissected in higher education, and what is being recognized is that the world we deal with today is not a result of a flapping butterfly’s wings in some remote corner or an invented universalism hidden somewhere inside every human. Continue reading “Final Reflection Essay”
I was scrolling down our courses blog post feed in hopes of finding something that would catch my eye. Well, hold and behold, I have found it. Molly Mattison and her group wrote a piece titled “LIVE IN ART??” and as a self proclaimed art enthusiast and part time painter and sculptor when I’m not rambling out of my house trying to make it to class like any other college student, this title immediately caught my attention. I clicked on it and began reading. It was absolutely indulging. I find that there is a huge sense of satisfaction for me when someone manages to divulge into the importance of art. To me, art is everything and so before I begin, I would first like to introduce the following section from Mattison’s group post. It goes as follows:
There’s a trend in human history of using art to pass on impactful information. Art becomes a medium through which we can share knowledge, express reverence and even remind others of something that once was. Following the trend of civilizations past who used artforms like sculptures, carvings, pottery etc., the Great Tohoku Earthquake has resulted not only in long-lasting consequences, but also in art mediums which have captured the meaning of its experience to victims and witnesses.
Okay, now we can begin. The reason I decided to add that particular section of the blog post is because I find it captures the essence of how art functions and why it’s so important. Just like the group articulated, art is used to pass on information and create self expression. Ancient civilizations have used various mediums of art to create a story of some sort and create preservation. It’s their mark in the world. N.K Jeminsin introduces these sentiments throughout her work in the way she creates characters as representations of art. The most immediate example we can all think of is the creation of the stone eaters who literally look like stones (or sculptures). This all brings me back to a specific day in class when we looked at the sculptures by Charles Henri Joseph Cordier. The sculptures titled “African Venus” and “Said Abdullah” were highly respected in the 19th century “after the abolishment of slavery.” The bronze busts were based off of a young African model named Seïd Enkess who had been a former slave in France. So, where am I going with this? Well, not only did these sculptures embody and celebrate the perseverance of marginalized groups in the face of adversity and great injustice, but it also parallels to how Jemisin uses art as a way of reminding people of historical events, just as we saw throughout the development of the stonelore. (Also, the sculptures were made of bronze rather than white marble, ergo, making the sculptures darker in color and therefore closer to the authenticity of the actual person itself). I’m not entirely sure who pointed this out in class but it was a great comment!
This was probably one of my favorite in class discussions. Now as a little bonus I wanted to add some of my own personal paintings and sculptures that I have created in order to celebrate my ethnicity, my family history and as a way to express myself.
p.s: the sculptures are inspired by Olmec colossal heads. The stone heads are that of the Olmec civilization of the gulf coast of Mexico (1200 BCE-400 BCE). They are considered to be some of the most mysterious and debated artifacts from the ancient world because the stone used to create the massive heads were made from stone materials not found near the area. No one really knows how they managed to create such massive sculptures or how the got their hands on that particular rock material.
We were constructed as intentionally and artificially as the fragments you call obelisks. We are fragments of the great machine too . . . By our existence, we glorify the world that made us, like any statue, scepter or other precious object. We do not resent this, for our opinions and experiences have been carefully constructed, too. We do not understand that what Kelenli has come to give us is a sense of peoplehood. We do not understand why we have been forbidden this self-concept before now… but we will (Stone Sky 50).
Artificial intelligence. Robots. Cyborgs. The steadfast fundamentals of sci-fi. From I, Robot to Ex Machina, from the cybermen of Doctor Who to the cylons of Battlestar Galactica, the idea of living and cognizant technology has captured our imaginations for decades. It’s a fascination that has developed and grown alongside our exploration and use of technology, one that, in a literary sense, likely has roots in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; we are fascinated, in a sense by creating that which is beyond ourselves, fascinated by the idea of becoming becoming almost as god. In the concept of artificial intelligence we see the ability to not only push the boundaries of knowledge, but to push the boundaries of self. Continue reading “Ex-Machina or That Which Was Formerly Machine”
(Insert poetic dissonance here) Looking back to the starting points when originally starting the thinking essay back in October, there was a need to try and read a great deal of material – whether I actually read them or not. This also includes revisiting ideas and topics that I may have explored and attempted to develop further. Since it’s the past tense, clearly there wasn’t much in the concluding department.
This may have been an issue when considering the large amount of abstract ideas that come to mind when thinking. Of course, the whole idea of abstract ideas feel congruent when originally conceiving the thinking essay (in and out). Another idea would be the possible inclusion of a geological source. This feels relevant when revisiting the peculiar definition of geodes, the significations of rocky materials and substances throughout Jemison’s trilogy, and of course the very parallels of how imperative the content of these materials are when given relation to that of our own world. This encourages a lot of thinking, which of course may or may not be the point for both inspiration and the sort.
One idea I was considering was the comparison of prologues, the context of characterization, the change of ambition and inner turmoil present through both the literature and the relative media we were shown throughout the semester. The concluding factor is that there is a great deal of thinking that gives us a lot to consider (something I’ve said too much by now), along with the powers to figure out whatever we’re going to conclude our reflections on. So I suppose this is another post that ensures both hope and a chance at maintaining sanity by the time the finals hit us all.
Self-assuredness has never been my strong suit. Doubting myself has always been second nature and I feel as though that stems from a lack of identity in a way. My writing pieces have usually always been prompted by others. With the removal of a deadline or a definitive course, I was left to design my own set of guidelines. This demanded that I create a voice for myself and set a cohesive tone for the rest of my work. In theory, it seems relatively simple but in practice, you begin to realize that to establish yourself as a writer you must first establish yourself as an individual. I felt like the opening band at a show, the one nobody knows and no one came to see. But to overcome this feeling of obscurity, I had to continuously put myself on the line.