“I always wanted to know as much as possible”

 

An “oceanic mind” what a convenient title; it goes well with my header image.

Tonight I was watching the interview our instructor Dr. Campbell recorded with Ted Nelson. I have to be honest, I never watched it fully before. I started to watch it because I have been reading and doing a lot of research for our final project for the past couple of weeks or so. I know a lot about my topic now, yet, I am not able to put in 2500 words. As Ted Nelson would affirm, “Enforcement leads to evasion” (2014), because I know that I have to do it for school I do not get through with it and I feel horribly stressed about it. This makes me anxious. I only think about the grade, and how to be able to get the grade that I need. I think about the aspects of the grading policy and not about my own voice. I learned something from my American Literature class this semester (English/writing class). My professor told me that the best way to write is from our own voice and not trying to sound like something else, or trying to write like some other article writer would do it. He told me that his favorite paper was the one that I thought he would like the less. It took me a long time to complete it. I turned it in almost 4 weeks after the due date and with the feeling that he was not going to like it at all. In my mind, I gave up; I wrote what I wanted in an unstructured way. I knew that the paper did not meet the conventions and structure of English language (because honestly I hate that *bs* about first paragraphs should have attention getter and last sentence should be clear and explicit thesis, the next paragraph should start with the topic sentence and explain your argument bla bla bla… seriously, there many ways to write proficiently and I don’t understand the need to encapsulate all kinds of writing in a single format and structure. That is actually one of the reasons why I had to take several writing classes, because I failed my essay question for the SAT because no one told me that in America you have a certain structure to do it. And I have to tell you, I am not familiar with it, and the way I structure my sentences is different and probably wrong most of the time. I use a lot of commas, I write long paragraphs, I repeat words, I do not have enough vocabulary and if I use the words I like, they tell me they are too complex and unnecessary, that I probably should use simpler language. One of the things that I first notice when I started going to the writing center (in my previous university, the one here sucks *sorry*) was that you guys like short sentences, easy language, simple vocabulary, short concise ideas in short concise paragraphs. That is not the way I used to write for school. In my own language, my writing was very good. Not so much now because I haven’t practice in a while and I am getting used to the American ways though. And all of these leads me to think about Ted Nelson and his points on how school system is kind of you know, wrong… or at least it has many aspects and points to work on that could improve students’ performance. I have a big disadvantage, as you may imagine, that language thing and the way I structure language in my head is different. By this point I’ve been told constantly that my writing is not quite hitting the mark, so I adjust, but at the same time I feel like the quality of what was my own original style of writing is fading away. The most important thing now is to find a way to fulfill the prompts and the expectation of the professors and their assignments, The grading policy for papers consumes me alive. You cannot imagine how many times I’ve looked at my draft and information trying to put it together and trying to come up with an academic writing style. It is so hard, so hard to do it. The thought of it makes me nervous, and anxious. I get a writer’s block. I get paralyzed and I do not want to even start writing anymore. I do try, though. I try to write but I always end up going on a ramp and writing pseudo-poetry (or some sentimental stuff full of allegories, metaphors, cheesy rhymes and wacky metric). I wish I could have it all done by now but I just can’t write. I seek help, of course, but it does not help that much because in the end I am the one who has to sit down and type. All I think is, how can I please my professors? How do I give them what they want to read? So I overthink, I over analyze and I get stressed. Ted Nelson would probably agree with me in saying that school and grading systems in this case are doing more harm than benefit. Ted Nelson knows so much stuff…

So yeah, as I was saying, tonight I decided to watch the videos on the Thought Vectors in Concept Space main site. I watched the video with the librarians and I recognized Jenny, our librarian. She is so nice and helpful I am so happy I got to meet her. She also has the prettiest eyes and smile. She helped me tons with getting my sources and books. I likewise looked into the other classes’ main pages and instructors’ videos. I got some ideas from their way of explaining the final project. But still weren’t helpful enough for me to get all my words together… and then I decided to watch the video with Ted Nelson.

 

I am profoundly moved.  My eyes hurt a little bit, it could be the tears I almost cried by the end of the interview, or maybe it is just my lack of sleep and my eye bags hurting, who knows. I am stunned. I really liked the interview. I just want to hug Ted Nelson and tell him “Thank you for existing. You matter, and you are great.” I won’t say that I found similarities between me and this man, but the way he thinks and some of the things he said really stayed with me.  I would say that we share a pessimistic view on many things humanity is doing. Listening to him talking about philosophy moves me and sort of makes me wonder if I am a dreamer too, but I don’t think so. I am not that smart or clever. I always wanted to know as much as possible, though.

 

There is this desire for knowledge that I have every day. I honestly prefer the old way of going into a classroom and sitting for an hour or two listening to someone speaking. I learn from listening. It is easier for me than reading on my own from online notes.  It probably seems weird but listening and watching someone else talk and having a test rather than a paper is better for me in order to learn. It also depends.

I had this one general course this semester, Intro to World Cinema, and it was filled with different major students. I was one of the few truly interested in cinema. I was thrilled by the lack of engagement of most of the students, and I saw the same thing somewhat happening in this UNIV 200 class as well. I had my last Intro to World Cinema class on Tuesday. Our Italian professor told us that he was not going to be in the classroom for the last day of the exam. So by the end of the class I went to the front to talk to him, said thanks and wished him well. After that, I left.

As I was walking back home I thought about everyone just going away as quickly as they could from the classroom. Only a few of us remained. “The general courses no one really care of” I thought. And then I wondered, what do they care for? What do the rest of them care for? I hope for our own sake that every one of us cares for something. Maybe it is not movies but psychology, or, biology. I hope that at least if we are not that active and engaged in one class then in another one perhaps. But we should show our professors that we care about their class and about them. That is something that I‘ve thought for a while now. I think is important to communicate with them and let them know what we think. I’ve made friendships in the past with my professors. I think it’s important to express them gratitude, they put a lot of themselves in teaching a class and they only want the best for us, really. I thought about my Italian professor being kind of sad realizing no one was paying attention to him and thus letting us go early from class. That was the last class of the semester, and only a few stuck around. I remember he said a few times in the semester “Pay attention to details, not only in movies but in life too”. The only thing I could say now is that I listen and I observe. The more you observe the more you get/learn.

So I irremediably thought… “What do I care about? I don’t know”. I think I don’t care about anything. Don’t want to get too personal, but yes, I barely care about myself. But I wish one thing, I wish I had time to learn more things. I wish I knew more stuff. I wish I had more time and less homework. I despite homework, always. It is not my thing. Scholarly things, just, stress me. And I use to be curious and search on topics that I was interested in, and I remember one of my friends in high school once said “Have you ever notice how Karla knows a lot of stuff, but it is not useful stuff?” and as Ted Nelson mentioned in the interview, and I paraphrase him here: I wanted to know a lot of stuff just for my own sake, and not everyone always appreciates it.

I wish I could just write the paper and publish it. But I can’t, some part of me refuses because it stresses me so much. I wish I could just get anyone else to write it for me, I have all the information I have the ideas, I just need someone who knows English to do the writing part for me so I can have a successful grade. It took me almost a month to write an analysis on a short story by Jack London, now I am supposed to do an inquiry project and put it out there in the web before Saturday night. I swear, it is not that I am lazy or that I procrastinate, I swear it is not any of that, I am just to scared of writing and knowing that I will probably won’t suffice the expectations because that’s what I’ve been hearing since I wrote my firsts papers in English.

But anyways, I just wanted to reflect on all of my reactions to Ted Nelson’s interview, my thoughts on these last classes that I had during the week and share my thoughts with anyone who wants to read them. I admire Ted Nelson and he is definitely my favorite dreamer. I am glad I took this course. Although I didn’t understand it in the beginning I came to understand and learn many things from this course in these last few days. I would definitely recommend it to anyone that is open minded enough.  This course is very rewarding in many aspects, it also depends on what you make out of it, but I am glad I crossed paths with all of you. Lately I have found myself constantly reacting to my own early posts and changing attitudes I had initially towards this class in general. I find it so interesting that I was doing things I didn’t know where expected even before anyone told me about it and now I look at them proudly. I am proud of myself because I feel like I made the best out of this class. I am happy I got to talk to Dr. C of various topics; certainly one of the persons that encouraged me to keep going and not give up. If it wasn’t for this class I would have never heard of Ted Nelson, perhaps. And what he had to read for class, really impacted me and I feel like is important to keep in mind and try to change whatever we can change that is in our hands. My absolutely favorite thing Ted Nelson said that connects perfectly with movies and this class is this:

He compares the movies with software

You start with an idea of what you want in the script and then you attempt to do it. A movie is a series of a presentation on the screen that affect the heart and the mind of the viewer. Just like software, which affects our hearts and minds but with an interactive screen.

 

 

 

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2 comments on “Oceanic Mind

  • My guess, from reading your post, is that you’re suffering from summative assessment and teaching to the test.

    There’s no real interest in what you’re learning and could tell the world you’ve learned.
    No, you have to fit into the hole, put a square peg into a round hole. No matter what it’ll do to you, your enthusiasm, your personal style.
    That’s a shame in writing. Unless there’s some kind of message to get across and you’re talking gibberish, you should be free to express yourself in your way, and even when it turns out you’re writing poetry in an old Greec or old German way of writing with long sentences and many commas; so be it.
    But alas, that’s not what the course seems to be about. It’s about putting the peg in the hole and if you want to get the good grade you’ll have to force you, the square peg, into the round hole.
    If you need the grade, I’d say conform for the assessment but write down for yourself what it would have looked like in your personal style. Keep that for yourself until you graduate and take it out of the drawer then, read it many times and try to get the feeling back what it initially gave you. Then start from there and move on.

  • Karla, I wept when I read this. I know Ted would be very proud to know how deeply his words resonated with you.

    You are so much stronger than you can imagine. I look forward to seeing your project!

    Sincerely,
    Dr. C.

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