Understanding

I was thinking about our discussion from the last day of class. Mostly, I like to think about that discussion because it was so open and warm and emotional. It reminded me of the last day of summer camp::: it has been a long, long time since I experienced a “last day” in that way, so I find it pleasant to dwell in those moments. However, I have also been thinking about the course more topically, about what Noel asked on Wednesday::: “Did we ever answer the question of what counts as writing?” (loose paraphrase). And I thought about how we can never really answer that question. But deciding a question cannot be answered is not the same as deciding that a question is not worth asking. I have had similar thoughts again and again in graduate school. We write and think about how slippery language is. We write and think about how a certain conceptual model cannot account for everything. We are always pointing out what has been left out. But I did not really understand why incompleteness was so important before this class, even though I would regularly produce iterations of such thoughts via writing. Writing is one way in which we try to capture something as it slips away from us. Making things is another way to find something incompletely. In Alien Phenomenology, Ian Bogost quotes Edumund Husserl::: “A painting is only a likeness for a likeness-constituting consciousness.” We cannot define writing completely because we notice our inability to really define, and we also wonder if anything else that exists would try to define, in the ways that we do. If not, how much does definition actually do, in the scheme of the universe? And yet, we attempt to represent, to construct, to define. We take things apart and tell ourselves that we have discovered how they work. We know that we are looking at the smallest sliver of reality from the smallest sliver of reality that is our own consciousness. But those slivers have formed a relationship that did not exist before we embarked on that project. We live for the feeling of understanding a little bit more than we did before.

-Anna

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2 Responses to Understanding

  1. lines says:

    This is the most badass reflection I’ve read in a long time. We’ll miss you! Good luck at CMU.

  2. woodgrain says:

    I’m sad you’re leaving, which is dumb, because you’re only going about 100 yards away.

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