Friday, September 28, 2012

The World I Live in and Optimism

Both of my parents are handicapped.  They each treat their disabilities differently.  I found Helen Keller's attitude to resemble my mother.  They are both, loving optimistic women who find beauty in the world they live in.  My father on the other hand fills with anger at his own physical limitations on a daily basis.  I find it remarkable how differently people react to being "disabled."  I challenge you to think for a moment, how would you react to being "disabled"?  with grace, with anger, as a knew oppertunity?

I think eventually I would come around to accepting my knew way of life, but I know that there would be a long period of anger and resentment in which I would have to grapple with my lack of control.  

side note-
there is an artist (highly controversial at that) who went around asking blind people what they though the most beautiful thing they ever saw was? ....most blind people were not born that way.

There are ways in which people who are differently abled experience the world which differs from the abled body population.  For example Helen Keller's understanding of personality through each persons fingers on hers....What am i missing out by not having that intimate connection which each person I meet.  Think about it, what if every person I met I had to hold hands with to communicate.  How personal!  I also think of arguments or tense group meetings that I have had, in those situations I would have to be holding their hand while disagreeing with them...when now I am used to distancing myself and wanting to disengage. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Signing an iPetition

Today I signed an iPetition in order to allow Creative Writing to be considered by the Art & Design program and to support our Professor, Thylias Moss, in her effort. I had never heard of this idea before, in or our of class, but when Professor Moss came to us in earnest to us about this idea, I saw the reason in it. Right now, Creative Writing is only offered in the MFA program in English. The petition's aim is direct, to open up Creative Writing to Art & Design to allow students to also pursue degrees in that while in Creative Writing. I am in full support of my professor in her initiative as I believe this movement would be the first of its kind. Check out the link below and sign the petition!

Signing off. Ben

Project Maybe Start ish eh?

I've been struggling as to what I want to do for this class "project." While my tumblr has been a start, I think I don't want to just keep posting on there, and call the end result a "project," which was my original idea.
But now I think I want to write something. In one of my other classes we've read lots of work by William Blake, and this is the form in which I want to write. I guess in the end I want to have an "epic."

I've started to germinate a couple ideas, but the latest post on my tumblr, here, is the idea that I want to expand on the most. I want to try to tap into this "infiniteness" and "unity" of the universe. I want to expand beyond my senses and try to catch the things that have fallen between. The title "I Will Taste Light" really captures the general feel of how I want to write. Light has been traditionally used to represent truth, but also associated with only sight. Tasting light does not only represent my desire for truth in unity and infinity, but also attempts to mix my senses, to synthesize my perception of the universe. I also love the idea of anthropomorphizing nature. I like to think that I am no different from a tree, (read more) because we are made of the same things. The pieces that make up my mind and my body are no different than the pieces that make up a tree. This idea can also be extrapolated to apply to the entire universe, and I want to capture this somehow. The pictures on my tumblr are my attempt at finding non-traditional representations of trees and forests to keep inspiring the expansion of the branches in my mind.


Attention all concerned tines and all forkers --whoever you are and wherever you are: please consider signing an iPetition to offer Creative Writing at the University of Michigan in Art & Design --as well as in English!  Please spread the word!  and send this petition to everyone! 
Hey guys!

This is my first blog post for English 420, where we will examine the limited fork theory throughout the upcoming semester. I look forward to reading what each and every one of you has to say regarding your time here at the University of Michigan. To my knowledge thus far, limited fork represents the depth of knowledge available to a given individual. That is, each student is representative of a fork, and can absorb as much knowledge depending on what's out there. Relating back to the "fork", the theory is representative of "food for thought". In addition, the theory has the ability to connect new technologies in a transformative manner. Please let me know if I'm understanding all of this correctly! I could definitely afford to learn more and would love to hear what you have to say.


Journey Preparations

Hello all,

Just thought I'd let everyone know that I won't be in class this Wednesday, as I'll be in NYC looking at grad schools! It's been a lifelong dream of mine to visit NYC and the possibility of attending grad school there is absolutely thrilling.  I want to document and share this trip as best as possible to then include in my blog(s) and share.  I plan on taking my phone and laptop with me, so does anyone have any suggestions on how best to document my journey?

My class blog, finally!

Hi everyone! My apologies for being slightly absent and silent on this blog the past couple weeks. I have a natural preference for physical writing and journaling, so I have been keeping a physical journal of my thoughts and responses so far. I have begun posting the entries on my personal class blog, and will continue to do so throughout the semester. Follow me and reply to any of my posts as you wish! Here is the link to my blog. See you all in an hour!

Project Notes

Note to self: Remember!

Perhaps the concept of translation and mistranslation can play in my project hatching. Thylias told me about her experience of translating Spanish poetry when studying at Oberlin and there's an idea! What if in my course of mapping, I include the paths of mistranslation and other-translation? While I am currently in a Spanish class, I thought this idea might be interesting with my knowledge of Chinese. Although I grew up fluent, years of not speaking or reading it has caused it to deteriorate. What remains of this once fluent language? What would the decomposition of this knowledge look like

Rather than a crumbling building, I'd like to think of it as a more organic form. Maybe there is mold or moss growing in the spaces where knowledge once blossomed. If I retaught myself Chinese, would I not acknowledge the strange evolution that had been taking place? It's a re-education and not a rehabilitation.

I can still recite the poems and proverbs my grandmother made me memorize as a child. While I can poorly translate the gist of the poems, I have long forgotten the significance of the act of memorizing them. It's become a tongue-twister, like "Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers." I'm sure if you asked me to actually recite the poems, some words would be incorrect due to askewed inflections and pronunciations. That proves troublesome because Chinese, like most languages, depend on the inflections. I could either be saying, "Who am I?" or "I die water."

Friday, September 21, 2012

Weight and Boundaries

"In the limitless universe of his imagination he would not be punished for wanting the impossible. Why did the gods insist on limits and boundaries when any fool could see that these things were only rules and taboos -- customs made to keep people in their place? Rebellion was punished like this -- by taking away what little freedom there was, by encasing the spirit."

Boundaries. We establish them for ourselves, choose to abide by them for others, lean on them for structure, direction, guidance. What for? The only limitless behavior are our thoughts, our mind, and even then are we so structured to have to think about finance, about psychology, about law, about formulas, essays, tests. We write bucket lists because there are boundaries to our everyday actions. And as much as we talk about freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of expression, we are not. The visual limitlessness is right above us--there is nothing above us. But gravity holds us down to the confines of the earth, physics constricting our motion and norms constricting our behavior. Yet what puzzles me, and even troubles me, is that tomorrow, today, in an hour, I will continue to live by these boundaries, and abiding by the paths that I am already walking on. It is not that I think I do not have the potential--I do--but I cannot reach to no limit. None of us can reach to no limit. They say reach for the stars, but then the stars are the limit. There is so much beyond the stars, a universe we cannot grasp, cannot fathom, do not try. 

Reflections on Weight By Liz Ludwig

I lied back on my bed listening to my kindle methodicly announce each word precisely, and felt completely at ease.  The story of Atlas a familiar one, (from all of the times teachers have assigned it).  I lie there waiting excitedly wondering which part of the story she was going to change - also nervous knowing that i don't like change and that i might be saddened by some of her re-wrights.


This is how my heart functions.  It likes to know how the story is going to end.  I want to plan everything out and chose my own ending.  Do you remember those books that had "choose" your own endings, well I hated those because I could never read the same story twice.  With TV shows I am similar, I have only a few shows that I have seen...and seen all the way through...but i have watched them many times, they are comforting and soothing.  

reread not rewritten and yet even in the rereading of a familiar book, i get something new out of it.  I find something that had stayed on the page last time, and i am forced to acknowledge that it is indeed me that has changed.  Why then am I so scared of my own change and the change of my surroundings-it is the possibility of a devastating ending that my heart has had enough of and will not accept more of, yet- same time- it expects at every turn devastation, disappointment   
I have learned to fear and hate illness, disease, death, loss, movement, divorce, broken hearted....

yet, I have learned more, so much more from my life-and my mothers illness (all of the "positive" things-which I speak of often, I just don't talk about the "negative" ones because people don't want to hear the bad side, the hardship, they really just want to hear that you are doing fine, and to congratulate you for being so strong.) 


Yet, as the story unfolded I began to appreciate the updated language into moddern colloquial, much more easily understood.  I found I could not tell where she had REWRITTEN and where the origonal story differenshiated, my memoriy of Atlas's story has been rewritten in my memory as hers.


The scary truth is that my memory is so often rewritten, like a computer program, edited and updated.  There are memories of my as a child which I have only because my father has told them to me they are from his perspective and not my own, but they seem like a memory.  The most frequent one is due to emotional editing   Where I know that i have not seen the whole picture due to the colored film which my emotions have placed over a i try to remove that film to see more clearly what actually happened.  
Other times i do the opposite, and a situation latter becomes colored with an emotional film days later.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Reflections on: "Into The Garden With Charles" By: Liz Ludwig

This memoir was a safe haven for me.  It was like cuddling up in a fluffy cloud blanket of a rainy day.  It gave me hope and filled me with a safe kind of reliable love- in opposition to real life love and its unpredictable nature.  To help you understand why this story so touched me you will need to understand my mother a bit better.  She is 61 years old and a beautiful women.  She has been a plant lover and a loving person like the men in this romantic story are.  Almost every day she would find some beautiful flower to give to me, weather a whole vase full or a small flower and stem no larger than my finger.  I began to understand it as love, a live gift of love, something bigger than the two of us- spiritual and pure.
My mother has been sick with a neuro degenerative disease for the past 5 years and like the book mentions having an illness is as hard for the person who has it as for their care takers.  She is no longer the women that I remember from my childhood, with one foot in the door of the next world.  That's why i so dearly treasured this book, its words were my childhood love, untainted and immovable, yet like reality the pages moved forward and i was sad to see them go,
                                          I left with a memory of safety and love
into a world of uncertainty.

I myself and bisexual without a strong community of LGBT friends and so i took refuge in a world surrounded by gay couples and friends feeling normal and safe and loved.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

My introduction to Limited Fork Theory (remixed)

I have just begun to dive into limited fork theory and in many ways I find those ideas similar to some that I have had in my life. In terms of interconnectedness and exposing yourself to knew knowledge, I have always thought that it fascinating how individualized everyone's brains are because of how we decide to use our forks in such different ways in life -- to eat, indulge and feed ourselves through exposure and collaboration. I also think it interesting how all of that changes our perspectives and our mindsets in any given situation or opportunity. Thus, no one can ever be thinking the same exact thing as another person because they are influenced by completely different life experiences...but that is what makes us human and individuals.

At the same time, there is a mental interconnected that must be created through human nature and some kind of mental wiring between our brains. Whether it is the coils that connect our computers to Michigan's database or an electric sensing between our brains, we will never know but I am looking forward to exploring this more in class.

- Ben

A poem for the masses

                                Screen savers

                juxtaposed across blackened shadows
streams of light and borrowed atoms
                            sorrow fails to disrupt the clouds
      days of succumbing to open wounds
                                                                droplets terminate the desktop of pictures
    washed away in turbulent cries
                       glassy tips of twirling reduction
                     distinguished marks passing through 
                                                                   funneling carriage rides to darkness

                                                                                  burning pages before buried breathless

Age 7 in America

Yesterday I was watching a documentary called "Age 7 in America." Eight children --aged 7-- of various races and backgrounds from all over the country were interviewed about their very different lives. It was amazing to compare the answers of, for example, a caucasian girl from New York City attending one of the best private schools and an african american boy from the projects in Chicago. When asked if drugs and violence exist in their community, the girl was appalled and couldn't imagine such an idea, whereas the boy said he saw a man get shot in the eyeball just the other day as he was leaving for school.

This immediately reminded me of limited fork theory. We are all so affected by our backgrounds, whether or not we know it, and the things we are exposed to shape our view about the world. The only way to extend our knowledge-- or the tines of our fork-- is to get out and meet new people and experience new things. Even just by watching this documentary my fork has been elongated in ways I probably can't even consciously acknowledge.

Happy forking!
Here's a quote my mom shot my way yesterday:



I thought I'd share this in thinking about the part declaring all choices as experiences, not mistakes, and moreover, that mistakes are  beneficial things.  I think this could connect to what I've been focusing on about miscommunication and how it is not only beneficial, but perhaps essential.  I keep thinking more and more about this for my project, but I need some advice and/or brainstorming help. Could I maybe attempt to catalogue moments of miscommunication? Record them? Collect an assortment of various forms of miscommunication - the poem from my previous post, the "fake" word in my tumblr post, various autocorrects, and find a way in which to present them -- maybe even do this as though they are completely "normal"....In other words, create a "life scene" where all texts are only autocorrects, all language involves half-words, all editions of literature are different, containing unique errors...I'm thinking this could make a really awesome presentation in the form of a one act play! I would collect instances of "miscommunication" and then utilize them in the play! Thoughts????

Liz Ludwigs Blog...view and comment

cheers and love

New post on miscommunication

hey guys, here's another new blog post:

AND, here's a sampling of the post:

AWARING /əˈwerɪŋ / noun 1. the act of a person having knowledge and sharing it with himself and/or another person: What did Bill want? Oh, he was just awaring me that the shipment was going to come in a little late today. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


"To believe in the interweaving of all existence, is to sense all men in one man, the whole world in a grain of sand, eternity in a moment" -Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel This quote gets me thinking--what if one moment in my day didn't exist? Would I still end up where I am now? What if a moment had been replaced with another or altered in some way? Might I still think the same things I am thinking now? And if I am happy now, then do I owe my gratitude to every moment that has made up my life thus far?

Monday, September 17, 2012

My class blog

Hey guys! Here's my personal blog for the class I started today - I've never done a blog all on my own like this before, any advice to help me get the ball rolling?

Am I missing something?

“The coolness of a water-lily rounding into bloom is different from the coolness of an evening wind in summer, and different again from the coolness of the rain that soaks into the hearts of growing things and gives them life and body. The velvet of a rose is not that of a ripe peach or of a baby’s dimpled cheek. The hardness of a rock is to the hardness of wood what a man’s deep bass is to a woman’s voice when it is low. What I call beauty I find  in certain combinations of all these qualities, and is largely derived from the flow of curved and straight lines which is all over things” —Helen Keller
Beauty comes to me as easily as opening my eyes. It almost feels like I’m cheating. There is no effort in my appreciation of beauty. I see something, and I either find it beautiful or I don’t. There’s no conscious effort in the decision of beauty. This breeds the question: does there need to be effort in finding something beautiful? Is my idea of beauty less legitimate because I don’t have to reach out and touch something—because there is little effort in my observation of the universe? 
I'd like to think that maybe with some effort, I can find everything beautiful. Even a worm, as gross as it may seem at first, can still be beautiful. It lives in the earth and eats the dirt to make food for plants and trees that I find beautiful immediately. I have to just try and be mindful, and not take anything for face value, I guess?

First Class

First day in class! Wow, I am so pleased that joined this class. It is in such a wonderful setting, both inside and out. Looking around right now there is a coiled wire that seems to be connecting this computer to the outside world. It looks far too scientific but at the same....very very cool. Outside, I parked someone where I probably should not have parked but my worries soon dissipated when I began to look around at the beautiful scenery that surrounds us. I wanted to stop and take a picture of the fountains next to the Duderstadt but also wanted to get to class on time so I told myself I would capture the image on the way back. So far, I am really very very pleased with this class because it gives me a time and place to reflect on my other classes. Its a time to collect my thoughts, draw inspiration from my fellow classmates and my very insightful professor, and take time to think because life is oftentimes too busy to reflect and think about what we are doing on a day to day basis. I am glad that I am officially an author in this blog and that I can now begin this journey, this semester, in this class. Amen.


The walls in my room are covered in tapestries. I have two tapestries with trees covering my windows, a sun tapestry on my ceiling between me and the main room light, and  one more on my biggest wall. These tapestries are more than just adornments on my otherwise blank spaces.  They're a reminder of the beauty that can spring from the chaos and infinity of everything. 

If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro' narrow chinks of his cavern.

Jean Piaget, a developmental psychologist, has a model of development and learning. It employs three processes: Assimilation, Accommodation, Equilibrium. A quick explanation: When we are young, we have no schema of interpreting the world around us. What happens though is that we develop certain schema such as language to help interpret the things that we see around us. This schema is at its basest a certain pattern of firings between neurons in your brain. So when we see a tree, a certain series of neurons go off, and we recognize it as a tree; we have assimilated that perception of tree into our previous schema of "tree." If we perceive something that doesn't fit into any of our old patterns, we have to accomodate, or make a new pattern. After the accommodation is made, we reach equilibrium. 

I hate this theory. I don't want to put everything I see into boxes that I've previously made. I like to think that everything is a unique tapestry. The patterns of my perception are new every second; the tapestry of my existence is constantly being adjusted and changed. I want to open the way that I think and see.  I don't want to be imprisoned by schema of my own creation. I want to free myself from it. I want to feel sound, and taste light. 

Lies that life is black and white
Spoke from my skull. I dreamed
Romantic facts of musketeers
Foundationed deep, somehow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now


I've been thinking quite a bit about the connection/disconnect between thought and perception - like what Sid mentioned in the end of his last post.

I'm currently taking a class on verse-speaking through the RC.  It's better described as an independent study, as the class consists of two students working on the reading and then performance of various poems.  Our last assignment was to find an Edgar Allen Poe poem of our choice and to prepare it for presentation.  I selected "A Valentine," which I found particularly cool due to the hidden message in the poem - start at the first line first letter, second line second letter, etc. until the end and it spells out the full name of the woman to whom Poe was writing the poem - neat, eh?

As I performed the poem, my prof followed along in a collected works of Poe he had on hand. Throughout the reading, he kept giving me bizzarre looks (granted, he is a theater prof with dramatic facial expressions).  When I finished, he brought his copy of the poem over to compare to mine.  My version was riddled with typos, errors, or different words altogether which, consequently, led to a very different presentation of the poem.

In truth, this occurred because it was an entirely different poem.  Then I began to wonder, who owned this new poem? That is, the "incorrect" one I found online.  Then I realized there had to be a third poem - a mid tine poem - the poem that was spoken by me and heard/perceived by my prof.  This poem that only existed once, in that very first instant that I performed the poem (without knowing it differed from the original by Poe) and my prof heard it (expecting the original by Poe).

This "mistake" became alive and then was...lost...?

I'm curious about this unique realm of perception and limited creation.  I wonder if my project could somehow involve delving deeper into this...though I'm not entirely sure how....thoughts? comments? suggestions?

Here are the two versions of the poems (sorry, the "third" poem can't be captured and typed :) )

Version 1 - the "incorrect" one

A Valentine

For her this rhyme is penned, whose luminous eyes,
Brightly expressive as the twins of Leda,
Shall find her own sweet name, that nestling lies
Upon the page, enwrapped from every reader.
Search narrowly the lines!- they hold a treasure
Divine- a talisman- an amulet
That must be worn at heart. Search well the measure-
The words- the syllables! Do not forget
The trivialest point, or you may lose your labor
And yet there is in this no Gordian knot
Which one might not undo without a sabre,
If one could merely comprehend the plot.
Enwritten upon the leaf where now are peering
Eyes scintillating soul, there lie perdus
Three eloquent words oft uttered in the hearing
Of poets, by poets- as the name is a poet's, too,
Its letters, although naturally lying
Like the knight Pinto- Mendez Ferdinando-
Still form a synonym for Truth- Cease trying!
You will not read the riddle, though you do the best you can do. 
Edgar Allan Poe


Version 2 - the "correct" one 

A Valentine

For her this rhyme is penned, whose luminous eyes,
     Brightly expressive as the twins of Leda,
Shall find her own sweet name, that, nestling lies
     Upon the page, enwrapped from every reader.
Search narrowly the lines! – they hold a treasure
     Divine – a talisman – an amulet
That must be worn at heart. Search well the measure –
     The words – they syllables! Do not forget
The trivialest point, or you may lose your labor!
     And yet there is in this no Gordian knot
Which one might not undo without a sabre,
     If one could merely comprehend the plot.
Enwritten upon the leaf where now are peering
     Eyes scintillating soul, there lie perdus
Three eloquent words oft uttered in the hearing
     Of poets, by poets – as the name is a poet’s too.
Its letters, although naturally lying
     Like the knight Pinto – Mendez Ferdinando –
Still form a synonym for Truth – Cease trying!
     You will not read the riddle, though you do the best you can do.

-Edgar Allen Poe 

Project Sparking

After reading Dalia's response to Weight, I think I might have the seeds to a project. Trying to understand wholeness, I've become attached to the idea of the multidimensional. In response to Dalia's post, I replied:

The way I see how stories are, in their wholeness, likens to the concept of counting. We can count from 1 to 3 and know that a 2 is between them. However, when we begin to acknowledge the infinite numbers between 1 and 3 with the introduction of a decimal point... I guess that's when things get interesting. We could spend a whole life time recording those numbers and never be close to its infinity.

Enumeration of Cantor's Diagonal Argument, Image: Guillermo Martínez
The concept of an infinity existing in a (seemingly) finite space confuses and fascinates me. I'm obviously not the first to find it beautiful. The mathematician Georg Cantor published his proof of the diagonal argument in 1891 illustrating and describing these numbers as "uncountable." You really can find poetry in anything, but like my friend once said, "Everything can be poetry, but not everything is poetry." Maybe we are tasked with finding poetry in the density of things. I like to think of curiosity as such. It seems that I need to read up on mathematics concepts to make some more (other) sense. Something I really appreciate in empirical studies are their often boring diagrams and charts. For me, it makes more sense to visually see ideas rather than getting lost in foreign vocabularies. Infographics have become more popularized now that they're featured in the New York Times. These graphs require the proper ratio of the quantitative and visual. It's a serious art form, study of design, and, really, psychology.

Mark Lombardi, Chicago Outfit and Satellite Regimes
c. graphite on paper, 48 1 / 8 x 96 5 / 8 inches, Image: Francesco Franchi
Luckily, I have a collection of books, still unread, or partially read. My study of design has inspired my affinity for Edward Tufte, a statistician and designer of information visualizations. I recently revisited his book, Envisioning Information, for an astronomy class (that's been way over my head). It seems like nothing short of necessary to make sense of , or interpret, information. It's like blinking; we do it without realizing when, where, and how we're doing it.  I'm interested in how we tangibly visualize our connections. I think I'll test out how far I can take this mind-mapping and research the Method of Ioci, the memory palace. I recall Mark Lombardi, an artist who specializes in mapping conspiracy theories.  It may be the obsessive compulsive tendencies talking, but his maps are so clean and orderly. Ideas are messy.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Project Thought 1

In regard to my last post, I have begun to brew ideas for a project for this course. "I want to tell the story again. Tomorrow. The next day. Next week. Next year. Because each of them are different--I rewrite my life for every second that I am." Perhaps I will document how I choose to define myself, or characterize myself, everyday. I will document the me time that I spend, that works to contribute to my story. Perhaps I will paint, perhaps I will laugh. Perhaps I will do nothing for myself. Each documentation will be a picture--some will be full, some will be blank. And this sequence of photos, for the sake of telling my own story, will tell a story in itself, of the semester--of my progress as a person. Again, just an idea. Thoughts? Suggestions?

My first thoughts about Weight

I think about time a lot, exploring the ambiguity of it in my endeavors to analyze how we choose to spend each second we have. Yet Jeanette Winterson brought up the concept of the story, the concept that we don't necessarily 'have' seconds. Time is not a possession, a measure, a number. Time is a process. And it is this process, this story, that I began to think about this summer. Everyone has a story. How then, do we delve into the story that makes up the person standing next to you? In front of you? Behind you? We believe our experiences to be shared, yet our stories cannot be. In the context of our story, an experience has an infinite spectrum of value, of significance. What Winterson was able to shed light on was the power that telling a story, perhaps told again, perhaps rewritten, can have on our perceptions. Your story is my story rewritten. It is here that I began to make the connection to Limited Fork Theory. This idea of infinitely unique stories--the extended fork--is bounded by the finite experiences we share with those around us--the limit. We do, however, have the opportunity to gain knowledge for ourselves particularly about the people around us, working to understand the stories that undermine each of our characters. Each of you reading this has value, in many different ways to many different people; in acknowledging that, how many of my story exist? Which one is correct? Are any of them defined or correct? I want to tell the story again. Tomorrow. The next day. Next week. Next year. Because each of them are different--I rewrite my life for every second that I am.

Excerpts from Into the Garden

Skip and Rover, Photo Credit: Debra Prinzing,
Photographer: Charles Dean
I'll admit I had mixed feelings about electronic books, but after reading a few novels (and even textbooks for classes),  it's growing on me. It's nice not carrying a brick load of books. Over the weekend, I finished reading Into the Garden with Charles: A Memoir. I guess I'll share a few of the things I highlighted:

"I had no idea what I was doing, only an image in my mind of the effect I wanted."

This is an accurate description of my attitude, or feelings, in general. I think it's especially true because I'm a student, in the academia sense. Something that drives me crazy about the art & design program is its lack of technical training, and over-emphasis on concept. This line reminds me of the frustration I encountered when I couldn't externalize a physical representation of what it was I saw in my head. It's like pouring oil in an eyedropper without a very small funnel. My end product would just piss me off because it looked nothing like I imagined. It was a mess beyond the compromise of time, knowledge, and skill.  It's something like a compulsion, ideas. No one likes to be bloated with ideas. What are ideas when they're stuffed in a closet?

"Hoeing, mowing, and composting, I turned fifty without noticing how I had gotten there, paying more attention to my trees and shrubs than to myself, only to realize one day that I was at that point in my life where I had more past than future."

This is probably related to my premature post-grad anxiety, but I almost wanted to cry when I read this. The idea of being so young, but feeling so old scares me. I hate those moments when you see your parents and realize they're getting old. This might sound stupid because, of course, aging is inevitable. I'm not convinced that feeling like "you have more past than future" is purely related to age. I think it has more to do with ambition and your confidence in, at least, trying. 

Maira Kalman, Image Credit: Strand Book Store, Illustration: Maira Kalman

"I had no intention of ever finishing the painting. [...] The pictures I had in my mind were of mature gardens, generations old and somewhat untended, overgrown nearly to wildness. I wanted to see this in my lifetime."

Nothing is finished. Ever.

" 'Anything can happen in a garden.' He went back to sleep."

I really enjoyed how the idea was followed by "He went back to sleep." It reminds of the things you say (or in my case, do) before falling asleep, probably in a half-sleep already. For example, before falling asleep, I click my teeth a few times as if I'm cold. I only learned this three years ago because my boyfriend had noticed it. I'm not sure what it means scientifically, but I like to imagine it's my way of clicking my heels three times and saying "There's no place like [dreaming]." 

"He didn't get the name exactly right because of his slight dyslexia, and this made me smile. I liked his version better."

There are different versions of everything, like diversions (DI-versions). Is it more accurate to call them panversions? On a side note, Sometimes I like being sentimental. The book was easier to read because I enjoyed the cute romance. 

A few excerpts on time, I'm still trying to piece out:

"Time repeats in endless cycles of growth and death, patterns full of surprise and beauty, no matter how fleeting. The future is sun after rain, no more than that and all of that. [...] When I was a child, a summer day seemed a whole year long. No matter how many ways I found to entertain myself, from mornings bicycling to evenings chasing fireflies in our Riverdale backyard, there always seemed to be more time left to fill. Now my days go by so quickly, and my list of chores is so long, I can't find enough time."

"I no longer trusted the measuring of time in standard units. Time had morphed into a multifaceted, palpitating, unfamiliar entity, continually reconfiguring, sometimes welcoming, often frightening."

By the way, I included this illustration of Maira Kalman because it just reminded me of the photo of Skip and Rover. Something about Skip's character made me think of Maira's whimsy.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Thought vs. Perception

In class on Monday, Thylias spoke about recovering from her aneurysm. I don't quite know exactly what she said, but she had mentioned something to the effect that she was somewhat rebuilt by those closest to her—from their memories of her. This reminded me of something I had heard in another one of my other classes, about how thought brings objects and people out of their "natural" place. In effect, thinking about someone or something brings it to life before you. The experience may not be as genuine as actually seeing that object or person, but really what's the difference? I tried to experiment with this notion. I thought of one of my favorite songs, but instead of remembering the associations I have with the song, I tried to hear the song in my head. I didn't expect it, but the emotions that were elicited when I normally listen to the song were still brought forth despite not actually hearing the song. Then I thought about applying this to people, to rebuild them for myself, in order to re-feel old familiar emotions. The process inspired this poem:
(this is the tumblr that i've started for this class, click on I am a tree at the top left to see the rest of my posts, and follow if you want)

Is there really a difference between thought and perception? Can a memory of something or someone be just as effective as the actual experience of that person or object? Let me know what y'all think.

New Space = New Possibilities

The tour in class today really opened my eyes up to the jaw dropping multitude of resources available to us, not only in the DL1 classroom, but throughout the building itself. I'm already feeling the very beginnings of new ideas about utilizing these resources percolate somewhere in the depths of my brain. I'm particularly fascinated by the green screen.

For me, TV, video, the internet, etc. have always felt like another reality of sorts.  This is especially true of the internet.  I can spend my whole day online, browsing websites, writing blog posts, updating my etsy shop, yet - none of it is tangibly real.  The closest I can come to actually "holding" or "touching" the internet is happening right now as my fingertips pound away at the keys on my well-loved MacBook.

I'm curious about the way a green screen can "create" a reality in front of us that we can see, but can't touch. In this way, it seems like a very isolated, singular form of the internet that one can tailor make an alter to suit their desires.  This seems to me to be an attempt for us to move beyond the confines of the limited fork - to stretch farther to a realm that can be seen, but not felt - that can be altered, but not experienced.

Does anyone else agree/disagree with this?

Comparing Spaces as Glitch

It’s safe to say that I definitely prefer DL1 over 2449 Mason Hall. In comparing my trek to class, I prefer DL1. I don’t mind taking the bus because riding the bus is peaceful. Meanwhile, walking in large open public spaces, like Central Campus, makes me nervous because I have social anxiety. My fear of the Diag’s stifling mob is probably irrational. North Campus just feels less claustrophobic; it’s surrounded by trees. The trees on Central Campus appear unnatural to me. It’s as if the buildings came first, then we erected these trees to make the buildings seem less artificial. That’s why the squirrels act so strange; they’re really aliens.

Despite being on campus for 3+ years, I still get confused about where Angell, Mason, and Tisch are. After all, it's one enormous building. I also find it odd that you have to walk up a flight of stairs to be on “the first floor" because the ground level is labeled as “the lobby.” When comparing the names of the two spaces, DL1 is just easier to remember than 2449 Mason Hall. DL1 demands its own authority because it’s the Design Lab; there is only one Design Lab and it’s in the Duderstadt. 2449 Mason Hall, however, is just another room, a cubicle on the second floor of Mason Hall in the colossus that is the Angell Hall building. That was a mouthful.

Sometimes I feel like I'm cold blooded because I’m extremely susceptible to temperature. I get hot too easily. I get cold too easily. If asked to choose between living in the Caribbean Islands or the Arctic Circle, however, I would pick the latter. You can always put more layers on, but you can’t really strip off your skin. What I’m trying to say is “I would rather be cold in DL1 than awkwardly sweating in 2449.”

There’s also more to look at in DL1. People-watching through the glass wall beats staring at white walls. I think it allows us to productively space out. Maybe it’s more accurate to say think non-linearly. As a consequence, DL1 functions as a tangential learning space. An analogy that best describes my understanding of learning in the two spaces involves the concept of glitchr art, creative expression translated from digital malfunctions and errors. If DL1 is glitchr art, 2449 Mason Hall is a glitch. If I’m not making sense, this video might help.

The artist, on Vimeo, describes the piece as such:
The video captures an episode of the popular TV show in the act of being shared by thousands of users on bittorent. The video simultaneously acts as a visualisation of bittorrent traffic and the practice of filesharing and is an aesthetically beautiful by product of the bittorrent process as the pieces of the original file are rearranged and reconfigured into a new transitory in-between state.It also avoids infringing the copyright of Madmen as it is incomplete.

A New Space

I really like the space on North Campus. I've never really spent much time up there, and it's nice change of pace. It poses as a great time to pause from my normal routine and take in a really beautiful campus, bustling with people I've never met. I'm not quite sure about the full extent of capabilities the DL1 has to offer yet, but I'm sure these will become more and more clear as we continue to meet. While it requires slightly more effort to get to North Campus, this doesn't particularly bother me because I have a car-- in fact, driving 10 minutes in the winter will probably be much preferred than walking the 10 minutes from my house to central campus when its so cold. The only real concern I have is making it to my commitments back on central campus on time, but overall I'm excited to see all that this lab has to offer!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


I vote for DL1, and have been voting for it for several years. Here's why:
North campus is far more beautiful than central campus. Of course it does help that my classes are all on North Campus, but I prefer it that way regardless. DL1 also has amazing resources. Every program, device, and machine you might need to explore the technological world is at your fingertips and free of charge! When else in your life (unless you become a professor, I suppose) will you ever have all of these things again? And what better place for a course centered around technology? More important than the technological resources though, are the human resources. DL1 is set up for collaboration, because of the diverse occupants that utilize and share the space. This also makes it an ideal place to be inspired, because of the vast variety of projects and ideas that are cultivated inside its walls. Mason Hall, on the other hand, has nothing spectacular about it except, perhaps, for its proximity to some delicious eating establishments. Anyone else agree? 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Mason Hall or DL1??

Decisions, decisions........

Issue 1: Convenience

If I focused solely on this issue, it would be a no-brainer: I would choose Mason Hall. I happen to have class right after our class so it would be easier and more convenient if I had this class on Central Campus as opposed to North Campus.

Issue 2: Originality and Novelty

This issue highlights the coolness of the Duderstadt classroom. I have never had a class on North Campus so this is something new and exciting. The room is extremely hip and different, and thus it would be awesome to experience this new space.

Either way, either room, I am SO excited for this class and excited to embark on this incredible journey with Forker Girl and my classmates.


Limited Fork Never Left!

Nervous system tines in neck and brain aneurysms. Coloured coronal magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) scan of aneurysm swellings in the neck and brain arteries of a 37-year-old patient. 


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Welcome Tines!  Now you are forkers! 

--whatever you were before!

Please compare DL1:  

What do you notice about DL1 as a learning space?  

Which space do you prefer? --and why?

Please compare and contrast DL1 in the Duderstadt Center with 2449 Mason Hall.

Please feel free to add pictures!  --this is a form of attendance!