Paying Attention (with Dave and Sue) Benjamin O'Brien; bbbbenny_andthe_jetssss; mage; Journey Log 1; Section 037

I decided to visualize my own interpretation of ‘Paying Attention’ by making a video. Dave and Sue have opposite outlooks on life. Dave is always on his phone and misses everything that happens in the world, while Sue notices each and every detail. The idea of failure is embodied by Dave, as he fails to truly notice the world he lives in. He spends his time in some virtual reality that his devices allow him to create for himself and has no real connection to any part of the outside world. Dave is your typical Metanoia kind of person. He does not even realize the opportunities that he is missing. Sue is much more like Kairos. With her deep appreciation of the world and attention to detail, she is sure to seize each and every opportunity she encounters.

While I am definitely a sentimental type who takes the time to reflect and has the curiosity to dig deeper, I still miss plenty of opportunities. In fact, some of my reflecting is on opportunities I let pass me by and why things may have turned out as such. The characters in my video are meant to show a black and white. People, myself included, are the gray that lies in the middle. We fail and we succeed, and we take notice and miss things completely. I had to fail many times in the making of this video. These failures were very small, fixable mistakes; the trial and error that comes with using a program for the first time. I had no idea how to use Premiere Pro, which made the making of this video quite time consuming. All that matters is that I have a finished product that I am happy with, proving that I overcame my tiny failures and reached success.

Journey Log 2

Improvisation

Each note follows the next

as if carefully thought out.

I sit. I listen. Deeply perplexed,

as in my mind there exists and inspiration drought.

White key, black key, black key, white key

No music to follow, a song no one could know.

Yet, nonetheless, each finger knows exactly at which key it would like to be,

precisely how long each note should bellow

I have tried this before,

which is why I sit in wonder.

My fingers know not which notes to score,

nor which keys to strike, how long to hold. I blunder,

occasionally strike the narrow space between keys, a sound of horror.

Though one day I sit. I focus.

The notes come to me like a swarm of locusts.

I have done it! I have created a song!

Now I struggle to find words with which to sing along.

A battle for another day, I suppose.

Hardly much more than meaningful prose.

This poem is in a way a reflection of "Superman and Me" by Sherman Alexie. I try to convey the frustration of improvisation and writing music that comes from personal experience. I very similarly had the defeated attitude that the young Native Americans did in Alexie's essay. I hardly would even try to write any sort of music whatsoever. Like in the poem, I refused to understand how musicians could rattle off notes with no thought at all. Although finally, one day, I sat down in front of my piano, focused, and developed a small tune that I found actually decent. It was in no way as difficult as I thought. Music has always been something that I have been good at. I rarely had a defeatist attitude and would teach myself to play anything I desired. Like Alexie, I could not figure out why others around me had a defeated attitude toward music, passing it off as something they could never do. Little did they know that if they were to try, they may surprise themselves. Below is a short sound byte of what I came up with.

Un

An addition that takes away

The opposite of what lies ahead

Two letters exactly the same

though unifyingly different

Twice reflected over an external axis

This seemingly unrelated conjunction

between form and function

Uncanny irony unknown by many

Unnoticed even

Who has such unnecessary thoughts

about something so unimportant

as two unconnected letters anyway?

Maybe more people should act less unaware

because those who focus on the un

can begin to figure out how to use it

remove it

Become unchained

separate themselves from the unthoughtful

the unproductive, the unhelpful, the unpleasant

They can stop being unhappy

stop feeling unsuited

Embrace all that is unusual, unnatural

This, undeniably, is what is necessary

to unplug, unwind, and enjoy

this unconceivable world.

This poem was inspired by the idea of unlearning, introduced in 'Beginning' in Habits of the Creative Mind. I looked at the prefix un and really analyzed it in a way I never have before. I rarely think about why words are the way they are unless they are obviously foreign or especially strange. In a way, this poem echoes the unlearning process, calling for humanity to take notice and break free from what is already known or thought possible. The poem really exclaims that life can really be lived if one lets go of what is defined, but if one were to really think, definitions and facts only exist to be disproved. This idea is stolen from a Theory of Knowledge class I took in high school where we watched a video that facts are never proven true, they just have yet to be proven false. This directly applies to life. Very little in the world is defined and everything is constantly waiting to be disproved, changed, improved. Sometimes it is necessary to forget the old entirely and completely reimagine something from the ground up in order to reinvent it.

The idea of unlearning and beginning is relevant this week and onward as we begin to look at our monster essays. This class constantly calls for students to break free from the five paragraph essay, unlearn every convention that defines it. I have had little experience outside of the five paragraph essay, although I enjoy doing things differently so this could really be a place for me to shine. I also hate writing conclusions because I can never get them right without repeating what I have already said. This is an issue because in writing, I say something exactly the way I want to say it and any other iteration simply will not do. Conclusions force me to say what I have already stated in a lesser way than before. I am looking forward to letting go of conclusions in place of more poetic, less repetitive endings.

This week had everything to do with exploring, as research is exploring a new topic in depth. I chose to research Slender Man as my topic and after doing some 'exploring' I have found information that was genuinely interesting and, at times, shocking. This surprised me as I generally associate research with long hours of extreme bordom and frustration.

Research for Slender Man was easier than expected. A good bit has been written about him because he is, in a sense, the first of his kind and therefore an area of focus. Specifically, he relates to human behavior and story telling in the digital age. Slender Man is the first solid case where an entity was created online and erupted into something huge. Slender Man got so well known that people began to believe he truly existed, causing two young girls to stab their friend 19 times in an attempt to kill her.

Ultimately through this exploring process I learned how to skim through sources and find good information. This was something that I've never been any good at, as I generally read every word. I am not a fast reader so long sources can be overwhelming, but now that I've practiced skimming more it is easier to approach.

This week I made the decision to stray from my typical drawing or poem, deciding instead to dive into some modern, new age, meme art. I used a meme generator to create this meme relating to rhetoric. The image is a snapshot of the famous Star Wars line, "These are not the droids you are looking for," said by Obi-Wan Kenobi. This image perfectly embodies Plato's quote on rhetoric, which says, "Rhetoric is the art of ruling the minds of men." With this quote in my head, I thought to myself, 'What else deals with ruling the minds of men?' A classic Jedi mind trick, of course! This is why overlaying the image of Obi-Wan, are the words, "Rhetoric at its finest." This art of persuasion differs from rhetoric in language in the sense that Obi-Wan is literally and directly influencing the mind of the storm trooper.

Rhetoric is not so different from formulating an argument. In fact, the two go hand in hand. One must use rhetoric to present an argument, thinking about how he should present his information depending on his audience. As said in the Clemson video we were assigned to watch this week, rhetoric is not the art of bullshit. This misconception is tragic, as it leads people to believe that they shouldn't use rhetoric, when, in fact, it's crucial to daily life and getting what one wants and needs. I assume that the idea of rhetoric has been tainted mostly with unfulfilled political claims, followed by the media marking such tactics as rhetoric.

I have never been very good at persuading anybody, which means I must not take the time to evaluate my audience enough to be able to present my desires in such a way that they get on board with me. That being said, I am better at formulating an argument on paper with an ample amount of time than formulating an argument on the spot as words are coming out of my mouth. I will have to test my rhetoric and argumentative abilities in the coming weeks as this monster paper is written and finalized. To present my argument, I will suggest ideas about Slender Man and his social impact and then proceed to back up those claims with actual evidence or proof. Audience matters less with this paper, although it is important that I assume the reader has no knowledge of Slender Man whatsoever.

This week I decided to draw a time machine for my journey Log because I wish I could go back in time. The reason for this being that I did not manage my time at all this past week. I put off doing the rough draft for my research paper and studying for my biology test until yesterday (March 6). Not only that but my brother is visiting to see what college life is like so added distractions didn't help.

I am using the habit of mind 'planning and replanning' this week for obvious reasons. I should have made a plan for my research paper so that I could get a little done each day instead of letting it hang over me until the day before it was due. Planning and replanning would have allowed me to have more time to study for biology and more time to sleep, because 2 hours doesn't cut it for a good night's rest. When the final paper is due I plan on making a plan and replanning if that fails me. The quick thinking, no time planning may or may not have worked for me but only time will tell.

Diverging Is

Diverging is a sort of pivot. It's when you try something one way, fail, and then take another path.

Diverging is to keep moving forward, but in a different direction. It's not stopping. It's not moving backwards.

Diverging is taking a leap of faith, risking everything to be different.

Diverging is making the best of failure. It's not wallowing in pride.

Companies diverge to save themselves.

Comedians diverge to turn boos into laughs.

Politicians diverge to appeal to the public and avoid embarrassment.

Writers diverge to break free from the chains of conventions.

Diverging is doing something unexpected. The results could lead to more diverging, but if they succeed, unimaginable spoils.

I wrote Diverging Is with no real direction so I guess you could say I, myself was diverging at every word, every line. It was going to be a short story but then somehow became a sort of free form poem. Diverging reminded me of the classic business pivot where when one way isn't working, a company will do a complete 180 into something completely different, yet still slightly related. The show Silicon Valley comes to mind when I think of this.

I am going to pivot or diverge from the way that I approach large assignments this week. Instead of taking them all at once and facing them like a mountain, I am going to try to do a little each day so that overall, it seems like less. Specifically I am talking about the research paper. Half of it is technically written (needs to be revised, of course) so there is less already. If I take it a little at a time I think my head will be more clear and less anxious. I will be able to produce better writing as a result. If this divergence fails me then I must diverge again.

For this week's Journey Log I decided to draw a picture related to Minecraft since the rest of the semester essentially takes place there. I couldn't figure out what to draw so I thought about my experiences with Minecraft and how I could put that on paper. Finally, I came up with a sort of parody of the Minecraft logo. It says 'Mindlesscraft' because when I was playing Minecraft this weekend to work on Raid 7, it just felt so mindless laying block after block after block. This does not mean I didn't enjoy it, there were just times where it felt that any other program could do exactly the same thing that is taking me hours in mere seconds.

Minecraft is completely new to me. I didn't even play it during my childhood as much of my generation did. This perfectly parallels the habit of mind, Beginning. When learning how to play Minecraft, the controls are quite simple and one can pick it up almost instantly. Sure, the wrong button is pressed every so often, causing hesitation and ultimately slowing down the speed of the game, but this in no way hinders gameplay. Beginning is about learning. For Minecraft, I have been learning as I go. I learned through the frustration of incorrect taps on a trackpad that I really needed a mouse to simplify the game, so I got one. Once I had a mouse, things went a lot smoother. I could build more quickly and was generally less frustrated. I would move back, click frantically to place blocks and move back again and click again and so on. Eventually I learned, adapted really, and realized that I could press and hold S to move backwards and press and hold right click on the mouse to place blocks. Constant movement and constant placing proved to be the fastest way to build.

This is where the mindlessness comes in. I laid down stone slabs in a 100x100 sheet. It legitimately took me about 2 hours to lay these slabs down. Every endless rainstorm and every damn pig in my way really started to piss me off. I got to the point where I went on a killing spree to get rid of those damn animals but they kept respawning in the middle of my 100x100 stone area I was trying to build. At that point I just said screw it and let them be, killing each one that got in my way. I was also frustrated with the fact that it had to be block by block. The fact that there was no fill tool to rapidly fill a space with blocks or command-Z to undo in case I made a mistake (like there is in the Adobe programs I'm used to using) aggravated me. This was all part of Beginning something new, learning the rules and what does and doesn't apply. As I continue to play the game I am sure I will learn and adapt further, but for now, I'll slowly manipulate my structure into being in ways that are probably unconventional. But that's the best I can do for now.

Note: I know that the drawing doesn't look like much, but I promise you it took me a long time as there was so much detail to add.

For my last journey Log I decided to do a concrete poem of me in two weeks. It didn't end up looking very proportions or accurate at all but it's a concrete poem so I guess it can be whatever it wants to be. My habit of mind this week is planning and replanning (or lack thereof) because in the summer you plan and replanning every day on a small scale. You can plan to do nothing and then replan it the next day too. It's really quite wonderful. You don't have to do any work other than your job which never has homework so it's no big deal. Plus you get paid for it. The words I used in this poem are tan when drawing my skin, Hawaiian shirt when drawing my shirt, bathing suit when drawing my bathing suit, and sunglasses, flip flops, buttons, drawstring, and smile. I haven't done a concrete poem since maybe 6th grade so I thought that it would be a nice blast from the past as well as a good way to express summer. I also used my OG (original) nameplate because I thought it would be "poetic" to use something from the beginning of the semester in an assignment for the end of the semester.

In all seriousness I will be doing a lot of planning and replanning this summer as my brothers and I start to figure out what we are going to be doing on our two week brother bonding Europe trip. We are trying not to break our wallets in the process so constantly checking prices and buying at the right time is our best way to go about things. It's exhausting but works to some end. We have our plane tickets but still have a lot of planning to do before we get there.

Reflection

After rereading the journey logs I completed for this course, I honestly wouldn’t say that I have changed much. I’d like to say that I have but I’d rather be honest. I think this is because the way this class is set up is particularly catered to me, not because it is all about gaming (as I’ve never really been much of a gamer in the first place), but because this class values creativity and execution. Creativity and execution are some of my strongest attributes. Also, I have always considered myself to be a good writer. My high school taught me well and I think my general creativity has helped me with finding unique word choice and sentences that work well and leave a profound effect on the reader. I list execution as an attribute because when given enough time, I feel that I am able to collect my thoughts, put something together, and execute the assignment in the form of a finished product to the best of my ability. The standards I hold myself to and my general perfectionism and meticulous nature ensure that my best ability is at the very least presentable. It is hard for me to do something halfway so I end up taking way too much time on something someone else would do quickly and roughly. If I were to argue that I changed to any degree over the semester, I would say that I finally got the hang of Minecraft and have more so freed myself from the shackles of the five paragraph essay.

The four most important habits of mind for me have to be ‘Beginning,’ ‘Diverging,’ ‘Paying Attention,’ and ‘Reflecting.’ Beginning is obviously crucial for success and advancement in life. You have to start somewhere to get somewhere. I have learned though that beginning is so much more than just starting. Beginning is about unlearning what you already know, unraveling yourself and then rewiring yourself in a way that is new and better. You may learn a new skill but have to backtrack and break what you know and are used to. Joining the working environment is the biggest place I see ‘Beginning’ coming in handy. I hear so many stories about people getting to their job only to hear their boss tell them to forget everything they learned in college, that they wouldn’t need it anymore. Luckily, I doubt that will be the case for me with my major, as it is so specific already and I will essentially be getting hired for my knowledge of packaging. The idea of beginning will be most important in my life in the sense that I will need to push myself to begin and try new things so that I don’t get stuck in my ways and become stagnant.

Diverging goes hand in hand with beginning and is just as important to success in life. So many people are afraid of change, but change is so important because it is the only way that people can better themselves. Diverging is a sort of risk taking. There is no way of knowing what lies down that path to change because no one has gone down that road before. It is as exciting as it is terrifying, but it is so necessary for a full life. This may be something that I struggle with, as I have a lot of particularities, but if I push myself, I know that I can succeed. Yes, some people change for the worst, but this is because they aren’t paying attention and choose the wrong path.

Paying attention is a constant life factor that must be infused with all other habits of mind. It is important because many things in life must be approached with caution, with the exception of a few things where one really needs to just jump in without any thought. Paying attention is weighing the pros and cons, seeing every possible outcome before making a decision. At the same time, paying attention is sitting back and noticing the small things that one may pass by unsuspectingly in day-to-day life. Having a greater appreciation for the world around us can make us feel happier and fuller about where we are in our lives. It is important to stop for a minute and pay attention instead of always thinking or worrying about the next thing.

Reflecting is similar to the thoughtful side of paying attention. It is taking time to think about what has happened and what has yet to happen. It is important that people reflect so that they can learn from what they have done as well as what others have done. We can look at our successes and what led to them so that we have a better chance of repeating these successes in the future. We can also look at our failures and what led to them in order to keep them from happening again. Reflecting on failure also teaches us by showing us what not to do in a situation so that we can learn to do differently the next time.

The general trend of my journey logs was a mixture of cynicism and optimism, not one turning into the other, but one or the other depending on the week. I would mostly describe my journey logs as a more neutral thoughtfulness. The weeks with more cynical journey logs were those where I procrastinated too much on an assignment or the assignment was taking me way too long. The positive weeks were those where I was planning ahead and being productive with big assignments.

My initial thoughts of Minecraft have changed slightly but not wholly. At first I thought it was really dumb and I had no idea how to play because I had never played before. As I got the hang of it more, I enjoyed it more. And once I got a mouse it was even easier and the gameplay was faster so that helped. When recording my process for Raid 7, it was really pissing me off because it would constantly lag (because it was recording video and running a game). The lag would slow me down and occasionally made a button get stuck even though I wasn’t pressing it anymore. I really like Minecraft from an architectural standpoint (taking well known structures and recreating them in full detail in Minecraft) so I enjoyed Raid 7 but did not enjoy how long it took. Overall I enjoyed playing the game, but if I am being completely honest, I do not see myself playing it at all after this class.

Fate really led me to a class I could do well in. I picked this class completely at random (literally using a random number generator) and it really worked out for me. The way the class is structured made assignments more fun and feel less like work. Although there is a lot of work in the class in general, doing the best that you can do is all that is necessary to succeed.

Credits:

Created with images by cocoparisienne - "piano keyboard keys" • nayukim - "Playing piano" • Pexels - "electronic keyboard keyboard music" • marc falardeau - "PIANO" • Pexels - "blur close-up gloves" • b1-foto - "piano musical instrument piano keyboard" • Ho-Teng Chang - "UN" • ChrisA1995 - "Nature" • Moyan_Brenn - "nature" • Dennis Götz - "Nature" • ChrisA1995 - "Nature" • esiul - "plant nature live" • AbelEscobar - "ray beach sky" • Moyan_Brenn - "Nature" • TeroVesalainen - "mindmap brainstorm idea" • Rod_DSM - "Beginning" • Chris Murtagh - "Symbol 5 - Declining from the public ways, walk in unfrequented paths." • Tatiana12 - "Pay Attention ~ Mindfulness" • audi_insperation - "Reflecting" • gdsteam - "Avoid cynicism"

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