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Reflecting on class

Out of the choices for MALS intro classes, I was most struck by the write-up for this class, asking about self and consciousness, because I’d never really thought about it so specifically before. The materials in the syllabus were new to me, and the dynamism of the interdisciplinary aspects (science, anthropology, literary, theoretical) was appealing. Over the weeks, I dug the readings each in their own way–Hustvedt and There Was This Goat, especially. The materials were thought-provoking. It’s obvious that people spend their entire careers delving into just small portions of the numerous things we touched upon in class, but I still feel I got a sense of some of the exchanges that are going on in these subjects. In terms of administrative stuff, I found the milestones for the paper helpful toward the actual writing. Each deliverable was integral to getting me to the next place, I think, and prevented me from waiting until the last minute. I especially enjoyed breaking into groups and the two classes where we overlapped with Oversharing.

Looking back, I thought it would be interesting to write here some of what I wrote down in our first class when Professor Tougaw asked us to answer this question: “How do you know your self?” I answered: “I know my self through repetition of certain thoughts, acts, and feelings based on likes, dislikes, and experiences from past, to move from present into future. I also attempt to modify who I am by taking the things that give me pleasure or success, in my mind, based on a mental image I have of what I’d hope my self to be, and retaining them for repeating, while trying to throw away the negatives or failures from being repeated. The sum of the things over time repeated, as reliable, is my self. Always changing, but always this body, this mind, and filtered through these senses, particular to my brain and this landscape internally. Interactions with others also influence this self, many times as a mirror for my weighing successes and failures for improvement/refinement.”

Looking at it now, I do think my notes are prescient of a few things we ended up discussing in the course.

Overall, the idea of multiplicity has really risen to the top for me… that all of us are many selves over our lives, ever-changing. And that time, space, our bodies, all kinds of chemistry, objects, and all of us, one another, affect these selves. Truth/reality versus belief/imagination was also a repeating theme. The class has really shone a light on the complexity of it all, for me.

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