Posts filed under ‘Wall Of Text’
as per usual, if you’re looking for artmaking stuff, please visit the studio blog: http://upthefolksstudio.wordpress.com/
Two nights ago I had a dream that my father died.
I’ve actually been having a lot of dreams where my family dies or is in mortal peril recently. It’s probably some sort of reaction to the stress of school mixed with the guilt of not being able to see any of them due to time issues. I’ve been trying to figure out a time to go see my grandparents and I honestly can’t find a time in the near future where school lets up for long enough that I could visit without destroying my GPA and subsequent college career.
Anyway, because I had this dream I’ve been thinking about my dad a lot.
(I don’t have any pictures of my dad currently on my computer because of the great unplugging of the external hard-drive tragedy of 2008, so the only pictures I have to go with this post are some old army ones I took digital pictures of, out of the albums he has in Florida.)
I remember one night when I was little, (maybe 6 or 7) and my dad was home at night for the first time in ages and he had come in to my room to read me a story, and fallen asleep on my bed. I remember being so cold because the fan was blowing on me and it was almost September, but my blanket was under my dad (this giant, gray, hero of mine) and the last thing in the entire world that I wanted to do right then was to move him. I wouldn’t even touch him because he might wake up and leave. I remember sitting there for what felt like hours, terrified to move and absolutely chilled to the bone. Then I found it. The top sheet was only wedged halfway under my dad, so I scrunched down near him, and put the sheet over myself. The warmth, just the thin cotton was enough of a reprieve from the cool wind that I felt like I had just crawled inside a giant fluffy sleeping bag. I think that was the warmest I’ve ever been. That night in august, near my dad (but not touching him, for fear of waking) huddled under a sheet, I was contented with my situation.
For as long as I can remember my dad has known everything.
He showed me how to braid challah when I was so young that I didn’t understand why we ate it on Fridays. When I was in junior high and struggling through biology, he explained to me how genetics work in simple terms and drew me a Punnett square on the back of a napkin while we ate dinner. One afternoon while we were walking around his neighborhood with the dog, he tried to explain to my 12-year-old self how light refraction works. He is a doctor; I was always amazed that he knew how to fix people. I still am amazed. I never knew how he did it, how he knew so much, and I was jealous and sometimes annoyed. I couldn’t get facts to stick in my brain like he did. Nonetheless, it was exceptionally comforting to know that there was this adult in my life who could answer any question I had (and sometimes lecture on those questions which were never asked.) But now as I get older I am starting to become more like him, more aware of how my brain works, and I can finally begin to understand more of how his may work as well. I am not an encyclopedia, but a collector. I collect information I find interesting. I think this is also how my dad works. This mental compulsion is what creates in me the desire to learn. I find myself spending hours researching everything I possibly can about something just because it sparks my interest. I wouldn’t change it for the world, because of this I care about things; I am able to immerse myself deeply in something and truly learn. I got this from my dad, my dad who knows everything. I think he is a collector, too.
So thank you, dad. Thank you for my desire to learn, for teaching me, and for always being there with an answer when I needed one.
A problem that you have had.
Jesus, thats a huge question. I’ve had a lot of problems.
I mean, physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual. You name it i’ve had an issue. My back is constantly screwed up, I have to wear wrist braces because I rode my bike too hard for too long, I’ve got more anxiety related quirks and tics than I have actual personality, and I really have no idea what I’m doing most of the time.
I guess my current problem is that I can’t seem to get the things that are going on in my mind out on paper.
You see, I’m writing a novella instead of taking English102, and I have this story in my head but every time I go to write it down I get maybe a page out and then it just stops. My ability to write just goes out the window and I devolve in to someone with a 6th grade writing level and a fondness for commas that far exceeds their necessity.
I keep telling myself that I’ll just sit down and write it, but the problem with that plan is that the product wouldn’t be good. I need what I produce to be good. Art, writing, cooking, speaking, I have the constant driving need to be good at these things.
This is problematic, because I am imperfect and cannot be exceptional at everything I try. Actually, I guess that is my problem. I expect perfection. I expect perfection and I cannot follow through. For example, I had a 3.48 last semester and I was incredibly unhappy with that GPA since I’ve been used to a 4.0 at Temple. Even though I know on an objective level that I should be happy (especially considering I take an overloaded schedule) I still kick myself for not having a higher GPA. It’s so stupid of me, but I can’t help it.
That problem of expecting perfection is an overarching theme in my life. It is a constant driving force in everything I do, and has honestly created some disordered behaviors that I have had to work hard to get past.
At the same time, it is a driving force in my life, and if I were to overcome that problem completely I don’t know if i’d be able to make art or write or do anything besides lay around being content with myself.
Today’s post was inspired by Mama Pea’s Employees Pick post over at Peas and Thank You
I feel like I talk a lot more about veganism than most of my friends and acquaintances would like. This would normally bother me, as I try to live my life in a way that offends as few people as possible. However, with veganism I usually throw caution to the wind, state my opinion, and encourage others to look in to changing their habits in a similar way. It is one of the only things about which I am unabashedly an activist.
I was recently able to see a whole new crop of vegetarian college students come in to being during an english 101 class where we read Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. I watched them beginning this journey and I felt old. They were worrying about things like protein and family dinners and all the things that I had to deal with when I first switched to a vegetarian lifestyle at 12 years old. 8 years later, because of my years of experience, I want to offer a list of the resources, cookbooks, and reading materials that helped me when I was first starting out and have continued to use as I have been living my vegan life. I hope that if you (a theoretical stranger considering veganism) stumble on to this site, this list may help you with this process.
1.) Vegan with a Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz
I first read VwaV about 6 months after going vegan (I say read, because I sat down and read it cover to cover like a novel) and even though the recipes are great and I have used them consistently for the last 4 years, they were not the most important thing about this book to my newly vegan, isolated self. What struck me, and helped me about this book was Isa. Her writing made me feel like this choice I had made was smart and dooable and not something outlandish like most of my family (excluding the 5 people that make up my mother and her family) and all but one of my friends were implying at the time. this book made me feel like I was normal, and more importantly it made me feel like I was super punx.
I’ve talked about this book ad nauseam, but in case you don’t feel like reading my lengthy review I’ll sum up my feelings about it in one sentence: It made me cry, and gave me hope.
It is informative, terrifying, heartbreaking, and not something to watch if you aren’t completely ready to become a vegan. That is to say, it would be hard for the average human with even the slightest bit of empathy to watch this and not eschew all animal products and systems that allow animal abuse. I know vegans who could not watch this all the way through, but it is important. I leave the decision up to you, but suggest trying to give it a watch.
This book really doesn’t have much to do with the ethics of veganism, but it does have a bunch of really delicious cheap recipes that make enough for 1 or 2 people. This works particularly well for me as a single college student. It uses simple ingredients that most starter vegans can find at a “normal” grocery store, and doesn’t require trips to specialty stores for every recipe.
This is another book, much like VwaV, where the recipes are amazing but what really rules are the travel tips and stories that Sarah Kramer shares. I can relate to her stories, and she has an easy way about her writing that makes it seem like she accepts everyone. This is particularly great for new vegans who may be feeling intimidated by people in the community that may appear standoffish or superior. Sarah Kramer is neither of those things, she is awesome.
Please feel free too leave further suggestions for new vegans in the comments!
I have a problem.
I am never happy with what I am doing. I mean, I like living my life and I like doing what I do, but every time I get settled in to a potential life path I start to feel like I need to be doing something else. Its like this antsy, have to move forward kind of feeling. It started in high school; I liked my courses and friends but I spent my entire high school career waiting to graduate. Then came college, I went to a fancy-pantsy art school and as soon as I started to really get in to the grind of the semester I started to convince myself that I didn’t really want to be an artist, and I wanted to live life a little bit more before I started getting myself in to debt for a degree in art. Then I worked for a while, and while I was working I started getting the urge to travel and have adventures. Then while I was having this great and miserable and enlightening time bicycling halfway across the country I was feeling like all I wanted to do was go to university and study. Then, while I was at university, I realized I wanted to go to art school after all. Now I’m here and I am going to get a degree if it kills me, but I’m already starting to toss around the idea of getting another degree in psychology or religious studies or literature or education, and I’m trying to figure out how grad school works, like if I could get a masters in one of those with a BFA for my undergrad degree and I just know that if I were in grad school I would be wishing I was doing something else.
I can’t understand why I am never content with my current situation. Its like I’m perpetually stuck trying to get to “the future” where I will never actually be.
This one time, I was riding my bicycle up the side of a mountain and a guy asks if he can use my handpump (for pumping up tires, creepo.) He is about 40, medium build, a little on the scruffy side, not particularly threatening and there is a lot of traffic on the road so I hand him my pump and wait on the side of the road for him to return. The pump doesn’t work and he tells me that they are old bikes and maybe it has a different valve or maybe the tubes have disintegrated and I say that I hope he figures out the bicycle problem and make moves at to continue my journey up the mountain, but he stops me and proceeds to tell me the following.
At the time, he was living in town, but came up the this house on the weekends to work on it, and his ultimate goal was to get it in a condition that he could live there full time. He’d been coming up to the house to work on it a little at a time for 2 years, and he thought he still had at least another year to work on it. He had bought the house shortly after he moved back to the states from Germany where he had been living ever since he was stationed there with the army. While he was there with the army he had started playing for a local german Hockey team and he had liked it enough to stay there for a while, and a while turned in to about 5 years. He said he liked it over there, and had a girlfriend who was also an american, but they were just friends now and she “still came to visit him sometimes even though it was a long flight.” I asked him why he had decided to move back, and he told me that he had moved back because he had started to feel homesick for New England. He had lived in a city in Germany and had missed the wildlife and nature. He had grown up in the area and had always wanted to live on this mountain, he said that he liked being on high ground, it made him feel like he could see more, even if there were trees everywhere. I asked him if he had seen a moose (at the time, we were seeing dozens of signs for moose crossing and not a single moose. I live in Maine now, and I still have yet to see a moose.) He said that he saw moose all the time, but his most interesting animal encounter was when he had first bought this house. He had no electricity yet so for dinner he was making hotdogs outside on the fire and all of a sudden he had caught sight of a bear “medium sized” he said, “couldn’t have been much bigger than me, but wasn’t small enough to worry about the mother” on the edge of the ring of light shed by the fire and the bear had just sat there. He knew that if he made any sudden movements he could scare the bear in to attacking so he just sat there for “what felt like an hour” and then the bear just got up and left. He said that he liked to think that the bear was sitting there with him, not just because of the hotdog smell.
At that point Rosemary showed up (she was biking in front, and when I hadn’t shown up for a good 45 minutes she began to worry and had backtracked to make sure I wasn’t dead.) So ends that encounter, but throughout the trip people kept telling me things about themselves. One man (a mechanic at a bike place in NY who was very nicely giving us a lift to the shop because I had my tenth flat tire) spent a 15 minute car ride telling me about his ex wife who lived in Jersey and his decision to move to upstate NY after the divorce, it was strange because in my mind that isn’t something you tell someone you’ve just met. I think something about Rose and I bicycling this far, doing something so out of the ordinary made people feel like we were somehow witnesses, that they needed share with us so that they could have something about themselves, some crucial part of their lives or person on record with us. Or maybe they were just chatty people, who knows.
An open letter to the freshman in my classes:
Its only been a week, and you all are making me worry about you.
I know I am not much older than you. In fact, I am only about two years your senior. Despite this, I feel as though there are things you could learn from my experience. So I offer some unsolicited suggestions.
1.) If you are one of the students who are complaining about the experience of being in college, you need to know something: No one is forcing you to be here. This is not high school. You (rather, your parents) are paying a lot of money so these people can pass along to you what they know. If you do not want to be here, leave. It is that simple and it is entirely up to you. There is no universal law that dictates all humans must go through some degree of “higher” education to live a fulfilling life. You can leave, no one else can make a decision about your education for you
2.) Slacking isn’t cool. Its no one’s job to hold your hand and drag you through this. I repeat, if you do not want to be here please just leave. If you do want to be here, take responsibility for yourself and work hard. That is the only way you will get what you pay for out of this experience.
3.) I know it is exciting to finally be away from your parents protective reach. I also know that you will probably want to express this newfound freedom through activities like drinking, staying up for 48 hours at a shot, and abusing illegal drugs. Stop. You’re being stupid. Bad reason to consume carcinogens and/or deplete the dopamine receptors in your brain: because you’re stressed, because it makes you feel more confident, because other people are doing it, because you think it is an integral part of the college experience.
Neither alcohol nor drugs will help you with anything. The only thing either of those will do is make illness or death appear much sooner.
4.) Allow yourselves to be excited about things. Just because the current feeling of our generation is one of disinterest and defaulting to dislike doesn’t mean that its a fulfilling or good way to live your life. Don’t be afraid to be a nerd, or embrace your interests whatever they may be. No one is as cool as they say they are. don’t feel pressured to be someone you aren’t. you are much more interesting if you do not follow the same personality guidelines as every other hipster or art kid in the country.
5.) fifth and most importantly, take care of yourselves. If you start to feel overwhelmed, take a break. If you are depressed or feeling suicidal, Reach out. Seriously. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to one of the school counselors, try to talk to a teacher you feel comfortable with. Either way, everyone there is willing to work towards protecting you. One of the best things about college is that you get free psychiatric help and it’s completely confidential. If you don’t feel comfortable with that there are 1800 numbers to call. At the very least, talk to your roommate. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to a roommate, come find me. I’m really tall and have curly brown hair. I will be your friend. I am not kidding at all, I am willing to listen to anyone if they are uncomfortable going to an adult or authority figure.
Oh, and use protection. The school will give you free condoms, planned parenthood will give you free condoms, and the cvs across the street will sell you condoms and will not judge you for it.
Images in this post were brought to you by the etching I’m working on for printmaking.
I had a bit of a change in my schedule, i’m now taking the maximum amount of credits allowed before they charge you extra.
This means i’m spending about 40 hours/week in classes plus another 15-20 outside of classes or in the studio. I’m taking: Printmaking, Metalsmithing and Jewelry, Drawing, 3D design, Composition and literature 101 and a class that is apparently required for all sophomores called “issues in ideology” which is actually really great.
I have learned something interesting about myself this week: I am terrible at metalsmithing and jewelry. terrible. I work hard in class and put in a lot of time outside of class, and I will probably barely pass it. This is okay. This is why I took a class that I had never even come close to taking before, to learn something new. That being said, I will never take another class like this again. I do, however really really like printmaking so far. We’re doing etching, which involved acid and multiple exposures. Its like photography and drawing all wrapped up in one.
I also like my 3D class. Mainly because we can get stuff done seeing as its a 7 hour class. I miss those! these 3 hour classes fly by and I don’t get a chance to do much before its over. Because of these 3 hr classes I end up with situations like this weekend where i’ll be in the metals and printmaking studios all of sunday and probably some of monday. Oh well, why else am I in art school if not to do art?
This will be the second installment of the new feature where I blather on about books and tell you to read them.
Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer.
About 9 months ago I went to go see Jonathan Safran Foer give a talk at the free library of philadelphia (as part of their free author lecture series.) I had read Everything is Illuminated and Extremely loud and Incredibly close before. I knew he had written a book called Eating animals, and that my vegan friends were all starting to read it. I however, had not read it but I wanted to see what he had to say and I went. He spent the beginning of the talk explaining why he wrote the book. Then (here is the important part) he spent an entire hour in an open question-answer style dialogue with the audience. Some of whom were not very happy with what he was saying (though I assume they were there because they didn’t like the idea of the book, and had not in fact read the book itself.) I have never heard anyone talk about animal rights in such a non-confrontational and eloquent way before and I left the lecture feeling ecstatic that someone who was rather well known, and not PETA (my dislike for PETA will be another post) was bringing attention to animal rights and food issues.
Knowing that, and my stance on the actual issue of eating animals (vegan), you should probably just accept my bias towards liking this book. And since I don’t want to bore you to death raving about it for 80 pages, I will just pick out some things that got my attention and reasons I think you should maybe check it out.
1.) JSF starts Eating Animals with a chapter called “storytelling” where he lays out his own personal experiences with eating and the cultural and social aspects of food and eating. He says right out that he has not been a strict vegetarian since he started thinking about the issue of eating animals and that he has occasionally eaten meat. This is important. This is important because the vast majority of people will automatically assume you feel superior to them if you restrict your intake of animals for ethical reasons and then write a book about it. But what JSF does is make himself exceptionally human to the reader, he allows them to see things he is maybe not so proud of, and that allows readers to let their guard down. He says that he did the research for the book so he could fully understand what he is feeding his child. A struggle that almost everyone who has children can relate to. He also talks about his grandmother and family dynamics and in this chapter and there is an anecdote from his grandmother talking about her experience in the holocaust that I find fascinating and very important:
“The worst it got was near the end. A lot of people died right at the end, and I didn’t know if I could make it another day. A farmer, a Russian, God bless him, he saw my condition, and he went into his house and came out with a piece of meat for me.”
“He saved your life?”
“I didn’t eat it”
“You didn’t eat it?”
“It was pork, I wouldn’t eat pork.”
“What do you mean why?”
“what because it wasn’t kosher?”
“But even to save your life?”
“If nothing matters, there is nothing to save.”
And with that he simply and eloquently puts a point on how our ethics and actions concerning food are a huge part of what shapes us as a person. So much so for his grandmother that she would rather face starvation than compromise her ethical and religious beliefs. Most importantly it puts a subtle point on how our actions are what determine our character.
2.) I learned while reading this book. I am pretty well educated when it comes to matters of animal welfare and advocacy, and still there was information in this book that I did not know. He also looked at the problem from new perspectives, ones that are shied away from in other more one-sided books about animals. This is not a book that one needs to slog through, repeating information that anyone who has ever thought about the politics of meat already knows. That is why I often recommend this book to my vegan friends as well as the omnivores in my life.
3.) The people he talks to are not all of the same opinion as me. Many of them are currently happily employed in the animal killing business. Still, many times they seem to show that there is still the same gut reaction of guilt and empathy in them as there is in many of those of us who abstain from meat. I think that in the way JSF presents these people, he makes it almost impossible for us to make a villain out of any individual. This is good, this is not so polarizing, this is showing hope for the human spirit as a whole.
“Have you ever wanted to spare one?”
He tells the story of a cow that had recently been brought to him. It had been a pet on a hobby farm, and “the time had come” (No one, it seems, likes to elaborate on such sentences.) As Mario was preparing to kill the cow, it licked his face. Over and over. Maybe it was used to being a companion. Maybe it was pleading. Telling the story, Mario chuckles, conveying- on purpose, I think- his discomfort. “Oh boy,” he says. “Then she pinned me against a wall and leaned against me for about twenty minutes or so before I finally got her down.
Finally, I recommend this book because it made me cry in public. I do not cry in public. It is beautiful and sad and moving and uplifting. Read it.
Photos in the following post are just there to beak up the wall of text. They’re just random photos I had lying around.
Good news for me! I got accepted to Maine College of Art. My getting accepted wasn’t really a question though because they had let me in back when I was applying out of high school and my work has gotten considerably better since then. What was a question was how much (if any) scholarship money they would give me. See, where I end up going to school is going to be entirely dependent on which school costs less after scholarships and aid. Anyway, they ended up giving me a considerable merit-based scholarship (more than half the tuition) and I’ve got financial aid still to factor in to the equation. If things work out it should only cost me about 8-9,000/year to go to college there which would be AMAZING and I am very excited about that, and the prospect of going back to art school.
Warning: if you don’t like listening to people drivel on about their various neurosis DO NOT read past this point.
First, I have the whole “I would not want to be in any club that would have me as a member” issue. Constantly. Literally any school or project or anything that actively wants me to join I assume is terrible. This, as you can probably guess is a problem when it comes to deciding where to go to school. If the best school for me offers me hella scholarships and actively pursues me I will have an automatic gut reaction that tells me to get far away from there (yes, this is problematic in relationships too but we’re talking about colleges today.) That happened last time (more than 2 years ago, yikes) with MICA. I think part of the reason I decided to go to SAIC was because MICA was being too clingy and SAIC seemed aloof. I think deep down I like the idea of having to work really hard. I don’t know. My other worry is that I blew it when I left SAIC. I was (despite what every single person assumed when I mentioned that I was leaving) doing really well there. I was making art that I was really committed to and interested in and getting attention for that work from students and faculty. I had some good friends, a teacher was even actively seeking me out to try and have me in their class (this blew my mind at the time, and of course I automatically assumed that said class was terrible because I am an idiot.) I really worry that I won’t have the same opportunities ever again. I feel like maybe fate will punish me for being wishy-washy about what I wanted to do with my life and leaving that behind.
I’m also worried I can’t make art any more. I’ve been going through a bit of a dry spell and I’m worried I’ll show up on the first day of classes wherever I end up and I won’t be able to make a damn thing.
Yes, I’m just a nervy mess over everything all the time.
I Wish I had better things to say, but I am creatively and cognitively stunted at the moment.
Thee following is an essay for my religion course, there are three spelling errors where i’ve left off a letter. Read it anyway!
When reading this book, one may not be immediately be reminded of cognitive development theories, but nonetheless Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’s five stages of dying parallel the 5 stages of cognitive development as defined by Jean Piaget. The actual physical ability of the human brain seems to progress much in the way that the emotional ability of a patient who knows they are dying. This seeming equivalence makes Kübler-Ross’s stages seem almost like a re-birth, as though the dying patient has to re-learn how to think when faced with the terrifying prospect of their own death.
In Piaget’s theory, the first stage of a child’s cognitive development (between birth and age two) is called the sensorimotor stage. In this stage, the child is capable of only a basic understanding of the world around them. The child does not understand object permanence, in that they believe that when they cannot see something it is still there (this is why an infant will giggle every single time you appear from behind an object when playing peak-a-boo. Every time you hide your face, to them you are disappearing; and every time you reveal yourself you are materializing in thin air.) This mindset is similar to Kübler-Ross’s first stage of denial. The act of denial itself is often an embodiment of the “If I can’t see it, it isn’t there” philosophy. By pretending that they cannot feel the pain they are in (or even in the earlier stages when sometimes they are in no pain and simply refuse to acknowledge that there is anything wrong) they allow themselves to disregard the disease completely by putting it out of sight. Also, much like how if you tried to explain the concept of permanence to a child they would not understand you; so would a patient in denial not be able to be reasoned out of their state.
The second stage of cognitive development is called the preoperational and it occurs between the ages of 2 and 7. In this stage, a child’s cognitive abilities are intuitive (meaning they are not truly able to deductively reason, or approach something objectively.) They are also inflexible and often very selective and focused on individual events. The example of Mr. X in Kübler-Ross’s second stage of anger illustrates the similarity of the selective focus of a child in the preoperational stage when he becomes excessively angry with a nurse “He said over and over to his nurse ‘You lied to me’” in reaction to her putting up the guard rails on his bed despite him asking her not to. This man focuses on that one specific action of putting op the rails on the side of his bed when trying to voice his anger about feeling trapped, ignored and manipulated. Again, like the child in this stage he is uncompromising and incapable of objectively seeing the issue (that he would fall and “crack his head” without the rails. If we go by Piaget’s model we must understand that he is not being obstinate, but is simply physically incapable of that kind of reasoning while in the narrow stage of anger.
The third stage of cognitive development is when the child begins (only just begins) to understand abstract concepts. This is called the concrete operational stage and it occurs between the ages of 7 and 11. It is perhaps, the least obvious parallel stage, but there is one concept that the child grasps in this stage that pertains very much to the third stage in Kübler-Ross’s theory, that of bargaining. Simply, the child understands reversibility, “that numbers and objects can be changed, the returned to their original state”  they understand that if 4+4=8, then 8-4=4. They understand that when someone puts on a gorilla mask, it can be removed and that the person is not going to be permanently changed in to a gorilla. It is this idea of reversibility that is so new to a child in this stage of cognitive development that ties in so closely to the stage of bargaining. The patient begins to think that what has been done to them could be undone. As it is stated in Kübler-Ross’s book “He [the patient] knows, that from past experiences, that there is a slim chance that he will be rewarded for good behavior…” the patient knows from past experience that there is a potential for reversal and so hopes that this will be the one time that their sentence is reversed.
The fourth stage of Piaget’s theory is actually the last stage his actual theory. His students came up with the fifth. It is a stage called Formal operating stage that occurs after the age of 11 and Piaget thought that this was the final stage of cognitive development. In this stage, the child understands abstract concepts like death and political asylum. This is the stage of understanding, when the child is able to process information on an adult level. So also is the stage of depression a stage of knowing, “When the terminally ill patient can no longer deny his illness… He cannot smile it off anymore.” At the same stage where the child whose brain had finally finished developing may feel a newfound sense of responsibility over their life, the patient who is coming to grips with their death may finally realize that they are in fact, dying.
The final stage of development in Piaget’s theory was one put there by his students. They believed that there was a post formal operational stage that occurred somewhere after the age of 35. In layman’s terms they believed this was the wisdom stage. This is rather loosely defined, it is really only said that when in this stage one is able to flexible and aware of emotional and interpersonal influences of knowledge, they give the example of king Solomon in the bible. This is most congruent with Kübler-Ross’s 5th stage of dying. Is acceptance not the wisest of all reactions? At this point, the patient is able to look his or her own death in the face and agree let it come. Like wisdom, it “Should not be mistaken for a happy stage” and it is not surprising that this is usually a very calm stage, even Thoreau said that “It is characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things” and so it is characteristic of acceptance to not do desperate things either.
In conclusion, sometimes when faced with the reality of their own mortality, a patient’s process of grieving can become almost regeneration, a chance for them to re-build their cognition from a new starting point, one which includes a date for their own death. This rebirth of sorts is illustrated in the similarities between Kübler-Ross’s five stages of dying and Piaget’s five stages of cognitive development, they both have a lot to say about human psychology.
 Jean Piaget A child’s conception of the world New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 1975
 Elisabeth Kübler-Ross On death and dying New York: Scribner, 1969.
 Jean Piaget A child’s conception of the world. New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 1975
, 5 Elisabeth Kübler-Ross On death and dying New York: Scribner, 1969.
 Elisabeth Kübler-Ross On death and dying New York: Scribner, 1969
I’m taking this course called “Death and dying” at Temple U (yes, they did totally nab the title from Elisabeth Kübler-Ross.) Anyway, for that class I had to write a short paper about my own feelings and ideas about death. I figured I’d throw that up here since I am trying to be all unguarded and all nowadays. ITs kind of ramble-y and the grammar is atrocious. I apologize.
The photos I’ve tossed in are from the trip I took with my mom to Crystal caves in PA, I just think they’re pretty.
When faced with the unbelievably enormous question of “What is death” I usually find myself immediately regressing to blind faith. The Idea that if I say the right things and repeating the same motions day after day and year after year will somehow enable me to live on consciously through death. Unfortunately as a functioning adult, I cannot accept or be comforted by that idea. I fear death. I honestly am terrified of losing my self (insomuch as my mind is myself.) For a long while I would pretend that I did not fear death, I modeled my behavior off of action movie heroes who walked willingly in to the face of their own destruction with a smile on their face and some cliché sentiment or another about “finally being able to get some sleep.” The difference, I realize now is that it was not the fearlessness, but the attitude that there was nothing left in the world that would surprise them which I wanted to emulate. I am afraid that I will die wanting to know something, or on the edge of some great discovery. Every day I have to reconcile myself with the fact that no matter how many books I read, how many adventures I go on, I will never know everything there is to know and that I will die without having any of my questions truly answered.
I used to find some solace in the Idea of reincarnation; I selfishly clung to the hope that I would still get to be me, just me in a different body. Unfortunately I was faced with a conundrum. If our actions and memories are what make us who we are how could we possibly be who we actually are, once wiped clean of our memories and placed in a new form. I spent much of my youth bouncing around from different ideas about death, but there was always this constant nagging fear in the back of my skull. I sometimes would not sleep at night, fearing that in my relaxed state I would forget to breathe and suffocate. I recently have been fascinated with the theory that memory is stored in Alu elements in the DNA (via RNA directed repair pathways.) Though I think this taps in to the same basic need that reincarnation did, in that I can believe that my memories (that which very possibly defines me as a person) will simply be shuffled around in my offspring and, in a slightly abstract way I would get to live forever (slightly unrelated: I think it is such a cool idea that our DNA could store the memories of our great great great grandparents.)
I do not know about an afterlife. I was not taught about one as a child, and I have a hard time reconciling the concept now. I do have hope though. We do not know what exactly it is that makes us sentient, in my moments of fear and anxiety about death I can at least rationalize that we know virtually nothing of how we truly function and that maybe somehow there is a way to keep on going after you die. All of this comes from nothing more noble than fear. It is the same reason that I have not let go of religion, despite my understanding of science. I do not know either about where we are before we are born. I wonder though, on a purely biological level, when do we become aware of ourselves as a sentient life form, when do our inner monologues start? (And by monologues, I don’t necessarily mean word-based monologues, more like when we start to string complex emotions together in response to exterior events.) I often wish that I had the rabid faith in one story or another that many people seem to have. Then, even if I were wrong I still wouldn’t have to worry about what happens when we die. Unfortunately I do not know. I think that is the root of the problem. The fact that we cannot know what happens, the very act of dying keeps us from explaining any of the post-death experience (if there is any) to those left back on earth.