Why is these essay so shit t?

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Danielle Rind / MarïJayn

Danielle Rind

Year 2, BA (Hons) Content Development & Production, 2012

The statement nothing happens in a vacuum makes the assumption that all events are relative consequences of former events. It believes that nothing happens in and unto itself. Newton’s law of motion states that ‘for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction’ (Crowell, website, 2009), displaying to us the relationship between two or more events in time and space. This theory of sensitive dependence is known as Determinism and coined by Leucippus with his famous quote ‘οὐδὲν χρῆμα μάτην γίνεται,  λλὰ πάντα ἐκ λόγου τε καὶ ὑπ’ νάγκης’, roughly translated as ‘Nothing occurs at random, but everything for a reason and by necessity’ (Information Philosopher, website, n.d.). It is based on the premise that the universe is in the one and only possible state at any point in time as a result of the causal laws that dictate it (Hoefer, website, 2010).

In this instance it would be easy to explain that this essay is bad due to the author’s inherited low concentration levels and dyslexia.
One could also justify the poor writing skills presented as a result of second rate education received during the critical stages of cognitive development which, according to Piaget’s deterministic theory, has more of an influence on a person’s skills and personality than any other stage of his or her life (Dubuc, website, n.d.). We are governed in this argument by genetic predispositions and bound by the context of environmental influences (see fig. 1).

However, to make this fatalist assumption one surrenders any responsibility humans may have over their actions, to the universe and to history (Harris, 2010), to which we must ask the question: are we slaves, simply under the puppet strings of external and uncontrollable forces of the past, dancing to the illusion of freedom? In opposition to this argument is the idea of free will; a proposition that is ingrained in British society, resulting in a religious and judicial system that reflects the belief that we are all accountable for our own actions therefore we must bear the consequences of them, hence our motto ‘Dieu et mon Droit’ (Oxford Dictionaries, website, n.d.). One must accept any bad grades received from bad essays as we are responsible for our own essay writing quality (see fig. 2): ‘And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat’ (Genesis 2:16).

It is in this belief, supported by Larry Wall, who states: ‘You can’t change the past. You can’t even change the future, in the sense that you can only change the present one moment at a time, stubbornly, until the future unwinds itself into the stories of our lives’ (Good Reads, website, n.d.). I find my inspiration as an artist in knowing that I have the control to craft my own desired future and the world around me; I am inspired to create change. As creatives, we are given the honor of holding the ability to change and shape the environment around us through design. In this freedom is possibility.

It would then seem that there is no need for knowing anything of the past or of other events irrelevant to your discipline. As I am the only factor in control of all my actions, not antecedent events, to which I would acknowledge this misinterpretation and respond with the view that I do not negate, but distinctively encourage the need for learning and understanding previous events, rather than viewing them as a reason or cause for my being here, I view them as a tool to help me understand my current position within larger systems and how I can be effective within them. In so doing I enhance my knowledge, and therefore my ability to control my actions on forthcoming events. This may contradict Friedrich Nietzsche’s school of thought, who avoids the world of learning at all costs believing it to be a world ‘where everything becomes a matter for discussion and nothing for action’ (Tanner 2000). I would argue that although many scholars may seem to implement this assumption, it is our own responsibility to be effective in translating our learning into positive actions. This is supported by the French artist JR’s speech at TED talks based around art’s influence on the world. Many ask “Can art really change the world?”, to which RJ responds: ‘Art is not supposed to change the world, to change practical things, but to change perceptions. Art can change the way we see the world. Art can create an analogy’ (TED talks, website, 2011).

This awareness ensures I am fully informed and culturally educated, and in doing so, I understand the context that my practice is in. I am able to write a better essay in the future because once I receive the poor grade from this one, I will reflect from the feedback and have a wider understanding of not only what constitutes as a good essay but also what role essays play in relation to university grades, my life and the wider world. The next essay I write will be better because I have actively chosen to absorb the feedback given and adapt my future in response to it. The famous Paul Newman quote illustrates this well: ‘You know I’ve been very lucky, but I’ve started to realize the harder I work the luckier I get’ (Lipworth, 2010, p.10). One rebuttal is that my personality is a determined proactive one, to which I respond yes, I may be predisposed to higher motivational levels and active optimism due to either genetic make up or events of my past, but we are all under the same duty to compensate for the qualities in which we lack, be they low IQ, confidence or poor hand-to-eye co-ordination. If deaf composer Beethoven can compose symphonies appreciated 200 years on, “mentally slow” Albert Einstein can write theories changing the perception of Relativity (Open Minds, website, 2012) and motor neurone disease sufferer Stephen Hawking can publish hugely influential works in quantum physics, philosophy and singularity theorems, (hawking.org.uk, website, n.d.), then what excuse can I hold? As a result I am admitting the indirect belief in determinism and consequence of historical events, but only in the context that I am given the freedom to react to their effect in whichever way I choose.

In this freedom, however, lurks the sensation of anxiety. Demonstrated by the familiar analogy that freewill is much like the experience one has ‘when standing on a cliff where one not only fears falling off it, but also dreads the possibility of throwing oneself off’ (Debate.org, website, 2010). We are afraid of our own free will, the power and control we hold, the possibility of the consequences of a wrong decision causes so many to shy away from their own capabilities with the excuse of their “predetermined” life. As Ivan Vetkin states: ‘We are scared of free will and independent thinking. We are afraid that without organizing, our crowds will turn into tumours, growing irrationally and rapidly’ (paradoxtalks.com, website, n.d.)

Whether or not determinism is true, wholly or partly, it is irrelevant to the way in which we live in the sense that we can always try. The sensation of free will should be enough to drive designers to always seek to improve, grow and develop, regardless of the reasoning to why we are doing so. In returning to free will and fear, Marianne Williamson writes in A Return To Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles: ‘Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure’ (SKDesigns, website, 2012).


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Illustration: all illustrations by Danielle Rind aka MarïJayn