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CURRENTLY YOU CAN VIEW REFLECTIONS FROM THE THINKS TANKS HELD AT NYU DURING THE SPRING OF 2013 FOR BECOMING - CORPUS
Part of what we discussed in my class yesterday was the concept of time in relation to becoming. I think how we view the process or idea of becoming is tied strongly to how we view time. In Western society we are raised to think of time in a linear manner, to see a beginning, middle, and end to all occurrences. With this mindset, we tend to see becoming as a kind of transition from one state of being to another, the liminal state between points A and B.
In other cultures, however - one that immediately comes to mind is that of the Native Americans - time is viewed cyclically. The perception is not one of moving forward or achieving a specific end goal, but of existing in a constant state of just actively being. Birth, life, and death are not permanent and fixed, but part of a continuous pattern. Each stage is always moving, always becoming the next part of the process.
I think that neither and both of these ideas are true. (As I've been raised in a Euro-centric culture, it's more difficult for me to grasp what cyclical time really means, but I'll try anyway.) Time is always moving forward, and yet there are recurring patterns to our existence. In terms of becoming, then, we are caught in a liminal phase, but one that will never end. There is a point A and point B, but we will never meet either end and instead circle between the two.
Basically, it seems that "becoming" changes based on where you stand in relation to the word - perspective manipulates what you see and how you see it.
Something that I've been thinking since our conversation were the numerous ways that people in our class responded to the notion of "becoming." It's a very common word, and yet, when we started to talk about what this word meant our conversation kept evolving and going in different directions. I found this particularly interesting because it it reflects the transitory nature of the word. Something "becoming" something else signals that something is in the liminal space between two other things.
One portion of the conversation that stuck with me was our discussion of becoming something that is not tangible. For example, we discussed the process of becoming an artist. When does one truly become an artist? Do we just closer to our ideal picture of what an artist is or is there a threshold one crosses when he/she makes it? This portion of the conversation was interesting to me because it made me think about how the process of becoming something is often long and messy, rather than a clear, linear path.
Personally, I often get trapped in this mindset that there is a certain path that I must follow to become who I want to be. This conversation helped remind me that there may not be a specific route, but many possible paths that all lead me forward.
The Think Tank was very interesting. We began with something that seemed simple - trying to define a word - and ended up spending almost an hour in conversation that went to a lot of places. Sometimes it seemed that we had gotten off-topic, but it would turn out that our conversation was actually still relevant to the original question of becoming. Obviously we never found an answer to what "becoming" means, because I don't think it necessarily has an answer, but I think everyone at least came closer to a personal answer with significance to their lives. In this way I think it might have been as helpful, or more helpful, to us as it was to you.
The discussion about "becoming" was interesting. It was fascinating to discuss the implications of such a commonplace word. Typically when one thinks of "becoming" it involves points A and B but the middle can be skipped over. The discussion made me aware of the transition period on a the liminality it involves. The liminality has so many more layers than just a state of transition. With it, it carries impressions of the past and implications of the future, as well as a consciousness and unconsciousness. "Becoming" is something at both its most volatile state, as well as its weakest point.
On Wednesday, we discussed the concept of becoming. A great deal of our conversation dealt with how it is to be viewed, be it something with a positive or neutral connotation, something that happens over time from point A to B or is cyclical, whether or not you can ever actually "become," those ideas being only a few that were brought to light.
In terms of the human experience, we seemed to dive into this sense of becoming being inevitable, it almost replacing the idea of "fate" and the whatever you become is, in a sense, unavoidable. Regardless whether it is "good" or "bad" (since the connotation of the word itself was brought to light), a person is always becoming. And regardless if the person realizes that they are "becoming" or if it is not until after the becoming has occurred that they realize it, there is always a "forward" direction to it. There is never a sense of going backwards or reverting, it is always progressive, even if the progression is to something simpler it is still a progression.
In light of things outside the human condition, we talked about the cycle of objects "becoming" as well. For example, we start with a log. If the log is to catch fire, the fire that ensues is the "becoming" that it undergoes while the ashes is the conclusion of the becoming. However, as years and years pass, those same ashes may once again become a log, thus resulting in a cycle. Something interesting that was brought up in terms of a cycle is if a 5th-dimensional being were to look down upon us, they would see us humans as convoluted versions of ourselves that contain our beginning and our end (almost like a loop). This would mean that we are our own beginning and end, creating a cycle in itself.
I thought that the Think Tank overall was a fantastic discussion, bringing to light a lot of philosophical debate between people. Although we didn't come to a consensus (of course), it was still incredibly interesting to hear everyone's different ideas and relations to the sense and experience of "becoming."
Being a part of the discussion on "Becoming" opened my eyes to the many implications and multitude of meanings that our words carry. We first spoke about what it means to "become" something, whether it is an artist or adult or anything, really. What fascinated me about this part of the conversation was that we spoke about the time frame in which it takes to fully "become" something and whether or not you can ever really reach a point where you can define yourself so surely with a definitive name. I am reminded of the saying that people never really reach a goal, they just move the line forward in order to keep fulfilling their needs and wants. "Becoming" is a lot like that to me. It is as if you work to become something, but once you reach it you automatically start to become something else. It is a never-ending cycle that begins from your creation to death, and even in death you can affect the world “become” something even without you. I've always loved the idea that you are never the same person that you were 5 minutes ago, 5 hours ago, 5 days ago, 5 years ago, and so on. I find this idea incredibly hopeful because it gives you the opportunity to constantly reinvent yourself.
It seemed very simple at first. The first three or so people that spoke talked of "becoming" as a thing that can never truly be reached—one is in a constant state of becoming something. You may become something but you are typically on your way to becoming something else as soon as this happens. Becoming can be minuscule or quite vast. Some seemed to think of becoming as strictly progress, a more positive thing that one strives toward. However, when one regresses or stagnates they are becoming as well, just in a different way. A phrase that positively resonated in my mind during this entire discussion is "My god, what have I become?" "Become" implies stagnation, "becoming" implies a motion, either backward or forward.
Becoming certainly relates to the individual human experience and what each person becomes at certain points in their life affects the world around them, but I think we also are always "becoming" as a society. Cultural and social norms and the like are not the same as they were in the past, they have become different and will continue to shift and change. I see the world as a constantly changing shape, constantly becoming something else, for better or for worse.
One thing discussed in my class was the possibility of utter stagnation in a human—can someone sink so far into a certain role that it consumes their life; flattens them so they cannot progress? Is it possible to stop becoming? We did not find a clear answer, but I do think that even though someone appears stagnant and stuck in a cycle of the same kind of toxic life, they may be, rather than stagnating, very very slowly "becoming", but perhaps that's just my optimism showing through. However, someone can also be becoming more and more hopeless and stuck in their ways as time progresses.
In terms of myself, I don't think it's productive to set very far-off goals of what you very specifically want to become, but rather focus on the present and more near future and just let life move you along the never-ending process of becoming. Kind of like a river's current, speeding up and slowing down at unpredictable intervals.
What is “BECOMING” to me?
Our discussion in class really made me think about how important - or unimportant - a simple word could be. For an hour, we discussed only ONE word - one word - delving into psychological heady concepts as well as realistic grounded notions. Obviously, I didn’t agree with everything that was said- but it was definitely an interesting conversation to have because it got me thinking about my relation to the word “becoming,” my relation to words in general and how we shouldn’t take our words for granted.
“Be-coming.” The first thought that comes to mind when I slowly pronounce the word is that it is “be-coming” and not “be-going.” There is a sense of arrival someplace, which signifies that “becoming” has to do with going from a Point A to a Point B. If it were the latter choice, then one could not know exactly if they are going anywhere, but if one is coming - you must be coming someplace, though where exactly is left up in the air.
“Becoming” has both a sense of importance and a sense of expectation surrounding it. The former is due to the mystique that we automatically associate with the idea of “becoming.” We imagine transformation - the caterpillar is becoming a butterfly. And yet, at the same time - one could argue that everything is always in a state of “becoming” something else. Does that necessarily mean that we are always transforming? I don’t think so - I think it just signifies that we are always in the process of growing. Unless in cases of mental illness, I think it’s impossible for a person to completely lose every part of a previous self when “becoming” a new self. No matter what, we always retain something from our past, no matter how small and whether we know it or not. Additionally, there is a sense of expectation because automatically we wonder what is one exactly “becoming?” Yet, I think it is difficult to define what one is “becoming” until one has already become it simply because you can never assume with complete certainty.
I think it is impossible to bring “becoming” to a core definition or ida simply because it is such a vast concept which we restrict by such a short. “Becoming” holds power and some sense of certainty, I think, and the rest is relative to each case of “becoming.”
For me, I am in the process of “becoming” every day. Whether I am “becoming” a specific concrete thing or am “becoming” changed internally, I don’t think it’s always necessary to understand what that “becoming” is exactly, but it is important to simply be able to master how to work with it effectively. “Becoming” is a direct result of outside forces - due to all the various elements of our outside worlds, we are influenced and then are in the process of “becoming.” Hence, though it is not instinct - it is essential and important in the world that we have found ourselves living in.