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When I initially joined this class, I was completely unaware of mythological theories pertaining to ancient aliens and had trouble grasping what the idea of mystification was trying to convey. I recall flipping through John Berger’s Ways of Seeing book and Von Daniken’s Chariot of the Gods, and wondering how such methods of viewing the world would possibly benefit me as an aspiring fashion designer. However, by completing rigorous writing assignments and reflections, I realized that the enigmas of mythology and the extraterrestrial qualities of art and science help shape our imaginations by introducing artists to different semiotics and cultures. It was through such writing assignments that I was able to connect my life to the materials I acquired in the class in a personal, and thought-provoking way.
One of the most memorable experiences I had in this class was visiting the Hammer and Fowler museum and being able to write about an artwork we were inspired by. As I browsed through the contrasting auras of the two museums, I was amazed by the variety of art displayed and how the notion of creation could create an impact that was not only contemporary, but also global. I remember being inspired by the collections from Black Mountain College’s: Leap Before You Look because they seemed strikingly new and unconventional. Although I wasn’t able to grasp the connotations behind each of the pieces at first, the pamphlet of the showing taught me that BMC was an experimental college that placed art in the center of Liberal Arts education in order to further the participation of a democratic society through painting, drawing, sculpture, and dance. As a fellow college student, as well as an aspiring artist and designer, I was inspired by the efforts of BMC in educating young Jewish individuals who were fleeing from persecution. Even in the middle of such a calamity, BMC served as a sentimental meeting place that bridged education to creativity and innovativeness that I would not have fathomed without learning more about the community. By writing about Chamberlain’s sculpture, Shortstop, in the perspective of a young artist in training, I was also able to take a piece that at first seemed visually appealing to me and delve into the inner core of its significance to the world. In the end, it was the artist’s process of running each car part and his need for rationing materials during the harsh economy of war that left an even deeper impression.
Another concept that changed my way of viewing not just a classic mythology book, but any other story as well is the idea of archetypes and the three stages to the rite of passage. At first I viewed such topics as mere stereotypes of the “typical hero” or “typical sage,” but I learned that because these characters were classified in certain ways, it made them even more significant than they actually seemed. In the case of the Final Star Wars paper, I never actually thought about why Obi Wan Kenobi died the way he did, and why he made himself look weaker than he actually was characterized to be. After learning that the sage is not just a mentor, but also someone who sacrifices himself to teach his apprentice a life lesson, I realized that Obi Wan Kenobi was actually a stronger and wiser Jedi than what was depicted. He died not because he was weak, but because he believed that Luke Skywalker had the potential to succeed and continue his journey without his master. In the case of the rite of passage, I was able to follow the Peter’s life changing adventure through the three stages, separation, liminality, and incorporation, and follow the story in a more structured and understandable way. Through such lessons, I believe that I can read any book and be able to follow the footsteps of the main character in a more sympathetic way.
In the end, the one important life lesson I realized is that just as how mythologies and conspiracies don’t always come to a consensus, not everyone is going to agree with my values and aesthetics as a future fashion designer. After reading Von Daniken’s book, I also learned that through his ancient alien theories, he received lots of criticism and skepticism as an author even amidst his popular book. Even so, he managed to fight through the negativity and hold on to his beliefs, which I think all designers should have the courage to do as well. By staying true to myself, I hope that I will be able to embrace the morals I obtained through my days in this class and apply it to my life in the future as well. PLE

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