My Earliest Memory — A Critique of Dialectics (Part 2)

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This is my second part of my critique on my earliest memory. To see the first part, click here.

So if you’re reading this and you’re scratching your head, “Where’s the dialectical part? You didn’t explain it very well!” Well that would be a problem, if the term “dialectics” was the main focus of these essays. Now if I were here to talk about dialectics, I may as well have just copied Phenomenology of Spirit verbatim. If you read my account and still scratch your head, it’s fine. Dialectics are a dense subject that’s usually boiled down to a basic dynamic of competing structures or theories talking about the same thing. They yell, they clash, they fight over which one is the dominant account of the thing that is being observed, when in truth they are just picking apart specific things that are but partially true about the same thing.

And that is the crux of why everyone hates Hegel!

Usually dialectics are discussed both in and outside of the philosophical context as a social or political critique, because let’s face it: that’s ultimately the kind of philosophy that Hegelian scholars end up going for. But for my reflexive accounts, I have been using the psychological approach, as I piece together old memories.

Last time, I focused on an early childhood memory about one summer school experience, where I found myself getting angry over the silly fact that I didn’t learn cursive early enough. Spoilers if you haven’t read it yet: it ends in tragedy, and reveals a truth that would probably make W.E.B. Du Bois at the very least nod his head.

But if I were to present that same account to Gloria AnzaldĂșa (and by extension Maria Lugones), she’d probably glance at it like, “wait, that’s it?” And she’d be right. When you’re dealing with dialectics, there is always, for better or worse, another account that is missing that captures the entire story. Now since I can’t speak for anyone else who would have been part of this long lost memory, the “whole story” as such will always have a hole in it somewhere. But if you’re just asking the author, namely me, I will tie as much of the loose ends as possible to the best of my ability to recall this childhood memory.

So in that spirit, same story, no information has changed, but this time, my feelings are quite different. Whether you like this account or the last one better, I purport that both accounts are true.

memory-2

My Earliest Memory

I attended a summer school for enrichment when I was 8 or 9 years old. This school was different from my regular school, so I wouldn’t see any of my grade school friends there. it felt like being a transfer student who joins the class halfway through the semester.

I was a stranger to these kids.

Unlike my regular school, I got a chance to pick my classes from an array of dozens of other classes. Just as long as I picked at least one from each of the three major categories like Art, Math & Science, and I guess Physical Activity(?) I was good to go.

I was a shy kid. I didn’t make long-lasting friendships there, because let’s face it: I didn’t know anyone there! And I probably wouldn’t have seen any of them again thereafter!

There was this one class I took where we played an interactive math adventure game for the entire summer session. Teams of four competed to travel some magical place called Mathland. Being on a team made entirely of boys, we played to win, so we tried to complete all of our tasks as efficiently as possible!

We lost.

I don’t think we even made it to the end of the game! We kept getting setbacks and penalties throughout that summer session, that we couldn’t advance very far anyway! I’m sure I was sad that we lost and whatnot. But if anything, I think I was more frustrated that I couldn’t complete the game all the way through, just as other teams did.

Because I wasn’t smart enough.

Remembering anyone in particular from that time is kind of a blur to me. I can’t remember names or faces, only general features like gender or hair colors.

But if there was anyone that I could recall, there was a girl with short-length blond hair (don’t ask me what style; I have no idea) who was in several of my classes. Hard to say if I thought she was cute. Boys at that age tend to think that all girls have cooties, and I’m sure the reverse is also true. But what I do remember was that she was really smart. Smart enough that I couldn’t hold a candle against her if I even tried, and people thought I was smart!

In one of my classes, I started to write my assignments in cursive. It was something that I had learned recently, and I was under the impression that a lot of smart people wrote in cursive. Some of the other kids noticed this, and my guess is that they thought I was kind of weird. Writing in cursive wasn’t very special to them, because here, it seemed that everyone knew how to do it. They just didn’t like to do it. Still, they were pretty quick to tell me that my cursive looked really messy compared to that blond-haired girl’s.

I can’t remember what hers actually looked like, but my peers convinced me enough that her cursive was beautiful. And she’s been writing like that since she was 4 years old!

Now this is the part of my memoir where you’d expect me to say that I was jealous. That I wish I could’ve been as smart as her. Do everything I can, just so the one genius of the class who was roughly my age and had this young, elitist air to her to seldom talk to anyone in the class — especially me — just to impress her with my obviously incompetent skill. Not really. That part was all in my head, the moment I realized that I had a long way to go to be at my very best as a smart kid.

The truth is, I thought that writing in cursive is really cool! And I used every last opportunity to write in that style, even when I didn’t have to!

I never really mustered the courage to talk to the smart girl, but it was comforting to know that there was a kid out there who took cursive seriously like me. And besides, practicing my cursive handwriting to be as good as hers had indirectly fostered a different skill that would carry me through life from then on.

My love for writing.

I’ve had a lot of interests growing up. From dinosaurs, video games, church, politics, physics, mathematics, computers, philosophy, and anime, it was hard to pick just one!

But if there was one constant in my life it was writing. From poetry to prose, thought pieces to humor, fan theories to novels, it isn’t hard to tell that I love writing, and I’ve experimented with many different kinds!

And if I didn’t have the chance to find out that there was a smart kid who wrote so beautifully in cursive no less, I don’t know if I ever could have realized that dream at the time I did.

This long, forgotten slice of life may not have seemed very important. And given some of the other terrible feelings that it evokes when I look back on them, it would be easy for one to simply say that I regret ever having that experience, and feel sorry that I did.

Don’t.

My experiences have never been so clear cut as to say that they were purely happy, purely tragic, purely angry, or purely absurd. It’s more like a curdled mix of all my emotions put together that it would be hard to separate any of them. They are intertwined with one another in odd, but creative ways, shaped by others who have experienced them with me, and myself.

Are some feelings stronger than others as I recount these experiences? Of course. Does it bother me that I can’t always find the positive and negative experiences through every instant? Naturally. Do I wish that everything about my experiences will be one kind of emotion more than the others?

No.

These experiences are what makes me human. Alive. And full of meaning. I wouldn’t have changed any of it, because I can always fix how I look back at them by changing how I approach things now and onward.

My only regret is that I never became friends with that girl.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

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