The Problem of Thinking Differently

Maria Matienzo Puerto

Performance photo by Caridad
Performance photo by Caridad

The magic of writing now allows me to become a student in the arts department of one of the typical universities in my country.  Given that, I made an effort to arrive on time to the first session, although to tell the truth, it’s not my priority.

The class that interests me most is the one that begins in mid-morning. I don’t know what it’s going to be about, because it’s the first day, but since it has to do with graphic design, I harbor some illusions about it.

Since it’s a professor with a lot of experience, I imagine that not only am I going to learn about nearly one hundred years of design, but also that creativity will be the order of the day during each class period.

Now the time has just about arrived.

I’m the first to enter.  My classmates soon arrive and there is a buzz of conversation, something very normal because we’re all very young and we all have the same expectations.  The professor, quite serious, states what according to him is going to be the cornerstone of the entire course: “Here, no one knows more than I do.”

We look at each other in general disconcertion.  But I believe I understand him; what I have neglected to mention here is that I’m a teaching assistant so I’ve been in front of the class too and at times you have to assert yourself in some way.  And his affirmation may well be true, since he has won many prizes.  His knowledge of the subject must embrace worlds.

The semester is divided into three fundamental units: an overview of Cuban design, the history of graphic art, and computerized design.

Now some time has passed and we’re almost finished with this school year.  So how was it?  What have I learned?  Well, okay, it seems that graphic design on the island began a mere fifty years ago, although to my profound perplexity I’ve had to consult newspapers from the thirties while doing research for other subjects and I found advertisements for soap, makeup, night clubs, movie theaters, restaurants and shops.

Not only that, I read the information I was seeking on well laid-out pages with a distribution of titles and blocks of text to keep the reader from getting lost. (I don’t know, it seems that my teacher gets too partial when trying to teach history.)

From the second part of the course I learned that there is no other designer in the world besides him and that, despite the fact that there are universal tenets that guide graphics, his criteria are transcendent.  Of course, during my stint in his class I also discovered that his awards were mainly the result of his work as a party activist.

I didn’t have the good luck that others had, to be assigned to the professor across the hall from us, who had fewer distinctions and more knowledge.

As far as creativity is concerned, you can imagine!  If I dared think that a flower could be blue with a red stem, he might question my presence in class.  And not because I’m crazy or want to seem clever, but because I can’t (or shouldn’t) think differently.

3 thoughts on “The Problem of Thinking Differently

  • I’ve had a (very) similar experience at college. Fluid mechanics class, our professor introduced himself by naming all the international titles and awards he had received. Then, with the most cynical smile on his face, he said “I guess I’m able to teach this discipline”. He basically said the same thing as Maria’s professor said, “Here, no one knows more than I do”, in a different way.

    It was god-awful. He was so conservative that he insisted on calling his students by the last name, because “that’s the way in famous institutions such as Harvard”. It was incredibly awkward. Among us, he was known as “Killer”, because of his helluva difficult tests.

  • Maria Socialism real or imagined beats capitalism..What is needed from Cubans is TRANSFORMATION minus the Proudhon dictates.Cuba needs only to follow Cuban policies and designs!

    Maria, the Professor (AND I BELIEVE IN KEEPING IT SIMPLE ) is what is called in amerikka a “supremacist” he has the need to try to control thinking and even as a Cuban? he believes in control of the masses…There is no need to fluff this up, i call it like it is..What ever his race or ethnicity ..he is a supremacist a dangerous possible myoginist?
    Maria, as you read (if possible) my writings u will find that i waste no time calling things as i see them..There are never any need for dressed up covert language when it comes to TRUTH because in the end falsehood runs a marathon to escape..
    i will learn of this prof as i plan to teach soon..i have decided to move back to Cuba,(not what one knows its who..LOL)trhon to get away..Trust me, i am not unlike u..i will never cease to think outside the box…

  • Maria, real socialism is otherwise.

    The French, working class theoretician Pierre-Joseph Proudhon finally concluded–after the experience of the self-destroyed 1848 Paris Revolution–that the “state” will still be needed under any future socialist society. He also concluded however that such a state, in order to keep it from becoming absolutist and a tyranny, had to have some counter-balance to its raw power. The only institution in society that he found powerful enough to act as such a counter-balance was legal “private property” rights. This same view was held by bourgeois theoreticians.

    Proudhon went a critical step beyond the bourgeois theoreticians however by concluding that private property rights could only both guard freedom and liberate the working masses if private property in the means of production is owned cooperatively by most industry and commerce employees. He also believed that peasant & small businesses could still be owned individually.

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