Why I never memorized my multiplication tables in 4th grade

“Three Koi In A Pond”  – 21×21 watercolor and Acrylic on Paper

Foundations that are built on “wild things” are foundations built on intuition, discovery and exploring. It is when an artist searches into these wild things that the self emerges. If self asks during the search how should I react to this, how would others react to this – then there is no self, but if self asks during these moments how would I naturally want to respond in these moments, how can I personally, experience the “wild things” then the artist is truly working on discovering self.

Let me illustrate: for the longest time – and in fact right up to the early 2000s when I was in graduate school I would ask myself in regards to getting a good grade, how does the educator think, how do they want me to think?

I figured I was more than likely to get a good grade if I agreed with the educator rather than present a contrary opinion to the way the educator was thinking. I realize now that because the educator was teaching not how to think but rather teaching how to think in a way, that was a huge mistake. I had lost that independent spirit I once had where I refused to learn my multiplication tables in 4th grade because it made no sense to me to memorize the tables when I could figure out the answers with addition and subtraction and with know my 2’s and 5 times. I refused to learn them even with the threat of not passing 4th grade. Where in the world did that independent spirit disappear to when I was in college and graduate school. Never did I ask but what is the contrary opinion when I sat in the classroom just listening not participating. In graduate school the discussions in the seminars where never dialectic, that is finding the truth in opinions, they were rather ideologic. For example, the educator never said; “this is what I believe the truth is and this is the truth I want you to learn,” but that was really what I believed they were saying. I believed they held the truth and I needed to figure out now to understand and find the truth. Not thinking, this is their truth, and not my truth. And when I did gather the courage to ask a question or make a statement I was frequently challenged with, Christine why do you have to be so different, so difficult so disagreeable. When I told them, I was just asking a question and wanted to know how they all though about something – that always concluded that I was on the “other” side. I could never have been on the other side, because I didn’t understand my own side, let alone their side. I remember sitting in a seminar and having one grad student say to the group when I suggested we read a author because I was curious as to what their perspective was, “we don’t want to read them, they don’t agree with us.” I found I was asking myself – what is the belief that the “us” in this room believe? I honestly didn’t understand – and I was in grad school and still didn’t understand what their truth was other than it didn’t feel right to me. So, I dug deep while I was there and began to research philosophy from the get go: Plato, Aristotle – up to present day post-modernism with Foucault, Derrida, Lyotard, Rorty, Jameson, Vattimo, Baudrillard and more.

What I discovered later after I left grad school that; the discussions were based on power and where the power was, who had the power and how to get the power from them. And the central points of the discussions were based on reality versus mysticism. My faith, my belief was merely a way to be controlled and anything linked to mysticism needed to be abolished in the discussion. No wonder I didn’t belong, I am an artist, I create image it is not real. But what doubly confused me, the social and social grouping could be created and controlled. Those in power would create social groupings, like an artist would create a work of art, and manipulate them, like an artist, to what they believed was truth or what they wanted truth to be. So as a realist, though I am not one in my work, you can see the confusion. I didn’t fit, and I couldn’t be manipulated.

For me I was searching for discovery – for them this way their way of stealing souls and their powers. They may have not thought about it that way – but I did and that was and is exactly what was going on. They were, they said, fighting for civil liberties of individuals. What they did was place the individual into a group, identify that individual and then herd them into complacency. There was power in this way to debate civil liberties, because they were fighting for what they climbed was an individual freedom.

I don’t know about you my dear readers, but that for me was not freedom… it made no sense. I saw freedom the way an artist sees freedom, and for them to control the playground the way they did, just didn’t work for me. I left after finishing all my academic work for a PhD including writing my dissertation, but I never defended it, if I had I would have been asked to rewrite it. And I couldn’t do that because I knew that then I would lose myself, my soul and what I constantly fought for. Again, it was my way of not memorizing my multiplication tables.


As an artist – I have been fighting for self, and the individual all my creating days. What was happening in graduate school and all through my education as I look back, and I can remember taking sociology in high school and the teaching telling me that it was more important to know sociology than psychology or philosophy because sociology was about the group not the individual. Sociology was not about individual freedom.
That was not my soul, myself, but the social soul and of others wanting me to in agree and think like they did. They wanted to use my power to enrich theirs.

In the political arena today this struggle for self, for the soul, and the power that lies within – us still going on. Many don’t recognize it because it is a wolf dressed in sheep’s clothing, it is disguised as “helping the many.” Things have not changed since Plato, those in power seek to have others agree with them and thus enrich their strength. Those in power, I am not talking democratic or republican here – I am taking both sides.
So, I return to my first thought when writing this post, when we what to form a belief for ourselves we must dig deep into the foundations that we stand on. Our own foundations must be built on our own wild things, intuitions and discoveries? Not one another’s, and another cannot do this work for us – we need to do it ourselves.

When it comes to civil liberties for all reason should prevail. If civil liberties are based on hopes, beliefs, dreams and desires ….. morality wants to play in the playground. When that happens there never will be civil liberties for all. For if we really are an individual, we will not agree on all group thinking. Good based on a majority, does not allow one to dig deep to build a foundation, rather it needs the support of many instead of the one. It is the one that concerns me – we have lost that one, that self that soul. Art is an excellent example. Many art theorists ask me, but how can you take experience out of the arts – I ask in return, how can herd experience be a soul’s experience, a self’s experience.

Art theorists also ask, but we have to fight for the little guy, or many art educators state that they fight for the little guy. I have news for them, the little guy has now been bunched into a herd all labeled “little guy.” And I ask why are you stealing that little guys power, soul and self why are you not teaching the little guy how to enrich themselves?

Art should never be herded into some sort of group think tank that defines “art” once and for all. If art is sincerely based on the individual, the self, the soul it never will be.

To illustrate these point through my work, “Three Koi In A Pond,” is an excellent example. It is the difference between three fish in an ocean and three fish in a pond. The Koi fish is a designer’s fish, made to look beautiful and look beautiful in a pond. The fish in an ocean, well what can I say, there are whales in the ocean. “Three Koi In A Pond,” was just accepted in to the Illinois Watercolor Societies National Exhibition. There will be 32 works in this exhibition. The Illinois Exhibition is a juried exhibition.