During design seminar, Dan took us to view Joyce Kozloff?｢どｨび｢s Exterior and Interior Cartographies at the Regina Gouger Miller Gallery on the campus.
Kozloff’s work features drawings, collages, prints, paintings. She juxtaposes hand-drawn maps and cut-outs of illustrated military figures and drawings of super heros by young boys.
The idea I got was that both the drawings by the boys, and the illustrations that were reminiscent of toys, as well as the maps with their depictions of troops as rectangles, were all within the realm of the imagination. But as boys grow up and stop playing with toys and start play real war games, which on paper look a lot like board games, people die. The implication being that this fact may be overlooked by the men looking at maps.
Some of the class were disturbed, some were depressed. I was curious with my own fascination with the maps and my nostalgia for the youthful drawings and military figures, which reminded me of the army men I used to play with and the board and computer games I used to play.
I used to read a lot about Napoleonic warfare and the America Civil War. I had books with maps depicting the battles. I had books with maps of battles from World War II as well.
War interested me very much. The weaponry, the tactics, the strategy.
So I Enlisted
When I was 17, during my senior year of high school, I joined the Army reserve. Although I got good scores and was encouraged to join a medical unit, I insisted on joining an infantry unit. I wanted to fight.
Later that year I won an Army ROTC scholarship. This allowed me to be released from my reserve contract and continue my involvement in the Army while in college.
It didn?｢どｨび｢t take long for me to realize, from both my experience in the reserves, and my first year of ROTC in college, that the army wasn?｢どｨび｢t for me. It wasn?｢どｨび｢t a game. And it wasn?｢どｨび｢t fun.
I feel kind of lucky, I suppose, to have realized that and been able to get out. I quit ROTC, which you are allowed to do after your first year without penalty.
One of my classmates made a comment about the artwork suggesting that boys are socialized to play with army men and thus are encouraged to be warlike. I have heard many women comment along these lines.
While I viewed the artwork I definitely felt ashamed to be a man and recognized that men seem to have a tendency toward warfare. All I had to do was think of myself. But I question whether that is something that can be socialized.
Why was I given army men to play with as a child? Was it because my parents thought I would like them? Or was it because it was something I told them I wanted?
Given my recent emergence in design and looking at the motivation of users rather than the tasks, I can?｢どｨび｢t help but wonder what the motivation of my parents might have been? Were they consciously making a decision to encourage my interest in war? Were they unconsciously buying into a larger societal encouragement of my interest in war?
In either case, why? What came before the encouragement?
I guess my feeling is that there is some innate interests. I feel like I gravitated toward army men and war games because there was something that inherently interested me. If I had some other interest, I?｢どｨび｢m sure a bit of whining and complaining would have got me that instead.
Even as I viewed the artwork, I felt my interest in the maps, the intrigue of strategy, and fascination for the army figures stirring. It?｢どｨび｢s hard for me to believe that I was socialized to feel this way.
Or perhaps I have been so socialized that I can?｢どｨび｢t see past to original interest. But what might that be? And what if we are not socialized but actually have an inherent proclivity for warfare? Could the idea of being socialized be an excuse for our nature? Could it be a way of creating meaning in a world that has no meaning?