Arts & Humanities: Don't Leave College Without Them

Dipti Anand is a writer, editor and curator, with an interdisciplinary master's of arts degree from the XE: Experimental Humanities & Social Engagement program at New York University, and an undergraduate business degree from Babson College, among other adventures. Her writing has appeared previously in Catapult, the Aerogram, TXTOBJX, and Enormous Eye, as well as numerous art catalogs, and her first novel was long-listed for the DZANC Books Diverse Voices Prize in 2020. She lives and writes in New Delhi, India, where she works at a leading contemporary art gallery. For hellos, please visit: vocabulary to explain self-motivated decision-making, I’d begin here too. ‘But why must we choose what we want to learn?’ he’d ask me. ‘Because like snowflakes, no two people are the same,’ I’d reply. Self-determina- tion, then, is an art in itself, concerned with the cerebral premise of individual humanities. Speaking of, he’d turn to me and say, ‘I never asked what kind of writer you are.’‘I’m in the business of manufacturing,’ I’d say. He’d raise his eyebrows, and I’d delight in his confusion. ‘Manufacturing what?’ ‘Ideas.’ My very first introduction to the arts was ergonomic, as central to me as any one of my facial features. I was very young, picking up both paintbrush and pencil as often as I did my toothbrush. I’d show him the faded ink stains on my arms from journaling my feelings on them, choosing skin over paper so once experienced they could easily be washed away. I’d throw my hands around like an abstract expressionist to gesture the permanent marker I used to draw on furniture. I’d show him my dark circles and bruises from writing recklessly and passionately, from waking up in the middle of the night because I’d crafted a perfect first sentence or en - joyed the sound of a word floating through my head. All before college?’ he’d ask, holding his stomach, after hearing my rendition of put-on accents to mimic all the people I’d made up in my head. ‘The way I see it I’ve always been, and still am, in school,’ I’d say.


by Dipti Anand

I’ll take a deep breath before I begin—to center myself. I imagine if Galileo were a millennial and I his peer, he’d lean into my ear in the middle of a crowded courtroom and whisper, ‘I’ll bet the earth revolves around me.’ Slighted at being left out of the equation I’ll shoot him a look, to which he’d say, ‘Don’t worry, you too.’ We would both be factually wrong, but that wouldn’t stop us from believing it. Alas, while heliocentrism has confirmed itself as the logic of the skies, another kind of centripetal force is still often up for debate. It’s the kind I’m interested in—the forces of self-validation and self- definition that shape the modern individual, which de - termine how the parameters of identity are influenced and how the flow of personal and professional growth is structured. In other words, who you are, who you want to be and how you can get there. Consider this: are there really any other questions to entertain? Ask a philosopher, and you’ll have to do so twice. They’ll likely be too caught up internalizing to re- spond at first, translating the root of all your questions into ‘me’ and ‘mine’. The same can be said of all pivotal turns in our lives, the contemplative and monumental experiences that transform us all into philosophers, for some, say, graduating from high school.

The diversification of scholarship and skill into disci - plinary categories is the fruit of human imagination, which so cleverly conceptualizes and complicates the world and our study of it. It is a conversation reinforced by modern society’s need for eclecticism, for a variety of experts to navigate daily life. But in pursuing our personal strengths for the greatest good of society, we often forget the interconnectedness that belies these bodies of knowledge, which are all in dialogue with each other. For example, there can be no commerce without people, no people without psychology, no psy- chology without biology, no biology without history, no history without linguistics, no linguistics without biol- ogy and psychology. Some fields of inquiry, like the arts and humanities, are discursive and cosmopolitan, considered ubiquitous in their manifestation of the human spirit by understand- ing the need for invention, creation, proliferation and survival across the board. In this sense, perhaps, it is the paramount education because once enveloped in the arts and humanities, everything can be learned, anything can be known.‘What would Plato say?’ I’d joke at this point. Galileo and friends would laugh, between us having taken one to one hundred humanities classes. He’d quote Socrates from the Apology , ‘The unexamined life is not worth living.’ I’d nod along. Even without con - sulting centuries of footnotes, if I had to rely on classic


Arts & Humanities

Don’t Leave College Without Them


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