Patterns and processes

I like patterns and processes. I especially like seeing patterns of processes that seem to recur with such regular frequency that, once I recognize them, it’s difficult NOT to see them.

Take my diss, for instance. I argue that the pattern of Christian conversion, seen in medieval drama, also recurs in Flannery O’Connor’s work. I argue that this pattern is process-oriented and can be described through the vocabulary of medieval exegesis. In looking at the entirety of O’Connor’s work (not only her fiction, but her nonfiction as well), I think that my thesis is a sound one because, for me, the pattern is just THERE.

Similarly, I enjoy teaching Composition I and II because Composition is inherently process-oriented, that is, I teach the Writing Process. It has three phases: Prewriting, Drafting, and Revising/ Editing. I demonstrate the Writing Process and make my students follow it so that, by the end of semester, the idea of writing an essay is as frightening as, say, doing one’s laundry. There is a comforting quality to the recurring pattern of the Writing Process, whether it’s a narrative, a process analysis, or an argument.

Hell, I even enjoy the process of debt-management, and the recurring pattern of debt-management that comes in personal finance, whether it’s managing credit cards, school loans, or a mortgage. It’s the same pattern, so it follows the same process. Non-scary at all.

In a world in which goals are tenuous at best, impossible at worst, I find comfort in the pattern recognition of processes found in what human beings do. It’s like finding familiar milemarkers on a journey in which you’re not quite certain what the destination is. But, while you hope the destination is good, the journey along the way can be pretty cool, too.

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