by Jenny Zhang

The sounds of the Arete cohort rang through the unsuspecting calm of a Sunday night:

Three cohort members talked about getting a group tattoo in hushed daring whispers, perhaps poison ivy leaves?

One cohort member fanned her face and softly screamed, her heart beating faster.

A close group of cohort members pressed in a tight circle around one cohort member, is this what cult living feels like?

As the crescendo of Fur Elise began to pound from the piano, nervous giggles erupted the reading of Audre Lorde’s Age, Race, Class, and Sex: Women Redefining Difference, culmination builds. A cohort member is getting her first stick and poke tattoo: the object of choice? A single black dot.

Today, Sunday July 15th, somehow felt like the perfect culmination, the carrot on top (if you please), to a week full of discussion examining the relationship between work and play.

This past Monday, we started off on a 3 mile hike up the Blue Ridge Mountains. On our way up, one group of hikers the discussed ways playfulness and silliness feel gendered in society. In response, many of us recognized the ways we’ve undertaken serious/stoic facades in various co-ed spaces as a way to garner respect. As we climbed the botanical terrain, we mulled over the ways we’ve been conditioned to think about play, and the spaces it’s been relegated to. Later in class, we talked about who gets to play, and how play [within the context of capitalism] has been resigned to certain settings: playgrounds, recess, sports, movie theaters etc.

So, as we start our fifth week, it only feels fitting: the sounds of the katydids are accompanied by giggles and outburst of laughter; some could say it was just about a single, permanent, black dot, others could say, in a way, this feels like resistance.


Jenny Zhang is a member of the 2018 Blue Ridge Session cohort. She is a student at the Ohio State University where she majors in English and Political Science.