Pattinson Dziewczyna is an aspiring writer who dreams of one day penning best-selling novels and creating TV shows. She is currently undertaking a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature with Film Studies at the University of Sydney, where she is pursuing a vibrant social life and indulging in various extracurricular activities.

This year, Pattinson will be contributing to the blog in the form of a monthly column, sharing her thoughts on a diverse range of topics from literature to feminism and psychology – all from the unique perspective of a first year university student.

Introducing Pattinson

I grew up in a small town in New South Wales, Australia. Despite my roots, I’ve always felt a strong connection to London and the English language. My mother is English, and my father is a Polish immigrant. We spent lots of time in London when I was younger, so it was always somewhere in the back of my mind that I would eventually like to live there. Even now, when I visit London, I feel a deep sense of nostalgia. It’s such a unique city, and I want to be able to contribute to its culture and history somehow through my writing.

Why Literature?

I’ve always been interested in writing. Since primary school, when I wasn’t in the playground, I was in the classroom, writing stories and devising characters and plots. When I was younger, my favourite authors were Roald Dahl and Philip Roth. When I got to university, I took a few English classes, but I didn’t particularly enjoy them. I was much happier in my degree program, where I specialized in Children’s Literature. I wanted to hone my skills, so I took a lot of short-story classes. I also got the opportunity to review children’s books for a prominent Australian publication, and that really helped me build my resume. I knew I wanted to be a writer, and being able to write about what I know best was a sure-fire way to achieve that.

What Does Being a Writer Imply?

As a writer, you often have to express yourself through words on a page. That’s it. There’s no big secret as to how a writer contributes to a novel or a play, nor is there any special training required. You literally just have to be able to string words together in the right order. I think that’s really fascinating, that writing is so accessible to anyone. Anyone can do it, and it doesn’t necessarily require a formal education. That’s an important concept to grasp.

Sufficiently Smart Individuals

In the blog post, I’ll be discussing topics such as AI, genetics, and psychology. There’s no question that technology has advanced to the point where the human brain can be replicated, and eventually, replicated better than before. We’re now able to engineer humans for the sole purpose of doing intellectual tasks, and that’s exciting. It means we’ll never be short of employees, as long as businesses continue to evolve and change to fit the needs of society at large. That’s a positive thing. The only questions are:

  • How will we choose to evolve?
  • What will we choose to evolve toward?
  • How will we sustain the change
  • How will we measure progress?
  • Will it be for the better?

AI and genetic engineering will no doubt play a big role in answering these questions. While we’re still a long way from perfecting AI, we’re making great strides, and the development of these technologies is encouraging. For now, at least, AI and genetics are helping us to evolve and innovate, respectively, and that’s something to celebrate.

Why Feminism?

As a woman, I feel strongly that I have as much right as any man to contribute to societal discourse. When I first became aware of feminism, I was really confused. I’d always associated the phrase with women who wanted to steal men’s clothing and take over the world, but I didn’t particularly see myself as a feminist. As I delved into feminist theory and became more familiar with the movement, I felt a sense of pride and empowerment. In a world where women aren’t given equal rights, I consider myself very fortunate to have been raised in a household with strong female role models. Whether it was my mother, grandmother, or aunts, I never felt like I lacked encouragement or support.

After finishing my education, I began working in the literary field. I started off interning for a non-profit organization that fought for social justice and made a real difference in people’s lives. After that, I worked for the UN in New York City for a year, where I did advocacy work for refugees and asylum seekers. While there, I worked on a children’s book with an Afghan poet and publisher. The story is set in the 1960s during the Afghan civil war, and it follows a young boy who wants to be a writer just like his dad. At the end of the book, the child holds up a piece of paper with some simple words written on it:

“If you want to be a writer, my son, you must begin by writing. You must sit with the words in your head and on your paper, and you must find a way to make them work together. You must learn to trust your instincts, and you must always strive to be a better person. Dad will help you, and so will I. But most importantly, you must believe, my son, in yourself.”

The Human Condition

As the blog post title implies, I want to touch on the human condition, particularly as it relates to creativity and innovation. Humans have always been innovative, discovering new ways to improve their surroundings and conditions. While this trait is definitely a bonus in today’s world, it can also be a double-edged sword, depending on how you choose to use it. If I have a vision for a future that doesn’t currently exist, I could very well create it, only to find myself trapped in a job I hate or a relationship I’m not built for. What’s truly inspiring is the fact that, even now, with so much in the way of progress, we’re still finding ways to improve our lot in life. It’s a constant cycle of birth and death, but the balance perpetually tips in favor of humans.

One way in which we could evolve is to make better use of our spare time. More and more, we’re choosing to do things with our families and friends instead of solely relying on our job situation. What’s more, we’re learning to value the relationships we have, instead of only looking at the surfaces. That’s a world I want to live in, a world where we prioritize our health and well-being above all else. Of course, this is easier said than done, but if we make that our collective goal, I think we could see a sea change in the way we approach life in general.

As for the human condition, when I think about the amount of hatred and cruelty that exists in the world, I find it hard to remain upbeat. The way things are going, it doesn’t seem as if we’re making any kind of forward progress. The future of humanity really is bleak. If we’re to have any hope of survival, I think we need to embrace our differences and uniquenesses, and work together for the common good. In order to do that, we need to start by valueING our relationships, which leads to me to my next point.

Why Psychology?

Last but not least, I’d like to touch on psychology. Although it’s an important element in determining a person’s behavior, I think we sometimes take it for granted, assuming that everyone will act sanely. For those who don’t, there’s help available, both in professional and personal life. One of the major themes I explored in my thesis was the increasing prevalence of psychopathy in society. If you read about forensic psychology in the news, you’ll no doubt have seen stories about innocent people being convicted of crimes that they didn’t commit. In many of these cases, the suspects were clearly psychologically compromised, but that didn’t necessarily mean they were criminally responsible for their actions. The truth is that, while we need to hold people accountable for their actions, we also need to understand why they acted the way they did.

By applying the principles of psychology, we can understand not only why someone committed a certain act, but we can also work to better our relationships and provide more effective support for those who are suffering, or who are at risk of falling into a similar trap.