Feeling, and instinct, are essential evolutionary traits to any conscious lifeform. An animal never wonders whether there’s more to life. Logic has its uses, of course; logic can help us to survive by rationalising our decisions. In combination with imagination, we were able to survive in the desert long enough to evolve and spread out. We even made logic a cornerstone of civilisation, and ingrained into our education system, especially in subjects like mathematics. But we are not built to be creatures of pure logic, nor should we be.
In the Star Trek universe, Vulcans have often been interpreted as creatures of pure logic, and I have said before this is an idealisation. Yet despite what the Vulcans themselves probably like to believe, they are not creatures of pure logic. To compare them to the Romulans, both peoples share one important difference: one believes in peace, and the other in war. These are cultural values, and cultural values are never, and should be never, a purely logical concept. To reduce it to as much is to take something essential away, to reduce a people to a lost child. This is a concept tackled in Star Trek The Motion Picture through V’Ger, and it remains an important narrative.
I believe all cultures require a feeling in order to understand, more than a direct translation: there is no such thing as a direct translation in either language or culture, and to rely strictly on any set phrases is to sell yourself short. The trick is not to understand another culture through your own, but to understand another culture in its own original context. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that it takes instinct, which even the most detached beings have, to understand others. It’s only a matter of finding similarities, things that resonate, to guide you there. Especially if you find a resonant culture, this is possible. However, it also takes and keen and open eye to new perspectives to really immerse yourself in it. And in the end, it’s all worthwhile when you’re heart’s in it.
We are not empty beings. Logic can be a powerful tool, but it can also be a sanctuary from life. Life is messy, but you can only hide in it for so long before you lose yourself in it. To the lucky ones who break out of this rut, it may not seem like it, but it is a good thing. Because logic is a rut to hide in, an enabler of all the shame within a person. When Darwin released his Origin of Species and revealed humanity’s ancestry, it threw this shame into the spotlight: the most civilised humans simply couldn’t deal with the truth. They wanted to continue to hide, but that didn’t last forever. Today, we are stepping more into the light, learning to embrace our flaws more, although shrouds still remain all across our world. However, as the world continues to change, perhaps civilisation will eventually cease to define itself by clinging to logic; or perhaps it will simply find new ways to hide.
Social media might be the modern equivalent, and perhaps that’s understandable. We all need our masks; it’s when those masks become horcruxes that truly turns us to dark magic. To choose what is easy over what is right, to extend the Harry Potter reference, is what really does us damage. Let’s look at Voldemort for a second, because to create a horcrux in the first place is to literally commit an act that would tear you apart; and Voldemort has done that seven times. You wouldn’t imagine it to think of him, but each of these acts really holds so much power ove him, these kills far less than the casual way he presents himself, that you can’t but wonder at the soul that still remains in him. To bring the concept back to social media is look at the way people use it. Because, like logic, it can be defined both has a tool and as a mask. But when people live their lives through that mask, instead of living their lives as they are, in short if they start living their lives as if the mask is their real selves, then they are only then creating their own horcrux, and running from who they are. Because if any medium means so much to them, it’s only because they’re using it as a mirror to their real lives, untouched from the selves contained within.
I fell into the Star Trek fandom again. Inspired by this, because I felt there was a particularly absent Spock perspective on their relationship in original Spirk songs, as this is the second Spirk song I’ve heard and it was also from Kirk’s perspective. First is here.
As I’m not very musical, these are just lyrics. As there’s no music attached, you’ll just have to imagine.
You give me something I’ve never known before
And there is no logic in it
It’s hard to know what I need more
You dare me to lose you every minute
Can it be I trust you because you feel?
Maybe I’m just too addicted
Because I don’t think I could ever heal
When I see you stray, I am left strickened
If there’s shame in love, I don’t want to know
You take over my mind, you make me let go
I can’t see you
I can’t see you
I can’t see you
I can’t see you
Whenever you touch me, my nerves alight
Mind over matter, I focus on you
I make sure to keep my body packed tight
Minds joined, I understand everything you do
Whenever you smile at me, I feel seen
Though I have no need for emotional security
Yours I will be and ever have been
I’d do anything to keep you in safety
If there’s shame in love, I don’t want to know
You take over my mind, you make me let go
I can’t see you
I can’t see you
I can’t see you
I can’t see you
Oh show me words I used to know
the man I was channelling Show me
I couldn’t stand it, the feelings inside
I must close off the pain, feeling so wrong
Let my hair grow long, need Vulcan to hide
I should have it known it all along
And there you were, so open and proud
Yet I couldn’t even look back at you
You had a way of getting through this cloud
I never knew what I was about to do
If there’s shame in love, I don’t want to know
You take over my mind, you make me let go
I can’t see you
I can’t see you
I can’t see you
I can’t see you
Until this moment
This is my interpretation of their relationship, but there’s another perspective I need to explore. I recently saw The Spock Resonance from the most recent season of the Big Bang Theory, and I keep thinking about it. It isn’t as though I didn’t know Sheldon thought differently of Spock than I do, but given that his history with Spock and Star Trek runs far deeper than mine, it surprised me that the way he sees Spock would be so ignorant.
So the way Sheldon sees it, Spock lives in a world of pure logic, and perhaps this was an idealisation of Spock, whose logic he’s always admired. But he has also admitted in the past that he ships Kirk and Spock, so I wonder how he ships them. There is certainly enough evidence in the original series for both physical connection and, dare I say, emotional connection. There is certainly loyalty, and friendship; protectiveness and relief. Spock sticks as closely to Kirk as Kirk does to him, and he even smiles when he learns he didn’t kill Kirk on Vulcan in Amok Time from the second season. Perhaps Sheldon, understanding arguably less about narratives than I do, simply took this at face value, not recognising the contradiction between this emotional connection and Spock’s so-called pure logic. Perhaps he shipped it out of some need in him to share a connection with someone, even while his need for detachment through logic created a wall of denial of this side of himself. Both sides are a part of him, and yet he chooses only to see the dominant feeling, through a compulsion to protect himself from the chaos of feeling.
The most obvious and important part of this evidence of duality lies in Star Trek The Motion Picture, the first of the TOS films, and my favourite area of the Kirk/Spock canon. In my opinion, this film is second only to The Search for Spock in terms of film canon. After watching The Spock Resonance in season 9 of The Big Bang Theory, more than anything I’ve been tempted to give Sheldon my blow-by-blow of this movie; but given his just-as-fictional reality, I’ll do it here.
So the first we see of Spock, he’s in Gol undergoing Kolinahr. This parallels Sheldon towards Amy in The Spock Resonance, since after their season 9 breakup, Sheldon swears off women entirely. Although this is a trope in many men post-breakup, I think with Sheldon it carries more weight as he is more physically restrained than many other men, making him a more direct parallel with Spock here. I don’t know whether you could call whatever happened to Kirk and Spock leading up to this first scene a breakup, but what does become clear is that it was Kirk who drove him here. And you have to understand this was a long time coming; it goes way back to Spock’s admission in TOS that, “Jim, when I feel friendship for you, I’m ashamed.” Although when he served with Kirk on the Enterprise, he didn’t resist the little things like touches and looks, that shame continued through their relationship — again, this parallels Sheldon in an earlier season of BBT, when he says, “What has that little vixen done to me? Amy has altered my personality.” This background in both cases has led to Spock stopping the ritual, an action with no pure logic in it, but instead an emotional reaction. Spock reached out during the ritual to stop the necklace because he knew there was still something unresolved in his heart that brought dishonesty to the ritual; much the same way as Sheldon got a song stuck in his head in season 9 that eventually reminded him how much he loved Amy, leading him back to her.
The next time we see Spock, he has come aboard the Enterprise, probably after monitoring its activity going by his actions once aboard, as well as the timing. Here we come to another parallel within the film itself, that of the other Vulcan employed by Kirk, who I think he hired in part as a replacement for Spock. That’s why he appeared so shocked when Spock stepped onto the bridge: I don’t think Kirk ever expected to see him again. But in fact, that Vulcan officer was his excuse in, and I think Spock needed that. As Spock distracted himself from Kirk with his work, arriving without an excuse would have exposed him and whatever his true intentions were, when he likely didn’t know yet what he wanted to do beyond facing Kirk again. No matter how happy Kirk was to see Spock in either case, Spock needs duty first, before he can acknowledge anything approaching his feelings. This is similar to Sheldon too, as he briefly tried to replace Amy with a woman he would meet through craigslist, though he soon abandons her for fine details, probably at least in part indicating that he’s still too stuck on Amy to move on. But before he could go back to her, she first had to invite him in. Even when she did, like Spock, he was resistant at first, until he reached his revelation and finally returned to her.
I have read a theory that light and shadow factors into the TOS movie; the black clothing and shadows on Spock’s face when he boards the Enterprise contrasts sharply against the lack of shadows and white clothing in the hospital bed when Spock has his revelation about Kirk. There is also the parallel between Decker and Ilea, down to her vow of celibacy and last heartrending separation with Decker, which remains relevant to Kirk and Spock despite the fact we don’t know how they were separated. In fact, we don’t even know how Decker and Ilea were separated. Nostalgia is also used, with a brief shot of Spock in his familiar blue uniform between arriving and his first private conversation with Kirk, as well the line that follows in the next scene, “I need him” which was first said in Charlie X and directly contrasts Spock’s current, even mocking attitude of detachment. This is also repeated in the hospital room, and in both these occasions Kirk said this in white rooms, signalling unambiguous honesty, as well as vulnerability, using the light metaphor. This begins in the next scene, with only Spock, Kirk and McCoy present. Despite his intimate past with Kirk, and perhaps due to the post-conditions of Kolinahr, Spock stands as stiff as ever, and refuses to even sit down, as even that will make him feel vulnerable, as if his will is not his own; and Spock, especially in this moment, needs control over anything else. He is still afraid, still ashamed, of the connection they share. But Spock does sit down eventually, perhaps foreshadowing the outcome of this movie. Perhaps the closest equivalent in Sheldon’s relationship is his trip to the Aquarium with Amy, and the awkward conversation in the car, between Amy mirroring Kirk by trying to relax the situation, and Sheldon mirroring Spock by mocking the situation, by addressing the elephant in the room: Sheldon asks the questions friends don’t ask, just as Spock makes the stiff business-like bargains against Kirk’s personal of “I need you”.
As the movie continues, Spock continues to play the part of ship crewman, but even as they descend into the cloud towards V’Ger, Spock is already standing next to Kirk closer than the average crewman; observe Decker standing behind the barrier to the left, and Spock in front as Kirk’s right hand man. This may have been a brief, simple pretext to be next to the captain for a moment, as he’s soon back to his chair again. However, as Kirk moves the ship in closer to V’Ger, a pillar of lightning enters the bridge to tap into the computers. And here’s where it gets interesting, because there’s four main players in this next scene. Decker, Kirk’s parallel, tries to work on the computer. At Kirk’s commentary on the problem, Spock reacts by damaging the computer to cut off access. As a result, Spock’s parallel, Ilea, is attacked because of Decker and taken by V’Ger. So firstly, we have Kirk/Decker as instigators, then Spock/Ilea as defenders and in turn revenge victims. I have mentioned the woman from craigslist in BBT, but I haven’t mentioned Amy’s parallel, the British boyfriend. He may represent at least at least a subconscious desire to replace Sheldon, as he at least somewhat mirrors him in that he’s tall, as well as his unfortunate overt enthusiasm for Sheldon, which breaks through her desire for subtlety in his attributes. However, she is eventually able to dismiss even this in her desire to chase after Sheldon, up until the point he wins her back. These mirrors both show desire and loyalty in the main ships.
V’Ger then drew the ship even closer to itself, and Spock didn’t seem at all resistant. In fact, since first contact with V’Ger, it seems Spock has had direct mental contact with the unit, allowing Spock to see and know more about it than the rest of the vessel. He probably knew how it thought, and this has probably attracted Spock to it. Because there’s the mission, and then there’s Spock’s personal thoughts and feelings. He wants to be as logical as possible, which he equates with morality through restraint, and even with these small emotions and inclinations, his thoughts aren’t on Kirk; he wants to be closer to V’Ger in order to attain this enlightenment through pure logic. So he finally steals a spacesuit and heads out to meet V’Ger. And as all this is happening, V’Ger’s probe/Ilea is moving in the opposite direction by discovering feeling through Decker, and thus higher meaning through that feeling. Up until now, Spock has had a kind of contact with V’Ger, but until meeting on the other side he didn’t have a strong enough connection to achieve his ends. But when he attempted a mind meld, he was filled with the empty thoughts he would have ended up with had he undergone Kolinahr, and he understands now why he couldn’t go through with it. When Sheldon and Amy were apart in season 9, both also headed into opposite directions, with Amy moving towards forming new connections with other men, and Sheldon moving towards detachment. Although Sheldon didn’t deal well with this separation, he clung to this detachment even when Amy admitted she wanted to be his girlfriend again. Like Spock, he did this on principle: the fact that he needed to be her friend reflects his need to cling to detachment and run from his feelings, just as Spock has always done especially by clinging to duty and business-like statements.
Then we get to the famous hospital scene, and McCoy is speculating Spock’s condition. At the words, “The power pouring through that mind meld must’ve been staggering,” Spock laughs. Because he knows, it wasn’t immense power, but its opposite. V’Ger doesn’t have the answers Spock thought it did, but questions. It understands far less than even Spock has achieved in his life. Even Spock has feelings for Kirk, has hopes, and V’Ger has none. This is not something to aspire to, but to avoid devolving into. When Sheldon goes mad trying to figure out the song in his head, he eventually figures out it’s because of Amy, because it reminds him of her. Like Spock’s mind meld, Sheldon undergoes a mental journey which leads to the revelation that compells him back to the one he loves. This leads to a final famous scene of their reunion, and a kiss that has lost all its stiffness, the equivalent to Kirk and Spock’s handholding.
In the very next scene, he underscores this by explaining that V’Ger is a child. This parallels much of Sheldon’s character, as Sheldon is often compared to a child, yet his connection to Amy, much like Spock’s connection to Kirk, makes him better. Sometimes he still fears his vulnerability through this connection, but both Spock and Sheldon eventually come to accept this love over that fear. When V’Ger merged with Decker, that new life, that ascendence provides the perfect metaphor of this.
There are plenty of weighted phrases from Spock that reflects his own feelings as well as the the original context they were spoken in. He says “curiosity,” as both an expression of V’Ger’s spirit as well as his own attitude towards the entity, says, “It knows only that it needs, Captain. But like so many of us, it does not know what,” reflecting both V’Ger’s current conflict and his own recent one, and “Unfortunately, it will have to deal with [human emotions] as well,” regarding both the new V’Ger and himself into the future. In this way, V’Ger serves as a parallel to Spock as well. And in many ways, there is a resonance to Sheldon too, as these quotes may all apply to his life as well. Although curiosity could easily be explained in many contexts, it is personal curiosity that matters here, and perhaps what kept him near Amy at the beginning at least. Not knowing what he needed probably kept him from discovering the truth about how not only Sheldon’s relationship, but how it changed him, until it was too late to stop it. And now that he does know, the last quote comes into play, in that no matter how he might wish to return to the safety of 2003, he has simply changed too much to go back. So perhaps these comparisons didn’t all happen in the same order, but we can see that there are many similarities between these two ships to link them, making them mirrors in different worlds. And perhaps the most important link of all between them is that they will always find their way back to each other.
The ground crunches and cracks under my feet as I headed towards the forest. I pause for a moment as a wooden sign comes up on my right. Please think of your friends and family… call the Suicide Prevention hotline… Utter rubbish.
Silence and pressure fills my heart as I pass the chain barrier, entering the forest alone and free. I don’t have to worry about anyone here, don’t have to think about feeling so inhuman around everyone else, or feeling inadequate for anything. Soon I will be the nothing they made me into. I don’t have friends, my family hates me, my happy memories are tainted and my bad ones consuming. I can think of no reason to live, no reason to continue, when my happiness can be nothing more than a mask, hiding my disgusting self from the world.
My eyes are full of greenness, hypnotising me to stay, enticing me deeper into the forest, the ground brown, loose, rocky, ready to swallow me up. I would gratefully allow the earth to consume me, into a perfect natural grave. And best yet, no one would ever find me.
I come upon a sign in two languages, Jesus loves you. Yeah, bullshit. Some foreigner god. I don’t need you, or want you. I don’t want anyone here, I just want to be alone. I don’t ever want to be seen by eyes again.
I walk on, I don’t know why. I could just crawl up and die here, but I don’t. It’s as if I’m searching for something within these trees.
I wander for days, slowly letting myself waste away. Any hour now…
I’m still here, sunken, starving, and still alive. I scrunch up a dead leaf beside me, destroying it utterly as I wait for my own end. It is a slow process. I continue to breathe. The forest embraces me.
I’m bored. I’m starving, but nothing’s happening. And then something occurs. I get up. I keep moving. I’m not done yet.
My feet are the ones moving, decided our fate, and I let them lead the way. I still don’t know what I’m doing, but something in me wants to survive.
I stop between trees, kneel down and pick up a stone. I didn’t bring anything else with me, so if I want to survive, I’ll have to do it myself. I start sharpening the rock against another one. It’s mindless work, but just the kind I need. My mind empties into a thoughtful haze. Images of my childhood press at the back of my mind, as if branded there. The faint click of rocks grazing off each other fills my ears in a steady rhythm. I tick to it.
When my eyes return to it, the rock has a fully form sharp edge. I drop the second rock, and find a stick, cutting four needlepoints into the end. If there is anything living in this forest, I will kill it.
I walk for a long time, before I stop to rest. I wonder if I should walk back to where I came from. But the thought of walking back to people is still untolerable to me. I can’t live among them anymore; I’ve reached my limit. So just what am I supposed to do? I stay for less than ten minutes, before I’m eager to go again.
I hear nothing in the forest for a while, and I begin to wonder if I’m the only living thing here. Surely what people say can’t be the truth… could this really be a dead forest?
I catch a rat finally as it scampers by me as I stop to rest. Grateful for the bounty, I pierce through the heart and open it’s skin, blood onto the ground and myself. Sucking it from the entrance point, I bite into the meat, hating myself for eating it raw, and for eating such a disgusting creature. It breaks even my internal limits.
But I eat it all from the inside out. Perhaps I still might die of disease…
Nights pass shivering, days spent wandering, and occasionally eating. Eventually I must wear this out. I must either die or escape.
I meet solid ground. The path… I can escape.
I meet a man on the road. We exchange sympathetic words.
When I reach a clearing at the end of the trees, I stop suddenly, just at the edge. Am I really ready to leave? I came here with no plans of escape, and the air in front of me feels too bare. I am afraid to leave the forest’s welcoming embrace.
I stand there for well over an hour, hesitating at the edge of the forest, stopping myself several times from going back or moving forward.
I finally start forward.
Inspired by: Tasha Receno – “Just Another Rape Poem”
Trigger Warning: rape mentions
I see a sea of faces, bright lights, and look down for just a moment. I have performed before, but in most cases I focus less on the audience and more on the stage. But I am alone out here, so I peer through the light like its a mirror, and begin to speak.
“When I used to imagine sex, I imagined pain
Pictured a force tearing me apart
Me, with no choice
Him, with no mercy
Tearing me apart even when I screamed for mercy
Or a break
Or it was too much sensation
Or I was too dry
I have the vague memory of a penis entering me –”
I am cut off by a voice, detached at first, coming from nowhere. Then I begin to see the audience, scanning it, when the invisible voice comes again. Now I’m able to pinpoint it, find his face, hear his words.
“You should stop whining about rape and learn to defend yourself,” he says.
He doesn’t know, none of them do. This is why, after all, I’m up here. Because people don’t know what I know, because I’m tired of being misunderstood, because people need to understand. Because I know someone will, and fuck the rest.
But this man’s still talking, still interrupting me, even while he calls me the interruption. He doesn’t see the hypocrisy. And as he continues to challenge me, I become the monster on stage, curling my fists hard, imagine launching myself at him.
But I don’t. I stand still, frozen as I force myself to remain frozen, imagine physically holding myself back. I take a few deep breaths, stop imagining my fist in his face, and start imagining yelling at him instead.
“You know what?” I say, “Fuck this. You think it’s so simple? I’ll write another slam poem, just for you.”
I wander downstage, then return to the mic upstage, preparing myself. I take a deep breath to steady myself, and when I begin, my voice is screaming.
“I won’t be silent!
Men like you
Have been silencing women like me for centuries!
I was raped!
And I deny it pretty often in my own head, but I won’t anymore!
You think you know me?
You have silenced me.
I spend every minute of every day bowing to your whims.
I don’t speak about it, I am afraid!
Afraid of offending someone,
of provoking someone,
of embarrassing myself,
of crossing some line.
But it’s all a lie!
I don’t owe you shit!
I was raped!
And men like you defend those rapists.
You degrade me,
as if I’m to blame.
I don’t have anything to do with it.
No matter what, they will still rape,
no matter who you blame.
You ask why I don’t defend myself.
day in and day out,
why don’t I defend myself against violence that is everywhere?
I take beatings, don’t get me wrong
I get abused
I take this abuse in my body just as if you had punched me in the face
But I take it
because I don’t want to be a bitch,
don’t want to complain,
am told I deserve it.
I don’t deserve it.
But everyday, my fear and my anger grows
My body corrupt
my mind twisted
so that I lose my compass
and lose myself in the forest of right and wrong
a forest of my own emotions
a forest of my inner selves
I search, decade by decade, for myself
I’m searching for how I feel,
I’m searching for -” I burst into song, “when will my reflection show
who I am inside -” and back,
“I’m searching for who I am,
and I’m searching for the bravery to wear my heart on my sleeve.
I doubt even you’re man enough to do that. Most men aren’t.
Men are balls of fear wrapped up in bravery,
a paradox men like you are completely blind to.
Many men are bullies
That’s why many men rape
Because they need to take in order to feel whole
To feel powerful in order to feel in control
To control others rather than yourself
To violate someone else’s rights in order to feel your own.
It’s been happening for centuries,
so you must be afraid, ‘why stop now?’
End of an era.
And it’s coming
And that terrifies you, doesn’t it?
So much you have to condemn us to ‘just a distraction’ in order to convince yourself we’re not a threat
Yeah, keep thinking that, because before you know it
we won’t be
just a distraction
We will change the world.”
I take a breath, thinking back on everything I just said, while looking him the eye again.
“You know, I should really thank you
By standing in as my muse
You only fuel my power.
Critics like you
remind me how much hate there still is in the world
Hate versus hate, there should really be art
Because hate plus art equals heart
And that’s really what we could use more of.”
And with that, I spin from him and exit the stage, invited into the fold of my fellow performers, and I’m awash with praise once again.
Lately, I’ve been watching a lot of Crash Course history, both World and US. And it seems to me that, although the channel does focus on history outside America, such as on history in the Middle East and Asia, there is still something of an exclusivity involved.
While watching World History, I gave some thought to the fact that they gave Africa only three episodes on World History 1 & 2 (72 episodes overall), one episode on Latin America, and no episodes on Australia or New Zealand, or even Canada. And then they dedicate a history course to America in detail; according to John [Green], not because of Euro-centrism, but because it is a major world power and thus relevant to all. Yet I can’t help but wonder how much of that is really national pride at least partly to the exclusion of outside perspectives. I mean, certainly nothing is written or thought of in a vacuum, and a little passion for your country is of course allowed. But would John have even considered dedicating a course to another country, say China, in more detail? I bet if he was born there, he would; I myself would certainly do a course on Australian history if I were a Crash Course history host. Perhaps there simply isn’t demand, but wouldn’t learning the histories of countries not our own broaden our minds the same way learning languages in school does? So shouldn’t we do that more?
History is great not just for learning the past but also understanding the present, something I didn’t really appreciate until Crash Course history. The historical context of Austen’s novels, for example: the fact that women’s roles were to become wives speaks even to today’s attitudes towards women. At my sister’s wedding, I remember someone off-handedly joking about how all that was left was to “marry off the other one,” not even to mention my new brother-in-law’s conservative views. I think Austen’s novels were perhaps an exploration on under what circumstances she might get married, divorced to her reality, and her female protagonists were also perhaps explorations of her own character as well. But apart from all that, it was often in Crash Course US History that I thought recurring themes still relevant today, particularly on the topics of prejudice and freedom, were quite interesting as well.
When I was in school, I learned Australian history so much, that by high school I was so sick of it that I would’ve been glad for anything else, especially as what I was taught was practically exclusively early colonisation of Australia and about Aboriginees. So when I entered The American International School, I grasped gladly to American history. But these are the only two histories I was taught; yet I was also taught French, Spanish, Japanese and Italian, not to mention briefly Indonesian at some point, throughout school too. I believe learning languages in school is compulsory in order to teach children to be more open minded about other cultures. However, why isn’t history treated the same way? Why is it so largely exclusionary, at least in my experience? We should learn the histories not only of our own countries, but of others as well. And don’t tell me that’s what World History is for; that should really be the starting point to learn more. World History, it seems both in Crash Course and across other courses, is really at the moment more like the General Knowledge of history: a special interest course but ultimately useless. History, however, isn’t useless, and in order to become more rounded individuals, perhaps we need to think more carefully about the stories we tell each other, even the non-fictional ones.
This has led me once again into the fantasy of what education could be. Perhaps you could learn World History (well) in primary school, and then in high get a specific-country elective (ie the country is elective, not the class), for one continent per school year. By the end, then you’d get an overall understanding of world history as background, and specific country histories as an expansion of that. Another step towards the ideal plan.
Another thing about the historical story that we tell is that it always starts with the history of the dominant peoples rather than the original natives. No doubt this is that bias of what is “our” history opposed to their history, “their” meaning the natives. But is it bias that leads us to focus on this, or does the excuse of easy access have some sway here? In my opinion, uneasy access to references from the past of other people isn’t necessarily an excuse not to teach it () know what’d make it more accessible? More initiative to research it), unless there’s so little reference that it would mean that everything is speculation and not fact. I think that this isn’t the truth in many cases, though. If history is what’s written, does that mean what isn’t written can never be known? Archaeology, oral traditions, living descendants, cultural art; even in written historical periods, it is always possible, even likely, to have other resources, even if the way history’s taught now might give us the opposite impression. Maybe I don’t know much at all about what resources are available, but I do know what I want to see, and that is a balance, even an unequal one, between all the peoples involved in a particular story, not just the victors.
I believe in any kind of storytelling, both comedy and tragedy are essential. Comedies uplift our spirit, and tragedies teach us to be more self aware. Both mind and spirit are essentials to becoming more wellrounded human beings, but in particular, tragedies, even ones that only reached individuals and not society as a whole, are perhaps more particular to history. Because, just like tragedies, histories serve to teach us about ourselves and our society. It’s just that we’re fortunate enough for our society not to have led to tragic ends, on the whole. And things are continuing to get better into the modern age, which is where comedy comes in: to give us hope for the future.
She stared at her phone screen, and it glowed against her eyes as she took in her image on her facebook site. People were always telling her she needed to be more active on it, that they wanted to see her more, but everytime she went on, she felt this sinking feeling.
She was an embarrassment. Every time she saw her picture, everytime she posted something or commented on something, she felt it. She should just shut down the whole site and run away from this whole internet interaction. At least when she was around people, she didn’t feel so self-conscious. She was thinking about the other person, not herself. But these days, whenever she was around people, they were always on the phones. It pissed her off.
But more than that, it made her afraid. Afraid, because if she was forced to come back here again and again, forced through these jarring interactions, she would expose herself too much, show people her real self, and they… they would tear her apart for it. People were about as gossipy and ruthless as she was ashamed for her differences and the body that hides them. Because that’s what she saw, looking at her photo. A face, a body that represents a whole. A smile so still it appears fake, the body too exposed by the clothes wrapped around it. Legs filled with sexual presence, arms filled with vulnerability, face belying too much sorrow. Everything too exposed, as she stretched on the grass, reading.
The book revealed too much, too, for those who knew. And there was those who knew, had to be. Catcher In The Rye, the book about Holden Caulfield, the character everyone she knew hated, who she alone loved because she felt like she knew him, was walking around in his life, in his skin. She could tell no one else this, but here was the evidence. She tapped edit, then choose facebook photo. She had to show a different self, she couldn’t be that girl, who looked their nose down on everyone and hated them; she knew it was all in her head. At least, she needed to show them a different her.
She scrolled through her pictures, saw pictures of her with friends, family… lots of scenery; she liked to keep the focus off herself… places she’d been, things she’d done… “I don’t know…” she sighed. She picked one close by, that was good enough. She stood by the side of the frame, crowded by a restaurant her family had taken her too. It was an unintentional shot by her brother, just as she was turned towards him. He had uploaded it with relish, telling her, too, that she didn’t have enough photos up on facebook. But part of her remained certain he did it just to embarrass her. Little brothers are so cruel sometimes.
She knew there was nothing particularly wrong in this picture, but her hair was too messy, her eyes too bright, and she tapped back. Find another photo… she thought, and kept scrolling.
Out of desperation, she almost chose a plate of food, if only to obscure her face, but she knew how that would look to the outside world; it would look like she was hiding. And from a world that demanded her presence, she knew that wouldn’t do, so she continued down.
Finally she found it, a group shot from school where she was reasonably hidden in a sea of faces. They had all taken a picture in front of the library during free period, and she pictured right from the centre, surrounded by her group. She chose it, cropped it, and stared in satisfaction as her eyes flitted from Alex to Sara to Jessica, and all around at the friends surrounding her, avoiding her own face completely.
She exited the app. There, she thought. Maybe that oughta hold them a little while. It wasn’t a post, but she really had nothing to say, so she’d just have to think about it a while longer.
Partly inspired by this.