Monday, May 30, 2011

Philosophy in Anthropology

Now this is something that has frustrated and irritated me for a while, as holding any philosophy will. Holding a side will always have the other side scorning your extremest of stereotypes. "Damn commie liberals!" "Damn ultrareligious conservitives!" But what I hold isn't a political philosophy, thats not what's attacked on a regular basis now. It's my anthropological beliefs that come constantly under fire, and I'm getting a little worn down.

Theres an anthropological philosophy of the world now thats phasing out of practice, although I cant recall what its phasing to. The idea is that all cultures are equal adoptions to the environment. It was thought up with the intention to curb the idea that spear-wielding hunter gatherer bands are just backwards, or the mockery of certain cultures for their esoteric laws. No way of doing things comes out of a vacuum, and it doesnt remain just because the people are dumbnuts. Hunter gather bands function better in savvanah than farmers do. Japan's system of honorifics came from a highly structural feudal reign, which itself came from perceived need for strict discipline over a united Japan, which came from so-on-so-forth ect.

If it hasnt occurred to you already, there is one major weak point, one stabbing flaw that every. Single. Person. Brings up.

Nazis. Fucking Nazis.

They dont even have to argue about it, I say "all cultures equal!" and they say "Nazis" and that's my cue to shut up. If I argue, people are aghast that I'd defend Nazis. If I dont argue, people get to gloat over a stupid anthropologist while they go back to being the smartest of historians. Rock, hard place, I lose a little face and go with the second option.

Whats incredibly irritating is that no one will ever, ever being up some classical example. No Aztecs, no Mongols, no Vikings. No, those can be clearly defended, because its not recent. People didnt live through that. Mongols and Aztecs killed anybody who they couldnt control. In the name of their god or in the name of just taking their shit. But we can look at Aztecs and say "oh, thats their religion" or try and find a weak excuse like "oh, the area was overpopulated." Because these people were just backwards and stupid and har har.

And you know what? You know whats going to happen in a thousand years? People are going to look at Nazis and say "It was because they were Christians" and nobody's going to bat an eye. Something so inflammatory today and everyone in the future will consider it as just another opinion to be processed and studied. They'll think its a new and fascinating take on an old culture, just like we make takes on Aztecs and Mongols.

And as for what I'd say for defending the Nazi's? Well, morality is  transient and-
Oh wait, thats another philosophy everyone hates. Boo grr boo

I gotta stop this somewhere and wrap up my thoughts, or I'll move on to how I'm supposed to nod and smile at racists.

Let's end on me defending those goddamn Nazis. With a lot of simile.

What they did is a horrible atrocity, even by thier own Western standards. What I want to say is that this didnt just develop out of a vacuum, that this was an adaption to the environment, just like anything else. Its not something that Hitler could just pop out of his head, fully formed, and people would just follow it like lemmings. Germany was poor, downtrodden, shamed, better than this, better than anyone. And like the quiet guy who brings a gun to school, things spiraled into scary from there. Racism against Jews (and Romani to a lesser extent) was rampant. People disliked Jews like America disliked Communists. It seems stupid looking back, but if you were in the thick of it, fuck those guys. When Jews started to be treated like second class, well, they were, so it wasnt a problem. And then things started winding worse and worse, one step at a time, and the people went along with it. Party leaders pushing party members (who couldnt refuse because those were orders). And if everyone in the party was going along with it, well, you hated those Jews anyway. And why use the Jew's things, their bodies? Well, you are poor, there is a war going on, and its not like Jews are people.

Everything makes sense in context, everything develops into its own adaption. This is what the philosophy of equal cultures is about for me. Not that we shouldnt have steamrolled those Nazis, because they're a precious gem of a culture. But that the people saw this as a viable option, equal if not better than other methods. And for what they were trying to do, it worked. Its not a good thing that it worked, of course it isn't.

Wait, was this defending it from a cultural ecology standpoint with the equality thing mixed in?
Dammit, cultural ecology is old hat now. Those historians are gonna bite my face off....

Friday, May 20, 2011

Art Update: Symbolism is Easy

Symbolism used to be hard, references used to be hard. Hundreds of years ago, it used to be the big game maker for a work of true value and art. You had to be ridiculously well read to know the meanings behind meanings, to catch the little things. You had to sort through books and books, and if you're lucky there'd be an index or a card catalog to aide you. There wouldn't often be a handy all-in-one guide to symbols either.

Symbolism today is hella easy. Which flowers, which animals mean what? Open up google search and go. If you really wanna get fancy, go to the bookstore and get a well-sorted all-in-one guide. Symbolism is still held to be an pinnicle of art, but two-bit hacks can look up a few things, graft it to an otherwise shallow work, and think they've said something deep.

So when I say I made a symbolic intro page to my new comic, um, yeah, I feel somewhat guilty about it. Symbolism is cheap and easy, except for the context-specific kind, like in Watchmen. My first chapter of Devil Dreams of Card Games is pretty much Generic Shonen Battle #8 billion, so the symbolism might seem like the graft-y type. Or maybe it is just the graft-y type and I'm in denial. ANYWAY.

This was still an important and fun project. It helped me get together and solidify the art style I'm going for. A cartoony, bright style. And a bit more American that my typical art. This piece helped me work out the colors, FINALLY solidify Ken's design, work out the lines, and especially helped me determine the style of the backgrounds.

I hate backgrounds. Grrr, backgrounds. Never know if I'm doing them right, never know if the characters are getting lost in em.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

I Hate This Guy

So theres this guy. Let's call hiiim.... Wowie. Yeah, Wowie. This is a blog post about Wowie, a friend of a friend in real life.

No, first, the tale of Bobby and Jim, generic fanboys of genericness.

Bobby has played all the Ultracraft games, so when some crazy lore thing happens in Ultracraft 6, he can gasp and be in awe, because he is familiar with the works firsthand.

Jim wants to play Ultracraft 6, but he doesnt want to play or cant find the older games. He learns from Bobby the lore of Ultracraft, the story up until now. So when Jim approaches the crazy lore thing in Ultracraft 6, he is given context by Bobby, and can kindve appreciate it.

Wowie has never played any Ultracraft games. He listens Bobby describe the lore of it, does a little research on Wikipedia. He learns everything he can about it from the wiki and TVtropes, yet he never picks up Ultracraft 6, or anything to do with the sieres. When Bobby and Jim start talking about the crazy lore thing, Wowie goes on and on about how amazing Ultracraft is, and how the crazy lore thing was so cool. He doesnt mention his lack of firsthand knowledge, but goes on and on about this and that, all picked up from articles he read online.

Wowie does this for every single thing. Comics, games, movies. He has no hobbies of his own, has no area where he has any real knowledge. Over the internet, its easy enough to accumulate a vast bank of secondhand sources. Anime, superheroes, tabletop games. When you have a passion, you try and find out more about it, and if you can get the information for free, all the better. But if you have a passion, and read about it, it would make you want to go and actually experience those passions. Buy Ultracraft, read MechaMech: The Mechaning, watch Zappystaff. But Wowie has a passion for other people's passions. He's watched funny reviews and read thoughtful essays, so thats good enough to run out to the dork crowd and display his pretty experience badges. Experience badges that you know he didnt make on his own, because when he talks, you know exactly which website he got that idea from.

I freaking hate Wowie. Its one thing to listen to Bobby and think "wow, I should go check out that book/movie/game." It's another thing entirely to just listen to Bobby and think its just as good as the real thing.

In conclusion: Cracked is a humor site!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Writing Practice 2

Is my blog meant to be a primary source of entertainment? I mostly made it to be a collection of random art, but it only seems to be a collection of random thought. And I havnt exactly made much lately... a vaugly bleach-ish guy who's powers are based on smoking, (man this Big Eyes Small Mouth game is fun!) but nothing is completed towards my comics...

However! I do have to write a paper! Time for a sarcastic version of it!

This whole class has been about Britain being made of racism, and to show how racist they are, we read a bunch of books by people from India. And a book by Jack London. He's an American author, it's that one guy who wrote White Fang. But he has London in his name, so that's almost good enough!

I'm not writing my paper about London. I'm writing my paper based on A Passage to India and The Satanic Verses. India is all like "Man, this cave is SUPER creepy. Why the crap are we looking for the real India? The final ingredient was bromance." So on, so forth. Verses is all like "THIS MAN IS GOD. AND ALSO MOHAMMED. AREN'T I DELIGHTFULLY ZANY?!" I am going to mash these two books together to make a SUPER BOOK. With crazed introspection and mundane zaniness on my side, no one will ever stand up to me again! I will RULE THE WORLD!!! Bwahahahahahaha!

No, I mean, I'll write a paper about the complexities of self-identification when the world has already identified you. People already have an idea about who you are based on where you're from, not necessarily on what your skin color or religion is. This is the basis of racism in Britain. America had a history with black slaves, so racists tend to judge people based on color. Britain had a history as a colonialist empire, so racists judge people and label them by the country they came from. This makes all of Britain confused, because the races are just different cultures, which makes racism perfectly acceptable, right guys? We can have white power because we're a culture too, and all those other people can have thier culture power, and it's cool. right? I may be getting a skewed view of Britain by this teacher lady and her British National Party deathglares...
It doesnt make racism any more acceptable to have the race lines be parallel with culture lines. It just makes things more confusing as they appear to be perfectly defining classes of people.

These books are racist in that British way. In the "our cultures are irreconcilable" kind of way. But even though the cultures are different and its hard for people to understand one another, neither British or Indian people are making the effort to cross that gap. In Passage to India, both groups just stop at their assumptions, and any interaction only reaffirms their ideas. In The Satanic Verses, if you can get past the incongruous I AM MOHAMMAD part, reactions based on looks are exaggerated by the main characters' transformations into an angel and a devil respectively. Except the book is about the characters coming to terms with their own identities, and then seeing it backfire in the form of a weaponized magic lamp... um... never mind, this book doesn't make a lot of sense, but that means I can claim absolutely anything about it. Thank you arty bullshit! Yet again you have saved the day!

This isnt helping me write my paper much, huh. No, it is giving me a better idea of the direction. Yeah.