By SC 11 Comments
My country doesn't really celebrate Halloween like I know other countries do. I mean, we still have parties and some kids get to dress up and we get horror movies on TV, probably, but there isn't really much effort, most costumes are a bit cheap, but still, its all very innocent and fun. Hope every here at CV has a Happy Halloween or you know whatever if Halloween isn't your thing. *smile*
Oh and this might be a bit long, so feel free to TL:DR but to anyone else free free to question, or dispute or add what you wish.
I was randomly thinking of Richard Feynman, the Wodaabe, Red Hood and Outlaws, and Racism whilst talking to someone the other day, and then I realized it wasn't so random, I was really just talking about fear, ignorance and the unknown, or basically scary things and why are they scary? Or even more basically I was talking about Halloween. So to unravel the why and how, well, first do you know who Richard Feynman? I was lucky enough to read about him in my school years, utterly fascinating person. In this day and age, its far too early for anyone to pass on at the age of 69. Larger than life, ultra intelligent, colorful personality. This is how he was described by many of his scientific peers. (he was a very well respected and accomplished scientist in the field physics, among other things) oh, and see, I feel out of place in this strange planet and odd time, but having the ability to find so readily accessible videos on You Tube about characters like Richard Feynman? Just one opportunity I am consciously aware wasn't possible for almost every single generation of human that have lived before me. Its fun reading about Shakespeare, imagine getting to see him talk about his own work and views about love, life, death and religion on camera? I got to do that with Richard Feynman, and I think if your ever bored of reading comics, and you have some spare time to waste, and you don't already know who Richard Feynman is, you'd have a wonderful time learning. So, I know his contributions to science and physics, and more, and are in awe and respect of what he accomplished in his life. He was like Reed Richard's smart, with the charisma of Gambit and Tony Stark with the humility of Nightcrawler (at least that is how he comes of to me) but all that being said about his work/theory in quantum mechanics, quantum electrodynamics, nanotechnology, its all very impressive to me now, now that I have had a few years to wrap my head around those things, but actually how he impacted on my life personally, was with how he spoke about the world and the reasons he does things... and he was extremely accessible. I was young and ignorant (and still am) so I wouldn't have been able to appreciate his actual life's work as a scientist, not yet, to me he was more of a teacher.
Now and then I get to speak to and listen to people from CV candidly about things I like (which I love doing) and I still like to reference and talk to them about Richard Feynman, among thousands and thousands of other things, and if the person I am talking to doesn't know who Richard Feynman is, I like to talk to them, about how I think his interviews and videos of him actually might be the real legacy he leaves behind, in spite of his massive contributions to his field of science, just because in his interviews and video interviews he talks about how you view and interact with the world? The nature of beauty, and fear, and ignorance and... the pursuit of education and knowledge is a beautiful thing, but sometimes other people are just looking for ways to just live, and cope, and survive. The wonder of path integral formulation or more accurately why you would want to know of such wonders, maybe isn't as immediate as knowing what you should be doing. Or potentially even what you should have for dinner that night? I hate using quotes of people, but I really should just to save time "I can live with doubt, and uncertainty, and not knowing. I think it's much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong" and "We absolutely must leave room for doubt or there is no progress and no learning. There is no learning without having to pose a question. And a question requires doubt. People search for certainty. But there is no certainty. People are terrified — how can you live and not know? It is not odd at all. You only think you know, as a matter of fact. And most of your actions are based on incomplete knowledge and you really don't know what it is all about, or what the purpose of the world is, or know a great deal of other things. It is possible to live and not know" particularly stood out for me.
I mean, he was an advocate for truth, and knowledge and he was fully aware that really, for the most part we are all a bit ignorant, of something or the other, ignorance, in one context, its okay. Its an okay place to launch pursuits of knowledge but embracing ignorance, willful ignorance, or the comfort and bliss by claiming to be right, or to know, things that aren't true, or know, or can't be shown to others to actually be true save for the relaxed standards some people apply within their own conscious? Its something that often, amuses me, and not with any maliciousness or negativity, but a lot of fans of comics (fans of comics are usually people?), I tend to see, sort of display a fear of not knowing, and state with a type of certainty I know to be inaccurate well just things I find well again amusing. Maybe fear of not knowing is too harsh, many just do it for fun. Being certain that a fictional character can do this and that when the joke is that given how many writers of comics out there piss of fans, how can you really be certain that Red Hulk won't beat Galactus when some writers don't care about what you consider to know for certain about characters... that are fiction and at the discretion and mercy of the writers. There are preferences in comics, and consistency like it does in science, has a huge role in comics, but consistency in comics and consistency is science are two, very, very, very, different things. So much so I can often almost tell when occasional heated discussions arise in threads which poster is more likely to be or have some background and passion for science and who just is really stubborn and doesn't like to "lose" arguments... oh wait, "debates" but still, I think its a common enough situation in any context? This pursuit of being right? It seems sometimes that the point or premise of some threads is about being "right" and not being "wrong", and thats fair, I understand, we all sort of understand, and I mean, how we apply our own morals... such ways of thinking about right and wrong are necessary... but morals are complex. So personally, I try my best to stay away from right and wrong, at least everywhere else, its too easy, I find, think, a lot of things I just don't have the answer for, in such sparse detail, even little things like who should win in a fight between Hulk, and Superman, let alone more important things, like life, death, love, friendship, work, what to dress up for, for Halloween. I can contemplate who could win, who might win, who should win, based on a bunch of different factors, that would ultimately mean, both should win, or neither should, or one should one time, and the next time the other, or a whole host of different answers because that is more accurate and more truthful than any simple assertion that XYZ character should win against ABC character, as some sort of fact without flaw, despite its context.
I mean, when I'm dead? Kids, teenagers and err.. many adults will still be arguing who should win in a fight between Hulk and Superman, and I'll have to concede that maybe, unfortunately, as much as I would love to know all the answers about life, death, love, friendship, and Lost, before I die, I probably won't. That doesn't mean, I won't stop looking for as much answers as I can, up till then. Feynman was one of the most vehement modern day searchers of truth and knowledge. Accuracy and truth are wonderful and beautiful ideals. Realness? Not the comfort of fooling yourself with answers that aren't real, but just pretending they are because ignorance is bliss? There are benefits in not deceiving yourself, then the hard part comes with actually acquiring the truth, knowledge and 'right' answers? Thats how I feel anyway. Feynman mind you, is just one name on the list of many thousands of people I appreciate and who have impacted my life, and some of those people include people at CV. So don't get the idea that I am the Vice President of the Richard Feynman. I just needed to establish a context for what comes next.
If my general theme for Richard Feynman was discussion of ignorance, for the Wodaabe it might be fear? Do you know much about the Wodaabe? A group, sub group of the Fula ethnicity found in Western, Central, and North Africa, typically the Fula are a minority where they are in each country in aforementioned broader areas. Their name roughly translates to mean "people of the taboo" pretty interesting no? Typically for whatever reasons there are I do not really tend to get unsettled? I mean, I can't really think of things that I fear or get scared of normally? Is that a weird or silly thing to say, I mean, I can think of things eventually if I try, but isn't most fear really down to ignorance? I am aware of some common fears, and friends fears, like a friend once told me how they were afraid of heights. So I tried to wonder whether I could be afraid of heights too? I mean, I believed I could empathize and I just wanted to relate to them better. Still, the fear of heights I kept sort of thinking was wrapped up in falling? Falling being bad, because when you fall, you can get hurt? Hence fearing heights, it makes a lot of sense, plus you know, babies and toddlers fall over so much, I always wonder if the people afraid of heights were either especially graceful or always had people to hold their hand so they didn't fall? Still, if you knew you wouldn't get hurt if you fell, would you still fear heights? Flying is a pretty popular wish? When you can fly, falling doesn't seem as big as a concern? Extra durability might help as well? Healing? Then instead of fearing or worrying about falling you can appreciate the view... and usually the best views are higher up, of course if you don't have flying powers, super durability or healing... so back to ignorance again? Small distance to fall, minimal hurt? Not so much fear? Higher up, better view, bigger distance to fall, more potential pain, in falling? More anxiety. Its a trade off though of sorts. If you know the risk of falling is worth the heights you attain... if you fall, maybe you might think it was worth it, for what you were aiming? Unless... you fall further than you thought you might?
Oops, anyway, back to the Wodaabe, I can say that the first time I saw a video of them, where they were actually in movement (Yaake dance) I was actually unsettled... conventional fears and horror themes never really scared me. Sharks aren't scary, monsters are rarely monsters, I can't buy the concept of evil, the scariest clown is still Ronald because of all the money he makes and greed. Freddy and Jason etc were all disturbed but sort of victims (not that that ever excuses anything, just that at one stage they were redeemable) all those things can be deconstructed but the first time I saw members of the Wodaabe, it was my own ignorance that made me feel distressed seeing their eyes and teeth bared, snarling, odd, weird movements they made? Did not help I saw them in a clip accompanied with music by Salem, and combined with other aggressive imagery. So barring the fear I have contemplating the people I care about being hurt out of the last ten years, probably the most crept out I have been was by the male dancers of the Wodaabe. Again, mainly my own ignorance, and true of overcoming many fears... education and knowledge will usually set you free from fear, discomfort, even in this case a bit of xenophobia. So again, I ask, do you know of the Wodaabe? They are actually pretty fascinating culture/society. Unlike many western cultures where its the females that adorn themselves in make up, jewelry to stand out and attract a mate, here its the males that do that, actually as far as how gender differences compare here to say America some pretty interesting general differences. They are considered to be sexually liberated peoples. To us, many of their customs might appear alien like, still. There is a whole dance centered around males, dressing up and dancing to attract a female. This involves a few complicated things, but from what I remember, appearing tall, baring teeth and widening eyes as much as possible, are all considered really attractive. So the dance that I though was about aggression, violence, pain, injury, convulsions and spasms... eh, as it turns out, its all about love, seduction and romance? Actually quite... fascinating and beautiful really? Evidently I no longer feel unsettled seeing Wodaabe dancing. Was really my own ignorance. Except usually things to do with xenophobia, racism and sexism as well? Usually ignorance.
Oh and what has been discussed to death? Red Hood and Outlaws? I am dressing up as a dead horse though this year (no not really) but its been... interesting actually. If there is one thing I personally observed about all the controversy surrounding the tissues... sorry, issues, with this book, its a reconfirmation that people absolutely suck, at listening to each other and communicating their ideas. I suck at communicating my ideas by the way, I'm alright at being patient and listening though. So nothing really about sexism, or objectification. Just the humor in seeing people totally miss the point other people try and make. This works in all ways going back and forth. This is not a false dichotomy. I always feel people assume that when someone says that people miss the point, they think? Oh, well they are just talking about my side, or my opinion, they are attacking me, personally? Except thats more about cynicism maybe, or defensiveness, or an assumption, or it might just be ignorance. Since there aren't sides, just similarities and differences? When you have a bunch of people saying that they didn't mind the sexual or adult content in one comic, but they did in another... and then a group of people respond to that by thinking its about sexual and adult content being criticized... thats a fundamental break down in communication and plain miscommunication. Its akin to saying that people shouldn't complain about domestic abuse because boxing is a sport? Its an argument of ignorance. Maybe fear as well, do you think? I thought some fans maybe felt defensive with having to defend the book or aspects about the book almost as if they had to justify why they personally liked or brought the book, in spite of criticism, maybe they felt people were judging them, and they needed it to be fact, that people criticizing the issue, were wrong. I feel its especially important to tell the fans who did enjoy that comic, its NOT, actually about them? Its not actually about me, not liking it as well, or liking it, since you know, you can like things and dislike them, its about how specific you get. The context.
We have our preferences sure, we have our opinions sure, but then we have our arguments and points and reasoning for all aforementioned things. Subjectivity versus objectivity. Opinions and random thoughts though... always thought, one interesting defense of Starfire's depiction, was this idea she was an alien, and so Earths cultures and customs and attitudes were foreign to her? She is more sexually liberal, and see that's pretty interesting. I nod at such writers ideas as wanting to explore such facets of the character... one poster defending the issue actually got into quite a lot of specifics about race and perception... unfortunately personally I actually enjoyed their free blog more than the professional issue I paid more than five dollars with despite the fact their blog had no art from one of my favorite artists. Irony yes? One thing though, on Tamaran? Do they get Baywatch... because Starfire's hair flip wasn't alien, it was straight out of American TV/Movies and done expertly as well, and with girls prancing around in bikini's with the camera... focused on their assets that coincide with dah dah daaah. Your average males sexual preferences? What happened to her whole being alien and... lets look at the Wodaabe again? Its Earth, sexually liberal attitudes, for its women especially... yet far, more alien and different than this supposed alien with different attitude? Thats a different culture and perspective right there. Where were the close ups of Starfire's teeth? Yeah.. I am not implying yet whether this makes her depiction negative or positive yet. We are just observing the matter objectively right now. (with sardonic overtones *smile*) but having a reasonable knowledge of many of Earths sexual customs, cultures and attitudes (and some ignorance too) its pretty hard to buy the idea that Starfire's depiction is like totally interesting, fascinating and deep because she's like alien and her attitude and liberal perspective is so alien and wow, she grew on a different planet, so she is "different" "shocking LOL" to quote the writer defending his writings... what different? Yeah you don't need to head out into space, just go to Africa and like other places around the Earth. Potentially maybe... the Wodaabe aren't as sexually attractive to most American teenage males as Starfire maybe...? Oh wait but, I forget, many defending it, say its not about sex "shocking LOL" she is like totally an alien from a different planet and culture and my Earth attitudes about sex are just maybe too uptight for this sexually liberated Tamaranean "shocking LOL" and actually you know what? its not about the sex. Its about the context. One persons exploitation is another persons empowerment, but so, again, if you liked the book, its okay, but thats not an argument for why other people should like it, the same way, I read indie comic books that half the people at this site at least probably aren't even aware of. Otherwise ignorance.
Oh, and that was amusing too? When Starfire suddenly became a real live breathing person with the ability to choose and have freedom and hopefully not judged? Lets go back to ignorance. Starfire is a fictional character. Its easy to address Strawman arguments of people who can't articulately express criticism and referring her character negatively. As easy in fact to think, maybe, just maybe, their criticism isn't actually directed at a piece of paper - but the creator who makes all those choices for a character, but I digress... sort of. Still, this type of ignorance about why criticism matters or questioning or doubting or expecting better actually being about an individuals feelings towards a comic? This day and age in comics? If you care about the comic industry? The question isn't what fans are okay with, and what fans are buying and enjoying books, its about what fans are not okay with, and why aren't more fans out there? Comics are dying. Its not about an individuals preferences or threshold or discretion with exploitation or empowerment. To think that it is for other people? Is a type of ignorance the same way a lot of other ignorance works. Understanding and knowing more doesn't mean your opinion has to change, it just means you understand and know more. Then, then this wonderful thing happens? You talk to people on the same level and you can actually sincerely address the points they make, because its never about who is right or wrong, its really more about accuracy and truth in accuracy. Medium dealing with creativity? Yeah, its no science. "Feynman wasn't being immodest, he was quite right. The true secret to genius is in creativity, not in technical mechanics" - Al Seckel.
Still, just in case I have to really point it out, just in case someone doesn't quite understand... I am still not applying any negative or positive associations to Starfire's depiction. Just presenting some objective criticism to a reoccurring defense to some other criticism. Negative and positive viewpoints can come after, later. Once the ignorance is attempted to be lifted. Works both ways mind you and can be applied to anything you want. *smile* Hope everyone had/will have a fun Halloween. I'd also like to thank three amazing people from CV in particular for all the insightful and enlightening conversations I have had, that has allowed me to start talking about the late great Richard Feynman, realizing I was actually talking about the Wodaabe tribesman, realizing I was actually talking about comics, oh and Halloween (the Fear part). Totally organically and naturally because I am fascinated deeply about all those three things.