Archive for December, 2009

19
Dec
09

Code Geass: Why Code Geass is Educational.

Code Geass: Rebellion of Lelouch

Code Geass (see here), for those of benefactors that may not know, is an animation series from Japan (see here).  Often classified as a mecha-action-drama by some.

However, Code Geass holds a special place for me in my heart.  I believe it should be used in the classrooms in the United States, mainly for social studies classes in high schools.

This may sound bizarre and I assure you my masters, it is.  Code Geass is EDUCATIONAL!

Get edumacated! Author: Yes your highness...

Code Geass is one of those animes that covers a lot of the things that one needs to learn about in the world.

If I were to go into detail this article will take forever and as you know this will take too much work for me, your humble writer.   So, to put it succinctly, here is a list of things that you can learn about or is referenced in the Code Geass series.

===============

SOCIAL SCIENCE

-GOVERNMENT-

  • Forms of government (empire, constitutional monarchy, representative democracy, colony, single multi-state government (some people think U.N. is one))
  • Line of succession (see line of succession)
  • Political assassination and the scary “cides” (Regicide/Fratricide/Genocide (yes, even this too))
  • Rebellion/Insurgency/Terrorism
  • War (strategy vs. tactic) – see The Art of War
  • Electoral process (see representative democracy)
  • Public executions
  • Citizenship (naturalization and by birth)

-ECONOMICS-

  • Poverty
  • Caste system (aristocracy, etc.)
  • Social Darwinism (see social darwinism)
  • Commercialism (shopping malls, cell phones, Pizza Hut.  Having been in the ad business in my previous employment this really fascinates me)
  • Mass media (state-controlled)

-HISTORY-

  • Everything before 1500-ish (because anything mentioned after that is the universe that Code Geass is set in)
  • Geography (accurate world geography with different borders)

-MISC-

  • Religion (the occult, in this case)
  • Racism and reverse-racism
  • High school education (an anime with a high school?!)

===============

HEALTH

-SEX EDUCATION-

  • Homosexuality (both male/male and female/female)
  • Masturbation (female)
  • One-sided love (I’m shocked too, I know)
  • S&M (just look at C.C.’s outfit)
  • Incest (multiple occasions)

-D.A.R.E.-

  • Drug abuse/Drug trafficking (Just say no to Refrain)
  • Deaths (suicides and malicious kinds)

===============

NATURAL SCIENCE

-NATURAL SCIENCE-

  • Psychology (a good anime always cover this topic but…)
  • Futurism (see futurism)
  • Energy crisis (sort of)
  • Pseudo-science (e.g. ESP, etc.)

-COMMERCIAL TECHNOLOGY-

  • Ejection seats, air bags
  • Monorail/public transportation systems
  • Robotics (it’s an anime, it has mecha, nuff said)
  • Cell phones (I know it’s mentioned but I do like the ones featured here.  Can’t beat the ones from Macross Frontier though)

===============

CREATIVE ARTS

-ARTS & CRAFTS-

  • Portraits (royalties, mainly)
  • Architecture (classical and neo-classical… I think)
  • Landscapes (impressionism, I think)
  • Cosplay (yes, I think it’s art)

===============

I believe there are many more things one can learn from this anime.  We should promote a forced viewing of the 2 seasons of Code Geass to everyone in high school.

Despite my utter hatred for Lelouch the Douche, I believe that allowing the youths of America to be exposed to such compendium ofknowledge will ultimately benefit us in the long run.  Long live Emperor Ledouche!

Advertisements
14
Dec
09

Seeing Author People (the intentional fallacy part II)

Editor’s note: the following was received in a repeating signal, broadcast by a digital beacon from the middle of the Bornean Jungle. As of now, Blanka Hsudler’s location is unknown.

***

Previously in this space, I’ve discussed the so-called “fallacy of the author,” which states that an artistic work should be judged on its own merits without preconceptions about authorial intent. Although this has always been a touchstone of my attitude as a reader, it’s caused considerable problems in my approach to writing. Trying to write with a background in literary criticism is like trying to play the lottery while having a basic understanding of math.

The Fallacy, in particular, seems designed to undermine the creative act. After all, the very name of the thing declares that authorship is a lie. How am I supposed to put words on the page when I have no say in the meaning of the finished work?

The dilemma is encapsulated nicely in this scene (linked in part I) from the marginally-entertaining Rodney Dangerfield vehicle Back to School. For a practically-minded man like protagonist Thornton Melon, it makes perfect sense that the ultimate authority on a Kurt Vonnegut novel would be the writer himself. He learns a hard lesson about lit theory when his college professor gives Vonnegut’s paper an F, and moreover declares that its author “doesn’t know the first thing about Kurt Vonnegut.” Of course, poor Kurt learns a harder lesson, one that really tugs at a fellow writer’s heartstrings, when Melon cancels his paycheck. As far as I am concerned, the most important lesson in Back to School is always ask to be paid beforehand, in cash.

***

That authors often don’t understand the “hidden meaning” in their own work is hardly news. But if I can’t tell you what my own book is about, what’s the point of writing at all? Worse, what if I’m writing one thing and it turns out to be just the opposite? Take The Merchant of Venice: critics still can’t decide if poor old William Shakespeare meant Shylock to be a greedy old caricature hilariously bitch-slapped by karma, or an sweet man soured by the bitter pill of society’s salty aspersions.

Two modern interpretations of the character:
Laurence Olivier

Sir Laurence Olivier as Shylock, 1973

Al Pacino

Al Pacino as Shylock, 2004

This, of course, ignores the obvious answer that Shylock is supposed to be an ambiguous figure. For the sake of this analysis I’ll pretend that shades of gray weren’t invented till Impressionism.

***

Another example from the Bard: I’m pretty sure “to thine own self be true,” the words said by Polonius to his son in Hamlet, wasn’t meant as sound advice. Until he’s accidentally stabbed while hiding behind some curtains (in a scene that I find hilarious — is that so wrong?), Polonius is presented as a senile, lecture-happy dotard, a sort of medieval Larry King who hails from Denmark instead of Mesopotamia. I’m pretty sure it’s no coincidence that his advice sounds like the title of a bad self-help book or an even worse memoir (an Amazon search turns up a painfully comprehensive list of both).

An astute reader might point out that Shakespeare isn’t the best source to use when discussing authorial intent, since we’re not actually sure the guy wrote his own plays. Or existed. But whether a non-entity can truly intend anything is a question I’ll leave to the philosophers (or Tom Huxter).

The point is, it can seem impossible to get a message across when all readers have to go on is the written word. Even when the message is right there in the text, someone is likely to come along who gets it completely backwards. Worst of all, everything being relative, perhaps it’s the author himself who’s misunderstood the whole thing. So, why write at all? It’s certainly enough of a dilemma to make one tear one’s hair out.

Shakespeare, BEFORE and AFTER

Shakespeare, too, was distressed to learn about the Fallacy of the Author.

***

Next time: Some foolproof ideas about how to write, in spite of the Fallacy. Or at least, some foolish ideas.