Using Fiction to Slow Cultural Erosion?

Cthulhu Scribe by Drew Pocza

I had an interesting conversation a few weeks ago when I went out for sushi therapy. One of my favorite chefs (shows you how much I like sushi, eh?) is from Indonesia, and he told me a story about the islands in his home country. He said that, thanks to Facebook, the younger generations just want to be cool. Speak English. Dress like their favorite singers, artists, and celebrities–which worried him a little. The more his fellow Indonesians fully adopted an American lifestyle, the faster his own culture (specifically, the various dialects spoken on the different islands and how distinct each one of them is) would begin to disappear forever.

Now, of course, he’s an American immigrant. He’s had an interesting time getting to this country and had something else to say, about how we don’t know how great we have it here, how free we really are to be whoever we want. I was inspired by this conversation, because when the subject of “what I do” came up eventually, I told him I was a writer and he asked me to write about Indonesia, about his culture. (The funny thing? One of the waiters was from Indonesia, too, and they met completely by random here in the States, each from separate islands.) He didn’t care that I was an American or that I know F-Bomb all about the country. I don’t know why that is, really, but I felt there was a sense of trust there. This is, after all, what writers do: we read, we research, we write based on what we learn.

This isn’t the first conversation I’ve had about this topic and it won’t be my last. Maybe you don’t know why I have these discussions, why I’m insufferably curious, and why I care. What I’ve come to understand is this: the more we communicate, the greater the chance cultural lines will blur as certain dominate cultural traits take over. This can be a natural occurrence, but it’s often been forced, too, and you don’t have to look very far into the past to see that. For better or for worse, cultural blending has happened throughout history–even outside of war and genocide. Now, however, I feel (and I could be wrong about this) it’s happening at a faster rate than it ever has before. What I see, is that this (being erased) is what people might be afraid of. Zeroing in on that gentleman’s point, dialects/languages used for hundreds, thousands of years could completely disappear within one-or-two generations if they’re no longer used or taught. It doesn’t take much time at all for a custom or language to be erased, adopted, or modified into something new. Just a blink.

I feel there’s a bright light, however, because we can preserve and slow cultural erosion. It takes time and effort, sure, but this is the benefit of art. By making art–whether that’s pottery, jewelry, music, paintings, stories, etc.–by drawing from who we are, what’s around us, and digging deep to that core, I feel we can preserve and slow cultural erosion through our fine works. What I’ve also learned over time, is that people want to see themselves in the media that we create, because they don’t want to be forgotten or feel invisible.

Also, I feel that people who don’t see themselves physically represented in mainstream media don’t automatically ignore a story if they’re not included. How much money has the Star Wars franchise grossed? How many people have seen Star Wars? Know those characters? Understand its cultural impact–even if they don’t like it? That’s powerful stuff. The fact that this story is now embedded into our public consciousness means that it’s become part of our culture. And, because of the internet, we’re seeing the results of how fans feel about “mainstream” characters like these, through cross-gender/cross-cultural cosplay, fanfic, fan art, and other creations within fandom. The reason why that exists? Why fans are taking characters and making them their own? The audience seems to be crying out: please represent us! We want to see ourselves in the stories you tell! Like those who fear being erased, others no longer wish to be invisible.

For this reason, this is why I feel making art is, quite possibly, the most powerful gift we can give ourselves and each other. By using our unique voices that speaks to who we are, where we came from, and what we see around us, we can do a great many things with our prose. This is exciting to me and, I hope, it inspires you as well.

Oh, and the gentleman in question? I encouraged him to write his own story in his native language, as it turns out he used to be a writer. Next time I go back for sushi therapy, I’m hoping to hear an update!

Deep, deep thoughts. And only my second cup of coffee. Hrmm… Must fix that.

P.S. F-Bomb comma splices.

    Mood: I think I’m crazy enough to start the Couch to 5K next week.
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: Well…
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Stairs. Lots of F-bomb stairs.
    In My Ears: White noise. Very relaxing. Zzzzzz…
    Game Last Played: Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
    Book Last Read: Work-related.
    Movie Last Viewed: Snowpiercer
    Latest Artistic Project: An origami desert rose
    Latest Fiction/Comic Release: Last Man Zombie Standing.
    Latest Game Release: Things Don’t Go Smooth
    What I’m Working On: Primarily tie-in games work, original comics, and novels.

Two-Weeks Update on the Squee Update

Maleficent Queen Avatar

Halloween and other hilarity has pushed me back from the weekly squees, so here’s two weeks’ worth. I posted this today on FB, but I think it bears repeating since this is partly why I started this blog squee’ing project.

Here’s what I said:

“Just because our political leaders are divisive and have tried to lump our entire populace into red vs. blue, I don’t feel we have to follow suit. People cannot be summed up in one word, and the reality of living and breathing in a complex society means that we’re ever-evolving characters in our own stories, not one-trick ponies, who have to work and live together.

That’s why I try to be positive when I can, even though it’s hard some days, because I work and live with all kinds of people–not stereotypes.”

Here’s 14 Reasons I’m squeeing… To catch me up.

1. Once Upon a Time is shaping up great this season!
2. December will be a NaNoNetMo for me. (National No ‘Net Month.) I’ve found some great projects to set up beside me to MAKE ART on five-minute breaks. Huzzah!
3. Had a fantastic meeting with my comics collaborator. Progress!
4. Doctor Who. “Dark Water” FINALLY!
5. Had an anthology approved. Can’t wait to tell you about what I’ll be working on!
6. Halloween was fantastic! I dressed up, scared my friends, made some good eats…
7. Just found out that Hulu Plus allows me to see Constantine and Gotham, plus a mega-ton of documentaries. WOO!
8. There’s apples with oatmeal calling my name… MMMMM… Fresh, cinnamon apples and oatmeal…
9. A productivity trick I’ve learned is to change my desktop/phone wallpaper to black-and-white photography. Further reduces noise and distraction.
10. Family visits—two of them!
11. 80% off Halloween decorations… WOO.
12. Bead workshop this weekend!
13. We started fires! In our fireplace! For the first time ever!
14. This is the results of a few weeks’ worth of folds.

Origami Folds

60/365 through 74/365

    Mood: Hungry. OBVIOUSLY.
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: Managed!
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: A walk plus stairs.
    In My Ears: White noise. ZZZZZZ…
    Game Last Played: Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
    Book Last Read: Work-related. Still.
    Movie Last Viewed: Manchurian Candidate
    Latest Artistic Project: I folded a thing.
    Latest Fiction/Comic Release: Last Man Zombie Standing.
    Latest Game Release: Things Don’t Go Smooth
    What I’m Working On: Primarily tie-in games work, original comics, and novels.

7 Photos from Mah Phone for This Week’s Squees

Fire She-Ra Avatar

This week’s squees are dedicated to my phone. Because when Twitpic dies, you better believe I’m going to upload phone pictures to my compy.

This earring is brought to you courtesy of an Unkamen Supplies kit. The spider chainmaille eearings are part of my Halloween costume.

2014-10-20 11.59.32

THOR FLASK! THOR! (Part of my anniversary present. And yes, that is a skull cookie jar. Because skulls.)

2014-10-13 14.41.12

Because onesie design contests are fun when it’s for friends. Also: fabric crayons are teh suck. TEH SUCK! (But Star Wars is cool.)

2014-07-20 15.00.25

This is Rimmon, my black cat. I don’t know if you know this, but black cats are the least adopted because of their color. Often, there are no adoptions allowed of black cats either during the month of October. NOT COOL! BUT I LOVE RIMMON!

2013-09-20 08.04.09

The coolest effing thing I’ve ever seen at a comic book convention. A fantastic Munny. (My bad on losing said business card for fabulous artist.)

2014-04-27 15.31.55

My last Pandemic game. (GREAT GAME, by the way!)

2014-03-14 21.28.32

OSCAR WILDE WAS SAVED! We rescued Oscar this summer, and he was adopted! Huzzah!

2014-05-21 20.36.10

52/365 through 59/365

    Mood: Stress? WHAT STRESS?!?!
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: I had a lot.
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Yoga
    In My Ears: On the phone. What? I can do two different things at once.
    Game Last Played: Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
    Book Last Read: Work-related.
    Movie Last Viewed: Little Witches WHAT WAS I THINKING?!?!?!
    Latest Artistic Project: An origami bookmark. FAILED! FAILED!
    Latest Fiction/Comic Release: Last Man Zombie Standing.
    Latest Game Release: Things Don’t Go Smooth
    What I’m Working On: Primarily tie-in games work, original comics, and novels.

7-Link Salad for This Week’s Squees

Black and Tan Cats

Good morning! Well, I suppose it might not be morning where you are, but the sentiment is there. As you may recall I started the 365 Days of Squee over a month ago, and I have to admit that some days are more challenging than others–especially when reading the news. News poisoning is especially problematic, in my mind, to writers like myself who take inspiration from words that come into our brains. If it’s all tonally negative? Yeah, it can get depressing super-quick.

Though it initially took a concerted amount of effort for me to focus on what’s positive, I feel that I’m starting to train myself to look for those things now. That doesn’t mean I prefer every topic or work to be sanitized; I do feel that we should need to address problematic issues. It’s just that there’s so many problems–humans are very good at bitching about everything, even the small stuff–that I want to focus and pick my battles more carefully. When I don’t “battle” persay, I would rather be on the ground and doing what I believe instead of simply saying it (if that makes any sense).

On to the squees!

1) Applewood Books recently made over their website. I was poking around a bit when I saw a book written by the Stowe sisters called American Woman’s Home Or, Principles Of Domestic Science: Being A Guide To the Formation and Maintenance Of Economical, Healthful, Beautiful, and Christian Homes. If you’re into history, being able to read books written by people from the time period is a great way to get a hands on feel for what went on. This is pretty cool!

2) Unbelievably talented, I love the figurines designed by Virginie Ropars. Her dolls are fantastic! Be sure to check out her website!

3) If you’re looking for women writers to read in science fiction, I found a monthly column by A.C. Wise called “Women to Read on SF Signal.” It’s a great way to build a list and find new writers you haven’t heard of before.

4) Mouthwatering recipe for apple crisp in the crockpot. Need I say more?

5) Cartoonist Roman Jones is offering a printable version of the insightful How to Live with Introverts comic. It’s spot on!

6) 30 Second Films with Bunnies is a site that basically sums up films with… erm… bunnies. In 30 seconds. Anyway, it makes me giggle and they’ve got a huge variety of movies on there, like The Cabin in the Woods (With Bunnies) and The Princess Bride (With Bunnies).

7) These pumpkin earrings from Beadaholique are really cute! The wirework at the top really nails it for me. They have a ton of other instructional videos on their website, too.

44/365 through 51/365

    Mood: I think I’m finding my zen.
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: Lower than normal.
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Yesterday was my day off.
    In My Ears: Dance with Wolves by Inca
    Game Last Played: Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
    Book Last Read: Work-related.
    Movie Last Viewed: Constantine
    Latest Artistic Project: An origami crane
    Latest Fiction/Comic Release: Last Man Zombie Standing.
    Latest Game Release: Things Don’t Go Smooth
    What I’m Working On: Primarily tie-in games work, original comics, and novels.

Ni No Kuni PS3 Review

Ni No Kuni Cover

I don’t even know where to start with this review of Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, because I haven’t written one for some time and I have a deep, profound love for this game, its artistry, and its story. One of the first RPGs I played was Final Fantasy IX, and I was really fond of the way you could travel on the world and find little easter eggs scattered throughout. And, as you know, I am a huge fan of Miyazaki’s storytelling because it’s often challenging (From Up on Poppy Hill) without being dumbed down. Not to mention, the more traditional style of animation is something I prefer given the feel of painted landscapes, etc.

The story is about Oliver, a young boy who’s lost his mother. To rescue her, he travels to another world with the guidance of a fairy named Drippy, to battle alongside his wizard’s familiars. The game mechanics are easy enough to learn and there’s an incentive for leveling, for your familiars grow in power and might alongside you.

NNK Battle

Since you have the option of switching out familiars, you can alter how challenging the game is when you explore the world and change your battle style on-the-fly. Learning spells and alchemical formulas, finishing sidequests, and advancing the story is evenly spaced so you don’t “forget” where you are in the story. The animation and world exploration is, by far, one of my favorite parts of this game because playing it is like being immersed into a Studio Ghibli film that lingers on…and it’s quite delicious.

I don’t want to give too many spoilers on this, partly because I’m only a third of the way in, but if you like Studio Ghibli, Kingdom Hearts, or Final Fantasy IX and older games in that franchise I really think you’ll dig this game and enjoy the experience. It just hit a “Greatest Hits” status, too, so the price has dropped considerably.

Level thee well!

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