i once saw a scientist
and she was speaking generally
about science things
(being a scientist and knowing science things
and, speaking generally
i am not a science
and while i respect them,
i do not have much interest
or science things.
so i went to switch the channel
at the precise moment that the presenter sitting beside the scientist asked:
in your opinion,
is the most ASTOUNDING fact
about the universe
and this stopped me.
because it is not often that television presenters ask such interesting questions,
and the scientist was pursing her lips in a thoughtful way that made me think
i wanted to her her answer
to the interesting question.
after a pause,
she did not look directly at the
but directly at the presenter.
did you know,
that there are atoms in your body.
the presenter laughed.
what else would my body be made of?
said the scientist,
and i did not need to look at the television screen to know
she was smiling.
do you know where those atoms came from?
said the presenter.
and he did not say anything else.
i snickered from my place in the armchair
and the scientist smiled again.
the most ASTOUNDING fact that i have ever known,
is not a fact, specifically,
but the story of every atom on this planet.
the ones that make up the grass and the sea and the sand and the forests and the human
these atoms came
the presenter sat forward and so did i.
continued the scientist,
and, in their later years,
it pains me a little to say it, but a star’s death
is far more dramatic than a human’s.
is it? asked the presenter.
the scientist was looking at him still,
and i felt strongly as though i was listening in on a very private
it is, the scientist nodded. the stars
i am referring to,
collapsed and exploded a very long time ago, and scattered their enriched guts across
the entire universe.
here, she paused, and her words caught in my mind in a way that made me wonder
if she was a scientist
or a poet.
their guts, she said whilst sipping from a glass of water, were splayed across every
of time and space.
these guts were made of the
of life and existence.
carbon and oxygen and nitrogen and hydrogen and all the
rest of it.
all in the bellies of these stars that flung themselves across the universe in protest when it was their time to die.
and then? asked the presenter.
the scientist’s lips quirked upwards. and then, she said.
it all became parts of gas clouds.
ones that condense and collapse and will form our next solar systems -
billions of stars with billions of planets to orbit them.
and these planets have the ingredients of life sewed into the very fabric
of their own lives.
so, she said, smile still playing on her lips -
where do your atoms come from?
from those gas clouds, said the presenter.
no, said the scientist.
from those stars.
every atom, every molecule, every inhale and exhale and beat of your heart, is traceable
to the crucibles that cooked life itself.
and you are sitting here and so am i and so are your viewers at home,
and we’re all in the universe, aren’t we?
yes, said the presenter.
but i’ll tell you what’s even better, the scientist smiled wider.
the universe is in us. your atoms and my atoms and your camera men’s atoms came from those stars. you’re connected and relevant without even having to try. you are made of stardust and the fabric of the universe.
that is the most ASTOUNDING fact
i can tell you.
the presenter smiled and the scientist smiled wider and i smiled too,
and later i switched the channel to something less scientific
and wondered if i should feel small,
tiny and insignificant in relation to the stars that collapsed and exploded and
threw themselves everywhere.
and that is how my mother found me,
sitting on the sofa.
and she asked me what was
and i said,
nothing. i’m just a lot smaller than stars are.
my mother is very literal woman. as such, her natural response was:
of course you’re not. don’t you see how small stars are?
that’s only from a distance,
maybe you’re looking at yourself from a distance too, she said.
and she left the room and it is years later now, but i still
think about the scientist and what she said
and my mother and what she said
and i still see the presenter on television.
and i still think that the stars are very big
but now i think,
they are in me.
so i am big too.
My favourite translator said that when she was an ambassador for Hungary she took all these Japanese politicians on a tour and she was trying to circumtranslate ‘merry go round’ cause she didn’t know the Japanese word for it by calling it a ‘horse tornado for children’ and they had no blessed idea what she was saying and she finally started running in circles going up and down and they go ‘ohhhhh, in Japan we call those ‘merry-go-rounds’”
The stand out scene this week was Sansa as Alayne Stone in the Eyrie. Her scene was Lysa was truly heartbreaking, as we got to glimpse the real, young, excited, vaguely happy Sansa for the briefest of moments, before she realized that she had landed in another vipers’ nest again. For a brief moment, it looked like Sansa had found someone she could trust. Someone who would tell her things about her mother as a girl, and who would take care of her, and care for her well-being, and give her lemon cakes. And you can see the exact moment when she realizes that something might be amiss, when she stops smiling and speaking genuinely and starts reciting what she believes are the right words once again.
Lysa’s instability is terrifying to watch, but it’s Sansa’s denial of any relationship with Littlefinger that really hits you in the stomach. “I’m a stupid girl with stupid dreams,” she says, and although she attributes the words to Littlefinger, it’s clear that she’s speaking for herself, and crying over her naivety. She thought she had found someone who cared. She thought she was safe. But it was another stupid dream. She will never find safety. And although it’s interesting to see Sansa’s transition into someone who can play the game, who says the right words and wears the right expression and never ever ever reveals her true feelings, that glimpse of the child she still is and the happy person she could be was enough to highlight how cruel it all really is. Sansa is fourteen years old. She shouldn’t have to be a player. She shouldn’t have to try and do what Margaery does, but without a brother or a grandmother or many more years of practice and experience to support her. I’ve always been a fan of the Sansa: Queen of the North theory, but I think I’m going to switch allegiances, to Sansa: safe and happy at last.
I really have to take issue with this: “the Western portion of the world, Westeros - the rich and civilized portion.” This isn’t true.
1. Westeros is poorer and less economically developed than Essos. It’s far less urbanized than Essos. It’s an exporter primarily of natural resources and can’t produce the advanced manufactured goods it imports from the Free Cities. Its financial system is really quite crude, especially in comparison to the large banks and insurance companies of Braavos. It has very few roads and none of them Valyrian; main thoroughfares like the Kingsroad don’t have bridges over major rivers but use fords instead; it lacks internal canals to connect major river systems.
2. Westeros is less politically developed. It’s only been politically unified for 300 years, and even that weak feudal state is extremely shaky and may not survive. Essos has had continent-spanning empires that lasted for thousands of years. It has much more diversity of political systems - republics with separation of powers and political parties, merchant oligarchies, elected tyrants, etc.
3. Westeros is considered less culturally developed. Essosi call Westerosi unwashed barbarians, referring to them by the inaccurate title of “Andals.” (reminds me of the way Americans and Europeans labeled various nationalities by incorrect names because they didn’t speak the language) The Essosi of the Free Cities are the blood of Old Valyria; the Ghiscari have their empire, the Dothraki have their prophecies of manifest destiny, and the Qartheen are the pureblooded descendants of the greatest city that ever was or ever will be. Westerosi nobles are sent to the Free Cities to get culturally enriched, not the other way around. In terms of cultural production, most mummers are imported from Essos, as Westeros has no tradition of theater.
When engaging with ASOIAF, you have to analyze the world of Planetos as it is, rather than automatically applying heuristics based on our own world. Assuming that west = rich, civilized, and east = the Other (because that’s how it’s been presented in the past) is falling into the same essentialist trap that Edward Said and others are critiquing.
THE TRUTH OF NATIVE AMERICANS BEFORE THE GENOCIDE
Gotta put this on blast.
We never needed a white savior.
I hate this country.
What I learned from this video:
- 100 million Native Americans died at the hands of white colonists
- Instead of planting crops the colonists spent their days digging random holes in the ground looking for gold. They started starving and dug up Indian corpses to eat. They took Indian prisoners and forced them to teach the colonists how to farm
- Native Americans had massive cities with tens of thousands of well constructed houses, intricate water canals and large merchant areas.
- The Native Americans used soaps, deodorants and breath sweeteners while colonists never bathed or even took of their clothes
- There was a delousing policy with the mantra Nits create Lice; nits being Native American babies, so their goal was to kill every Indian, including babies
- In the 1700’s 80% of the Federal Budget went towards eradicating the Native American population so they could take their developed farmland
- Colonists leaders went town after town killing men women and children under the approval of George Washington
- "Pursue Indians to extermination" -Thomas Jefferson
- California governor (1849-1851): “extermination must continue to be waged until the Indian becomes extinct”
The main factor which prevented Native American extinction was the fact they were used for slave labor. The most prized Native Americans were young girls who were said to be valued for labor and lust (that one white dude in your ethnic studies class that says he’s 1/36th Cherokee?)
In modern times children were forced into Indian Boarding Schools whose goal was to “Kill the Indian in them”. It was federal policy. They were beaten if they used their native tongue, they were forced to dress and style their hair like whites
This country was literally built on terrorism and mass murder. White people are savage terrorists.
Until, this is taught in schools everywhere- “history class” is merely a racism propaganda course.