November 24, 2017, 11:46:40 PM

Author Topic: Grimdark? Nah. THIS is grimdark.  (Read 1645 times)

Offline The Gem Cutter

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Grimdark? Nah. THIS is grimdark.
« on: January 06, 2017, 08:57:04 PM »
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IESYMFtLIis[/youtube]

This (depressing!) TED Talk, presented by the author of Guns, Germs, and Steel, is a lot faster than his book(s). This is an excellent, if unconventional resource, if you want to create a dark world under stress. Some of the clues are subtle and require some imagination, but only a little.

Best part is about the 10:00 mark - the failures to solve or even attempt to address problems... this is the scary part.

This discussion of the Viking colonies, wasting away, unable/unwilling to change their culture and ways, is a particularly interesting example of a people failing. And the imagination element is where you think of those kings and their people, and how they dealt with that pressure.

Tossing in a Joffrey (or almost any noblemen of any period and culture) into the kinds of situations he's discussing seems an interesting way to present a people prime for dramatic conflict.
« Last Edit: January 06, 2017, 10:56:56 PM by The Gem Cutter »
The Gem Cutter
"Each time, there is the same problem: do I dare? And then if you do dare, the dangers are there, and the help also, and the fulfillment or the fiasco. There's always the possibility of a fiasco. But there's also the possibility of bliss." - Joseph Campbell

Offline m3mnoch

Re: Grimdark? Nah. THIS is grimdark.
« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2017, 09:34:07 PM »
pssst.

*whispers* which ted talk?

Offline The Gem Cutter

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Re: Grimdark? Nah. THIS is grimdark.
« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2017, 10:57:20 PM »
Ha! I'm not distracted at ALL today
The Gem Cutter
"Each time, there is the same problem: do I dare? And then if you do dare, the dangers are there, and the help also, and the fulfillment or the fiasco. There's always the possibility of a fiasco. But there's also the possibility of bliss." - Joseph Campbell

Offline m3mnoch

Re: Grimdark? Nah. THIS is grimdark.
« Reply #3 on: January 06, 2017, 11:46:12 PM »
wow.  that dude's combover is pretty grimdark, too.

Offline The Gem Cutter

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Re: Grimdark? Nah. THIS is grimdark.
« Reply #4 on: January 07, 2017, 04:54:13 AM »
Yeah, whenever I do a scholarly analysis of multiple, actual sources of coming apocalypses, the first thing I do is check my 'do.  ::)
The Gem Cutter
"Each time, there is the same problem: do I dare? And then if you do dare, the dangers are there, and the help also, and the fulfillment or the fiasco. There's always the possibility of a fiasco. But there's also the possibility of bliss." - Joseph Campbell

Offline Mehman

Re: Grimdark? Nah. THIS is grimdark.
« Reply #5 on: January 07, 2017, 06:44:23 PM »
I really enjoyed that video. Well, enjoyed may be the wrong word. I think 'appreciated' would be the correct word to use. I've read his Guns, Germs, and Steel and have his book where he talks about Western Europe finding all the little islands in the Pacific. The man is brilliant.

Anyway, I could see how his talk (and books) could lend itself to the grimdark author. I like the societal aspects of a doomed culture, which he touched upon briefly, for a reason why human cultures fail. Resource exhaustion is one thing - being blind or willfully ignorant of it is another.

Online Bradley Darewood

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Re: Grimdark? Nah. THIS is grimdark.
« Reply #6 on: January 09, 2017, 01:52:51 AM »
So Jared Diamond has a huge popular following, but anthropologists find him a bit... overly deterministic.  He's essentially a socio-biologist, treating humans (and culture itself) like ants adapting to environmental stimuli. Sociobiology is a rich field-- not one I'd choose personally-- and once you obsess over structures in play, I can see how it's easy to erase human agency from the equation.  That said, JD's evidence is a bit thin.  I don't hate him as passionately as my fellow anthropologists do (I see what he's trying to do and find it somewhat commendable if inaccurate)


But here's some articles:

NPR on why JD pisses off anthropologists
http://www.npr.org/sections/13.7/2013/01/14/169374400/why-does-jared-diamond-make-anthropologists-so-mad

Here's a survey of anti-JD articles (with links) on Reddit:
https://www.reddit.com/r/AskAnthropology/comments/1rzm07/what_are_some_of_the_main_anthropological/

There's plenty on other factors in the literature he just ignores, but here's my favorite quote:
"What Diamond glosses over is that just because you have guns and steel does not mean you should use them for colonial and imperial purposes. Or handing out smallpox-infested blankets from sick wards...Second, Diamond’s account seriously underplays the alliances with native groups that enabled European forces to conquer and rule...The Jared Diamond of Guns, Germs, and Steel has almost no role for human agency–the ability people have to make decisions and influence outcomes. Europeans become inadvertent, accidental conquerors. Natives succumb passively to their fate."

That quote comes from this article "Real History vs. Guns, Germs and Steel":

http://www.livinganthropologically.com/anthropology/guns-germs-and-steel/


I'm actually a lot more sympathetic to JD than any of these guys, but I thought I should just make you all aware of the opposition.


PS-- speaking of eco-dystopia have any of you watched the 100? I think I'm gonna make a post on it rn, this grimdark JD stuff has inspired me to do that.
« Last Edit: January 09, 2017, 01:55:16 AM by Bradley Darewood »

Offline The Gem Cutter

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Re: Grimdark? Nah. THIS is grimdark.
« Reply #7 on: January 09, 2017, 02:23:16 AM »
So Jared Diamond has a huge popular following, but anthropologists find him a bit... overly deterministic.  He's essentially a socio-biologist, treating humans (and culture itself) like ants adapting to environmental stimuli. Sociobiology is a rich field-- not one I'd choose personally-- and once you obsess over structures in play, I can see how it's easy to erase human agency from the equation.
Paraphrasing Captain Willard from Apocalypse Now: "I don't see any agency at all, sir."
The Gem Cutter
"Each time, there is the same problem: do I dare? And then if you do dare, the dangers are there, and the help also, and the fulfillment or the fiasco. There's always the possibility of a fiasco. But there's also the possibility of bliss." - Joseph Campbell

Offline Ashur-is-King

Re: Grimdark? Nah. THIS is grimdark.
« Reply #8 on: May 16, 2017, 10:11:38 AM »

There's plenty on other factors in the literature he just ignores, but here's my favorite quote:
"What Diamond glosses over is that just because you have guns and steel does not mean you should use them for colonial and imperial purposes. Or handing out smallpox-infested blankets from sick wards...Second, Diamond’s account seriously underplays the alliances with native groups that enabled European forces to conquer and rule...The Jared Diamond of Guns, Germs, and Steel has almost no role for human agency–the ability people have to make decisions and influence outcomes. Europeans become inadvertent, accidental conquerors. Natives succumb passively to their fate."

That quote comes from this article "Real History vs. Guns, Germs and Steel":

http://www.livinganthropologically.com/anthropology/guns-germs-and-steel/


I’ll preface this by saying that I’m a fan of Jared Diamond, but also have significant criticisms. With that said, I think the criticism in the excerpt above has two main flaws.

First of all, there’s the distinction between describing behavior and prescribing it. What the above criticism misses is that Diamond is purely engaged in the former, not the latter. The latter is not particularly relevant to an analysis of why X culture triumphed over Y culture.

With that said, colonialism and imperialism are long-standing features of human history. Human populations have long expanded into new territories, colonizing them and displacing and/or massacring and/or absorbing those already present. Paleolithic populations of Homo sapiens sapiens did this to Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis) in Western Eurasia for a host of biological and cultural reasons. Whether or not we had a moral right to do it is irrelevant to explaining why, how, and when we did it. Ditto for the Bantu expansion in sub-Saharan Africa, or the Indo-European expansion in Europe, Central Asia, South Asia, and the Middle East.

Second, while it’s interesting and worthwhile to look at how European colonial projects made use of indigenous allies-cum-proxies, it’s the greater pattern that still needs to be explained—and Diamond’s thesis has a great deal of merit here, though I will agree it does not tell the full story. It’s been many years, but I seem to recall him engaging with native allies in the case of Cortes’s conquest of Mexico and Pizarro’s conquest of the Inca Empire. He does not discuss the British conquest of India—probably a good thing, in some ways, because I do not think his thesis was complete enough to properly address that.

For the record, my main criticism of Guns, Germs, and Steel is the lack of consideration it gives to institutions and the incentives they create. The same geographical area can give rise to a host of different societies with differing institutions, which in turn can lead to a variety of outcomes. Consider France under the Valois, the Bourbons, and then the Revolutionary and Napoleonic periods, and the ways that institutional change created or accompanied broader patterns of social and political change.

The book Why Nations Fail, by Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson, is essentially the anti-Guns, Germs, and Steel, and it’s an absolute must-read for understanding institutions and how they affect societal development. To his credit, I think, Jared Diamond himself praised the book and acknowledged the merit of its thesis:

https://www.amazon.com/Why-Nations-Fail-Origins-Prosperity-ebook/dp/B0058Z4NR8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1494925592&sr=8-1&keywords=why+nations+fail

I'll add that I appreciate the nuance of the argument you make here, and your willingness to critique and see admirable aspects of Diamond's thought. Cheers!

Offline abatch

Re: Grimdark? Nah. THIS is grimdark.
« Reply #9 on: June 01, 2017, 06:19:18 PM »
The "hero" in my novel gets his hands and feet chopped off...at the very beginning of the story.