Author Archives: Christopher Navarrete

The Connection Between Star Wars and China

Since its inception, the science fiction genre has taken many ideas from real-life and made it its own. The most obvious example to this is technology and language. The genre has, however, also taken from religion and philosophy. This research paper argues about how the classic Science Fiction series Star Wars took inspiration from the ancient Chinese religion and philosophy Taoism. Star Wars uses this religion’s ideas in the Force, an energy that connects everything with one another. Similarly, Taoism is defined as “doing what is natural and ‘going with the flow’ in accordance with the Tao (or Dao), a cosmic force which flows through all things and binds and releases them” (Mark)

This research paper explores three very strong connections to support its argument that Star wars took ideas from Taoism: the Force is Qi, the Code of the Jedi Order and the Tao Te Ching have similar messages and the Jedi and Sith are essentially yin and yang. These points all refer to reputable historical and fan website sources to present its case and define technical terms such as Qi, yin and yang, Tao, Sith, Jedi Code, and the Force. In the first argument, Qi and the Force are considered to be life energy that every person has and can hone. Having a large amount of both improves ones health and abilities. In the second argument, the Jedi Code and Tao Te Ching phrase their philosophies in a similar manner and promote goodwill and integrity. Finally, in the last argument, the Star Wars series main plot point and attraction is the battle against light and dark or good and evil. The yin and yang symbol references precisely this. This connection between Star Wars and Taoism is important because it allows one to view the Star Wars series in a more religious and philosophical point of view, increases interest in Taoism and enables a more accessible method of learning Taoism for a potentially younger audience.

Mark, Emily. “Taoism.” Ancient History Encyclopedia, Ancient History Encyclopedia, 15 Dec. 2018, www.ancient.eu/Taoism/

Christopher_Navarrete_Research_Reflection

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Class Notes: 12/6/2018

Due Tuesday

  • Lightning presentations on your research project. Come prepared with your PowerPoint, Keynote, Prezi, etc.
  • Work on final course reflection
  • Work on research project

 

Class Notes

  • Sajida will take extra credit class notes on the 18th.
  • Vishal will take extra credit class notes on the 20th.

 

About the Lightning Presentations                                         

  • They are a quick overview on what your project is about.
    • They are short, clear and straight to the point.
    • 2-3 mins long and roughly 3 slides.
    • Include citations, titles, pictures and works cited page.
    • Be prepared to take questions at the end.
  • Make sure everything in your presentation makes sense, including your sources and topic.
  • The presentations files will not be collected, so bring them in via flash drive or email
  • Although this presentation is ungraded, 20 points will be deducted from the final presentation if you do not do it (thank you, Stanley).
  • Email the professor before meeting if you want to talk more about your project (including the abstract, cover letter and presentation).
    • Although there are no classes next Thursday, the professor is still available to meet.

 

Suggestions for the Lightning and Final Presentations

  • During the presentations, video tape yourself so you can see how to improve yourself.
  • Record and talk to yourself if you can’t figure out what to say for your topic. Simply ask yourself questions and create a discussion, then play it back and listen.
  • Practice your presentation so that you do not go over the 3 min mark.

 

About the Cover Letter and Abstract

  • In the cover letter, you may discuss how the peer reviews, meetings and revisions changed your thinking process for the project.
  • The abstract summarizes your main points/arguments. It is 3rd person and approximately 350 words (315 to 380 words)

During class, we discussed the guest editorial and gave our own point of views on it.

How Taoism inspired the Force Draft II

Star Wars is a science fiction series that spawned hundreds of books and movies. Created by George Lucas in 1977, it mainly revolves around a fictional ancient religion known as the Force, and how people wield it. The Force is “an energy field that connected everything in the universe. The Force was generated by all living entities, and therefore, resided in all lifeforms” (Wookiepedia). On the other hand, Taoism is an ancient Chinese religion and philosophy that began 2000 years ago. According to historical website Ancient History, Taoism “emphasizes doing what is natural and ‘going with the flow’ in accordance with the Tao (or Dao), a cosmic force which flows through all things and binds and releases them” (Ancient History). Both religions actually have many similarities with one another, and it is clear that Star Wars took inspiration from Taoism.

In addition to both the Force and Taoism relying on an invisible energy that connects with the world, its practitioners believe in the idea of evil and good, and the need to balance the two. According to the Tao Te Ching, an important text for Taoism, evil and good are elements that are created equally. For example, the text states, “when people see things as beautiful, ugly is created… When people see things as good, evil is created.” In Taoism, this is reflected with the yin and yang symbol, which includes “two halves that together complete wholeness… Both halves are chasing after each other as they seek a new balance with each other” (Personal Tao). Meanwhile, in the Code of the Jedi order, a set of rules created by practitioners of the Force, it follows a similar philosophical approach to the religion. For example, the text states, “There is no emotion, there is peace… There is no ignorance.” (Wookiepedia).

Taoism, like users of the Force, also believes in the power of telekinesis to move objects. Followers of Taoism believed one could do this through Qigong, “a form of gentle exercise composed of movements that are repeated a number of times, often stretching the body, increasing fluid movement (blood, synovial and lymph) and building awareness of how the body moves through space” (Energy Arts). According to Paul Dong, once one masters this art form, they will become clairvoyant and have the power of telekinesis. This is very similar to the Force because users of it are able to move objects and perceive certain events before they happen.

 

Broughton, Richard (1991). Parapsychology: the controversial science. New York, [NY]: Ballantine Books. ISBN 978-0-345-37958-0.

This source is a book that discusses a bit on the concept of Quigong and how users of it are able to become telekinetic. This is important to my comparison of the Force and Taoism.

 

“Jedi Code.” Wookieepedia, starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Jedi_Code.

This discusses an important text for the Force. It contains philosophical beliefs one of the Jedi order must follow. I will use this to compare it to the Tao Te Ching.

 

Laozi, and Mitchell. Tao Te Ching: a New English Version. Easton Press, 1995.

This discusses an important text for Taoism. It contains philosophical beliefs followers lean towards. I will use this to compare it to Jedi code.

 

Mark, Emily. “Taoism.” Ancient History Encyclopedia, Ancient History Encyclopedia, 27 Nov. 2018, www.ancient.eu/Taoism/.

This article discusses the history of the ancient Chinese religion Taoism. It is important to my discussion because I need to tell my audience what the religion is about. In other words, it is a great base to start on argument on.

 

“The Force.” Wookieepedia, starwars.wikia.com/wiki/The_Force.

This article discusses the basic information on what the Force actually is. Although it is a fan-based site, it is known to be very reliable, accurate and comprehensive. I will use this article to inform my audience on what the force is defined as.

 

“Yin Yang – Everything About Yin and Yang & Balancing Life.” Personal Tao, personaltao.com/taoism/what-is-yin-yang

An article that talks about yin and yang, an important aspect of Taoism. I will use it when referencing the history of Taoism.

How Taoism inspired the Force

George Lucas’ fictional religion named the Force and real-life ancient Chinese religion Taoism actually have many similarities with one another. First, Taoism is a religion that started in China 2000 years ago, it “emphasizes doing what is natural and ‘going with the flow’ in accordance with the Tao (or Dao), a cosmic force which flows through all things and binds and releases them” (Ancient History). On the other hand, the force is “an energy field that connected everything in the universe. The Force was generated by all living entities, and therefore, resided in all lifeforms” (Wookiepedia). Both the force and Taoism rely on an invisible energy that connects with the world and guides one in their lives. They also believe in the idea of evil and good. Taoism uses the yin and yang symbol to reflect the battle between both sides, while Star Wars uses the Sith and Jedi. Without evil or good, there would be no balance in the world.

Similar to The force, Taoism believes in the power of telekinesis to move objects. Followers of Taoism believed one could do this through Qigong, “a form of gentle exercise composed of movements that are repeated a number of times, often stretching the body, increasing fluid movement (blood, synovial and lymph) and building awareness of how the body moves through space” (Energy Arts). According to Paul Dong, once one masters this art form, they would become clairvoyant and have the power of telekinesis. This is very similar to the Force because users of it are able to move objects and perceive certain events before they happen,

Works Cited

Broughton, Richard (1991). Parapsychology: the controversial science. New York, [NY]: Ballantine Books. ISBN 978-0-345-37958-0.

This source is a book that discusses a bit on the concept of Quigong and how users of it are able to become telekinetic. This is important to my comparison of the Force and Taoism.

 

Frantzis, Bruce. “What Is Qigong?” Energy Arts, 8 Nov. 2018, www.energyarts.com/what-qigong/.’

This article discusses the history of Qigong, its usefulness and purpose. Qigong is a very important aspect of Qigong, so it must be talked about in my discussion. I used this article to further the connection between the Force and Taoism.

 

Mark, Emily. “Taoism.” Ancient History Encyclopedia, Ancient History Encyclopedia, 27 Nov. 2018, www.ancient.eu/Taoism/.

This article discusses the history of the ancient Chinese religion Taoism. It is important to my discussion because I need to tell my audience what the religion is about. In other words, it is a great base to start on argument on.

 

“The Force.” Wookieepedia, starwars.wikia.com/wiki/The_Force.

This article discusses the basic information on what the Force actually is. Although it is a fan-based site, it is known to be very reliable, accurate and comprehensive. I will use this article to inform my audience on what the force is defined as.

A Reality without Individuality

Westworld is a science fiction western television series created by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy. It is based off the 1973 film by the same name directed by Michael Crichton. In the first episode titled “The Original,” humans or “hosts” have basically become a form of AI and are being controlled by researchers to please customers. The researchers please their customers or “guests” by placing them in a false reality with the hosts. in order for the guests to become immersed, the hosts are programmed to perform very life-like. This false reality is set in a realistic western setting where everything is planned. After each day passes in this world, the hosts’ memories are reset and thoroughly analyzed by the researchers. Throughout the episode, the status of individuality and rebellion is shown to be important.

The lack of Individuality is practically the main premise of the story. Each host is controlled and surveyed by researchers (15:27). They are all programmed with a unique personality, story and script to follow. If there is even a slight change in the way a host acts, then the researchers are tasked with reprogramming and resetting them, effectively removing any personal choice. For example, Dolores is “repaired” after she learns information that should not have been available to her. However it appears fixing a host can be detrimental to the fictional world. According to one of the researchers after learning the coders will reprogram a large number of hosts due to a potential unintentional personality change, “we sell complete immersion in a hundred interconnected narratives… You pull one character, the overall story adjusts. You pull two hundred at once, and it’s a fucking disaster” (28:40).

On the other hand, if a host becomes very different compared to their programming, then they are replaced and sent to what appears to be a storage of defective hosts. In this area, dozens or even hundreds of hosts stand still and lifeless (01:06:17). Dolores’ father is turned defective after he becomes crazed upon learning new information; he goes as far as to threaten his creator for his “sins” (01:01:50). This sentience is an interesting and very important part of the story, but the father has not truly become alive. He has actually accessed a prior build of his programming and used it for an unknown reason. Regardless, in order for the researcher’s story to continue, the father was replaced.

This rebellious attitude may play an important part in the future because it is very likely to spread to other hosts. As I had mentioned previously, it has even affected Dolores, albeit in a more minor way. Interestingly enough, this personality change by the father was foreshadowed by one of the researchers, “You don’t have kids at home do you, Bernard? If you did you’d know that they all rebel eventually” (18:45). I believe the old man in the dark clothing may show signs of this attitude change in future episodes because he appears to be omnipotent and invincible to anything that occurs in the story. Overall, I am interested in seeing what happens in the next couple of episodes.

Class Notes: 11/13/2018

Homework for Next Class

  • Watch the very 1st episode of Westworld and post a blog about it. As you watch it, you must take note of when events you would like to discuss in class occur. When creating the blog, be sure to make reference to the video and cite correctly (01:30:50).

 

Extra Credit

Three different extra credit opportunities will be coming in the near future, including events about:

  • The symposium
  • Frankenstein exhibit
  • Performance Space New York – will discuss post-humanism

To receive extra credit, you must attend an event and post a blog about it. The blog could be about what you learned and what you thought were the most important takeaways. Remember, these are 3 different extra credit events. More information will be available soon.

 

 Literature Courses 

Level 2000 and 3000 literature courses will be available in the Spring of 2019. The Professor specifically mentioned the Major Topics in Writing and One Major Writer courses. For more information on literature courses, visit the Openlab site or check the photos below.

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Andrew Marvell’s Poem

We briefly mentioned Andrew Marvell’s poem “to his coy mistress.”

 

Vocabulary

  • Extrapolate: To take circumstances to the future and then speculate on what could happen.
  • Pedantic: To be preachy and lecturing.

 

The Image of Women in Science Fiction Article

This is an article that discusses how women have been stereotyped in science fiction. The main points the author makes include:

  • How science fiction sometimes creates a matriarchy in their stories. This occurs when authors attempt to reverse the roles of gender as opposed to abolishing them. Matriarchies are static and hierarchical by nature.
  • Science fiction can imagine all things technological, but lacks creativity when discussing human relations, especially gender-roles. For example, women are always shown to be weak and require rescuing. This is a common trend in soft science fiction.
  • The absolute value of progress is one of the most common things in science fiction, but it is probably wrong.
  • Gender-roles have a straitjacket attached to them. In a broad sense, a straitjacket is something that constrains possibilities. Gender-roles are described in this manner because “there are no real women in science fiction” because they are just stereotypes.

 

Science Fiction’s Women Problem Article

This is a controversial article that discusses women in science fiction. We touched on several points about the article:

  • Groups such as Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies complained about how people look at science fiction to “vivisect” society. This is exactly what our class does.
  • They also complained about the forced diversity in the the science fiction awards ceremony.

The author’s main points include:

  • Science fiction needs different mindsets to broaden views.
  • Gender equality is essential to sci-fi being important.
  • Women are underrepresented in the science fiction field. This includes the writing and book reviewing fields. This means that balance is lacking.
  • Representation is important because it will determine who creates the stories and reviews the books.
  • Sci-fi has an ethical responsibility to balance things.

We also talked a bit about hard science fiction and soft science fiction:

  • Most men write hard science fiction while most women write soft science fiction.
    • Women are not represented well in STEM fields, so they do not create hard science fiction.
  • Hard science fiction is more respected.
  • There is a perceived hierarchy in these types of science fiction.

 

The Handmaid’s Tale

Why was this novel recreated 30 years later (2016)?

  • A big reason was because of the election, Donald Trump, the Alt-Right movement, the huge resurface of racism and the presence of misogyny.

How did this world came to be?

  • There was a decrease in childbirth (infertility) due to the radiation and toxic waste around the world. Apparently, there was enough destruction to warrant a new system. A real-life example of this is 9/11.  As a result of the terrorists attack, a war began and the Patriot act was enacted to prevent similar events from occurring in the future.

Fun fact: The author of the book, Margaret Atwood, makes a short appearance when she slaps the main character.

The Issues of Freedom and Privacy in a Strict Religious Society

A Handmaid’s Tale is a dystopian science fiction web television series created by Bruce Miller. It is based off a 1985 novel written by Margaret Atwood. In the first episode titled “Offred,” The main character named June and her family get captured by a group of armed men. June and her daughter are then sent into a heavily protected town that enforces it’s polices and values by any means necessary. Throughout this episode, religion is shown to be an important part of the town’s society and the status of freedom and privacy is put into question.

Religion appears to be the main focal point of the town. Although it is never stated, religion is heavily implied and enforced to all who live in the area. First, women and children wear clothing that appear to be inspired from the colonial times, a religious period. This includes the maidservant outfit and the red dress with a cotton coif. Second, when speaking to others, women state phrases that most likely have religious connotations, including, “praise be,” “under his eye” and “may the lord open” among others. Lastly, people who are doctors, priests and homosexual are hanged for their personal choice and/or profession (15:40). This is obviously inspired by real religion because history has shown that religious groups tend to disapprove of all these parties, especially homosexuals.

Freedom is very minimal in this episode. Outsiders are not given a choice in becoming a resident of the town because they are either shot in sight or taken in forcefully. For example, June was knocked out unconscious in the beginning of the story, leaving her daughter to be easily snatched away (03:58). Once inside the town which is filled with armed men at every corner, outsiders are then given new names and are forced to learn the town’s values and speech patterns. If one refuses to obey their teachings, they would be dealt a harsh punishment. Janine In particular was mentally and physically tortured by having her eye ripped off (21:30). All Outsiders are later forced to wear the same clothing and follow a strict schedule and set of rules, effectively removing any individuality.

In addition to freedom and religion, privacy is an important and heavily controlled aspect of the town. As previously stated, the town is filled with armed men who watch for any suspicious activities. In most shots of the town, one can notice at least one guard. However, in terms of privacy, June is more concerned about her peers revealing incriminating information than about the guards watching her. She states, “[t]here are no friends here, can’t be. The truth is we’re watching each other. She’s my spy (12:20).” This is emphasized by the fact that all women speak to each other cautiously, obviously thinking before speaking. When one says something that goes against the towns values, they become scared (14:27) or show a rebellious Attitude (51:00). Another example of privacy being at risk is at the end of the episode, where one of Junes peers tells her that, “[t]here’s an eye in your house” (52:50). This means that someone is secretly watching her and relaying information about her activities to a higher power.

The Community of a Robotic House

In the short science fiction story titled “August 2026: There will Come Soft Rains” by Ray Bradbury, the author tells a tale of a house that stands alone in a city that experienced a nuclear blast. This house is given life by Bradbury’s interesting choice of words when describing the events that occur inside of it.  For example, the narrator tells us that parts of the house sing, give a hissing sigh and talks. One instance of the house being alive that I found particularly interesting occurred when robot mice sensed a dog was dead and removed it within fifteen minutes. I wonder how many mice the house actually contains because a dog (especially when deceased) requires a tremendous amount of force to lift. Or perhaps since it is the future, the mice can carry a lot more weight than expected.

Adding to the house sounding alive, I find it interesting how the voices reacted to being engulfed in flames. They all acted as normal human beings would: by screaming fire in a frenzy while trying to rescue itself. When one option to save itself failed, it tried another. Then when that failed, it tried again. In this section, the voices are given life when the narrator states, “the voices wailed Fire, fire, run run, like a tragic nursery rhyme, a dozen voices, high, low, like children dying in a forest, alone, alone. And the voices fading as the wires popped their sheathings like hot chestnuts” (Bradbury, 3). The fact that the narrator decides to compare the voices to “children dying in a forest” is very interesting because this description makes us think of the voices as being high pitched and scared (scared being a human quality).

Directly after this portion, The kitchen stove “could be seen making breakfasts at a psychopathic rate, ten dozen eggs, six loaves of toast, twenty dozen bacon strips, which eaten by fire, started the stove working again, hysterically hissing!” (Bradbury, 4).The use of the words psychopathic and hysterical are interesting because they are also human qualities. One does not describe a non-sentient object with these terms. Once again, the narrator shows us that the house reacted very human-like with these words.

Overall, there is a heavy emphasis on community, but not solidarity. The house itself contains hundreds of “voices” that all work together in unison to achieve one goal: to keep itself clean and efficient for their owner. For example, the doors and windows prevent any intruders from entering and the stove and robot animals both serve food. As previously stated, the house even attempts to save itself from certain doom by using the power of all its voices. Regardless of the community that the house has built, there isn’t solidarity. I believe solidarity revolves around sentient beings that all agree to work with each other because of a common interest. While they do have a common interest, the voices do not appear to be sentient. They are clearly working together because they are forced to due to their programming. Therefore, communication is not really encouraged because the bonds that are formed from the voices are superficial at best. However, the narrator describes the house as being very human, so it is an interesting debate to consider.

Experiencing the Science Fiction Archive

In our trip to City Tech’s science fiction archive, I entered with my partner Erik to view the different magazines it had in store for us. The archive contains numerous texts of varying rarity given by a generous anonymous donator. It includes texts from famous magazine runs such as Analog Science Fiction and Fact, Asimov’s Science Fiction and the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. In total, the City Tech Science Fiction archive contains 4,147 science fiction magazines and 1,694 scholarly books and SF anthologies.

As I entered the science fiction archive, I quickly noticed how cramp the space between the texts were. It was so tight that it was difficult to have a handful of students move around. Therefore, I was limited in the amount of books I was able to check. I was surprised by the size of the archive because it seemed to be much smaller in person compared to what the video and readings presented. For example, the descriptions and quantity of texts available made it seem grander in scale than it actually was.

In addition to its size, I also took note of the “old book smell” that filled the room. I thought that it really captured the importance and age of the texts. It was like a constant reminder to the history of them. I think the aroma alone helps one become engrossed in their reading and transports them to another time or world, so to speak.

The quality of the magazines was surprising too. Most of the texts were in great condition (they seemed to be almost new) in terms of their cover and paper quality. However, there were several that were literally falling apart and had to be sealed in a plastic cover. Regardless, it was impressive to have them all hosted in one area considering their age.

In the science fiction archive, Erik and I were particularly interested in the Amazing Stories series of magazines because of its fascinating cover art and illustrations. I decided to choose the January 1988 issue of Amazing Stories (volume 62, number 5) because its cover caught my eye due to its use of color and detail. For example, it contained a very striking contrast between the humans blue smooth skin with the aliens wrinkly and red lighted skin. In addition, the cover really makes you think about what it could be about because it seems to contain symbolism of some kind. Another reason I decided to choose this particular issue was because I found the subject matter to be very interesting (aliens and space) and wanted to learn more about it.

alien

Overall, our trip to the science fiction archive was very interesting and thought provoking because it made me think about the importance of the science fiction genre. It’s an impressive collection that all scholars will one day want to travel and view. The difference between watching the collection in a video and experiencing it in person is clear. The smell and cramp size of the archive somehow manages to transport people into another world to experience the science fiction stories.

 

Below is a website that contains PDF versions of numerous Amazing Stories magazines:

https://archive.org/details/amazingstoriesmagazine

Metropolis and The Machine Stops: A Close Comparison of Two Science Fiction Stories

Metropolis is a silent science fiction film directed by Fritz Lang in 1927 Germany. After watching Metropolis, I realize that it shares similar elements to the 1909 short science fiction story “The Machine Stops” by E.M Forster. This includes its setting, plot and characters. For example, they are both set in a dystopian future in where humans are controlled by “the machine”. In Metropolis, underground workers are forced to work for the machine because their city’s “life-force” depends on it. If a worker slacks off, parts of the machine gets destroyed. Therefore, it can be assumed that every worker is vital in the stability of their city. These workers are shown to work so hard that they get physically exhausted, but continue to perform because “someone has to stay at the machine” (0:34:16). On the other hand, in “the Machine Stops”, most of the citizens of this world live underground in a community created and controlled by the machine. As a result, they do not know life without the machine and cannot live without its influence. For instance, the citizens are given technologies that accommodate their every need (3) and they are encouraged to resort to a book created by the machine for advice on common and uncommon issues.

The main characters are quite similar as well. Metropolis’ Freder Fergerson and “The Machine Stops’” Kuno both rebel against the machine after watching what it does to humans. They share a disdain for it because they value freedom over being controlled. In Metropolis, after watching a worker become exhausted from controlling part of the machine, Fergerson helps him by taking over his position so that he can experience freedom (0:35:40). In “The Machine Stops”, Kuno encourages people to live in the outside world so that they can be free from the influence of the machine. In addition to their values, both characters have similar parents. Fergerson and Kuno are sons to people who share deep beliefs in the machine. They also try to convince their parents in leaving the machine, but are unsuccessful in their attempts.

Another similarity between “The Machine Stops” and Metropolis is the characterization of the background characters. Both stories portray them as robots with no free will. In Metropolis, the workers perform their duties with exact precision (they only move the part of their body that needs to be used) and they all move at the same time (0:14:17). Furthermore, each worker is given a number and is referenced by only that number (01:12:07). While in “The Machine Stops”, “[p]eople were almost exactly alike all over the world” (8) because “[e]ach infant was examined closely at birth, and all who promised undue strength were destroyed” (11). As a result, most humans in “The Machine Stops” are forced to follow the machine’s idea of life.

One last similarity between the two stories Is the interesting use of capitalization for the machine. In “The Machine Stops”, the word “machine” is always capitalized, but in Metropolis it is both capitalized and lower-cased.  I wonder if this is a consistency error or if it was done on purpose. If it was done on purpose, perhaps it depends on the person saying it; a person who believes in the machine would treat it as an entity and capitalize it, but a person who doesn’t believe in it would lowercase it. If this is true, I believe this small detail informs us a considerable amount on a characters beliefs and values.