bnewman: (explorer)
[personal profile] bnewman
As mentioned before, I'd like to arrange a performance of "Walk in the Day" at Conflikt. That means casting, finalizing arrangements and scoring instrumental interludes, but also polishing the text. "Walk in the Day" is all about cultures (some of which are real and not mine, some of which are invented based on my fragmentary knowledge of other real cultures which are not mine) encountering each other and being radically changed, so I'd love to have some of my friends from the corner of LJ that's always talking about cultural appropriation and how to be conscientious about it look over the libretto and point out any moments or threads that could use work in this area. I will pay you!

One particular issue that has continued to bug me is that, while we do meet the natives and learn to respect their culture, we never really hear the story of the antagonists — another tribe of natives who ought to have had a fairly similar culture until... something awful happened. So far, they appear in the play only as sound effects. My current working theory, which I realize is many kinds of problematic, is that, due to drought, certain plants which provide nutrients essential to egg-laying and lactation have failed within the bandit territory. This has resulted in infertility leading to, roughly: "Must... nurse... something! *fly into homicidal rage* (This is a natural but rare and extreme response for Yrichii females in such a situation.)

This is already raising red feminism flags for me, so I'd like to refine it and at least set it in a richer cultural context. Meanwhile, I've started exploring this plot thread in a new song, which may or may not make it into the musical as such. I've tried to avoid including parodies in the musical itself because I want to be able to record it, but I knew this song existed, and it seemed like it had to be done... Oddly enough, when I searched for Bruce Springsteen's "Blinded by the Light" (who saw that coming?), what I found was this version written for the Pete Seeger Sessions tour, which has the same lyrics but is completely different musically from the 1970s classic. (I had previously heard neither.) I like the new version better, and it's a much better fit for the musical landscape of "Walk in the Day". I'll post the parody lyrics when they're done.

I also finally read the Wikipedia entry on meerkats, and will henceforth not attempt to describe the Yrichii in terms of real Earth animals without including the meerkat. There are many important differences between Yrichii and meerkat social structure, but the similarities run very deep — meerkats post sentries, actively teach their children collectively as a clan, and females who haven't given birth recently (or ever) can lactate in order to nurse their cousins. This makes a good background reference for the claim that creatures like this, with a culture like this, can evolve in an environment like that.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-02-05 07:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
i feel like the complicated biological explanation may be unwieldy - a look at the history of the Greek city states, or at the modern history of Somalia or Afghanistan, will provide lots of precedents for different factions starting from a mostly shared baseline culture and getting to radically different places in terms of level-of-fucked-up-ness. there are also plenty of historically attested practices (human sacrifice, slavery, institutionalized rape, execution for trivial offenses, going to war for the sake of an excuse to gloriously kill enemies, planned, bigotry-inspired mass murder) that would be more-than-sufficient to tag somebody as evil. there's also no historical shortage of societies that placed more of an evidence on parasitic raiding behaviors and less on any kind of actual productivity. and changing political circumstances, major religious upheavals, moderate geographic dislocations, charismatic leaders, et c. can do a pretty good job of effecting radical shifts in all these areas in the space of a few generations.

maybe like the good guys, the bad guys started out as a culture with a proud warrior aspect, but with a more nomadic lifestyle - over time, productivity became de-emphasized in favor of warrior glory, to the point where eventually they became a fully nomadic raider culture, with some emphasis on killing in battle as a glorious thing to do. being nomads, they're only recently arrived to this particular area, and having had a couple more lean years they're even more desperate than usual.

or there are other options. the early violent-expansionist phases of major world religions, the histories of various fundamentalists cults and sects, the rise of various totalitarian regimes, or just precedents of in-certain-respects-very-nasty historical cultures like the Vikings or the Aztecs, could all be good points of departure.

η: hell, to see how a couple of generations of ordinary human political forces can turn basically identical cultures into cultures of drastically different degrees of badguyness, one need only look at Korea.
Edited Date: 2010-02-06 02:50 am (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2010-02-07 04:09 am (UTC)
batyatoon: (Default)
From: [personal profile] batyatoon
I kind of like this point. Giving it a biological explanation may be totally unnecessary.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-02-06 02:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Meerkats! Yes yes yes, they are like meerkats.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-03-04 04:09 am (UTC)
batshua: (Default)
From: [personal profile] batshua
Ooh. I wish I could do this.


bnewman: (Default)Ben Newman

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