When we’re young, we’re taught subjects. Reading, writing, and arithmetic, right? Add in history and a few sciences, and that basic premise carries you through high school. We’re taught in silos, thinking that these subjects are their own, even though at the end of high school we start to learn some ideas that are definitely blended. Physics takes more from math than previous sciences. Politics seems more like history than its own thing.
Then somewhere after the “101” classes are done in college, we start to see the world broaden in front of our eyes. We realize that things are more connected than we’ve understood, or even been told before. Science and math become intertwined entirely. Literature and history also start to greatly augment each other. As does science. We begin to see how each affected the other, and it’s all a great big history lesson.
The art of a period is its history, which is based upon the political and social happenings of the era. Each new detail you learn adds to your understanding of the rest. For instance, understanding the political structure of eighteenth-century Europe helps us understand the writings of that time, but it also helps us understand the meanings and implications of this “New World” that was being founded in America. Early American writings follow a pretty specific set of themes that are entirely different than the period writings of British or French writers, although there’s a lot of similarity in themes between some of the French authors and what’s was happening in America. Strange.
This is the period where eyes are opened, and learning becomes really enjoyable, at least for me. The interconnectedness of all things has been one of my great joys of life. I suppose there’s some strangeness in my personality that I like to see how elements join together, how one subject overlaps into the fields of others. How the influence of one scientist affected the writings of a poet. Primarily, I enjoy seeing the puzzle that life puts in front of us. By studying how it happened in the past, I feel some semblance of understanding of how my life is unfolding, however futile that may actually be.
Because this is how life actually is. We’re all connected, and all the subjects we were taught while we were young are actually muddled together and influence each other. It makes me think about today and how art is a reflection on life. This is why art, in any form, is so important to us. It’s a history of the times. Artists by and large are commenting on social issues. For instance, even though I have no desire to be branded as a “Social Justice Warrior,” I can see how it could happen. A quick rant about something that we run across in our daily lives could be completely targeted as “social justice.” I caution that this is a bad form of justice since it has no court review and no protections. Our laws are generally designed to punish lawbreakers, but it’s structure also protects the rights of all. Social justice tried to circumvent protections under a guise of “justice.”
But I am critical, definitely. I just may not be critical of the same issues that my peers are critical of, because I don’t want any part of the political happenings in my writing. But then my number one story idea is a dystopian story that speaks to the issues of government control. This is beyond single politicians, as many are focused on today.
But I’m also fascinated with the power of religion across the domains. An area’s religion has more influence than anything else its people face. Look at Buddhist nations versus catholic ones. They are different than each other, and even though the people are generally the same, what else would account for the extreme differences in actions and opinions? Religion also stretches into the political aspects of an area as well. Some regions have much more political power around religion, and that definitely has an effect on how religion plays into the influence of a region. Think of middle-eastern countries where Muslim ideas are law and how that would affect those living there and the art that comes out of such an area. Compare that with a country in South America where religion has a strong social impact but hardly any political clout formally. These all compared with how the United States formed are even more fascinating. How did Americans become so focused on freedoms first? Again, that’s a lesson in history and how the nation was treated in its early days. The result was the system we have today. Had America not been mistreated by its colonial overlords, we’d have a different country today.
All this interconnectedness is what fascinates me most. How things came to be can be directly traced back to roots, just like a family’s history can be traced through ancestors. The better my understanding of history, religion, politics, and science, the better I’m positioned to fully understand a person from their upbringing. Knowing someone was raised in one country versus another will cause me to understand them more fully. I treat my characters in the same way. I have a new character named Ryan. Everyone, meet Ryan.
Ryan doesn’t have much of a backstory yet, but he will have one shortly. He’s mostly been an orphan, raised in a prep-school type system. So he’s smart and loves to learn. He’s super-smart, by the way, one in a generation, possibly. As I go through creating him as a historical figure (at least in my mind), I need to map out where his family is from, where his influences came from. This may branch into the same with his teachers and professors. As an orphan, he will naturally need role models. The background and history of those role models will affect him more than students with traditional family backgrounds.
But Ryan is a ward of the state, and that will also have its ramifications on him. His name may change. His illusions will be shattered because his parent, the state, is fallible, although they’ve raised him on the premise that they are not. Fortunately, Ryan is smart and will put the pieces together and have to come to terms with the conflict of theory versus reality, something we’ve all had to deal with from time to time.
I already feel sorry for Ryan. He’s going to have a rocky early adulthood, I fear. No one should have to be raised entirely on lies and falsehood, but Ryan’s life will be nothing but lies and omissions until he gets out amongst the world. How will he respond to a wasted life of education? I don’t know what Ryan will do. He’s currently struggling with his situations. He’s an emotional wreck at the time being, but no fear, he’s held in a sort of stasis that keeps him from aging or having any more suffering. He’s safely locked away in the recesses of my unconscious while he works all this stuff out.
I’m rooting for him, however, because he will have to point out and deal with how interconnected things actually are in the real world versus an educational one. Fun times ahead, that’s for sure.
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