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  • Isil'Zha.

    Watching Babylon 5 i noticed a few intresting things.
    Mibari, Narn, Vorlons, Shadows, Centauri - all this races seemed so united, as a race.
    But when i look on todays worlds, we seem very much separated from each other. Hundreds of languages, countrys, boarders. Yet we are all of one race.
    And i cant help but ask: Why? Why do we need all of this?
    "We are the universe, trying to understand itself."

  • #2
    Originally posted by EarthandBeyond View Post
    Watching Babylon 5 i noticed a few intresting things.
    Mibari, Narn, Vorlons, Shadows, Centauri - all this races seemed so united, as a race.
    But when i look on todays worlds, we seem very much separated from each other. Hundreds of languages, countrys, boarders. Yet we are all of one race.
    And i cant help but ask: Why? Why do we need all of this?
    Well, I can sympathise about your feelings regarding the conflict in the world, but I'm not sure you were paying enough attention when you were watching B5!

    The Minbari had a rigid caste system with two castes vying for power while they both exploited the third, and eventually this blew up into a bloody civil war. They also had political intrigue within clans, secrets kept from their own populace by their leaders, certain bigotry and blood-purity issues where it came to humanity and it's connection to them. As for languages, they had three main branches and many, many dialects - Lennier had studied loads of them, he told Londo.

    The Narn were largely united by their oppression under the Centauri, it's true, but they did have groups with differing religious views (followers of G'Quon, and of G'Lan, and atheists like Na'Toth), and after their liberation, many were bloodthirsty for conquest and revenge whilst G'Kar was one of those trying to aspire for a nobler purpose for his people.

    The Centauri Republic was ruled over by a ridiculously bloodthirsty and scheming aristocracy, with inter-familial feuds and assassination plots aplenty, and far more concerned for their own power and position than the welfare of their people.

    Even the Vorlons were clearly not all of one mind, with Ulkesh (Kosh II) and the majority of the Vorlons cold and arrogant and wanting to control the younger races, then later prepared to wipe out whole worlds in their determination to defeat the Shadows, while Kosh represented a kinder, more guiding and teaching influence for the younger races that is presumably more akin to what the Vorlons were originally, before the long cycle of wars with the Shadows wore away their compassion.

    Of the races you mention, I think pretty much only the Shadows actually were all of one united mind and purpose, and that was not necessarily a good thing concerning what that purpose was!

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    • #3
      thats actully one of the things about alot of fiction writers i have issues with, its often "the terran empire" or the united federation, or some such, its very rare that Humans are subdivided into various nationalities. one of the reasons i like david weber and elizabeth moon so much while the story takes place in one particular subset they rarely have a United Human Race.

      i can in the future see a united single world government, i really can, but it could NEVER be extended beyond the reach of the moon once real colonies are established (i'll grant luna as a suburb of earth). the issues that a political unit would have to deal with with a true self sufficient population off world will always lead to schism as those of us on "the old world" would legitimately not understand the issues of the peopel who need those instant life/death situations.

      i am 100% sure i won't live to see a united world, and i doubt that it will happen withing the next 500 or more years. Life feeds on Life and thus man is a hostile creature. give us a true and immediate global threat (aliens, meteor, other extinction level event) and then you'll see the world unite, but it will also have to be something that will take enough time to get the world organized be it under a democracy, a tyranny(and by that i mean the traditional definition of absolute monarch not a madman or evil ruler) or something inbetween. anyway i am not great with words, either you got it or you didn't, maybe someone more elegant can clarify what i mean (damn i wish i had a better way with words)

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      • #4
        I think that falls into the same category as having planets that demonstrate a single, planet-wide climate (ice planets, desert planets etc) when that is clearly implausible given what we know of astronomy from our own little ball.

        The problem is ... how much time can you afford to spend establishing how the races' governments work? How many different nations/factions/groups are vying for power etc.? Before it becomes a distraction from telling the story?

        Imagine a B5 season 1 where not only do the individual characters (around whom the story revolves) have to be established but also the mechanics of their homeworld. Far easier to have Earth (for example) under the control of one worldwide government than having to establish which of Earth's governing bodies runs B5, which of each member race's nations/groups appointed their ambassador and therefore how they relate to the rest of their planet.

        The argument might be that it isn't important enough to spend much time on establishing how it works ... in which case it isn't important enough to worry about it, so a unified government on each planet shouldn't be an issue.

        And as far as colonies go ... I am pretty sure we saw the central Earth authority granting independence to the colonies (if they wanted it) late on in the show.
        The Optimist: The glass is half full
        The Pessimist: The glass is half empty
        The Engineer: The glass is twice as big as it needs to be

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        • #5
          To be fair GHair, I don't think Lunan was complaining about B5 in that post, as much as other fiction (including Trek's utopian Federation, perhaps). For one thing, if I remember my Psi-Corp trilogy, the discovery of both aliens (Centauri) and telepaths around a century from now is just the kind of unifying event that Lunan mentions and helps coalesce the Earth Alliance, which is gestating in the early 22nd century.

          I agree with both of you, and it's one reason that I really like B5 - it walks a fine line between showing alien races (and humans) as being factionalised and diverse enough to seem realistic without needlessly complicating the story or removing the importance of even having different races - i.e. if they don't have some signatures of character (Minbari spirituality, Narn aggressiveness, etc.) that are common.

          Lunan, have you read any SF with universes populated with only humans, like Foundation or Dune? They tend to give a much better account of a realistically diverse human population(s), for obvious reasons.
          Last edited by raw_bean; 11-15-2007, 03:32 AM.

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          • #6
            oh indeed i have, and dune is the masterpiece, especially of showing that you don't have to spend ALOT of time talking about how it works, but can still show its there.

            david weber really does a very good job at this, in on basilisk station for example we get fairly indepth on the hero's planet and gov structure and some on the protagonists, but we hear of at least 5 other powers who have very little if anything to do with the story (at least in the first book)

            or in elizabeth moon's serano books we hear about them even if never seen.

            yes it was a main criticism of trek, and others.
            my main point is it takes maybe an extra page or 2, or even just 2 or 3 lines to establish a deeper and more "real" world.

            while i love anne mccaffrey she can also leave to much out or be overly Utopian.

            then again as with anything there is good and there is bad, it just seems that there is too much tendency to want to be too simple in what is really the single most complex genre that any writer could work in(thats SF as in Speculative Fiction not just science fiction)

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            • #7
              But where this is all going?
              Is there really future in being divided on to hundreds peaces of society? We are all of the same race, after all.
              Why the need for boarders, different languages? Why the need to kill each other?
              When i look in to the future, all i see is a mirrow, broken in to hundred small peaces. And that mirrow will never be abel to give you a clear picture.
              "We are the universe, trying to understand itself."

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by EarthandBeyond View Post
                But where this is all going?
                Is there really future in being divided on to hundreds peaces of society? We are all of the same race, after all.
                Your question is wrong to say that these are "pieces of society", they are indeed different societies, even if all human. Also, that races exist is proven by genetics, not only by looks (that any race is better or worse is unproven however).In the future I hope that all the races would have intermixed, so that the species is more like one race.

                B5 presented a believable future, and it was one where there were still different languages and societies (e.g. the president from the Russian Federation). Other fictional examples have been presented. So the answer is yes.
                And look at the past, when 10, 50, 100 years ago other idealists wondered if there was a future with different societies... we are their future.

                So again, it is possible.



                Why the need for boarders, different languages?
                I speak two languages, know enough to understand a third one. Frankly I think we should never eliminate linguistic diversity. Diversity enriches humanity.
                Such... is the respect paid to science that the most absurd opinions may become current, provided they are expressed in language, the sound of which recalls some well-known scientific phrase
                James Clerk Maxwell (1831-79)

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                • #9
                  A lot of animosity between societies today has nothing to do with cultural differences. It has to do with money and power. When the people of the world realise they are being led by politicians whose only concern is to create more power for themselves, we may eventually get what we see in Babylon 5. Or even Star Trek perhaps, although that is unlikely.
                  So, let us not be blind to our differences - - but let us also direct attention to our common interests and to means by which those differences can be resolved. And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's future. And we are all mortal.

                  John Fitzgerald Kennedy

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                  • #10
                    The people of the world already realise this

                    But as a pack animal there will always be a hierarchy within human society with leaders, and those aspiring to take over by fair means or foul. And as a pack we must have others to compete with, if we didnÆt we would quickly splinter so one existed, and differences would be quickly established for some mutual bickering.

                    It would take 100Æs of millennia to breed that out of us, just look at the earliest recorded history of man, has a strangely familiar ring to it: greed, manipulation of the masses, corruption, murder.

                    The best you can hope for is common sense prevails (at least most of the time) and we regain some of that curiosity that helped drive our society to the level it currently attained. Because that does seem to have disappeared lately and I find that more concerning.

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                    • #11
                      Sorry for my cynical comment below... (you can stop reading if you can't stand cynism *g*)

                      As long as everybody is in the mindset of "doing as little as possible" there will be no change. All the modern dictators (changes from democracy to dictatorship) came to power because the "common man" was just not interrested in politics, and only believed in their lies. I am from a country that welcomed the dictator with flags and march music, I *know* that people turn to the politician that *seems* strongest when they are hurt (physically or psychological), and if they didn't invest TIME and EFFORT in the search then they get a manical madman. Nowadays it seems (to me) that this mechanism even gets stronger by taking away the need to think before elections. You get a big entertainment and parades, but nobody stops for a deeper look into the issues and ideas. From the outside the events after Sep.11 where quite shocking, but I am sure they would be no different in europe, given an equal shock to the public. There is an old saying: If you do not learn from history you are doomed to repeat it.

                      PeAcE
                      greetings from austria, best known for its history and fine wine... feels like a wine cellar on a graveyard 8-)

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Capt.Montoya View Post
                        Your question is wrong to say that these are "pieces of society", they are indeed different societies, even if all human. Also, that races exist is proven by genetics, not only by looks (that any race is better or worse is unproven however).In the future I hope that all the races would have intermixed, so that the species is more like one race.

                        B5 presented a believable future, and it was one where there were still different languages and societies (e.g. the president from the Russian Federation). Other fictional examples have been presented. So the answer is yes.
                        And look at the past, when 10, 50, 100 years ago other idealists wondered if there was a future with different societies... we are their future.

                        So again, it is possible.

                        But is there really a future for eveyone, not just a 100 millions or a 1 billion of people, that are living in few countrys. What about the rest of people/humans?
                        I think, by dividing our self by bourders, languages, and a simply the way of living ( religion ) we only alienating our selfs one to another. And i feel like there is larger issue at stacke here.
                        Since Earth isnt a center of the universe, by dividing our selfs in too 100's communitys, we are alienating our self possibly to other life forms in our galaxy.
                        Think about it. If a spaceship/probe discovered our planet, what would they see? They would see a new species, that are so hostile one to another, that they had the need to create boarders, speak diffrent languages just to basicly avoide one another. - Whom would want to communicate with someone like that?

                        I speak two languages, know enough to understand a third one. Frankly I think we should never eliminate linguistic diversity. Diversity enriches humanity
                        Well i speak 3 languages, and can understand 2 more. And i feel like it was a big waste of my time, learning all of them insted of just 1, because basicly what i did was, i learned to pronaunce "same words" in to 3 different ways.
                        And i ask my self, did it really enriched me? The answear is no.
                        I feel like, all the languages do are simply divide us, make us unabel to communicate one with another. Make barriers, boarders between us. Make things harder, more complicated then they could be.
                        "We are the universe, trying to understand itself."

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by EarthandBeyond View Post
                          I feel like, all the languages do are simply divide us, make us unabel to communicate one with another. Make barriers, boarders between us. Make things harder, more complicated then they could be.
                          In some ways, you're right. A lot of what makes different cultures different lie in their mythologies and religious beliefs, as well as their military history (i.e. who they've conquered/been conquered by), not in the language. There are, however certain concepts lying within languages that are unique to those languages.
                          The only example (and it's not a very good one) I can think of is jingy, a word from Japanese, that has it's closest relation in English in the saying "honour among thieves." However, I am led to believe it means much more than that.
                          So, let us not be blind to our differences - - but let us also direct attention to our common interests and to means by which those differences can be resolved. And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's future. And we are all mortal.

                          John Fitzgerald Kennedy

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Capt.Montoya View Post
                            Also, that races exist is proven by genetics, not only by looks (that any race is better or worse is unproven however). In the future I hope that all the races would have intermixed, so that the species is more like one race.
                            Actually, this is false. There is no "race gene" in the human species. Our genes are astonishingly homogenous (it is believed that humans had a "genetic bottleneck" some three hundred generations ago), far more so than most species.

                            "Race" is purely a social construct. While there are differences in alleles caused by geographic separation, they are overwhelmed by the similarities, and unless one arbitrarily selects a gene and declares it to be the "race gene" (which will prove problematic, to say the least, because it won't result in "races" as we socially construct them) genetics provides us with no means of distinguishing reliably between any two groups of humans.
                            I believe that when we leave a place, part of it goes with us and part of us remains. Go anywhere in the station, when it is quiet, and just listen. After a while, you will hear the echoes of all our conversations, every thought and word we've exchanged. Long after we are gone .. our voices will linger in these walls for as long as this place remains. But I will admit .. that the part of me that is going .. will very much miss the part of you that is staying.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by EarthandBeyond View Post
                              But is there really a future for eveyone, not just a 100 millions or a 1 billion of people, that are living in few countrys. What about the rest of people/humans?
                              I think, by dividing our self by bourders, languages, and a simply the way of living ( religion ) we only alienating our selfs one to another. And i feel like there is larger issue at stacke here.
                              Since Earth isnt a center of the universe, by dividing our selfs in too 100's communitys, we are alienating our self possibly to other life forms in our galaxy.
                              Think about it. If a spaceship/probe discovered our planet, what would they see? They would see a new species, that are so hostile one to another, that they had the need to create boarders, speak diffrent languages just to basicly avoide one another. - Whom would want to communicate with someone like that?
                              Well, you're assuming that this alien race won't have it's own diverse groups within it. To be honest, I find the idea of an entire race who share the exact same features, character and culture to be somewhat dull and unfortunate, and whilst there's much to be regretted in all the conflict within the human race, I'd still feel pity for this hypothetical homogeneous alien race, that they lacked the range of experience available to us.

                              Originally posted by EarthandBeyond View Post
                              Well i speak 3 languages, and can understand 2 more. And i feel like it was a big waste of my time, learning all of them insted of just 1, because basicly what i did was, i learned to pronaunce "same words" in to 3 different ways.
                              And i ask my self, did it really enriched me? The answear is no.
                              I feel like, all the languages do are simply divide us, make us unabel to communicate one with another. Make barriers, boarders between us. Make things harder, more complicated then they could be.
                              See, I feel completely differently. I love language, and while I really haven't exercised my ability with languages as much as I should (my German is rusty despite all the German family I have, and I've picked up a few bits and bobs of Dutch, French, the odd Italian word) I still love playing with what I do know, as do many of my friends and family. I also love to travel, and experience different cultures and foods and ways of life and of thinking, and it saddens me sometimes how MUCH of western culture is the same everywhere. If your unified world culture exists in anything, it's in the fact that you can go to any moderately sized city in the world and eat at McDonald's and drink at Starbucks, and that depresses me to no end.




                              Have you seen the film 'Babel'? I think you should. It's a film that in one sense is about just what you're saying, about all the things that divide us as different groups of people. The struggles with communication, in terms of language or culture or politics or even ability to hear. But at the same time it's about how we're all connected, we're all ultimately very much the same with the same concerns and needs and feelings in our lives, how we can reach out across these barriers and share something with someone who might seem to be from another world.
                              Last edited by raw_bean; 11-19-2007, 04:09 AM. Reason: Typo

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