BEYOND MERE SURVIVAL


frogs and selfishness at the Holocaust Museum
February 8, 2010, 12:21 am
Filed under: rants and such | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

i have finished reading the diary of Anne Frank with the girls last night, and there was so much to it that i could not really tackle all on my own. it so happens that there is an exhibit about Anne Frank at the Illinois Holocaust Museum so we went today. i have been to various Holocaust museums in Germany and Italy, and i was very impressed by today’s experience. the museum has a section for kids, and it’s not pedantic or condescending, but it tries to create a bridge between contemporary youth experiences and discrimination or injustice during WWII. 

it was very surprising to find a video game in the exhibit also. it is for 5 players. each person stands in a dark room, and a sensor tracks the motions of each player. it is set in a lily pond where a group of frogs is going about their business, eating flies and swimming around. at the beginning of the game each player chooses a frog, and starts eating or swimming. there is very little direction given by the game to the players. gradually other  bigger green frogs enter the pond and bump you off your pad, or the smaller red frogs that are also hanging out. you can also bump frogs off their pads. 

the first time we played we all tried to get as many flies as possible, bumping each other and the other frogs off the pads. the green frogs that enter later are bigger, and harder to bump off. the red smaller frogs disappear as they are bumped off their pad.

it seems like such a simplistic model to get you to think about selfishness, or solidarity, or human tendencies, but it was very effective. i felt like such an ass for giving in to my first instinct to accumulate at the expense of others. we played again and again, finally coordinating our forces to get the big green frogs from taking everyone else’s resources.

i have not seen in any other settings a model in which you are forced to question your own behavior, and human tendencies in general. the Holocaust is such a giant, huge mass to even begin to comprehend, it left me with a sense of urgency that i am not sure how to employ.



open fire
August 7, 2009, 2:11 am
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oona and florence came back from italy today, and they are enormous, overgrown children, smallish adults. talking different, walking different, but also the same.

they are exiting kid and entering the amorphous zone in which a lot of things feel uncomfortable, including me. florence’s body is changing already – bumps sprouting and all, and it is so scary, and also great. 

this week a man killed three women in pittsburgh in a premeditated murderous spree that he outlined on his blog, a morbid pathways to his mind, and a source of endless fascination for the sensationalist media in the past couple of days. he opened fire because he hated women. simple as that.

he hated women because they would not sleep with him or have a relationship with him. a relationship he felt entitled to have , an entitlement that brought him to believe that women were at fault from holding back what was righteously his.

this was going through my mind as i sat across the dinner table from my daughter today. not a kid anymore really, not protected by the lack of sexualization of childhood, but a very soon woman to be. a target.

thinking that i moved across an ocean to give them more space, to let them and me become more than just what an overly sexist society was allowing us to be. now i look at them, and i am not so sure that we are safer here, or have more choices, or freedom. 

maybe the acceptable roles are different, but american society is not one were equality exists, not for women, not for people of color, or poor people or queer folks. but sexism is what seems to be so pervasive that it becomes invisible. it is ridiculed and trivialized, co-opted by ad companies, ignored by the media, even though a man living in such society felt it was ok to kill women, because he hated them. he is dismissed as a maniac, a deranged individual, no matter the fact that gender violence is happening all the time. 

i want to take my daughters and find somewhere safe, somewhere i know no one will cause them harm, but it’s impossible. i know that the only way for them to be safer is to change the conditions that would bring someone to have a sense that women are less then, that they are disposable, and that they exist to fulfill men’s needs or else they deserve to be hurt.

i feel engulfed by it sometimes, i see it all around me, and i have to force myself to remember that so many people are doing so many things to create a less fucked up world. they just don’t make the news