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[ACC's Childhood's end] Isn't it a bit Euroceontric? (spoilers)

Dweller in Darkness

Excelsior
Validated User
Not only has the appearance of apparently actual devils offering actual deals just given the credibility of Christianity a massive boost, but you don't have to actually believe that these are devils, just be sufficiently unnerved that you reject a deal that already felt like bait for a trap.
Yeah, they're the living, visible embodiment of a widely known concept. You only have to be aware of the concept existing in order for their appearance to have a chilling effect on conversation and, well, like it or not, the symbolism of the Christian devil is really widely known.
 

Isator Levie

Registered User
Validated User
You can scoff all you want at Christianity
Considering my religious affiliations, I don't scoff at Christianity, but considering my political affiliations I do scoff at the reported depiction by the text of these beings needing to overcome a particular visceral, irrational fear response because of their resemblance to a particular cultural archetype.

I find you to be trying to rationalise that by attributing it to a logical assessment, when I understand that to not be how the writing presents it.

Old Toby said:
Not only has the appearance of apparently actual devils offering actual deals just given the credibility of Christianity a massive boost
Or at least logically assessed to a degree. Devils aren't even particularly central to Christian theology, so the appearance of beings bearing an apparent resemblance to them is pretty flimsy.

And if devils were more important, the accessible explanation of being actual aliens would arguably weaken the faith's credibility.

Old Toby said:
but you don't have to actually believe that these are devils, just be sufficiently unnerved that you reject a deal that already felt like bait for a trap.
Then why should the text bother to invoke a religious angle at all?

I'll note that even if everything you're saying was how it was actually phrased in the text, all of that would still be Eurocentric. The whole world needing to interpret things through the lens and symbolism of a religion that had been prominently European throughout history.

Your initial argument of "Europe has dominated the world for centuries" doesn't refute Eurocentrism, it normalises it.
 

Ficino

Rascally Rabbit
Validated User
Clarke's novel might be Eurocentric in some ways, but I'm not sure the conceit mentioned here is one of them. Let's say you are Clarke and you've decided that the aliens are going to look like evil spirits from some human religion. Which religion should you pick? Probably the one with the most adherents. I've not seen figures for the 1950s, but in the 1910s and in 2010 that was Christianity. When you consider that there is some bleed-over of Christian and Muslim iconography, that pushes the numbers even higher. In fact, now those are the two largest religious groups and together account for ~55% of world population, though I'm not sure if Muslims were the 2nd largest religion in the 1950s.
 

Isator Levie

Registered User
Validated User
Let's say you are Clarke and you've decided that the aliens are going to look like evil spirits from some human religion.
Mind, even that premise constitutes a form of bias. Several of them, really, all intertwined; if that's going to be somebody's starting point, it's going to touch off of what the history of colonialism has done to world religious demographics.

That's not intrinsically a bad thing! At the very worst, it might have been an unexamined bundle of assumptions and implications, but such doesn't inherently reflect badly on a writer.

It's still an element that skews a speculative scenario concerning the entire world in a particular direction. That's worth at least recognising.
 

Gogmagog

Registered User
Validated User
I think it was brought up here that likened the aliens as chefs to prepare humanity to feed the Overmind. I mean we only have their word that humanity would become a blight upon the universe and 'joining' the Overmind is basically getting eaten and absorbed. There is no Culture-like sublimbing(if that is the word) but destruction. I suspect The Culture would very likely butt in and the the aliens to piss off.
 

Fabius Maximus

Registered User
Validated User
The big thing to note is this is well before the age of the door stoppers becoming the "in" thing. the paperback was about 200 pages long, and so Clarke would naturally have focused on the thing that would resonate with his target audience, especially since no writer ever knows what book will become a cherished sci-fi memory and which book will slowly languish as the last copies moulder away in the 25 cent bin.
 

Manitou

Emperor of the Americas
Validated User
I think it was brought up here that likened the aliens as chefs to prepare humanity to feed the Overmind. I mean we only have their word that humanity would become a blight upon the universe and 'joining' the Overmind is basically getting eaten and absorbed. There is no Culture-like sublimbing(if that is the word) but destruction. I suspect The Culture would very likely butt in and the the aliens to piss off.
Pretty sure humanity ascended to join the Overmind would be a more accurate description.
 

DarkStarling

Brilliantly Crazed
Validated User
Considering my religious affiliations, I don't scoff at Christianity, but considering my political affiliations I do scoff at the reported depiction by the text of these beings needing to overcome a particular visceral, irrational fear response because of their resemblance to a particular cultural archetype.

I find you to be trying to rationalise that by attributing it to a logical assessment, when I understand that to not be how the writing presents it.



Or at least logically assessed to a degree. Devils aren't even particularly central to Christian theology, so the appearance of beings bearing an apparent resemblance to them is pretty flimsy.

And if devils were more important, the accessible explanation of being actual aliens would arguably weaken the faith's credibility.



Then why should the text bother to invoke a religious angle at all?

I'll note that even if everything you're saying was how it was actually phrased in the text, all of that would still be Eurocentric. The whole world needing to interpret things through the lens and symbolism of a religion that had been prominently European throughout history.

Your initial argument of "Europe has dominated the world for centuries" doesn't refute Eurocentrism, it normalises it.
I mean, to be honest? Most culture's versions of demons, evil spirits, vampires, yokai, whatever... they all look more or less the same in broad strokes, because humans sense of the monstrous and alien is pretty universal. Half-human half animal things with wings in a dark color scheme are going to make someone from pretty much any culture at least deeply suspicious.

And that's leaving out the natural uncanny valley effect of seeing a flesh and blood creature that pushes a lot of our (heh) alien buttons and is acting like a person but is in a thousand tiny ways just wrong. Combine the two and you'll definitely get a reaction.

As to why you should look at it from a religious perspective? Because a lot of people are very religious.
 

Isator Levie

Registered User
Validated User
Most culture's versions of demons, evil spirits, vampires, yokai, whatever... they all look more or less the same in broad strokes, because humans sense of the monstrous and alien is pretty universal.
Europeans never imagined evil spirits taking the form of sapient umbrellas. I find your assertion quite reductive.

I ask again what is the precise language that the narrative frames it with.

DarkStarling said:
Half-human half animal things with wings in a dark color scheme are going to make someone from pretty much any culture at least deeply suspicious.

And that's leaving out the natural uncanny valley effect of seeing a flesh and blood creature that pushes a lot of our (heh) alien buttons and is acting like a person but is in a thousand tiny ways just wrong. Combine the two and you'll definitely get a reaction.
Does the book say that, or does it say they'd be distrusted because they resemble quote-unquote demons?

Death of the author doesn't work if there's a question about whether or not the book constitutes a noteworthy form of bias.

DarkStarling said:
As to why you should look at it from a religious perspective? Because a lot of people are very religious.
Setting aside the precise accuracy of this statement, assigning this kind of significance to that is still a form of bias. It's no different from the thing of "they appealed to a predominantly European symbol because European world domination made such a thing universally recognisable".
 

AliasiSudonomo

Trying to be a bird
Validated User
Europeans never imagined evil spirits taking the form of sapient umbrellas. I find your assertion quite reductive.
On the other hand, 'horned, winged humanoids with goat feet and barbed tails' does ping all around the world in ways, say, 'bulbous headed Greys' do not. Bringing up tsukumogami feels a bit like saying "but the Overlords don't look like vampires, either!".
 
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