Positive (?) Obsession*

I have an obsessive personality.  My dad attributes it to the ADHD that runs in our family; I am not sure if I believe him (though our work patterns are similar), but when focused, I can work at 110%, ignoring my own needs to accomplish my goal. On the other hand, if I am not focused, nothing can possibly get done, at least not in an efficient, timely manner, and it feels like torture. I have gotten very good at regulating this behavior after a while; my days are very regulated and task-oriented so that I can more easily redirect this obsession from, for example, spending hours upon hours playing Pokemon Soul Silver on an old DS to actually doing something that is productive and helpful (this is also the reason why I absolutely cannot have any games on my phone).  I think that’s why blog posts are easy for me – I can just find something I am interested in and let my brain do its thing. A prime example of this is the very first blog post I wrote for this class on Immanuel Velikovsky. I googled the term “Veliskovskyan,” as is written in the introduction to Apocalypse by Amos Nur, and immediately needed to know more. In this case, my obsession seized upon how outlandish his theories were and at that point, it was easy to sit down and not move from my desk until three hours and 1200 words were done. Other examples of these include the ones I wrote on geophagia and the uncanny valley. In these cases, Octavia Butler’s “Positive Obsession” is spot-on in its analysis of the better side of obsessive mindsets: “I saw positive obsession as a way of aiming yourself,  your life, at your chosen target” (129). In this way, obsession works very well for me in terms of productivity. Of course, perfectionism likes to intervene, so I never feel good about this work, but that is beside the point. Obsession rules my life to an extent that is perhaps more than I’d like to admit, and it certainly has affected my experience with this course and with the Broken Earth trilogy. Continue reading “Positive (?) Obsession*”

This Volcano Erupted in 1991: You Won’t Believe What Happened Next!

By: Kristopher Bangsil, Xavier Bodensieck, Sabrina Chan, Andrew Cook, Abigail Ritz, and Helen Warfle

The story of the Mt. Pinatubo eruption began several months before the actual explosion. On April 2, 1991, a series of small explosions caused a fissure to open up on the side of the mountain, alerting geologists to the volcano’s reawakening. Because of this, scientists from the USGS Volcano Hazards Program along with the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) began a joint operation with the US military to create a seismic map and observatory to monitor the volcano. Using technology developed in 1981 to monitor the Mount St. Helens eruption, the scientists were able to predict that the volcano would erupt around June 15, and they were surprisingly accurate. On June 6, a series of volcano-tectonic earthquakes began to “puff up” the volcano – that is to say that the volcano was preparing itself for the eruption. Thus, on June 10, 15,000 people were evacuated from the area. On June 12, the first eruption occurred, spewing a twelve-mile high ash column and convincing the scientists the evacuation had been warranted. On June 15, exactly as the scientists predicted, the volcano exploded. The eruption was so large that a new, 1.6-mile wide caldera was formed at the top of the volcano. Valleys in the area were filled with volcanic flows of magma and rock, layered as thick as 660 feet and the ash column grew to reach as far as twenty-eight miles into the atmosphere.

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Back to Profanity

In one of my previous posts, I discussed the profanity found in The Fifth Season and The Obelisk Gate. In that post, I didn’t talk about “rogga” or “still” as slurs, mostly because the real world parallel to rogga is both obvious and something I don’t feel qualified to talk about. However, I would like to return to profanity by discussing still as a slur.

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The Uncanny Valley (no geological pun intended)

I first learned about the concept of the Uncanny Valley in a class I took with Professor Kirsh (psychology) called Parenting in the Zombie Apocalypse. One of the very first things we covered was why zombies, and other monsters found in the genre of horror, are scary to us. Besides their physical danger to living humans and their mindless pursuit of wiping out all of humanity, zombies are simply creepy because their appearance falls in the Uncanny Valley.

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Profanity and World Building

One of my favorite things about The Fifth Season is the incredible amount of detail N.K.Jemisin puts into her worldbuilding. Even the profanity the characters use is appropriate to the world they come from (thank you, Professor McCoy, for pointing this out). However, how do you build a new profane vocabulary? What words do you choose to be considered explicit in the context of a world completely different from our own?

Disclaimer: this post uses profane words.

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On Geophagia

In Dr. Farthing’s lab on Monday, one of the things that stood out to me was the discussion of Hoa and the consumption of geological materials. Professor McCoy’s mention of kaolinite led to me researching its potential nutritional value, eventually leading me to the term geophagia, or the eating of geological materials, specifically earth, soil, or clay.

According to the same source, geophagia is defined by psychologists as a form of pica,  a mental disorder that is characterized by eating objects of no nutritional value. However, this website does mention that eating clay does not necessarily a pica patient make, as “some cultures promote eating clay as a part of medicinal practice.”

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Velikovsky and Ancient Civilizations: What Can We Really Know?

When reading the introduction to Apocalypse by Amos Nur, I came across the term “Veliskovskyian” for the first time. The quote in whole reads “Rose [an archaeologist] demanded that, before one can hypothesize that an earthquake destroyed a society, one must prove not only that it happened, but exactly how it happened. Without proof, he claims, such a hypothesis is no more than a Veliskovskyian-style science fiction presented in the guise of science” (Nur, 3). Essentially, Nur is paraphrasing the view of opponents to his theory that civilizations were more frequently destroyed by earthquakes and other geological events than previously thought. From context, we can extrapolate that Veliskovskyian means outlandish, but where does this term come from?

Immanuel Velikovsky (also stylized as Veliskovsky because the conventions of the Cyrillic alphabet do not always translate well into the English one)  was a Russian author who was active during the mid to late 20th century with his most famous work, Worlds in Collision, coming out in 1950. Velikovsky’s specialty was analyzing ancient texts. Eventually, using comparisons of various ancient texts such as the Bible, he came up with a theory about our solar system and the effects of astrological events on human civilization that remains controversial to this day. 

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