i only used eight frames a piece which might have influenced it

On Spider Houses and Greed within The Legend of Zelda

​“If you lift the curse … I’ll teach you … something good … Hurry … Please … This is awful … In here … The gold ones … The cursed spiders … Defeat them all … Make me normal … again … .”

- The Cursed Man, Majora’s Mask

“Human desire is an insatiable,
fearsome thing … even to a demon!
But then again, I suppose it’s also
what makes your kind so intriguing … .”

​- Batreaux, Skyward Sword

Above: The Cursed Man of the Fearful Spider House

Introduction

For me, and perhaps many readers, one of the most powerful images from The Legend of Zelda retained by memory is that of the House of Skulltula in Ocarina of Time’s Kakariko Village. Nestled in the midst of the most ostensibly peaceful location in Hyrule is an unassuming grey house, which, as we learn from the townsfolk, has a dark history and a necessary moral lesson. An elderly villager in Kakariko gives us this history: “Folks around here tell of a fabulously rich family that once lived in one of the houses in this village … But they say that the entire family was cursed due to their greed! Who knows what might happen to those who are consumed by greed.” [1] This tale is corroborated by the cursed father within the House of Skulltula, who tells Link of the curse on his family. Avarice fed his unquenchable desires, and before long, such vice led to the Curse of the Spider, here represented by Gold Skulltulas – themselves a perceptible symbol of greed. In order to dispel the spider’s curse, Link must destroy Gold Skulltulas the world over, collecting them as he goes; and in doing this, he also destroys a visible manifestation of greed and selfishness in Hyrule. [2]

Oft talked about, but little understood, the Spider Houses inhabiting both Hyrule and Termina hold a subtle fascination commonly overshadowed by rising plot, climax, and resolution. Spider Houses do not play pivotal roles in furthering the story, but they often augment small side-chapters parallel to the larger story with parables, morals, and mysteries. They also sound a clarion call against avarice, warning of greed’s corrupting influence on the face of the human soul.

As true in all societies and all places, the Curse of the Spider can take root in any human being, so it should be unsurprising that we also find people consumed with, and transformed by, greed within the parallel realm of Termina.

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soratori42  asked:

Opinion on Newspeak from 1984? Realistic at all, or completely ridiculous? (ugh, that sounded like some newspaper thing)

There are two questions when it comes to Newspeak: (a) Is it any good? and (b) is it realistic?

Let’s start with the easy one, (b). The tl;dr answer is no, it is not realistic.

The idea behind Newspeak is that, little by little, complex vocabulary would be replaced by transparent compounds. Thus, rather than saying good and bad in English, you’d say good and ungood. By removing vocabulary from the language, the populace is supposed to become much more malleable, as people become less creative and less knowledgeable. Pretty soon if you winnow down the vocabulary far enough, all the Party has to do is say one word, and the populace will do as instructed, as they won’t even have the language skills to comprehend the notion of rebellion.

This fails on many levels. For starters, it completely overestimates the influence language has on thought, which is very little. Human language is a byproduct of human consciousness, not the other way around. Orwell would have had a lot more success if he’d focused instead on reframing, rather than the language itself. This is something that’s hinted at in 1984, but Orwell was ahead of his time in that regard. It’d be another 30 years before Lakoff and Johnson’s landmark work Metaphors We Live By appeared and people really started to take a look at conceptual metaphors and framing. That stuff can actually be more powerful than simply changing out the language.

The reason is that while there’s a correlation between meaning and language, language doesn’t change meaning in any substantial way. Language can help to highlight certain aspects of meaning and hide others, but it can’t change reality. For example, you can’t change the word “fire” and suddenly make a worker happy about being fired. You can say that the company is downsizing, that they’re allowing the employee to explore their options, that they’re permanently restructuring their work schedule, or whatever other artful euphemism you can come up with, but it doesn’t change the fact that the employee is no longer going to be able to work at the company they were working at and will no longer be paid by said company. Reframing and altering the language can’t change the facts, and when those facts directly impact an individual, the language means absolutely nothing—kind of like when someone has to deliver bad news and frontloads it with a bunch of good news and then says “but”. As soon as the “but” comes, everything that was said before is thrown out the window.

Now, having said that, when might this actually be effective? Precisely when it matters least to the listener/reader. This is why framing conventions have been so effective in political discourse over the past twenty odd years. Many issues in political discourse have or would have an abstract or nebulous effect on a lot of voters. Gay marriage is one of these. The legality of gay marriage has an absolute direct impact on a certain segment of the population, and an immediate indirect impact on another segment, and a less immediate indirect impact on the rest. It’s easier to catch someone’s attention when you’re talking about an issue that has a direct impact on them. This is why when conservatives took up arms against marriage equality they ignored the smaller percentage of the population whom the issue affected directly and targeted the larger percentage that was affected indirectly. And then they argued that it affected them directly—negatively.

If you’re not from California and are interested in where the NOH8 campaign comes from, it comes from a ballot proposition here called Proposition 8 that sought to ban gay marriage. Americans not from California often think of our state as a liberal Shangri-la, but there are some staunchly conservative areas here, and they’ve got a lot of money. While it initially looked like Prop. 8 wouldn’t pass, public opinion flipped as a result of two things. One was a clip of a speech Gavin Newsom gave, in which he said of gay marriage that it was going to happen “whether you like it or not”. He was right, of course, but people hate being told that they have no voice in democratic America, so a lot moderates sought to prove him (whom most had never heard of prior) wrong at the polls.

The other crucial piece (and this goes to our topic) was the primary theme of the campaign in favor of the ban: That if gay marriage is allowed, public school teachers would teach Californian children that gay marriage is right. Seemingly a non-sequitur, this had a powerful impact on voters who were on the fence. It’s an interesting “argument”, because it really is kind of a litmus test for society. You could say the same thing right now, and I bet a majority of Californians would say, “Yeah. So?” But even though 2008 wasn’t that long ago, the prospect that this could be the case was enough to push moderate voters to vote in favor of a gay marriage ban. The campaign was successful because they took an issue which had little impact (and what impact it did, certainly not negative) on a large percentage of people, and said that it would have a direct impact, and implied that that that impact would be negative—although they never stated explicitly that it would be negative. It was only in the form of a question, like, “Would you want your kids’ teacher to teach them that it’s okay for same sex couples to marry?” They knew how the majority of moderates would answer that question, so they knew it would be to their benefit to ask it. And, despite early polls, the proposition passed, and gay marriage was banned here until the Supreme Court refused to reverse the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturning of Prop. 8.

This type of thing doesn’t work when the population really doesn’t want it, though, which is why something like Newspeak wouldn’t work (with a caveat I’ll mention at the end). A good example is what just happened in Arizona with SB 1062. Proponents of the measure that would have allowed businesses to refuse service to anyone based on religious grounds (meaning that if one’s religion found homosexuality sinful, one could lawfully refuse to serve homosexuals) used the same framing devices that have been used for years. They framed the bill with extremely positive language (it was actually called the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act”), and framed their argument as a defense of a minority whose religious freedoms were being impinged on by the majority. Never mind that the “religious freedom” was the right to discriminate, this is precisely the type of argument that would have worked seven or eight years ago. Yet it didn’t. Part of it has to do with the particulars of the bill (this wasn’t really sanctioning gay marriage so much as putting Arizona businesses in a negative light, even though they did nothing to earn it), but part of it has to do with a general shift in societal opinion. The arguments aren’t swaying anyone because their minds are made up. In 2014, there was no way the public was going to be behind this bill, which is precisely why it had to be crafted in the legislature.

Back to Orwell, the main difference between the world in 1984 and our world is (snarky, tinfoil hat cynicism aside) the populace of Eurasia is a complete and total dictatorship. There’s a policing organization that can effectively punish you for your thoughts! And Orwell would seriously have us believe that Newspeak has ANYTHING to do with this?! Listen, if you can control every single aspect of the lives of every single person in a nation, you can do anything. Saying that Newspeak was “effective” is kind of like suggesting that nuking an anthill while holding a rabbit’s foot succeeded in destroying the ants because of the rabbit’s foot. The rabbit’s foot probably didn’t hinder the nuclear holocaust all that much, but it sure as hell didn’t do anything to help, either. It’s quite easy to conduct experiments on someone whose will is utterly broken. Trying to conclude anything based on the results of those experiments, though, is, to say the least, misguided.

With that said, now to (a). First, Newspeak isn’t a good conlang, because it’s not a conlang. It’s basically a language game, like Pig Latin. It starts with a natural language as its base—English—and invents some rules about how you can and can’t use it. As a language game, it’s far from complete, so it can’t really be judged. As a fictional device, it does the trick. It’s totally unrealistic and implausible, but it’s a nice detail. And, let’s face it: A lot of what works with 1984 are these details he throws in. Take the average reader, and more will remember some of the memorable scenes or details than the plot itself. One of Orwell’s goals was to show what this totalitarian state looked like; what it was like to live there. He did that very effectively. So, as set dressing, Newspeak is good enough.

The idea for Newspeak itself was to parody and/or criticize two language experiments from the time: Esperanto (and, actually, probably other IALs, too) and Basic English. I don’t think the criticism of Esperanto was fair, but I also don’t think it was strongly intended: Orwell’s big beef was with Basic English. The idea behind Basic English was to cut down the vocabulary of English to a fixed set of words and use those for international communication to make it easier for non-English speakers to understand English news. You can see the parallels and understand where Orwell got his ideas for Newspeak. While Basic English failed, the principles have been used for international broadcasts (i.e. use fewer idioms, use less convoluted syntax, etc.), and, so far, there hasn’t been a 1984-style totalitarian takeover. Furthermore, as hopefully this overlong post on Tumblr serves as evidence of, the presence of such language programs hasn’t affected the way English users speak or write English in any significant way. Given how successful those folks who wrap your knuckles every time you say “can” instead of “may” haven’t been, it seems doubtful that any such program could ever make any serious inroads into the way we use our own languages.

That, more or less, is what I think of Newspeak. We should all be grateful to Orwell, though, for without 1984, there never would have been Diamond Dogs. I mean, maybe I could’ve lived without that album, but that life would never have been so sweet as this one.