Saturday, August 6, 2011

Gobalization through graphic novels?

So, one of my action items upon returning from this year's Harvard FOL was to become a more globally-aware citizen. And yesterday, just home and readjusting to normal life, I find myself at the library. My brain starts rambling onto books to read, etc., but I was tired. So tired. And I needed a day's break from thought.

And then I saw the graphic novels. The scope on the shelves always amazes me, as it isn't really comic books. These are novels dealing with serious themes (e.g. the history of the wobblies, and an Adaption of Zinn, History of the American Empire). And then I found an interesting looking gem: Dead Memory, by Marc-Antoine Mathieu. Hey, it's a start...

It is told in black and white, and deals with a somewhat dystopic digital age, where all the citizens of the city have committed their memories to the central cube, ROM (note the pun on read only memory). As is the case with most similar stories, ROM evolves from data processor to data controller, thus becoming a god among citizens.

The basic problem: the residents wake up one day and find a wall constructed in the middle of a block. No explanation, no witnesses - it just appeared. This, of coures, literally and symbolically divides the residents of the block. Each day, more and more walls appear. The city residents literally begin to lose their memories, their ability to communicate, and to speak. In one series of frames, the protagonist goes to the central library to prove a fear wrong - but all the books are blank. The citizenry are literally becoming blank slates.

One of the most damning sentiments appears on pg. 27, in the bottom three frames.
"We observers are completely blind when it comes to seeing the present. We are condemned to observing the past, and limited to doing nothing more than developing hypotheses about the the present...to say nothing of the future."
This gave me pause, and I wondered how much of this sentiment applies to the current state of education. Are we condemned (and content?) to only hypothesize about what is in front of us, what we see as a nation, as parents, as classroom teachers? Or do we take action and do something?

Of course, one would hope the action taken is "right" and "logical," even though recent actions prove otherwise. How do we combat this apathy? How do we renegotiate bad policies? How do we progress as a citizenry and avoid the blank slate future?

Oh, I also borrowed 300, by Frank Miller. Guess I'm in a fighting mood and needed some inspiration.