Brownian thought space

Cognitive science, mostly, but more a sometimes structured random walk about things.

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Location: Rochester, United States

Chronically curious モ..

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Whale Rider

This is one great kiwi film. Basically, it's the story of Maoris in the modern world, and one old dude waiting for his grandson to carry forward the traditions. Only, he ends up with a girl instead, and isn't terribly happy. The most amazing thing of the film is the girl herself; both the actress and the character Paikea.

The attitide of Paikea's granddad towards her is nothing new... sexual discrimination is everywhere around us. But, what's perplexing is the contradiction: why would a clearly nice person (granddad) be so tied to the discriminatory traditions?

Here's a possible explanation. Suppose you wanted to change the memory on your powerbook. You might have seen the guy at the Apple centre change one earlier. Him, knowing what to do, removed his shoes before working, all the better to ground himself because he happened not to be wearing anti-static shoes that day. Then, he placed the powerbook on a dark grey mat, disconnected the power supply, removed the battery, used the back side of a bakelite-handled screwdriver to remove certain screws, and then flipped out the old memory.. and so on.

Now, as a naive user, how are you ever to know which of these steps are the important ones, and which can be substituted? Is taking off your shoes important? Was there something special about that dark grey mat?

Now scale this up to something like a Maori (or any other) tradition, which they believe is a way in which the world works. Would you be willing to take the chance and change any of the traditions and risk breaking the world itself?

This is also part of the story behind Sylvia's Recipe[pdf] by Gergely & Csibra (2006).

1 Comments:

Blogger amruta said...

in my own eyes (and possibly ONLY in my own eyes) the little paikea is longago me.
~
on another front, o contributor, this article DEMANDS to be expanded upon for mindfields.

regards
the stalker editor

March 02, 2007 6:08 AM  

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