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The problem with Evil races is not what you think

turnip_farmer

Adventurer
Heh, I've seen the pictures of Roman art with the color restored. I know I'm not supposed to say this, but, man, they are ugly. :D It's just weird looking to see those beautiful alibaster busts and whatnot with really, really strong colors all over them.

View attachment 140908
Don't worry, you're not at all alone in this sentiment.

I have somewhere a book about art history written in the late 19th century, I'll see if I can dig it out later. It's written very much from the perspective that art can be objectively rated in quality, and classical sculpture was seen as since sort of pinnacle of aesthetic form.

The author, however, was struggling to deal with the, then recent, realisation that classical sculpture had originally been painted in what to his eyes, was garish colour. The white, alabaster aesthetic was that of the Renaissance, not the ancient world. How to reconcile with the worshipful view of classical culture?

The rather weak attempt he falls back on is to ascribe it to light. While in the climate of Northern Europe things obviously look better in pure white, the light in the southern Mediterranean is quite different, so the colour there probably works better than it would in the British Museum!
 

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Ixal

Adventurer
1. The discussion was about technology, not influence. Yes Philippines traded with China, probably also delivered tribute. So what technology from China spread to the Philippines?
And again, what about the examples from North America and Africa?

2. Lacking advanced technology is exactly what makes your technology primitive. Just a few post ago people finally understood that technology can be rated as primitive, but now you are back to make it a cultural issue and "unable to understand technology", something no one ever said and is also not part of any definition of primitive I have seen

No, disagreeing with me is not childish. What is childish is that you are arguing against strawmans against things no one said and are so unable to admit that you are wrong that you ignore everything posted that you can't twist around to mean something else.
 

Aldarc

Legend
1. The discussion was about technology, not influence. Yes Philippines traded with China, probably also delivered tribute. So what technology from China spread to the Philippines?
PDF Article: "A History of Science and Technology in the Philippines"

I look forward to your inevitable moving of the goal posts.

And again, what about the examples from North America and Africa?
What about the examples that were already given to you that you ignored?
 

MGibster

Legend
The issue is that Grippli are ALWAYS described as primitive. And, the Northern European stand ins - in this case Cormyr, are NEVER primitive. Heck, all one has to do is look up and down the Sword Coast description.
And when I see something like this I think to myself, "What's the issue?" It doesn't particularly bother me that the Grippli aren't as advanced technologically speaking as their neighbors. Like many other aspects of D&D, when you think too much about it you realize how silly it all is. It's not realistic but then it doesn't need to be realistic.

Bonus points if you can explain why it is ONLY tribal peoples in the game that are "primitive".
For the Grippli, I imagine it's because they're living in the stone age and possess no real industry.
 

Hussar

Legend
And when I see something like this I think to myself, "What's the issue?" It doesn't particularly bother me that the Grippli aren't as advanced technologically speaking as their neighbors. Like many other aspects of D&D, when you think too much about it you realize how silly it all is. It's not realistic but then it doesn't need to be realistic.


For the Grippli, I imagine it's because they're living in the stone age and possess no real industry.
But, that's not true.

They have docks made of planks. That means they are put together with nails, most likely. It's pretty hard to build with planks without nails. Tight fighting and water tight. Their trade mission is made of dressed stone - again, not possible with stone age technology. Or, at least, extremely unlikely. They have traded for glass ware and metal pots. Not unusual for a fishing village. Heck, you could look at pretty much any European fishing villages of the time and you'd find the same thing. It's not like a small village will automatically have a glassblower and a blacksmith.

And note, while @Ixal has made great points to point to tribal groups being "primitive", nowhere in the entire adventure, including in the description of grippli, are they described as "tribal". They're a thriving coastal village that has built a fishing industry out of harvesting giant crabs for trade with their wealthy neighbours. Same as any other people. How can you claim that they possess no real industry when they built a massive fish factory? What did they build that with? Big stone pillars in the sea that they have used for centuries.

So, again, explain to me how a non-tribal people, living a day's journey from Baldur's Gate, who regularly trade with outsiders, who build with stone, planks, using nails and hinges, Again, their homes are brick, not simply grass or wood huts. These are not a primitive people by any measure. Poor, maybe. That's to be expected of an isolated fishing village. But primitive? Stone age? Heck, they USE metal weapons - what do you think those tridents are made of? Their arrowheads are steel, not bone or stone.

Nothing in the description in the adventure even suggests that these are a primitive people. Heck, replace Grippli with... oh, I dunno... halflings. Same style homes, everything is pretty much unchanged. Would anyone then describe anything as "primitive"?
 

Hussar

Legend
/snip

2. Lacking advanced technology is exactly what makes your technology primitive. Just a few post ago people finally understood that technology can be rated as primitive, but now you are back to make it a cultural issue and "unable to understand technology", something no one ever said and is also not part of any definition of primitive I have seen
/snip
Ok, let's work with this a bit.

How advanced?

Is Japan primitive because it doesn't use cheques? Is it primitive since it's home computer use is very close to zero? How primitive compared to who, exactly? Is it that only those with the bleeding edge of technology that aren't primitive? But, then, how do you call one group primitive and another not primitive when it's very likely that one group is more advanced in one area but less advanced in another. You mentioned China and the Opium Wars. You do realize that at the time, China produced the best porcelain in the world. No one else was even close. There's a reason that England imported massive quantities of Chinese porcelain for centuries. Does that mean that England was primitive?

Heck, on the topic of China, on the Tea Horse Road, China would trade tea with Tibet for horses bred in Tibet. Did so for centuries. Tibetan horses were considered the best work horses to be had. Does that make China primitive? But, at that point in time, China was light years ahead technologically than Europe. So, Europe was always primitive until about the 17th Century when European technology, imported from other areas began to widely spread and be used?

You do see why your definition doesn't work here right? Being primitive is not simply "oh, that's a bit old fashioned". Being primitive has pretty strong denotative and connotative meanings. There's a very, very good reason why the writer of The Book of Cylinders didn't use it. And didn't use the word tribal either. Why do you believe that grippli are tribal?
 

MGibster

Legend
They have docks made of planks. That means they are put together with nails, most likely. It's pretty hard to build with planks without nails. Tight fighting and water tight. Their trade mission is made of dressed stone - again, not possible with stone age technology. Or, at least, extremely unlikely. They have traded for glass ware and metal pots. Not unusual for a fishing village. Heck, you could look at pretty much any European fishing villages of the time and you'd find the same thing. It's not like a small village will automatically have a glassblower and a blacksmith.
You know what? You make a good argument. I'm going to have to agree with you that they're not primitive by any stretch of the imagination.
 

pemerton

Legend
we're specifically talking about Grippli here as presented in the module. They have steel. The docks are described as being build with lumber planks. They have a HINGED breakwater. Their trading post is freaking dressed stone! The Pond Mother's home is made of mud-brick. That's NOT primitive at all. Note, there are metal and glassware listed as traded items in the house descriptions.
I didn't know these things about the module. To me this reinforces the impression that the description of them as "primitive" is pure authorial stipulation in order to establish the sort of aesthetic that is being analysed and (largely) criticised in this thread.
 

pemerton

Legend
PDF Article: "A History of Science and Technology in the Philippines"
One interesting point in that article is the discussion of ironworking in the Philippines being displaced by imported goods. The relationship between trade, production and technological diffusion is a very interesting one.

Australia used to make cars but doesn't anymore, for reasons that might be compared (at an appropriate level of abstraction) to iron in the pre-colonial Philippines. I don't think that entails that Australia is "primitive".
 

Hussar

Legend
Now, just to jump to the other side of the fence for a second. I do think that in this specific case, the criticisms are overblown.

There are 2 things described as primitive: makeshift shelters that the grippli have constructed after being forced from their homes, which, really, isn't too objectionable. The second is a description of their decoration of their homes - using giant crab shells to decorate their homes is described as primitive. That one is totally unnecessary. That's the use that people are largely objecting to.

I mean, good grief, my father is from Nova Scotia. If decorating stuff with shells is primitive, then Eastern Canada is practically stone age. Seriously, if you had a Giant Crab farm, and you had been raising Giant Crabs - crabs with SIX FOOT shells - wouldn't you incorporate that into your architecture?
 

Hussar

Legend
One interesting point in that article is the discussion of ironworking in the Philippines being displaced by imported goods. The relationship between trade, production and technological diffusion is a very interesting one.

Australia used to make cars but doesn't anymore, for reasons that might be compared (at an appropriate level of abstraction) to iron in the pre-colonial Philippines. I don't think that entails that Australia is "primitive".
Naw, you're primitive because everything in your country is either poisonous or venomous. :D
 

Ixal

Adventurer
Ok, let's work with this a bit.

How advanced?

Is Japan primitive because it doesn't use cheques? Is it primitive since it's home computer use is very close to zero? How primitive compared to who, exactly? Is it that only those with the bleeding edge of technology that aren't primitive? But, then, how do you call one group primitive and another not primitive when it's very likely that one group is more advanced in one area but less advanced in another. You mentioned China and the Opium Wars. You do realize that at the time, China produced the best porcelain in the world. No one else was even close. There's a reason that England imported massive quantities of Chinese porcelain for centuries. Does that mean that England was primitive?

Heck, on the topic of China, on the Tea Horse Road, China would trade tea with Tibet for horses bred in Tibet. Did so for centuries. Tibetan horses were considered the best work horses to be had. Does that make China primitive? But, at that point in time, China was light years ahead technologically than Europe. So, Europe was always primitive until about the 17th Century when European technology, imported from other areas began to widely spread and be used?

You do see why your definition doesn't work here right? Being primitive is not simply "oh, that's a bit old fashioned". Being primitive has pretty strong denotative and connotative meanings. There's a very, very good reason why the writer of The Book of Cylinders didn't use it. And didn't use the word tribal either. Why do you believe that grippli are tribal?
As I said before, what is primitive is relative to the technology of the observer.
For example, the type of agriculture the Amish engage in would be considered now, but 500 years ago (roughly what Cormyr and the sword cost is modeled after) it would have been state of the art.
And a theoretical alien species which is 1000+ years ahead of us would consider everything on earth primitive.

Why do I think the Grippli are tribal? Because others said so and complained loudly that only tribal societies are ever called primitive.

The PDF is indeed interesting, especially the part about the uneven technological development on the Philippines, something that according to some should not be possible.

(BTW: By the time of the opium wars Germany had displaced China as the "king of porcelain" production, at least in quality.)
 


Hussar

Legend
Well, y'know, that's fair. Grippli are not described as tribal, so, we DO have an example of a non-tribal people's art described as primitive.

Granted, I'm still kinda waiting to hear your explaination for how a group that trades regularly with a highly advanced group that lives a day away and has traded with that group for centuries, is primitive and why their art would be described thus. Again, we're talking about someone from London describing somone from Cardiff as "primitive". I mean, they are less than a hundred miles from Baldur's Gate. They have dressed stone buildings, use lumber for their docks and have steel weapons. What, exactly, is primitive about them?
 

Hussar

Legend
The idea of "uneven technological development" generally presupposes an outdated Euro-American sense of lineral cultural advacement and hierarchies of civilization.
Yeah, I wondered about that. I had thought that the notion of linear development had largely been left by the wayside. Some cultures will be as advanced, or even more advance, while still being less advanced in other areas. I mean, the Aztecs had glassware that was equal to anything in Europe, for example.
 

I don’t know if I actually gamed with a real racist, but I definitely game did with one guy who was standoffish for the entire 3 years I was in that group. Don’t know that we ever shook hands.
I avoid shaking hands. Not because of ethnicity... but because, in general, I hate doing so. The only time I do so is at church or job interviews.
 

What are you talking about?

North American First Nations peoples adopted horses, metal tools, housing, and within a century, the vast majority of native peoples in North America (at least the ones that weren't wiped out) lived in relatively equal footing with European settlers.
That's not correct. Most of the Native populations who haven't assimilated live in conditions that would get their kids taken away off-reservation. Somewhere around half of the Dineh on the reservation lack water, as of this year.

Most of the Yupiq and Inupiaq live in housing that, except for the cold adaptations, is otherwise pretty poor. Giving up Village Life means better housing, better nutrition, and better health care... just give up who you were born as and your parents' culture... Barrow still has honeybucket service, rather than central sewer, tho' central sewer is going in. And only in this 21st century did they finally remove the law banning indoor plumbing. (It stopped being enforced in the 1970's.)

Everything I've seen says the Canadian Inuit are only slightly better off than the Alaska Eskimo (Yupiq, Inupiaq). Other First Nations groups also apparently have substandard housing in their cultural traditional locations.

Again, in Canada, if they assimilate, they gain better access to needs.

And in both the US and Canada, indigenous populations are often still below age/education peers in pay and living conditions. Even assimilated individuals.
 

Hussar

Legend
Sorry, @aramis erak I most certainly wasn't trying to imply differently. But, the reasons for the poor housing and deplorable living conditions aren't because First Nations people in Canada are primitive. It's because of many, many reasons that because of board rules I won't talk about, they are forced into poverty and those living conditions.

There's a difference between primitive and poor and victims of horrendous practices for the past several hundred years.

((Sorry, but, if you've been watching the Canadian news, this is a REALLY touchy subject right now.))
 

AcererakTriple6

Autistic DM (he/him)
That's not correct. Most of the Native populations who haven't assimilated live in conditions that would get their kids taken away off-reservation. Somewhere around half of the Dineh on the reservation lack water, as of this year.

Most of the Yupiq and Inupiaq live in housing that, except for the cold adaptations, is otherwise pretty poor. Giving up Village Life means better housing, better nutrition, and better health care... just give up who you were born as and your parents' culture... Barrow still has honeybucket service, rather than central sewer, tho' central sewer is going in. And only in this 21st century did they finally remove the law banning indoor plumbing. (It stopped being enforced in the 1970's.)

Everything I've seen says the Canadian Inuit are only slightly better off than the Alaska Eskimo (Yupiq, Inupiaq). Other First Nations groups also apparently have substandard housing in their cultural traditional locations.

Again, in Canada, if they assimilate, they gain better access to needs.

And in both the US and Canada, indigenous populations are often still below age/education peers in pay and living conditions. Even assimilated individuals.
Your incorrect assumption here is that all of that is because of the Native populations, and not because of the colonizers' and their descendants' centuries of racial oppression in attempt to get rid of the native populations. I mean, have you not heard about all of this?!?! The Boarding Schools were an attempt to commit cultural genocide against the Native peoples, kids were often taken off reservations and forced into adoption for the same reason, and the rest of their struggles (financially, occupationally, etc) are largely because of that.
 

pemerton

Legend
Comparing processes of technological diffusion in the "modern" period to earlier periods is fraught. Not to say that it can't be done, but doing it well requires close attention to the social processes involved.

Here's Hodgson again (same essay, pp 70-71):

Within the Afro-Eurasian historical complex, the overall rise in the level of social power that had everywhere taken pace (sic) was cumulatively very marked. In the sixteenth century, the Spanish, the Ottoman, the Indian, or the Chinese empires could, any of them, have easily crushed the ancient Sumerians at their strongest - as one of them did crush the Aztecs, who were on a comparable level. But the rise was very gradual. In any given era, each society . . . had to reckon with the others essentially as equals, whatever temporary superiority one of them might gain. . . . This was because over the millennia any really basic new developments had been gradually adopted everywhere within the space of four or five centuries - or even more rapidly in such a case as gunpowder weapons.

But it was part of the transmutational character of the new transformation [ie modernity] that it broke down the very historical presuppositions in terms of which such gradual diffusion had maintained parity among Afro-Eurasian citied societies. In the new pace of historical change, when decades sufficed to produce what centuries had produced before, a lag of four or five centuries was no longer safe. The old gradual diffusion and adjustment was no longer possible. Very shortly - at the latest by the end of the seventeenth century - all non-Western peoples were faced with the problem of coping as outsiders with the new order of civilized life as it was emerging in the Occident. Unless, by the oddest of chances, they happened to have started a comparable transmutation of their own at precisely the same moment as the Occident, there was no time for them to follow their own independent developments, however promising. Yet, still moving, culturally, at an agrarianate pace, the could also not simply adopt the Western development for themselves year by year as it proceeded (which would have been required for such adoption to be effective). Those untransmutated agrarianate-level societies that did not share the Western cultural presuppositions had perforce to continue developing in their own traditions at their own pace, adopting from alien traditions only what could be assimilated on that basis. Hence the Wester Transmutation, once it got well under way, could neither be paralleled independently nor be borrowed wholesale. Yet it could not in most cases, be escaped. The millennial parity of social power broke down, with results that were disastrous almost everywhere.​

And the analysis doesn't get any more straightforward once one factors in deliberate processes of colonisation, which have deliberately set out to disrupt, in various ways, processes of borrowing, diffusion and accommodation.
 

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