Monthly Archives: June 2020

Darrow from Red Rising

Darrow (“Red Rising”) and self-actualization

In an interview featured on the HowlerPod podcast, Red Rising trilogy author Pierce Brown noted main character Darrow’s trait of not caring about what other characters think.

By the end of the trilogy (and still after fourth installment Iron Gold), it is undeniable that Darrow has earned almost unanimous respect of the universe’s various inhabitants. For the pioneering theorist of self-actualization Abraham H. Maslow, esteem follows from love as a universal human need.

If Darrow has achieved love by the end of the trilogy and respect after Iron Gold, has his character in fifth Red Rising novel Dark Age moved on to fulfilling his self-actualization needs (which come immediately after esteem in Maslow’s hierarchy)?

Whether Darrow is in the process of self-actualizing by Dark Age or not would require analysis of his actions and comparison with the traits of self-actualizing figures. Some of the latter’s traits include having a non-hostile, philosophical sense of humor as well as superior perceptions of reality.

Probably the easiest self-actualizing trait to relate Darrow with is autonomy. In his efforts to preserve “the Rising” of his “Red” social class (primarily made up of miners), Darrow has come to develop a highly independent conscience. He has become the kind of hero who sees what must be done for the cause he and his team have fought for over more than a decade–even when certain members of said team might not understand themselves.

It doesn’t matter for the Rising if a few of its proponents have strayed from the core of its project, which is to break the chains of slaves everywhere. Darrow is the heart of the revolution, and to keep its flame lit, it may be that he must self-actualize in certain ways.

The deal with consciousness

Consciousness is a puzzle for emergentists and panpsychists. The former have to explain the causal jump from living matter to awareness. The latter only have to worry about correlation.

Either way, we can strive to describe the origin and development of consciousness in our daily lives. These two facets might be either miraculous or brute facts of existence.

Is racism solvable?

As I’ve resumed listening to Brian Christian and Tom Griffith’s Algorithms to Live By (audiobook), I got to thinking about how to approach the timely topic of racism from a computer science (CS) perspective.

One of the big questions in the field of CS is whether a given problem is computable–i.e., solvable via algorithm. Subjecting racism to this approach might yield the following:

  1. Become aware of ethnic prejudice and bias
  2. Reverse said prejudice and bias

Of course, the devil would lie in the details of such a simple method. But basically, this is the “algorithm” (if any) that we should expect to follow to solve racism.

One note about 1: ethnic substitutes for racial given the science of race. This science suggests that humans differ genetically more within than across populations. (I can’t find the article I found in 2015 detailing this study; this Wikipedia page is representative.)

People have recently taken to Audible and social media to learn all about racism–how not to be racist; what racism is…it is commendable. However, we shouldn’t ignore the biological underpinnings of the current social reality. Genetic race across ethnic/national groups has largely been concluded to not exist.

For anyone who believes microbiology is more fundamental than sociology, the mass’ current approach cannot work. What ought to be addressed instead is gut reactions (likely generational) to differing phenotypes from our own within certain, crucial contexts. If these reactions are understood, we can learn to convert them into more compassionate responses.

Tai (Digimon) and Darrow (Red Rising)

At the end of Digimon: Tri, leader of the “DigiDestined” Tai shares his doubts about the value of fighting with his best friend, Matt. In the third book of Pierce Brown’s Red Rising series–Morning Star–protagonist Darrow faces similar doubts as he finds himself fighting his friend, Sevro.

It is natural for characters like Tai and Darrow to question the worth of struggling. Both of these characters do so prior to the climaxes of their respective stories. One must contemplate what is worth fighting for, especially so close to the end.

But, the end beckons all worthy heroes. They cannot run! They must plod on ahead and overcome doubt in favor of achieving a peaceful end. Tai and Darrow both had to end their respective battles to move into more promising futures.