GTRadio363- Babel Babble

Babel Babble

#363: The crew dives into a discussion about Babel: colonization, oppression, propaganda, and wanting to burn down the system.


Josué (00:01.444)
Welcome to GT Radio on the Geek Therapy Network. Here at Geek Therapy, we believe that the best way to understand each other and ourselves is through the media we care about. My name is Josué Cardona. I am joined by Lara Taylor, Link Keller.

Lara (00:13.164)

Link (00:14.944)

Josué (00:16.62)
And today’s Master of Ceremony topic picker and my favorite colonizer, Marc Cuiriz

Lara (00:28.77)

Link (00:29.349)
This is how we’re going to start? Okay.

Marc (00:29.712)
I… Wow, he just came out and straight attacked me like that. Oh my goodness. Okay.

Josué (00:36.348)
Yep, yep, yep.

Lara (00:38.046)
Now I know what kind of episode this is gonna be.

Josué (00:40.464)

Marc (00:42.206)
You know, I actually take the time and actually read a book. And by read, I mean, listen to a book for the first time in years. And this is how he treats me. And it was a book that he was talking about reading.

Josué (00:46.62)

Josué (00:54.716)
Which book is that? Babel.

Marc (00:58.7)
Babel You know, I don’t even know anymore.

Josué (01:02.224)
It’s babel It’s babel. But in the book they call it babel, right? When you in the audiobook, when you heard it? No. You don’t. Okay.

Marc (01:08.837)
I think… No, I think they said Babel. No, they didn’t. They said Babel. I’m thinking about it wrong. Yep, they said Babel.

Josué (01:17.841)
Why do you want to talk about Babel

Marc (01:19.765)
Oh my goodness. So there’s quite a bit and I had thoughts about it. And there’s two big things, two big things. Yeah, two main things that I really drove from it aside from just literary critiques. One was the idea of translation and how when oftentimes work, literary works or

Josué (01:29.288)

Marc (01:49.673)
things are being translated from one form of media or writing to another, a lot of the times the meaning behind the original piece can get misconstrued, misinterpreted, I can’t even form words anymore. There you go. Or, like, they just, the meaning gets lost altogether and it takes on a completely different form.

Lara (02:07.705)

Marc (02:18.773)
And so I wanted to kind of talk, yeah, which is like the main focal point of the whole entire book. So that’s something I wanted to talk about. And then the other big thing that the book kind of talks about and addresses is good old colonialism and how it’s bad. Don’t do it. Don’t colonize things anymore.

Josué (02:19.141)
which is a big part of the book.

Josué (02:41.32)
Okay, sounds good. Who are you speaking to in particular?

Marc (02:46.045)
everybody. This is a side tangent just to just to already get out of the gate. So there was a TikTok that I came across a while ago. I think I sent it to you guys where it was this woman who talked about how the new American dream is to leave America and go to a small village in like

or in like Asia and just kind of immerse yourself into their culture, you learn their things, and you often find that, you know, how their systems are run are, at least to this particular

per TikToker that it benefited them. Like healthcare was more easily accessible, all these other things. And as I was listening to it, I was like, so the new American dream is colonization. That was my initial thought. I was like, so what you’re saying is we want to leave America because our conditions are not suitable for us because of all sorts of different factors.

and instead move to a rural town in a foreign country, utilize their resources for your own benefit.

Josué (04:15.208)
make you feel.

Marc (04:16.681)
I was like, it made me question, like, how is it that we’re not realizing that things are becoming, are coming around full circle again? Where we as a younger generation can highlight all these terrible things that have happened and how we want to put a stop to things, we want to make a change for it. And then we are essentially doing the same thing, but we’re changing. We’re…

changing the language of it. So to people, it has a different meaning.

Marc (04:54.157)
which kind of ties both themes together. But that was like one thing that like stuck out to me. And so then reading Babel, that was like that theme of like, you know, utilizing the resources of other countries for the benefit of either yourself as an individual or in Babel’s case, it’s to benefit Great Britain.

Josué (05:20.924)
Yeah. I mean, I get what you’re saying, right? The book, it’s very, it doesn’t, I mean, colonization is probably the central theme of the book. And it shows how the UK just is an oppressor of different countries. And then even though it’s kind of a, you know, it is historical fiction in this book, there’s a magic system and there’s all this other stuff.

but it’s based on a lot of truth. And there’s a difference between like going and joining a community versus going and exploiting its resources and its people. And in the case of the book, right, then using those same resources.

from those countries to train them to then continue to exploit the resources of the same countries and others. So yeah, I think there is a big difference between just like, oh, we’re coming over to join your community versus, yep, I’m just going to take advantage of everything you have. That’ll be great.

Lara (06:31.682)
Let me take that healthcare and all the food that you have in the area and all of that. Mm-hmm. Yeah. Very different. It’s different if you are going to also bring something to the community.

Josué (06:38.004)
Mm-hmm. Just take it. Just take it.

Josué (06:46.64)
Yeah, I mean, but that and that’s part of the argument, right? Like the colonizer will always think that they are contributing, that they’re doing some sort of good.

Lara (06:52.063)

Lara (06:57.73)

Josué (06:58.96)

Marc (06:59.51)
Mm-hmm. And I’m sure for a lot of people, this isn’t always the case, that if they do emigrate from America and they choose to reside in a different country, I’m sure there’s plenty of people out there that are contributing, that are doing what they can to actually try to integrate themselves into the community.

and try to be productive rather than just kind of utilizing their resources simply because it’s more accessible or it’s more affordable or whatever the reason might be. But I also think that for every person that is doing it with that, with those good intentions and that are able to actually carry out those intentions, there’s also just as many people that are using that as an excuse to go and exploit.

these different communities simply just because, you know, they can. And then they kind of like, then they’re able to kind of capitalize off of it by making, you know, either Tik Toks or other forms of social media posts, becoming an influencer and trying to promote this lifestyle. So they’re capitalizing and gaining from it without really contributing or, you know, doing anything.

that’s worth of value to that community.

Josué (08:26.352)
Now, a colonizer mindset does not make necessarily a colonizer, I think, right? Like there’s, there’s a matter of like power and oppression and a whole bunch of other stuff that I think goes into, into that.

Marc (08:38.361)

Josué (08:43.068)
But yeah, it’s just kind of disgusting to see those influencers and they’re like, oh, this is, for example, Puerto Rico gets it in multiple, in multiple ways, right? Like I was born there and Puerto Rico is, if you look it up, it’s considered one of the last colonies in the world. And the United States has a couple where

they don’t have the same rights as all the other American citizens in the country, which is pretty fucked up. And then, but then you also have, you can look up videos like here’s how to go and like live tax-free in, in Puerto Rico and like take advantage of all of these benefits that the actual residents of the island don’t get, but that you can get if you come in with that mentality of, we can call it exploitation for sure.

Yeah, it’s, uh, it’s frustrating.

Marc (09:46.389)
Yeah, and like you said, like, yeah, and it’s like you said, where it’s not necessarily so much of like, the colonizer mindset doesn’t, you know, make a colonizer or, you know, anything like that. But I do think that it’s kind of a dangerous game that’s being played because it’s opening that door for potential further action to take place where it’s like, well,

Josué (09:48.068)
and even at that scale.

Marc (10:16.049)
so many people are, you know, moving to this particular country, let’s just try to work with them. And then, you know, then it’s like kind of strong arming or, you know, there’s all sorts of potential scenarios that could potentially play out that could then create or recreate colonization and that colonizer mentality and actions. So like, that’s just kind of one of the things that like I’ve started noticing a lot more.

on all forms of social media and I kind of have that hesitancy and I have that kind of like, you know, that doesn’t seem or doesn’t feel right to me.

Josué (10:56.496)
Yeah. Well, and it’s, um, the actual location has a lot to do with that as well. Because if they’re incentivizing it, that’s, that’s the real, like a country in a city can, can control these things. Like when we talk about gentrification at the, at the local level, like cities are encouraging this kind of stuff.

Marc (11:04.173)

Lara (11:20.726)

Josué (11:21.596)
You could put a stop to a lot of this, including, you know, there’s immigration policies in different countries and things like that can kind of stop that. But in the book Babel, right? Like the thing is that there’s the UK has so much power because basically they control, there’s a magic system in this world and they control the source of the magic almost entirely.

And so they really are an oppressor, right? Like they go in and they take whatever they want because they can, they are literally more powerful than any other country. They have the biggest military, but they also have magic powers on top of everything else.

Marc (12:07.429)
Yeah, which is, which they, they take from the countries that they’re, they’re trying to, to strong arm and trying to, you know, colonize or they’re trying to just take over by force because they’re utilizing their resources, their language for the betterment of purely themselves that they then turn back and use on the very people.

Josué (12:36.056)
I saw a TikTok from the author, Rebecca K.F. No, Rebecca F Kuang is that correct? And she had just won an award for novel of the year or like fantasy novel or something like that of the year in the UK. And she was like, how is this possible? Like, this is such a huge critique of the UK and its history.

Marc (12:44.172)

Lara (12:55.267)

Marc (12:58.453)
I’m sorry.

Josué (13:03.852)
How is this possible?

Lara (13:06.998)
That is like the ultimate like obliviousness, right? Like there are so many we can talk about how people don’t see themselves like in the empire or whatever in Star Wars or.

Josué (13:11.588)
Right? Right.

Josué (13:19.452)
Link? What?

Link muted.

Link (13:26.084)
I’m unmuted. What happened to Lara?

Josué (13:29.82)
Oh, she’s frozen.

Marc (13:30.015)
Oh no.

Lara (13:31.51)
I don’t know. I think it’s frozen.

Link (13:33.924)
Uh oh. I was, but now I’m.

Josué (13:33.936)
I thought you were going to say something.

Josué (13:39.156)
Did you forget?

Link (13:40.553)

Josué (13:41.851)
I’m out.

Link (13:45.252)
I’m going to respond to what Lara was saying when she disappeared, so now I don’t know.

Marc (13:45.401)
This is going to be a fun episode dude.

Lara (13:49.646)
Well now I’m frozen, or you’re all frozen.

Marc (13:51.585)
This is gonna be fun.

Josué (13:51.792)
you were you were you were reacting to

Josué (13:58.056)
I don’t remember now either.

Link (13:59.357)

Marc (14:01.621)
Yeah, I couldn’t remember what it is Lara was trying to say.

Lara (14:06.418)
I was saying…

Marc (14:07.905)
This is gonna be fun to edit.

Josué (14:09.088)
Oh, the obliviousness. She said that it was like the ultimate obliviousness that the country could not remember, could not like see that the entire novel is a critique of. Yeah, I don’t think so either. What do you think it is? What would you call it?

Lara (14:10.814)
The obliviousness.

Link (14:21.472)
Yeah, I don’t think that’s obliviousness.

Link (14:27.236)
It’s another tool in the tool book of control. If you give awards to things that critique you, then people are like, well, they’re listening to critiques and now people won’t do a violent revolution.

Josué (14:47.965)
To be fair, that award was not given by like the monarchy or the government, right? It was just a literary organization.

Marc (14:48.033)

Link (14:53.028)
No, but the point stands, right? It’s literary organizations and publishing companies, like they own the means of production.

Marc (15:05.625)
Yeah, and I mean, we kind of see that with all sorts of different companies nowadays. Like I just heard on the radio this morning about PETA trying to basically capitalize off of this phone call that Pete Davidson had made to them where he was like cussing them out and they made a costume about it. And then they’re like, oh, you know, like we’re making this costume about it. Haha. So funny.

but also buy the costume. And every time you buy the costume, like all the proceeds go to this organization. It’s like a hundred dollar costume, but like it’s their way of kind of like trying to exercise that control because here’s someone or, you know, people providing a critique and they’re like, well, let’s, let’s spin this. We’ll capitalize off of it. Haha, this is so funny. But also like, let’s do something about it so that way we can.

retake control over the situation.

Link (16:06.268)
Yeah. Basically, it’s just, it’s not obliviousness. It’s very calculated.

Josué (16:08.145)
Why do you think that?

Josué (16:12.9)
Yeah. So why has this stuff been bothering you so much Marc? It’s in the book. It’s on your tiktok

Marc (16:20.21)
Yeah, I-

Josué (16:21.78)
It’s on your PETA.

Marc (16:24.385)
You know, I think what it kind of like, what kind of really sticks out to me with it is it kind of goes back to a topic and a conversation that I know we’ve touched on plenty of times before in different episodes about this idea of being a third culture kid. Where, you know, for me in particular, you know, as I’m a first generation Mexican American,

My dad came here from Mexico when he was a little kid, things like that. But for me, growing up being born and raised here in America, I was always one of those kids where I was too white to be Mexican, but too Mexican to be white. And like, I don’t speak Spanish. I don’t understand Spanish. So that just further ostracized me. And so looking at the idea of, of like,

the colonialism factor and sort of the struggles of colonialism and how it’s relating to the main character Robin because he himself identifies as that third culture kid because he can’t relate to his native culture and he also can’t relate to, you know, the UK society because he’s

half and half.

Josué (17:55.504)
Yeah. Robin is somebody who, who right in the novel, he is taken from his city in China as a child and raised in the UK.

But he’s… How do they describe him? He’s like… White passing enough. Enough.

Marc (18:15.093)
He’s white passing. Yeah, he’s white passing enough where like, if you look at him from afar, you could think he’s like any other typical white male, but it’s when you’re like, you’re actually up, you know, you’re up close and personal, you’re actually talking to him, you can clearly make out his Asian features and things like that. Um.

Josué (18:40.777)
I don’t think this is messed up, but you could play Robin in a movie, in the movie version. Ha ha ha.

Lara (18:45.852)

Marc (18:46.173)
You know, and that’s the other thing too, is that I think that that’s another reason why the colonialism thing also kind of like is sticking with me because that’s another main thing, is that I’m often misidentified. Like I cannot tell you how many people just assume that I’m Asian or that I have some sort of Asian heritage. Like, and there are some people that

Lara (19:02.207)

Marc (19:15.677)
even when I explain to them my heritage and everything, they don’t believe me. They’re like, no, that doesn’t sound right. No, no, you have to be Asian. And people will refuse to acknowledge the fact that I’m not and they’ll continue to misidentify me. And that’s something that like growing up, I at first I kind of took offense to it and then I kind of started to own it a little bit, you know, it was a ha funny joke and.

Josué (19:25.62)
I kind of love it.

Marc (19:43.697)
you know, I played around with that title, but I was also unsure of myself because my mom also has some unsure origins from her dad’s side of the family. But I think that like, you know, it’s one of those things where if you’re in a culture that is much more dominant, so like for me being in America, being a minority, they have that power.

People have that power to say, mm, no, I don’t believe you. I think you’re this, so that’s how you’re gonna be to me.

Josué (20:23.732)
takes a special kind of person to say that. But yeah, I’ve met them, many of them. Yeah. Yeah, no, they’re around.

Lara (20:25.471)

Marc (20:29.465)

I still meet them.


Josué (20:37.492)
They’re here. So how does that? Yeah. So how do you how does how does that make you feel?

Marc (20:39.001)
That was a very roundabout way.

Marc (20:48.577)
Like I said, it’s one of those things where when I see it in social media or when I start seeing it, sort of, I see little bits and pieces of it playing out. I’m like, eh, ah, you know, it just gives me the ick. That’s kind of the simple way I can put it, is that it gives me the ick. I just, I don’t like it. I can understand that for a lot of people,

the situation here in America is not the greatest. But I also don’t think necessarily the solution is how about you just get up and leave and take advantage of another community’s resources for your own benefit.

Josué (21:31.752)
Got it.

Josué (21:35.08)
Do you think about the relationship between the United States and Mexico and how messed up that has been as well? Like there are people who were living in Mexico and all of a sudden, because the United States said so, they were suddenly living in the United States. Right. Because like they just redrew the borders and took over parts of Mexico. Do you think about that stuff?

Marc (21:51.256)

Marc (21:57.397)
Yeah. Or like, I don’t, yeah.

Lara (22:00.515)
And multiple times too. Why? California? That’s still part of Mexico. Oh, sorry. Nope. Now that’s the US.

Josué (22:03.59)
Probably, yeah.

Marc (22:11.921)
You know, I don’t think it’s necessarily that piece of it that I so much as like I think about more often, but I think more about just my own lineage. Like my dad’s side of the family traces back to the indigenous people in Mexico. And then obviously when, and then, you know, I’ve done like the ancestry.com stuff to kind of view my heritage and things like that. And aside from, you know,

taking out my mom’s side out of the equation, if I’m looking at just my dad’s side, there are so many other things that were intermingled in addition to the indigenous people. So like, obviously they came colonized Mexico and that European bloodline then mixes in with the indigenous peoples, all that sort of stuff from whatever means.

And then, you know, that ultimately led to where I am today.

Josué (23:17.64)

Marc (23:19.893)
Basically. Looking like I’m Asian.

Josué (23:29.712)
no comment for that yeah

Marc (23:32.929)
Well, what are your thoughts, Josué on the ideas of colonization

Lara (23:39.564)
I just want to before Josué starts talking, I want to point out that anytime Marc picks a topic, it’s like therapy for Marc Always.

Josué (23:46.733)
Always, always, always.

Marc (23:48.119)
Okay, but I didn’t go this way, okay? He’s the one who came out of the gate swinging, calling me a colonizer, and then proceeded to say, well, how does this make you feel?

Lara (23:58.103)
I feel like that’s kind of not quite, I don’t know if Josué would call a client a colonizer, but I feel like he’s pretty confrontational. Right, right, right. In service of the client, right?

Link (24:09.186)
Ha ha ha!

Josué (24:09.72)
Only if I thought it would get us where we, where we wanted to go. In service of the client in service of the Marc of course. Yeah. No, this, this topic infuriates me for a number of reasons. Um, I don’t think I cared as much when I was younger, but as I got older, I definitely did the, the idea of the, of the colonization, like one, one example that I give people is that if you’re a resident of Puerto Rico, and it doesn’t matter if you were born there and that it doesn’t matter if you’re Puerto Rican.

Marc (24:12.345)
I’m sorry.

Lara (24:20.535)

Josué (24:38.428)
But just by living there, you lose the right to vote for president, for example. And it’s such a weird thing, you know? Um, silly U.S. citizen, but also like, I don’t know. I think that’s really important. Like the fact that you lose the, this, this ability and it’s again, it like, doesn’t have to be that way. Like Washington DC couldn’t vote for president until the seventies.

Lara (24:42.771)

Cause you’re still as a US citizen.

Lara (25:00.315)

You know who else loses the right to vote for president? People in jail. And that’s really fucked up.

Josué (25:10.068)
Mm-hmm. Yeah. Um, and there’s different reasons why all those things

Link (25:15.844)
It’s almost like the ruling class benefits from that situation. It seems kind of like that maybe.

Josué (25:22.448)
Yeah, you think so? Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And so, again, but that’s because of the special relationship that the United States has with Puerto Rico. As a as a colony where things just like, you know, like the people there do not even have the right to like they have they literally have no representation in Congress, so they can’t even advocate for the changes that they

Marc (25:27.202)
Just a little bit.

Lara (25:48.539)

Josué (25:52.072)
Like the people can’t who live there.

Lara (25:54.299)
Right. They can’t advocate for like, hey, how about this voting rights?

Josué (25:59.364)
Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, from that perspective, it upsets me. As a person who just, you know, reads and knows people from different parts of the world, I have all sorts of opinions that I won’t get into necessarily here. But a lot of the stuff that you’re talking about, Marc I agree that this is one of those novels that touches on all of them very explicitly. Like nothing about…

about colonialism in this novel is…

Josué (26:33.464)
implied right it’s all it’s all very explicit um and the main character you kind of goes on this journey where he’s and i would say it’s probably similar to mine as well it’s like as a kid like you start you start buying into the positive reasons why you’re like and you’re like i’m not part of the problem you know and then and they all struggle with it

Marc (26:35.562)

Link (26:58.296)
The propaganda, it’s so good. Yum, yum, yum.

Marc (27:01.374)

Josué (27:01.592)
Yeah, and they all struggle with it, right? Because especially when you’re benefiting from it, it’s hard to criticize it. But as he gets older, as he sees the things that are going on, and I mean, and then in the story, they push him hard to basically go to China and screw people over, it’s harder for him to keep playing that game. So I think that that…

that story resonates or would resonate with a lot of people. We haven’t even talked about translation piece, like how language plays a role in the novel either, but yeah, that’s one of those stories that, yeah, pisses me off. Pisses me off a lot, yeah, yeah. I mean, of course, this isn’t the only story that touches on colonialism in that way, but it is a historical fiction.

It’s great, yeah. And the author seemed like, I would say, very angry while I wrote the whole thing. It was great, it was great. It’s like it was very purposeful.

Link (28:12.5)
Josué you read this book a while ago at this point, but what was your emotional response to reading this story?

Josué (28:21.296)
Yeah, pretty much what I was just saying now, like it was, it was infuriating because it reminds me of all that stuff. Like it resonated on multiple levels. But I also, I also loved the, like I wanted to read it because of the translation piece, like because language was a big part of it. And, and I like to study languages. So that part was really interesting to me. But yeah, again, like I saw myself in that story where I’m.

Link (28:30.217)
Did you?

Lara (28:38.824)

Josué (28:51.268)
I remember being younger and believing different things and my beliefs have changed over time.

to where I’d burn it all down now. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely.

Marc (29:02.973)
You just tear it all to the ground? I also think that the book itself also touches on like even the difficulty of even of having that conversation of like, yeah, okay, like all this propaganda that we went through, all the benefits that a person might have experienced because of colonialism, like, yeah, sure. That was all cool. Fine and dandy.

but it doesn’t take away from the bigger picture. And I think like the book really highlights like just how difficult it is to kind of have people realize just how detrimental the system actually was. You know, like the, you know, like the main group, there’s four, you know, four people that are in the cohort with the main character, and they’re the ones going through school together. And three of them are, you know, from…

different cultures from different countries. And they were brought to either the UK or one of them is France, and then ultimately to the UK to study. And one, she was born and raised in Great Britain. You know, she’s just really good and really adept at languages and translations and things like that. And when they tried to explain to her, like,

the reasoning why that they have these emotional responses to kind of the situations that they’ve experienced throughout the book. And her just being so completely dumbfounded and flabbergasted like the entire time and then falling back on the defense of like, well, look at all the benefits you guys get received. Like, look at all the good you guys got. Like this is, like, why would you want to throw all that away? Like, just use it and then.

in turn, try to go back to use the system. But, you know, like, again, it’s like, like having that round and round and round conversation of trying to explain that to people and, and sort of like the difficulties it is of, of having to have that conversation of like, yes, the system might’ve been beneficial or it might’ve benefited me specifically. And there for every person that benefits. From the.

Marc (31:25.801)
oppressed culture, country, wherever, there are at least like 10, 15, 100 different people or more that are suffering because of it. And that does, that’s just not right.

Josué (31:42.192)
One of the things that the book reminds me of, and I think about this constantly, is that even though, and I said, oh, I would burn it all down. The truth is, I mean, the four of us haven’t done shit to make any of this better, right? Like we’re all part of the problem and we all kind of live in it and it’s part of the machine, right? Most of us are benefiting from it and we’re all just here. And that part of it in the book is very…

Right? It’s like, it’s an, these are intimate conversations between the four people, a few more later on that are going on. And it’s exactly what you were saying. It’s like, what is, are we part of the problem? Are we benefiting from it? Should we do it? And if we do something, how much should we do? How far do we take it? Are we actually going to make some sort of change or are we going to, how much are we going to do to our detriment? Because to, to actually do something about it, we’re going to have to take it to an extreme. And.

Marc (32:26.954)

Marc (32:39.761)
Yeah, and even then, yeah, and even then, like even if you do take it to an extreme, there’s not necessarily a guarantee that it’s even going to be effective or that it’s even going to create that change, because it can just as easily be spinned and twisted into extremist ideals, radical beliefs, things like that. And then in turn, you’re just providing…

Josué (32:40.932)
And the truth is, we’re a part of it.

Marc (33:08.429)
fuel for more propaganda to be created, which then further drives people into the very system that you’re aiming to destroy. Or change.

Josué (33:18.612)
At least this book in particular, it does take it, right, because of the way that it sets everything up, it does take it to that, like, if they take it just far enough, they do literally change the balance of power in the entire world. Like, they do, they are able to take away a huge piece of power from the UK. But to do that, they need to sacrifice a lot. Right? A lot of everything.

Marc (33:42.217)
a lot.

Josué (33:46.16)
Right, they need to make some sacrifices and The real world is in that is in that clear cut, but the novel actually sets up that that’s an area where it’s where it is possible

Lara (33:57.487)
And that kind of makes sense because the real world, we end up in these situations where colonialism, capitalism, I mean, it’s all intertwined, but all the different things, all these systems we have that are broken are so ingrained and like, there’s little web tendrils everywhere and we try to fix a problem and we create another bigger problem and then we fix that problem and we create another bigger problem. And so…

In a book like this, you can go just far enough and sacrifice things. And I’m guessing burn the whole thing down. I haven’t read it, but from what I’m hearing is then they do a lot of damage. In a good way.

Josué (34:37.091)
There’s a lot. Yeah.


Josué (34:45.22)
Yeah. And again, I think that’s what makes stories like this, right? That’s what makes them a fantasy. Because, is it? Is what?

Lara (34:52.145)

Link (34:53.608)
Is it?

Link (34:57.3)
I mean, history has shown that violence can change a lot of things. The problem is people often don’t want to do violence.

Josué (35:04.18)
Yeah, yeah, but

Josué (35:08.248)
Exactly, exactly. Yeah, that’s what I mean. Like, how far do you take it? And how much violence is necessary to do it?

Lara (35:09.4)

Link (35:14.472)
I haven’t read this book. I did read a synopsis of it before we recorded, but it seems to me to very much take the stance of you cannot change the system from the inside. You must destroy it. How do you guys feel about that story idea, that narrative?

Josué (35:33.008)
Yeah, yeah, that’s definitely what it is, for sure.

I mean, they debate that as they go through.

Josué (35:44.444)
Is that your question, if that’s what happens in the book? Yeah.

Link (35:45.098)
Yeah, the book takes the stance that you can’t change it from the inside and you must destroy. How do you guys feel about that?

Marc (35:45.918)

Josué (35:51.774)

Oh, yes. Yes, I agree. I agree. Because it depends on the machine. The machine is too big, right? Like, again, I mean, just to use another

Lara (36:04.351)
Mm-hmm. Smaller machines you can break from the inside, right?

Marc (36:05.031)

Josué (36:08.944)
I mean, there’s, what is it? There’s like the United States, that one feels hard. That one feels hard to change from the inside. Maybe there’s other ones, but there’s, this one feels really hard. It’s designed in a way that is to, yeah, everything about its design is meant for it to.

to continue. There’s a TV show, it was starting, Kiefer Sutherland, where there’s a terrorist attack and they basically, like, they destroy the house, the house and the Senate. Like every, I believe that’s what happens. They kill everybody. And then, no, this isn’t 24. No, no, but Kiefer Sutherland, I think is the, like, the undersecretary of education or something like that.

Lara (36:49.531)
Is this 24? No. I was like, wait, wait.

Lara (36:57.911)
Oh, is it like the sole survivor or whatever? The yeah. Or designated survivor, designated survivor.

Josué (37:00.28)
Yeah, yeah. So he ends up being president because he’s like, I don’t know. And in what is it? Yeah, yeah, yeah. Right. Which is, which is the whole thing, right? Like even, even when they meet, they’re like, we got to have one person in this room just in case. Just in case. In Battlestar Galactica, right? It was like, it was also the secretary of education. And maybe I’m mixing them up, but she was the secretary of education. So she was 234th in line for the, for the presidency. But like the system, the system stayed intact.

Lara (37:11.487)
One person who can be president has to not be there, yeah.

Lara (37:30.117)

Josué (37:32.024)
Cylons tried, but even destroying half the world couldn’t bring down that government.

Lara (37:39.239)
some of these systems and especially we’re talking about the book is about the UK like Nina didn’t even realize until a month ago that Canada is still a colony of the United Kingdom Just because It is and you don’t it just that’s the way it’s been since we were born, you know

Josué (37:51.24)

Josué (37:56.083)
It is.

Link (38:00.56)
And our American education system is very much of the belief that we don’t like colonies are a term from ye olden times and not applicable to current events. It’s just when we talk about pilgrims, not when we talk about your neighbors.

Lara (38:11.099)
Yeah, we don’t have colonies anymore.

Josué (38:11.124)
Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Lara (38:19.656)

Josué (38:19.848)
We had 13 original colonies and that story is…

Link (38:23.882)
We never talked about him again

Marc (38:26.394)
It’s like, you know what? They disappeared. They became the United States. No more colonies. Never again.

Link (38:31.264)
No more questions.

Lara (38:31.955)
Mm-hmm. No more.

Josué (38:33.588)
But it’s also like glamorized, right? It’s like this wonderful story of independence and liberation. Hypocrisy is what it is.

Link (38:44.653)
Ha ha.

Lara (38:44.828)

Josué (38:48.228)
Yeah, but yeah, so there’s that piece. And then you brought up the translation piece, right? Like kind of, so the magic system in this book is all about how there are things that are lost in translation. And what is lost in translation in this book is harnessed as power, energy,

it can be applied in different ways. So for example, if you take two words from two different languages that mean either bomb or explosive or something like that, depending on how far one word is from the other in terms of meaning, if you put those two words together on a piece of silver, you can, by reciting the words,

the energy in between the translation, what is lost, can create an explosion. So that’s how you would create a bomb in this particular story. And it’s really, really cool. And they play with this idea a ton. And they use it for health, they use it for reinforcing steel, they use it for electricity, they use it for a whole bunch of stuff in the story. But Marc, you said it, you mentioned that at the beginning as like, it made you think about how

Often, even changing from one medium to another, you lose a lot of the meaning in it. Why was that on your mind?

Marc (40:26.893)
I just kind of think back to…

Marc (40:32.345)
So the big thing that I can kind of draw from is like when there are movie adaptations of books, right? Where sometimes the particular the author writes the book that has like they’re trying to convey a specific message or they’re trying to tell us a certain story. And then when you try to adapt it to a film.

Marc (41:03.061)
If you try to be completely faithful to the source material, depending on how long the book is, you’re looking at a five, six, seven hour long movie, if not even longer, depending on what details are even provided within the book. And so part of the job and the process is to do their best to try to retain what the central points and the central themes of the book are.

while still making it an enjoyable experience for the viewer to watch, right? And in some cases, it can still do it, like there are directors, there are films out there that can do it pretty well. I don’t ask me for examples, because I cannot name any off the top of my head. But I just know that there are some adaptations out there that, you know, for the most part, they’re pretty faithful. But there’s still some lost meaning,

feelings. I feel like it’s almost like a different story that’s being told, no matter how faithful it is to the source material. And then there are some cases where it’s just so bad, you know? And it creates its own different meaning, it becomes its own separate entity, but the true meaning behind whatever that material was just gets lost.

Lara (42:30.095)
I can see that Marc. I think about books where if you for time, because there’s so many different things you squish two characters together into a movie and make them one. And some other things like if you pull Something a character does in this important scene in the book out because it doesn’t make sense in the movie.

you lose, but then later events happen, you lose that motivation and the understanding of why that character did that thing. Again, can’t really think of specific examples, but I’ve read a million different memes and posts recently about like, well, this is a thing in this source material that didn’t end up in this show or this movie, and it changed how we saw the character and how…

Lara (43:26.147)
not noble, their motivation behind their actions were. I can think of one that is fairly, like it honors the source material, but has some differences. The Last of Us, the game going to a show, it feels like the game, but there are some key things that are very different. I mean, they changed the transmission of

the virus or the fungus. And that made for different things that had to happen that couldn’t happen in the game. But it still felt, there were some things lost, but it still felt, at least to me, like the same meaning behind it and the same kind of story behind it.

Josué (44:19.796)
I think there’s a difference between like trying to translate something and have something be lost and making deliberate decisions. Because like when you’re trying to condense something, you have to cut corners and you have to change it. But sometimes we deliberately, you know, make changes. But then in other cases, we just like the medium is so different or the language is so different if you’re using actual languages.

Lara (44:28.147)

Josué (44:48.112)
Like there is no word equivalent, but there is no way to do what you did in the book in a movie. So you need to find a different way to try to do it so you can try to get close. Your intention can be similar, but sometimes it’s impossible to translate from one medium to another, from one language to another. It’s a…

It makes it hard to have like a universal language or universal medium, things like that.

Link (45:24.18)
I say it all the time, the medium is the message and that applies to the language that we use as well. That is also a medium through which we communicate ideas.

Lara (45:24.487)
Yeah, when I was watching-

Lara (45:31.231)

Lara (45:35.443)
Mm-hmm. When I was trying to catch up on watching Steven Universe, I was watching it in like 10-minute chunks or whatever on, or three-minute chunks on YouTube, and it was translated, it was in English, but there were Portuguese subtitles at the bottom, and they had to explain the puns to people because, and that’s one thing that puns are very language-specific, and there’s a few…

There’s a, I can’t remember the exact joke, but there’s something about cats and purgatory, and that can translate to several different languages, that pun. But otherwise, most puns don’t make it through. Humor can be really language specific, so.

Josué (46:24.161)
Even cultural references there.

Link (46:24.965)
That’s why we love localizers, yay!

Lara (46:27.888)

Marc (46:28.779)

Josué (46:30.9)
It’s a hard job, but even sometimes even culturally, like within Geek Therapy, we talk about having a shared language, right? Because even the cultural references, we can both speak English, but it doesn’t mean you understand, doesn’t mean you get the memes, doesn’t mean you get the references, because those are culturally specific. Steven Universe is full of those.

Lara (46:32.522)

Lara (46:45.734)

Lara (46:56.763)
Yeah. A lot of them.

Josué (46:59.849)
Yeah, yeah

Link (47:02.312)
And temporally specific. Specific. In time. Yes, temporally.

Josué (47:08.838)
Did you say temporarily? You’re far from the microphone.

Marc (47:11.853)

Lara (47:12.336)

Josué (47:14.268)
Yes, also temporally specific.

Link (47:18.729)
Well, you guys got any other media examples? I came with a couple.

Marc (47:19.257)
Yeah. Well, you know, and not to get, not to get too religious, but I feel like this, this is like one of the big things that like, when it comes to translations, like, I feel like this is something that will inevitably come up is that, you know, when you look at a lot of these holy texts, like, you know, the Bible or the Quran and stuff like that, the original languages that

they were written in, for the most part, like, or at least as far as I’m concerned, no one can decipher that original language. And that’s to even say, like, we have the original texts of those said scriptures or whatever. And so everything that we’ve had up until this point has been a translation. It’s been an interpretation of it.

And so who’s to say that the stories that we read now are truly the stories that were being documented and recorded when those particular passages were being written? Because as far as we know, we don’t know what those original texts say. And even now, we had to backtrack it. And by doing that, we’re basically having to

re-translate it using stuff that we’re already familiar with, but even then you’re losing more of the meaning and losing more of the… What’s the word I’m looking for? It really is just like the meaning and like the colloquialisms and the context of which those original stories were being recorded in.

Josué (49:04.18)
authenticity there.

Link (49:07.492)

Josué (49:13.296)
Yeah, I mean, take it one step further. There are multiple translations of just the Christian English Bible in English. And depending on the church that you go to, they use, they use different translations because some are more convenient than others.

Marc (49:19.783)

Marc (49:26.621)
Exactly. So, you know, and that’s the point is that like these different translations are used to suit the needs of whatever it is that the organization is looking for, whatever church, whatever the Jewish specific church, whatever goals they’re looking to accomplish, they’re going to use what they view as in their eyes will be a more accurate translation, but really it’s just a more suitable translation to what it is they’re trying to accomplish.

Josué (49:56.2)
Maybe because sometimes it’s just like it’s just like that’s what you grew up with But then but then I think what happens is then all the other ones are wrong

Marc (49:57.094)
Yeah and

Lara (50:04.667)
Look, everyone should just read the Torah instead.

Josué (50:07.477)
Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Link (50:09.444)
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

Marc (50:10.445)
So like…

Lara (50:15.683)
Mm-hmm. So no one debates that. It’s interesting because leading up to the high holidays, Nina and I’s rabbi was talking about reading, you read the same psalm over and over again. And she said, you don’t read the same translation every time, you don’t have to. And so you can get the same story with very different meanings. I mean, there’s similar meanings, but some are written more beautifully than others. And there’s different.

Link (50:17.793)

Lara (50:44.711)
different wording, but it’s just very interesting because the Hebrew, it’s the same, but we can interpret it differently into English and other languages.

Josué (50:58.076)
Also, as a person who speaks multiple languages, it is extremely distracting to look at translations and understand both of them because holy shit are things different sometimes. It is so hard and distracting. It’s fascinating, but it is damn…

Josué (51:27.904)
This is why

So that we don’t even have the words to describe the way we feel, right? So, but we see it and we have a particular version of it that seems accurate, that seems representative of the concept or the idea or the feeling that we want to show. And it is hard if your therapist doesn’t understand, you know, that’s why we always talk about like, bring the actual media in if you can.

Lara (51:50.623)

Josué (51:56.176)
And then, you know, and show it. Don’t just, because even just talking about it, is it the same thing?

Lara (52:01.299)
Well, even just someone coming to me and they’re glad I understand what Discord is and being able to understand what a server is and what a channel is and what… how to do a GIF in it and all these other things. They’re like, you get it, you understand the word mod, the word whatever. Or a client who… Almost exclusively, we have talked about life through the lens of…

The Legend of Zelda and being able to like show up in therapy and see me wearing I’m currently wearing my Legend of Zelda hat and like see that and be like, oh, let me tell you about this, this and this. Like it’s been exactly you understand what I’m saying when I say a Korok seed and how I’m collecting all the Korok seeds right now. And I’m like.

Josué (52:47.376)
You speak my language.

Lara (52:57.667)
That is perseverance right there, friend. That is perseverance.

Josué (53:01.515)
Yep, yep, yeah, yeah.

Josué (53:06.356)
Was there anything else about the book you wanted to cover, Marc? Or that, or that, or not necessarily about the book, but the ideas in the book.

Marc (53:15.081)
In terms of ideas of the book, no, I feel like these are like my two, the two biggest things. And I feel like they’re also the two main themes of the book. Um, there are things that I do want to just touch on the book, but I feel like since you and I are the only two that read it, that’s just something that I could just talk to you about afterwards. Yeah.

Josué (53:33.108)
Call me.

Josué (53:38.204)
Got it. Got it. Any closing thoughts, Marc?

Marc (53:42.273)
colonialism is bad and exactly don’t do it don’t do it it’s bad guys don’t do it and

Josué (53:45.468)
You said don’t do it, right? Is that, yeah, okay. Okay, okay.

Marc (53:55.525)
I think translation, and this is something that was touched on in the book, but I think that while it does pose its own issues and concerns at times, I do think that the art of translation is something that is to be admired. I think it is a beautiful thing to create meaning and doing, and especially when someone’s doing their-

Josué (54:16.424)
beautiful. Yeah.

Marc (54:23.837)
their best to try to retain the original meaning of whatever the original text is, and convey it in a different language.

Lara (54:33.707)
Not an easy job.

Marc (54:35.434)
No, not at all.

Josué (54:37.904)
I forget the person’s name, but on TikTok, I follow someone who goes through, and there’s a few people that do this, but they go through the history of a word and what it used to mean and where it came from and what the root was and how it changed. And over time, and then it meant this and then it meant that and then you’re like, oh, damn, that’s how we got here. That’s cool. That’s cool. Yeah. Yeah, it’s beautiful. Lara, closing words, closing thoughts.

Lara (54:56.249)

Lara (55:06.511)
I got nothing.

Josué (55:07.432)
Cool, cool, cool. Link.

Marc (55:08.353)

Link (55:10.616)
Yeah, I have a couple of recommendations of other media to get into if you liked this conversation. On the anti-capitalist, anti-colonialist side, there is the movie Sorry to Bother You, which is…

fantastic and very funny and surprising and you will gasp and go, oh, what the fuck is happening? A great movie very much about what we were talking about earlier of changing a system from the inside versus its necessary destruction. And then more on the language side, also related to the Tower of

Link (55:57.728)
Snow Crash has a lot to do with the idea of shared language being…

a whole thing and its relationship to tech. You should read that book. I truly think that you are going to be so into it. Then also the movie Arrival, which is really cool. First contact movie about aliens and a linguist slash etymologist trying to figure out how to communicate.

Josué (56:10.644)
I should read that book.

Link (56:33.868)
with the aliens, both to communicate from us to them, but also to receive their communications to us. And there’s a whole lot of really juicy philosophical questions about how language shapes the way that we think about everything. And framing that in extraterrestrial stuff is really cool and interesting. But yeah, two movies and a book to go with Babel. Yeah.

Josué (57:02.229)

Link (57:02.872)
Check them out at your local library.

Josué (57:08.496)
shouldn’t surprise you, but Arrival is my favorite sci-fi movie. For yep. Yep. And.

Link (57:11.172)
It’s great.

Lara (57:14.684)
It’s on the list of things to watch.

Josué (57:17.38)
It’s, I like it, I like it a lot. And again, I think this is a good example of just a story that made Marc feel something, made him feel a couple different things. And so we talked about it. So, you know, remember, use media in this way. That’s what we’re advocating for. It’s if it makes you feel something, whether it’s positive or negative, there’s something there and…

We get up with your therapist, with your friends, with your podcast. So start a podcast. Talk about this kind of stuff. It’s great. So thanks Marc for bringing this one up.

Marc (57:52.946)
of course.

Josué (57:54.42)
And thank you for listening, for joining us, join the conversation in any of our community spaces. You can do so by following the links in our show notes. Remember to geek out and do good, and we’ll be back next week.

Link (58:09.668)

Josué (58:13.704)

Link (58:15.398)
Pfft. Hehehehe.

Characters / Media
  • Babel: Or the Necessity of Violence by R. F. Kuang
  • Star Wars
  • Designated Survivor
  • Battlestar Galactica
  • The Last of Us
  • Steven Universe
  • Legend of Zelda series
  • Sorry to Bother You (2018)
  • Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
  • Arrival (2016)
Themes / Topics

Conversation Topics:

* Colonization
* Oppression
* Translation / localization
* Change
* Cultural representation
* Death
* Family
* Fear
* Feeling alone
* Finding Oneself/Identity Development
* Guilt
* Etymology
* Moral dilemma
* Standing up for others
* Standing up for oneself
* Taking responsibility for one’s actions
* Media adaptations

Relatable Experience:

* Third Culture
* Clarity/Understanding
* Coming of age/Getting older
* Death
* Fear/Anxiety
* Fighting
* Loss (other than death)
* Guilt
* Moving
* New Life Event (New Rules)
* Trauma

Questions? Comments? Discuss this episode on the GT Forum.

Links / Social Media

Check out the GT Network: network.geektherapy.com

GT Forum: forum.geektherapy.org

GT Discord: geektherapy.com/discord

GT Facebook Group: facebook.com/groups/geektherapy

Find us at www.GeekTherapy.org | @GeekTherapy | Lara: @GeekTherapist | Link: @CHICKENDINOSAUR | Josué: @JosueACardona

Ask us anything through the Question Queue and we’ll answer on the show: geektherapy.org/qq

Join the Conversation!

What are some media examples you enjoy that touch on the topics of colonization and/or the power of language?

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