Contact: Land and Stories, The One “True” Version

Unit 2.2, Assignment 2.4 – Origin stories

Q1) …Why does King create dichotomies for us to examine these two creation stories? Why does he emphasize the believability of one story over the other — as he says, he purposefully tells us the “Genesis” story with an authoritative voice, and “The Earth Diver” story with a storyteller’s voice. Why does King give us this analysis that depends on pairing up oppositions into a tidy row of dichotomies? What is he trying to show us?


In The Truth About Stories, King tells of the two creation stories of the pregnant Charm falling through the sky, and of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden in Genesis. He distinguishes the two stories by describing how he tells them differently and pitches the two against each other as representations of two separate ideologies of religion or thought processes inherent in the natives versus the Europeans. I think King presents this dichotomy in an effort to have his readers consider the ideas beyond––a way of saying that the dichotomies exist, I have shown them to you, now what is underneath that?

King talks about the authoritative voice he uses in his retelling of the Genesis creation myth, and how that is the basis of the European thinking related to hierarchies and power dynamics evident in the culture associated with royals and nobles versus peasants and slaves. On the topic of authority, there has been psychological studies which have identified individuals feeling powerful when in an authoritative position. Studies such as Milgram’s Shock Study and Zimbardo’s Standford Prison Study presents authority as being an idea which could cause people to act wildly out of the norm. In Patros et. al’s report of the “Underlying Effects of Authority: Past to Present”, they state that “[a]n unequal balance of power in a group setting can lead otherwise normal human beings to behaving tyrannically”. If, in such extreme cases, authority has been proven to have such adverse effects on people, then the effect of the “authoritative voice” used by King to tell the story of Adam and Eve is one which establishes power and dominance over the more peaceful and balanced Charm creation story. As Lutz writes in “Myth Understandings: First Contact, Over and Over Again”, “stories function to redress power relations between the native and newcomer” (13), and this is made apparent in King’s address of the difference in style of the telling of the creation stories.

The dichotomy between the two is not so much as a dichotomy but rather, perhaps, a pyramid, because there always needs to be one “true” story, and the one with the most authority, the one which seems to hold more power and command sits at the pinnacle whilst the plethora of other tales are spread underneath and creates a base of which the authoritative story has power over. In short, because of the nature in which the Adam and Eve story is told, it is unconsciously being labeled as a “true” story for containing authority.

King uses this distinction to highlight the inherent differences in the stories and therefore the opposing ideologies of a power driven culture versus a balance driven culture. Through the dichotomies he presents to readers, he is able to also emphasize the parts which do not fit so tidily into the row of dichotomies, of the influences and interplay of histories and stories of natives and Europeans outside of the obvious contrasts. By doing so, King paints the larger picture of the dynamics of the relationships between the two different peoples and the complexity of maintaining and managing such relations when the other is presented as otherworldly.


Works Cited

Cherry, Kendra. “The Milgram Obedience Experiment.” About Psychology., 16 Dec. 2015. Web.

     19 Feb. 2016. <>.

Lutz, John. “Contact Over and Over Again.” Myth and Memory: Rethinking Stories of Indignenous- European

      Contact. Ed. Lutz. Vancouver: U of British Columbia P, 2007. 1-15. PDF.

Patros, Jennifer, et al. “Underlying Effects of Authority: Past to Present.” URC. Undergraduate

     Research Community, 5 Nov. 2006. Web. 19 Feb. 2016. <


“The Stanford Prison Experiment.” The BBC Prison Study. N.p., 2008. Web. 19 Feb. 2016.


girls girls boys

I remember in psychology class back in high school, we learnt about the education of children and the way advertisements and commercials affect children and their perception of who they are and what is acceptable in society.

Why is this relevant? Wollstonecraft talks about the education system, or lack thereof, for women during the time which she wrote The Vindications. She talked about how women were constructed by men, in that their education stemmed from the desires of men essentially wanting trophy wives, disregarding women’s humanity and seeing them as objects. Nowadays, of course, this has radically changed as education throughout the majority of the world is seen as equal where men and women are allowed to undertake in whichever field they choose. However, as learning is a lifelong process, the education of children is significant in their development into adults.

The reason I am bringing psychology into this is because mainstream education in the form of schooling is not the only way in which girls can be objectified and disregarded. Humans take in their surroundings, and the objectification of females in advertisements shine a light on the fact that the inferiority of women has now shifted from mainstream education into an everyday sort of education. Ads of the perfect women (thin, toned, blemish free, etc) are found all around and simply seeing this every single day can have a negative effect on young girls. Needless to say, women still have a ways to go in order to truly become equal to men.

Now on the other side of the argument: males, boys in general, might be experiencing some difficulties in mainstream education. I’ve come across an interesting TEDtalk about re-engaging boys into learning because there has been a trend of boys dropping out of school in recent years. One interesting point that the speaker points out is the expectations for boys to behave like girls in a classroom setting, where boys are told to “be more like the girls” and sit quietly and listen to instructions. This seems like a reverse of what Wollstonecraft may be referring to in her time, when education was targeted to males. Now, early education seems to value girls more than boys simply for their characteristics (girls are quiet and calm while boys are loud and fidgety). I guess this empowers girls in someways, saying they are the model students in classroom settings simply because of their stereotyped nature of a calm demeanor as opposed to boys, but doesn’t this then disregard boys and their nature?

Oh, the balance of gender equality, so easily tipped to one side or the other.


identity crises

Hong Kong was a colony of Great Britain until July 1st, 1997, when it was handed back to China. My point? I’m 19 and have lived pretty much all my life in a post colonial country. Why is this post titled “identity crises”? Because even though Hong Kong is considered to belong to China, Hong Kong is not China. Sure, we have the same customs and traditions and most of our culture is the same but it’s just different. Same same but different. This, I feel, ties in with Black Skin, White Masks because the idea of races is applicable to Hong Kong people’s rejection of the idea of being a part of China, or at least from China.

The distinction Fanon made between races such that people begin to distance themselves from subordinate races (black) and create connections with the dominant race (white) is a rather interesting idea: “because the Antillean is more ‘évolué’ than the African––meaning he is closer to the white man” (9). I believe this applies to Hong Kong people too; because we have been colonized by the British and have been under the influence of the British, we are closer to the “white man” as opposed to our other chinese counterparts.

Post-colonial times for a country means reconstructing a whole society, or even an entire culture and figuring out how it operates. Hong Kong obviously went back to its Chinese roots, but has become more… sophisticated, I guess I could say. In Hong Kong, the act of squatting is mainly looked down upon. This is because this act is associated with the mainland Chinese and is a behaviour separating Hong Kong people from mainland Chinese. This is significant in that it clearly demonstrates the “évolué” Fanon talks about; Hong Kong people do not squat on the sidewalks because it is not the civilized thing to do.

But then I arrive at the dilemma that I am also Chinese, and insulting my own race is not a very nice thing to do––the Antillean and the African. Identity crisis ––> I am Chinese, but I’m not Chinese Chinese, I’m Hong Kong Chinese. I’m also Canadian.

Now the word ‘Chinese’ looks weird to me because I’ve typed it too much.

zombie apocalypses are already happening… and have been for quite awhile apparently

I, unfortunately, am also included in the “zombies” because I completely blanked out and just remembered I have a blog post due today. Well technically yesterday. Whoops.

Northanger Abbey is interesting, and I got into it right at the beginning with Austen’s intriguing style of narration. Her way of describing Catherine Morland was very interesting, and I especially loved how Austen described her childhood as that of someone who would not be seen as a “heroine” and then gradually becoming one. In my reading of this, or how I interpreted it (which may be completely and utterly wrong) was how critical this was of woman during the time period of the early nineteenth century.

The tomboy Catherine was not seen as a heroine because of what she liked/disliked to do, and because all “proper” girls were to be well read (generally artistically, including music, drawing, etc.), well bred and well behaved she did not fit into the category. I think this is a great example of how the society molds people into what they should or should not be. Catherine, in my opinion, was cool when she was younger because she did what she wanted and did not seem to care much about the requirements of becoming a proper lady. But then to become a “heroine” or to be able to be classified as one when she became older, she began reading and being proper and putting herself through all the activities which would make her a conventional lady of the time. This was really interesting to me because at first I thought she would be the type of heroine to take action on her own and save herself instead of having a hero come along and drag her out of her misery, but then I think I’ve been mistaken because we are told that Catherine was waiting for a hero. And that hero turns out to be well… less heroic and more narcissistic.

Now linking that to zombies: Catherine becomes a zombie by abiding to the social norms of the “proper lady” and doing what she previously did not have interest in. Albeit this could have been due to her young age and shifting appeals of various hobbies, it nonetheless describes the conformity one goes through within society in order to “fit in”, in this case for the benefit of finding a husband. Zombies of society, living without consciousness of the effects of hegemony and social norms which pretty much also describes Shaun of the Dead. 

Now if only some special individual’s blood can cure us of this kind of zombification, that’d be great.

Naming the unknown –– Antigone’s Claim by Judith Butler

What we have here is The Ambiguous Case of Antigone, where she is “unintelligible and unthinkable”. So… why do people even bother trying to understand her?

Here’s why I think so many people have attempted to define and classify Antigone as something, yet end up failing to some degree: because society and its people cannot deal with individual anomalies. They cannot deal with the appearance of something unknown, unable to be classified and put into order. In my opinion, it drives them insane like some kind of OCD for the whole of society, going along the lines of the exclamation “WHY WON’T YOU FIT?!”, similar to that of someone trying to complete a puzzle.

This form of anxiety and interest in the anomaly is greatly influenced by the idea that society fits together; everything is within society and has a place, name, and function in social structures. Because Antigone is such a far off point in the collation of humans in general, everyone looks at her like she’s some sort of rare extinct animal. I find that these specimens of humans or characters to be the ones who challenge what we or society believe as a whole. It’s interesting to think that in classifying Antigone, humanity might gain some understanding of what or who she is, and add her to the organized list of What To Name People.

But perhaps this isn’t the point of Antigone’s ambiguity, to be named, but rather to stay unnamed so as to always remain a mystery, an unidentifiable being that transcends society and social norms to give people something to fawn over and obsess about because she does not fit, and because she is special.

Ambiguity then, I think, is good for human kind. We do not know and we are uncertain.
But isn’t that the beauty of knowledge, that we might never know? I think so.