After reading an excerpt from The Once and Future King, we were asked to respond to these questions.

What is your reaction to the text you just read:

That was a very jarring and uncomfortable microcosm for something that we deal with on the regular and something that seems even more prevalent now in today’s social climate. As soon as the ants started talking about the ‘Othernesters’ and the text spoke of propaganda and calls to war against a demonized enemy and all the other ants just accepted this as fact, I was immediately reminded of the hate-filled speeches of Donald Trump. It also brought to mind a video I saw yesterday of a white supremacy group ‘hailing’ Donald Trump. The way these people and these groups see others who are not like them as subhuman and needed to be eliminated or removed or demonizing them and determining that they are the cause of the worlds ills is so eerily similar to how the ants view the ants of the other nest. ‘Othering’ is a very real phenomenon that I remember talking about in my Islam class last year, and since being introduced to it, I see it everywhere. The process of ‘othering’ involves clearly separating the ‘us’ and the ‘them’ and it is frequently used as a means to divide people, and specifically to divide people against minority groups. ‘They’ are not like ‘us’ so ‘they’ are wrong. You can see this play out, and it is extremely common now.

What connections did you make with the story? Discuss the elements of the story with which you were able to connect:

As stated above, I immediately saw the connections between what we were reading and the current state of affairs in our country. Because this class will be about human empathy, I feel like this is not unintentional. The beginning of the story I did not connect with too much, but as soon as the main colony started spouting hate about the other colony, talking about how the ‘other’ ants were going to take their mash and drive them out so they had to do that first, the whole story felt uncomfortably real. This is what I have come to see in our incredibly divisive and divided nation. ‘Othering’ in order to scapegoat and put blame on those unlike the ‘majority’ in power. 

What changes would you make to adapt this story into another medium? What medium would you use? What changes would you make?

I think this story could make an interesting video game. I am always a fan of games that have a drastically different perspective from one we experience normally (ie games with very small or very large character, games where you can fly, games where you explore space or underwater). Playing as an ant, you would feel like Wart, actually being the ant and seeing everything as an ant would. It would be eve more disorienting and immersive in a VR setting, which I think would lend itself particularly well to this story. Wart is changed into different animals to learn lessons, and so if we can most closely replicate the feeling of being changed into something else, perhaps we would also be able to more easily learn those lessons as we experience what Wart experiences. You would have ‘missions’ as many games do, but that missions would simply be to be a part of the mash team and nothing else. You would do the same thing over and over, and each time the objective was complete, your new objective would be exactly the same as your old objective. It would feel monotonous, and that would be the whole point. You would constantly be hearing the repetitive chatter of the ants, not unlike how video game NPCs already operate. Then when the ants from the other nest come, everything would shift from daily monotony to what can only be described as disconcerting war monotony. I think the experience could be very unsettling and enligthening for people to experience in this way.

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