, I would love to talk about Borrowed Light. First, a discussion about nerds. Clearly my definition of a nerd and your definition are quite different.
I think of nerds as people who are not socially skilled and also lack empathy. They are not aware . . . or not thinking about how other people might feel. This is clearly NOT you . . . or your husband, so I would not classify you as nerds.
Nerds are not arrogant or selfish. They are just . . . clueless. They don't seem to have a good filter on human interaction. So, basically, they are not fun to be around because they are not tuned into other people's needs or wants.
The definition of nerd seems to have changed significantly over the years - I notice that the definition in my 35-year-old Macquarie Dictionary simply has "a foolish person - an idiot" under that entry, even though this dictionary was contemporary with my schooldays. When Brett and I were teenagers in the 80s, a nerd was someone who got top marks in class, was interested in studying, had esoteric interests, tended to go deeper into interests general to everybody than the average person, tended to have science and / or technology proclivities, tended to have large vocabularies and spend a lot of time with their noses happily in books, and tended not to care about fashion or celebrity gossip. Therefore, Brett and I were both considered nerds, and had that epithet applied to us many times. We learnt to wear it proudly.
A contemporary definition from Wikipedia: A nerd is a person seen as overly intellectual, obsessive, introverted or lacking social skills. Such a person may spend inordinate amounts of time on unpopular, little known, or non-mainstream activities, which are generally either highly technical, abstract, or relating to topics of science fiction or fantasy, to the exclusion of more mainstream activities. Additionally, many so-called nerds are described as being shy, quirky, pedantic, and unattractive.
Originally derogatory, the term "nerd" was a stereotype, but as with other pejoratives, it has been reclaimed and redefined by some as a term of pride and group identity.
From the Urban Dictionary: An individual who:
1. Enjoys learning
2. Does not adhere to social norms
So Brett, I, Callisto from Borrowed Light
, Hermione from Harry Potter
etc would all be classed as nerds under contemporary definitions of that word. By the way, the perception of lacking social skills is often just that. Some of us don't find some of the stuff classed as such important, but do fine where it matters.
Also straight from the front page of Google: Acting Like a Nerd
Lose yourself in your passion. ...
Don't be afraid to go beyond the ordinary. ...
Be polite. ...
Always be learning. ...
Use the right words. ...
Read voraciously. ...
Pay attention in school. ...
Channel any anger or disappointment you may have into your passions.
Here's an excellent link: https://www.wikihow.com/Be-a-Nerd
...when I was teaching, I made "nerd" a compliment in the classroom, and a lot of my students found they enjoyed being nerdy, and having a nerdy teacher!
Have you noticed how the word "gay" has gone through several transformations in main meaning in the space of one lifetime? It used to mean "merry" - then it became "same-sex attracted" - and then it even started meaning "naff / stupid", as in, "Oh, that's so gay
...lots of parents don't listen to their children. Caroline was sort of unbelievable because she was so incompetent as a mother.
Yet Caroline makes my own mother look like an angel - and many people's mothers, in the real world. Caroline at least attempted to have important conversations with them, and she didn't go around beating either of her kids black and blue, or verbally abusing them, or speaking badly of any of her children to anyone who would listen and refusing to see the good in them, or rejecting their presents and offerings, or turning one into a scapegoat and the other into a golden child, or making herself into a martyr for tolerating either of her children in her home, and for feeding them and providing shelter and clothing.
The domestic violence rate around our district, according to a friend who works in social services, is probably significantly above 20% of households. The emotional neglect rate is higher. Caroline's parenting falls under the category of emotional neglect - and in her case, and in many cases of emotional neglect, it's due to her own hollowness from past unresolved trauma. She is a more "benign" example of dysfunctional parenting, but even this level of dysfunction can be very damaging to children.
It was hugely positive that at the end of the book, Caroline was self-reflecting and modifying her parenting.
Calisto's division of people into moons and stars was way too simple. I think just about everyone is a combination of moon and star. I know I certainly am. It is important to me to please people, but I have no problem with going my own way and doing my own thing and shining by myself. On the other hand, I think I wasn't strict enough with my children because I enjoyed making them happy and doing things for them. I know I was the peacemaker in my family growing up. I was the one who made people happy when the fighting and arguing and fussing started up.
Yeah, a lot of the categorisations used in psychology, and made up by people more generally, run into significant limitations because they are binary, and life generally isn't binary. Another example is introvert versus extrovert - I part-time at both, and don't fit neatly into either category. I love interacting with people, it energises me - but I also need a lot of quiet time for reflection, and don't feel at sea when I am on my own. For me, the introverted side improves my extroverted side, and vice versa.
A lot of the girls in my class found the moon / sun idea really interesting to contemplate. It's a great starting point to think - Where do I sit here? And why am I sitting here?
And in class we become aware, with discussion and sharing, that sun and moon are extremes at the opposite end of a spectrum, and we can start to place ourselves at a rough spot in that spectrum (or be part-time at both), and compare that to where we might have been in the past, and where we might aspire to be in the future.
Philosophy often has the same problem you've raised here,
- much of it works by someone making a thesis, and then someone else reacting with the complete antithesis at the opposite end of the spectrum, and then they argue till they're blue in the face about who has it right. And yet, as one of my favourite sayings in philosophy goes, the truth is usually found neither in the thesis or in the antithesis, but in the synthesis that reconciles the two. And this is why discussing things with other people and sharing our different points of view can be so valuable.
In high school, I made no effort to get in with the "in" crowd. I didn't like them (as Calisto didn't) so I didn't want to do things with them. I had a set of very close friends and didn't need those popular kids or want them.
My experience here was identical in that respect to yours - as was Brett's.
How far along in the story did you figure out that Gany was a firstborn who died?
I first read this book nearly 20 years ago, so can't remember precisely, other than it took me a lot longer to figure that out than I felt it should have, in retrospect!
But, I think it was deliberately written to keep us thinking, "Why the heck is she so concerned about her son that she's not even mentioning her daughter? It's like she doesn't ever exist, grrrr." And of course, it's because she actually didn't!
It's really excellent that the book is written with these traps in it, because most of us fall into them, and then we go, "Oops, how often do I do that in real life?"
The overall effect reading that book had on me, and on many of the girls I worked with, is that it made us more careful about leaping to conclusions and judging people - and made us aware that we're frequently doing both. It made us want to be careful and to think about the puzzle pieces we were probably missing.
Re the abortion, one of the reasons I was cleared to use this book with my Year 9 class, in Catholic
school, as their major study novel, is that the overall effect of reading this book is to get students to contemplate the realities of unplanned pregnancies happening, and the why (which is often complex and psychological, rather than the simplistic way it's frequently portrayed), and the consequences of such scenarios, in a very serious way, so that the net effect is protective and so that the girls are more likely not
to have an unplanned pregnancy, and not
to enter into or stay in dysfunctional romantic relationships, and to get help with family issues that may be driving them into the arms of unsuitable people and relationships.
The Studies Coordinator was very aware I'm not Catholic and that I'm pro-choice, but also that a lot of Catholics are privately pro-choice and don't agree with the official line taken by the Vatican on contraception, and/or on abortion. Plus, she understood that what both sides of the debate had in common is a desire to avoid unplanned pregnancies in the first place - even if the Career Catholics are very unrealistic about how that might be achieved.
In addition, the unfolding paedophilia scandal from the side of the Career Catholics left them, quite rightly, without the unquestioned moral authority they like to claim for themselves. I've always found the actual Catholic congregation very different from the careerists who want to tell them what to do. And by the way, so were some of the priests and religious brothers and sisters I worked with - they rejected the upper echelons too, and worked in metaphorical sandals rather than on red carpet, and with a modicum of personal humility.