6÷2(1+2) and The Treachery of Images

Despite the apparent disjoint between the arts and the sciences, there is an interesting relationship between the 6÷2(1+2) problem and The Treachery of Images. Just as a painting of a pipe is not a pipe, and the word ‘pipe’ is not a pipe, the symbol for the number 2 is not 2. It’s easy to forget with the supposed objectivity of math and science, that the order of operations is a convention of mathematical language, one of many, and language is socially constructed.

This is the fundamental problem with popular regard for math and science as the exploration of universal truths: there are no universal truths about how to communicate those truths. Math and science as institutions will forever be dependent on the common sense of language, and 6÷2(1+2) is a demonstration of what happens when people disagree on common sense, especially a common sense that they have been told is a universal truth.

Ms. Marvel

Ms. Marvel (Kamala Khan) may be the only comic book I have ever read which explores the experiences of growing up as a second gen immigrant in America. Her friends, her family, her heroes, her hometown, her mosque, and her parents’ homeland, each of these is a unique source of struggles and support shaping Ms. Marvel’s identity as she tackles anything from (word for phenomenon of baby boomers blaming everything on millennials and its effects on youth mental health) to gentrification, to criminal profiling, to unjust use of lethal force.

Always Human

Always Human is a girl/girl sci-fi webcomic which tackles the familiar challenges of navigating interpersonal relationships and identity in a future society with different norms but similar problems with normativity. The backdrop of widespread usage of ‘Mods’ to modify the body and even cognitive abilities normalizes body work and reverses the relationship between naturalistic arguments and ableism.

Shuumatsu no Izetta

This is an emergency post; episode 9 was terrifying. I realized after the last two episodes that the conflict between Izetta and Sophie is a conflict between narratives of hope and narratives of reality. Narratives have the power to move entire countries, and this is not lost on the series with its heavy focus on propaganda.

These are conflicts that play out every day on a personal and societal level. We individually struggle with dreams that are at various levels of fulfillment, and our countries grapple with inequality and injustice, shaping and shaped by the narratives embedded in the social fabric of our realities.

And it’s terrifying because despite all of the happy endings our stories can give us, we can always tell ourselves a single story to defeat them all, “In reality, there are not always happy endings.” Narratives of reality hold fiction’s kryptonite. So how can Izetta fight Sophie? How do we deal with an episode 9? What do we do when it seems that there is no basis for hope in reality, when there isn’t a happy end in sight?

Iris Zero

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Iris Zero is a detective manga which emphasizes empathy and understanding people’s feelings to resolve conflicts rather than the traditional ‘objective rationality’ prized by the genre. The premise of ‘Irises’ is one that comments on perspective, with each person’s Iris being able to ‘see’ a different ‘truth’, be it feelings, lies, attraction, probability, or suitability, an ability that the main character, Mizushima Toru, lacks.