Last time, we spent a chapter disparaging the Bitran Lord Holder, whether by narrative or by other characters, so as not to have to confront our own likely skepticism about the return of an ancient menace. The remaining leaders of the planet agreed on the necessity of constructing obvious warnings to their descendants for the next time Thread came around.
Dragonseye: Chapter II: Content Notes: Ablism, Misogyny
The other faculty at the College are unhappy at Clisser’s decision to take on the task of warning the next generations, wondering where they will get the time to do this task, and whether it fits in their remit.
“Our main function,” said Danja, taking up the complaint–she wanted spare time in which to work with her string quartet, “is to teach youngsters who would rather ride dragons or acquire many klicks of Pernese real estate to use the wits they were born with. And to brainwash enough youngsters to go out and teach whatever they know to our ever-widely-spreading population.”
That sounds suspiciously like an honest assessment of the Harper mission, does it not?
The parallels continue, with a class getting an assignment to do the research on what would be an effective temporal safeguard and a suggestion that a lot of knowledge should be encoded into musical form and taught to the very younglings. With continued grumbles about time, the grouping steps up to the stage to perform a set of music with the intent of giving way to what the juniors “so erroneously call ‘music’,” proving that you will see plenty of people complaining about the music of the young, even this far in the future.
The prodigy student that joins them, Jemmy, has already been plenty praised for his polymath abilities, even though his parents had thought him learning-disabled. Having lasted only a few voyages as a fisher, due to constant motion sickness, he was recommended to the College, and now thrives there, sucking up all the knowledge he can and proving to be an impressive copyist that can note and correct the mistakes of other copyists, as well as translating and expanding upon the notes left behind by the settlers.
He’s also got a crush on Bethany, who is
consistently kind and encouraging to everyone but refused to accept any partner. She had long since decided to never inflict her deformity [a club foot] on offspring, and refused any intimacy, even a childless one.
The very next sentence has Clisser speculating whether Jemmy would be able to “breach the wall of her virginity,” which has bad callback echoes to times where dragonriders have ignored the consent and stated wishes of their partners. This time, though, we’re assured it would be good for everyone – Clisser thinks Bethany cares for Jemmy, that Bethany deserves love, that there’s contraception available, and that, despite the age difference (and that they’ve known each other for thirty years at this point), Jemmy “desperately needed the balance that a fully-rounded life experience would give him.”
Cocowhat by depizan
Cocowhat by depizan
NO. Not just for “what part of childfree do you not respect, you asshole,” but also “Neurotypicality is not the Holy Grail of anything at all, you asshole.” It doesn’t matter how Cy anyone might think the match is a great one, it’s up to exactly two people to decide whether they want to embark on a relationship – Jemmy and Bethany.
Hopefully, this is the last we hear of this. Ever.
The narrative, instead, had Clisser putting the idea of teaching songs into Jemmy’s head, who stays composing immediately a song and tune that will essentially be the first of many propaganda pieces about how everyone owes the dragonriders for their safety and security.
Clisser leaves Jemmy to his work, and hopes the computers will have enough in them to complete the research task. And it’s annoyed at parents who are trying to get their students into computer classes for the prestige rather than any aptitude for the work and the machines. As well as a parent complaining about her daughter associating with “lesser breeds without the law” as one of the other faculty put it.
Who would have thought that a system that relies on inheritance of blood relatives would develop blood purists and supremacists. I’m sure everyone is shocked, shocked, I say.
Clisser has A Brilliant Idea about education, though.
What was the point of teaching students subjects now rendered useless here on Pern? Like computer programming and electronic maintenance? What good did it do to the Pernese boys and girls to know old geographic and political subdivisions of Terra? Useless information. They’d never go there! Such matters did not impinge on their daily lives. What was needed was a complete revision of learning priorities, suitable to those who were firmly and irrevocably based on this planet.
[…Out with anything to do with space, human history, or other planets! Study just the Charter – start history with Landing!…]
And further, Clisser decided, taken up with the notion, we should encourage specialized training–raising agriculture and veterinary care to the prestige of computer sciences.
[…teach the things that apply to Pern – husbandry, metalworking, reading maps, fishing currents – not art or veterinary science as it was on Terra…]
As to that, why not separate the various disciplines so that each student would learn what he needed to know, not a lot of basically useless facts, figures, and theories?
And with the addition of the right of an apprenticeship system, we have the Crafts of Pern sketched out. The additional wrinkle is that the kids should be tested at six and twelve on their aptitudes to see which Craft they would best apprentice in to.
It’s easy for us to note how awfully this turns out, by having the advantage of having seen two thousand years into the future of Pern and the complete devolution of technology and science into static Crafts that often refuse the idea of innovation on its face, but we can also note that this is going to turn out badly because excising those trivial bits and boring facts and figures essentially deletes the ability to innovate in wild, genre-smashing ways and limits the ability to improve mostly to refinement. The basics might be preserved in music and song, taught by anyone, but guild specialization makes it highly unlikely that the Weavers and the Fishers and the Timbersmiths are all going to design a better sailboat, each using the innovations and refinements of their Craft to help out the others.
That, and much like the system of priests that taught a little bit of knowledge in Terran history and then generally suppressed anything that didn’t fit their worldview, restricting education to what you “need to know” is a system that is rife for abuses, power plays, demagoguery, and making classes of people more important than others, because they hold the keys to knowledge and can force orthodoxy among their members and the society.
That’s essentially chapter II – the birth of the Craft system, the ascendancy of the Harpers as the most important craft, the deliberate excision of the subjects most likely to provide innovation and warnings to the future about not adopting certain governmental systems, and the decision to use music as the vehicle of delivering propaganda and instruction to the masses when the inevitable fracturing and failure of a united, technologically advanced Pern happens. Likely within the next Pass.
And a creepy interlude where someone thinks the potentially neurodivergent person should be hooked up with the physically disabled person who has very specifically indicated she wants to be childfree.