X-Men and the Holocaust

Holocaust Memorial 1I have a problem. No, it’s not that I’ve gone 3 weeks without posting. That is a problem, but it often happens when I’m with family, and though I have missed you, it is not so large as my other problem.

It is: I think I’m an autodidact.

This is a problem because school is for people who like learning from other people. It is designed for people to like to sit quietly, absorb from lectures, write to serve prompts, and read assigned academic articles. All of which drives me batty.

I like to talk, debate, challenge, write my way into understanding, and to read good, tight, clear writing.

I have read academic pieces which were well written, though none spring to mind at the moment. I have also gotten into the bad habit of skimming all bad writing, which has been most of what I’ve been assigned in college. Bad writing for me = muddy, flabby, twitchy, poorly-organized and over-punctuated prose. Because of the over-abundance of bad writing in academia, I am doubling whether I could stand grad school.

But I love reading. I read novels, newspapers, magazines, listen to books on tape while I walk, and read fanfiction on my phone when I travel. (Except when it runs out of battery).

Last night, my phone almost out of battery, I went into Leigh’s Favorite Books to buy a book or two on the Holocaust. Light reading; right.

Most of my reading in the past few weeks has been of fanfiction, specifically X-Men: First Class fanfiction of a non-canon but very popular pairing. One of whom is a Holocaust survivor.* I have been reading story after story after story about how(remove) what happened in the camps, what the guards were like, the breadth and depth of their brutality and the human rights violations which those in the camps survived and how these horrors harm the psyche of a particular character.

But I don’t want my sole understanding to the Holocaust to come from a bit of high school history and fanfiction. At Leigh’s I chose Elie Wiesel’s Night and a book on Hitler’s foreign minister. The first lays out the abuses, the tortures, the degradations which I needed to read to feel grounded in that period. The second answers part of the questions: how could someone in the kind of government job I can see myself in grease the wheels of the world to allow the Holocaust?

I don’t just want to know more because I am in a fan community, though that is part of it. (Though it would be normal if I did replace with: that was my sole motivation: in a community dedicated to exploring the implications of a piece of popular culture, exploring the history of characters is normal. Buffy fans read about the Boxer Rebellion, Regency Ireland, and Victorian England; Shakespeare fans read about Elizabethan England, Renaissance Italy, and Tudor history; X-Men fans read about the American 1960s, Communism, and the Holocaust.) I want to understand because the Holocaust is a fulcrum for the human rights movement, and marks the nadir of the yard-stick by which every generation since thinks about what it means to be human.

I fear I’m an autodidact because I don’t want to wait to be taught. I want to know more about the Holocaust and the political systems which allowed it so I can help stop another from happening. And I don’t need a class to do that.

*Didn’t understand that paragraph? Here’s a quick glossary for non-fanfiction-geeks:

Fanfiction: stories written by fans within the world of a published work. It’s been going on since, according to me, before Vergil.

Fandom: a community of individuals who enjoy a particular book, tv show, or movie. Usage: Members of the Dr Who fandom often call themselves “Whovians.”

Canon: facts that are true with in the original media. Usage: Sexual tension between Holmes and Watson is totally canon.

Fanon: facts which are accepted as true within the fandom, but are not actually specified by the canon. Usage (possibly heretical):That the fruit of the tree of knowledge is an apple is fanon.

Slash: generally describes a story with two cannon-straight characters, who are fanon-gay. Usage: Mary loves reading slash, particularly Jack Sparrow/Will Turner slash.

Pairing: a relationship. Usage: Anne finds the Lupin/Sirius pairing disturbing.

Here are some other sources of information on fanfiction and fan communities. Also, my thesis.

Inspirational Quote:

“Education is the movement from darkness to light.”–Allan Bloom
(AN: Thank you to my faithful beta. You know who you are.)

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