My Roommate + A Tangent on Ender's Game

The Saturday before leaving, I finally saw the house of my roommate, Nick Isaacs.  It was big.  The folks were friendly.  The garden was nice. 

Nick has a really big book collection, too.  On a related note, I discovered that recent printings of Ender’s Game have a new cover.  It’s weird how much the new cover disturbs me.  I had no attachment to the old cover, and it doesn’t affect me whatsoever when other books change their covers, but the no cover just seems so wrong.

To get even more sidetracked, Ender’s Game is a bestselling Sci Fi book for young adults by Orson Scott Card.  It’s a really good read, but it has a bunch of really screwed up values if you read it critically.  For instance, the essay “Creating the Innocent Killer” ( argues (in 10 pages of eloquent language and highly relevant quotes) that, for Card, you’re morally innocent from committing murder as long as you cry about it afterwords.  Basically, the book paints Ender, a murderer, as the victim, and it paints the people that Ender kills as perpetrators.  My roommate, a member of Men Against Abuse Now, caused me think about the similarities that this has to blaming the woman for domestic abuse.  Nick pointed out the regressive views that Card has regarding the role of the woman in a marriage in the sequels to Ender’s Game.  Similarly disturbing is Card’s perception of the Middle East and Middle Eastern people in the Ender’s Shadow series.  Card’s idea is pretty much that violence is endemic to the Middle East and that Middle Eastern people, with a regressive culture, will continue attacking the noble west until they are completely beaten into submission.  Then there will be peace. 

That could be connected to my perception of the cover.  The old one was a dark war zone.  The new one is an innocent little boy playing a game with someone else’s invention.  There is something in his eyes, but it’s not critical thinking, responsibility, or taking matters into his own hands (yet more relevance of Eichmann in Jerusalem.  See “Radical Responsibility”).  Maybe that’s the dirty secret of the novel: Card gets so much credit from smart kids for telling a story about a smart kid, but, in truth, the story is about an emotionally abused pawn of some mass murderers.  Ender is intelligent, but it’s just a glorified version of the same intelligence that drones use to follow orders.

Nick’s little brother came back with us for a night in the dorm.  The dorm’s consensus was that Timmy was adorable.  It was also interesting to see Nick’s brotherly instinct coming out.  I think it’s inversely proportional with the age of the brother: Timmy is a few years younger than Ben, Nick’s other brother, and Nick’s relationship with Ben seems more like the relationship of two longtime friends than the relationship of one person who is out to protect and guide the development of the other.  I guess it comes with age.  “Turn around, turn around…”

Nick also let me store some of my junk with him.  It was a major load off of my mind.  And off of my hands. 

I gave him my magic card collection.  There were some old gems in there.  It actually turned into a rather emotional moment.  I suppose I should have surprised him with them in the car ride over to the train station (he drove me and my 5 bags/tubs away to the train station when I was leaving for Eugene) to maximize the stereotypical cheesy farewell moment.  Ah well.  I’m not big for stereotypical moments.

We did have a good talk on the ride over, though.  We talked about each other’s sleeptalkings – Nick had said something sentimental in his sleep the night before.  And I did computer coding in my sleep.  Slightly less sentimental.  We talked about how we’re only a short distance away from each other next year – both of us are on the east side of campus.  We talked about our nonverbal communication.  We each had our grunts/shrieks for homework and SLE essays in particular.  We talked about singing – more Nick’s than mine.  And we wished each other farewell.

We were good roommates.



Experience Type:

Experience Date: 
Saturday, June 20, 2009