Thursday, July 27, 2017

YouTube Video Resources: Wisecrack on the Philosophy of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

Wisecrack on the Philosophy of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

No artist is complete without a philosophy, and Wisecrack has some fascinating and fun videos on various philosophical topics illustrated by movies, comics, and anime.

One of my own most important philosophical realizations is explained well by their Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood inspired episode, as well as my second (that adhering to a single kind of "truth" is detrimental to both society and oneself).

Spoilers and mention of suicidal ideation follow in 3, 2, 1...

Software develop—I mean, alchemy is the only gratifying and valuable pursuit. Right? Right?? (Spoilers: no.)

When I worked as a software developer, I prized and treasured my programming capabilities and understanding of computer science. To me, it was unthinkable to not be a software developer—and many of my coworkers and compatriots felt similarly.

Some felt it to the point of looking down on all non-developers as less valuable human beings—quite literally so. I've heard it proposed in all seriousness by a disturbing number of developers that nobody else deserves to make a living wage, and that if people want to eat, have shelter, and raise families, they need to have careers in software development.

Yes, quite a few developers—and I suspect it might be limited to the upper echelons of the tech industry, but I'm not sure—believe everyone else deserves to starve to death.

Anyways, when I thought about it after I left software development (becoming one of the crashers and burners that the industry as a whole believes are weak and worthless, even less than human), such philosophies are rather close to what I saw portrayed in the villainous alchemist characters in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood.

"What's so wrong with putting my daughter through literally dehumanizing scientific experiments so I can keep my job and reputation as a State-sanctioned alchemist? I mean, this house is pretty sweet too, you know? I can't just leave that behind!"

Alchemists who identified so closely with being alchemists that, for instance, one of them didn't want an alternate job or to lose his house and status, and so sacrificed his daughter and dog to create a chimaera who was both sentient and in constant pain, and kept asking "Daddy" to "stop it hurting."

I knew at least two developers who agreed with what "Daddy" did here, and even I myself felt that making a decision between my own health and relationships, and my own job, would be impossible and worthy of committing suicide over.

For anybody who knew me after I quit Amazon due to ending up in the hospital unable to breathe, this is why I was suicidal for about two years.

Ed from Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood has his penultimate revelation.
But in the end, I learned that I'm more than just a software developer. That not being a developer—not even being able to code as a one anymore without severe pain—not only wasn't the end of the world, but it wasn't the end of my humanity.

I was a normal human all along. And it's always been my humanity that matters most—my self, and the people I love. Not the dogma of a company—and certainly not the dogma of any one occupation.

Maybe someday I'll stop being able to create art. But I will still be me: human and still valuable, even if society doesn't view me as such.

Ava Jarvis is an ink and watercolor artist with a portfolio site at If you found this post useful, consider a one-time tip or supporting Ava on Patreon.