• Ty Vuong

Trigun, Psychology, Philosophy, and Me

With the COVID-19 quarantine in full effect and my butt stuck somewhere between the couch cushions and the small folding chair I have for my makeshift office. I started getting an itch to do what I enjoy doing; writing about everyday psychology. I enjoy exploring various aspects of life and interactions from the broad global perspectives, to the seemingly small nod shared between myself and the stranger walking by on the opposite sidewalk (you know, social distancing). People fascinate me. It is what fired up my passion for psychology and encouraged me to seek a higher degree in it. But, as psychology will tell, as we seek these extrinsic rewards (degree, pay increase, "Dr" title) we lose motivation. It's the self-determination theory within motivation. So, here I am, in hopes of using this time to reignite my original passion for psychology. Which brings me to this blog-mini series.

Over the course of the next few weeks (maybe months, maybe years?!) I will be exploring an aspect of my life that I think could hold some value for other potential readers. I, like many of you, grew up watching cable TV. Late at night, when it was time for bed, I would turn on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim. I watched pretty mature content for my age. For example, I watched South Park and bought the movie on VHS when it came out for my 10th birthday (1999, yes, I'm about 30). I also watched Beavis and Butthead Do America in theaters (1996, for those of you keeping track at home I was 7).

Of course I didn't fully understand all of the jokes (what the heck was "the clitoris?"), nor did I understand a lot of the underlying drives and motivations, but I would be foolish to think that they didn't influence me. Any scant reading into human cognitive biases will tell you that we, as humans, are constantly influenced by things, regardless of it being "right" or "wrong".

This is how I came to the topic of this mini-series. The show Trigun.

For those of you that don't know, Trigun is an Japanese animated series centered around Vash the Stampede. Vash is a wanted outlaw on a planet similar to the wild wild west. He is an amazing gun slinger with a mysterious origin, but he has an interesting quirk; he REFUSES to kill anyone. All of the destruction and chaos in his wake isn't from his own doing, per say, but from other outlaws and bounty hunters looking to cash in the bounty on his head. Vash is blamed for the destruction of an entire city, but he doesn't remember how it happened. The series follows him as he explores his own past AND the origins of people on this wild-west planet "Gunsmoke". The part I remembered most (before watching it again) was after the end credits there was a preview of the next episode dubbed over with some poetic style reflection on humanity. It was for this reason I sought to watch the series again with the question of, 'Did this series actually have depth?' or was this all just some superficial entertainment and pseudo-philosophy?

I recently watched through this series again and I found that there were a lot of aspects of this character I resonated with. Deep beliefs, foundations of humanity and the human spirit, purpose and drives of life, all of these deep philosophies were similar to mine. I wondered, are these founded on anything? Or, did I, as a young impressionable kid, take in these deep philosophies without fully understanding them. Did I come to similar conclusions on my own through time? Or, did this show somehow guide me from the shadows?

So this is what I'm looking to do. Over the course of the next few weeks (months/years) I am going to open up each episode. Explore it from the lens of an educator. See, and ask is there depth within this show?

I am excited, and I hope that those of you reading are able to get some value from this exploration.


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