Category Archives: 6 DEGREES OF SEPARATION

W8, #2: 6 DEGREES OF SEPARATION

Set-Up: There is an expression — “6 degrees of separation” — that suggests how connected we individuals are as collective humanity, no matter how big a world it may be. In short, it means that:

if a person is one step away from each person they know and two steps away from each person who is known by one of the people they know, then everyone is an average of six “steps” away from each person on Earth.

Playing off of this concept, we’re going to play a weekly game called “6 Degrees of Separation” where we are given 2 topics (that seem to have nothing in common) which we must figure out a creative way to connect. The trick is that we have to use a logical set of connections to show how the 2 items are related in “6 steps”. Additionally, we will also offer a bit of trivia about each new step to showcase our knowledge and imagination.

Example: Let’s take 2 random topics — Ancient Egypt and “Lord of the Flies” — and figure out how to connect them in “6 steps” with some added trivia to show our knowledge:

Step 1: When someone in America thinks of ancient Egypt (1), he/she can’t help but think of legendary pharaohs given that everything one can easily think of from that period of Egypt’s history — from golden statues to the Great Pyramids — are remnants of these god-like leaders. It’s particularly interesting that pharaohs were often buried with everything they owned, gifts for them for the afterlife, and even their living servants.

Step 2: The most famous pharaoh (2) that I can think of is King Tut (1) which was one of my favorite stories growing up. Even though the amazing amount of gold discovered and the identity of the “boy king” were supposed to be the important parts of the story, this wasn’t what captured my attention at first. As a young kid, I actually daydreamed a lot about the idea of a curse placed on all of the people involved in finding the original tomb, especially given that the spirit of the pharaoh may have been angry that they disturbed his eternal slumber. This led me to study a range of curses and superstitions when I was in elementary school.

Step 3: King Tut’s (2) exhibit just arrived in Dallas (3) — as a major art exhibit called “King Tut and the Golden Age of Pharoahs” being held at the Dallas Museum of Art — for several months. Hundreds of thousands of people (paying up to $32/ticket) are expected to attend the show, including some of our own art and archeology students who will go there on an upcoming fieldtrip.

Step 4: On Elm Street in Dallas (3), specifically near the Texas School Book Depository (4), was the location of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination in 1963.

Step 5: The Texas School Book Depository (4) was “a multi-floor warehouse for the storage of school textbooks and related materials” (according to Wikipedia) that shut down in 1970 when the business moved out. It was also in the year 1970 that the American Library Association awarded the first Coretta Scott King Award was given to African-American writers/illustrators who focused on the creation of books specifically for children and young people (5).

Step 6: One of the most famous school books ever taught in the United States, Lord of the Flies (6), appears to be about children and young people (5). Clearly, however, it is not “just a book about kids on an island”. Golding’s book was ranked by Time Magazine as one of the 100 best English language books published since 1923 (and was also ranked by the American Library Association as one of the most “challenged” books between 1990-2000.)

Challenge: Using these 2 random items, connect them in “6 steps”:

  • the epic poem, Beowulf
  • the star, Hannah Montana

Length: Varies