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Wednesday, November 10th, 2010 10:16 pm
A birthday present for [personal profile] lokei, who asked for Daniel, Giza and is probably getting more angst than she expected. :)

Summary: Daniel's intense hatred for the Goa'uld runs deeper than others might expect. A character study set in late S3, with various spoilers for previous events. 1,472 words. Rated PG.

Thank you, Random, for helping me get this right.


Motivation

Daniel's greatest love is the exploration of human history, cataloging its triumphs and tragedies. His chosen fields of anthropology, archeology, and philology dovetail nicely with that obsession: tracing the past, following patterns, analyzing fragments of speech or stone to further an understanding of the human race's journey and what might be its ultimate destination. It doesn't matter if the subject is a tattered document in Old French or the soaring Pyramids of Giza; each serves the purpose of studying human history in the hope of following a path to the present and future.

Daniel immerses himself in the joy of physical, hands-on exploration. He will happily spend painstaking hours putting fragments of pottery together so he can hold a relic in his hands, visualizing the craftsman who poured heart and soul into its creation. His fingers run gently along lines and curves, finding patterns and seeking to comprehend the intentions of its maker. A piece of jewelry, a carved tablet, even the placement of middens has something to teach him about leisure time, culture, or socio-economics.

Philology is much the same, although it tends to be more abstract. There is physical evidence, certainly: torn bits of parchment, runes and hieroglyphs chiseled on pyramids or tombstones, even the ancient equivalent of graffiti found on crumbling walls. For the most part, though, linguistics chases after the written and spoken word, trying to determine how sound and symbols twist and redefine themselves over the centuries.

In both cases, Daniel follows the clues, puts puzzle pieces together, and labors to fashion a coherent whole from the varied scraps of history. Much of the picture remains missing, and it's there where he tends to take those great leaps into the maybe. There's an odd kind of delight in knowing that for all the evidence he uncovers, with all the reasonable theories he spins, there's every chance that he's completely wrong. What matters is the probing, the discovery, the struggle to know. It's a pleasure to get solid confirmation of any kind, whether it leads him backward to rectify his mistakes or forward to learn more. It's the pursuit of knowledge, the understanding of human existence, that matters most.

Later, when he looks back at it all, he realizes that the Goa'uld destroyed his joy in his lifelong pursuit before he even learns of their existence.

It all starts to unravel when Daniel ignores Sarah's warning and goes ahead with his symposium, arguing that the Great Pyramids in Giza had not, in fact, been built by the pharaohs of the Fourth Dynasty. Daniel's passion for truth, even if it means recognizing archeology's ignorance, doesn't stand a chance against the traditionalists in his field. He's laughed out of academia for his failure to toe the conventional line. Catherine Langford, who is interested in those self-same contradictions, is the only one willing to offer him a job.

Daniel accepts Catherine's challenge and ends up unlocking the Stargate. And while that first breathless glimpse of the pyramid on Abydos is incredible proof that his theories are right, it's also the beginning of the end.

After he and Jack kill Ra with a lot of help from Sha'uri and the Abydons, Daniel gets over a year of sheer wonder as he wallows in the ancient culture of Abydos and learns its history. Then Apophis comes calling, and he's suddenly thrown into the battle against the Goa'uld again. He has a wife to recover and a little brother to save, and the best weapon he can wield is his familiarity with ancient cultures and languages by applying his knowledge on the other side of the Gate.

For the first few months, Daniel allows himself the guilty pleasure of enjoying their discoveries of transplanted offshoots of ancient cultures: Mongol, Minoan, Greek, Viking. Egyptian mythology remains most prominent, and Daniel's own specialization in the field proves useful time and time again. It seems like the opportunity of a lifetime to explore these cultures, still untouched by progress or outside influence. But Daniel's unease grows more with every new cultural discovery as he slowly realizes what it all means.

If these civilizations on other planets are imposed by the Goa'uld to maintain the charade of their claimed divinity, how much of Earth's history is real? Daniel has explored the relics of ancient cultures all his life, and suddenly, he can't tell if he's been studying humanity or the detritus of Goa'uld tyranny. Which came first: human progress, or Goa'uld imposition? It's one thing to accept that every archeological theory might be proven wrong by the next bit of evidence; it's quite another to wonder if their discoveries are evidence of human insight or Goa'uld manipulation. There's no way to tell, and that uncertainty might be the worst thing of all.

Thanks to the Goa'uld, the splendor of his life's work is warped, suspect, perverted. Something that Daniel has always considered beautiful -- human triumph, human innovation -- is suddenly cast into doubt. Did languages evolve naturally over time on their own, or did the Goa'uld direct those changes? What can be classified as genuine human achievement, and what should be dismissed as slave work directed by Goa'uld masters? Even the benevolence of the Asgard and the Ancients, traced along Norse and Latin lines, doesn't change the reality of their interference in human history.

Daniel is expert in the study of cross-pollination, tracing how diverse cultures can affect and influence each other. It's devastating to realize that it's impossible to know how much is caused by the natural mingling or clashing of human beings, and how much is simply a Goa'uld moving its slaves from one place to another to suit its own whims. It's no longer a question of influence and impact between two societies; it's a race of parasites taking what they can, with little interest in the devastation or confusion they leave behind. The Goa'uld steal resources and talent without leaving anything behind. That isn't cross-pollination -- it's vicious, ruthless violation.

Every new language Daniel hears off-world becomes an insult in its very ambiguity. Are the vowel shifts and changes in emphasis a natural branch of the language that exists in Earth's past, or are they actually the purer version of the original language, maintained by force in a frozen culture? He can track the pieces, cobble the links together, but what was the influence for those changes? There's simply no way to tell.

Earth's past still exists, of course, but it's a study of the Goa'uld now. They've taken everything from Daniel -- not just his personal life and joys, but even Earth's history. He'll never stop loving archeology and philology, but there's a sour taste in his mouth that will never really go away.

No one else in the SGC understands this, although they do notice his growing lack of enthusiasm for exploring new cultures off-world. Most of them -- even the others on SG-1 -- believe that he's just becoming harder and more seasoned, driven by his hatred for the Goa'uld for what they've done to him and his. Daniel doesn't try to explain; it's easier to allow the military personnel to attribute his increasing battle skills and ruthlessness to his quest for Sha're and Skaara. It's a motivation they can understand, and it's certainly true enough, so Daniel's willing to let them make their own assumptions.

These days, he slides his pistol into its holster with the ease of familiarity and checks the perimeter for danger before he starts to explore off-world sites. He walks into the commissary dressed in the same BDUs as every soldier on base, his hair cropped short, and listens idly to the whispered rumors of how he destroyed the tank of symbiotes on Chulak and threatened to kill Apophis when the Goa'uld lay helpless in the infirmary. No one thinks to look beyond the obvious: Apophis stole his wife and good brother, ravaged Abydos, forced Sha're to bear his child. Thanks to the Goa'uld, his wife is dead, Skaara is irrevocably scarred by his experiences, and the stepson he wants to love for Sha're's sake is forever beyond his reach. Why search for other reasons for his hatred for the parasitic creatures who seek to rule the galaxy?

The Doc actually went to an alternate universe to get intel that stopped a Goa'uld invasion of Earth, he once hears a veteran tell a wide-eyed newcomer.

Daniel doesn't bother to correct the garbled story.

Jackson will do anything to make sure the Goa'uld don't destroy us.

They'll never understand that as far as he's concerned, Goa'uld destruction has already happened, an irrevocable part of Earth's historical and cultural past. But they're right about one thing: Daniel will do anything to make sure that the Goa'uld never get the chance to do it again.


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Wednesday, November 10th, 2010 09:30 pm (UTC)
Oh, that's a fascinating take on Daniel's motivations. Nice work. :)
Wednesday, November 10th, 2010 11:33 pm (UTC)
This is really heartbreaking and fascinating. I love the fact that it's both more and less personal a motivation than most people would understand.
Thursday, November 11th, 2010 02:43 am (UTC)
YES. This is something I've been contemplating a lot recently—how much ignorance would be, in a way, bliss for Daniel. Because the truth is just ugly and has turned him harder, tougher, more sarcastic. Like Morpheus's red pill and blue pill in The Matrix—and when would Daniel ever turn down knowledge of the truth—but, ouch.
Thursday, November 11th, 2010 05:11 pm (UTC)
For Daniel,the destruction of knowledge would be at least as devastating for Daniel as the destruction of his family. Excellent!
Sunday, November 21st, 2010 03:01 am (UTC)
This was faultless. I love your Tao of Daniel. :)
Thank you. *bow*
Saturday, December 25th, 2010 04:58 am (UTC)
dropping in a day late and a dollar short to say that this is lovely and true.