Mind alteration

May 21, 2008 at 2:31 am Leave a comment

geomodal

I simply can’t seem to get away from stories that involve someone mind altering someone else in horrifying ways. Do I like reading about these kinds of things? Hell no! But I keep unwittingly stumbling onto them.

First, I was reading a tome full of sci-fi stories called “The Space Opera Renaissance”, and a lot of the stories in there are awesome, especially the one about N’chaka, the planet hopping Tarzan-like character(!). But the story called The Survivor, oh man, that one’s the stuff from which nightmares are made. In the end, it involved an alien slowly stripping away a woman’s intelligence and ability to speak, transforming her into his little baby-making machine. Horrendous stuff. Well written, sure, but horrendous nonetheless. I’m still trying to forget about that one.

Second, I decided to just leave the sci-fi stuff alone for a while, thinking to find some good ol’ swashbuckling, spell casting, butt kicking fantasy adventure story to read. There shouldn’t be any weird horrifying shit there, right? Wrong. I started (completely unsuspectingly!) reading the Jerle Shannara trilogy, where some people end up being chopped up and reassembled into freakish slave cyborgs, able to know what kinds of horrible atrocities they are committing, able to feel emotional and physical pain, but unable to control themselves. Others end up having their will to think for themselves sucked out of their heads by the Morgawr, being converted into yucky zombie slaves.

Well crap. What is one to do? I suppose I’ll finish reading the trilogy anyway, because even though that stuff is horrible, the stories do constitute a nice, long ripping yarn of fantasy/adventure.

On the other hand, some of the characters in Jerle Shannara, you could say, get “mind-altered” in a good way. Some of the bad people in those stories get dealt justice by being made into better people, instead of being punished or killed because they simply “deserved” it. Socrates would definitely have approved of that sort of justice.

pleven

What the hell are you talking about, Geo? Are you one of these crazy liberal communist tree hugging atheists?

geomodal

Tree hugging? Find me a cuddly tree and I’ll consider it. Um, where was I? Oh yeah! There is also a definite connection that can be made between some parts of the stories and Ideal Observer Theory (IOT). Roughly, IOT says that what is right to do is what you would do if you knew all the relevant facts and were, in some sense, capable of complete empathy with all people who might be affected by your decisions. Right, lots of concepts to unpack there, and I don’t have time to do it here! The connection can be seen nonetheless: read the stories, and pay close attention to when Grianne finally finds Walker.

Alright, time fo’ bed!

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Entry filed under: General.

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Pleven
May 2008
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