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PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2009 8:07 pm 
We sling the word around a lot. Gehn was mad. Veovis was mad. Sirrus and Achenar were mad. Saavedro was mad. It can be very comforting to believe that only a lunatic would disagree with you, or that only mad people do bad things...but it isn't true. I want to look at the evidence.

Was Gehn mad?

He believed that he could write worlds into existence. On the evidence before him, this isn't actually an extravagant assumption. Possibly if his D'ni education had been completed, he would have been convinced otherwise, but what happened happened, and so it goes. He believed that creating an Age meant that he owned that Age, and all the people in it were his subjects. As a Brit I can point to an entire country full of people who believed that purely on the basis of their having sailed to another nation in ships and planted a flag. It's exceedingly unlikely that they were all insane. He believed that he had the right to do whatever he wished, and that anyone who stood in his way, even his own son, was to be brushed aside. Here we start to border on some degree of megalomania, but it's by no means extreme; many very sane people have lived their whole lives on the basis that they were somehow superior beings. All that we know of Gehn, from the various sources that make up canon, indicates that he was troubled with doubts. He had a volatile temper, which sprang from a deep-rooted insecurity caused, I think, by the trauma of his youth. He clung to a lost colonial past, as many elderly conservatives in this country have done. But on the evidence, I do not believe he was mad.

Was Veovis mad?

Again, I see no evidence of that. He was, in a very real sense, a racist, and the events of the BoT pushed him into extremism, but as someone else has said in another thread, he was used by A'Gaeris (whose sanity is definitely in question) to further a goal he would never have conceived. It's harder to say in his case, because we have so much less evidence, but I'd say that for most of BoT he was, by any normal standards, sane.

Were Sirrus and Achenar mad?

Well, maybe. In Myst and Exile they certainly come across that way, but in Revelation the portrayal is more nuanced, and I think puts the verdict in doubt. They were spoiled, certainly, and immature and careless of who they hurt, but again, that is not in itself proof of insanity. One thing I'm not sure of is whether they were influenced in some way by Gehn. I can't see how, but I seem to recall some hint to that effect in one of the games. I wouldn't rule out a touch of madness in their case, but I would be loth to commit myself (or, indeed, them) on the basis of what I've seen.

Was Saavedro mad?

No. Driven, certainly, obsessed, yes, very very angry for a very long time, absolutely, but for good and sufficient reason. His assumptions were all quite logical, if completely up the creek, and while we wouldn't applaud his actions, who among us can say we wouldn't be inclined to strike back at someone who had done that to us?

The problem with determining all these people's SAN scores is that set against them we have the almost supernatural sanity of Atrus, who is so rational it's almost a form of madness in itself. Compared to Atrus, you and I could be thought to be mad. Well, you, anyway. :twisted:

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2009 3:57 am 

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I think our society's unwritten definition of sanity includes "cares for other people/knows that other people really are people".

We call Hitler insane, but he was mentally fine. It's the same with other people such as Osama Bin Laden and pretty much any other notorious "bad guy". I agree though, most of the "mad" Myst characters are medically fine, even if their personalities weren't very wonderful.

About Gehn: I know it isn't true canonically, but sometimes I wonder if Gehn was correct. You write an Age, and BAM!, there it is, you created it and all of the people inside of it. The first writer's ages were unstable, and the people inside them died in the thousands and hundreds of thousands. All of the writers felt terrible that they had essentially murdered thousands of men, women and children.
To deal with their consciouses they made up the Great Tree, and after that they were just able to tell themselves that the deaths were going to happen anyway, and that they just wrote a link to the Age. The Great Tree idea was passed down by the guilt-ridden writers until every writer was taught it as part of their education.

Now that I think about it, that whole story is a bit off topic. :)

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2009 4:38 am 
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I think the trick here is that "mad" can have a number of definitions:

1. Mad = Insane
2. Mad = Angry
3. Mad = Consumed to the point that their judgment is clouded, i.e. mad with power.

I agree, with you in that there is no evidence that any of these people were insane. I'm not 100% sure about Gehn, but with out being able to do a CAT scan, we'll never know.

I pretty sure all of these people were angry. They all yelled at me a lot, except Veovis who I only read about. Now that I think about it, Gehn never really yelled at you, he would just shoot you.

The last definition is the one I think most people are referring to. And I think they all were consumed with revenge, anger, greed, power, to the point that it caused a fundamental shift in their behavior that at one time they would not have considered. Gehn is a little harder to pin down on this one as all we've ever really seen of him was the power-hungry Gehn.

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And as long as my Relto shelf is unfilled, I will build.

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