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How do you rank Yeesha?
Good 32%  32%  [ 13 ]
Evil 5%  5%  [ 2 ]
Aloof -- living in her vague world of daydreams and clouds 37%  37%  [ 15 ]
Not enough information to say 22%  22%  [ 9 ]
Dude... it's just a game! Give it a rest! 5%  5%  [ 2 ]
Total votes : 41
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 1:52 am 
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There's an ongoing conversation about a meeting topic at http://forum.sodk.org/, but I thought this particular post might find appeal with a larger audience, so I pasted it over here.

Believe it or not, this isn't a troll post, despite the strong accusations. But then again, I think there might a group of people who agree. Let's see. Thoughts, anyone? Does evil pop up every 2 generations in the Atrus bloodline? First Gehn, skip Atrus, then appear in Sirrus, Achenar,... and Yeesha?

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A comparison between Yeesha and Atrus is a very useful line of inquiry. It doesn't tie in with classical D'ni history (i.e., pre-Fall), but it has made me rethink Escher. I wonder what stage of history he belongs in -- Rust-Age D'ni? In fact, he seems to be downright sympathetic now that I've begun to see Yeesha in a new light. I begin to see Escher as a nationalist and a romantic. Yeesha, on the other hand, appears very similar to a turn-of-the-century socialist or anarchist. Ask the assassinated American Pesident McKinley how "good" anarchists and socialists can be. The nationalists had the Pinkertons, but the socialists and anarchists gave good reason for the Pinkertons to be as excessive as they came to be.

Anna, after the Fall, indicated regret at her choices. This indicates that Anna, a key player in the Fall, might have sacrificed quite a bit to keep D'ni alive. Yeesha, and not only according to Escher, said that the Fall of D'ni was necessary. Hmm... the death of millions of people is necessary? Sounds a bit sociopathic to me. Sounds downright Hitler-esque. Definitely in contrast to Atrus, who valued _all_ life. Seems to me that evil skips a generation in the Atrus bloodline: first Gehn, then Sirrus, Achenar,... and Yeesha.


Not only have I begun to really rethink the character of Yeesha, but also that of Escher. I'm really starting to like that guy. I think he's been treated unfavorably by means of classic literary techniques in the same way that carefully worded surveys can have people overwhelmingly vote for things that they would normally say no to.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 2:32 am 
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A lot of my opinions of Yeesha are based on opinions of other matters.

She began learning under her father, a tutelage that Sirrus and Achenar threw off as pointless while Yeesha coveted it. At the same time, Yeesha left all that she knew and loved in order to know more about D'ni.

As she descended she began to "marvel in what [she] could do, what [she] could write." I believe that it was as Yeesha descended into D'ni and into her role as the Grower that she fringed towards evil. Yet in her sociopathic state, as you called it, she met Calam. Calam was her polar opposite, and through him, she found peace and neutrality. It was only after Calam's death (which Yeesha now blames herself) and her discovery of the Bahro that she has fallen from her rush for power and calmed down to a sort of "omniscient" state.

It is hard to say whether I would go as far as to say she is "aloof," but perhaps she is impatient more than anything. She understands what lies in store for us, for everything, and yet she harbors a disgruntled irritation every time we choose to act out of her "designed" path, in the sense that she almost gives us an ultimatum at our return to the Cleft.

I do not know whether I would trust her words, not because she isn't experienced and knowledgeable, but because she is unstable.

I earnestly believe that Calam's death, and her fall, was of her own doing. This is what she means when she speaks of D'ni's fall; it was necessary in order to return them to Leastness, to a humble nature in which they did not covet nor pine for power and wealth.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 8:27 am 
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I can't see Yeesha as evil. Misguided, blinded by her own abilities and her own raising with everything given to her and no restraint, yes, but not evil. Her father doted on her in reaction to how his two sons turned out.. and he went too far the other way. If Atrus and Catherine had lived long enough, a theoretical future kid would have probably turned out sane.

However, Yeesha isn't evil. I'm not such a moral absolutist, I think that she needs the intent to do the harm she does. She actually didn't seem to intend the results that happened.. freeing the bahro she did try for, she exploited us and others to that goal. It was a noble goal, but I don't think she thought through just what would happen and how it would happen. She failed, herself, likely due to her own hubris and belief she knew everything. Well, assuming Myst 5 is accurate in that regard, and Watson had to step in (does he take blame? No, I maintain it was a noble nescessary goal. However, I don't know how much influence Yeesha had over assorted groups of bahro so I can't tell what she did)
And then the whole Calam thing.. we really don't know enough but I'm not going to say she was without blame.. I do believe the idea it was her own pride that killed him, but that's my own feeling and nothing more.

Really, Yeesha's only failing was believing in her own superiority, and for being a hypocritical preachy little--- I mean, she goes on about how pride killed the D'ni, a sentence before she goes how only SHE could do this and how she's the grower with the power of gods. Uh huh. She also didn't seem to get this whole restraint thing.


I don't believe she was without fault because of how she was raised, she understood what was going on. However she didn't deliberately do all the fallout that happened. Basically, Yeesha was a well-intentioned person with power but not so much restraint. She believed she was the grower because of her abilities (whether she is or not has no bearing) and therefore could do no wrong.


Evil? No. In need of sitting and listening to her own lectures and coming to terms with what the heck she was doing? Yes.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 8:31 am 
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I dislike moral absolutist terms like "good" and "evil". Yeesha is not working toward our best interest, she is horribly shortsighted, she is prideful with bouts of megalomania. I would definitely say that while she may not be as overtly self serving as Sirrus and Achenar, her fanatical fervor toward a questionable goal makes her every bit as dangerous. Moreso if you consider her power.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 8:39 am 
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A useful tool of analysis is to take a thing out of context and put it into another context.

Let's take a look at Yeesha. So far the majority view is that she's aloof, which is a kinder way of saying eccentric or maybe even autistic. How many people playing Myst 5 and URU were so intent on solving the game that they totally skipped past the "the Fall of D'ni was necessary" part? I didn't do a double-take. That came later.

We have an international audience, so it is impossible for me to name a specific example from history that won't start a flame or troll war, so I'll stick with a general example. Suppose someone said, "Look how X is now. Of course, it was necessary for hundreds of thousands of people to die horrific deaths, but look at X. Isn't it great?"

I don't think the words, good or aloof would come to mind. "Misguided" would be quite a bit generous. Nope. When you're casually writing off the deaths of millions of people (most of them truly innocent) as a necessary thing, and you're talking about someone in the real world, the following words are usually used: evil, murderous, and psychotic.

I didn't mention Yeesha's instability and seemlingly bi-polar kvetching in Myst 5. That's another topic altogether.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 8:45 am 
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Oh yeah. I forgot about "intentions."

No matter what Yeesha's intentions are, remember what St. Bernard of Clairvaux said about good intentions:

Quote:
L'enfer est plein de bonnes volontés ou désirs ("fiery abyss is full of good intentions or wishes")


Of course, the end of the Book of Yeesha has not yet been written. I wonder that the scales of her life will show when the final word is written?

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 11, 2010 7:49 pm 
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Of course, the sample size is still pretty small so far, but I find it interesting that the votes are not unanimous. I wonder if the distribution would change or not if the sample size were increased to say, 500.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 11, 2010 8:11 pm 
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Also, the whole "Evil skips a generation" thing? Way too dramatic and apocalyptic (in the original, B.C. Jewish sense of the word.) Evil is not a sentient and malevolent thing that possesses us, it is what we choose to do. If there is an underlying moral to the Myst games, it is one of parents and children. Atrus was raised by Ti'ana. Ti'ana was a very affectionate, even doting woman. She was also very clever, and was doting without being smothering. But she was always there for Atrus, always took an interest in Atrus's activities, and encouraged him to grow in his own way. When Gehn took Atrus from Ti'ana, he was aloof and distant. He didn't even really try to bond with his son. This naturally encouraged rebellion, especially when confronted with Gehn's monstrous treatment of ages and his wild assumptions that was the polar opposite of Ti'ana's lessons of patience and observation. Since Gehn was everything Ti'ana wasn't (which was itself caused by rebellion against Aitrus and Ti'ana, who did not really spend a lot of time with Gehn as a boy,) Atrus's rebellion led to him clinging even tighter to the principles of morality that Ti'ana had taught him. The principles that had been instilled in him by his mother figure won out, over all obstacles.

Now compare that with Atrus as a father. He's very bad at it. His sons, apparently very young, expressed the feelings of almost all young boys that their lessons were foolish and irrelevant. Rather than taking Ti'ana's path and helping them tie in the Art with practical things that they found interesting (such as Channelwood, the Mechanical age, etc.,) Atrus more or less gave up on them and kept going off for long periods of time to do his experiments. The picture painted by Atrus's journals indicates the boys more or less raised themselves, so is it any wonder they turned out as they did?

Now, is there really a difference with Yeesha? Yeesha, unlike Sirrus and Achenar, took to the Art, and that gave her and her father something to bond over. But he wasn't really any better of a parent. He still went off all over, leaving her behind. It's clear from Yeesha's journal that she was left to her own devices on Serenia, learning things about the age her father didn't know, and apparently feeling that he wouldn't care to learn. There was no sharing of information, no bonding. You never see Atrus ask "Yeesha, what do you see?" And so Yeesha's messed up too, due to bad parenting. She has no grounding, no ties to humanity to keep her down when her megalomania started flaring up.

Now understand, I'm not saying Atrus was a bad person. Far from it, he's an extraordinarily good person and a true hero of the Myst universe. But even in real life heroes tend to have bad children, often because they are so busy doing heroic things that they don't have time to raise their children properly.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 11, 2010 8:17 pm 
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No argument there. In fact, you nailed down a major cause of the generational behavior.

There might always be a nature-vs-nurture question, but as far as the nurture part of the question goes, absent parenthood has a consistent effect.

As far as nature goes, Atrus could have said to Gehn, "fiery abyss yeah! Let's be GODS!" He didn't -- perhaps because of Anna's previous parenting style or perhaps because of a strong moral compass within Atrus.

The _nature_ part is what I'm going after, and maybe all we can do is speculate without more data.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 11, 2010 8:27 pm 
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My personal theory, and one that I have yet to see Cyan contradict (though I would not presume to suggest they share), is that nature has nothing to do with human behavior. There are no "good" and "bad" people. There are just people, shaped and molded by their experiences.

But that in and of itself is a dangerous path to go down, and one I think that Yeesha has followed right off a cliff. My father and I don't have a great relationship, and I don't consider him a very good father, but my inquisitive nature, my storytelling ability, and my insight into life can almost entirely be attributed to him. Does that justify him being a poor father, since if he had been different I may not have developed what I consider my best traits? That's a small example, but simply increase the size and suddenly "The Fall of D'ni was necessary" looks good.

Where do you draw the line?

Well, it's hard to tell exactly where the line is, but it's pretty sure that a less-than-stellar father is on one side, while genocide is on the other. If you focus on pinning down exactly where the line is, you'll find yourself in the middle of a weird moral version of Zeno's paradox, until pretty soon you're justifying the Fall of D'ni. Instead you have to accept that the line is "somewhere in this general area," and at that point you can clearly see that wherever the line is, the Fall of D'ni is way over the line.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 11, 2010 9:57 pm 
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Gondar wrote:
I can't see Yeesha as evil. Misguided, blinded by her own abilities and her own raising with everything given to her and no restraint, yes, but not evil. Her father doted on her in reaction to how his two sons turned out.. and he went too far the other way. If Atrus and Catherine had lived long enough, a theoretical future kid would have probably turned out sane.

However, Yeesha isn't evil. I'm not such a moral absolutist, I think that she needs the intent to do the harm she does. She actually didn't seem to intend the results that happened.. freeing the bahro she did try for, she exploited us and others to that goal. It was a noble goal, but I don't think she thought through just what would happen and how it would happen. She failed, herself, likely due to her own hubris and belief she knew everything. Well, assuming Myst 5 is accurate in that regard, and Watson had to step in (does he take blame? No, I maintain it was a noble nescessary goal. However, I don't know how much influence Yeesha had over assorted groups of bahro so I can't tell what she did)
And then the whole Calam thing.. we really don't know enough but I'm not going to say she was without blame.. I do believe the idea it was her own pride that killed him, but that's my own feeling and nothing more.

Really, Yeesha's only failing was believing in her own superiority, and for being a hypocritical preachy little--- I mean, she goes on about how pride killed the D'ni, a sentence before she goes how only SHE could do this and how she's the grower with the power of gods. Uh huh. She also didn't seem to get this whole restraint thing.


I don't believe she was without fault because of how she was raised, she understood what was going on. However she didn't deliberately do all the fallout that happened. Basically, Yeesha was a well-intentioned person with power but not so much restraint. She believed she was the grower because of her abilities (whether she is or not has no bearing) and therefore could do no wrong.


Evil? No. In need of sitting and listening to her own lectures and coming to terms with what the heck she was doing? Yes.


i agree with you on this. the only little nitpick i have is that while catherine is dead, i'm very sure that i recall watson saying when he returned to the cavern near the end of mo:ul that he had been with both yeesha and atrus in releeshan and that atrus was in fact still alive. i'm sure if i'm mistaken someone will call me on it. :) only reason i bring it up is because to me it means that he continues to be an influence on her.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 11, 2010 10:12 pm 
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If Myst V can be believed Atrus is still alive, but reaching the end of his life. And he's not really... mentally fit to do anything but take care of Releeshan.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2010 5:29 pm 
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DocOlanA wrote:
If Myst V can be believed Atrus is still alive, but reaching the end of his life. And he's not really... mentally fit to do anything but take care of Releeshan.

well, i think we can be pretty certain that myst v happened, unless watson was lying which i highly doubt.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2010 9:22 pm 
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Sorry, guess I wasn't clear enough. Catherine is presumably dead, Atrus presumably not, by the end of Myst5.

As a note: while Myst 5 happened, it happened the same way as Riven did. Trap books don't exist so that whole plot must have been made whole cloth, but we assume there was something similar that happened. Myst 5 being another Myst game is the same. The details are made up but the overall plot is probably pretty true. In turn we have no idea of what details of Myst 5 were accurate. So it CANNOT I repeat CANNOT be used as a literal canon source despite every person on the forums wanting to use it to support their theories.


But anyways, I digress a little. The point I was making was Atrus and Catherine tried, they had two sons, and didn't exactly raise them well. Atrus was aloof and ended up ironically a lot like Gehn except without the megalomania. When everything fell apart, they had Yeesha, who they doted on and who ended up with a sense of entitlement. Atrus still wasn't exactly a great parent, I don't think he knew how. If parts of Myst 4 are accurate, I wish he'd taught her to be critical and scientific in everything like Ti'ana did.. then she would have not hidden the stuff she found from Atrus because it was "impossible" but found out why it worked. Then we would have seen some interesting stuff happen with the bahro..

The point anyways is Yeesha didn't exactly turn out great either. The first children had not enough support, second had too much as in no limits of the right sort.. and by then Atrus and Catherine were too old to have another child, a theoretical fourth son/daughter who they could have raised with the knowledge of what happened before. (in a way it seems wrong to consider your children 'failed experiments' but let's face it, Atrus was well at that point and past once Myst finished.. Catherine couldn't give up on them but she died first not having the D'ni longetivity. He tried with Yeesha but I don't think she was listening to people at that point. She likely read his letter, appreciated his concern, and completely ignored why he was concerned because it didn't fit the whole image she'd built up of herself as Yeesha: Grower, Bahro Saviour).


That's what I was trying to get across.. they were both too old to try something, and then Catherine died and it was over with.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 13, 2010 3:19 am 
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When I raised the terms "good" and "evil," I was writing with broad brush strokes -- maybe even splashes of paint buckets. The imprecision of "good" and "evil" is a good point to be raised, and I do not disagree.

For the sake of discussion, let me raise a counterpoint.

Why is there a dislike of "good" and "evil?" Is it because such terms require an unambiguous moral benchmark? People are probably more comforable with legal benchmarks, because they can lobby to have laws changed, vote out politicians, or vote with their feet by moving to new country. But moral benchmarks? Who decides?

As little as we know about D'ni morality, I would say that for IC disucssions, the D'ni should be judged by their own moral standards. I would argue the philosophical soundness of that stance for reasons I would be happy to discuss if that does become the question of focus. Most D'ni -- according to the Books of D'ni Kings -- claimed to or actually did follow Yahvo and therefore were signatories to Yahvo's moral benchmarks. The agnostic, athiest, or secular D'ni still subscribed to the D'ni culture, which meant that for all intents and purposes, still were signatories to the D'ni moral benchmarks.

Although Atrus and Yeesha are Rust-Age D'ni, we can infer from the Myst Reader dialogues between Anna and Atrus that he did pick up Yahvo's morality.

But just what is Yahvo's morality, so that we can determine how Yeesha falls within that morality's continnum? I don't know. I have some more research to do.

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