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PostPosted: Sun Apr 19, 2009 7:57 am 
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The question why one person in the trap book is replaced by another, may simply be explained the same way as the existence of the trap book itself: It was a move made by Cyan to make this part of the game work. Same as people speaking to you from outside of a book.

As to the question of creation or just linking, the "true" writers in D'ni would have seen it as heresy to think that they actually created the age. Remember that the tree of possibilities in the old legends was created by the Maker and I believe that the true writers knew that at some part within the writing and "connecting" to the tree the Maker had his hands on it. So thinking that one had created the age doesn't only object to the tree but also the Maker. Hardly anyone would have dared to think they could reach the same "rank" than the Maker himself.

Atrus says that he is still learning a lot of the Art because he hasn't been trained as the writers in D'ni. But as we know from Yeesha the writers had actually limited their possibilities to quite a high extend. She learned the more logically things from her father, the fantastic things from her mother and all the things her father didn't know from this bloke she found in D'ni (Callum?). I'm not sure if that was all that made her able to do the things she did. One could mix a bit of the myths around her with reality and say the Maker had destined it to be this way or something like that.

The question who decides what is too drastical to change, may be made by the writer or had been made by the Guild. Within his logical thinking to Atrus a drastical change had to do a lot with the "physics" of the world. In that respect he put things to a great risk when he asked the Stranger to open the Star Fissure.

Somewhere within age writing I get the idea that writing the same book again will indeed lead to a new age. The D'ni didn't have photocopiers, so what if even a slight change in the way you write a Gahro Hevtee, will change the way the age looks? BoT isn't very precise about the difference between the "mighty words" and normal D'ni script...

A lot within writing is still myth or facts mixed with myth. We can only relate to what RAWA, Atrus, Catherine, Anna and Yeesha have said. But are they reliable sources of information?

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 19, 2009 8:26 am 
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Zander: with your fire analogy, you're pretending there is no controversy: while there's no question that fire is created when you "begin" a fire, there is a large controversy about whether linking creates an entire universe. One efficacious objection is that nature tends to accomplish things the simplest way it can: and I'm not sure you fully appreciate the sheer enormity of creating an entire universe. It would be far easier for each universe to be a branch-off of possibilities in a kind of family tree of universes. So while right now I'm taking the creationist view until I can be confirmed as wrong, I can appreciate that there is a large question here and that the answer isn't that simple.

Sensei: I totally get what you're saying, and that possibility occurred to me. But we aren't sure that that analogy is accurate either... it's possible that even identical input would be followed by truly random input by nature. We aren't sure.

But consider the possibility that you're right: nevertheless, more factors than simply the words on the page might play into it. Perhaps, say, the times when you add a certain symbol to the page. For instance, say you write an age, but then something goes wrong a few months later and you troubleshoot the problem with a new series of symbols to negate the cause. In that case, the natural locus of the age created its own factor (over the fondness of time, mind you). The best example of this was Atrus' modifications to Age 5, Riven: he was constantly writing in order to save Riven from its own inherent contradictions. Thus, I'm pretty sure that simply copying down the descriptive book wouldn't just link to the exact same age as the book that was written over years of planning and then troubleshooting. Heck, even if everything was identical, it's possible that there's still two ages that happen to be identical in every way. In philosophy we call it the difference between being "qualitatively identical" and "numerically identical"; in other words, between being identical and being the same object. I've always wondered whether the multiverse theory allows for multiple identical universes... but even if it doesn't, the complications I've mentioned have almost made that possibility a misnomer.

But Sensei, your god-complex position is mine as well: the result of writers' hubris has nothing to do with the truth-value of the transporter school or the creationist school. It's one or the other. I just happen to hope that the transporter school is correct, as it better fits the spirit of linking, and makes it easier to educate our young with nonhegemonic thinking.

As for trapbooks, there still hasn't been an inconsistency - that is, two premises which cannot possibly be true at the same time - regarding this subject. I've heard rumours that the creators abandoned the idea, but nevertheless I want to dispel the rumour that they're contradictory to what we know about linking. What we see and hear in Myst and Riven is perfectly efficacious: we're not really sure what happens when you take a book and simply remove pages. And if what was described isn't impossible or contradictory to what else we know, then by definition there's no inconsistency. I mean, so be it if there is! I'll leave trapbooks behind if I must... but I continue to give the storyline the benefit of the doubt; it shows more respect for the writers, and it's more fun to speculate about how it could all fit together, rather than conclude that some mess-up has occurred.

And in that spirit, Hitana, I continue to recommend that we keep our explanations within the story, and not regarding its authors, unless it's impossible to do so, because of some contradiction. Fascinating points though.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 19, 2009 5:51 pm 
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Ro'Mallinson wrote:
And in that spirit, Hitana, I continue to recommend that we keep our explanations within the story, and not regarding its authors, unless it's impossible to do so, because of some contradiction. Fascinating points though.

Sorry to fly against this in the very next post, but Rand has said that trap books (as described in Myst) were only a game mechanism. I wanted to provide a link by my reference (D'ni Desk) is apparently in the process of being renewed. If someone else has another link, I'd appreciate the help. Since Myst is pretty much Rand's baby, I'd say his word is law when it comes to canon.

Ro'Mallinson wrote:
...we're not really sure what happens when you take a book and simply remove pages.

That would be simple enough to test: someone links to Age A and takes with them a Linking book back to D'ni, someone else remains in D'ni and removes a page/drastically changes the Descriptive book, the first person tries to link back. Who wants to volunteer? :P

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2009 4:05 am 
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*everyones exchanges awkward glances, tries and fails miserably to look casual, and ultimately refrains from volunteering*

*snicker*


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 22, 2009 9:36 am 
Hitana wrote:
As to the question of creation or just linking, the "true" writers in D'ni would have seen it as heresy to think that they actually created the age. Remember that the tree of possibilities in the old legends was created by the Maker and I believe that the true writers knew that at some part within the writing and "connecting" to the tree the Maker had his hands on it. So thinking that one had created the age doesn't only object to the tree but also the Maker. Hardly anyone would have dared to think they could reach the same "rank" than the Maker himself.


This is, indeed, what we are told, just as we were once told that the world was flat and the sun went around it. The true Writers in D'ni were wrong on a number of other points as well, though, and there is also the point that (if we believe Yeesha) this salubrious belief completely failed to stop them enslaving and exploiting the Ages they Wrote just as if they thought they had created them. Arguments that doing something or other is "usurping the power of God" have always tended to fall rather flat when the thing is done and no divine vengeance results.

In any case, I don't see the equivalence of "creating one universe" and "creating the reality in which it is possible for universes, and people, to exist." I really don't see Yahvo feeling that threatened.

And yes, it's heresy. Check out the sig.

Ro'Mallinson wrote:
Zander: with your fire analogy, you're pretending there is no controversy: while there's no question that fire is created when you "begin" a fire, there is a large controversy about whether linking creates an entire universe. One efficacious objection is that nature tends to accomplish things the simplest way it can: and I'm not sure you fully appreciate the sheer enormity of creating an entire universe.


I have no idea how hard it is to create a universe. For all I know, it isn't hard at all.

Let's come at this from the other end, though.

I create universes in my head quite often, sometimes several times a day, and that certainly isn't hard...and since what I do in my head when I start a story is essentially what an Age Writer does in his head when he starts a Descriptive Book, it seems perfectly natural to link the two activities together as basically similar.

And here is where we run into problems. Because I will never accept that what I am doing in my head when I make up a world and a bunch of characters and a plot for them to follow is simply connecting to something that's already been invented by someone else, whether that someone else is God, the Devil or Jeffrey Archer. When I make up a story, I am creating: using, naturally, elements from my experience, as an Age Writer uses his knowledge of physical science and such to make sure his Age works properly, but combining them in a way that has never been done by anyone else before. It's not hard. And I really don't see why the analogous activity of creating a new universe in reality should be any harder. This isn't nature, remember, it's Art. It's a thing people do, and they don't always do things the simplest way.

I know there is a controversy. I'm just not sure why. I honestly don't see why people who, in another context, might accept the idea of gigantic space battleships zooming through the sky at vast multiples of light speed, a blue police box that can travel through time, a magic lamp that contains an all-powerful genie or an honest man in the White House, seem to baulk at the idea that a person's mind can call into being a universe. It seems very small potatoes to me. And in the end, whether there is a controversy or not has never had the slightest effect, in the real world, on whether something is true or false...so I don't see why truth should be democratically determined in this fictional one.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 22, 2009 10:19 pm 
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[quote:"Zander Nyrond"]I create universes in my head quite often, sometimes several times a day, and that certainly isn't hard...and since what I do in my head when I start a story is essentially what an Age Writer does in his head when he starts a Descriptive Book, it seems perfectly natural to link the two activities together as basically similar.[/quote]
I'm afraid I'm going to have to link in some wisdom on this. If you didn't read it, "you will never find a programming language that spares you from the burden of explaining your ideas." Writing an age in a book must be harder, if anything, than doing the same on a computer (what for all of computers' editing conveniences). Hence, for example, Riven, which was unstable because the idea that existed in Gehn's head, when simply written down, was an impossibility (obviously he didn't think it through enough to notice, "wait, that doesn't work!").

At any rate, we're not saying it's illogical that a person can call into being a universe, we're dealing with the finer points. To amke an RPG metaphor, we're not baulking the idea that you can cast Magic Missile and obliterate a goblin, we're trying to figure out why you can't cast magic Missile and obliterate that flimsy, wooden locked door- short of course, of having the Blue Key :lol:

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 22, 2009 11:03 pm 
I thought that was exactly what some of the other people were saying. Never mind though.

Sensei wrote:
I'm afraid I'm going to have to link in some wisdom on this. If you didn't read it, "you will never find a programming language that spares you from the burden of explaining your ideas." Writing an age in a book must be harder, if anything, than doing the same on a computer (what for all of computers' editing conveniences). Hence, for example, Riven, which was unstable because the idea that existed in Gehn's head, when simply written down, was an impossibility (obviously he didn't think it through enough to notice, "wait, that doesn't work!").


I think I need to differentiate between the easy part and the hard part of writing. Riven was unstable, certainly, but it happened. (It was unstable, as I remember, because Gehn didn't so much Write as knock bits of existing Ages together and throw away any spare bits he didn't understand.) The fact that unstable Ages can be Written, can be made real, shows, if you think about it, that the act of creation itself is not the hard part of Age Writing, any more than banging words down on a page is the hard part of ordinary writing. I can create rubbish universes nineteen to the dozen, but one good one is going to take me a lot more effort.

As for book vs computer, it's a question of what you're used to. Clerks used to do book-keeping by hand, and I'm sure they would have been completely flummoxed if asked to do it on a computer. We are spoiled by the editing conveniences, but people before computers, before correcting fluid, before typewriters, took the lack of them in their stride. This, I think, is why D'ni, despite their technological magnificence in other areas, never went for movable type or e-publishing (well, apart from Atrus that one time): there's something about the process of the Art that means it has to be done by one person Writing in one Book by hand, and if it's laborious, if it's tedious, and if one mistake means you have to scrap the Book and start again, then that's just the way it is.

But that has no bearing on the possibility or otherwise of creating universes, which is what I thought we were talking about here.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 23, 2009 12:37 am 
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Note that there are special knives to remove ink, that's how books were modified.

As for creating ages being difficult; no, it is not. The act of creating age basically takes place when you write one or more characters on the proper paper and ink, I believe, if you were to take in technically. I imagine you would be linked into outer space and explode or something though, if you just wrote "an age" and linked in. If there are references to more prerequisites somewhere, do point them out.

Also... what of the bahro tablets? I'm only starting Myst 5...

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 23, 2009 5:09 am 
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Yes I had forgotten about the pride of the D'ni...

And this is as I believe one of the major importances of this discussion - or it should be important.

Now if you're saying why it shouldn't be creating a universe...: Well exactly because of the pride and other possibly wrong feelings that may come out of it. I don't see why creating links to ages doesn't seem logical or too abstract for you. There may be a lot of things missing in the explenation but that could be for us to make up.

Also, we don't know how a writer may have thought and at least Catherine didn't know if she was creating a universe or creating a link to a universe by writing this strange age. Writers who thought they created links might also not have been thinking: Okay, this could be something in the tree of possibilities. First of all, the writers in D'ni had a lot of limitations as to the physics of the world. Yet, we know that even unlikely possible things may become possible.

So when the writer started with a book, the creative process was still there. You imagined even such complex things as the position of the sun and so on. But the creative process was limited by what the writer knew would not be approved - for example things that would make the age unstable. Yes, there may have been mistakes like these happening and maybe some of the books were still not dumped. We have only seen the ages available in Uru and they were different than our world (and even more different than what the D'ni knew as their world) but there wasn't anything as strange in them as in Riven for example. And apart from it's unstability Riven is a fairly good age.

And of course no writer can tell before, if the age they are writing will be inhabited. So I imagine a lot of ages might have been dumped in the time after the Age of Kings.

So what is up to us, is to decide if there are going to be rules how to write. We don't know other physical rules than the one about stability.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 23, 2009 8:42 am 
Hitana wrote:
Now if you're saying why it shouldn't be creating a universe...: Well exactly because of the pride and other possibly wrong feelings that may come out of it.


Well, I'm not aware of anything else in the universe that is arranged to prevent us from falling into bad ways, so I don't see why this should necessarily be one. I can see, as I said, why well-meaning souls among the D'ni tried to impose the non-creation belief on their people, but as I pointed out, it didn't work. Yahvo doesn't do things that way, as far as I'm aware, doesn't shelter us from the possibility of sin but rather gives us challenges to see what we'll do. And if you don't happen to believe in Yahvo or equivalent, what's the problem with creating universes?

Also, pride (if we have to call it that) is a choice. Going back to our fire-making cave person: when some other cave people come up and see what she has done, the warm cave, the cooked meat and so on, she has choices. She can say "yes, I did it like this, but you have to be careful or this happens" and share the secret with everyone, or she can say "yes, I am now your god and I will visit you with the fire of DOOOOM unless you do everything I tell you." Neither path is forced on her. Similarly, the Age Writer, given the choice of what to believe about the Age he's just Written, can either think "I am powerful" or "I am responsible." In fact, it could be argued that, while Atrus clearly felt a responsibility towards his Ages, this attitude actually made no sense unless he also believed, on some level, that he had created them. If he was just visiting interesting places that already existed, he had no reason to feel responsibility at all.

(I'm not happy with the shorthand use of the word "pride" to represent the D'ni's failing, because it really isn't pride at all. Vanity, yes, and fear, and arrogance and contempt and self-loathing, these are all factors that drive people to do as the D'ni did, and try to persuade themselves that they were superior to other people. That isn't pride. It isn't even the twisted shadow of pride. But that's another heresy for another time.)

The creative process is always limited, indeed it gets its power from limitations. If you can create anything at all and make it work, there's no incentive to create anything at all. Creating one world, one sky, one biosphere...these are all acts of limitation, and that's how creation works. Writing one word, or one character, and not another is a process of cumulative limitation, narrowing down the choices from thousands to hundreds to fifty to twelve to one. But it's still creation.

Sensei: don't talk to me about the bahro tablets. From an IC point of view, I didn't like Myst V's premise at all, and as far as I'm concerned the jury is still out on which parts of it are canon and which are "added by Cyan for game purposes." The bahro stones in Uru are a different matter, and I have some ideas on bahro linking and how it differs from the way the D'ni do it, but that again may be another thread for another time.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2009 2:33 am 
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Well try to appreciate the difference, Zander: on one hand, there's the ability to combust an object, and on the other, there's the ability to create a universe. While the former can be a formidable destructive force, the latter involves you being the cause of the existence of every life-form in that universe. By some definitions, that already makes you a god. Now I cringe whenever some fundamentalist calls Blake a dangerous thinker or screens pieces of literature for their negative emotional influence, but if there's any such thing as dangerous thinking, that's it. You have to understand that the entire moral behind EoA was the seductive influence of power and the danger of its subsequent hubris. It's the same reason Yeesha asked not to be given the tablet: because she knew she was too human to make the right choices with it. It's the same reason I was tempted to give her the tablet: because I knew I would be corrupted by it. It's why Gandalf refused the One Ring. It's why the United Federation of Planets refuses to police non-Federation cultures. There's more influence and moral degradation inherit in the creation school than is obvious, and thus even with the best intentions and the strongest will you could find yourself pursuing courses of action that are colonialist, totalitarian, or hegemonic.

As for Atrus, I think a large part of the reason he felt so responsible for those ages wasn't because of his having wrote them, but because his sons were responsible for so much destruction there: Stoneship; Narayan... and Riven! Even though it was his father who made that one, he felt the biggest responsibility there of all, because his father was undermining the culture there still, and he was on a treadmill just trying to keep up.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2009 7:34 am 
Ro'Mallinson wrote:
...if there's any such thing as dangerous thinking, that's it.


But I don't believe there is. Or if there is, then all thinking is dangerous and brains should be licensed. The entire moral behind EoA (which, even IC, was a game created by Cyan) strikes me as too simplistic to be true. I'm thinking of the people who watch a Frankenstein film and then think they know the story, and say that the moral was "there are some things man was not meant to know." I've read the book (my gods, it's dull), and it wasn't. It was "take responsibility for what you create." All the bad that happened to Frankenstein happened because when he saw what he had done he got all scared and pious and tried to make the nasty ugly thing go away. Life isn't as simple as that, and if you try to pretend it is, life will punish you. The D'ni, in the end, did not take responsibility for what they did, and that is why they Fell.

Yeesha asked not to be given the Magic Tablet of Twinklywhoosh because she had tried it once and she knew that she wouldn't be able to touch it. Sheer practicality. As for the other examples, the One Ring is a device from a different kind of fantasy, but even there it's made perfectly clear that allowing yourself to be seduced by it is a choice, not an inevitability. And the Federation doesn't police non-Federation cultures because they don't pay taxes, or whatever the arrangement is.

There's influence and moral degradation all around us. That's life. But we are not puppets. We can choose to follow the right or the wrong path, or we can sit at the crossroads under the lamp and shiver because we're scared of what might happen to us. Or we can tell ourselves, as we tiptoe into the darkness, that if it's the wrong path it's not our fault because we didn't make the road. And that is, not dangerous, but false thinking. We always have choice, and if we choose the bad then we do so knowingly. Is that a reason never to make the choice? I don't think so.

That's a good point about Atrus, though. You're right on that. One to you.

But back to the fire analogy. Let's say you use your fire to bake a loaf of bread. This involves mixing up flour and water and sugar and yeast, which is a life form. The dough is mixed, and rises, and in it are squillions of little life forms of whose existence you are the cause. Does that make you a god? No. Am I a god to the frogspawn in our pond, or the cats I'm about to go and feed, or the bacteria in my gut, or the characters in my story? I'm responsible for their existence (well, except for the cats); I dug the pond, I wrote the story, and it's my gut. I have the power of life and death over them all. Do I feel like a god? No. I'm tired, my head aches and I have to go and buy fruit after I feed the cats. If I were to think myself into the notion that I was a god, it would take a deliberate choice (and a certain amount of hard effort), and I'd never hold it with a straight face.

I don't believe in a D'ni who could think "I have Written this Age. I have created these people. Therefore I am a GOD I tell you, nyahahahahaha." Choosing to behave in a colonialistic or hegemonic manner, yes, they did that anyway. Believing they were right to do so, yes, they managed that too. Was it because they believed they had created the Ages? No, because by all accounts they didn't. Would believing that have made what they did any worse? I can't see how.

I simply don't believe in dangerous thoughts. Dangerous people, yes, there will always be those, and chief among them the moral cowards who do not take responsibility for their bad choices. But dangerous ideas? Only in the sense that people say "dangerous" to mean "potentially liberating."


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2009 8:38 am 
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! I think you've missed some points. First of all, when Captain Picard starts talking and all of a sudden a French horn starts playing, listen in; he believed in the Prime Directive more than any captain. Also, the Ring was always an allegorical device about the destructive influence of monopolising power; it's been speculated that the analogy is to the atom bomb.

As for my point about dangerous thinking, I actually agree with you that no mindset should be forbidden; all I meant to say was that the reason this lesson was taught was to prevent hegemonic extortion (which I'll explain soon). Of course there's a choice involved... but obviously one's beliefs greatly influence your choices. Your paradigm of unimpeded choice is perfectly valid on a day-to-day basis; but we're not talking about the day-to-day here... we're considering an almost theistic power over a world and its occupants. And remember, this isn't just a power one is given... the hypothetical bookmaster would have been taught from childhood that he had the ability to create universes... not bacteria in a petri-dish... a world full of people just like he. That's paradigm-shifting. Hegemony involves a justification for extortion... no one will commit barbarism without first rationalising it; but that work is already done for you if you were raised to believe that you can create human beings by the civilisation. Yes, I know D'Ni didn't teach this, but I'm explaining the reason behind the strong resistance they had to the idea.

Remember, it isn't single-celled organisms such as the yeast in a loaf of bread... this is a civilisation of thinking, loving people. We're not impressed by the ability to destroy an ant, except in childhood; but when we have a power that dwarfs everything that is in your own existence, that's something wholly different. Even Gehn knew that the Rivenese were not ants that he was putting to the magnifying glass. Escher, too, knew he wasn't torturing bacteria, but intelligent animals, who were more powerful than he could ever be, except with technology. When faced with something that seductive, one has as much free will as one has when already in an addictive-drug induced stupor or withdrawal (which is not 0, but not 100 either).

As for Yeesha's choice, it isn't merely practical to refuse it... we see (if we choose a bad ending) that she can touch it once it's been released... there's clearly another reason she implores the quest-taker not to give it to her. She looks at the quest-taker with disgust and despair if it's given to her. The only way to free The Least [spoiler]was to put it down: to refuse the power and let no one have it.[/spoiler] It is quintessential, and paramount, that one realises that that was what it was all about. The heart that the new D'Ni had to take was one with no hubris.
[/spoiler]


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2009 10:16 am 
I disagree. Obviously. Being seduced is always a choice, and there is always the option to refuse to be seduced while still acknowledging the responsibility. The D'ni had that option, Gehn had that option. Sirrus and Achenar had that option, and so do we. Claiming that you were seduced, or addicted, or whatever, is nothing more than a comforting excuse.

With EoA, the game, like the Star Trek episodes, was set up to make a point I don't accept. Refusing power is not the answer: it does not prove anything about you, it helps nobody and it can leave the power for someone else to claim. Suppose, for instance, that Esher, rather than waiting quietly on deadMyst for me to bring him the Magic Tablet of Wurbleschmaltz, had linked in to K'veer and grabbed it as it fell from my hand...

There's more of my thinking on this in my story Making The Best, if you're interested.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2009 4:22 pm 
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Your obvious resistence to seduction in honor, Zander but I hope you do realize that there are other people who may not be as "strong" as you seem to consider yourself.

Obviously you have never been seduced - but just speak for yourself... There are very subtle ways to make people believe in something and at a certain point they would find that they missed the point to make a choice and at that point there would be no more way to return to your old ways. The way the Nazis gained power is one of the best examples for it.

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I simply don't believe in dangerous thoughts. Dangerous people, yes, there will always be those, and chief among them the moral cowards who do not take responsibility for their bad choices. But dangerous ideas? Only in the sense that people say "dangerous" to mean "potentially liberating."


What is dangerous about "potentially liberating"? Dangerous thoughts DO exist - I could turn this into a very philosophic discussion about how and why they started but i won't. If you don't think that "I want to kill this person, just to see him/her die" is a dangerous thought...

Dangerous thoughts can make people dangerous and then they can do dangerous things.

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We always have choice, and if we choose the bad then we do so knowingly. Is that a reason never to make the choice? I don't think so.


Yes, choices are there to be made. There's no way to hide from them because they are part of life; so you might as well die if you don't like to make choices. I don't think that people ALWAYS choose the bad and know what they do. Remember that a choice you take might turn out bad after a lot of happenings you could have never taken into account!

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Refusing power is not the answer: it does not prove anything about you, it helps nobody and it can leave the power for someone else to claim.


Refusing power if it doesn't "belong" to you and might turn into something bad in your hands, is the right answer. It proves that you know the power is not for you or the world you live in. But you can't just leave that power behind, you got to make sure that it finds a safe place. Whether the claws of a Bahro were a safe place for the Tablet is something we'll hopefully find out one day. Whether the hands of a man were a safe place for an atomic bomb we have already found out about. There are powers that should have never come into being.

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Whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open.

Hitana Jadurian (GW)


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