Like many of OSC's stories, I really loved this one. Anyone who has read xenocide will know what I'm talking about. And I remember so many complex emotions going through my head when it was revealed
revealed-that the disorder that her kind had, which they called being "godspoken", was actually a genetic alteration, and that the entire planet's gene pool had been toyed with to make extremely intelligent people, but also to cripple them with extreme OCD like tendencies. I remember being saddened at Qing-jao's refusal to accept this as a reality as it is proven before her eyes-as she decides to resolutely to stare at wood grains in the floor, even though the underlying OCD had be cured, she could not remove herself from her false framework of reality. She goes on to spend her life counting wood grains. I remember feeling a mixture of emotions at her choice, and thinking about it today, I think I understand why. Because as with anything we experience that resonates with us deeply, there is something in ourselves that reflects back at us, maybe something we weren't even aware of.
Because this is a great allegory for humanity, right now, and was a great one for myself at the time as well.
I'll address humanity first. We are at a time in history, I think, where the veil of mystery surrounding our origins, as well as the origins of the very universe itself are being made ever clearer. Of course there is much we don't know, and indeed the more we find out, the larger the list of things we don't know grows. But in this time of upheaval, many of us cling desperately to the old ways. The death throes of geocentrism if you will.
We're finding out that we aren't particularly special, that we're in a very large, vast, and amazing universe. And that we occupy an even smaller spot, on a hunk of rock, circling a nuclear furnace. We're beginning to see the path backwards, to our own beginning, how we came to be from what was before, and where that came from too. The gods are dying - or rather, the curtain is lifted, and we are realizing more and more that what we were looking at all along were just our own shadows. Anthropomorphism.
And just like in the story, there are those of us who decide to persist in the old ways, even though the "spell" is dispelled, counting wood grains.
On the more personal note, the reason that story resonated with me so much, is because I recognized a bit of myself in that, although I didn't realize it at the time, not until today really. This general theme of reality denial - I knew somewhere deep that I was doing it, with regards to myself, with regards to life, religion, and even humanity. It was a reality that I was denying for so long, in hopes of preserving "the old ways". I was grasping for meaning in the past - in stories and fables - and not wanting to hear the resounding knowledge within me that there is no overarching meaning to this thing - we're all here, and none of us know why! We like to think we do, like to make up stories of why, and we get very angry when those stories conflict.(perhaps it reminds us that we made them up) And this is a scary thought. Alone, adrift in reality, whatever it is, with no one to watch over us, to tell us why we're here. And yet for me, the shattering of that illusion was so integral to where I am now - which is the realization that we all have to find that meaning for ourselves. We have a whole world, with amazing things in it, and so much to learn and discover. And we have so many ways we can make this place a better place for each other, and ourselves.
It's obvious that this post has several undertones that are touchy ones in a mixed crowd. A lot of people don't like to experience the cognitive dissonance of someone not believing what they do. I think its a very healthy thing to be pulled out of your context.
But to anyone who I've offended in this post, let me say a few things. First of all, these are all ideas of my own, from my personal journey, I know we all have a different one, and I accept you for yours, please extend me the same understanding. Second, I don't want to imply that I know any more than you about what on earth(or indeed the universe) is going on. We're all privy to very little of the knowledge that is seemingly out there. Our scale is small, our sight sight is short, and our time is limited. These are just conclusions I've personally made from logical deduction coupled with what we know about the universe. It is worth saying that this(knowledge) is very little, but it seems to be the best we have to go on from my view.
I just wanted to share that with a group that will hopefully get where I'm coming from, and who know the story I'm talking about.
I guess I have some sentimental idea( i have a lot of those...:/ ) that deep down, we're all the same, and what can resonate with you can resonate with me..and a group that loves the same sort of stories that I do must have a little bit of that dreamer in them too.
In a lot of ways, Xenocide is one of my favorite books in the series because of how many layers are subtly woven into the narrative of various philosophical ideas.
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This may not be the right way to say it, but this is the kind of book you can listen to over and over again and continue to learn stories every time. New Ones. I love this book because so many chapters tell the story of our world from enough of an alien perspective that we can suspend belief enough to read it as fiction, but it influences us deeply. Perhaps not quite in the same way as a religious text, but it speaks to our hearts.
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I came out of Xenocide feeling pity and more then a little disgust for Qing Jao.
Estevao's sacrifice was foolish and meaningless.
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I wouldn't necessarily just make the tie between aiuas and Mormonism. I'm a protestant Christian (of the non-denominational type), and I suppose I was perhaps personalizing it based on my beliefs, but I saw it as a representation of the general Christian concept of a soul.
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I think there is something particularly Mormon about the way Card deals with the soul - it fits similar tendencies I've noticed in Stephenie Meyer (mostly in The Host) and Brandon Sanderson. As a different protestant type (Baptist and Calvinistic), it felt both familiar and a bit different (in a way that the scifi didn't quite explain).
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quote:Originally posted by vineyarddawg: I wouldn't necessarily just make the tie between aiuas and Mormonism. I'm a protestant Christian (of the non-denominational type), and I suppose I was perhaps personalizing it based on my beliefs, but I saw it as a representation of the general Christian concept of a soul.
I remember my mom read the first chapter of Children of the Mind and remarked, "He really carefully makes it so he doesn't contradict any major religions, doesn't he?"
The aiuas are almost certainly inspired by Mormon theology, but they are very cleverly developed to work as something that can be interpreted through the lens of just about any major religion. This is even expressed in the book itself; religious characters of many backgrounds (Samoan, Catholic, and others) map the concepts of "gods," "hell," and other theological terms onto aiuas.
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"He really carefully makes it so he doesn't contradict any major religions, doesn't he?"
I agree with your mom C3PO; one of the things I admire. All his books have this secular (if that is the right word; I mean in the sense of incorporating all religions) framework, both ethical as well as metaphysical. As to the meaning of life, the motivation, I think there is a special accent on family life.
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