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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Making Senses of Magic Powers -- Sight

   
Author Topic: Making Senses of Magic Powers -- Sight
Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Sense of sight:

First thought might be "x-ray vision" but consider, if you could see through everything, how would you be able to tell what something looked like on the surface? And how would that be a problem? Would x-ray vision affect your depth perception, for example?

What are some other magic powers related to vision? And what could go wrong with them?

For example, if you could see things happen at a great distance, could you misunderstand what you were seeing and make all kinds of wrong conclusions?

[ December 15, 2012, 10:30 PM: Message edited by: Kathleen Dalton Woodbury ]

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rcmann
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Of course you could. Are you talking about a person who could not turn it off? Someone who could not stop seeing things far away? The inability to focus such a power would be a short ticket to madness.
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History
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Alfred Bester's classic The Stars My Destination included a female character who could "see" infrared but not the visible electromagnetic spectrum. In a memorable scene she's enthralled by the beautiful
"colors" of a nuclear bombardment.

It's a great book.

In regard to x-ray vision, I possess this. [Smile]
Indirectly.
As well as ultrasonic "vision" (which should perhaps be listed under your sense of sound thread).
And magnetic "vision" as well.
As a radiologist, I use a variety of energies to "see" inside the human body and assess what is normal or injured or diseased. I can discover new life and determine their gender and age (obstetrical ultrasound).

I can possess interdimensional vision--e.g. I can perceive three dimensions within a two dimensional image (x-ray film). I can even perceive the fourth dimension (e.g. the effects of time). I admit many of you share some of these powers, at these for superficial changes. I have the extra ability to confirm these changes more accurately (there are no cosmetics to hide what is aging inside you [Wink] ).

Respectfully,
Super Dr. Bob

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MattLeo
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The Stars My Destination -- on my short list for best sci-fi story of all time.

The most common *magical* power of sight is to see spirits, followed by the power to see into the future (e.g. via crystal ball). Tolkiens palantir gave the user the intriguing power of being able to see into the past -- something unusual and potentially quite useful.

After 9/11 there was a fad in security circles for training in reading microexpressions -- brief facial expressions lasting a fraction of a second which supposedly gave the skilled reader insight into the motivations and feelings of the subject. While something like this no doubt underlies the abilities of high performers at social perception, the claims struck me as borderline magical.

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Grumpy old guy
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In relation to the palantir, if you watch the appendices on the extended DVD, every time a palantir is used, the user makes the wrong conclusions about what they are seeing. A bit like Cassandra's curse; she could see the future, but no one would believe what she saw.

What would I really like to see? The relationships and links between people. Think about it.

Phil.

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Crystal Stevens
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Orson Scott Card used the power of sight in his Homecoming series. Two of the women in the series could see lines binding certaian people to each other and how those lines related to the individual. If I remember it correctly.
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hoptoad
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being colourblind give insight (no pun intended) into how we can perceive the world differently, I remember renting a house for three years while I was studying and when the landlord finally painted the living room my wife exclaimed, "so glad we don't have to live with that green anymore." I had never known that it was green. I thought it was a kind of pleasant light grey.

However, while doing ishihara tests I realised that -- if you ever really wanted to -- you could encode an object with a message only colour blind people could read, in fact the ishihara tests do this at one level, and that is how they discern between normal colour visions and colour deficiency. What, I read as a '72' others would read as a '48', that sort of thing. What would happen if magic produced another kind of 'rod and cone' configuration in the eye or tuned your vision slightly into the infrared or ultraviolet spectrum? You would definitely see things others could not, and you might miss things others easily see. You could leave messages for one another see spirits or changes in temperature hidden enemies etc and although someone might be able to pick up on it through artificial means, that is nothing like having the faculty naturally.

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LDWriter2
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So that would explain magic blind individuals in certain books.


But it could also open a wide range of ideas. Someone grows up not being able to see certain things--colors or certain distances or ? that I can't think of right now. But they could see magic and possibly ghosts and such. They find out later they can.

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Reziac
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Colorblindness vs regular color vision... regular sight vs magical sight... I'm reminded of something I read recently, that colorblind soldiers have an advantage in that they can see camouflage plain as day.

I'm wondering about the parallel for regular sight vs magical sight, and whether the "magic-blind" might in turn be able to see what the magically-sighted can't. And how camouflage would work in that world, for that matter!

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Grumpy old guy
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Reziac, during WW2 colour-blind airmen were much sought after for 'ground attack' duties for that very reason. They could see 'through' camouflage.

Phil.

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Pyre Dynasty
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I've had one idea that I've been trying to figure out how to write for years. The character can see into the future, but can't see the present. Sometimes I try a few seconds ahead, sometimes hours, where the person has to remember to interact with the world. Sometimes I go a hundred years, so the person is functionally blind.
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Reziac
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quote:
Originally posted by Pyre Dynasty:
I've had one idea that I've been trying to figure out how to write for years. The character can see into the future, but can't see the present. Sometimes I try a few seconds ahead, sometimes hours, where the person has to remember to interact with the world. Sometimes I go a hundred years, so the person is functionally blind.

Wow. That's a *great* idea!

Now, does that only affect sight, or all his senses, or all of himself? (I'm not sure why my brain wants to distinguish that!) If only one sense... that sure makes for a disconnected existence. Hear something today, see it tomorrow. Er, see tomorrow when it's long since done being heard. I think I just confused myself. [Big Grin]

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MattLeo
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quote:
Originally posted by Pyre Dynasty:
I've had one idea that I've been trying to figure out how to write for years. The character can see into the future, but can't see the present. Sometimes I try a few seconds ahead, sometimes hours, where the person has to remember to interact with the world. Sometimes I go a hundred years, so the person is functionally blind.

Terry Pratchett has a couple of characters like that. There's Mrs. Cake, who sometimes forgets to turn off her precognition and answers questions before they're asked. And there's a senile witch whose consciousness moves back and forth in time so she mixes up conversations she has had and will have had with the one she's having now.
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