From: "Roy C. Lackey"
Subject: Re: (urth) Liev's Postpostulate Date: Tue, 21 May 2002 00:48:50 -0500 Adam Stephanides quoted: >on 5/10/02 3:31 PM, Tony Ellis at LittleSense@necronomicon.co.uk wrote: > >> If Victor thinks he is descended from French settlers gone native, why, when >> he thinks no one is reading what he writes any more, does he cite Dollo's >> Law as the reason for his bad penmanship? Adam then wrote: >I never bought the theory that Dollo's Law is a coded reference to either >the abo's shapeshifting or the prehistoric colonists' evolution. As Jerry >Friedman suggested, he only means to say that having learned to write >holding the pen the wrong way, he now cannot write holding it the right way. What Jerry wrote was: >Indeed, Victor could be telling us the story of his own writing >career: for some reason he lost the opportunity to write the normal >way, and once he learned to hold the pen the wrong way, he could >never regain the normal function. Victor never "lost the opportunity to write the normal way"; he had the opportunity and was even punished for not doing it the normal way. He didn't do it the normal way because he _couldn't_. The "normal way" of writing involves using the opposable thumb to grip, support, and guide the pencil. Without an opposable thumb, it is impossible to control the pencil while attempting to write in the normal way, resulting in "weak and wiggling lines", and that only by moving the pencil using the whole arm, rather than the muscles of the hand. The best way that Victor found to hold the pencil was to clamp it between his second and third fingers "with my thumb quite free to do whatever it wishes". Wolfe doesn't make many things any clearer than that. Victor is well aware that it is his inability to control his thumb as a human does that is the cause of his poor penmanship. It is also why Dollo's Law was cited immediately after relating his writing woes. Dollo's Law does not address recalcitrance or bad habits; it addresses lost function and the inability to regain it. The Annese, though otherwise quite human, somehow lost the normal human usage of their thumbs. It's that simple. The story of the cat bite affecting his ability to write well is just a piss-poor excuse for a scholar from Earth not being able to write worth a damn; Victor needed some excuse for his poor handwriting once he assumed Marsch's identity. The real cause is the same as for all the other lack of manual dexterity attributed to the Annese--their thumbs are all but useless. -Roy --