From: "Roy C. Lackey"
Subject: Re: (urth) Those chems Date: Tue, 3 Sep 2002 14:36:34 -0500 Matthew wrote: >The suggestion that Marble's behaviour is an affectation is an interesting >one. > >An affectation. A show, pretense, or display. Behavior that is assumed >rather than natural; artificiality. A particular habit, as of speech or >dress, adopted to give a false impression. That definition fits Marble perfectly! >Programmed behaviour - in the literal sense of being codes and >instructions - is as "natural" to the chems as any learend behaviour is to >humans. Marble's modesty is exactly the opposite of an affectation. It >is likely as deep seated in her as any instinct in us, perhaps more so, >and for a very specific reason: to make her (and her kind) not only fit in >with the human society in which she exists but also to make her a model >for that society. Yes, it is an artifice to give a false impression - >that she is human. But it is not assumed or adopted: it and other such >manerisms are fundamental to her creation. I don't think so. Marble was not programmed on Urth to be a sibyl. I don't know how/why she became a sibyl, but several decades back she was a maid. >So too with gender. Gender-less chems would not, could not have performed >so well in the role assigned them. A difference so fundamental between >gendered humans and non-gendered chems would have been a significant >barrier to the chems function. Just look at where Marble is; in a >religious establishment and a teacher of the young. Church and school, two >central institutions for society and thus most effectively placed. She >should be an examplar for the children and adults who come into contact >with her. After entering the religious order she "assumed" and "adopted" the conventions of the order. Marble is the only example I am aware of of a chem entering the order. That being so, her programmers on Urth assuredly did _not_ waste her storage space by giving her unneeded (and from her programmers' perspective, pointless) "manerisms" "fundamental to her creation". I mentioned that chems have a certain ability to learn from experience. That is what she did. She adopted the mannerisms of the bio sibyls, acquiring her modesty from their nun-like example. Marble and Olivine are the only female chems I can recall from the LS/SS books. Olivine does not share Marble's sense of modesty. She spied on Silk's nakedness. Olivine clothes herself like a human, not from innate modesty, but because male chems she encounters want to mate with her. She doesn't want to mate, apparently because she is "ashamed" of her imperfections. (RTTW, 240) [snip] >What should our view of chems be? The mainframe view of a small, useful >tool? Or the passenger view of personality and fellow? Wolfe clearly intended the latter, as I think I indicated. Olivine is a pathetic figure, like some street urchin out of Dickens. But, hell's bells, somebody smear some grease on her sticking relays and get rid of that annoying stammer and lurch! -Roy --