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Clarity didn't work, trying mysterianism [Oct. 3rd, 2012|02:29 pm]
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In the treasure-vaults of Til Iosophrang rests the Whispering Earring, buried deep beneath a heap of gold where it can do no further harm.

The earring is a little topaz tetrahedron dangling from a thin gold wire. When worn, it whispers in the wearer's ear: "Better for you if you take me off." If the wearer ignores the advice, it never again repeats that particular suggestion.

After that, when the wearer is making a decision the earring whispers its advice, always of the form "Better for you if you...". The earring is always right. It does not always give the best advice possible in a situation. It will not necessarily make its wearer King, or help her solve the miseries of the world. But its advice is always better than what the wearer would have come up with on her own.

It is not a taskmaster, telling you what to do in order to achieve some foreign goal. It always tells you what will make you happiest. If it would make you happiest to succeed at your work, it will tell you how best to complete it. If it would make you happiest to do a half-assed job at your work and then go home and spend the rest of the day in bed having vague sexual fantasies, the earring will tell you to do that. The earring is never wrong.

The Book of Dark Waves gives the histories of two hundred seventy four people who previously wore the Whispering Earring. There are no recorded cases of a wearer regretting following the earring's advice, and there are no recorded cases of a wearer not regretting disobeying the earring. The earring is always right.

The earring begins by only offering advice on major life decisions. However, as it gets to know a wearer, it becomes more gregarious, and will offer advice on everything from what time to go to sleep, to what to eat for breakfast. If you take its advice, you will find that breakfast food really hit the spot, that it was exactly what you wanted for breakfast that day even though you didn't know it yourself. The earring is never wrong.

As it gets completely comfortable with its wearer, it begins speaking in its native language, a series of high-bandwidth hisses and clicks that correspond to individual muscle movements. At first this speech is alien and disconcerting, but by the magic of the earring it begins to make more and more sense. No longer are the earring's commands momentous on the level of "Become a soldier". No more are they even simple on the level of "Have bread for breakfast". Now they are more like "Contract your biceps muscle about thirty-five percent of the way" or "Articulate the letter p". The earring is always right. This muscle movement will no doubt be part of a supernaturally effective plan toward achieving whatever your goals at that moment may be.

Soon, reinforcement and habit-formation have done their trick. The connection between the hisses and clicks of the earring and the movements of the muscles have become instinctual, no more conscious than the reflex of jumping when someone hidden gives a loud shout behind you.

At this point no further change occurs in the behavior of the earring. The wearer lives an abnormally successful life, usually ending out as a rich and much-beloved pillar of the community with a large and happy family.

When Kadmi Rachumion came to Til Iosophrang, he took an unusual interest in the case of the earring. First, he confirmed from the records and the testimony of all living wearers that the earring's first suggestion was always that the earring itself be removed. Second, he spent some time questioning the Priests of Beauty, who eventually admitted that when the corpses of the wearers were being prepared for burial, it was noted that their brains were curiously deformed: the neocortexes had wasted away, and the bulk of their mass was an abnormally hypertrophied mid- and lower-brain, especially the parts associated with reflexive action.

Finally, Kadmi-nomai asked the High Priest of Joy in Til Iosophrang for the earring, which he was given. After cutting a hole in his own earlobe with the tip of the Piercing Star, he donned the earring and conversed with it for two hours, asking various questions in Kalas, in Kadhamic, and in its own language. Finally he removed the artifact and recommended that the it be locked in the deepest and most inaccessible parts of the treasure vaults, a suggestion with which the Iosophrelin decided to comply.

Niderion-nomai's commentary: It is well that we are so foolish, or what little freedom we have would be wasted on us. It is for this that Book of Cold Rain says one must never take the shortest path between two points.
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Comments:
From: (Anonymous)
2012-10-04 12:38 pm (UTC)

(Link)

If this is an allegory for something, consider whether you're not committing some of the dystopian fallacies that you yourself complained about earlier.

And for mysterianism working better than clarity? Well, it's definitely easier to get away with a bad argument and get people to take it seriously if you write mysterious parable as opposed to a clear piece, so in that sense it "works" better.
From: (Anonymous)
2012-10-04 02:52 pm (UTC)

dystopian?

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I was going to point out the same thing; the shrunken brian is a signal as subtle as no longer enjoying classical music.
Interesting nonetheless.
[User Picture]From: squid314
2012-10-05 04:08 am (UTC)

Re: dystopian?

(Link)

The shrunken brain seems like a perfectly natural consequence of outsourcing your decision process to a non-brain entity.

If you operate entirely based on reflexive actions to the earring's communication, why would you ever need to use your brain yourself?
From: (Anonymous)
2012-10-05 02:35 pm (UTC)

Re: dystopian?

(Link)

Do you mean it seems like a logical consequence, or an actual physiological consequence? Do people who exercise certain brain portions less (perhaps Budist monks seeking to eliminate all desire, or a person with an 18 hour a day TV habit) have those areas 'wasted away'?
I know that sections can be taken over and repurposed, for example in someone with malfunctioning eyes but a functioning visual area of their brain. That didn't seem to be what you were describing.
I have a passing interest in neuroscience so these are genuine questions.
From: (Anonymous)
2012-10-05 08:44 am (UTC)

Re: dystopian?

(Link)

It's much worse than that. It seems like allowing a demon to inhabit your body, never even noticing when it murders your mind.

I might precommit to using the earring for a limited time to gain power or to make difficult decisions. The loss of free will, without the loss of clasical music, is still a valid issue for criticism in Clockwork Orange.