Make your own free website on Tripod.com
More Archived Discussions
Join us at the Cherryh Pit forums for current debates and discussions.  Registration is not required.  Newbies are very welcome!
http://forum.shejidan.net

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

FILING INTENT: 

Originally posted in February 2002
Edited slightly for the sake of clarity.

Spoiler Alert!  Do not read this if you have not finished Defender.
 

creature feature:
Right, there's this person who's really annoying me, right, and getting in the way of my plans for world domination....okay, seriously, I have a question (don't think this needs spoilering, I'm not giving away any plot bits). I don't quite get how the whole Guild/Filing Intent thing is supposed to work. You have all these Guild members, right (must stop saying right) who all have a vote, and they all presumably have man'chi to various people/houses. Now, suppose Tabini wants to assassinate someone, and tries to File Intent, can he just do it and will agents within his man'chi do that? Or do the Guild have to vote on whether it's acceptable to do this? 

If it's a voting system every time then it won't work because obviously everyone there has conflicting man'chi, and whoever has a big majority (Western Association = New Labour -ghastly thought!) could just run roughshod over everyone else. Do you have to have a really good reason (and what counts as a good reason?) for assassinating someone other than they're in your way? Even so, they're people will surely vote against you. I know sometimes agents act according to their man'chi without Filing, but that's not usually the case, as far as I can tell.

Okay, suppose it's not a voting system and all you need are some Guild agents in your man'chi willing to do the deed. If they have to actually File, then everybody knows about the contract being out - does this mean that they know then *who* has someone killed? The implication with Valasi, Tabini's father, is that they don't know whether Tabini or Illisidi (or, indeed, someone else) had him assassinated, and this seems to be the case when some people try to attack Bren too. Yet when Tabini Files in response to this, he declares his intention so everyone knows it's him who's Filing. Do you have the option of remaining anonymous? If so, presumably the Filing is recorded somewhere in the Guild - how do they retain confidentiality?

Okay, before I drivel out more incoherent ideas, basically what I want to know boils down to this: how does the Guild itself work? They all have man'chi to different people, yet clearly it is an association that operates somehow. Any ideas people? Am I missing something really obvious here? 
 

hautdesert:
CF, that's a good question. Let me give you my thoughts on the matter.

As it happens, there's an inconsitency in the books--in the first book, it's stated that feuds are actually registered with and by Tabini. And he files Intent on Bren's behalf in the triennial audience Bren attends, as I don't doubt you remember. But later we're told that it's the Guild's decision.

Since the guild vote is presented most consistently, I'm assuming that's they way things are done. Now, we're told that a higher lord doesn't have to declare intent to assassinate someone lower, just demonstrate a good reason. We're also told that common, everyday people sometimes file, and often the Guild lets things go until the two parties settle "out of court" as it were. So it's implicit that the Guild is pretty conservative, in the sense that they prefer things stay more or less as they are, assuming things are stable. It also implies that the Guild doesn't like to kill people when they don't have to.

In any event, as you pointed out, the results of this are that the Guild has a hand in determining the outcome of crucial political questions. But I do doubt that they "run roughshod" over the will of the people. Consider--it's likely every house sends some number of candidates for Guild membership. I don't doubt that even some number of common folks apply (and succeed) as well, for various reasons. The result of this would be that the guild would, I imagine, represent a cross-section of atevi society--probably more representative of the top levels, but not neccesarily so. They'll vote as their man'chi dicatates, so their vote would likely be a microcosm of the votes of the whole society, if that makes sense. Now, if some house or set of interests stacked Guild membership somehow, that would change, of course, but we know nothing about how Guild members are chosen or how the votes are counted. 

It's entirely possible that getting a license involves training not just in "technical" matters, but legal and ethical ones. Perhaps Guild members swear themselves to a set of rules, sort of like an order of monks. Only the rules have to do with when it's acceptable to take a contract and when not. It would be a smart way to set things up, to have one common set of regulations that all members are obligated to uphold, that everyone could refer to when things got sticky (the breaking of which could lead to sanctions from other members). Otherwise all sorts of chaos could break loose. (For some idea of what Cherryh may be thinking of, check out "Cuckoo's Egg." I see the aliens and their "warrior class" (sorry, don't remember what they're called) as probably cousins to the Atevi and the Assassin's Guild--that's just my opinon, not a solid fact. They just seem like a first or second draft of atevi to me. Sorry, I only read it once and can't be very geeky about it. It's not my favorite of hers, but a lot of other people like it.)

And I'm pretty sure that the Guild as presented in the books isn't completely dominated by one party or another. Recall that the decision over whether to allow the Kadigidi to file on Bren is hotly debated over a number of days, and the Guild seems entirely aware of the importance of the issue. And since everyone has access to trained assassins, one can always try to change the results of the vote by other means, as happens in Inheritor.

I think that the Guild has to notify someone that intent has been filed, but not who filed it. I forget the specific passage, I think it's in Invader, where that's mentioned, and maybe I'm mis-remembering it. Certainly there was no public announcement of Tabini's Intent to assassinate Lord Saigimi, but I do recall that Saigimi was notified of Intent (I could be wrong about this. I haven't started the quotes from Inheritor yet, and I'm only on the first book with the nitpick page, so it's not fresh in my mind right now.) And in any event, Tabini's public declaration in Foreigner was more of a political maneuver than an actual intent to kill anyone. If I have time tonight after the kids go to bed and no one else beats me to it, I'll look for the quotes I'm thinking of.

In any event, any system is going to have drawbacks--let everyone vote, and there's the danger of "mob mentality" making bad decisions for bad reasons. Confine it to representatives, and there's the danger those representatives will vote their own interests instead of the ones they're supposed to represent. No system is going to be perfect. In this case, I think the legislative bodies and the aijiin are meant to be balanced by the Assassins Guild--if the folks in charge (by vote or inheritance or whatever) get out of line, they could be in real danger. I'm not saying it's an ideal system, mind you, just that I can see how it could work.

As far as how all those conflicting man'chiin can be Associated, well, I guess the Guilds themselves are Associations. Voluntary ones, of course, but Associations nonetheless. 

And just imagine future Cherryh novels when the Guild is entirely corrupt.....who knows what the future holds?

(Do you know how hard it is to write something this long while constantly having to turn around and say, "Stop that!" or "Yes, you can have an apple," or getting up to play tickle? It's really hard to pick up where you left off and organize your thoughts after a game of tickle.)
 

CKTC:
Fascinating topic, CF. Let's see.... I seem to recall that the Guild doesn't vote on all filings. Just the major ones that would have repercussions throughout the Associations. As for the attacks on Bren, I'm pretty sure they were never filed at all. Mostly, I agree with haut. (Heh! Tickle games!)

This brings to mind another question. Are guild members' man'chi to their lords something that they had before they joined? Or is it something that they're 'assigned' once they get out? Take Banichi for instance. He's from Talidi province, a province, as I recall, that is fairly close to some of Tabini's enemies. And Banichi and one of Bren's attackers shared the same teacher in the Guild. I don't see how Banichi could have been loyal to Tabini before he joined the guild. It seems almost as if guild students are unattached to any houses at first. I can't help but wonder if Tabini, impressed by Banichi's skills, won him over somehow, into his service. Man'chi, after all, is not completely biological. It can be realigned, as stated in Invader. Maybe guild assassins' man'chi is to their parents or parents' lords when they first apply to the Guild. And when they graduate, they then have to figure out whether or not they will continue their old loyalties or discover a new one.
 

hautdesert:
That's a very interesting question, CK!

It never entered my mind because, I confess, I am assuming without any authority whatsoever that Cenedi is Banichi's father. So it seemed perfectly logical to me that Cenedi's son would be loyal to Ilisidi's grandson. I've assumed that either Cenedi was from Talidi (which did have connections to the dowager) or else Banichi's mother was.

Editing to add: It makes perfect sense that Banichi would have been associated with Bren's attacker. This is all happening within the same family. The dowager has an association with Tabini of one sort or another. Likely there's an insanely complicated web of associations all through the Bu-javid, just through intermarriage if nothing else. Consider Bindanda, associated with Tatiseigi, therefore with Damiri, therefore Tabini in some fashion, given outright as a servant to Bren, and displaying some amount of man'chi to Bren himself, whether through this complicated series of associations or Bren's virtues as head of his household. All these people, no matter what side of the issues they're on, are related to each other, basically.

In any event, we don't know which side of Banichi's family was from Talidi--or if there was some change of loyalties involving Banichi's whole house, for example.

But I still don't forget the dowager's connections with the folks in that area. I will cling to my illusion until Nand' Cherryh forces me to believe otherwise. 
 

CKTC:
Good point, haut. I know it's never explicitly stated, but I think a lot of people tend to think of Cenedi as Banichi's father. 
 

galateaprime:
Just reiterating.
I kind of imagined Cenedi to be Banichi's father too.
 

the mule:
But then....I had it in mind that the guild was rather like an executive police service and that the man'chi of members was firstly to the guild and only secondarily to those they had to protect. Rather like the Special Protection Group for Royalty in the UK.

This would allow the guild to be politically aware and able to debate filings of political import and to accept filings without concern as to crossing man'chi. Lesser filings could then be anonymous or left for Out-of-court settlement. 

They would also be astute enough to decide whether filings should become public hence Tabini filing for Bren as the political message carried much greater import than the potential assasination.

I'm just off to reread Invader ready for next month.  :)
 

Clevej:
I think every one agrees, and that we can take it as a known fact that Cenedi is Banichi's father, unless in Explorer we find out other wise.

I am looking forward to the day when Bren finally has to request Jago hand in marriage, or what ever Atvie do, and for Banichi' to turn around to Bren and state that only the head of the family can grant that request.

And the head of the family could be Cenedi or if it is a matriarchal society Cenedi wife?

But was it not in Precursor where, we may have met Banichi's wife or mother, CJC was not pacific. 
 

Susan:
Love your epistemology, Clevej, even though it has a slightly Humpty Dumptyish quality - "known facts" are what we agree they are at this forum. Hey, it works for me.  :)

But what I really want to know, with respect to the forthcoming nuptials of Bren and Jago (which seem to be fast becoming a "known fact" on a similar evidentiary basis to that of our knowledge of the kinship relationships discussed in this thread) is whether humans and atevi are cross-fertile. And if so, are their offspring fertile? (No offense intended, Mule.) 
 

hautdesert:
Susan, I'm not on the list of those anticipating any ceremonies in Bren and Jago's future. My guess is, their relationship is likely analogous to Ilisidi's and Cenedi's, and if Bren or Jago ever have children it will be with other partners, even though their relationship will continue.

I imagine if atevi and human were cross-fertile, we'd have seen it already. There was a period of time before the war when it could have happened, and knowing humans (and inferring atevi tastes from Bren's experience--marriage proposals, "atevi women had a certain curiosity about him..." etc.) I'm sure Bren and Jago aren't the first couple to engage in such activities.

My question is, how will Bren's lordship be inherited? Will he be expected to name some young person from the Mospheiran FO, or will atevi expect him to produce offspring? 

[Time interval]

Oh, God!

I was scraping blueberry poptart out of the living room rug (don't ask!) when the vision of pregnant Barb rose up before me.

Please, please, tell me that this could never happen. Would Jago tolerate it for the sake of Bren's heir, or just kill her outright? Would Bren be that crazy? Just imagining it makes me want to go knock a few heads. Gah. I have to go scrub my mind clean now. 
 

creature feature:
Wow, thanks for such a comprehensive reply hautdesert! (Especially with distracting children wanting to play tickle!)  :)  Your explanation sounds sensible to me - it was the apparent contradictions that were really doing my head in, but as I only read the books for the first time recently, details like that aren't that clear. I'd also totally forgotten that you'd need a certain amount of ability, training (duh!) and presumably inclination to become an Assassin, so I'd imagine that would help balance out any irregular representation of candidates from the different lords a bit.

CKTC - about man'chi, another interesting question. I think it boils down to how much it is a biological instinct, how much a choice an atevi has in the man'chi they feel, and how mutable (my long word for the day!) it is. It's given out that love is the overriding human emotion, and we all know our feelings for someone can change both slowly and drastically. Is man'chi the same in that respect? I'd also be interested to know how much it changes as atevi mature. Presumably, as children, their man'chi is to their parents, and maybe other close associates who raise them. As they grow up though can this change drastically as they form other associations? Human children love those who raise them, but as they grow up grow to love other people who may or may not become more important in their feelings than who they grew up with. I wonder if the situation is at all analogous.

Cenedi as Banichi's father? Hmm, I rather hope not, actually. I have this horrible vision of everyone turning out related. You know, Bren: "Cenedi is your *father*, nadi?!", and Banichi, "Yes, and in fact I'm married to Algini's sister, and Tano is in fact Algini's son, and I'm third cousin to Tabini and oh, did you know Lord Geigi is my wife's uncle?"  :P  (Although of course he wouldn't say this!)
 

CKTC:
Couldn't stop thinking about this thread. I figure, even if Cenedi is Banichi's father, there's still a potential for realignment of man'chi there, considering Ilisidi is Tabini's most staunch ally and worst enemy at times. Heh.

I really hope Bren and Jago cannot have children together. It would ruin verisimilitude, imho. One of my peeves in sci-fi movies is that it seems pathetically easy for cross species fertilization. I mean, it's hard enough to believe that of two separate species from one planet let alone from two completely alien ones. 

CF, LOL, I wouldn't want everyone to be related either. Cenedi and Banichi, that would be okay. But let's stop it at there. 
 

Sabina:
This thread gave me a good laugh at various parts.  :D
I think we got this idea that Banichi is Cenedis son in Foreigner where Bren mistakes Cenedi as Banichi at first, so he said it was only because of the uniform.

Near the end of Invader, in the bunker, a woman calls Banichi ´nichi-ji which Bren found curious. 
 

hautdesert:
It's a family affair....

Quote:

Cenedi as Banichi's father? Hmm, I rather hope not, actually. I have this horrible vision of everyone turning out related. You know, Bren: "Cenedi is your *father*, nadi?!", and Banichi, "Yes, and in fact I'm married to Algini's sister, and Tano is in fact Algini's son, and I'm third cousin to Tabini and oh, did you know Lord Geigi is my wife's uncle?" 
LOL! 

Actually, I think I'd like something like this.  :)  But that's just personal taste. 

(Your construction is even more convoluted than it seems--if Lord Geigi is Banichi's wife's uncle, he's also Algini's uncle, and Tano's great uncle. Tano would be Banichi's nephew. Jago and Tano would be cousins, and Jago would be Algini's niece.) 

I guess I just like the idea because it seems kind of funny that Bren is making all these assumptions about the people around him, when one simple question might clear things up. But he'll never ask, because it's not polite, especially among Guild members. Also, I think it would be realistic in a way. Look at politics even in countries where there is technically no inheritance of offices--the same family names keep coming up, and where they don't, there's often a family relationship anyway. We already know that the head of Bren's office is a relative of Tano's....and it's stated then that that's the way atevi tend to do business, so you have no worries about man'chi. And Bren's household staff, excluding his four security, are all related (excepting Bindanda, as far as we know)--it's stated so in Precursor. Given that, I think it's more likely than not that Bren's chief staff members (and possibly all the rest) are related somehow. 
 

creature feature:

Quote:

(Your construction is even more convoluted than it seems--if Lord Geigi is Banichi's wife's uncle, he's also Algini's uncle, and Tano's great uncle. Tano would be Banichi's nephew. Jago and Tano would be cousins, and Jago would be Algini's niece.) 
Yeh, I did realise that, but I decided not to point it out in too much detail!

If they had some sort of family gathering celebration thing like Christmas or Thanksgiving can you imagine what a hotbed of intrigue it would be! And what a headache getting everybody presents...good grief!

CK:  about the cross-species thing, I totally agree. Plus I always do my biologist thing when they have cross-species stuff and scream "You *can't* do that!" at the book/television because it really is so implausible unless assisted by awesome technology.  :P
 

Susan:
If they are different species, I don't think they're cross-fertile either (by definition).

But What if humans and atevi had a common human origin and they are not really different species at all? They aren't all that different physically, mostly in size and coloration. Think of dachshunds and Great Danes - they're mutually fertile (no cross about it). Bren believes that manchi is hard-wired biologically, but maybe that's only what the atevi and hence Bren and other Mospheirans believe. What if it's all cultural? 

Which leads me to a new topic I've been thinking about, and which I'll start now - "Are Atevi for real?" 
 

hautdesert:

Quote:

Bren believes that manchi is hard-wired biologically, but maybe that's only what the atevi and hence Bren and other Mospheirans believe. What if it's all cultural? 
Actually, this is the question that has most intrigued me. I presume that the crew and passengers of Phoenix were not all biologists, sociologists, or anthropologists. They were ship crewmen and officers, miner pilots, mechanics, construction workers, and such. And even by the time of the Landing, they had been living in isolation for quite some time. They knew only one basic culture, that could be split between crew and passengers, but that was the extent of their differences by the time of the Landing. They would have had to build biology, sociology, etc. from scratch, out of the archives. But they would have no personal experience of, say, a world where biology was the same but cultures could vary widely.

So they come to the earth of the atevi, where for geographical reasons, cultural differences aren't that big (sort of like everyone in the world being one variety of European or another, say). (Or else humans only have real experience of one, dominant group of atevi, and assume, based on their own experience, that all atevi are like that--that's another possiblity). They have trouble getting along. The first paidhi comes up with some guidelines that let the two sides co-exist, and they're taken as dogma by all successive paidhiin, because damn if anybody wants to be the one to change things and be wrong.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again--Bren is in a very, very bad position to judge what's a cultural difference and what's hardwired. Every human in the world comes from the same culture--Mospheiran. Even the humans on the ship don't vary tremendously--they came from the same place the Mospheirans did. Bren makes a lot of assumptions about what's "human" that aren't hardwired at all--commercial meat processing, for example. He even flirts with the idea that keeping kabiu is somehow neccesary to atevi psychological and social stability (in Precursor). Never mind that many of the Mospherian cultural things he thinks (and the dowager and her party think) might be bad for atevi are things many humans have thought would be bad for humans, and resisted, back on the Earth of humans! He doesn't know that. In fact, he has little or no idea of human history before Phoenix. He frequently calls Mosphei' "human language" as though it's the only one, the only model for human thought. If he knew other human languages (and other human cultures), he might realize that while "love" is partly a biological phenomenon, it's also very much affected by cultural expectations. If he understood that, he might be able to draw an analogy with man'chi. 

He's taking it on faith that all the differences are biological and that the University theorists are correct. And it's clear they're wrong on at least one or two things-- man'chi isn't just a question of birth and inheritance, for instance--it can change, be chosen (as is hinted in several places), and even be given to a human. 

Sorry, I've been kind of thinking about these books a lot lately. And nobody I know IRL cares very much about them, so you guys get my rantings and ravings.

Um, so, Susan, what do you mean by "are atevi for real?" anyway? 


CKTC:
I think Bren is very much aware of the limitations in his experience that haut has mentioned. And I think CJC has touched on such awarenesses in Bren but never had time to fully explore them. Remember in Foreigner (I think it was Foreigner, and not Invader) where Bren is interested in the book on the Midedeni? He is fascinated by the thought of an entire group of atevi who find favor in everyone. And in Precursor and Defender, Bren does give thought to his own limitations and does seem aware he may not know the difference between culture and biology. I just can't remember the specific moments he does this.

As for atevi and human differences, I think that they are far more vast than just skin color and a few minor physical traits. The whole fascination of these books, for me at least, lies in the many differences between the 2 alien races, especially when they aren't readily apparent. 
 

damiriji:
I love this thread. :)
 

the mule:
I'm pretty sure that in either Inheritor or Precursor. it is stated that although physical human/atevi sex is possible there is no possibilty of offspring.

I'll see if I can find the quote.

We'll have to be careful with this family thing or someone will end up being their own grandfather 
 

WereOtter:
I have to disagree with hautdesert on a few points...

Cherryh has stated several times that Atevi attained world government and a unified culture relatively early because of the way Atevi man'chi affected their political processes, not because of geography. Yes, there is pretty much just the one continent, but East and West are divided by almost impassible mountains.

Mospheira did have extensive library files, though some were lost in the War. I believe that it is in Precursor that it is mentioned that they had some, but not all, of Shakespeare's works, that some families did retain knowledge of other languages. Ginny Kroger knew exactly where in Phoenix's archive certain robotics files would be found. e.i., they had extensive knowledge of human history, cultures, sociology, and psychology. Heck, even the heavy-lift rockets mentioned in Foreigner came out of the archive. So I think Bren and the University were in a much better position to judge the issue of culture vs. hardwiring than you are stating.

The nature vs. nuture debate is also one of the central themes of Cherryh's 40,000 in Gehenna.
 

Sabina:
In the first triology (I think Invader) Ms Cherryh says that there was only one atleast somewhat different culture where the explorers from West and East met and found out there are the same.

The offspring matter, I think it is unlikely that Ms Cherryh will write a cross-species child in (we had this discussion in an earlier thread, hadn we?), but in the book it is never stated that it is impossible, Bren just assumes that he and Jago can't have an offspring (Precursor).
And as long as it isn't stated clearly, there is hope (And that is the cause I never asked Ms Cherryh - culture works pretty well -> it's just so great to have atleast one child and it is even better when your partner is from another species, look at the countless fanfictions out there.) 
 

hautdesert:
Nand' Wereotter, I must respectfully disagree.

Quote:

Cherryh has stated several times that Atevi attained world government and a unified culture relatively early because of the way Atevi man'chi affected their political processes, not because of geography. Yes, there is pretty much just the one continent, but East and West are divided by almost impassible mountains.
A population in isolation for a long time is going to develop differences from it's original population. Its language will change, its customs will change, and its way of thinking about the world will change. Any population remaining isolated over thousands of years will change quite dramatically, especially if the environment is very different from the ultimate origin. Man'chi will not change this. Man'chi will affect how this culture relates to another one when they finally meet up, but not the cultural changes themselves. So the question is, how different is the East from the West (weather, plant and animal life, etc.) and how long were they separated? And how long have they been re-joined? Those questions will affect cultural differences far more than politics will, or man'chi. Obviously the effect of man'chi on politics will be important, but so will geography. I submit that if a group of atevi had been isolated on another continent, with a different geography, and weather, and flora and fauna for thousands and thousands of years, all the man'chi in the world wouldn't erase the very obvious differences that would have arisen in that time. But that didn't happen.

Besides, anything stated in the books is something Bren thinks, not something Cherryh thinks. And just because Bren thinks something doesn't mean it's true. 

Quote:

Mospheira did have extensive library files, though some were lost in the War. I believe that it is in Precursor that it is mentioned that they had some, but not all, of Shakespeare's works, that some families did retain knowledge of other languages. 
Languages of which Bren himself has no knowledge--this is stated in the same passage. It's only something some few families may have preserved. Evidently the University didn't think those other languages were worth teaching to paidhiin.
Quote:

Ginny Kroger knew exactly where in Phoenix's archive certain robotics files would be found.
And she'd spent her career getting, it, too--it's not like the information was just sitting there and she strolled by and picked it up. And knowing robotics and metallurgy isn't the same as knowing history. 
Quote:

e.i., they had extensive knowledge of human history, cultures, sociology, and psychology.
Not neccesarily. The archives would probably, of neccesity, have been skewed towards technical things, since that was what they would have needed at the intended station. And the cultural materials would have been skewed towards English speakers--sure, there were people on the original flight who spoke other languages, but those seem to have died out among the ships crew and passengers (Jase is the only one among the ships crew to have studied any language but English, for instance (and note that when Jase studied German, it was engineering texts he read, not novels), and on Mospheira knowledge of other human languages is confined to a few families). So anything not written in English would have been difficult to read, if not impossible. And it wouldn't have been a priority--the technical stuff seems to all be available in English, and building and surviving was the priority. 

I'm thinking, then, that much of the literature and history available to Mospherians is in English, which skews it cuturally right there. We don't know how extensive the archives were, even before the War. The fact that they have Shakespeare doesn't mean much--Shakespeare is pretty much a given when you're making a list of significant cultural works. (And don't make me post that link to Shakespeare in the Bush again!  ;)  )

Quote:

Heck, even the heavy-lift rockets mentioned in Foreigner came out of the archive.
Technical stuff again. It doesn't give you any idea of culture or history.
Quote:

So I think Bren and the University were in a much better position to judge the issue of culture vs. hardwiring than you are stating.
Bren has two specific thoughts about pre-Phoenix human history that I remember. One is the thought about atevi explorers not having a "New World" to discover and meeting up with each other. But it's the other one that really struck me. It's in Invader. (p.325)
Quote:

Human beings had surely had certain investments in their planetary boundaries, once upon a time. Humans had had to realize the sun was a star among other stars. The paidhi didn't happen to know with any great accuracy how humans had reacted to that knowledge, but he'd a troubled suspicion it could have set certain human beliefs on end.

Though that they couldn't work the numbers out exactly wouldn't have broken up associations, re-sorted personal loyalties, cast into doubt a way of looking at the universe--had it?


No one who reads this board would have to ask this question. But Bren doesn't know the answer. His training has been focused on atevi culture, and on all the theories and ideas Mospheirans have about how humans can and can't relate to atevi. And the technical matters he needs to know to translate the technology. There may be (probabaly are) Mospheirans who spend their lives digging in the archives and finding out whatever they can about human history and culture--but Bren isn't one of them. Which implies that his instructors weren't, either. Bren almost never thinks about pre- Phoenix human history--and Bren thinks about everything. I daresay there isn't a thought that goes through Bren's mind that we don't read about. And when he does think about the history of the Earth of humans, he's unsure of what actually happened.
 

CKTC:
I agree with damiri-ji. I love this thread. :)
 

Abssinthe:
Yipes! What a mess that would be. I would much rather everyone not be related to everyone else, that would border on soap opera-ish. Ye gads, the horror! 

I think that Jago and company would be ok with Bren fathering a child with a human woman as long as they were able to consider her in thier man'chi. Good luck Bren!

As for Jago, I fully expect her at one point to reveal she is pregnant with Tano's child. Speaking of which, does the guild have maternal leave? 
 

creature feature:
I've now got this terrible (albeit mercifully implausible) scene stuck in my head. Banichi, black-clad, says to a desperately confused Bren, in his deep voice:
"Bren-ji, I am your father".
Bren looks naturally astonished. Then, with a dawning and awful realisation, says, "But, that means that Jago is....YEEEE-ARGH!"  :)
 

hautdesert:
LOL, CF!

I've actually though occasionally about the Freudian subtext of Bren & Jago's relationship...not that I think CJ put it in there, just that some things can be lined up that way.

It first crossed my mind in Precursor, when Bren is leaning up against Jago and thinking that he doesn't even have to support his own weight with her. That image immediately made my think of my kids. Then I had the Disturbing Thought--what if that's part of Bren's attraction to Jago? So then all that agonizing about whether or not Banichi was jealous...were Banichi and Jago lovers or not??? etc. Suddenly the conflict is resolved--he's not jealous, he's Jago's father, not her husband or lover, Bren's in the clear, he can have mommy and daddy both. 

It's positively Oedipal!

But like I said, I doubt very much Nand' Cherryh put that in there. Human pattern-making tendencies, and all that. Speaking of which, has anybody seen the amazon reviewer who's convinced Foreigner is an allegory for the Salvation of Mankind, with Bren as a Christ figure? I don't know whether to laugh at him, or knock him upside the head with a skillet. 
 

WereOtter:
hautdesert, I can't resist making a rebuttle to your earlier post. 

1. Cherryh never said that East and West were culturally uniform. Her point was that Atevi were politically unified into a world government regardless of any cultural differences, and that humans would not have been under similar circumstances, and that the underlying reason for this difference is man'chi.

2. I disagree with your interpretation of the Invader p. 325 quote. Bren correctly deduces historical human reaction to cosmology even when he does not have the facts at hand. He does this inspite of the fact he comes from a technological space-faring culture. And he also realizes that the human example does not necessarily predict the Atevi reaction to concept FTL. Does this sound like someone who is ignorant of sociological, cultural and historical perspectives? NO.

3. We've got a Foreign Office and a university ON AN ALIEN PLANET who have the job of supporting the paidhi and the treaty, managing the atevi interface and trying to steer Atevi cultural and technology progress, but they don't bother studying the history, sociology and psychology files in the archive? Sorry, that does not compute. It's the bigots and the average Mospheiran who are avoiding these subjects, not the diplomatic professionals in the F.O. 

4. If they didn't have those files, Cherryh would have made a point of saying so. And they orignally did have a comprehensive archive, because they were setting up a distant colony.

btw, Would I be correct in guessing that you don't believe in either human or atevi hardwiring?
 

Susan:
Hautdesert, re your Oedipal analysis - 
Oedipus, schmedipus, as long as he loves his mother.

WereOtter - One of the things I really like about the Foreigner series is the occasional suggestion that there are cultural and linguistic differences among various regions. I'm plotting a new discussion related to this one of these days, by the way, but it's not ripe yet. Readiness is all.* 

*Where is that line from, anyway? Macbeth maybe? If somebody can't tell me I'm going to have to go find it on the Web and I really don't want to be bothered so please, please tell me where it's from.

btw, Would I be correct in guessing that you don't believe in either human or atevi hardwiring?

Boy, even just applied to humans, that's a tough and particularly fascinating question, isn't it? (I think that wherever I come down on human hardwiring I'd come down on atevi hardwiring - I just don't think they are that fundamentally different.)

Looking at the human hardwiring question first in terms of personality differences, I would have thought at one time everything was nurture and culture, not nature and genes. But after my nephews were born and grew I saw that their core personalities were in place practically from birth.

Let's see, how about language? I guess I'd vote that humans come hardwired with the ability to learn and use language. Last weekend, "Susan's Mother the xenoanthropologist" (actually, the xeno part is an honorary title I have bestowed) and I were trying to figure out if there are any grammatical universals in human languages. She was feeling around for some kind of generalization about all human grammars (or at least the ones she knew about) having categories for topic (or subject) vs. action, but it wasn't quite gelling.

Isn't there a hormone (I forget the name) that's been recently theorized to be implicated in maternal love and perhaps other love as well?

But with all the hardwiring I'm willing to hypothesize, it's the splendid and almost infinite diversity of human cultures and ways of thinking over history that I find exciting and marvellous. I guess that's one reason why I'm not a biologist. 
 

hautdesert:

Quote:

1. Cherryh never said that East and West were culturally uniform. Her point was that Atevi were politically unified into a world government regardless of any cultural differences, and that humans would not have been under similar circumstances, and that the underlying reason for this difference is man'chi.
Actually, Cherryh never says this at all. Foreigner says (p119):
 
Quote:

Atevi had been, with the exception of the tribals in the remotest hinterlands and the islands in the Edi Archipelago, a global civilization, at a stage when humans hadn't been. Atevi explorers had gone out in wooden ships, done all those things that humans had, by the records, done on lost Earth--except that atevi hadn't found a New World, they'd found the Edi, and damned little else but a volcanic, troubled chain of islands, not advanced, not culutrally up to the double assault of the explorers from the East and the explorers from the West, who'd immediately laid claim to everything in sight and still--still, for reasons the ethnographers were still arguing--the same explorers met each other in those foreign isles and found enough in common and enough difficult about the intervening geography--the continental divide in the principal continent topped 30,000 feet--to trade not overland, but by sea routes that largely, after the advent of full-rigged ships, excluded the Isles where the two principal branches of atevi had met.
That's what happened. Why it happened that way is something even the experts don't agree on--and there's no guarantee the experts are right. There's no guarantee Bren is right about any of his interpretations. Cherryh makes no editorial comments in these books--it's all Bren's internal monologue when it isn't external events.

Also, the term "global civilization" doesn't seem to me the same as "global government." "Civilization" is a broader word than government, or empire, or territory, or what have you. To me, "civilization" implies a cultural unity, not neccesarily a political one. And I seem to recall it's stated in, I think, Inheritor, that Tabini is the first aiji to extend his authority clear across the continent. 

I'm also not trying to suggest that atevi are as culturally homogenous as Mospheira probably is. But I think the various ethnic groups and such are close enough to each other that they get along fairly well and don't find each other incomprehensible. The same can not be said for every group of humans on Earth.

Quote:

2. I disagree with your interpretation of the Invader p. 325 quote. Bren correctly deduces historical human reaction to cosmology even when he does not have the facts at hand. He does this inspite of the fact he comes from a technological space-faring culture. And he also realizes that the human example does not necessarily predict the Atevi reaction to concept FTL. Does this sound like someone who is ignorant of sociological, cultural and historical perspectives? NO.
He does not have the facts at hand! Very basic facts, that our society is still dealing with, to some extent. Is he a very bright person, who is able to make a deduction about how humans might behave? Sure. Of course he doesn't think the human model will predict the atevi--he spends every waking moment reminding himself of this, it's an article of faith with the University and with him. Someone who knows the history of Earth? Most emphatically not. Someone with any experience of cultural differences as independent of biological ones? Absolutely not. His sociological, cultural, and historical perspectives are all Mospheiran. Sophisticated they might be, but wide in the experience of the variety of human culture, no. If they were, Bren would be as cautious of calling Mosphei' "human language" as he is of calling an atevi his "friend." He wouldn't assume that Mospheiran economics represented the "human" pattern of development. He constantly and consistently refers to Mospheiran social realities as "human." He makes the same mistake with atevi--the Nisebi have no qualms about processed meat, and yet he thinks of eating only seasonal game as an "atevi" value. Especially in the first book, he calls Ragi "the atevi language" even though he knows there are others, that he doesn't speak. He is completely ignorant of the Midedeni until Jago mentions them, and when he hears of them, fails to recognize that there is, in fact, an analogous human philosophy. The most basic of historical information would have told him this.

He is not a stupid or an uneducated man, but because of where he is, there are a lot of things that he takes for granted, or that don't occurr to him.

Quote:

3. We've got a Foreign Office and a university ON AN ALIEN PLANET who have the job of supporting the paidhi and the treaty, managing the atevi interface and trying to steer Atevi cultural and technology progress, but they don't bother studying the history, sociology and psychology files in the archive? Sorry, that does not compute. It's the bigots and the average Mospheiran who are avoiding these subjects, not the diplomatic professionals in the F.O.
I'm sure they study what they have. But what do they have, and from what perspective? The history I learned in grade school and high school generally spent a chapter on Sumer, one on Ancient Greece, one on Rome, spent the rest of the time in Europe, branching out to include North America after 1492. South America, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, were all presented only as they interacted directly with Europe or the United States. And sketchy as it was, we damn sure learned about Gallileo. Why didn't Bren? 

I doubt that he got much pre- phoenix history after primer school. I submit that the history they study in the Foreign Studies department is the history of human interaction with atevi. Because that's what they're most interested in. They could care less about Earth history--why should they? Iain Bretano said humans are like this and atevi are like this, that caused the war and this is the way to deal with it. It stopped the War. Who's going to gamble with those stakes? 

Editing to add a thought that occurred to me last night--Deanna Hanks is one of those diplomatic professionals in the FO, with the same education Bren had, BTW.

Quote:

4. If they didn't have those files, Cherryh would have made a point of saying so. And they orignally did have a comprehensive archive, because they were setting up a distant colony.
I never said they didn't have the files. I'm sure they had all sorts of files--but how extensive were those history files, those sociology files? The literature and arts? We don't know. Who selected them? And if they did represent a cultural variety, were the non-western things available in translation? And even if they are, after years of focusing on surviving, fueling the ship, and building the station, is there anyone on board ship or station who can understand what they're reading? They surely didn't start out with historians or sociologists on board. Once they have the chance, they'll have to build those things up from scratch, self-taught on what they can get from the texts. And if just reading books made you an expert, I'd have bunches of degrees by now, and dozens of speaking engagements  . It will have taken hard work for the University to get where it is. But it could easily still have gaps in its knowledge, and in its worldview. I think that it does. That, or Nand' Cherryh is not as careful in her writing as perhaps she might be. Take your choice.
Quote:

btw, Would I be correct in guessing that you don't believe in either human or atevi hardwiring?
Not by a longshot. I don't doubt that such hardwiring exists. But I think that human hardwiring, in particular, is a very basic sort of thing. If it were too specific, it wouldn't be adaptable. If something frightens you, get ready to run or fight. If you're with someone a lot, bond with them. Eat when you're hungry. That sort of thing. Very, very basic drives that accept all sorts of cultural overlays, depending on who you're with, or what you have to do to get your supper, or what kind of weather you expect in the winter and what you have to do to survive it. How you run or fight (or when it's appropriate to do one or the other) or who you bond with (and humans will bond with just about anything that's demonstrably alive), what you should or shouldn't eat, are not specified in the drives. Those are cultural things, and they vary widely. 

I'm also not unwilling to believe that atevi are just as Bren believes. I'm just not willing to accept his assessment as he's given it, because he seems to me to have crucial gaps in his knowledge. And I find it interesting that he seems to succeed most spectacularly with atevi when he's being very human. That's all. 

[Time Interval]

Quote:

Isn't there a hormone (I forget the name) that's been recently theorized to be implicated in maternal love and perhaps other love as well?
I do believe that would be oxytocin. Also implicated in human milk production. (which would have that maternal connection).
Quote:

Oedipus, schmedipus, as long as he loves his mother.
LOL!
Quote:

 Where is that line from, anyway? Macbeth maybe? 
Close. Hamlet.
Quote:

Looking at the human hardwiring question first in terms of personality differences, I would have thought at one time everything was nurture and culture, not nature and genes. But after my nephews were born and grew I saw that their core personalities were in place practically from birth.
They were also raised by the same family. So it's hard to draw a distinction. And even identical twins raised in the same families are not identical people.

Consider a spider plant. You know, those babies are genetically identical to their mother. Put one in a nice pot with good soil, water it and talk to it and give it sun. Put another one in some sand and put it in the closet. Will they come out the same?

Humans are much more complicated than spider plants, but I do think that environment plays a big role. Not a bigger one than genetics, though--I think the two play off each other in a sort of feedback loop, to the extent it's hard to separate them. That's my own, personal theory. I am not a biologist, and I don't play one on TV.
 

Susan:
Yeah, oxytocin. I kept wanting to say oxycontin but I knew that wasn't right.

The point about my nephews is that they are extremely different, even though they are both male children of the same parents. And their "essential natures" showed up very very early. It's been fascinating to behold.

I wasn't trying to say anything definitive about hardwiring pro or con, just sort of free-associating around some of the issues. I wouldn't try separating environment from genetics or coming up with any grand unified field theory of humanity either, but it's sure interesting to observe how first one and then the other seeming to manifest itself.

You know much more about this biology stuff than I do, anyway, even if you haven't gotten that TV job yet. As I recall, Creature Feature said she's studying for a biology Ph.D. (molecular biology, though). I'm sure she'll shed some light on these questions. (*Susan asks self "Do I really know what molecular biology is?" Answers "No, of course not. Help!"*)

Ah, Hamlet. That makes sense. (Except, of course, that he kept not being ready. Or you're supposed to think so. Perhaps analogous to what Cherryh may be doing in the Foreigner series - manipulating the reader/audience's assumptions. Always had the feeling that Hamlet was saner and more in control than he let on. Very clever fellow. Made lots of good puns, including some splendidly dirty ones.) 
 

WereOtter:
hautdesert, thanks for the thoughtful responses to my rants. The posts from others are pretty good too! 

Maybe I just lazy or less imaginative, but I tend to take the things that Bren says at face value, and assume that Bren's speculations are actually the author's. (Except, of course, when she's setting us up for a plot twist.)

But I readily concede that the Mospeiran colonists' intrepretation of human history is probably pretty skewed, and also very incomplete when it comes to non-Western cultures. Nevermind that history is written, rewritten, translated, reinterpreted and censored by the victors. After a few centuries of that, who knows what you have left.

Your views on hardwiring sounds pretty close to mine. Without it, it would be like trying to run software on your PC after removing the BIOS firmware. :(
 

Sabina:
The oedipus thingie, I sometimes got the feeling there is something like that, just remember the reunion in Inheritor.

(I hate these long posts, they are difficult to read and I got this self imposed one hour limit for staying online).
 

CKTC:
I wish I had checked here earlier so I could make some comments without breaking the flow of the dialogue. At any rate, I really love this thread.
 

CF - ROFL on "Bren-ji, I am your father."
 

Susan and haut - regarding oxytocin: it's roles include (among other things) stimulation of uterine contractions during labor, stimulation of mammary gland contraction during breast feeding, and promotion of maternal behavior -- although I don't know about love. Maternal love is a lot more complicated than maternal behavior, and I question the ability of one lone chemical to be able to produce such an emotion. It's an interesting thought though. Maybe CF would know more on this. It's been a while since I read about this stuff, and I'm afraid I've forgotten most of it. (As for oxycontin....Hmm! Wouldn't that be fun to see. Maternal bonding due to an opioid. Oughtta be interesting. Heh!)
 

Haut - "But I think that human hardwiring, in particular, is a very basic sort of thing. If it were too specific, it wouldn't be adaptable. " I agree with that. In humans, our basic 'primitive emotion' center is in a completely different part of the brain than our higher functions. So yeah, what you said made absolute sense. 
 

hautdesert:
Wereotter, thank you for the conversation! I think these two threads have been the liveliest the Cherryh Grove has been for awhile!

And I never need my arm twisted to talk about Foreigner.  :)
 

creature feature:
CK, I know exactly what you mean - this really interesting conversation went on while I was not around and now I face the choice between ignoring all but the most recent stuff, or writing a rather bitty reply. Oh well. 

Thought I'd just comment on the hardwiring - Susan, I'm flattered but sadly don't know much about behaviour and that sort of thing; you're right I'm a molecular biologist (student) which means I spend most of my time messing around with DNA, none of that nasty imprecise whole animal stuff for me thank you!  :)  The whole hardwiring versus learning, nature v nurture is still a massive raging debate and we don't much anyway though. (I also think it's a misnomer to imply a contest between the two - it's pretty clear that genes lay down at least the very basics and the environment works on these. It's just how much each contributes to each that's a point of contention). One interesting example is a gene that they found in mice that appears to be responsible for initiating "maternal" behaviour, such as nest-building for pups, responding to their distress cries and generally looking after them - mutants just can't care for their babies properly. It would be foolish to suggest that knocking out a gene in a human would make a mother ignore her child though. 

Another thing that I think is often overlooked in considering how behaviour evolves and why people think and feel the way they do is perception. Of the five senses, touch and sight are the best developed in primates, and humans, which are very visual creatures, tend to think in terms of what we can see, what we can put our hands on. It must influence our thinking in ways that we aren't even aware of. Rats for example, look like they can see where they're going, but they have really poor eyesight. For long distance, they smell, for short distance they have sensory whiskers on their snout that literally builds up a "picture" (as humans would put it) of the objects around them by touch sensation. Atevi are probably similar to humans in that regard. What if they (or we) evolved from an animal that relied more on its hearing, or its sense of smell? How would we "view" (see there's that sight-based language again) the world then? What if we read people's feelings in their scent, not their face?

Oh, and I think Oedipus(s) is a great name for a cat, and Schemipus(s) is even better!  :)