Jan. 10th, 2007

Facets

Jan. 10th, 2007 05:31 pm
the_choir: (Fireez)
Those of you who also read my personal journal will know that at the moment, I'm re-watching the whole series of Deep Space Nine, which, next to Millennium, is just about my favourite TV series ever, mostly because it does what good SciFi should do: tackle important issues through the medium of a story.

Today, I watched the episode Facets, in which Jadzia Dax, a joined Trill, goes through the ritual of zhian'tara. And it suddenly hit me that the way joined Trills function, are, is a pretty good analogy to the way our system works.

Now, a quick and dirty explanation of joined Trills for all the non-Trekkies who read this: a joined Trill is a humanoid lifeform that shares its body with a non-humanoid symbiont. Because the symbionts live much longer than their humanoid hosts, they go through several hosts in their lifetimes. Each time a symbiont is joined with a new host, the memories of the previous hosts are not erased, but added to the memories of the new host (and of course, the mind of the new host is added to the "database" of the symbiont). They are aware of other presences in their minds, and have access to some (though by far not all) of the memories and skills that the previous hosts had. Of course, this is a very trying experience for the new host - they suddenly discover new personality traits that weren't there before, memories of events they didn't actually go through themselves etc. Because of this, the hosts are chosen very carefully, because if they're not strong enough, their personality might be erased, or rather, taken over by that of one of the previous hosts.

Sound familiar? To me, it does.
See, we're heavily on the median side of the whole plurality spectrum. It's very rare that I'm all alone. Most of the time, one or more of the others will be there with me, a presence at the edge of my mind. And if one of them fronts, well, I'm there, too, a presence at the edge of their minds. The person who is with me most of the time actually isn't a person at all - she's a unicorn, a walk-in spirit who's been with me since ever I can remember. Yup, I've been plural all my life, just not in the way most people see it, which is why, before I started identifying as plural and a soulbonder, I had indentified as otherkin for some time. Still do, actually.

Now, back to Star Trek and the Trill. Just like the current host of a symbiont has access to some of the memories and skills of the previous hosts, I have access to some of the memories and skills of my headmates. Due to limitations of the human mind and body, those are mostly so-called "soft skills" - self-assuredness, social skills, determination, stuff like that. Of course, it's not all sunshine and bunnies, because it's not only their positive traits that rub off on me. And then there's stuff like mannerisms, posture, shifts in language etc.
Now, a joined Trill doesn't really shift through hosts, like a "full" multiple shifts through fronters. Most of the time, the joined Trill will present a pretty even (if somewhat quirky) facade to the world, one which is dominated by the personality of the current host. Whatever happens inside, stays inside. Same here, essentially, even if the others do front. At least IRL. Like it or not, we can't risk the upheaval that we'd surely cause if we didn't present ourselves as more or less normal.

A really interesting and fascinating thing about that episode was the ritual that was preformed. The zhian'tara ritual is a ritual in which, one after another, the previous hosts' memories are removed from the symbiont telepathically and projected into the body of somebody else, for instance a friend of the current host.
While I was watching that, I was thinking, hey, that would be so cool if that worked with my headmates, too. If I could project them into other people and then really, bodily interact with them. Also, during the ritual, the current host got the chance to ask their previous hosts some questions about them, stuff they couldn't find out before, because the answers were clouded in emotions, or being protected by the previous host. Now wouldn't that be neat :)? Being able to ask your headmates questions which you couldn't get answers to the ususal way? Because, well, at least in our system, I'm shut out from some things. I don't know everything about them - mostly because they don't want me to know, or because their (and, often, my own) emotions muddle up the communication.

Anyway, even if you don't like Deep Space Nine or Trek, if you ever happen to catch that episode, watch it. It's actually one of the better portrayals of a certain kind of plurality that I've seen on TV. Sure, it has the violent alter - Joran, a psychopath - but I like how it gets mentioned that even this psychopathic former host has something positive to add to the mosaic of the current host.

And now I'll leave you with two quotes that I really liked:
"What is a person, if not the sum of their memories?" - Lela, first host of Dax
"It feels like a part of myself is missing" - Dax, talking about what it is like to not be able to access a previous host's memories during the ritual

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