Sunday, May 31, 2009

Dear Nicky

Dear Nicky,
Now, being born with physically unambiguous sex, I'm not going to pretend I know what you went through. Your experiences, I wouldn't wish on anyone, and I'm very sorry you had to suffer them. I'm sure you are smart enough to realize, however, that intersex and transsexuals have quite a lot in common. Specifically, the societal attitudes towards gender that caused you so much grief screw transsexuals much in the same way. You have a common enemy, so to speak.
So why all the transphobia, dear? What is wrong with transsexuals that you feel so offended at being associated with them? And what the fuck made you think that calling a transman a she is a good idea? Really, dude. No, just no. One would think being on the receiving end of societal prejudice regarding sex and gender would make you a bit more enlightened about the subject, but as I believe I've mentioned before, minorities can be very bigoted.
Regarding your comment here, no, Thomas is not a woman. Because, and get this through your head, gender is not determined by your reproductive organs. I'm not even going to mention the studies showing that gender identity seems to be hardwired in the brain. Wait, I just did. Oh well. I sure hope showing that their body has organs belonging to different sexes won't offend your delicate sensibilities about grouping them with the intersex.
To sum it up, you are an asshole, an idiot and a bigot. Being intersex does not excuse you from that.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


There's quite a few things about my dreams that are weird. For one, I don't get nightmares. Not since I was very young, like 6 or so. I've had frustrating dreams, I've had dreams where I'm in danger of death and can't do anything about it, but I'm never scared, only annoyed. And I'm talking stuff like being completely surrounded by people with guns and praying for death as a quick way out. For some reason, I don't feel fear in my dreams.

Then there's lucid dreaming. Lucid dreaming is when you are in a dream and you realize you are asleep, so you can control the dream. Well, I've only experienced one proper lucid dream, and I woke up immediately after, but I've had several interesting variations. For example, dreams that play out as a one of my stories, where I am both character and narrator and I know I can manipulate the dream to my will, but don't (too much). Has something to do with narrator's guilt, which is what I call the feeling I get when I manipulate a story excessively in the favour of a self-insert. Another pseudo-lucid I had once was where I dreamt I was having a lucid dream. That is to say, I was having a dream (being chased by a dinosaur), became aware it wasn't real, then I thought I woke up, but did not. So I dreamt I was lying on my bed, slipping in and out of a dream I could control somewhat. There was a dog in the 'waking' part of it at some point, but that's not relevant.

That one was also the first false awakening dream I had. False awakenings, or dreaming you wake up, are exceptionally mindscrewy, but for some reason I like that in my dreams. For example, another false awakening: I ask this girl out for a date, they tell me we meet at the house of guy X, and gives me the address. I 'wake up', realize she doesn't know guy X, and couldn't have given me the address (which I don't know myself), but I ask my sister about it and she tells me it was the one I had heard in my dream. Whilst I ponder this, I wake up for real and realize the address wasn't even any pair of streets I had ever heard of. Or, another mindscrew, once I dreamt I was lying in bed listening to music from my MP3 player. I realized that was awkward, because I never do that, but the music felt incredibly realistic. Then I felt like going to the bathroom. I woke up, went to pee, and was halfway through walking back to bed when I realized that not only I wasn't listening to music, my MP3 was broken and I had never heard that song before. And that I had woken up without ever realizing I had slipped out of a dream.

On occasion, though, my mind switches games with me and just gives me what I want. I'm dreaming, and my life has some problem solved, desire fulfilled, etc., which might make it a bit disappointing to wake up (doesn't work, though, I love those dreams). Like last night, when I dreamt that, while remaining physically male, I had achieved an androgynous look and passed for female easily. So easily, a guy asked me to pretend to be his girlfriend to spite his ex.

Yeah, I'm totally fucked in the head. But I'm happy ^_^

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Identity, 2

I promised I'd write this and I will, ungoddammit.

So, let's recap: Two people. Same (shapeshifting) bodies. Identical memory. Different history. Do they have a different identity, or not?

The first question I ask myself is: What are the differences, and are they relevant? Difference #1, as mentioned before, is history, as before the merging moment they were separate people. History is relevant to identity, because it's what makes me the same person as the baby born some 19 years ago. We have nothing in common, except DNA and that he gradually became me. Since we don't consider identical twins to be the same person, it's not DNA, so it must be that series of small changes that added up to result in the idiot writing this blog. However, (there's always a however), something that happened in the past can only be relevant to the present up to the extent that it has consequences in it. And in this case, the consequences of each one's history are the same for both. That is to say, something that happened to Shippy affects zir and Saffy in the same way, so history cannot differentiate them. The only case in which history would be relevant would be if there was a third party/recording device/etc. observing the merging and keeping track of who was each. Assuming that didn't take place, or that they managed to pull off a manoeuvre that made them lose track, history is not a relevant difference.

Is there any other difference? I already stated that mind and body are the same, but somebody might suggest the soul. Now, normally I'd say that there's no good reason to think souls exist, but this is a fictional setting so lets allow for them. Which opens a whole new batch of questions: How do souls affect us? Are they set from birth, or do they change? Do they start out the same? What can change them?

The first one is the most important: if my soul does not affect me in any way, then the discussion is pointless. If the consequences of its existence do not apply until after I die, (in the classic afterlife "your soul lives on" scenario) then they are also irrelevant. If they determine or influence personality, preferences, etc. while alive, however, they might become relevant. Onto further questions, there's the issue of souls changing. If souls change, then what can change them becomes the most important question. If souls influence personality, and personality is determined by our experiences, it would be reasonable to assume it's our minds that determine how souls change, and therefore they would've been matched in the merging. So, down that avenue, again, no difference.

Let's say souls are set at birth, in which case the question is, how do they start out? We'll assume the start out different, because otherwise, again, no difference. Next part, how much of our personality is determined from birth? Not all of it, of course, because people change. Does the soul set some personality range, within which you can move as determined by personal experience? In that case, it's all a matter of luck, really, there's only a difference if the personality ranges don't overlap. If the soul acts like some sort of filter which interprets experiences and determines how they change us, then different filters mean a different identity, regardless of having the same memory.

So, there's the only possibility I've found for Saffy and Shippy to be different. A very specific form of an unproven and untestable entity. Since this all depends on how I build my fictional universe, and I know myself well enough to know it'd never be like that, screw it, they have no separate identity. I hate using the God clause to win, but I was arguing against myself, so...

A comment I've been meaning to make: Were I to follow my usual methods, I'd have approached this by looking at what defines the identity of each and seeing if it's the same thing. However, identity doesn't work too well definitions. I touched upon this in the previous post, but it's impossible to find something that is the definition of a person. Look at any person, and tell me if you can find something about them that is both unique to them and remains constant throughout their lives. There's no such thing. DNA doesn't work, because as I said before we don't consider identical twins to be the same person. Souls haven't been proven to exist, so don't bring that up either. Identity is, to quote myself by proxy through Shippy, a long chain of related links in which the first one may have nothing to do with the last one.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


So I was playing around with a character lately with a superpower that's described as "absorbing information from people around yourself and using it to adapt mind and body to the form best suited to the task at hand". Essentially, shape-shifting combined with a weird form of psychic powers that instantly learns skills from surrounding bystanders. Also, ridiculously overpowered, ultra Mary Sue/Gary Stu that comes from being skilled at quite literally everything, plus being able to use any other superpower. Terrible character to write a story for, clearly, but since nobody is going to read it, who cares?

Anyway, character (who shall henceforth be referred to as Shippy) lives in a world with multiple superpowered beings, and a sliding scale of heroism vs. villainy. Shippy spends most of the time fighting (perceived) villains under a multitude of different identities, and is in general one of the good guys. But, one of the few things all supers have in common is an intense aversion to "power collectors", or people with the ability to learn new powers, for the obvious reason that, left to their own devices, they become extremely dangerous demigods. Shippy takes the utmost care to hide zir ability from the rest of the world, which of course being able to change form and personality at will makes quite easier. Problem is, zie becomes completely unable to keep any sort of memento of who zie was before. Not recognisable appearance, scar, necklace, ring, anything, because any of those would allow tracking. Result: A person whose only claim to having been someone else before is memory, and since memory can easily be altered in this world, that's not much.

In a needlessly long internal monologue, Shippy analyses what it means to have an identity, concluding than in zir case the only constant is the ability to have no constant. And even that cannot be Shippy's defining feature, since other power collectors exist. Essentially, zie is not a single thing. Only a chain of vaguely connected someones, with no real defining feature to join them all. In the end, just to drive the point to the ground, zie finds another power collector, Saffy, and through the use of a variety of abilities make sure they both have the combined memories and abilities of each other.

Now I've already spoiled the ending, so I'm not going to write it. Wasn't planning on it, really. But, given all this, I ask myself and the hypothetical you who might be reading: There's two separate identities, with a distinct past in which one was Saffy and the other was Shippy*. At present point, that being story ending, does it makes sense to say they have a different identity?
I have some thoughts on that, but they'll have to wait until later.

A few notes:
Thanks to Shivahn for reminding me of this and for inspiring the follow-up, if I remember to write it.
Names were created solely for the purpose of this article, which is why they suck. I didn't exactly put a lot of thought into them.
And if you have to wonder why I keep using zie/zir, it's because that is the only set of epicene pronouns I can more or less stand to use. I should really start getting used to them, they fulfil a very obviously useful role, but they feel too alien to me.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Aniversario de un año!

[English version]

Sí, hace (poco más de) un año que empecé este blog ¡Comparemos expectativas y resultados!

Esperaba hacer múltiples posts sobre el Inteísmo. Resultó que uno solo fue suficiente. ¡Fracaso!
Esperaba no tener más lectores que amigos, familia, y un par de internetantes cualesquiera. ¿Éxito?
Esperaba abandonarlo todo después de un par de meses. Lo hice un par de veces, pero siempre vuelvo. ¡Superé expectativas!
Esperaba traducir todos los posts, siempre que fuera posible. Mi vagancia me superó. ¡Fracaso!
Esperaba usarlo para pseudo-filosofía y diatribas, en lugar de detalles sobre mi vida personal. ¡Éxito!

Dos fracasos, dos éxitos, y un sobre-éxito. Soy el amo de las bajas expectativas.

One year anniversary!

[Versión en castellano]

That's right, it's been (slightly over) a year since I started this blog. Lets compare expectations and results!
I expected to develop multiple posts on Untheism. Turns out I didn't, one was enough. Failure!
I expected not to have any readers other than a few friends, family, and the passing random intertuber. Success?
I expected to forget all about it a few months in. I do it from time to time, but I always come back. Exceeds expectations!
I expected to translate all posts whenever possible. My laziness got the best of me, lately. Failure!
I expected to use it for random philosophical musings and ranting, rather than details of my personal life. Success!

So 2 successes, 2 failures, and one over-success. I am the master of lowered expectations.