Sunday, 28 September 2014
I am trying to imagine being a Didonian:
my "body" comprises three temporarily linked animals, A, B and C, of different species;
I exist as a discrete entity only when A, B and C are temporarily linked;
between them, when they are not linked, these three animals carry all my memories and skills but in latent form;
when A and B instead link with D, it is as if I have come into existence but one third of my memories have been replaced by D's memories of every other three-way linkage that it has been in;
when A links with D and E, it is as if two thirds of my memories have been replaced or as if another entity has had one third of heesh's memories replaced by some of mine;
that other entity could be DEF or DEG etc;
when A dies, B, C, D, E etc retain their memories of linkages with A;
thus, other entities can remember having been me;
when A, B and C are all dead, other entities will remember having been in linkages with them;
thus, memories of an entity persist long after it has ceased to be possible to assemble that entity but the memories of memories fade with time.
I started out by imagining an individual self-consciousness, then trisecting it, but the Didonian starting point is the separate species linking together so that experienced "thirds" can share their experience with new members that have not linked before. These entities directly experience both the gradual fading of a sense of identity based on accumulated memories and the on-going history of their community. Thus, they cannot possibly imagine that each entity corresponds to a discrete soul that preexisted embodiment or reincarnates or survives as a unit in another realm after the cessation of its physical embodiment. Their supreme aim is universal oneness, not individual survival.
In The Rebel Worlds as in several other works, Poul Anderson has successfully imagined a genuinely alien mode of consciousness.