Monday, 25 August 2014

The Mystery In Eon

Greg Bear, Eon (London, 2002).

A personality or parts of it can be recorded and the recording may be active or inactive. Any personality comprises identifiable features like memory, thought patterns and skills plus one other element:

"'...the final impressed shape...'" (p. 428);
"'...a super-pattern which colors the entire psyche...'" (p. 429);
the unsynthesizable, ineffable "Mystery."

I question the claim that "Mystery" is a more precise term than "soul." Korzenowski, an important figure, had gone into City Memory - which I find unclear - and had placed partials of himself in different locations in order to supervise construction of the Axis City. His enemies assassinated him by purging his personality records but this did not destroy the partials which were retrieved by his supporters, lost but later refound. To resurrect Korzenowski, it is necessary to assemble his partials and add Mystery by imposing another personality pattern so that what is present is rejected, leaving only the Mystery. This does not harm the imposed pattern. Patricia Vasquez's pattern is suitable because she laid the theoretical foundations for Korzenowski's work and "'He was [her] greatest student.'" (p. 431)

Does this make sense? Would anyone's Mystery not suffice? Does theoretical work not belong among the thought patterns and skills which are differentiated from the Mystery? It sounds intuitively right that the sum of the parts of a personality is less than the whole. I think that what happened in evolution was that organismic sensitivity to environment alterations quantitatively increased until it was qualitatively transformed into conscious sensation. It is this qualitative transformation that is regarded as mysterious and has been reified as "soul."

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