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Teleportation Via Regret, Doubt, and Fear (Part 2)

I wrote about “Telportation via Fear and Doubt” a week or two ago, and got into a comment thread with “Al” who, by the way takes really interesting gnarly photos, like the one above. Rather than answering his latest comment in the thread, I’m making a post out of my answer.

For the sake of an interesting story, doubt and fear seem like good emotions for basing teleportation upon — exactly because they are normally viewed as negative things we want to get rid of. I think it’s kind of pleasing to have the powers come from familiar negative emotions rather than positive emotions or from intellectual feats. This way, there’s a reversal of expectations.

Something I learned from Sheckley is to have my characters be as fallible and screwed-up and neurotic and human as I know myself to be. If you’re not familiar with Sheckley, you might think of him as being a writer a little like Woody Allen. I’ve never liked the bombastic superhero kind of SF where the characters are conventionally heroic. I like my characters to be more realistically flawed, more human, or, as I often say, more transreal — see my “Transrealist Manifesto” off my writing page.

Given that the Sheck-man is the master, my first impulse was simply to make things easy for myself and copy him with no further thought. But, okay, with all this said, let me think a bit more deeply about the questions Al raises. After all, when I post these ideas of mine, I’m asking for suggestions, so I need to open my mind enough to actually think about intelligent responses. As opposed to reacting with defensiveness and blind fury (always my default response!) It’s painful work to actually listen to another mind…

Let’s see — my underlying scientific idea is that the ability to teleport results from a heightened ability to imagine other realities. Which emotions in fact involve this? Hmmm.

Regret involves imagining alternate pasts (like one where I attended or worked at Stanford!) If you want to flip this to a positive emotion, you might think of gratitude that things came out the way they did instead of in some other way. Like the gratitude you might have over that you were able to raise your children fairly well. You might even speak of this as pride, like a quiet pride in a job well done. But pride easily curdles into a negative, after all it’s a Deadly Sin.

Doubt involves imagining alternate present times and locations. In doubt, you wonder if everything you believe is wrong and the world is different than you imagined. Flipping to a positive, we could speak of humans have curiosity or adventurousness or enterprise.

Fear involves imagining bad alternate futures. Hope and yearning and longing are about positive futures. This said, yearning can be a negative in that it saps your appreciation of the present.

I think it’s subtly funny to have teleportation arise from what we (perhaps mistakenly) consider “bad” things about human personality. Regret about the past Doubt regarding the present, Fear regarding the future.

I’m well aware that these aren’t pleasant feelings. Meditation often involves trying not to think about the future, about the outer world, and about the past, that is, to stay away from regret, doubt, and fear. But it’s also true that, when meditating, you can learn to accept these negative emotions as an inevitable part of your psyche — but without letting them take over the driver’s seat.

If we wanted to speak only in terms of positive emotions, we might say that the ability to teleport arises from gratitude, curiosity, and hope. Instead of saying it comes from regret, doubt, and fear. To me the positive version seems duller to read about, too self-congratulatory. The quirkier, more perverse, negative formulation jolts you up and makes you think—the rah-rah “uplifting” version sound soporific, like a platitude, and may even provoke resentment, as in: “Why don’t I have all those good feelings?” Everyone can relate to negative feelings; they’re in some way more universal.

As I mentioned, I’m seeing a kind of transreal equivalence between teleportation and writing. And I’m thinking that if all I had were positive pleasant emotions, I probably wouldn’t be taking the trouble to write. It’s the negatives that get me moving.

A completely different positive emotional complex that I’m bringing into play here involves compassion, empathy, pity and love, all of which involve imagining the minds of other beings in the present. I may yet use these emotions in the book, but for some other superpower. Maybe I’ll use love to enable people to jump out of cosmos and into the land of the actual infinites, possibly to be featured in a PS3 called Transfinite.

Just for the sake of systemizing completeness, what might be the lower-order animal versions of the paired human past-present-future complexes of (Human negative) regret-doubt-fear or (Human positive) gratitude-curiosity-hope?

(Animal regret/gratitude.) Negative and positive versions of this that animals might share could simply be discontentment and contentment.

(Animal doubt/curiosity). With animal doubt, I’m thinking of an animal compulsively looking out of the burrow to see if an enemy is coming. And animal curiosity is inquisitiveness, like in restless foraging behavior and searching for mates.

(Animal fear/hope). I think maybe this is where greed fits in. Greed is a low-level desire relating to the future. Greed is a both a positive and negative, I think, depending on hard you push it. Greed bores me, it’s so first chakra, so, so … Wall Street.

Today’s pictures are mostly from a Big Basin hike, with a few from Stanford campus, where I was happy to see my first book for sale. Good old Dover Books. Usually they just publish dead people who are in the public domain, so when I wrote this first book, I used a somewhat old-timey-sounding form of my full name, “Rudolf v. B. Rucker.” A Dover editor stopped by our house in Geneseo, in upstate New York to have a look at me — imagine her surprise to find a twenty-nine-year-old hippie with hair down to his shoulders!

One more link, just for fun: psychic Ellie Crystal’s “Crystalinks” site advises how to develop telekinesis, that is, the ability to move objects other than yourself!

2 Responses to “Teleportation Via Regret, Doubt, and Fear (Part 2)”

  1. Al Says:

    Well said, Professor!

    “Anger is an energy.”
    – John Lydon, from the song ‘Rise.’)

  2. Steve H Says:

    Rudolf:
    (a) I think you’ve really hit it here – human emotion being the thing no other animal or intelligence can have. A drop of Sheckley in the mix! Maybe the Kang pusher has different emotions from a human, and can access places we can’t go and vice-versa?
    (b)You have accumulated a great store of wisdom in your life. Thanks for sharing.


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