Addenda to the owl melon post

Owl melons seem to appear more frequently among the Asian ruling caste, like how big-eye melons appear more frequently among the African ruling caste.

Asian_Melon

It doesn’t seem that these guys would follow the same personality patterns though (e.g. Alpha, not Sigma), except for the psychological bits deriving from the bulbhead like sensing the currents of fate.

John Ringo’s protagonist in the Paladin of Shadows series is a perfect representation of the white owl melon type, if you’re looking for more insight into their behavioral patterns.

Something particularly interesting is that Ghost’s ability to blend into his environment sounds strikingly like Ted Bundy’s similar ability:

Other significant obstacles for law enforcement were Bundy’s generic, essentially anonymous physical features,[278] and a curious chameleon-like ability to change his appearance almost at will.[279] Early on, police complained of the futility of showing his photograph to witnesses; he looked different in virtually every photo ever taken of him.[280] In person, “… his expression would so change his whole appearance that there were moments that you weren’t even sure you were looking at the same person”, said Stewart Hanson, Jr., the judge in the DaRonch trial. “He [was] really a changeling.”[281] Bundy was well aware of this unusual quality and he exploited it, using subtle modifications of facial hair or hairstyle to significantly alter his appearance as necessary.[282] He concealed his one distinctive identifying mark, a dark mole on his neck, with turtleneck shirts and sweaters.[283]

Wiki

N only = 2, but still worth mentioning. I used to think that the series was completely unrealistic, but nowadays I’m less sure. I wouldn’t have believed in the sexual secret societies either.

Another example in fiction is Kratman’s Carrera, but the personality is much less fleshed out.

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23 Responses to Addenda to the owl melon post

  1. podrag says:

    Well in the article I sent you remember how Popski talked rations out of the German depot commander? Chameleon not only shows a keen social understanding, subtlety and the ability to perform Jedi Mind Tricks but also a brazen confidence. It also fits with how fluffy owls fly silently.

    Mousey can’t see me! :p

  2. Tom Kratman says:

    That’s an interesting observation. What more about Carrera would you or someone else want to know, that isn’t revealed already by action and thought? Serious question.

    • Aeoli Pera says:

      Righto. Three caveats: 1) I’ve only read up through Lotus Eaters, 2) my memory is pretty bad and it often shows, 3) I’m obviously not your intended audience, because reading reviews has showed me that other people are picking up jokes and references that fly right over my head. Your intended audience seems to enjoy the Carrera series a great deal.

      According to my understanding of your intention in writing these books, you do an excellent job of “show, don’t tell”. Here’s what we’ve already observed about him in action: he’s ruthless, loyal, determined, and navigates brilliantly between technical and human factors. We’ve seen how loyalty is both a strength and a weakness.

      What I’d enjoy, and many of your readers probably would NOT enjoy, is to see inside his head a bit more. What we see are the problem statements and then the calculated solutions, but none of the in-between steps.

      Example:
      1) Carrera drops the nuke.
      2) Carrera finally breaks down from accumulated stress.

      Now, I can make some pretty good guesses about what led from 1 to 2, but to a large extent these are just guesses because his mind is alien to mine. I’m not sure how much of this stress is simply from physically pushing too hard (in that case, why the alcohol and sexual healing?), how much is from denying his humanity in order to be effective (does he even regard enemy populations that way?), how much is from the strain of good leadership, etc.

      I’d want to move from personality traits and abilities down into the more religious territory of deeply embedded values: what disgusts a person, what makes them angry or sad, how they cope with, express, or suppress these reactions, and so on. This is the stuff that deep, long human relationships are made of. You can tell a lot about a person just from their tastes, this is why people who are dating want to know what the other person likes and doesn’t like.

      I hope that helps, I’m out of time for now.

      • Tom Kratman says:

        Thanks.

        Some of that stress and collapse is at least foreshadowed; see, forex, his snapping at subordinates early on in Carnifex. I more or less mechanically went through it during one of the rewrites and put in some “show signs of stress and/or presage coming breakdown: here.”

        Some of the rest is possible and plausible, _but_…

        Carrera’s an occasionally charming monster. He’s not exactly a sociopath; rather, he’s a useful sociopath, which is to say not a sociopath at all, insofar as he’s perfectly capable of accepting that other human beings are creatures of moral worth, entitled to consideration. But he’s pretty restrictive about who he really believes is a human being, entitled to that consideration. One related historical example that comes to mind: Prior to Josephine’s affair with Captain Hypolyte Charles, Napoleon was an idealist in just about all ways. We can sense finer feelings in him. We can sense that what he’s doing is for the Revolution and for France. After the whore betrayed him, he’s a very different character; there are no finer feelings, just raw ambition and cynicism. As with Napoleon, I am not, myself, sure, that Carrera’s head has any of those things to explore.

        Another illustration: In Carnifex, while intervening for a price in Pashtia, his mind is at the same time racing ahead to what he already knows, against any evidence available to him, will be a war between him and his, versus the TU and the UEPF. It’s a major problem. He seems to think about it for all of thirty seconds and finds the solution, which the reader can only see as, “Oh, yeah, that would work.” That’s not a man with a lot of introspection to offer; that’s a man with a mind that works too quickly for articulation, driven and aided by very, _very_ good instincts.

        SO, again, thanks, and let me mull what I might be able to show, without having him do a complex mental monologue just before having his hair shorn and entering a monastery. (No, that’s not what’s going to happen.)

        • Aeoli Pera says:

          >Carrera’s an occasionally charming monster. He’s not exactly a sociopath; rather, he’s a useful sociopath, which is to say not a sociopath at all, insofar as he’s perfectly capable of accepting that other human beings are creatures of moral worth, entitled to consideration. But he’s pretty restrictive about who he really believes is a human being, entitled to that consideration.

          That sounds exactly right. This is why I say you should stay on the right side of these guys.

          >As with Napoleon, I am not, myself, sure, that Carrera’s head has any of those things to explore.

          Probably if the story had begun before, it would have. Maybe we can watch these things regrow?

          Napoleon is an excellent example of the archetype I’m describing. Fun fact, he was also a very skilled amateur mathematician. Very bright dude.

          >He seems to think about it for all of thirty seconds and finds the solution, which the reader can only see as, “Oh, yeah, that would work.” That’s not a man with a lot of introspection to offer; that’s a man with a mind that works too quickly for articulation, driven and aided by very, _very_ good instincts.
          SO, again, thanks, and let me mull what I might be able to show, without having him do a complex mental monologue just before having his hair shorn and entering a monastery. (No, that’s not what’s going to happen.)

          You’re welcome. It sounds like we are more or less agreed on the characterization, and if you decide to spend time and energy climbing this cliff face (either for personal growth or professional diligence) I wish you Godspeed.

    • Aeoli Pera says:

      Here’s a bit I wrote that does this well: https://aeolipera.wordpress.com/2016/02/23/some-near-future-psych-fiction/

      You can see how, to a large extent, this is just navel-gazing and masturbatory. So it may not be appropriate for your story or audience. But this is what I mean by “fleshing out” a personality.

      • Tom Kratman says:

        That’s not bad stuff, you know.

        But that also reminds me of a discussion with an Oxford PhD Brit friend of mine, deeply interesting in writing science fictional detective stories, and doing so, so far, rather well in my opinion. Things that work at the personal story level, 1930s-1950s detective stories, westerns revolving around one cowboy, and almost all chick-fic, don’t necessarily work when the scale moves upward a great deal or, when they do, are likely the result of a talent greater than mine.

        • Aeoli Pera says:

          >That’s not bad stuff, you know.

          Thank you :-).

          >Things that work at the personal story level, 1930s-1950s detective stories, westerns revolving around one cowboy, and almost all chick-fic, don’t necessarily work when the scale moves upward a great deal or, when they do, are likely the result of a talent greater than mine.

          By reputation Tolstoy did this pretty well. I hear people liked A Game of Thrones for this reason too but for me it was a painful slog.

          • Pellegri says:

            GoT suffers from too many viewpoints and Rape-Rape straight up murdering the targets of our hard-won emotional intimacy.

            If I’m going to sit down and get comfy in a protagonist’s head, you can’t off him in the first book, and you can’t give me 31 of the damned things in one book and expect my capacity for engagement to keep up. (Also it helps to not make 29 of the 31 awful human beings that also aren’t even charming. Severian in Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun is as bad as a Rape-Rape protagonist right down to the rape rape, but he’s charming, which made me not notice that on the first read-through.

            This may also make me an awful human being.)

            • Tom Kratman says:

              I do think he overdoes it, yes, but it’s rather important that the reader never be sure any particular character, except maybe the protagonist, is safe. To make that so, it’s necessary to kill off one or two now and then.

            • Pellegri says:

              This is true, and he does achieve that effect effortlessly. As you say, though, he overdoes it.

              Although interestingly, so does Stephen King and it’s not nearly so obnoxious (I’m thinking here of Under the Dome and perhaps The Talisman though Talisman has many fewer viewpoint characters). Perhaps because King kills his actual protagonists (i.e. the ones actually worth empathizing with) much less frequently than he’ll jump inside an antagonist’s head prior to delivering them to their gruesome ends.

              Alternately, it could be a function of genre expectations. Would Ned Stark’s death have been such a shock if people had gone in with the “no one is safe” expectation that’s applied to horror?

            • Tom Kratman says:

              Personally, I try to limit myself to one sympathetic / POV character death per 100000 words. Sometimes it’s a bit more, sometimes a bit less. Sometimes it’s a bit less but I’ll add in something horrifying – including the occasional rape or gang rape, though I find those very difficult to write – inflicted on someone else who really doesn’t deserve it.

              It’s a bit like trading queens in chess; if you’re not prepared to, or to kill off a major character, in fiction, you become predictable, because timid, and lose the initiative.

          • Pellegri says:

            Tolstoy, though. Got to go back to reading Tolstoy.

  3. Mycroft Jones says:

    Aeoli, you on Skype?

    • Aeoli Pera says:

      No, I’ve been doing a very poor job of logging in and out lately. This is a recurring problem. Sometimes I forget to log in for days at a time, and then when I do I forget to log out for a few more days.

  4. 1. I am Asian, and I do not see many Owls among the ruling caste. Except perhaps Xi Jinping
    2. Ted Bundy looks more like MT than Owl MM. His lower face looks quite typical Thallish.

    • Aeoli Pera says:

      >1. I am Asian, and I do not see many Owls among the ruling caste. Except perhaps Xi Jinping

      Good to know because I could be entirely wrong on the entire business. We’re out on a limb even more than usual.

      >2. Ted Bundy looks more like MT than Owl MM. His lower face looks quite typical Thallish.

      Here I disagree. His facial shape looks like what we’d call a “progressive cro magnon”, i.e. a high-functioning white person. Bob Saget with a history of childhood abuse. But he’s deviated toward the owl/MT phrenology, and these archetypes are not strictly separated (maybe they can’t be). Except for the psychological artifacts of childhood abuse he’s an exemplar of this cognitive style. So figure maybe a 0.5-0.7 correlation between the two things, and figure he’s an outlier on the cognitive axis but not so exceptional on the phrenology axis.

  5. Also, what is happenning to the altrugenics forum and koanicsoul.com? Did Koanic take it down, and do you know the reason behind it?

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