[LMB] Villains

John Lennard john.c.lennard at gmail.com
Sat May 11 20:56:34 BST 2013

Megaera: But then
Ryoval is so horrible that I'm not sure there's enough explanation in the
universe for him.

John: Mmm. But in which universe? I tend to agree with you about the
problem of current human evil, though I understand what Matt says about
neurology &c., but the Vorkosiverse has some other possibilities.

I don't have a text to hand but Mark is certainly very clear about the
death of the body and the death of the brain in the skull, and who is to
say that the brain Mark drills was the one born in the body he kills?
Equally, who is to say what the experience of having one's brain (and by
Lois's rules, one's self/consciousness/whatever) transplanted does to it?

A displacement of affect concerning damage to the body and how that affects
mentation seems one reasonable symptom, and the most horrifying of Ryoval's
remarks (such as that about the other eye) embody such dysfunction. And
such a transplantee has already of necessity killed by proxy if not in
person and in very cold blood.

Add Jacksonian conditioning of the kind affecting those ruling houses or in
a position to consider seeking to do so. The Arquas are interesting here in
their attitudes to Erik, and in his attitudes, as well as their general and
familial culture. Now look to one end of the Bell Curve of psychological
responses to such an existence, magnified in this particular case by being
connected with two houses (Ryoval, Bharaputra) that are (or at least seem
to be) themselves at the extreme end of Jacksonian practice. They deal in
clone-murder/transplant, in made-to-order people, in individually targeted
bioweapons ; they must dispose of sentient and sapient beings regularly,
and be used to conducting experimentation up to and including vivisection
on them -- it's both the beancounter abstraction from reality and morality,
and the scientific coldness that denies the reality of suffering to
legitimate its practices.

Add being slapped down by Miles. Of all people.

Ryoval is beyond question on sick psychopathic ****, but within his
possible personal histories in the technohell of JW, I don't find his
behaviour to Mark incomprehensible as such.

John Lennard, MA DPhil. (Oxon.), MA (WU)

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