Jan 27, 2012
A short science-fictional scene I just wrote, after reading about some real and actual scientific research. I'd love to turn this, or something like it, into an actual scene in Dee's life story, I just can't think of a good enough story to insert it in, and so I present it on its own for your amusement, even if it does mean I'm likely to lose more karma than I gained from my last post...
Not your grandfather's science fiction.
A scene from Dee's life
We join our heroine, Dee, and her plucky-yet-sarcastic sidekick holed up in a hotel room.
"Well, this is another fine mess you've gotten us into. Got any great ideas for getting us out of it?"
"No - but I know how to have one. Since I lost my visor and vest, including my nootropics and transcranial stimulator... I'm going to need a syringe, sixty millilitres of icewater, a barf bag, and a video camera."
"I don't know what you're planning, but I'm not sure I want to have any part in it."
"Start MacGuyvering as much as we can now from the mini-bar, I'll explain as we go. Without a camera, and with our time pressure, I'm going to need your help to get this to work, and you need to understand some of this or else you'll be really confused later. Physically, all I'm going to do is squirt water into my left ear."
"... and this will help us, how exactly?"
"By shocking my vestibular system, which causes all sorts of interesting effects. One of the unfortunate ones is that when done right, it induces immediate vomiting."
"Yes, well, that's just a side-effect. The main point is... well, really complicated. In layman's terms, there's a part of the brain that's responsible for triggering the creation of profound, revolutionary ideas, and another part that makes you create rationalizations to explain away just about anything, and usually, these two parts of the brain kind of balance each other out. This vestibular trick happens to hyper-stimulate the revolutionary part for about ten minutes, allowing me to realize things I normally wouldn't, and to see them as being obvious that I don't know why I didn't think of them before."
"well... okay, even if that's so, why haven't I seen you do it before?"
"For one, I don't want to risk some sort of long-term adaptation which might reduce its effect. But there's more complications to it than that."
"Of course there are."
"The thing is, after it's been hyper-stimulated, the revolutionary part gets tuckered out, and then the rationalizing part effectively kicks into overdrive - and I pretty much forget everything I thought of during those ten minutes, and even crazier-sounding, I won't be able to accept the idea that I said any of what I said. I literally won't believe that those ideas came from my mouth."
"'Crazier-sounding' sounds right."
"Which is why I'm going to need you to remember whatever it is I come up with - and then tell me what the best ideas were, but not tell me that I came up with them. At least until my brain's gotten back into balance again. I'm now precommitting myself to do whatever it is you tell me to do - even if I don't understand it, even if I think it's a bad or stupid or useless idea. Do you think you can handle that level of responsibility?"
"I... think so. And this really works? How the cuss did you ever come up with this, anyway?"
"I once noticed that when I was in a certain state of mind, my head kept twitching to the left every time I thought of something, showing there was a link between idea-generation and the vestibular system. Later I read up about some experiments with people with anosognosia, people who aren't aware of being paralyzed or blind... are you done with that straw yet?"
"As much as I'll ever be, I guess."
"Alright. Hand me the bucket, and squirt the water in my ear - my left ear. It only works in the left ear. Except for left-handed people."
"I'm beginning to wonder if it's just the idea that's crazy."
"We'll soon find out. Remember, being the only right person in the room doesn't mean you feel like the cool guy wearing black, it feels like you're the only one wearing a clown suit. I did that once, just to try. Now, here we <hralph!>"