Wednesday, 13 March 2013
"In the Earth-days since he renounced his species, Rorn had improved his command of Yonder [an alien language] until he could readily use it; so much does the removal of inward conflict do for the mind, and you may decide for yourself whether it's worth the price." (p. 97)
The narrator, Argens, has answered his own question for us. Humanity as it is currently constituted is rightly preferred to a mere "...removal of inner conflict..." that would be part and parcel of a loss of individual freedom. However, by meditation and psychological understanding, human beings, without any alien input, can work towards a resolution of inward conflict not negating but enhancing individual freedom (I think).
The novel is, we understand, part of Argens' autobiography and indeed, he is the first person narrator of all but three of the chapters. Chapters I, VIII and XIV, however, are narrated in the third person and from the alien viewpoint of ya-Kela - so these chapters are fictionalised either by Argens or by the omniscient narrator who is otherwise absent. In Chapter XIV, ya-Kela hears without understanding human conversation, which therefore is printed in italics. For example:
" 'Hugh,' said ya-Argens, 'I don't know whether to call you a hero or a devil.' " (p. 105)
I question whether ya-Kela would be able to discern and remember incomprehensible syllables.
Ya-Kela's people sit on their tails, like Anderson's Merseians, and the females are subordinate, as also among the Merseians, but the differences are greater.