Human beings are monstrously complex critters, and I see no reason to assume that non-human intelligences would be any less complex (maybe more, but not less).
So what is it that makes a "soul-mate" -- the dimension that adds so much spice to the sex?
Does it take one dimension of connection between two people? Or two? Or a thousand? How many dimensions (as up/down + left-right + front-back make our usual 3 spacial dimensions) does it take to define an human being? Or believable alien we could relate to?
In mathematics, each variable makes a "dimension" or "axis" and mathematicians work in "n-dimensions" (as do chemists).
So human beings have to be considered to have a larger number of dimensions than space-time. (the 4-dimensional model of the universe).
I believe I mentioned in a previous post that string theory has led to the theory that there are 11 (not more, and not less, but exactly 11) alternate universes to our reality. (that's not proven; it's a theory).
So if there are 11 versions of "you" out there, each with who knows how many dimensions of measurement defining them, would you fall in love with "yourself" if you met "yourself"?
Would other versions of you be attractive to you?
Other versions of you would be about as close to you as you could ever get. Would they contain the makings of a "soul-mate?"
Somehow, I don't think so. We look for opposites, complements, recognizable pieces of ourselves that are missing -- not someone identical to ourself.
This begs the question of whether the other 11 dimensional yous out there share your soul, or have totally unique and different souls like other people do (theoretically!) Actually, there is a theory that a "soul" is really splintered into many parts, and our search for "the right person" is really the search for the other parts of ourselves.
So what is it we actually search for in a soul-mate, and how can this be depicted for us in a romance novel?
Some of you may have noticed that awe-struck.net (one of the premier e-book romance publishers) is now open for romance submissions in all kinds of sub-genres. Alas I don't have anything ready that resembles what they're looking for, and I have too many other deals cooking to focus on that market -- but some of you might. Go for it!
Because somewhere, some time, somebody is going to nail this "soul-mate" issue, and it could be you!
So what could make a good theory to explore in an alien-romance?
Well, the essence of story is CONFLICT -- and the "soul-mate" theory appears on the surface to be the quintessenital definition of "NO CONFLICT" relationship.
However, I pointed out above that very likely a "you" from one of the 10 other alternate universes wouldn't be likely to be your soul-mate. Though we yearn to team up with (not necessarily "marry" in the classic sense, but form a life-bond that can't be broken) someone we don't FIGHT with, what we actually do is pick someone we love to fight with.
So any soul-mate AR has to include some kind of conflict to fight about, something that threatens the relationship even though the relationship is unbreakable. That's what makes the best story! Why? Because in real life, that's the formula for the best marriages.
So what is it that makes for a great fight between soul-mates? What is the formula for creating the "fly in the ointment?"
Back to "dimensions" that define humans and our fictional aliens.
We don't really know how many independent variables it takes to create a human -- it could be n-dimensions (i.e. an infinitely large number or at least an indeterminately large number).
However, we have a working model that READERS respond to whether they are consciously aware of it or not. That is astrology where there are 10 clearly defined parameters to each personality. The shape of the life pattern that personality has to cope with is defined by 2 additional variables -- the ascendant and the MC (i.e. where on Earth you are born)
These 10 paramters (SUN, MOON, MERCURY, VENUS, MARS, JUPITER, SATURN, URANUS, NEPTUNE AND (despite the recent demotion to a non-planet) PLUTO) each are projected against an array of 12 other paramters (the signs of the zodiak) but those are systematically arrayed. And likewise the "planets" though they move, do not move "independently" -- but rather they move predictably and form well defined patterns with several patterns disallowed (you can't have a retrograde moon if you're born on Earth!)
So people are not random mixes of traits. And I submit that this non-randomness is what makes it possible to find and team up with a soul-mate.
If we use the model that astrology offers, we see that the "personality" traits are set at birth, and the ups and downs of life are set into a very specific pattern at birth. In many astrological models there is another dimension, another variable -- THE SOUL.
"You" aren't your birth chart. "You" aren't your life-pattern set by your birthtime. You are a SOUL trying to cope with either the tempting-to-laziness ease of your birth chart, or trying to battle the innate adversities, or trying to mature your soul to surmount all difficulties.
Your natal chart does not define you -- you define it. That's why the best astrologers have to ask so many questions about what you've already done with your life before venturing an analysis of what options you might have in front of you now.
There is a branch of astrology that deals exclusively with RELATIONSHIPS -- and though I'm no expert in it, I have delved into its mechanisms and assumptions. It really can describe relationships.
So what do we learn by examining dozens (hundreds!) of real-life existing relationship patterns - successful marriages, and mediocre, and burdensome, and disasterous marriages?)
We learn that in our real lives, "soul-mates" do exist though they rarely find each other. But even when they do -- there's always a fly in the ointment! Something they fight about -- something they're incompatible about.
A successful marriage isn't one without incompatibilities -- but rather contains two MATURE souls who have found appropriate coping mechanisms for dealing with a) their personality traits, and b) their life-pattern, as shown in their natal charts.
When two such mature souls relate to each other, understand each others' daily battles with temptations to laziness, soul-destroying terrors, high spiritual ambitions, or unbridled greeds, and understand the knife-edge on which each stands with respect to those battles, such a marriage will last and last, very likely for an eternity.
So what is the secret to the soul-mate marriage that lasts? What is the model we look to describe with our writer's craft and art?
Now we veer away from astrology into pop-psychology.
If you've read enough pop-psychology, you've encountered the concept of a person's psychological "defenses." These are the philosophies, actions, habits of thought or deed, or emotional armor reflected in body-armor, that allow a soul to cope with a natal chart and live a long, productive and satisfying life, with all the ups and downs of happiness that takes.
Defenses are the core of the soul's coping mechanism, and only some of them are unhealthy, life-stultifying, etc. And even if they are unhealthy, they MIGHT be optimizing that soul's existence in this life.
The immature souls seem to go through life chopping, hacking, whacking, and blasting their way through other people's defenses "for their own good." Forcing people to think about what they don't want to think about -- for their own reasons.
A prime example is the "female" focus on thinking about, dwelling on, and living in the emotional world -- insisting on verbalizing issues about Relationship. While the "male" is utterly averse to this kind of mental focus. (stipulating that "male" and "female" aspects are in every human).
Current pop-psychology (Oprah; Dr. Phil) seems focused on destroying these defenses, breaking down barriers, exposing private matters, confessing your feelings, and "being honest" in public about what happens in the bedroom.
Art, however, gains power from guarding privacy, maintaining psychological defenses. And AR is art, after all.
I submit that it is possible that the mature soul RESPECTS the coping mechanisms, the psychological defenses, of others, recognizing them for what they are, (optimizers that perhaps are expensive in terms of psychological health, but still necessary), and understanding the issues and territories they defend.
Think about the TV show, MONK. He's a crackerjack detective who goes to a shrink because of the percieved flaw of his obsessive-compulsive behaviors (which are taken to such an extreme as to be ridiculous). The show is based on the assumption that his O-C behaviors are a flaw.
Note also he's not married.
Suppose he met up with someone who could percieve the value in his O-C behavior? Who could respect the fence of ideas and assumptions (about cleanliness) that he puts up around himself? Someone in whom he could see some other set of defenses they used to balance the conflict between the nature of their souls - and the nature of their natal-chart?
Would that make the perfect soul-mate marriage for Monk?
If not, what would?
Can you think of some other character on TV to design a soul-mate for?
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
The Fly In The Ointment
Posted by Jacqueline Lichtenberg at 12:04 PM
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I don't like soul mates or life mates or an immortal love reincarnated that sometimes accompanies a vampire or were romance. The beauty of a romance, to me, is taking two people, who could be with anyone (and I don't believe there's just one person for each of us) and convincing the reader they belong together, not because it's fated, meant to be, they're the other half of each other's souls, but because they want to be.ReplyDelete
What could be better than that?