soul whispers v3.0 // version:reflective

Until recently, when I referred to a continuum when talking about SBing and Multiplicity, I meant a continuum of individuality, of roundedness - from "masks" that are facets of the singlet to full, whole, separate individuals, with an infinite number of points inbetween encompassing, but not limited to, "soulpuppets", SoulBonds, midcontinuum... people (well, what do you call someone in a midcont system anyway? Midcontinuumite? Is that anything like Kryptonite? ^-^;), and the humble NPC. So just what is a NPC anyway? Sometimes called "fragments" in Multiple systems, these "non-player characters of the soul" are somewhat akin to soulpuppets; they are "cutout characters" that populate a person's or system's soulscape. In a movie, they would be the bit-parts; the pleasant girl behind the shop counter, the crossing guard, the irate driver. Yet NPCs aren't soulpuppets in that we don't "puppet" their lives; they simply live them out "behind the scenes", like the movie bit-parts, only being relevant to the "plot" when the main characters happen to stumble upon them. But this is real life - as messed-up as SBing and Multiplicity might seem to the majority of the "normal" (note heavy use of air quotes there) populace, it is not merely some figment of our imagination. However you want to say that these people came about, through "channeling" from alt-dimension storyworlds, through the "love and belief->soul" principle, through trauma or purely through natural circumstance like lefthandedness, they are real. They exist. And should we really be viewing real-life events from the biased perspective of the movie-director's camera - or the RPG writer's script?

Are the store assistant, the crossing guard, the driver, any less "real" or "three-dimensional" people just because we only see them on an occasional basis? Just because our only interactions with the girl in the store have been "Here's your change, have a nice day", does that really mean that this is all there is to her existence? That she has no life other than how we interact with her?

And to the age-old question: if a tree falls in a forest and nobody hears it, did it still fall?

It was a discussion at the Sword and Serpent MB that kicked off this train of thought in my head. One of the regular patrons mentioned that one of his SBs had fallen in love with a NPC that he hardly knew anything about, and he wanted to know how that could happen. SoulBonds aren't just flat, two-dimensional characters, so how could his fall in love with a cardboard cutout to whose name he had only appended the sketchiest of details? And it occured to me that it was possibly *him*, not his SB, who was seeing things in two dimensions. The less we know about a character, the less "fleshed-out" and subsequently "real" they appear to be, just like a car in the distance appears smaller, less detailed and generally less "real" than the car you drive to work every day. But could it not be the case that this NPC was, in fact, just as real and "detailed" a person as the SoulBond in question - just that the 'Bonder himself had only glimpsed him from a distance?

Is it the case that "fragments", "SoulBonds", "NPCs", "Multiples" - all of these are as real and whole as each other, and it is really the perpective of the person at the "front" which differs? Should the continuum not be one of "wholeness" or even "dissociation", but in fact association - that the further a person is dissociated or distanced from the other people within them, the less real they seem, meaning that those who are on equal terms with everyone in the system are those who are truly able to see and acknowledge what is there?

Needless to say, this brings up a few thorny issues. First, there are certain occurrences of plurality that, however way you slice it, are *not* real people. Are the "masks" all of us wear in everyday life, the serious mask of the business professional and the laid-back mask of the same man with his drinking buddies, really "separate people that we just refuse to acknowledge"? What about soulpuppets? These are characters with no consciousness or will of their own, no spiritual life, just one person's imagination manipulating them. If we start saying these too are real, how deep do we go? Soulpuppet rights? "But your honour, she forced me to have sex with Yuki... umm, Yukito-san! I didn't want to, honest!" In addtion, it borders on the trap which all of those on all sides of the community who are serious about their plurality least want to fall into; that of "[x] state of being is better/superior/more evolved than [y]". It would be churlish and unwise to go around saying "oh, SoulBonders are just people who are too ignorant to realise they're Multiple". SoulBonding, Multiplicity and everything in between are entirely different states of being for everyone - the old "ask 10 Multiple households for a definition of Multiplicity and you'll get 347 different answers" chestnut - and to say that everyone's SBs or fragments are just real people waiting to be discovered comes dangerously close to an attempt to define "one theory of plurality". I don't want to be seen as trying to do that.

However, for at least a fraction of the community, this is undoubtedly a theory that might be applicable. And if it is so, then the situation it throws up is still a tricky one. Those of us who were born singlets, or born believing we were so, like to think that we have control over what goes on in our own heads and bodies. Sure, we have SoulBonds, but at the end of the day they're just SoulBonds. They don't do or say anything that you don't know about. They aren't free to pop up at inopportune moments and take over your body. They don't leave you with the problem of equal rights, of whether these people deserve the right to lead equal and individual lives through the medium of the body, to hold down their own jobs, to have their own friends, to be their own people; of how you're going to explain to the rest of the world that hey, sometimes it's li'l ol' me up here and sometimes it's a twenty-foot humanoid dragon or a five-year-old catgirl who can only speak broken Cantonese and meow. To suddenly discover that there are other people in here, no, I mean there are really other people in here, is extremely disconcerting.

But then, I guess it's nothing other than what any awakening Multiple goes through.

The question is, where do we go from here?

~Riesz Fenrir, at 10:43 p.m. on July 21, 2002

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