Feb. 27th, 2015

joshwriting: (Default)
Two women walked along a rutted road between a couple villages, Mirabel and Jinny. Their destination was not particularly important to them on this occasion, so there was neither hurry nor purpose in their steps. They seemed as if they were almost yoked together as a team, so in step was their progress. But one of them was quite focused on the world around them, while the other seemed distracted. Mirabel is a human, while her companion is a marit – a kind of djinn. The story of their meeting is told elsewhere.

This is an approximation of Jinny’s thoughts:
They’d been trying to understand the world of humans for a long time – for about as long as humans had been stumbling around in the forests and streams and meadows and mountains. Dryads, naiads, sylphs… it didn’t matter which of the fey folks to whom you spoke, the eventually the question came up: how is it that humans use reason rather than intuition?

You knew what you were supposed to do and when and how you were supposed to do it when the circumstance came up. None of this careful planning, measuring, calculating stuff of which the humans seemed so fond – or without which the humans seemed so lost! Sometimes they would hide one of their tools just to watch them as they at first floundered, but then found other ways to recreate the kind of measuring device they’d planned on using to start with. It could delay them hours or even days to be so deprived and their initial reactions were often so flailing that it was hard to stay out of their way, but ultimately most of them could discover another means to their ends.

Jinny had wondered this, if not so clearly, for several hundred years before she become friends with Mirabel. Friends! Just thinking the word brought a broad grin to the marit’s face and a bounce to her step – not that her step needed much bounce the bulk of the time, as floating was easier when they were alone.

“What mischief are you up to this time, Jinny?” The voice conveyed a tone of mild annoyance, but Jinny knew better. She laughed. Of course she knew better! Mirabel’s wish to be understood had been open-ended, if not consciously so. "I wish you could understand my point of view!" And so she did and so she does.

“I? Whatever would give you the idea that I am up to mischief?”

“That smile always means mischief. Do you deny it?”

“No, no. You have a good point. Do you wish that I not give away my mischievous intentions so readily?”

It was Mirabel’s turn to laugh. “I’m pretty sure that we have settled that whole wishing thing once and for all already – but even if we hadn’t, this would not be the sort of thing to spend… to waste a wish upon. Besides, if you don’t give me broad hints like that, this relationship would be far too imbalanced.

“So? What mischief?!” She plopped herself down under a tree by the side of the road they were traveling along and Jinny joined her.

“This time around, I am thinking of the entire world of magic critters. … Oh, right – we haven’t talked about those before, have we? I’m sorry! Would you prefer the slow or… okay, the hard and fast version it is.

“You know how you spent your entire life until meeting me knowing that there was no such thing as magic?”

Cautiously, Mirabel mumbled agreement.

“Well… it’s like this: You were not only wrong about magic on a small level, but on a large level. About 80% of what humans have believed about magic creatures is simply true. Flying horses; unicorns, dragons of all sizes and colors and abilities; living beings who are connected to the waters, mountains, trees, etc. – all of them are real. About the only thing we have not found are humans who can do magic themselves.”

Mirabel’s eyes bulged. This was a bit much for her to swallow quickly and easily, no matter how practical she was – or because she was so practical, perhaps.

“Wait. All of them? Really?”

“Pretty much. The places that it breaks down are when your stories talk about half-human, half-animal combinations. No mermaids, no centaurs, etc. Some of the multi-animal ones are a bit far-fetched even for magic, too, though we love to read about them and consider how they might come into being. We even know a couple ways, but none has been tried yet. Not really our kind of curiosity.”

“How do you figure such things out?”

“There are two different things that go into that question. Your implication is one of a deductive process. We don’t do that. When we consider how they might come into being, it is more a wondering if there is a natural process that might occur which would produce such an outcome. This is purely conjecture, as our reasoning is not well suited to… well, reasoning!

“If instead, we wonder how we might create such a thing, for those of us who can, we just know. And for those of us who can’t, well, we know that just as surely. It’s really an all or nothing kind of deal.”

“Hmm… give me a minute to process. And do we have any food left in our bags?” Jinny opened up a sack and pulled out a pair of sandwiches and a bottle to share, with a wink to Mirabel’s raised eyebrow.

“Bought them two towns ago.”

“Of course... So, there is the question, I suppose. You don’t seem to have any difficulty reasoning whatsoever, Jinny! What gives?”

“It’s all your fault, you know. Once you wished for me to understand your point of view, I had to reason whether I could or not! Your highly structured rational considerations required me to almost reconstruct my mind (without my actively doing anything, you understand) to be able to fit your wish. I am pretty sure I am the first reasoning magic user in living memory and quite possibly far longer. I can deduce. I can induce. There is really only one skill that I am pretty sure you have that I have not yet grasped, largely because you apparently have not needed it.”

“I’ll bite – what would that be?”

“Scientific/mathematical thinking. I feel them at the borders of your ideas, but you have not actively engaged in them so they are still veiled to me.”

Mirabel giggled. “And there is that deductive reasoning you were just talking about! You felt something and analyzed both what it was and why it was, but have not yet got a way to conquer it.”

“And that brings us back full circle to my mischievous thought! How might I introduce deductive reasoning or even mathematical reasoning to a people who do not naturally do such things? And in contrast with my general magical intuition, I have neither an instant answer nor a conviction that such a thing is beyond me. This suggests that while there may be a solution, it is not a magic-based response to the problem.

“By the way, have I told you what a grand time I am having being able to work through all this this way? It’s so much fun!” The two of them fell together laughing joyfully.

Wiping a few tears away, Mirabel replied “Oh, once or twice, perhaps. About as often, I guess, as I have told you how glad I am to have you in my life, even if you did come from a lamp!” It was said with a big smile. “So, let’s explore how you might go about this mischief, even if you decide not to do it.”

The two finished their meal and resumed their journey.

They banged ideas around for a while. As they talked, it became clearer to Mirabel that even with her reasoning ability Jinny had no real notion of how her population had gotten to be who they were, what the process might have been. To Mirabel, though, it seemed sort of obvious once the question was examined – it was organic. There was no planned progression, just a set of steps that happened and were then done. No conscious intention to expand locales or cross rivers until a need came upon them. So, the very idea of intentionally introducing a skill to the fey was beyond them!

As ever, with Mirabel’s thoughts came Jinny’s comprehension. (“And was that convenient!” thought Mirabel.) “So, if we introduce something that is at the very beginning of the idea of reasoning, that might allow it over time to develop into full deductive and inductive thought!” Jinny did a little jig in the road.

“Jinny – this is your starting point for them.”

And Mirabel drew in the dirt of the road

1 + 1 = 2


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