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A thought

I'm watching Star Trek: the Original Series, and it's on the episode featuring the Medusans, a race of artists who create sublime beauty but who are themselves impossible to look at by a human - humans go insane at the sight of them. This is the first time I've seen this episode, but I've heard of the Medusans before; they featured in a Star Trek: TNG novel. Well, only a passing reference; the plot had the crew of the Enterprise trying to study what ended up being an art museum for an apparently extinct race whose art could disorient people and even drive them insane if they were subject to it for too long. I believe only Data could view it without going insane, but needed adjustments made to his perception to keep him from getting confused and disoriented while over there.

I find this a fascinating idea, races so different from anything we can imagine that the colors, planes, perspectives, shapes, and so on of their essence and even their art that humans and similar beings would get physically ill and even go mad as their minds tried fruitlessly to process the information it was receiving. I think it may, in some part, be what Lovecraft was trying for when he was talking about "the many-angled ones." Not ugly, just so vastly different from us that our brains reel at the sight of them and can't even process the data. It makes sense; after all, some of those optical illusions can make people slightly ill. And there's this electronic 3-D ad thingy at FredMeyer's that I can't look at directly without feeling like I have to puke. Then, too, there's a video game I heard of that "hacks" one's proprioception, thus causing motion sickness when things on the screen move in certain ways.

Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
christinaathena
Mar. 24th, 2009 05:42 am (UTC)
I rather suspect we'd be more likely to find alien art boring or just plain weird or perhaps ugly* than maddening. That's certainly how people tend to respond to art or literature from other human societies.

*Assuming we even viewed it as art, of course. It might well require sensory perceptions that we lack. I could imagine a species with extremely sensitive smell, for example, using scent-based art that we'd be unable to detect. Or, relating to ysabetwordsmith's recent entry, using colors we can't view. Or perhaps a species that uses echolation might use objects made of multiple materials, where the art comes from the different ways that their sound-beams reflect and refract through the material.
fayanora
Mar. 24th, 2009 10:46 pm (UTC)
The possibilities are limitless. :-)
consortofvenus
Mar. 26th, 2009 02:08 pm (UTC)
It sounds like a fascinating story like. What's the name of the book?
fayanora
Mar. 27th, 2009 12:07 am (UTC)
That is a very good question. I don't remember.
fayanora
Mar. 27th, 2009 12:14 am (UTC)
I just asked whatwasthatbook, and so I shall find out as soon as someone replies. (The entry has to be approved first. Moderated community.)
achille_girard
Mar. 27th, 2009 02:16 am (UTC)
*nod*

(Note: because you're probably confused, this is my RPG journal).
fayanora
Mar. 27th, 2009 02:54 am (UTC)
Ah.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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