The Dragon's Teeth
Dreamed 1994/6/23 by Chris Wayan
I'm halfway through David Brin's Glory Season, a sort of gender ambitopia; his answer, I think, to Le Guin's Left Hand of Darkness, narrated by a native this time. It's set on Stratos, a peaceful world that's three-fourths women, where sex is seasonal (and largely downplayed), where large clans of clone-sisters dominate politics and economics, stifling innovation. It's a leisurely tale... like the society he describes.
Our hero, Maia, is curious about sex yet flustered when she faces sexual advances; she assumes men are simpler, more animal; she avoids intimacy with anyone but her sister, since genes are what matter; she has a weak sense of self, and weaker ambitions.
Takes a good hundred pages before I realize she's probably meant to seem alien to the average reader: a poster child for the damage bio- and social engineering can do. But I was raised in a feminist family surrounded by sisters; to me, Maia's quirks are so familiar, they're nearly invisible.
I find the book more educational tham mainstream "realism"--Brin's built, as an Einsteinian thought-experiment, the result of the antisexual brand of feminism my mom pushed, carried to its logical extreme: men as a suspect minority, peace as the ultimate value--above justice, progress or fun. We'll see if Brin's relentlessly logical mind can find a way for Maia to learn love and happiness and self-actualization in a society that doesn't much care...
As I read, I can feel my anima Silky peering from the dreamworld over my shoulder at the pages. She keeps muttering "But Maia... can't you tell a remarkable person when you meet one? Make friends with that girl! And what do things taste like, where are the colors, isn't anything pretty? And tell me who's cute! You don't really have an estrus cycle, you're just brainwashed! And if men scare you, try women! Find SOMEONE to hold you and pet you, it's GREAT..."
For some reason Maia on the page won't listen.
I'm in a theater on Stratos, standing a bright-lit stage--an oasis of light in darkness. I can't see the audience, though I sense it's there--and big.
I want to express my feelings by dancing. But that's not simple here--for the stage represents behavioral space! Each direction means an emotion or social principle--up might be happiness; stage left might be truth; backstage, freedom... On this stage, every step's a life decision! A motion towards an emotion.
And the stage isn't bare--I must dance around and over a jagged stretch of stone teeth, up to two feet high. Irregular as molars, and as hard. They're in my way, and too sharp to dance on--dragon's teeth! They angle across the stage, through the center--the area where the values I like are harmonized. They're blocking my access to balanced, centered behavior!
A dragon-jaw, emerging from the floor, forbidding moderation.
Unless... could I use them the way muscles use bones? Use them for anchoring, for leverage, in some strange, acrobatic dance I haven't mastered... bouncing off them? Swinging from them? Seems unlikely.
Unless they're hollow teeth. Do dragons have cavities? What if I could break inside them--enter their forbidden behavioral space! What secrets hide inside?
Why am I so sure they have secrets inside?
There's an uncomfortable message here. Those teeth in your way, those sharp, awkward, inaccessable spots in your behavioral space--your problem behaviors--are the place to go for leverage. Leverage for change.
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