ACH - Pandora


Who exactly is Pandora? She's from outside the Kesh, but seems to be a human. An observer. Is she like the Lady of Shallott in @RichardAbbott 's Half Sick of Shadows, spying on a world that isn't hers? Does she long to be a part of it? I didn't get that sense. Is she Le Guin? Or Le Guin's daughter? She's given quite a few interesting lines:

"The books are on the shelves, and all the electronic brains are full of memories... everything is in little bits." Does this mean discrete packets, or literally bits, as in 'bits and bytes'? Both?

"Many as we are, there's still too much to carry. We keep breeding to bear civilization forward, but they keep dying. There are not too many of them, only of us." Who is 'them' and who is 'us' in this context? Them being the Kesh, I assume. But 'us' seems to be other humans - outplanet humans? Not the City of Mind, since she seems to consider them to be 'other'.

"I have my own ideas about what's in the bottom of the box." Pandora's box is meant. Why is the land of the Kesh a pandora's box? What's in the bottom?

"No hurry, take your time. Here, take it, please. I give it to you, it's yours." Slow fiction?


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    I keep going back to the Pandora classic myth - which I am sure we are intended to by virtue of the name alone. It seems an odd allusion to me... an intrusion of a Mediterranean classical reference into a world with no other large-scale Old World mythos.

    It's probably worth putting the book in its historical context of origin - published 1985, over two decades before the first iPhone, and three before Alexa and similar AI assistants. So we should (I think) be careful of projecting too much contemporary reference into Pandora. That said, of course older writers had ideas of artificial companions - they go back in some form to Hephaestus in Greek myth, and Asimov's three laws of robotics go back to 1942. But context is important. No doubt the personas of my own sf will seem quaint and unrealistic in 30 or 40 years.

    Most of the content of the box was Bad Things... all the ills and ails of humanity. The last item - at the bottom of the box - was Hope, a personified quality which admits of all kinds of interpretation depending on circumstance. Is ULG saying that in her view, Hope has yet to be released into the world? Or that Hope is in fact still one of the ills and ails, so that we are still waiting to see what might offer relief? Or does she mean that the land of the Kesh, for all its apparent utopia, is still a symptom of the human problem? (This would be consistent with _The Dispossessed_ in which the apparently utopian anarchistic world of Anarres still has personal and social problems and struggles).

    I have to admit that Pandora as a figure in ACH perplexes me - I haven't read the appendices, do perhaps am lacking clues, but right now she remains a mystery.
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    I think she's le Guin's mouthpiece in a sort-of Socratic dialogue. I think she's there to embody the questions that we (20th or 21st century Westerners) would have of the Kesh, contrasting her thoughts and questions (that is, our thoughts and questions, or at least the questions that le Guin thinks we should have) with the thoughts and answers of the Kesh.

    I'm thinking about the dialogue in the section "Pandora converses with the archivist", and the story "A hole in the air". Both of them juxtapose Kesh and contemporary people, illustrating the gulf in understanding between the two.

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    I don't think Pandora is an observer.

    LeGuin says in Pandora Worries About What She Is Doing: The Pattern

    Pandora doesn't want to look ... She shuts her eyes, she doesn't want to see, she knows what she will see: Everything Under Control. The dolls' house. The dolls' country.

    Pandora rushes out of the observatory with her eyes shut, grabbing, grabbing with her hands.

    ... even if the pattern is incomplete (and the pattern is incomplete), let the mind draw its energy. Let the heart complete the pattern.

    Pandora is someone who opens a box and takes the things out, looking at them simply out of an insatiable curiosity, uncaring as to why they were put in the box in the first place. Pandora takes things that powerful people have boxed up and unboxes them, destroying both their order of and their control over the things. Pandora doesn't have a sense of consequence, and so is irresponsible.

    Pandora is a player playing, not a GM managing characters, PC or NPC.

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    If she’s not an observer, why is she in an observatory 🤨?!
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    Janitor perhaps.

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    @Apocryphal said:
    > If she’s not an observer, why is she in an observatory 🤨?!

    > @BarnerCobblewood said:
    > Janitor perhaps.

    PC found the observatory empty and decided to explore the contents, finding that they weren't of much immediate use after all?
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