Magic as advanced technology

Ika blake at
Thu Sep 16 08:22:39 EDT 2004

Beck wrote:

>>Oh dear, now I've put a toe in the water I suddenly want to dive right
>> in!

<waves> Hello!

>>It reminds me, circuitously, of something I saw recently saying that
>> people
>>with disabled social skills, such as autistics, regard the degree of
>>perceptiveness that other people show in normal conversations as
>> something
>>akin to magical. This makes me wonder whether it wouldn't be feasible for
>>some people to have extra sensitivity at the other end of the spectrum -

This reminded me of a post on the blog of a friend of mine suggesting a
very similar thing (if people can be on the 'autistic' end of the
spectrum, other people would be on the 'anti-autistic' or empathic end):

(My gf is on the empathic end of the spectrum and had a difficult time
until she learned how to shield, so maybe for *her*, autism - the ability
to 'block' perceptions/impressions of other people's emotions - would be
the magical skill. Which leads back to Power of Three and the way all
three peoples have 'magical' powers from someone else's point of view...)

And Minnow wrote:

> An awful lot of people in fiction have a wonderful way of being able to
> read not just facial expressions but the *eyes* of those with whom they
> are
> conversing.

(I think 'eyes' includes 'the area around the eyes', doesn't it? Where it
isn't actually shorthand/metaphor, as someone else suggested, for the
whole facial expression... I think there's a Latin or Greek word which
means both 'eyes' and 'face'... Oh no, I'm thinking of 'os', which is both
'mouth' and 'face'. So presumably in Latin literature there are a lot of
people with the magical ability to read emotion out of the set of a

Ahem. What I was thinking is that this shows up an awful lot particularly
in fanfiction (for visual sources, ie TV/film), where it makes more sense
to me, as what it's actually doing is offering a description of a
particular facial expression known to both author and reader *and*
offering an interpretation of it.

It's also probably one of those things that's really satisfying to write
(if you have a very clear picture of the character in your head, you can
be delighted to have conveyed it exactly right) and not so much fun to
read (since the reader doesn't have the picture to compare it to. Except
in fanfiction, where I love detailed descriptions of facial expression
with annotations on the probable emotional state underlying it...)

Love, Ika

"He had embarked upon a death wish-fulfilment roller coaster"
- Ruth Rendell, Diamond Dagger Award winner
To unsubscribe, email dwj-request at with the body "unsubscribe".
Visit the archives at

More information about the Dwj mailing list