Monday, June 14, 2010

Theodore Sturgeon's book "More Than Human" tells about nine people who have had horrible childhoods and who aren't eager to connect with other human beings being drawn together and liking the contact.

Eight of the nine have psychic powers. Gradually, they notice that they are are to work together to make things better, that they are as a group working together and liking each other and being unusually talented, the next stage of evolution.

They notice that such a united talented entity could do good or bad and that the function of the one among them who is not psychically talented is to be the conscience.

Theodore Sturgeon is science fiction/fantasy writer who by nature rights about conditions that don't exist in the world as we now know it. When I read "More Than Human," all the horrible childhoods and all the psychic powers didn't strike me in a science fiction/fantasy way--they seemed realistic.

What felt not realistic was nine. "Nine!" I kept muttering in disbelief. Two, or three, or four seems like a lot for that deep, powerful connection, but nine?

In "More Than Human," it's nine, and it works.

Nine is a powerful number in a base ten society. So is ten.

The theatre director Peter Brooks in his book "The Empty Space" talks about an exercise for actors working together. Take two lines of poetry like "To be or not to be. That is the question." and assign one word to each of ten actors.

"The actors stand in a closed circle and endeavour to play the words one after the other, trying to produce a living phrase. This is so difficul that it instantly reveals even to the most unconvinced actor how closed and insensitive he is to his neighbour. When after long work the sentence suddenly flows, a thrilling freedom is experienced by everyone. They see in a flash the possibility of group playing, and the obstacles to it."

"Group playing, and the obstacles to it" reminds me of the reporter asking Gandhi what he thought of Western civilization and Gandhi saying he thought it would be a good idea.