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By Samuel Stoddard

November 1999

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Tuesday, November 30, 1999

On September 21, 1999 -- not so long ago, really -- I started up a contest in the Message Forum. Whichever two Message Forum regulars became engaged to be married first would win the contest. The prize? The title of Official RinkWorks Couple and a signed bathmat. Here's the original post.

I didn't expect anyone would ever claim the prize, much less so soon, but the Message Forum's Darien and Minamoon did so last night. I'm a little stunned, but hey, now I can use the tagline "Find RinkWorks, find love" to advertise this site and give supportive evidence. Is it time to open a RinkWorks dating service?

At any rate, congratulations, Darien and Minamoon, and best wishes to both of you.

Monday, November 29, 1999

And we're back. The main RinkWorks page looks a little different, if you hadn't noticed. It's an experiment; I'm mostly, but not entirely, sure that this is an improvement over how the front page was previously. Lots of you had been asking for some kind of indication on the main page which features had been updated recently -- now you've got it. For new readers, I think it will be more readily apparent that RinkWorks is a dynamic, frequently updated site, although there is the concern that now it may be a little harder for new readers to get a grasp of what constitutes the entirety of "RinkWorks" quickly.

But I think this is a step in the right direction. There will undoubtedly be tweaks to the front page in the days and weeks to come -- I'm going to move the Reader Poll question further down the page, for one thing -- but I think I'm mostly where I wanted to be way back when I first put up the side bar. Comments are welcome, of course.

Wednesday, November 24, 1999

It's the day before Thanksgiving, here in the United States. I'll be away from this afternoon until Sunday, so RinkWorks will be taking a little break from updates and such. Happy Thanksgiving, all!

Monday, November 22, 1999

RinkChat has been up for three days, now, and I'm a little scared of it. It appears I've become addicted to my own creation. Yesterday I had the window open almost the whole time I was designing new logos for the site: the new logo for this journal is one of the eight I made yesterday (seven for features of RinkWorks that didn't used to have their own logos; one for an upcoming feature). I think things look a lot better now, and I've only got three logos to go before this particular task is done.

Saturday, November 20, 1999

Ah, sweet weekend.

To wrap up the clone discussion we've had here (scroll down to November 4th, new readers), I have one final letter to print. This was one of the first letters sent to me on the subject, but I held it back because it spoke of clones in a different context than I was. The following letter refers to real clones: what can be done with today's technology and has been done with other animals.

Ralph, I couldn't have said it better.

Wednesday, November 17, 1999

More on single identity clones (new readers, start at November 4th's journal entry and work backwards):

The next journal entry will be a final wrap up for this topic.

Friday, November 12, 1999

The mail on this topic (it started on November 4th in this journal; scroll down, new readers) has slowed, so I'm going to post what those have sent me on the topic of multiple bodied individuals up to this point and put a close to the discussion.

So far, the responses has been quite negative, and understandably so. But here's someone who acknowledges the negatives but discusses the positives:

Nope, that's not it, but it's close. More to come.

Tuesday, November 9, 1999

David J. Parker, on clones, continuing the discussion from last November 4th (scroll down, new readers):

So there's another personal response to such a scenario: an outright rejection of the scenario. And depending on the way this "two bodied person" thing worked, that might even be the best functional solution: so what if you're the same person; treat each other like twins anyway. That brings up the question of what makes two clones that share the same personal identity different from a conventional clone or twin relationship in the first place. I intentionally left that open, and Dave wasn't the only one to pick me up on it. You're all right: all of what I have said on this subject, at various times, probably isn't logically consistent -- but my question is intentionally open-ended, and there is a great deal of unspecified information that would be required to decide definitively how you would act. Dave asserts that unless there was a stronger natural connection, the distinction between "two yous" and simply "clones" is not rational. So what does it mean to share a soul? What if there were, in fact, a telepathic connection between the two yous? What if spiritual pain inflicted on one would reflect in the other?

If two bodies shared a soul and identity, I would think that would be the case. Physical pain wouldn't be shared, because physical pain is a function of the mechanical and electrical processes of the body, and there are two bodies that probably wouldn't be in tight communication. (But who knows? What if feeling pain, physical or not, hit the soul, and not just centers of the physical brain?) But what about emotional or spiritual pain? Were that shared, it raises whole new questions. You couldn't get angry at your other being, lest you be wounded by the heat of your own wrath. If you cut one of you away from friends and family, would you feel the turmoil in the ostracized half, or would that half feel the fulfillment of the company kept by the other? Or would it be a paradoxical mix of the two feelings at once? Human emotions are certainly complicated enough to accommodate such a mix: often one emotion will dominate my spirit, but rarely if ever do I only experience one emotion at a time.

That kind of connection, I think, would change the answers to my question around completely. It may mean that the only way you could be happy is to accept "each other" (for a rejection of one by the other would surely wound both) as both you and learn to live a single life together. Then again, maybe it means there's an opportunity to live two lives -- none among us are ever permitted that particular luxury -- and each "half" would part ways and seek their own lives, despite the fact that spiritual happiness could only come to either if it came to both.

Dave also comments on legal issues that have other ramifications that probably affect most views on the subject: what if the law recognized the "two" of you as a single individual? By extension, that means society would too -- your friends and most likely your family. Even if you could live with yourself, could they live with you? Is one half guilty if the other does something wrong? All good food for thought.

The ideas are flying fast and furious; not all of them make sense in conjunction with each other, but that's ok. Keep them coming.

Monday, November 8, 1999

Continuing the thread about clones started on November 4th (scroll down, new readers), another reader response:

Dracimas' letter was written before Friday's journal entry, where I clarified exactly what I was supposing -- where there could be no distinction between the "original" you and the clone, and that neither has more right than the other to be you. I emailed Dracimas about it, and his response to that is as follows:

I can certainly see how the same issues Dracimas brings up pose a problem in either situation. How about you? Would your personality be able to live with two of you? Could you view something your double does as something that happens to you, and take it that way, or would you be jealous of yourself? Could you work together and function in a single life, or would you always be competing with yourself? Would you be shy bringing private sides of who you are out into the open with your double, given that, after all, your double is you too and logically it need be no more difficult than admitting these things to yourself? Why are we afraid to share private information? Fear of betrayal? But why would one part of you betray the other? Anything you do to betray your other half, by definition, just hurts you.

It's all a matter of perspective and whether the perception of the world we have grown up with could be skewed to accommodate this new aspect of reality. Send me more thoughts.

Friday, November 5, 1999

The mail is starting to flow in about yesterdays proposed discussion topic, and I'm excited by the number of thoughtful and insightful responses. Keep them coming!

Because of the length of each one, I will be posting a response or two each day until the discussion dwindles, rather than listing a bunch of responses all at once, as I have done in the past.

There certainly are a lot of questions to be answered; I'm thinking more and more that an especially insightful author or screenwriter could make a truly remarkable character study based on this bizarre premise.

I'm not so sure you would both say the same things at the same time, however; whenever it is that you become split into two bodies, you would share memories and experiences and expertise, but from then on, your experiences would differ (though admittedly not greatly, as you would still be leading the same life).

Regarding birthdays, the date of cloning may well be observed, but remember that there is no distinction between one you and the other you. Unlike clones that could actually be created with today's technology, the type of cloning I'm speaking of is where there is no distinction between one you and the other you. "Which is the real me?" would be a nonsensical question to ask. You would both have an equal right to be you and therefore both hold to your original, true birthdate. Separate rooms sounds like the sleeping arrangement you'd decide upon, but neither one of you would have more or less of an authoritative claim on your original room than the other: you'd have to decide who gets to sleep where somehow. A flip of the coin would work; holding out for the other to relinquish the room by choice (whichever one was most tired and irritable at the time, probably) is another. I'm sure there are other ways to solve the problem, but I'm not so much interested in how it can be solved as how you would solve it.

At any rate, and excellent answer, exactly the kind of thing I was looking for, and here's another to round out today's journal entry:

Another good (and humorous) response. Of course, losing your sense of individuality would be a purely psychological perception, as you, the individual, would refer to both of you, a divided whole -- but then, one's sense of individuality is a purely psychological perception anyway, is it not? And therefore I can certainly see how that would be a very real danger -- you'd have to remind yourself constantly that regardless of appearances, that other person you see is not actually another person but you. Over time, it may, depending on the individual, be too much to handle.

Whoa, deep, man.

Thursday, November 4, 1999

I am writing in this journal today to commemorate a very special occasion, namely the occasion of not having written in this journal for a while. I'm also bored out of my skull at the moment, plus lack my usual unquenchable drive to develop more stuff for RinkWorks. I updated Book-A-Minute SF/F today, put in an appearance in the RinkWorks Message Forum, posted a reader review in It's a Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad Movie, and did a modest amount of work on an upcoming new RinkWorks feature. So it stands to reason that I feel like a complete lazy bum -- a journal entry might put me over the edge into "actually productive," but I don't think you can count a journal entry such as this one, that doesn't actually accomplish terribly much in and of itself.

Do you wish you had a clone? We often joke during busy days, saying, "I wish there were two of me." But would that really be a good idea? What would you do if you had a clone? Answering that question also answers the question, "What would your clone do if you had one?", which is actually the more important question. Most people wish to have clones so they won't have to work as hard; I won't lie and say that wouldn't be nice, with respect to the drearier of life's tasks, but personally I'd like to have a clone so that I could get more work out of me. Think how much more new RinkWorks content could be produced with two of me!

But I'm getting off topic. Think about what it would be like to have another you around. Not just a clone in the scientific sense but another you with all the rights and privileges that come with being you -- effectively, another physical living entity, identical to you in every way yet with a separate consciousness, that lives your life with you, that you may coordinate (must coordinate) with to live your life. How would you feel or act? Would you feel self-conscious being in front of yourself, or would you be utterly relaxed, as if you were completely by yourself? Would you be jealous when your clone gets something you're entitled to, or view it as a natural part of things? Could you live with yourself? The answers to these questions have a lot to do with understanding yourself and being honest with yourself.

I would absolutely love to hear from you on this. Let's make it a reader question, except I'm not really interested in frivolous answers this time. Tell me honestly what you think -- let your suppositions about such a scenario run absolutely wild. Because of the personal nature of the question, I'd be happy to keep answers anonymous when I post them later if you so desire (but I'll put your name down unless specifically asked not to). Send your thoughts here.

Hmmm. I guess this did turn out to be a productive journal entry.

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