You know, watching Avatar always made me wonder - what happened to the sentient beings inside those avatar bodies? Did the scientists find a way to just turn off the soul, to stop the Na'vi/human hybrid from developing into a separate, thinking, feeling intellect? Or is the Na'vi brain so young that it just lets the human consciousness ride right over it? It's an interesting idea that grabbed my muse and throttled it until I penned the following story. No, I don't own Avatar, and nor do I own the interesting ethical dilemma that this (ever so humbly) addresses. Incidentally, did you know that modern-day scientists have figured out a way to implant microchips in the brains of experimental animals so that they can be controlled remotely? Thus making our fellow creatures into nothing but organic robots. Our ethics have got to keep step with our science, people, that's all I'm saying…
The world was darkness.
The world was darkness, and heat, and fluid, and peace.
But the being did not know this. It did not know darkness, for it had never known light. It did not know heat, for cold had never touched it. It did not know dry and so wet had no meaning. And peace did not exist for neither did trouble.
The being did not even know it was a being, for there was nothing to think of, nothing to know. It just was.
And then came cold, as the fluid environment in which it floated disappeared.
The being knew its first shock to its comfortable world as it struggled for its first breath, the body reacting without the mind, for it did not know that it was a mind. And so it discovered, in very short order, cold and trouble and, eventually, dry and a return to warm, which now existed for the being as a concept, if not a word.
Still, it did not know darkness, for it did not know light.
It lay inert where it had been placed. The being, shocked awake by the conflicts in its bodily world, explored itself. Its body moved on its own, the fluid-opposite, the air, traveling into - no, being pulled into - the body as its central chamber moved up and down. Vibrations touched its attention and it felt the body twitch its appendages to hear, and the being, for the first time, encountered sound, which made it realize that it had been living in silence.
The being then became aware that it was a being, that something was noticing these things that were happening to the body. Hello, self. It did not know much, yet, but it became aware of self. Self was a body, with a mind attached. Self could tell that there was much that was Not-self. The cold it was perched on - not floating. Floating. That was a new concept. It had been floating. Now it was not. Another new thing.
Now it sensed other Not-selves moving about beside Self. Moving. Not-still. New thing. Self was fascinated. Not-self was far more interesting than Self.
But then there was a new sensation. Self felt itself being touched. Not body-touched. Self-touched. The center of what Self called Self was being…covered. Pushed aside. Moved. By something that was Not-Self.
Self tried to resist. New thing. Resist. As opposed to allow… As Self stopped to think about this new thing, it felt its hold on Self slipping away, disappearing. Before Self was completely gone, though, Not-Self gave it a gift.
Not-Self opened the body's eyes, and Self saw light.
Only to be banished into the darkness, which it hadn't known existed until then.
Self emerged from the darkness as Not-Self vanished. It stretched out its senses, giving knowledge to the feeling of small. It was large again. It was back. It could see the light, could be free from the darkness.
But Self could not control the body.
The body did as it pleased, moved by nervous system twitches that Self did not make. Self could hear through the body's ears, feel through the body's skin, smell through the body's nose, but it could not turn to hear another sound, could not move to feel another texture, could not even draw in a deeper breath to get a better smell. What was worse, Self could not make the body open its eyes. Self was trapped in darkness.
Self learned hope when it was lost to despair. The Light had been so beautiful. The Darkness was very…not. It was not Light. Self wanted to experience Light again.
And then, Not-Self came again. Self could feel Not-Self pushing against it, forcing its way into the body. And Self allowed it, reluctantly, for when Not-Self was there, Self was… somewhere else. Nowhere. Nothing. But when Not-Self opened the eyes and sent Self away, Self was rejoicing. It had seen the Light.
After that, Self was eager for Not-Self to come. It learned time, and waiting. It learned anticipation. Even though Not-Self made Self not exist, Self always got to see the light before Not-Self fully came. During the long hours that Not-Self was gone, Self tried to make the body work for Self, the way it worked for Not-Self. But it never did. Self always had to wait for Not-Self to open the eyes and let the light come in on Self.
And then, finally, came one time when Self sensed something different. Not-Self was coming, but it was not in the way Not-Self usually did. Always before (and now it knew before as different from after), Not-Self had been thrust in, hard (and now it knew hard and forced, for this was soft and inviting). Not-Self set down inside the body, much as Self was, a being that belonged, but didn't. A Self-Not-Self.
Hello, Not-Self greeted. Who are you?
Self did not know. It did not understand.
Self. You are Not-Self. You come to this body. 'You.' Different from…?
Different from 'I,' Not-Self answered. Answer. Question? You share this body?
Self sensed…not-peace, from Not-Self.
Not-Self said, This is my body…I've been driving it. You live here, too?
Live… I dwell here, answered Self. I have always been here. I am Self.
Not-peace, from Not-Self. I am sorry.
A small word for such large concepts. Self was nearly battered back by them. But he fought forward through the confusion - new word - for an answer. Self would have spoken with Not-Self long before this if Self had known how. So many new things to know, to discover!
Not-Self was full of turmoil. I did not think I was depriving you of anything. I didn't know you existed. Not-Self tried to withdraw, but Self couldn't let him.
Not-Self stopped. Why not?
The barrage of meaning was less intense this time; perhaps Self was getting used to it. Self answered. The Light. Only Not-Self can turn on the Light. I see the Light just before I go, Self showed Not-Self a picture of what it saw, the flash that made the darkness utterly disappear for an instant before it was gone, And I wait to see the Light each time. I cannot move the body; only Not-Self - only you - can do that. Only you can let… let me see the Light.
I am coming to stay for good this time, said Not-Self, reluctantly. I will never leave this body again.
Then, replied Self, show me the Light, once more, before I go?
Not-Self listened. Self knew it - no, he, the word seemed to fit…him, knew that he was not hearing with the body's ears, but with something else, something…deeper. Self tried, but it could not hear what Not-Self was hearing. Another way that Not-Self was better. Better. New word. Worse. New word.
Join me. Not-Self replied, suddenly. Part of him reached toward Self, inviting.
What? Self didn't know the concept.
Not-Self explained. Become part of me. See the Light, and what's in the Light. Light is not only not-darkness, Not-Self was trying to fit into Self's words, Light shows everything that is inside it.
Inside…the Light? Self was fascinated.
Yes, Not-Self was happy. Come with me. See it all for yourself.
Come and experience it for yourself.
Self extended a part of itself and touched against Not-Self. Instantly, Self was sucked in, becoming, not Self, not Not-Self, but part of a larger, whole being.
I am complete, said the Mind to himself. Human. Na'vi. Both halves come together at last.
And Jake Sully opened his eyes, looking at the world around him as if for the very first time.
Perhaps it was.