“Old age and treachery will always beat youth and exuberance”, said David Mamet.
Well, treachery will not always make up for lack of force and resilience. There is a reason why fighting is mostly the young ones’ business. 😛
men usually die young.
“Beware of an old man in a profession where men usually die young.
Old warriors did not get old by accident; they got old by being wise, having the right knowledge, and being tough. Never underestimate an old man who has grown up in a rough profession or a rough environment.
These men have been around. They have done things, and experienced things, that you probably have never even thought about. They are tough, their minds are tough, and they have the knowledge, the skill, and the will to finish you off, if you force them to do so. A boy will fight you, but an older man will hurt you.”
There are old men, There are bold men, But there are no old, bold men.
True, true. But, once again, force and resilience. Past a certain point, old warriors’ experience will not avail them anymore, and will not allow them to lift what needs to be lifted while walking the distance that needs to be walked under a certain time limit, while shooting what needs to be shot at; while tanking up the wounds and blows that lust be tanked up while continuing to fight efficiently.
The bottom line is that no one should underestimate *nor overestimate* anyone.
If I may, adelphe, what you say is perfectly right… for personal combat, be it close or ranged.
But here, they’re talking tactics, strategy, and trickery. The old man definitely has the advantage here. (Up to the point his mind fails him, naturally, but isn’t every truth in the real world valid up to a point?)
Something I’ve been following closely all through these years is Erogenian ethical issues.
I seem to remember that JED Word is that they never lie, with a special case for the Fox tribe. (Then again, now that I think of it, if Zona is said not to know how to lie the average Erogenian may have some of the ability) and Ipola has stated rather convincingly that she had neither inclination nor need for it when talking to Thann.
Fine. So, then, where does “sneaky” fit in their ethical outlook? As far as I’m concerned, that’s still in discussion. Obviously it can be discussed. And maybe wartime does ease up rules a bit. Also, there’s that notion of balancing cha. There could be an argument that balancing cha trumps other ethical concerns, and I’d find it quite convincing.
We’ll know more soon, I guess.
(By the way, this page is great, JED. Fine work as always.)
As I have outlined before, of course Erogenians know how to lie. You don’t make a rule for a problem that doesn’t exist. When Zona tells Mentl, near the beginning of their relationship, that “Erogenians never lie” it is the same as saying “Americans do not commit human sacrifice or cannibalism.” It’s not that Americans (See “Donner Party”) have never, under extreme circumstances, killed and eaten human beings, it’s that it’s a serious taboo and crime – if not the most serious, then right up there. And, in an important sense, Zona *doesn’t* know how to lie like we do in Western culture, which is why Sandra, Mentl’s sister, made that observation. But yes, Zona does know what a lie is, and in the worst, most extreme circumstances, it’s possible I might write a scene where she would. (probably not, but …)
Also, Erogenians are human. There is a cultural taboo against sexual jealousy, too, but Zona struggled with her feelings of jealousy with Mentl from the beginning. She has it under control, largely thanks to Tula’s counsel and support, but it absolutely does exist, just like every other crime and frowned-upon behavior.
Now, in combat or war, things are very different. In war Erogenia is not going to give away tactical or strategic advantage just to be good guys. Period. Especially when the stakes are existential threat, and the enemy is absolutely implacable and cannot be reasoned with or negotiated with.
Even in a personal combat, Zona is not above using a feint to get an advantage. Is that a technical “lie?” Maybe, but Erogenians are not going to commit suicide just to adhere to the letter of the law.
There is a wonderful web comic, “Pang, The Wandering Shaolin Monk” that I do not hesitate to recommend highly. (see the link)
And in it, Pang had a crisis of conscience because he could not live up to the ethics of the compassionate Buddha who allowed himself to be killed and eaten to help a tiger mother feed her starving cubs. In a sense Erogenia would be doing that if they stuck to a strict interpretation of never lying under *any* circumstances. They are not that good, or that consistent. In my experience, I have never known anyone who wasn’t some sort of a lunatic who was that good and that consistent. Some fictional characters are, but then I find those kind of characters boring as all get-out.
The Fox Tribe has a very carefully carved-out set of rules for the use of their art of deception. It is only ever in war, and only ever against an enemy. That’s pretty much it.
And, of course, there’s always deception by omission.
For example, if I told you that during the first Gulf War, I was struck in the leg while runing for cover on an air base, you’d probably get the impression that I’d been on active service in the Middle East and had got caught on the ground in an air strike.
However, if instead I said that what had actually happened was that I was an air cadet on a night exercise, at an administrative RAF base in the UK, and the exercise had had to be abandoned due to unseasonably foul weather, and that my leg injury was caused by my tripping on a barely visible obstruction while getting to shelter, you’d get a completely different impression.
When I was a younger (and, possibly, more foolish) lad, I thought deception by omission wasn’t that bad. Then, a few years ago, I’ve been on the receiving end of a lie by omission, one that hit me rather badly when I found out the truth, and it’s struck me that from the point of the person lied to, it doesn’t matter whether you told half the truth or an outright lie: what matters is you’ve hidden an important part of the truth from them.
And really, if we’re talking ethics, that’s all one needs to consider about lying by omission.
By the way, your example is an excellent one. So far as I can tell you weren’t badly injured, and I’m glad for that.
Wow, thanks for that long and detailed answer! I’m humbled.
I’m something of an idealist, so I had no trouble imagining Erogenians never ever ever lying (with exceptions, naturally, but looked down upon pretty much the way the mainstream western collective conscious views thievery, possibly worse). While this is a definite disadvantage in wartime, people like Zona, Zonn, or Tula led me to envision that they were able to make up for it by being simply so strong, swift, and perceptive that even the best spies would only let their enemies know more accurately how they’d be crushed.
I mean, I can imagine, say, Benelek being captured by Urtts and, on being asked “Where is your camp?”, answer “I refuse to tell you.” Which is, of course, the truth. (Maybe a bit too clever for Benelek to think up, but then someone else may have schooled him.)
Also, the way I envisioned it, it was entirely possible that the ban on lying had divine origins (for instance, to keep Erogenians from the slippery slope at the bottom of which Kor Lachnis is wallowing), with Luna and her peers still providing magic to make up for the tactical and strategic disadvantage.
I’ll do my best to remember that my musings were wrong. I hope I haven’t annoyed you too much with them. And I apologize for forgetting what had already been said on that topic.
Oh, and if I have anything to say about it, you don’t have to feel any pressure or hurry to write a scene with Zona feeling forced to lie. I’ve read too many superhero stories in the past decades where the writer decided to make their story “gritty” and “mature” by contriving a situation where the hero feels forced to discard their ethics for the greater good.
I’ll look up Pang at some point; it seems to be only available on paper now (which totally is the author’s right). Thanks for the information!
As for characters that are good and consistent, I can only recommend Card Captor Sakura, in which the main characters are pretty much always consistently good and the authors still manage to write interesting conflict (as far as I’m concerned). Or Superman Unchained, by Scott Snyder and Jim Lee, with Superman being that good old boy scout in a superb story.
Again, thanks for your patience with me on this topic; if I feel the need to discuss it again, I’ll strive to remember what has been written here and in other occurrences.
I thought it was a simple “Erogenians never lie TO THEIR FRIENDS”
“So, then, where does “sneaky” fit in their ethical outlook?”
When it is efficient to do so. See the recon squad sent in winter to spy on the Urrts FOB with dragons?
“While this is a definite disadvantage in wartime, people like Zona, Zonn, or Tula led me to envision that they were able to make up for it by being simply so strong, swift, and perceptive that even the best spies would only let their enemies know more accurately how they’d be crushed. ”
A definite disadvantage, indeed. Even a grave mistake. You don’t refrain from lying to your enemies in war, when it comes to troops movements and the likes. See Operation Fortitude? Operation Mincemeat? These were crucial in Allied victory.
You are right, of course, about the real world. (I’d heard about Fortitude, but not about Mincemeat. You might be interested in a comic book published in 2017, Opération Copperhead, telling the story of that operation, another misdirection ploy from the same overall plan to misdirect the Axis about where the Allies were going to strike.)
Now, in fiction, sometimes things don’t go the same, if only to show off the characters. Look up Mark Waid and Barry Kitson’s Empire for an example.
But I still fully agree with you as far as the real world works.
By the way, I’ve found that when you click “Reply”, the text box opens at the bottom of the discussion. If you scroll up to the post you want to reply to and click “Reply” again there, the text box opens next to said post and allows you to answer directly. (Here’s hoping it works that way because if not I’ll look mighty silly.)
That’s the way I’ve been replying since the site refurb.
Additionally, the first time you clikc on the Reply button, it turns green for you. And it stays green for you forever.
Me like sneaky…… Mooohahaha!
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