The Zonehopper's Guide to the Perception Range

ENTRY FIFGREEN: About Concepts

While we're on the subject of undulites and slope whistlers from my previous-and-a-half entry, we may as well review what, exactly, we mean when we talk about "concepts." My apologies if you can't perceive the entry at all - I don't know what you just skipped ahead from, but it means your mid-polyps remain unblossomed. They'll blossom soon enough, and you'll be able to perceive more of the understreams, but under no circumstances should you go back and attempt to read anything you couldn't before, unless you just want them to deblossom again and take half your gels out with them.

So, concepts. What are concepts? Pretty much exactly what they sound like. The idea of something. Anything. A species. A song. A house. A job. An emotion. Concepts are, of course, made of infinitely smaller concepts - you're a concept, and so are all your thoughts, and all your organs, and all your bodily functions, and your hobbies and your fears and that funny tickle you get in your ankle sometimes.

The interesting thing about concepts is that all of them have always existed.

You probably think that sounds silly. For instance, surely the concept of Sherlock Holmes didn't exist before the concept of the mystery novel? How about before the concept of books? The concept of the human species? The concept of our entire world as we understand it?

Doesn't matter. All of those concepts were already out there in some primordial, abstracted state, roving around looking to germinate in an appropriate state of reality. In the semifunnels of the bisque range, for instance, Holmes has an exoskeleton, his name is a series of sour odors punctuated by a scream and he was popularized by an exuvia play, which is where a bunch of discarded exoskeletons are scented up like different characters and sloshed around in one big vat of spit with the audience.

They may seem different on the outside, but our Sherlock and their...that guy - sorry, I can do the smells these d;;[ys but I can't do the scream right - are manifestations of the same "raw" concept once adrift on the conceptual channels, waiting for an opportunity to manifest itself into a zone that can sustain it, just as our "books" and their "exuvia plays" also share a root concept adapted to two very different environments.

...I guess, in a way, a concept is like a virus. Like a piece of DNA that needs something else's body to survive.

Now, maybe you think this kind of cheapens the "magic" of creativity in some way, that it doesn't count as having invented something if that something existed all along and simply used you as some sort of gateway into your world, but hey, you still had to be clever enough to realize that particular concept could exist, right? Is that really any different that what we always thought of as imagination?

The proper term, of course, is conceptualization, but really, same difference.

Probably the most interesting thing about concepts is that, once conceptualized, they start to branchinate, just like you and I, and you may recognize that branchination is a package deal with perception. As you perceive concepts, concepts begin to perceive you back. They manifest not just into being, but as beings, as "people" in a strange sense.

So, yes, on some layer, you can have that real conversation with Sherlock Holmes, or at least the idea of Sherlock Holmes...though I wouldn't count on him looking or acting the way you expect. Your version of the character, after all, is no more "correct" than the one with eighty-five fingers and no eyes sloshing around in a vat of spit somewhere, and its own perception of itself, whatever that is, will be locked in an unseen battle with your own perception of the concept. It's for the best, because not many things can survive, let alone enjoy, perception of a manifested concept in its truest, purest form.

It's not all fun and games, of course. The virus allegory can be more apt than we might be comfortable with, because once something is in some sense "alive," it's going to need to keep itself alive. That means growing. Spreading. Feeding. Competing. An aggressive enough concept can even reach a point at which it no longer depends on other beings to perceive and maintain it, but makes other beings define it as it prefers to be defined. It can turn the tables, becoming parasitic, even predatory on the very entities who conceptualized it in the first place.

This will all be important to keep in mind as we delve further into what you can expect as you awaken to more and more of the range. Next time, we'll continue my own story where it left off.

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