Episode 43: Animorphs, “The Departure”

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Charles 0:28
Hello, and welcome to Assigned Scientist at Bachelor’s. I’m Charles and I’m an entomologist.

And I’m Tessa and I’m an astrobiologist. And today it’s just the two of us, and we’re going to be talking about Animorphs for the first time, but not the last time. And specifically, we’ll be discussing, mostly the book, “The Departure.” Tessa, I have one question for you.

Tessa 0:51

Charles 0:52
Who is your favorite Animorph?

Tessa 0:54
I honestly, I like the books about Cassie the best, although Ax is a close second, because he always had a really interesting perspective. Marco could be fun, but he also kind of got a little annoying sometimes, Jake, I just couldn’t get into his head at all. Rachel, there was usually a helping of angst. And I mean, Cassie could have that too, but Cassie always seemed a little bit more grounded. And Tobias was interesting, but also got kind of weird sometimes when he’s like, I’m now a hawk, and I’m attracted to Lady Hawks – I feel weird about that, which I mean, understandable. But…

Charles 1:29
I do want to dip into this just briefly, of Tobias’s ongoing. I mean, they said puberty would be tough, right? But they never said this stuff.

Tessa 1:40
[laughing] Right, exactly.

Charles 1:43
It’s especially so funny, because obviously he and Rachel are one of the two main pairings of the books. I would say I would make a joke, one of the three pairings of the books, obviously Rachel and Tobias, Jake and Cassie, Marco, and Ax.

Tessa 1:57
Yeah, you know what… that is valid.

Charles 1:59
Right? But obviously, they’re one of the couples. And it’s… so… why… there’s one book specifically where Tobias is hanging out, and Rachel comes to join him and she morphs into a bird. And he’s like, Rachel is so pretty, but she’s even prettier when she turns into a bird, which already is a little bit like, what’s happening here, buddy.

Tessa 2:20
Yeah, yeah.

Charles 2:21
But then he says, like, but actually the eagle that she’s morphing is a male eagle, so maybe she’s not prettier as a bird. And it’s like Tobias, a lot is happening right now.

Tessa 2:33
Yeah, yeah. Well, I mentioned that, because there’s another book, he morphs into a human teenage girl, mostly to freak out a controller and, you know, has absolutely no comment on this experience beyond the fact that Rachel helped him get dressed. And because I’d forgotten how into fashion Rachel was, apparently looks very good, which I mean, I guess I can kind of, you know, see. Again, because, you know, if you spend most of your time as a hawk, probably after a while one human starts to feel just like another.

Charles 3:01
It’s that old chestnut – is this a sign of something that I should investigate, or, am I just a bird now?

Tessa 3:10
Yeah, exactly.

Charles 3:11
And we all have to ask ourselves this all the time.

[interstitial] I’m doing a full reread right now. I’m now well into the 30s. So I’m deep into ghost writer territory.

Tessa 3:26
Oh, yeah. Yeah, they got pretty rough from there.

Charles 3:28
Well, I thought that it would be a lot worse than it is. But I think that one of the main casualties of the ghost writers is that… a lot of them, they’re not bad. And I looked it up and K.A. Applegate like had final editorial say on the book, she would help outline them and then go over them at the end so that they could be more or less of a peace with all the books. But I think one of the main casualties is that Cassie kind of gets flattened out a little bit. She doesn’t get as much nuance in the non Cassie point of view books. I think the Cassie POV books after the ghostwriters really come on are still good, but when she’s sort of an accessory character, she’s not as layered.

Tessa 4:12
I vaguely recall that and yeah, I mean, I read a lot of those books are just kind of an empty space in my memory.

Charles 4:18
Mm hmm. I think I would advise people if they aren’t feeling it within like the first 10% of the book to skip a lot of the ghostwriter books versus the KA Applegate slash secretly Michael Grant books, but then also like the worst of the books, in my opinion, that I’ve read post getting to the ghostwriter era was actually written by KA Applegate. So you know, you win some you lose some.

Tessa 4:44
And I, given how quickly she was churning them out, because I mean, there was a new one coming out every month.

Charles 4:49

Tessa 4:49
You’re… not all of them are gonna be winners. And, you know, the fact that she was able to finish the series, not have it just kind of like slowly descend into a pit of mediocrity.

Charles 4:59
It’s got a solid, slam dunk finish, I think. Like that motivating philosophy underneath the whole series is really born out of like, this sucks!

Tessa 5:11

Charles 5:11
It’s bad!

Tessa 5:12
And you know, I have to admit even looking back on it now, she was very cognizant of the fact that her protagonists are quite literally child soldiers. And yeah, that tends to mess people up.

Charles 5:23
Yeah. Just like little bundles of trauma, and a little bit of cool animal experience. So actually, another thing previously in our, in the latest episode that we recorded, I asked Which animal you would most be willing to be stuck in a morph of. And while I was driving today, I was thinking of kind of the happy opposite of that. If you had morphing powers, what would you be most eager or excited to morph?

Tessa 5:54
I know this is not too surprising given the answer to my last question, but definitely something that can fly – dragonfly, bird of prey… something fast and easily maneuvers very easily. Perhaps even a beetle.

Charles 6:06
Beetles are actually really bad at flying.

Tessa 6:09
Oh, hm.

Charles 6:10
They’re pretty… well, this is actually an interesting beetle fact. The thing that sort of characterizes beetles, that makes them sort of recognizably beetle-like, is having their… because most insects, most insects have two sets of wings, right? And they’re mostly membranous. Meaning like, as you said, Dragon Fly, two sets membranous wings, you can see right through them, they got a bunch of veins. Two sets of them. Beetles also have two sets of wings. However, the front set of wings is usually really hard. And they’re called elytra. And so when they fly, most beetles have to sort of raise up their front set of wings, like those doors on douchey cars, suicide, don’t guys have that sort of fold up or go by yours? Yeah. And then they fly with a single set of membranous wings on the back. So if you actually look at pictures of a lot of different kinds of beetles flying, they tend to be kind of in a an almost an upright position, just sort of desperately flapping along. Some are better than others, but they’re mostly pretty bad. I was thinking about this today. And I would like to be those giant salamanders that live in China.

Tessa 7:24
Good choice.

Charles 7:25
They’re like six, like six feet long salamanders. And I think to morph, what I would do, I would just get into a little puddle and lay down on my stomach and then morph into the salamander. And I think it would be a really chill experience.

Tessa 7:39
Yeah, it sounds really relaxing.

Charles 7:41
I think it would be great. So… “The Departure.” et me find while I find this specific summary of this book, why don’t you tell the folks at home what Animorphs is.

Tessa 7:55
Okay, so if you’re not old, like some of us Animorphs was a kid lit in the mid to late 90s. Going into the early 2000s. The basic premise is that five teenagers wind up right next to a shot down alien spacecraft. And this incredible alien comes stumbling out and says Your planet is being invaded by these like mind controlling parasites. They’re the ones who shot me down. They’re about to come and finish me off. But we’ve invented this amazing technology that allows you to transform into pretty much any macroscopic organism, as long as you can acquire its DNA, which you do, just by touching it for a little bit. I’m going to give you this capability using this magic cube thing that I have. And hopefully that will be able to allow you to resist these invaders more effectively until the rest of my people can get here and so but you can’t stay in any one form other than your own for any longer than two and a half hours, you’ll be stuck forever.

Charles 8:59
It’s two hours.

Tessa 9:00
Oh, two hours, okay, two hours, two hours. And one of them does get stuck in the form of a hawk, Tobias, which is what we were talking about earlier. And then what follows is 50 Odd books of them fighting these invading parasite aliens called the Yeerks. In foiling their various schemes to take over the planet, which makes it sound cheesy, but it really isn’t like it’s pretty brutal.

Charles 9:24
Honestly, it’s a, it’s a, little it’s a little bit cheesy.

Tessa 9:29
Okay, okay. Yeah. Yeah, a lot of like late 90s cheese in there.

Charles 9:35
Lest we forget bbal94.

Tessa 9:37
Yeah, yep. I had forgotten about that.

Charles 9:40
Never forget. There are 54 books in the main continuity. But there are four mega morphs books, which I’m not reading because I don’t think they’re very good. And then four Chronicles books, which I am reading, I will say… Did you read Animorphs as a kid?

Tessa 9:57
I did. I didn’t really read the whole series, but I remember number book number four, the message where they kind of dolphins for some reason I read that over and over again. And not coincidentally, that was a Cassie book.

Charles 10:11
I mean, the one thing I know about young girls is that they love dolphins.

Tessa 10:17

Charles 10:18
And horses.

Tessa 10:19
Yeah. Accurate here on both counts.

Charles 10:22
Yeah. Whereas I never particularly was into dolphins. And I think that’s… explain that gender criticals. [Tessa chuckles] The thing is, when they were first being published, I was too young to read them because they started being published in the late 90s.

Tessa 10:37
Yeah, no. And I was like, in just the right sweet spot, because I was like, 10.

Charles 10:43
At that age, I didn’t know how to read.

Tessa 10:45

Charles 10:46
So and then later, I would see them because they would in the library, that would be those like, you know, turning organizers for Yeah, display backs. Yes. And they would have them for like harlequin romances, and then like animals and for one reason or another, I think because the original covers have a very camp quality that is an adult I can now appreciate. But as a child, I was like, this is silly. For that reason, or because I thought only cheap bad books were in those turning things. I never read them. Because it’s my great shame. But then when I was in university, my friends were like, actually our murse is very good. And I was like, okay, and then I read them all and I was like, Cassie is the best animal versus the best. KA Applegate. I love you. And I haven’t had to take any of those back yet.

Tessa 11:37
Yeah, no, she remains a very good person. Yeah, just recently, in response to a, you know, a kid’s book being banned in Tennessee, she bought 100 copies of that book, untold the booksellers basically distributed this to schoolchildren as you see fit.

Charles 11:54
I think, I think what sets Animorphs apart is that it manages to be at its intended reading level. Like it’s at the reading level of like a nine year old, but without actually sacrificing the like exploration of interesting and complex ideas that makes for good science fiction. Like it is simplified down to the level of comprehension of a child. Yeah, but it is not overly simplified so that there is kind of nothing for you if you aren’t one.

Tessa 12:24
Yeah, it’s still, it’ll… you know it, I wouldn’t say it will challenge adult readers but it, you know, there’s definitely still substance there.

Charles 12:31
Absolutely. And so the departure is, I think, my favorite Animorphs book, but first I will read the Goodreads summary. “Cassie’s had it. After the last mission, she realizes she’s getting tired of missions. Tired of battles. Tired of being an Animorph. She decides that she just can’t do it anymore. So she quits.

But that’s not the worst that’s happened. It seems a human-Controller named Karen followed Cassie after the last run-in with the Yeerks. And she knows Cassie is an Andalite . . . or human. Either way, if she exposes Cassie, it’s all over. No more Cassie. No more Animorphs. No more planet Earth. . . .” The good news is this is only 19 out of a main continuity of 54 books. So we know that there’s still Earth and animals after this one.

Tessa 13:16
Yeah, spoilers.

Charles 13:17
Spoiler alert. How does this one for you, Tessa,

Tessa 13:20
I enjoyed this. I like the fact that major part of it is that she ends up spending a lot of time stuck out in the wilderness with a controller, which is a person who has been like, taken over by a year. And they actually end up having a lot of interesting conversations about how each side considers what the other side to be doing is unethical. You know, actually, I don’t want to say like humanizing the enemy, because they’re not human, but like, seeing them as like actual independent beings who have feelings and thoughts and desires of their own, you know? And after I’m like, specifically says, oh, yeah, you know, I didn’t get into this because I, you know, wanted to fight and kill people. You know, that’s why I ended up you know, infesting like a five year old girl, you know, because I thought it would be a nice quiet position. And it would get me off the Homeworld and, you know, I wouldn’t have to do anything really violent.

So it makes us realize that some of the lyrics are definitely someone I’m looking for complicit in what’s going on, but they don’t necessarily actively contribute to it. And at the end of the day, they’re almost kind of indifferent to it, which is true for a lot of people and that’s actually something Cassie grapples with is that she’s complicit in a lot of human atrocities in the same way.

Charles 14:30
I’m… have, have you seen the DS9 episode, “The Duet”?

Tessa 14:36
I don’t think so. If I have it was a long time ago.

Charles 14:40
Okay. Well, the risk of spoilers. “The Duet” is one of the episodes towards the end of the first season. Somebody calls down to like ops and they’re like, We have a patient with Kalla-Nohra here, and Kira is there and she’s like, Oh Kalla-Nohra is only from people who were at the Gallitep labor camp, which is one of the labor camps that have the Cardassians had with the Bajorans. So she assumes this is a Bajoran who was a survivor of the camp, and then they get to med bay. And then she’s like, put this man under arrest because it’s a Cardassian. So obviously, the idea of there being a Cardassian who was at a specific labor camp, then becomes, oh, he’s a war criminal.

Tessa 15:17
No, right.

Charles 15:18
And so the whole episode is basically a back and forth between this Cardassian and Kira. And it’s he says that he was just a file clerk. He’s basically innocent, then it gets turned up that he was in fact, a goal. And a goal is one of the like military positions within the Kardashian Empire very high up and then there are inconsistencies in his stories. And it turns out that actually, he was the file clerk, and he felt so guilty about his complicit in action against the atrocities of the camp, that he underwent cosmetic surgery to look like the goal and put himself in a position to be found, captured and tried for war crimes as a as a desperate attempt to hold his countrymen accountable for the atrocities that he feels guilty for not stopping. Great episode.

And the thing is, one time I went to watch this episode at like an anarchist house when I was at university as part of a series of viewings of Star Trek episodes that they called “All Cardassians are Bastards.” [Tessa laughs] It was great. Yeah, and so we watched “Duet” and then in the discussion afterwards, I was like, I always identify not with Kira, but with Aamin Maritza, who’s the Cardassian who was the file clerk. And they were all in this was all like, white leftists in Canada, right? So they were like, Whoa, identify with all because they think left us and progressive etc. Like to see ourselves. I mean, obviously, we’d like to see ourselves aligned with oppressed groups, because you don’t want to be aligned with oppressor groups, obviously, because they’re oppressing people. And that’s not good.

But, I always identify very strongly with Aamin Maritza, not because I want to be a war criminal. I don’t, but because I often feel it’s a weird position to be in specifically as like a white, queer trans person where I am under threat because of homophobia and transphobia. But within my communities, like I am in the I am not in the 1% of the general population, I am in the 1% of trans people.

Tessa 17:56

Charles 17:57
You know what I mean? Yeah. And so it’s, and so reading the departure is also very interesting to me, because it feels sort of spiritually similar insofar as Aftrain is not the worst Yeerk. She is not actively going out and killing people, and, you know, causing large atrocities, but she isn’t fighting it either. And that’s an interesting position of what do you do in those positions of like, we’re, it’s unclear.

Tessa 18:32
You know, yeah, yeah, it makes it a little more muddled a little more complicated.

Charles 18:39
Because I do think it’s interesting, because this also begins sort of a sub series, like a certain continuity within the books of we do see after and again, and it’s in, there’s a book later, that I don’t think you read where AF Tran is going to be. She’s being held, and she’s going to be questioned. And obviously, she knows everything about the Andalite or the quote unquote Andalite bandits, which are the animals who are mostly human. And if she gets, you know, interrogated, then game over, so they have to go in and basically, jailbreak AF Tran out and save her. And then at the end of the book, they give her the ability to morph and she acquires a whale and she gets to be a whale forever, which is a pretty good deal, right? Yes, the York’s native environment is like the York pool. So they are basically aquatic individuals anyway, so being a whale, it’s just like being a big, powerful Yeerk with vision.

Tessa 19:46
Yeah, she went for it because it was peaceful and she was big enough that no one was gonna mess with her.

Charles 19:51
Yeah. And so I think there’s a lot there’s a lot to this book because in the end, because they have a lot of conversations of like you Would you wear Aftran through Karen is asking Cassie, would you be willing to give up the things that you are asking me to give up? And in the end, Cassie proves her integrity, because she’s like, Yeah, I guess so and…

Tessa 20:14
[As an] aside for, for context, yeerks in their native state when they aren’t like parasitizing, another species are blind, helpless, mostly helpless, like, what? Six inch long worms basically.

Charles 20:28
Basically, they’re often described as slugs. Yeah, derogatorily.

Tessa 20:32
And they find vision, an extremely novel, almost addictive sense to have because it is something they do not experience in their native state.

Charles 20:39
Yeah. And I was thinking about this recently, as a side note of like, I think there’s maybe a little bit of and it almost feels too extreme to call it outright ableism. But it is a very kind of like a very, like normalised sense of what is good about being a human, right, like, we get to look at things. Well, there are blind people, you know what I mean? Right? I don’t think it’s necessarily a huge problem. But I was thinking about that the other day, but I think it’s included to make the point of yeerks are in a weird position, where in their native state, they have a very limited environment, but very active, self aware minds, which is what led to the Andalites being interested in them, which then led to them getting Andalite technology, which then led to the Yeerk War, which is ravaging the galaxy. Right? What was I saying? Oh, so in the end, Aftran is like, I will give up infesting Karen and let Karen go free, if you agree to more for this caterpillar, and stay in morph and be a caterpillar. And Cassie is like, Okay, I think I think that’s one of the most interesting things that is in any of the Animorphs books, because it’s like, I don’t particularly want to be a caterpillar person.

Tessa 22:01
Yeah, yeah,

Charles 22:02
I would like to try out being a caterpillar, I would not like to live as a caterpillar.

Tessa 22:06
It’s interesting, because what makes it interesting is that a lot of things that Aftran argues is that, you know, why are you basically mad at us as a species for being parasites? It’s just what we are. I mean, they find our consumption of meat kind of gross, but doesn’t stop people from doing it. We, you know, we justify it just the same way they justify what they do, essentially, I don’t know if that’s in reality, quite equivalent. But you know, I can see why she would think that.

Charles 22:35
Well, it’s also again, going back to the later book we’re after and reappears, the way that they are able to get in and get Aftran out is that there after the departure, there exists a year peace movement that is growing on earth of eunuchs who don’t want to non consensually, infest and control people basically. And so in the later book, they are told about the problem from a controller, who was one of their teachers at school, who is who was originally an unwilling controller, but then developed a relationship and like a friendship with his year.

Tessa 23:18
Yeah, he feels lonely and empty when the yeerk isn’t with him.

Charles 23:22
Yeah. And he’s like, it’s such a weird, I just feel so empty when he’s gone. And like, to me, this is kind of a nightmare scenario, because I like solitude. But let’s say you’re an extrovert who doesn’t ever like to be alone, this could be a good gig for you, because you just have a buddy there all the time.

Tessa 23:41
And also remember, you know, when the two aren’t opposed to each other, the yeerk and the controller, they can be incredibly efficient, because like the human host, can the Europe can basically be driving the body while the human host works on mentally a problem or two, or vice versa.

Charles 23:57
Exactly. It’s, you can share the burden of being alive, essentially, between two different minds. And that’s a very compelling idea to me, not least because it is not totally dissimilar from the idea of joined Trill. It’s not quite the same, but it’s not completely not the same, right, either.

Tessa 24:20
Yeah, there’s there’s definitely parallels there.

Charles 24:23
Because that’s really the thing we’re… because like if the yeerks wanted to expand peacefully, I think if that became an option to people like hey, do you want to have this weird slug inside your brain it’s gonna feel a little bit weird at first but you can like have a buddy all the time and trade off and there’s novelty and then they got to go to a place because that’s the other thing is that the yeerk can leave the brain.

Tessa 24:50
In fact, they have to every three days or…

Charles 24:53
They have to every three days. And so you can like have designated… because that’s the other thing is that a true sort of partnership relationship between a yeerk and a human has to be based on an immense amount of trust. Because outside of the brain, the your work can’t effectively communicate with the, because that’s the that’s, that’s one of the real difficulties. And then in the later book, of course, it part of the plot is also that X has like an inflamed gland in his head. And the way that they solve this problem, he’s like, passed out on the operating table, and Cassie has avtron with her, she saved her, and lets her go into axes head and connect to his brain and identify the exact place where Cassie needs to cut and get the thing out, and how to do it. And they save axes life, but then he immediately wakes up on the operating table, and his worst nightmare has been manifested.

Tessa 26:00

Charles 26:00
What a moment of tension. Great book.

Tessa 26:02
And, you know, because that was something I was thinking about is that I mean, obviously, just happened. The plot worked out the way it did for because otherwise it would be a plot, you know, if the orcs expanded peacefully, it might make for an interesting place at night slice of life novel, but you know, probably would not be a best seller amongst the YA set. But you know, just reading through these, this dialogue between Karen slash Aftran and Cassie, they things did not have to be this way. The Uruks could have constructed the synthetic host bodies, which a sister species of there’s the Iscoort it’s heavily implied did well, rather, they did built synthetic bodies. It’s implied that they’re sister species, although it’s never quite fully confirmed.

Charles 26:43
Yeah, that’s another great book. My boy, Jake, coming through. This is the thing, the first time that I read the Animorphs books – we’re going on a tangent – I wasn’t that connected to Jake. Because as I said on our Twitter the other day, I fully believe that he is the only one of the Animorphs that is a heterosexual person.

Tessa 27:01
No, I totally buy that. Actually.

Charles 27:05
I, on rereading it, cause this is the thing is I didn’t particularly like Marco the first time I read it either. But now I’m like, really into Marco, because I can appreciate the depths and layers of his character. I think originally, I felt kind of antagonistic towards Marco, because he was often antagonistic towards Cassie. And I was very defensive of Cassie.

Tessa 27:25

Charles 27:26
Like, how dare you? But now I’m really into him. And Jake, also he is great leader, lovely boy. Plus, he’s dating Cassie, for some period of time…

Tessa 27:37
I’d forgotten that they get together.

Charles 27:38
So the boy has taste? You know, he’s a nice boy, who was also has severe PTSD.

Tessa 27:46

Charles 27:50
But it is I think there is a kind of a really moving poignancy to a lot of “The Departure” also of the feeling of it didn’t have to be this way.

Tessa 28:01

Charles 28:01
But now it is this way.

Tessa 28:03
Because, you know, I was thinking, you know, the Yeerks could have given the option to morph into more capable forms if they wanted to, you know, theoretically or if, you know, they wanted to keep their form in their culture as it was, they could on their planet. There’s another like primate like species called the Gedd, which is what they evolved originally to sort of like parasitized slash becomes symbiotes with who, you know, aren’t, they aren’t particularly intelligence, you know, again, they’re about as smart as a chimp maybe a little less. And they’re very clumsy and have poor vision. But you know, it’s what they had start with, you know, you could they could take control of a Gedd, give it morphing capability, and then have it morph into a human or a horror short, which is another species in the universe or whatever, you know, and that way you have a very capable host body that is pretty much de novo is blank slate does not have necessarily a full consciousness on its own right. And admittedly, that could bring up other potential ex, you know, ethical quandaries, but it’s certainly much less so than taking non consensual control of another fully conscious sentient being. So you know, again, yeah, that’s the thing I picked up on is that it didn’t have to be this way.

Charles 29:20
Yeah, I think it’s also the the thing that really always sticks with me, again, going back to “Duet” and sort of that whole idea of how much do the complicit deserve in terms of forgiveness, grace, etc. I, I don’t I mean, I don’t have an answer for it. I just think that it’s an interesting question presented of sort of like is it is the the main conflict that keeps coming up between Cassie and the other Animorphs particularly usually Ax, Rachel and Marco, as the more hardcore like, no grace, no forgiveness, no guilt…

Tessa 30:00

Charles 30:00
We do what we have to do, of like, are the yeerks as a whole, worth letting persist, right? Because not every individual, like not even all Yeerks have bodies that they control, like we see multiple times in the books, that there are many Yeerks, who just live in the pools, who haven’t been given a body to control. So this is the sort of central motivating ethical question, especially as we get further and further under the series of, does this violent imperial power, have anything redemptive about it that is worth saving? Or is it morally and ethically valid to pursue total elimination? And that often becomes a problem with Cassie versus, you know, Marco, Rachel, Ax.

Tessa 30:52

Charles 30:53
And the others in general, where Cassie has a very hard line, all life in the universe has a baseline value attached to it. And the others often disagree with that either more sort of maliciously, I would say from Rachel versus pragmatically from Marco, versus just like cultural bias from Ax.

Tessa 31:18
Yeah, you know, it’s kind of very much a sort of odd version of like the anthropocentric versus biocentric, you know, philosophical frameworks, which we’ve discussed previously on this podcast a while while back, you know, does life have an inherent value, even when some of that life may be doing not great things?

Charles 31:40
And I will say this, I am not going to offer like, yes, we should say, I mean… within the constructed like non-allegorical reality of the Animorphs universe, when we’re just talking about the Yeerks in very literal terms I think, Cassie is right, because obviously, we see this individual who gets personalized, we meet other Yeerks who are actively fighting against the your empire, like, as an institution, like they’re fine.

But I’ve been more thinking about this a lot in that I’ve been trying to read and learn more about like America as a settler colonial state, indigenous sovereignty, land back, etc, right. And I think… and one thing that I keep coming back to is the problem of all the people who are here now, who never should have been really, and what do we do about that? Because on one hand, I’m very selfishly interested in there being a resolution to the problem, because I like living here, and I enjoy living here. But then on the other hand, it’s a very, like, the way history went, I… there’s really no reason for me to be in the Sonoran Desert. And yet, here I am, do you know what I mean?

Tessa 32:58
Yep. Yep. Again, there are parallels whether we want to admit or not.

Charles 33:02
And this is really this is all just saying that when I when I read “The Departure,” when I watched “Duet,” I am more often identifying with Aftran, with Aamin Maritza, because of the position of, how do you resolve being in a position that you inherited through genocide, exploitation, racism, imperialism? How do you reconcile that with also knowing from within your own mind, that Oh, I’m not, you know, I’m not such a bad guy, right? Like that position of, I didn’t ask for it. But I still have it. And what do I do with it?

Tessa 33:47

Charles 33:48
Hashtag land back, hashtag find land back areas for tribes and nations in your area, and maybe give them some money.

Tessa 33:57
Good thing to do, good thing to do.

Charles 33:59
And/or contribute to legal funds for land and water protectors. Either or. It’s tax return season, but also we are in a pandemic, and nobody has any money.

[interstitial] So we’ve established in our latest episode recorded together, we’re phasing in new into the episode questions and I want to get your answer to, would you get a loved one cloned after they died?

Tessa 34:33
You know, I don’t think so. I think it would just be a really unsettling experience. I might do it if it were like a dog, but even then, I think it would still be kind of weird, because they’re not gonna, you know, person or animal. They’re not going to act the exact same way that the previous individual did, but they’re going to look almost exactly like them. And that’s just going to be really that’s just going to make things worse.

Charles 34:58
Yeah. It’s… at the risk of making concessions to Black Mirror, because I hate to give any concessions to them at all, but I think the sort of conclusion of that one episode, where, yeah, not a clone as such, but like a reconstruction of a loved one from all their social media posts, etc, I think it would be so kind of an uncanny valley of grief of like, this looks, and exactly like an axe, basically, like, the thing or the person or the animal that I loved. But it’s not quite the same thing. I think it would just make things I don’t think it would be comforting. And I think instead of being comforting, would be actively grief-inducing. I think it would be…

Tessa 35:54
Yeah, exactly. Yeah, that that that’s exactly my thoughts on it.

Charles 35:58
That said, if I could sort of… well, see, cause here’s a, there’s sort of the two questions. One is the sort of, would you clone them in the way that we do actually have and have cloned things of making a genetic, genetically identical, new version, but then there’s also the very sort of magic slash soft sci fi idea of you basically copy paste an organism with all the same memories in the same.

Tessa 36:28
You know, this is getting back into the discussion we had back way, way, way when we were first starting this one about whether or not it’s immortality, if it’s just copying yourself, or if there has to be continuity of consciousness. I think I would feel more comfortable with that. As long as I didn’t think about it too, too hard.

Charles 36:47
The problem is, you would think about it too hard.

Tessa 36:52
Knowing me probably, I don’t know, it probably depend a lot on the circumstances. And also, like the wish of the person involved, as I said, I don’t care clone me back, you know, regardless of whatever philosophical implications about, they’re just like, Yeah, I don’t care. You know, this is for me, this is important. Yeah, I would respect those wishes. But you know, beyond that, I don’t know. It probably depends on the person and the situation.

Charles 37:21
I still don’t think I would do it because I’m imagining here. I definitely wouldn’t do it with any of my human loved ones. Because I think that gets into very weird territory of like, that’s definitely not the same person not to, and then I was thinking about it, cuz I think like Barbra Streisand has like, cloned, want to hurt dogs a bunch of times. That sounds right. And so that’s what motivated me to think about this. Because I’m always hearing about Barbra Streisand, because I love musical theater. And so I was thinking about like, what I get my beloved cat, Hank, cloned Hank, whom I love more than almost anybody or anything in the world, who is my cat soulmate? Like what I get that guy cloned? And it always comes back to for me, like, is it fair to him? To not let him just die?

Tessa 38:18
Well, I mean, on the other hand, you know, it’s, like we said, it’s not the same cat, arguably. So like I, you know, we’re dealing with a whole seven organ organism. So I don’t know if that would actually be a real issue, necessarily, unless we want to get into the metaphysics of it, which is a whole other conversation.

Charles 38:39
Best cat in the world. I would not clone Alan Alda, the cat… or the human. In this case, the ambiguity of his name doesn’t matter. I wouldn’t clone either one of them. It’s really just that Hank, that I’m just like, so sad about the fact that someday he’s gonna have to die. But on the other hand, without death, there is no life. I think that was supposed to be the message. This is what I’ve, I haven’t seen the Eternals because I frankly, I don’t care about Marvel movies. Which is not like a Martin Scorsese dunk on them. I just don’t…

Tessa 39:11
Honestly, I think you’re in good company at this point.

Charles 39:13
Yeah, I mean, for one, Martin Scorsese, but yeah, so I haven’t seen The Eternals. But I feel like from hearing about people talk about it on podcasts that I do listen to, the message of the Eternals is supposed to be like, kind of sucks to be the same forever. And I don’t remember how I got there, but…

Tessa 39:31
I believe it’s talking about cloning.

Charles 39:34
Yes. I wouldn’t want to be static. I would want to die at some point. I don’t want to live forever. Frankly, I don’t even particularly want to live to be like 100 – that seems a bit too long. When do you… Tessa, when do you want to die?

Tessa 39:50
You know what, I haven’t really thought that through.

Charles 39:52
Honestly that’s incredible to me.

Tessa 39:56
Because, you know, part of it is I I still feel a little cheated, which I think is true for a lot of LGBT people and that, you know, we don’t get to be our true selves until a bit later in life compared to a lot of people, you know, mid 20s In my case, so I feel like I’m still playing catch up in that respect. And then maybe after another few years, I’ll be able to think about, you know, how, you know, what age would I prefer to live to? It would I think a lot of it would depend on quality of life.

Charles 40:23
You know, I just don’t want to live in a nursing home.

Tessa 40:27
Yeah, no, I totally get that.

Charles 40:29
Much love to everybody who works in nursing homes and lives in nursing homes, but I it’s not, it’s not for Charles, I don’t think. [interstitial] If you want to find me online, I’m on Twitter @cockroacharles.

Tessa 40:44
And I’m on on Twitter @spacermase, or you can find more of my stuff online at tessafisher.com.

Charles 40:52
The show is on Twitter @ASABpod or at our website where we post show notes and transcripts for every episode asabpodcast.com. And if you like the show, please tell other people that you think might also like it because it’s apparently the number one way the podcast grow.

Tessa 41:07
And until next time, keep on science-ing.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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