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REJOINDERS 2005-04 (Apr)

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Francois Ferland writes...

Hello again Greg! You know, this is getting addictive...

A Titania question, one I hope has never been asked, or at least not the way I'll be asking it...

I am, of course, refering to Titania's secret whisper to Fox. Since I got the hint long ago that, barring extreme circumstances, you'll take the content of her secret to your grave, I'll ask you something else.

I know you know what she told Fox. Now, my question, depending on your answer, has the potential of getting people off your back and have them never ask that damn question again.

1. Is Titania's secret to Fox of any value to us? Wait, let me clarify before you say something like "Define value". It has the potential to be a big revelation ala "Luke, I am your father", or it could be something simple of no real value to us fans except to satisfy our curiosity, like "Take care, child".

See, if it's not important for us to know, you can just answer no and be done with that question forever.

But if it IS of value to us, you'll probably just answer something non-commital and we (meaning other fans, not me) will just keep on pestering you forever...

Of course, knowing you, you could just as easily answer "Not saying" either way to keep us confused, since I'm beginning to think you like playing this game of leaving us in the dark, dangling a carrot in front of us to keep us moving foward just a bit further but never letting og of it :)

Anyway, thanks for the answer, no matter what it might be, and take care.

Greg responds...

The truth is, as I've mentioned before, is that the question has been built up WAY beyond any potential "value" as you put it. That's not to say it has no value, but I have a strong feeling that the answer would now be anti-climactic. Disappointing. In it's original context, it was probably kinda cool and neat and clever and, above all else, right. But I don't think the answer now lives up to the hype. That's the MAIN reason that I'm still reluctant to reveal it. In your minds, it's still very cool... in the not knowing, it's still very cool. Presented with it as words on a screen... maybe it's just an "eh".

Response recorded on April 19, 2005

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matt writes...

Demona's Clan

1. At its highest population (which i'm assuming was in 1057, right before Canmore killed the Clan) how large was Demona's Moray Clan? Was it what you consider a "full Clan"? Was it larger than the Wyvern Clan in 994 AD?

2. We know that the Wyvern Clan split sometime after the last rookery of eggs was laid in 988 AD and that the split-Clan was already destroyed by the time Demona encounters some of its remnants in "City of Stone", so when was this spin-off Wyvern Clan destroyed?

3. Have you figured out what happened to the spin-off Wyvern Clan after the left Wyvern? Have you thought about their story at all? We know that Demona's Second in "City of Stone" belonged to this Clan, have you thought of his story before he met up with Demona? Was this Clan destroyed by humans also?

4. When Canmore destroyed Demona's Clan in 1057 there was probably a rookery of eggs that were to hatch in 1058. Did Canmore destroy these also?

5. When Demona and the other rouge gargoyles came together to make a Clan, how was it decided that Demona should be the Leader?

Greg responds...

1. No, it was rather skimpy. Twenty gargs at the most, and most of them adult males.

2. I'm not tying myself down to a date with that yet.

3. I do have some ideas on this, but they're not fully fleshed out in my head, so I'm not going to go into them now.

4. I'm not sure Demona's nomadic clan (cobbled from remnant survivors of multiple other Scottish clans) had any eggs.

5. "Rouge Gargoyles"? As opposed to say, "Blush Gargoyles"? Yeah, yeah, I know it's just a typo. But it's a good one. Demona, as I think you can imagine, ASSERTED her leadership... physically. Also, she gathered the "clan". It didn't just come together.

Response recorded on April 19, 2005

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matt writes...

Hi Greg.

You've mentioned before that in 994 AD no one even thought that the Wyven Clan was the last of its kind and that it was probably assumed that there were other Clans in Scotland and other locales. So my question is, why did Goliath not take the eggs and try to find one of these Clans? I know he was emotionally torn apart by losing his Clan, first by the Massacre and then by the Magus' Sleep Spell, but there was still some Clan left... the Eggs. If he believed there were other clans around why did he choose to put his children in the care of someone he just began to trust. Later in the series he speaks about how trust has to be earned, and yet he puts huge trust in several people who have insulted, betrayed, and cursed his Clan in just the last several days. I don't mean to come across like i'm trying to trick you or corner you with some inaccuracy, i'm just genuinely curious about what you think of Goliath's motivations and actions in this scene. And, of course, the same question could be asked of Demona. She actually did find another Clan to join, and could've taken the eggs with her, but she didn't. I'd love to hear what you think about all this.

Greg responds...

Demona's easier to explain, I think. She didn't find another clan to join... years later, she gathered a handful of scattered, clanless gargoyles into a makeshift clan. At the time, however, I think she was too racked with guilt. She couldn't face the inevitable questions. Couldn't "face" the eggs themselves. She sent herself into exile -- a traditional gargoyle punishment in those days.

And maybe the same basic thing was going on with Goliath. He couldn't "face" anything. Not the eggs or his responsibility to them. This act -- or lack of action -- on his part ironically resulted in the eggs being saved on Avalon. But at the time, one has to regard it as an act of tremendous irresponsibility. I forgive Goliath because I believe he was suicidally depressed. I'm sure -- as "Shadows of the Past" attempted to illustrate -- he was suffering from a massive case of survivor's guilt and the feeling that as Leader of the clan, he had failed miserably... at the cost of each and every life... including Hudson, Bronx and the Trio. One might argue that simply asking the Princess to watch over the eggs required Herculean effort on his part. All he wanted was oblivion, but he had just enough strength of mind left to obtain the Princess' vow -- to assign the responsibility that should have been his. I don't think he thought about how she would protect them. I don't think he thought, "Hey, I should tell her where the nearest clan is for a convenient drop-off." I think he just barely managed to get her to relieve that last burden, so that he could slip into what he had to believe was permanent slumber... again, an exile... from the living world. (Too much sleep being a definite symptom of depression.) Also since he believed he failed miserably with the clan, he may also have truly believed that he wasn't capable of handling the responsibility for the eggs -- that even the Princess was better qualified in light of his failure.

Response recorded on April 18, 2005

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Coyote Inventor writes...

What is a sense distortion laser beam that Coyote 1.0 and Coyote 4.0 had .

Greg responds...

If we're talking about the same thing, it effects things like balance and vision and sound in the brain... makes everything go all Salvadore Dali on ya.

Response recorded on April 18, 2005

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Francois Ferland writes...

Hi Greg. Another question, a short(er!) one this time concerning Xanatos.

1. Following "The Journey", you said Xanatos would still retain his ambitions despite having different priorities now and having made peace with Goliath.

Since Xanatos has a tendency to be a bit ruthless whenever it fits his goals, were you planing on having this cause tension between him and the clan in the future, who would obviously be aware of some of his dealings now that they're back on his doorstep? I doubt Goliath would be happy finding out the landlord was involved in immoral business similar to the Matrix or the Mutates...

Thanks again for listening, we really appreciate it!

Greg responds...

Xanatos isn't a dope. He'd take precautions to keep his business private. And I don't see his basic methods changing, even if his priorities have shifted. And I don't see Goliath suddenly developing complete trust in David either...

So you do the math...

Response recorded on April 15, 2005

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Francois Ferland writes...

Hello again Greg.

I just have a few observations about Oberon and his children.

1. I'll admit to being one of the many people who was very disappointed by the way the Sisters acted in the "Avalon" trilogy. I've read all your explainations in the archive, but although it makes sense and I can accept it on an intellectual level... it still doesn't feel right. I've been asking myself why, and I think I've found an answer or sorts...

I think what was really intriguing about the sisters was the whole mystic surrounding them throughout the series up until the "Avalon" three-parters. They always seemed to have some higher goal in mind, like they were an integral part of destiny (you'll probably say they are, but I meant in a more intentional way). Their words of wisdom when talking to Goliath and friends in "City of stone" were especially touching. They appeared almost like moral guardians of some sort.

When we see them again in "Avalon", we find out their primary motive has been revenge all along. Maybe it wasn't the whole reason for their actions, but it certainly felt like that. And thus, their whole involvement in "City of stone" felt like cruel mindgames and very subtle manipulation.

Hum, you know, maybe the thing that makes it hard to accept is the fact the we, the audience, uncounsciously feel like WE were cheated and manipulated. Like Goliath and the gang, we were fooled from the beginning and we have a hard time accepting the truth, thus we prefer to think that the Sisters' characters were simply cheapened.

The human mind works in mysterious ways...

2. Oberon's children were forbidden by his law from interfering in the affairs of mortals. Those who took on a human form were obviously not a problem, since they were limited by their bodies just like every other mortal. I suppose assuming any other mortal form, like Gargoyle or simply animal, would also be okay.

Of course, a great many actually took on more fantastic forms, like Banshee and Anansi.

I've noticed that most of those we saw never really showed the full extent of magical powers that feys posess, although they often exhibited at least SOME kind of magical abilities.

a) Are they limiting (or customizing) their power in relation to their "character" of the moment, like Banshee having a powerful voice, or Odin having control over the elements? Because since they'd be limiting themselves, they wouldn't really be using "fey magic" against mortals and as such, wouldn't go against Oberon's law.

b) This one's technical, so if you don't feel like answering it, no problem.

You often said that the Third race don't have a true, definite form, being shape-shifters. Of course, some DO have a form they obviously prefer and we tend to associate it with their true form but "that assumption is faulty" as you would say.

I've been thinking about their vulnerability to iron, and how assuming a mortal bodies removes that limitation (as well as any magical power except reverting back). So Anastasia can touch iron but can't do any magic. That's simple. Any other mortal form would do the same.

Now, is it possible for a fey to assume a non-existing form, like Anansi as a giant spider, which would have some innate powers unique to this body (so it would have no other powers except the one of that form and the possibility to change back to "pure fey") while being immune to iron, pretty much like a mortal body?

And if you don't know and don't want to think about it, just say so. I'll understand :)

Greg responds...

1. Totally agree... and that was my intent. I guess I just didn't count on HOW strongly people would feel along those lines... and how they would then translate that into disappointment with our execution. Or maybe we just sucked.

2a. You're assuming that every one of Oberon's Children have the exact same base power that can then translate into anything they choose. That's not the case. Banshee's appearance may or may not be a glamour. But Banshee is Banshee. Banshee isn't some other Oberon's child glamoured and powered as Banshee.

2b. See above. Appearance may be deceiving, but Anansi is Anansi. He is one of Oberon's Children in that form and is thus vulnerable to iron. Now if he shape-shifted himself into a real spider...

Response recorded on April 15, 2005

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Francois Ferland writes...

Hi Greg! I'm posting for the first time and it feels wierd, since I tried to send questions 4 or 5 years ago and they got deleted. Anyway...

First of all, I'd like to thank you for having been (and still being) such an important part of the Gargoyles franchise. You (and others of course) provided me with easily THE single best animated show ever. A well written series great voice acting, continuous plots, characters that are believable, and a complex universe that manages both to include lots of existing legends and myths while still retaining a distinct identity. I truly think that in terms of all-around quality for a dramatic show, Gargoyles was easily Disney's best effort by far. Reboot is the only other animated show that I've seen that seems to exhibit the same qualities, meaning well-written, clever and quite enjoyable for both kids and adults.

Also, I'm happy to learn that Gathering 2004 will take place in Montreal, meaning I might actually be able to attend! I don't know if you're the one who chose the location, but if you are, thanks on behalf of us Canadians!

Finally, I'd just like to thank you for actually answering the flood of questions we fans send your way. And especially your god-like patience towards people who obviously never took the time to read the FAQ OR archive. I can understand asking about a minor detail that could have been missed, but among the questions being submitted, I know there are some LAZY people I wouldn't mind slapping once or twice in the face...

Anyway, I have a number of questions on different subject, so expect a few one-question posts from me.

This one would fit in a "Writing" category if there is such a thing.

1. Regarding your current master plan (i.e. your ideas for the various spin-offs), it's obvious you've given lots of thoughts to the initial setting of each. The main characters and their immediate goals for example, as well as ideas for early stories as well as a few ideas for on-going plots. A lot of course would be dictated by the characters (and your muse I'm sure) as the shows would go along.

a) Now here's my question: Do you have an idea about the possible endings of some of your spin-offs? I don't want you to tell me anything, just if you have some "Ultimate goals" in mind for all your spin-offs.

Gargoyles itself has always been very open-ended. There never was a single overlying theme to the series, it just kept going on on its own, the plots and characters growing in complexity in a very organic and sometimes unpredictable way. It could potentially keep going on for years and years.

But some of your spin-offs have very specific premises. There ARE stories that are better told if planned from beginning to end as a whole. Others however are better if left to evolve on their own. An aimless story could potentially "find its voice" after a while, leading to an ultimate ending of sorts. Or, the initial premise could be transformed over time, leading the story in a quite different direction.

For example, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Initially, the show is about our heroes trying to restore a people (Bajorans) to a stable society following years of occupation by an enemy race (Cardassians). Yet, after two years, the show introduced a much bigger menace, a race who sought to conquer and control all others (the Dominion). From then on, the show eventually lead to a huge war with the ending signaling the end of the hostility.

a) How do you feel about long stories? About those that are open-ended and those that have some finality set for them? (I hope I'm not being to vague here. I'm really interested in how you feel about this)

And about some specifics spin-offs:

b) Bad Guys: The basic idea is about our main characters seeking redemption. Do you know if they ever find it? And would that be the goal of the show?

c) TimeDancer: Ultimately, the very final ending is, in a way, already known. Brooklyn makes it home a lot older with a family. But do you already have some sketchy idea about how he finally makes it there, like some final adventure dealing with the Phoenix Gate itself, or were you planing on dealing with it once you were forced to, like a series' finale?

c) Gargoyles 2198: This one seems to be mostly about the war against the Space-Spawn but as you often say, "Things aren't that simple". Would the liberation of Earth signal the end of the series, or would you keep the series going with the existing setting once the war is over? After all, there might still be other threats like Coyote-X, the Illuminati, etc.

d) Dark Ages: Since this one could theoretically run up to the beginning of "Awakening", I won't ask if you have an ending in mind.

e) Pendragon: It's obvious now that Merlin, Mr. Duval and Holy Grail would be important part of the story. Do you have an ending in mind for this one, or where you again planing on seeing where the story ultimately took you?

f) New Olympians: This one feels pretty generic, and feels like it could run forever like Gargoyles. The ultimate goal I suppose would be the acceptance of New Olympus by humanity, but judging by the response toward gargoyles, wouldn't likely fit within an entire series, no matter how long it might be. Still, got an ending in mind, even if it's pretty open-ended, like "Hunter's Moon pt.3"?

Thanks a lot for answering.

Greg responds...


Well, time delay means that I believe we met in Montreal (and, no, I didn't choose the location -- I don't make those decisions). You played Lex in the radio play, right?

1a. Some yes, some no. I know where Dark Ages ends -- with "Awakening, Part One". I know where "TimeDancer" ends... right where it began. I have a VERY good idea of how the Space-Spawn thing is resolved, but I don't think that necessarily marks the end of 2198. And likewise, I don't have a firm ending for Pendragon, Bad Guys or the New Olympians... but I have a good idea where I want to go with the first major arcs. As for Gargoyles itself -- that would end in 2198.

1a) [You had two (a)s.] Some stories -- whether long or short -- need closure. They're one-shots... no matter how long they last. Others can be open-ended. I lean toward the latter personally... because life is ongoing -- even after individuals die. But I respect the other form as well.

b) I'm not going to reveal whether or not they find redemption, but yes that's the goal. The thing is... even if I were to redeem all the original cast, the concept can survive them. And new characters may be introduced that give us a reason to continue. I will say, that I wouldn't be shy to bring a series to an end if I had no more stories to tell. That just has never happened to me within the Garg Universe. Not yet anyway.

c) See above for confirmation of your basic thesis. But I have a fairly clear general idea of how the whole dance, including the finale choreographs. But I won't pretend I have all forty years worth of adventures planned out to the last detail. I don't.

c) [You had two (c)s, as well.] See above. The war doesn't end the series.

d) See above.

e) I have endings in mind for some of the arcs that I plan to set in motion. But even the ultimate death of Arthur himself (which I was not planning anytime soon) might not end this series. I have at least one significant idea to go beyond Arthur...

f) Same deal. I have specific arcs in mind, and I have a solid idea of how they end. But I doubt that they wouldn't lead to more stories. If in fact they didn't and I was out of juice there, I'd shut it down.

Response recorded on April 14, 2005

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Question writes...

1) Is Lexington really gay? Why then did he pursue Angela or did he just pursue her like the rest of the trio because his rookery brothers were pursuing her?

2) When did you realize that Lexington was gay? Was it during the writing and production of the show or years after the show got cancelled because I really didn't see any hints about his homosexuality in the animated series.

Greg responds...

1. Yes, in my mind at least, if not necessarily quite yet in his (as of 1996). He pursued Angela because that seemed like the thing to do. And because I don't think he's completely come to terms with his sexuality yet.

2. I wasn't trying to hint at anything. Some things just are. As for when I knew... it was definitely back when I was at Disney, so sometime in '95 or '96.

Response recorded on April 14, 2005

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Mooncat >^,,^< writes...

Noticed a lot of recent questions by "Anonymous" that are deliberately stupid... My question is would the site admin filter out questions posted by "Anonymous" to save everyone from a waste of time?

I'm not sure if the admins the site has conversed with Greg about this problem, but it would be nice if there was a filter or questions page moderator to get rid of the obvious attempts to troll.

With the regular debates over this sort of thing in the message board, I am wondering if there has been any real move to create a filter (or set up a moderator) for questions that are already answered in ASK GREG and questions that are just from a jack*** trying to waste time Greg's time.

Knowing Greg has a limited amount of time to allocate to Ask Greg, and can only answers a few 'questions' at a time, that rare and valued resouce gets eaten up with every 'joke' question and the ones by people who don't bother to read the archives first. I'm hoping that some screening will be done in the future, because I am always eager to see some new thought or insight from Greg on Gargoyles and his other work.

Thanks Greg, for taking the time for questions and keeping the fandom active with your participation!


Greg responds...

Right now, Todd, our moderator has very strict rules -- imposed by me -- as to what he is and isn't allowed to kick. I appreciate the strongly worded feelings, Mooncat, but I'm not prepared to change the rules of this site until Gorebash has had the opportunity to fully take ASK GREG to the next level.

Response recorded on April 13, 2005

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Akia writes...


I´m a big Owen/Puck fan!
And I asked myself (and now you;))what would be the charakter of his girlfriend? He has two(maybe thousand?)personalitys. But what is it he likes at other peoples personalitys?

Greg responds...

I'm not going into Owen's love life at this time.

Response recorded on April 13, 2005

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jade mcmahon writes...

what are some of the gargoyles myths and ledgens?

Greg responds...

What aren't?

Response recorded on April 13, 2005

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matt writes...

Hi Greg. You said in the archives that as of the time you left the show (The Journey, i'm assuming) that Demona didn't know about Broadway and Angela's relationship, and the only other person who knew was Brooklyn.

1. How did Brook find out? Did Broadway and Angela tell him? Was the scene in "The Journey" how Brook find out?

2. When would the rest of the Clan find out about them? Would they try to keep it quiet for awhile or would they even care who knew?

3. Had Angela had any romantic connections with any of her rookery brothers on Avalon?

Greg responds...

1. Yes, the scene in "The Journey".

2. I don't think it was a major secret. But honestly, I haven't given much thought to the order of how and when everyone learned about it.

3. No. Nothing even vaguely serious.

Response recorded on April 07, 2005

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Valaine Fea writes...

I´m from Austria and a big Gargoyles fan!:)
Thanks for the show!
Now my question:
Will Owen look like the Owen we know? Or older?
You said he has a love life. In 1996 or in 2198(between?)?

Please excuse me if I said something grammatically wrong. I`m not very good in english;)

Greetings from Vienna,

Greg responds...

Owen will look like Owen, allowing for differences in fashion. I'm not going to go into details of his love life at this time.

Response recorded on April 07, 2005

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John writes...

Hi Greg,

Some years ago, people kept permanently asking 'bout Brooklyns permanent "injury" or "disfigurement" he got during his Timedancing. You never told...

By now, you revealed other, in my mind bigger secrets 'bout the future masterplan (especially that Lex is gay), so I ask again, hoping you are in a good mood and want to spoil it:

What is Brooklyns permanent injury/disfigurement he receives during Timedancing? Andif you don't want to tell us, what sort is it? Scar? Loss of Limb? Loss of wing???

So, however, have a nice day,
CU, John

Greg responds...

Eh, sorry. It's a fair question, but I'm just not in the mood.

Response recorded on April 07, 2005

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The Cat writes...

I'm going to ramble and rant, so I hope you can forgive me if I confuse you or loose you along the way.

Response from Greg to Vanity's question that was posted January 6th 2002:

The notion that vengeance begets nothing more than a vicious cycle of further vengeance, is not only true but is if anything UNDERSTATED. Hardly exaggerate. One only has to look at a newspaper to see that the Montagues and Capulets of this world simply refuse to recognize this obvious, obvious FACT. It drives me insane. Your casual dismissal of the notion doesn't thrill me either. (Sorry.)

Okay, I'm going to ramble on this one a bit. Chew it up spit it out type deal.

Okay, what has always confused me about Demona is that she supposably hates humans. She wants to kill them and wipe them off the planet.

If that is true then why didn't she kill the Canmore brat when he was young and not any sort of threat to her. She could have gotten away with it to, to an extent of the imagination anyway, saying that she was protecting herself from attack and that she just happened to rake the young child's jugular vein with her talons would have worked rather nicely as an excuse. The thing is Demona knew, sort of, that Canmore would become vengeful. I mean, it does not take a rocket scientist to figure that out that this little bratty prince is going to go looking for revenge. He's so spoiled he still needs some one to wipe his butt! If that doesn't say"I'm going to go seeking revenge because somebody lower than me hurt my pride I don't know what does. She could have easily nipped it in the bud and there would no longer be any Hunters. Of course, you put them into the show to keep the plot rolling, but that really didn't work out did it. Of course not.

Also, Demona is suppose to be insane. She could have easily taken out the humans with her plague. Why tell Goliath that all he had to do was destroy the praying gargoyle and then she wouldn't spread the plague. Insane people are not known for having morals! What got me to was she wouldn't spread the plague because it would kill Angela. That made no sense. Demona has always tried to kill Goliath and the clan, saying that they've been corrupted by the humans. Now, the interesting thing is Angela has been the most corrupted. She was raised by humans and taught by humans, so Demona should have wanted to kill her to. Especially her. That would have definitely reinstated the fact that Demona was a villain.

Perhaps I'm looking into this too much, but Demona had the opportunity to kill a lot of people in the last thousand years and save herself a lot of heartache later. I highly doubt that anyone would defend the Canmore brat. I highly doubt anyone would have been capable of stopping her from killing the last hundred or so Hunters that came after her when Canmore didn't succeed.

However, I think I can answer this for myself I just want to know your thoughts on it.

Demona is not evil, per say, and she's hoping that the humans realize that they've treated her kind wrong and will repent, however, she doesn't see that time coming up anytime soon. She also saw that Macbeth's way of handling Canmore was better, not as fulfilling, but better. She, I suppose, was expecting Canmore to realize, later, that she had spared his life and that he might realize that it was out of the goodness of her heart not out of the fact that she couldn't kill him. Men are extremely short sighted in this fact: A woman can kill you! A beast can kill you! *shrugs* I've never understood how come it was so hard for some men to understand this.

Also, I think Demona's looking at the whole revenge thing a bit wrong. If I'm correct she's looking at it as though its her against The Hunter. She's not looking at it as though it is a war. That it is a campaign that she has to plan for. That she has to choose her ground. She needed to think things through!

I honestly have to wonder how many times she has planned out her schemes. Aside from the plague thingy, I don't think she's ever thought any of her things through to the very end. I'd have to say that she never thought about what torture Puck would put her through the night she stole The Mirror, if she had she probably wouldn't have stolen it. The one time she does plan for years upon years she hamstrings her own plan by telling Goliath how to defeat her. Stupid! Utterly stupid!

So, now I've ranted and I want to know am I right? Even to some degree.
Also, I'd like it if you read this. It was the main reason I began this rant. The book is titled: Oathblood and was written by Mercedes Lackey. One of my all time favorite authors. (I know you don't read fan fiction, quite understandable really, but I usually incorporate some aspect of her stuff into my fan fiction.) This book is a bunch of short stories pulled together and the last one is the one that inspired this rant, however, the whole book is good and I would suggest reading the other two that go with this one as well. Their titles are "Oathbound" and "Oathbreakers". They're good books and a must read for anybody because they go into details that most fantasy novels just don't go into. Especially, the ones published back in the 1980's when it was still "a man's world".

Greg responds...

Where do I start?

Okay, let me start with the Oath-recommendations. I have found that I don't enjoy most fantasy fiction books. Isn't that surprising? It surprises me. Among other reasons, it may have something to do with envy. (I don't like admitting that, but it's true.) But I also like to keep my head generally clear of other people's ideas. I just prefer reading detective fiction, for some reason. But if I do decide to read fantasy again, I'll keep your recommendations in mind.

As for Demona... I like to believe that she is a complex character with complex motivations. That she is "human" enough to have inconsistencies. Yes, she tells herself she wants all humans dead, but in fact she isn't always ready to act on those feelings. Also, you need to keep in mind that the Demona of the late 20th century is not the same Demona of the early 11th century. She'd gone through a lot in the interrum that changed her, hardened her.

Likewise, she tells herself that she wants corrupted Gargoyles out of the way. But when push comes to shove, she's not prepared to sacrifice her daughter. So when you say things like: "That made no sense." All I can do is disagree with you and say it made sense to me.

And there are all kinds of "insane". Demona fits a definition, certainly. But of course, it's not like she's brain-dead.

Some of what you write sounds right to me -- or at least in the ballpark. But I don't agree with your assessment of Canmore really. And I don't agree that Demona could have just killed him easily as a child without repercussions. Even Macbeth felt he couldn't kill the kid without repercussions. And I tend to agree with him.

Obviously there were repercussions for NOT killing the kid too. But you roll the dice, you know?

As for Demona often if not always sewing (sowing?) the seeds of her own defeat. Why, yes, she sort of does. I don't think she consciously thought she was giving Goliath the info he needed to stop her. But she did. She's a conflicted character. I think that's what makes her so fascinating to so many people.

Response recorded on April 06, 2005

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Chaos9001 writes...

Hey greg

love the show(obviously) but i have a question, if Fang was cooped up with demona for at least five weeks by the day that it showed on screen demona changing form, why did he looked so shocked when she turned human?

Greg responds...

I don't think he looked shocked. It may have taken him five weeks to come up with a funny line.

Response recorded on April 06, 2005

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Punchinello writes...

<<Gargoyles as well can type on keyboards and relay thought. Lexington with very little experience in terms of years and could only practice at night, was able to punch a keyboard judging by the "clicking" sound of the keyboard at nearly 129 words per minute, without looking and locate Coldstone in MacBeth's mansion. Quite impressive really.>>


<<Yet his thoughts were in English.>>

No. They were not. Look. Mental concepts (especially highly abstract concepts) do not emerge from language. It works the other way around. Concepts are formed internally. We can use language to describe them but we don't need to. That's the important distinction.
Consider the acquisition of tool use. A tool you have never used before. Lets consider something like a construction crane. You see it's controls. By experimentation you might begin to discern the function of each control. But none of this is the product of some mental narrative. Pretend you've never seen a crane before. Maybe you're an aboriginal who has never seen western devices. Better yet, pretend you're Lexington. You're a gargoyle transplanted from 10th century Scotland into contemporary America. Lexington has never seen a lever. He's never seen a gas pedal or a start button. If you sit him in a crane and point to controls and tell him what each one _is called_ what do you think it would mean to him? Nothing. Simply calling something a gas pedal gives it no context. You have not imparted anything about it's function. Lexington has no concept that these structures in front of him have functional relationships with the larger device. However, if he experiments, he can begin to observe that if he pushes the lever forward, the crane rotates clockwise. If he pulls it backwards, the crane rotates counterclockwise. He can make associations now, and he can begin to detect patterns. He can anticipate that if moving a control in one direction corresponds to one function, then moving it in the other corresponds to the opposite function. This process of observation, association and anticipation is an example of conceptual thinking. In order to understand the crane, he would have needed to think about it in concepts. Not in English.

The corollary to the computer should be clear. Lexington simply could not have considered the novelty of the computer in words. He would have no words to describe it's properties, it's function or it's nature. If you were transplanted 1000 years into the future and someone handed you a solid metal sphere and told you to use it to write words, how would you contemplate the thing they handed you? It's surface is smooth. No obvious control mechanisms. No obvious surface features of any kind. So how the devil do you write with it? Speculating about it's functionality is a highly conceptual and visual process. If handwriting and typing are both lost arts in 1000 years, then you don't even have words to describe this thing's function.

Think about how Lexington would actually interpret a computer. You have a conceptual understanding of what a keyboard is, but Lexington doesn't. He's never seen a typewriter. He's never even seen a printing press. Do you suppose that when Lexington ponders this device, his thinking takes the form of mentally spoken instructions? Instructions to do what? To type? He has no concept of typing. He would be as mystified by this thing as you would be by the sphere.

However, if he can observe the device in use, and if he can experiment with it, then just as with the crane, he can begin to infer the functional relationships of the keys. He can form a mental picture of how this device works. At that point, he's certainly free to attribute words to the concepts if he want's to communicate them to someone else, but he doesn't need to. His ability to think about the device is not contingent upon his ability to describe those thoughts linguistically.

Proponents of the idea that thought is a purely linguistic process cling to this fantasy that thought is a perpetual little personal narration providing us with instructions. As though a little person were sitting on our shoulder whispering to us. Even if this ridiculous picture of the thought process were verifiable, consider that it would be useless as a medium for thought. Instructions mean nothing without concepts. Even simple concepts.

What about Bronx...

The point of my original thesis on sentience was that it is frequently treated in an uncritical and mentally lazy way. It enters popular culture, not as anything analytical, but as an imagined distinction between those we have to respect and those we don't have to treat with any kind of consideration.

So, is the mental world of Bronx (or Cagney) diminished by their not being able to articulate it? It should be evident that the notion their thought hinges upon language is ridiculous. Can we say they are sentient? Can we say they have the ability to observe, make inferences and anticipate? Can we say they are aware?

Of course. It's not just a matter of our having significant evidence for the ability of non-humans to have this type of mental experience. It's profoundly unreasonable to maintain that they are not aware and intelligent when we consider the emergence of intelligence in pre-history. It's often supposed that these mental abilities just suddenly appeared in homo sapiens, as if by magic, once we passed a certain threshold in our evolution. Nothing compels this feature to emerge, according to popular mythology. It just shows up unannounced. And it renders homo sapiens capable of language and tool use in a single second of evolutionary history.

Now, evolutionary psychologists have realized for a long time, that this picture of the development of intelligence was as silly as they come. Highly ordered structures like awareness and intellect don't just appear all at once. They emerge over time from more primitive systems. Intelligence evolved under the pressures that all species face in nature.

Awareness and thought did not emerge from nature as a means to get us into college or to allow us to write resumes. They emerged as a means to avoid large predators and distinguish things we can eat from things that can eat us. Living beings need to be able to distinguish between these two things in order to survive. The ability to contemplate concepts of things in our environment is just the natural product of species adapting to interact beneficially with it. All of our mental abilities are inherited from our earliest ancestors and were developed as an instrument for them to survive. The development of these faculties simply could never have delayed emerging until after we developed language.

If you consider it, you will discover that abstract concepts frequently defy linguistic expression, because our ability to think abstractly developed independently of language. You can't really describe a sophisticated mathematical concept or a work of music in words. They can only be contemplated conceptually. In fact very common things defy linguistic expression. Try this experiment.

Describe the color red.

The reason we cant is because the linguistic structure to describe it does not exist. It didn't emerge because it does not serve to benefit our species survival in any way. Yet you can picture red mentally. Or any number of colors. Doubtlessly, a variety of hues, which you might not even have a name for, exist in your mind. They exist as concepts. Mental pictures. And their inability to be defined linguistically does not diminish them. You can picture red. You can apply it to various forms. You can anticipate what would happen if you mixed it with another color. But you don't need language to do that. The imaginative process, the conceptual process, has nothing to do with language.

<<Eskimos have something like seven words that really just mean "snow". Yet an Eskimo thinks like an Eskimo and can judge the minor differences in the type of snow they see and to them one kind of snow is not "a" snow but a "d" snow and ect.. >>

This anecdote about Eskimo's having such a plurality of words for snow is often referred to in arguments for the dependence of thought on language. I don't know why. It does not appear to lend anything to this position. I guess the idea is that the way Eskimo's think about snow is supposed to be structurally different from the way english speakers think of snow. If they do, then it's not evident that it follows from their having more words for snow. In fact, I'm pretty sure there are at least a dozen words for snow in the english language. Flurry, Slush, Hardpack, Frost, Powder, IceLens, etc. And if we include all the descriptive lexemes that we count when we talk about the Eskimo words for snow, then there are probably dozens more in english.

This really is not an indicator that thought is contingent upon language. I can provide an analogous example though, which begins to demonstrate that thought takes place in the absence of language. Colors end up being a good example again, because they are such a large part of our visual world.

In Swedish, there are probably as many words to describe various colors as there are in English. Possibly more. I know they have a special word for light gray. Linguistic relativists would take the position that the Swedish or English must be thinking about colors in a way that is fundamentally denied to people of other cultures, who do not have all these words for colors.

There are many, such cultures. For instance, the Tiv language of New Guinea, where there are only two words for colors, equivalent to light and dark. A Swedish scientific study done years ago sought to test the theory that thought must be absent where language to describe something is also absent. However, when tested, it became apparent that Tiv speakers were able to recognize as many colors (and with the same facility) as Swedish speakers. This is certainly an indicator that thought exists without the benefit of language.

<<Luckily for us I suppose that as humans we all relatively think alike even with our differing way of thinking.>>

I find some arguments for deep structure very persuasive Vanity, but you treat the concept in a way which is very far removed from those arguments.

<<This allows for learning multiple languages each human no matter his language that language has the ability to "learn" or adapt to the use of another language and that is quite a remarkable thing. Almost too remarkable to be chance. >>

Has this become a prescription for theology now?

Greg responds...

Punchinello, I agree with everything you're saying... and yet....

Language, once created, does not then exist in a vacuum. Language itself INFLUENCES thought, influences one's thinking about even the most abstract of concepts -- including Red.

Learning a birth language must wire the brain a certain way. At least out of habit. Not hard-wired of course, but non-survival laziness dictates that a birth language must influence thought. That the learning of a new language (in any depth) must also influence thought.

That introducing new words to a human being may in fact on occasion introduce new concepts not discovered.

In 1984, Orwell posited that the destruction or dissolution of words underlying concepts like "Freedom", etc. would result in a population with less awareness of the concepts themselves. Of course even in that novel, he didn't posit that this was enough to completely WIPE OUT the concept of Freedom. Thus individuals like Smith are intentionally awakened by Ingsoc out of their stupor in order to push them down various roads to "Freedom" while under constant observation. These roads are then cut off -- along with the road-takers -- in order to prevent Freedom from, well, ringing.

Yes, concepts exist independent of language. But language, once created, takes on a life of its own (says the writer -- so take it with a grain of salt). Language has, as I'm sure you'd agree, a power of its own.

I'm not at all sure, but that may be where Vanity was heading.

Response recorded on April 05, 2005

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Punchinello writes...

<< (if you infact cannot speak Russian). In fact the communication would very much be like that between man and an animal.>>

I'm not confident of this, Vanity. I think you need to be more careful in the way you treat the issue. What are you basing this similarity on?

<<When he wants a drink and says (whatever in Russian means 'I want to drink your water'); you will overtime perhaps reckognize what he wants through mere repitition. Never though be able to ask him if he liked the water, describe the compositional qualities that make up the glass, or how the purification system(s) in your water plant makes that water safe for you and your family to drink. >>

I don't understand what your point is here, Vanity. What are you trying to say?

<<You can say it he won't know it.
Yet he can still make the moral judgement on his own princibles that he understands in his own language as to if he will leave the toilet seat up or not. >>

Moral judgement? What relationship do moral judgements have with your thesis on thought and language? This tangent about morality doesn't seem to be anything you could reasonably infer from a theory about language. I confess that I'm a little uncomfortable with this avenue of argument. I suspect that by injecting your thesis with reference to moral principles, you're attempting to take what should be a purely normative argument and turn it into a prescriptive one. I'm anticipating that you're going to advocate the application of some kind of value system down the road, and that you're going to take the position that what you say here demonstrates the validity of that system.

You're going to need to demonstrate the legitimacy of the Wharf hypothesis in this thesis if you want to use it as a prescription for moral behavior. Right now, it would be premature. Even unethical. Of course, your point isn't entirely clear to me. I have to guess at your meaning. What I'm guessing you intend is that the Russian's internal self, his "moral principles," are based in a faculty for language. This would be a strange position to take. I think you're confusing the idea of values with the idea of thoughts.

Maybe it would help to clarify your meaning if you considered the following.
1. Assuming that the Russian's "moral principles" have a foundation in language faculty, does this mean anything? It doesn't seem to reinforce any argument you make.
2. Do you assume that moral principles depend on language? It is not apparent that this is so. But if it were apparent, what would it mean? Would it mean sentience was dependent on language? I don't think so.

<<His sentience is still very much intact as is yours, but in communication most of what we consider humanesque intelligible relay of thought is lost. >>

Why don't you just say..."we don't understand someone when they are speaking an unfamiliar language."
I'm bothered by the way you treat this statement as though you have provided a demonstration of the Russian's intact sentience. I think you're implying that we can agree that his sentience is unique among species and incontestable, but nothing you have written demonstrates that the Russian's experience of awareness is even marginally different from a non-human.

<<He can learn but he may not learn English just as you can but may not learn Russian. Words are words, but diction, structural differences, and phonetic discrepencies between the two languages make changing your thinking process from thinking as an Englishmen(English speaking man not man born on England) to thinking as a Russian quite likely impossible.>>

What do you mean by "changing your thinking process?" I can't make sense of the above statement . Is it a linguistic relativist position? It sounds like maybe you're proposing there is a unique type of deep structure in the mind for every native language? The thesis that thought is dependent on language is frequently attributed to Noam Chomsky's theory of deep universal generative grammar, but you need to understand that Chomsky is referring to the basic universal structures that language emerges from. He is not correlating thinking with regional languages. People who attribute that position to him wildly misunderstand his intent. There is no school of linguistics or cognitive science which advances the notion that there are different deep structures for Russian and English. Wharf and Humboldt have attributed different structure to various cultures. But I don't think any of this amounts to deep structure, and certainly not structure based upon language.

<<Even if you learn Russian as to be able to go to Moscow and fool everyone into thinking that you are indeed a native Russian. Your nueral networking will still under most serious probability process thought in English>>

What is "neural networking?"

I think your position hinges upon this notion of how thought is processed. This is where I fundamentally disagree with you.

Thought is not "processed" in English. Or Russian. I'm supposing you borrow this notion from linguistic relativism even though you seem to subscribe to theories of innate language faculty. I would emphasize that even Chomsky, who is the most prominent proponent of deep structure for language, has explicitly conceded that we also think _without words_ in his response to John R. Searle's critique of his theory. Introspection is not a narrative process.

You should consider that it's probably not appropriate to be treating concepts of deep structure in language as linguistic relativist concepts. Eric H. Lenneberg is a deep structurist, and in his study of the biological basis for language he explicitly defends the antithesis of linguistic relativism. He states clearly "that cognitive function is a more basic and primary process than language, and that the dependence-relationship of language on cognition is incomparably stronger than vice versa."

If it begins to sound like deep structurists consider language independent of thought, that's probably because they do. Their position is a much more realistic one. They regard language as a product and expression of thought. But only one of many such products.

Greg responds...

Okay, I think I followed all that... but I have nothing worthwhile to add. The whole question of language differences doesn't seem to impinge on the original question of sentience a bit.

Response recorded on April 05, 2005

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Punchinello writes...

<<You say you don't have the full answer. I'm just not clear what the question was. I don't disagree with anything you said, except for the notion that Punchinello and I were defining sentience as simply the ability to communicate. I don't think either of us ever did that.>>

Neither of us did. I should stress however, that I disagree with Vanity, strongly. I take this very seriously. Maybe that appears strange. As I read Vanity's thesis though, I think I detect an effort to base a prescription for moral behavior on what he believes sentience is. And if we're going to do that we need to be very careful. It won't be enough to guess at who we judge worthy of some investment of our ethics. We can't limit the moral worth of some creature because we have a feeling. I imagine people couldn't be bothered to have a disagreement over an obscure philosophical issue. Perhaps if it were just a normative argument being made, I wouldn't care either. That's the problem though. Philosophies are never purely normative. They're always potentially prescriptive.

And since you have opened the floor Greg, to really have an exchange about what sentience is, and by extension, what thought is, responding to this provides a good opportunity to do that.

<<(note if you were in Madrid when you first seen Gargoyles and they spoke in Spanish and of course you did too you might argue they thought in Spanish and you would most likely be right mi amigo). But not as an English Man but and English Gargoyle again not as a nationality but as a tongue. Still Lex's moral judgements can be made too stand on thier own and can communicate with anything Man or Gargoyle or Oberon's Child that also speaks English, whether they think "English" or not. >>

<<Language is not merely a tool for communication it is a way of thinking >>

<< Punchinello and yourself discussed "sententiousness"
in quite lenghty detail. If I remember right the main buckling of the topic of one's being sentient was ultimately his ability to communicate ideas. I don't seem to remember any talk about awareness of thought and decision.>>

Well I've reviewed what I saved of that thread, and I cant find any indication that anyone participating intoned that sentience relied upon communication of ideas. _I_ certainly never did. The idea you're describing in your thesis, that thought depends on a faculty for language, arguably originates in the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis and the work of Boas and Humboldt. I'm familiar with this work, and I've never been persuaded that it possessed any kind of intellectual legitimacy. Particularly where Whorf is concerned. The magnitude of error in his thinking is almost comical. Also, while I am unsure of how you are treating the Sapir Whorf hypothesis here, Vanity, it sounds like you suppose that it is not seriously contested by anyone. If that's the case, then you need to understand that it has been the subject of alot of scholarly level criticism among cognitive scientists. In fact, there has been harsh critique in the literature from both the cognitive-neuro camp and the linguistics camp. It's reliability as an hypothesis is alot more tenuous than you might suppose.

<<If a Russian speaker was adopted into your household, and could not understand nor speak a single word of English, you cannot communicate with him on any level of aphroristic expression>>

Aphoristic expression?

Greg responds...

Okay, I'm lost. The problem, as usual being the long gaps between when questions are posted and when I actually see them. That and my poor memory. Even with all the words you quote above, I don't really have enough context to add anything relevent. But I'm happy to give you guys a forum for back & forth and hope that some day the back and forth won't take years.

Response recorded on April 01, 2005

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Punchinello writes...

As long as I'm on the subject of clones...
I've noticed you've been fielding questions about the clones unique coloration. I think at least one person made the observation that there were other structural differences as well. Different types of horns or fins. Different types of builds to the extent that you could interpret some skeletal differences. And maybe I'm crazy, but I would swear I remember Lexington's clone having a spiked ball at the end of his tail?

Now, I don't read fiction (even in a cartoon) in a manner that compels me to think the author must have some kind of explanation for this change. I interpreted it as artistic license. The clones looked like creative variations on a visual theme. They were fun. Interpreting the show as reality, set to film, inspires people to demand to know exactly what obscure feature of "gargoyles science" makes this happen though. I don't think I really like the way it's assumed that a clone of an organism would replicate the donor organism in every detail. That's probably another idea borrowed from star trek.

The concencus right now seems to be that the clones features were altered by a side effect of being rapidly aged in tubes. (They do that with beer now, you know.) However, it's occurred to me that there might be a much more plausible and more interesting explanation. The clones features could have far less to do with the fact that they're clones, than it does with the fact that they're clones of gargoyles.

When an organism is being put together at the molecular level, the process is working against certain forces. Most obviously, gravity, but other forces as well. So there are certain mechanical limitations on the way an embryo can form in the womb. Biology confronts that by developing tissue in various ways. From a mechanical perspective, bone tissue develops by an accretionary process which is technically similar to the way a seashell would form. Muscle tissue forms a gauzy scaffold though, and then develops vasculature into the scaffold.

Ultimately, all of these mechanical processes are compelled to action chemically, by the properties of DNA. That doesn't mean that the final result would be identical for every conceivable circumstance though. Many highly ordered, developmental processes and simple, dumb forces impinge upon our development in the womb, besides the chemical synthesis of our DNA. So while my genes inform the shape of my nose, for example, they are not the only thing which begin to inform it. And some structural features in an organism are more rigidly dictated by genetics than others.

Our genes are more of a blueprint for a theme. We're one theme. I'm not suggesting that the variation could be extraordinary, as I don't want to imply that we are less indebted to our genes than we are. The variation I'm talking about amounts to some subtle changes in morphology. These changes would not always be conspicuous, but sometimes they can be glaring. The coloration of domestic cats, for instance, while informed by their genes, is the product of several developmental forces. And when you clone a domestic cat, you usually get a cat with completely different coloration than the donor. You can easily end up with a calico when you clone a black cat.

If it had been a documentary instead of a cartoon show, I would have suspected that you would get unique results from cloning a gargoyle.

Seeing a gargoyle would be professionally interesting to anyone involved in the biological sciences. But seeing a group of three or more gargoyles would be extraordinary. Even though we define species in terms of reproductive isolation these days, we still use morphology to identify them. And gargates exhibit morphology unlike any other reproductively isolated species in nature. I've mentioned before that the most interesting aspect of the gargoyles, to me, is not the "turning to stone thing," but the fact that you have the morphology of Lexington, Brooklyn, Griff, Una, and Zafiro within one reproductively isolated group.

All members of a species exhibit morphological differences. All tigers and giraffes conform to their species respective morphologies to subtly different extents. We don't usually observe the differences outside our own species, but even when we examine our species differences from person to person, barring aberrations, the changes are never more than minor cosmetic distinctions. Mostly it amounts to slightly different fatty tissue distribution in the face or melanin content in the skin. When racial confirmation is examined, it is only in terms of proportional averages of the length of the limbs to the dimensions of the torso. Even where sexual dimorphism is concerned, the primary characteristics are actually variations on the same organs. This applies to almost every animal on the planet.

When we look at the gargoyles though, they look like Darwin's grab bag. When you compare Brooklyn and Lexington, two members of a species from the same regionally isolated set of genes, you see extreme morphological differences. There is simply no way their skulls can be variations on a single blueprint. There are obvious features that they seem to have in common with each other, and with other gargoyles, that help begin to identify the common origin of their morphologies. The way their lower limbs are designed, their tails and their abdomens seem consistent. But their wings are definitely not. These could _never be_ cosmetic distinctions. These are major structural differences. The way their wings connect would necessitate completely different musculature in their upper bodies, and that, in turn, would require differences in their skeletons to provide structure for the different muscle insertions.

When you add Una and Zafiro to this picture, everything we know about the morphology of species is thrown out the window. I couldn't look at this group and reasonably expect that they even have the same number of vertebrae, let alone be members of the same species. They are unlike anything in nature. But that's not bad. It's fascinating. It gets me speculating about what cicumstances such a creature could emerge from.

One region of speculation I've been entertaining, is that if you had a species with these characteristics, it might be because their genes are arranged into a hierarchy which is different from other organisms.There could be a level of organization to the passing down of their genes beyond just sexual recombination. I'm wondering if genes could be organized into a hierarchy of sets of discrete packages. Sort of like a kit of parts. So that their genes might actually contain blueprints for morphologies for each organ, but have these blueprints disassociated from one another.

From a gene's eye view, it might appear that they were not using gargoyles as a vehicle to perpetuate themselves, but rather, a certain variety of gargoyle tails. Or a certain variety of gargoyle skulls. And each package of genes was pursuing it's reproductive agenda independently of the others, even while multiple packages end up becoming the blueprint for a single gargate.

So I'm thinking... maybe... if external pressures can be a determinant in how genes get expressed in an animal, leading to different tissue distribution in a persons nose or something, then maybe external pressures can have an effect on which "package" gets used for a tail or a set of horns in gargates. Maybe the spiked ball on the end of that clones tail (assuming I was not imagining it) is an alternate package for a tail structure which is as much a part of Lexington as the one we're used to seeing.

The point is that for tissue to take on structure as sophisticated as a spiked ball or a pair of ibex like horns, there would need to something predicating it. It couldn't just happen by accident. So I would be inclined to suppose that some feature of gargate physiology is responsible for such major morphological changes, when cloned, and that their physiology would be unique in that the expression of genes for such radical changes are as much a matter of chance as the extremely minor variations other organisms are subject to.

I have not even begun to consider how a species can exhibit morphological features which seem to be specific replicas of other creatures which they are not related to. How do you get a lion headed gargoyle?

That's sure to be an interesting thought experiment.

Greg responds...

And I'll be very interested to read what you come up with on the subject. Your posts are always fascinating. I love your "package" explanation. As I'm sure you know, I'm no scientist, but Sevarius is... so when he says the discoloration is a result of the age acceleration process, I tend to want to believe him (at least when he has no motivation to lie).

And another thought to keep in mind is that Brentwood was aged beyond Lex's age. Would Lex start to look more like Brentwood as he aged? Don't know, frankly.

But the other physical differences in the clones, as well as the multiple physical differences between gargoyles both inter-clan and intra-clan is nicely explained by the package-theory.

Good fun work!

Response recorded on April 01, 2005

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