“Alien”

September 30, 2011 § Leave a comment

When I first considered the idea of constructing an alien of my own design, I found myself at a loss. Every image and feature that came to mind were adapted from Star Wars, Signs, the stereotypical alien images (particularly the green, bug-eyed alien man), and other such sources; I couldn’t conjure up a single original characteristic with which to endow my alien. So I took a mental step back and examined more closely the meaning of the term “alien;” this word generally describes an entity that is foreign to us and in some way outside the scope of our understanding and experience. With this in mind, I returned to the idea of verbally sketching my own alien from a slightly different perspective. What quality, or qualities, could such a creature possess that would cause it to seem completely foreign to humans? In other words, what is a common feature of all (or nearly all) humanity that is instinctive and inherent to us, and the absence of which is simply impossible and incomprehensible to us? A creature endowed with such a feature would truly be considered an “alien.”

A number of human characteristics could potentially lay claim to this prestigious position, from our survival instinct to our need for parental love, but, after both introspective and objective pondering, I deemed this critical feature of humankind to center on human interaction, both positive and negative—particularly our need for it and the influence it exerts on us. This idea encompasses a huge range of entities, including the human desire to love and be loved, competition (both healthy and unhealthy) among peers, the ties among family members, hatred of enemies, and so many more. To be human means to impact others and be impacted by others in innumerable ways, intentionally and unintentionally, helpfully and harmfully, kindly and cruelly. Thus, a truly alien race would evince no such interaction. No member of this society would have any impact on any other member; each would live his or her own individual life, completely isolated and content in his or her isolation. Members of this group would not be physically unaware of or despise each other; they would simply be indifferent to one another, acting the same in the presence of another as they would have had they been alone. They would not seek to meet or to avoid each other; they would merely go about their lives based solely on their own interests and desires, not caring whether this brought them near another living creature or not. Such creatures would be completely foreign to us, starkly out of place in our interdependent, competitive society driven by human interaction. They would truly be “alien.”

-Ginny

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