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Thorn Explains: The Whispers, Follow-Up

Thorn Explains: The Whispers, Follow-Up published on 12 Comments on Thorn Explains: The Whispers, Follow-Up

Thorn: We have a bunch of new Whispers questions — Rowan, are you okay with handling them?

Rowan: With sharing facts to fight all the stupid and irresponsible misinformation out there?? Let me at ’em.

“Does the Whispers affect non-humans? What about non-sophonts?”

Tamaputians: yes.

Unicorns: yes.

Soulbonded animals: yes, they suffer the same effects as their human.

Aliens with intelligence equivalent to ours: not tested, but probably.

Other animals: hard to tell. How are you going to measure dysphoria in a dog?

Since people don’t have the “consuming malicious spirits and turning into monsters” problem, some scientists theorize that this is what non-sophonts get instead of the Whispers.

“Any long runners die from the Whispers, then return? If so, did they have a case of it when they were born or awoke?”

Rowan: There are no credible records of a long-runner being reborn with the Whispers. It seems to be the “did you try turning it off and then on again?” of souls.

“Is there any treatment or medication to make you immune to the Whispers?”

Archie: Oh, I know this one!

There’s no total immunity, but you get better resistance if you’re in a healthy emotional state to begin with. Well-adjusted. Not under a lot of trauma or stress. Getting any mental health treatment you need.

“Would it be accurate to call the Whispers a spiritual equivalent of a virus, not alive but with complex self replicating properties when given the correct environment, or more like a prion disease, where a single malformed molecule causes a chain reaction in the victim’s spirit until death or extensive repair by the magical girl?”

Archie: You don’t have to answer if it’s too personal, but it would be very helpful material for my next episode.

Rowan: . . . It’s more like being poisoned. Foreign substance. Doesn’t replicate. It just inhibits your soul’s normal healthy functions, which will sicken and kill you eventually.

Partial (or full!) healthy function can come back, but you have to get detoxed first.

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This would explain why they’re waaay more on top of mental health stuff than we are.

It probably helps that there are provable sources of mental illness that have definite and obvious consequences, but I’d say that another reason that it’s so much better there is that telepathy is a thing, and therefore diagnosis could involve a direct view of what’s going on inside their mind without risk of misinterpretation in the conversations diagnosing it – something that we can’t see in our world.

New question: Are El Goonish Shive Urynoms a thing here? Or does Rowan mean, like, real aliens who aren’t secretly native lifeforms? People like Benjamin Franklin and George Washington?

I don’t know what a Urynom is, but Rowan means real aliens. Which are not a known thing in this universe, at least outside of fiction — he’s just talking hypothetically.

You should read El Goonish Shive, I think you’d enjoy it. Though it takes a while to mature, the first few hundred strips are written by a highschool boy with a lot of growing to do and it shows. But Dan Shive grew as a person, and his comic grew with him.

Hmm, from a mechanical standpoint, maybe the reason of long runners not carrying along the condition to a new life is less about it being rebooted, but rather the poison taking root in the connective pathways between body and soul.

Long runners take some time to wake up in their new body, like they’re still completing the bond after birth in the same way a lot of basic functions of the brain take years to assemble and can suddenly switch on once ready.

I’m not sure if there’s any clear implications of it being either way, but it does suggest that if the mechanism of an affinity to a certain type of spirit involved a similar your of connection, it’s possible that one with an affinity and the whispers could theoretically infect spirits they connect with in turn.

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