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Old 09-17-2010, 06:24 AM
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Question What is it like to *be* a Na'vi?

It's a question that's always intrigued me: what is it like to actually be a Na'vi?

Obviously the Na'vi have some sort of consciousness of being part of Pandora, even when they're not physically connected by their queues. What do they know, and what is it like to know it?
What is it like to experience Eywa, and all the generations of ancestors and other voices deep inside the Tree of Souls?
What is tsayhalu like? Sure, we can see Jake's O-face, but 'awesome' isn't really an answer...what is he feeling and experiencing?

Good acting can convey a lot, but the magic of words is that they let you get inside someone's head and actually share their experiences.

This is the Avatar sequel that will never be made (and if this is correct, it might actually be better than the sequel...let's hope not.) It's also my answer to the question "So what's it like to be Na'vi?" It's dark, powerful, and uplifting, and I'm proud of it.
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Old 09-17-2010, 06:42 AM
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I suppose that's like asking one to define what it feels like to be a human, or anything else, and even tougher since all we know about them is from a very specific fictional canon.

I have a hypothesis about what tsahaylu might feel like, though. I suppose it might be like an out-of-body experience. If you were to bond with a horse, you might feel neither entirely yourself, nor the horse, but almost like a combination of the two standing somewhat apart. Basically like you and the Pa'li became a single machine and your consciousness was hovering right above, pulling the levers.

To give another example, I sometimes suffer from sleep paralysis, and while I know I'm always in my body and feeling the paralysis, I also feel like I'm floating just above myself, looking down and saying "wake up! wake up! snap out of it! you're just asleep!" Basically, entity A tsahaylus with entity B and they become entity C controlling the whole situation.
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Old 09-17-2010, 06:55 AM
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Great post!

I think that raises an interesting point, which is that in tsayhalu with an animal, the Na'vi is basically driving the animal around...whereas there is no indication that tsayhalu between two people ends up with anything but shared experience.

I imagine that the larger, more powerful mind of the Na'vi is able to overwhelm that of an animal and command it, whereas two Na'vi minds cannot command each other, and basically end up sharing their thoughts. (And this also means that Eywa would be able to command the Na'vi like puppets if she so chose, which raises all sorts of interesting questions.)

Under most circumstances sharing thoughts would be a bad thing, which is why it's basically a mating ritual for Na'vi: if you have anything but the best thoughts and purest intentions towards another, you really don't want to let them know that.
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Old 09-18-2010, 03:18 AM
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It's probably a lot like Buddhist Enlightenment, but instead of having to labor almost ones entire life away trying to reach it (and most likely not reach it at all), all it takes is simply making tsaheylu with the Tree of Souls. Probably also what eating from the Tree of Life was like in the story of the Garden of Eden. Everything just kinda falls into place and perspective, and one can be at true peace, and enjoy life to it's fullest.

I also liked how you refered to humans as "Na'vi with their queue cut off," because that's pretty much our spiritual essence summed up in a single sentence. I occasionally listen to "AM Coast to Coast" on the way to school (that is, when George Noory isn't going off on some tin-hat tangent), and this morning he had a guest on that taught spirituality at private schools, and he said that the kids showed a real interest in it. People are spiritually hungry, they want something to believe in, but unfortunately we lack the sensory organs to fulfill that hunger to the fullest. We try to satiate ourselves with theologies, or thoughtful philosophy, or even simply ignoring the hunger completely and taking the atheist route. The hunger is still there, though, and it will always be there, because we lack the way to spiritual fulness the way the Na'vi have. I'm sure there is something larger than us out there, and while we can scratch the surface with things like meditation, OBEs, etc., we can't truly dig into it the way the Na'vi could if they were real. Humans have a spiritual hunger, just as natural as a physical hunger, but we lack a way to fulfill it in it's fulness. A sad paradox. The worst part is that, spirituality aside, there are thoughts, regardless of what they be for each individual, that all people have that long to come out, but cannot be described with the means of communication we have. Many a great work of literature were likely fueled by attempts to transcribe these thoughts, and many a works of art, and also likely many a war were fought over these thoughts. "Welcome to the human condition," I suppose (the plight of the queue-less Na'vi) I really hope you expand on this "queue-less Na'vi" theory in the future.

EDIT - Alright, time for part 2. Anyway, on your description of the Na'vi lifestyle, all I can say is - beautiful. It perfectly sums up the draw of Pandora, and also why I want to pursue a life in the wild. While the Na'vi world is fictional, it's way of life is not. Everything one would need to live they way they do is already here on Earth. Like I said before, treehouses are our equivilant of Hometree, horses are our Pa'li, hang gliders our Ikran, etc. There is a way to that kind of happiness right here on this Earth, a way of life where every second is an adventure and is lived to the fullest, and is without money, or jobs, or forms, or any of these things which are bad for us. Unfortunately we passed right by this life on our greed-driven power-trip (or rather, the greed-driven power-trip of the wealthiest 1/10% of people), because while these things are bad for our well being, it is good for their profit margin. It's also a lifestyle they would label as "wrong" or "for the lazy." If the wrong person read your fanfic they would probably start screaming hedonism. Every free person is one less wage slave for them, and that is why they demonize people living in the wild/going their own routes in life, because it's less money in their pocket. Think I'm exaggerating? The average modern adult worker spends 1/2 their waking hours at their jobs. In comparison tribal people only need to work two hours a day to hunt/gather what they need for the day. All the rest of their time is spent having fun or bonding with others in the community. Yeah, working in the modern world let's us have shiny new gadgets or cool designer clothing, but is it honestly worth all the stress? The environmental damage? The reduced personal fulfillment? In the words of BIG, "Mo money, mo problems." Life can be, and once was, so much more than what the modern world has squandered it into. Humanity can still progress, but it must shift itself from profit-oriented innovation to people-oriented innovation. The reason modern life is as dull and boring as it is because the entire system is based on the amassing of wealth by an extremely small minority of people, and the rest are forced to work harder than any other time in history. We need to shift to a people-oriented world (like the Na'vi), where innovation is in the name of helping people live more fun, fulfilling, lives. Then, people can do things simply because they can and want to, not having to have some sort of economic justification behind their actions

A human's life on Earth can be just as exciting and fulfilling as a Na'vi's life on Pandora. It can be a life of utter freedom, a life of doing what you want to do, without having to have some twisted economic justification for it. It can be a life of deeper connection with your fellow human, and the larger community of life in general. It once was, and it can be again.
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Old 09-18-2010, 04:06 PM
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The Na'vi have a deep connection to the nature around them because they understand it. They understand theres something big and deep going on. They know Eywa is real. They know. Plus its their culture, so they have to respect it, and when they mature they realize the importance of it as well.

And a tsayhalu? Oh wow you've got me started XD A tsayhalu with another Na'vi is as The Activist Survival Guide quotes, "The ultimate intimacy". Think about that, truly, deeply think about that. Think about what it would feel like to connect with your lifemate (if you dont have one think of Neytiri) and think about the emotions shared. Those emotions which are too strong for words you'd be able to express to the other, and those emotions she feels for you that she cant express she'd be able to, and be able to drive that right into your brain as well. Truly something to wish you had
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Old 09-18-2010, 06:41 PM
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I don't think being a Na'vi would feel much different from being a human. You'd be taller, maybe a little more fit, oh, and blue. But I don't think it would feel different. I think the Na'vi culture doesn't make much of a difference, it's still you, you're mind, just in an altered body.

I think of a tsaheylu with an Ikran would be like putting the keys in the ignition of a car. One second, you're not in control, the next, you are. And just like in some cars, you could feel the engine beneath you. Only in the case of a Na'vi, its a heartbeat. So it's cooler, but not too different. And maybe you gain an instinct for flying, like, the Ikran's instincts are still there.

I understand what Tsyal said about missing a spiritual organ, but I disagree. I think all humans have this organ (in a way) - the heart.
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Old 09-18-2010, 08:51 PM
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Wow! Thanks, everyone, for the thoughtful replies.

Tsyal: I figured that having that deep connection the Na'vi do to each other, and to Pandora, is part of what made them so hostile to humans. Not just because the humans were destroying their land...but because they genuinely couldn't conceive of humans not understanding what they were doing!

Think about it...it's not like Selfridge really had it in for the Na'vi like Quaritch did...they were just in the way of him doing his job, and that's what a lot of the RDA probably thought. But the Na'vi wouldn't understand that. They wouldn't understand how someone could be 'just doing their job'...they would interpret Selfridge as deliberately making war. Which, in fact, he was, even if it wasn't his intent...

...but after everything was over, even Neytiri might be able to understand and sympathize just a little bit.

As far as the "queue-less Na'vi", I think the next two parts will shed some more light on that, from an interesting perspective. I look forward to your thoughts.


caveman: Like I said, I imagine it's a matter of relative mental power. Animals you can pretty much drive around. Another Na'vi, not so much.

I think that the connection humans have, and which we miss, is the connection of the tribe. For millions of years, we have lived in small tribal groups of 30-100 (perhaps up to 150, more recently). You are spending your entire day with your tribe, hunting, foraging, cooking, making tools, sleeping...not living alone or with a "nuclear family," seeing others only at work or in "public places" where you generally have to spend money or leave.

Over a lifetime, you would get to know everyone in your tribe very, very well. You would have a deep sense of community and connection - because you are absolutely depending on each other to stay alive in a world full of lions, saber-tooth cats, giant hyenas, poisonous snakes, and other predators quite happy to eat you for lunch.

Not only that, but you would have a very deep connection to the land you lived on, because all of you depend on it. Knowing your land intimately, and knowing its other inhabitants and their habits intimately, would be absolutely necessary for your survival.

We might not have had tsayhalu, but the connection of ancestral humans to their tribe and to the land would have been of a level we can hardly imagine today. And a few thousand years of "civilization" has not meaningfully changed human motivations that have been shaped for millions.
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Old 09-18-2010, 08:53 PM
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Also: Part 3 and Part 4 are now up!

Skip to Part 3

Or, Start at the beginning

....And it's time for me to go outside and enjoy a beautiful fall day.
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Old 09-18-2010, 10:41 PM
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Avatar: Seeds of Life is incredible!! i love it! great work! cant wait for the next parts!
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Old 09-18-2010, 11:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cynegen View Post
Wow! Thanks, everyone, for the thoughtful replies.

Tsyal: I figured that having that deep connection the Na'vi do to each other, and to Pandora, is part of what made them so hostile to humans. Not just because the humans were destroying their land...but because they genuinely couldn't conceive of humans not understanding what they were doing!

Think about it...it's not like Selfridge really had it in for the Na'vi like Quaritch did...they were just in the way of him doing his job, and that's what a lot of the RDA probably thought. But the Na'vi wouldn't understand that. They wouldn't understand how someone could be 'just doing their job'...they would interpret Selfridge as deliberately making war. Which, in fact, he was, even if it wasn't his intent...

...but after everything was over, even Neytiri might be able to understand and sympathize just a little bit.

As far as the "queue-less Na'vi", I think the next two parts will shed some more light on that, from an interesting perspective. I look forward to your thoughts.


caveman: Like I said, I imagine it's a matter of relative mental power. Animals you can pretty much drive around. Another Na'vi, not so much.

I think that the connection humans have, and which we miss, is the connection of the tribe. For millions of years, we have lived in small tribal groups of 30-100 (perhaps up to 150, more recently). You are spending your entire day with your tribe, hunting, foraging, cooking, making tools, sleeping...not living alone or with a "nuclear family," seeing others only at work or in "public places" where you generally have to spend money or leave.

Over a lifetime, you would get to know everyone in your tribe very, very well. You would have a deep sense of community and connection - because you are absolutely depending on each other to stay alive in a world full of lions, saber-tooth cats, giant hyenas, poisonous snakes, and other predators quite happy to eat you for lunch.

Not only that, but you would have a very deep connection to the land you lived on, because all of you depend on it. Knowing your land intimately, and knowing its other inhabitants and their habits intimately, would be absolutely necessary for your survival.

We might not have had tsayhalu, but the connection of ancestral humans to their tribe and to the land would have been of a level we can hardly imagine today. And a few thousand years of "civilization" has not meaningfully changed human motivations that have been shaped for millions.
I definitely agree with what you said about the tribe (although I don't know if we were around that long. I believe the estimates are like 1-2 hundred thousand years). Something I've seen time and time again is how people want to believe in something. People want a team, a tribe, a God, a destiny, something to believe in or feel connected to. To be part of something bigger than yourself. Many of these beliefs can be good, others can be bad.
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Old 09-19-2010, 03:46 AM
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With regards to how intimate Tsahaylu with another person is...I wonder if it's got to do more with sharing of knowledge and understanding, or in having a mutual experience?

The point is, if the connection were really all that deep, you'd wind up airing all your secrets, and your partner would have to be mature enough to realize that love transcends idiosyncrasies, and sometimes builds on them.

At the Tree of Voices, maybe Jake thought "Neytiri is great. She's been an unbelievable teacher and taught me to feel things I never thought I could, and she has a moral compass like no one I've ever known. But she sure can be a nag sometimes."

Neytiri might counter with "Jake has worked so hard, and has come farther than I thought a sky-person ever could. I've never felt this comfortable around anyone, or like I've shared so many important things with someone. But he still stinks like a sky-person."

In which case, Tsahaylu would be the ultimate lesson in "nobody's perfect" and disregarding pretense, since the parties involved couldn't "bite their tongues," so to speak.

On the other hand, Neytiri didn't realize "wait a minute...the RDA is arriving here TOMORROW?! Jake, why didn't you say something?!" so I'm inclined to believe that Tsahaylu is more about a shared experience than actually immersion in each other's thoughts and consciousness. Basically a deep quick plunge, rather than a slow boggy wade.
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Old 09-19-2010, 12:51 PM
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I'd say Tsaheylu is not a way to share actual thoughs, but the consciousness of bodies. When Seze got hit in one of the War scenes, Neytiri clearly felt her pain.

Tsaheylu with Eywa must be quite an experience. I believe Eywa can control many things, like birthrates, so Pandora would never get over populated by the Na'vi, like Earth is, by Humans.
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Old 09-20-2010, 04:56 AM
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I think it's clear that tsayhalu isn't a substitute for a verbal connection between rational minds...as Ngiyakubona said, Neytiri would have noticed the RDA is coming. More importantly, animals don't really have a rational mind to connect with.

My read is not that it's more indirect...I think it's very direct, but more of an emotional-level connection...which is most of what drives us to act, anyway. The neocortex is a very thin layer atop a giant pile of emotions and reflexes, and it spends most of its time rationalizing decisions we've already made, not commanding the rest of the brain.

So Neytiri would feel Seze's joy and pain, and Jake and Neytiri would know how each felt about the other...but they wouldn't necessarily learn specific facts unless both were thinking about them very directly. Since tsayhalu is a pre-symbolic-language function (otherwise animals couldn't have it), I imagine that fishing facts out of tsayhalu would be like playing charades.

Fosus: I basically agree, which brings up a disturbing question: to what degree are the Na'vi just puppets of Eywa? Or her agents? Animals don't seem to bond directly with her (we don't see direhorses, or anything else, bonding with the Tree of Souls)...so maybe she doesn't really have control over them like she does the plants, and the reason the Na'vi exist is to be the agents of Eywa and keep Pandora in balance?
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Old 09-20-2010, 05:07 AM
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This raises another question of interest.

Tsaheylu with a lifemate: if unlike tsaheylu with animals, how would the participants feel? Would they simply feel the presense of another mind and other thoughts? Would their consciousness meld? Or would their feelings run on a loop between their minds, experiencing twice the pleasure?

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Old 09-21-2010, 02:16 AM
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I feel like tsaheylu would be kind of like a hug. Humans feel love when they hug someone else because they know it represents love. The difference is that humans are left with representations or demonstrations of love, where as the Na'vi have something real they can share love with. So, it's like a super-hug that actually is something, and not a demonstration or representation.

Part of me likes how the Na'vi have such a way of transferring love like that, but part of me doesn't. I can't help but to feel like the physical aspect takes away from the true love. I didn't like how there was a sex scene. I actually hated it. Until then it was more about two spirits that loved each other, not bodies. Just my thoughts.
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