“How do you say We come in peace when the very words are an act of war?” (Watts 325)

Posted on November 15, 2011 by Tiffany KW.
Categories: Uncategorized.

“How do you say We come in peace when the very words are an act of war?” (Watts 325)

I chose this specific sentence from Blindsight because it seemed to symbolize every single instance of miscommunication or misunderstanding between cultures of which I had ever heard.  It’s Kennedy’s jelly doughnut in Germany and Nixon’s peace sign in Australia, blown up exponentially and with far more dire consequences.  The Third Wave group comes off more like Cortés meeting the Aztecs for the first time.  Though he survived, he severely underestimated the people he encountered.  Once the group captures live “scramblers,” they presume the beings are drone-like; a much more egregious error.

In some ways, Siri’s thoughts seem to frame the circumstances of the interaction with Rorschach as a referendum on encountering the unknown.  However, by the end of the Rorschach section, it becomes clear that Sarasti — or rather, the Captain — understood that as much intelligence as possible had to be gathered prior to destroying the encroaching enemy.  Siri’s thought about how to communicate with a sentient being for whom our language is combative speaks to the limits of human understanding.  How would we communicate with a being whose language is utterly and completely incomprehensible?  How would humankind react to an alien race whose only method of communication was a virus or a bacterial infection?

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