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23 June 2008 @ 10:10 am
Ethics/results noodling  
Got a hypothetical question for you, oh my gentles.

Say you knew from experience that you could have anything, quite literally any possible thing you asked for, simply for the asking. You know for absolutely certain that you will receive exactly, word for word, the results for which you ask. If you want to think of it as a magic wish, go ahead.

Anything possible under the sun, just by asking. Any result. You want a job? A specific one? One currently held by someone else? You want a car? You want money? You want a LOT of money? For any reason at all, selfish or not? You want someone's love? A specific person? You want someone dead? Today? Ask. It shall be yours.

Now, here's the twist: once you have what you have asked for, it will go wrong from there. I don't mean that the shine wears off or that your desire dulls. I mean that the situation will spoil, will utterly decay out from under you and become horrid. You could always ask for another wish to rectify things, yes... but then, that will decay, too. Someone pays for the ride. Someone always pays for the ride. It isn't always you... but someone pays.

Can you think of anything that would be worth it? Why, or why not? You know that the dark turn of events is due to your method, so does guilt enter into it for you? What if you're the one who pays, does that make it easier or change your mind?
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Current Mood: curious
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Pete: entropygreendalek on June 23rd, 2008 03:18 pm (UTC)
Oh man, I can already tell I'm going to devote a LOT more brain-time on this exercise than my workday will reasonably allow. Thanks a heap.
Traveler Farlandertwfarlan on June 23rd, 2008 03:34 pm (UTC)
I'd say I'm sorry, but I'm not.
Benjamin Leelbuckley on June 23rd, 2008 03:24 pm (UTC)
A Monkey's Paw/Pet Semetary wish, eh?

I've got to be honest, your 'twist' sounds pretty much like life to me. I mean, what good doesn't come with it's packet of bad? What silver lining comes without a cloud? Every time we make a choice, whether it's a wish or something we work towards, someone pays, often many people.

However. To take your hypothetical at face value, if I could choose who got the pain, I'd do it. I'd take on a great deal of suffering if it would help people I love.
Traveler Farlandertwfarlan on June 23rd, 2008 03:34 pm (UTC)
It is essentially the Monkey's Paw, yes, with a delayed downturn. Whereas a Monkey's Paw wish is usually almost immediately bad, or where the Paw would interpret the letter of the wish as negatively as possible, my hypothetical method provides you precisely what you wanted, no deviation from the desire.

You make a good point, though; it isn't too different from life in general. Everything could be seen to balance out, though some people seem to find their level awfully high or awfully low. Without being able to see past or future lives, should such things exist, the short, rather savage lives of children in places like Darfur don't seem to balance against the spoiled existences of your Paris Hiltons or even Michael Jordans or Tiger Woodses. (Tigers Woods? Woodsii? Woose?) Maybe their lives balance out in karmic equations as reincarnation works to reward them for suffering in this life or repay evil in past lives with suffering, but it seems an awfully indirect way to redress wrongs.

All that is decays, yes. It doesn't always have to decay in the most horrific way possible, though, and my hypothetical requires that. Perhaps another question is this: if I make this wish for a job to provide for myself, and it takes a year to truly turn against me, was it worth it?
Benjamin Leelbuckley on June 23rd, 2008 03:44 pm (UTC)
True, it doesn't have to decay most horrifically. If you *knew* your wish for a job would decay horrifically -- well, I don't know if it would be worth it or not. A year from now, would you be better off if you had taken it or not? Given that either way you'd suffer -- I guess what you're asking is, is it worth experiencing great joy or contentment in exchange for great suffering (as opposed to, say, experiencing mediocre joy and mediocre suffering?). In many cases, it's worth it, I'd say. I suffered in many ways living in Egypt for three years, and I'd never live there again -- but neither would I go back and choose differently.

Interesting questions. What do you think, would the job wish be worth it or not?
Traveler Farlandertwfarlan on June 23rd, 2008 03:50 pm (UTC)
Hypothetically, let's say it wasn't, no. Hypothetically, gettings things just like they were desired to be resulted over time in having to suck it up and take just the opposite, a position where the conditions were exactly opposite of anything desired. Hypothetically, the job so desired turned sour, where nothing could be done correctly no matter what, and the question was less of if to leave and more whether to leave before being fired.

Hypothetically.
Benjamin Leelbuckley on June 23rd, 2008 03:56 pm (UTC)
The good thing about jobs is you can quit them and move on, when they begin to decay horrifically. Cut your losses, so to speak. Unless you've made a hypothetical deal with the devil in which you MUST see the decay out to its bitter end.
ravenskye8ravenskye8 on June 23rd, 2008 03:41 pm (UTC)
In the grand tradition of answering a question with another one:

Is it really what you wish for, if there's a catch?
Traveler Farlandertwfarlan on June 23rd, 2008 03:47 pm (UTC)
Life has a catch. It ends. Is it really life if there's no catch?
ravenskye8ravenskye8 on June 23rd, 2008 03:50 pm (UTC)
Touche - but I don't look at that as a catch - that's just how life works - it begins, and it ends...


Traveler Farlandertwfarlan on June 23rd, 2008 03:52 pm (UTC)
True. My hypothetical question would require that a life so gained ended as miserably as possible, so you could very well call that a catch, under the circumstances.

Still, can you get something for nothing? Can you experience great joy without having great pain against which it can be compared?
Benjamin Leelbuckley on June 23rd, 2008 03:57 pm (UTC)
Still, can you get something for nothing? Can you experience great joy without having great pain against which it can be compared?

Yes. And you can have great pain without great joy balancing things out. Unfortunately, life isn't fair. :-P
ravenskye8ravenskye8 on June 23rd, 2008 04:07 pm (UTC)
I tend to define a wish as being catch-free... they're wishes - the whole point of having something magically granted to you is so that you avoid the pain...

Otherwise - it's just what happens in life... Choices have consequences - if you get the job, then others did not... If you have the money, then there are others without it... You don't ever get something for nothing - even that which looks like it is "free" has come at a price - if nothing else, damned hard work...

I think you can experience great joy without the immediate juxtaposition of great pain/sorrow... but you've probably had a time of great pain/sorrow in order for you to recognize and appreciate that this moment is its opposite...
Steve McKnellydenali1 on June 24th, 2008 12:33 am (UTC)
Still, can you get something for nothing?

There is no such thing as a free lunch. In the end, someone still pays.
Kitsune: lonefaekitsunegeek on June 23rd, 2008 06:00 pm (UTC)
*wry smile* Ah, Eternal questions. I can only tell you the path I have already chosen; I made the choice long ago.

No matter how far I stretch, how far forward or how far back I look; I can not ever see the whole picture at once. Yet I know that if I pluck a single strand of the web, the vibration is felt across the entirety. I have never been able to reconcile the suffering of so many against the careless malice of a few; the slow destruction all around me against the willful ignorance of greed; or even the comparably small pain of those I love against my ability to protect them from it. But the price of dramatic intervention is strikingly high. I have always believed that price is so high for a reason. No matter how much it pains me, I have chosen a quieter path; a path of small, slow ways, subtle arts and steady petitions.

I have to believe that greater forces that I see a larger plan; that this is all going to work out somehow; that there is justice and rightness in the end, but the end is beyond my vision. None of this keeps me from railing at the skies, shouting at the Gods, weeping in despair, or suffering anew at every new crisis; but I have chosen my path.
Traveler Farlandertwfarlan on June 23rd, 2008 10:48 pm (UTC)
So, no, then? ;)
Kitsune: Jarethkitsunegeek on June 23rd, 2008 11:56 pm (UTC)
Well, I could have just said that... but where's the fun?
bronxelf_ag001 on June 23rd, 2008 08:39 pm (UTC)
Well shit, Trav. I don't even get the benefit of knowing that I'm going to get the exact thing I want and that result *still* happens with everything in my life.

So in my case, a whole lot of things would be worth it- because at least for a short amount of time, I'd have actually gotten what I want, rather than *not* getting what I want and having it all turn to shit anyway.
Traveler Farlandertwfarlan on June 23rd, 2008 10:48 pm (UTC)
Having seen via the proxy of your LJ entries and the occasional chat what kind of shit things turn into in your life, my hypothetical is still involving a level of Golgothan demon-tainted hellish torment beyond what you've had to deal with... but of all the people I know, you've come the closest under your circumstances to convincing me.
bronxelf_ag001 on June 23rd, 2008 10:55 pm (UTC)
If one considers that you can only possibly be hearing or knowing about a portion (however much) of what's going on, I think that I'm closer than you think.

So sure. I'd do it- because the back end *is my life anyway*, at least I'd finally get the front end, too.

Sorciasorcia on June 24th, 2008 12:00 am (UTC)
It would only be worth it if the magic wish was intended for someone else that I cared about, and I was the one to pay the price with no harm to them.
rickvsrickvs on June 24th, 2008 01:09 am (UTC)
You could always put a bug in Anne Rice's ear, and see if she'd stipulate (in her next first-person book about Jesus), that he was posed this exact conundrum.

Christianity, as a tool, has been occasionally turned to some pretty nasty uses, and could fit within the framework you described, yes?
Ace Lightning: toiletacelightning on June 24th, 2008 11:20 am (UTC)
if it were as simple as, "you can cause something very good to happen to someone else, if you accept that something terrible will happen to you," of course i'd do it. i've done it IRL several times already. but, of course, your question isn't that simple. if i wished for something good to happen to someone i care about, with the thought in mind that i'd take the bad stuff... that would pretty much insure that i'd have to watch helplessly as something different but still bad happened to the person i'd wished good things for.

which is one reason i'm very careful how i use magick.


Noah Singman: Noah and Conniensingman on June 24th, 2008 02:49 pm (UTC)
Unless I were guaranteed to be the one who paid, I wouldn't ask. Having someone else pay my way without volunteering to do so offends my libertarian sensibilities.
:-)

However, assuming I did pay, then I'd need a lot more information on just how badly the situation spoiled. If I thought I'd be unhappier after the broken wish than without making it, I'd decline.
craigers01 on July 2nd, 2008 05:14 pm (UTC)
I would wish for you to get evreything you ever wanted! hehehe...

Sorry, a bit of the Kai / Varian thing flaring up there.

I guess I should logically wish for my life to turn to shit, then wait for everything to get better.
Traveler Farlandertwfarlan on July 2nd, 2008 06:07 pm (UTC)
If you wish for shit, you'll get shit... and then be taught a whole new level of "shit" as a lesson, I think.

Always the rules lawyer with you. ;)