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  • T An Eye for an Eye

    Trixie returns to Ponyville (again) and asks Twilight Sparkle for help. Things don't go according to plan.
    12,850 words · 1,458 views  ·  96  ·  0

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  • 26w, 17h
    How Strong is Celestia?

    7 comments · 123 views
  • 45w, 5d
    On Hyperactive, Pink Ponies

    Warning: Rant

    The paint-watching scene in “Feeling Pinkie Keen” has always bothered me a bit, but not for the reason you might expect.

    Much debate has raged over Twilight’s method of dispatching Pinkie’s duplicates.  Even more controversial is the method of determining the real Pinkie.  This, to me, is not the biggest issue with the episode.  Yes, there may have been more logical methods of weeding out the clones; for example, it was shown that the clones have none of Pinkie’s memories, so a simple quiz would have done most of the work in finding the real Pinkie.  The reason it was a test of determination is because it makes for a better story.  The entire theme of the episode was that Pinkie cares about her friends above all else, so to force her to sit through something like a paint-watching fits in much better than another, perhaps more logical method.  Could it have been handled in a way with less disturbing implications?  It’s possible.

    No, my biggest issue is of a more personal nature.  As I have mentioned previously, I suffer from fairly severe ADHD-PI.  It is a constant struggle for me to be productive, and I have to infuse my body with potent chemicals just to put myself on a similar footing to everyone else [1].  Pinkie Pie fits every major diagnostic criterion for ADHD-PH, the better-known sibling of my condition.  She talks constantly, touches and plays with any object in sight, and has difficulty sitting still or performing quiet tasks.  Thus, to show her sitting still, completely focused on a single, menial task to the point of being oblivious to events happening around her, feels just a bit insulting.

    Even though I have inattentive ADHD, rather than Pinkie’s hyperactive ADHD, they share many traits, so I will be speaking from experience.  Were I placed in that test, I would fail.  I have no doubt that, no matter the stakes, I could not sit in one place, staring at a wall, for more than ninety seconds.  Add in the distractions, both deliberate and otherwise, and I wouldn’t last ten.  This is what ADHD does; those with the condition are neurologically incapable of focusing on tasks that do not interest them.  

    Now, if I may be allowed to boast slightly, I am devastatingly intelligent.  When I was twelve years old, I was ranked second in the state of Pennsylvania on a talent search among similarly-aged students.  I scored a 2260 on the SAT (800 Math, 720 Reading, 740 Writing) when I was fourteen [2][3].  I entered my first year of college with multiple academic scholarships at the age of sixteen.  Multiple intelligence and aptitude tests have placed me in the ninety-ninth percentile for things like spatial reasoning and logical problem solving.  It is no exaggeration to say that, when I enter a room, the average IQ score jumps a few points [4].  Despite this, my grades in most classes have consistently hovered around the low-eighties or high-seventies, because I am simply unable to focus when I’m not keenly interested in the material.  I simply could not do my homework unless one of my parents was literally sitting behind me, watching to make sure I wasn’t slacking off.  Before I was diagnosed with ADHD, I was more than once reduced to tears because I couldn’t understand what was wrong with me.  I’d been called lazy, unmotivated, shortsighted (in the figurative sense; coincidentally, I would later be diagnosed with literal nearsightedness), and stupid, and it didn’t take long for me to start believing it myself.

    My point here is that ADHD, like any mental disorder, is a very real thing with very real consequences.  Despite this, there is a common perception that anyone can overcome these consequences through determination or sheer force of will.  It appears all the time in fiction.  Here’s a fun game: flick through a bunch of “inspirational” movies, especially those that have won awards.  Count how many of them end with a character throwing away his or her medication (bonus points for an inhaler or epipen).  If a character is depressed, all he really needs is a friend to tell him that he needs to think positively [5].  People with paralyzing phobias can overcome them when they need to rescue a friend or loved one, and they’ll even come out of the experience having overcome that fear completely.  Even physical disability can be beaten by the power of positive thinking.

    We all love to see this happen.  It’s comforting to believe that any problem we might face can be overcome with enough effort, and done well, it can be a powerful message about the importance of hope in the face of adversity.  Done poorly, however, these triumphs of will carry a much more harmful message.  Namely, when a character beats his or her physical or mental restrictions through sheer determination, it means that everyone else still facing that limitation is simply not trying hard enough.  It changes mental illness from a physiological and neurological condition into a character flaw, and implies that people who struggle every day with depression or ADHD do so because they don’t want to change.

    No-one tells a gunshot victim to simply will the wound closed.  You wouldn’t prescribe a positive outlook to a cancer patient [6].  A vaccine isn’t made of distilled wishful thinking.  Why do we treat mental disorders differently?  I’ve heard people claim that mental illness is just a form of oppression (look up “medicalizing nonconformity” if you need a good laugh), or that sufferers are making it up to win sympathy.  I won’t deny that this happens; homosexuality has long been claimed to be a mental illness [8], thus enabling bigots to attempt to “cure” the gay out of people.  Likewise, some people do try to fake mental sickness to get access to mind-altering substances, though the same happens with physical injuries as well.  These concerns don’t change the fact that mental disorders are real, and the characteristics and symptoms are well-known [9].  

    I realize this has become a rant, so I’ll bring things back to the episode itself.  Yes, the paint-watching test left a bad taste in my mouth.  I do not imagine it was conceived out of malicious intent; the phrase that comes to mind goes something like, “never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity” [10], though ignorance might be more apt in this case.  In fact, did I not suffer from ADHD myself, I would have found nothing wrong with the episode’s (implicit) depiction.  Even despite my gripes, I also enjoyed the episode as a whole.  It’s funny and silly in the way that only Pinkie Pie can be, and it does a wonderful job of portraying her as a sympathetic character.

    Writing about illness or disability is always a challenge.  Feeling Pinkie Keen didn’t attempt to address ADHD; that was an interpretation I came to based on my own experiences.  Had mental illness been the focus of the episode, I have no doubt that it would have been handled differently.  It is for this reason that tomorrow’s episode, “Flight to the Finish”, has been my most-anticipated episode of Season 4 since its announcement.  There are so many ways for it to go wrong; I’ve seen most of them [11].  Done well, though, I think its message could be one of the most powerful and inspirational of the show to date.  

    I’m optimistic.


    1: There is a bit of controversy surrounding the use of stimulant drugs to treat ADHD.  In fact, there’s a bit of controversy around any mental illness.  I submit, however, that most people who disagree with either the diagnosis or treatment of mental disorders are not, themselves, sufferers.  I’d like to make a few things clear: I take extended-release methylphenidate in the morning on any day in which I anticipate the need for focus or concentration.  The medication takes effect around half an hour after I have taken the pills, and lasts for nine to ten hours after that.  As with any drug used to treat ADHD, its purpose is not to make me more docile, nor does it fundamentally change my mood or personality.  What it does is allow me to operate with a substantially improved ability to focus and to avoid distraction.  To that extent, it is much like coffee, which is a stimulant that most adults take regularly when they need a bit of help concentrating.  The difference is that my medication is necessary if I want to operate at anything like the level of a non-sufferer.  

    2: That same year, I also took the ACT.  I got a score of 34 overall, taken as the average of four sections with a maximum score of 36 each.  I later took the AP exams for US Government and Politics, US History, Calculus AB, and Physics C: Mechanics; I scored 4 on each, except for Calculus, on which I scored 5.  On each of the SAT II subject tests in Mathematics and Physics, I scored the maximum of 800.  Here's a fun fact: after I was accepted into college, these scores immediately lost all relevance.  That doesn't mean I can't still be proud of them; heaven knows I have precious little else to celebrate.

    3: I actually dislike the use of standardized test scores to measure intelligence.  To my mind, they are more accurately a measure of the test-taker’s ability to take a standardized test.  IQ scores are similarly suspect, as each test has its own criteria (here’s a tip: whenever someone states an IQ score without qualifying the test taken, it’s useless to compare it to anything and you should just dismiss it as irrelevant).  Still, it’s sometimes useful to have a simple, qualitative measurement, as long as you remember not to reduce someone to a series of statistics.

    4: Empty rooms are the exception.  A room with no-one in it does not have an average IQ score of zero; it does not have an average IQ score at all.  It would be a bit like asking the average length of the twenty-ninth of February across the past hundred years, or the how many slices to cut no pies into to feed no people.  You cannot divide anything by zero, not even (perhaps especially not) zero.

    5: There is an exception, and it’s an important one to make.  People about to attempt suicide are frequently shown being convinced to change their minds by something as simple as someone asking them not to.  This really happens, and it happens far more often than you might expect.  While most suicides are not spur-of-the-moment (nor are they often preceded by a marked increase in depressive speech or actions; the stereotypical response to a suicide is “I had no idea anything was wrong”, and this is because a person who has decided on suicide will often be relieved that the end is near), they do tend to happen in a temporary low point in a person’s life, where that person feels at his or her most alone.  Often, it’s simply the presence of someone else willing to listen that will cause the person to reconsider.  

    6: Homeopathy, faith healing, qi, and intercessory prayer notwithstanding.  I could write pages upon pages about pseudoscience in medicine, particularly homeopathy, but I have enough faith in my readership to understand that claims that cannot be backed up by evidence have no place in any branch of science, least of all when lives are on the line.  Just for fun, though, I must point out that an organization has long offered a million-dollar reward for anyone who can demonstrate clear evidence of supernatural abilities or events (and make no mistake, the mechanism by which homeopathy is purported to work is nothing short of magic).  While many small-time homeopathic proponents have attempted (and failed) to claim this prize, it’s even more telling that no major distributor of homeopathic remedies [7] has ever even attempted to meet this challenge.  Attempting it and succeeding would earn instant fame and recognition, not just for the company, but for homeopathy as a field of study.  Why, then, would they not want to put their remedies to the test?

    7: It seems I cannot let the subject of homeopathy rest easily after all.  The very concept of a major manufacturer of homeopathic remedies is paradoxical.  One of the fundamental tenets of homeopathic practice is that of one-on-one interaction between the patient and the practitioner.  According to the original guidelines, each homeopathic remedy must be individually prepared to meet the unique requirements of each patient and illness.  While this makes homeopathy a fairly effective placebo (and nothing more), it also means that, were there any actual merit to homeopathic remedies in the first place, they would still be utterly impossible to actually mass-produce.

    8: This is another subject I could rant about for days.  What’s interesting is that, though we like to think of modern Western civilization as more progressive and tolerant than we were in the past, we’re a culture like any other, and we have our own taboos and virtues that are unique to us.  For example, teacher-student relationships, even (or especially) those of a sexual nature, were encouraged in many ancient cultures, though we consider them abusive or inappropriate today.  Effeminate or emotional men were not so long ago thought of as the epitome of manhood; just look at how much crying there is in The Odyssey.  A look at historical artwork will tell you a lot about the changing perceptions of beauty, especially when it comes to the female form.  Things fall in and out of favor, and homosexuality is no different.  That doesn't mean it's right to treat people differently because of it.

    9: There is a caveat here.  The study of mental health is a relatively new field, and our understanding of the human brain is far from complete.  For ADHD in particular, there is actually a fair amount of debate over the diagnostic criteria.  While few medical experts will deny that ADHD exists, the consensus on its prevalence or diagnosis is tenuous at best.  Brain imagery suggests that there are structural and operational differences between the brains of those with ADHD and those without, but as ever, there is much more research to be done.

    10: The quote is attributed to Robert J. Hanlon, and forms the adage known as “Hanlon’s Razor” (the parallel to Occam’s Razor is intentional).

    11: Because it’s a bit outside the scope of this discussion, and also because it’s so fundamentally unimportant in the grand scheme of things that devoting any attention to it will cause the medication coursing through my veins to immediately declare war on my norepinephrine receptors, I will not include my speculation on the upcoming episode in the main article.  For the sake of completeness, however, I will detail a few ways I can see the episode going down in this footnote, as well as how I would react to each.

    The first possibility is that Scootaloo is found to be permanently disabled or impaired in flying.  Despite this, she learns not to allow her inability to define her, and resolves to live her life to the fullest anyway.  This, I think, is the best-case scenario.  Actually, that sounds really horrible, come to think of it.  Let me rephrase; this would provide the best message.  It would show the most daring and integrity on the part of the writers.  I would not wish disability on Scootaloo, nor on anyone else, because wow I shouldn’t have to explain why not.  Let’s move on, before I accidentally wish that Santa were dead or something.

    Alternatively, Scootaloo really just hasn’t figured out how to fly yet.  Maybe she even figures it out over the course of the episode, which would open up some really neat possibilities in the future.  Honestly, I would probably be disappointed.  Based on the animatic shown of this episode, it really seemed that this episode would cover a sensitive topic like disability, and to not follow through on that would represent either a cop-out on the writing side or a diabolically clever marketing decision by whoever picked the clips to show ahead of time.  That’s a preposterously good way to stir up some anticipation.

    The episode might not resolve Scootaloo’s flight at all.  My mind is having to jump through some pretty strange hoops to figure out how this might work, but I’m not willing to dismiss it outright.  Maybe the episode is just about Scootaloo’s self-confidence, or about how bullies will always find something to use against you [12].  This is a bit of a mixed bag, and I’d have to wait until the actual resolution of the issue to make a full verdict.  Ending on an optimistic note, only to later determine that no, she can’t fly after all, would be cruel.  Doing the opposite would feel like an inability to follow through.  Completely avoiding the issue would feel manipulative, though I’d again have to credit the marketing team for sheer irreverence.  That's courage on a Santa-killing level, and I would have to admire them for it.

    There are worse ways it could go, but I trust the writing team to do a good job of it.  I wouldn’t have stuck with the show thus far otherwise, right?  (“Sunk cost fallacy”?  What’s that?)

    12: Regarding bullies, I think “One Bad Apple” might just be one of the best episodes of the show so far.  It isn’t my favorite, not by a long shot, nor was it perfect.  Holy crap, though, did it resonate with me.  As is probably not surprising, I was bullied throughout most of my school days.  To this day, I suffer from self-esteem issues and emotional and interpersonal difficulties because of it.  “One Bad Apple” has without a doubt the most poignant depiction of the consequences of bullying, and its message that adults can and will help if you just talk to them is so hugely important that I cannot adequately express it.  To watch the Crusaders being bullied like that, especially knowing that they could have resolved it so easily had they just talked to Applejack, was personally moving in a way that I don’t think any other episode (barring "Hurricane Fluttershy", which I actually could not watch in one sitting because I had to recover from it emotionally halfway through) has been before or since.

    I really think “Flight to the Finish” could do that again.  On some level, I think I need it to be.  Maybe it’s unfair to compare ADHD to physical disability, but I have been struggling with the former all my life and I need some reassurance that it doesn’t have to define me.  

    Maybe I’ve mentioned it before, but it bears repeating: This show is amazing.

    1 comments · 70 views
  • 50w, 1d
    How Strong is Twilight? Redux

    3 comments · 119 views
  • 53w, 1d
    Shameless Plug, Part Deux

    If you frequent pony sites around the internet, you may have heard of "Ask a Pony" blogs.  Things like Ask the Crusaders, Ask Fluffle Puff, or some others.  They're good fun, and most of the ones that I've seen are really good, both in terms of art and story (or at least quick jokes).

    Well, a close friend of mine recently decided to start his own.  It's called Ask a Space Pony, and it follows Nocturne, a pegasus who is basically a pony astronaut.  Obviously, as he's a close friend of mine, I want to help him out, and maybe send a few people his way to get him some exposure.  

    That's all well and good, I suppose.  There is, however, another reason I'm recommending this blog: personal involvement.  Now, I mean no offense to my friend, but he's no physicist.  Nor am I, I suppose, but my scientific knowledge is far beyond his own.  As such, he asked me to act as his science and maths consultant, a role I am more than happy to play.  He handles the art (which I am quite fond of so far), the characters, and the story, while I explain the physical requirements and keep everything consistent.  A lot of my work will take place behind the scenes, but I'll go into the physics and whatnot here, since it will let me finally start talking about pegasus flight and how it makes no sense.

    I would recommend giving it at least a look.  It's only a few days old at this point, so it shouldn't take too long to look it over.  If you think it might be interesting, then that's great.  

    0 comments · 56 views
  • 56w, 14h
    Lucid Dream

    3 comments · 114 views
  • ...
 265
 8,910
Source

Twilight reads about a way to view a pony's soul, to see everything about them laid bare.  When she tries it on her friends, will she be able to look at them the same way again?  Or will the secrets hidden in their hearts drive her away?

(Yes, I borrowed the idea of a "soulgaze" from The Dresden Files, because it's something that really fascinates me.  It's not a crossover, just an idea.)

First Published
8th Sep 2012
Last Modified
4th Dec 2012
#1 · 111w, 5d ago · 1 · · Fantasy ·

I love you for your reference already.

Time to read :D

Edit: Good use of sentence structure and grammar.

Usage of proper punctuation and paragraphs, along with pacing and an overall good feel to your style of typing/writing is refreshing after all of the trainwrecks I've come across recently.

Sir, you've gained a favouriter, and maybe even a follower.

DF
#2 · 111w, 5d ago · · · Fantasy ·

And now I want to read The Blackstone Cases.

Well written, both from a technical and a story viewpoint. I'm interested in seeing how you handle the soulgazes.

Note: If you haven't read them, I would suggest reading The Dresden Fillies: Strange Friends and The Dresden Fillies: False Masks by Psychicscubadiver. Both stories are excellently written and people have, mostly jokingly, speculated that he's actually Jim Butcher, because of how similar his writing is to Butcher's. There's a scene in Strange Friends where Twilight and Dresden soulgaze that might give you some inspiration.

#3 · 111w, 5d ago · 1 · · Fantasy ·

*Gasp* :pinkiegasp:

People actually enjoy my writing?  My life is a lie!

But seriously, thanks for the feedback.  It means a lot.  As for The Dresden Fillies (and My Little Denarians, for that matter), I have read them.

#4 · 111w, 1d ago · 1 · · The Hostess ·

Here it is, Chapter Two.  Twilight stares into Pinkie Pie's soul, and it stares right back. :pinkiecrazy:

I had a lot of fun with this chapter, and I think it shows.  Pinkie is completely ridiculous.

#5 · 111w, 1d ago · · · Fantasy ·

I've read exactly zero of the Dresden Files books, but this story might just be the final push to get me to take the plunge. Tl;dr awesome story, moving on to chapter two.

#6 · 111w, 1d ago · · · The Hostess ·

I like the reference to Pinkamena. Also: well done. Again.

#7 · 111w, 1d ago · · · The Hostess ·

>>1259164

You make me smile sir.

Keep up the awesome work.

#8 · 110w, 5d ago · · · The Hostess ·

Excellent work, it's not often I follow and favorite on the first two chapters but your idea and style intrigue me and you spin a great yarn.:moustache:

I eagerly await more.

A thumbs up from Lyra!!! :pinkiehappy:

(We need Lyra emoticons!)

Well, it took a bit longer than I was expecting, but Chapter 3 is done.  This time, it's Rainbow Dash's turn! :rainbowkiss:

Chapter 4 is going to be a bit trickier.  I think I can have it done by next Saturday, assuming my schedule doesn't change too drastically this week.

>>1279668

Sir you're doing a fantastic job representing the idea of a soulgaze.

Though I will bring up another point...in a soulgaze, both parties see the other's soul, so does that mean Pinkie saw into Twilight?

Or are you just gonna kind of cut that idea out because it's a direct spell as opposed to a passive side effect of being a magic user of such a caliber?

>>1285588

Ah, I was wondering when someone would bring that up.  Yes, a Dresden soulgaze goes both ways.  This version, however, was specifically put together by Twilight, and as such she wouldn't have added that "feature".  It was something I considered, but it didn't really seem to add anything to the story.

my god this is awesome... next update soon please?

Oohhh.... I'm not so sure I like Dash's mindscape. Could just be me, but is it indicating that she's always judging herself, even if she doesn't show it?

>>1291043

It's in the works.  This chapter is going to be a long one, by my reckoning.  A lot of stuff's gonna go down.

Who wants to guess which pony's coming next?  My money's on a surprise Trixie appearance! :trixieshiftright:

(This is a joke.  Trixie will not be appearing in this fic. :trixieshiftleft:)

#17 · 109w, 2d ago · · · The Noble ·

Chapter 4!  Sorry it took so long.  I blame the evils of modern media.

But seriously, writing this chapter was really annoying.  It was going to be even longer, to the extent that I would have split it into two, but then I realized this would have messed up the pacing of the rest of the story.  For one thing, it would have made Chapter 6 about 1,000 words long, and resulted in a chapter with two soulgazes in sequence.  I couldn't get the beginning section with Rainbow Dash to work properly, and ended up going through about three different versions of it before I was happy.  On top of that, I ended up losing roughly the last 800 words before the soulgaze to server shenanigans, and had to retype it all. :raritydespair:

But enough of my whining.  Chapter 5 has yet to be started, and I'm going to be busy this week.  I'll let you all know when I have a projected release date.

#18 · 109w, 2d ago · 1 · · The Noble ·

Shame on Twilight, not asking permission before doing something so personal.  I'm enjoying the story as well as the glimpses into each pony.  I do think the affect on Twilight is perhaps more costly than she thinks.  I'm curious to see where it goes from here!

#19 · 109w, 2d ago · · · The Noble ·

Aaw yeah, a new chapter! This one was really cool. I wonder if Twilight's ever going to reveal to the others what she saw in their minds...

#20 · 109w, 2d ago · 1 · · The Noble ·

Will she look into Spikes mind too?

#21 · 108w, 1d ago · · · The Noble ·

>>1332933

Delays are not a problem.  (I'm sure the next chapter will be worth the wait.)

#22 · 108w, 1d ago · · · The Noble ·

I don't see anything in the description of Rainbow's soulscape that represents her loyalty

#23 · 108w, 1d ago · · · The Noble ·

Good news everyone!  SoaP is now on Equestria Daily! :rainbowkiss:

I feel so accomplished all of a sudden.  My first piece of fanfiction ever, and it winds up on the premier site of bronydom (at least, of the ones I'm familiar with).  Now I feel bad that I haven't finished Chapter Five yet... :twilightblush:  Never fear!  I've been working on it with renewed fervor for the past couple days, and I can tentatively say that it will be finished by this weekend.  

Many (read: three) of you have brought up the issue of privacy.  Rest assured that this will be dealt with in Chapter Five, along with a few other concerns.  I didn't forget, or not realize the problems inherent in this, but the plan was always to cover them around Chapter Five.  Definitely.

#24 · 108w, 1d ago · · · The Noble ·

Simple framework and a predictable progression, pony to pony though the Mane6.  It works here, because the story is about the revelations Twilight's receiving, and it feels like a setup to what she'll eventually do with this information.  I expect she'll try it on Spike, which will be interesting is dragon souls / consciousnesses aren't like pony souls at all.  And this'll really get fun when  - not if, when - she tries this on a Princess. Or two, or three.

Thumbs up and a gold star for you.

#25 · 108w, 1d ago · · · The Noble ·

I really enjoy this type of stories, in which Twilight gets to know her friends on a deeper level. It's well written, too. :twilightsmile: After reading it, I do have one question, though: if Twilight were to look in a mirror, could she soulgaze herself?

Oh dude, that was awesome! ON TO TEH NEXT CHAPTER! :pinkiehappy::pinkiesad2:

#27 · 108w, 1d ago · · · The Noble ·

Interesting story, with very nice mindscapes for all the ponies so far. I'm looking forward to the rest of them!

>>1299935 Aw, why not? I think this'd apply interestingly to Trixie, :fluttershysad:

>>1297441 Totally agree!

#29 · 108w, 1d ago · · · The Noble ·

Really like it so far! Love to get some insight to what's going on in the minds of the ponies, great idea and good setup for it too! Looking forward to the rest, especially Applejack :applejackunsure:

#30 · 108w, 1d ago · 1 · · The Hostess ·

"By all rights, (the music) should have been appalling, yet somehow all of the conflicting elements came together to form a single piece that was as cheerful as it was completely unpredictable."

Clearly, Pinkie Pie has acquired a taste for freeform jazz.

Wow. Just wow. :derpyderp1:You have earned yourself a favorite! :raritystarry:

#32 · 108w, 1d ago · · · The Noble ·

Now that it's on EqD, you MUST finish it! :pinkiehappy:

#33 · 108w, 1d ago · · · The Noble ·

Good Story. But isn't a Soulgaze supposed to work both ways? Also isn't it a bit unethical of Twilight to use such a spell on her friends without first outlining what is involved? (Pinkie being the exception so far - but then again it is unlikely she would have cared anyway.)

#34 · 108w, 1d ago · · · The Noble ·

I do hope that Discord gets soulgazed. I'm very curious as to whether it's possible to get anything remotely comprehensible out of his psyche.

She is what should not be remembered, yet cannot be forgotten

I like that line a lot.

#36 · 108w, 1d ago · 1 · · The Performer ·

I disagree with this representation of Rainbow Dash's soul.  If pinkie pies was the perpetual party with pinkamena and knowledge looking on, Rainbow Dash's mind should look like this:

The judges should be the wonderbolts being extremely critical of everything that the rainbow dash does in the sky -- They would be representative of her self-doubt.  There should be not 1 but 6 dash's in the sky over the colleseum doing all sorts of tricks in wonderbolt uniforms working together and a 7th rainbow dash not in a uniform performing better tricks that did not work with the other 6.  Above the stands there would be clouds with several sleeping rainbow dashes snoozing away.  All around the stadium there would be a spooky forest in the clouds with adventurous rainbow dashes protecting representations of her friends being completely loyal and fighting monsters.  One rainbow dash would be reading a daring do book.

#37 · 108w, 1d ago · · · The Noble ·

I'm not really a fan of this so far but for rather personal reasons.  Since this is almost entirely just a character exploration of the Mane 6, whenever your interpretation of the ponies personalities doesn't mesh with mine I simply don't like it.  So there's nothing wrong with the content really, although I do feel like the conclusions Twilight takes away from the gazes far outstrips the very short glances the reader gets at the souls.

Also why did you forgo any mention of personal privacy invasion or reciprocal soulgazing.  One of the whole reasons Harry doesn't use the soulgaze to just sort out bad guys and good guys is that the act is so revealing and personal to both parties and he doesn't lightly let someone see him so vulnerable.  It may have just been outside the scope for your fic but it seems like low hanging fruit to just include ponies reactions to Twilight's soul and add a lot of depth to the narrative.

Mindscapes are a difficult thing to master, and while you're putting up an excellent effort--- these short chapters and vague descriptions are not up to what you are capable of. Step back, breathe, smell the flowers. You can do better.

#39 · 108w, 1d ago · · · The Noble ·

Okay, lots of feedback.  I'll do my best to answer your questions, at least to the extent that I can without spoiling things.

>>1376384 >>1376987

Twilight put together this version of the soulgaze from scratch.  Yes, she based it on the one in The Blackstone Cases (aka The Dresden Files), which do work both ways, but she didn't see any reason to put in that effect.  As for privacy, that will be addressed in detail in the next chapter (it's in the works, I promise!).  

>>1375439 >>1337560 >>1376387

Unfortunately, the only souls to be gazed upon in this fic will be those of the Mane Six.  Maybe I'll revisit this idea at some point in the distant future, but until then there will be no Celestia/Luna/Discord/Spike/Trixie soulgazing.  Sorry. :fluttercry:

Also, as of right now, I don't plan to ever use Discord in a fic.  I wrote a blog post about it.  You should read it, if you don't mind highly opinionated ramblings.

Thanks for the comments everyone!  Your feedback fills me with happy feels. :twilightsmile:

#40 · 108w, 1d ago · · · The Noble ·

I made it through Chapter 4, and here are my thoughts:

Overall I've enjoyed the reading.  The dialogue and writing style is actually pretty good.  It’s descriptive without being intrusive, ebbs and flows nicely, employs a lot of good grammar, feels in tune with the show, and adds nice embellishments where necessary.  Characters are well portrayed, if a bit standard fare.   And I am a personal sucker for OCD Twilight.  :)

As for the Soulgaze concept, I found the approach to be of mixed value.  I admit to being unfamiliar with the source, but IMO I found the personification route to be a bit too... cliché.  Having dopplegangers serve as physical manifestations of one's inner thoughts seems like too much of an easy plot device to explain deep seated senses of self. This wasn't helped by the fact that Pinkie's "personas" even verbally stated their own purposes.

Structure-wise, it really feels like these four chapters could be condensed down into one or two.  And it really would flow the story better if Twilight's take on each soul read came at the tail end of that chapter, not the start of the next.  And as others have pointed out, it seems a gross impropriety and breach of privacy for Twilight to perform this spell on her friends without their full understanding and consent.  Even then I would think they would need time to discuss it.  It's just so deeply personal.

6/10.

So good reading, well-written, enjoyable.  Could could maybe use some work on storytelling methods and structure, but hoping for more!

Small bits:

Chapter 2 - the "cyanide" cupcake tasting like almonds - a chemistry joke?  Well done sir!  (Hydrogen Cyanide smells like almonds to some people)

Chapter 3 - "it was a love letter to speed and adrenaline." - I liked that bit of prose.

Chapter 4 - You stepped out of tense to say “whenever she tried to remember…” and it's a bit jarring structure-wise.

#41 · 108w, 1d ago · · · Fantasy ·

>>1259364

How was your first comment tl;dr? It was a single sentence.

Interesting concept you have my attention.

#42 · 108w, 1d ago · · · The Noble ·

While the story is enjoyable. Its much to plain and too short to get into the good detail and psychology that this story is trying to express. The 'landscapes' of each of the ponies mind don't say much even in symbolism. The structure of the plot is quite predictable and there isn't a lot of character interaction or development. These sort of stories go hand in hand with that sort of thing. while I've never read the book this spell is based I would assume looking deep into someones mind is a very emotional experience. Seeing a friend for all they are and believe themselves to be. Yet twilight seems unphased by the fact that pinkie lives just to make others smile with no thought of anything in return or the fact that rainbow is sso critical of herself she doesn't believe she's good enough for the cheer of a crowd.

Still. You have promise. The general writing flows well and is easy to read. This is your first story. Keep practising! I can see you going far.

Sorry for the typos. I'm writing this on a new tablet.

#43 · 108w, 1d ago · · · The Noble ·

Seems like turnabout is fair play in this case. I hope the others will be allowed to somehow soulgaze into Twilight as repayment for having their own intimate selves so revealed without permission.

#44 · 108w, 1d ago · · · The Noble ·

Congrats on EQD, that's what brought me here.

Interesting concept. I am unfamiliar with The Dresden Files, but I think I can say that it hasn't affected my enjoyment or understanding as you have done a fairly good job of explaining what is going on. Been meaning to pick up that series for a while now...

I'm guessing that it will hit the fan about permission because of Twilight using it on Rarity. As a fellow unicorn who happens to be familiar with illusion magic, maybe she will recognize that Twilight just did something mental to her and demand an explanation.

Nice job with Dash. I've always felt that her character has an interesting combination of bravado, ambition, skill, and intense (but secret) insecurity. You've captured that well.

The description of the party music in the manifestation of Pinkie's subconscious reminded me of Gulliver's Travels Part III.

#47 · 108w, 1d ago · · · The Noble ·

>>1378885

it was a long sentence. :trollestia:

When the description of the spectators in Rainbow's mind started that reminded me of a scene in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

#49 · 108w, 1d ago · · · The Noble ·

Uh-oh... thing's won't end well because Twi will try the soulgaze on Celestia... And that will crush her...

#50 · 108w, 20h ago · · · The Noble ·

I've got to join the others who think Twilight's soulgazing is getting creepy. Between not getting her friends' explicit permission first and starting to act increasingly obsessed with the concept of doing this to all of them, Twi seems to be accelerating down the slippery slope to mad wizard* territory. :twilightoops:

*Kind of like a mad scientist with a pointier hat and different laboratory equipment.

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