• Published 1st Dec 2017
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Welcome Home - Trick Question

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Welcome Home (Or Just Another Remove)

You are You.

Of course you're you, who else could you be? And of course you've just finished reading a story. You're just not entirely certain what the point to the story was, however. For one thing, it was an emotional rollercoaster with a strange ending. You suppose the ending was happy enough, although a deus ex machina is a rather lazy way to wrap up a story.

But the really unusual part was all of the philosophy. You wonder if the author has her head all the way up her posterior, or maybe the whole narrative was designed to convert you to some kind of cult. Then again, maybe it's just a strange story, and it doesn't matter what the author thinks as long as you enjoyed the ride.

Granted, you're not sure how much you enjoyed the ride, but you were definitely there. You might remember it like a story, but you're pretty sure some part of you was with each one of the characters, experiencing what they were experiencing, in all its joy and agony. What if there truly weren't a guarantee you'd make it back here? The possibility is unsettling, but maybe it isn't that bad of an idea. At least in some small way, being other ponies today has become a part of what makes you who you are.

You briefly wonder if Star Swirl was right. Perhaps it wouldn't have been such a bad thing if the ending weren't happy, because you still could have felt something and learned something. A story can be good even if the ending is bad, because the goodness is in the change it evokes in the read—

No, wait. That's ridiculous. This is all ridiculous. Author Tract, Needs Work, Do Not Recommend. Let's shelve this self-aware garbage under 'I read it' and move on.

Still... even after being shamelessly teased by the author, you think you might be up for another story on Fimfiction soon. After all, you have places to be, and sometimes they'll be worth the trip.

And that's okay, even though you'll rarely know exactly where you're headed next.

Comments ( 41 )

Interesting. But conscious jumping might take a soul to do :pinkiesmile:.

If by soul you mean consciousness, that would already be true by definition.

That said, my soul would be thrilled to do :pinkiehappy:.

Not necessarily. There is Reductive Physicalism. But if consciousness is material then it does not make much sense that it would "jump around".

Consciousness is an abstraction. You can't touch it or move it around; it's a pattern in motion with certain properties. It has a physical basis but that physicality is not the experience.

Well you moved it around :rainbowwild:. I will wait for Physicalism to either be proven or disproven before I decide about the nature of consciousness. If Physicalism is true then consciousness is just brain activity that can be messed with. If disproven I will be quite happy :pinkiehappy: but let me ask you a question: What do you think consciousness is? Is it the soul or something else? And what is it in this story?

I just answered those questions, silly. Consciousness is an abstraction connected to physical patterns. It is absolutely tied to brain activity—it arises from it—but it's a pattern that can arise from many equivalent sources. It's like a recipe that makes a cake, except in reverse: it's the cake that reveals its recipe, and the recipe isn't dependent upon the existence of a particular cake.

This isn't really the place to expound on theory, though. It would take me much too long.

The thing about showing this story to somepony like me, author, is that… well… never mind the rest of what I was going to say, actually. :rainbowwild:

Have an upvote. :trollestia:

Hmm. But that does not explain how it "moves around" if it is just brain patterns however. What allows my consciousness to switch bodies and even split of in parts to multiple? Unless we are talking about the same thing and just call it different things. So soul=consciousness/consciousness=soul?

It doesn't 'move' any more than the number 1 'moves' from one place to another. It's an abstraction. And yes, those are the same thing (or else there's no such thing as a soul; certainly not the way it's usually invoked as some aspect of personality or character that's fixed or unchangeable, as a well-placed drill to the brain can illustrate).

...but we should probably take this offline so others can read without going deep into bizarre territory. Unless other viewers think this discussion adds to the story, that is. :twilightsmile:

I most certainly can not speak for all other viewers, but isn't going deep into bizarre territory kinda sorta whole point (and the best thing ever)?

You have a point mishun. I may not be able to go into a lot of depth here, but I'll still answer specific questions. :pinkiesmile:

Every picture tells a story. Sometimes we don't like the ending. Sometimes we don't understand it.

Pedantry aside, I can honestly say that this is my favorite story in this whole damned website. I’ve been meaning to leave you a comment--at least, a slightly less idiotic one (I apologize for those, by the by)--for a while; though I now fumble with my own words. I enjoy how you can weave the words and make me--because, let’s face it, this right here? It’s all about me--feel like I inhabit these horsies. And even though I care for their mortal plight (as much as I do for my fellow humans’), I can’t really fault Star Swirl’s (or the 4th-to-last’s) argument.

I have a tendency to switch my suspension of disbelief when I read your stories... because they damn well require me to. As orderly and neatly as they are, I enjoy the real maelstrom behind them. Chaotic nightmares of probabilities, emotions and... CONCEPTS. All of that which just, thanks to the Magic of Friendship will of the author™, deliver a grace that makes me want to be your Star Swirl’s half. If only to just... appreciate your jumbling, rhythmic, and ionic thoughts.

It’s like... In a story there are certain things you have to do. You start in one place and finish in another, learning things along the way, and everything that happens builds up towards the ending. In real life, things just sort of happen and most of the time you’re just sitting on the sidelines. There’s no guarantee that anything you do will have any meaning or add towards any goal, but that’s because you have the choice to do anything.

Your stories embody the reason I want to go for Philosophy after I finish my still-to-begin hospitation. I sincerely wish you were an old friend of mine, so I could call you on the phone and just talk for hours and hours... but I can only wish you all the meaning in the world. And, a request: never let your words die.

From the bottom of my heart,
Thank you.

P.S.: The only thing I hated--and I do mean abhorred--about this story was the note on the story’s description. That I cannot stand by.

Wow, high praise indeed. I'm blushing here! :twilightblush:

You can chat me by PM or Discord anytime you like. Sometimes I might not respond immediately.

A truly engrossing work of fiction and metafiction. I regret not reading this earlier. It does a fantastic job of demonstrating just what a good story should do, conveying us behind the eyes of the characters, becoming them to some extent.

Also, I'm always in favor of both Alicorns Ever After endings and extratemporal Star Swirl, so bonus points there.

Thank you very much for this, Trick. I just hope all of me made it back. Or at least an equivalent quantity of conscious thought patterns.

Scheisse! I missed the S! Sorry :twilightblush:.

I don't have time to go into details (it's finals week and I'm super busy) but the short version is that the continuity of consciousness is illusory. The only real aspect of the continuity is expectation, and expectation doesn't take into account what occurred 'previously'.

You're not the same person you were five years ago, literally.

This was really good! I'm gonna recommend it to some friends. :scootangel:

Well, I still can not claim that I understand that jumping thingie at satisfactory level, but doesn't it immediately imply that imagining very bad things happening to people is morally bad on itself? And building advanced AI that can model with high fidelity bad things happening to people (to prevent it, of course, not to kill all meatbags) is very-very bad? And that's under every sane assumptions, so no hope for useful non-person predicates.

Those things you imagine already exist. It's only the likelihood that matters.

Is "already exist" like "not a causal consequence of agent's decision to imagine (or decision to build other agent to imagine), and as so doesn't factor into expected utility calculations" here?

Basically, imagining bad things doesn't change their likelihood.

However, there is a caveat: imagining bad things makes it more likely for you to transition to those states, which increases the probability they'll be in your near future. Those transitions are still impossibly rare while your pattern is physically tied to the reality most likely producing it, though, so you don't need to stress over it unless you're about to die.

Dwelling on the positive is generally a good thing in all cases. :twilightsmile:


imagining bad things doesn't change their likelihood

Doesn't it create opportunities for other folks to merge in and experience it? ("merge in" is probably very bad term, since it implies some kinda-physical process)
Returning to my original example, maybe human imagination "doesn't count", but if we turn it to 11, it would be AI whose "imagination" is actual simulation of actual humans which is definitely bad thing for sure (and not evil, but poorly designed AIs arguably will have instrumental incentive to create simulations to better predict human behavior, so that's seems like real problem). How human imagination is fundamentally different then?

so you don't need to stress over it unless you're about to die

Am I understanding correctly that's because it's likelihood ratios that are important and dying eliminates one term that usually completely dominates all others?

Dwelling on the positive is generally a good thing in all cases. :twilightsmile:

That's what ponies for :twilightsmile:

Motherfucker, you got me.

I have to try to remember because I think the ECT took it from me, but it seems pretty clear it's there.

Always happy to getcha. :raritywink:

...and I wish! But my parents aren't open to that, and now that Mom has dementia it would make me far too sad (plus: unethical).

I really like your trans themes so if you ever write more; I’m down to read.

Sure thing. :twilightsmile:

Transgender themes show up in Welcome Home, Back to Normal, one of Trick's Flashfics, and Girl Talk, as well as to a limited extent in Colts Will Be Colts, Mission of Mercy, Nipples, and The Sissified Swap... and I guess the AI-generated story Twilight's Enigmatic Erotica Engine technically has some. :derpytongue2:

Themes are also present in "Innocence, Equestria", Geldings, and Twilight's Secret Journal, but those are highly disturbing coming-of-age stories so you've been forewarned. Winter Heat and Forever Young aren't explicitly transgender, but deal with gender-relevant issues; they're also highly disturbing coming-of-age stories.


Transgender themes show up in Welcome Home, Back to Normal, one of Trick's Flashfics, and Girl Talk, as well as to a limited extent in Colts Will Be Colts, Mission of Mercy, Nipples, and The Sissified Swap... and I guess the AI-generated story Twilight's Enigmatic Erotica Engine technically has some.

In here, I’ve read everything but:

  • Flashfics
  • Sissified Swap
  • The AI one

Admittedly, only the first one looks my speed.

Flashfics are quick to read, though I think the last one in the list is the one I remember being transgender. Swap is the only "porn" story I've put up so far, but it still has plot and is realistic despite the fetish content. It focuses manely on polyamory, relationships, gender bending, bi-curiosity, sexploration, female dominance, and consent... and sexy times. The AI story is just plain funny.

I’m just admittedly more inclined to SFW content, aside from some horror.

I'm honestly not certain how I would characterize stories like "Innocence, Equestria" and Geldings. Thrillers? Horror? Sexual horror—if that's even a thing? It really depends on the reader, because people react very, very differently to them.

Forever Young is probably the only one there that is disturbing, but palatable for the most part. Then again, it resulted in me leaving the Writeoff, so I'm perhaps not the best judge of character.

Also, for horror that isn't explicitly prurient, I have three: Winter Heat, Princess Day, and No Choice. I really don't like writing horror, though. The first and third were for contests, and the one in the middle just spontaneously hit me and I had to vent it. They all have strong messages, though.

Holding Pattern may be psychological horror to some.

I've read all of those but Winter Heat. I just have a hard time commenting if it's something I read years ago or on my phone, which is the case for most of those. At least, if I'm remembering correctly.

I'm not so sure, seeing as I haven't read any of them. I guess it depends on whether it is horror that contains sex (which I've written) or things that people are supposed to be... attracted(?) to and horrified by? If the latter, I have no idea how to process that, though I imagine you'd want the porn and fetish tags on it, in that case?

I also really don't like stories dealing with topics like castration/feminization and male-erasure and mutilation topics. It's extremely dysphoric and highly uncomfortable to see.

I'm sorry about that. Hopefully I'm up front enough about the content in my stories that somepony who might be affected negatively by one would be dissuaded from reading it. Usually some combination of the "sex" and "fetish" and "non-con" tags is "caveat emptor" enough to do the trick.

I don't think you'd want to read any that I mentioned which you haven't already read (including Winter Heat, for that matter), except Flashfics, Holding Pattern, and possibly the AI story which is just altogether random.

Winter Heat looked interesting to me, so I was thinking about trying it. We entered the same contest, and I remember it was one of the few mature stories entered, and among the stories in general that stood out to me. (And since I normally ignore mature stories, that's a compliment!)

Usually some combination of the "sex" and "fetish" and "non-con" tags is "caveat emptor" enough to do the trick.

I'm admittedly a bad consultant for what quantifies as "fetish" and how to regard the content. The only mature stories with sex I read are essentially just trauma and horror pieces, usually along the lines of Some Love or Twilight's Inferno.

Given what you've disclosed and what I know of you personally, I think Winter Heat will affect you negatively, so I really can't recommend it. It involves body horror and young marehood.

You're welcome to try, of course. I don't know what it's like to not be able to shut a book or cut a scene from my mind, so I don't have a reference point for how dangerous it might be. Just be safe. :pinkiesmile:

Danke you, gamer. 🙏

I am in this story and I do ??? like it. :derpyderp1:

I will freely admit it took me a while to redact TSJ from my memories and I never finished reading it. Worth it 10/10

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