Forced Hypnosis

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“I am sure that all of you have heard that old wives’ tale,” Yen stated, “which is concerned with the belief that no hypnotized subject may be forced to do that which is repellent to his moral nature, whatever that is, or to his own best interests. That is nonsense, of course.

You note-takers might set down a reminder to consult Brenmen’s paper, ‘Experiments in the Hypnotic Production of Antisocial and Self-injurious injurious Behavior,’ or Wells’ 1941 paper which was titled, I believe, ‘Experiments in the Hypnotic Production of Crime,’ or Andrew Salter’s remarkable book, Conditioned Reflex Therapy, to name only three.

Or, if it offends you to think that only the West is studying how to manufacture more crime and better criminals against modern shortages, I suggest Krasnogorski’s Primary Violence Motivation or Serov’s The Unilateral Suggestion to Self-Destruction. For any of you who are interested in massive negative conditioning there is Frederic Wertham’s The Seduction of the Innocent, which demonstrates how thousands have been brought to antisocial actions through children’s cartoon books.

However, enough of that. You won’t read them anyway. The point I am making is that those who speak of the need for hypnotic suggestion to fit a subject’s moral code should revise their concepts. The conception of people acting against their own best interests should not startle us. We see it occasionally in sleepwalking and in politics, every day.”

-The Manchurian Candidate by Richard Condon

Black Market Hope

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I stood in front of her, hands folded. So, she said. She had a cigarette, and she put it between her lips and gripped it there while she lit it. Her lips were thin, held that way, with the small vertical lines around them you used to see in advertisements for lip cosmetics. The lighter was ivory-colored. The cigarettes must have come from the black market, I thought, and this gave me hope. Even now that there is no real money anymore, there’s still a black market. There’s always a black market, there’s always something that can be exchanged.

She then was a woman who might bend the rules. But what did I have, to trade?

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

What makes a warrior

“It sounds to me,” his father finally said, “that you returned with all the honor they would allow. You killed your enemy in battle and you fought your hardest for the fleet. That makes us all proud.” The elders nodded at that. Some of them ground their teeth to show appreciation for what the archon was saying. Boro felt relieved. “You know,” he continued, “we have all fought in battles that we lost. What makes a warrior and eventually a great leader is how we learn from losing.”

Doom Sayer by Thane Keller

Lost Ones

I think about the lost ones who are still out there, each thinking that they are the only one of their kind. Somewhere, there is someone like me or Connie, being run out of town or left to starve because we’re not the ones they think will save mankind. People abandon their babies because they want to make sure there are more babies. We are not a logical race.

The Book of Flora (The Road to Nowhere 3) by Meg Elison

What’s wrong with the galaxy

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To Ulbreck’s mind, there was one thing wrong with the galaxy: people. People and droids. Well, those were two things – but then again, wasn’t it wrong to limit what was wrong with the galaxy to just one thing? How fair was that? That was how the old farmer’s thinking tended to go, even when sober. In sixty standard years of moisture farming, Ulbreck had formed one theory about life after another. But he’d spent enough of the early years working alone – odd, how not even his farmhands wanted to be around him – that all his notions had piled up, unspoken.

That was what visits to town were for: opportunities for Ulbreck to share the wisdom of a lifetime. When he wasn’t getting robbed by diabolical droids pretending to be green bartenders.

Kenobi, a Star Wars novel, by John Jackson Miller

Names into the Silence

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We learned to whisper almost without sound. In the semidarkness we could stretch out our arms, when the Aunts weren’t looking, and touch each other’s hands across space. We learned to lip-read, our heads flat on the beds, turned sideways, watching each other’s mouths. In this way we exchanged names, from bed to bed: Alma. Janine. Dolores. Moira. June.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Learning from Failure

It didn’t matter, but Sabik had just learned from his error. What felt like sneaking through enemy territory was actually a leash leading him in. What felt like craftily avoiding mines and sensors in an attempt to gather intelligence against their enemy was a carefully crafted path by his enemy. What felt like success was actually failure. He allowed himself to be led into a rebel kill zone like an animal to its slaughter. But could he escape?

Doom Sayer by Thane Keller

Understanding Right and Wrong

It was only when I realized that I was a slave and not a slaver’s apprentice that I understood that what Archie was doing was a great wrong. Right and wrong had no meaning in my life until I was almost a woman. I learned some of it from my father, but he was not a talkative man. I began to understand when I knew the horsewomen, but I could never see it the way they did. They didn’t know what I knew.

The Book of Flora (The Road to Nowhere 3) by Meg Elison

Assholes Remain Assholes

“I don’t understand it,” Katie went on. “A few months ago, people were literally dying in the street. Every one of us lost family, friends, neighbors. We’re all we have left, but people like the Mercers, like Kurt Rove, belittle and bad-talk those of us who, well, have something that might help get all of us through. Because they’re different.”

“I have a theory,” Arlys began. “Major, monumental crises bring out the best or the worst in us — sometimes both. And sometimes those major, monumental crises have no effect on certain types. Which means, no matter what the circumstances, assholes remain assholes.”

Year One (Chronicles of The One) by Nora Roberts

The Story Is All We Have

I cannot begin at the beginning; I wasn’t there. I cannot even begin at one particular moment in time; I do not remember how this got started. Neither does anybody else. We only know the story we are given, unless someone writes the truth of it down. And even then, it isn’t the whole truth. Only theirs. As this is mine.

I can only tell you what was told to me, and most of that was probably lies. The person who told me who I was and showed me my place in the world very seldom told the truth. I still believe that telling the story from the beginning is the only way to do it.

Whether it is true or not, it is the only story I have.

My name is Flora. This book is my life.

The Book of Flora (The Road to Nowhere 3) by Meg Elison