Among those who remembered the take, alter was codespeak for betrayal and human sacrifice. Alter meant cannon fodder (p 154)

This line came at the end of a long paragraph talking about the history of Multiple Personality Disorder, now known as Multiple Core Complex, and what “ancient” (modern day) scientists believed was the stem of the problem.  I really enjoyed the “witch doctor” motif that Watts took when describing “modern medicine”.  Watts has an interesting method of imposing Siri’s viewpoints onto the reader.  I know that I started feeling that modern medicine was primitive and akin to fumbling in the dark.  But I digress.

What’s important about this line for me?  I think this line was particularly evocative because while I was reaching the end of the paragraph, the meaning of alter dawned on me before the book told me.  The paragraph about Multiple Personality Disorder (in the past tense, that is), it talked about how personalities emerged in response to heavy trauma- “fragmentary personae offered up to suffer rapes and beatings while the child behind took some unkowable sanctuary in the folds of the brain”.  And I started thinking.

And altar is something that you make sacrifices on.  I think that Watts explained this more eloquently when he said that the word meant “human sacrifice”.  My point: this line evoked a real epiphany within me, which isn’t something that typically happens.  Reading science fiction makes me think, don’t get me wrong, but usually it says something to me and I think “yeah, that makes perfect sense”, but never before have I come to the answer on my own and the book agrees with me.  Feels good man.

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