River of Stars Ch 5 bit – Anthropology rocks

“Could explain the animosity,” Sam said, half to herself. “Behavioral dissonance.”

“Major?” Hammond drummed his fingers lightly on the table. “Given I would like to rescue some amount of cooperation with the Tok’ra, any insights you might have would be useful.”

“Well….” Sam turned to Teal’c. “From what I’ve seen, the Goa’uld have some things in common with an ant nest.”

“I believe Major Carter is correct,” the Jaffa said after a moment’s consideration. “The System Lord is in the position of power, while the Queen serves as a source of new larva to strengthen his Jaffa. But there is a resemblance.”

“Looked a lot more snakelike than bug-like to me, last time I checked,” Jack objected.

“And youkai aren’t wolves, either. Bear with me, sir.” Sam had that excited look in her eyes Daniel never got tired of; a silent, sparkling aha! “Now, the thing about human behavior is, it’s flexible. We can act like wolves or ants. Wolves when we’re in small groups, especially under stress. Ants, when we’re in big organizations working toward a common goal.”

“So we can act like youkai or Goa’uld?” Jack frowned, and glanced at Daniel.

Translation time. Don’t worry, I see where she’s going. “Behavior is a big part of culture, and culture determines a lot of how you decide who to trust,” Daniel picked up the thread. “Do you laugh at the same jokes? Do you cry at funerals, or not? Are you supposed to scream bloody murder during childbirth? Or maybe it’s a silent, stoic battle, and if you die, you’re honored like a warrior. If you can predict what someone will do, you can trust them – and if they’re from the same culture, they’re a lot easier to predict. And the best indication of that, is behavior.” He wet his lips. “In reference to the Tok’ra – I couldn’t say anything about it at the time because I didn’t know. My first focus was Egypt, and they had doors. Of sorts. But cultures in which there are no doors, no privacy? Those are groups that don’t trust each other. Proper behavior is only enforced by somebody watching you. People from groups like that will lie, cheat, steal, even casually murder, if they think they can get away with it. Which means, any time they’re out of sight of the main group. Like Tok’ra are on missions.”

The general looked somber. “Dr. Jackson, are you saying….” He couldn’t finish.

“I’m saying I don’t know, General. Tok’ra aren’t human. I could be wrong. But if they were a human social group, they’d have a lot in common with some of the primitive tribes Jared Diamond dealt with in Papua New Guinea. Groups that could not come in contact with other groups without trying to kill them, if they thought they could get away with it.” Daniel held up a warning finger. “They respect the High Council. So they won’t do anything they think the Council will come down on them for… if they think the Council will get a chance to hear about it.”

Silence, as the others absorbed that. “Would explain a lot,” Jack admitted. “Damn it, I like Jacob.”

“As do I,” Hammond said soberly. “However, that does not change the fact that Tok’ra behavior toward the SGC-” He shook his head.

“Pretty much fits that of certain tribe members toward anthropologists investigating them,” Daniel said ruefully. “We’re outsiders who don’t know all the rules, so we can be taken advantage of. Especially in a play for power against another tribe member. And since we’re outsiders, if something goes wrong – well, it must be our fault. Because we’re not them.” The archaeologist sighed. “But what Sam is getting at is, youkai can probably act a lot like humans, but from what we’re seen already, with two people who weren’t youkai to start with? I doubt they can drop the pack behavior enough to act like the Tok’ra expect from advanced races. The Tok’ra aren’t going to like them, and they are going to believe the worst of them, at any opportunity. And they’ll believe the same of anyone associated with them. Like Kanzeon.”

“But she’s Goa’uld,” Sam objected. “Wouldn’t she feel the same way?”

“People keep all kinds of strange pets,” Janet pointed out. “Most of us can understand dogs, and cats, and even fish. But there are people out there who think tarantulas and scorpions are the cutest things ever. Maybe she’s just weird.”

40 thoughts on “River of Stars Ch 5 bit – Anthropology rocks

  1. Well, yes. She’s very weird. On the other hand, there has to be a legitimate reason for the Asgard to go out of their way for her other than just weirdness. And I kinda doubt that she sees her people as ‘pets’, though it’s been a while since I read Saiyuki so I might be forgetting a few things.

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    1. Part of our view is skewed from seeing her dealing with the reincarnation of her nephew. But it’s been a while for me too.

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  2. Well, Janet is not wrong. Kanzeon is weird. She just is doing it on purpose. And the culture makes so. Much. Sense. And fits within Go’auld culture, and Tok’ra culture.

    So, to sum up as I understand the bit, if you’re not screwing everyone else over at the drop of a hat, the Tok’ra don’t think you’re advanced. While the youkai are more in line with social species norms, with all the variance that implies, but refuse to abandon clan. Yeah, they are never going to get along.

    ……. Just had the thought, are Goku and was Konzen both Ancients?! And Konzen a host, good grief, this is gonna get ugly.

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    1. >>if you’re not screwing everyone else over at the drop of a hat, the Tok’ra don’t think you’re advanced.

      Well, let’s see. The Tollans who declare they’re better than Earth humans despite having the same heritage, the Nox declare the Goauld evil but refuse to fight at all, and the Asgard are… very, very busy, poor guys.

      Goku is definitely not an Ancient. *G* Konzen… well, Kanzeon will explain that to SG-1 at some point. They will probably eep.

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      1. >>Don’t tell me Konzen has some Asgard DNA cloned into him…
        10 to 1 Kanzeon pulled something like what the ‘good’ doctor pulled on Heero in ‘Upon A Fiery Steed’. Namely that a particular Goa’uld’s genetic memories were spliced into him.

        Explains why Sanzo is remembering some stuff that nobody should know.

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      2. After this discussion I’m sure if one thing, you’re enjoying yourself thoroughly with these hints. And that’s all I can come up with. It’s fun. And tortuous. In a twisted way.

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      3. >>I spent a long time and a lot of bouncing with various betas to figure out exactly what Kanzeon did. *G* And Kanzeon is so looking forward to the looks on SG-1’s faces when they find out!
        SG1/Saiyuki crew: What did you do?
        Kanzeon: You really want to know?
        Everyone: YES!
        Kanzeon: Honestly? I have no idea what I did. I was drunk and feeling like experimenting while not taking notes at the time.
        Sanzo: ‘double facepalm’

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  3. And while I can’t find if it’s mentioned, Kanzeon might be using a Youkai host. Or at the very least a modified human host. There is also the fact that she clones hosts that she likes. All kinds of weirdness with that lady.

    So while Tok’ra and Goa’uld keep their ‘culture’ even when in humans, her mentality/outlook might have shifted closer to human or Youkai in some ways. And that would presumably carry over to her offspring as well Making them go things that the Tok’ra consider stupid or insane.

    It’s no wonder the Tok’ra and Goa’uld consider her dangerous and a few bricks short of a wall since they’re comparing her action by what they would do.

    I’m sure Sanzo would state that Kanzeon is quite bonkers, just not in the way they think.

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    1. *G* Remember that in canon Jiroshin wonders if Kanzeon’s sending them on this Journey to the West, rather than just teleport them straight to India, to make them stronger and better people.

      Kanzeon: “Naah, it’s just more fun this way!”

      As for bonkers… if you’re sane, and everyone around you is crazy, who’s the crazy one? 😉

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      1. >> As for bonkers… if you’re sane, and everyone around you is crazy, who’s the crazy one? 😉

        Still you (“sane” seems to be decided by majority vote), but you’ll have WAY more fun. *G*

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    2. >>As for bonkers… if you’re sane, and everyone around you is crazy, who’s the crazy one?
      Kanzeon: I tried being sane once a few centuries ago, it was really boring. Being crazy is much more fun.
      Sanzo: I don’t supposed you could try it again, see if it’s become more interesting. You know, change of pace and all that?
      Kanzeon: Hmmmmmm…….nope!

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  4. Well that explains a lot . . . .

    This is shaping up to be a fine mess. But cultural clashes generally are. Especially in cultures whose motto is All For One and I Am That One. Especially when they are against ones that who think “Entirely On Your Own = Death, A Quick One If You Are Lucky and A Slow One If You Aren’t.”

    Youkai pack structure mentality probably also equates being alone with being weak, And to youkai, you cannot be weak. You don’t survive if you are weak.

    Pets, no, free entertainment, yes . . . my crossover bunnies claim that would be why she’d like the Magi crew – they are very entertaining.
    Kanzeon: That Ja’far’s annoyed face and grumbles are almost as cute as Genjyo!
    Genjyo: I am NOT cute.
    And that was before one of them (Simon) introduced her to popcorn.

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  5. This might be a touchy subject, but manga canon Kanzeon is a hermaphrodite ( I’m not sure about the anime). I don’t know if that’s true for this fic but I don’t think that would be the first choice for a Gao’uld host.

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  6. The tok’ra would probably have a lot harder time doing things with youkai around because with youkai, simply being out of sight isn’t good enough to get away with things. Being out of sight doesn’t mean much when half the people in the building have better senses then the tok’ra do (at the very least), never mind the ones that think breaking the known laws of physics is pretty normal. Which probably means that youkai don’t have a lot of good reasons to play the whole intrigue game; they’re too busy building strength so other youkai don’t think they’re weak. The tok’ra meanwhile are used to maneuvering around people they’re on the same level as; to run smack into a race that is on a very different societal level as well as a biological one probably sent them reeling.

    The humans on Shangri-La could probably manage to think like “advanced races” if they really tried. But when the other race on their world has essentially one culture when it really gets down to it, there’s not a lot of practical reasons for them to try to. Conflict is a lot more straightforward (to both fight for and resolve) when cultural differences aren’t getting in the way.

    Forget spiders and scorpions, Kanzeon would be the kind of person to find hammerhead sharks cute.

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    1. Very, very likely on that; mermaid’s purses are very cool, and have you heard about the golden hammerheads in one particular area? Very neat.

      Youkai do intrigue like humans do… but also like humans, nothing settles an argument like beating the other guy over the head with a rock. 😉

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  7. I was reading a thing on octopodes a few months ago (the suckers are friggin smart), and it raised the question that, supposeing they /are/ as intelligent as we think they are, and that they were perfectly capable of communication with humans, why WOULD they? They’re mostly solitary creatures, other than mating or territory, they don’t NEED to communicate with others, and they wouldn’t understand why the social bipeds wanted to /TALK/ so much. It made me sit back and realize how much we take for granted, just by being social creatures (even the most introverted introvert requires others to function) and NOT having that instinct is just… alien. Alien to the point where I question our ability ro understand it because we are such a social species. Then I read this, where even the aliens have social groups, but that never ever has to mean that their behavior is anything like modern America, and who said there weren’t a bazillion ways to orginize social groups, anyway. (I can hear Daniel bang his head on a table now.)

    The title made me laugh, the alieness of the Tok’ra while still being *gasp* human, the pack mindset of the youkai, it just makes me squee with happiness and the joy I find in your writing.

    (Bad with words today.
    Tldr: octopodes are smart and weird. Puns are fun. You’re writing is awesome.)

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  8. Just asking does sanzo’s sleeve and hand guard look like cannon because when I googled kote what came up was something diffrent

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  9. Allways nice to know my fave characters have to feel my pain ^^, 3 months away from finishing a degree in anthropology and all can say is that a) generalising behaviour and extrapolateing from on culture to another is never smart…. and people are infinitely variable. And arses.
    Your work is allways so spot on though and makes my day.

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    1. They are the same as canon; the other alternative I’ve seen used to describe them is “slave ring”, which no. Just no.

      And historically “armor sleeves” have taken a lot of forms, not all of which will show up on Google, drat it.

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