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An overly keen sense of injustice or a tendency to mysticism

March 20, 2020

There’s a description of a character in Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice that continues to stick in my mind…I had to look it up just now:

I had known Awer House for a long time, had carried its young lieutenants, known them as captains of other ships. Granted, no Awer suited for military serviced exhibited her house’s tendencies to their utmost extent. An overly keen sense of injustice or a tendency to mysticism didn’t mesh well with annexations. Nor with wealth and rank — any Awer’s moral outrage inevitably smelled slightly of hypocrisy, considering the comforts and privileges such an ancient house enjoyed, and while some injustices were unignorably obvious to them, some others they never saw.

In any event, Lieutenant Skaaiat’s sardonic practicality wasn’t foreign to her house. It was only a milder, more livable version of Awer’s tendency to moral outrage.”

Ancillary Justice, Ann Leckie. chapter 14.

and another quote from another character about the same (see the difference in sentiment!)

“All the Awers *seem* polite enough…They *seem* totally normal at first…but then they go having visions, or deciding something’s wrong with the universe and they have to fix it. Or both at once. They’re all insane.”

Ancillary Justice, Ann Leckie, chapter 19

I think a lot about this. About the description of this character (and indeed, her family) as being prone to moral outrage or prone to mysticism or both. Because those aren’t always together.

I think a lot about whether these two things do run together, in families or in individuals. If there is any basis, what happens when someone inherits one or the other but not both?

I think of course about religion, and about people who are known to be mystics. Are they always such polarizing figures?

If I had to liken it to my own experience, I’d have to say my father could be considered someone prone to mysticism. I, on the other hand, do not seem to be.

But I can totally get on board with the sense of moral outrage (and the selectiveness of it.)

I think a lot about this quote so much because it says so much about the other characters making the assessment.

I think a lot about how while this is the description given for this particular character and her house, within the text, she (at least to me) is not the character that one would associate as having a particularly finely tuned sense of moral outrage. Or at least, even if she is, one gets to see far more about which “injustices they don’t see” rather than the ones that they do. So, these summaries and descriptions say more about the other characters and about how they themselves see through the glass of their society darkly.

(The character who does have a more recognizable sense of moral outrage….doesn’t last so long.)

That gets me to the other line…I think a lot about how this *particular* member of the house is more adjusted to her society because she has a “milder, more livable version” of the family’s tendency.

I wonder if I am have a milder, more livable version of anything, or if I am simply insane.


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