It’s ironic that Sarasti returns Siri to a more human state, that the predator “saves” the prey in the face of his own (Sarasti’s) extinction. Siri spends his life with little to no emotional affect. Where Helen fails to humanize Siri, Chelsea begins to bring out the “human” in him, and finally Sarasti brings it out of him, albeit very traumatically. More importantly is Siri’s recognition and awareness of his human-ness. He realizes he is “as blind now as any baseline” (359) and later acknowledges Sarasti humanized him (361). Yet, the critical moment is his moment of self-awareness about his human-ness, when he says, “Oh God, how I treasure it. I treasure every word” (359). He has yet to understand as he ponders, “So much power my father must have had, to be able to broadcast and yet waste so much of it on feeling” (358).
In retrospect, Helen’s manipulations were doomed to fail because she was unable to see beyond her own world and motivations, particularly to pit Siri against his father (Why are familial relationships always strained in Sci-Fi?). Chelsea was very much like Helen in this regard, although her motivations though selfish were to be with Siri. Neither woman could truly understand Siri, his general lack of emotional affect. I did find it odd that Siri wanted to please her – was it more “propaganda” like when he went to Pag’s defense? Sarasti seems like the only plausible person to be able to shake Siri up, partly because he is capable of holding “simultaneous multiple worldview” (61), and partly because there is something remotely and truly human about Sarasti.
Sarasti also seems to be the only one not afflicted by blindsight, the inability to see the unlikely (192). I don’t necessarily agree with the assessment that he (vampires) are sociopaths (or even apathetic) because that is perspective-bound, but instead I find his lack of emotional affect, much like Siri’s, to be a result of circumstances – Sarasti’s inherent vampire rait and Siri’s half-brain surgery. Sarasti’s human-like traits, his motivation to act as he did to Siri, seemed to be part of some collective memory, genetically embedded, deeply so, whereas Siri’s human-like traits seem to be directly hereditary, from his mother and father (who we later find out from inference is a feeling person).
I find the quote (from the title) particularly striking because for much of the book, Siri and his shipmates try to asses and analyze evolving situations with little regard for human needs; they are enhanced for specific functions, of which first person sex is not one of them. I followed Siri’s struggle with his relationship with Chelsea. I think he genuinely cared for her, loved her even but was stymied as how to express himself emotionally and, ultimately, tries to meet her expectations (which we all know ends badly, as any relationship does where one person has to give the sense of self); the Chelsea death scene is particularly wrenching as we watch Siri struggle. I find it interesting that he said “it” and not “him” (his father) and every and not his (his father’s) words, as if to suggest there is awareness and realization but lack of understanding. The whole book revolves around the notion of human-ness and perspectives. I find it interesting the most human people are the ones that are able to understand multiple perspectives, and those who are unable to are blindsighted not only to what they don’t want to see or is unlikely, but to things they refuse to see. I think it’s ironic that he treasures something he was blindsighted to before – feelings. It is somewhat unfortunate he is too late for Chelsea or his father.