Psychologue: Challengee Power Ranger


[I just realized I needed a generic term for these dialogues with my subconscious]

An athletic figure in a black jumpsuit with gold trim, plus a helmet with dark glass faceplate, is standing majestically overlooking a war-torn battlefield.

I walk up to him.

The Challenge

Earnest: Um, hello?

Challengee: Greetings, mortal.

E. Um, why do you call me a mortal? Are you a god?

C. [chuckling] Hardly. I am, however, one of the eternal principles of this realm.

E. Um, the principle of destruction?

The figure seems confused by my question. He glances around as if in puzzlement. Then he finally seems to notice the devastation all around him.

C. Oh, that! No, of course not. That is just an unfortunate side effect of my quest to defeat evil.

E. That seems a bit more than a side effect.

C. [shrugging] Collateral damage, if you prefer. You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs [forced laugh]

E. Um, so then what kind of omelette are you trying to make?

C. One where truth is respected, of course!

E. Respected? [gazing around at the destruction] Are you sure you don’t mean “feared”?

Again the figure seems puzzled.

C. [almost to himself] Is there a difference? Does it matter?

E. Ah, are you okay?

C. [shaking himself] Of course! Never better! Live for the battle, and all that. Right?

I bite my tongue and say nothing.

C. [agitated] Out with it, man! Clearly something is bothering you. Why don’t you just say it?

E. Um, are you sure it is… [nodding at the battlefield] safe?

C. What, that? Surely you have nothing to fear. I only fight evil; and then only proportionately.

E. But… how do I know whether I’m evil?

C. Why… if you oppose me.

E. Wait, are you saying you are Justice, and only evil would ever oppose you?

C. No, of course not. That would be silly. I am Logic. I only oppose Error.

E. So… not all error is evil?

C. Obviously. Only error that resists correction is evil.

E. So resistance to Logic leads to… that?

C. Not necessarily. Only if they refuse to submit.

E. But… what if you’re wrong?

C. I? Wrong?!?

I back away nervously.
Though he seems more shocked than outraged.

E. I mean… you do know that any formal logical system can be either complete or consistent, but not both.

C. Only if strong enough to represent basic arithmetic!

E. Ah, sure. But then, how can you be sure that a sentence you think is not true is actually false?

C. I…. [freezes]

He stands there a long time.
Did I fry his circuit board?
Is he stuck in an infinite loop?

I walk around him, trying to detect any sign of life.
Finally I summon up my courage.
I nervously stretch out my arm as far as possible.
I tap him on the shoulder from behind. with one finger.

Suddenly he awakens.

C. Aaargh!

E. Yikes!

I awkwardly sprawl on the ground.

He takes one look, and bursts into laughter.
Not his previous awkward chuckles.
But a rich deep, belly laugh.

He laughs himself hoarse until he is bent over.
Wheezing, he stumbles over and gives me a hand up.

I gratefully, if somewhat carefully, accept.

He lifts me up, gives me a half hug, and claps me heartily on the shoulder.

C. Thank you, my good fellow. I am in your debt.

E. Why do you call me good? And what the heck just happened?

C. You asked me to use logic to question my confidence in my own logic. As you know, that is a Turing-complete problem.

E. Uh, sure, if you say so.

C. [sadly] I found myself unable to move. Logic without unquestionable axioms is powerless. I found myself spiraling ever deeper into questions of certainty with no hope of escape.

E. But… then how did you escape? And why aren’t you mad at me?

C. The answer to both your questions is: your human touch.

He lets out a sigh, and begins loosening the fasteners on his helmet.

C. I… was not always as you see me now. I was once human like you. But the dimension I grew up in was cold, vicious and cruel. Not so much through brute strength, but subtle deception.

He sits down and works on the fasteners on his boots.

C. I fashioned armor to protect myself. I honed my skill at detecting and defeating lies and false beliefs in order to survive.

He motions me to help, and I start unbolting his gloves.

C. Along the way, though, I started to lose something. At first, I thought it was just weakness. Later, I realized I had lost vulnerability, but that seemed a worthwhile trade. It is only today I realize I had lost something even more precious to me.

E. Wh… what is that?

C. Curiosity. In my quest to defeat error, I had abandoned and betrayed my first love of seeking truth.

“It is only today I realize I had lost something even more precious to me. Curiosity.”


He steps out of his boots, which I now realize are stilts.
He unscrews his robotic hands.
He lifts off the helmet, revealing a young boy of nine or ten.

With a familiar face.

C. Thanks, Ernie. If you don’t mind, I’m going off to play. I have a lot of catching up to do….

He gives me a Power Ranger salute, then scampers off into the distance.

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