(I hope it’s alright that I did this, Cass). This fic fucked me up and I think about it like, most days. This scene in particular actually made me burst into tears. So yeah, go read it, please. I hope the gif works properly, jpeg included for details.
Our conceptions are derived from the qualities, since the conceptions are abstracted from the vital experience that is received. Whoever regards the objects of thought as actuality, confuses the boundaries that divide the objects with that which has established those boundaries.
Ludwig Klages, On Truth and Actuality, in The Biocentric Worldview
Itoshi no Anneli by Ishiko: literally a story book romance; a charming story about an English children’s book author and a Japanese toy store owner who just might be his biggest fan.
Niini no Mori by Shoowa: An utterly surreal collection of intertwining short stories about anthropomorphized animals and semi-human beings. It also includes a tragic romance between two stag beetles. This is one of the best manga I’ve ever read, genre irrelevant.
Sensuishi to Kurage by Tomo Sakura: a collection of mysterious short stories, set predominantly in Europe. A wonderful combination of incredibly intricate art and gentle storytelling.
Gad Sfortunato by Basso (Ono Natsume): the story of an Italian tattoo artist and his many friends and loves. (Spoiler alert: he doesn’t end up paired off with anyone, but instead simply finds a sense of melancholy satisfaction with his life, which is sort of a wonderful thing and unfortunately not often seen in this genre.)
Yuusha in Maounchi by Inutoki & Shouhei: an eccentric story with wild, fabulous art about a surprisingly well-meaning demon King and a simple, big-hearted hero who just doesn’t understand the position he’s in or what he supposed to be doing. Instead of trying to defeat the demon king, he moves in with him and befriends all of the other demons. This is the story of their everyday life.
Yokoshima no Yuen by Janome: a beautifully illustrated fantasy featuring Janome‘s signature, captivating writing style, where the protagonist changes chapter to chapter. Two young men are forced to come to terms with their feelings for each other when they’re held captive by a Shinto spirit in an almost Synaesthetic maze of emotion.
Sorekara Kimi o Kangaeru by Komatsu: a collection of predominately heart-wrenching short stories, drawn in a style that invokes the feeling of changing seasons.
Yuki no Shita no Qualia by Kii Kanna: a gentle romance filled with a poignant sense of motion in both its art and storytelling. A profound love between two people is depicted with dignity and delight.
Stellarium by Aoi Aki: a rather surreal, science fiction-fantasy story that you definitely won’t hear anywhere else, drawn in an elegant yet warm fashion.
Ani no Chuukoku by Asada Nemui: as I’ve mentioned before, I don’t care for the titular story, but the rest of the stories in this collection are fascinating and eccentric. Personally, I would pair the other three stories with the author’s story “the talking flower,” which is the second half of her volume entitled dear, my God. Put those together and you get some whimsical yet intense magical-realist enchantment.
The problem of Inverted Qualia is, as Dennett says: “
one of philosophy’s most virulent memes”.
Although many philosophers have espoused variants on it, John Locke’s is perhaps the most popular and enduring example. Put simply it asks: “how can you every be sure that the colour I see is the same colour you see?”. When you see a strawberry as red, I might see it as blue, but by convention and by language, we both call it ‘red’. Most often the problem is phrased using visual examples, but it could be extended to any sensation we have.
Generally, this is a problem in epistemology because it means we can never know what the actual state of affairs are (this belief in ‘actual’ is called ‘realism’). This leads us to scepticism.
Furthermore, we can therefore never rightly attach a truth value to the claim ‘x is red’ without the caveat ‘x only appears red to me’ (this raises all sorts of complicated discussions regarding theories of truth which we cannot explore here). This would then commit us to a Nietzschean perspectivism (tbc soon…)
In short, inverted qualia is a problem of scepticism - where we must admit we cannot know a whole raft of things - namely what is ever going on in someone else’s ‘mind’s eye’ (the experiences they are having - their qualia).
Finally, though, it is a problem too for physicalist theories of mind. These state that we can completely and sufficiently describe all mental events in physical terms. The problem of inverted qualia, though, maintains that if we posited two identical humans, with an identical physical make up, it is conceivable that they could still have different qualia. Therefore, physicalism cannot give a full account of the mind (see also Chalmer’s Zombies).
If nothing else, the problem is a great introduction to philosophy, and is often the first question budding philosophers ask on the road to deeper and thornier issues.