Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Kismet: psychic healers, magic aerosols and non-lethal weapons

About this post

Post in a nutshell: consider a subject (such as a baby). Consider a characteristic of that subject (such as they baby's strength). Consider how the degree of that characteristic will change over time (the baby's strength will increase as it matures) and apply that degree change to the original subject. So, with this example you are left with a very strong baby!

Take these three ideas:

(From the film Green Mile) A psychic man who heals people with his powers
(From the Two Ronnies) An aerosol that, when sprayed on someone, makes them invisible
(From The Amazing Future book) A non-lethal weapon that makes the target suffer from nausea or diarrhoea

Looking at the first example, I got to thinking how Stephen King could have thought of the concept of a healer. Obviously the concept of healing people (by psychic means) is nothing new and if Stephen King was using a dictionary for random-word input he could have found the entry for ‘healer’. However, if the concept of psychic-healing did not exist how could Stephen King have invented the concept? As part of my project for ‘automatic fiction’ I invented the ‘kismet’ tool.

Kismet tool

Use of kismet presupposes that the ‘passage’ of the kismet target (or the passage of a characteristic of the kismet target) is predetermined. There are two kinds of kismet: rewind-kismet and fastforward-kismet. The rewind-kismet tool rewinds the target (or target’s characteristic) to its state/level/condition at some specified time during the past. The fastforward-kismet fastforwards the target/characteristic to its state/level/condition at a specified time in the (predetermined) future. In the case of John Coffey – the healer from Green Mile – it could be said:

John Coffey kismet-rewinds the target’s health to its state/level/condition two years ago

Thus the target is cured. This kismet representation could also be considered as an alternative definition. Thus:

Healing = kismet-rewinding a target’s health to its state/level/condition two years ago.

The Two Ronnies magic aerosol

In a Two Ronnies sketch, Ronnie Corbett plays a character who has invented an aerosol that, when sprayed onto a target, makes them invisible.

In kismet terms, this could be represented as:

The aerosol kismet-rewinds the target’s size to ten-minutes-after-conception size

Which - although not directly making the target invisible - has the same visual effect.

Non-lethal weapon

In the Amazing Future book, a non-lethal weapon is described that makes the target suffer from nausea and diarrhoea.

In kismet terms this could be:

The weapon kismet-rewinds the target’s blood levels to childhood levels.

Which would cause nausea. Or:

The weapon kismet-fastfowards the target’s stomach’s contents to its condition in two days' time

(When it would be faecal matter on a sewage farm.)

Which would cause diarrhoea.

Nice ;)

Kismet operators

The operator of kismet can be anything – a person, object, machine etc. The Amazing Future book discusses a machine that would create artificial waves (presumably for surfers).Expressed in kismet terms this is:

Machine kismet-rewinds sea’s roughness to X (date) levels

The fish’s ‘rucksack’

The Amazing Future book discusses an invention – a ‘rucksack’ that is attached to fish and uses electric shocks to guide them in a certain direction. In kismet terms:

The rucksack kismet-rewinds a fish’s position to its position ten minutes ago

It is worth considering if the target/condition REMAINS at the state/level/condition it was/will be in at the time, or if it continues to progress as it did/will through time. So in the case of the healer John Coffey it is worth considering if the person’s health level remains constant at the level it was two years ago, or if the level of health proceeds as it did from two years ago (with the sad side effect that the sick person will succumb to their ailment once again in two years' time).

Some new examples

Ways that healer John Coffey could have used kismet:

Kismet-rewind target’s skin surface-area to childhood levels…resulting in a ‘popping out of their skin’ effect. (Horror movie territory that.)

Kismet-rewind target’s lung size to pre-birth size…resulting in either an asthmatic effect, or if the kismet rewound the lungs to ten-minutes-after-conception size then the target would suffocate.

Kismet-fastforward target to his state two years in the future…thus the target would know events two years into the future. (Perhaps, as a consequence, the target would then either be perceived as a prophet/psychic or as a time traveller.)

Kismet-rewind target’s brain functioning to two-months-before-birth level…thus the target would, as a result, go into a kind of vegetative state (in fact, exactly what happened to the character Percy in Green Mile as a result of John Coffey's powers).

Kismet-rewind a person’s hunger to its level eight months before birth…thus (if the hunger level progresses as it did eight months before birth) the character would not need to eat for eight months.


It’s clear that concepts that appear to be quite complex and unique (and ‘hard to create’) can be quite accessible by use of the kismet tool. It’s a useful tool for creating thoughts experiments (or the provocations of lateral thinking). It can suggest goals - in the case of the fish's rucksack, the kismet operation could have led to the creative challenge: "how can we control the direction of a fish?". It can also be used to redefine inventions in kismet terms, which can lead to viewing the idea from a different perspective.

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