“The Country of the Kind,” Damon Knight, 1956

The Country of the Kind,” Damon Knight, 1956 – A violent deviant has been “neutralized” by the societal practice of rendering him “invisible” (ignored).  Enraged, he tries to make them “see.”

The society’s response to violence is three-fold: “The first is excommunication – no one is to interact with him or even acknowledge his existence, other than by the apparent world-wide directive identifying him and calling for this punishment. Secondly, he is thrown into an epileptic seizure whenever he attempts to commit violence against another human. Thirdly, his body and waste give off a highly offensive odor, undetectable by him, to identify him, warn of his presence and drive others away…The story links violence to artistic expression. The protagonist “invents” drawing and sculpture, only later realizing, from old books, that these things had existed in the past, and notes that all great artists had lived in especially violent times.” (Wikipedia)

Comments: The title appears to be a reference to “The Country of the Blind” (1904) by H. G. Wells.  Read in New Dreams This Morning and Modern Classics of Science Fiction, ed Dozois, who notes that Blish called the story “one of the most uncomfortable parables in our language.”  The suggestion is that a loss of violence will result in a loss of some fundamental aspect of the soul.

Author: Wikipedia: “Damon Francis Knight (September 19, 1922 – April 15, 2002) was an American science fiction author, editor, critic and fan. His forte was short stories and he is widely acknowledged as having been a master of the genre.”


About jennre

Lifelong sf fan, first-time blogger
This entry was posted in 1946-1959, agency/will/freedom, artists/creativity, communication, difference/tolerance, emotions/intimacy/empathy, in/visible, masculinity, paranoia/schitzophrenia, psych/mind/madness, religion/soul/spirituality, the body, the gaze, the Other, violence. Bookmark the permalink.

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