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Old February 9th 18, 16:23   #1
Zimmix
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Telepathy - why not use it more often?

I have always had questions about why telepathic ability was never used as often as it could have been. Especially by the Centauri.
Specifically, during the time Londo was with Emperor Cartagia and was plotting to assassinate him with the help of G'kar. Cartagia might have been insane, but the total lack of telepaths and telepathic use during this time by the Emperor is mystifying.
When Londo was trying to convince Cartagia to get rid of the Shadow fleet being harbored on Centauri Prime, one would think Cartagia might use a telepath to read Londo's thoughts. Or again when Londo was trying to convince Cartagia to go to Narn (to execute G'kar) one would think Cartagia might use a telepath to scan him.
There are many other instances where telepaths could have been used to "force" the truth from people. Any thoughts?
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Old February 9th 18, 20:32   #2
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Re: Telepathy - why not use it more often?

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Originally Posted by Zimmix View Post
I have always had questions about why telepathic ability was never used as often as it could have been. Especially by the Centauri.
Specifically, during the time Londo was with Emperor Cartagia and was plotting to assassinate him with the help of G'kar. Cartagia might have been insane, but the total lack of telepaths and telepathic use during this time by the Emperor is mystifying.
When Londo was trying to convince Cartagia to get rid of the Shadow fleet being harbored on Centauri Prime, one would think Cartagia might use a telepath to read Londo's thoughts. Or again when Londo was trying to convince Cartagia to go to Narn (to execute G'kar) one would think Cartagia might use a telepath to scan him.
There are many other instances where telepaths could have been used to "force" the truth from people. Any thoughts?
Welcome Zimmix! Thanks for posting.

This is a question I have often pondered, especially given that the Centauri are supposed to know how they will die. Of course there is the question of Cartagia's sanity, but I think there is also a question of Centauri Telepaths.

This is pure speculation and my own way of looking at it that is likely in no way close to what JMS intended, but here are some thoughts. We know that Emperor Turhan had Telepaths around him so it only makes sense that Cartagia would too. However, I am not so sure Centauri Telepaths were particularly strong. Thinking back to Passing Through Gethsemane 3.4 remember that there was a Centauri Telepath who was able to mess with Brother Edward, but when it came down to it he was no match for Lyta. At this stage in the series no one knew Lyta might be more powerful than she had been before. My theory is that maybe Centauri Telepaths lean more toward Premonition than direct Telepathy. Maybe Centauri Telepaths just aren't very powerful. And if that theory sounds crazy you can always fall back on the Cartagia insanity defense. If he truly was mentally ill there is no telling how he would react to what anyone told him, including the premonitions of his own dreams.

As far as the use of Telepaths generally in Babylon 5 I think we need to fall back on the very boring explanation that Telepaths are just a plot device of the storyteller. So logically one might think Telepaths would have been used a great deal more in the real world, but JMS decided they were a tool to be used only when he needed them in the Babylon 5 Universe. Now what was GENIUS about JMS' use of Telepaths is that he gave us one HUGE reason why we don't see them more in the Babylon 5 Universe, at least where Humans were concerned, and that is that very few characters showed any trust in Telepaths. I think this is a brilliant story tool that just so happens to seem like a truly logical prediction of what would happen if Telepaths were a reality.

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Old February 10th 18, 00:31   #3
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Re: Telepathy - why not use it more often?

I can't remember where I read it but I've got a memory of JMS answering a question about the veiled Centauri telepaths where he said that Cartagia eliminated them.
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Old February 10th 18, 07:38   #4
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Re: Telepathy - why not use it more often?

"What the hell just happened out there? I was stranded, out of communication, and suddenly I was hit by a sense of great personal danger."

Alfred Bester, Dust to Dust

We haven't heard many telepaths claim anything like this elsewhere. Is this a testament to Bester's powerful telepathic abilities and highly developed skills? Earlier in the series rather than later, telepaths would keep saying they needed line-of-sight contact for their abilities to work. Does Bester have capabilities that are beyond this? Is he ultra special? Or did Ivanova send a telepathic signal of murderous intent that he picked up? If it's the latter, he doesn't seem to have realized it was her, ever. Or was it something else?

And for that matter, is Bester the secret son of Vorlon Targaryen?

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Old February 11th 18, 00:00   #5
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Re: Telepathy - why not use it more often?

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And for that matter, is Bester the secret son of Vorlon Targaryen?



As for everything else I think everything explains it. He is very powerful. He says a "sense of great personal danger." which is just that - a sense. So he didn't actually see anyone or know who was sending out that vibe, but maybe Ivanova was sending out that vibe. And in fairness he was on a direct line of sight with C&C - though it wasn't a particularly close line of sight.
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Old February 11th 18, 01:54   #6
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Re: Telepathy - why not use it more often?

Ivanova's wrath/fear plus her latent talent might have been giving Bester something, yeah.

I've often wondered about the Centauri telepaths. They definitely seem more laissez-faire, more freelance, than the Human or Minbari structures.

But here's another wrinkle/can of worms: most of the telepathy we see in the B5 universe was specifically engineered by the Vorlons (including, I believe, their own). But we have strong indications that the Vorlons didn't meddle with the Centauri, since a) Londo sees nothing when he looks at Kosh, and b) the Centauri seem to have more of a historic connection with the Shadows, although I admit the evidence for this is tenuous.

So where did they get their telepathy?

And where did they get their ability to foresee the future? The Human teeps don't seem to be able to do that, and the only prophecies we ever hear from the Minbari are Valen's and we know how they got those. The only Vorlon prophecy we get ("If you go to Z'ha'dum, you will die") seems to have been a warning more than anything else, and even if it's a prophecy, it's not that hard of one. I imagine that quite a lot of people who go to Z'ha'dum die there.

So how do the Centauri manage to see the future?

Two mysteries, quite possibly linked.

I do note that Centauri prophecy is at least conditional: Lady Ladira tells Sinclair that her vision is a possible future, Lady Morella lays out three possibilities for Londo, and last but not least, Londo actively tries to kill G'Kar at least once during the 2258-2262 span of the show, despite his dream. So the Centauri can glimpse the future, but it is never definite.

Frankly, I imagine this causes more problems than it solves; I can envision any number of "Oedipus Rex"-style stories in Centauri literature.
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Old February 11th 18, 03:12   #7
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Re: Telepathy - why not use it more often?

KoshFan, I've wondered that as well. Since the Centauri have telepaths, I have long thought that the Vorlons once favored them, or at least saw them as a useful race which should be gifted with telepathic genes. Just because you invite someone to your party and give them a slice of cake doesn't mean they wouldn't make good cannon fodder, right? But somewhere along the way, the Vorlons lost interest, or were disappointed by their bloodthirsty ways, and dropped their project to cultivate the Centauri. The younger races, excluding the Centauri, all seem to have been targets of the Vorlons' angel trick. But we don't know how long that particular Vorlon project was going on, it might have been a more recent gambit. Telepaths, however, have been around for at least a thousand years, since the Narn 'mindwalkers' fought the Shadows in the previous Shadow War. I would think the Vorlons' telepath project is much older than that, but can't say for sure. But it does seem clear that at some point the Vorlons gave up on the Centauri: "They are alone. They are a dying people. We should let them pass." No beings of light for them, I guess.

As for an historic connection with the Shadows, what do you mean? The Centauri Empire's great expansion and conquest of other races followed their discovery of a jumpgate in their home system, which enabled them to become a space-faring power rather quickly. And the Vorlons are the prime suspects for having built the jumpgates and placed them around the galaxy, but again, this is not certain. And when the Shadows blasted their way onto the galactic stage, the Centauri didn't seem to recognize them at all, but the Minbari and Narn certainly did. When the Drakh showed up in 2261, Londo mentioned that he knew of them from legends, but there wasn't much more than that, not about their origins, their misdeeds, nothing. No Centauri ever mentions having even heard of a Shadow War happening a thousand years ago, or before that, unless I am mistaken. The Centauri, despite having exploded out into the galaxy, never seemed to develop any real interest in anyone's history but their own. Rather, they were blinded by their own blood-soaked glories. Surely they ran across some of the old, dead, bombarded worlds we saw in B5 and Crusade, but maybe they just didn't care to learn more.

I'm trying to remember, did the Technomages have any Centauri members in the book trilogy? By the time they appeared in B5, humans had become the dominant race in that order, displacing another race called the Tiratimude, which has apparently not been making many waves across the galaxy recently. Kind of funny that humans were represented strongly in the order of Technomages, and then the Shadows chose humanity to be their next servant race, or even their successors. I'm not sure what to make of that dynamic just yet.

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Old February 11th 18, 05:45   #8
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Re: Telepathy - why not use it more often?

The Centauri connection to the Shadows is extremely tenuous. But:

1) The Shadows are all about eyes. Their defense system over Z'ha'dum takes the form of Shadow eyes, and Morden refers to "our eye." The "Keepers" are practically nothing but eye, physically. And the oldest symbol of Centauri royalty is... the Eye.

2) The first emperor reportedly consulted with technomages, and the technomages are Shadow-connected. Presumably the technomages in that era would have been Centauri themselves.

3) The legends of the Drakh that you just mentioned (and that I had forgotten, actually).

Not much, is it? But when you pair it with the fact that Kosh did not appear to Londo, and that the Centauri were so swiftly adopted to the Shadows' purpose, it is at least worth considering. Compared to the Minbari or the Narn, for instance, who were clearly Vorlon-aligned the last time around. Plus it's easy to construct a narrative where the Centauri were fighting the Xon, the Shadows picked one side and the Vorlons the other, and the Shadow team won out. A classic Cold War proxy setup, really.


Regardless of that, however, here's the essential question: why would the Vorlons give the Centauri telepathy and not condition them to react in holy awe like they did for just about every other dang race we've seen? Especially since it seems the Vorlons conditioned most everyone but didn't necessarily hand out the telepaths to every race. I have to figure that the Vorlons left the Centauri alone for a reason (which is another, indirect clue of Shadow influence) but the Centauri still got telepathy somehow.
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Old February 11th 18, 05:47   #9
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Re: Telepathy - why not use it more often?

By the way: great first post, Zimmix. Thought-provoking. Welcome to the forum.
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Old February 11th 18, 10:10   #10
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Re: Telepathy - why not use it more often?

FWIW, JMS said

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Originally Posted by JMS
It's a combination of elements, Londo's fall, and yes, the
Vorlons had a very minimal affect on the Centauri, they never were able
to get a really strong foothold there.

jms
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