Dyan Ardais and the Ethical Problem

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Title: Dyan Ardais and the Ethical Problem
Creator: F.R. Wilkinson
Date(s): June 1978
Medium: print
Fandom: Darkover
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Dyan Ardais and the Ethical Problem is a 1978 essay by F.R. Wilkinson.

It was printed in Starstone #2.

The topic was the Darkover character Dyan Ardais, his sexuality, and why he was a sexual predator of children (coded as "mind-invasion for sexual purposes").

"SA" and "HH" mentioned below are abbreviations for "Sword of Aldones" and "Heritage of Hastur," both books by Marion Zimmer Bradley.

Laran is a Darkover term.

Some Topics Discussed

  • "Dyan is an open lover of boys, and a certain amount of scandal, muted be cause of his position, attaches to his name."
  • Dyan's father was a difficult one and did not provide Dyan what he needed; he also was lacking a mother's influence
  • Dyan was confused and adrift, and his society failed him
  • if Dyan's son had lived, "the later history of Darkover might have been different"

From the Essay

The ethical problem so acutely generated by the possession of laran is succinctly stated by young Regis Hastur during his struggles to master his own native gifts and erotic sensibilities. It is simply that the only choice is to misuse one's power or to meet one's destiny with honor (HH p 291, 295.) In a broader context, the problem is, of course, universal. Each one of us has his or her own endowment of gifts which may affect the lives of others, and no one is so bereft as to have no other person whose life may be influenced. Indeed Regis, for the moment at least, speaks as a true Hellene of the Age of Socrates. One can imagine him blood-brother to Alexias (narrator in Mary Renault's LAST OF THE WINE) who wrestles with much the same problem, although, fortunately, without the cristoforo conditioning against homoerotic love as an added factor in the struggle.

The problem, for Regis, is magnified by his possession of laran which makes possible, and therefore provides the temptation toward a much more direct and powerful intervention in the lives of others than most of us are likely to experience. And yet laran also provides its own unique solution, and it is this solution which finally resolves Regis' struggle. It is, however, a solution which escapes Dyan Ardais. Kennard Alton is not Danilo Syrtis. Evidently endowed with a considerable sexual appetite, (HH p 151) and with full lavan, Dyan is unable to find that one sure resolution of his conflict which Danilo presents to Regis.

And without that foundation his life is to go sadly astray. Hence those episodes of mind-invasion for sexual purposes which culminate in the Danilo Syrtis affair. It is significant, I think, that while he makes formal apology for his conduct in the affair there is no hint of real repentance or sorrow. Dyan, one feels, is quite likely to do it again, given the provocation. Thus in Regis we see the ethical telepath and in Dyan the unscrupulous telepathic

opportunist. What can have led to the development of such a man within the Darkovan social code?

The difference between the father-son relationship between Valdir and Kennard Alton, on one hand, and our assumptions concerning Kyril and Dyan Ardais on the other, is worth noting. Valdir was a strong but affectionate father in whom Kennard took an intense pride (SD p. 82) and whose virtues

he strove to emulate. The masculine image Valdir provided was instrumental in the production of a large-spirited, affectionate, but wholly masculine Kennard. Not so in the case of Kyril and Dyan. Kyril simply could not supply the proper masculine model Dyan needed at the time his son needed it. It is doubtful that Kyril either recognized the need, or cared. That duty was left to the cristaforos— a totally inadequate substitute.
As far as we have any knowledge, [Dyan] seems to have had only one close friendship—with Kennard Alton. He appears never to have had any affection for women — of what sort was his mother?— and his relationship with his father was, to say the least, disturbed. Whatever his relationship with his brothers, if any, he never speaks of them, and appears indifferent to the attractions of family life.
[Dyan] cannot have been ignorant, on a cognitive level, of the Comyn code of personal honor and integrity. Its demands are a part of the very air he breaths But each man interprets the demands of his society in his own terms. Without a feminine balance in his life, and in bitterness at the lack of an emotional anchor which his jealousy at Kennard's apparent defection has generated in him, Dyan sets out on a course of self-indulgence in which the Comyn code is ignored and rejected.

[With his father dead], there is no love left anywhere in the world — only opportunities for power, and with it, for revenge upon the Comyn system that has played hell with his life. And so he proceeds to the final destructive phase. His hates, his fears and his hungers, magnified and fed by Sharra, bring the whole Comyn hierarchy toppling down in flames, and Dyan himself is destroyed in a last orgy of self-indulgence.

Great gifts require strong foundations. The tragedy of the Comyn is that in its final days, the Comyn system became so bound up in privilege that it

was unable to provide a lonely boy with the necessary experience out of which a viable personal ethic could be built. Dyan grew up a secret man, it is true, one not easy to know, but at one time his need must have been open to see. Kennard Alton was apparently unwilling to recognize it; Kyril Ardais was unable to comprehend it; and the Comyn generally were preoccupied and in different to it. No strong foundation was built, and Dyan was left adrift, a destructive agent set loose in an already fragile world.