[S]omewhere in Tartary fifty generations of ever woolier and woolier sheep had recently ended abruptly in one hairless, five-legged, impotent little lamb...Posit worlds where they can build new bodies to replace old ones, upgrades to replace deficiencies, looks to replace looks, et cetera. Now contemplate (or "imagine," if that's your thing) shell-hell, where it's an understood, usually so minor it's something you'd only say if you were being really informal or really formal, thing to have or mention probably having, or to politely guess someone might be having, when they're breaking a body in. Like, you go to a place, maybe they can get you in today, here's one some dude decided he didn't like, yes I said "dude," but it's only basically been in here, it's like new, it's thirty percent off, oh, what the hell, it's only $299 to start anyway, that includes the transfer if you've got insurance--that kind of thing. So you pick up your new body, get it verified as you, change your profile so everyone who cares knows, maaaaybe give the parents some direct contact, maybe not--that sort of thing.
So, shell-hell. Even if it's easy, there's usually a period of a few weeks/months, prob'ly worst in the first couple of days, where you get used to the thing. Oh, the knees feel so fat, why'd I get this one, lemme check the mirror again; is the neck supposed to twist like this; I dunno babe, the ass is sorta lopsided. Nothing is right, everything is wrong, and you sorta know you're going to accustom to it, and the nights are the worst because was it really meant to happen this way and I am so material and they didn't used to do this for every little--and I make light of it here, but it was really bad for some times, some places. The legs feel wrong, like alien-wrong, and it sounds like a joke unless you're really feeling it. Sure, it's as routine as, ohh, a broken limb or a heart procedure, everyone's done it at least once, but you still have those private times where it's not so cool. A touch of pain, a brush of death, and on it goes.
Yeah, big joke, she got a younger one so she's gonna be a little testy like that for a couple weeks, oh, didn't you hear about the accident? On it goes. What we can learn from it here is, at the least, a birth comparison, since really getting born is like a lesser form of shell-hell but you're less prepared for it. So, how much does metaphysical (sic) understanding of what is going to happen help? Hold on, there's a mosquito on your arm--which is to say, it doesn't help much, since you'd prefer not to be bitten. And we don't like to talk about it, how we're quite affected by these things we inhabit, changeable as they are, but with a new body, you can really tell. Yeah, the idiots adopt a new catch phrase, or they force saying something as a new habit based on a similar-appearing body they once saw in a movie or movie-equivalent, or whatever. But the smarter people are pretty much unnoticeable externally even though they can tell in different ways, more private ways usually, where they realize their thinking has changed in a slight way, only really noticeable to them, and you start to wonder, "Just how me is me, anyway?"
There's sort of something retro, or retro-original, new-again, whatever, in doing this forced hell of a different variety here, where it's only (so far) one take. And there are certainly benefits to being able to plausibly argue, to feel, that matter doesn't affect you because [reason]. To me, that's the more important issue of shell-hell from this perspective, or any perspective; not the infancy anew that can take decades to worm/work its way through the system, but the technological realization that, along with showing how important matter isn't by being able to maintain some degree of coherency through faster transitions, we simultaneously learn how important matter is, and how we've never really understood ourselves until then. Which we didn't then and won't much later, by those same tools of perspective, but it's at least an advancement, a beginning. Even treating it as faraway bullshit, that-island-doesn't-have-inhabitants bullshit, shell-hell's instructive, inasmuch as we can vicariously relive our own infancies, our own right-after-waking moments, and learn from it.