Trope-a-Day: Faceless Eye

Faceless Eye: Citizen Oversight, the unified office of collecting publicly available data so that what government the Empire has can make sensible decisions (and which, incidentally, pays for itself by selling the statistical information, and collations, and indeed access to the raw feeds – for assorted uses, sousveillance included – it produces on the open market) uses as its logo, of course, the all-seeing eye.

Cosmos and Ethos

There are many creation myths.

The Pancreator, Great Architect, crafting the universe out of nothingness.  The worlds born in the passion of Elif and Lithrás at the beginning of time, or stolen from the jewel-box of Eternity, or forged from chaos by the Mad Gods of the Beginning, or captured in the war of the Six Elemental Dragons on Chaos and Night, or thought into being by our own Lady Creatrix, Aldéré, Divine Ignition.

Or, if you are of a more scientific turn of mind, emerging from the detonation of the primordial monad in its embedding non-spatial plenum.

And yet, none of these creators are emulated, or the focus of our beliefs, save only for the Divine Ignition – and even then, not for what is surely either the cause or consequence of her madness.

For the universe is broken from its beginnings, and we have no praise for a creator who would abandon – or worse, deliberately craft – such a flawed creation.

Listen closely, my cousins, and you will hear the long low moan of the universe dying, its life running out.  The endless decay of energy states until the final nullity.  The rot that takes our works and nature’s alike, if not tended.  Disease wracks us, disaster dogs us.  Trees rot, beasts die.  Mountains crumble.  Rivers turn to dust and ash.  Cities and civilizations fall.  And within, all the little entropies; destruction and chaotism, slaving and default, leeching and disharmony, every way in which we betray ourselves – things undone, things done poorly, brass for gold, ash-crystal for fireglass, the inner voice that tempts and excuses us when we permit ourselves to do less, to demand less, to be less…

Yes, we are immortal – we and a few others of the sophont species – but even we are doomed, if not by mere chance and imperfection then by the slow fall deathward in time, as the turning planets slow and stop, the stars cool and die, and all that is collapses into the cold void when all energy, all life, all meaning is at last depleted.

This we must know.

And yet…

And yet, my cousins, the universe is also wondrous.  In the despite of this fall into decay, it brings forth wonders in their hundreds and thousands.  From the elegant structures of atomic nuclei to the graceful curve of the galactic arm; from the symmetry of the tiniest snowflake to the mightiest mountain range; the manifold symmetries of crystals; even the twin worlds of Isshára-Léstára.

And from all of this, life; warm oxygen-breathing life and cold methane-breathing life, and life breathing ammonia and sulphide and halogens, and hydrogen-breathing flyers swimming through gas giants; forests of blue and green and purple and midnight black under cool red suns; coral growing in lovely fractal patterns beneath the sea and forming hovering islands in hydrogen skies; worlds of earth and sky and water; life blooming blue, red, and purple beneath the ice of cold, outer worlds; dolphins leaping in the sun-struck sea, wolves racing the forest twilight, and the cry of the hunting wyvern in the mountains.

And us.  Eldrae and galari and myneni; kaeth and esseli and selyéva and qucequql; and all the other sophont species. Emerged from the miracle of self-organizing matter, capable of looking back, and seeing all this, and turning to strive for more.  Thinking and learning and building new wonders; cities, libraries, and roads spanning the world; carved mountains and gardened forests; the gleaming caverns of Azikhan and the coral-and-crystal domes of undersea cities; artificial islands and districts in orbit; and reaching beyond, first to Seléne’s silver dust and the cold red acridity of Talentar, and then to a hundred new worlds under new suns.

Bringing life, order, and complexity to places where they had never been; making minds blossom in metal brought to life, and raising the bandal and other species to full sophonce, spawning artificial ecologies, mechanical across the hot inner worlds and digital across star-spanning networks, and stranger ecologies of information in libraries, memeweaves, and markets.

Making the pieces of this broken universe into something worthy.

This is the nature of existence, my cousins: the dichotomy between the universe as it is, broken, decaying, doomed; and as it should be, as it can be made.  The Darkness, and the Flame that burns against it.  This is the choice we are given when we come to be:

To accede to the nature of things as they are; to accept the deathward slide, take what we can in the course of the plunge, and slink away from the ruins;

Or to strive ever to hold back the Darkness and stoke the Flame; to build the universe and ourselves ever closer to their proper perfection.

Anything that is broken can be repaired.

Trope-a-Day: The Faceless

The Faceless: Lots of people who, for one reason or another, need to go around all day wearing environmental/vacuum suits for one reason or another.  (Although facial-expression v-tags are quite common to reduce the effect of appearing to have no expression.)

Also, more than a few infomorphs who are not only faceless, but also bodiless.  Although keeping communicating in this way, special circumstances aside, betrays either an appalling lack of grasp on biosapience psychology, or else just plain rudeness.

Elmiríën’s Truths

The following is an extract from the Word of the Flame, the record of the series of dream-visions the seeress Merriéle experienced on the side of the mountain Tirias Calémon in the year 1,199 pre-Imperial.  The contents of these visions formed the basis of the mainstream Eldraeic religion.

 This particular excerpt are the fifteen verses of the book of Truths, which – while elaborated on in other works – form the core of her religion’s ethos.  Essentially, these are the equivalent of the “Ten Commandments”, or other similar precepts.

In dreams I walked
The streets of the Twilight City
Under the sky lit with starlight,
Amid the buildings wrought from words,
And the towers woven of song.

There Elmiríën spoke to me
Patterner, Bringer of Order.
In the light of the Flame,
That burns at the Heart of Creation,
He revealed these truths to me.

Aldéré, Enkindler, Divine Ignition,
From base matter She made you,
But in your hearts set this Fire,
That you might know yourselves,
And your will might shape the world.

All that live partake of the Flame,
In the heights as in the depths.
The candle that glimmers in the darkness,
The suns that illuminate the world,
Each burns with its own light.

The Fire burns in the Heart,
Through choice its blaze is stoked.
Can a fire burn without fuel?
When one man takes another’s will;
By this the Flame is quenched.

This is the first Darkness.
Vile and accursed are they
Who would command another’s soul.
They shall know death beyond this world,
The Twilight City denied them.

As fire lives in a lantern,
The Flame dwells in the flesh.
Can light shine without its vessel?
To wound the vessel is to mar the light;
To destroy the vessel to extinguish it.

This is the second Darkness.
Those who bring the swords against another
Without right or provocation
Damn themselves in Saravóné’s sight
Her fires shall rise against them.

All the works of your hands:
Stone and metal, wood and water, fire and wind.
All that your will creates.
These things are forged in your Flame;
That which you create is yours.

This is the third Darkness.
Those who take what is another’s
Lay hands upon his soul.
The Flame they steal shall burn them;
No fires shall warm their hearts.

To give your word is to give your Flame.
Two fires commingled burn brighter still;
The hoarded flame can only dwindle.
A promise kept gives light forever;
The heart of the faithless is ashes and dust.

In the light of the Flame truth is revealed;
All things are seen as they are.
To deceive yourself chokes off your Flame.
To deceive another casts you both in Shadow.
Beware, lest Darkness find a dwelling there.

Light burns away the Darkness;
Shadow cannot stand against Flame.
Blessed are those who stand and do not falter
Against those who walk in Shadow.
Dúréníän accepts them as his own.

A man is judged by his creations alone:
All your works partake of your Flame;
By them shall its worth be known.
Above all, create yourself;
The well-tended Flame burns brightest.

Let all your works be wise,
For knowledge is the light of the Flame;
Let all your works be beautiful,
For beauty is its warmth;
Thus is your Heaven built.

– The Word of the Flame, Truths 1-15,
as dictated by the seeress Merriéle,
Chosen of Elmiríën and Namer of Eikones

Trope-a-Day: Exposition Beam

Exposition Beam: What mnemonesis (see Neural Imprinting) is for, although it’s much more commonly used for imparting knowledge in the data and skillset sense than imprinting knowledge in the history/backstory sense.  Nonetheless, it can be done, and as such, tends to be done, at least sometimes – despite the awkwardness that imprinting that sort of information this way tends to come with lots of context and emotional sidebands that you might not want, because copying historical memories this way (rather than distilling them down into a matrix of facts first) means that the recipient remembers them as if they happened to him.

(Abuses of this phenomenon are also well known, and fairly unsubtle.  See Mind Rape.)

Trope-a-Day: Neural Imprinting

Neural Imprinting: Ubiquitous, although it’s called “gnostic overlay” and “mnemonesis”.  And while it is the standard educational technique (starting prenatally, with the axiom feed), it’s only the first step.  After all, being able to download huge chunks of skillset into a chap’s brain is easy; successful integration and synthesis to make said skills your own is hard, and then practice, practice, practice!

Of course, in terms of pure fact-memory, being able to recall just about anything known by remembering it certainly helps.  Assuming you have the intelligence and intellectual skills to do anything with the data, which is the hard part there.