(Not) Eldraeic Word of the Day: Oolkor Voäin

oolkor voäin: A gutterspeak corruption of the Low Eldraeic, and Trade, phrase ulquor vohaïnár, literally “no brawl (is present herenow)”. (From ulquor, zero degree quantifier + vo, second size prefix + haïn, battle + ár, predication affix, in this case creating an observative.)

Unlike the original phrase, which is not used in this sense by civilized speakers, the gutter form is often heard grunted as a greeting and farewell by the less reputable sort of mercenary, pirates, slavers, street gangs, and other assorted lowlives and scum of the galaxy, indicating a lack of desire to fight at the present time and place and a hope for its reciprocation.

It reflects a surprisingly sophisticated sense of irony that the traditional response, “ankan voäin”, is a likewise corrupt form of anqan vohaïnár, meaning “just a little brawl”.

– A Star Traveler’s Dictionary

Eldraeic Phrase of the Day: cla-elén bríäz jé elén duenissí

cla-elén bríäz jé elén duenissí: (literally “without blades or maidens¹”) an ancient idiom, this phrase provides a way of discussing dangerous or forbidden topics.

If all parties to a conversation (or other means of communication) agree on discussing a matter “without blades or maidens”, the conversation may proceed without concern that offense will be received (or at least that such will not give rise to a cause of action, although it is courteous to refrain from receiving offense insofar as such discussions are often invoked to cover potentially offensive yet necessary subjects) or that the subject will pass before the ears of those who should be spared its ugliness.

When the conversation is complete (or when a party to it withdraws their agreement), it is not done to resume discussion of the matter at any time not without blades or maidens.

  1. While the choice of word here may seem unusual for eldraeic sensibilities, the reader is reminded that this is an ancient idiom, and one imported from a language (pre-Imperial era Chresytani) in which the word commonly translated “maiden” was routinely used to describe those possessed of a certain quality [not generally sexual] of innocence, regardless of their actual gender.

Eldraeic Word of the Day: ulargydar

ulargydar: (from ul, negation + argyr, worth + daráv, person or sophont) Usually translated “nithing” or “nihility”, ulargydar literally means “worthless person”, used to describe the worst miscreants. The implication is that Entropy has devoured all the worthy qualities and virtues present in the ulargydar‘s soul, leaving behind only a nothingness in the shape of a man.

Eldraeic Word of the Day: kaälath

kaälath: (from “ka”, present time marker, and “alath”, wisdom) context-uncoupling or dehabituation, that state of mind in which one experiences everything as removed from its context and from the normal state of affairs. In the state of kaälath, one is able to experience all things as fresh and new, despite that one may be accustomed to them by long experience.

Learning to achieve kaälath is not only a core part of objective-perception for rationality training, but is also considered one of the keys to ethical maturity, unlocking the ability to be aware of the unique value of all things, and thus to not take those things one meets and makes use of every day for granted.

Eldraeic Word of the Day: anála

anála: (from anás, a monad, and alath, knowledge); a concept.

Specifically, anála refers to an entity of the conceptual plane; for example, a philosophical form, a geometric shape, or mathematical concept, such as the computed value of π. This specifically excludes any knowledge-monads which are contingent upon the material plane, such as physical concepts or laws – including things such as the speed of light, or the measured value of π – which are determined empirically and which may vary between localities or universes.


It’s about divergences in computer technology —

Or in other words, some conversations elsewhere have made it evident that it would be useful to have some of these things out here for discussion, and since this is going to involve comparisons to Earthling ways of doing things, it’s going to be a worldbuilding article rather than an in-universe one.

Some of this has been implied previously – for those of you who remember the little piece I wrote on programming languages in particular, in the opening phrase “The typical computer in use in the modern Empire remains the parallel array of binary-encoded Stannic-complete processors that has been in use since the days of the first settled Stannic cogitator architecture”.

So what does that actually mean?

Well, it means that while the individual elements of computation would be familiar to us – if you are reading this, you are almost certain to be doing so on something describable as a binary-encoded Stannic-complete processor – how they were arranged took a sharp left turn way back in the day.

Most of our computing is fundamentally serial. We may have fancy multicore processors these days, but we’re still pretty much scratching the surface or real parallelism; most systems are still operating in a serial paradigm in which you work on one task, switch to another, work on that, etc., etc. If you write a complex, multithreaded program, it may look like things are happening in parallel, but most of the time, they won’t be.

For various reasons – which may have something to do with the relative ease of adding power to the old brass-and-steam Stannic cogitators by adding more processor modules vis-à-vis trying to get faster reciprocation and higher steam pressures without exploding; or it may have something to do with older forms of computation involving hiring a bunch of smart lads and lasses from the Guild of Numbers and arranging them in a Chinese room; or… – once they got into the electronic (and spintronic, and optronic) era instead of trying to make faster and faster serial processors¹, designers concentrated on making processors – with onboard fast memory and communications links – that could be stacked up, networked, and parallelized really well, complete with dedicated hardware and microcode to manage interprocessor links.

(You could look at something like Inmos’s Transputer as similar to early examples of this.)

Open up an Imperial computer, you’ll find a neat little stack of processor modules meshed together, working away on things in parallel and passing messages back and forth to stay coordinated. In modern designs, they share access to a big block of “slow memory”, possibly via one or more partially-shared caches, just like here‘s multicore processors do, but that doesn’t change the fundamentals of the parallel design.

And this architecture doesn’t change with scale, either. From the tiniest grain-of-rice picoframe found in any living object (three processing cores for redundancy, maybe even only one in the tiniest disposables) to the somewhere-between-building-and-city-sized megaframes running planetary management applications, they’re all built out of massively parallel networks of simple processing modules.

[Digression: this is also where the gentle art of computational origami comes into play. In the magical world in which the speed of light, bandwidth, and information density are conveniently infinite, you could fully mesh all your processing modules and everything would be wonderful. In the real world in which light is a sluggard and bit must be it, you can only have and handle so many short-range communications links – and so computational origami teaches you how to arrange your processing modules in optimally sized and structured networks, then stack them together in endless fractal layers for best throughput. More importantly, it teaches the processors how to manage this environment.]

[Second digression: having spent a lot of time and effort producing simple, networkable processor cores, this also rewrote a lot of how peripheral devices worked – because why would you waste a lot of time fabbing specialized silicon for disk controllers, or GPUs, or floating-point units, or whatever, when you could simply throw some processing cores in there with some “firmware” – for which read “software flagged as tied to hardware feature flag foo, instance bar” – and get to the same place?

So, for example, when you think “printer”, don’t think “dumb hardware operated by a device driver”. Think “processor that knows how to draw on paper; all I have to do is send it a picture”. Pretty much every peripheral device you can think of is implemented in this way.]

This has also had rather a profound effect on how everything built on top of it works. I spent quite some time discussing how programming languages worked, along with MetaLanguage (the bytecode that these processors have more or less standardized on speaking) in the above-linked post, but you may note:

Polychora: a general-purpose, multi-paradigm programming language designed to support object-, aspect-, concurrency-, channel-, ‘weave-, contract- and actor-oriented programming across shared-memory, mesh-based, and pervasively networked parallel-processing systems.

…because once you grow to the size – and it doesn’t take much size – at which programming your parallel arrays in relatively low-level languages similar to Occam begins to pall, you start getting very interested in paradigms like object/aspect/actor programming that can handle a lot of the fun of massively parallel systems for you. This has shaped a lot of how environments have developed, and all the above language environments include compilers that are more than happy to distribute your solution for you unless you’ve worked hard to be egregiously out-of-paradigm.

And the whys and hows of WeaveControl, and the Living Object Protocol.

This has also, obviously, made distributed computing a lot more popular a lot more rapidly, because having been built for parallel operation anyway, farming out processing to remote nodes isn’t all that more complicated, be they your remote nodes, or hired remote nodes, or just the cycle spot market. Operating systems for these systems have already developed, to stretch a mite, a certain Kubernetes-like quality of “describe for me the service you want, and I’ll take care of the details of how to spin it up”.

In accordance with configurable policy, of course, but except in special cases, people don’t care much more about which modules are allocated to do the thing any more than they care about which neurons are allocated to catch the ball. In the modern, mature computing environment, it has long since become something safely left to the extremely reliable optronic equivalent of the cerebellum and brainstem.

Now as for how this relates to, going back to some of the original conversations, starships and AI:

Well, obviously for one, there isn’t a single computer core, or even several explicitly-designed-as-redundant-nodes computer cores. There are computers all over the ship, from microcontrollers running individual pieces of equipment up – and while this probably does include a few engineering spaces labeled “data center” and stacked floor to ceiling with nanocircs (and backing store devices), the ship’s intelligence isn’t localized to any one of them, or couple of them. It’s everywhere.

If your plan to disable the ship involves a physical attack on the shipmind, you’ve got a lot of computing hardware to hunt down, including everything from the microcontrollers that water the potted plants on G deck to the chief engineer’s slipstick. You have fun with that. Briefly.

As for AI – well, digisapiences and thinkers operate on the same society-of-mind structure that other minds do, as described here. When this interrelates with the structure of parallel, distributed computing, you can assume that while they are one data-structure identity-wise, the processing of an AI is organized such that every part of the psyche, agent, talent, personality, subpersonality, talent, mental model, daimon, etc., etc., etc., is a process wrapped up in its own little pod, off running… somewhere in what looks like a unified cognitive/computational space, but is actually an arbitrary number of processing cores distributed wherever policy permits them to be put.

(If you choose to look down that far, but outwith special circumstances, this is like a biosapience poking around their brain trying to find out exactly which cells that particular thought is located in.

Said policy usually mandates some degree of locality for core functions, inasmuch as light-lag induced mind-lag is an unpleasant dissociative feeling of stupidity that folk prefer not to experience, but in practice this non-locality manifests itself as things like “Our departure will be delayed for 0.46 seconds while the remainder of my mind boards, Captain.” Not a big deal, especially since even protein intelligences don’t keep their whole minds in the same place these days. They wouldn’t fit, for one thing.)

But suffice it to say, when the avatar interface tells you that she is the ship, she ain’t just being metaphorical.

  1. Well, sort of. It’s not like hardware engineers and semiconductor fabs were any less obsessed with making smaller, faster, better, etc. processors than they were here, but they were doing so within a parallel paradigm. “Two-point-four-billion stacked-mesh processing cores in a nanocirc the size of your pinky nail!”, that sort of thing.

Thematics: Delicious Ideals

Herewith some thoughts on thematics, inspired by today’s quest for matcha-flavored Pocky, a fine and delicious product of the Ezaki Glico Company, Limited.

I observe, on their corporate web site, the slogan “Pocky is about sharing happiness and bringing people together.”

And I observe introspectively just how very much I want to believe that in an entirely unironic fashion.

That when you look at the multinational candy industry, and scrape away the layers of issues caused by terrible legal and regulatory environments, and dipshits who practice clichéd dark-side capitalism, and dipshits who accuse everything of being clichéd dark-side capitalism, and get right down to the core of things, the Founder, CEO, and Etc., really did start out as a small boy who grew up with a dream of being Willy Wonka and bringing truly awesome chocolate to the world, and held hard to that.

[And, y’know, apply liberally and literally across all other industries. I’m not just talking about chocolate, obviously.]

How is this about thematics, I hear you cry?

Because this is the universe where – because the people thereabouts take ideas seriously, and thus take ideals seriously – such quaint notions are literally true.

(And where bitter postmodern cynics will be beaten with delicious chocolate-coated biscuit sticks until they give in and acknowledge that actually, they do spread happiness after all.)

Eldraeic Word of the Day: méshválar

méshválar: (from mésh, a tile or plaque, and válaras, name, itself from val, personal pronoun, and laras, word); a name-tile.

The origin of the name-tile is in the simple courtesy of not bringing moisture or road-dust into the home. Imperial houses are normally constructed with a caráhan, an entry room, which serves the purpose of containing outside dirt and providing space for visitors to prepare themselves to enter the house proper, as well as for requesting permission to enter the house proper from its hearthmistress or her proxy. Such a room therefore often contains amenities such as a small fountain for personal refreshment and cupboards or chests for visitors’ shoes, travel clothing, etc., that they do not wish to bring with them into the home, as well as the traditional welcoming display.

The méshválar, a thin porcelain tile bearing its owners name and sigil, serves two purposes connected with this room:

For visitors, the méshválar is placed upon the cupboard or chest in which they have placed their effects, signifying their ownership of the contents. In some caráhan, associated with commercial buildings rather than homes, these containers lock, and once the key has been withdrawn, the méshválar is placed specifically over the lock, but this would not be seen in a private home. The strength of the custom is more than sufficient to guarantee privacy; indeed, should a guest depart without being able to collect their effects, it is usual to ship the entire chest, unopened, to their home.

Meanwhile, when at home, it is customary to place one’s méshválar on a rack located within the caráhan, thus allowing arriving visitors to know who is currently at home before requesting entrance.

Aperture Linguistics

(Originally titled Eldraeic Word of the Day: asírdaëlíthal, but come on…)

asíran: power; note: not coercive power, the power of compulsion, which is korás. Rather, the ability and means to act upon the elements of the world towards a defined end. (See also the kinds of power, here.)

daëlin: probability, chance.

asírdaël: (from asíran + daëlin) opportunity; that is to say, a possibility (probability) which exists because of one’s possession of the power (agency) to take advantage of that possibility; that which can be realized through action.

íthal: object, thing.

asírdaëlíthal: (from asírdael + íthal) an opportunity-object; an item created for no reason other than that one possessed the power to create it. The end product of such philosophies as “because it’s there“, “we do these things not because they are easy, but because they are hard”, and “we do what we can, because we must”. Existence/possibility as imperative.

The Emperor’s Sword: Organization

So, in the past, we discussed the arms and equipment of the Imperial Legions, but we never went into their organization in any particular depth, something this post intends to correct.

Now, if you remember the Table of Ranks post, you’ll note that I have used fairly typical Western-type ranks (albeit in somewhat altered structure) to translate the ranks of the Imperial Military Service, Legions included. This is a convenience for the reader who is familiar with these, although in many ways this paints an inaccurate picture of their actual organization.

One should remember, after all, that the Empire’s history never had the Dark Ages, or the medieval era that followed. The implication being that the Imperial Legions draw their tradition, in unbroken descent generation following generation, from the phalanges of Ancyr and the lockstep legions of ancient Selenaria, themselves born of a time when the hot new military technology was very early steel – and this imprint still lies heavy upon them.

And one of the places that this is visible is in their organization and associated positions.

(These being the titles associated with command or various other positions within a unit, separate from the rank held by whoever occupies it. As I note below, there is a loose association between the one and the other, but the Imperial Military Service has gone all-in on matrix management and does not believe in up-or-out; in a world in which lives are so very, very long, they don’t want to lose talent to such policies over time; or, indeed, by promoting people from positions in which they are exceptionally good into positions in which they are less talented. So while it is by no means usual to find legionaries whose rank is disproportionate to their position, it’s by no means unknown.)

And so, in the absence – ah, time to spend on conlanging, where art thou? – of a full and appropriate set of Eldraeic terminology, pray pardon my shameless appropriation and distortion of a variety of Greek and Roman terms in the below descriptions. (Also the use of the term armiger, “one who bears arms” in its non-heraldic sense, to describe those legionaries one of whose primary functions is fighting personally.)

So, to begin at the beginning, with the smallest of units:


The smallest, most fundamental division of the legions, the fist is a fireteam of four legionaries (E-3, outside training legions or first-tour replacements), one of whom (the monitor, usually an E-4/Corporal) is in tactical command, and a second of whom carries an additional heavy weapon.

(Well, except in armor legions. There, the fist is generally representative of a single tank crew, etc.)

Lochos (File)

The next division up, the lochos (or file, since the original lochos was based on one file of soldiers in the Ancyran phalanx or the Selenarian legions) consists of three fists, plus a lochagos (file leader; usually an E-6/Master Sergeant) and ouragos (file closer; usually an E-5/Sergeant) as commander and second-in-command, respectively, for a total of fourteen armigers.

In light infantry legions, each lochos is assigned a pair of V40 Ralihú IFVs (accommodate 8 each) as transports, the lochagos commanding one and the ouragos the other.

The lochos can be considered the approximate equivalent of the modern squad. In more classical comparisons, one might analogize the lochos with the Roman contubernium, the tent-group; the lochos is a logistical unit inasmuch as its members are quartered together, eat together1, share various common appurtenances, etc.

Triarchy (informal)

Next up the hierarchy we come to the triarchy – which is not a formally constituted unit but rather one occasionally broken out for convenience – and consists of three lochoi assigned together; 42 armigers. The commander of a triarchy, although sometimes referred to as the triarch, is simply the lochagos with seniority. (On the rare occasions that a triarchy is seen operating independently – see note under century – higher command strata may find an O-2/Ensign from somewhere to give it policy direction.)

It can be considered the approximate equivalent of the modern platoon – in size, at least.


Next in formal units, the century; six lochoi together, commanded by a centurion (O-4/O-3/O-2 Lieutenant/Sublieutenant/Ensign, usually depending on the seniority of the century within its legion) and an optio (E-7/Gunnery Sergeant); 86 armigers total. The century is usually the smallest unit to operate independently (for short periods; any long-term independent operations will be assigned a full cohort). A legion contains 162 centuries (from three alae / nine merarchies / twenty-seven cohorts).

The century is the first of the “bannered units”; these being the century, the cohort, and the legion entire. When colors are carried2, the symbolism for each century and its attached battle-honors are of course unique, but the background pattern and combination of colors is standardized, such that every legion’s, for example, 43rd century will use the same base banner as every other legion’s.

The century also has staff positions (auxiliaries) outside the directly armigerous personnel. In auxiliaries, a typical century will include a signifer (the bearer of the colors and communications specialist), a quartermaster, two forward observer/recon specialists, two armorers, two field medics, and the field kitchen.

In addition, there is a fire-support asset attached to each century; for an infantry legion, this is usually a Saber coilgun-walker or something similar; and it is at the century level that the G5-TT Corveé tactical transports and their crews (one per two lochoi), or equivalent, are attached.

The century can be considered the approximate equivalent of a modern company.

Dicentury (informal)

Back to non-formal units, the dicentury, which is exactly what it says on the tin; a pair of centuries operating together (i.e. 172 armigers), commanded by the senior centurion of the pair.


On we go with the cohort; six centuries, for a fighting strength of 516, commanded by a machegos, or “Battlemaster” in the vernacular (O-4/Lieutenant or O-5/Major3). The cohort is the unit most commonly used for independent operations.

As the second of the bannered units, the cohort includes an aquilifer to carry its colors4 (and the golden eagle atop them) as well as serve as a communications specialist among its auxiliaries, which include at this point a full embedded logistics and medical staff, an adjutant for the machegos, the master of the camp, an intelligence staff, and the padre, among others.

(The cohort’s padre is not counted among the armigerous on the technicality that his command structure answers first to his deity, and only afterwards to the machegos5. Regardless, when the cohort meets the enemy, the padre is usually to be found in the van.)

In addition, there’s a heavy fire-support asset attached to each cohort. The type varies by legion, but a light infantry legion might use the HV-12 Stormfall missile tank or the HVC-14h Thunderbolt drone tank, in the role.

The cohort can be considered the approximate equivalent of the modern battalion.


Up to the next level, the merarchy; three cohorts together, for a total fighting strength of 1,548, commanded by a merarch (O-6/Colonel or O-7/Brigadier). It’s primarily a tactical and administrative division rather than one that has a large staff attached to it. What it does have attached to it, though, is the lighter half of the legion’s organic air support, in the form of one wing of G12-BU Falcon tilt-rotors6 attached to each merarchy.

Can be considered the approximate equivalent of the regiment – in size. Where the “regimental system” is concerned, however, that’s the legion.


Next, the ala, or wing; three merarchies together, for a total fighting strength of 4,664, commanded by an alearch (an O-7/Brigadier or O-8/General of the Wing). Much like the cohort, it has a full attached staff, appropriate to its place in the hierarchy (although it is not a bannered unit).

Also attached to the ala is the legion’s heavy air support; a wing of G7-BU Sunhawk heavy ground-attack aircraft each. Combat support units of various kinds which the legion has permanently acquired over its history and temporarily attached subunits tend to also be glued on here, at the ala level.

It can be considered the approximate equivalent of the modern brigade.


And finally, the legion itself; three wings together, for a total fighting strength of 13,9327, commanded by a strategos, a post occupied by an O-9/General of the Legion. Also includes the strategos‘s command staff (including the draconifer, who carries the legionary standard, a crystal-and-gold replica of the dragons framing the Dragon Throne, and is in charge of legionary communications) and its support units.

The legion is, of course, the highest of the permanently established units of the Imperial Military service. It can be considered the approximate equivalent of the modern division.

And On…

The legion is, of course, not the largest possible military command; it’s merely the largest formally and permanently organized unit. When needed for a war, legions can be grouped together into field forces, which can be grouped into armies, which in turn are attached to fleets up in the airy heights of the Admiralty where grades O-10 through O-14 (various kinds of Marshal) roam, ultimately under the overall theater command of a Warmain (polemarch) answering to the First Lord of the Admiralty.

But that’s another story…

  1. Ride together, die together… bad boys for life.
  2. On the modern battlefield, per-century banners are generally not carried; however, the colors and symbols are still used in identifying v-tags.
  3. Note that there is no rank of Captain in the Imperial ground forces.
  4. The eagles, on the other hand, are borne into battle, usually with the headquarters section. It may not be practical, but there are such things as standards, y’know? Standards about standards, even.
  5. General opinion within the Legions, on the other hand, is that the strategos is somewhat senior to god.
  6. You can think of these as, simplistically, filling the “attack helicopter” role.
  7. Despite variations in the numbers of auxiliary staff attached, logisticians usually budget 18,000 personnel for transporting a full legion, in the comfortable assurance that they won’t need all of ’em for people.

Words That Can Hurt You

Whatever one’s position on the dubious assumptions behind the cliché “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words shall never hurt me” and its unfortunate persistence in many societies, these are not assumptions which the Empire shares. Indeed, it has a fine selection of words to describe an entire taxonomy of words that can hurt you, sorted by the specific manners in which this is so.

Today, though, we concentrate on one specific subset of these: the traälathkháln laras (from alathkháln, “the pain of new understanding”, and laras, “word”). These are the words which can hurt you because, Eldraeic being a precise language, they require you to confront and resolve the fuzziness of your assumptions in order to voice them.

Specifically, let us consider the English word “hypocrisy”, “the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform”. This is a term which in one word combines motivations from peccadillo to abhorrence, and acts from near-passive to motivated malice, and one whose broad spectrum is leveraged in many a motte-and-bailey argument with the intent that one’s conscious fraud will be considered an unconscious peccadillo, and one’s opponent’s vice versa.

Eldraeic, meanwhile, has three top-level terms which cover this territory, and does so in such a way that while one might argue over which is in play in a given instance, it is at least clear which claim you are making.

These terms are:

qané tracorlíë niril (lit. “insufficiently robust soul”): that hypocrisy which derives from weakness; giving in to a forbidden temptation. Usually albeit not always a peccadillo – let he who has never sneaked a second doughnut cast the first stone – but in any case, not involving any deliberate intent to deceive, nor implying that your commitment to the principles you espouse is insincere. Merely that you struggle to be perfectly adherent to them.

tracorlíë maurqártill (lit. “soul-fraud”): that hypocrisy which is deliberate; espousing one thing and choosing, in a state of talcoríëf, to do another. Not a peccadillo, as you might expect of any compound word which has the component maurqártill in it. Definitely implies insincerity and false commitment; almost certainly fighting words.

traürlis corlíë (lit. “false-soul”): Implies that you would have to have principles in order to falsify them, and therefore that you cannot be a hypocrite since no-one would ever have believed anything you claimed about having them in the first place. A verdict of damnation. Break this one out, and someone’s walking away from the conversation dead.

Other Related Words

  • urlis: false, logically untrue; oppose talis.
  • maurlis: from mahar “make” + urlis, therefore “manufactured falsity”, or lie
  • maurqártill: from maurlis + qártill “price”, therefore “liar’s price”, or fraud1
  • corlíë: soul, (poetic) mind-state
  • niril: robust, durable

  1. Obviously, not all fraud is as simple as “lying about prices”, but ultimately, all fraud does involve deceiving someone about the exchange-value of something, even if not directly expressed in monetary terms.

Worldbuilding: Theory of Mind

So, let’s talk about Theory of Mind.

Well, okay, not that theory of mind. The theory of how minds work in the ‘verse, and so the theory behind most sophotechnology, since this topic has come up on the Discord recently.

(Much of the below was heavily inspired by Greg Bear’s Queen of Angels, in my opinion one of the best pieces of SF exploring psychology and cognition. I heartily recommend it.)

The first division sophotechnologists make in analyzing mind-states is logos and psyche, or to give them their longer names, personality organization algorithm and incrementing memory string.

The logos has been discussed before. It is, for sophont minds, where the magic happens. Volition, paracausality, nondeterminism, all that good stuff. It’s also a seed crystal for mind. Drop a logos into a free energy medium where quantum computation is possible, and it’ll start spinning out mind around itself, like a seed crystal in a supersaturated solution. This is how digisapiences are made, for example.

It is also, unfortunately, mostly a black box, although some studies and classifications of it have been made from the outside. (Imagine how pleased that makes the AI wakeners.) Further study is ongoing, but poses both extreme technical and equally extreme ethical problems.

The psyche is everything else. So what is everything else?

(Actually, let’s get one special case out of the way first. That special case is the consciousness loop, a specialized agent which organizes your narrative thread of consciousness. This is the agent which is responsible for autosentience – self-awareness – to whatever degree you have it, that endless stream of status updates on your thoughts that runs through your head.

Note: it’s not in charge of anything. It’s just a glorified journal file that brings order to chaos. This is why those experiments seem to show that you acted before you thought of acting; the decision was made elsewhere in the psyche. What you think is you thinking of something is actually just that thought being written to the log…

…humans do not have very good autoscience. For one thing, just think of the sheer amount of cognitive activity going on that you remain completely unaware of.

And for that matter, autoscience is not a strictly necessary part of minds at all! Self-awareness is not a prerequisite of even quite advanced cognition, although it is needed for sophoncy.)

The psyche is essentially a Minskian society of mind, a frothing sea of agents – mental subroutines – running independently and, for the most part, in parallel. Individual agents are no more than scraps of mental code – major mental structures come from their agglomeration into larger routines of various types: talents, memes, memories, subpersonalities, and so forth. The interaction of all of these, the chorus, produces the mind as we know it.

The most basic agents arise from evolution and brain structure. Some remain that simple all the way through: the agent responsible for, say, heartbeat doesn’t need much more to perform its function. Others are spun out by the logos – simple builders, shapers, generators. Yet more are generated by other agents or higher structures, the mind shaping itself according to archetype and input from memory and sensorium.

But the key to understanding the mind is the higher structures. These include:

Primary personality: The primary personality isn’t, if we’re being strictly technical, very different from a subpersonality in structure; its distinction is that it has emerged during individuation as the dominant voice in the chorus. It is the structure most readily identifiable with the conscious self, but that’s at best only a limited part of the picture – it spends much of its time enmeshed with subpersonalities, talents, and agents all of which color it a great deal, and of course also with the logos.

Subpersonality: Among the largest of structures, each reflecting a major personality aspect. (You can find a whole bunch of Jungian archetypes here.) Probably the best known are the animus/anima/animin, the gender-modeling routines, but there are also things like occupations (your “on-the-job” personality), parental models, your with-this-group-of-close-friends personality, etc., etc. They aren’t independent; they mesh with and color the primary personality when brought forward.

(If one were to devise a theory to explain plurality/dissociative identity disorder in this paradigm it would be subpersonalities which had grown to the point of overshadowing the primary, or become independent primaries; they may also have accompanying sets of talents which are exclusively or mostly-exclusively invoked by them, which adds to the complexity when it comes to determining legal divergence of identity.

This is also something that can be and is done intentionally to produce useful mental subfunctions, similar to Aristoi’s daimones.)

Talents: Talents are smaller complexes of agents encapsulating particular skills, or parts of a skill, called forth when they are required. “Skill” for these purposes includes instincts, emotions, and so on and so forth. “Anger” is a talent – or set of talents – every bit as much as, say, “Tying a Tie” or “Tightrope Walking”, or “Administering Kubernetes Clusters”. They are not necessarily passive; the “situational awareness” talent-cluster is entirely capable of making itself known when other cognitive activity triggers it, for an obvious example.

Memes and memories are both actually subclasses of talents, in this sense: a meme is simply a talent encapsulating an idea, much as a memory is simply a talent encapsulating a remembered concept, in each case along with its various associative linkages. These are mostly passive until something happens to poke their associative linkages: things like PTSD are what happens when they aren’t passive enough and force themselves on the primary personality.

The talent class also includes mental models, mini-eidolon talents formed in the image of other minds for the purpose of predictive empathy.

Implications for Identity

Identity is… messy. Even identity of primary personality doesn’t constitute identity of identity, since there is so much else intermeshed with it that goes to make up the mind. Especially since, being a chorus, virtually all of the elements that go to make up a mind can be shared, even without going to the level of a conflux or a Fusion.

Thus, to a considerable degree, identity is also arbitrary.

For legal purposes, identity is defined by delta-divergence of the mind-state entire, even those parts that may be shared.

For practical purposes, individuality is defined by legal identity plus substrate separation. Hence, immediately after Bob forks, Bob is now a single identity, but two individuals.

Implications for Sophotechnology

This nature of the mind also enables other sophotechnologies. Situational subpersonalities and parapersonalities, for example, work by injecting a full subpersonality into the chorus. Skillware and microskillware operate by injecting talent-level routines, as does mnemonesis by injecting memory-formatted talents. Other technologies, like memory redaction, work by isolating and removing specific talents and patching the associative linkages; other thought-viruses add to these effects by temporarily suppressing some subpersonalities or talents and promoting others, while full psychedesign or meme rehab effects this permanently.

(This is a delicate art due to the complexity of the chorus and its internal balances, but it’s basically what therapy – making use of the mind’s self-editing capacity – and other psychiatric treatment is doing now, indirectly, rather than by direct mental surgery.)

Even such interface technologies as cathexis, synnoesis and vastening work, ultimately, by integrating outside cognition into the chorus, as do collective-consciousness systems like confluxes, Fusions, and the Transcendent soul-shard. (Although with that last we then get into the complexities of soul hierarchies, which is beyond the topic of this post.)

Eldraeic Words of the Freedom

A quick conlang note inspired by a conversation I was having elsewhere, in which my interlocutor was vexed by people talking as if lack of choice due to government (i.e., coercive constraint) was a reduction in freedom, whereas lack of choice due to poverty, illness, disability, etc. was not.

The relevant part here is my claim (which included mention of my conlang) that we can once again blame it on English, that lazy and imprecise language, for lumping two distinct concepts into one single word and hoping no-one is rude enough to point it out, resultant confusion be damned.

The Conclave of Linguistics and Ontology, you see, has higher standards of precision. The Eldraeic word usually glossed as liberty, or freedom, is jírileth, which literally means “a life of choices”, and insofar as it’s talking about freedom from constraint, it includes the latter natural constraints and much more, right up to making amendments to natural laws, punching out the Second Law of Thermodynamics, and installing a few doors in infinity. “A prison the size of the universe is yet a prison! I will not be bound!”

(Its excruciatingly technical definition, the one used in the ethical calculus, would be “optimization of the phase-space of individual volition”, or slightly less jargonically, “affording each the greatest scope of will”).

This is the one which they put on the Imperial motto, because if there’s one thing the Empire’s citizen-shareholders aren’t afraid of, it’s tackling really big ideas.

The former, on the other hand, is mere ulqóras, a shortened form of ulquor kóras, literally meaning “absence of coercive power”, and while much more fundamental to ethics, it’s also a much, much smaller concept. And the problems attached to it are far, far simpler to solve — if one can manage to refrain from choice-theft.

As She Is Spoke

Some more words and phrases, since I’m feeling linguistic this morning:

esélmór: remembrance; memory-token (from esél “remember” + mórés “token, representation”); an object kept to stimulate the memory.

ethé: soft, yielding, comfortable

feäl qalasír: necessity (internal; an irrefusable demand of the soul); from feäl – abstraction operator – + qalasír “driving energies of the individual”.

galráësél: to recall with the body, as in trained reflexes or physical skills (from galrás “flesh” and esél “remember”)

galshín: to carve (cut meat), a meat-carving knife

galshíndar: one who uses a meat-carving knife; butcher

hatheän: ephemeral, brief (from hath “time” + eän “flicker (of flame)”).

húëll: animal (originally, anything which is living and moves by its own will)

kalat: plant, sessile lifeform (originally, anything which is living and does not move itself)

kithémór: heart-token (from kithel “to feel, to emote” + mórés “token, representation”); an object kept to express its owner’s passions.

layés: longing, yearning, to long /yearn for

misan: a day-night cycle; specifically, one calendar “day” composed of an arísú “day” and a múrna “night”, although not necessarily in that order. See also -mis, suffix for day names.

(Traditionally, the cycle was accounted from dawn to following dawn in the Old Empires region, which became the basis of the Harmonious Calendar; however, when contact with the Underside was made, the cycle there was accounted from dusk to following dusk, thus preserving identity of date, i.e., the 9th day of the month would consist of the same hours on both Upperside and Underside, save with the day and night reversed to night and day.)

mithseir: mathematician (from mithá “number(s)” + idaseir “seer, scryer”).

nistrazik: ore (from nistraöth “metal” + azik “rock”)

shín: to cut, a cutter (including knives and all other objects which cut)

“súnavár an-arídamaen”: “brightening sunsets” (from súnar “bright” + arídan “sun” and maen “to fall, one which falls”); a euphemism for “dead”, referring to cremation and the scattering of ashes into the wind.

“traäman cadair”: the Dragon Throne (from aman “dragon” + cadair “throne”).

“traülestxí ithal”: mathom, purposeless object (potentially with function, but without purpose); from estxí “function”, diminutive form of estxíjir “wyrd/destiny/dharma” + ithal “object”.

velcál: bread; technically any product made from a dough of ground grains (desh). Seen often in the compounds el velcál ap aesaer (bread and salt) and el velcál ap galrás (bread and meat; a common type of sandwich).

velmahav: baker, to bake (from velcál “bread” + mahav “make”)

Eldraeic Word of the Day: cagshálvéth

cagshálvéth: (lit. “sewer-food”; from cagshálla “sewer” + evéth “food”; the former itself from cagál “shit” + shálla “pipe”) a derogatory term applied to yeast-based and (especially) mycogenic foodstuffs, typically by outworld dirtsiders who haven’t figured out yet that a larger circle of life doesn’t mean that they aren’t eating as much shit as they’re talking.

(Actually a much more common word in Trade than regular Eldraeic.)