Ia! Ia! Shub-Memerath!

(The kind that’s made of ideas, not the kind that outgrabes…)

So, Mark Atwood sent me a link to this:

Who worships an evil god?

Someone has realized that the lovecraftian gods are effective as myth
because they are basically the eikones of the human species, hiding in
plain sight.

For your attention…

This is, indeed, very relevant to my interests, and to yours – assuming that you are interested in how the eikones, being entities of the conceptual realm, worked before being reified into weakly godlike superintelligences running on moon-sized world-brains.

(And to a large extent still work, of course, since it’s not as if they got any less terrifyingly pure-conceptual in the process.)

As I’ve quoted before:

A god — a real god — is a verb. Not some old man with magic powers. It’s a force. It warps reality just by being there. It doesn’t have to want to. It doesn’t have to think about it. It just does.

It’s not hard to see the commonalities with – well, to quote the introductory post:

Sometimes people in the rationalist community write about egregores. Scott has written about Moloch. Sarah Constantin wrote a great one about Ra. That’s more about the results of processes than something individuals would worship (like the Invisible Hand), but the feeling of them seemed very right. They were terrible and inhuman, a drive given form that we could never really comprehend.

Moloch and Ra sound a lot like what happens when you read too much of a book, and are wholly given over to some greater Thing, that has no concern for normal, boring, human life. So: what if the whole suite of gods in the Mythos were egregores like that?

…gods as, to steal some particularly lovely Destiny flavor text, ideas that will eat your thoughts and leave you full of Light.

(This is of course also particularly relevant inasmuch as – well, to quote one of the posts, ‘being intellectually consistent and “taking ideas seriously” is actually going to make you sound bizarrely different from reasonable people’, and the Empire is, among other things, a culture that prizes intellectual consistency and taking ideas seriously, which as long-term readers will have noticed changes things quite a lot.

And certainly makes things bizarrely different from *here*‘s culture, in which ideologue is the go-to dismissal aimed at anyone who doesn’t instantly cave on their principles at the first sign of difficulty or someone being upset.

The reverse cultural effect, incidentally, is why “pragmatism”, in Imperial culture, has acquired notable overtones of “hold onto your purse, watch your back, and get their money in advance”. Sophs without principles are not to be trusted, ’cause they’ll default on you as soon as it’s, heh, practical – so if you have to deal with them, it’s time for you to apply the principle of cuius testiculos habes.

[…actually, I’m going to wander a bit more off-topic, and cite this:

What is fascinating to me is the reasonable people. The vast majority who don’t think of themselves as holding any “out there” political opinions, and who look down on revolution or extremism as too risky. They just see themselves as holding up the same normal, common sense morality everyone else feels, or should.

There’s nothing “natural” about their positions though – the “normal” opinion is affected by cultural change as much as any extremist. Which is why the positions of campus feminism in the nineties became the positions of all “decent” upstanding citizens in the modern era.

The extremists you usually can argue with. As SSC points out, the extremists have no other options. But once “reasonable people” have a moral opinion, they enforce it brutally. They do not want to talk about it, they consider their opinion on formerly controversial issues now a “solved” discussion, closed for debate. And if you’re labeled a dissenter to that, your life is basically over. The reasonable people control all social discourse.

There may be an inferential gap here. To anyone who hasn’t experienced, it’s hard to express how scary it is when you have an opinion you think is acceptable, and everyone insists it’s just not allowed to be discussed. When people you respect are blithely ignoring their most fundamental principles because “this is the way everyone does it now” and with no further explanation.

Extremists at least usually feel they have to justify themselves.

As we strongly implied back here, the dominant Weltanschauung *there* is, shall we say, strongly intolerant of believing in things without understanding why one believes them. *Here*, the “reasonable people” own the social-intellectual climate. *There*, they’re the outgroupiest of out-groups, prone to be inquisitioned into surly silence the moment they stick their Just Because/Everyone Agrees out of its hole for an airing.

This results in a lot of alathkháln, for those not accustomed to this sort of climate, and as such is a strong contributor to non-Utopia. But one can’t help but suspect it produces better outcomes.])

Anyway, to return to the topic, these are a series of posts well worth reading on their own. But specifically for Eldraeverse readers, I’m going to suggest some commonalities with various Flamic eikones. (These will probably make a lot more sense after you read the original posts, so I’m going to suggest you may wish to do that and then come back here.)

This conception of Cthugha is virtually omnipresent, of course, in metaphysics and Imperial culture and so forth – too much so to have obvious parallels.But you can see some elements of Aláthiël (eikone of knowledge, wisdom, scholars, literacy, and skill), Her brother Atheléä (eikone of speech, music and song, poetry, language, logotecture, and memes) and Esseldár (eikone of time, memory, preservation, conservation, tradition, history, and ancestors) in the desire to collect and preserve all knowledge, all ideas, all intellects, all thoughts (the real fundamental true things) for eternity, and of Dírasán (eikone of messengers, communications, and couriers) in the desire for communication as its own end, as well as in that cause.

Yog-Sothoth has commonalities with both Elmiríën (eikone of order, structure, stability, perfection, and proper functioning) and Kanáralath (eikone of philosophy, reason, logic, mathematics, rigorous thought, and truth); the former as a representation of all those little details, all the exquisite clockwork that permits the universe to exist and function at all, and the latter as the promise that “for all the mysteries of the universe, they can be known“. That promise of knowability, of the effability of all things, is a major part of the symbolism of Kanáralath.

One can draw lines quickly from this Hastur to Braníël (eikone of power, drive, ambition, the unconquerable will, defiance of impossible odds, resolve, and endurance) and Ithával (eikone of beauty, glory, pride, achievement, radiance, status, wealth, and the rewards of excellence), just by looking at this quotation:

“Hastur is the god of stories.

“Hastur is the god of stories that are more important than reality.”

But where the twist comes in in Eldraeverse metaphysics is that that includes – that’s another way of saying – that he/they is the god of paracausality, of that inflection point between universe-as-information-system and the nondeterministic mathematics of free will which makes miracles possible in those exquisite moments when will defeats law, and sufficient awesomeness – sufficient meaningfulness imposed on the universe by qalasír – makes the impossible, at that time and place, inevitable.

Ithaqua has parallels with those two which would seem instantly clear from an eldrae perspective (and much less so from a human perspective, given our hardwiring towards social approval and conformity; but you can never fully emulate Ithával, they would say, as a mere echo of the achievements of others).But the best parallels would be Elárion (eikone of liberty, individuality, self-will, independence, and self-reliance) and Lódaríön (eikone of honor, rigor, self-discipline, purity, and self-perfection), who between them espouse being yourself and pursuing the necessities of your valxíjir and estxíjir just as hard as you possibly can.

“I think what I think and I do what I do for myself, and I will make it amazing.”

Yep, that’s about right.

Cthulhu seems nice and obvious at first glance: he’s Esseldár (eikone of time, memory, preservation, conservation, tradition, history, and ancestors) and Eslévan (eikone of the Empire, the spirit of the Imperial people, set over the race-lords and genii loci). They are all the qualities that define why we’re the Shining People in the Shining City on the Hill, and you’re, well, not.

Where you get divergence of concept is that this particular Shining People’s ideals spend a lot of time pointing out that they didn’t just spring forth fully formed and you have to work at making sure you deserve your high self-opinion, and for that matter actively goes out recruiting. Admittedly with a certain cultural blinder that has difficulty in grasping why anyone might not want to be as all-around awesome as the Clearly Objectively Superior Ones, and yet.

(That, and the sleeper isn’t going to rise and force the world to give them their due, because you can’t give people what they already have, belike.)

Ah, Nyarlathotep! Now the big N has straightforward parallels in Ithával and Aláthiël and Braníël, Leiríah (eikone of mists, illusions, deceptions, trickery, wit, and intrigue) and Seléne (eikone of the Silver Moon, cats, the cunning mind, tides, and those who travel at night) and Úlmiríën (eikone of rogues, shapeshifters, trickery, epiphanies and unwonted revelations, and sudden paradigm shifts) – all the gods of intelligence and cunning and ambition. He’s hard to pin down to just one parallel, because these qualities are so very esteemed that they show up everywhere.

This is not very comforting if you are ambitious. But if you are ambitious, then the response should be: “Good. I’m not a worshipper of Nyarlathotep. I am Nyarlathotep. I am the Doctor. I am the change I want to see in the world, and I am the small group of thoughtful people that can do anything. If I were not, I would not be free, and I would not be smart.”

That? That is possibly the most eldraeic quotation I have seen just about anywhere.

Ia! Nyarlathotep! Your less-than-humble emulators salute you!

Azathoth is only half-represented in parallels, and that principally by Kanáralath (eikone of philosophy, reason, logic, mathematics, rigorous thought, and truth, if you recall), because Kanáralath‘s demand for truth is merciless. Kanáralath is the eikone that insists that you strip away all the comforting lies and face the universe as it is. The one that will tear away the veil of “epistemic humility” and demand that, damn your eyes, you will look at it and know it for what it is. It is the god that says “That which can be destroyed by the truth should be,” and means every word, for that which cannot withstand truth doesn’t deserve to exist.

Kanáralath will hurt you. It will tell you that this is for your own good, and that will hurt you, because that, too, is true.

Where the representation fails is when it comes to the nihilism of Azathoth. That there is, and can be nothing else, than death, entropy, and meaninglessness? That, they say, is a lie, and an easy one, and the truth shall burn it away.

You could easily make a case for both Shub-Niggurath and Tsathoggua as personifications of Entropy, except that in Flamic thought, Entropy doesn’t have a personification; it’s merely a defect, or an absence. At most, like Exalted‘s Ebon Dragon, it’s an itself-shaped hole where it ought to be.

[One relevant point to make is why Shub-Niggurath isn’t akin to Sylithandríël (eikone of nature, the forests, set over the seasons and the plant-lords, silviculture, and gardens) or Gáldabar (eikone of wild nature, beasts and the hunt, set over the beast-lords) – namely, that those eikones aren’t eikones of nature as it is, but eikones of nature as it ought be without the deforming influence of Entropy; and that conception of ought be demands that nature be as civilized in the first place as civilization managed to become. It’s a garden that’s got no place for ichneumon wasps, and insofar as primality is a thing rather than the absence of a thing, it’s against it.

They don’t even like those irrational drives that are not per se bad; irrational mercy and compassion are as alien to the perfected, rational, civilized universe as the other ones. All things that should be done should be done thoughtfully.]

But to return to the topic, it is almost trivial to cast Tsathoggua as passive (spiritual) entropy – insert that entire quotation from Thus Spoke Zarathustra on the topic of the Last Man here – and Shub-Niggurath as one of the many aspects of active entropy, that which destroys complexity and revels in cacophilia.

But they’re both still self-shaped holes, because personifying nihilities gives them too much credit.

Commentary and other thoughts are, of course, welcome.

Moon Mining

The largest 3He producer in the System, prior to the opening of the Melíeréan gas mines by Extropa Energy, was undoubtedly White Plains Regolithics, ICCa joint venture between Arctorr Heavy Industries, ICC, Empire Nucleonics, ICC, and members of the Seléne Commercial Habitation Consortium.

Of course, they did not just mine 3He. The Selénian regolith contains all manner of volatiles, and what is still in high demand everywhere around Seléne and its orbital space? Volatiles. No plutarch worth his metal was going to cede that market entirely to the ice barons of Evershade and the Macroscian Arky. Selling these volatiles to Selénian domes, in addition to delivering mass shipments of partially processed regoslag to the local Atalant Materials, ICC, branches, wildcat smelters, and glassboard fabbers alike were more than enough to assure WPR of profitability even before delivering its intended primary product to Empire Nucleonics customers.

Another key to the profitability of White Plains Regolithics was its use of early autoindustrialism. While not yet fully self-replicating, WPR made use of robotic mobile industrial nodes, controlled at the policy level but not directly teleoperated by a minimal staff of supervisors and field service engineers based in the corporate offices at Silverfall City.

Upon entering a region – guided by equally autonomous resource-scouting microbots – these nodes would manufacture from resources in situ the basic infrastructure needed to exploit that region: a power and communications grid based on solar-to-microwave towers, a transportation framework back to the central WPR facility at Silverfall City, and a sufficient quantity of resource-harvesting robots (most commonly the precursors of today’s ubiquitous foot-long swarmdozers) to deliver the harvested resources back to an in-situ constructed pre-processing node, and thence onwards.

While the mobile industrial node and mobile robots would move onward in an ever-growing swarm to harvest new regions when their task was complete, rather than attempting to relocate or recycle the associated fixed power, communications, and transportation facilities, WPR policy was to leave this infrastructure in situ and sell it, at a discounted rate, to up-and-coming Selénian business concerns. This policy birthed the White Plains Industrial Zone, a sprawling, thriving industrial region spread across the depleted regolith of the southern White Plains – and, not coincidentally, cultivated many new customers for WPR’s, and its parent companies’, services.

– from a student essay on early industrial ecology

 

 

 

Manufacturers

The Llyn Standard Manufacturing autofac, informally known as the Hive, sprawled over a hundred square miles of Seléne’s surface, a vast complex of industrial machinery stacked upon more industrial machinery, gleaming in the crystal vacuum and the harsh light of its floodlamps.

To the north, a ruddy glow mixed with the floods’ blue-white, where a thousand furnaces and smelters turned shipments of raw metal and stone coming in from the asteroids into bar stock and other materials for the inner manufactories, secondary forges pounded, cast, carved, and drew the purified metals into thousands of gross components, and more specialized factories spun stone into specialized clays, ceramics, glasses, and the wafers from which nanocircs were cut.

Off to the east, a tangle of pipes and tanks surrounded the bactries, where volatiles brought downwell from the outer system were fractioned, refined, and fed to reactors containing myriad industrial catalysts, fabzymes and genetically engineered maker cultures to produce a million different chemicals, all the feedstocks necessary for all the industries the complex supported.

In the south, the triple containment buildings of the power plant dominated the skyline, housing three of the system’s largest fusion reactors, gulping deuterium from the buried slush tanks at their feet – mere buffer tanks, kept constantly topped up by a stream of automated tanker-ships coming in from the gas mines of Melíeré; and to the west, the mass-driver launch complex which delivered containers full of any of the autofac’s unthinkable array of finished goods and modular components to any world, hab, or drift in the system rose like a mountain.  The warehouses around their feet were a mere scattering of toy building blocks by comparison.

And within this ring, the heart of the autofac: factory after factory, specialized tooling, nanofac growth chambers, and robotic final-assembly plants, and the thousands of pipelines and conveyors connecting them – a crowded collection of plain geometric cubes, geodesic domes, and polished spheres, in the simple ascetic style favored for those areas not intended to ever be inhabited, or to be more than rarely visited.  Scattered among them, vehicle garages and robot hotels housed and tended to the automation, the driverless trucks and frenetic utility spiders that scurried throughout the complex, carrying its lifeblood and tending to the machinery.

At the center of the great autofac, a single tower rose above all these buildings, its lower floors containing the hosts for the artificial intelligences that ran the complex, and its uppermost level housing the operations supervisor, Lilse Varenna-ith-Varenti, and his dozen department heads – the only sophonts anywhere within the Hive – reclining, eyes closed, in their command chairs.

Bodily functions shifted to autonomic maintenance, minds vastened and placed in synnoetic AI-symbiosis, and senses filled with input streams gathered from sensors, they did not run the complex.

They were the complex.

Project Silverfall – First Steps

Calria Adae-ith-Adae: Depressurizing… pump-down complete.  Pressurization amber.  Opening outer door.

Wow.  Sky’s foamy with stars out here.  Are they getting the picture groundside, Airin?

Airin Muetry-ith-Mirari: Communications check, video and audio; blue and blue.  Opscon has us 8/12.

Calria Adae-ith-Adae: Attaching tether.  Moving to the ladder…  Surface is as white as it looked from orbit, only brighter at this angle.  Looks like one of the beaches at Cenval, almost.  Okay.  Everything looks in order on the ship.  I’m getting the wand out, doing radiation check.

There’s a little leakage around the base of the shroud, well under safety range.  Nothing showing above the plate or around the radiators.  Ship is clean.  Looks like there’s some disturbance under the thrusters, but only shallow.  Gear hasn’t sunk much, maybe a couple of inches.

Stepping off the ladder now… and down.  Tether is slack.  Not much give in the ground, but it’s powder, finer than that sand.  Scatters at a touch.  Shifting to the dorsal tether, and –

Airin Muetry-ith-Mirari: Ah, Calry?

Calria Adae-ith-Adae: …ha.  As a representative of the Imperial Couple and the Spaceflight Initiative, I claim this new world for the Empire and her people.  We’ve taken the first step on the road to the stars, and while we two must return, from now we will always be a people of two worlds.  The future is here.  Let’s build it.

[pause]

Shifting to the dorsal tether, and proceeding around the ship.

– Spaceflight Initiative transcript of Silverfall Four mission, MET +4:17:22 – +4:17:39

“I didn’t remember myself, either; Beran [Beran Irithyl-ith-Issarthyl was in charge of flight communications at OPSCON during the Silverfall Four mission] had to prompt me from the ground.  We’d both been training for this mission for so long, and dreaming about it even longer, that… well, we were concentrating hard on our procedures to resist the urge to leap out of the airlock and just roll around in the regolith, you know?  Embrace the world we’d fought to get to.  That’s enough to make anyone forget her speech.”

– Airin Muetry-ith-Mirari, interviewed at the centennial of the Seléne landing

Project Silverfall – The Landing

OPSCON: Silverfall Four, confirm your intent to land this orbit?  Over.

Pilot (Calria Adae-ith-Adae): The window’s not broadening just sitting here, and this periseléne’s still in the band, even at the high side for burn.  We’ll take this window, Opscon.  Over.

OPSCON: Communications check.  Over.

Pilot: Do you have us, Eyeball?  Over.

Oculus Control: 12/12 on the whisker, 7/12 on the omni.  Over.

Pilot:  Good enough, Eyeball.  Four, clear.

OPSCON: Four, you are go for deorbit preliminary.  Confirm systems, over.

Pilot: By threes, call the checks.  I show mains, accumulators, radiators; blue, blue, blue.

Co-pilot (Airin Muetry-ith-Mirari): Check, check, check.

Pilot: I show fuel, cold-gas, life; blue, blue, blue.

Co-pilot: Check, check, check.

Pilot: I show telemetry, computer, radar; blue, blue, blue.

Co-pilot: Check, check, check.

Pilot: Attitude is six, zero, zero.  Inertials are aligned within point zero zero three, within parameters.  Clock drift is fourteen micro, within parameters.

Co-pilot: Check, check, check.  All systems check out for deorbit and landing.

Pilot: Opscon, systems check out, navigation variances are point zero zero three, fourteen.  Window’s coming up – do we have a go?  Over.

OPSCON: Four, our telemetry matches yours.  You are go for deorbit burn.  Opscon, clear.

Pilot: (loud breath) Okay, here we go.  By the numbers… mains to capacitors for charge.

Co-pilot: Capacitors charging.

Pilot: Stow the radiators, switch to heatsink.

Co-pilot: Radiator stow, check… cooling pumps to internal, no flow in the vanes.

Radiators inboard, four blues.

Pilot: Coming up on window in… two minutes.

Co-pilot: Capacitors show charged and ready.  Clock is running.

Pilot: Opscon, initiating burn in 36.  Four, clear.

Run up the pellet launcher.

Co-pilot: Pellet launcher to burn speed.

Speed nominal.

Pilot: Nominal, check.

Co-pilot: Burn in twelve, eleven, ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one, mark.

Pilot: Ignition.  Throttle at nominal-high, acceleration two point seven.

How’re the sinks?

Co-pilot: Heat flow is within parameters, about point five above predicted, no worse.

Pilot: Got some oscillation here…

Co-pilot: Standing by to cut.

Pilot: …trying the dampers.  There, it’s planing out.

Co-pilot:  Very well.  Pellet feed is steady.  Groundspeed 1600, height 490, range 475.  In the grid.

Coming up to inflection.  Standby for pitch-up maneuver.

Pilot: We’re coming in a little short.  I’ll take it to pitch four; compute me a second inflection.  Initiating.

Co-pilot: Pitch five point five, five, four point seven, four point four, four… steady at pitch four.  Pitch-up complete.

Second inflection point on the glass.

Groundspeed eight.  Delta-A in the slot.  Coming up to second inflection.  Standby for pitch-up maneuver.

Pilot: Pitching to zero.  Take the throttle down to thirty.

Co-pilot: Pitch three point five.  Throttle eighty.  Pitch three.  Throttle fifty.  Pitch two point one.  Throttle forty.  Pitch one point five.  Throttle thirty.  Pitch zero…

Attitude zero, zero, zero, throttle steady at thirty.  Range point three eight.  Vertical 28.  Glass to landing configuration.

Heatsinks at half capacity.

Range point one three, vertical fourteen.

Pilot: A little more throttle now.  Throttle to sixty.

Co-pilot: Range point zero seven, vertical one point nine two.

Pilot: Throttle to eight five.

Co-pilot: Range point zero five, vertical point one four five.  Starting to get some ground pushback.

Pilot: Throttle back to three zero.

[expletive] Looks like there’s a crater under us.  Hold us on the throttle; switching to manual lateral maneuvering.

A little more.  A little more…

Co-pilot: Range point zero three, vertical point one eight.  Kicking up the regolith.

Pilot: Stand by to switch to cold-gas thrusters.  Terminate pellet feed in six, five, four, three, two, one, mark.

[exclamation]

Co-pilot: Range point one three, vertical point one.  Point zero eight.  Point zero five.  Point zero four.  Point zero two.  Point zero one.  Point zero zero five.  Point zero zero two.  Contact.

Pilot: Thruster shutoff.

Co-pilot: Gear holding, stress shows in the blue.  Internal pressure, blue.  Hull integrity, blue.  Attitude, zero, one point two, point three.

Pilot: Capacitors, cycle to discharge.  Radiators deploy and push.

Co-pilot: Capacitors to discharge, check.  Vanes deploying in ground configuration…

Check.  Pumps running, flow in the vanes.  Heatsinks show two-thirds capacity.

[laugh] We did it!  We’re here!

Pilot: I believe we did, at that.

Opscon, this is Silverfall Four.  We are down safe at White Plains.  I repeat, Four has made landing on Seléne. Over.

OPSCON: We read you down safe, Four. [swallowing]  Good to hear it from you.  Congratulations!

[sound of cheering]