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Coren FrozenZephyr
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« on: 04 April 2009, 16:35:34 »

The Olesian Obstruction

The next episode in Coren's "finish what you started" saga. 2 down, 10 more to go. Oyh.

Following on from Krean Magic in Plain Tharian: A Synopsis. The entry can be found in the second post of this thread. As an alternative, I have also attached a Word 2003 version below.

This gets into more technical stuff so the entry is not as accommodating as "Krean Magic in Plain Tharian". The idea is to write short "mini-entries" to flesh out the gaps left in the overviews - the sort of stuff that would be relegated to footnotes in an essay. I appreciate that time is limited and that it is unrealistic to expect people to re-read the overviews every time I post one of these mini-entries. So, I tried to summarise the relevant bits at the beginning. I hope this makes it easier to keep track of what is going on. :)
« Last Edit: 27 June 2009, 16:56:24 by Artimidor Federkiel » Logged

"Everything should be as simple as possible and not simpler." Albert Einstein

"Is he allowed to do that?"
"I think that comes under the rule of Quia Ego Sic Dico."
"Yes, what does that mean?"
"'Because I say so', I think."
"That doesn't sound like much of a rule!"
"Actually, it's the only one he needs." (Making Money by Terry Pratchett)
Coren FrozenZephyr
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« Reply #1 on: 04 April 2009, 16:35:53 »

The Olesian Obstruction

The Olesian Obstruction is the idea that a "depiction" (a Krean Magic spell of the Persuasive echelon) will increasingly approach, but never quite reach, a true portrayal of the desired possibility. This sub-entry explains the concept of such a barrier and examines its implications for Krean mages. The Olesian Obstruction takes its name from the sorceress Olesia Altheasis who first noticed the predicament (pre-3200BS, exact dates unknown).

Alternative Terminology
Other synonyms include the “Definitional Barrier”, “Descriptive Barrier”, “Expressive Barrier”, and “the Olesian Barrier” (which is somewhat easier to pronounce than the formal, alliterative “Olesian Obstruction”).


Concept
Krean magic is divided into three tiers according to the methodology used in spell-casting: Magic Mechanical, Magic Persuasive, Magic Existential. Magic Persuasive, the “arch-school” of the Krean Arcane Pyramid, entails “defining” the desired possibility and “persuading” the First Wave to substitute that for the existing reality (Compendium’s Note: This, of course, is an oversimplification. The reader is encouraged to consult the overview on Krean arcane arts and the entry on Magic Persuasive.)

The Infinity Hypothesis
According to the Infinity Hypothesis, any possibility can be infinitely elaborated upon; there are no limits on the level of detail that comprises a particular piece of reality.

The Olesian Obstruction
The degree of detail one can provide is commensurate with one’s perception and corresponds to the devices/senses used in making that observation. (That is to say: smart, observant people will notice more things than slower or absent-minded people; your eyes will only allow you to perceive colours and shapes – if you want to discern scents, you need to use your nose.) Since the delineation of any possibility extends ad infinitum but human capability does not – a mage can never put the “finishing touch”: A spell will increasingly approach, but never quite reach, a true portrayal of the desired possibility; it will at best be an approximation. This is akin to perpetually cutting a piece of string into halves; with each division the segment becomes smaller but will never completely disappear. This concept is known as “the Narrative Barrier” or “Olesian Obstruction”, after the sorceress Olesia Altheasis who first noticed the predicament.


Corollaries

The Olesian Dilemma
Subsequent scholars have pointed out that the hypothesis known as the Olesian Obstruction leads to an impasse: Since reality is collectively created by every being in Existence and is at any rate an infinitely thorough rendition (given that it is the most probable – thus most elaborate – of all possibilities), it should theoretically be impossible for any individual to replace it with his definition of an alternate event: an individual can never match the degree of accuracy created by the whole cosmos. Yet from empirical facts we know that Krean magic works.  What explains this conundrum? Either the proposition that a possibility can be infinitely elaborated upon is wrong – yet evidence suggests otherwise, for no mage or assembly has hitherto hit a wall beyond which the Web will not allow them to proceed – or the possibility painted by the spell undergoes a transformation to reach the requisite level of detail before it is incorporated into the Lace.

Dessa’s Theorem: the solution
Dessa (ca 3180-2990 bS, a contemporary of High Queen Rezar) proposed the following explanation: When the mage puts down his definition, the First Wave takes care of the rest, filling in the gaps: Once one sufficiently identifies the “essentials” of a situation allowing the First Wave to discern which possibility one wants from its depths, it will put the finishing touches to the spell, rounding off the possibility.
But why does the First Wave complete the deficient handiwork of the magus? Why does it volunteer thus & bail him out?

Early theories: bordering on mysticism
Before A.R.’s rather elegant solution (see below), earlier theories ascribed to the First Wave the role of a Divine Creator pursuing an active stake in Its creation. But (i) since worship is the highest expression of one’s admiration for an entity and everything it represents and (ii) since the First Wave, by virtue of being the aggregate of all the webs of possibilities, also harbours the surreal, this had the embarrassing consequence of a process of logic leading to the worship of what is at least partly, by definition, the illogical!

Rationalizing the intervention of the First Wave: A.R.’s “Necessity Theory”
In ca 2980 BS, profoundly dissatisfied with this flirtation with mysticism, A.R., who was to become the founder of the Order of Absolutes several decades later, found a way to explain why the First Wave intervenes without resorting to semi-theological entities. In so doing, she paved the way for the Krean Classical Age (ca 2800 BS) and the secularisation of Krean magic. The gist of her theory is as follows:

Why does the First Wave complete the deficient handiwork of the magus?

A mage can “force” a possibility into the Lace but the only way for something to exist in the Possibility Probable is for it to become the most plausible among competing versions. The answer therefore, argued AR, is “out of necessity”. Like iron dust attracted to a magnet, any possibility forcibly injected into the Lace will always fall into its most probable configuration. To be integrated into the Lace, it has to establish causal connections with everything else (recall: Savere edor edora) therefore in the process of being incorporated into the “whole picture” that possibility inevitably becomes the most elaborated.

NB: A useful rule of thumb to commit to memory is that the First Wave will always substitute the most probable version of a situation in order to minimize inadvertent disruption to the Lace.

What flows from A.R.’s rather radical suggestion?

Problem: a cosmic lottery?
The First Wave, according to Dessa & A.R., picks up from where the mage has left and concludes the integration of the possibility into the Lace. There is a problem however: Infinite variations from the last line sketched down to the minute details are possible, so a mage might end up with something entirely different than he envisaged. Hence it is vital to “describe” in essentials– because if one nails the defining characteristics of a situation, the lottery on ancillary issues will not matter.

The Point of Certainty – or: the “Uncommon Denominator”
This is why it is said that “true masters paint with broad brushstrokes” – they know the laws of nature so well that they can anticipate the most probable outcome and thus which eventuality a spell-in-the-making will lead to. Thus spoke Emperor Dearan of the White Advisor, “Do you know what discipline, what complexity of thought is required to achieve such simplicity? His strokes are wider, more impressionistic than mine – yet were you to take a magnifying glass and inspect them, you would see that every strand was put there for a reason...” Such unerringly accurate minimalism is the mark of great distinction. With the barest of interventions masters can bring to life the character of a situation because they can identify the distinguishing attributes of their vision, the point at which one can tell without the shadow of a doubt the spell will resolve thus and not so. This is the “Point of Certainty”, sometimes humorously alluded to as the “Uncommon Denominator”.


« Last Edit: 27 June 2009, 16:48:04 by Coren FrozenZephyr » Logged

"Everything should be as simple as possible and not simpler." Albert Einstein

"Is he allowed to do that?"
"I think that comes under the rule of Quia Ego Sic Dico."
"Yes, what does that mean?"
"'Because I say so', I think."
"That doesn't sound like much of a rule!"
"Actually, it's the only one he needs." (Making Money by Terry Pratchett)
Coren FrozenZephyr
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« Reply #2 on: 04 April 2009, 16:56:01 »

Entries: Thematic List


Essential Reading


Major Entries
[...]


Sub-schools of Krean Magic
  • The Magic of the Priestesses of Ankriss


Further Reading & Related Concepts
« Last Edit: 08 April 2009, 18:24:47 by Coren FrozenZephyr » Logged

"Everything should be as simple as possible and not simpler." Albert Einstein

"Is he allowed to do that?"
"I think that comes under the rule of Quia Ego Sic Dico."
"Yes, what does that mean?"
"'Because I say so', I think."
"That doesn't sound like much of a rule!"
"Actually, it's the only one he needs." (Making Money by Terry Pratchett)
Decipher Ziron
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« Reply #3 on: 05 April 2009, 21:34:22 »

I like the whole idea of the Olesian Obstruction, and its typically well-written  grin

Nice Work Coren,

Deci
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Coren FrozenZephyr
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« Reply #4 on: 08 April 2009, 18:08:13 »

:D Any other comments?

PS: There are a few passages I am not entirely happy with. Ideally, those baroque excesses should be pared away but at this point my mind refuses to cooperate... Maybe ten years from now, I will edit it again and manage to say the same thing without so many words. The text isn't as elegant as I would have liked it to be. :sigh:
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"Everything should be as simple as possible and not simpler." Albert Einstein

"Is he allowed to do that?"
"I think that comes under the rule of Quia Ego Sic Dico."
"Yes, what does that mean?"
"'Because I say so', I think."
"That doesn't sound like much of a rule!"
"Actually, it's the only one he needs." (Making Money by Terry Pratchett)
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« Reply #5 on: 09 April 2009, 00:02:14 »

Apologies if you mention some explanation toward this in the other threads, but another brief comment here.

My query here relates to this idiom/assertion : "only way for something to exist in the Possibility Probable is for it to become the most plausible among competing versions. "

Doesn't this describe a world where luck doesn't exist? If a man falls off a building the most plausible possibility is he'll crack his skull, or break his back, or die...  so there's never any chance of a reality happening where someone is just plain 'lucky' and walks away without a scratch? It would take some direct influence or force to create 'luck'.

A world where the best odds horse always wins and there's never a 100/1 shock winner?

Something a little silier for another example... a 6 side die, with five of the sides having a single pip on them, and one side having 6. Odds of 5/1 against rolling a 6, wouldn't it be improbably, and therefore (by this law) impossible to ever roll a 6 with this dice? Or do you still look at it as having a 1/6 chance of landing on any particular side, and therefore a 6 is as likely as any specific of the ones?

I'll stop before I confuse myself even more ;)

EDIT :

One more thing - with infinate possible realities, the laws of infinity would suggest within such an infinate set there's also infinate number of realities all with equal most plausibility, how is one chosen from the other?
« Last Edit: 09 April 2009, 00:04:40 by Smee » Logged

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Coren FrozenZephyr
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« Reply #6 on: 09 April 2009, 00:51:33 »

- Re "most probable": Thanks for the question - I'll make this clearer in the technical overview as well. For now, the basic answer is that I don't use "probable" in a statistical/purely mathematical sense. So in determining what is "most probable", you take into account ALL factors which influence the outcome. Take your dice example: A Krean would say, given the way the player threw the dice, the wind conditions, the way in which the dice made contact with the table, the way it rolled and imbalances in its weight etc, there was only one way it could have fallen (since Reality = most probable); and that is the way it fell. The same applies to all your other examples as well.

If you can the outcome by magic, then you indirectly and necessarily also change some of these factors. The whole "the impossible cannot be created"; "you cannot blow on a candle and light it too"; "the First Wave, in integrating the spell into the rest of Reality, will make it the most probable" idea ;)

-
Quote
One more thing - with infinate possible realities, the laws of infinity would suggest within such an infinate set there's also infinate number of realities all with equal most plausibility, how is one chosen from the other?

I don't quite follow you. Which "laws of infinity" are you referring to? Could you please clarify what you had in mind?

Hope that helps :)

(Now I need to comment on Fox's entry!)
« Last Edit: 09 April 2009, 01:03:13 by Coren FrozenZephyr » Logged

"Everything should be as simple as possible and not simpler." Albert Einstein

"Is he allowed to do that?"
"I think that comes under the rule of Quia Ego Sic Dico."
"Yes, what does that mean?"
"'Because I say so', I think."
"That doesn't sound like much of a rule!"
"Actually, it's the only one he needs." (Making Money by Terry Pratchett)
Coren FrozenZephyr
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« Reply #7 on: 09 April 2009, 01:00:21 »

In other words, the Krean do not believe in "luck" (or more specifically: randomly occurring events) ;)
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"Everything should be as simple as possible and not simpler." Albert Einstein

"Is he allowed to do that?"
"I think that comes under the rule of Quia Ego Sic Dico."
"Yes, what does that mean?"
"'Because I say so', I think."
"That doesn't sound like much of a rule!"
"Actually, it's the only one he needs." (Making Money by Terry Pratchett)
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« Reply #8 on: 09 April 2009, 01:12:29 »

Aah, so you're saying the vast array of variables that come into play for a man falling, some of those variables in certain conditions mean that he was always going to walk away uninjured when the full maths is done, it might just seem 'lucky' to those not knowing all the factors involved?

*nods* fair enough.

As for my infinate thing. Take an infinate set... the set of number : 1,2,3,4... going on to infinity. Between every value of this infinate set there are infinately more numbers.

e.g Between 1 and 2 there is infinate possible numbers. 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 1.0001,1.0002 etc

Infinities are made up of infinate more infinties.

Going back to the set of infinate realities, a set comprising of every variation of possible. There can't (to my mind at the moment) only be one most plausible reality, there must be infinate of them. Infinate realities where the differences between them are so infintestimally insignificant that each is equally most plausible. So how is one chosen over another?



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« Reply #9 on: 09 April 2009, 20:15:46 »

Would you be referring to the relative infinity idea?

Its usually explained by drawing a big circle and a smaller circle within it. If you fill the small circle completely with its infinite number of diameters, the Circle will be filled in completely, but if you extend the lines to reach the bigger circle, there will always be gaps between the lines- suggesting 'infinity' as a value is completely relative.

I always saw Krean Magic as something just short of Omnipotent Probability Jiggerypokery....

Deci
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« Reply #10 on: 11 April 2009, 23:51:29 »

*gets out bicycle pump in order to inflate IQ enough to understand this stuff*

Very interesting, Coren.  Quite fascinating, really.  I fimd it hard to wrap my head around it, but you are doing a wonderful job of explaining it.
« Last Edit: 12 April 2009, 00:02:24 by Altario Shialt-eck-Gorrin » Logged

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« Reply #11 on: 12 April 2009, 00:01:41 »

Thanks for the encouraging comments everyone! But I still think the inaccessibility is due more to failure on my part to explain it in simple terms rather than the complexity of the concept. As I said, this time around the text is not as elegant as I would have liked it to be. Suffers from verbal excesses in a couple places. sigh

@Smee & Decipher: Ah, I see what you guys mean. I had something in mind for that but did not want to complicate this entry. Maybe next time!  grin Basically, I envisioned Krean scholars/mages divided on this issue. One camp would object to the whole thing as nonsense on stilts; "the most" implies the singular not the plural. Even though there can be several versions with infinitesimal differences between them, one of them must be slightly more likely than the others. The rest, like any other "possibility", would exist like "ghost strings" around the main string we call Reality. Since they dovetail this stream very closely, switching from one line to the other would be very easy - hence, such a spell would require very little effort to cast.

Think of it another way: The Krean believe in choice. They do not regard this "stream" (Reality) as a fixed course. A metaphor might help: History is a string connecting each possibility, each moment to the next; Reality and our experience of time is just a flow. We exist in the flow; our reality IS the flow; what we called the "String of Reality/Possibility Probable" is simply the tracks left by its passage. Every moment, at every choice, this flow constantly jumps from one line to the other, from one link in the chain to another link, perhaps in a different chain - weaving its way through countless possibilities, always striding towards the most probable version of itself. Hence the name "the Lace of Reality" ;)

The second camp would accept the same metaphor: there being a main stream/string of "Reality" and various "ghost" lines dovetailing it (Recall: the Stream of Time; the Lace of Reality; the "Web" of Possibilities, and since each possibility line is not static but moving, I guess this "Web" would appear as an undulating wave, ever expanding outwards - hence "the First Wave"). Where they would differ is this: There is no reason why there should not be several "main strings", each with its own bundle of ghost threads. I did not want to bring this up because I was afraid of people shouting "Quantum Theory! Parallel Universes!"

Hope that helps?
« Last Edit: 12 April 2009, 01:07:33 by Coren FrozenZephyr » Logged

"Everything should be as simple as possible and not simpler." Albert Einstein

"Is he allowed to do that?"
"I think that comes under the rule of Quia Ego Sic Dico."
"Yes, what does that mean?"
"'Because I say so', I think."
"That doesn't sound like much of a rule!"
"Actually, it's the only one he needs." (Making Money by Terry Pratchett)
Coren FrozenZephyr
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« Reply #12 on: 12 April 2009, 00:43:01 »

Oh, I forgot to ask: Is there anything else I should do or should I blarrow it? Thanks for all the positive comments again! Makes me very happy, heh heh.
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"Everything should be as simple as possible and not simpler." Albert Einstein

"Is he allowed to do that?"
"I think that comes under the rule of Quia Ego Sic Dico."
"Yes, what does that mean?"
"'Because I say so', I think."
"That doesn't sound like much of a rule!"
"Actually, it's the only one he needs." (Making Money by Terry Pratchett)
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« Reply #13 on: 13 June 2009, 01:19:05 »

Do you think this is blarrowable?
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"Everything should be as simple as possible and not simpler." Albert Einstein

"Is he allowed to do that?"
"I think that comes under the rule of Quia Ego Sic Dico."
"Yes, what does that mean?"
"'Because I say so', I think."
"That doesn't sound like much of a rule!"
"Actually, it's the only one he needs." (Making Money by Terry Pratchett)
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« Reply #14 on: 21 June 2009, 05:06:50 »

Yah
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