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Rayne (Alýr)
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« on: 22 January 2012, 01:58:06 »

This is a group entry for a group project! It is a Work in Progress; please go here for the associated discussion concerning the content of this entry.

QUESTIONS/ISSUES:
1) What do we capitalise and what do we leave lower-case? Elements have been capitalised, but what about "properties"? "aspects"?

2) In many of the examples we have, we confuse properties and aspects; we need to decide which is a property and which is an aspect--and then decide which we want to use for the examples.


ELEMENTAL PROPERTIES

In the Ximaxian system each element is associated with certain qualities, known as ‘Elemental Properties’ (or ‘Properties’, properly capitalised, for short). Some of these properties are enumerated below. The list reflects the duality of opposing elements (Wind vs Earth; Water vs Fire).


PROPERTY RELATIONS

Spiritual and Physical Aspects of Elemental Properties
All Elemental Properties have physical and apiritual aspects. For example, Fire has the property of heat: the physical aspect of heat makes objects hot to the touch whereas passion can be seen as ‘spiritual heat'. Likewise, flow (Water) can be divided into fluidity (physical) and flexibility (spiritual: flexibility is fluidity of thought, temperament, behaviour etc). In the same vein, ‘cold (Water)’ can be said to have two aspects – compare: “Wrrr. It’s cold. I’m chilled to the bone” ; “He has a cold personality.”

Physical aspects of properties affect the physical world; spiritual aspects of properties affect the mind, emotions, psyche, soul and essentially cover everything else that is ‘not physical’. The easiest way to distinguish between physical and spiritual is that spiritual aspects of properties can only affect sentient beings. You can make a dog calm, but (arguably) not a rock.

Although every property has both aspects, Ximaxian theory prefers to keep them separate and use two different terms for the physical and the spiritual. (Example: Flow (Water) : fluidity (physical) – flexibility (spiritual).) This is to remind people that although we often use one as metaphor for the other, which is helpful for comprehension, in the end the effect is different: you get something different when you cast a physical spell than when you cast a spiritual spell. Physical manipulation of heat will make your dog sweat; spiritual manipulation of heat might make him angry.


Elemental Character
According to elven cosmology Wind and Earth represent states of being, whereas Fire and Water represent the change from one state to the other: Water is Wind trying to be Earth and Fire is Earth trying to be Wind. Ximaxian elemental theory is heavily influenced by this elven view:

Firstly, the 'character' of each element is explained by reference to this. Wind and Earth are existentially stable; the Properties they ‘voice’ reflect their identity. Water and Fire, as extensions of Wind and Earth, suffer perennial existential instability because of their desires; the qualities of Fire and Water derive partly from their parent element (Fire with Earth and Water with Wind) and partly from the expression of their desire for the opposing primary element (Fire for Wind and Water for Earth).

Take the spiritual aspects serenity (Wind) and tranquility (Water) as an example of the former: Wind represents inner peace, a wind-like serenity of soul, a frame of mind that represents ‘stillness in movement’. The Water aspect of tranquillity springs from its Wind heritage. An example of the latter would be the physical aspects of heat (Fire) and cold (Water): Heat is fire’s attempt to asume the lightness of Wind, while cold is Water trying to assume the solidity of Earth. In this instance what is voiced by these elements are in fact attempts to express their desires and find direction in doing so. This instability, however, is eternal: Fire will never become Wind just as Water will never become Earth.

Secondly, properties or aspects and the relations between them surface from the interdependence between the elements. Not only are there associations between the various properties of a single element but also with properties of different elements. The realms of all the elements overlap and interact – and so do their properties.


Intra-elemental correspondence: Relations between properties of different elements
The inter-elemental relations between properties can be grouped into three main categories:

i) Counter-properties: In line with the duality of opposing elements, every property has a counterpart of the opposite element. Counter-property pairs can either be direct opposites (hot: Fire; cold: Water) or twins standing for two sides of the same coin (‘transformation: Water’ and ‘consumption: Fire’ as the two faces of ‘change’.) 

Examples of direct opposites:
movement (Wind)       stillness (Earth)
swift (Wind)       slow (Earth)
intangible (Wind)       tangible (Earth)
permanence (Earth)       impermanence (Wind)
tranquillity (Water)       agitation (Fire)
passion (Fire)       detachment (Water)
indecisiveness (Water)       drive (Fire)
coalescence/absorption (Water)       expansion/dispersion (Fire)
fluidity (Water: order over time)       chaos (Fire: disorder over time)

Examples of twins:
transformation (Water)       consumption (Fire)
intuition (Water)       inspiration (Fire)

ii) Complementary properties: These are properties in harmony with one another. Properties can be ‘complementary’ for any number of reasons: because of their perceived similarities, because they supplement or perfect or balance each other, because they often accompany one another in nature…

Examples:
clarity and invisibility (Wind)       translucence (Water)
serenity (Wind)       calm (Water)
cold (Water)       numbness (earth)
swiftness (Wind)       agility (Water)
movement (Wind)       fluidity (Water)
heat (Fire)       ethereality (Wind)
cold (Water)       solidity (Earth)
drive/‘will to life’/ambition (Fire)       determination/persistence/backbone (Earth)

iii) Antagonistic properties: Properties which are not each other’s direct counterparts might nonetheless ‘disagree’ with one another in varying degrees.

Examples:
stubbornness (Earth)       flexibility (Water: spiritual aspect of fluidity)
slowness (Earth)       agility (Water)
intuition (Water)       reason/rationality (Wind)
order/stability (Earth)       chaos/instability (Fire)
indecisiveness (Water)       determination/backbone (Earth)


Perspective
Some counterpart pairs that Ximaxian theory sees as direct opposites might seem to be a bit of a stretch or even counter-intuitive. For instance, at first sight, saying that the opposite of ‘chaos (Fire)’ is ‘fluidity (Water)’ might not make sense. Often, a solution can be found through a change of perspective. We have to remember that not all languages have the same conceptual metaphors and that Ximaxian scholars are wont to think rather creatively when explaining how properties align with properties of their opposing element.

Perspective has a lot to do with how we view opposites. Water-aligned entities flow and change shape to fill the available space. If one views water as exhibiting the property of ‘order over time’ (that is: order in [temporal] motion), one could call that ‘fluidity’. The opposite of this would be ‘disorder over time’, which one could call ‘chaos’. In this sense, they are opposites; it really depends on one’s perspective.

Another example would be ‘(emission of) light’ (Fire) and ‘refraction (of light)' (Water): Fire creates light, Water bends and reshapes it.


Inter-elemental correspondence: Hierarchy between the properties of a single element
An area of debate among Ximaxan scholars is whether there is a cardinal property for each element which links all of the properties of that element together. Some believe that each element in truth represents a single principle, from which all that element's properties are derived. For instance, it could be argued that absorption (Water) is the cause of coldness and darkness, and that absorption itself is linked to coalescence. Another example would be lightness, ethereality, clarity, and invisibility as forms of intangibility (Wind); heaviness, solidity, stubbornness, and opaqueness as forms of tangibility (Earth). Others see the search for a single underlying property for each element as unrealistic - a wild-goose chase - and argue that the real question is which exactly are properties in their own right and which are manifestations of other properties.


PROPERTY AND ASPECT TABLE

[...]


PROPERTY AND ASPECT DEFINITIONS

[...]
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« Reply #1 on: 22 January 2012, 02:10:05 »

Quote from: Rayne
The more I look at the entry, the more it seems like we may want to start high and work our way down to the small (i.e. Elements -> Properties -> Aspects). Right now, the explanation seems more to go from Properties->Aspects->Elements. I don't know. What do you all think?

Rayne, you suggested a 'top to down' approach earlier, starting from 'elements'. I think that's a really good idea. Will you be re-ordering the material here in line with that?
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Rayne (Alýr)
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« Reply #2 on: 22 January 2012, 02:13:27 »

I can--though I really feel this business of aspects vs. properties needs to get resolved first. I do like the introduction of properties as the beginning. I would like to switch the discussion of aspects and that of elemental characters. Everything below that until "Perspective" will be somewhat influenced by our discussion of aspects and properties.
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"There is much misjudgment in the world. Now, I knew you for a unicorn when I first saw you, and I know that I am your friend. Yet you take me for a clown, or a clod, or a betrayer, and so I must be if you see me so. The magic on you is only magic and will vanish as soon as you are free, but the enchantment of error that you put on me I must wear forever in your eyes. We are not always what we seem..." -Schmendrick the Magician, The Last Unicorn
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