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Author Topic: Ximaxian Lecture: The Fabric of the Dream  (Read 5414 times)
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Rayne (Alýr)
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« on: 09 May 2012, 13:44:49 »

I couldn't think of any better way to structure this, so I did it as a lecture. Others have written themselves into Santharia as lecturers, and I suppose, as a magic developer with interest in oratory and pedagogy, it would behoove me to do the same.



The Fabric of the Dream lecture (also called "Why Pebbles Don't Float" or simply the "Pebble Lecture) was giving in Ximax in ____ by the elven scholar, writer, humanitarian, and mage, Alýr (widely known among humans as Rayne Avalotus). During one of her many visits to the Academy of Magic, she was asked to give a talk regarding the overlap of elven and Ximaxian philosophies and the implications thereof. Though the lecture was meant to be limited to only high-level mages of the Academy, students from all levels attended. The documentation of the lecture comes from the collective notes of those students present at the time.

The lecture is often regarded as one of the most famous in Ximaxian history, opening wide the philosophical worldviews of a system that, until this lecture, was generally regarded as scientific and dry, a mere means to an end with regards to casting magic. Today the lecture is still frequently read and referenced, in part for its enlightening subject and in part to its clear rhetorical style.


The Fabric of the Dream

Let me start by saying that I am not a Ximaxian mage. As you might have noticed, I’m not from around here. I am elven and practice elven magic. Your professors have, regardless, asked me to speak to you, and so I am here to hopefully offer you insight into the Ximaxian system, which arose out of elven philosophy.

You are all accomplished mages, and so I expect none of this is new. You likely already know "oún" is the Styrásh word for "piece" or "part", "xeuá" for "connection" or "link", and "cár'áll" for (roughly) "aura". Many of your spell formulas are also in the elven tongue. But the connection between elven and Ximaxian philosophies is deeper than mere nomenclature. Regardless whether you ascribe to the entirety of elven philosophy or not, its implications ripple to the derivation put into practice here, at Ximax.

In Ximax, you as students, as well as your teachers, often take a scientific approach to magic. I will ask you to take a step back and remember that the effect of speaking or listening properties are not merely physical. Yes, wind ounía hastening into movement or fire ounía illuminating into brilliance will have a physical effect, but recall, too, that fire can also stir passions. Every oún has a spiritual dimension. Every cár'áll has spiritual effects.

That is why the Ximaxian system isn't a scientific system, but a philosophical one. I want you to remember this, because it may indeed be philosophy, not science, that reveals the true depth of the Dream.

Do you know about the Dream? It refers to all of Caelereth--in a complete, holistic sense. The term derives, again, from elven philosophy. We, the elves, believe in Avá, whom we call the One (and in fact, "one" in Styrásh is "Avá"). She has many epithets: Avá the Compassionate, Avá the Just, but most often: Avá the Beautiful. We believe She has dreamed everything into existence, and we show our reverence by referring to the world as the Dream.

We don't all share the belief in the same source of this "Dream" of existence; still, we all experience the same world as it presents itself to us--we can all observe how the world manifests, what all existence has in common; we identify elements and connections, tendencies, and dependencies. What we, the elves, call the "Dream", others have named "reality", but we each experience it, and that experience fundamentally binds us together.

But what IS the Dream, that reality, in its entirety? What makes up the "fabric of the Dream", as is referenced so often? Some of you may say the Cár'áll, the collection of every individual cár'allía in the whole of the world, and you would be correct--almost. It is true that the entirety of the world is connected through a beautiful web of xeuá extending across unimaginable distances. Most of these xeuá connections are ahm (passive) of course, but they are still there. Wherever we are, we are connected to everything and everyone else.

No, the Cár'áll does not represent the fabric of the Dream, in its entirety. The threads that weave the fabric together may be those innumerable links between us all; the colour and texture, collections of ounía singing out their properties. But there is something missing.

What are the basic pieces of the Ximaxian system? Ounía and xeuá, of course. All cár'allía are composed of these, but there's something else, too. Anyone? --Why, the will, of course.

Yes, the will. A mage can alter xeuá and play with ounía, but no mage--regardless of how powerful he or she is--can affect the will. It is the untouchable part of each individual, the force that drives and defines each living creature--for it is, after all, the will that fights you when you cast a spell upon a living cár'áll. It is the will that heals wounds to the cár'áll, or that makes the cár'áll more aligned with water or wind. The will is perhaps the most remarkable force in the Dream.

And what a Dream it is. With trees that lift upwards to fan their leaves in the sun, and rivers that flow towards the sea.

Have you ever wondered why pebbles don't float?

Naturally, of course, because they are primarily composed of earth ounía, and the properties of these ounía, heaviness in particular, are expressed. But, through magic, I can make a pebble float. I can change the meta-state, making it soór (or active) so that it lifts under the influence of wind. Suppose I do not convert the meta-state back to ahm to seal the properties of wind. What happens? The pebble eventually falls. Slowly the wind influence tapers, and the earth influence re-established dominance over the cár'áll.

But why?

When someone changes your cár'áll, your will tends to step in to rebalance and adjust. There is a natural state to all things. But a pebble has no will in and of itself. Just like there is the Cár'áll that defines the state of all things in the world, so there is also the Will--a force that seeks to return all things to their natural state.

But what is the Will? Where does it come from? In elven philosophy, the Will is the Will of Avá the Beautiful. But Ximaxian scholars don't believe in Avá. You don't have to, because in the end, it's all the same. Your will is yours alone, right? The untouchable part of you, the thing that stays with you, the unchanging reality of who you are. But it is also something much larger: it is one part of the quiet and unimaginable force that is the Will.

Your will acts according to your desires. You wish to make a pebble float, and by magic, it does. But desires are also subconscious, unconscious. Within each of us is a desire for the natural order, and this unconscious desire manifests as one small force that, together with the unconscious desires of every will within the Dream, restores order and the natural state: in other words, unconscious desire for the natural state is the reason pebbles don't float. Every living thing contributes to the collective unconscious of the Will.

So just as you are connected by the innumerable xeuá between everything, so you are bound to every other will. You are both an individual and part of a powerful, timeless force that ensures the leaves fall in the autumn and rivers flow toward the sea.

And it is the Cár'áll and the Will together that make up the fabric of the Dream--a fabric that does not just hold everything, but unites everything. We are all one, all connected, all knowing and all-powerful.

We just haven't realized it yet.
« Last Edit: 02 June 2012, 21:42:45 by Artimidor Federkiel » Logged

"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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« Reply #1 on: 10 May 2012, 04:27:32 »

Very nice introduction to elven magic for Ximaxian students, Rayne! I guess the lecture format also work pretty well here as we've seen in similar entries, and it brings a lot of stuff on the table which has been explained here and there in a Forum thread but didn't make it to the site in form of some sort of entry. I like it very much, also with a lovely poignant conclusion... Aura +1 as far as I'm concerned!

Just a few comments/suggestions which spring to mind:

- In general we always try to avoid the term "scientific", which you've used a few times throughout this lecture (and in the introduction), because it sounds too modern. Maybe you could substitute it with "scholarly" for example or anything similar to that.

- color --> colour

- I would recommend to "neutralize" the part a bit where Avá is mentioned, meaning: Reduce the religious aspect somewhat. You have to remember: Members of the Academy are for one humans (so no belief in Avá there) and the Ximaxian approach isn't based on belief, but on the scholarly approach.

Now its perfectly fine that an elf mentions Avá to explain it from this side, but to convince people of something if they are coming from a quite different direction, one is well advised to try to walk with them a bit from their point of view until the views meet in the middle. For example, when you state:

Quote
We believe She has dreamed everything into existence, and we show our reverence by referring to the world as the Dream.

You could try to add a few sentences which express the scholarly side, saying something like this:

Quote
But even so, if we don't all share the belief in the same source of that what is the world as it presents itself to us - we can all observe how the world is, what all things that are have in common, that there are elements and connections between them, tendencies, dependencies to and resistances against each other. What we, the elves, call the "Dream", others have named "reality".

(And the continued, with slight addition:) But what IS the Dream, that reality, in its entirety?

I guess that builds a bit of a bridge to students which might not buy the Dream story, but still can relate to what the lecture is driving at.
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Rayne (Alýr)
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« Reply #2 on: 14 May 2012, 09:31:22 »

I have made the color to colour change, and included the additions you suggested--with a fair number of edits. The syntactical construction was a bit difficult to understand, I thought, so I tried to simplify and iron it out a little. Please let me know if it sounds all right to you.

With regards to "science": I looked it up and it came into use around 1300-1350, during the Middle Ages. As Santharia takes place in a time over 300 years after this time, I assumed it was all right to use.

"Scholarly" doesn't work, unfortunately, as an alternative, because it does not serve as an opposite to "philosophy." Philosophy is, in fact, frequently regarded as scholarly. I refer, of course, to this sentence in the lecture:

Quote
I want you to remember this, because it may indeed be philosophy, not science, that reveals the true depth of the Dream.

Please let me know if the use of "science" here is all right, and if there is anything further you would like me to change.
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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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« Reply #3 on: 15 May 2012, 03:41:46 »

Edits are fine, no problem - always good to have someone around who can translate my ramblings into proper English... lol

As for the term "science": I see we've used the word every now and then in similar cases, even the Magic entry which dates back an age or so. In the meantime we've set up rules where we generally discourage words that sound too "scientific" to fit into middle ages, but this doesn't necessarily mean the word "science" itself. It seems difficult to find a proper alternative however to get the point we're looking for across, so I'd say the use is fine with me then :) - In short: Looks all pretty good now!  thumbup
« Last Edit: 15 May 2012, 14:49:13 by Artimidor Federkiel » Logged



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« Reply #4 on: 15 May 2012, 08:58:15 »

   I believe the Tharian word 'science' comes from the Gnomic "skyentz", meaning 'to examine closely and consistently".....    Over time, the original pronunciation  "SKEE-ntz"  was softened into our 'sigh-ens', and used to describe the euxperiments performed to investigate nature, the disk, magic, and other wonderful phenomena of Caelereth...

:)
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« Reply #5 on: 15 May 2012, 09:32:59 »

and once again the knowledge of our masterbard comes to the fore in solving the semantic and graphophonic mysteries that are both puzzling and perplexing to the rest of us. :D

an aura for you dear masterbard!
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« Reply #6 on: 15 May 2012, 14:01:54 »

That's nice, but perhaps a little too close to modern use of the word; I don't think Santharia has discovered the Scientific Method yet.  It seems that "science" originally meant something like "knowledge acquired by study", which seems somewhat appropriate for Ximaxian magic. 

I'm not sure about contrasting "scientific" with "philosophical" though.  Are they really that different, given the time period we are emulating?  Rayne, maybe you could explain what you meant by "scientific" and "philosophical"? 

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« Reply #7 on: 17 May 2012, 01:31:48 »

I suppose I viewed philosophy as the logic or study of things which can't necessarily be perceived through one of the five senses (truth, for example). I view science as studying and drawing from things that are. I see science as utilizing experimentation, while philosophy would likely more often utilize logical argument. (The science schools at many institutions include subjects like physics, chemistry, biology, etc.--but not philosophy.)


I'm hesitant to make a new word for "science", since it's more of a concept rather than a 'thing'.  undecided
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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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« Reply #8 on: 17 May 2012, 03:11:19 »

Ah, I think I understand now.  So it's something like the contrast between Empiricism and Rationalism?  I guess that could work.  I would expect that both approaches have supporters within the Academy, although it is certainly possible that one is much more popular than the other. 
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Rayne (Alýr)
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« Reply #9 on: 18 May 2012, 01:01:11 »

So... I assume "science" is all right in this context?  buck
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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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« Reply #10 on: 18 May 2012, 01:06:21 »

I think so.  If you could add the explanation to the entry itself though, that would be really great. 
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« Reply #11 on: 18 May 2012, 01:30:48 »

What explanation exactly?  huh I think the denotations of "philosophy" and "science" can be read from the context of the lecture (i.e. "Every oún has a spiritual dimension. Every cár'áll has spiritual effects. ... That is why the Ximaxian system isn't a scientific system, but a philosophical one.")
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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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« Reply #12 on: 18 May 2012, 01:44:38 »

Maybe I'm just bad at reading, but I really didn't get it. undecided I guess it could remain as it is if no one else has that problem.   
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« Reply #13 on: 18 May 2012, 03:16:42 »

Science deals with the physical world most, and a scientific view of magic deals with more physical affect: those you can perceive through your five senses. However, you can't perceive someone else's emotions with your five senses. Hence magic is not solely scientific, but also philosophical. Does this make sense? You have to look at the natural logic in the progression and in the sentences.
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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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