Category Archives: Society

The Meaning of Gesture

In Sai Herthe, as in all traditional cultures, the body is seen as microcosmos — the cosmos in miniature — with the interconnexions between the Great Body of the world, the small body of an individual maid and the body as a general, as opposed to an individual, phenomenon being a fundamental element in our understanding of each.

The heart is the Solar center in maid, as the Sun is in the cosmos. The chest, by extension, refers to the heart, and also to the lungs, which are the source of breath — another aspect of the spirit (re-spir-ation is from the same word as spiritus).

The head is the lunar center — so the light of reason is the reflected light of the solar Intellect, whose home in maid is the heart.

To touch first the forehead and then the chest is an in-gathering gesture, bringing exterior things (represented by the head) back to their true center in the heart. It can be made in significance of receiving a teaching or a reprimand, thus it can also be a sign of humility. It can be made to acknowledge and center ourselves in the Higher reality, or to show respect — gathering oneself in from the fragmented and peripheral world of the head to the still and Essential world of the heart.

Although in late western Telluria the heart has been taken as a (very loose) symbol for the emotions (so “heart vs head” means “reason vs emotion”), in Sai Herthe this is not the case. The heart is the center of the Spirit, and thus of Pure Intellect. It is also the center of Pure Love — first Divine Love and then its true reflection in human love. But it is not the center of emotional impulses and passions. That is the stomach.

There is also an inverse form of this gesture, touching first the chest and then the forehead, and then opening the hand in a “giving” or “indicating” gesture. This is the “outward” gesture and is one of generosity. It might, for example, be used when inviting someone into one’s house. Its implication is “from my innermost being, through my exterior faculties, to you”.

The Herthelan salute touches either the left shoulder or the left side of the chest (there are many variants on the salute — not random — each military or other group using it will have its own strictly-observed form). Nonetheless, the reference is to the heart (which is on the left side) and to the shoulder or arm (which is the instrument of action).

jaunty-saluteIt does not seem insignificant that the (relatively late) Tellurian salute should touch the head, which is the center of lunar reason, which in turn is the focus of the rationalist revolution which ushered in the rajasic age in West Telluria. The salute to the head is known in Sai Herthe, as are some other salutes used in different places and circumstances. The salute to the head generally has the effect of being jauntier and less formal than the standard salute, though there are a few contexts in which it is officially used.

Tellurian Media and the Soul of Maid

Girl with a Book by Alexander Deineka 1934Lucetta Jane Spurling said:  Regarding understanding and agreement in western Telluria: some of you may be aware of the science fiction novel Stranger in a Strange Land which introduced the “Martian” concept of to grok, which means (literally) to drink, but also to take complete understanding into oneself such that it becomes part of oneself and one becomes more a part of the greater ocean of wisdom. This was an extremely controversial book in its day and still is to some extent (albeit with less fervour and for more feminist reasons). Of course the west would be against such an idea! The book also promoted a sort of menamity which, while it was somewhat bound up in schizomorphic eroticism, was also the subject of controversy. I hope this isn’t terribly off-topic, I just couldn’t resist sharing!

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Yuriko Rill said:  A long time ago, I did read Stranger in a Strange Land (before I ever came to Chelouranya).  The concept of to grok is interesting; however, sadly, there are a lot of other problems with that book (and a lot of other works of Robert Heinlein), even though they were mostly written pre-Eclipse.  It can be SO hard to navigate the media of West Telluria to know what is safe and what is not.

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Sushuri said:  I have not read Mr. Heinlein’s books so I really have no idea what is bad about them, but I would imagine that what we would find problematic would be very different from what West Telluri (especially feminists) find problematic – or at least for very different reasons.

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Petite Sorcière said:  I haven’t read Mr. Heinlein’s book either. I have known its title for as long as I can remember because it struck deep in me as a child that that is what I was: a stranger in a strange land. I knew what the phrase meant to me and so was not particularly interested in what it meant to an outlander.

Putting two and two together (and maybe making six) – when Rill-san says it is unusually poisonous for a pre-Eclipse book (suspecting that that is what she means by “problems”) and Miss Spurling says it was very controversial in its time but less so now – it makes me wonder if it was that its proto-eclipseness was upsetting to a pre-eclipse world while its poisons have now become part of the vast danse macabre of what is acceptable in the “new, (post-modern) normal”.

Interesting also that even before the Eclipse it was necessary to coin a word for “understand” that implies (perhaps) what understanding implies to the Japanese and the rest of us. That was opaque to the Telluri West long, long before the Eclipse and is part of the reason the Eclipse happened.

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Lucetta Jane Spurling said:  Despite its alluring title, I would certainly not recommend Stranger in a Strange Land as reading for any but the most scholarly Chelouranyi (is that the correct pluralization?) interested in western Tellurian thought. As Rill-san says, the books is fraught with problems—pretty much everyone, from the day it was written till now, can find a reason to find it absurd. That said, “grok” has entered the vernacular (it’s in the dictionary and appears on crossword puzzles), although I daresay very few people use it correctly. Unsurprisingly, the western understanding of understanding has diminished it.

From the feminine essentialist perspective, Mr. Heinlein’s other work notwithstanding, I believe Stranger was written as a treatise on how to course-correct a world he perceived as hurtling toward the Eclipse. It is very much set in the schizomorphic paradigm but attempts to, I think rather accidentally, reintroduce basic items of traditional culture under the spoonful-of-sugar guise of extreme rationalism. It might be interesting reading if only to see how one might reach out to a deracinated person through their own paradigm of evolutionism and progress, but that’s generally not something we concern ourselves with.

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Rosamunda Elefarya said:  Honored Miss Spurling, I am afraid I must disagree most strongly. I think you will find, as I have found, that the more scholarly a Chelouranyana becomes, the more profoundly uninterested she becomes in late West Tellurian thought. There is so much better thinking out there. Nor can I feel that grok is a good word for Chelouranyani to use – it may be in West Tellurian dictionaries, but comes too recently from a particular and poisonous source to have yet shaken the influence of that source sufficiently for our purposes.

It is true that Mr. Heinlein was able to spot certain elements of the Eclipse, which he called “The Crazy Years”, coming. However, his solutions, which he seems to have believed in most strongly, were as deracinated as the things he was trying to combat. You will find this quite frequently in most West Tellurian attempts to combat the Eclipse.

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Sushuri said:  I think what you describe, honored Elefarya-chei, is indeed a common theme in West Tellurian attempts to counter West Tellurian excesses. Obvious and simple examples are notions like “getting back to our emotions” to counter hyper-rationalism. The flaw here is that the whole rational/emotional spectrum is what is wrong in the first place – the idea that there is no Intelligence beyond material reason and no Love beyond mere earthly sentiment and passion. Flipping from one end to the other of a false and crippled spectrum achieves very little.

Or to take an example used by Miss Trent in The Feminine Universe – Christian Fundamentalism is essentially based on the errors it set out to refute. It is not even simply a reaction against them, but accepts their terms of engagement uncritically. The answer to attacks on the historicity of Scripture was not to affirm their supra historical meaning but, in “defending” them, to reduce them to history.

These are merely incidental examples, but one will find them everywhere. Many West Tellurians have been aware that their culture is sick. Unfortunately the “medicine” always comes from a different leaf of the same poison plant that created the sickness in the first place.

Fortunately, it is not our problem.

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Yuriko Rill said:  Before I came to Chelouranya, when I did not know any better, when reading books, listening to music, watching kinnies, and the like, I would naturally try to pick up on what was good and true, even in deeply poisonous media.  My flavvie is of the age where I was a little too young to remember pre-Eclipse Western media as media from my Tellurian childhood and I was a little too old to have been exposed to Japanese media, such as Sailor Moon.  (Heee…I have only discovered the magic of good Anime since coming here!)  I think even when I was the most lost in the Darkness of the Pit, I tried very hard to find goodness and Light where I could.

There ARE bits of good and Light out there in post-Eclipse West Tellurian media; however, these bits are mingled in with a lot of poison.  When I was struggling with this and I talked with a good and wise friend about it, she explained to me that if there was arsenic in a bowl of rice, one threw out the entire bowl …even the otherwise nutritious bits would be covered in poison!  Like many, when I first came, I had developed a bit of tolerance for the poisons of the Pit, so I thought I could retrieve the nutrition from otherwise poisonous media.

If there were truly nothing else to be found, one would have to live with the poisons and adapt as well as one could.  Fortunately for us, this is not the case.  There IS media that we can consume that is much more pure.  I think that this takes us back to the original topic of this thread.  One of the reasons that phrases like “to grok” came into popular usage is that there are many things that English is ill equipped to communicate.  While we do not know all the ins and outs of why Japanese has become so important to our community, we do know that Japanese IS a language that can be used to express so many things that are difficult to impossible to express in English.  It is much better to find words from a very traditional language than it is to use words from poisonous Western media, deshou.

The other reason/excuse that I had to continue to consume poisonous media was that I thought that I could not completely avoid the poisons of the Pit, so wouldn’t it be better to maintain a tolerance to them.  That seemed to make logical sense, and it is true that losing my tolerance for Pit poisons has made some situations a little more awkward.  One of the things that I was not aware of, though, was just how MUCH damage these poisons were doing to my soul, without my being aware of it.  Now that I have learned to recognize what being poisoned *feels* like, I can see that I had been having symptoms of deep poisoning all of my life, in the nature of depression, mood swings, and difficulties with procrastination.  Now that I try to keep myself as clean and pure as possible, I find that even though poisons are more immediately uncomfortable… I am much, much better able to recover from them!  My overall system is healthier, if this makes sense!

Along these lines, I really do think that Japanese is a “cleaner” language overall than English.  In my studies, I have been immersing myself in Japanese as much as I can, and I am noticing that the more immersed in Japanese I am the more pure I feel!  It is really quite fascinating.  Where I can, I have been changing my ordie and Elektra settings to Japanese, in part to help me learn, but also in part, because it does feel cleansing in a way that is difficult to explain on a rational level.

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Lucetta Jane Spurling said:  Forgive me, honoured Elefarya-chei, for I was not suggesting that “grok” be taken as a Chelouranyan word, merely pointing out that despite western Telluria’s attempts to right itself, as Sushuri-chei much more eloquently put it, they are fashioning a medicine from the same rootless, poisoned plant. Meanwhile, “wakaru” is still alive and well because it was never cut from its roots.

I have long vacillated on the idea of whether or not poisonous material is worth study, wavering because I understand that this idea may be a product of my own pit-poisoning. Definitely, the study of hazardous materials is not for everyone but the well-trained. It is just that I have seen our community harmed by our naivete before, and I wonder if we should not strive to know our enemy so that we can defend ourselves against it. Do soldiers not train to destroy demons?

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Rosamunda Elefarya said:  No, please forgive me for being a bit harsh in my speech. I was a little shocked to see the reference in this place and that made me a bit firmer than I otherwise would have been. I’m not angry so please put your mind at ease.

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Setsuna Chandrick said:  Being a Kadorian (and therefore having served a mandatory term in the military) I do recall a thing or two about soldiers training to destroy demons. They train in the safety of the South, firmly grounded in the Truth and carefully watched. Their time at the Northern border is as strictly limited as a Tellurian scientist’s time in Antarctica, and their strength comes from the Light they carry. The longer they stay North, the weaker they get and the more prone to mistakes. How is this relevant? Well, I do wonder if perhaps it is the same here: we severely limit our contact with that which we know is poisonous to us and thus conserve our strength for the fight. To deliberately study poisonous material seems a bit like going to a demon-run training camp. Know thy enemy… but not on a come-calling level, eh?

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Lucetta Jane Spurling said:  Of course I forgive you, honored Elefarya-chei. Please forgive me for being a bit too familiar with the enemy. It has no place here.

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Carmilla
said:  Miss Yuriko Rill, reading your statement about the poisons of the Pit, I saw so much of my own experiences reflected in your words. I do think that what we surround ourselves with contributes to our overall spiritual well-being. As I slowly weed out the Pit influences on my life, I find that I am less and less attracted toward those poisons, as I have developed an awareness to the dangers and true nature of them.

I posted information about the poisons of post-modern media on the mind and soul. I received positive feedback for the most part, however a certain foul-mouthed cad decided to make it his mission to prove that post-modern media was not at all dangerous. He claimed that bad messages in the media does not make people do bad things and that people are blaming the media rather than taking responsibility for their bad behaviour. He also stated that people who do not wish to be around disturbing post-modern “arts” (I wonder if these grotesque deformations of true art even deserve the name) lack a strong will, and was citing his own liking of disturbing music and gruesome movies without committing the actions himself as “evidence” of his view point. This is a bit of my reply:

My religion (Filianism) teaches that we have the power to choose between things that bring us closer to God or bring us further away from God. This is the power of will I am talking about, the choice to not only choose to not do the bad things, but to surround myself with good, pure, wholesome things to replace the bad things with. It’s like with alcohol/drug addiction, if you have never been addicted to those things being around it won’t make you crave it for yourself, but if you had a problem in the past you definitely don’t want to be exposed to that or around people who encourage you to abuse drugs/alcohol. You don’t just fix a problem and it’s gone and you never think about it again, you have to make a conscious, solemn promise to not ever repeat the action again. It takes willpower to stop lying to yourself that you don’t have a problem and it takes willpower to stop surrounding yourself with negative influences, even if that means losing some friends and replacing old recreational activities with better ones. While it may not be for you, what I expose myself to IS a moral choice, because I want to surround myself with things that reflect the beauty of God, not the ugliness of khear and sin. There is an option and there is a choice, and if I can help even one person who may benefit from doing what I have done to help myself, then that’s what matters. And that’s why I’m talking about it on here.  I mean I get what you’re saying, you’re making a point about taking responsibility for one’s own actions instead of blaming the media or whatever, and that’s fine. But actions like listening or not listening to that type of music is also a choice of willpower, especially when it’s not a popular choice and most people won’t understand why you shun that kind of music.

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Sushuri
said:  Honored Miss Carmilla, your thoughts are very valuable. The response of your critic is interesting and rather demonstrates to my mind the inability of many Tellurians to understand questions that do not relate to the agora. The idea that playing bad games will make one do violent acts really has nothing to do with what you were saying but is taken from an entirely different Tellurian discussion regarding whether violent games have a bad effect on the Tellurian agora. Personally I imagine they do, but that isn’t really our point or yours.

A dear friend spoke recently of someone close to her who still watches bad kinemas. She told me that this friend’s manner and behavior was markedly different (and less pleasant) after exposure to poisonous media, and different again after exposure to healthy media. And this, of course, is what  Filianism teaches – that our “souls” (to use that rather loose term) are plastic to the thoughts and images we expose them to, and are indeed changed by them.

That my friend’s friend would go out and commit axe-murders after prolonged exposure to bad games or media, I do not for a moment suppose. That, on a much subtler, but ultimately no less important level, she is being changed by those media is visibly apparent. No amount of “knowing the theory” stops us from being changed by exposure, any more than knowing the chemical components of a physical poison will stop it from harming us if we ingest it.

Naivete

Simplicity-And-Innocence,-1900Yuriko Rill said:

There is a really funny Western Telluri notion that the absolute WORST thing in the world is being “fooled” or “tricked” by someone. There was a really strange Happiness Charge Precure episode about that (which was one of the episodes that really made me think that Happiness Charge was much less sound than other Precure series, by the way).

But, when one thinks about it… is it REALLY all that horrid?  I think it is far, far more damaging to become cynical and distrustful than it is to be occasionally “fooled” or “tricked.”  It took me time to understand that, and at times, my False Self still can tempt me.

I think that is really the key… all of us have a True and a False Self… and that is where the battle between Good and Evil really begins and ends.  That is an interesting difference between Western media and Eastern media that I have seen.  Western media tends to portray Maids as intrinsically Good or Evil.  In the Anime I have seen, Maids are rightly portrayed Axial Beings who have the choice between Good and Evil… and that choice is a day-by-day, and sometimes minute-by-minute choice.  Here we do our best to nurture our True Selves and to fight our False Selves… and we support each other in that.  We use what we can find around us to do that.

I guess what I am saying is that the truest defense is to be wise against the tricks of our own False Selves and to hold on to the Light!  So long as we choose the Light, the Light WILL keep us safe.

Sushuri said:
I am reminded of the essay “Reflections on Naivete” by Frithjof Schuon. It doesn’t appear to be available online, but a point that struck me was:

“To the cheat and the sharper, the mentality of the normal person always seems naive”

Not an exact quotation I am afraid as I don’t have the text. But this is a very telling point, I think. Current West Telluria is a world of cheats and sharpers and of their grim-faced, wary victims.

Another thing I am reminded of is something that happens in the town my friend lives (probably one of the most cynical, westernized towns in Japan). The Nativity lights are a great attraction, and one thing advertised in the flyers is the “Great Blink” – a moment when all the lights are turned off very briefly and then on again. It helps people to appreciate the magic of the lights and people are asked to please enjoy the Great Blink.

This is just the sort of thing that would make Western people terribly cynical. “All they’re doing is turning the lights off and on. What’s so great about that? We’re being tricked!” But nobody thinks like that even in one of the most cynical cities in Japan.

There are times to be on our guard, of course. But living life in the soul-world of the cheats and sharpers and building our souls around their petty shrewdness, robs us of far more than the cheats and sharpers themselves could ever take from us.

Petite Sorcière said:
A thing Tellurians sometimes note about “terrorism” is that its actual physical effects are comparatively small. Its real effectiveness lies in the amount of reaction it can provoke. Whole nations are put on a security-war footing as a result of a few relatively economical actions by the adversary – who gains vastly disproportionate “value for money” from those actions.

I think the same is true of cynicism. The actual instances of “trickery” are relatively small in comparison to the entire re-engineering of the soul that happens in supposed “response” to them.

And, just as many in Tellurian governments are actually using the “response to terrorism” as an excuse to enact tyrannical measures they would have liked to enact in any case, so the cult of “wariness” gives the forces of deracination (and the false self) the excuse they need to promote cynicism. You can’t live in simple wonder and appreciation or you’ll be tricked! You’ll be laughed at!

Could well be. But I think I’ll take my chances.

Queen Mayanna House

Lady CarleonQueen Mayanna House represents a typical lay college, a common establishment in Sai Herthe.

Queen Mayanna House is what is known as a Lay College. There are many of them in the West, and the main reason for their existence is the same as the reason for the many Brunettes’ Clubs (and in recent times Blondes’ Clubs too) as well as small residential hotels and pensions. In times past, and still in the East, when a maid was unmarried (as maids often are in Sai Herthe since the procreative need is rather smaller for such a long-lived and harm-resistant people) she stayed with her extended family or, if she were a magdalin, with the mistress to whom she was apprenticed. In the West, with the decline — though by no means death — of the guild and apprentice system and with so many of the more modern type of unmarried girl preferring to place some distance between themselves and their families, new places grew up in which such a girl might live.

To take a flat alone is not unheard of, but it is very rare. Individualism of the late-schizomorph kind has made little headway in the Motherland. Even if they move away from some of the more traditional ways of life, Herthelans require an in-group in which to live and move and have their being.

The Clubs create one such group. They often have particular activities associated with them such as fencing or poetry, and they may meet other like-minded clubs for contests, exchanges of ideas or joint exhibitions of work. Another is created by the Lay Colleges, some of which have filial ties to the great Universities, others of which are simply small private establishments. As they are primarily living places, their courses of compulsory study are often small. Queen Mayanna House simply requires one essay or major poem per year as a condition of membership: but these essays and poems have often taken their place among the most admired literature in the Western World, for the Annual Opus (as it is called) stimulates the best efforts of some of the finest minds in Trent and Novarya.

Queen Mayanna is a daughter-house of Goldcrest College, Milchford University, and nearly all its members are Old Goldcrestiennes. This gives the college a somewhat cosmopolitan character as girls from all over the Western Empire, and some from the East, go up to Milchford, and a few of them move on afterwards to Queen Mayanna House; so while the College has a largely South-Trentish and West-Novaryan character, it does contain girls from many different lands.

From Lady Carleon Investigates: The Adventure of the Crystal Staff

Chelouranyan Slang

Here are some words used informally by some Chelouranyi.

Words marked with “h” signify that these are terms adopted from the Motherland; those marked with “t” denote specifically Tellurian words unknown in the Motherland.

AVVIE t: Avatar. One’s “virtual body” in virtual environments. While slang is usually regarded as “less respectable” than formal speech, some Herthelani prefer this abbreviation because they consider the use of the full word avatar (a Sanskrit word normally referring to the manifestation of Deity on a particular plane of being) a little profane.

BIFURCS t: Bifurcated garments – i.e. pants or trousers.

BONGO t: 1 noun: A dweller in the Pit, particularly one deeply affected by the ethos of the Pit. 2 adjective: Of the Pit, having the qualities of the Pit.

CUSHION h: Used as a simile, often for laughter, as in “to laugh like a cushion”. Any variant may be used as an intensifier – striped cushion, tasseled cushion, velvet cushion, etc.

EMBIE t: Embassy.

FIZZERS t: Physicalia – Physical as opposed to Virtual life. Cf. Virchers.

FLAVVIE t: Flesh avvie (avatar). One’s physical body regarded as a means for one’s manifestation in Telluria rather as a virtual avatar is a means for one’s manifestation in Virtualia.

FLEEM t: Abbreviation of flea-market. Sometimes used as a verb: “They’ve been fleeming this afternoon.” Fleems are a cheap source of up-to-date articles.

FROG h: To lie.

FROGGER h: Liar.

FLOEP t: To disappear suddenly from Elektraspace (whether through hurry or technical fault). The word is a Dutch “disappearing” sound-effect.

G’DOINKER h: Fool. Very slangy and almost exclusively used by brunettes.

G’DOINKING h: Foolish, foolishly. See previous entry.

GERBIL h: (Milchford and general). To steal someone’s drink. The game of gerbilling or surreptitious drink-stealing is popular among some (particularly brunette) undergraduettes. From the mysterious gerbil who is said to have taken the drinks.

GIRLY-GIRL t: A maid who prefers the company of other maids, not necessarily an intemorph or a Chelouranyan.

HYACINTH h: To “give someone the hyacinth” is to refuse to speak to her.

JINKY h: Frivolous, jaunty, gay. Applied to people, activities, music, etc.

KINNIE h: A motion picture. (“Kinema” in more formal Herthelan speech.)

LEKKIEPOST t: Elektrapost; email.

LEMON h: To “sleep like a lemon” or simply to “lemon” or “be a lemon” means to sleep during the day. It is probably related to the Novaryan term zitronel, meaning a siesta.

MOME h: Moment. Abbreviations of this type are quite common and sometimes coined ad hoc, but “mome” is almost universal.

MOMELY h: Very soon, as in “I shall be back momely”.

OLD TARRY ROPE, THE h: (Tarry rhymes to “sari”, not “marry”). Usually in the expression “Don’t come the old tarry rope with me”, meaning usually “Don’t pretend to knowledge or experience you do not possess” but sometimes more generally “Don’t give me any of your nonsense”. It can be used positively as in: “Do you think she knows what she is talking about?” “No, she was just coming the old tarry rope,” or “Do you think you will pass the exam?” “Only if I can get by with the old tarry rope”.

ORDIE h: Ordinator (Personal Computer).

PETTE t: A girl. Considered by some to have been originally short for ‘chapette’; although this shade of meaning is probably less present in its usage than the pun on ‘pet’. Its nuance, at once jaunty and ultra-feminine, is unique and purely Chelouranyan. A “pette”, like a ’20s “flapper” or a ’60s “dolly bird”, is a phenomenon specific to her time and place. The word also, with its overtones of ownership and obedience, stresses the ethos of ferocious group-independence and equally ferocious revolt against the false divide-and-rule Pit-cult of ‘personal independence’.

PIPPSY h: A bright young thing.

PLIP h: To go. “I’ll plip off now”, “they were plipping all over the place”, “I think she plipped to Ladyton”, etc.

PLUMBING t: The elimination and reproduction mechanisms of schizomorphs, usually when taken as the main source of coarse language/”humor” etc. in Telluria. For instance: “Her talk was awful. Full of plumbing references”, or “Can’t these creatures forget their plumbing for five minutes?” Sometimes the word is used as a verb: “She became abusive, and, having no vocabulary, started plumbing”.

PLUMBER t: An Outlander who swears. A coarse or lewd Outlander.

POP h: To break, destroy or disappear, literally or figuratively. “Don’t pop that window”. “I had a job at the library, but it popped”.

POP t: To post on a forum or other online location. “I have just popped the notes on our meeting”.

PROING h: To poke or pierce: “She proinged the balloon and it popped”. A hypodermic injection: “I had to see the doctor for a proing”.

REPARTEE h: Cheek, backtalk, argument. It also has the normal sense, but in this sense is used in such phrases as “Don’t give me any repartee” or “All I got from her was a lot of repartee”.

SCHIZZIES h: (Pron. skitsies) Schizomorphs.

SHINY h: An optical disc. Kinnie Shiny: a kinematic optical disc.

SNAPSIE t: A photograph.

SPLOT h: To throw or flick a messy substance so that it splatters on someone or something.

SUISPLOT h: “To commit suisplot” = to spill or drop something messy on oneself.

SWOGGLE h: to steal.

TEENIE t: A teenaged persona.

UP-TO-DATE h: From the Western provinces, but especially from Trent, Vintesse, and Novarya. We speak of up-to-date cars, songs, or films. Arkadyan ones would be “old-fashioned”, and bongo ones “outdated” or “obsolete”. Things from Quirinelle can be up-to-date, but never quite ultra-modern or up-to-the-minute as things from Vintesse might be.

URSIE h: Short for Ursie-doll or Ursali-doll. Chelouranyan equivalent of a “Teddy-bear”.

VIRCHERS: Virtualia. Herthelan deployment in Virtual Reality. Cf. Fizzers.

ZIPPY h: Neat, nifty. Often seen as a direct equivalent to the Tellurian word “cool”. Mostly used by teenagers.


For a list of Herthelan and Chelouranyan terms of a more formal nature, please see
A Chelouranyan Glossary

A Conversation about Lithla

Sri Lalita, “She Who Plays”

Play, or lithla, is an important concept in Herthelan culture. All worldly activities are regarded as a reflection of the Divine Play—this includes, for example, academic pursuits, art, business, and politics, as well as sports and games. See Play, or Lithla in the Encyclopaedia Chelouranya.

The following is taken from an online conversation on this subject:

Sushuri-chei: I wrote a bit about play. It was interesting because we had this discussion a little, didn’t we?

Clovender-chei: Yes

Sushuri-chei: I don’t know if what I wrote made it any clearer. I think we were fairly clear before but I may have dotted some t’s. No—I mean crossed some i’s. Oh well, you know.

Clovender-chei: Hee. I think I get the main idea. It’s just that the word “play” means, to me, by definition, something not serious.

Sushuri-chei: Yes—one can see it that way. And I suppose the ambiguity is always and intentionally there. It is a little signal not to take “the things of this life and its acts and its purposes” TOO seriously. Which is not to say that Herthelani don’t take them VERY seriously—we do. More seriously than West Telluriani in a lot of respects. But we don’t forget. Or we shouldn’t—and we believe we shouldn’t.

Clovender-chei: Right.

Sushuri-chei: In other words, not playing one’s best is not a virtue. And forgetting the ultimate nature of the game is also not a virtue.

Clovender-chei: I understand and agree with that last statement completely.

Sushuri-chei: Oh good. So—well, I understand the initial misunderstanding, but it makes sense now?

Clovender-chei: Hmm. I still don’t understand why you express it the way you do.

Sushuri-chei: You mean in the piece I wrote today or before, or both?

Clovender-chei: Both.

Sushuri-chei: I think the point is that one could say that the “lithla” doctrine, except insofar as it is a way of expressing things, leaves the West Telluri (at least the relatively traditional one) theory of life unchanged. But I would say that isn’t quite the case and that that is part of the basis of our work here. West Telluri tend to believe (and probably East Telluri too, though for different and better reasons) that a thing is “not a game” when and because it is established with a lot of material bulk. A real physical school—a department of education—a company within an economic system etc.

Clovender-chei: Okay, I see. That’s not my objection, though.

Sushuri-chei: Now, in the Motherland we would tend to think similarly, but if we thought about it carefully we would have to drop the “because”. Except insofar as the “because” means “because it is in the line of thamë which the whole society represents”. Which actually is precisely what the West Telluri superstition in this matter is a vestige of. (Using the term super-stition in the etymological sense of something “standing-over” from a forgotten context.) SO—our mission, in part, is to establish just and regular Herthelan lithli for the diaspora in Telluria. And according to the doctrine of lithli, they are absolutely as valid as any other lithli, and more valid than any lithli not founded in the Golden Chain (or some equivalent). In fact it is only “by courtesy” that, say, a West Telluri school can be called a true lithla at all. By courtesy and by a certain vestigial thamë. But what was your objection?

Clovender-chei: That the word “game” makes it sound not serious. And I think it is serious, not because of the amount of matter involved, but because everything we do has meaning, whether good or bad.

Sushuri-chei: Yes, I would agree with that. And calling something “lithli” is not really the same as calling it “game” even though the words are in a sense equivalent. Because “lithli” always has the implication of “Divine Play” attached to it. And it certainly has never implied “something not to be taken seriously”. Actually very much the reverse. And to say “you are playing games” can mean “you are not being serious”. But no one would ever use “lithli” in that context. So maybe the real objection is that, to conform myself to English, I tend to say “game” more often than would really be the proper usage. It should really be “lithli” more of the time (in the context of such a discussion).

Clovender-chei: I don’t think I would have the same objection to saying “everything is lithli” as “everything is a game”.

Sushuri-chei: Ah—yes. Well, I think we are in agreement.

Clovender-chei: Hee. As usual, if we can figure out each other’s words, we realize that we agree.

Sushuri-chei: Actually—now here is the interesting thing—”lithli” actually holds things to a stricter standard than either saying “game” or not saying either. Because if you call something “lithla” you immediately imply that it has a degree of ritual legitimacy. So it sets up a test that most West Telluri activity do not pass.

Clovender-chei:
Right.

Sushuri-chei: And for example, anyone who said “I am going to play lithli on my Gamebaby” would get some very odd looks.

Clovender-chei: Heeee.

Sushuri-chei: That actually raises an interesting point, doesn’t it? Can lightgames be part of lithli? And if not, why not—just because they are new? The three-legged race is a part of lithli! So it doesn’t exactly have to be dignified.

Clovender-chei: Well, are we defining lithli as “ritually correct games”?

Sushuri-chei: All right—well, I think there are two definitions here—it CAN mean that. But very often I think, especially in modern times, the ritual legitimacy is more underpinned by its being the activity of a legitimately-constituted group. So, the three-legged race: I could see certain metaphysical meaning to that, but I am not sure I would want to claim it as a ritually correct game. I think it is part of lithli because it teaches balance, co-operation, etc. and is also part of the group’s attempt to better itself in competition. So in principle I don’t see that lightgames or other forms of simulation are inherently ruled out of lithli. It is just that going off to do something merely to amuse oneself is not how we use the word. Lithli seems to need some “ganbaru” element to be considered legitimate, I think.

Clovender-chei: Hmm.

Sushuri-chei: Even if its ritual legitimacy is “borrowed” from the proper constitution of the group rather than from its inherent ritual nature as an activity. I am groping a little here—trying to feel out the outer limits of lithli. There are other thoughts too. Are our paper dolls part of our lithli? Well, our lithli is VERY minimal right now—just a tiny shoot peeping above the soil. But I do think insofar as they help us to know ourselves and each other they are playing a role in our tiny, fragile proto-lithli. They create bonds—tiny ones—but is it not of many tiny strands that bonds are comprised?

Tea and Universal Sympathy

tea-ceremonyIt has been suggested that there is a particular similarity between Herthelan culture in general (and Novaryan culture in particular) and the traditional culture of Japan. This piece offers some thoughts on this connexion based on the “structural assumptions” of the Japanese language.

Let us take a very simple example, and you will see that the same principle applies to a lot of Japanese constructions.

I like tea = Watashi wa ocha ga suki desu

The two sentences are equivalent, but the Japanese, if I understand correctly, actually means “In relation to me, tea takes the action of being liked”.

Now this is a very important difference. The Western form places the emphasis on the personal human ego as the active entity.

According to West-Telluri philosophy, this is simply correct. To like something is an “action” taken by the liker, not by the thing liked.

Most Modern Japanese would presumably, if asked, take this view too, being steeped in the modern Western rationalist perspective. But their language says something else, and I suspect their real thinking contains elements of both perspectives.

So what are the perspectives, and how far are they “Eastern” or “Western” in an absolute sense?

Without getting too deeply into the “background theory”, let me explain briefly that modern West-Telluria’s rationalist perspective is not “the Western outlook” but a “heresy” base on the legitimate Western outlook.

So in many respects traditional West-Telluria, even as late as the Middle Ages, thinks more like the Tellurian East than does modern Western Telluria.

In Sai Herthe there was no Rationalist Heresy, but the legitimate characteristics of the West, were still, in subtler ways, “carried too far” in the modern era: which is why Westrenne Herthelans tend to regard Estrennes as their spiritual superiors.

(This is almost the exact opposite of the “inferiority complex” that the Tellurian East feels in relation to the Tellurian West and the corresponding “superiority complex” of the Tellurian West).

Getting back to our tea:

The Western formulation puts maid at the centre. Maid is the “subject”, tea is the “object”. It is egoic. In terms of religion, it develops into the will-centred faith of Christianity, with an emphasis on sin (that is, faults of the individual and collective will). This perspective also exists in Sai Herthe, particularly in the West.

See this page on the Filianic understanding of “original sin” and its differences and similarities with the Christian concept.

When it is taken to excess this outlook leads to the cultural “malpractice” of individualism (which, in the late Iron Age has happened in both Westrenne Sai Herthe and Telluria) and when taken even further leads to the outright heresies of rationalism and humanism (as has happened in West Telluria, but not Westrenne Sai Herthe)

The Japanese formulation – that tea does the action of being liked in relation to a particular person – expresses a quite different perspective, and one that is much closer to the Novaryan (and generally Estrenne) outlook. It is a view that modern West Tellurians would be likely to categorize – rather misleadingly – as “animist”.

According to this view maid is not the sole experiencing center. The quality of amity exists not only in maid but in the tea itself – indeed more importantly in the tea.

Tea is one of the ten thousand things of cosmic manifestation that each express (insofar as they approach perfection) small aspects of the Divine Totality.

Between those aspects of the Divine Whole, and the individual being that constitutes “oneself” (which is really another aspect of the Divine Whole, but in some senses more separated from Her – by her sin or her ignorance, depending on perspective – and in other senses closer to Her, being made in Her image) – between those two aspects of the Divine whole exists an Affinity.

That Affinity is seen in the West from the egoic perspective and in the East from the perspective of the Totality of which an external object may act as the representative.

That is the fundamental reason for the two ways of expressing the liking of tea. And of course similar considerations will apply with many other linguistic formulae.

I have expressed all this in very Deanic terms, of course, because I am a Deanist. But the second of these two outlooks is exactly that of much of the Herthelan East – and in Novarya tends to be that tempered with a certain amount of the Westrenne outlook.

Thus it is very close – in broadly analogous terms, not in cultural specifics, and of course excluding the various errors induced by the adoption of West-Tellurian rationalism – to the position of modern Japan.
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Note

I was talking to Minami-chei about this rather old discussion and oddly enough I found an interesting sidelight on it the next day. Minami-chei said that the Korean expression for liking tea (or anything else) was exactly equivalent to the japanese, but that she (as a mother-tongue Korean speaker) had never thought of its literal meaning as I have portrayed it (although she agreed that this is the literal meaning).

Now I would not expect the literal meaning to be consciously uppermost in the mind of a modern-educated person from Japan or Korea, but I do suggest that it is in the deep structures of the traditional thought of Japanese and Koreans. I was interested, therefore, to read this in The Japanese Today by Professor Edwin Reischauer:

The word “individualism” (kojin shuji) itself has always been of ill repute in Japan. It suggests to the Japanese selfishness rather than personal responsibility… For a while students used the term “subjectivity” (shutaisei) in the sense of one’s being the active subject rather than the passive object of one’s life.

Now this is surely very interesting. The very grammatical term is used. The whole point of our tea sentence is that the tea is the active subject, taking the action of being-liked. And it is from this precise structure of life that the Westernising student wishes to escape. Japanese tends to relieve the individual of the burden of subjectivity, while Western languages – like the cultures – stress it as a positive value.

As a Novaryan I am often told that I am, by West Tellurian standards “unnaturally passive”. I tend to wait to be led, although when I am sure of a principle I can be forceful and even unbending.

Some of this may be my age and my own nature, but I would say that Herthelans – and particularly Novaryans – tend to be “passive” in the sense of looking for the “right” thing to do and expecting a consensus of some sort. It doesn’t mean we are followers rather than leaders (we couldn’t all be could we?) but rather that in our natural habitat we live by a Norm, or thamë both in society as a whole and then reflectively in any group within it. There tends to be a “way things are done” rather than a “way I do things”.

One is either following that way or administering it – and if one is administering it one is still following it. Being a “passive subject” sounds negative from the Western – or the Westernised – Tellurian point of view. From a Novaryan perspective it is reassuring. It is the surety of following the right way rather than having to invent a way for oneself that will probably be wrong. Ultimately, it is the sense of acting in harmony with the universe and its Creatrix rather than against it. Of treading the steps of the Cosmic Dance laid down from eternity rather than ambling in one’s own random fashion.

The Earth Mother: A fallacy for all seasons

The “Venus” of Willendorf, c. 30,000 years old, dating from a time when all human imagery was feminine. In later times — when all human imagery was still feminine — images were more what we should expect of Divine Iconography. What did this image mean to its makers? And what should it mean to us?

The “Venus” of Willendorf, c. 30,000 years old, dating from a time when all human imagery was feminine. In later times — when all human imagery was still feminine — images were more what we should expect of Divine Iconography. What did this image mean to its makers? And what should it mean to us?

A contributor to an Elektra-group notes:

The Venus of Willendorf — which is approximately 30,000 years old — is surprisingly detailed. There is a distinct relation to fertility and functionality. The corn-row hair, for a start, relates to agriculture, whilst the plump curves suggest an abundance within nature. The radical feminist, Camille Paglia, contends that there are two prevailing artistic forces that have dominated human history. The solar on the one hand, and the lunar or motherly on the other.

Of course, we have all heard this chestnut on many occasions. It tends to be satisfying (with different weightings) both to the patriarchal mind and to the “feminist”, which is not surprising as there has never been very much difference between them.

The idea that femininity — and especially Divine femininity — is exclusively associated with the lunar and chthonic, as opposed to the solar and celestial, is one that develops along with patriarchy itself. Yet wherever the feminine image of the Divine is strong, She is also solar and heavenly. Mary is hailed as Queen of Heaven (ave regina coeli) — precisely the title of the Goddess to Whom the Hebrew women of Jeremiah’s time sacrificed honey-cakes, much to the prophet’s chagrin.

But we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth, to burn incense unto the Queen of Heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto Her (Jer. 44, xvii)

She is also the Woman clothed with the Sun, just as the Hindu Devi is repeatedly described in the scriptures as “brighter than a thousand suns” (in other words, infinitely transcending in solarity the physical representation of the Sun which we see in the sky — which is to say, being the Supernal Sun Itself).

We find sun-goddesses in Japan (Amaterasu Omikami is the solar progenitress of the Imperial line), in ancient Ireland, and everywhere in between. Dr. Martin Lings has given us a wonderful traditionalist study, “The Symbolism of the Luminaries in Old Lithuanian Songs”, which examines a group of songs in an Indo-European language as old as Sanskrit which may well represent a tradition closer to the Primordial than the oldest Sanskrit texts. Nonetheless, as a patriarchal traditionalist he is a little nonplussed by the fact that the Sun is female and the Moon male (as in the old German designations Frau Sonne und Herr Mond). By a rather awkward twist, he tries to persuade us that Perkunas, the (male) lightning, is really the supreme God. But the lightning, in tradition, has always been the bridge between Heaven and earth, while the supreme Spirit (Atma) is always and everywhere the Sun.

There is no doubt that wherever there is a Heaven/earth or Sun/moon dichotomy, earth and the moon are the inferior elements. How could the reflected light of the moon ever be superior, or even equal, to the originating light of the Sun?

Sky-Goddess, Earth-God: When male images first become common, some twenty millennia later, they are subordinate, and therefore earthly and lunar (also smaller), as opposed to the Solar Mother or Sky Goddess. Later still, with the onset of 'patriarchy', the rôles were reversed (a process known to archaeologists as 'solarization'). This reversal is uncritically accepted by modern 'Goddess-feminists'

Sky-Goddess, Earth-God: When male images first become common, some twenty millennia later, they are subordinate, and therefore earthly and lunar (also smaller), as opposed to the Solar Mother or Sky Goddess. Later still, with the onset of ‘patriarchy’, the rôles were reversed (a process known to archaeologists as ‘solarization’). This reversal is uncritically accepted by modern ‘Goddess-feminists’

The attempt to assign lunar and chthonic attributes to the feminine and solar and celestial ones to the masculine was, therefore, an obvious and necessary move for early patriarchy. The ready acceptance of this by “feminists” is equally unsurprising, given the inversionist nature of Pit society and more particularly of its “left-wing” elements (a designation that is becoming increasingly meaningless as the whole ideology of the West progressively merges into an inversionist and anti-traditional super-capitalism, but to which, insofar as it means anything, the “feminist” still tends firmly to belong). The preference of the low over the high in everything from social class to spirituality, the preference of the gross over the fine and the ugly over the beautiful gives the patriarchal inversion of attributes a new attraction to “feminists” unintended by the original patriarchal theologizers — and yet, some would argue, the ultimate end of the same current.

But to return to the Venus of Willendorf. Like many early goddess-figures, She is termed a “fertility goddess” and we Chelouranyi have no quarrel with that designation. What we would take issue with is the sometimes-made assumption that here is something earthly — not to say earthy — and primitive (again a concept equally comforting to the evolutionist-progressist perspective, to the patriarchal denigration of the feminine, and to the “feminist” Love of the Low — thereby happily satisfying the whole Pit assembly).

These figures are certainly primitive. But we use the word — as any Traditionalist must — not with the evolutionist implication of “therefore low and rudimentary” but with the Traditionalist implication of “therefore closer to the Primordial”.

The great Traditionalist and metaphysician, Ananda Coomaraswamy, has written seminal works, such as the essay, “Primitive Mentality”, which explain persuasively why the “primitive” mind is in fact superior to our own. When he also tells us that:

“[our present civilization stems from] a common cultural inheritance throughout an area extending from Mesopotamia to Egypt and the Ganges to the Mediterranean, founded upon the worship of the Great Mother”.

We may be sure, to say the least of it, that he is not envisaging a cult in any way inferior to the current Higher Religions.

The Living Cosmos: The Three Realms – Heaven, Earth and the ‘middle realm’ or ‘air’; otherwise termed the Solar, Lunar and Terrestrial realms. Note that at this stage in the transition, both the Solar and Lunar figures are feminine, with only the Terrestrial being masculine. At an earlier stage, all three were feminine. In the human microcosm the three realms are Spirit, soul and body.

What ideas, precisely, were intended by our remote ancestresses? Certainly ideas which, if we are traditionalists at all, we must assume to have been considerably superior to our own, and, like the Ideas of the Angels, “fewer, simpler and infinitely more profound”. We cannot say with absolute precision what they were, but a few considerations should give us some guidelines on the ways in which we should be thinking.

First, let us recall that many of these “fertility” figures are associated with symbols that are always and everywhere recognized as solar — sunwheels, svastikas etc.

Secondly, let us consider that in the wholly pre-“patriarchal” phases of human history (which, indeed, constitute most of it) we find either no male figures at all, or extremely few, and therefore both aspects, Solar and lunar, Celestial and chthonic, were represented by the feminine.

We may also compare current feminine forms of Divinity, such as Mahalakshmi in India. In the Puranic hymns she is worshipped as “both Mahamaya and Sripitha” – that is, both the creatrix of the world-illusion and the immanent Spirit or Deity. In the same hymn she is hailed as “The Supreme Brahman, the ever-pervading Atma” – that is God, both immanent and transcendent; as “Both gross and subtle” and even as “great-wombed” bringing us directly to the physicality of the “Venus”-symbolism.

Mahalakshmi, we are told by Western scholars, was originally a “fertility goddess”. If this is true (and we think that, with the necessary clearing-away of misconceptions, it probably is) what does it mean? We know what Western scholars (particularly nineteenth-century ones), and their inverse copies the “feminists”, think it means and want it to mean. They envision something primitive in the “Darwinist” sense of the term. Something rooted in the earth because it has never heard of the heavens. A view of “primitivity” born out of an unholy but very comfortable alliance between those who want to deny Heaven to the feminine and those who want to deny Heaven altogether.

But leaving aside these weary late-Victorian prejudices — this drab alliance of men in silk hats and women in dungarees — what might a fertility-cult really mean?

True Fertility: Mahalakshmi preserves to this day the true meaning of 'fertility' symbolism, being both 'fertility Goddess' and image of Supreme Deity: both Creatrix of the World Illusion and Supernal Spirit. Her upright posture is itself the Solar Ray that strikes the waters of pure possibility, causing the Lotus of the manifest world to unfold. She is surrounded by the fecundity of the world — trees, flowers, mountains and the Elephant of Royalty, all of which proceed from Her and depend on Her for their being.

True Fertility: Mahalakshmi preserves to this day the true meaning of ‘fertility’ symbolism, being both ‘fertility Goddess’ and image of Supreme Deity: both Creatrix of the World Illusion and Supernal Spirit. Her upright posture is itself the Solar Ray that strikes the waters of pure possibility, causing the Lotus of the manifest world to unfold. She is surrounded by the fecundity of the world — trees, flowers, mountains and the Elephant of Royalty, all of which proceed from Her and depend on Her for their being.

For a start, let us recall Mahalakshmi, in Whom the attributes of Transcendent Deity and those of the Creatrix of the world-illusion are united. A strange concept, perhaps, to some ascetic transcendentalists, but actually not other than the non-dualism of the Upanishads or the Buddhist assertion that ultimately Samsara and Nirvana are one. These doctrines are normally regarded as the latest and most sophisticated flowering of Vedic culture, but should we not expect them to be inherent in a much more fluent and perfect form in the earlier cultures, nearer to the Golden Age?

The further we go back, the more are the “ordinary” activities of life sacral. The more do the operations of the crafts, of agriculture, of “culture” as a whole express the Divine. The more life, “religious” and “saecular”, forms a seamless and perfect whole. At this stage in human development, we should imagine that the very concept of maya, or world-illusion, in the form it later took would be unnecessary. In this form of culture, the “worldly” and the “holy” would have been so intimately intertwined that they scarcely existed as separable concepts.

The fact that these extremely ancient naked “Venus”-figures, which are early even by “matriarchal” standards, appear gross to us (and they do appear gross to us: “feminists” who pretend they do not are merely exercising their inversionist love of the gross and denial of the cultural aesthetics of their own inborn thought-world) is because they were not made for our eyes. Those who made them and worshipped them looked at them in quite a different light from that in which we see — and cannot avoid seeing, even if we can avoid misunderstanding — them. The “feminist” embrace of these images is precisely a case of embracing them for what they are not (just as many “Western Buddhists” embrace Buddhism for what it is not). The very misreading of those figures, which is perfectly natural, and almost inevitable, to us in our particular culture at its particular stage of development, is what makes them attractive to the “feminist”.

Fertility symbolism is essentially a symbolism of a primordial, unified culture. It is the symbolism of the manifestation of all things out of the Divine: of the boundless Divine fecundity, and of the primordial non-dualist continuity of matter with the Spirit; of maya with Atma.

Fertility is what takes place at the point of juncture between Essence and substance. It arises from the co-operation of earth and the Sun. The lotus is the primary symbol of Mahalakshmi, dating from her days as a “fertility Goddess”. While the lotus has many symbolic values (often parallel to those of the rose in the West), its primary and specific one is as the “Point of Creation”. Where Essence meets substance: where the single Divine Ray (which is the form-bearing Essence) strikes the Surface of the Waters (which is the all-potential Substance), there blossoms the Lotus: the beautiful unfolding of the manifest world. It is upon this Lotus that Mahalakshmi is always depicted, either standing or enthroned.

It is here that we may seek the true meaning of the “fertility cult”; here that we may gain a hint of what our ancient mothers understood by images that now seem gross to us because we are gross (and do not make ourselves less gross by embracing their apparent grossness).

From all this, it will be clear that we are very far from denying the lunar and chthonic aspects of femininity, but we also affirm the Solar and Celestial ones, which, in the nature of things, must be considered primary.

If “feminism” were anything but an inversionist cult clinging onto the coat-tails of the late-patriarchal octopus, it would be “rediscovering” or “reclaiming” feminine Solarity, Royalty and Heavenliness. But the very mention of such words in relation to bongo “feminism” is sufficient — by the absurdity of the conjunction — to indicate to us what this “feminism” really is.

Meanwhile, Chelouranyi are perhaps the only Western devotees of the Solar Mother. How far such a devotion is relevant for a patriarchal world, I cannot say, but for the all-feminine world of Chelouranya, it is not only a return to the primordial form of Deity, but the only form of religion that makes sense. We do not by any means deny other forms, but for many women today the original, primordial form of God, the Solar Mother (in some cases with Her Lunar Daughter) is a necessity.

All too often, however, they ask for bread and are given a piece of earth.

The Cursing Ape

Four-letter monosyllables replace high invective. "We ARE apes, after all".

Four-letter monosyllables replace high invective. “We ARE apes, after all”.

We were talking last night in the embassy about the very old saying that our society is one long conversation, and we spoke of how our conversation was a feminine form of education—for masculine conversation is often about “winning” or “who is right”, while feminine conversation is a search for truth within an agreed world of thamë—a Unanimous Society, to borrow a phrase from Ananda Coomaraswamy.

One of the things I have always loved about this kind of academic discussion (academic in the sense of the groves of trees [academe] where the pupils of Sappho or Sai Hermya sat in discourse) is that the teacher often learns as much as the pupil (and of course in informal discussion “teacher” and “pupil” may change places instantly), for by examining our subjects of discussion carefully and responding to the questions of our intelligent and thoughtful academiciennes, we refine our thoughts and oft-times learn things we did not know we knew.

Such a moment occurred last night when we were talking about thamë, morality and cursing. The point was made that the Christian concentration on morality and sin can actually be corrosive. Many serious Christians will, for, example, use filthy language in the belief that they are not committing any sin in doing so. Some of these would agree that to offend anyone with their cussing would be sinful, and will reserve it for like-minded “liberated” company. But they do not believe—and even those who are offended do not believe—that dirty words are sinful in themselves.

And, by the narrow Christian definition of sin, they are not. That is why this morality-morality is so dangerously inadequate.

Christians of an earlier generation avoided cuss-words because they did not take the barrack-room-lawyer attitude that “it isn’t actually sin so I can do it”. They understood that impropriety and sin are close cousins—an attitude that is dismissed as “illogical” by the post-Eclipse mind.

And, indeed, it is illogical—because earlier generations of Christians, no less than their more recent counterparts, had lost the doctrine of thamë.

A good analogy would be if the current world had forgotten the germ theory of disease. Surgeons would still go on washing their hands just because “it is better to be clean”. Until a generation of post-modern critics started saying “why are you washing your hands —there is no logical reason for it”. And the surgeons would have to agree, and many would stop washing their hands.

Many also would cling sentimentally to the old, illogical discipline of rigorously washing their hands like the outmoded ritualists they are, but slowly a generation of surgeons would arise among whom hand-washing was seen as the antiquated superstition it clearly is (at least for those who no longer know the germ-theory of disease).

In our case, the germ-theory of disease is the law of thamë. The knowledge that harmony is fundamentally important and that to invoke ordure or coarse sexuality is literally dirty, and as disease-bearing to the soul as physical filth is to the body.

We also spoke of the decline of invective. If I were really angry and wished to state my anger, I should indulge myself in high rhetoric, excoriating the object of my anger. I flatter myself that I have a reasonable vocabulary and a fair-to-middling knack with words. I think I could come up with some pretty scathing diatribes should the need arise.

But for most educated people in the Pit, in moments of extreme anger, their highest invective consists of a few schoolyard monosyllables, endlessly repeated and strung together with semi-articulate prose.

Our reaction to it is not one of shock, but of contempt. That an educated person should be reduced by temper to the mental level of a drug-addled vagrant is simply laughable. “Rhetoric” of this kind is not just offensive, but weak. Having established that they can pronounce the same dirty words that make pre-teens giggle, they have exhausted their repertoire.

Now this is a new thing. In the past anger moved educated people to rhetoric, not to semi-literate monosyllables. What has changed? A friend last night suggested that it was laziness, and on thinking about this suggestion carefully, and feeling it, as it were, I feel sure this is not the main reason.

The main reason, I feel quite sure, is Darwinism. At first this may seem an odd suggestion, but let us consider it for a moment. Miss Trent, in The Feminine Universe documents the huge change that came about in Tellurian culture in the late 19th century, leading Prof. C. S. Lewis to declare (in his inaugural lecture as professor of Mediaeval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge) that the author of Beowulf has more in common with Jane Austen than we have. A huge watershed took place at the end of the 19th century. And Miss Trent shows that the reason for it was the change in the underlying mythos of the western world from real myths, that convey metaphysical truth, to the pseudo-mythos of evolutionism.

Now I am not going to go into all the ramifications of that myth. Its effect on bad language is one tiny part of a vast change. But it is there and it is obvious.

In the past an angry person would seek to express her anger in terms that were most in keeping with what she conceived herself to be—an intelligent being, ultimately a reflection of the Divine. High rhetoric was her natural mode for expressing passion.

What does the modern person think of high rhetoric? That it is “artificial”.

Why—in the end—will she not use it in anger? Because she feels her hearers will dismiss her anger as “phony”.

The “real” and “natural” way to express anger is in inarticulate shouts, in monosyllabic grunts that refer to irrelevant animal functions.

Why? Because ultimately, we are animals. Any attempt to bring the refinements of civilization to our anger just prove that is not “real anger” because in extremis we should be reduced to our animal base.

That is why pre-Darwin anger was expressed in high rhetoric and post-Darwin anger in monkey monosyllables.
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See also: The Animal Thesis

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After an earlier publication, “The Cursing Ape” received the following comments:

  1. Miss Barbara Lynwood says:

    I remember my dear Mother’s “refined invective,” a tradition I continue when annoyed! Curse words are the last refuge of the inarticulate.

  2. wanderingelf says:

    What a delight you must be at parties! I could not envision a more tight-***ed, pursed lip, psalm-singing old maid writing the condescending drivel above if I tried. Quite frankly, I almost consider those unable to let go of their cultural inhibitions and “curse” for humorous effect and/or venting of real anger to be inarticulate themselves. Unless you’re going to exercise some real mental discipline, and keep your mouth shut for an extended period of time no matter what happens, get over your Bronze Age taboos about speaking forbidden words. And really get over your sweeping generalizations dismissing and disrespecting people you know absolutely nothing about. Oh, and **** you.

    • The editor replies:

      Thank you for your comment. Obviously it was necessary to remove the ritual incantation of one of the Two Monosyllables at the end, but otherwise not a bad bit of invective, if rather predictable.

      You say “get over your sweeping generalizations dismissing and disrespecting people you know absolutely nothing about.” You mean ignorant, disrespectful (and male-centered) generalizations like “tight-***ed, pursed lip, psalm-singing old maid”?

      You are right that we know nothing – or at least rather little – about you outlanders. You seem a rather peculiar brand of alien to us. Your continued obsession with a few limited bodily functions is a mystery to us. One would have thought that, after learning about the bathroom ones at the age of two or less and the reproductive ones a few years later, you might have had your little laugh and moved on. But it seems not. This is a lifetime’s supply of amusement. A perpetual village-idiot fascination with dung. It would be quite cute if it weren’t so ugly.

      As for “expressing real anger” – didn’t you read the article at all? Or do we just inhabit different worlds altogether? And what is remotely humorous about the constantly repeated reference to the same two bodily functions in the same two words? I certainly would have no desire to attend a party where that passed for “humor”.

      But as you rightly say, we know as little about your people as you know about ours.

  3. Niami says:

    I have heard this sort of argument before. I do not believe that those who state notions such as “I almost consider those unable to let go of their cultural inhibitions and “curse” for humorous effect and/or venting of real anger to be inarticulate themselves” can truly mean what they say or have no grasp of what a world to be like with no standards or limitation of behavior. Take for instance the example of a person cooking in a kitchen. It is a cultural expectation that this individual would cleanse their hands before working there. We enforce these standards by various means usually some form of shame, isolation or even confrontation. No one desires to have the filth of others spread around them or the things they consume.

    If this is so, then why is it that the analogous spiritual situation is not given the same credence ? As a wandering elf you should know that the world is not solely what lies before our physical eyes. The things we think, hear, and do stay with us and shape our hearts. If one must think unsavory thoughts, do take into consideration the development of those around you.

    They deserve better, and so do you.

  4. Silvercloud says:

    “Cursing for humorous effect” – my, that sounds like high-level wit!

    What do they do for an encore? Take their knuckles off the ground and say “look no hands”?

    And these people sneer at rednecks.

    • Ladygray replies:

      “And these people sneer at rednecks.”

      The thinking is that if one is a conscious lout, one is not really a lout at all but an Educated Person deliberately using lout-language, and that makes it all right. The snobbery behind this attitude is breathtaking.

      The truth is that such a person is simply a lout who actually does know better which makes it far worse than it is with the louts who genuinely don’t.

  5. Lady Aquila says:

    “As for ‘expressing real anger’ – didn’t you read the article at all? ”

    Well, clearly the correspondent either did not read the article or was incapable of responding to its argument, since he merely repeats the position criticized in the article without in any way attempting to reply to the criticism (this is technically known as a ’tis-’tain’t argument).

    But in just blindly reiterating the common recent-west-Tellurian position, he also gives a clear example of how precisely the article hit the nail on the head.

    The correspondent believes foul language is necessary “to express real anger” – to the extent that he actually seems to believe one would be silenced if one did not have recourse to verbal filth.

    “Real” anger. That, just as the article explains, is the salient point. The correspondent is not inarticulate. He demonstrates here that he can express negative feelings effectively without cussing (he does cuss – but that is only incidental and is actually the weakest point of his diatribe).

    But he feels sure that if he had to express “real” anger he would have to make a display of near-animal inarticulacy lest his anger be dismissed as “unreal”. This inarticulacy is actually phony. The correspondent is not really inarticulate, as we know, but it is a cultural ritual of post-Darwin society that an angry person must pretend inarticulacy as an acting-out of supposed “realness”.

    Whereat the author of the original article might reasonably say: “I rest my case.”

  6. Orfanum says:

    Finding this site is like waking within a lucid dream; you articulate accurately what I have been struggling to expand on myself: that the objection to Darwinism cannot be that it is “scientifically” incorrect, or that to reduce its hold on our mind one should abandon the discipline entirely of thinking “scientifically” but that Darwinism creates the conditions for the hegemony of the metaphor of the ape in understanding how humans should be – faith, that is, understanding life from the perspective of things cascading from the Absolute, is valuable if only it supports the notion that the metaphor that is required is that of the angel.

Relationships, Amity, and Marriage

Two BeautiesThe question of close and intimate relationships in the “sex-centered” culture of late West Telluria is one that concerns us not so much from a theoretical and critical perspective but from a practical one.

The whole thinking of the past few Tellurian generations has been molded by the “sex-centered” perspective: and this has not been a matter of theoretical understanding alone, but has shaped – and often devastated – the lives of millions, regardless of whether they are thinking people or are among the uncounted masses who have imbibed the practical implications of the theory as “the only way one can live”.

As Herthelani we have two important critical perspectives on the late West-Tellurian sex-model for “relationships”. The first is our own Herthelan culture in which procreation plays a much lesser role than in Telluria and the things associated with it are much less central to life.

This, it may be objected on practical grounds, may not be applicable to those inhabiting biologically Tellurian bodies.

What we need to understand, however, is that the sex-centered view of life and relationships is a cultural innovation even in Telluria and that it has re-shaped the culture in ways that have rendered it in many respects dysfunctional. It is vitally important that we do not import this dysfunctional model into Chelouranya.

However, we are also faced with the difficulty that those born and raised in Telluria are deeply indoctrinated with this model – not primarily by theoretical training but by a culture that assumes it at every turn in a manner that affects everyone in the society from the most sophisticated to the illiterate.

The question must arise as to how far theory can be used to eradicate this conditioning. People are likely to assume the sex-centered model to be “reality” and to have integrated it with their own feelings about people and the world.

However, a theory did create this model in the first place. As late as the early 1920s, the term “sex”, in its current popular meaning, did not exist and neither did the concept. It was first used in print by a very active propagandist for what has become the current outlook on the matter.

This outlook is sometimes termed “Freudian” although Freud was only one prominent spokesman and theorist for it. The outlook is essentially Darwinist rather than specifically Freudian, and flows naturally and inevitably from the Animal Thesis. If people are merely “evolved animals”, then it necessarily follows that their highest emotions must be ultimately reducible to an instinct that they share with cats and dogs.

This thesis, once in place, like a parasite at the root of a culture, begins to infect its understanding of many things. Non-sexual love is downgraded to something relatively unimportant. The great same-sex amities of history, for example, are commonly assumed to indicate a homosexual nature. Both the “gay” and the “anti-gay” movements of modern West Tellurian society are predicated on the same anti-traditional root-thesis.

Another corollary of this theory is the belief that “sex” is a form of “necessity”. This follows from the fact that since we have strong amative feelings, and since, according to the Animal Thesis, these instincts can only have their roots in the procreative instinct, only the procreative act, or a simulation thereof, can properly satisfy those feelings. (It will be noted that one effect of the 20th-century term “sex” is to equate absolutely the procreative act with any simulation of it).

Effects on Practical Life

This outlook, combined with the general atomization of society, gives rise to a pattern in which something termed a “relationship” (meaning a friendship involving sexual activity) has become central to most people’s emotional existence. Whether one is “in or out of” a “relationship” defines one’s fundamental status of emotional connexion.

How does this differ from the traditional concept of marriage (bearing in mind that it sometimes is marriage)? In two ways. In the first place by displacing the network of (often same-sex) relationships in which marriage took its place before the atomization of the society, and secondly – and more importantly, though relatedly – by its essential instability.

Sociologists describe the condition of most modern Western people as “serial monogamy”. Such a condition is by definition dysfunctional. The aim is still monogamy, but the monogamy keeps breaking down and having to be replaced.

One reason for this is that in late West Telluria, marriage is often the only close relationship and is called upon to fulfill a whole variety of emotional and other needs that would normally be fulfilled through other relationships. All too often it simply breaks under the excess load or because of unrealistic expectations.

Implications of the Usage of the word “Sex”

What is not immediately obvious to those who have grown up with the word “sex” is that it has introduced an area of thought and an assimilation of different ideas under the same term that had simply had not existed before. This is partly a result of the fact that the term, by its very nature and intention, divorces the connubial/procreative act from its socio-biological context.

In the 1960s a question was very frequently posed which may seem quaint to those raised in post-60s Western culture: “Should there be sex before marriage?” The question is so dated because it is clearly transitional and belongs neither to the period before or after the few decades to which it belongs. This is a period in which

a) the term “sex” has been coined and its implications fully assimilated, with the necessary adjustments that this must make to thought on the subject, but

b) There is still a connection of the question to its original socio-biological context, which is in the process of being “worked loose”.

In the same period, we begin to hear the term “gay sex”, which clearly assimilates any simulation of the connubial/procreative act to the act itself by taking its essential quality as being simply that of satisfying an urge.

The Herthelan Perspective

The Herthelan perspective in Telluria is entirely inapplicable to any other Tellurian situation, since it is founded on the concept that committed and adopted Chelouranyi are honorary (or exiled) Intemorphs, thus many hold that within marriage, what would otherwise be a simulation of consummation may be spiritually assimilated to Intemorphic consummation.

It should also be borne in mind that Herthelani own allegiance to a mother-culture in which the word “sex” in the modern Tellurian sense, with all its associated conceptual shifts, does not exist. The term “gay sex”, if it could be successfully explained to a Herthelan, would be seen (whether in terms of schizomorphic or intemorphic sexes) as a pure oxymoron: a contradiction in terms.

However, Amity and deep bonding of various kinds, between members of the same or of complementary sexes, and in some cases passionate and exclusive, is not even remotely problematic. The Animal-Thesis-derived idea that this would have anything to do with a thing called “sex” would, however, be simply meaningless.

The Herthelan Alternative

As always, our aim is not to criticize Telluria for the purpose of proposing Tellurian solutions to Tellurian problems. If Telluria’s problems are indeed soluble, Telluria must solve them.

However, for those becoming a part of Chelouranya, there is a viable alternative to the dysfunctional “relationship” pattern. This involves a much more complex and supportive network of relationships and the recognition of both great-amity and marriage.

Marriage in Herthelan society is the vocation of a minority. On the other hand, non-sexual amative relationships are of fundamental importance and are recognized as such by everyone.

These relationships are not “sealed” by carnal activity as the Tellurian “relationship” is – sometimes from genuinely strong desire but often just as much as a desperate need for some bonding-ritual that will provide security and belonging. As a bonding-ritual, carnal activity is singularly ineffective, as the phenomenon of “serial monogamy” clearly testifies.

Amity may be relatively informal or it may be sealed by genuine bonding rituals of various kinds. It may be long-lasting or temporary, but it will take its place as part of a network of relationships many of which are deeply emotional and help to provide stability and security.

Amity may be deeply passionate and is certainly not guaranteed against vicissitude and heartbreak, but it is, on the whole a good deal more stable and less destructive than the sex-centered model.

Amities are less exclusive, although a Great Amity may be, and be recognized as, exclusive in itself. That is, while not exclusive of other Amities, clearly and ritually the primary one which must take clear precedence over all others.

Marriage is a vocation. Its precise place in Chelouranya is not fully defined, but it is generally accepted that, as honorary intemorphs, a marriage between a Tellurian blonde and a brunette may be honorarily an intemorphic union.

At this stage I think we need say no more than that this, while a respected model, is by no means the only, or even the primary one. It should not be undertaken lightly and should be indissoluble.

How far this is possible in the case of pettes reared in the serial-monogamic culture is not yet clear.

What is clear is that the depth of romantic passion and – ultimately – fundamental bonding that may be achieved by the cultivation of true Amity is likely to build a firmer, stronger and more secure basis for emotional life than an early aspiration toward marriage. We would indeed venture to suggest that a Chelouranyan who has not cultivated true Amity is not ready for marriage.

None of this, of course, is an iron-bound rule; but it is very seriously worth considering and contemplating. Breaking free of the sex-centered “Freudian” model that has proved so destructive to late West Tellurian society is going to be vital to the creation of a non-atomized Chelouranya.

It is also going to be, for most Chelouranyi, the path to a rich, stable and secure, passionate and loving, deeply-bonded emotional life.

Falling in Love

What, then, is the status of the thing called “falling in love” in Herthelan society? Does it happen? How far is it related to marriage?

It certainly happens very frequently, from early schooldays when many girls range from being “a little bit in love” to having a deep crush on other (often older) girls to the passionate Amities of later life.

These Amities may well end in ritual bonding and exclusive, publicly recognized relations between two (and sometimes more than two) girls who may be of the same or of different sexes.

Such Amity may well include physical demonstrations of affection. Amity is certainly, in many cases a “falling in love” and to assume that it is less passionate than marriage (or its various Tellurian substitutes) or that it is in any way secondary to it is to fall into the West Tellurian way of thinking about it.

Love, in the sense of being “in love” is a fundamental part of Herthelan life, sometimes briefly, sometimes permanently: and only in a minority (though an important minority) of cases has it anything to do with marriage.

Adjusting our attitudes on this matter may be a difficult task, given the vast and potent indoctrination that has shaped the lives and emotions of recent Tellurian generations. But if we wish to be fully Herthelan, to break out of the dysfunctional model of late West Telluria and found a healthy, secure, and emotionally fulfilling Herthelan way of life, we are going to have to consider how it can be done.