Jenilow, the Castle and the Hover-Train Wednesday, May 28 2008 

Jenilow is the major Arcadian city in the southern “panhandle” of that country. The city proper has a population of 821,350 (3326 est.) and boasts the historic Abileschen castle downtown. The city is laid out as though its streets form a giant wheel, with the castle at its centre. Jenilow is known for its festive procession in Maia, as well as for its textile and ceramic industries.

Jenilovian culture is distinct both from that of Upper Arcadia and from that of the surrounding nations. It has a curious technics – advanced almost to Novarian standards and yet highly Arcadian in style. It is also more Estrenne in feeling than most of Novaria (which is itself quite “Estrenne”, especially in the East of the country).

Those familiar with Jenilow say that certain pictures of Meiji era Japan are the closest Tellurian images to convey the cultural atmosphere of Jenilow. Obviously the comparison is only indicative and does not go beyond the visual impression, but it is still useful.

The current Mayor of Jenilow is Lady Maylana Rosemont. The Mayor, of course, administers the City of Jenilow and the Countess the County of Jenilow, of which the City is the County Town. Jenilow City is also the capital of the Archduchy of Jenilow, a huge “nation within a nation” that occupies most of the so-called “Jenilow peninsula” (it is not a true peninsula, of course, because it is surrounded not by water but by two non-Arcadian nations).

Jenilow Castle was originally the primary seat of the Archduchess of Jenilow – which it still is: it has long also been a triple seat of government, for it houses the council-chamber of the Countess of Jenilow and the chambers of the Mayor of Jenilow. All three dignitaries have extensive living quarters in the great building.

Castles were first built in early Imperial times. They were essentially fortified palaces, usually surrounded by large fortified enclosures. In those days the Outlander hordes still occasionally made incursions into the Eastern and Northern lands. One must also remember that certain classes of demon took on a far more physical form than has usually been the case in Telluria (the Great Demon in the Paper Peonies story is typical of this – and there were also demon armies).

The castle and its walled enclosure was a place where the puhrani (citizens) could retreat and be safe when danger threatened. Some cities were also walled for the same reason.

In later times and further west, the castle style of architecture, with turrets and other fortification-style features (in a more western style) was often adopted, for it had become a symbol of the Great Central Enclosure. On certain occasions the fortification could still provide a refuge against dark incursions, though its function was now largely symbolic.

Jenilow is 42 minutes by rail from Ladyton. The direct land-journey from Jenilow to Ladyton takes place almost entirely on Novarian soil and is not far short of a thousand miles (some suggest it may be more like 500 miles – distances are notoriously difficult to calculate between worlds). Clearly such a distance by train in such a time would be impossible anywhere in Arcadia (even including the Jenilow “peninsula” which is more technically advanced than the rest of that realm). However, the journey connects with the Royal Novarian Golden Arrow Line “super-bullet-express” which connects Southern Novaria with Ladyton and Novarayapurh.

These “super-bullet trains” are the only supersonic land-craft currently used in the Empire. Such speeds are considered unsafe for other land vehicles. The super-bullets are regarded as land-craft, although they are actually hover-trains and do not touch the ground while in operation. The “rails” are in fact force-guides rather than physical rails. At the speed they travel, the friction involved in wheeled locomotion would be unmanageable.

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Cradle of Tellurian Civilization? Friday, May 23 2008 

Artistic representation of Catal HoyukSome people say Asia Minor, where the West is closest to the East, is the true cradle of civilization. The remains of the earliest pre-patriarchal cities were discovered in Asia Minor. Çatal Höyük (pictured left) is the most famous. Troy, which was thoroughly patriarchal, had the support of the Amazoni – the last gasp of Tellurian feminine civilization – against the super-patriarchal Greeks. Penthesilea, the Amazon Queen, was slain at Troy by Achilles at a time when the era of patriarchy was becoming firmly established. It had not always been so. In earlier and more glorious centuries the Amazoni had stormed and taken Athens itself.

Raya Chancandre Aquitaine comments:
The Near East is sometimes called the Cradle of Civilization, referring once to the early patriarchal Empires, and now that archaeologists know a little more, and rather grudgingly, to the feminine-centred city-states that are known to predate them in the same area.

However, traditional science tells us that:

a) Humanity is far older than the ten or so millennia involved in all this

b) Humanity has been in a state of decline since the beginning.

So even the earlier feminine-centred city states uncovered in Asia Minor go back no further than the late Age of Bronze, and still belong to the final fifth of the current World-Cycle. The Ages of Gold and Silver still lie far in the past and occupy a time far longer than the ages of Bronze and Iron (the current Age) put together.

How then can we accept these earliest known – but still relatively recent in terms of the entire Cycle – cities as the Cradle of Civilization?

In terms of materialistic science, we know very little of humanity before the Age of Bronze. We have enough evidence to make clear that these societies were feminine-centred and Deanic. They have left little other evidence of their culture, which allows the “evolutionist” school (which is really a “progressist” school, since serious Darwinism cannot allow of biological evolution over these comparatively short time-periods) to declare that these peoples were “primitive” and to compare them to modern tribal societies – which are, in fact, not “primitive” but decadent.

What we know from Traditional science is firstly that our ancestresses were our superiors and secondly that they were less “consolidated” – less material. They saw things and beings we do not see (as the old tales make clear) and it is very likely that their main constructions were not on the material plane.

We know that there have been prohibitions, at various stages of Tellurian history, on developments that ritually enacted the descent into matter. Later, each of these prohibitions were lifted as the descent became inevitable and the arts in question were “released” to progressively consolidated ages as part of the necessary process of adaptation to the consolidating tendency of the Cycle.

Some of these prohibitions were:

Upon building in stone

Then upon building in hewn stone (even after this was lifted, some sacred edifices must still be of unhewn stone).

Upon the use of metals

Then upon the use of iron, the most consolidated of the metals, and the one belonging to Sai Vikhe, and being, in Telluria, ritually associated with the patriarchal order.

The word civilization, from civitas: city, means specifically city-culture. In late-Telluria it tends to be used as a term for culture in the absolute since non-city cultures are derogated.

The Sacred City is an important Bronze- and Iron-Age concept and it may well go back further. However, not all cultures are city-based. My personal belief is that there have always been city-based cultures (or something equivalent to them), but that their material element has become progressively greater (or, going backwards, progressively less).

Before building in stone became permissible, cities would have been of wood, and will have left no traces for the archaeologist – though statues of stone were made at that time and do remain. In the earliest times – in the Golden Age – they may well have had no physical support at all; maid’s contact with the material realm being peripheral at most and her real life taking place in realms to which modern humanity has all but lost access.

The feminine-centred cities known to archaeology are called “neolithic” or “new stone age” which conjures in the lay mind pictures of primitive brutality. In actuality, cities such as Hacilar in Asia Minor some eight millennia ago, where the statue of Dea is seen everywhere, had two-story buildings constructed around a central courtyard with balconies overlooking the courtyards and hearths upstairs and down.

Nonetheless, the term “new stone age” does have a meaning, since this was the age when building in hewn stone was permitted but the use of metals was still restricted.

So the term “cradle of civilization”, if taken in the very limited sense “cradle of lithoidal civilization”, could perhaps be accurate.

If it is intended to mean that earlier cultures were not civilizations in the strictest sense, it is almost undoubtedly wrong. If it is intended to imply that those earlier cultures were “uncivilized” in the modern understanding of the term, or even “less civilized”, or even “not more civilized”, then it is completely erroneous.

“The cradle of the lesser civilization of the current world-era” is something of a mouthful. But it is much nearer to the truth.

Undines in South Novarya Wednesday, May 21 2008 

On a bright and sultry moonlit even, somewhere in the old Southlands of Novarya, two creatures (were they blondes or were they little mushroom-creatures?) walked far later than they really should have done. They came to a running stream beside a rocky cliff, and from somewhere, perhaps from a cave in the cliff, echoed haunting voices singing wordlessly the tune of the old Novaryani lullaby known as “Khindri”. We are privileged to have a brief record in sound of that memorable evening (since attached to a kinnie scene):

Undines in South Novarya

Were they the undines – the water-elementals – told of from of old, singing to sleep, perhaps, some human blonde-child or brunette-child stolen from her mothers on such a night as this?

We shall never know, for the listeners, shivering unaccountably despite the humid heat of that southern night, stole swiftly and silently back to their home.

Perhaps you will listen and decide for yourself.

Quoting Nietzsche Monday, May 19 2008 

Miss B* raised a fascinating question:
In Alice Lucy Trent’s The Feminine Universe, a key Aristasian study text, the first chapter, entitled “The Image of the Cosmos”, begins with a quotation from Friedrich Nietzsche: “The total nature of the world is…..to all eternity chaos, not in the sense that necessity is lacking, but in that order, structure, form, beauty, wisdom and whatever other human aesthetic notions we may have are lacking…..Let us beware of attributing to it heartlessness and unreason or their opposites: it is neither perfect nor beautiful nor noble, and has no desire to become any of these…..neither does it know any laws. Let us beware of saying there are laws in nature. There are only necessities. There is no one to command, no one to obey, no one to transgress….. Let us beware of saying that death is the opposite of life. The living being is only a species of the dead, and a very rare species.”

A “species of the dead”, eh? I know I am not very good in the mornings, but I object to being called a “species of the dead”! What the blazes is old Fred driving at with that particular line of thought? (Oh dear, I fear that I am sounding rather like my sister, Eve! She came home for a weekend visit, and perhaps some of her “banter” has been left lurking) What I mean to say is, how can it be that “the living being is a species of the dead”? and why “a very rare species”? Also, what does Miss Trent intend in opening her book with such a quotation? The subtitle to The Feminine Universe is “An Exposition of the Ancient Wisdom from the Primordial Feminine Perspective”. So how does Herr Nietzsche lead in to such themes? I suppose one clear answer is to get through the entire chapter and see the full picture.

Miss Serendra Serelique replied:
To begin with, those unfamiliar with the chapter being discussed may find it here. As you will see, the quotation with which it opens is put forward not as an example of the Aristasian philosophy, but of its opposite. The point being made is that while this outlook may seem stark and brutal, it is logically the same as the popular “scientistic” (as opposed to scientific) view of the universe that is inculcated by the schools and mass-media of Telluria and believed by most people.

What we have to consider here is the particular expression used by Nietzsche: “Let us beware of saying that death is the opposite of life. The living being is only a species of the dead, and a very rare species.”

This is the culmination of a series of statements denying that the universe possesses order, harmony or intelligence — a denial that is perfectly logical, and indeed necessary, if one adheres to the view that the universe is simply an accidental phenomenon — a chance falling-together of atoms and molecules — rather than a manifestation of a higher or spiritual principle. And let us note that these two views are the only two possible. There is no middle ground between them. Nietzsche’s view may sound extreme, but it is not extreme. It is only a statement in very plain and frank language of what the materialist or accidentalist view of the universe really involves.

And let us further note that this materialist or accidentalist view, while it is utterly predominant in the thought-world of modern Telluria, is a very isolated and strange one. It has never been conceived of in any continent but Europe, and not in Europe before the seventeenth century. Every other people, every other civilisation, has adhered to some form of Essentialism. That is, to the belief that the manifest universe is the creation or reflection or emanation of a spiritual Principle, whether that Principle be called God or the Tao, Brahman or Atman.

And even though such a view has its roots in the seventeenth-century “enlightenment” (a curious name if ever there was one!) it did not become fully formed or even fully possible until Nietzsche’s time — that is, the later nineteenth century. So Nietzsche is considering a new phenomenon; a new view of the world: a view so appalling that Nietzsche expresses his reaction to it thus:

Who gave us a sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? What did we do when we unchained this earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now? Whither are we moving now? Away from all suns… Are we not straying as through an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Has it not become colder? Is more and more night not coming on all the time?

He is not opposed to this view. He is promoting it. But he is expressing it in all the starkness of its real implications. Miss Trent notes later in the book that while Nietzsche is expounding a radically anti-traditional view he is doing so in terms of traditional symbolism. Everywhere the Sun symbolises the Spirit or the Divine. Again and again in tradition we find the Great Chain which connects all beings and runs from Heaven (the Sun, the Spirit) to earth. Nietzsche talks of the modern accidentalist philosophy in terms of breaking the Chain and losing the light and warmth of the Sun.

So on to this enigmatic statement: The living being is only a species of the dead, and a very rare species. On the face of it, that is not so terribly mysterious. If life itself (according to a certain rather tendentious extension of Darwinian theory, which made total accidentalism theoretically possible for the first time) is the mere falling-together of carbon and hydrogen molecules under certain freak circumstances — if life, in other words, derives purely and solely from dead matter, then we may say that the living being is a species of the dead. A very rare one because only by the most extraordinary set of coinciding chances can this “life” be produced at all.

This, clearly enough, is what Nietzsche means; but what a peculiar and very telling way of expressing it. As in the Sun and Chain passage above, the entire background to this anti-traditional exposition is Tradition itself. The living being is a species of the dead: why? Because Life in the sense that Tradition has always understood it — the Divine Spark, the Breath of Spirit — is absent.

By a curious and very profound use of Language, Nietzsche reveals that in his heart he knows that the accidentalist view of life, the falling-together of bits and pieces of dead matter, is not actually life at all. Such a life, if it were (as he believes is to be) the nature of living beings, would not really be life at all, but only a species of the dead.

Sai Rayanna’s Day Friday, May 16 2008 

Today is dedicated to Sai Rayanna, also known as the Sun Daughter.

Before our Era the greatest civilisation in Sai Herthe was that of the great Southern Continent, which was submerged at the end of the Age of Bronze. In the early part of the Age of Iron there was some continuation of that civilisation.

Attacks upon the world of maids by demonic forces increased during this period and the greatest force of defence against them was the Chenti, a civilisation-in-arms dedicated to Sai Vikhë and tracing its lineage back to the Old World.

However, in the Battle of Noonday Night, the Chenti were defeated by the demon-barbarians, and their great Princess Caran was slain, along with most of her people. Her sword, given to her ancestors by Sai Vikhe herself, was broken — a sign of the final destruction of the Chenti.

Caran, with her dying breath, charged that the pieces of the sword should be preserved and given to the One who was worthy to re-forge and wield them.

After many adventures, the shattered sword came to the city of Caire and its Princess Rayanna, the young earth-born daughter of Sai Raya, who re-forged the sword and took it into battle to defeat the demonic hordes and their terrible ruler.

By this act she won the allegiance of all the Rayins of the world, and her city of Caire, far in the East, became the capital of the new civilisation.

All subsequent Empires are the continuation of this one, including the present Westrenne Empire, and all Aristasian Empresses are descended from Sai Rayanna, the incarnate Sun.

See Also:
The Imperial Anthem, which tells the story of Sai Rayanna
The Warrior Queen, which compares Sai Rayanna to Durga

Words and Angels Thursday, May 15 2008 

Miss Barbara asked:
Your esteemed correspondent uses the word “Sucrescent” to describe the colour of the milky pink Gamebaby Advance. I have looked this word up in two dictionaries and cannot find it. Is it an Aristasian word? And what does it mean?

This was the reply:
Sucrescent is an Aristasian word. It is a little hard to translate exactly as it implies a world of thought which is somewhat unusual to the modern Tellurian mind. All that in just describing a colour!

Essentially Sucrescent means “Pertaining to the Angel (or Genia) Sucri (Sushuri)”. Sucri corresponds to the Tellurian planet and goddess Venus (Aphrodite). Both the colour pink and milk are things that correspond to Sucri, so milky pink is particularly Sucrescent.

It may seem a little strange to bring angels or deities into everyday conversation about things like games machines, but it should be understood that everything in the world is shaped by divine essences and that the seven Great Geniae are among the most salient of these essences. To see things in terms of them is natural to an Aristasian and is not considered to be profaning the sacred, but rather making sacred the things of daily life. More correctly, seeing the sacred that is already in them.

Some will ask – Is a lightgame machine inherently sacred? We should reply – did the inventor of the lightgame machine invent the colour pink? Can anyone invent a colour? No. The colours were there before we entered world. We can only use the colours that Dea has created and they will mean what they meant when She created them unless we pervert their meanings. Of colours this is clearly true, but it is also true of everything else. We cannot create forms. Forms are inherent in the Universe and before that in the Intelligence that shapes the Universe. We can only work with the forms that are – combine and manipulate them, but not create them.

Thus a story or a game or an artefact, if it is true to Form and does not pervert it, will always reflect Divine reality. The Zelda stories, which tell of high princesses and noble adventurers and the eternal conflict of good and evil are a case in point.

The word Vikhelic is another word of the same kind. It means “Pertaining to the Angel Vikhe”. Vikhe is equivalent to the Tellurian planet and god Mars (though, of course, she is feminine), and the term “Vikhelic arts” is precisely equivalent to the Tellurian term “martial arts” – though the divine origins of the word “martial” are largely forgotten in modern Telluria.

Government in Aristasia Wednesday, May 14 2008 

The Lonely LifeThe rulers of the Aristasian nations are their respective Queens who are advised by non-elected advisors, somewhat the equivalent of senior civil servants – that is professional managers of State who help the Queen to do what she wants to do.

The job of the Queen, as titular and political Head of State, is essentially to facilitate the Dance of the Cosmos as it is reflected in the microcosm of her nation – not to change the steps, either according to her own ideas or to the latest fashions. Obviously certain changes must sometimes be made in adaptation to changing conditions, but these are rarely controversial and always tactful. It is the essence of the State to be literally stately. That is what Princesses are trained for from the earliest age.

There are parliaments in most nations, but these are of much less importance than in Telluria. They debate certain subjects and make formal recommendations to the Queen which are usually acted upon, though this is entirely at the Royal discretion. Again these recommendations are rarely controversial.

Most parliaments do not have general elections, but a representative is elected when required, that is, when one resigns or dies. In many cases, though, a representative will serve for a certain limited period such as five years, but it is not usual that all places should be elected at once. The limitation is more because the duty of service is seen as one that should have some term than to limit the power of a member or faction. Though some keen parliamentarians stand for re-election again and again. The job is not too arduous as most parliaments convene only a few times a year.

Blonde and Brunette Names Wednesday, May 7 2008 

Miss Amalya Corinthian wondered:
In Telluria, some names are considered mascul, and others femin. Is this a schizomorphic practice, or do Aristasians consider some names more blonde/brunette than others? I was thinking about it, and it seems that way, at least to me, but only with certain names, so this is likely a lot more fluid than its Tellurian counterpart.

Raya Chancandre Aquitaine answered:
You are exactly right. In the matter of names, Aristasia is more fluid. In Telluria nearly all names are definitely mascul or femin, just as nearly all clothes (at least traditionally) are so. In Aristasia there are some names that would normally be for blondes and others for brunettes, but the majority are usable for either sex. In The Princess and the Captain, Antala is definitely a brunette name, as is Claralin. Clarala is a more likely blonde form. Sushuri is almost always a blonde name. Thamë/Thamla is usually brunette.

Sometimes this may be a local or temporary phenomenon – for example if a famous person has held a particular name, children named after her will tend to be of the same sex that she is.

Aristasia is also more fluid in the matter of clothes, although many brunettes will shy off “very blonde” clothes. Some blondes, however, consider it cute to dress in styles that seem quite brunette.

In some parts of the East there are clothes that may only be worn by a particular sex, but such places will also tend to have rules (or at least strong customs) as to which clothes may be worn by particular ages and Estates too.

The Golden Dragon Sunday, May 4 2008 

At the Cocktail Bar, where Aristasians once gathered, music played and drinks were served…

Miss Mina: For as the other pettes savour the decadence of fleeming, I have decided that unless otherwise informed, there is no such thing as an allergy to alcohol in Aristasia. Oh, it’s not that the non-alcy Blonde Bombshell is so unpalatable, really. I suppose it could get a bit sickly, but I find it is greatly improved by being taken in little sips from a coffee spoon, like cod liver oil. I have been getting some funny looks though…

Now about the drink. Perhaps I ought to have something really dramatic – to celebrate my shocking conversion to Vice (after all, I do sometimes worry that I’m a bit too much of a good girl). I wonder; can the Cocktail Bar furnish that mysterious, exotic beverage of legend, the Golden Dragon?

Miss Mehitabelle: We are pleased beyond pleasure by your grace and charm. But from sugar and cream to a Golden Dragon? Do you not, as they say in Miralene, climb the mountain with a single step? Do drink it carefully, I beg you, for I have heard they are no light matter. Nor will you find ours so perfect as those from Rayapurh, but Miss Ithelia is kind enough to tell us that they are, which means, I dare to hope that they are not so very bad.

Dear bar-blonde, a Golden Dragon for Miss Mina, and in the proper goblet.

Miss Ellhedrine: Golden Dragons do look delightful. Can I smell yours? Ooh! just the scent makes me quite squiffy. And gosh, they’re three shillings! Imagine a drink being three shillings! I suppose that is because it comes all the way from Rayapurh or somewhere.

Another day…

Miss Mina: And now I shall relate without further ado the sorry tale of my first exercise in social imbibement. In attempting that hoary Golden Dragon, well, I not only climbed the mountain with a single step – I fear I fell right into the volcano. Oh, it was most exquisite, and queerly aetheriel – so that it was all I could do to be sure I had really drunk any – which was quite possibly the reason for the eventual disappearance of nearly all the goblet’s contents. So Miss Ellhedrine! We should both be thankful that I hadn’t the shekels to buy one for your sweet self – as I had been naturally inclined to do after you expressed such awe and “squiffy”ness at the sight and scent. For I can attest that it is a powerful substance indeed. Although I swear I felt just fine when I left for home… And as for what happened when I did get home… Well, I hung my coat up, took a little compact from my beaded bag, and looked. But instead of my face, all I could see in the mirror was a silken golden mist. I peered resolutely into it, and found I could make out what appeared to be scales – or, as I peered closer – fiery-gold chainmail… And then a figure slowly turning toward me, occupying all my field of vision…

Of course, I promptly fainted. Fortunately Evangeline heard the compact crash to the floor, and came rushing in. She went flying then about the house, upturning all-and-sundry in search of her 1903 ‘Home Notes’ annual, which at last she found – and I was eventually revived with the reliable “Remedy for Fits and Swooning Spells.”

Could it be, I consider now, that the Golden Dragon is one of the most decisive Aristasian sex-determination tests as ever there was? If so it ought to come with instructions. (‘Brunettes: Partake of the Golden Dragon without recourse to the smelling salts. Blondes: Experience abnormal phenomena and lie in for a week, resting languidly in yards and yards of something rather pale and diaphanous…’)

“Modernism” in Aristasia Thursday, May 1 2008 

One of the fundamental differences between Aristasia and Telluria — even when regarded as parallel worlds — is that the rationalist revolution of the 17th Century (miscalled the “Enlightenment”), which has shaped modern Tellurian thought and culture, did not take place in Aristasia. Aristasian science fiction, such as The Princess and the Captain explores a world in which technics have developed to a high degree, but are seen as an extension of the traditional metaphysical outlook, and are not the result of a revolutionary rationalism.

Even the Classical Aberration of Greece and Rome, with its republicanism, individualism and proto-rationalism, has no equivalent in Aristasia. In Telluria, this aberration was consciously revived at the time of the Renaissance (literally a “rebirth” of the Classical spirit). In Aristasia the traditional view of the world (as upheld by Plato in Telluria against the spirit of his time) continued unbroken.

In Westrenne Aristasia, a spirit of individualism and a weakening of tradition has certainly manifested itself in recent centuries. However the Westrennes have never regarded this as a “progress” or “advance”, and have never adopted an attitude of superiority and condescension toward the ancient world or the East. On the contrary, they regard their own “modernism” as a decline from the highest standard and as somewhat regrettable, while at the same time acknowledging that it has made their particular culture possible.

The fact that the most advanced technics in the West have come out of Novaria — the Western nation most closely adhering to the traditional thought of the East — seems like a paradox only to non-Aristasians. To the Aristasian mind, the strong connexion of Novaria with the wellsprings of traditional intellectuality is precisely the reason for its successful adaptation of that intellectuality to the forms and possibilities of the Iron Age.

Again and again one must remind oneself that in Aristasia technics are not associated with a revolutionary ideology as they are in Telluria, but on the contrary, are seen as the latest application of traditional Intelligence.