Vehicles of Transformation Monday, Apr 7 2008 

Miss Barbara asserts:
I do believe that a bongo could be transformed into an Aristasian just by sitting in a real car, if she were intelligent enough to know what real means. A Trentish automobile, black or maroon, is a little universe, a microcosm of the culture that produces it. It is luxurious, glamorous, sophisticated, elegant, comfortable, and dignified because Trent is all of those things.

But a recovering Pit-maiden needn’t wait until she can find a real automobile to experience her epiphany. She can have a similar experience with almost anything from the real world, for everything is a little universe and a microcosm of the larger world from which it comes. If she were to watch one real movie with the knowledge that it was real (and with the conviction that everything in the Pit is truly obsolete), or wear one pair of silky, seamed, sheer stockings, or listen to one wireless program, she would wake from a slumber and begin to allow the fire of Realness and Truth to catch in her heart; she would stop collaborating with the Pit, not because somebody has told her to stop but because she sees it all for what it is: obsolete and shoddy, trivial and banal.

She would begin to walk with dignity and take pride in the right things and never feel self-satisfied with shabby behavior or dress. She would rise above the mire below and happily join her sisters up above the Pit, who are like an angelic chorus flying above the mindless world below. I know she would do and think all of these things, for, you see, I have just described myself to you in this little story.

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Miranda’s Mommies Thursday, Mar 27 2008 

Miranda, chatting at the Cocktail Bar:
I introduced Rosie and Trudy to my Mommies, and of course they loved them both, R. and T. loved Blonde and Brunette Mommy, that is, because, well, who wouldn’t? My Mommies are just swell, the keenest any girl ever had. Everybody thinks so, even those rough brunettes down at school. Put big, ol’, “thinks she so impressive” Rhonda around my Brunette Mommy and Rhonda almost turns practically blonde. Because, you see, my Brunette Mommy is quite stern and strict. She always says Dea made her that way to prepare her for a “Life with Blondes,” like it’s one of the musical shows we all put on each fall at school. She says her life could be a musical show, what with a blonde wife (of course!), three blonde daughters (me and my two little sisters), an office filled with blonde employees, and the any number of blonde friends I bring home with me each day. But Brunette Mommy knows how to handle a blonde, and she is so stern that she rarely ever has to get very, um, determined to keep her blondes all soft, yielding, and sweetly blonde (for nothing is more unbecoming than a blonde who is trying to act like a brunette!).

And Blonde Mommy, well everyone adores her. She is the sweetest, most lovely, kindest, and softest mommy a girl could have. She always has time to play with her girls, to run around with us in the garden or play badminton in the back yard. She is so intelligent too, knows more than I ever will. You can always ask Blonde Mommy a question, and she’ll know the answer! She actually prepared at the university to be a professor, but even with all of her intelligence, she knew that the home life was more suited to her temperament than the academic life, so she is here with us. She is just so peachy. Do you know that she thinks only one birthday a year is not nearly enough for her little girls, so she throws each of us a half birthday party six months after our real birthday. She gets the half birthday girl half of a card, half of a cake and little silly gifts, all cut in half! Well, that’s the kind of mommies I have, so you can see why Trudy and Rosie were thrilled to meet them.

More from the Cocktail Bar

The Problem with Aristasia Monday, Mar 17 2008 

Dessie Octavia Vargas wrote:
The problem with Aristasia is that we have to leave it! Those of us who are not fortunate enough to have seceded and live in Aristasia full-time, that is.

I have been a “part-time Aristasian” for nine years now, and it’s becoming quite maddening. I always preferred up-to-date movies and clothes and other things, but it was merely a preference until I discovered Aristasia. Aristasia influenced me to actively seek out up-to-date things instead of merely enjoy them when I happened upon them. I bought up-to-date magazines, acquired a lot of the Kadorian and Quirrie ads Coca-Cola has reproduced on refrigerator magnets and coffee mugs and postcards, and while I did not give up post-Eclipse movies and books entirely, an increasingly large proportion of my viewing and reading have become up-to-date. (I didn’t watch television in the first place, so that wasn’t a factor.)

The result of these years of cultivating my taste for Real things is that now I have become almost unbearably sensitized to the Pit. Movies and statements and things that wouldn’t have bothered me before are now like Chinese water torture. I’m especially conscious of this right now because I just visited some relatives and of course they had newspapers around and the television on, two abominations which have long since been banished from my own hestia. Before my personal racination began these things would have been merely dreary or dull, but now accidentally reading one line in a newspaper while I am passing the scrambled eggs can make me depressed for an entire day, and did.

And it isn’t merely that bongo things are ugly, though most of them are. (Not quite all; bongos are still human beings, hard as they try to forget it, and they can’t help occasionally doing something right.) It isn’t merely the immorality, because they’re not always being immoral; a bongo commercial I saw this week exhorting youngsters not to use dangerous substances struck me as being every bit as dangerous to those youngsters as the substances themselves. It’s the fundamental wrong-headedness that underlies all of it. It seems that everything in the Pit, even things that have a degree of soundness in them, is covered in a layer of slime. Sometimes it is only a thin layer, but it is always there. Miss Ayn Rand, a sagette I disagree with on many things but must nonetheless admire for her genius, once described the evil she saw as “not Satan with a sword, but a corner lout sipping a Coca-Cola”, and another time she said, “Not fire and brimstone, but goo.” I couldn’t have put it better myself, so I won’t try.

I just ordered a kinnie-shiny of up-to-date television commercials and one of up-to-date newsreels. I already have some of Real cartoons, and I’ve long thought it would be lovely to have a cartoon and a newsreel before the movie when I go to the Magic Cinema. I can imagine the expression on the faces of my unseceded friends who know my tastes when they learn that I intend to interrupt my viewing to watch up-to-date commercials! But I know that it is only going to make me even more frustrated with the so-called world that I have to live in.

$80,000,000 Thursday, Mar 13 2008 

At the Aristasia Diaries, Miss Adele Poppy posed everyone some searching questions including this one: If you had $80,000,000 what would be the first 5 things you would do?

Here is Sushurichan’s thoughtful answer:
Such a large sum of money would require careful planning. It could make Aristasia-in-Telluria a much stronger deployment. A lot of it would be spent on making far more people aware of the Motherland and on installations. I am no strategist, but here are things I would think of doing:

1. Make and publicise a full-length fictional kinema powerfully conveying Aristasia and its glory and beauty. One that no true daughter of the motherland could see without realising that this WAS her home.
2. Establish settlements in different parts of the world where Aristasians could live in together in Telluria.
3. Endow several worthy pettes to work full-time for Aristasia instead of needing to work for survival.
4. Establish a real-life College where pettes can learn to be Aristasians and which will be a refuge.
5. Establish businesses that Aristasians can run so that the $80,000,000 will be replenished. At the rate we will be deploying it, it will need to be.

Moura Bhajan Friday, Feb 29 2008 

Miss Carola Strub wrote:

In Moura season it is appropriate to examine the heart and become aware of ones kears and shortcomings, the thorns that keep us from complete union with the Divine Mother.

Such an examination is a humbling experience, at least for me, because there are a lot of thorns in my heart. To know that there is nobody to blame for this but myself is even more humilating. But strangely enough being humilated such, my mind becomes peaceful. There is no need anymore for hankering after this or complaining over that, for I have earned every hardship that I experience and even worse, if Dea by Her grace would not have taken a part of it away. Yes, the kears of pride, envy, hatred, ingratitude, disrespect etc are there in my heart and at times I even enjoyed them. I am weak willed and would have no hope for deliverance, if Our Saviour the Divine Daughter had not travelled to the heart of darkness and by Her sacrifice drawn the Mother to break the doors of hell.

On my knees, my pride humbled, my eyes wet with tears of remorse I repeat the name of my Lady. I pray to the Mother not to allow me to develop pride again, because in a humble mood I am able to progress on the path of love for my Lady, for Her creatures and for my true self.

Maids and the Law Thursday, Feb 28 2008 

A conversation from the Aristasian story The Princess and the Captain:

“D’you think we’ll get into awful trouble?” asked ‘Lannie. “When they catch us, I mean.”

“No, love,” replied Sharrie. “In Novaria a maid’s duty is to do whatever her mistress tells her. If she don’t do that she’s breaking the law. But if she does, she’s in the clear. Any misdemeanour is the responsibility of the mistress.”

The two girls stood facing each other in the ship’s galley in their short black dresses and starched white aprons. Sharrie had been the best cocktail waitress in Chelverton when Princess Melenhe had offered her more money and a life of adventure. After all, one could hardly take to the Aethyr without decent cocktails.

“It’s not like that back home in Quirinelle is it, Sharrie?”

“No, love. In Quirinelle individuals are equal in the eyes of the law, but in Novaria bonded maids are regarded in the light of their bond.”

“But we did volunteer to come up ‘ere with ‘Er ‘Ighness, didn’t we?”

“That don’t make no difference. A maid is supposed to serve her mistress at all times, and whether the mistress is doing wrong is entirely her responsibility – unless she’s under age. Now ‘Er ‘Ighness is under age — but so are we. So if anyone is punished it will still be ‘er, so long as we’re in Novaria, and since it’s a Novarian ship, any proceedings will be Novarian, won’t they?”

“Greenies! You ain’t half well up in the law, Sharrie.”

“You want to be when you get involved in this sort o’ business.”

“But what about ‘Er ‘Ighness? Won’t she get in trouble?”

“She thinks the old Vikhar will get ‘er orf any bother. I don’t know. But she says: ‘Sharrie, are you game for the biggest joy-ride in history? I promise you won’t get into any trouble, but we might all get killed’. So I says: ‘All right’. Then I says that to you, and you says ‘all right’ too. Well, you’re only young once, ain’t you? And if the mistresses ain’t chicken I don’t see why we should be.”

“That’s ‘ow I see it too. Anyway, they’ll look after their own skins, I reckon.”

“I wouldn’t reckon too much on that, love. That Miss Antala don’t care about nothin’.”

“It’s Captain Antala now, Sharrie.”

“Maybe it is; but she still don’t care about nothin’. Come on, hurry up with them cocktails or we won’t even be obeying our mistress. Then we’ll be offenders in Novaria too!”

You can start reading The Princess and the Captain here.

A Wander-Child Monday, Feb 25 2008 

Rayati.

My name is Sakura. Perhaps that is because like the cherry blossom I come to this world for a short time and then am blown away by the wind. I cannot say.

Since I was very small, this Telluria did not feel like a home to me. I knew that far away was my real home, my Motherland. I knew that my Heavenly Mother watched over me and this was not a father.

People said I was a silly child and perhaps I was a silly child. But even a silly child knows her Mother.

When I came to Aristasia, I knew I had come home, and this was my Motherland at last. I understand that I am from Novaria and I feel in connexion with that beautiful land.

I have asked many questions and I ask more questions, because that way I learn more and more about the Motherland.

Life is still difficult, because still I am in Telluria and very much not-at-home, but now that I know the Motherland I am much happier, and I hope to draw closer by and by.

Warm greetings to you all.

Tea Tea Tea Friday, Feb 15 2008 

Miss Adele Poppy wrote: As some of you know, I am relatively new to tea-drinking and have been experimenting with different teas to find the ones I like best. We also took little side excursions into the the question of loose tea vs. tea sachets (vulgarly called “tea bags”). Not surprisingly, loose tea won that contest. But on to the varieties of teas that we drank.

“We”, of course, are my excellent brunette and I. We have been together for many years (eleven, actually. Is that many? I suspect it may seem so to my poor, beset brunette), and we both have found ways of compromise so that we may live together in loving accord.

Bear with me. This is pertinent. You’ll see.

Brunette Wife’s Philosophy: The most important phrase in the English language with respect to marriage is: “Yes, Dear”.

Blonde Wife’s Prime Rule of Engagement: If you are in an argument, and you are right and your wife is wrong, you must apologize to her immediately, humbly and, above all, sincerely.

And then pour her some very good tea! Which brings us (finally) back to the subject of tea.

After much experimentation…oh, not really much, as these things go. After drinking some very lovely tea over the last year I have found two that I like particularly well: lapsang souchong (which is both capitalized and lower case, depending on the source) and Ti Kwan Yin.

Lapsang Souchong, also called Zengshan Xiaozhong, is a scented black tea with a pronounced woodsmoke flavor, which I like in the morning due to its bright, strong taste. Lapsang Souchong is perfectly wakey-uppy, but not at all subtle. I think it is delicious.

Ti Kwan Yin Oolong, also known as Tiguanyen and “Iron Goddess” (and lots of other names, actually, according to Wikipedia) , has a quiet, rather sweet flavor with a complex and very pleasant aftertaste. It is called a “poet’s tea”, and I am hoping that it will cause me to become poetical, though that is probably beyond the capability of the best of teas. Ti Kwan Yin is a delicious tea that deserves appreciation. The flavor is flowery, and in fact seems to bloom in the mouth like a flower. It is my favorite of the two.

Have any of you pettes a favorite tea? Please tell me about it. I would be thrilled to try more varieties.

Miss Sushuri Madonna replied: I have never had Kuan Yin tea. It sounds most exciting!

My very favouritest tea is Gyokuro, which is a fine Japanese tea, probably too expensive for me to buy, but my dear cousin sent some (actually for an elder of my household, but one partakes!

Gunpowder Green is a very nice tea which comes in affordable little boxes from our (relatively) local Filipino supermarket (though the tea is in fact Chinese).

I think having the right teacups is very important. We have some gorgeous Japanese ones which we were fortunate enough to acquire for 5/- (about ($10).

Well if one is not that lucky, some dear little Chinese teacups are readily available at reasonable prices from any Chinese supermarket.

Happy drinking!

*************************************

When you have found your perfect tea to drink, serve it in the perfect setting, whether it be a Japanese tea-house, or a summer garden:

Miss Melinda May added: I found this receipt for the perfect afternoon tea:

Use the prettiest, most delicate, china tea service you can.

Make sure your cutlery is gleaming bright.

Set the table with a snowy white lacy or linen table cloth and matching napkins.

Use tealeaves rather than teabags and provide a tea strainer.

As well as milk and sugar (lumps for preference, with silver tongs) have a small dish of sliced lemons.

Provide two teapots – one containing the actual tea and one with hot water.

Have a three-tiered cake stand with sandwiches on the bottom tier, freshly baked scones on the middle tier and a selection of fruitcake and fairy/cream cakes on the top tier. Place paper doilies on each tier before placing the food on it.

Suggested sandwich filling are: thinly sliced cucumber, salmon, and cream cheese. Use a mixture of white and brown/granary bread. Sandwiches should have the crusts removed and be cut into small triangles.

Garnish your sandwiches with a little mustard and cress or watercress and pretty up the scone and cake tiers by adding a few strawberries or other soft fruit.

Put jam, honey, clotted cream and butter into small individual pots or dishes.

Ideally, and weather permitting, serve your afternoon tea out of doors.

Although, I would suggest, not so far from the house that you would get soaked if it did start to rain!

Tea and Angelic Music Thursday, Feb 14 2008 

teahouse1We had a nice impromptu meeting at the Embassy. The house had actually been locked up because of a security problem and nobody had a key. Fraulein Landgrebe and I were standing disconsolately outside the front door like Latchkey Kids sans latchkey (actually we weren’t disconsolate at all, we were having a lovely chat). When Miss Yatsenko popped along she had the intelligent idea (why didn’t we?) of adjourning to the lovely tea house on the roof.

Since we used to spend all our time in said tea house before the downstairs began to be furnished, I can’t imagine why I didn’t think thereof. But I then I am well known for being a well-known Chinese snack known as a Dim Shroom.

Then – joy of joys – my beloved Cousin, returned from Japan, was able to pop in and take tea with us.

Miss Yatsenko was talking fascinatingly to Fraulein Landgrebe about music. She is dreadfully expert in the mathematics of musical theory and listens to Bach with a pen and paper, analysing the creative mathematics. To a shroom who loves but cannot even read music, this was more than impressive.

Die Fraulein is a wonderful linguist and organiser, Miss Yatsenko clearly a musical sorceress, dear Yu-chei is far clever at Japanese than my poor smatterings, and so knowledgeable about Chinese as well as being an accomplished Vikhelic artist (and blonde too!) We are surrounded by such clever maidens, I feel more than ever like the family Dim Shroom.

Miss Fraulein quoted an atheist who said “There is no God, but if there were, Bach would be God”. Curiously – or perhaps not curiously – this is a wonderfully precise inversion of the truth, for “God geometrises always” as Plato said. Mathematics, as Sai Hermya taught (the very ancient one – not Hermya of Rayapurh), and as the Tellurian Pythagoreans knew, is the very basis of the universe in a way far different from that imagined by modern physics (although the mathematical approach of modern physics perhaps stands to traditional cosmology in the relation of a peasant pidgin to a high sacred language long forgotten).

I too love Bach and much other music, and though I cannot analyse it (I should love to learn) I somehow feel its relation to the Music of the Spheres. I spoke to a wise Ranya once about whether it was meet for a child of the Motherland (even in exile) so to adore the works of the Outlander, and she said “Why, my child, do you suppose it is called music? Because, where it is true and pure it is written directly by the Muse, through the hand of whomever she chooses.”

So I feel truly that in Bach I am listening not to the music of a mascul, but of the Angels.

Poems from Miss Mayhew Friday, Aug 3 2007 

Miss Victoria Mayhew confided:

The discussion of Novarian games and Japanese culture reminded me that I had written some Japanese-styled poems to a brunette, long ago; Cassandra was her name. Alas, we were not meant to be! She married another. However, while we were in each other’s company, we wrote each other many poems.

I tried my hand at writing both tanka and haiku. Tanka is actually a much older style than haiku. Haiku is from the age of the samurai; tanka comes from the heyday of Heian-kyo, a time when the romantic love of women was exalted.

I hesitate to share these – I have longed to share my literary efforts here for some time. I am afraid that my work might be somewhat too “riskay” – it is no more explicit than the poetry of Sappho, but as I am sure I have mentioned before, I was raised in a very modest household. (Arcadia is in some ways more modest than Quirinelle!) Part of what made beauty and romantic love so beautiful and romantic, in my family, was the way they were whispered in a trembling voice rather than cried out to the heavens; some things were quite private, and that was that.

These poems were the fruit of my desperate longing. Cassandra is in my past now; she is happy with her wife, and she has published some of the poems that she wrote me, so perhaps it is safe for me to show some of the poems that I wrote her. Again, I hope they are not too flagrant.

I tried to be true to the spirit of Heian culture first, and only secondarily to the strict syllable counts that true Japanese poetry demands. It was a difficult decision, but real tanka and haiku are meant to be spoken, and they sound best to the ear if they are spoken in Japanese. Trying to convey the proper mood in written English is difficult enough. So often when one tries to force English to bend to Japanese rhythms, the result is stilted and artificial and most un-Real.

About the second to last haiku. I don’t think Nippon ever had any kestrels, but the kestrel was a bird that Cassandra identified with, so I allowed myself a conceit.

Linked Tanka

I.

Swift the dawn rises
stretching her arms to the sky
smiling at a dream;
but soon the day is obscured
by the clouds of your absence.

II.

Behind rice paper
we whisper our love, breathing
soft sighs; our deep looks
are hidden behind spread fans.
Ah! Can we not see open air?

III.

The plum blossoms weep,
without you to behold them;
in the lonely night,
the moon cries without comfort.
Alone, I too am weeping.

IV.

Your hands are white, and
soft as silk against my breasts;
white as lightning in night.
Soft the thunder as it breaks,
sweeter than sake the rain!

Haiku (mostly unlinked)

I.

From the first thunder of spring
bloom roses:
the night petals of longing

II.

A cat cries in want
of a lover; would that I felt
the sweet stroke of your hand!

III.

I tilt my head back
to slake my thirst with warm rain –
I am lightning-soft.

IV.

This storm will not bate,
it seems; I am blown away
in wind and thunder.

V.

The roses burn, a
flaming sacrifice to
the goddess of my want.

VI.

The rains have gone, and
you with them: memory lies
on the roses – dew.

VII.

Your honour lies in my hands,
where you have placed it.
Why is it so sharp?

VIII.

We met in battle;
what folly, to engage in war
without armour!

IX.

Beyond the cherry blossoms,
a stable tree’s trunk:
ah! mad, fleeting spring!

X.

The cup brims over;
the sweet wine of love’s promise –
my parched throat cries thirst!

XI.

The veil is lifted.
Now truly I see the face
of living beauty!

XII.

A kestrel flew away –
why can I not spread my wings
and follow the wind?

XIII.

Cold and desolate
blows the wind from my city
to your far abode.

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