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PostPosted: Sun Apr 26, 2009 8:30 pm 
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Even if you're that confident in yourself and your goodness, what becomes of the kingdom when you die? This is why even a "benevolent dictatorship" is dangerous: even if you resist selfishness your whole life, who's to say your child or successor will? If you cannot believe in the seductive influence of power (even power to do good), I think we can agree that the safest thing to do, in terms of freeing the Bahro, is to give them control over their own destiny, and not risk that some successor to that rule would never plant the seed of hegemonic domination again.


This was one of the things I was concerned about as well.

Imagine we were to teach the Art to other people...: How could we make sure that they don't turn into imposing beings as the D'ni did or into so-thought god beings as Gehn did?

What would you tell a student, if he/she asks: "If we are creating the age, why aren't we then Gods?" Within common belief this would be a divine act and I guess that is why most of us thought creation school can't be the right way.

I do appreciate the creation school idea being the other possibility as opposition to the linking school. I - with regret - have to admit that the things which happened in Age 37 leave me with nothing but to admit that creation school is the only logical answer so far.

Sometimes I do however suspect that (OCC) Cyan themselves were still playing around with the concept of the whole Art stuff, so they might have "allowed" themselves another "mistake".

Back to the main point...: There's unfortunately no way to tell that your kingdom is to be safe, or that people will never do the same mistakes again. This is where in our (IC) new D'ni, we would have to set up rules and governments to take care of these things.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 26, 2009 9:33 pm 
Ro'Mallinson wrote:
If you cannot believe in the seductive influence of power (even power to do good), I think we can agree that the safest thing to do, in terms of freeing the Bahro, is to give them control over their own destiny, and not risk that some successor to that rule would never plant the seed of hegemonic domination again.


But it wasn't the safest thing to do. Bahro have died because of it. Wheely died because of it. I'm all for freedom up to a point, but a definition of "safe" that allows for mass killing of sentients is a trifle broad for me. It was, in the terms set up by the game, the "right" thing to do, but it was in no way safe, or responsible, or wise. I would rather have seen the question of the freedom of the bahro handled realistically in the online game, with the development of a common language, information exchange, and the building of a foundation for peaceful co-existence. Instead we get a plot token. :evil:

Using power is dangerous, yes. Life is dangerous. We take risks whenever we go to sleep, or cross the road, or get in the shower. The only way to avoid risk completely is to die. A benevolent dictatorship is better than a malevolent one for the time in which it exists, and that's all we can ask for because the present moment is the only one over which we have control. See my "Esher alternative": the bahro won't take the Tablet till you put it down. So you put it down. In a flash Esher links in, throws a fire marble at the curtain (sorry, wrong game) and grabs the Tablet while everyone's distracted. Now he's got it, and that's got to be worse than all the other possibilities, including you (or Watson) hanging on to it.

How do we make sure the people we teach the Art to don't misuse it? We can't. So our choice is to hoard it ourselves, like misers, because no-one can be trusted except us--can you see the danger there?--or leave it alone, try to forget it exists and hope to heaven it doesn't get discovered by someone who isn't as nice as us. There isn't a safe choice. The least dangerous of all the dangerous choices is to teach the Art to absolutely everyone who can learn it, because then nobody has a secret source of power and everybody has the means to escape from any control that anyone might try to impose.

What would I tell a student if s/he asked why we weren't gods? Well, I would start, Zen-master-like, by hitting him or her very hard over the head with my stick and asking him or her if s/he was a god yet. Repeat prescription till I get the right answer. Common belief be darn. If humans can do it, it's not an exclusively divine act. That's basic logic, and anyone who doesn't grasp it would be too stupid to learn the Art in the first place.

Rules and governments do not help. There's nothing Obama can do to prevent someone worse than his predecessor from taking over in 2012, and he shouldn't be trying. There is only one thing you can do to prevent bad people taking over, and that is to step up to the plate and take over yourself. Sitting in the dugout wringing your hands won't work. Sad but true.

You do the best you can in the moment where you are. That's all you can do, and if it goes wrong, then it goes wrong. Second-guessing yourself, rejecting power the way Yeesha advocates, is merely a way of salving your own conscience for the evil that may come if you use power, but will inevitably come if you are not empowered to prevent it.

Oh, and "my lot" = the British.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 27, 2009 5:02 am 
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What would I tell a student if s/he asked why we weren't gods? Well, I would start, Zen-master-like, by hitting him or her very hard over the head with my stick and asking him or her if s/he was a god yet. Repeat prescription till I get the right answer. Common belief be darn. If humans can do it, it's not an exclusively divine act. That's basic logic, and anyone who doesn't grasp it would be too stupid to learn the Art in the first place.


So people who prefer to stay with the canon and who were thinking that Linking school is the only right thing and who believe in God and think that creating worlds belongs to him wouldn't be accepted? Or even worse, you would force your belief upon them in your very questionable, so called "Zen-master" way?!

I'm sorry but that goes too far for me. :evil:

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Rules and governments do not help. There's nothing Obama can do to prevent someone worse than his predecessor from taking over in 2012, and he shouldn't be trying.


Anarchy won't help either. And the fact that humanity has established rules and governments from first civilisations on proves that people want to have rules to observe (or not) and governemts to be lead by (or to oppose against and be angry about). And I'm sure that this tendency would show itself in the cavern as well. In a way it already has, because the DRC is the main leader of expeditions. They decide to open or close the cavern and most of us stuck with them even though we sometimes didn't like what they said and did (especially when they closed the cavern again). (Sorry for the strong IC-ing!)

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 27, 2009 6:46 am 
Hitana wrote:
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What would I tell a student if s/he asked why we weren't gods? Well, I would start, Zen-master-like, by hitting him or her very hard over the head with my stick and asking him or her if s/he was a god yet. Repeat prescription till I get the right answer. Common belief be darn. If humans can do it, it's not an exclusively divine act. That's basic logic, and anyone who doesn't grasp it would be too stupid to learn the Art in the first place.


So people who prefer to stay with the canon and who were thinking that Linking school is the only right thing and who believe in God and think that creating worlds belongs to him wouldn't be accepted? Or even worse, you would force your belief upon them in your very questionable, so called "Zen-master" way?!

I'm sorry but that goes too far for me. :evil:


This has to be a deliberate misunderstanding. My response was to the question "What would you tell a student, if he/she asks: "If we are creating the age, why aren't we then Gods?"" That was, I believe, the question you hypothetically proposed. My response to people who "prefer to stay with the canon and who were thinking that Linking school is the only right thing and who believe in God and think that creating worlds belongs to him" would, of course, be entirely different, as that is an entirely different question. But such people would not come to me to learn anyway, because I make no secret of my beliefs and they would believe me to be a godless blasphemer and teacher of heresy. I'm sure there would be plenty of other teachers around to tell them what they want to hear. By the same token, anyone who came to me to learn and then asked that question ("If we are creating the age, why aren't we then Gods?") would be baiting me.

As for "Zen-master style," yes, I agree it's questionable, but a quick search on the net will show you it's quite real:

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ZEN BUDDHISM HAS BEEN WIDELY POPULARIZED in the West through the writings of individuals such as Alan Watts and D. T. Suzuki, not to mention Philip Kapleau’s The Three Pillars of Zen and Eugen Herrigel’s Zen in the Art of Archery. As means toward enlightenment, it predominantly utilizes zazen meditation—sitting and counting/watching one’s breath—and koans such as “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” Its Rinzai sect in particular further employs behaviors intended to shock disciples out of their normal state into enlightened awareness, and to aid in the “death of the ego” of the student—for which they also utilize “the stick”:

Zen teachers have an excellent method of dealing with students who start comparing themselves to Buddha or God [after their early enlightenment experiences, says Ken Wilber]. “They take the stick and beat the crap out of you. And after five or ten years of that, you finally get over yourself” (Horgan, 2003a).

That, however, is simply a ludicrously romanticized version of physical abuse meted out in the name of spirituality. In reality, such “crap-beating” behavior only shows the tempers and tendencies toward violence of individuals who are naïvely viewed by their followers as being spiritually enlightened.

Richard Rumbold, an English Zen enthusiast, who spent about five months at the Shokokuji, a monastery in Kyoto, describes some savage beatings-up administered by the head monk and his assistant for trifling disciplinary offences (Koestler, 1960).

Such brutal discipline could, further, easily get completely out of hand. Indeed, as a true story told to Janwillem van de Wetering (1999) during his long-term stay at a Japanese Zen monastery in Kyoto in the early 1970s goes:

In Tokyo there are some Zen monasteries as well. In one of these monasteries ... there was a Zen monk who happened to be very conceited. He refused to listen to whatever the master was trying to tell him and used the early morning interviews with the master to air all his pet theories. The masters have a special stick for this type of pupil. Our master has one, too, you will have seen it, a short thick stick. One morning the master hit the monk so hard that the monk didn’t get up any more. He couldn’t, because he was dead....

The head monk reported the incident to the police, but the master was never charged. Even the police know that there is an extraordinary relationship between master and pupil, a relationship outside the law.


(from "Stripping the Gurus"--if you think that's biased, try this which is written by actual Zen masters)

If we're getting to the point where you have to try that kind of rhetorical judo on me, then I begin to think we're done here. I've been through that before on various fora and I don't enjoy it. My beliefs speak for themselves.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 28, 2009 9:06 pm 
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Here's a little thing to nibble on: while there may be an infinite amount of possible ages, how much "stuff" is there, to shape actual ages out of? :9


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2009 2:11 am 
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I think that would be creating an age as much as you create a building out of brick and mortar- we call the people who do it architects. :D

Would they be gods of the buildings then? I'm afraid this is reeking of sidetrack, but if we're going in this direction we're going to have to define the term "god" for the argument; it's already clear we have some different opinions on this...

*sigh* Here we go...

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2009 6:53 am 
Good questions both, Sensei-sama.

Yes, I think being an architect is being creative, just like story-making, composing, painting or any other art, and I think that is the level on which an Age Writer creates. I define "God" as "the one who created the materials, the architects, the brains that could conceive the notion of "architecture" and the multiverse in which all this could take place." Which puts him (or her) far enough ahead of you or me with our kindergarten universes as to be unthreatened, I think. Of course, you might believe in a number of gods, but then polytheistic systems usually allow for some degree of mobility between mortality and godhood anyway. It's the monotheists who have the jealous gods.

All human creation is secondary--that is, it uses pre-existing materials such as wood, stone, paper, ink, paint, plastic, or in the case of an Age Writer, the raw stuff of the cosmos. To that extent it could be said that what we're doing here is quibbling over words, but I don't think it is. I believe (and the proponents of the linking theory do not believe) that the words of the Writer do actually shape a universe, blow a bubble in space-time and arrange the mass and energy in it into a life-bearing world, just as a composer's marks on paper become a storm or a love song or the story of Christ in music. Our brains were made with this capability, to form ideas, pictures, music, words, about things that have never existed in our reality, and bring them--to some extent--into that reality. The Art is just the next step.

Assuming the Art exists, there are just the two options: that Yahvo created all possible realities, or that Yahvo created all possibility and left us to make our realities. I find the second option preferable, for many reasons. (I can't remember if I've mentioned the sand castle analogy yet. Which sounds more like a loving parent: "Let's go to the beach and you can make a sand castle" or "Let's go to the beach and--as long as you don't damage them--you can look at the sand castles I made last night"?)

If someone honestly prefers the idea that they are not now and never will be allowed to make their own sand castles, then I have no logical argument that will sway them. Likewise they have none that can sway me. I'm not daunted by the idea of the power involved, or by the mistakes that people have made in the past; they're how we learn not to do what doesn't work. Not believing the creative theory does not lessen the exploitation or the suffering caused by hegemonic thinking, because that happens anyway as we've seen. Whether you create the Age, or simply discover it, the lesson that has to be taught is that it doesn't belong to you, any more than a child does. Less than a child does, in fact. You're just looking after it for the moment, helping it where needed and otherwise letting it develop in its own way. You're responsible for it, but you don't have any rights to it.

Does that make my position clearer?


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2009 11:23 am 
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Indeed one could argue that with the scenario where all possible ages already fully exist and any descriptive book written is the equivalent of walking into a travel agent's and asking for a ticket to a sunny place with nice beaches, the visitor is LESS likely to behave responsibly. "Ok, so I wrote this fiery abyss age, where everybody suffers all the time - so what, it's not like it wasn't here all the time." That writer should still understand that he has no right to throw litter all over the beach, of course... :7

The maintainers would burn any book describing an unstable age... What would be the purpose of that, really? To hide the dirty D'ni fingerprints all over them? Did they think it would do anything to the age? Were they generally unsure?


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2009 1:09 pm 
I suppose they would say it was to prevent anyone linking to it and endangering themselves, but I suspect a collective CYA. As for unsureness (the foundation of all intelligent thought) I think it got schooled out of them at an early, er, age.

I'm not at all sure whether burning the Descriptive Book would destroy the Age, or whether it would simply "free" the Age from the control that the Writer exerted over it. There's a difference of kind between the willed and prescriptive act of creation and simply destroying the paper on which the Book is Written. Atrus didn't burn the Riven book, if that part of Exile is correct, and the change that "closed" the Age came from the Stranger's actions inside it.

Incidentally, I was wrong earlier when I said that Gehn's last changes to Age 37 consisted of crossing things out; as someone pointed out, he negated the statements that had been added. I'm not sure what that does to my "additive/subtractive" theory, though it could be argued that they were still "subtractive" changes. Or not, I suppose, depending what one is trying to prove.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 30, 2009 12:43 am 
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So, by your definition, Zander, a god is one who creates elements. So you did infact create a living being in your book (were to write one) and should take responsibility as such. I think that might be enough to make some people power-loony, but we'll roll with it.

As for unstable ages -ages that defy the laws of reality- I think that stands heavily for zander's position. It implies that A) there are existing rules of reality, space, and time themselves and B) that you can at least attempt to create that which can never occur. inb4 "Steven Hawking said _______." I think that the laws of theoretical physics are both likely to come up and don't really have bearing when we're dealing with Yahvo/The Maker/whatever.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 30, 2009 8:01 am 
Sensei wrote:
So, by your definition, Zander, a god is one who creates elements. So you did in fact create a living being in your book (were to write one) and should take responsibility as such.


I've written two, published this year through Lulu.com, and I'm still trying to find a real publisher for some of these others. And yes, I'm comfy with the idea. Of course, since my books don't link, my characters are unlikely to come bursting into my room shouting "WHYYYYYYYY?????"...but I do try to play fair with them and not be a cruel god.:) Mostly writing light comedy helps with that.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 30, 2009 3:18 pm 
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Now Zander, while there have been negative acts taken by the Bahro since they were freed of their enslavement, it doesn't follow that they should not have been promptly freed. That's like saying that since black people commit crimes, their slavery should never have ended.

Now there's a difference between the risk of going to sleep every night (to suddenly die, I suppose?) and the risk of creating a legitimation of dominance culture-wide. A dictatorship of any kind cannot be justified, even if you have good intentions through your control. Your alternatives for the Art is not an exhaustive list: the other option is to continue using the Art, but through a prerequisite education in humility and cultural relatavism. As for the tablet, if it is indeed a tablet that controls all of one race, then no, there's no such thing as using it for good. If I had a tablet that controlled every human on the planet, I would do EVERYTHING in my power to destroy it, because even if I somehow convinced myself that it was a good thing to have, whoever finds it afterwards could make Hitler look like a sixth-grade bully.

And Sensei, remember that it's not the buildings that make the Art a remarkable achievement... it's the planets themselves, and the people, more importantly. Godhood would hypothetically be deduced from having created people from nothing, if the Creation school were accepted, and from that possibly that your creations are inherently beneath you in importance; that was always my concern. Therefore using sand castles and houses as analogies is insufficient: you forget the real issue, and that's the people you may subjugate. It's also insufficient to compare the Art with fictional novels, because their characters don't have the ontological status of "existence" the way residents of ages do, unless you accept the philosophical idea, "The chicken has three legs", two original, and one in your mind.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 30, 2009 4:24 pm 
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The art doesn't allow you to specify lifeforms, though -- only set conditions that are favourable to their emergence.

How Atrus managed to exactly recreate the blue flowers from the cleft, in his first age, under those circumstances, I have no idea. :7


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 30, 2009 6:10 pm 
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Well, while you have no control over whether or not there are people on your Age, they sometimes appear, and those who believe themselves to be the lords of their Ages believe that their creations (inadvertant though they may be) are inherently inferior life forms, in the same way Descartes speculated that "since" God created us, we, as being caused by him, have less "reality" in our bodies than He has. It's that kind of crap that I'm trying to avoid. =)


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 30, 2009 6:41 pm 
Ro'Mallinson wrote:
Now Zander, while there have been negative acts taken by the Bahro since they were freed of their enslavement, it doesn't follow that they should not have been promptly freed. That's like saying that since black people commit crimes, their slavery should never have ended.


True, and I'm not saying that. I have reiterated several times that, within the terms of the game, freeing the bahro was the "right" thing to do, and I stand by that. But did we really free them?

Suppose the situation were reversed, and Doctor Richard Bahro had made his way through perils unnumbered to secure the Magic Paperweight that controlled all the humans. He faces the final choice, and he gives the thing to "the humans." Or rather, to a human. Does it really not matter which human it is? Of course it does. Watson gave the Tablet to a bahro, not to "the" bahro. Unless, as has been speculated but never established, they have some kind of group mind, one bahro now has the key to the power to control all bahro--if what we were told is true. Maybe the war is because of that. I don't know, and neither does anyone else. We can only know what we see and what we're told. The tablet that apparently controls all the bahro was given into the hands of one of them, and now they are fighting a war. Whether it was a war they were fighting before the D'ni (allegedly) enslaved them and stopped it, or whether it's one they've just decided to start now they're (presumably) free, we don't know.

Anyway.

I don't believe you can teach humility. Remember that Yeesha said the D'ni came to this Age to seek "leastness." Look how well that worked out. It seems pointless (some call it a definition of insanity) to repeat the approach that didn't work before in the hope that it will work this time. I also don't think it's relevant, because as I've said, I don't believe "pride" is the problem.

You can teach equality, and equality is good. Humility, for most of us, is sour wine that curdles in the gut and leads to resentment and anger. I'm all for teaching equality along with the Art. I wouldn't touch humility with a bargepole.

Also, cultural relativism and the Prime Directive are all very well, but it's not hard to find real-life examples on this planet where it simply isn't good enough--where a culture is oppressing and brutalising people, standing by and doing nothing is being complicit in the oppression and brutalisation. There are other ways of doing good and causing change than by force or by conquest; but remember, "for evil to triumph, all that is required is for good men to do nothing."

It seems to me that you still think there's a simple, across-the-board answer to all this, and it's one I've heard many times, from many people, since I was Called. Refuse power. Abjure pride. Look but don't touch. Be humble. Sit quietly and wait to be told what to do. And then there's the part they never quite say out loud, but that follows logically from all the rest: Don't use the Art.

That's the core of it, the subtext to all this talk of power and pride; that's why Myst V is called "End of Ages." The Art is power, so the unspoken argument goes, the Art leads to pride. The Art caused the Fall. (It didn't, but who's counting?) The Art is evil. Don't use it. Don't Write Ages. Don't travel to them. Don't try to learn it. Let it perish.

Sorry, not buying any of it. Power exists. You can use it, or you can let somebody else use it. You can't stop it being used.

I've given my definition of godhood in the earlier comment. I don't accept that creating people is a sign of godhood; we've been doing it, in pairs, for thousands of years, bringing new intelligent life forms into the world. Do parents believe that their children are less important than they are? Well, maybe some do, but they learn differently. We can prevent misuse of the power of the Art, if we are determined enough to take hold of it and control it and make sure the right lessons are taught along with it. Teaching humility under Yahvo has failed, again and again. Even the Least have shown that they won't have any truck with it. Let's get away from Yeesha's self-hating, self-abnegating mystical twaddlings, and make ourselves fit guardians for this gift.


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