The Republic of Letters (Ten Years Hence)

The Republic of Letters (Ten Years Hence)

Postby Glenn » Sat Aug 03, 2019 9:22 am

Sylvius,

I send this to Darkenhold. As such, you may not receive it. That would suit me. I have purposefully not kept up on happenings in Myrken Wood so that I did not intervene prematurely. It is still premature, but life has pushed me further, sooner.

Know that I could reach you if I truly desired to. Know also that the means for me reaching you would be both whimsical and insufferable to you. You would appreciate it as you suffered it and the knowledge that you were found if you did not want to be. Moreover, you would appreciate the contradiction therein. Of course you would.

This aggravates me in a way that many other things do not. At no point previous in my past do I think I would actually admit that to you, but here we are now, both of us, at the end of so much. Different challenges, different losses, different incapacitations, and it is best we do not compare. While I would be loathe to suggest areas where I am your better (honestly; not to think, necessarily, or to ponder, for I am but human and one who was both forced and fortunate to play second to you in a great many things during a formative time, through no fault of your own), I believe you to be one to look backwards in melancholy far more so than I.

I understand the notion, but I have come to see little value in it. Again, I do not wish to compare losses, but mine are incalculable to the point of incomprehension. It is not a person or a thing or a memory or a time that lays behind me, but instead an entirely different state of being. It is simply not productive. If I am haunted, it is by pressures, external and internal, not of my making (but of course entirely of my making, just neither of my intention nor my own Power.

I imagine you'll have found this diverting so far. I intend to return to Myrken. I have plans. They are of a more indirectly sort than those you would have previously seen out of me, ones involving industry and negotiation with those who need us as much as we need them, which is a rare state for both humans in general and Myrken Wood in specific. I possess such bias, such categories of bias, some stemming from loss, some from affliction, some from affection, some from desperation.

I do not expect, or even hope, for you to be a check upon me. Your past maladies and aforementioned melancholy have kept you from being a force for good or ill in Myrken Wood; were you to be such a force, we both know it would not be here. I have nowhere else but Myrken, and I say this on the road back from Razasan with all of its distractions and splendors (though I have found my own distractions, both splendid and glamorous, which is part of the issue at play).

I ask only for one (1) conversation, where you may exasperate me and be exasperated by me, where artificial limits, ones tempered by previous experience more than a lack of faith in your process, my capacity for understanding and enlightenment, or your abilities, will drive our mutual impatience.

At the end, if it is still worth anything to you, I will tell you of my conversations with Farzah, now many years back. I am not one to seek assistance empty handed.

In good faith,
Glenn Burnie
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Re: The Republic of Letters (Ten Years Hence)

Postby Duquesne » Sun Aug 04, 2019 4:56 am

Glenn,

We modern things are not unlike our ancient progenitors – we are beset by an ancestral instinct to hunt, locate, and feed on that bit of victory, be it a bloody supper, a rare tome, or a man who may wish not to be found. Yet finding what few others can is particular work. An art. The shelves of Darkenhold’s library bear witness.

Some of this whimsy you describe does entertain me. Its relationship to that insufferableness or appreciation of contradiction I might expect were you to suddenly appear here must wait to be fulfilled, for on this occasion it is your penmanship, your thought, that faces me now and not your physical self. Nevertheless, you have – even indirectly – gotten me where I may not intend to be found, if indeed I am willfully choosing discretion. Understand, I am not.

“But here we are now,” you wrote, “at the end of so much.” And here we are at the very beginning of more.

Comparison cannot be drawn between our challenges, our losses, you also wrote. On this we agree.

For such manner of discourse – any weighing of balances, from incalculable and incomprehensible losses to maladies, melancholy, detachment from the good or ill of Myrken, or any such personal subject – cannot be sound talk for our like. Certainly not when dire Circumstance has come and gone and Time with it. Perhaps we understand each other less than we ever did, if we ever truly did, so much having elapsed in our respective lives – too much to account. It is clear to me neither of us are what we were, yet it is apparent we are just the same as we were despite all.

A single conversation is what you seek? Perhaps it is already begun in earnest, for exasperation of the order you described commenced with your closing lines. That early whimsy fast fades under the implication of your – unsanctioned – dialogue with my prisoner.

We will speak of Farazh, yes, at the end of this. With respect for you, and for the swordswoman who was or is still perhaps your teacher, I will take care to withhold judgment of your intentions in that matter until we can meet. Some stories are best told eye to eye.

Tell me, then, where do you wish to begin our conversation?

S. Duquesne
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Re: The Republic of Letters (Ten Years Hence)

Postby Glenn » Wed Aug 07, 2019 5:39 am

Sylvius,

There are more laborious letters ahead of me, ones to Aloisius, to Gloria Wynsee. Even with a vague undertone of dread or retribution that seems to dance with your whimsy (and for good reason; it may come up later in this letter and it may not), writing you remains far more pleasant than those. The latter is of particular strain. Have you experienced this situation before:

There is someone who would be of use to your plans, someone that they would be of use to, someone you wish to convince. Your intentions are good. Her intentions are good. Perhaps those plans are not fully formulated and she would be an aid in honing them. On the other hand, if not convinced, or if you are only able to convince by contorting those plans in a shape that would be good for her but not for others, she would oppose. The more you tell her, the more dangerous she would be, good intentions or no. It no longer becomes about the independent merit of the plans themselves, but a more complicated calculus. You must give enough but not too much. You must change enough but not too much. In the end, it's best to seek aid elsewhere, but the door has been opened and the genie escaped.

I've reached a point in my life where I make a metaphor, turn a phrase, and have to double back and clarify that it not a literal genie that has escaped. That's half the concern in and of itself. Djinn. That's what they'd be called in 'r Chyr'laud, no? Is there a difference or is it just a matter of translation?

It'd the wrong folklore, anyway. Too early for the right. It's best that comes after our talk of your unsanctioned prisoner (I found you, but did I misplace a word?).

Allow me to straddle the matter and be boorish at the same time: have you ever encountered a matriarchy? Is the difference one of nature or nurture, do you think? They birth children. Our leaders do not. Does that make them value life more? Is that what matters or is it something else, something secondary fostered over time? It needen't be a matriarchy. It can be a race of near-immortals relative to we short-lived humans.

Our mortality. You've faced it directly. Is it our strength? We grow and change. We face adversity. Everything is hard. Everything is capricious. One bad harvest, one bad storm, one errant animal, the wind blowing the wrong way, sickness in the air. We do not have great powers and endless chances. All we have is each other. Numbers and breeding. Short lives where mistakes inform the next generation. Having only one chance means we must learn from those who came before us. We must learn to choose differently, to take different risks. Do we, though? Do we have the freedom to keep note or are we so oppressed that we can never stop long enough to reflect and so beleaguered that we cannot muster the will to make the effort? Not as a people. Why isn't it a better than it is and how can we make it so?

I do not, anymore, think we can do it alone. I also think it can take generations, but that we must also provide succor for those who will build the road, those who suffer now.

If you know nothing else about myself, about those things that have changed and those that remain, know that I still intend this, even after my mistakes.

Whatever I have learned, it was not in opposition to this aim.

Glenn
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Re: The Republic of Letters (Ten Years Hence)

Postby Duquesne » Thu Aug 08, 2019 8:58 am

Glenn,

The situation you describe I have experienced, in the past. Variously. Navigating those waters must be among the greatest challenges, for no foothold seems secure for long; no negotiation seems anything less than slippery and perilous. Whether outcomes are dangerous or beneficial or some combination of both, this might be the only surety: If you must convince, your integrity and a great measure of patience will serve you.

Djinn, I am familiar. In the ‘r Chyr’laud language, we might call them 'cythreuliaid,' devils, or perhaps 'ysbrydion,' spirits. Yet I think these words may not possess the same value as 'djinn' as we understand it.

I may not speak easily of near-immortals, demigods, but I can say only that the method of governance I observed from the ‘r Chyr’laud matriarchate from boyhood to adulthood was not much removed from the methods of today’s more prevalent patriarchies. My observation has been that the perspective of women in leadership can be as diverse as that of men, that a woman who rules, whether an empire or a household, may be as beneficent or tyrannical as a man with the same power. It may not be a question of nature or nurture in opposition, no ‘either/or,’ nor a question of innate maternal values as opposed to paternal ones; some men can value life at greater levels than some women. In general terms, there may be no real division that separates them in practice, leaving us with only the immense potential for variation among individuals. As you wrote, humans do not have endless chances, only short lives, numbers and breeding, and yes, one another. Regardless of sex, our most fundamental priorities as human animals – we are arguably animals by nature – hinge upon longevity, the carrying on of legacies, and gain, among other things. This is not to suggest we are slaves to procreation and acquisition, but I indicate we inherit certain basic functions when we are conceived and are – despite the higher aspirations generated by our intelligence as a species – at the mercy of our instincts still. Instincts that are heavily disguised by the more advanced capabilities of our cognitive minds, a fact that leads to a great deal of confusion regarding social and personal outcomes.

But such musings do not answer your questions simply and with any satisfying result. My experiences of culture and government and race and gender have been so various as to leave me without useful definition, other than to say that generalizations are inadequate when it comes to understanding people on an individual basis. I will consider it further and perhaps look for a chance at elaboration.

You are right, we must learn from our predecessors, our histories, and learn to cultivate more efficient or more effective practices. “Better Days,” as Ariane has said. But as generations overlap and as power is slow to change or slow to change hands, change itself for the better occurs at a glacier’s pace, slow and cumbersome and over-burdened with erratics, or relics, encased therein. Meanwhile, it seems change for the worse comes rapidly and is more difficult to repair. The young possess energy enough to drive revolutions; the old are weary, having had revolutions enough and resist change. Is the question then why we cannot find a means of being a people – together, as one, regardless of incredible difference of age, of culture and opinion and nationality and more? despite our place in time and space? What obscures the path to the betterment of culture and the betterment of individuals in a place like Myrken and its surrounds, in a place like Lanesse and the sands of the ‘r Chyr’laud – where many foreign and native wants compete, where no middle ground can be cultivated for long?

And you are right to believe we cannot move these mountains alone. I tried and failed time and again, challenging oppression but inflicting it in the same token, rising to the defense of one people only to condemn another. I am indeed the one to look back with solemnity on my past, on what I have done there. Foolish youth.

Islands, we are not, but islands we have been.

Why is it not better than it is and how can we make it so? You ask questions that are themselves immortal, questions more ancient than any society now in existence. Questions that are, I suspect, rooted in the fiber of human consciousness, ones we cannot help but ask.

How can things be made better in practice? States of equality, perhaps; the absence or mitigation of ambivalence. If we might speak in terms of governance, such conditions could promote individuals with merit and honor, those agreeing to serve and preserve a stable central authority founded on basic principles that all individuals of a society, foreign or otherwise, can agree upon. Agreeing, also and most importantly, to lay down personal intent and admit that reform in the genuine interest of all constituencies involved is both dependent upon the cultivation of individual integrity and collaborative in nature. What do all peoples desire? Security, prosperity, health, opportunity, trust, freedom, ownership, kinship. The list of universals is not lengthy, not as some suspect. Perhaps this is idealism; perhaps it is foolish of me, considering my past, to believe such an authority can thrive. Yet I have seen it function and endure elsewhere and know that if others are capable, so too are we.

I believe you when you say you are not in opposition to those aims you outlined, despite the courses of your life so far, those both chosen and inflicted. I believe it because I have lived the dichotomy, have stooped my shoulders to carry its burden, and know what it is to be diverted from noble intention into far muddier waters. It is the semblance of a state I know well. Do not mistake this for comparison. It is recognition.

As for mortality, I cannot say it is our strength. Yet I have peered into the eyes of immortality in the most unexpected circumstances and did not find wondrous advantage there, only more complexity, more burden on the order of tens of thousands of years. Mortality and immortality are matters of time and all that we strive for in life is a race for or against it, while it remains unremitting and insensate of our cares. Lately, my solution – or rather my experiment – for this troublesome issue has been a study of simplicity.

Given our short lives, I wonder if we might not make greater change if we daily consider that adversity consumes our time with fathomless appetite and that to accomplish anything of import in a short span we must meditate on the simplification of all pursuit. A complex choice demanding great effort might be exchanged for a simple choice with less time lost in the end. We do have the freedom to keep note, to choose differently, to choose different gambles. Oppression, while it may be inflicted either from within by one’s own self or without by some external force, is also a condition of the individual mind. People endure it by failing to observe its power; others reject its conditioning by choosing to view it as an artifact of consciousness, something happening to them, not as something innate or inevitable. An “extrinsic” agent, as Farazh once explained. But as I have been so beleaguered in former days, I also understand that drumming the will to change one’s mind in the midst of heavy oppression, whatever its origin, can be orders of magnitude more difficult than the mere articulation of language used to describe such things. It is therefore crucial that we not forget what it is like to be in this state, that we can return easily to it without taking care, and that if we do forget unwanted discord can occur between ourselves and those we hope to convince, or those who yet suffer their yoke.

Despite the exasperation expressed in my previous letter, if your writing to me in these terms is more favorable than the lettering ahead of you, and if I am the lesser of your concerns at this hour, then I am content in the present.

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Re: The Republic of Letters (Ten Years Hence)

Postby Glenn » Mon Aug 12, 2019 1:51 pm

Sylvius,

We are all but conditioned creatures in the end. Life has taught us a certain way to be and we respond accordingly. Sometimes this is warped through the lens of our own perception, of course. It always helps when we are provided suitable context by those around us. In this case, know this: I wrote as a man conditioned not to expect a response. Even in my response to your response.

Yet respond you had and now we must face it headlong.

Patience, you say. This is not quite as foreign a word to me as your cythreuliad (and why so long a word for so primal a concept? Do they think that the effort alone will serve as some sort of deterrent?). It is both harder and easier than it once was. Of he many things I have lost, time is one, and this at my own hand, or through my own weakness, at least. Not just, I suppose, but a few months in the labyrinth of Golben should be less of a black mark than three years hidden away in Razasan.

How much did she tell you? Do you know what my lessons cost? Discretion. I imagine she was far less discreet with you (not that she was with me, only that she expected it), but then you were more distant. I saw such things and I do think, you are right to a degree, as it does go back to condition and external stimuli. We are driven by the world around us. If we come from an environment of cruelty, we will develop accordingly. If it is somehow systemic over generations, then it will create a loop of sorts. It is appealing to think nature has no hand in it. That gives us a sort of freedom, if only we can experience enough things, learn enough, grow to a sufficient extent to escape our past. But then you see us dragged us down with our instincts, our base needs.

I am tempted not to generalize as well, but to take each person, each being as not a thing but instead a living, breathing entity. This is a very Myrken notion, I think, though one driven more out of necessity than largess. A broad, wholesale sort of hate is a luxury in and of itself. That said, we, without magic, with only human strength, with our lifespans, have few true protections; of these, one of the most potent is that of classification, organization. We can find commonalities, find patterns, start to make the unknown evident and bring illumination to the darkness.

You said so much more, and I do appreciate it. I read every word and some multiple times. I consider myself fortunate to have caught your attention, at least for now and only regret that we could not have begun this conversation earlier and, of course that we might continue it in days to come.

Your missive does seem at odds with the ideology you share with me: simplicity. That, in and of itself, is not enough to make me doubt you, but doubt you still I do. To answer every small slight and injustice with a tiny, achievable, beneficial deed or justice? It's not enough. It does not balance the scales. You cannot believe it so. There is some value in the idea that doing some small good is better than overreaching and failing to do any good at all, but what you note is the barest of survival. It is surrender. If that is the best we can do as a people, then we deserve the oppression of death, sorcery and pestilence.

Simplicity is yet another luxury we cannot afford.

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Re: The Republic of Letters (Ten Years Hence)

Postby Duquesne » Wed Aug 14, 2019 6:21 am

Glenn,

Permit me to clarify myself regarding simplicity. I feel it important, though in writing of it I may not address each of the points in your latest that I wish to, and may also make this letter longer than it needs to be.

I do not suggest, in any shape or form, that simplicity should be treated as an alternative to action, justice, or valor, nor that it can balance scales of social and moral injustices through meager acts of good will. It cannot accomplish these of its own merit.

It can, however, promote the well-being of those who command it. It can bring a cluttered or bewildered mind to focus. It can reduce the complex proceedings of political endeavor.

As you described it in the latter paragraph of your letter, in response to my overt musing, alas, simplicity does look like the barest form of survival—it does look like surrender. This connotation is not intended. You see, I cannot abide surrender in itself, alone without some nobler motive attached. As a tool, as a useful ruse in a binding situation, it is not without its worth, but only under constraint, only when surrender is the smartest and quickest route to the next point of one’s broader plan. Then we might call it something else—a maneuver, perhaps. Having both studied the confinement of prisons, you and I, prisons comprised of dank walls and steel bars, or prisons most metaphysical and terrible, I suspect we are like-minded on the subject of surrender. We do not take it lightly, not by any measure.

The simplification I wish to impress on you relates to the very protections you outlined: classification, organization, commonalities, patterns. These are methods of order, of acquiring and maintaining it. And it is order that lies at the heart of what I desire for us, Glenn, for all of us.

To carve order from a wilderness, this is a core of human pursuit. It is one face of a coin; on the other face lies chaos. Whether our pursuits in life are great or small, order and disorder are binary, in constant flux one with the other. Without tools by which we may mitigate these tides, we are trapped between forces beyond our control. In your sage words, we are dragged down with our instincts and base needs.

And what we create, we later abandon. History, whether inked on parchment, spoken at the fireside, or buried in the layers of earth we tread, shows us this is innate behavior. It cannot be changed, only calmed so that the peaks and valleys of our experience are not so drastic, not reduced to mere wastelands. It is smooth and rolling hills I imagine instead.

To be mindful of our acquisitions and wastes—mindful as a near constant state of being—is to toe the line between order and chaos. A simplification of one’s life can bring calm, if only for relative spans, to the front of this very human combat, and can offer us opportunities to peel back the margins of our terrestrial and mortal plane long enough to supersede the detritus of personal and collective histories.

There, I think, in that white space we can realize the most fundamental elements of well-being as individuals and as societies, where we can alter what we do and what we value at an essential level; at the level of foundations. I use an architect’s words here, unavoidably. We prepare the ground before the foundation, but first, before all, we choose the right ground. Bedrock, one of Ariane’s favored words, is what we seek. Simple bedrock for the complex structure to come.

Simplicity need not be classified as luxury, not that which only the privileged may enjoy—it may be the very root of our experience, accessible by all.

I philosophize. You know this of me—you know that, while it has its uses, this is a maddening trait. Even I find it maddening. Be assured, I am with you in your thinking: It is not enough to envision, not enough to merely survive. It is not enough to merely speculate without purpose. So let us speak of Myrken Wood a moment, if we are to speak of such things. I wish to know your thoughts, if only some.

Lately, I have learned leadership is scattered here and though I have not yet ventured out on tour, having barely arrived, I can imagine from previous experiences the effects this has caused the community, its industry and economy, its health and well-being. In your mind, what does a Myrken look like rebuilt and re-ordered? What elements of this rebuilt society matter most, above all other concerns?

What, in your view, is the first step in repairing this disorder?

Your teacher, she was ever careful of the details she shared with me. She spoke of your lessons together, of some interaction and conversation that I might answer those questions ever brewing in her sharp mind, but never did she betray your confidence by divulging overmuch. Discretion, yes. Discretion and honor. I have long admired her command of these things.

I too regret that we did not begin our letters earlier. I regret not seeking your company in past years, whether directly or by letter. When I returned from my unfortunate attempts at undoing the devastation Farazh’s actions began, I was hollow and distressed by what I had seen and, crucially, by what I had done. Many of those sacrifices were unnecessary and to this day I am unsure I performed any greater good by way of them. Lanessian histories will be my ultimate judge. Regardless, know that in future days, you can expect me to respond, and if you do not receive word, it will not be by choice or, perhaps, because I am dead. Even then, word of that will reach you and you will know.

Time we have lost and by our own doing, indeed, yet we are fortunate to be given another chance. How shall we use it best in the time we have left?

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Re: The Republic of Letters (Ten Years Hence)

Postby Glenn » Tue Aug 20, 2019 1:21 am

Sylvius,

I write you from the road, without comfort or stability. Were I in Razasan or back in Myrken, I could imagine somewhat less delay. Moreover, writing comes naturally for me, as much so as breathing. I choose here to force myself to take pause and think over my response. You have, of course, maintained long-term relationships even with those here in Myrken. We could look back on this letter, two years hence, with brandy or some such in hand, and smile knowingly at my ill-placed, precautionary tone.

Years ago now, Myrken called upon you to be Councilor of the Arts. As Governor, two, three years later, I would have valued you in that role. I had returned from beneath the earth less than myself, inhuman, unchecked. You would have served as a check. Instead, your replacement was a creature of disciplined vice. I do not blame you for this, but nor would I expect you to blame me for my tone or for the care I shall put into this and the next few letters, even if it comes at the expense of haste.

Valor. I am not sure I have written or spoken that word in ten years. There is a place for so many laudable things in Myrken Wood: brilliance and perseverance, compassion and resilience, but valor? Still, I suppose it can sit well enough in a letter.

Thank you for your clarification. As so often in situations like this, our views are not far apart. No true growth can happen without stability. Due to finite resources and the difficulties in maintaining stability, what growth occurs must be tempered and directed through efficiency. Simplicity is, perhaps, the most assured means of ensuring efficiency.

I agree with all of these notions. Let us lead with simplicity. The first step is increasing stability. To do this, we must look at what is required (the basic tenets of life, generally), and what impedes these things in Myrken. Ultimately, we will need a more reliable food source, more effort put into understanding and treating disease, an accounting for weather over time, sufficient preparation for the preternatural. Much of what is necessary will not be popular. It may involve either temporary sacrifice or, to avoid that, outside influence and support.

I have tried to enact the former with little success. I've turned my gaze to the latter.

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Re: The Republic of Letters (Ten Years Hence)

Postby Duquesne » Sat Aug 24, 2019 9:02 am

Glenn,

You are inquisitive and skeptical, by experience or by nature—both, even. It serves you. Your doubt of me, in this instance and in others, is unquestionable. This neither troubles nor contents me. An artifact of days already aged, it exists and for however long it is allowed breath. No, I do not blame you for your caution. If you find it necessary, then it is necessary.

As for the commission of years past, the choice to decline Myrken's call was not made lightly. It was as much an act of public service as it was an act of personal necessity. Understand this, if nothing else: I could not have provided adequate leadership or countermeasure at that time, not on the level a governor or a people required. A different choice I could not have made.

You may turn a critical eye on this admission. No sleep will be lost if you do. I assure you of its sincerity. Entering the position in a state such as mine in those days, despite good will and intention, may have quickly lead to unintended and undesirable outcomes; outcomes not in the best interests of the people. A high price would have been paid, whether it was I who took the responsibilities of that commission, or "a creature of disciplined vice." I do not trouble myself with questions of what we might call "the greater good" in contemplating this matter. To wonder if I was at that time the lesser of two evils does not aid the past or future, nor does it assuage uncertainty in the present. Such processes of thought cannot be useful.

I was taught an individual in office must stand on greater principle. If that office is compromised by its appointee, then naught but disorder is served. A simple rule many struggle to maintain. Farazh had his moments of truth, though he chose to undermine his own practice. As you have learned, the man retains wisdom despite himself.

In regards to valor in Myrken Wood, perhaps it has had no place here. I do not believe it has not existed, however, at the level of individuals, nor do I believe it cannot exist or be encouraged. Stripped down to its core, what is valor but selflessness and forward-thinking in action? And selflessness is a social virtue Myrken Wood would benefit from, among its leaders and its residents alike. Such concept is worthy of pause and reflection, I think, surely helpful in the cultivation of better lives.

To simplicity, then. Efficiency and stability and, I add, peace. Perhaps we raise cups to their success one day. Your description of these matters—dare I say it?—lend one a cautious hope.

I shall not presume to treat myself as invaluable to Myrken Wood’s future; nothing could be further from intention. I wish to say, only, if outside support is a necessary measure in the remaking of this landscape and if those prospective alliances are questionable or dangerous in nature, I urge you to reconsider them.

Travel safely and well on your road, ser.

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Re: The Republic of Letters (Ten Years Hence)

Postby Glenn » Mon Aug 26, 2019 12:38 am

Sylvius,

I write to you from Darras, where we have stopped for a brief period to join with our final travel companion. None of this was necessarily planned. Genevieve Tolleson came to me, out of concern and curiosity, and I think, even more than those two things, the strongest driving force in my own life, a need to feel that one has agency, that one can affect change, that one can, in short, make a difference. This was no small journey and I suppose I should be touched that she's chosen me as a canvas for the art of her agency. It was not something I asked for and it invited its own dangers and its own discoveries. I had recently come into some information about a previous action she had taken yet was not aware of it. I had meant to inform her, with care, after my arrival in Myrken, but this forced the issue. It has made for some not unwelcome awkwardness despite my affection for her. The Lady Egris Verreaux, the vaunted third cousin, twice removed (fourth cousin, but only once removed?), of no less than the king, himself. I had meant to meet here. This is close enough to Myrken that it will not take us overly long to arrive, but long enough that I gave her time to have second thoughts. The awkwardness here is due to my current afflictions, the preternatural source behind him (though she looks for the pragmatic in things, mercifully), and that Genevieve's company, though it is with a guard and driver, was entirely unexpected. She is imperious and stark; her inner self reminds me of my teacher's outer self, and perhaps the opposite is true as well. It is a novel inversion, and I find worth in contrasting her with myself. She is a stone against which one much sharpen one's self. My only other companion is an unbelievable, yet entirely reliable, messenger and what letters I receive, both from him and elsewhere.

Are you richer for reading that paragraph? Am I for writing it? I consider it of equal worth, at least, much of your previous response. I did provide you with a watery apology. I am glad to receive an acknowledgement and acceptance of it. I am not sure we were well served by four paragraphs of your explanation. I am pleased with each letter I receive, Sylvius, but if we are simply to write tomes explaining our failings or expressing why they were not failings at all, we could weight down caravans with our tomes, but never progress past prevarication and navel-gazing. Perhaps things would have been all the worse with you in a public role, but I doubt it. Myrken often has to accept the lesser of two evils. In this case, you were most certainly the lesser. Myrken rarely has the luxury of having a leader who feels he is truly worthy of his post. Let us move forward, though.

Selflessness exists in Myrken, but primarily as a method of mutual survival. There is empathy that allows for it, though does not drive it, however. Everyone has experienced hardship and loss, has felt the wrench of assurance and safety being yanked away with or without warning. I find the most startling and disappointing trait of humans to be a hoarding of goodwill. Because something bad has happened to a person, he sees no reason why it cannot happen to another. We humans are keen to help one another rebuild after a storm, but we will not put in a tenth of the effort to help prepare one another before it, especially if it's helping one who has never suffered before. This notion of fairness and equality in suffering grates. I would see this selflessness and forward-thinking in action to be something else in Myrken, then, something more primal and bestial. Perhaps, however, it is still a foundation that can be built upon.

As an aside, do you find it useful to make metaphors about building? Over the years, I've done the same with cartography, and find it effective. People expect that sort of thing from a mapmaker and it puts them at ease, a homey sort of device akin, I suppose, to Aloisius comparing everything to food, though he's likely only aware of the effect he's having a third of the time, given his advanced age and desire to run away from a true understanding of life.

Outside support, then. What I have in mind is a sort of abnormal but reciprocal trade. I have argued for Myrken Wood's autonomy against powers both temporal and obscene; I would not sacrifice that now. Through conventional means alone, the advances that are necessary would take multiple generations and I cannot ask that of the people. They would never agree, anyway, nor should they. A modicum of sacrifice is to be accepted in any worthwhile endeavor, but to ask for a sacrifice of not only your own but your children's, meager prosperity for the promise of a better life for your grandchildren to be, borders on a monstrosity in and of itself. We have many things that we consider mundane and commonplace, knowledge that we take for granted, that would be valuable to those who exist just out the corner of our eye. That is where beings in stories so often fail; they trade in power and souls, gold and wild hopes, when it is the necessities and advancements of the every day which is where true gains might be found. I would not sell Myrken into danger, but I might take a calculated risk where the stakes are low and the potential rewards, though more boring than one might imagine, quite high.

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Re: The Republic of Letters (Ten Years Hence)

Postby Duquesne » Tue Aug 27, 2019 11:40 am

Glenn,

I am better for reading it. Exchange of this sort causes us to know one another, rather than to assume we know already what there is to know through some miraculous thin-air reception of knowledge. Writing these matters gives them clarity in the mind, for one must take time to contemplate and select the words that best describe one’s states. In so doing, a person may better articulate what it is they experience and thus relate those experiences accurately to others. It assuages mystery and confusion, at the least.

Permit me to be direct. When you relate detail, what you may consider irrelevant or needless in a given moment, you provide me a window into your life. You give me chances to assess your mind in relation to what you tell me and what you sometimes ask. Without some understanding of these details, I can only respond to you with philosophies and theory, not the more concrete exposition I expect you desire most. And I expect you to be cautious with me, yet I encourage you to utilize my ability to keep information in confidence.

Ample time has passed, enough for events to occur and for incorrect assumptions to be held without their true nature uncovered. You and I, we have not spoken directly in meaningful capacity for many years, making our current dialogue a welcome change. A frank and brief assessment of the past when occasion arises ensures we do not carry forward with aged burdens stumbling us up about the feet, undermining our present and future efforts. And, of course, never was there a fruitful association, or friendship, carved out from presumption.

For this reason, and because I have taken you to be a man of information, one of my own ilk, I supposed you would appreciate some back story, some personal accounting of an important matter. I need for you to understand my mind on particular subjects, and thus, though you may think it at times a waste of energies despite your appreciation, I will elaborate on the past when I feel it is necessary. Forgive this. If you write to me, you must adapt to the manner in which I respond, and the same is true in reverse.

Context, I believe, is corner- and keystone to understanding as a whole.

This said, I agree with you. An accounting of past issues is costly and other matters are better served by our time.

Metaphor is useful—more than merely useful, to be sure. I use terms for building and architecture quite often. It seems humans absolutely require their language to be anchored in the knowable physical realm, for we have become what we are in these three dimensions, over unimaginable epochs of time, and rarely do we express ourselves in terms outside it. Thus, our language reflects such dimension: space and time, and length, width, height, depth, and breadth. Yours, a mapmaker’s terms; mine, an architect’s. Such fields of study benefit, informing our use of metaphor, allegory, analogy, the abstract. Life is a turbulent ocean under storm; such usage grounds us to a more concrete and near-immovable reality than the slippery realm of our mental and emotional lives. It is, perhaps, an undervalued comfort.

But let us detour a while into other subjects. I was remiss in my last letter, failing to devote my energies to Myrken Wood’s state of affairs. Allow me to repair my lapse, though I must treat these subjects piecemeal. Some points are included here and some will appear in my next letter, lest you spend an hour reading a single letter. Here, I expound on points you included in your pasts letters and I ask questions. Entertain what is useful to you and do what you will with the rest.

You have written, “Much of what is necessary will not be popular.” Describe to me what you mean? You also wrote of an unusual but reciprocal trade, a calculated risk with low stakes and high potential gains, adding it is “more boring than one might imagine.” This leaves me wondering, enough to muse upon but not yet enough to assess. Myrken Wood’s autonomy, though; this interests me greatly.

You also wrote, and I find this line to be deeply wise, “it is the necessities and advancements of the every day… where true gains might be found.” We do indeed overlook our knowledge and our privileges, forgetting that those around us would benefit. This has long been a matter of concern in my mind. I desire to extend aid beyond both Aithne and Darkenhold to Myrken as a whole.


Let us discuss further these necessities and advancements.


A reliable source of food is paramount, I agree absolutely. What can you tell me of Myrken’s agricultural productivity? Are there impediments to farming? If the acres shared between Aithne and Darkenhold are even a small measure of the region’s geologic resource, there is water enough and soil composition with sufficient mineral value to support crop diversity. What manner of agricultural exports has Myrken entertained in the past? What system is in place for the harnessing and distribution of water, both for agricultural and municipal use? I understand there have been droughts, floods and fires in the past. A proper water containment strategy, something I implemented at Darkenhold, is critical for the management of such events. As for famine, a particularly troubling matter, water resource and a knowledge of agronomy together are equally critical, if not more so.

These subjects are, as you know, connected to the matter of disease, and of weather. The latter I will treat in my next letter. Nutrition and clean water underpin the stability of any society, aiding in the control of acute disease and common illness. Skilled physicians and healers in residence at the Rememdium are essential, of course; preferably those with multi-species specialization and knowledge of the treatment of more peculiar arcane diseases and ailments. I assume it has been problematic keeping talented healers and surgeons at hand. Benefits may help keep them about this most essential work. This may not mean substantial payment, what many physicians greedily expect, as sufficient financial resources are likely unavailable. Still, there are ways of relieving the cost. Having been in the company of many physicians in the past—you may recall my health was critical, shall we say, in the distant past—I can tell you that, not all, but many preferred compensation in the form of improved facilities, continued training, access to better medicines, reference materials, no shortage of supplies, and a competent staff. For them, those who toiled endlessly to make me well—without result, alas—I began a fund to aid their work in Lanesse and its surrounds. If the Rememdium relies on unstable financial support, it may be privatized under regulation by an individual with means to offset the expense.

What of education? I understand a school was established in the somewhat recent past. If it still functions, it must be improved and well-staffed. To my knowledge, we have no academies for more advanced learning beyond school-age teaching. An academy could provide education in fields and trades that would directly benefit Myrken Wood, enabling the people to improve the conditions of their lives at the same time they are able to earn solid wages.

Earlier, you wrote of agency, of the need to feel that one has agency, that one can affect change and make a difference. Equip the people with the tools they require to experience this agency and they can change their own lives via opportunity: education, grants for the support and creation of business, trade, et cetera. Some change must occur at the level of government, well you know, this being necessary and inevitable. Yet, their freedom to choose from an array of options is essential, and has been undoubtedly compromised by one tumultuous event after the next here for time immemorial. They will better thrive when the options are theirs, when they have freedom to make choices that attend their own particular needs, interests, and passions, person to person and family to family.

A population that works and earns fair wage is a quieter and more stable population, one that spends. As you know, the flow of money and trade increase benefit overall. But a population whose mental suffering is decreased by acquiring the means to counter deprivation—again, that sense of agency, of control of one’s own path—generates empowerment. Empowerment creates confidence. People may be more inclined to aid one another when they are not compelled by deprivation to horde their own resources, whether these are physical goods or emotional or social support. Generosity may move more freely among people in this context, alleviating the grim reality of fairness and equality in suffering as you described. Also, the flow of goods, supply and demand, creates reliance on others for the acquisition of services and trade goods, and this reliance in turn generates a stronger community through social relationship and exchange.

I would also add culture to our dialogue. What of public theatre? Myrkentown’s opera house? Theatre, music, the arts, also matters for an academy. These deliver enjoyment, reprieve from the mundane and also from turmoil, being conduits for the emotional life and carriers of philosophical message. Comedies, yes. Myrken Wood needs comedy. Resurrect satire in this place. The world forgets how useful it can be.

Finally, sufficient preparation for the preternatural. I cannot adequately express my wholesale support of this. Regulation of and defense against the bizarre and powerful is critical, though it must be dealt with fairly so that those who possess both transcendent ability and morality to any degree—I am assured there are some of that description who yet exist— will not suffer a yoke of law or discrimination without cause. Perhaps the Inquisitory, the Constabulary, and the Militia might benefit from detachments equipped for the challenge; men and women capable of detecting, meeting and subverting such threats with countermeasure and control.

I wish to speak of other related matters—the issue of weather prediction and insurances that help Myrken quickly recover from severe phenomena; the treatment of human and animal wastes, as well as vermin control, in Myrkentown and its surrounds, with the effect these have on water supplies and the rise of disease; also, the condition of roadways and streets, public structures and private residences, particularly the poorest quarters. These I will write of in my next, as this letter is several pages more than I intended—do forgive the wellspring. I also wish to share with you the results of an experiment done at university and think you will find it interesting at least.

May your travelling companions, Miss Tolleson and the Lady Verreaux and those in attendance keep you at least from boredom on your journey. When there is opportunity to meet them after your return, I will be glad to make acquaintance.

S. Duquesne
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Re: The Republic of Letters (Ten Years Hence)

Postby Glenn » Wed Aug 28, 2019 2:28 pm

Sylvius,

I cannot foresee a time in the near future where boredom will be the chief of my worries, or even some fell lieutenant of that chief. That said, it is nighttime now, and sleep eludes me, or perhaps, more accurately, I elude it for reasons I should explain but that will have to wait until a later letter. It is horrific and fantastic and would distract us overmuch.

There is a difficulty in these letters for all of the reasons you have mentioned. Our relationship up until now was sporadic, clipped and incremental, at best. At worst, it was mired by distraction and mutual ailment of both the body and the spirit. Most accurately, as things are rarely either the best or the worst, it was primarily second hand. We were opposing poles (temporally and not philosophically, you must understand) that presided over a swordswoman's day. Therefore, as we have had a relationship at all, up until now, it was wholly as supporting players in the story of another. This I think, is a remarkable thing, and combined with the shared (and yes, differing) experiences that allowed that to be possible in the first place and certain shared experience that would come from such a thing, should provide us with a solid foundation moving forward.

It is on us to look past all other constraints and concerns and enact that forward motion. Chief (for there is a chief to be found somewhere) of these, I think, is a lack of information. This has always been one of my greatest difficulties here in Myrken Wood. I have lived these experiences. When I arrived twelve years ago, it was immediately after the destruction of the meeting house. Records had been scattered, obliterated, but even more than that, they had never existed. This felt like a betrayal of sorts, and this, more than anything else during my time in power in the province, was something I meant to rectify. It, more than anything else, explained the cycle of victimization that the people of Myrken Wood experienced. There was no desire to record the past, let alone learn from it.

Know that I learned of you what I could. Why? It is because I tried to learn everything worth learning and you were certainly that. It was because of our shared companion. It was because of our shared predilections and overlapping occupation. I do not mean to have you at a disadvantage, and in truth, it is a meager one. To know an outline is not to know an entirety. To assume as such is the height of arrogance and a quick and sudden path to disaster. Nuance is everything, and as your letter as shown, you are full of much of it, enough to compound this equation dramatically. Nuance, as you so aptly put it, is often best found in what is shared (and equally what is not), so through these letters, while engaging in specifics, we will also sling rocks of great girth at one another, ever calculating and recalculating the prper angles and trajectories to discover one another's position. Hopefully, we will be able to manage this without too much destruction of the landscape around us.

There is such ground to cover. The popularity of necessity then. Myrken Wood is a unique place. Survival holds primacy, often over general societal norms that might exist in a more stable place. Yet, at the same time, because of that, it creates a rampant xenophobia. Wherein lies the unique distinction is in what constitutes as "Myrken." All manners of creatures and peoples, all colors and creeds, may eventually be welcome, so long as they pay the cost in blood and shared suffering. Foreigners often serve on the Council or in positions of power, even military power. Often times, this is due to a high rate of mortality, underdeveloped noble stock, and the aforementioned instability. Often times the strange and outlandish are assimilated into the center, thought of as being Myrkener themselves. That said, an entity that has not paid the price, or that represents a larger foreign power, will be looked at with suspicion, fairly or unfairly. The more different this entity is to the traditional core of Myrken, the higher the price or the stronger the barrier might be.

In short, what we have to offer conventional powers relative to what they have and what they need is quite minimal. Unconventional powers, less apt to trade with humans, on the other hand, may need a great many things that are less of a sacrifice to us. There and only there might we have some bargaining leverage, and only if we are the first to suggest such a trade and then immediately capitalize upon the gains to raise our overall standing. The trick in this is to ask for things of equal value to them as those that we offer are ot us, that is, inexpensive relatively but also of great value to the opposing party. What we ask for and what we offer, however, cannot be so valuable and so outlandish as to destabilize the society completely. That is the risk in dealing with any true power, especially the preternatural. Were every person in Myrken to be able to spin gold, it would be chaos. Here, and only here, do I attempt to elevate boredom to a lofty rank. My ultimate goal is to utilize this sort of exchange to ensure the stability necessary to enact more grueling spiritual advancements. Only with the barest of luxuries, the reassurance that basic survival can be more substantially taken for granted, will any further growth be possible.

Now then, you ask me about the current conditions in Myrken. I do have some meaningful information here, though it is second-hand. I left Myrken with no power but with some funds. In Razasan, I raised even more, while keeping my expenses quite minimal. I am a man who wanted for nothing but information, and at first, as I began my recovery, of which again, I must document later, I shunned even that. Myrken has known a few years of, if not prosperity, then at least, tranquil mundanity. I am not so arrogant to think this is correlated with my absence.

I have seen more bad harvests than good in Myrken over my twelve years on this continent. As I said before, we lack records save since the birth of the Inquisitory. Certainly we have nothing more than ten years old. Anecdotal information varies from one farm to the next. Myrkeners are willful planters so focused on immediate survival that they are reluctant to vary their crops. Exports are short-sighted as well, tending to move in spurts when a nearby province (so often Heath) suffers either famine or war. Stores are kept for winter, but generally on a family-by-family basis, though for the city itself, Cinnabar was able to institute some safeguards. Myrken did overproduce for many years (decades or more, in the foggy past) from Vanidor(Did you ever meet the man?)'s largese and frankly, manipulations, which created a paternalistic dependency which caused nothing but harm as he retreated more and more from social life. I do hope, however, the recent relative prosperity of a few good years might allow for small but substantial development and the introduction of a few new, even outlandish crops. Regardless, Darkenhold was a significant exception, and if its successes could be replicated, that would be a boon to Myrken. If.

As for education, yes, an attempt or two was made. Most recently, my late wife attempted, succeeded, and made obscene attempts at mass education. Genevieve, who travels with me, has aspirations of educating both young and old. I will support her in this endeavor as best I can without actually teaching, a prospect I regret to say I find mortifying despite her wishes. Note that I made it a policy to snatch up those who had promise, rich or poor, men or women, local or foreign, as I built up the Inquisitory. Though Rhaena withered many of those minds, it is a self-replenishing system, as opportunity is so rare for many of these. Some might say I preyed upon the endemic deficiencies.

A note on physicians. You benefited greatly from unnatural arts. I know this. I cannot believe you are ignorant of it. I have benefitted from such things as well as well as suffering from the same, as counter-inituitive as that might sound. They have left my body in a peculiar state and I wonder if you're not the same. Savoy was an early friend, one whose confidence I shared. I do think there are many tinctures and herbs, things that are wholly natural and that do not carry with them the same high cost of the eldritch that we are, as of yet, unaware of. This would be a distinct and immediate benefit of the exchange I have in mind.

In both education and medicine, and, might I add, culture as well, creating an academic environment will be difficult. There is a distinct anti-intellectualism to Myrken and my snatching up the best prospects did not help. The gilded summer, however, soured things for a generation, perhaps. Things move more quickly in Myrken when there is upheaval and devastation but here has not been that to provide the shock that creates such renewal. I am glad for that for both sympathetic reasons and because of the opportunities it might provide, but the indirect failings of my life up until now will make certain inroads difficult. It is why we much look for other, more indirect ones. If i am wrong in this, no one will be gladder than I.

There is room for lower culture, of course. The Gilded Lily still exists, but it's proprietor dabbles with the macabre. I mean to prove this upon my return, to correct one oversight of my reign, at the least.

I feel strongly about agency, though I frame it more as purpose. The contrast between living and surviving. I think we have touched upon this. I am less convinced people need to truly make the choice so much as they feel like they are vested in its end result, that they are making a difference, that the world is different for their presence and labor. Reading that back, I am not unaware of how it sounds. Moreover, I feel very strongly about my own agency. The dissonance is concerning only so far as it affects results. Sympathy aside, in endeavors such as this, there is a worry of seeing people in the aggregrate. I have been guilty of this. Now it gives me pause. I note it here.

If things continue on the path they are on, nothing will change. The cycle is framed by the political and environmental map of myrken and perpeturated by our own nature and understandable failings. Intervention is necessary. The allowance for agency must be balanced or else the point of all of it is entirely lost. It is, however, Sylvius, an infinitely difficult balance to strike.

The failings of simplicity in the grand scheme, perhaps. It will only get us so far, but then we are nowhere as of yet, so let us get somewhere, but not complacent? I fear I will never be satisfied. I fear for a day where I might be.

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Re: The Republic of Letters (Ten Years Hence)

Postby Duquesne » Tue Sep 03, 2019 12:31 pm

Glenn,

Those nights when sleep cannot gain its footing, words come more easily, I find. Being an individual with certain heightened sensory faculties, for good or ill, I am often distracted by goings-on during the days. The nights lend a silence — the activities of others have calmed and this gives rise to clarity otherwise obstructed. Do you find this to be true, or does your writing mind function well day or night?

Your assessment of our relationship until now interests me. “Opposing poles presiding,” together with the rest, is most aptly worded truth. For some time this reality did not occur to me, so weighed with other matters was I then. Yet awareness of it pressed its way in as time passed. Indeed, a remarkable circumstance for us; not only for us but a swordswoman also. She would have preferred then, and does still, that we be better known to one another. More than the temporally opposed poles that we were, but something else. Interlocutors, at the least. We make strides.

This matter of records being lost or, worse, never existing is a painful state of affairs in which to find oneself. A betrayal of sorts, yes, for the likes of you and I and others. During the invasion of my homeland years past, several repositories of ancient and new knowledge alike were destroyed or else tragically reduced. Many documents and tablets, and copies of these intentionally distributed to different libraries in the kingdom, were burned. I cannot express adequately the cloak of sorrow this created, but you will imagine it easily. Yet, for there never to have been records or records enough to begin with, this is another sort of tragedy, both for the knowledge lost and its implications with regards to Myrken’s people and their victimization. Histories are valuable; documents, even of the most mundane registry, are valuable. To arrive at a point at which a people do not care to remember, this pains the soul.

An outline does not suffice, I agree. As in the drafting of structural plans, mere lines upon paper do not appeal to the sensory and emotional life of the viewer, being without dimension and texture. These do not appeal in the way a physical experience of a building will — for to stand beneath a painted dome of great proportion, to observe light entering its windows, to touch the stone of walls and carved pillars, and hear the echoes of even whispers there, offers the human spirit a kind of reward too great to be measured. Yet it cannot exist without first its penciled renderings, its outlines. So it is also true of people and our experiences of them — an entire understanding of an individual cannot come from the outline, still the outline informs the expansion to follow. The angles and trajectories of our rock-slinging, similarly informed. For all its truth, this amuses me. I do not worry we will upset our landscape in the midst. Not today.

To Myrken, then, once more. “Survival holds primacy,” you wrote. As I have reread your letter many times, before and during the writing of this, Myrken Wood begins to resemble the r’Chyr’laud. Perhaps this offers me fairer insight into the gears that move this place, but it will be a shadow of the realities here, only a familiar sort of guide.

My desert is that very sort of place where conventional powers, in this case the interior regions of Lanesse, being greatly fertile in both land and resource, find no value. And yet Nnuria in its progressive hunger identified the desert as a source of untold riches, a sentiment that guided the extension of their occupation into that place; it with all its minerals and rare metals previously believed to be without application in the industry of that part of the world. Most do not know that in the ancient past the deserts of the r’Chyr’laud were wondrously fertile. No sands drove with the wind then and water was plentiful. In those mineral and metal deposits lie the legacy of a civilization that thrived there, one now considered to be mere myth — many records of its history were destroyed well before record-keeping resumed as an art among its descendants, of which I am one, but by this point the knowledge of that place was lost, alive only in desert oral tradition. Lanessians are a people with amnesia.

This trade you contemplate, what resource may Myrken offer an unconventional power? You indicate this power is not human, but is preternatural. In your previous letter, you mentioned making necessary preparations against the preternatural. Can you lend explanation? I cannot help but notice paradox.

If Myrken Wood is cautious of change and concerned mainly with survival, reluctant to vary their crops, as you say, then perhaps in all these matters the wiser approach toward loosening their sentiments is through demonstration. If a handful of farmers are willing to lend one small corner of their plots to experiment, and if they can see for themselves the benefit of planting in rotation, some gain might be achieved. At Aithne and Darkenhold alike, native Myrkeners are residents and many have over time become openminded to this subject. I cannot imagine this experience to be anything less than helpful in the work of convincing others — these tenants may lend reassurance to their brethren in the larger community. As you say also, if – if it can be done, it would be a boon. The only way is to try.

One of the women working looms at Darkenhold is a member of a farming family here. Perhaps I will speak with her and her people and see what comes of it.

This is perhaps the most tentative of educations, to begin. First finding those few willing to test something new, then teaching them more as they begin to see promise in the change. The key is in ‘willingness,’ for many will waste no time on even the introductions necessary for conversation to unfold. It is heartening to learn Miss Genevieve aspires to educate all ages. If she is in need of supply and improved facility, and if resource is scarce, it would please me to assist her.

As for physicians, yes, I have benefited greatly from unnatural healing methods. Indeed I would not be alive were it not for Savoy’s expertise and willingness to travel distantly to lend his aid to a stranger. A tremendous debt I owe the man — I do not forget it. Peculiar states I have endured, it is true, yet I cannot claim Savoy’s treatments as their origin, for they emerged in the time before and without prior exposure to any unnatural art.

So we add natural medicines as immediate benefit of the exchange you mention. It is a positive note added to the scales. Simple beginnings — no shortage of medicine and supplies, and a few capable healers willing to stay in residence as long as they can be kept.

On the subject of culture, or lower culture as you put it, perhaps a start might be a traveling troupe of players. And if that is successful, perhaps a more permanent stage out of doors. Nothing extravagant, though restlessness feeds me visions of a theatre — one of an architect’s many weaknesses. Does Myrken Wood have festival traditions, holidays all are in agreement upon?

Purpose, yes. The beating heart of human endeavor. It is true there are many who prefer choices to be made for them — a strong leader can provide a direction they can vest themselves in. Those who do not prefer this, independent and strong-willed, do not submit to a leadership whose principles they do not respect. I have encountered this many times, as I am sure you have as well. These are the individuals who will follow no one, rather than follow those they deem unworthy. I my count myself among their lot and thus when I have written of choice in past letters, I write of them. In the structuring to come, it is vital their numbers be taken into account. As people, and not the aggregate — it is indeed easy to treat others as groups in conversations such as ours, indistinct one from the other, and not as unique persons — they may hold the keys that finally unlock Myrken’s potential.

I do not disagree that allowance for agency must be balanced, for the sake of those who desire others to decide, yet as mentioned above, the thorn in the side of any undertakings will undoubtedly be those who demand to have a voice in proceedings that affect their wellbeing and the wellbeing of their neighbors also. You wrote you have been guilty of seeing people in the aggregate and it gives you pause now. Lend your thoughts to deeper meditation on this subject and tell me if your plans remedy or compound that guilt — not only in yourself, but in the peoples of this place and those beyond it.

Simplicity may fall under the pressures of greater plans; being conceptual at this point, it possesses no pilings to support it from beneath. As with all things we produce, physical or metaphysical, maintenance is required when signs of weakness emerge. When you reach a moment at which you see simplicity weakening for true, that is when we will begin a new conversation.

Yes, let us get somewhere first, but not to complacency which is the wellspring of failure. There has been failure enough to last many more lifetimes than we can live. As for satisfaction and dissatisfaction, these together lend the human experience a state of conflict always — I write those words from intimate acquaintance. Satisfaction is often fleeting and dissatisfaction, rushing to take the place of the former, is the daughter of perfectionism in which progress is found inadequate despite relative success. It is the bane of minds, alas. Yet it must be limited at a certain stage to one’s private undertakings and not applied unnecessarily to greater society — the source of one man’s displeasure may be the source of another’s contentment. A hard-earned lesson, to be true.

S. Duquesne
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Re: The Republic of Letters (Ten Years Hence)

Postby Glenn » Fri Sep 06, 2019 2:49 am

Sylvius,

I read every word and reply where I can. The road makes for uncomfortable writing but an invaluable opportunity. We will continue to try to make the most of it.

The simple answer is this: my mind never stops; it never pauses; it never quiets. Fatigue only seems to affect it in a cumulative sense, one more based on burdens than an accumulation of rest or lack there of. Ultimately, one can train one's body more easily than one can train one's mind. I've managed the latter in some things, certainly, but never stillness.

I will presume with Ariane, a dangerous tact, but I am confident I could delay long enough to make an escape at least. In the morning, each and every, or at least most, I had come to her with my questions. These questions primarily drove our conversation. She responded with context and questions of her own. She took in and reacted. In the evenings, those questions helped to drive her conversations with you. You responded with context and breadth. You took in and reacted. She then took those reactions, tempered by her own iron and steel and industry, back to me to provide context the following morning for the question still to come. In all the ways that truly mattered save one, we were known to one another. It was always through a most particular yet most worthwhile filter, however. For who we were then, we were better off for it. For now, this suits instead. Suits but perhaps does not satisfy relative to what had come before. We do our best.

The lack of records served as a coping device of sorts. It made Myrken vulnerable to the same old affronts and atrocities but also made them easier to recover from. It made them less real to a degree, more folklore than true memory, even over the span of a few years. That is, of course, a self-defeating remedy, a false one, and while I understand it, I cannot help but feel disdain more so than sympathy.

Four or five letters in, I come to believe that you do truly mean to leave a mark on the province. While I do welcome this, it leaves me wondering of the state of your other responsibilities.

Resources. This is a crux. I have been asked why Myrken cannot trade with other powers, ones we know of. The simple truth is that any such trade would be predatory, one way or another. I've already told you the occasional previous profiteering, neither systemic nor balanced, when our neighbors have suffered. Much more likely, however, would be a greater power coming in to prey upon us and what resources we might have.

In this, I see a different path. One right through the heart of paradox, perhaps, but done with open eyes. What we produce is commonplace to us but so outlandish to these others. The reverse is true. I do not mean to give them Myrken's most valuable resources (defined however you like; most would probably start with "Catch." Do not quote me on that as it is not how I feel), but instead things we take for granted, fabrics and weavework, certain simple crops that may grow here, and in truth most places, but not in the place in question, bits of knowledge, art. We can leverage the work of our race, simple and complex. In return, we can receive their mundanities back, these still being things we do not possess, crops, techniques, herbs and poultices. Our gains need to be incremental so as not to overturn society, so as not to put us in any great debt, so as not to frighten people.

No one ever thinks simple, Sylvius. In years' past, you did not. You've admitted as such. This has to be simple. Nothing predatory. Nothing unearned. Nothing unfair. The barest margins and the closest to equivalency possible. As little magic as possible. Magic perhaps was used to discover some of what we will barter for, to bridge a gap between the impossible and the possible, but will not be what we take. Everything we take in must be replicable by us without losing who we are. It has to be a good thing, all of this. I want it to be worthwhile and good, Sylvius. If you become a force in public life, I hope you can help me achieve that and keep us all from avarice and desperation. I have spent far too long acting unilaterally, most often because of necessity, but often due to preference and ease. Here, I try to do better.

There are festivals, fetes in summer, with the harvest, in mid-winter. Religion is both structured and wild in ways that are hard to define. We are far from the center, but our people are stubborn in their ways. The combination creates something that becomes a mix of dogma, folklore, and twisted memories, almost certainly a heresy. I have little time for all of it. If you wish to explore that route, there are others better to speak with.

The major, immediate detriment, is that the owner of Myrken's most prominent theater is likely a skilled and careful murderer. So there is that. Were we to somehow further democratize entertainment, it would be nice to find a way to bring him down in the process.

My plans neither remedy nor compound, but instead try to take into account. I hope by expanding the circle, I control for it at least. There are elements to my plan that require such an expansion, both the very nature of trade, but also who an appropriate envoy may be. Neither you nor I would suit.

Glenn
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Re: The Republic of Letters (Ten Years Hence)

Postby Duquesne » Tue Sep 10, 2019 6:48 pm

Glenn,

This letter will be shorter than those previous, owing to preparations for a brief jaunt into Thessilane. While I intend to write you also from the road — we will share in the challenges of this simultaneously, it seems — I wanted to secure a letter for you before departure. Some subjects of your previous must be reserved for another letter, alas.

Your mind never pauses. Has it always been thus? Having endured a ceaseless mind in the past, I understand it. I wonder if you find it troublesome, or if you have accepted it as part of your consciousness, as autonomic as a beating heart and breathing lungs.

I find your perspective on our circumstance most interesting and, for what it is worth, reassuring. When our letters began, and variously in the midst, it seemed as if we were true strangers; at times I wrestled with my approach to the writing. The hearth has been fed many a draft. And yet what you have said reminds me we are not unacquainted, but that we repair a years-long lapse by new method and direct expansion.

You wondered of my other responsibilities. Apart from the management of my own estates and all the necessities that come with, I have thankfully retired those former obligations and commissions that kept my time pressed abroad. Affairs of the Lanessian state and whatever duties remained unresolved have been placed in other capable hands. Thus, for the first time in the course of thirty and more years, Glenn, my time is my own. Strange to write; even stranger to live it.

Reflection on this offers me peculiar insight, now that I have lived differently and have something new to compare it with: I believe my service to my country was in some sense a life sentence, a kind of imprisonment, despite the great honor inherent in that service. An indentured servitude, more or less, status aside. Perhaps this liberation helps to explain my interest in the condition of Myrken Wood, being free of former burden, although it is not the sole origin. One chief reason, there being specific others, none of which carry sinister values, rest assured, stems from a genuine desire to see the people emerge as a thriving, sustained and confident community — a society that need no longer shun its own histories, or fail to appreciate change. I recognize it rings of idealism, and yet idealism can never quite be achieved in reality, always a step beyond reach. An ideal life is the stuff of dreams; a content life, stable and sustainable, can be real.

You make your point well on the subject of resources and trade. I see now why you have sought unconventional alliance — Myrken Wood is indeed at high risk of predation from more powerful entities. It is not desirable.

Incremental, yes. Considering what you have told me of the province’s recalcitrant personality, a gradual process may be the only path to introduction. As my managers of coin like to tell me, “A fifteen-year plan is needed here.” But perhaps in our case, we begin with five or ten and see where time and circumstance and commitment lead us. “Worthwhile and good,” as you wrote last, these shall be the features that characterize our future.

In the time to come, I will look further into the matter of festivals. Religious activity is not preferable to me, and while I do not harbor an ill mind on the subject of gods in the daily lives of others, I am not of a mind to encourage it either. Thus, there may be a middle ground to be achieved — a new event for the calendar year, borrowing from tradition but seeking other reasons for celebration and other methods of entertainment as well. As for the matter of Myrken’s theater and its proprietor, if this individual is indeed criminal then law will take stage. It must.

I make my conclusion and continue preparation for the journey ahead. Before I do, I wish to ask where one might find volcano-rich environments and hoped you may lend some guidance. Do you know of these, or where maps might be kept that record such sites? The reason for asking is born purely of curiosity, a desire to witness their activity firsthand.

If you find opportunity, seek a stillness of mind — if you achieve it only for mere seconds at a time, it is worthwhile. I have learned this to be true. Our minds need rest from their own processes on occasion, else higher functions suffer and the clarity we seek muddies by the day.

S. Duquesne
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Re: The Republic of Letters (Ten Years Hence)

Postby Glenn » Tue Sep 17, 2019 1:26 am

You will forgive the following militaristic metaphor, but I prepare for the Kestrel and it is advantageous for me to begin to think along those lines: we raise an army between us, Sylvius; an army of ideas, of supposition, of rhetoric, of hopes and fears. This becomes a train behind us, with all the trappings of such a thing. Eventually, I will arrive in Myrken. Eventually, you will return. When we meet, all of this will be behind us, following in our wake, and we will deal with things as we can, one at a time, this long line of tangents, distractions pleasant and unpleasant, and absolutely vital centralities.

As for my mind, it is difficult to say. As a youth, the world was before me, outside of my cage and within its libraries. As a teenager, a young man in Myrken, there was always something new to explore, to delve into, to interfere in. In the years after my Return, I was a creature wholly lacking introspection; there was purpose and little more. Only in the last few years have I been so idle. Yes and no, then, I would say. Perhaps through a return to true activity, and in its aftermath, I will be able to find stillness.

Though it is at a distance of many years now, I once gave much thought to you and I, far more than you gave to I and you, I imagine. Consider my age and circumstances then, but do not consider for long.

Your time is your own up until the point betrayal and intrigue strikes once more? Hands may be capable but they are not your own. I have not necessarily left Myrken in capable hands, but I have left with the absolute knowledge that, even if given the choice, the hands must absolutely not be my own. The lengths I have gone to ensure this in my upcoming endeavor would both surprise and amuse you, I think. Let me put it like this: I've ensured it's not you either, not I, or you, or Aloisious, or any other man. Something new instead.

Myrken, as a place of chaos, is one of opportunity. In Razasan, I had a profession, a civic profession, a salaried profession. It was one with some bureaucratic influence, that might have an impact on elections and through elections, power. The system was so rigid, so stultified, that very little could be done. In Myrken, you have much more freedom to act. I do understand though. All we have in this world, truly, in the face of power we did not wrought, magic we did not craft, weather we cannot tame, is our own choices. The difference between something you choose and something that is obligated to you is infinite.

(The flip side of that coin is that five year plans are very difficult, but that is no reason not to try).

Upon my return, which I do not expect to more than another month or so from now, I will help you locate those maps. I am hesitant to do so as it may mean a long journey for you. The islands of the north are frigid and long dormant. Lothaine's southwest is uninhabitable. The Aja Islands, then, would be your best hope. I've recently met certain folk from there, but that's a rather lengthy story for another time.

Travel safely,
Glenn
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