Summary:Imrama's familial discovery leads into discussion of reincarnation reform.

XP:I1, V1


< A White Worm | Sol Invictus Logs | That Sounds... Ominous >

Varanim finds Imrama after nightfall, when the driftwood fire on the beach is throwing sparks high into the sky. She slouches into a seat next to him, tossing him a paper-wrapped packet with a sharp herbal smell. "Smoke that sometime. As far as I know, it only grows near the Refuge."

Imrama is reclining on the sand with his head and shoulders resting against a fallen log. He picks up the packet, examines the contents with a sniff, and smiles amiably before tucking it into his coat pocket. "I am much obliged, Varanim. I look forward to enjoying your gift."

Varanim shrugs, leaning back against the same log. "What you were saying earlier about your family..." She pauses, frowning in thought. "I'm trying to decide if it's useful for the ghost project."

Imrama tilts his head slightly and thinks for a moment. "In the sense that my heretofore unknown relatives would somehow be integral to your project to help wayward souls avoid Oblivion and reach Lethe, or in the more general way that appreciation for ancestry might somehow be of use?"

Varanim "Second, unless that book was wildly more interesting than I'd expect. Dead people need help to resolve their old tethers, that's the whole problem. So... what did it feel like?"

Imrama "Finding out the names of unknown ancestors? Discovering that I came from somewhere, someone? Surprising, disorienting, comforting. Like if you were to sit in a room for hours thinking yourself at home in it, until someone comes to replace a missing decoration on the mantle: something that was missing has been restored, and that is reassuring, though you were never fully conscious of its absence.

Varanim "But you already knew you came from somewhere. Having a few names doesn't change anything you've done or are. Would anything in your life from now forward be done differently, if you had never learned?"

Imrama looks out at the sea for a long moment, and then turns back to Varanim. "Would any of my future actions be different? Impossible for me to say. Certainly, I would feel different than I do now. Surely, in the course of your studies and experiments, you have learned things, small, seemingly meaningless details that have no baring on your larger work. But would you willingly part with any of...

Imrama ...these small scraps of knowledge, even the most trivial or mundane? Being a scientist, I doubt that you would. I believe that my case is somewhat analogous to this, save that the subject of the information is neither trivial nor mundane to me: I have long been, and still remain, among my own most beloved fields of study."

Varanim shrugs. "I don't forget things, so I couldn't say what I'd think of losing the mundane details." Her frown deepens. "Ghosts need to let go of their attachments, but do it gently--my way won't work for them, I suspect. I'm trying to understand what you say, to build it into the system."

Imrama "I'm not sure I understand: are you looking at my experience as a positive or as a negative model? Clearly, I have some attachment to my sense of ancestry: otherwise I would not care. But at the same time, knowing that they are there, in the past, gives me some peace with the unusual nature of my origins."

Varanim smirks, picking up a shell and skipping it out over the water. "Positive, I suspect. The family structure people cling to after death has to be dealt with in some way, and you're good with people, so you're a good test case."

Varanim "I'm also asking about this now because I suspect my own thinking has... changed, recently, and I am probing the edges of that."

Imrama "Mmmm. Yes, I think of you as a resolute materialist and pragmatist, but the idea of familial connection seems to be more...foreign to you today than it has in the past."

Varanim nods, looking thoughtful. "It's a bit like looking at a picture that I know I used to be fond of, or at least have very strong mixed feelings about. I can remember that I used to be so, but the truth of it is gone." She shakes herself from her reverie, smirking over at Imrama. "Anyway, it's nothing that interesting or relevant to the project."

Varanim "In the future, I may need some outside commentary on parts of the ghost program--assuming it takes hold at all. Would you be willing?"

Imrama "I am at your disposal, as always. May I ask if you have given much further thought to your method for disseminating this program?"

Varanim "Person-to-person is inefficient, but formal teaching is useless and organized religion is worse. So it'll have to be the first, for now, possibly with some kind of family-style organization for protection and community."

Imrama "Hmm. I agree that formal religion carries a number of problems, but we are currently experiencing some success with informal religion; that is with the Faith Ecliptic. Rather than focusing on liturgy and doctrine, we have simply attempted to articulate what is useful and true, and allow that information to spread as a sort of cultural meme. I wonder if a similar, if more tailored approach...

Imrama ...could be effective."

Varanim looks as though she's just swallowed a bug and is trying to decide if it might be useful protein. "I'll take a look, if you'll suggest a good reference."

Imrama "Well, Relovia can explain the underlying theory at a level that I cannot, but there's very little to explain, at least on the surface. Organized religion in Creation has, historically, relied upon lies and distortions in order to survive and grow. The handful of tenets of the Faith Ecliptic simply create a foundation of truth, forcing all other religious systems to adapt in order to...

Imrama ...survive. I am not as knowledgable as you, but I believe the case in the underworld may be similar."

Imrama "Souls remain in limbo because they believe there is something they must accomplish before they move onto Lethe, or because they believe that existence in Netheos is preferable to rebirth. They fall into Oblivion because they come to believe that their existence is utterly futile. Both of these positions are false."

Varanim "That's a fair outline, although it's debatable whether it's the unfinished tasks that are the problem or just the belief in their importance. The key seems to be to let go, but carefully--climb down the tree rather than jumping from the top branch, or some other metaphor that involves a lot of waving of arms and the risk of a big splatting noise at the bottom."

Imrama "It cannot depend on a Bodhisattva or some other sort of perfect guide, since the dead must be allowed to pass, and we cannot supply enough living teachers to shepherd every soul to Letheos. Perhaps some sort of group ritual of reconciliation, with each participant moving closer and closer to Lethe at each observance? It would need to be introduced through at least one of the gateways of...

Imrama ...Underworld culture, of course."

Imrama "Sijan presents itself as an obvious route, I would say."

Varanim "The problem with comparing Sijan to a swarm of flies on rotting meat is that most flies aren't trying to make money off the deal." She grimaces. "Still, it might be good for this, and the group ritual is solid. Let's call that the plan for now, and I'll go pester the Shadeborn again to make sure they're on board."

Varanim stands up, brushing sand off. "Working with people is such obnoxious business."

< A White Worm | Sol Invictus Logs | That Sounds... Ominous >

Page last modified on March 16, 2009, at 08:36 PM