Submitted by Jonathan Quaife on Sun, 06/01/2013 – 10:31
Here is a transcript of a discussion with Jeff regarding Malkioni culture and its Indo-hellenic template from Earth:
Can anybody point me to some resoundingly informative books on Greco-Bactrian or Indo-Hellenic culture that will help me get a Gloranthan-Malkioni angle? I did read something on the Moon Design site about this too, but have been unable to find it since (can anyone remind me where that was?) And can anyone recommend a book introducing Greek(?) Natural Philosophy(?) that would also provide some pointers for getting a handle on the Gloranthan Malkioni? Thanks!
Jon – Wait for the Guide it’s all in there, and look at the MD site: Loskalm art direction, Xeotam Dialogues
David, thanks for this. Done read. There are a couple of facets of indo-hellenic culture that are fascinating in their own right–fusion of Buddhist and Hellenic thought (which eventually bequeathed its heritage to become or inform the very sophisticated Sufi branch of Islamic philosophy); the translation of Babylonian and Egyptian astrology into Indian religion (amazing to think that every Hindu wedding today is convened on an auspicious day determined by astrological systems common to first century Southern Europe); and of course the encounter of Hellenic culture with South-Asian castes (of which there are ostensibly four, but in reality the system is far more complex and composes literally thousands of locally identified castes)…
So, lots of tantalising stuff here in terms of informing a view on Western culture. Are any of these factors significant in choosing this alignment of real and Gloranthan cultures?
I’d say all the above were significant. From Greg’s earliest stories, Malkionism had an emphasis on philosophical logic and materialism (lending itself nicely to comparison with various Greek, Buddhist, and Hindu philosophical schools), a well-defined caste system, and believed in a higher truth *beyond* the gods (which makes some interesting Greco-Buddhist parallels). Add in the Azadan noble caste (traditionally translated as “knight”) common in Persian cultures (including the Sakas) and throw in magi/brahmins and you’ve got something to work with.
Cool. I am struggling a bit to get an overall ‘feel’ for it. Just scanning the Moon Design content now around the links send by Mr. Scott. I think words like, ‘Duke’, ‘Count’, ‘Monk’, and, ‘Church’ are so concept-heavy to a European or North American that they make it difficult to shake sterotypes… IMG I think I’d be quite minded to nuke these in favour of terms that convey something of the key ethic of the culture as we would want players in a game to understand and grasp it.
I think the Buddhist angle works well, and, many moons ago, I had felt that the realm of South Asian culture and philosophy offered a much better template for Western culture than medieval Europe (especially given the tension of the latter in a game context that is probably best positioned in the Antiquities period than any other Earth-equivalent time–would you agree with that?) Around this same time, Nick Brooke would whimsically speculate on Greek-state Malkionism in Ralios. So this seems to have come together better than I could have hoped for. 80)
And finally, BTW, not sure where to go on the “Solace” or “Invisible God” thing. I have not read much of the RQ Second Age stuff that might offer insight in this regard. Buddhism and Hinduism clearly relate class (caste) and cosmology… our actions (karma) determine our place in in this life and our subsequent lives (samsara), but by living in a way that minimises the impact of our actions (ahimsa) we can be free of this cycle of constant return to the world and suffering (moksha). I think it would be helpful to be able to summarise the reason d’etre for Malkioni religion in similar terms… at the moment oft repeated phrases such as, “worship the Invisible God”, seem to keep us stuck in the quasi-Christian dynamic…
FWIW and by way of example, this is how I might summarise a reason d’etre for Orlanthi religion:
Our lives are hard because of our enemies. Chaos brought the kind of change that brings pain and want. The Evil Emperor brought the hardening of hearts that stops people bringing the kind of change that we need. These things brought the curse of kin, because once people could do wrong, then a person’s kin could be held accountable for it. Today, hardship passes, just like being happy passes—that’s the way of Lord Orlanth. Long ago, in Orlanth’s kingdom and when the world was good, change was perfect and people lived without hardship or suffering.
The Mongoose 2nd Age stuff is not canonical. To the extent that it is based on MSE or Revealed Mythologies (which were background notes and not final material) that’s fine. But they were not sources for Greg and I, and were not even consulted in putting together the Guide.
BTW, fwiw, mainstream Malkionis (Rokarism) believe upholding the ancient castes of Worker, Soldier, Wizard, and Noble is required by Malkion’s cosmic laws. They believe a man need only master his own duties of caste in life to achieve salvation, called “Solace”, and philosophically value a great farmer as much as a mighty warrior or powerful king.
Ah yes, but where does it all lead? What do we mean by, “salvation”? Salvation from what? Curiously, the Xeotam Dialogues posted by David earlier clearly imply everybody get reincarneted all the time. So does that exclude a concept of Solace as analagous to Hindu moksha? If so, that would be a shame…
…in a Malkioni context, “Salvation”, or, “Solace”, as, “one-ness with the Invisible God” (never liked *Invisible God* personally, but moving on…), being analagous with Hindu moksha (i.e. liberation from the burden of duty and constant cycle of reincarnation) would work well. However, the addition of some Hero War-sy apocalyptic type crescendo would be good too…
There is tremendous diversity within Malkionism as to what Solace means. Abiding Book Hrestoli (mainstream Malkioni prior to the Third Age) believe in cycles of rebirth and misery until liberated through Joy (ie Neoplatonic heneosis with the Invisible God). The New Hrestoli of Loskalm subscribe to this basic tenet as well (although with more emphasis on the misery of material existence). The Rokari (who are strongly influenced by Brithini materialism) believe that this discussion of rebirth is meaningless – your ONLY chance at having an afterlife is by strict adherence to your caste duties and restrictions – the Solace of harmony with the Invisible God. Sharp Edge Rokari philosophers hold that your individual souls are not eternal (similar to Averroism) and dissipitate upon death, rejoining the magical energies to be manipulated by the wizards or, worse, to be the mindless slaves of gods.
Jeff, thanks, super clarification (loving the Sharp Edge Rokari, although Averroism was not without its optimistic interpretations!) What would constitute an afterlife in the sense that you refer to it here?: “The Rokari (who are strongly influenced by Brithini materialism) believe that this discussion of rebirth is meaningless – your ONLY chance at having an afterlife is by strict adherence to your caste duties and restrictions – the Solace of harmony with the Invisible God.” Is Solace the afterlife, or is Solace living according to your caste stipulations?
Averroism certainly has its optimistic interpretations – as does Rokarism. But one of the several criticisms of Al-Ghazali and the Ash-ari of Averroes was precisely its claim that the individual soul was not eternal.
As to the questions of the afterlife – such as whether Solace is the afterlife or whether it is living according to your caste laws – this is the sort of stuff Malkioni philosophers constantly argue about. Sometimes the Watchers proclaim specific arguments to be heresy, but usually only if it challenges core tenets of whatever the local Watchers obsess about. So frex, the High Watcher at Southpoint is going squash down anything that challenges the doctrine of Joy or introduces any outside or new ideas beyond those established during the creation of Loskalm’s unique society. The High Watcher at Segurane is going to squash anything that reaks of Arkatism or Hrestolism, but is more likely to ignore new or foreign ideas that do not touch either of those electric rails.
Jeff, thanks again. But I am still in the dark (sorry!) I appreciate that we’re talking in generalisations, but I am keen to get a feel for this Rokari thing. When you wrote: “The Rokari (who are strongly influenced by Brithini materialism) believe that this discussion of rebirth is meaningless – your ONLY chance at having an afterlife is by strict adherence to your caste duties and restrictions – the Solace of harmony with the Invisible God,” and judging by your later post, would it be fair to say that:
a) some Rokari acknowledge Solace in terms of some form of liberation and, as you put it, heneosis, and deny the notion that people are reborn into new lives (you got one shot);
b) while others deny the heneosis thing and simply posit that living according to your caste *is* solace and after that you’re done for.
One thing to always keep in mind about the Malkioni – they are Gloranthans AND their understanding of Gloranthan metaphysics are very influential as to how *we* non-Gloranthans discuss the subject. However, what they put philosophical weight on is very different from the Orlanthi. Frex, pretty much all Malkioni sects acknowledge that upon death, the individual soul(s) goes to the Underworld and to the Judge of the Dead. It is from here on that things get interesting though.
Most Hrestoli say that unless that soul has achieved Liberation through Joy it is sent back to the world or rebirth (although there may be a waiting period somewhere) OR if the soul has enslaved itself to the gods it is sent into that gods’ realm (the Underworld, the Storm Realm, whatever) to suffer until rebirth.
Most Rokari say that if you have diligently obeyed the duties of Caste you get Solace (although there is debate within Rokarism as to what that precisely means). Otherwise your soul gets sent to some god’s realm and suffers until it dissipates into magical energy.
The Brithini say that the whole trek through the Underworld and Judge of the Dead thing is simply a personification of the soul’s dissipation and to be understood as metaphor to be manipulated, analyzed, and exploited.
As for your proposed Rolari positions, I think a) is most common, but b) is probably more representative within the Wizard caste.
In summary, to paraphrase?:
Hrestoli: our actions (caste) must fulfil our POTENTIAL in this life. If we fail we are destined to return again, reborn into this realm of duty. If we succeed we can be free of this cycle of constant return to the world and suffering, and instead rest in the bosom of solace.
pseudo-Rokari: our actions (caste) must fulfil our PLACE in this life. If we fail we are destined to return again, reborn into this realm of duty. If we succeed we can be free of this cycle of constant return to the world and suffering, and instead rest in the bosom of solace.
typical-Rokari: our actions (caste) must fulfil our PLACE in this life. If we fail, when we die, our souls will drain away to nothingness or become the slaves of demons. If we succeed we can be free of this cycle of constant return to the world and suffering, and instead rest in the bosom of solace.
mean-Rokari: our actions (caste) must fulfil our PLACE in this life. If we fail, when we die, our souls will drain away to nothingness or become the slaves of demons. If we succeed this will be no different, but we will have glimpsed the happiness in life that is solace.
Yes. And within these four basic paths are possibility for endless debate, argument, and variations. And even the mean-Rokari say it is possible to magically work your way through the Underworld and force some sort of rebirth through a Heroquest. But that is imposing your own will upon the universe – which is always understandable (if not always to be approved) to the Malkioni.