Archive for November 21st, 2022


NaNoWriMo 2022, Fling Thirty-Eight

“It seems that your stories have guided us well once again,” Sonorandelan said with a pleased motion as the three of them cleared away some years’ debris and developing soil from the second of the stones.

Finding the first stone had occupied a good portion of the brightening of the day, as they had had only a vague idea of how far from the clearing and the large pile of bark fragments it might be; stories are not in general very precise about distances. Once they found it, they were at least certain that they had the correct stone, as it had smaller brighter stones embedded into it, and patterns somehow marked on it, and those things the stories did describe.

Glomorominith had seemed especially gratified to have discovered the stone, and lay low to the ground for some time, touching it all over with antennae and humming small songs.

“Our friend seems very pleased,” Sonorandelan had remarked with amusement, “I take that as a very encouraging sign.” Alissa felt the same way, although she should not have said in what way she felt specifically encouraged.

Sonorandelan and Alissa had begun contemplating where another stone of the possible meslier circle might be, using hints from the stories about distances and circles, and had just begun searching among the leaves and earth when Glomorominith had sprung excitedly up, and with a variety of “Hello”s and “Yes”s had dug immediately into the tangle of stems nearby, quickly revealing a corner of another stone.

“I credit Glomorominith for this one, more than any story,” Aliisa said. Glomorominith responded with a happy “Glomorominith”, and began examining, or bonding with, this second stone with an air of delight.

“Let us rest from the search for a moment,” Sonorandelan suggested, “as it comes to my mind that Glomorominith will be finding additional ones now at a good pace. Let us now think what stories there might be suggesting actions that we might take, or other things that we might discover, in this same vicinity.”

Alissa happily agreed; she felt that her smaller arms and eyes had been of minimal help in locating and clearing these first two stones, and was glad that she might be able to contribute more again through the stories.

“One more thing that multiple stories of the mesliers tell us,” she said, as they settled down beside Glomorominith, “is that there is a plant or leaf, called in the stories the armoyse or larmoize or other similar names, that the mesliers, or some of them, would consume while using, or gathering or mixing at, the circle of stones.”

“I know of no plant or leaf of that name,” Sonorandelan said thoughtfully.

“Not I,” replied Alissa. “Nor do I know of a plant matching the description that two stories give of larmoize, that it has leaves both large and small, the large darker and round and the small lighter and pointed, with an odor and taste acrid like the acorn.”

“Ah, well!” said Sonoraneldan, “Now that sounds much more familiar. I do know of one such plant, rare but well distributed, and acrid indeed; not something that one would normally regard as a pleasant food.”

“I see! That may be for the best; there are other stories, from more recent times I think, advising strongly against consuming or cultivating the larmoiz.”

“Not all stories should be followed,” Sonorandelan said with a wry gesture, “but we shall see.”

Just then Glomorominith arose suddenly again, and fairly lept to another thicket of stems, which quickly proved to conceal another stone.

“How many stones do your stories tell us, storyteller, to expect to find in this ancient circle?”

Alissa smiled, “At least five,” she said, “and perhaps seven, or nine. Twelve is a number that is also mentioned.”

“Ah, well,” said Sonorandelan, “then we shall see, perhaps tomorrow,” and they returned to the task.

By the gathering of the twilight, they had located and uncovered six stones, set in a circle around the center of the clear spot of earth near the pile of bark fragments. Where a seventh stone might have been, to complete the circle, stood that pile itself. The three grubs, which had burrowed or otherwise vanished into the pile the night before, had not reappeared, and Alissa wondered if they had moved off into some deeper burrow or tunnel under the earth.

Glomorominith showed no eagerness to dig into the bark pile, and as the darkness was beginning to deepen they rested near the center of the circle, having fetched seed bits and nectar from their better-concealed camp. Alissa felt a bit uneasy, just the three of them more or less in the open with the twilight coming, but she also felt some unfamiliar but comforting resonance in the air, or the ground.

As they enjoyed the evening quiet, and exchanged bits of food and drink and song, the stems and branches overhead seemed to part above her, revealing a deep dark sky, in which the tiny pinpricks of the stars shone with a remarkable clarity.

“Where have the mammals gone, I wonder?” She mused, turning all of her eyes upward.

“Where did they come from, and where are they going? What scent-trails do they follow?”

A bit of breeze swirled through between and among them, carrying something dark and rich from the pile of bark, something light and complex from the great still water farther off.

“And what will we find tomorrow, dear storyteller?” Sonorandelan continued, “Perhaps we will consume the armoyse here in the circle of stones, and enter into one of the old stories.”

Alissa hummed a tune in response, a tune that brought to her mind the long depths of time, the mystery of memory, the sweetness of nectar in the afternoon.

Glomorominith, in a very flat repose, spread out upon the ground, joined in the humming in a lower register, and Sonorandelan rubbed two legs together, and their sounds joined with the other sounds of the gathering night.

Fling Thirty-Nine


NaNoWriMo 2022, Fling Thirty-Seven

There are books everywhere; this makes me happy. There is diffuse moonlight coming in through the windows; this also makes me happy.

Essentially none of the books here are in any of the very few languages that I can read. This also makes me happy, in a way. There is so much to know already, this only emphasizes the point. And some of them have really interesting illustrations.

The books fill the shelves, and lie in piles on the floor. I walk from place to place, and sometimes sit on something that may be a chair. It’s just like home.

As the being known as Tibbs negotiates with the locals to get us access to the zone containing the confluence, and Steve and Kristen wander the city like happy tourists (well, that is not a simile, really; they wander the city as happy tourists), I have drifted here, which feels entirely natural.

And now, having communicated the above to my hypothetical reader without becoming distracted (except for that one parenthetical about simile versus plain description), I can calmly note that these things may not be “books” in the obvious sense, that moonlight coming in through the windows is a phenomenon that quantum physics can just barely explain, and for that matter that “makes me happy” is enough to keep a phalanx (a committee, a department, a specialty) of psychology and anthropology scholars occupied for a very long time.

And that time is an illusion.

I’ve always been able to separate language from thoughts about language, to separate thoughts about reality from meta-thoughts about thoughts. At least in public. At least when talking to other people.

But I think I’m better at it now, even when I’m in private, just talking to myself, or writing for you, dear cherished hypothetical reader (cherished, inter alia, for your hypothetically inexhaustible interest and patience).

Ironically (so much to learn about irony!), I credit much of this improvement to long discussions (how long? how does the flow of time go in the cabin of an impossibly fast sharp vehicle, speeding twinnedly from one end to another of a infinite rainbow band?) with an arguably non-existent being called Tibbs, and an enigmatic pilot called Alpha, after her ship.

(Why do we use the female pronoun toward the pilot Alpha? Why does she speak English? Or how do we communicate with her if she does not? Is the intricate shiny blackish plastic or metal construct at the front of her head a helmet, or her face? Is the rest of her a uniform, flight suit, or her own body, or some of each, or entirely both? Would it have been rude to ask?)

Tibbs and Alpha, I feel, are kindred spirits, my kindred, beings blessed or cursed with a tendency to look through everything and try to see the other side, even knowing there is finally no other side, to overthink, to overthink the notion of overthinking. But they have, perhaps, had longer to get used to it.

The being Tibbs claims to be millions of years old, while also claiming to have slept for most of that time. The Pilot Alpha suggests, by implying (how? what words or gestures did she actually use?) that questions of her origin are meaningless, that she has always existed, or has at least existed for so long that information about her coming-to-be is no longer available in the universe, having been lost to entropy long since.

(At what level is entropy real? Time is an illusion; so is entropy a statement about memory? A statement about what we remember, compared to what we experience right now and anticipate, right now, about the future? Or should we only talk about entropy after we have thoroughly acknowledged that time is an illusion, but gone on to speak about it as though it were real anyway, with only a vague notion, an incomplete explanation, of why that is okay?)

Here is a thought about the illusory nature of the past and future: given that this present moment is all that exists, then all that exists outside of memory and anticipation, is this one breath, this one side of this one room containing these shelves and piles (never enough shelves!) of books, or the appearance of books.

Everything else, the long / short / timeless journey aboard the fast sharpness Alpha, the anticipation felt while listening to the sound of something like wind just before meeting Tibbs for the first time, Kristen’s palm against my cheek in that other library, the glittering brass something that she received from the Mixing, the fine hairs at the back of her neck, all of that is only (“only”?) memory. Does that mean that it is no more important, no more valid, no more real, than anything else purely mental? No more significant than a wondrous pile of multi-colored giant ants made of cheese, singing hypnotic songs, that I have just this moment imagined, and now remember as a thing I first thought of a few moments ago?

This seems… this seems wrong. (See how the ellipsis these, if you are experiencing these words in a context in which there was one, adds a certain feel of spoken language, and perhaps therefore conveys some nuance of emotion that otherwise would be missing? That is communication, in a complicated and non-obvious form.)

Here is a hypothesis put forward I think by the being Tibbs, as it (he? she? they? they never expressed a preference that I can recall) as they moved slowly and in apparent indifference toward gravity around the front of the cabin of the Alpha: Some of the things, people, situations, events, in memory are especially significant (valid, important, “real”) because they changed me. Others, while equally (what?) wonderful themselves, like the pile of cheese-ants, did not have as much impact, or the same kind of impact.

If we could work out a good theory of what it means for an object or event (or, most likely, an experience) to change a person, given that time is an illusion, then this seems promising.

The Pilot Alpha seemed in some way amused by my desire, or my project, to develop a systematic justification for (something like) dividing the world (dividing memory) into “real” things and “imagined” things, with the former being more important or more valid (or, as the being Tibbs suggested, more cool) than the latter. Amused in a slightly condescending way, perhaps, which is fine for a possibly-eternal being, but which (equally validly) I am personally rather sensitive to, given my own developmental history.

The being Tibbs, however, was not accurate in referring to my just-subsequent behavior as “a snit”.

The moonlight coming through the windows (however that might be occurring) is diffuse because it comes through the visually-thick atmosphere of this world, or this area of this world. It seems implausible that we can breathe the atmosphere without danger; is this evidence that we are in a virtuality? Is it reasonable that I nearly wrote “a mere virtuality”? Was that because “mere” would have had a meaning there that I would have been expressing? (What is it to “express” a “meaning”?) Or only because “mere virtuality” is a phrase that occurs in my memory in (remembered) situations with (for instance) similar emotional tone? What is emotional tone?

I anticipate that the being Tibbs will return to this long library room within a certain amount of time, most likely with some information to convey (what is it to “convey” some “information”?) about our continuing travels (why are we travelling? what is “travel”?). I anticipate that (the humans) Kristen and Steve will return to this long library room within a certain amount of time, most likely exchanging cute little looks and possibly holding hands, possibly having acquired some odd or ordinary souvenir in the bazaars of the city (but is this a city? does it have bazaars? what counts as a bazaar?).

And I look forward to whatever follows.

Fling Thirty-Eight