Societas Imperialis Sceptri Coronaeque

The Imperial Society of Scepter and Crown.


    After the Funeral

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    Aria Jenneth

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    After the Funeral

    Post by Aria Jenneth on Sun Jun 26, 2016 4:22 am

    It's true, I guess: memorials are for the living.

    It seems a little awful, to ... "move on" ... from over five thousand deaths, especially with any speed (say, less than ten years), but I can't stay sad forever. Or, more than "sad", feel like I could die myself a few dozen times over and it still wouldn't be enough, as the case might be.

    Just writing my account of the little disasters of the last few weeks wasn't enough to put a break in my sense of the thing. That ... I guess ... had to wait for yesterday, and the grass, and the graves, and that absurdly clear sky. And the names, read off one by one. And the tolling of the bell.

    ... for over eight hours without pause.

    It's still a little much. I can't really wrap my head around the number, even having listened to their names, one by one. But at least, now, at last, that feeling can belong to yesterday.

    I don't think I want to talk about this anymore. And, for the first time, I don't really feel like I have to.

    So-- I guess I'll be staying for a while, starting up a new project here. I guess this is probably the first entry, what I'm writing now.

    I'm not sure what I'll call it. ... I suppose I'll work that out later.

    For any of you who might not already be acquainted with me, I'm Aria Jenneth. I'm Directrix Daphiti's shadow.

    That's not a job title or anything. Formally, I'm a "sworn retainer," which is a kind of servant, but more the kind you sic on your enemies than the sort you have set out the silverware.

    (I could do that, and would if asked, but....)

    My oath requires me to die for the Directrix, if need be, but mostly what I do, other than being her aide and generally helpful person, is the other thing-- making other people die for her.

    I'm a combat pilot, a decent one, at least when I've stayed in practice. It's what I know, even though I can't remember how I learned, anymore. I'm good at it. Possibly a little too aggressive for my own good, and probably a better follower than a leader, but ... I'm quick, I'm decisive (not always wisely), and I can kill innocent people without hesitation. I know this because I've done it. (Even if I can't remember probably the worst of it.) It's my place, my part to play.

    Only, being a weapon of mass destruction, it turns out, is work that will kill your soul. I'm not really okay with watching my spirit just sort of slowly wither and die for reasons I don't really even understand. I'm a killer, but ... I'm not really content with just letting go and becoming something poisonous, even if I kind of am already.

    So I replace my own judgment, as much as I can, with that of someone I trust more than myself. Usually, unless I ask, I have trouble doing that with exactness, but sometimes, just sometimes, it means I get to be the silhouette of a much better and healthier person. Even if I can't share her memories, her belief in her Empire or her God, I can at least echo what she might choose to do or be.

    If I describe myself as the Directrix's shadow, it's because I reflect maybe the darkest aspect of a good person. I'm a weapon, a tool she can set to hunt and kill. But, sometimes, I might get to reflect a little of her grace, also.

    (The fact that all this results in me following her around a lot might also have something to do with it, though.)

    (If it's not obvious, I admire the Directrix a lot.)

    This makes it sound like I'm some kind of familiar spirit or something, and sometimes maybe I really do think of myself that way-- as a sort of voidsprite, bound to my mistress's will. I think those are dangerous moments, though.

    I'm human. And fragile. And kind of small. And definitely, definitely mortal. So is the Directrix. We all are.

    That's something I don't think it's ever safe for us to forget.

    Um. Also-- I'm kind of a scribbler. I like finding out new things, and writing about them. The Empire doesn't really present any shortage of stuff for me to write about.

    That's also kind of why I'm writing here, instead of continuing my Sojourn project on the IGS, though-- I want to be able to write what I think, and the Directrix seems to feel that it's pretty safe to say even stuff that's likely to upset people, if it stays internal.

    Outside ... not so much. And I don't really want to cause us trouble.

    (This was easier to do when I had no loyalties, as opposed to, well, intense personal ones. Getting tangled up in the world definitely complicates things. I can't really say that I regret it, though. ... I seem to make a kind of murderous vagabond, and one of the people who was dying, on that road, was me.)

    So, yeah. Most of my scribblings and random thoughts are going to be ending up here, instead. I apologize if I end up offending anyone.

    Also ... thanks for letting someone like me stay among you, for however long it might happen to be. There's a lot of world worth wandering through, but it seems really important to have a home to return to.

    For me, that's here.
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    Aria Jenneth

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    Re: After the Funeral

    Post by Aria Jenneth on Tue Jun 28, 2016 2:55 am

    Something I haven't talked a lot about, even if it's kind of centrally important to both me and the people around me, is faith.

    The Empire's kind of my home, now, but that doesn't mean I believe in God. Some people tend to assume otherwise, but it's still true. I can (and do) admire the Empire's faith without really buying into it at all.

    God, as an idea-- as a sort of face behind the universe-- is pretty strange to me. Even the Maker, the Caldari creator god, is pretty strange. It's strange because it seems pretty obvious to me that the universe has no "purpose" other than to be itself, and that's something it can't help being.

    It's not there for us any more than it's there for slaver hounds or squirrels. Or trees or rocks. It just is.

    I'm not an atheist as such. Just-- my sense of divinity doesn't act like a person at all: doesn't have likes or dislikes; doesn't have wants; doesn't choose people. It just is.

    (Kind of like the universe, not coincidentally.)

    As far as social blocks go, this one's a little hard for me to get around, and it's the cause of a lot of kind of careful engineering. It means I'm an outsider, permanently, or ... well, until I really do start to see things differently, if that's ever really going to happen.

    That's a bit of a problem.

    Someone asked me recently why I wanted to be a shadow. The real answer is that I hardly ever make important choices for only one reason, and, well, this is part of it: because I want to be able to stay, maybe even if I one day retire and become a baseliner, and still get to be close to the people I care about without having to pretend to believe things that I don't.

    People will question a guest who never joins the household and never leaves. A servant is less of an issue. The ... pact ... between me and the Directrix lets me stay here, indefinitely, and still stay true to my beliefs.

    People might complain. (I can hear Senior Captain Fierach now: "Still an unrepentant heathen. Unbelievable.") But ... they won't try to do much about a heathen Caldari hireling other than maybe try to talk me around. I'm okay with people trying to do that.

    This works out for the Directrix, too: practical considerations aside, if she wants to Reclaim and bring me into the Amarrian faith, she's got years, even decades, to do it. She doesn't have to be quick about it, which is good, because I don't think "quick" would work very well.

    (I'm not sure anything will, but, then, I would naturally be the skeptic here. If I thought I was going to convert, I would have done it already.)

    And this way, nobody needs to snap a collar on my neck to keep me around as a long-term project. If that means accepting a kind of lowly place in the society, I don't mind that so much.

    It's possible to see this arrangement as disempowering, even dehumanizing, but, really, I think it's just the opposite.  It lets me remain a part of a community I regard as my home, among people I care about, without having to lie about who I am or what I believe. It lets me work with, and for, someone I trust implicitly.

    It lets me be an Achur among the Amarr, without being forever a stranger.
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    Aria Jenneth

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    By What Right?

    Post by Aria Jenneth on Wed Jun 29, 2016 7:19 am

    I think a lot of what hit me so hard about the post-Nauplius refugee crisis is just this: that it threw into sharp relief the contradiction between the person I try to be and my role in the world.

    I'm a killer. My victims pile up pretty high, although I've never looked in any of their faces. Mass death, death by hundreds or thousands, doesn't leave a lot of room for claims of justice or righteousness. If we're agents of concepts like those at all, our aim's really fuzzy. We hit the guilty, and anybody who happens to be standing in the same area. Probably even a few of the "guilty's" victims.

    (Anybody think cells in a battleship's brig come equipped with escape pods? Anybody?)

    A while ago, someone told me she didn't feel I had the right to ask her to try to talk another pilot out of combat duty. The claim stuck with me partly because it felt like an attack on the elemental level. If, by being a combat pilot, a killer, and by not standing against a decision to become involved in fighting, I lost the right to worry about someone else following the same path....

    Mass death, the way we engage in it, is indiscriminate by nature. If I accept my role in causing it, what right do I have to choose people who ought not die? What right do I have to try to protect anyone or anything? By what right do I even keep breathing, myself?

    And I guess my answer is: by no right. The universe doesn't work that way. It doesn't make things easy for us, doesn't let us be consistent and honest and decent.

    I can't make any argument that I have a right to do these things. I'll do them anyway, because I don't want to be someone who consistently harms people.

    I don't claim the right ... but I don't think I need it, either.

    Sometimes, I'm at peace with that. Sometimes, not so much.
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    Aria Jenneth

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    Re: After the Funeral

    Post by Aria Jenneth on Tue Jul 05, 2016 6:07 pm

    A lot must have gone into the life I took yesterday.

    I don't mean that in a positive way, necessarily, but ... what road does a person have to have traveled to think walking modestly-escorted into a meeting with a bunch of capsuleer assassins is an okay thing to do?

    He did have guards with him, but they were fewer than twice our number. They had the drop on us, but they didn't take advantage of it. They might possibly have been able to defend their master, but, well, he tried to participate in the fight.

    "When I am a horrible Sani Sabik Savant ..." (like, never) ... gods protect me from ever thinking I am, or feeling I have to act like I think I am,  actually immortal.

    Actually, gods protect me from that, anyway. What an awful way to die: by forgetting that while your win-condition involves hitting five heads, your opponents' only involves hitting one, and they win ties. And then leaving that one critical head hanging out in the open so it can have a laser-channeled plasma charge tunnel into its brain pan and burst it like a dynamited melon.

    I hadn't even flanked them all that much; I was just a little out of expected position, on the ground, and probably looked at a glance like I was down-- wounded or dead-- until the smoke cleared just a little more and revealed that I was taking aim at their boss's head. If anyone was even looking that way.

    And I wonder what was going on, what road that little wisp of data between his ears had traveled to come to that point where he'd come to the top of his little world, master over millions of people, with every possible advantage over his enemies and no cause to play fair-- and he didn't even have the sense, in the middle of a blazing firefight, to duck?

    It's a little hard to explain how I feel about this. I'm not sorry that he's dead; he was horrible, in general, and, in particular, was planning to take up some of Nauplius's habits. I'm not even sorry that I killed him. I'm definitely not sorry that I survived doing so, though I'm still a little surprised.

    (I really was expecting to die on that station, maybe very painfully. I still keep looking down at myself and wondering why I can't see my own blackened spine through my midriff. It feels unjust, to have done that to him and walked away unhurt. I kind of feel like I've cheated some other self-- one of my backups, in particular, the one I prepared right before setting out on this, well, mission, I guess-- out of a chance at having her own life.)

    I guess ... maybe that's what's bothering me. We were rumbled, caught out, made. They knew exactly who we were. We shouldn't have walked away from that. We shouldn't even have limped.

    They had a very clear idea of where we would be and when. They should have ambushed us from an elevated position and fused our bones to the deck plate. If they wanted to be sporting about it, they could have let us detect the trap, then tried to take us alive. But even then we're talking poison gas, taser-charged plating, or volleys of flashbangs, riot gas, and concussion grenades, followed by hordes of troops with stun batons.

    Compare to what they did: march a handful of guards out to hold us at riflepoint and then parade the prize melon right out in the open like we weren't going to risk a slightly quicker death to take a crack at it.

    (Considering what capture would probably have been like, they should really have expected us to do everything in our power to make sure we all died.)

    If we managed to do the job at all, it should have been at the cost of all we had, including our lives. But we got away clean, and he lost everything he had and everything he was because he played it stupid.

    I don't understand. He had to have at least a little cunning to have made it that far, surely? Or maybe he was just so good at playing immortal that everyone believed it, including him.

    It seems sad-- he didn't even have a chance to understand his mistake. There was no moment of dying clarity, no insight or regret or poetic appreciation for life's transience. A little puff of plasma blew his candle out, and he went straight from maybe thinking he was never going to die, to ... well, not thinking anything or being anybody.

    At least he looked like he was having a good time?

    This was my first in-person kill. I'm not used to actually watching baseliners die. It seems to be hitting me a little harder than I thought. Maybe it's because I don't feel like we earned it, that our target only died because he threw away all his advantages. I don't really think a death is something you "earn," though-- even someone else's.

    Maybe, as I told Utari, I don't want to feel contempt for someone I killed. It feels ... cheapening, of him and me, both.

    But I really don't understand.
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    Aria Jenneth

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    Pride

    Post by Aria Jenneth on Fri Jul 08, 2016 5:12 am

    Another thing I kind of don't understand: why do we feel the need to degrade and insult our enemies?

    I don't get it at all.

    It's gotten a little hard to talk to a lot of the corp since the war with BANII. Triumphalism seems to be widespread, and ... I wish we wouldn't do such a thing. I think, strictly speaking, I was the war's only loss on our side (I got careless testing their abilities). I didn't lose anything further, but they did give the Thorn Tree a good test run and I nearly lost a Rook.

    (I guess I'm a little rusty.)

    The actual losses on either side were minimal. We came out ahead in kills thanks to Ms. Voluptia's trap mining ship, but they also made us turn out in force to repair our industrial station. It was pretty clear to me that they weren't exactly a bunch of idiots. Those Catalysts they fly are very well fitted for their purpose.

    So why would we act like they're stupid? It doesn't just debase them; it also debases us if and when we suffer losses. (Who loses to stupid people?) More than that, it also leads to acting contemptuously towards an entity that has demonstrated ability to do us at least some harm-- if only by making us run around and defend our holdings.

    What's more, there's not even any satisfaction in killing fools. There's no challenge; there's no test. It's just slaughter.

    Whatever we might think of their methods and morals, where's the advantage in acting smug and superior, treating our enemies as contemptible, when the only thing that can bring us is grief?

    Pride is ... I understand the allure of it, the temptation. I probably wouldn't write my thoughts here at all if I didn't feel a little of it myself. I think it really is a fault, though, to put one's self very far above others, enemies very much included.

    If our enemies are worthless, winning becomes trivial, and losing becomes so much worse. I wish we wouldn't set ourselves up in such a way.


    Last edited by Aria Jenneth on Mon Aug 01, 2016 5:01 am; edited 1 time in total
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    Aria Jenneth

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    "What Are We For?"

    Post by Aria Jenneth on Wed Jul 13, 2016 6:12 pm

    It's a question that haunts me, more than a little: why.

    Not the big "why," the universal "why"; I suspect there's no actual answer to that question. Rather, the "why" of our existence as capsuleers, the question of our role in society. "Why" we are given power; "why" we are given near-immunity to the consequences of its use; "why" this is allowed to continue in spite of megadeaths happening at our hands.

    What purpose could be so compelling?

    Last year, a pilot contacted me and explained politely that I absolutely had to die. He'd known my predecessor, and considered her so dangerous that he couldn't risk letting anybody who shared her brain chemistry walk around loose (or living), so he said.

    Key to his analysis, and his horror of my predecessor, was her reaction to the Sleepers after the Seyllin incident. At the time, the Sleepers were seen as truly terrifying: unmanned craft with power individually approaching the strength of capsuleer ships. People reacted with greed and curiosity, but also with dread.

    In the midst of all this, my predecessor was, in my would-be killer's telling, happy-- delighted that, faced with such potentially powerful enemies, humanity would never dare get rid of us. That we were needed, and therefore safe.

    While I apparently managed to talk this, ah, critical former associate out of murdering me (I, unlike my predecessor, consider myself completely human), when I warp in on a patrol of Drifters, or look at the vastness of a Hive station or the strange scattered structure at a Nexus ... I kind of understand how she felt.

    These things feel fateful, in a way-- real, constructive. I feel necessary, pursuing this work. Important. Useful. Worthwhile.

    It's not that I'm very afraid of what might happen, otherwise; but if I'm haunted a little by the question of what would justify making a person like me, then a Drifter battleship, its hull shining green with energies we haven't even begun to understand, yet held fast in our fleet's stasis webs, doomed despite all its power, could maybe provide an answer.

    Maybe this is the "why" of us. If so, that seems comforting to me.


    Last edited by Aria Jenneth on Thu Jul 14, 2016 6:22 am; edited 1 time in total
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    Lunarisse Aspenstar

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    Re: After the Funeral

    Post by Lunarisse Aspenstar on Thu Jul 14, 2016 4:26 am

    Ms. Jenneth, the prior post is an.. intriguing one. if you want to toss it on the IGS for discussion, I have no objection.

    As for me.. looking through my world-view lense, i suppose, I see capsuleerdom as a vocation by God. It is.. fitting that we should exist to counter such an existential threat t to humanity - baseliners - which emerged just shortly after a decade of preparation and formation of the capsuleers. Perhaps this is partially why we - at this point in history - came to be. I realize this is.. entirely unproveable. But I believe we all have a purpose, even capsuleers.
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    Aria Jenneth

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    Wicked Me

    Post by Aria Jenneth on Fri Jul 15, 2016 3:15 am

    It feels like there has to be some misunderstanding.

    I've definitely had people suggest that not wanting to wipe out whole fleets of baseliners is maybe a little naive. This is probably the first time someone's decided I'm a horrible person over it, though, especially to the point of basically declaring me beyond hope.

    The Serpentis, on the whole, aren't exactly the pinnacle of human civilization. They're an outer power; they're clients to the Angel Cartel; they're apparently greedy, ruthless, and aggressive on a cultural level.

    Also, apparently they've recently engaged in a bit of orbital bombardment.

    That doesn't quite mean I want them dead, or that I'm very comfortable just blowing them up by the shipful, particularly since most of the people I'm killing that way probably don't have anything much to do with the traits I just mentioned.

    Am I, therefore, evil? Because I don't see them as being so essentially different from everyone else as to automatically deserve death?

    I might be a little naive, or a little selfish in putting my own peace of mind ahead of defending people from pirates, but I don't think I'm completely unreasonable about this.

    Edit:

    Mr. Xun of Sanxing has reasonably suggested that the pilot mentioned above, Ms. Lindarwen, might have suffered some kind of personal loss at Rilnais. I guess it's not very surprising if that's so. I can't help but think that people from all kinds of different backgrounds have done way worse than just bombarding cities, though.

    Is that insensitive of me?
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    Aria Jenneth

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    A Farewell

    Post by Aria Jenneth on Fri Jul 22, 2016 7:23 am

    Emerita Nicoletta Mithra, SFRIM's founder, has left us.

    It's news I greet with really mixed feelings, and not just because I got to be mentioned obliquely as a reason for her departure in at least two ways, probably three. (It's down to no single person, but, I think, if her reasons for leaving were all condensed down into a single person, that person might look a little like me.)

    The Emerita and I only sort of got along. Maybe this was some sort of teaching technique, but she tended to come off brusque to people she didn't agree with, I don't take especially well to being brusqued-at, and, well, we didn't agree a lot. I'm not sure she meant to come off high-handed or shrill, but if you're going to tell a believer that no sophisticated religion could believe what she's describing, it's maybe a good idea to be right?

    (In terms of training, I'd be at most a novice monk, but it's not like we Shuijing have to do a triple-back-flip of theo-logic to justify our sense of the world. It's easy to talk about; just, really internalizing it is hard. If you're going to intimate that it's only hard to internalize because the whole notion is absurd, you might then want to consider why you think you need a postgraduate degree in theology to talk coherently about your own deity.)

    ... yeah. A few issues. She insisted, a time or three, that she didn't hate or even dislike me. And, I believe that, but she tended to be pretty free with her denunciations. I think she thought of them as "criticisms," but I think criticisms are something better served with a probing question than a broadside.

    Even so, her vision of Amarr, and God, and what defined Amarr, is one I really admired. The idea of God as something broadly accepting, and of Amarr as simply a term for people who live as God would have them live, whether or not they even believe in that God ...

    It's probably the most appealing version of Amarrian identity and faith I've encountered.

    And yet, one of her reasons for going was that the Society had started admitting too many heathens (never mind that any of us have much real power, or that half the reason for inviting us to begin with is to introduce us to the faith). In the end, she, also, thought of Amarr in terms of the Empire and its believers. Maybe she just thought it would be very difficult to make Amarr of us all, in fact if not in name-- that we'd change the Society, instead of being changed by it.

    Maybe that's true of most of us: our highest ideas, and our actual attitudes, tend not to be a perfect match.

    But-- I do think the Emerita tried to practice her beliefs as she believed she should. Even if she may not have agreed fully with my presence here, I can't say that she made me feel unwelcome. Her guiding philosophy seemed to be that it was better to light candles than to curse the darkness (even if she did a bit of that, too), and ... she did light candles.

    I came to the Society as a stranger to more than just the Empire, a fresh amnesiac, a full-grown child a couple months old, full of wonder and horrified at my own past. It was the person most vocally skeptical of my presence, there, who soothed my fear of my history and the dread of repeating it, who hugged a frightened child, terrified of her own shadow (in fairness, it was a shadow worth fearing).

    With that simple kindness, she demonstrated that I wasn't alone. She lit a candle, one of probably a great many, over time.

    Praefecta (at that time) Daphiti made me welcome at Gottin's Lamp, but it was Directrix (also at that time) Mithra who demonstrated that it was a place I might think of as a home.

    We didn't really get on, though. ... and now she's left us.

    And that's okay. But it makes me sad.
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    Bel Boma

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    Re: After the Funeral

    Post by Bel Boma on Thu Aug 04, 2016 8:06 am

    I think the worst way to try to acclimate oneself to the idea of Him is to match him to an idea as big and all encompassing as the creation of the universe. Both those ideas, I have found, are too abstract for someone who did not grow up with the Faith to consider in tandem. You have your idea, that things just are, but where I am I must admit it is hard to get a clear picture of a situation you are inside of.

    Instead, I ask you, look in the details. Peer a little harder at things you would not normally. Look for the love. Notice when coincidences are far more favorable for good feeling than the alternative. I fear I am no great guide like some of my coworkers, but when Al was on her path, she told me her first step was in accepting that she was worthy of love, and her second was accepting she was loved.

    Yes. The universe has set, involiable rules. Energy can never be created or destroyed. To look for a Godly explanation in every coincidence or swing of good luck is madness and arrogance. I do not ask that of you. I ask you to appreciate what good you have in your life a little more. I ask you to appreciate what good you are a little more. Is that benign enough?
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    Aria Jenneth

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    Re: After the Funeral

    Post by Aria Jenneth on Fri Aug 05, 2016 12:56 am

    Hm. Curiously enough, Ms. Boma, I might be better off thinking of Him as a vast abstraction than as someone, well, real and loving.

    This world ... it does not seem "just" to me. Or loving. It seems indifferent.

    I say "indifferent," because I don't want to think of something so great, as cruel. Cruelty is a quality of small, living things.

    In that way, it's like love.
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    Aria Jenneth

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    Conscience

    Post by Aria Jenneth on Fri Aug 05, 2016 2:19 am

    Recently, I've learned something very strange. It seems that our founder, our sometime Directrix, Nicoletta Mithra, doesn't ... think I have a conscience. She thinks I'm sort of outsourcing that job to Directrix Daphiti. No wonder she gave up on me.

    This hurts so much it's absurd. I hate it.

    Maybe I've sometimes wondered, too, but....

    If I had no conscience, would I have been uncomfortable in the Federation? Would I have started having dreams about my blood turning black?

    If I had no conscience, why avoid consorting with my crews? Why would I care whether I knew the people whose deaths I was likely to be responsible for?

    Most of all, if all I wanted was someone to take orders from, why the Directrix and not Desiderya? Why SFRIM and not PY-RE?

    It's not as simple as wanting to be a part of something constructive; I don't necessarily see PY-RE's role as unconstructive. There's a place for people like us in this world. There's some purpose we serve, something we accomplish, just being as we are. Otherwise, why keep such an absurd class of people around?

    I think, if I had no conscience, I'd never have left PY-RE at all. I'd be out there killing half the people I met. I'd wander where I wanted, learn what I wanted, talk to who I wanted, and maybe kill them or get them killed afterwards without a second thought. I'd be carefree, happy.

    But I'm not, am I? I dragged myself back to Directrix Daphiti's door, covered in soot and blood. Wounded in spirit.

    When I did, she took me in. She didn't have to do that.

    If I don't have a conscience, what wounded me? I'd really like to know. Why would I feel pain, or depression, over things I've done? I can kill innocents. I have done so. I'm a killer; it's kind of what I do. So why do I see this as injury, instead of something desirable?

    I could read my capacity for ruthlessness as strength. I'm pragmatic, efficient, effective, an able tool. If caring about the state of my soul stands in the way of that, and of being free and happy-- why is it desirable to care?

    I do care, though. It's kind of a problem.

    So I guess ... I guess what I'm feeling is the frustration of the student who goes to a respected professor with a question. This professor listens very thoughtfully, and then gives an answer the student doesn't understand. The student looks puzzled, so the professor repeats this strange answer, louder. And the student asks another question, trying to tie the strange answer back to the original question, and receives only the strange answer again, louder and angrier. When the student still doesn't understand, the professor storms off.

    The student receives a failing mark in the course, with some terse remarks that seem to refer obliquely back to this incident. Later, the student learns from her academic adviser that the professor didn't understand the question.

    Goodbye, Teacher. I'm sorry my question made so little sense to you. If you were right about me, I think I'd be a happier person. My soul might be ash, but ... I don't think I'd care.
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    Aria Jenneth

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    Re: After the Funeral

    Post by Aria Jenneth on Sat Aug 06, 2016 4:54 pm

    So-- something about that last post before I move on.

    It seems that Ms. Mithra doesn't actually think I lack a conscience, which is a relief. Probably there was a misunderstanding somewhere. I guess sometimes things seem really strange because they're not true.

    This misunderstanding comes hand in hand with another, though: Ms. Mithra also doesn't think one can live a good life without believing in God. That's kind of not too surprising, though I'm a little disappointed. (Even if it might be difficult, which I don't actually concede at all, what if one managed it?)

    At this rate I'm going to start thinking that things I find striking, good or bad, are probably illusions for that reason only.
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    Aria Jenneth

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    Cultural Hallmarks: Elements

    Post by Aria Jenneth on Sat Aug 06, 2016 6:13 pm

    Classical elements are a really fun way to look at the similarities and differences among cultures. The typical quartet is: Air, Fire, Earth, Water, and it crops up just kind of all over the place, from scholarly (if not necessarily very accurate) theories of the mechanics of the world to descriptions of people's personalities. So-and-so shows a lot of "fire," or is "well-grounded." And, most places, these seem to mean more or less the same things. Someone intense, passionate, and mercurial isn't likely to be described as showing a lot of "earth" characteristics no matter where you go.

    Elements are on my mind a little bit lately, though I don't have a lot of reason to think the Drifter quintet-- Barbican, Conflux, Redoubt, Sentinel, Vidette-- is supposed to represent a Drifter equivalent to the classical elements unless Drifter culture and psychology has gotten really (really) strange.

    I think my predecessor associated herself with water. I'm not sure about that; I don't think she said it anywhere, but I get that sense. Cool, reflective ... treacherous. Someone who knew her well said she was always "subtly subversive," and it seems like she'd have found that flattering.

    Me, though....

    There's an element that appears in some Achur versions that isn't shared most places: Void. I should clarify that there are actually two concepts that can be described using that word, but I want to be clear which I mean, because combining or confusing the two seems like it could lead to some bad misunderstandings.

    One is kind of like the Amarrian idea of "oblivion," or maybe "the Abyss" if "the Abyss" isn't properly a place, but rather a sort of fundamental annihilation. For us, it sort of combines the concepts of "nothingness" and "nonsense," "oblivion" with a sense of error-- not just absence, but glitch. Zero-divide-by-zero, sort of.

    The word for this idea is "mu." It's got a lot of uses, like unasking questions to which there is no correct answer-- that are already wrong in the asking.

    "How can I get magical powers?" Mu.

    (Or: "Play a video game.")

    (Most Achura are aware that stargazers can't really see the future and monks can't jump through shadows to emerge elsewhere or leap twenty meters straight up unaided. There's always somebody, though.)

    It's also what Shuijing monks (like me) are taught the afterlife is. Lay practitioners might believe they're going to be running errands for celestial bureaucrats, but, that's not what our sect's monasteries actually teach. We go the same place as a snuffed candle's flame goes. We just ... aren't.

    (The fact that we also learn that we don't exist as separate beings to begin with does a lot to take the sting out of this belief-- nothing's really lost. It's just an illusion ending.)

    The other "Void" is more "real," if not necessarily simpler: it's the absence of things, an emptiness, but, it's also a presence, because there's a space there. It's a space with nothing in it-- only, since it's an element, it's all over and all around, and it's also the "element" of spirit, energy, and creativity. It's not exclusionary; it accepts basically everything. It has the characteristics of no other element, but contains them all. That's a characteristic I really admire. It's as much a thing of vital force as an absence.

    This is the element I associate with myself, which seems a little arrogant of me, but, even so, it's true. It's probably one reason why I wear black so much. Obviously, I'm not just an empty vessel anymore, if I ever was. But then ... even space isn't so empty.
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    Aria Jenneth

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    Aesthetics from A to G (and vice versa)

    Post by Aria Jenneth on Tue Sep 06, 2016 7:05 pm

    To my fellow SFRIM members: I'd appreciate comment and critique on this passage; as a foreigner from a culture with aesthetic customs much different from yours, I'm apt to have several wrong ideas. I'm kind of hoping to publish this passage publicly at some point, likely soon, so any guidance you can give would be most sincerely appreciated.

    -A





    With certain major events coming up, a kind of neat thing's been happening: an actual conversation about fashion, Gallentean to Amarr, with the Gallente ... actually caring what the Amarr think?

    This doesn't seem like it happens very often. Usually the two are like oil and water, except that everyone else kind of thinks the two empires have an uncomfortable amount in common.

    Both really care about aesthetics. That's not something anyone else really shares in a lot.

    It seems like Gallente fashion and beauty is ultimately about maximum "freedom" to express one's self-- with a certain expectation that one will express one's self by rejecting limitations and inhibitions, unless one does just the opposite by embracing specific inhibitions to, well, usually, to similar effect.

    Sexuality, in particular, isn't something to be hidden; it's to be expressed. Reveled in. It often seems as though Gallentean beauty is sexual by nature. This is kind of of a piece with Gallentean attitudes towards things like body modification.

    "Be whatever you want," they seem to say. "But, whatever you are: enjoy it!"

    (I actually found these expectations a little oppressive, but, Caldari client person, so, that figures. It's not like Achura (or Caldari) are taught to treat our bodies as shameful, but, well-- the Achura treat bodies as distracting, and the Caldari often seem to approach them as irrelevant. Modesty's not exactly a dirty word in either culture.)

    Amarrian approach to things like beauty is ... I'd actually say it's more ornate, more elaborate, but much less sexual or sensual. A dress might be cut virtually to the navel, but give more the impression that it's not going anywhere ever than that it's about to come wafting off.

    It's about building-- and ornamenting-- the Kingdom of God, not about expressing individual feelings or freedom. Life in such a place should be beautiful, possibly even grand for persons of rank.

    At the same time, it seems to be considered unseemly to encourage carnal thoughts. That's distracting at best; at worst, it's a power play directed at animal urges and instincts-- the kind of bare-knuckled (among other things) power game the Sani Sabik engage in.

    The Amarrian ideal when it comes to such things, then, could maybe be described as celestial-- beautiful in form and ornament, but refined and elevated far beyond any indication or recognition of being "an animal." The goal seems to be to emulate, insofar as is possible, a Sefrim-- a gendered being, perhaps, but without sex.
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    Bel Boma

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    Re: After the Funeral

    Post by Bel Boma on Wed Sep 07, 2016 5:21 pm

    I come from a Ni-Kunni tradition, and I have found sensuality and sexuality to be inseparable from both fashion and politics. The Gallente, from my experience, revel in sexuality and sensuality for its own sake; they partake in it often as a matter of regular routine, as it becomes second nature. It inundates conversation as they explore it.

    In the Empire, it is a silent weapon. The absence of shown skin is not the absence of sensuality. My mother taught me at a young age that an inch shown to a single man which is covered in all other company is a quiet invitation. The way cloth clings and hangs will draw silent attention to and from the right areas. This is how a lady courts when she has none else to offer. The men are not innocent in this ritual; I have known them to apply natural face paints to give compliment to their expressive features. I have known them to indulge in behaviors that favor none but the wandering woman's eye. Drawing back sleeves to show finely sculpted arms graced with the color of his hair - a secondary sexual characteristic, mind, that a woman knows is linked to maturity then potency - is as deliberate as a woman's plunge neckline.

    But then, I come from Ni-Kunni heritage, and many believe us to be uncouth and shameless. Before the Faith, we knew of the value in fertility. Certain social structures may now be taboo, and good riddance, but the beliefs that founded them linger still.

    Garion Avarr

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    Re: After the Funeral

    Post by Garion Avarr on Fri Sep 09, 2016 2:03 pm

    It may perhaps be said that the things the Federation and the Empire have in common are often cause of why many of us are so uncomfortable with each other: that which is similar highlights the differences far more effectively.

    And art and fashion is one way in which this is manifest: it is something we both care about, but for the Federation, on the whole, it is about expressing one's individuality, and done ultimately for oneself. In the Empire, on the whole, it is about conformity and unity with society, and done ultimately to glorify God.

    Those are of course oversimplifications, in the Federation fashion will often follow the famous and many will adjust their looks in order to express their admiration for a particular star, or show their membership in some subculture. And in the Empire one will show one's personal political views or such by adopting the dress or colors of a particular family, or subtly subvert normal expectations for dress to make some sort of individual statement (as in the examples given above for how one might flirt, but for many other purposes as well). But they make good generalizations.

    Sexuality for the Amarr is a complex topic, but is largely ruled by a belief that it should be a private matter, while fully acknowledging that it exists. We know carnal thoughts will happen, and there is nothing wrong with that. It is sharing them in an inappropriate time or setting that is wrong. Thus fashion or art may display the body in a way that could be considered quite sensual at times – but unless it is not meant to be seen in public, it would not (usually) actively celebrate sex itself – though it might sometimes be hinted at, in the right circumstances.
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    Aria Jenneth

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    Re: After the Funeral

    Post by Aria Jenneth on Sun Sep 25, 2016 7:54 pm

    This is something that came to me as I was reading over Ali's poetry thread.

    I don't think I wrote it, not as myself.

    I mean, it's of me, but, not my own. I think it's my predecessor's.

    ... It didn't seem right to post it, though. And not just because it's not exactly something I, personally, as myself, wrote.



    Oh weep not for the dying
    Of that which never was.
    Our shining towers are mortared in gore
    And teardrops ink our laws.

    Our streets are paved in misery
    Our manors walled with spite
    The brightest of our summer days
    Is fixed in endless night.

    Ware those bright-eyed and eloquent,
    Who claim to guide and warn,
    For blind are they who lead the blind
    And Justice lies stillborn.

    Retribution bright heralds
    A bitter aftermath;
    The robes of Righteous Judgment
    Are poisoned wings of Wrath.

    The Truth it hides behind the world,
    Illusion at its side;
    The guiding beacon Insight
    Is mired in bitter Pride.

    Come dance with me out through the void
    With hooded lanterns lit
    And if the Dark should laugh at me,
    I’ll throw off this mask of misery
    And laugh along with it.

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    Re: After the Funeral

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