The Reality Debate drones on

From: Thomas McVey <tmcvey_at_sric.sri.com>
Date: Sun, 01 Oct 2000 23:33:46 -0800


>
> ------------------------------
>
> Date: Sun, 1 Oct 2000 20:04:03 -0400
> From: Carl Fink <carlf_at_panix.com>
> Subject: It's just contradiction!
>
> In this group, I bet everyone recognizes my quote.
>
> Alex Ferguson <abf_at_cs.ucc.ie> wrote:
>
> > So do I. At least, the self-contradiction would be better kept down
> > to a dull roar. Contradiction between _different_ pieces of literature
> > (such as Lunar POV vs. Orlanthi POV) I see not problem with.
>
> Please. If the game writings about Orlanthi and Lunars aren't part
> of the same piece of literature, you're torturing that term beyond
> bearing.

Yep, but there's no reason for them to be identical. And there are artistic works where multiple points of view are combined, often contradictory. "Rashomon" springs to mind, and Iain Banks wrote a novel combining three points of view (can't remember the name). You're trying to impose your own aesthetic beliefs on the way that Glorantha Should Be, and also taking an overly reductionist point IMHO. My point about raising wave-particle duality were these:

  1. To use quantum mechanics, you have to ditch some common-sense perceptions of the world, because they're not applicable at that level. But most of us don't have to particularly worry about it. I can get along quite well using bond theory as a chemist-type person, even though it's an approximation of the actual situation. Similarly, a EE can use band theory to understand semiconductors, even though that also is an approximation. Similarly, a computer scientist doesn't have to know what's going on at a machine level to write good code.

If I can be a perfectly good technologist in the RW and not be that arsed about what "really" is happening when I do my funky stuff, why should a Wind Lord be any different? He flies, he feels the pleasure of being in Orlanth's realm, it all works. You use the model and level of abstraction that is appropriate. It's entirely possible that some Gray Sage or Illuminant has found a way to reconcile the conflicting views, but it took years of study, drove them close to madness, and involves references to phenomena or systems of thought that we Terrans can't understand. How much joy would you think a Lunar would have understanding particle physics?

2. You're assuming a level of "objectivity" an fixedness in RW science that doesn't really exist. Close to the edges, science gets, for want of a better word, rather squishy. There's some questions that science just isn't going to get a good handle on (health effects of low-level exposure to chemicals/radiation comes to mind, as does studies on nutrition, or the nature-versus-nuture debate) You're firmly in the Popperian view of science - falsifiability, and all that. But Kuhn and Feyerabend (I posted a long quote from him here - does anybody remember it, or was it too off-topic? Should I post it again), have rather different views on the social role of science, and (in Feyerabend's case), rather more skepticism in the idea of the ability to separate the process of understanding from the understanding itself.

Feyerabend's insights maybe aren't that applicable to physics, but they are seriously relevant when discussing anthropology, or sociology or economics or psychology (which are all even more relevant to Gloranthan "reality" than they are here, that reality being much more metaphysical (is there a physics in Glorantha, or is it all metaphysics?).

[Heortling Physics Test:
1. An arrow is shot from a bow at an angle of 45, at a speed of 90 keymiles/hour, on level ground.

Assume no use of Lunar chaos to warp time. Assume no fluctations in the force with which Ernalda draws things to herself, either from the presence of her worshippers in the vicinity, the season of the year, the day of week.
Assume no warping or moving of the Earth by calling on Maran Gor. Assume no use of wind magic from Orlanth. Assume Orlanth does not impede or speed the flight of the arrow.
Assume no use of Speeddart.
Assume no use of air spirits, either bound in the arrow or bow, or called on during the flight.
Assume no fluctuation in the mass of the arrow due to Elven growth spells or suchlike.
Assume no divine intervention.
Assume no tidal influence from Annila or from other astral bodies. Assume no spells of deflection or retardation affect the flight of the arrow to its target

How far does the arrow travel before it lands on the earth?]

If better minds than mine have grappled with subjectivity versus objectivity, and come to radically different answers on everything from science to ethics to human nature, I don't think we're going to nail it down in this list.

Lastly, in the end, Glorantha *is* subjective and objective simultaneously. It's subjective in the sense that it's whatever Greg decides it is (and, in the absence of his opinion, what published Gloranthaphiles decide it is), and it's objective in that we accept that Greg's Word is the Final Word (or, until he changes his mind). Percipire (gregoris) est esse, in this case (pardon the mangled latin). There's no real rock out there for you ,as Dr. Johnson, to stub your toe on.

But I don't think that fluidity is a weakness. If Glorantha wasn't as much of a cafeteria selection as it is, it'd be as dead as Tekumel as we all wait for Prof Barker to issue the next work on Tsolyani irregular verbs.

>
> <snip>
> The three of them combine the Malkioni power of flight, the Yelmic
> power of levitation, and the Orlanthi power of, well, flight to
> rise directly from Dragon Pass through the Middle Air to the Sunpath,
> then wait for the Sun to move past them and look at it, while
> standing next to each other.
>
> It would be a type of "move beyond the bounds of the Lozenge"
> heroquest, but in an unusual direction. They could also sail to one
> of the Sun's Gates, of course.

There'd be no heroquest possible. Their perceptions would differ too radically.

>
>
> > Score a big enough success in imposing your perception on the other
> > two, and not only do they see the sun _that_ way, but (for a
> > sufficiently high degree of success) that viewpoint may be
> > permanently imposed on them, _completely_ screwing up at least part
> > of their own way of viewing the world.

(Or, more likely, any mindlink would break down from the conflicting views. Can't network without a common protocol)

>
>
> Wow, so you *concede* that the Sun doesn't have a "real" nature that
> can be counted on? You think that the nature of the Sun depends on
> what you're expecting to see?

Our Sun, certainly, but the Sun in Glorantha? Quite possibly, especially if the *effects* from percerption and worship of that Sun also vary.

>
>
> > But I'm sure I (and come to that, Greg) have given essenttially this
> > answer before, so evidently it's non-good in some respect that escapes
> > me for the moment...
>
> It turns Glorantha into a tissue of the dreams of mortals.

And that's the most poetic way of describing Gloranthan reality.

Tom

>
> - --
> Carl Fink carlf_at_dm.net
>
>


End of The Glorantha Digest V8 #44


Powered by hypermail