The Republic of Letters (Ten Years Hence)

Re: The Republic of Letters (Ten Years Hence)

Postby Duquesne » Sun Sep 22, 2019 6:01 am

Glenn,

This is vivid imagery you paint.

A long line of tangents, distractions, and centralities — we will not step through doors quite quick enough to prevent them closing on our retinue, I’m afraid. All the trappings, as you say. I have regular opportunity to spend time in uninterrupted thought — rare as comets, once — and this idea in particular returns to me.

For a moment in the midst, I felt a bit of concern for this notion of bringing, I hesitate to call them ‘complexities’ but it will do, with us when we return. Why not arrive with far fewer intentions instead, I wonder? And yet I determined that it costs nothing to speak one’s mind, that more often than not sound judgment emerges from an open dialogue. Something you and I need in droves, I think, as we continuously repair and relearn ourselves.

You prepare for the Kestrel — I am not familiar with the name and can only imagine, considering the need for militaristic metaphor as a form of preparation. Will you elaborate?

In this matter of service to country, you wrote, "Your time is your own up until the point betrayal and intrigue strikes once more? Hands may be capable but they are not your own." Here is a question you must ask me again in a week, a month, and a year. By the latter date I hope we will both be satisfied with the answer; in the present moment all I say is that you are right. I myself could not have articulated the personality of my occupation until now in two phrases — I commend you. They are capable hands but they are not my hands. For months, I considered this fact with an analytical concern, wherein I continually felt I had not imparted enough direction or information to those selected to replace me, that because of this they would rise against the same primordial difficulties I faced but fail. A lifetime could not impart to them the totality of my experiences, but to regard myself as the one individual who could guide that nation to prosperity would be hubris of a measure I deeply despise; it would make me no better than Farazh, whose self-concern caused the death of tens of thousands and the suffering of three times that number. Thus, I needed to weaken those well-worn paths between myself and that concern, accomplishing this through merely doing other things with my time, and discovered my Self can exist wholly without the other. Revolutionary and obvious truth, even, but when one is mired in the thick, one does not notice Obvious.

This is why we leave — to gain perspective. Like pausing to gulp air after flight, there is a need for it. And in the process of exploring other things, we find the clarity we need to begin forgiving ourselves, accepting the way things have been and how they are. Only then are we ready to return. It is not a wanting, this leaving; it is knowing that we must. It is necessity.

Choice is still ours in the face of unimaginable, often insensate forces. Choice versus obligation. The difference between them is infinite, as you say, and all the more reason to investigate that expanse further, no? I suspect a sensible path exists between them, a byway around their more imposing pitfalls. It is certain that betrayal and intrigue will arise again and again in Lanessian affairs, as they inevitably do in all societies. Letters will arrive, commissioners will visit, the question will be asked, “Will you help us?” Those are the moments when the response will be uniformly, “Yes and no.” Advice will be offered, a bit of direction perhaps because I cannot be callous, because they are my countrymen and there is unavoidable obligation in that fact — I do not make myself an ex-patriot, having family and interests there. But advice will be all I give them; it is all I have left to give them. More than this, I choose to give nothing more. Passion and conviction for those affairs is simply — gone. You must know what this is, to experience something like a wall rise up between yourself and the demands of your former life.

So you envision a Myrken Wood under female leadership. If this is true, it does qualify as something new, deviation from an old short-coming: a predominantly male ruling body and all that this entails. You must already have selections in mind — of course you do; you are Glenn Burnie, who maps routes in advance. You say I may be surprised and amused by the lengths you’ve gone to — you must know this is a curiosity I cannot overlook for want of answers.

Perhaps some renovation of policy will follow this "something different," regardless of whether or not the former is your intention; policy that allows for women to merit and acquire title, to inherit status and estate, to have voice and authority in council, and be otherwise subject to no law which limits opportunity, whether in the Meetinghouse or the marketplace.

As for the maps, I look forward to the journey needed to receive them first, before the jaunt itself ever occurs. You were right, I may have considered you and I less than you considered you and I. I regret having to write those words. Legendary strain does strange things to the mind. I would like never to return to that state of distraction, regardless of trial and circumstance; I intend not to. I would like you never to return to that state either. Stillness, then, in the aftermath of activity; this will be my hope.

On a separate note in closing, if in your travel you happen upon any worthy technical treatise on the subjects of constellations and their mythology, and equinoctial and solstitial alignments, these different subjects treated together or separately, I would be deeply grateful and would compensate as needed either before or after your return.

S. Duquesne
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Re: The Republic of Letters (Ten Years Hence)

Postby Glenn » Tue Sep 24, 2019 12:02 am

Retinues, yes, but we also battle time. We battle it in two ways. Second, there is the fact that it is fleeting. We have seen real loss, things taken that will never be recovered, people gone, not to faraway lands or deep within their own solitude, but gone forevermore. I have been swatted down by inhuman things, Sylvius. Repeatedly. I expect within the next year it shall happen again. At some point, there will likely be nothing more of me than memories and lines on paper. We carry that with us always, though, and never can it be reason alone to act in foolish haste; whatever excuse we cling to, it must be better than than. First, then, is the years behind us. That retinue carries baggage. These words between us now does a great deal to that, so the ideas will have primacy upon my arrival and your return. The you and I of ten years ago matter far less than the you and I of today.

The Lady Egris Verreaux, twelfth cousin thrice removed of no less than the king himself. Well, some smaller number. Frosted glass, forged hard as steel. She is an entirely different challenge and I'll need her for what is to come. To answer your words already written, I do not mean to cede Myrken to her. I could have done that years ago to less unsure effect. We'll get there.

You give me too much credit for why I left. It was the end of my time, yes, a grand house of sticks tied together by lace (the grandest Myrken has seen), not wholly of my making, brought down in fire and blood. I ran. It was necessary but let us not dress it in noble niceties. There was a wall and I well built it, only falling to certain lapses of attention and antsy inaction. Even the seemingly safest letters drew me in more deeply than I could have imagined. In this, I do speak from experience.

You ask directly so I shall answer directly: women, then. Not a matriarchy necessarily, but the diplomatic expertise and personnel to negotiate with one. I would minimize difficulty. If there are suitable candidates who could do as well a job as any man, why not foster them accordingly. I've been told recently that even a female ruler of Myrken would rule like a man yet that ofttimes, I think rather like a woman. Something along those lines. There are those capable, Sylvius. Myrken's instability prevents a stultification of the social order found elsewhere. It means that women have interests, shall we say, unique to this place. What they do not generally have is the opportunity. The Inquisitory was made to partially bridge that gap and, in truth, two who I think could be suitable, three maybe, came up through those doors and desks and files. In truth also, I was so free to employ women in these activities because of a desperation. There were only so many suitable candidates in Myrken in general. It would have been lunacy to cut the applicant pool in half due to a mere whimsy of birth.

If this role and this new arrangement leads to women taking more power in Myrken Wood in general, this can only been seen as a positive secondary effect.

As you might imagine, the mapping of the stars is connected enough to my former vocation that I do have a few tomes buried away in Myrken. I will gladly supply them upon my return.

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Re: The Republic of Letters (Ten Years Hence)

Postby Duquesne » Fri Nov 29, 2019 11:54 am

Glenn,

The you and I of today. I have lingered on these words.

What are we in the present hour, I wonder. What are you, here and now, as you attend the concerns to which you commit yourself — What are you? More than the sum of your deeds, it is sure. Much more than the sum of the memories of you, or what lines are written of you, what lines have been or will be.

What am I, here and now, with this one corner of Thessilane freshly imprinted upon me and with Myrken Wood close at heart?

Lately, I have had cause to consider my origins with a sharper focus than I have for several years. My ancestors have left long and detailed records of their lives; the literary finesse of their scribes no doubt embellished and polished those accounts that they may ring heroic and fine across centuries. Yet there are other accounts carefully secreted away in ancestral reliquaries that supply rare and humble honesty. To read these is to restore epic figures to the level of humanity where they belong. Accounts of error, doubt, corruption, frailty, severity, hatred; accounts of noble intention, hope, generosity, triumph; honest desires to do legitimate good weighted down by private suffering as unforeseen circumstance brought those efforts to ruin. Or sometimes to breathtaking heights, like the bell-spires of Lanesse’s Royal City, Provincta, reaching skyward with grace though their foundations are built upon blood, bones, and deceit; layers so thick and deep they make bedrock for what exists there today.

Achievement and Failure make intimate bed-fellows, it seems.

To read such accounts has reminded me keenly of an opera's perceived tensions and resolutions, guided by the piercing emotion of strings and the dread and momentum of broad drums; features that describe well the emotions one experiences amid the reading. I think perhaps I would prefer an opera's ebb and tide instead, would prefer my ancestors' accounts be presented as such — it would make of them a kinder education by far. If one is to endure such things, let it be an entertainment to soften the blows. Yet there is much to learn from the errors, much to admire and to be inspired by among those many pages.

If — no, I correct myself mid-phrase and do not supply this page the indignity of a strike-through — I say, When we are to be reduced to memories and written words at the end, then let them reflect accurately and well our minds, our sentiments. Let them reflect not only the consequences of our deeds but the true root of those deeds, which is a desire to nurture and protect what we cherish most. When it is time for your account to be written, and for mine, perhaps these letters will in part serve those quieter accounts, providing balance for whatever grave tales will be written of us in future years.

All the truths, whether they be in error of judgment or sound; the shadows together with the lace — the beautiful together with the atrocity — the scars together with the unblemished flesh together with the healed — the hearts that beat now because of us and all those that beat no more, because of us.

I would have others know me — I would have you know me, as I would know you similarly — that I am not the sum of my reserve or my absences nor the errors of my memory, nor the pretenses of my youth wherein I boldly stepped forward into the public eye as something other than myself, as a thing fashioned by others for Purpose and Legacy all the while obscuring the truth of my own being.

That is the reality of my present hour. Ours are stories yet in the making. The call to action rises and the next challenge awaits: the next chapter for this latest page, the next lines of our future Accounts. The you and I of the past, indeed matters of the past, matter less, as you have sagely written, and will be for parchment and ink; will be, if we are lucky, sandwiched between elegant covers and titled with fine script. Perhaps an illuminated page or a flourish or two to appease the private vanity of our lingering spirits. With a further stroke of fortune, we may join our esteemed fellows in the Libraries of Mudd and Lords and elsewhere, doled out to wide-eyed Myrken youths by way of solemn-eyed teachers. Read these chapters, they will say, and learn well by them.

I daresay they shall not be tedious reads, good sir. These are full lives we have lead, in our short years. Full, indeed, for better or worse. But perhaps we soften the blows of our future readers by recommending, at least, some imaginative illustrations for those pages; gentler scenes to interrupt the turbulence we have made in our efforts to do what we thought was best at the time.

You must forgive me for more recent errors — First, that I closed my last two letters with demands; a gentleman’s oversight, I assure, though I remain eager for the results of them. Second, my delay in writing you. There are reasons, the chief of them owing to a dread block in my capacity for words and for memory. I felt somehow unprepared to respond, as one does when approaching some undertaking for which they have not committed proper research and thus the most important details are unavailable for reference.

Needless to say, my recent former drafts to you have been set to noble purpose as kindling for some very fine fires in a very fine hearth I am reluctant to part with when that hour comes. The thoughts those drafts contain were not worth the keeping, for, as you said, our pasts matter less than our present hours and we must rise above acts done in foolish haste. I fear some of my previous letters were written thus, but those matters will be set right another day.

Perhaps we say this letter and the next you send are the conclusion of our former talks and the introduction of new ones. We have minds for present and future things, better things, better days. Shall we suspend our ideas for a time and evaluate What Is? For we are in the midst of those better days even now, though it may not seem so to some. Yet I take these days to be a quiet interlude ahead of more ominous troubles here in our discreet corner of a much greater cosmos. If better days exist only for a short time, they exist and we live to see and appreciate them — and I would have us appreciate them, indeed, while they remain available to us. At the present moment, we have no wars, no famines, no fires, no rampaging monsters Yet, and no overtly dour social conflicts Yet — I expect you will disagree somehow, but you would.

It is as you said to me in the Dagger years ago, I am no Glenn Burnie. Perhaps I take lessons from you and disagree more and explore the advantages of a Glenn-style contrariness? Though I do not care to earn a swordswoman’s fist on account of it. If someday I do, I shall tell her — if there is time enough to tell her, for you well know her speed — "Not the face, not the face!"

I imagine you are by now in Myrken Wood at last — you, the Lady Egris Verreaux, Miss Genny Tolleson. Miss Gloria Wynsee is lately returned also, and others, it is sure. You shall be joined imminently by two more.

I hope, for I allow myself this, that a letter finds you in a moment’s good health and balance of mind. I hope it finds you sure on your path, barring the rest. Do not forget to care for yourself in the midst, regardless of your determinations. You need not be swatted down again as you anticipate.

S. Duquesne
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Re: The Republic of Letters (Ten Years Hence)

Postby Glenn » Tue Dec 17, 2019 6:25 am

Sylvius,

It only matters if we make it matter. That is the frailty and vividness of humanity. We have to fight not only for what the truth actually means but that truth means anything at all. To be fair, I think gods and immortals have other concerns. For us, it is a matter of making moments matter when we have so few and so little. For them, it is finding meaning in an endless excess.

I had a certain luxury to think along those such during my years in Razasan. I was exiled in every meaningful sense of the term save for the official mandate. I was not run out of Myrken with pitchforks and fire. There was a distinct failure, the forces I created sweeping me aside. There a very public decision to forestall greater disaster and save one that I cared about instead of hoarding power for myself. Finally, there was the arrival of an external pressure that I no longer had the leverage to stand against. By that point, however, I was diminished. It was my choice to leave, but there was little to be achieved by staying. I cannot take credit for humility; there was no other choice left.

I have come to believe that intention does matter. Our perspectives are all defined, to a degree, by our schooling and our trades. Architecture, I imagine, is a combination of art and science. How many fallen structures did it take to discover the correct angles and supports? How many buildings take no risks and blaze no trails, taking the safest, surest path, all function and no form and nothing learned? You know the difficulty in judging our endeavors by their results alone. In all cases, the odds are against us in this world. We must judge by intent and execution both, tempered by an understanding of extigent forces. Of the two, though, growing older and experiencing more failure has made me value intention all the more. It is part of what makes the small gains we look to make now all the more frustrating. They must move in unison, however.

There's little purpose in writing of my family. I would note instead that we can learn equally from all accounts and that it is best we do not fall into the trap of focusing overmuch on our own forebearers. Are we all not humanity with common needs and common enemies: death and time and sparsity and inequality and malaise?

If you wish to avoid a punch to the face from Ariane Emory, you say "Not the stomach, not the stomach!" instead. If it has reached that point, do not expect mercy, only expedience.

That said, such paragraphs, Sylvius, are, I think, an excellent way to reach that point in the first place. Let us avoid them.

Do not apologize for academic curiosity. I will assist you how I can and be glad for it. That I am so entirely focused on the issues before me with so few meaningful or interesting digressions is a failing in me. Do not apologize for a healthy breadth of interests. Perhaps in finding this information for you, I will discover something unexpected for myself.

If we are to evaluate "What Is?", I would rather we do it in front of a fire (and not one fueled by previous, eminently worthy, letters). Immediacy, more than measured and careful writing, feels a better companion for so transformative an exercise. Let us strike out our words in the moment and thus be not afraid of leaving indelible marks.

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