Saturday, December 18, 2021

A Poem Draft

 Sleepy Neighborhood Street

The trees are softly shadow-laden,
the world is half-asleep,
along the street the tidy homes
all sigh in dreaming deep.

The echo of the children's playing
still sings inside the head,
a distant echo of a time
when we were not a-bed,

but nearer still is pixie-singing
of secret realms of dream;
through each dark window in the street
unearthly kingdoms gleam.

We find our strangest voyaging
when to our beds we keep;
when trees are sighing, shadow-crowned,
and we are half asleep.

Friday, December 17, 2021

Dashed Off XXVIII

 This ends the notebook that was completed in February 2021.

'checks & balances' among fields of inquiry in pursuit of truth

Christ's sitting at the right hand of God (Col 3:9) is associated with the things above, which are contrasted with the things on the earth (v. 3) -- but the things on the earth are said to be porneia, impurity, passion, desire for evil, and pleonexia, which is idolatry (v. 5). Thus the Session is Christ's exaltation with God in goodness and purity.

crimes of coercion, crimes of persuasion, crimes of maneuver

Elbridge Gerry is the only signer of the Declaration of Independence buried in Washington, DC (Congressional Cemetery).

music & the sense of design

The Angel of the Gate in the Purgatorio is emblem of the priest in confession.

the saints as diagrams of grace

"Nature fulfilled by grace is not less natural, but is supernaturally natural." Coventry Patmore
"Science is a line, art a superficies, and life, or the knowledge of God, a solid."
"The Catholic Church alone teaches as matters of faith those things which he thoroughly sincere person of every sect discovers, more or less obscurely, for himself, but does not believe, for want of external sanction."
"All the world is secretly maddened by the mystery of love, and continually seeks its solution everywhere but where it is to be found."
"Nations die of softening of the brain, which, for a long time, passes for softening of the heart." 

"The whole of nature is a metaphor of the human mind." Emerson

metaphor & synthetic judgment

"A metaphor in a way adds to our knowledge of what is indicated on account of the similarity, for those who use metaphors always do so on account of some similarity." Aristotle Top. VI.2 140a8-11

virtue in beautiful mode, virtue in sublime mode

Hume is promiscuous in what he treats as report of miracles, but in reality for his argument to work as he claims, we must exclude: (1) wonder tales presented as wonder tales; (2) tales of wonders not in any way referred to religious matters; (3) tales in which wonders have no discernible object, even if the tales themselves are religiously tinged. Most people would also want to exclude (4) tales of wonders not linked to the divine in particular (e.g., those attributed to lesser powers), (5) tales of wonders with frivolous aims, (6) tales of wonders not part of a broader economy of wonders in light of which they might be understood.

"It has been observed that the discourses of Christ so constantly grow out of His Miracles, that we can hardly admit the former without admitting the latter also. But His discourses form His character, which is by no means an obvious or easy one to imagine, had it never existed." Newman

the charge of goeteia against Christians

acts of conscience
(1) witness
(2) bind or incite
(3) accuse, torment, or rebuke

Every human person is a tribunal by virtue of being a person.

conformity-vainglory vs manipulation-vainglory

Protests make for piecemeal politics.

The strength of the Industrial Revolution was less discovery than replication. Many had been the ingenious inventions that had not diffused through society, but with the Industrial Revolution, inventions and discoveries became much more likely to be copied.

The First Amendment presupposes the freedoms it protects; it does not define them.

the idea of morality implicit in the idea of the incorruptibility of the soul

The book of Revelation thinks in terms of scrolls even though Christians early on preferred codices.

Social demand creates a field of viable possible technological discovery.

doctors refusing to do what they do not have the technical ability to do // refusing to do what they do not have the legal ability to do // refusing to do what they do not have the moral ability to do

the external world & the *surprise* of resistance

the world as unplanned experience, as cause, as expressive field, as intersubjective medium, as divine manifestation

The artistic act
(1) the Muse
(2) creative imagination (productive intellect)
(3) technical skill
(4) associative imagination
(5) body
(6) material
(7) luck

Attacks against the Catholic Church are always inevitably adapted into attacks against Christianity; attacks against Christianity are always inevitably modified into attacks against religion in general.

It has to be possible to reason intelligibly about functions independently of objects, or we can't use functions.

A great deal of political power resides in being the option already there, and more yet in there being no obvious alternative.

counsel, petition, adjuration, command

"The mind is not the sum of its works, though it includes them all." Sayers

the spatial and temporal peripheries of empire

Aquinas's eucharistic hymn as "a virtual transubstantiation of language" (Hugh Kenner)

Genuinely rational discussion grows from love, whether of a person, or of truth, or of something similar.

memory disk (floppy)
1971 IBM 23FD (Minnow) [8-in read only]
IBM 33FD (Igor)
1972 Memorex 650 [read-write capability]
1976 IBM 43FD [dual head read-write]
IBM 53FD [double density dual head]
Shugart SA-400 [5.25-in]
1980 Sony [3.5-in]

aesthetic, juridical, and moral extension of terms

"People are never more sincere than when they assume their own moral superiority." Thomas Sowell

term -> juridical operationalization -> juridical extension

"...we correctly call nothing false except it possesses some imitation of a true thing..." Augustine

Alienation is always with respect to the needs of human nature.

"If we found sick people, we wouldn't make ourselves sick so that we should be equal, but we would try to heal them to our ability." Maimonides (Responsa 263)

deontologies (ethics based on fundamental obligations)
I. positivist: fundamental obligation is made
-- -- by God (divine command)
-- -- by society (social)
-- -- by individual (egoistic
II. naturalist: fundamental obligation is revealed
-- -- by God (revelatory)
-- -- by reason (rational)
-- -- by instinct (biological)

sage rationalism vs general rationalism (cp consensus sapientorum vs consensus gentium)

form as exemplar-potential, potential exemplarity

supernatural : instrumental motion :: natural : natural motion :: preternatural : neutral motion :: counternatural : violent motion

"...he appointed certain of the Levites as ministers before the ark of the Lord, to invoke, to thank, and to praise the Lord, the God of Israel." I Chr 16:4

Ps 111 and the Church in divine liturgy

Acts 28:22 -- "with regard to this sect we know that everywhere it is spoken against"

"Christian marriage is above the strength of human nature in our present fallen state, and needs Christian grace." Brownson
"Christian marriage proceeds on the assumption that man, with the grace of God, is free to love, and can love, and faithfully perform, if he chooses, all that is implied in the marriage contract."
"On Protestant principles, orthodoxy is *my* doxy, heterodoxy is *your* doxy."
"I am as good as you, does very well, but, you are as good as I, is quite another affair, and few will accept it, who have not the supernatural virtue of Christian charity."
"The real obstacle in many minds to the acceptance of Christian faith, is the want of belief in the freedom of God."
"Motives of credibility as methods of proof should be adapted to the peculiar character and wants of the age, or class of persons addressed."
"The secret of convincing is not to put error out of the mind, but truth into it."
"Communion between God and man is possible, although only like communes with like, because man has in his own nature a likeness to God. Human reason is the likeness in man of the Divine reason, and hence, nothing hinders intercommunion between the reason of God and the reason of man."

(1) the need for religious sentiments and incentives
(2) the need for religious organizations and institutions
(3) the need for religious ministry as a tradition

the Divine Word as first precondition of testimony

to reflect, to understand, and to aspire

Zhongyang 16: the extraordinary authority of spirits is seen in that, not being sensed, they nonetheless draw the behavior of others after them.

"When I turn to being, as it is in itself, it reveals two faces: being and non-being." Edith Stein
"From a purely ontic viewpoint, we cannot think of momentary actual being as existing all by itself -- just as we cannot think of a point outside the line, nor of the moment itself without duration in time."
"My present being is at once actual and potential being; and insofar as it is actual, it is the actualization of a potency that already existed earlier."

Mara bar Serapion on the "wise king of the Jews"

literary problems, perplexities, and arguments (problems are solved, perplexities navigated, and arguments successfully concluded)

thinking, interthinking, cothinking
thiking to a person, thinking with a person

regularly entertaining vs believing

"...the pattern of the creative mind -- an eternal Idea, manifested in material form by an unresting Energy, with an outpouring of Power that at once inspires, judges, and communicates the work, all these three being on e and the same in the mind and one and the same in the work." Sayers

knowledge of how vs know-how (these are Steven Jensen's "materially practical knowledge" and "virtually practical knowledge")

All non-ought propositions may be reformulated as ought-propositions for thinkers and doers in contexts to which the non-ought propositions are relevant.

preterliterary vs counterliterary authorial disruptions of narrative

democracy as the irregularly oscillating rule of the contradictory

tribal rites as converging loosely and approximately on ends of natural religion

X counts as Y
-- properly (because it is Y)
-- by quantitative measure
-- by appearance
-- 'for practical purposes'
-- -- -- operationally/technically
-- -- -- juridically
-- -- -- morally

"Every inclination of anything, whether natural or voluntary, is nothing other than a certain impression from the prime mover, just as the inclination of an arrow to the target is nothing other htan a certain impression from the archer." Aquinas

I think; therefore there is an act directed toward the good of thought.

three marks of final cause: 1) term of change 2) first in disposition 3) per se object of inclination

"The intellect first apprehends being; second it apprehends that being is understood; and third, it apprehends that being is sought." Aquinas

If anything were predicated univocally of God and creature, the creature would have to be God, which is contradictory, or God would have to be a creature, which would be contradictory.

To treat workers with dignity requires treating them as more than workers.

(1) What exists in itself may also exist for another, and thus appear as phenomena of some kind.
(2) The forms of mind by which we cognize the world cannot be said to be merely subjective.
(3) Our representations of the world presuppose the world as cause.

"The given subject of every kind of philosophy is the real word, both the external and the internal." Solovyov

two kinds of theories of cognition
world : form :: mind : material
world : material :: mind : form

'It is possible that there are contingent things' is a necessary truth; contingent things are only possible relative to some power. Therefore there is or are some non-contingent, i.e., necessarily existing power or powers.

Suppose per impossibile that the good and bad are just boo and yay. It is still the case that
(1) Your boo and yay can be inconsistent.
(2) Boo and yay can be more or less inclusive of other boos or yays.
(3) Boos and yays are not all of equal importance or urgency or spontaneity.
(4) We may boo and yay booing or yaying.

"many things are required for the necessities of human life that cannot be managed by one alone" Aquinas

Not all disordered uses directly impede human good.

fantasy in the negative sense as concerned with reward without work or merit

Courts and tribunals merely imitate externally what every person is with respect to himself or herself.

Values vary according to ends.

The gap between heaven and hell is the vastness of the human spirit.

The essential idea of mathematical physics is analyzable quantitative invariance, captured in the equation to zero. The limits of its inquiry are at the unanalyzable, the simply unquantitative, and the unpatternedly variable.

status-rights, role-rights, contract-rights

magic trick as visual and auditory puzzle

(1) Everything new is an act of a potential, in which the effect is.
(2) Every act of a potential is also an act of an actual.
(3) The potential and the actual are not the same.
(4) Everything new is the act of something other than that in which it is.
(5) What is new begins to exist.
(6) What begins to exist is the act of something other than that in which it is.
(7) To be the act of something other than that in which one is, is to be cause by another.
(8) Therefore what begins to exist is caused by another.

"One may transmit evil to a human being by flattering him or giving him comforts and pleasures; but most often men transmit evil to other men by doing them harm." Weil

Labor rights depend on free exchange, reciprocity, and merit.

In death, resurrection, and ascension, Christ in His physical body foreshadows the destiny of His sacramental body.

"The promulgation of natural law is from this, that God has place din the human mind the natural knowing of it." Aquinas

moral sentiment as natural desire

"Practical rationality has the status of a kind of master virtue." Philippa Foot

Medical research is a scientific study of a particular kind of good-for and bad-for.

Explicit attention to what is known, within a practical context, motivates.

a readiness of preference for thoughtfully rational balance

Concepts are the smae for all in much the same way things are.

"The continuity of life maintaining itself throughout constant change is an analogue of the unchanging divine life." Edith Stein

The state is created to provide guarantee of three things of importance to common good: the coherence, the unity, and the organization of civil society.

theistic arguments in domain of (1) being (2) order of being (3) intellect (4) will (5) appearance in experience (6) society

"As man sinned against the infinite, so also he must suffer a penalty of infinite intensity, he must suffer one of infinite duration." Bonaventure

Bonaventure holds that our sins call for a triple endlessness of punishment:
(1) as we appointed no end in our sin, there is no natural suspension of penalty
(2) as we sinned against the infinite, there is infinite duration
(3) as it is not repented, the penalty is not reversed.

Explicit psychological continuity of consciousness is not smooth but made of interwoven, interpenetrating, and overlapping recollections and anticipations.

God as the pre-self of the self

each humanitarian tradition as a way to God

the authority of the idea of being (Rosmini)

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Up Toward the Placid Moon

 The Tides
by William Cullen Bryant

The moon is at her full, and, riding high,
Floods the calm fields with light;
The airs that hover in the summer-sky
Are all asleep to-night. 

There comes no voice from the great woodlands round
That murmured all the day;
Beneath the shadow of their boughs the ground
Is not more still than they. 

But ever heaves and moans the restless Deep;
His rising tides I hear,
Afar I see the glimmering billows leap;
I see them breaking near. 

Each wave springs upward, climbing toward the fair
Pure light that sits on high—
Springs eagerly, and faintly sinks, to where
The mother-waters lie. 

Upward again it swells; the moonbeams show
Again its glimmering crest;
Again it feels the fatal weight below,
And sinks, but not to rest. 

Again and yet again; until the Deep
Recalls his brood of waves;
And, with a sullen moan, abashed, they creep
Back to his inner caves. 

Brief respite! they shall rush from that recess
With noise and tumult soon,
And fling themselves, with unavailing stress,
Up toward the placid moon. 

O restless Sea, that, in thy prison here,
Dost struggle and complain;
Through the slow centuries yearning to be near
To that fair orb in vain; 

The glorious source of light and heat must warm
Thy billows from on high,
And change them to the cloudy trains that form
The curtain of the sky. 

Then only may they leave the waste of brine
In which they welter here,
And rise above the hills of earth, and shine
In a serener sphere.

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

I Am the North Wind Bold!

 The Four Winds
by Mary E. M. Richardson

What is the North Wind's boast
When like a mighty host
From the bleak Arctic coast
It rushes forth?
"I am the North Wind bold!
I bring distress and cold;
I come like Viking old,
From the chill north!"

What does the East Wind sing,
When like some frantic thing,
Flapping a noisy wing,
It flies apace?
"I come across the main!
I dash across the plain
With storm winds in my train!
I vex and chase!"

What do the West Winds say
When o'er the lands they stray,
Driving the clouds away
With might force?
"Beyond the Rocky crest,
Far in the boundless west,
Where sinks the sun to rest
We have our source!"

How speaks the sweet South Wind
In zephyrs soft and kind:--
"For me the trees have pined 
Through wintry hours!
Far over the Southern Sea,
From land of Araby,
Come I to whisper thee
Promise of flowers!"

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Juan de la Cruz

Today is the feast of St. Juan de Yepes y Álvarez, better known as John of the Cross, Doctor of the Church. From The Dark Night of the Soul (Book I, Chapter V):

By reason of the concupiscence which many beginners have for spiritual consolations, their experience of these consolations is very commonly accompanied by many imperfections proceeding from the sin of wrath; for, when their delight and pleasure in spiritual things come to an end, they naturally become embittered, and bear that lack of sweetness which they have to suffer with a bad grace, which affects all that they do; and they very easily become irritated over the smallest matter—sometimes, indeed, none can tolerate them. This frequently happens after they have been very pleasantly recollected in prayer according to sense; when their pleasure and delight therein come to an end, their nature is naturally vexed and disappointed, just as is the child when they take it from the breast of which it was enjoying the sweetness. There is no sin in this natural vexation, when it is not permitted to indulge itself, but only imperfection, which must be purged by the aridity and severity of the dark night.

Monday, December 13, 2021

O Christmas Tree

 As we approach Christmas, we enter one of the two (the other is Easter) periods of the year in which large numbers of people claim that all popular Christian things are really pagan things. Some of this is perhaps Puritan hangover; some early Protestants refused to celebrate Christmas because they read the symbolism as Catholics acting like pagans. If you have a religion of almost pure text and moral discipline, you naturally read any substantive symbolism as a sort of heathenry. Some of it is out-of-date anthropology still floating around. It's this that gives us the entirely unsubstantiated notion that the eggs and bunnies of Easter trace back to pagan fertility celebrations. And some of it is just an irrational taste for pissing on other people's customs; one often recognizes these people by the fact that the insist so vehemently that this or that custom is really some other prior custom, even if it is quite clear that the current custom is not practiced as a continuation of the prior custom, based entirely on superficial resemblances. And, of course, there is an enjoyment in feeling oneself more knowing than the masses, even if the feeling is entirely founded on illusion.

So let's take the Christmas tree. Decoration of trees happens occasionally in various cultures. They are easy to decorate, so that's not surprising, and this fact does not actually help us to determine how Christmas trees originated. The earliest independent confirmations we have of actual Christmas trees are from the sixteenth century in Alsace and Bremen, but these are presented as if it is obvious what they were, which strongly suggests that it was not a new custom. Prior to this, we do have occasional references to the decoration of branches or boughs for Christmas, references that go back a few centuries further, and while some of these seem to have just been hung up by rope (like we do with mistletoe, but probably in a larger display). It's unclear whether this practice is really the precursor of Christmas trees, or Christmas wreaths (which is likely), or both. There are cultures that currently today display decorated branches in a fashion somewhat like the modern Christmas tree. The most commonly noted is the chichilaki, or St. Basil's Beard, a custom that grew up along the Black Sea. As far as I know, we don't actually know the origin of this practice, but it's not impossible that it goes back quite far. Current Georgians will often have both Christmas trees and chichilaki, so they don't see them as the same thing, but that doesn't eliminate the possibility that they may be two different branches of earlier bough-decorating customs.

Actually setting up trees for the holidays seems to have developed in Germany (like a lot of our modern Chrismas customs). Usually these seem to have been used as dancing poles or as the heart of a bonfire, but we know that in the sixteenth century they were sometimes decorated and sometimes were instead decorated with candies and fruits which were then given out to children. The practice seems to have become popular among Lutherans in some German towns and cities as an alternative to the nativity scenes popular among Catholics; for this reason, Catholics in German regions only slowly started setting up Christmas trees, since it was often seen as a Protestant custom. As it spread, however, Reformed Protestants also tended not to have them, seeing them as Lutheran thing. And, indeed, it was seen as a Lutheran practice by Lutherans, as well, which is perhaps why the legend sprang up that the Christmas tree (or sometimes Christmas tree lights) was invented by Martin Luther. The legend is hard to trace, as well, but it may have done some work later in a more ecumenical time by making it easy for non-Lutheran Protestants to accept it as a generic Protestant practice rather than (as it often originally seems to have been seen) as the Lutherans misdrawing the line between Christianity and Catholic paganism again.

It's usually thought that the custom started spreading in the Franco-Prussian war, in 1870, when one of the morale-building things done by the Prussian army was to set up Christmas trees for those of its soldiers who had the custom; thus a very large number of German men had their Christmas celebrations with a Christmas tree that year. In any case, the custom did spread in Germany. In Britain, Queen Charlotte (who was German) had occasionally set up a tree for Christmas parties; Queen Victoria had liked the trees so much that she had one every year, and the custom spread in Britain the way customs like wedding dresses spread -- middle-class and upper-class women imitating Victoria. The Christmas tree was spreading in the United States as a cultural practice among German immigrants, even those who did not come from regions in Germany that practiced it. This is a common phenomenon, in which highly distinctive and noticeable cultural traditions spread among immigrants even if it was not their practice in the homeland, like Scottish immigrants with tartan, as a sort of heritage-marker. Thus it was largely practiced in Pennsylvania and New York, and it's thought that it may have started spilling outside the German immigrant communities in part due to imitation of Queen Victoria again -- at least, wealthy Americans in areas that already had Germans putting up Christmas trees may have taken Victoria's tree as a sign that this was a respectable thing to do, and thus followed along. The practiced solidified and became universal in the twentieth century in the most American fashion possible -- department stores and businesses started putting them up. From the US it has been spreading throughout the world, as everything that ends up in American movies spreads throughout the world.

Ironically, the song most closely associated with Christmas trees -- "O Tannenbaum" -- which was written in 1824, had nothing whatsoever to do with Christmas trees or Christmas. It's an adaptation of an older folk song about an evergreen fir tree. As far as I know, we don't know the exact path by which it became associated with Christmas trees, but as the standard English translations eventually all started mistranslating 'Tannenbaum' as 'Christmas tree', the association was locked in.

In any case, unless you think dancing, or bonfires, or decorating branches are intrinsically pagan, there's no evidence whatsoever that any customs pertaining to the Christmas tree are of any pagan origin whatsoever. All our earliest evidence about any specific meaning it has associates it with Christmas. All our best evidence is that it's a late medieval or early modern practice, and it spread because it is a very distinctive and visually appealing practice and the ease with which it allowed guilds, businesses, and wealthy families to mark a celebratory season.

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Links of Note

* Victor Gijsbers, Perceiving causation and causal singularism (PDF)

* Jamie Turner, Ibn Taymiyya on theistic signs and knowledge of God (PDF)

* Gesine Borcherdt interviews Byung-Chul Han, in Byung-Chul Han: "I practice philosophy as art"

* Milena Ivanova, When is a scientific experiment like a beautiful work of art?, at

* Helen De Cruz, How can wonder transform us? 

* Meg Wallace, Circus and Philosophy: Teaching Aristotle through Juggling, at "Aesthetics for Birds"

* Joel Michael Reynolds, Against Intuitive Horribleness, on philosophy of disability

* Ragnar Van Der Merwe, Whewell's hylomorphism as a metaphorical explanation for how mind and world merge (PDF)

* Huzeyfe Demirtas, Causation Comes in Degrees (PDF)

* Aleksandra Bessonova, On Intuition and Creativity: Invention in Early Soviet Thought

* Early modern 'letterlocking', in which they would fold their letters a particular, complicated way as a safeguard against tampering, exemplified by Mary, Queen of Scots

* Daniel Hoek, Forced Changes Only: A New Take on the Law of Inertia (PDF), looks at the question of how Newton actually understood his First Law.

* David Egan, Where the Light is Better, has some interesting critical comments on the recent PhilPapers survey.

* Amod Lele, What we learn from the negative moments in Plato and Thucydides

* Susan Waldstein, The Two Births of Christ in Aquinas and De Koninck

* Marcel de Corte, Reflections on the Moral and Political Work of Charles De Koninck

* Ed West, The unbearable whiteness of being an academic, on the recent epidemic of academics faking minority status

* Markus Strasser, The Business of Extracting Knowledge from Academic Publications, looks at the problems of building academic search and discovery schools

* Abigail Iturra, The Imaginal as Spectacle: An Aristotelian Interpretation of Contemporary Politics (PDF) -- you'll need to go down to 'External Links' for the paper itself. It's at a fairly abstract level, but I think the argument is quite a good one.

* Ljiljana Radenovic, Empathy Revisisted

* Fay Weldon, "Christmas Calendar", the worst Christmas story ever. Of course, if you know anything about Fay Weldon, who famously once got into trouble pushing an advertising campaign for vodka with the slogan "It gets you drunker faster", it's certainly a deliberate worstness. It starts off innocuous enough, but once you start paying attention to the story, the things that are just 'off' start multiplying.

Abyss & Sea: Author's Note, Table of Contents

 It is often interesting to look back at how a story develops. Sometimes things happen too quickly to pin down exactly how things came together, but in this case the development is quite stretched out. In middle school, reading Lord of the Rings and (what I liked even more) The Silmarillion, as well as Stephen R. Lawhead's Pendragon Cycle, I started working on a set of stories about a kingdom. Most of those are not relevant, but what is relevant is that the kingdom was called Taran Dis, and it was (under the obvious influence of Tolkien's Akallabeth and Lawhead's Taliessin) founded by a legendary hero, Disan, who came out of the west from the fall of Atlantis to aid the natives against a terrible foe. The people who arrived with Disan could speak to ravens and had a number of wondrous treasures. They built an extraordinary castle called Neyat Dis, which was bigger inside than outside and which had indoor gardens that seemed as if they were outdoor gardens. And in those stories there were spirits associated with the natural features of the universe, among whom were Fath, Fulnë, Trethin, and the like. Thus we have what would eventually become the first fixed point for this story: Disan, a king under the protection of the spirits of the natural world who can speak to ravens, who survives the fall of Atlantis, or Taran Atal, as it later was called. 

That was about it, but it was inevitable that bits and pieces about the disaster that had led to Disan's flight would start cohering, and about Taran Atal itself, derived from Tolkien, or Lawhead, or Plato (second-hand at first, then later directly). Nothing very specific or precise, except for one thing. When I was in high school, this connected up with a completely different line, due ultimately to reading Lovecraft, about what I called the children of Nu (the name coming from, but the substance not very influenced by, Egyptian mythology). As Lovecraftian creatures go, they were very toned down, but the essential idea was that their existence is inconsistent with the existence of the world as we know it; whatever they may be in themselves, they can only manifest in the world as a sort of negative space. There were (I think) six of them, each with different features; the Lovecraftian origin is shown by the fact that one of them was called the Goat, but the two most important for those stories were the Keeper and the Hound. As that idea developed, the Keeper acquired the destiny that at the end of history he would destroy and be destroyed by the greatest hero in the world, who was an independently growing idea. And that independent line of thought was that Taran Dis would rise and fall, and then after a long interval an even greater Empire would arise, partly building on the foundations of Taran Dis, and then fall, and the greatest hero in the world was the last heir of that Empire. Given that, it was natural to connect the circuit: the Keeper destroys Taran Atal and leads to Disan's flight; Disan founds Taran Dis, which rises and falls; Taran Dis makes possible the splended Empire, which rises and falls; the Empire makes possible the great hero who destroys the Keeper. Thus the second fixed point: Taran Atal is destroyed because it is seduced by the Keeper. The picture of the Keeper locked in granite, through which one can see his form, goes back all the way to this.

The final fixed point of the story arose in 2014. My students were taking an in-class Ethics test, so I had time on my hands, and I wrote the earliest version of the poem that ends the story, "Abyss and Sea". And with it came the idea of Baia and the story. And therefore the third fixed point: The story must end with Disan, having barely survived, not knowing what we know, that Baia is already dead.

Everything else was put in as the story grew, although some parts were from Plato, and I think the semblance of life is a much-modified version of an idea from Rudolf Steiner's account of Atlantis (or maybe it's one of the other lost continents that the thought existed, I don't recall exactly) -- basically he claims that at some stage of civilization a very different kind of humanity used not mechanical power but vital power for engineering. The Courts of Day and Night are versions of the Seelie Court and the Unseelie Court -- this is why the powers associated with treasures taken from the Court of Night are all fairy-powers. The pacts and the covenants are probably influenced by Susannah Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell and its occasional mentions of the Raven King's pacts with the natural world. Other things were just improvised. But this was not in any real way set beforehand; it's what happened to crystallize around the three fixed points, along with everything else. Some of this works; some probably will need some tweaking eventually.

Given how the story was written, there's not really any chapter-structure, but the story is in any case organized more like a poem than like a plot.


Stanza 1: Disan's First Visit to the Porphyry Mountain; Baia's Circuit
 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

Interlude: The fleet is built and signs of something wrong with the realm accumulate
 10 11 12 13 14 15

Stanza 2: Disan's Second Visit to the Porphyry Mountain
 16 17 18 19

Ending: Disan and Baia make the fatal mistake of agreeing to delay the flight
 20 21 22