Monday, January 10, 2011

Neodicy

"The practice of foresight needs within its philosophical underpinnings a similar discourse that treats the fear of dangerous outcomes as a real and meaningful concern, one that can neither be waved away as pessimism nor treated as the sole truth — a "neodicy," if you will. Neodicies would grapple with the very real question of how we can justifiably believe in better futures while still acknowledging the risks that will inevitably arise as our futures unfold. Such a discourse may even allow the rehabilitation of the concept of progress, the idea that as a civilization we do learn from our mistakes, and have the capacity to make our futures better than our past."

Cascio's Neodicy and his other neologism 'Futurosophy,' are right at home in Riskail where Oracles plot out the probabilities and likelihood of impending events, Chronologists examine the ways in which the various timelines intersect or differentiate themselves from one another, and Statachastics use black mathematics to warp and disrupt the flow of time for peculiar even unfathomable reasons.

In a place like Riskail where the past is no longer concrete or fixed, and history is a speculative, comparative and theoretical science much as physics was before it matured into an artform, there are many who seek to understand the future(s) before they arrive so that they might plot the most profitable course or seek out the best possible outcomes.

Futurosophy is not just some static, sterile and deskbound discussion amongst dried-out Geriatric or Amortal professors, though they do play their part and make their contributions. It is a full contact sport engaged in by competing Oracles, soothsayers, diviners and others within the precincts of the Haruspistadiums that can be found in Paleg on Xembor, Bazra on Jevpa within the Domain of Three Suns, in deepstreet-districts on Jezeal, even amidst the recovering districts of Talibarr under the Mogul-Archintate. Everyone wanted to know what the future might bring, even if it was just entertaining lies or poorly digested fictions. People were fascinated with the future. It was much more pleasant to plot out a potential outcome and realize that it wasn't so exciting after all, than to dwell upon the past and get left behind. Besides, the biggest allure of the future was that it was still open to interpretation. The future was an uncertain and ambiguous wonderland that was always coming, always approaching, but it would never quite actually arrive. One could take or leave the best parts of what the Oracles revealed and use them to blaze a trail forwards, onwards and ever upwards into the eternally bright future. Even the most downtrodden nonperson or bioslave could take comfort in the knowledge that things change and fortunes tend to be fickle, even cyclic things. What was will not always be, and what is won't necessarily stay the same.

So have you had your future read in the cards or plotted out in an astrological chart? For a small fee you can experience a multitude of competing, conflicting, often overlapping futures delivered unto you through countless methods both ancient or modern, contemporary or traditional, arcane or cultic, esoteric or academic, in the popular idiom or couched in obscure and occult ciphers. Dead languages, made-up languages, codes and poetry, glossalia and spontaneous ranting and raving--you can get your future delivered unto you on a glossy scroll, hand-written on sacred bark, etched in foil or carved in stone of your choosing while you wait. You can purchase a personalized recording, get customized insights or guidance, purchase your own set of I-Ching stalks, clockface runes, or have a one-of-a-kind Tarot deck prepared just for you, if you'd care to commission such a thing.

In the deepest parts of the Haruspistadiums, if you know who to talk to and how to ask discretely, you might gain access to the underground catacombs where very private matches are held between competing haruspixes, seers, and others who pit their visions of the future against one another in probablistic combats. Temporamancers duel with the very flow of time itself as their chosen weapon. Achroneous fightbots stand off against NeoNewtonist mechaniacs while Quantalic shadow-walkers compete against abhuman improbableans or blinded seers wielding transparent three-edged swords take on shrewish hags who delight in eviscerating their clients in order to read their entrails in the midst of hand to hand (talon to talon) combat.

Just remember--they probably saw you coming.

5 comments:

  1. Without a fixed past...? Temperomancers...?

    As a player, if you spend enough time in a world like that you are sure to go mad... I like it.

    Cut! Print that!

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  2. History is written by the winners and is thus a political fiction assembled from untrustworthy observers. The distant past is already fluid, murky and every bit as unknown as the future, which is one reason we have archaeology. We don't know all that much about the past, but we have loads of competing opinions, theories and hypotheses...

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  3. Great stuff. The sheer neologistic flood of the Riskail material is worth the price of admission.

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  4. I find the more liquid view of time to be the most reasonable. Years go by and a painting called 'Night Watch' suddenly is known as something else. A bone fragment, or a tiny sample of pollen confirms a theory that years before would've been laughed at... I don't think life would be as interesting if the past were simple to mark off and study.

    I wonder if there's a whole game that could be developed around those Temperomancers...

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  5. @ Trey: Thanks! I've been finding fun Neologisms that I didn't have to invent, like Neodicy here. I'll be adding a few more sources to the sidebar shortly. We'll be starting the Tour of the Solar System and the Tourist's Guide to Riskail shortly...

    @Scottsz: Yep. There is a whole game just with the Temporamancers...but there's also a whole game in the Dumbshows, Plurality, Ecoventurers like the Dezhu...it's called the Riskail RPG...but if anyone else is doing something similar, we'd love to get a chance to play in a game for a change, instead of having to run all the time. Nice of Chris to let us play in his game, and Jeff, too. Oh...and we're starting the River Marshall game tonight...where do we find the time? Temporamancy?

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