Elves

From: Lemens, Chris (CNU!AUSTIN3!lemens@cnucorp.attmail.com)
Date: Tue 01 Apr 1997 - 15:35:00 EEST


Alex Ferguson takes me to task on many points (all good).

First, he disagrees with my emphasis on property. This is probably my
economic & legal background exposing itself rudely in public. The thing
that really defines property is that you can go to an arbiter or some sort
and get justice. I do not think the elves have such an institution. So
perhaps I meant something more like "territory" than property. The point is
I think particular elves have attachment to particular pieces of dirt.
 (BTW, did you know that elves have exactly 3057 words for "dirt"?)

However, I think there is a difference between Alex' vision and mine. Alex
sees the motivation of elves as being internally driven for the good of the
forest. I think Alex sees this as being hard wired into their brains (or
whatever). I see their motivation as being part ideological and part
institutional. That is, elves do learn from their elders & peers how to act

like elves and their traditions and modes of living reinforce acting like
elves. They want to protect the forest not because it is built in but
because they will lose the respect of their peers and their gardens might be
ruined. Additionally, their beliefs (learned in early saplinghood) tells
them that it is just plain right to defend the forest. I agree that
rootless & renegade elves are psychotic from and elven point of view. I
don't think it is a short circuit in a hardwired brain. I think it is

either poor parenting or a strange situation that causes it. E.g. trolls
come in and burn just your part of the forest; you go nuts. (Oooooo. Bad
pun.)

I agree that elves may often exchange goods without payment. It is a sign
of how great a gardener you are to be able to give things away. I think

money is foreign to them, so they barter when they really need to get
something that they can't get for free. One problem with barter
transactions is that it is impossible to give change. I think elves
routinely overlook small differences in value, but in a vague sense keep
track of who owes them and who they owe. It all feeds back to community
standing. The more people that owe you, the more you are respected.

I agree with Alex that green elves are much more uptight than others. It
has to do with the long vigil in the darkness causing their gardens and
gardening to deteriorate. They choose to emphasize other virtues that are
secondary to elves, like the necessity of protecting the forest (secondary
to gardening, that is).

Me:
>>I think he's named something like Mraelio and is
>> the green elf cultural hero.

Alex:
>If you broadly agree with my ideas about Vronkal (not that I'm
sure you do, but you refer to him later),
Yes, I do.

>I'm more than a little confused about what the distinction is. (Or did you
mean >_brown_ elf hero? (Been there, done that!))
D'oh! yes. I meant brown.

Me:
>> When Zorak Zoran killed Flamal, he started hunting ZZ.
>>He wasn't very good at it and ended up getting ambushed
>>in Vanch. Afterwards, he meets up with HKE & others,
>>ultimately resulting in Flamal's and Yelm's resurrections.

Alex, with good criticisms:
>I really don't see what motivates this as an elf cult of any sort.
>This is the human Yelmalio/Antirius cult, with a Lightbringer
>role grafted on, as far as I can see. Which is overdoing the
>Monomyth on the one hand, and completely changing his mythic
>role on the other, if you believe in some sort of Identity between
>the two. If the DP Yelmalio (proper) cult is partly derived from "Elfio"
>(as KoS thinks), this partly explains the first (though not the Hill of
>Gold, methinks), but in such a case, how could they "forget" his
>resurrecting the sun, and all plant life?

I think what motivates the elven Yelmalio is the Flamal quest. It makes
sense to me that an elven cultural hero would be out for ZZ's head after he
killed Flamal. (Oooh. Did ZZ _eat_ him? I don't remember. Resurrecting
digested Flamal might be kinda gross.) I think the resurrection of the sun
was accidental to the success of the Flamal quest. Elves would be far more
concerned about waking Ernalda by resurrecting Flamal than with bringing
back the sun (which would be no bad thing, BTW). Flamal, resurrected, would
just barely play a role in the Dawn by tearing open the ground with his
roots to release the sun. I just think the Dawn is too important an event
for elves to say "Nah. We didn't have anything to do with that." Malkioni
have their story; Orlanthi theirs; Dara Happans theirs. None agree. Hence,

I don't see the problem with DP Yelmalians not having the
Flamal-tearing-open-the-ground story. It is not central to non-elvish
Yalmalians, while the return of Yelm the Father would be.

BTW, I haven't got a copy of KoS, so I may have to change a lot of stuff
once I acquire it.

Me:
> >First, where does he get the aether powers? Fighting Wildfire
>>in the forest of Prax (perhaps his home) would make sense,
>>but could only get him light, not fire, powers.

Alex:
>As I don't think any elf god _has_ fire powers, this seems more
>like a solution than a problem.

A couple of points here. First, ZZ has fire powers, so we can't just rule
it out. But, second, I think I agree with you. (See also you comment about
being too Monomythic, with which I agree.) I think it makes perfect sense
for the elvish Yelmalio to have acquired light, but not heat, powers (say
from fighting Wildfire) and be ambushed by ZZ at the Hill of Gold, but have
a completely different story about what happened at the Hill of Gold.

Me:
>>Second, wh[o] else was involved in the Flamal seedquest?

Alex:
>If anyone, ought not _Aldrya_ to have a role?
I don't think so. I don't know about any stories about her activities in
the darkness. I think she slept. But I could be wrong. We do have stories

about Arroin. Who was it who wounded him?

Alex:
>So far, the story of the seedquest sounds like several hypotheses in
>search of, if not evidence, then at a common tapestry to hang them.
>Sounds like if anything, you have the LBQ in mind as a model, but with
>no real basis for using such a structure. Given that other _human_
>cultures don't adhere to it all, I'm not sure I see the force of the
argument
>for elves believing it, independantly.

Weeel, yer dead on. I have a completely independent theory about why so
many hero quests have seven questers (questions? huh?). It has to do with
Malkioni numerology and has nothing to do with Aldrayami. It's just the God
Learner in me coming out.

However, I think that each type of elf needs some story about how they
played a really crucial role in the seedquest. Perhaps, though, this can be
handled by morphing the HKE/Yelmalio story as follows: Forests of
predominantly one color identify HKE & Yelmalio as the same elf, naturally
of their color. Forests of mixed color identify HKE as the more vigorous of
the two colors (usually green) and Yelmalio as the less vigorous (brown or
yellow). Names may vary. There can be local variations of the story where
Elder Sister accompanies SeedQuest. I still like the idea of a Voralan
playing the Ginna Jar/She Who Waits role. I also like the idea of red elves
being laughed out of the garden when they suggest that HKE/Yelmalio is one
of them. (Do elves laugh?)

Alex:
>One doesn't Liquidise fibre though, so to extend the metaphor, one
>should forge it by... Err. I dunno, Extrude Copper? ;-) More
>evocative verb sought. Entwine?

Weave? Braid? Grow? Cultivate? Prune? Tend? And the spell should
probably be called "____ Fibers of Ga" and not refer to copper, which is
surely a dwarvish/trollish/humish concept.

Finally, I agree with Alex that most elves deal with weather through
shamanic magic, not divine magic. But there will be local variations,
especially where elves have mixed with Orlanthi.

Does anyone but Alex & I care about this stuff? Should we take it to
private e-mail?

Chris Lemens

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