Elves, yet.

From: Alex Ferguson (abf@interzone.ucc.ie)
Date: Thu 03 Apr 1997 - 04:20:02 EEST


Chris Lemens takes my excortiations in good part, and rallies to say:
> 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.

To digress wildly for a moment, note that by this definition, the notion of
"individual property" (as opposed to the clan's) in Orlanthi society is
somewhat sketchy. (I will now retire hastily from the field of this line
of thought, before Jeff Richard throws something at me, like a law
textbook.)

> So perhaps I meant something more like "territory" than property. The point
> is I think particular elves have attachment to particular pieces of dirt.

Now, that I'd agree with. Not so much that they own it, though, as it
owns them. Or that there's a sort of mini-Fisher-King relationship
between a nelf and his quarter-acre-of-moderate-forest. Or something
wooly like that. Though how much it's tied to a _specific_ area is
more questionable -- it may be more a semi-fuzzy quasi-collective thing,
a decreasing attachment to an increasing larger and vaguer area, and
vice versa.

> 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.

I think this is at least partly true, yes. The point I was making wasn't
so much "nature vs. nurture" (elvish answer: Lots of both, please!) but
mainly that Elven society is impossibly "Utopian" by human standards,
couldn't be maintained by humans, and therefore, their motivations are
_not_ the same as humans, or entirely comprehensible to them. Therefore
explanations of their motives in terms of human concepts like Property
are insufficient, I think, and also unevocative. (Someone's else's
'Song of Aldrya' is a more appropriately poetic expression of what I was
putting in somewhat crudely reductionistic terms.)

But yes, social convention surely plays a part too. To consider the
old chestnut (owch) of the human child raised in the forest by elves --

they'd be considerably more eco-holistic than the average hyoom, but
_not_ as touchy-feely as an Actual Elf. Proof of (latter part of)
concept: Arkat. ;-)

> I agree that
> rootless & renegade elves are psychotic from and elven point of view.

Well, Renegades are psychotic, Rootless ones are just slightly loopy
ditherers who need to "Go find themselves", and other non-optimally-
productive nonsense.

> I agree that elves may often exchange goods without payment. [...]
> One problem with barter transactions is that it is impossible to give change.

I'll note that Elder Secrets flat-out says they _don't_ barter, though
given that they obviously will with humans (cf., any Aldryami adventure
hook, ever), they may also do with "stranger" elves. Or to look at
another way: ecological balance must be maintained, so free exchange
occurs in one's own little woodland niche, but with yonder other forest,
some sort of quid pro quo is necessary.

> 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).

That fits my mental stereotype of green vs. brown -- relatively bare,
regimented pine trees on the one hand, sprawling, picturesque oak groves
on the other. But said stereotypes are caused by the artifacts of
_human_ cultivation -- how true are they for elf forest?

> 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.

And few are Suspicously Similar, either. Also note your argument
requires that the Dawn be "too important" an event for the elves not
to take credit for, and at the same time, an "accidental" result of
their quest.

> 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.

But don't you think it's odd that your elven "Yelmalians" believe they
(somewhat incidentally) resurrected the sun, while an allegedly
derivative human cult thinks they had nothing to do with it?

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

I don't think there's a lot of relevant stuff, as a recall. There is,
though, one mention in the notorious "Making Gods" section which states
that the Yelmalio cult (proper), which is relatively new to (Gloranthan!)
humans was "already known" to elves at the time of the Elmal/Y. schism.
Which bits of the DP Yelmalio cult may or may not have been derived from
the aldryami "Yelmalio" has been debated ever since.

> 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.

So different as to not mention the Hill of Gold, I'd say. ;-) Of all
the different places the DP Yelmalio cult may have derived its various
aspect, it seems fairly clear the the Elven proto-Y. is _not_ where they
got the HoG myth.

The idea of a sort of anti-HoG myth (Yelmalio _gaining_ powers? Gasp!)
involving Wildfire is intruiging, but does seem to involve a tacit
fire/sun identification of which I'm leery (for elves).

> > If anyone, ought not _Aldrya_ to have a role? [in the seedquest?]

> 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.

She did, yes, but that doesn't mean she didn't play a role in her own
awakening. After all, Yelm was _dead_, and still managed his own
resurrection, single-handed. ;-) By the same token, so are the brown
elves and the dryads, but you don't exclude them.

> 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.

This sounds about right to me: but I still remain _waaaaay_ unconvinced
that such figures are the "seedbringer" figures. Even (perhaps especially)
from a Monomythic perspective the roles are all wrong. It surely requires
an amazing act of Doublethink to have myths that the Protector figure is

simultaneously Away Questing.

I believe conventional Godlearner/Theyalan tales credit the Lightbringers
for rescuing Flamal. This may be purely an Orlanthi belief, of course,
or Godlearner "Him-too"-ism; how it could derive from any likely elven
belief seems most unclear. (And I include my sketchy ideas on the subject
in that, not just Chris's Seedy Lightbringers. <g>)

> I still like the idea of a Voralan playing the Ginna Jar/She Who Waits role.

Don't Voralans have spores, and _like_ it dark? Talk about yer turkeys
seeking election for the Christmas Party... ;-)

> (Do elves laugh?)

Don't the green elves "tickle" dryads awake? Sounds like good clean fun
to me!

Lasciviously,
Alex.

------------------------------


This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.7 : Fri 13 Jun 2003 - 16:58:32 EEST