God Learners voting for Mythic Diversity?

From: Alex Ferguson (abf@interzone.ucc.ie)
Date: Fri 16 May 1997 - 06:13:28 EEST

> It seems to me that if deities are subjective in
> Glorantha, they're nothing but constructs of the desires and cultural
> needs of their followers.

That's an entirely unwarranted inference. Why would people having
different experiences of myth necessarily entail that they, themselves
are the sole architects of their invisible world? Furthermore, the
second proposition is entirely untestable in any case. To say that
the deities Are is one thing; to hypothesise _why_ they Are is quite
another. Given they they Are, what practicable difference does the
Why make anyway?

> However, the muddle-muddle and vague arguements of the
> subjectivists rob Glorantha of what makes it special

Let's be clear about this: the "subjectivists" have very particular
reasons for their position. They want to be able to have a Peloria
which believes in Pelorian myth, a Barbarian Belt that believes in
Theyalan myth. Seem fair? In contrast, the Objectivists apparently
propose that we get to pick just one model, and declare all the rest
wrong, because of RQ2 sentimentality, or some vague sense of unease
about allowing multiple viewpoints, or other such non-concrete
objectives. Now that, I call muddled thinking.

> Perhaps some of the folks on this list may be uncomfortable with Deities
> who are self-aware and conscious of themselves - I, for one, am
> uncomfortable with the idea of Deities in Glorantha who are not.

For some religions, it's entirely appropriatfor for them to believe in
deities being personified in this way, and to experience them as if they
are. For others, it clearly isn't. Isn't that a big enough argument in
itself for subjectivity? The combination of pan-cultural mono-deities
and self-awareness is a particularly self-defeating one: if Orlanth is
West King Wind is Shargash is Umath is... whoever else, why does he
keep beating himself up? Or is masochism an in-built part of the
standard divine personality?

> That, to me, is too damn god-learnerish for my taste.

Don't you feel that there's a heavy irony in accusing people who
believe in the truth of individual cultural myths of being God
Learners, while espousing that there be literally only one "true"
mythology (let's call it, say, a "Monomyth"), and relegating
everything else to the status of the erroneous?

> However, in order to function as a Game World, a common structure
> and actual truth to myth must be decided.


OK, here's my potted guide for determining which myths are Actually
True: They all are. Especially all those contradictory ones. Any
questions? Now, you may not like this as a meta-game philosophical
position, but it seems to me to be _eminently_ gameable.

> I feel it's a fallacy to think the certain parts of Glorantha are not
> 'part of the compromise'.

That's not what's being suggested. Orlanthi believe the whole world
is subject to the Compromise. Dara Happans don't think it exists at
all. While DH has its own rationales for why the gods aren't
perambulating around the 'Bowl, they aren't constructed around a
"compromise"-like idea. In fact, making a deity manifest in the world
isn't Chaotic in their worldview, it's a Jolly Good Thing. Nysalor,
Yelmgatha, the Red Goddess: Let's have more of 'em, in fact. The
Orlanthi don't have anything like this happening, and when it's done
by the DH types, they _do_ think it breaches the Compromise.

> While perhaps the issue of the subjectivity
> of the Gods is a matter of opinion, the Great Compromise is not.

I'd have to agree with you there.

> In my opinion, in all Gloranthan Myths, these aspects always play a
> part...

Your suggested "laws" are all just excerpts from the bog-standard
GL monomyth. All the usual caveats, mostly-trues, and exceptions

> (1) The existence of a perfect world, before time.

That's not even an Orlanthi belief. I don't think the Doraddi
were "Golden Age" fans either.

> (2) A different nature of time, that makes it distinct from 'Time' as
> known today.

Not believed by the Dara Happans, the Kralori...

> (3) The existence of Chaos, and the destruction of the mythic world.

The Dara Happana don't see chaos as the special enemy. Darkness
is the principal bogey man for them. The DHns do believe in the
destruction of the pre-Dawn world, but I'm not sure the Kralori do.

> (4) A great act which merges the remnants of the old world and chaos,
> and establishes the order of the world we know today.

This is probably fairly universal, if we generalise "chaos" to
"designated bad stuff". Monomythically, though, this is more
"I Fought We Won" than Compromise, though. The Dara Happan take
on the subsequent Dawn is basically Yelm Uber Alles. Concessions
are fo wimps.

A Parting Observation: the Orlanthi believe in personified deities, and
(quite coincidentally) that there's a Compromise which stops them freely
manifesting and acting as such. OTOH, the Dara Happans, and other
Pelorians tend to believe in deities as "masks" on a not-directly-
knowable Divine World -- and remarkably, lack a belief in the




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