Re: Illumination through power

From: Frank Rafaelsen (
Date: Sun 24 May 1998 - 17:20:29 EEST

Hi again Simon

Sorry about the late reply. This is getting complicated, so if my thoughts
on the subject of illumination have seemed incoherent and confused it is
caused by the fact that that is exactly what they are. Thats why I debate
them here; to articulate what seems so terrble wrong to me, and why it
seems so wrong. I'm grateful that you have taken time to help me out :)

Now back to the question of illumination:

> Illumination isn't just an insight into the workings of Glorantha, it's
> an insight into the workings of your own conciousness, the architecture
> of your intelect.

Yeah, and that is part of what makes such an person alien, supra-human.
You see the tradition I base my arguments on claims that it is impossible
to understand understanding: You'll take for granted what you are trying
to understand befor you can understand it. Se my comments on belonging to
systems below.

> Why would a Yelmalion want to change his own myth?

Good question, I don't know. But things like this happen: in King of
Sartar it is said about Argrath that he 'changed his god'. And if cultures
use questing to get information about the past, experimental questing that
changes that myth will change history (what are myths if not ways to
explain the world?). The events _themselves_ are long gone, all we have is
what the post-modernists call stories, narratives or myths. I used the
Yelmalio questing to the hill of Gold as an example because I thought it
was a well known example (given in Tales #7).

> Are you saying that "Initiation into Orlanth is like initiation into
> Yelm, in the same way that initiation into Orlanth is like
> Illumination."

Yeah I believe I am. There are differences of course, there are
differences of quantity. It is different the same way that initiation and
Rune Lord status are differen. But they are essentially the same kind of
knowledge. If they are not the same kind of knowledge then there are
consequences. More on that below.

> Initiation into a cult imerses you more deeply into your culture. It
> commits you to the ideals of your society and it's moral order.
> Illumination dislocates you from your culture's moral order.

And this is the core of the debate. I agree that this is the way
illumination is said to work. But I think this is an illusory difference
because anything else is hard to imagine, let alone understand. Let me
give you an example from System theory. I claim the illuminate's view can
be said to correspond to 1st order System theory (percieved systems), or
as you say later, 'their insight is into the subjective nature of
consciousness' (by the way, it does sound much like another insight that
was supposed to let the perciever 'see things as they were and their
relationships' doesn't it? :). The problem is that they don't realize that
they are part of the system as in 2nd order System theory (percieving
systems), where the viewer always is a part of the system he is trying to
describe. If they had, they would have realized that there is no such
thing as illumination. Or rather the knowledge that there is no
illumination would be the thing they call Illumination.

This might seem like a Nysalor riddle but when you understand that you are
part of what you describe there can be no untainted perspective on
anything and the illuminated perspective is thus, in essence, no better
than other perspectives.

Their problem is that they claim to know Glorantha as it is, and not as it
appears, and in this way they share the bird eye view of positivism with
the Godlearners.

Now if they should get the ability to know Glorantha as it is they would
become gods. Why? Because by trancending tradition, culture and language
they lose what is human. Call me a fanatic post-modernist, but I believe
that what we call human is based in language, tradition and culture. To
know something 'as it is' means trancending the language-game, you'd have
knowledge outside language. Now if someone should free themselves from
that we are talking really alien here. Forget the critter in the movies,
such a person would be the real alien: We are talking in the
leauge of Azathot here :)

So to sum it up; If illuminates has got any more insight than the insight
that there is no such thing as illumination they are going to complete
nutters that rarely, if ever, will make sense to others. But nutters that
have to be able to know the meaning behind every expression. Not the
meaning of expressions, but the meaning behind (very different).

> >Having powers will change this profoundly. As seen in Oddi's
> depression. >The point is that the insight comes from how you interprete
> your powers; >their effect on your identity.
> Having the insighs and powers of illumination are undoubtedly likely to
> have a profound impact on your personality. You seem to be conflating
> concsiousness with personality.

And they are not linked? Surely you self-image is both a product of your
personality and a producer of your personality? And Oddi's self-image
has got a major blow as he has turned into what he hate. Of course we are
in an area where there are different theories about what is correct, but
claiming that identity (your sense of yourself in a larger context) is a
large part of your personality is hardly controversial.

> >Strange. I would say that Glorantha is the only world that open up for
> >this view to any degree. Where else can you change ancient history if
> you
> >are a powerfull HeroQuester?
> Name one instance of ancinet history being changed by Heroquesting.

What is history if not the tales or myths told about the events, be it in
writing or by verbally? No matter what historians tell you, they are only
telling similar stories. Perhaps they have a higher degree of
verisimilitude, but it does not matter since the events are long gone.
Changing myths and forging new heropaths are changing history in every
usefull sense of the word.
Frank Rafaelsen
Homo Ludens


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