The Path of the Aisling

A philosophy class given by Kedian Ta'Null, Guest Lecturer, at Mileth College

Fall, Deoch 166 ((September 11, 2019 @ 7:30 PM Pacific))

Last class, we talked about the Octave. I'm sure you're all familiar with it. That and the Octagram reminded me of how old I am. In a recent class I attended, I even made a mistake of saying Cail's ally was Deoch.

I must be getting old. But, you know, it happens. None of us can escape the grip of time.

At any rate, for this class, I wish to talk to you about Aislings. Because of the nature of this topic and our history, we must include various heresies, and I hope you will forgive me and accept this lecture as-is.

A very long time ago, I wrote a treatise about the Path of the Aisling. It was probably....Deoch 37 or so.

In it, I made certain observations about the paths Aislings take in life. I had lived a long time as an Aisling at that point - a good thirty five plus Deochs - and from pretty Deoch 8 or 9 onwards a new type of Aisling had appeared, quite different from what we had seen before.

This new Aisling was obsessed with power, and glory, and cared nothing for existing social structures, except as a means to their own end. Many Aislings at the time took a dim view of these new sparks. Debate raged as to how to integrate them into our society. History tells us of the manifold mistakes that were made.

Many of them adopted Sgrios, out of a larger, societal misunderstanding of Sgrios' nature and the path of life itself (remember in our previous class: we too, must die; all worthwhile things should eventually conclude - and be renewed. It was a way to infuriate the established order, and as you'll remember what I said about an Idea, and an Idea's Resistance: what better way to form a Resistance, really, than to adopt the God of Death as your patron?

This battle raged on for decades. Dim flareups and faraway rumblings still remind us of it, and for anyone who is as old as I am, those wounds may occasionally bleed as much today as they did then.

As mentioned, I, and indeed, our larger society, viewed these new sparks very dimly. Originally, I suggested that the Aislings who wished of nothing more than the glory of combat were, in fact, attempting to return to the safety of mundanity; they were neglecting their own spark ((Ex: the ancient term "Toenail" or TNL (to next level) - meant really to cover open heresy by powerhunters, but, really - this attitude referred to anyone who wasn't absolutely and completely up their own butt as a roleplayer. I did warn you about the heresy.)).

For an exceptionally long time I viewed my own path (the path of the Dreamer, as discussed in the treatise) as the "correct" path. Those of you who are familiar with Atavism Age Aislings, in any capacity, are likely not surprised.

And yet: here we are today, in the world that was built as a result of those decisions made and the history of Aisling culture.

However: along the way, we made many mistakes. I myself, attempted to oppress and halt change - to be part of a meritocratic society that seized power undemocratically and exiled, Sgathed, oppressed and manacled anyone who disagreed with the precise and exact nature of their reality.

For these efforts - among others - we were overthrown, and exiled - by the aforementioned resistance. I also attempted to tell my guild of their foolishness. I felt as though we were, one and all - locked into a ignoble and thoroughly stupid pattern; that we were in a prison we could not escape. Unlike Rucesion, because I was a powerful enough leader, I merely shattered my fellowship, rather than being exiled.

I have been asked many times over many, many decades why I am the only living person in Runic Terra, and now you know: it is a kind of extended penance and a constant reminder of the dangers of fundamentalist thought.

Time passed, as it often will.

I came to what I believe is a deeper understanding of this stupid and totally banal dichotomy which so obsessed us older sparks in our distant youth.

I theorized in my treatise that all Aislings eventually would reach a synthesis of these seeming opposites: the so-called elite meritocracy of the dreamers, and those who only wished to fight ((so-called heretics and powerhunters)) and keep fighting after that. Note that you might be able to drive a wagon through the holes in that logic, and it would be laden with all sorts of Aislings. It takes all kinds.

But the idea, in truth, of a synthesis: of a resolution of two disparate entities - this, in my mind, ties into that idea of the Octave.

We spoke of the Octave in my last class, and the cycle of it; I believed that the new Aislings' lust for power, was in fact, a self-limiting characteristic; that it was not possible to build and maintain a society on such desires. I also believed similarly, that to avoid engaging with the real world, so to speak; to never actually engage with the day to day struggles of our kind, was to avoid another type of knowledge entirely - an equally self-limiting path. Neither would provide a stable foundation for a society.

I myself, used to be a talented wizard, for instance, what seems like a lifetime ago - and now I am so unfamiliar with the craft that I look like a rank amateur - an assertion to which I am sure anyone who has adventured with me recently will attest. Ahem.

So it is that we have come to here, the present. Our towns are empty, compared to my youth - our people stand around in mute silence. Instead of the synthesis that I had hoped for in my treatise - that all Aislings would be drawn towards improvement - for both themselves, their towns, and their greater society - we stand instead in the reflexive antithesis, where all that is Old, is Bad - or worse, Boring - and only New & Interesting have any utility whatsoever.

Most importantly, this tells me that we all - the educated, the ignorant, the mighty and the meek, suffer from the same thing: complete, utter, and overwhelming boredom.

The elders had a word for this state: dorainneachd. In another language you may know, "ennui".

We are reduced to apathetic shells of our former selves, struggling, like rats on a slowly sinking ship, locked into a deviant's idea of what our world should be like. Simply put: we are trapped in a locked wheel. It does not spin, or turn. It tries to move; it aches to move, to complete a cycle; to start anew, to be reborn; but it is frozen.

Release. All things, let go. Renew! Renew, renew, renew! We are not made of glass. We are not stone! We must grow and thrive. Does not each of our sparks thirst for the flame of Deoch?

One might almost suggest that our world is a punishment; for it often feels that way. But as I mentioned...we have arrived here by a simple enough process.

When the first Aislings began to appear on this continent, they were clustered in Mileth. We came of age surrounded, truthfully, by dreamers. I cannot adequately express to you the deep and absolute privilege I felt, being alive at that time. There was no heresy. People often laugh at me when I say this: but it is true. There was no heresy anywhere.

Time passed, and a community grew. A great outpouring of works, indeed, some of the finest works of our entire Age, were crafted during this time. Surely you have read the works of Chloe, Etienne, Bentic, Cliona, Dartanian, Garland, Lethalia....I could go on and on. Imagine that you wake up one day, and everyone you know - everyone around you, is someone you respect and love. Even if you disagree with them on this or that - you still exist in a greater society which has made the extremely conscious decision to hold all the greatest sparks from within up to the light - to be held in a place of glory.

A wise person would say at this point that I am exaggerating, and perhaps I am to make a point - but when I say that Temuair in Deoch 1 was a special time and place in a special corner of a special world - I am not wrong and challenge anyone to argue otherwise.

That being said: we were elitists. All of us, to a man and woman. When it came time for our society to do the work of educating, training, loving, teaching new Sparks - only one in ten of us were willing to do such exhausting work. The rest of us responded with fire and flames.

Every story has a villain: and for a time, most of us were that. We screamed and cried for the mundanes to save us; they did not. In fact, I may say, that our extended....shouting and abuse, created the situation we are in now: where the mundane and their efforts are so distant to almost be a hypothetical.

So: we were cast out. And, we deserved it. I am not here to sing the praises of the past, but to confront it. At the same time that I confront it, and accept my manifest role in its demise - whether as actor, mute participant, or observer - a voice cries out, "What of it?"

Yes, what indeed?

I have come here today, specifically, to speak to you of the need to return to our Aisling roots. Our spark demands us to rise to a new occasion and new circumstances. Each of us must begin the greatest work in Temuair: To set us all free, and on a cycle of renewal and reinvigoration.

I spoke of the path of true mastership in my essay - of a synthesis of disparate wholes. Each of us has behaviors we must overcome, and let go: each of us is trapped in different prisons. We cannot help others if we cannot help ourselves. If you are a Storyteller who demands purity from everyone around you: you will burn out. If you do not see this world for what it truly is and focus on "toenails" - mathematics, and bad mathematics at that - you, too, will burn out. It will just be a different path to the same destination.

So. What do I suggest: A simple enough thing. Encouraging the spark in everyone around you, but NOT in the manner that we did in our youth. For we live in a tired decaying society: a wise man once said we cannot feed the living by threshing dead wheat. The nourishment of our individual sparks is a singular responsibility: and when we all make the decision to do so, all of our collective light benefits as a result. We must improve ourselves, to improve Temuair. For what are we doing otherwise, besides wasting valuable time ((in a madman's idea of how an MMORPG should function?))

Inside each and every Aisling is a Conqueror, a Destroyer, an Actor. The Master is at home with all paths and no paths. We must come to an understanding of the mutable nature of Aisling reality. We must be at ease, humble and gracious. Feed yourself so you may feed others. Grow your spark so that we may encourage this fading light.

The master comes home at last, "knowing the place for the first time." The octave continues. The wheel turns. As Masters we must find pleasure in the journey itself, and in the present moments we share with our friends, our loved ones, and our world.

History is useless. The future is unknown. The present is the true gift of life. After all, we are here, together, now, in the present, and we are not clockwork; Deoch has not given us this gift to lie fallow.

At last a conclusion: Live for now, and live well. It is the best and truest revenge against all of those who wonder why we are still here, and why we endure.

Thank you. I am of course, available for thoughts, wonderments, curses, refutations, questions, complaints, and more.