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"Exaltations"
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A Sample Chapter from Exaltations, by Richard Garfinkle

Exaltations by Richard Garfinkle

Chapter 1.
Election

 

     Isolation by Exaltation
     followed by Fated mingling leads to
     a Society on a Quest.

 

|ACCEPTANCE|

 

     Peter Refton walked into the war zone. It was the only way he knew to leave his world. He had come as a reporter, the job he had most commonly held in his thirteen -- or was it fourteen? -- lives. It was difficult to remember exactly how many times he had lived. It might even have been more than fourteen, since he had only started writing them down seven lives ago in order to stem the tide of forgetfulness.
     He left his jeep behind and climbed, hard-booted and camouflaged, up the mountains of Afghanistan, following a Russian patrol, a group of young men from poor families searching for other squads of young men from poor families.
     Refton had seen three firefights since coming to this war, but none of them had given him the opportunity to leave the world. He hoped it would come soon. He had no idea if he could die, but he knew how badly he could be hurt.
     His backpack dug into him like a sack of gold bricks, the weight of lives heavy upon him. He carried his pasts with him on paper, not trusting the vagaries of magnetism or optical storage. If he needed to remind himself about who he had been he wanted to pull out paper and read immediately, not seek for some computer or rely on his laptop's batteries, which had died many times in worlds that lacked electricity or had AC sockets of inappropriate configuration.
     Only seven lives were recorded; six or seven more, partially remembered, occupied loose sheets of note-paper.
     Writing Lives was what Refton did. He was a biographer, a hunter and catcher of pasts leading to presents leading to futures. His own pasts were muddled, his present variable, and his future too indefinite to conceive.
     There were a precious few pillars of his being that did not change from life to life. He was always alone, without a family. Mostly single. Divorced in two lives. Once widowed. Linda and baby Terry in a car crash. It had been five lives since, but still he remembered them, remembered the last day he had seen them, even though they had never met, never existed. He had come back to the world from the arms of his Poetess, and his new life had rushed into him. Linda and Terry had been dead for six years and the pain appeared in his soul, raw with the newness of the life the world had given him.
     Shots from behind rocks, the familiar staccato of guerilla warfare. Crouch down, seek cover, hope and wait.
     Only in this world, the world he came from, did lives wait for him. In the others he visited he appeared as a stranger without past or recognition, making his way as an alien among unknowns, giving locally appropriate variations on his name. When he returned from such alternate places this world, presumably his native one, would take him back, presenting him with a new past that always contained his name, his age and his books, but never kept anything else.
     He had been born in Alberta, New Mexico, Sydney, Llandudnow, Hong Kong; he had had various parents, a rainbow of schooling, a romance-series of loves and hates. But whatever precursors he had been given, his life and his mind had turned inevitably toward biography. His books, unchanged, maintained their places on the best-seller lists no matter what his past.
     Bullets flew, still too fast to be seen. If they slowed down there would be an opportunity.
     No, not slowed, that wasn't right. If the bullets became clear and important, if the understanding of the world rested on the coming of a single shot, if.
     There, heading for the Lieutenant, young Feodor, whose elderly mother lived in Saint Petersburg and sold her allotment of prescription drugs on the street in order to buy food. The bullet was coming for him. His head was almost in its line. Maybe, maybe not, life or death in a few millimeters, in the toss of a neck, the toss of a coin, Fate given or taken away in a single
     Crack.
     No sound, but a break, an opening in the world, as if there were sudden sharp edges to reality, rifts in Time and Space. Refton could and did dive through one, vanishing from the battlefield.
     Out for a moment, into the vast dark expanses between the worlds, between realities, between Earths. Refton had no good words for where he was going and no conception of what he was passing through. He saw long, bone-white islands floating in the black sea and knew each of them to be a world like his, knew the length of those isles was the Time that governed them and that supposedly he could go anywhere or anywhen. But it didn't happen like that. He was a hunter, hunting lives to catch and trap them, and he could only go where his desired quarry roamed.
     He was seeking someone who might tell him what had happened to him, why he could do what he did. He had tried before, had hunted the Priest from world to world, chasing down priesthood through times unlike his own and worlds where prayers were efficacious, blessings appeared, and gods walked the Earth. But the Priest could not tell him anything about his state. All that had come of that was a book, a written life encompassing all Priests from all times and possibilities. Awards and money, but no answers. This time he would hunt a different source of understanding. This time his prey was the Magician.
     No one noticed his going. No one remembered that Peter Refton had ever been there. No such reporter existed, had ever existed, would witness Feodor's death or life. The only things of Peter Refton left behind were his books, the biographies he had written. They would wait on the shelves and in people's homes for their maker's re-entrance. If he returned, his picture and biography would appear, would have always have been on their dust jackets. Time would grudgingly accommodate the needs of Life if Refton returned. If not, the books would still be there and everyone would be vague about the writer, the biographer with no biography.

 

     Pick up a handful of coins from a bowl of change. Toss them onto the floor. Some land alone, some together, some buried under others, some burying. A few shine in the light, others hide, some roll under beds and dressers and are lost.
     Gather them up and do it again.
     The result has the same heaping shape, but different coins are on top, different golds and silvers gleam in the light. Why would anyone care which coins go where?

 

     The first bell of Matins rang clear and sharp through the fortress-monastery of the order of St. Parsival just outside the spired capital of Aachen.
     Sir Johannes DeLondres had lain waiting for the bell, keeping his body still and his soul clear of thoughts and troubles. When the first echoes of the first bell began, he rose from bed, smoothly yet slowly, and stood, his feet gripping the stone floor of his monastic cell.
     His eyes were shut, his spirit attentive to the place just below his stomach.
     "God created man in Eden," he intoned in his spirit; the image of the garden formed in his awareness of his abdomen. "All life comes from Eden, all living things gathered there. We come from Eden."
     A warmth grew in the garden in his body, a stirring.
     "The breath of God comes into Eden to make life."
     He inhaled as he had been taught years ago when he first joined the order. Do not pull in with your lungs, rather open yourself, let God give you your inbreath. But when you breathe out, do so forcefully. Inhale in peace, accepting the gifts of God. Exhale in war, giving up yourself as sacrifice to God.
     The first gift of God flowed down his lungs into the Garden of Eden within him, filling him with Anima, Spiritus, Breath.
     "Four rivers flow out of Eden."
     Flow on, one river into each limb. Tigris to the left leg, Euphrates to the right, the Nile to the right arm, the Danube to the left. His arms and legs came alive with the blessings of God. His body lived and began to move through the Matins exercises St. Parsival had created seven centuries before when he had served as marshal to Carolus Magnus and, in training that Frankish lord's troops, gave all Europe and Asia Minor to his Emperor.
     Kneel and Rise up. Turn and face the four directions, acknowledging the realm God has given you to defend. Extend to the East, Pull back from the West, Push to the North, Sweep to the South.
     Begin now the longer form, with its elaborately named martial/spiritual maneuvers:
     The Cherubim guards the Garden, imaginary sword of flame turning each way in the knight's hands. No man shall pass to strike into Eden.
     Saint George Slays the Dragon, arms rise up, feet kick down, like lance and horse.
     Shepherd Guards the Flock, a round walk to keep a perimeter, feet planted in God's Earth, Spirit solid in Faith.
     Greater Love Hath No Man, stepping in to take a blow and protect one's fellows.
     Through the long slow series, knowing that all through the monastery his brothers in God were doing the same things at the same time, from the newest novice to the Holy Marshal. From least to greatest, all moved as one, all bowed as one to the same God, all learned as one, until the last maneuver, lying down and rising up in the death-accepting posture called Hour of Judgement. Then did the unity end and each man of the Order come to face his own individual relations with God.
     In his Life of Saint Parsival, which the Reader read out each year on the saint's day, Petrus of Reeftown had inscribed these words:
     "Saint Parsival said that together the army of God fights as one, each man serving the Lord, his Emperor, and each other in perfected harmony. But when the battle ends, each man faces God alone and must look within himself, for no deeds on the field of arms will save a man from the demons within him, nor help the saints and angels that dwell within to liberate his soul."
     So came the moment for Sir Johannes as it did each morning, the inventory of his united soul and body, the walking of the watch within, wherein he could judge and be judged as to his own discipline.
     In every part and parcel of the body and soul, a demon fought with a saint or angel, seeking to corrupt and enervate, to undermine the blessings God had placed all through the holy work of man. Most people lived their lives unaware of these continual battles. It was the revelation of this conflict to Saint Parsival which had given him the understanding to overcome the demons within him and so bring holiness to all his mortal actions, and earthly victory to his heaven-appointed Emperor.
     Sir Johannes began with his hands and feet. Saint Michael held sway in the former, Saint Peter in the latter. Sir Johannes had long ago defeated the demons of both. His hands would not turn to evil; they could burn with holy fire if needed, and fight with the skill of God's general when called upon. His feet would not fly from any enemy, nor stumble on the most treacherous ground. If need be, if he had to, he could walk on water.
     There were footsteps outside Johannes' cell. Some of his brethren were leaving their rooms. The least and the greatest, no doubt. His saintly brethren who had defeated most or all of their demons had swift inventories, simply noting and exchanging greetings with the triumphant saints and angels within them, while the newest monks could not yet see the battles taking place in their bodies and souls. The wise and the ignorant mingled in the hallways of the fortress, the former instructing the latter as they made their way to the refectory.
     Saint Benedict ruled the mouth-for-eating and the stomach. Gluttony had been banished from Sir Johannes after hard struggle. He had been surprised, naive as he had been at the time, to discover that food had greater savor when no demon wished for more at each bite. He could enjoy each morsel given him as the everflowing bounty of God, and taste perfectly the blessings of flavor, and survive on a crust of bread and a sip of water if need be.
     Saint Kyril guarded the ears. Sir Johannes had fought for two years to defeat the demon that corrupted the hearing of words and had finally triumphed. The Holy Marshal had been well pleased with this. Hearing was one of Satan's favorite avenues of entry into the souls of mankind. A knight whose hearing was flawless would not be distracted in battle or life. With Kyril's aid, Sir Johannes could fight in darkness or thunder, and not be pulled from his attention by the thousand distractions of the Adversary. And he could not be lied to.
     It was for that quality that Sir Johannes had been dispatched by the fardescended-and-fallen-from-Carolus-Magnus Emperor six months ago to speak to the new Marianite order established on Mount Athos. No doubt the Emperor had thought of it as a spying mission, but the Holy Marshal had been explicit on the true purpose: "Listen to such truths as the Marianites speak and bring them back to us."
     On this Sir Johannes had been half successful. He had listened, but could not formulate the words to speak the truths he had been told. The demon still gripped his mouth-of-speech, preventing Saint Paul from loosening the sacred speakings.
     The demons and angels reviewed, it was time for the next inventory, the pilgrimage through the holy places within him.
     More doors had opened outside. Other brothers and sisters had passed out of their cells: those who had seen the demons but had little they could yet do about them, and those who had conquered most but not all of the corruption within them. Less ignorant and less wise joined their brothers of the extremes.
     Eden and the Rivers Johannes checked properly.
     The Serpent still dwelt in Eden, marking the corruption of his roots. The Cherubim prevented entry, for only one purified in breath could step into Eden. Yet from the flaming gates, Johannes could see the two Trees, growing holy, nourished by his deeds.
     The Rivers flowed well, their passages to his freed limbs unchecked by the demons that had once lived there, the beasts that had blocked channels and corrupted the pure waters of God.
     Jerusalem was strong and vivid in his heart. Christ and AntiChrist warred there until the day came when he could undertake the Crusade and liberate the city of his heart from the final evil.
     Egypt, the House of Bondage from which the Children of Israel fled in order to become chosen of God, lay in his liver. Sir Johannes felt a twinge there. The Marianites had told him something of Israel that he had not been able to speak. That secret lay chained in the house of bondage.
     Bethlehem lay in his generative organs, giving birth only within him, for he was sworn to chastity. The Marianites had hinted of other holy acts involving the Bethlehem of the body.
     Mount Sinai was his spine, rising from earthly base to heavenly head. Moses climbed up and down, bearing the Law from God to the People. At the top of his spine, where head and neck become one, in the place where the demon of matters-unresolved lived and contested with the courage of Saint George, in that spot was the burning seed that the Marianites had given him in a single secret.
     How had they done it? How had they developed a sudden school of divine awareness to rise up contrary to the gradual teachings of Saint Parsival and those who had come after him?
     The prioress of the Marianites had spoken to him a simple riddle, or so it had seemed. "God looks at humanity. Only three have looked back. In the face of God, how can they be different?"
     His freed ears had admitted those words into his mind and soul. Deep and high they had travelled until they lodged at the heights of Sinai, blocking off his head. His head was becoming something else, something never heard of in the teachings of his or any other order, something black and stony with a city around it.
     The last footsteps passed by his door. The others had all gone down. Only Sir Johannes remained, struggling with the lodger in his soul.
     At last he stood and went out. It would not do to keep the others from their repast. Each soldier of God had to give up things for the good of the others, including the time he needed to wrestle with his spirit.
     Down the stone stairs he walked, his plain grey robes brushing gently against the smoothed granite walls, down to the refectory where the two hundred sixty-eight other members of the order waited. The Holy Marshal, his face wearied from what had no doubt been a long night's prayer, beckoned Sir Johannes over to sit next to him.
     "The Emperor will send for us today," the old man said, his voice audible only to the knight. "You must prepare to give what answer you can."
     "Do you think he will send us against the Marianites?"
     "He will want to," the Holy Marshal said. "But Christ forbids unjust war."
     Sir Johannes with Saint Peter's aid gripped the floor with his feet. The Holy Marshal had been instructed by God to defy the Emperor. It would not be the first time such a thing had happened in the order's history. Though the Emperor commanded, he was but the viceroy on Earth for the true Lord in Heaven. Many who had sat on the throne of the Caesars had grumbled at Saint Parsival's creation of a back channel to the almighty.
     Somewhere -- nearby, but in a place, a direction he had never heard before -- Sir Johannes heard a cracking, as of some carefully crafted masonry breaking from an unexpected flaw. Sounds washed into his perfected ears, sounds of speeches he had never heard in tongues unknown but intelligible. Somewhere, nearby but unseen, voices were loudly raised in telling and dispute.

 

     There is a place, broad and wide, wider than can be seen, broader in more directions than one can look no matter how wide one's vision. In this place there are strips of narrowness, channels, rivers, roads, what-have-you.
     The broad place and the channels are unlike each other. You could depict them as painted in opposing colors, black ground, white channels, greensward with red roads. You could conceive of them as being of two distinct kinds, a sea with narrow islands, a plain with rivers, cloud banks with fronts.
     You could array them as linguistically distinct: vast Space and confining Time; Freedom to Act, Fated to Come to an End. You could call them by divine names, the open fields of Life, the narrow graves of Death -- or the vasty halls of Death and the inevitable courses of Life.
     You can name them many things, so long as what you name them accords with their reality
     and their stories.
     And so long as you accept the consequences of that naming.

 

     Tai-Mu-Sang came again to be in the breath of mulberry incense, in the reading of her life story, in the mind of an Impersonator of the Dead.
     Intermittency, that was the blessing of being an Ancestor, only having to think and act when called upon -- although what actions she could take and how she could think depended very much on the mind she was called into. This one was serviceable, a young woman who had recently passed her exams. Tai-Mu-Sang could feel the palpable relief in the memory of the moment when her hostess had received her certificates and had been inducted into the imperial bureaucracy.
     If she was here for a long stay, it would be necessary to make room in the mind for her personal thoughts. First the ancestress would have to overlay her understanding of the classics on this young woman's. That would help the Impersonator along when Tai-Mu-Sang's spirit departed, a small hostess gift from the dead to the living.
     Intermittency. It had been so hard to work with when she had lived. Tai-Mu-Sang reckoned that she had had an eighth of each day's worth of good capable thinking and the rest of the time she was not of much use. In each day of her long-gone mortal life there had come the moment when she knew her mind was used up and needed refreshment. Often that moment would come in late morning and she would face the prospect of a gloom-dulled day.
     But that eighth had been enough to win her immortality. She had been wife to three Sons of Heaven, chief wife to one, mother to three. And she had ruled her departments and then the entire bureaucracy of All Under Heaven efficiently and capably, brilliantly in a few desperate hours. There had been enough brilliance to earn her the honor of being called back time and again over the ensuing five centuries and three dynasties.
     Intermittency. The art styles had changed much since her time, and the latest portrait of her which her hostess was still staring at bore little resemblance to her face in life, nor to the way she had been portrayed in her own days. There was, however, much to recommend this new image, clothed in Prime Ministerial gown under a leafed and fruited mulberry from which her nickname had been taken. There in the tree eating the leaves were the silkworms that would spin the wealth and power of All Under Heaven. An insightful artist, Tai-Mu-Sang thought, one who had discerned the secret meaning of her name. The bureaucracy was made up of silkworms spinning webs of power over the land, but she had been the tree from which they fed, nourisher of all.
     But no longer. That thought rose up from the hostess, carrying scenes of battle, of an army of horsemen storming Lo-Yang, casting down the Son of Heaven. It was not a great problem, it had happened before. The emperor's wives and mothers would be sad at the loss, but they were disciplined Confucianists; they knew that dynasties changed, new Sons of Heaven were installed who would marry the chief officers of state, taking new wives as they passed their exams, fathering princes who would become emperors and so promote their mothers to the highest positions.
     But something was different this time. This conqueror, this Temujin, this Great Khan of the northern barbarians, he had thrown the hierarchy out of the palaces.
     "No woman governs for me," he had roared as he sent them packing, bag, baggage and bureaucracy. "Only men rule here."
     That was why the ceremony to call Tai-Mu-Sang had been performed in this small bamboo storehouse cluttered with treasures the Khan had not cared about, portraits of women, incense burners, books and all the scribal paraphernalia. The chief officers of state, the mothers and wives of emperors, sat firm and worried in a cluster around the young woman chosen to host this invocation. They wanted to know what was to be done. They had called her, second of their help-seeking invocations.
     First they had conjured the Great Master Kung, the man who had turned the women of the Middle Kingdom into the workers in power. They had called him with songs, for it had been hearing an elderly grandmother sing so much of the Book of Odes which had originally caused him to abandon his male students and teach the deserving women of All Under Heaven to be Gentlewomen and Sages.
     The Great Master had come into the mind of an old woman who had practiced all her life to incarnate men, a wearying discipline. She had succeeded in calling him back, and he had bid them comport themselves properly and not worry.
     "The Khan will call you back or wither away. In a generation or two at most you will return to power."
     That had not satisfied these women, so used to the trappings of power, the exercise of dominion. So they had dismissed their sacred teacher and called instead upon a never-fully-deified ancestress who had been sanctified for her grasp of political reality. They had called the Great Mother Mulberry, Tai-Mu-Sang, and now they waited to hear her practical pronouncements.
     Using the agile mind of her hostess, the swiftness and sharpness that clever youth enjoys, Tai-Mu-Sang considered her answer. Master Kung had been correct, of course. All Under Heaven could not be governed without the bureaucracy. The invaders would find that out in time. This Khan might refuse to accept that reality, but his successor or his successor's successor would. The women would come back, marry a Khan, make him Son of Heaven, teach him how to speak to the Celestial Bureaucracy, absorb him into the runnings of the Middle Kingdom. It was simple enough. But it was not human.
     Most humans clung to power as they clung to life. The women before her had held the silken reins that pulled the country. They would not accept letting go.
     It was easy to become competent in the political side of Confucian government, but so hard to maintain the internal discipline necessary to let go of power when things were taken from you. If she seconded the Great Master's views, as she should by rights do, they would simply dismiss her and call another ancestress and another until they found one who would help them try -- and fail -- to regain the power lost.
     Tai-Mu-Sang had a dim opinion of those who might be called after her, and a sure sense that they would lead the bureaucracy-in-exile to ruin. She would have to stay and offer help, to give them a chance. They were doomed to fall, no doubt, but she could engineer a soft landing.
     Tai-Mu-Sang held the choice between pure right and practicality hard in her hostess' hands, tightening her grip on life. What words could she say? What leaves could she feed these hungry silkworms so they would spin wisely?
     "Bring" What was that echo, sounding of sharp steel on soft silk?
     "Me" It was coming closer to her spirit, but from where?
     "The" Now like molten metal striking cold ice.
     "Ministress" Or pebbles thrown in a still pond.
     "Of" Or the footsteps of stealthy children sneaking sweets.
     "Dams" Now like new lovers fumbling in darkness to learn each other.
     "And" Like the hiss of a crowd displeased with a performance.
     "Rivers" Like the warning voice of a god.

 

     Conceive of a language with only two words; one word gives force and effectiveness, meaning to everything.
     The other gives breadth and scope and variation to everything.
     The second word makes both words pliable, malleable; the first makes them both capable, desirable. They come together in combinations, effective and various. The combinations can be given names for the sake of convenience, so that new words appear to be generated. This creates a Lexicon, so that the two parental words are hidden amongst their various progeny. The combinations combine as well, producing an infinite number of words, an endlessly extended Lexicon.
     In short, a language grown from two to all.
     If presented with such a language, how easy would it be to find the two original words?

 

     The twins returned to the tribe in triumph. The heads of the great beasts that no man had thought to kill lay tied together in a line behind them, the former terrors of their people dragged through the muddy ground. The treasure that would make the tribe whole and thriving again the twins carried before them in the baskets their mother had provided.
     Their great epic journey was over, and all that remained of the Quest was reward, eventual deification, and the telling and retelling of their tale.

     Story-of-the-War-Twins was satisfied. It had made another place for itself in yet another world. It had grown larger, more definite, and more diverse. This branch of its attention could now turn back to its main being which lived among the other stories.
     Story-of-the-War-Twins expanded ever so slightly at the addition to its being. Its attention broadened a scintilla, giving it a touch more Freedom, a little more Power, a slightly higher breadth and scope and, of course, a few new stories it grew close to, and old ones that were closer still.
     Story-of-City-Foundings, a near cousin, had slipped through the crowd, making a path for Story-of-the-War-Twins to follow by which it come near to his patron. Grandfather Quest, who sat at the center of this cluster of tales aiding them in their acquisitions, and so profiting himself, was reaching out and around through the worlds, through the combinations of things. Grandfather Quest in action always gave a good chance for his younger relatives to gain a little more territory, a few more variations in the ways they were thought of and narrated.
     But Grandfather Quest looked troubled. Something disturbed him around him complex midriff where characters ran in all directions instead of the definite ëout' of his beginning and ëin' of his end. There was something indigestible, unalignable about this new thing happening.
     Story-of-the-War-Twins thought it recognized the problem Grandfather Quest was having. Too much Space, too much Freedom, too much distance between the elements of this narration. The characters were diffused over several worlds and over the combinations of things that were not worlds. Too much separation made things difficult. Story-of-the-War-Twins had solved that matter long ago for its own narrations. The twins could be separate, go on different paths. One could even stay home while the other went out to battle, so long as they always came together after each episode. No, distance was no trouble for Story-of-the-War-Twins, provided it could cast the twins properly.
     Grandfather Quest squirmed in discomfort, attracting the attention of other large stories and their own family/entourages. Grandmother Lesson came near. Parable-of-Brothers, its sister, kissed Story-of-the-War-Twins briefly. They were close but not very close, having a commonality of characters but not of meanings. Often they turned into each other or fought over a particular pairing of humans. She followed Grandmother Lesson avidly, and when she was around Story-of-the-War-Twins took on certain characteristics in response. Gender for instance; most of the time Story-of-the-War-Twins was neuter, but around Parable-of-Brothers he was decidedly male.
     Ancestress Allegory swam up, studied the mess inside Grandfather Quest, and swam off to be visible but not heavily involved.
     Something tickled and worried at Story-of-the-War-Twins. There was a lot happening, and it seemed to be organizing itself, somewhere around them, Foremother Story-of-Stories was known to lurk around her descendant tales. Sometimes she would reach in and
     Poke and pull and yank up and toss one of them somewhere to be involved, a story to be part of a story.
     Story-of-the-War-Twins floundered and splashed in the ocean of Space, the narrow confining Freedom of Reality, so uncomfortable to the denizens of Fiction. Something had collided with Story-of-the-War-Twins, something human, but without a twin, not so easy to take inside it. But Story-of-the-War-Twins had experience. He would incorporate the human as the advisor to the twins, once the twins were found.
     But something was happening. The human was doing something to Story-of-War-the-Twins, fitting him into categories and considerations. Had he struck an academic, a Slave-of-Theories? Dangerous. No, a writer. An unexpected prize. If he could absorb this storyteller, Story-of-the-War-Twins would grow in wealth. Now what kind of narrator was this? A little poke into its mind, and --
     No! It was a writer of lives, a predator that fed Story-that-Explains-People, a biographer.
     Grandfather Quest felt his grandson and the writer settle within his being. Two elements had come together. If he could bring the rest into one place to act in one time then the Quest would go forward properly and his allies would be satisfied and grateful. But Grandfather Quest could feel Foremother Story-of-Stories tugging elsewise, and had an inkling that in the abstracted beyond-Reality-and-Fiction Simplicity of the Dyads where Foremother spent most of her attention something else was happening, something that would work against Grandfather Quest and his exalted allies as they labored to order the worlds to their liking.
     Good, for without such a challenge Quest was not Quest.

 

     There are things that wish to be resembled, desire to be mirrored in other beings; this is not petty vanity, but something grander in the schemes of scheming. If one of these is resembled, it and its characteristics are made note of by the sembler and those around the sembler. Once noted, their characteristic actions are copied, or they cause others to copy their actions. In simpler terms, they reach out through the mirrors to grab what looks in at them.
     This works well unless there are many hands reaching out to grasp one thing.
     That's Politics.
     Resemblance is like election, a sudden change of status from being oneself to being a representative of something else. From that point on, both things are everpresent, what is and what is represented. What is goes on with its existence. What is represented acts through that life.
     If only one thing were represented then every life would be oriented toward it, as every magnet is oriented toward the pole.
     Until you bring another magnet, and another, each pulling in its own direction, turning needles this way and that, swinging the directions and actions of life in a dance of Powers near and far, swirling and turning, making one thing after another the centerpiece of life.
     That's Politics.

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