Sunday, 26 June 2011

Evolution: The Malleable Paradigm

Yesterday I began the Evolution-project, and today I'll have a look at one of the fundamental concepts of Argos. I'm talking about how reality is defined, or, what governs the fundamental laws of reality. I'm not sure this will make a lot of sense to everyone, but the way I see it, this is perhaps the single most defining phenomenon in this world.

Our own world, as we see it today, is governed by a set of rigid laws. Physics, chemistry, and mathematics rule the universe we live in, and though we may not see the whole picture right now, we constantly strive to uncover more pieces of this complex puzzle. The established belief is that the cosmos has always worked in this way, and that the only differences between the world of Aristotle and Einstein lies in knowledge and insight. In our history, the major break between these two ways of looking at reality came in the late 17th century, when men like Newton and Leibniz cast aside the truths of the ancients in favour of knowledge gained through experiment.

Imagine then a world where there are no universal truths akin to E = mc2. There are of course constants, but when magic can change reality, hard science becomes less hard. The law of gravity becomes no more universal than, say the power of forging the bones of a dead warrior into a sword to strengthen it's blade.

Our own world is a planet, orbiting a star, in a galaxy, in the universe. We assume that the rules that govern our existence also govern the entire galaxy, and vice versa. Argos is different. It is a world composed of several realms, and each of these realms have slightly different paradigmatic ground-rules. This is partially due to the dominant consensus of each, but beneath this is a more fundamental difference. The metaphysical make-up of Argos is such that even hard facts may vary from realm to realm; in one, places may exist in more than one location, in another, time itself may run slower.

One common truth is that the paradigm of a realm changes over time. This can happen due to some mystical catalyst, such as the Breaking of the Seal (the event that reawakened magic in Eria), due to cultural change, such as the Wezellian Revolution (that led to the legalizing of magic), or through several other sudden or tectonic shifts in reality. However the change comes about, it affects the world at a fundamental level. To name an example: Thirty years ago, there were no flying ships. Aerostatic research had reached a level where balloons were capable of carrying humans into the air, but nothing more. At present, flying vessels are being used by at least two of the warring factions of Eria.

Although the paradigm is changeable, it is not fluid. If it should enter a state of flux, chaos would ensue. Up could become down without warning, hot could become cold, mountains could melt away, and the oceans could devour the lands. This Moorcockian nightmare is something anyone with an interest in preserving the world would want to prevent, and thus I arrive at the heart of today's ramblings: Taking into account yesterday's list of items, how will the societies of man integrate the new truths with the old? Will knowledge be considered free for all those who wish to learn, or will it be guarded jealously to ensure it isn't used recklessly? With chaos at the gates, will law become the refuge of the mortals?

No comments:

Post a Comment