A Little CosmologyI had thought to avoid this little list of arcane facts, interpretations, opinions, and stream-of-consciousness. But I see that there are some who might be losing patience with all my talk of prayer and God and religious nonsense.
So, I guess I need to tell you something about the world in which this novel takes place.
Karel and Bobbie call it Xhilr.
Well, if you understand "xh" to be a glotal fricative and "lr" to be a pseudo-consonant formed by rolling the sides of the tongue rather than the tip, you might let me get away with writing it that way. To an American ear, it would sound something like a cross between "chill" and "here", but spoken somewhat gutturally.
In their language, the meaning is similar to our "earth", meaning dirt, ground, or the big clot of dirt and mud that people live on.
(Or a large, electrically neutral sink of electrons, in some dialects, although that would preferably be "xhilr zheemn".)
(And in the islands where Bobbie and Karel have been visiting, it is called a word that sounds like "Bokadakr", but I really don't want to try to explain that today.)
When I said it was far away, I certainly didn't mean "far away like Okinawa is far from Florida", and I didn't mean "far away like the Earth is far from Mars". Nor did I mean to indicate a distance like that of our solar system from, say, the triple solar system we call Algol, nor even the distance between our galaxy and the Perseus Cluster cataloged as Abel 426.
On the other hand, as distances between universes go, their universe is rather close to ours, having a cosmological constant, or, rather, a set of quintessential parameters rather similar to ours.
Which has little to do with the fact that both the length of their year and of their day are fairly close to our own, as well. (Close in terms of the relative entropic rate, which is the only meaningful way in which we can compare their time with ours.) The number of similarities after translation is highly coincidental, and rather convenient because you don't want me stopping the narrative every third paragraph or so to describe some detail about the physics of their world.
"Zh" should be understood as the soft "j", or the voiced version of the lingual fricative "sh".
- God (Zhimu):
- The Progenitor(s). An entity or group of entities, demonstrating very high levels of intelligence, which determined the conditions of the beginning of Karel and Bobbie's universe, and thus the physical laws under which their universe operates. Also, the Creator(s). Sometimes spoken of as Nature Itself.
We might assume that they were the perfectly evolved occupants of the universe which preceded the one in which Karel and Bobbie live, if "precede" or "perfectly evolved" had any reasonable meaning in such a context.
Trying to distinguish whether this God is singular or plural stretches both Xhilran and human linguistic limits beyond repair. Let's not do that. That kind of discussion gets messy rather quickly. (As with most arguments about the nature of God, it tends to leave reason behind in chasing semantics with too few clues.)
Except, I'll mention that, while they do seem to be a collection of individuals, they are of such unity of purpose that it wouldn't matter which of them any of the children of Xhilr engaged with.
No difference in responses, no difference in answers. None of this god of fortune, god of love, god of fertility, etc. nonsense. Trying, in other words, to choose which to pray to, in order to get the response closest to the response one wants, would be an exercise in self-deceit.
(Not to mention rather unnecessary. These Zhimu want their zhinu children to be happy.)
Pronunciation -- "pt" is a combined lingual/labial plosive, "ae" is that vowel somewhere between the "a" in "apple" and the "e" in "bet", and "hr" is an aspirated "r", as French, but more to the front of the tongue.
- god (zhinu):
- sentient entity -- by definition, offspring, or creation/creature of God. In certain senses, implementation of complex mathematical automata. Sometimes referred to as "soul" ("pta-maesh"). If not instantiated in a physical body, often referred to as "spirit" ("hrehi"), or, in a more jocular sense, "ghost" ("iuu-hrehi").
Maybe we need these, as well:
- soul (pta-maesh):
- an individual sentient entity, or zhinu. Sometimes synonymous with "spirit", but generally indicating physical instantiation: spirit + body.
- spirit (hrehi):
- an individual sentient entity, or zhinu, not physically instantiated.
- ghost (iuu-hrehi):
- generally indicating hrehi in a superstitious mode of expression.
Okay, now we can say this:
Now, these definitions are barely sufficient for the current narrative, and definitely should not be reverse-projected onto the words which I am borrowing from our own language for use in this universe.
- prayer (ee-noil):
- generally, an attempt by a pta-maesh (zhinu) to communicate with Zhimu, or one of several classes of similar activities. Or may be considered as communion with, or reference to one's conscience. May be as simple as silent thought or meditation, or may involve elaborate ritual.
I mean, I am not expounding a theology useful to you or me. This is a fantasy, after all. I'm just using the closest words I can find.
If you are looking for everyday meaning for the above words, don't look here, look in whatever you consider to be your own scriptures.
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