63 posts in this topic

Hello, and welcome back to the madhouse.

 

EDIT: Start on the second post if you want to follow a completely unrelated (yet still more intelligible and possibly more interesting) discussion about the nature of the spiritweb.

-Start off on this whole other thread if you want a much more succinct version of the points made on this one, as well as much more evidence that came out after I posted this original thread.

I do plan on a more comprehensive expansion to the MEC based on TES, but this is a bit of a side-jaunt that I think it's valuable to have.

Aside about previous theories:

First of all, a bit of a disclaimer. While this idea has been bouncing around in my head for awhile now, and I've even posted a few disparate thoughts on it, Nepene was the first one to get anything of this form down on paper.

I'm pulling a bit of a Leibniz to his Newton, then. Nepene had some good ideas, but I think his terminology and/or focus was a bit off, and his thread got seriously derailed by unnecessary discussion of Brandon's spirituality. I tried to redirect Nepene towards Platonism, but alas, 'twas not to be. That being the case, I'm now posting my alternate view on how "Forms" (Nepene's "Archetypes") work in the Cosmere, based primarily on my understanding of Platonism and the Spiritual Realm rather than Jung and the Cognitive.

I have this alternate focus because Brandon referenced Jung as a bit of a one-off on how the Parshendis' songs work; this may well be interesting and lead to some useful conclusions about Realmatics, but I don't think Spiritual Archetypes follow from it. On the other hand, Brandon has explicitly stated that Realmatics is "based on a mash-up between Platonic Forms and Asian style 'everything has a soul'", and we know from Shai that the "Window" Form and others like it exist in the Spiritual Realm. And, obviously, me being me, I will be going into absurd depth. However, I do acknowledge that Nepene has priority as to the rough outlines of the importance and nature of Forms/Archetypes.

P.S. Also, as it turns out, I kind of took a right turn at Albuquerque, and shot off into crazy-land. I'd intended to just lay out some general outlines for how Forms would work, but that was apparently too easy (and short), so I (unconsciously) decided to tackle almost the entirety of Forging as well. Looking at Nepene's thread, I think we split off fairly sharply in focus, so there isn't too much overlap (although, incidentally, I still think he's wrong on his impacts over there tongue.gif).

Background:

Awhile ago, I posted a thread postulating that spren work by accessing "Forms" stored in the Spiritual Realm. Here is the main evidence I based it on:
 

 

At 7:30 in the TES Writing Excuses episode, Brandon identifies at least part of the foundation of Realmatics: "we're delving into the Cosmere stuff, my underlying theory of existence in my novels, which is based on a mash-up between Platonic Forms and Asian style 'everything has a soul'".

We can see at least some of this happening in TES with how Forging works, but particularly with what happens when you Forge simple objects, like Shai's stained glass window. In her discussion with Gaotona:
 

“It is . . . rather mystical,” Gaotona said, spreading his hands before him. “A window frame knowing the ‘concept’ of a stained glass window? A soul understanding the concept of another soul?”

“These things exist beyond us,” Shai said, preparing another seal. “We think about windows, we know about windows; what is and isn't a window takes on . . . meaning, in the Spiritual Realm. Takes on life, after a fashion. Believe the explanation or do not; I guess it doesn't matter. The fact is that I can try these seals on you, and if they stick for at least a minute, it’s a very good indication that I've hit on something."
(83-84 (?) - in the eBook, not sure on the pages)


Basic Theory:

Based off of this, I would like to propose a more general theory as to the formation and nature of these Forms.

I believe that Forms are relatively free-floating Spiritual entities representing cultural and factual abstractions of various strengths, the creation and maintenance of which is determined by the perceptions of Cognitively active beings.

These Forms interact meaningfully with the rest of the Cosmere by providing "archetypes" for Cognitive aspects to look to and measure themselves against. An instance of this is the case of the window in TES that I just quoted. Another is TLR and Miles still aging despite being Gold compounders. (This following point is based on my thoughts on this thread):

A simple "how an object is viewed and how it views itself" definition of the Cognitive Realm does not satisfactorily explain why TLR and Miles still aged. Yes, perhaps they could each of been holding onto an "I'm really a human, and so I age" conception of themselves, but that doesn't ring true.

Miles certainly had some ego problems, and could have considered himself above such things. Perhaps he learned as a young man that all Gold twinborns still age, though, and so never considered eternal youth as a possibility.

TLR, though, is another case entirely. The entire population of a planet, even the rebels (around, 100 million, I think), saw him as immortal. Rashek himself most likely didn't have any reason to know that Atium couldn't do the trick forever: Feruchemists might well not have had access to it in classical Scadrial, and, even if they had, wouldn't have been able to get free Age from compounding. So Rashek-as-TLR would have been quite well within his rights to think that he would never have to actually age, and that Cognitive conception of himself would be buttressed by an entire planet's worth of agreement.

I think it's fair to say, then, that it's likely a more metaphysical "view," and a fairly robust one at that, that is at work here. TLR was perceived by most as an inherently immortal god, perhaps by everyone but himself as such, and yet the Human-Form's age-restriction was still present.

It follows, then, that Cognitive restrictions on fundamental things (such as what it is to be Human (to age, to be bipedal, etc.), to be a Window, etc.) are defined on a population, perhaps even Cosmere-wide level, and simply accessed by individuals, while more personal things such as individual state of health have a bit more freedom.



sForms

Gaotona: “But this is completely implausible! I don’t have a brother.”
Shai: “Ah. Well, let me see if I can explain,” she said, settling back. “I am rewriting your soul to match that of the emperor—just as I rewrote the history of that window to include new stained glass. In both cases, it works because of familiarity. The window frame knows what a stained glass window should look like. It once had stained glass in it. Even though the new window is not the same as the one it once held, the seal works because the general concept of a stained glass window has been fulfilled.
“You spent a great deal of time around the emperor. Your soul is familiar with his, much as the window frame is familiar with the stained glass."


(pg 82)

Based on the above--and some other thoughts I've had--I think I've been wrong so far in saying that the Cognitive aspects of targets were "in charge" of evaluating the plausibility of Forgeries. In fact, I will go so far as to say that I was wrong that Cognitive aspects were the primary evaluators at all. I believe that the Spiritual Realm and its swathes of connections does the job.

"The window frame knows what a stained glass window should look like [because] it once had stained glass in it," and accepts the seal when "the general concept of a stained glass window has been fulfilled." This quote, about "the general concept of a stained glass window" is what started this thread in the first place. But, I wonder, how does the window know that there is such a thing as this general concept? Couldn't that window have just as easily thought of itself as having a single distinct pattern, with no "intuitive leap" to the idea that other windows, though they had completely different patters, still fell under the same broad category of "stained glass window"? This leads to more questions, about the evaluation of "plausibility":

-How does a stone in a wall know what other kinds of stone were near the quarry it was mined from? How does it know the plausibility of being mistaken for the proper type of stone when it was first mined?

-How does a wall know that a famous painter stayed in the room above it? How does it know that that painter could have been staying in that wall's room instead? If the wall was in a dungeon, or there was some cultural taboo against keeping visitors on the nth floor, then it could never happen.

-How does a lump of gold know the plausibility that it was adulterated with lead? What if that lump of gold was in a world without lead, or without the idea of deceit, or that doesn't place any particular value in gold, so nobody would have been motivated to adulterate it?

"A Forgery had to be likely—believable—otherwise it wouldn't take. Who would make a chain out of soap? It would be ridiculous." (pg 37?) Who says soap-chains are ridiculous? Why, among the IchN'athiPI people, to break soap is to anger the gods, a crime no man would dare commit, and so soap chains are the most secure of all.

These individual objects cannot have any such knowledge. In fact, to know the "plausibility" of anything, especially related to the possible scope of human action, it would have to know an incredibly broad range of facts about the world around it. Or, the knowledge of the world would have to be accessible to these objects. Enter Forms.

Up 'till now, I've been discussing relatively strong Forms. What is it to be Human. To be a Window. What, though, if there were a near-infinite range of them? The Forms that I, and even Nepene, have been discussing, then, are simply the apex of a "pyramid" of Forms, the most powerful, strongly defined, and universal of an entire range of knowledge, abstractions, and concepts.

These "sub-Forms" (sForms from now on, both because I think there's value in maintaining a separation between the two and because I'm lazy. Exceptionally strong forms--like Nepene' Archetype--which I've been talking about so far are now "uForms" for "universal". "Form" will stand for both, when no specification is needed), then, form a regional "web of the way the world is" out of Spiritual connections, objects and people giving rise to sForms in the Spiritual Realm through Cognitive activity whenever something is generalized from an "it" to a "they."

So where different rock formations are, the reasonableness of an artist being put in a specific room, and how people value gold are all "known" on a Spiritual level, and the plausibility of Forgeries that rely on them can be assessed by accessing those sForms: "People" know, roughly, where rock deposits are. "People" know, roughly, the suitability of different sets of rooms. "People" know, roughly, the ability and motivation of others to adulterate gold.

This kind of "common" knowledge, then, is squirreled away in the Spiritual Realm. That, or the wall of Shai's room had to poll nearby intelligences to gauge that room's suitability for hosting an artist. But then, the wall of Shai's prison would have to be able to poll (someone?) to find out where different rock deposits should be. It seems better, then, that the results of any such "polls" are already extant and broadly accessible, simply by virtue of the minds which hold and consider such knowledge.

I think, then, that these sForms, and all other such general concepts, are accessible to appropriate individual objects, much like Gaotona's "model" of Ashraven's soul is immediately accessible to him. To be made of gold is to imbibe cultural generalizations about gold's value and how it is treated. To be a window is to imbibe that windows can be repaired, that stained glass windows are distinct from normal ones.

The Cognitive and Spiritual Realms interact here, then, both in forming/maintaining various Forms and in establishing what objects are related to which forms. I believe that the Cognitive identity of an object serves to determine exactly what uForms and sForms it needs to establish connections to. So if no one knows a rock is pure gold (say it has a naturally-formed layer of rock over it), then it doesn't see itself as gold and doesn't have any access to gold-related Forms. If I'm right, then some random person picking up some random rock (that happened to be gold) and applying a random stamp (which happened to change gold to lead through human-agency) to that rock, would not turn the gold to lead.

Therefore, it is my belief that this quote might well be the single most diabolical line Brandon has ever written:

“You imply that the wall has a soul.”
“All things do,” she said. “Each object sees itself as something. Connection and intent are vital. This is why, master Arbiter, I can’t simply write down a personality for your emperor, stamp him, and be done.[...]"


(55)

"Each object sees itself as something" is about a completely different realm (the Cognitive) than "connection and intent are vital" (the Spiritual). sForms being applied as determined by Cognitive aspects provides the bridge between the two.



Basic Realmatics, Gaotona Emulating Ashraven, and Human Forgery in general:

We know from Shai, the best Realmatic philosopher we've yet encountered, that the concept of "Window" is specifically located in the Spiritual Realm.

I would hazard that Forms work primarily on a Cognitive <-> Spiritual level. They probably dip into the Physical when there is magic afoot (see: Nepene's thread) or to the degree that spren are Physical beings (see: my thread) but I think most of the action happens in the other two realms.

The exact nature of those interactions is nebulous at the present time. The key, though, is that I believe that Forms-as-referents work in essentially the same way as individual Spiritual aspects.

EDIT 3:

You'll have to look further down the post, but my "overlay" model of how stamps interact with original aspects explains why Shai had to make an entirely new soul instead of just adding a "by the way, you did not get hit by a crossbow bolt" bit of history and calling it a day. Her inability to do so implies that the soul was severed from the body--but, very importantly, it most likely wasn't "destroyed" in Cosmere terms, since we know there is an afterlife and people chill about in the Spiritual Realm for at least a bit after they die. (as Cheese Ninja mulls over the consequences of here).

This model is good for me. Very good. Because Ashraven's soul, while not overlay-able, is still accessible insofar as it exists and the connections is had to different individuals still, presumably, exist in the Spiritual Realm. So we needn't have some complicated model constructed in Gaotona's head just to get at its features.

There is the question of how long Ashraven's soul will hang around, and what happens when it goes away. I'm tempted to think, once more along the same lines as Cheese Ninja suggested, that it is "trapped" in the Spiritual Realm so long as the body is alive: it's just the case that it doesn't have any way to get back into Ashraven's body. That handily solves the problem of what the stamp will be checking against 10 years from now. If I had to, though, I suppose I could posit some "shadow" left over after a soul passes over into the great(er) unknown, perhaps composed simply of the sum of the Spiritual connections that soul had while it existed.

Either way (though more plausible the first way), we can have a pretty easy way to judge the plausibility of any given soulstamp's change to a person's soul: just ask the original. That original soul either knows the answer on its own (Ex: yes, I do like green eggs and ham) or has access to the appropriate Forms (see the next section) through the absurd number of Connections a human soul would necessarily have. Problem solved for both self-stamping and stamping others.

But then we get Gaotona's ability to accept stamps (albeit for a short time) meant for Ashraven. Shai needed "a Grand, male, someone who was around the emperor a lot and who knew him" (pg 27) for her test subject.
 

You spent a great deal of time around the emperor. Your soul is familiar with his, much as the window frame is familiar with the stained glass. This is why I have to try out the seals on someone like you, and not on myself. When I stamp you, it’s like . . . it’s like I’m presenting to your soul a piece of something it should know. It only works if the piece is very small, but so long as it is—and so long as the soul considers the piece a familiar part of Ashravan, as I've indicated—the stamp will take for a brief time before being rejected.”

(TES eBook, 82)

I'm going to take the simplest approach to this. Just as a window frame acquires a connection to some "window" Form through proximity and Cognitive perception, so too does a person's soul acquire a connection to soul of anyone they have "Connected" with on a personal level.

So if you add together having a similar background with a positive evaluation from Ashraven's soul, accessible due to familiarity, then you get just enough plausibility to stave off the wolves of disbelief for a minute whenever a stamp is applied to the test subject.

Gatotona's soul is capable of evaluating soulstamps meant for Ashraven, then, because of how it has been exposed to expressions of Ashraven's individual Spiritual aspect. Just as "the window frame knows what a stained glass window should look like [because] it once had stained glass in it," and accepts the seal when "the general concept of a stained glass window has been fulfilled."



Plausibility "Calculation":

Forgings seem to describe both the outcome they desire and the circumstances which would allow such an outcome to occur: Shai has to describe the painting on her wall as well as that a painter was bedridden in that room. She can give Ashraven how he was changed by his brother's death, but she needs to give him a memory of his brother's death and Ashraven's reaction to it first. And so on.

Rather than some arcane set of abaci clicking away in the background until some magical percentage is achieved and a stamp is accepted, I think that this set of circumstance-outcome pairs is evaluated yes-or-no on a "huh, sounds right" or "no, sounds wrong" level by various Forms which are called into play by the circumstances and their proposed result. The "gut call" of immaterial abstractions, as it were. So you throw a bunch of circumstance-outcome pairs at the universe, the universe mulls it over for a bit, and then it spits out whether or not you're scheme should disappear in a puff of logic, and how long it will tolerate it if not.

EDIT 4: This "toleration time" could, more realistically, come about because even the rather inactive Cognitive aspects of inanimate objects still fight back a bit, and low-plausibility stamps don't get enough energy from the Dor to keep up.

This is probably how it works on the individual level too--in Gaotona's case, relatively weak pro-reactions need to fight against the negative weight of the world, resulting in very short stamp-times--with stamps applied to their final target evaluating themselves against that targets existing soul. I would hazard that this is also what makes it dangerous to let too many people know about Forgeries (of the secretive kind): As I discussed here, people in particular are capable of reacting with varying levels of disbelief about a Forgery. I would hazard that the ability of an outside perspective to affect the plausibility of a Forgery depends upon both the strength and number--quality and quantity--of disbelief directed at it.

So 100 people who are like "oh, didn't that window used to be broken? Eh." is less harmful than 1 who goes "It's a MONSTER! Kill it with FIRE!!!!!!!" to the Emperor's re-ensouled body.

Those are the kind of strong reactions are what you would get from a Forging that wasn't supposed to have happened; that is surprising, offensive, and shocking--in other words, secret Forgeries. Shai's "public" Forgeries, on the other hand, are received with a degree of acceptance. Instead of "that desk is a fake!" you get "that desk has been Forged into a better version of itself. Cool beans."



Strength, Scope of Effect, and Inertia

Note: This is a bit stolen from my spren thread.

The strenth of a Form, as I see it, is most likely determined by both it's universality and by how strongly it's held: "All men are mortal" is both more widely and more strongly held than "roses are red"

I think sForms, in particular, are tied to the regions that generated them. Proper uForms (Human, Death, Flame, etc.) might well transcend regional boundaries, and perhaps even span Shardworlds as unified concepts. But, on the whole, lesser Forms ought to be restricted to the regions that generate and support them. So the kingdom of misers won't share a "people adulterate gold" sForm with the residents of the Counterweight Continent on the other side of the disc, and even two different miserly regions might have slightly different versions of that sForm to reflect the popular perception of how likely it is for gold to be adulterated.

This means that, if Shai went to some world/region that simply didn't have the concept of glass windows, she wouldn't be able to Forge one, no matter how plausible she made it, since no Window Form would exist for her stamp to access. It might also mean that, if you could somehow excise the concept of a stained glass window from everyone in the Rose empire, Shai's stamp on the window in here room would suddenly stop working.

Forms might have a bit more persistence then that, though, and I believe that they do. Shai says that “These things exist beyond us,” Shai said, preparing another seal. “We think about windows, we know about windows; what is and isn't a window takes on . . . meaning, in the Spiritual Realm. Takes on life, after a fashion." This indicates a certain degree of independence, once a Form is "born."

I suppose that the Forms could come to be as an aggregate concepts, but then "split off" into their own independent existence, though. That would mean that "Fear" would exist whether or not there existed entities to experience fear, which then gets us into philosophical discussions (in the Cosmere, where all philosophy matters!) of whether a number can be prime in and of itself and what have you.

Despite that, it is rather ludicrous to think these Forms exist unchanging and untouchable for all time once they are first created. Evolving perspectives and beliefs must change the Form itself, seen in how Returned have gone from fat to fit as cultural values of beauty changed.

I believe it is slightly more fluid, with Forms having their own inertia once created, but still being dependent on and affected by changes in mass opinion. So everyone could stop believing that Drunkenness ought to have a Form in the town that Axies (I forget its name) visited, but it might take awhile for the spren to go away.



Role of Cognitive Aspects:

Fear not! I won't leave the Cognitive out in the cold. At the very least, the Cognitive Realms still determines when an object is seen as singular instead of plural (table vs. pieces of wood), and Forging appears to always work on the level of whole objects retaining their wholeness: The door is turned into a rotten door, not pieces of door lying on the floor after falling apart 10 years ago; the wall needs to be turned into a different type of stone, not just to have never been made.

I've also stated in the past that Forgery can't possibly change the Cognitive aspect of an object directly. This was based on the Cognitive aspect as the sole guard of plausibility, but now we have a bit more freedom. What's left then, seems to be a bit of a muddle. Where does Forging's scope end?! *crazy eyes* More importantly, how exactly does an object's Cognitive aspect interact with Forging?

It seems that Cognitive aspects are altered for the duration of a Forgery. Shai's conception of her own health is such that she has a full head of hair and no scars, but I imagine that beggar!Shai wouldn't ever grow her hair back even if you somehow managed to pour Feruchemical Health into her, and the same with Shaizan's scars.

I think that the Cognitive aspect comes back to the fore (in two senses) when stamps wear off. We know that Resealing holds after the stamp is applied once--because it is in line with the targets real Cognitive aspect--while a stamp to cure a chronic condition would need to be continually reapplied.

I would hazard, that all stamps act as "stickers" on top of entirely intact and, to a certain extent, even active Spiritual/Cognitive aspects. Small changes are like transparent overlays, changing how you see a small section of the aspect while leaving the rest untouched. Large changes are nearly opaque with "lines" of changes, obscuring the original aspect and replacing it nearly completely, to the viewer.

Note: It remains to be seen whether soulstamps affect the Cognitive aspect directly or through "trickle down magic" from Spiritual changes.

When a stamp on a living person wears off, then, you can picture the sticker dissolving and the real aspect reappearing to our view. The revived aspect would then go on to adjust any unacceptable changes the stamp had produced: the healing of a chronic injury would not be accepted by a revived Cognitive aspect, and so would be undone.

I think that living people's aspects actually cause these "stickers" to wear off, actively. Shai says that it's because people change throughout their lives, but so do objects, really, and you don't see their stamps bleeding red smoke. People also change at different rates compared to each other and even compared to themselves on different days, and yet the 26 hour limit seems hard and fast. I would argue that soulstamps which reach to 26 hours are actually completely plausible, as far as the "spirit web" (pun!) goes. But, no matter how long the "universe" would allow a stamp to last, a living aspect fights such impositions. This is where the Cognitive aspect finally gets to shine.

I don't believe that the Cognitive aspect likes Forgeries. The Spiritual side might be happy-go-lucky with its "connections" and whatnot, but the Cognitive knows exactly what it is, is exactly what it is, and will actively fight against any imposition. A chair might sit there and take it like its a piece of furniture, but living beings self-determine their own identities, while chairs do not.

Put a bunch of wood in space and watch it coincidentally drift into chair-shape, but it won't get a "chair" Cognitive identity. Put a bunch of living things in space (with a planet or two as well), and you get a civilization built on identities. Inanimate objects passively receive changes to their identity so long as the world at large is okay with them, while people, while relying on the world to some degree for determining their identity, are always actively defining and redefining themselves, as a matter of course. And so Cognitive aspects rebel against external impositions of identity. So thank you, long-suffering Cognitive aspect: you make sure we always come back to being ourselves.

Aside: I would also hazard that the 26 hour limit might be a useful measure of how "powerful" a Forging actually is. Forgings all seem to be all-or-nothing, and yet we know that they should get "weaker" in some way as they get farther from MaiPon. Perhaps the length that they can be applied for is a measure of how much power is getting through, short of the point of complete non-operation. If this is the case, then Shai's stamps should last a bit less in the Rose Empire than in MaiPon, if measured carefully.

EDIT: 4

"Oh, what's that? My overarching theory of everything that says the Cognitive Realms "executes" Spiritual commands? You think I should talk about that? Fine."

I can also throw the Cognitive another moldy piece of meaning by saying that the Cognitive aspect of the Forged target--though I'm not sure if it's the "before" or "after" version--is probably what actually implements any Physical changes resulting from the Forgery. Any pure "Identity" changes seem to sit pretty in the Spiritual Realm, but the window acquiring that exact pattern of stained glass, or Shaizan having that particular scar, or the the patterns on Shai's "desk 2.0" being consistent, might be due to some Cognitive-level execution.

The stamps obviously can't include every detail ("a line of gilt" doesn't really describe "a line of guild 11.0002mm from the edge, describing an AxB rectangle, using an alloy of..."), and I believe the pattern the stained-glass window took was essentially random so far as Shai was concerned, so I can see Cognitive aspects interpreting and acting out more general Spiritual directives from the Stamps.



Closing:

Wow, that was longer than intended, and went some places I didn't expect. Sorry about that. Anyone want to suggest a TL;DR for me to throw in?

There are a few chinks to be filled in in order to have a proper MEC-response to TES, but I got more of my thoughts down than I meant to. Sorry about that too.

Discuss, permutate, criticize (immediately skip because of how long it is...). Have fun.

P.S. Also, I acknowledge that there is a slight possibility that this thread is absurd. Either that or awesome. But that's how I roll. No middle ground for me. cool.gif

P.P.S Also also, this is slightly more TES-centric than I intended, but the implications flow to the rest of the Cosmere.

EDIT:

TL;DR: There exist a range of semi-independent "Forms" in the Spiritual Realm--created and maintained by the perceptions of living beings--the strength and reach of which are determined by the strength and reach of those who "believe" in any given Form. These Forms range from a weak, regional "our mayor is a mean guy" to strong, universal "Humans: they age."

The "plausibility" of any Forgery is assessed in reference to these Forms, with each object having a certain number of connections to certain Forms based on its Cognitive identity (a table won't bother to connect with the Human form, I don't think, though it could without any real harm). When a Forgery is done, the network of Forms which are related to its target do a group "gut call" on whether and to what degree it is acceptable. Same on the level of individual souls, as in the case of Gaotona.

Living beings kill off stamps because their Cognitive aspects actively fight against the external imposition of identity. Stamps do not replace original aspects, merely overlay them for a time. Also, just as an aside, I don't think a bunch of rocks in space without any observer will ever form a coherent Cognitive aspect as a singular being, so there can exist objects which, while Physically singular, are made up of a plurality of Cognitive aspects.

EDIT 2: A bit more evidence. I hadn't recalled this quote until Nepene put it in his Cosmere 201 quote-bank:
 

“Besides, what good will a cook be in the Spiritual Realm?”
“Heralds need food,” [Geranid] said absently, scratching out a line on her writing board, then scribbling another line of numbers beneath it.
“Do they?” Ashir asked. “I’ve never been convinced. Oh, I’ve read the speculations, but it just doesn't seem rational to me. The body must be fed in the Physical Realm, but the spirit exists in a completely different state.”
“A state of ideals,” she replied. “So, you could create ideal foods, perhaps.”
[...]
“I wonder if they eat in the Cognitive Realm. Is a food there what it sees itself as being? I’ll have to read and see if anyone has ever eaten while visiting Shadesmar.”


(WoK 711)

While this is in-line with Vorinism's "everything is super-powered when you die" (farmers grow entire fields with a wave of their hands, etc.), and so might be religiously inspired, Ashir and Geranid seem to be pretty Realmatically knowledgeable, so I'll give them credit on this one. So a hint that "objects" in the Spiritual Realm are in "a state of ideals".

EDIT 3: Significantly changed the Gaotona part, as well as moving stuff around. I had been waiting for someone to post a criticism before saying this, but apparently I scared everyone off, so I'll just put it down for posterity.

EDIT 4: Threw in some extra stuff in the Cognitive section.

 

EDIT 5 (01/04/2015):

 

For what it's worth, plausibility does seem to be decided by Forms.

Edited by Kurkistan
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I only made it about halfway through the theory, so I'm not defenestrating it. But you got me thinking that maybe I/we missunderstood the term "spiritweb" that Brandon has made use of before.

A Spiritweb is supposed to function like spiritual DNA, which led me to believe that it was some kind of internal network that works like regular DNA. But when you emphisised that the spiritual realm is about connections and bonds I got the impression that the "web" in "spiritweb" might. Be more literal.

What if a person or object's spiritweb is an External web of connections that ties them to places they've been, things they've been affected by, etc. If this is true, the spiritual realm would look and function more like a giant network, in spite of the other two reams being at least geologically similar.

Forging in particular would be a kind of "hack" that alters the connections of an object or person that is distinct in the cognitive sense.

I.e. the window has connections to the fragments of the old window which can be exploited to create stronger or entirely new connections that tell the window it's currently stained glass.

Forgings fail because the rest of the world remains unaffected and would try to reject the false connections. The more "false" a spiritweb is, the stronger the rejection.

As the traditional shooter of my ego, what do you think?

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What if a person or object's spiritweb is an External web of connections that ties them to places they've been, things they've been affected by, etc.

I really like this, but I'm currently too sleepy to try and figure out the implications (like yourself I've yet to make it through this whole theory). I'll try again tomorrow after some sleep.

If anyone has ever read the Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall, it has a somewhat similar idea which may be adaptable to this.

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*Wipes away small--and manly--tear of joy at someone finally replying* :D

First, I would like to deeply and humbly apologize for the horrible long-ness (and mild impenetrability) of the OP. I was cooped up all alone for so very long...

Essentially, the OP contains the (poorly organized) equivalent to what would normally be spread out over a week's worth of discussion, since I kept thinking, but no one else posted. Sorry about that. :(

I only made it about halfway through the theory, so I'm not defenestrating it. But you got me thinking that maybe I/we missunderstood the term "spiritweb" that Brandon has made use of before.

A Spiritweb is supposed to function like spiritual DNA, which led me to believe that it was some kind of internal network that works like regular DNA. But when you emphisised that the spiritual realm is about connections and bonds I got the impression that the "web" in "spiritweb" might. Be more literal.

The only actual reference we have is from the Alloy of Law Ars Arcanum, "The actual outlet of the power is not chosen by the practitioner, but instead is hardwritten into their Spiritweb." Some take it to by synonymous with Brandon's "sDNA", which some others also take to be synonymous with someone's Spiritual Aspect. Recall, the Ars Arcanum is in-world, so "spiritweb" might simply be their word for sDNA, what with a general lack of knowledge about actual DNA. I doubt that, though.

Personally, I'm coming to think that sDNA is not equivalent to Spiritual Aspects. This is somewhat contrary to assumptions I made in the MEC, but not too bad, I don't think. I mostly just used "sDNA" in one or two places where I should have said "Spiritual aspect". Anyway: The way Brandon talks about it, it sounds like sDNA is mostly the actually heritable stuff (see: the sources on the Coppermind page I just linked to).

---

To get to the meat of the thing, I'm actually very inclined to agree with you on the general premise that Spiritual Aspects are best described as comprising of "webs" of connections. In that case, the AoLAAA (acronym!) was actually talking about Spiritual Aspects, with sDNA as a simple subset that happens to be why Allomantic powers are "hardwired in."

Honestly, I'm a bit sheepish that I didn't say this kind of thing first. It seems natural when you start talking about the Spiritual Realm as being made up of connections, and I even said "web" in the OP! Oh well. I suppose I had to leave something for other people to think up. :P

What if a person or object's spiritweb is an External web of connections that ties them to places they've been, things they've been affected by, etc. If this is true, the spiritual realm would look and function more like a giant network, in spite of the other two reams being at least geologically similar.

Okay, I'm liking this. It makes sense. One change I'd make, though: the entirety of someone's Spiritual aspect shouldn't just be these connections. A man alone in space should still be himself. I would picture it more as a nucleus at the center of the web with all the connections going out from it: there's something relatively solid in there that exists independent of its connections; Identity and whatnot--though it can still be affected by its connections, obviously.

So the Spiritual Realm would be a network, but one with definite nodes as well as the innumberable connections between them. If my theory holds, then Forms would be nodes that simply didn't have any mirror in the other Realms (or not in the Physical, at the very least).

Forging in particular would be a kind of "hack" that alters the connections of an object or person that is distinct in the cognitive sense.

I.e. the window has connections to the fragments of the old window which can be exploited to create stronger or entirely new connections that tell the window it's currently stained glass.

Forgings fail because the rest of the world remains unaffected and would try to reject the false connections. The more "false" a spiritweb is, the stronger the rejection.

This sounds like it could jive with what I've already said. I know it's a slog, but I would suggest reading my "sForms" and "Plausibility Calculations" sections of the OP. I think you'd find them agreeable.

As the traditional shooter of my ego, what do you think?

Well, you've been trying to evade me by changing your identity, so I'm not sure if I should keep that role. Do you want me to change my member-title, btw?

Overall, thank you for the contribution Goradel Aaradel. Your thoughts on actual webs of spirit are quite intriguing.

I really like this, but I'm currently too sleepy to try and figure out the implications (like yourself I've yet to make it through this whole theory). I'll try again tomorrow after some sleep.

If anyone has ever read the Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall, it has a somewhat similar idea which may be adaptable to this.

Thanks for liking it! :) I'm sorry to say that I haven't read (or heard of) that book, so you may need to fill us in when you've recovered your stamina enough to suffer through the entire OP.

Edited by Kurkistan
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Okay, finished the OP.

I'm also going to say that I think alterations to someone's cognitive aspect are a "trickle down" from the spiritual realm. The description of a cognitive aspect was: "how an obect is viewed and how it views itself." I think it would be normal for a cognitive aspect to slightly adapt to changes in how it is viewed by others because that kind of information would come from the spiritweb. Forging just adds a little "Kick" of shardic energy.

Also: there may be a time when I need another hole poked in my hairbrained ideas, so you can keep the title. (Though you can change it to Aaradel, I plan on using this name long-term.

Edited by Chaos
Removed Dragonsteel spoiler
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Okay, finished the OP.

A lot of what you said is still consistant if we consider the sNetwork idea. Though there may need to be tweaking of the forms.

So I agree that a person's web would need a nucleus, it may even explain Hemalurgic bind points. (Physical "roots" for strong spiritual connections, such as an allomancer's link to Preservation.)

Well that's genuinely irritating. I'd managed to avoid Dragonsteel spoilers up 'till now. I would request that you spoiler-block that bit of text. I'm not mad or anything, just surprised to see such a naked reference to Dragonsteel here on the boards.

I'm spoiling the next part because it tangentially relates to the above Dragonsteel reference.

I'm also going to say that I think alterations to someone's cognitive aspect are a "trickle down" from the spiritual realm. The description of a cognitive aspect was: "how an obect is viewed and how it views itself." I think it would be normal for a cognitive aspect to slightly adapt to changes in how it is viewed by others because that kind of information would come from the spiritweb. Forging just adds a little "Kick" of shardic energy.

I have to go against this, at least semantically. Perhaps Cognitive aspects and perceptions are mediated by Spiritual connections, but I think that how a wall comes to see itself as a wall is still a fundamentally Cog-Cog interaction.

Also: there may be a time when I need another hole poked in my hairbrained ideas, so you can keep the title. (Though you can change it to Aaradel, I plan on using this name long-term.

Very well, title changed. :)

Edited by Kurkistan
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I would prefer if you do not post Dragonsteel spoilers. I have removed the Dragonsteel related content, in addition to Kurk's response about it.

Edited by Chaos
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I would prefer if you do not post Dragonsteel spoilers. I have removed the Dragonsteel related content, in addition to Kurk's response about it.

Thanks. Wouldn't want another innocent's life ruined (though, seriously, no hard feelings, Aaradel :)).

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I would prefer if you do not post Dragonsteel spoilers. I have removed the Dragonsteel related content, in addition to Kurk's response about it.

Thanks, I wasn't thinking. Sorry about that Kurk...

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No worries, Aaradel. I just don't want its secrets to come out, as the book will be better with us not knowing. And it's generally been our policy not to discuss unpublished works. There are a variety of reasons for this.

If it's publicly available (like the Liar sample chapters), it's okay to talk about. If not, then no.

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Finally got around to giving this a read, though my brain started giving out around halfway. It got too abstract for me :blink: . Everything sounded quite good to me until you started talking about Ashraven's soul handing around to make Shai's imprint work. That seemed odd to me, and I had a hard time making that logical leap with you. Wouldn't Ashraven's body have a spiritual aspect, and wouldn't that still have history and connections?

As I side note, I do like the terminology and image of a network of nodes for the spiritual realm. This is much easier to visualize than your description of forms, and falls more easily in line with the other terms we have in canon so far (spiritweb and spiritual dna)

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Finally got around to giving this a read, though my brain started giving out around halfway. It got too abstract for me :blink:/> . Everything sounded quite good to me until you started talking about Ashraven's soul handing around to make Shai's imprint work. That seemed odd to me, and I had a hard time making that logical leap with you. Wouldn't Ashraven's body have a spiritual aspect, and wouldn't that still have history and connections?

Yeah, I've been waffling on that one a bit. If you'd read a few self-rambling iterations ago, I used to even have two different models for soul-Forging and regular Forging. But bodies. Huh. Huh. That might work...

As I side note, I do like the terminology and image of a network of nodes for the spiritual realm. This is much easier to visualize than your description of forms, and falls more easily in line with the other terms we have in canon so far (spiritweb and spiritual dna)

*mutter* stealing my thunder *mutter* book-spoiling egoist *mutter mutter*

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*mutter* stealing my thunder *mutter* book-spoiling egoist *mutter mutter*

*sigh* You can spike me later... speaking of spikes, what do you think about Hemalurgic bind points? Are they physical locations for strong spiritual bonds?

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I think this is the biggest source of info on hemalurgy

Chaos2651

Is there a rationale to how Hemalurgic powers are distributed? I tried to look for a system, but they seem rather randomly distributed. For example, the spike which steals Allomantic powers for a particular quadrant is not always in one particular spot.

Brandon Sanderson

That is correct, it's not always in one particular spot. None of them are. I used as my model on this magic system the concept of acupuncture and pressure points. Placing a Hemalurgic spike is a very delicate and specific art. Imagine there being a different overlay on a human body, like a new network of nerves, representing lines, points, and 'veins' of the soul's spiritual makeup.

What is happening with Hemalurgy, essentially, is that you're driving a spike through a specific point on a person's body and ripping off a piece of their soul. It sticks to the spike on the Spiritual Realm. Then, you place that spike on someone else in a specific place (not exactly the same place, but on the right spiritual pressure point) and 'hot wire' the spirit to give it Hemalurgy or Feruchemy. It's like you're fooling the spiritual DNA, creating a work-around. Or, in some cases, changing the spirit to look like something else, which has the immediate effect of distorting the body and transforming it into a new creature.

Hemalurgy is a very brutal way of making changes like this, though, so it often has monstrous effects. (Like with the koloss.) And in most cases, it leaves a kind of 'hole' in the spirit's natural defenses, which is how Ruin was able to touch the souls of Hemalurgists directly.

It isn't gender-dependent.

23. Does being female alter the spiritual overlays on a person, so that a Hemalurgically imbued spike would need to be placed differently than in a male body?

ANSWER: No. In fact, there are female inquisitors in the huge fight when Vin goes blasting through them, but he felt like bringing that out would have been distracting.

There's a little bit of body focus relationship.

JOE ST

Is there any relationship between Hemalurgic bindpoints and the body focuses in Surgebinding? Specifically, the eyespikes and the eyes being a body focus in Surgebinding?

BRANDON SANDERSON

The relationship is there, but it's not a very strong connection.

And weirdness with burning

Q: What happens when you burn a Hemalurgic spike?

A: Burning a Hemalurgic spike would have the effect of splicing your spiritual DNA to that of the person’s that is in the spike, which would have some very strange consequences.

I personally think it makes more sense for your personal spiritweb to correspond directly to your hemalurgic overlay... that might just be me, though. It seems inelegant to have multiple different spiritual maps of someone, you know?

Also "Or, in some cases, changing the spirit to look like something else, which has the immediate effect of distorting the body and transforming it into a new creature."

That sounds a LOT like Forgery. The fact that he followed it up with

"Hemalurgy is a very brutal way of making changes like this"

kinda implies that there are less brutal methods.

Edited by Phantom Monstrosity
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Hmmm, I wonder if you could steal someones thunder with Hemalurgy, that'd probably need an Atium spike.

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Is it possible that sDNA is related to the Spirit-web the same way that physical DNA is related to the physical body?

What I mean by this is: Our physical DNA represents a complete template for building and maintaining our physical body in the right environment, but it is not our body itself. There are changes that can be made to the body which will not be reflected in the DNA, including developmental changes where the DNA codes for different possibilities which are realized in different situations.

Is it possible that the Spiritweb, although derived from sDNA, is not sDNA in the same way? It is affected by our connections with the rest of the world, even while having some "inborn" traits? This seems like the simplest answer.

The main point I see against this is that Brandon said that burning a Hemalurgical spike would splice the sDNA together, but I suppose that could simply be an Allomancers instinctive reaction to absorbing somebody else's Spiritweb. If nothing else, the Spiritweb almost certainly contains sDNA.

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*sigh* You can spike me later... speaking of spikes, what do you think about Hemalurgic bind points? Are they physical locations for strong spiritual bonds?

Satsuoni had thoughts on this, actually, as well as some fairly well-developed thoughts--that I'd forgotten about--on the Spiritual as being comprised of connections. He talks about "pathways" for Spiritual energy that Hemalurgy jacks into.

I would broadly agree with that kind of view. Once again, I'll have to insist upon there being a "nucleus" of sorts for Hemalurgy to target, instead of just incidental Spiritual connections. The nucleus, then, or at least the part of it that we would call sDNA, has some kind of correspondence to body parts. So yes, there would be physical locations.

I personally think it makes more sense for your personal spiritweb to correspond directly to your hemalurgic overlay... that might just be me, though. It seems inelegant to have multiple different spiritual maps of someone, you know?

Also "Or, in some cases, changing the spirit to look like something else, which has the immediate effect of distorting the body and transforming it into a new creature."

That sounds a LOT like Forgery. The fact that he followed it up with

"Hemalurgy is a very brutal way of making changes like this"

kinda implies that there are less brutal methods.

Thanks for the quotes. I agree that it sounds a bit like Forgery, what with Spiritual changes triggering Physical ones. As I said above, I think we have to be careful to limit exactly what parts of the Spiritweb are accessible.

Hmmm, I wonder if you could steal someones thunder with Hemalurgy, that'd probably need an Atium spike.

Atium works for everything, but I imagine that you just use uru if you're looking to steal Thunder specifically.

Is it possible that sDNA is related to the Spirit-web the same way that physical DNA is related to the physical body?

What I mean by this is: Our physical DNA represents a complete template for building and maintaining our physical body in the right environment, but it is not our body itself. There are changes that can be made to the body which will not be reflected in the DNA, including developmental changes where the DNA codes for different possibilities which are realized in different situations.

Is it possible that the Spiritweb, although derived from sDNA, is not sDNA in the same way? It is affected by our connections with the rest of the world, even while having some "inborn" traits? This seems like the simplest answer.

The main point I see against this is that Brandon said that burning a Hemalurgical spike would splice the sDNA together, but I suppose that could simply be an Allomancers instinctive reaction to absorbing somebody else's Spiritweb. If nothing else, the Spiritweb almost certainly contains sDNA.

I can go with this. I think I'd tweak it a smidgen, though. While you could define sDNA as just being the part that is locked in at birth, with the Spiritweb as independent of it, I think it would be useful to expand our conception of sDNA to the whole of the "nucleus" I keep blathering on about. Just like you can change DNA through gene therapy, then, you can chagne sDNA through magic and even, it seems, where you live (Shardic Radiation theory). I think it would be valuable to think of sDNA as somewhat more variable and expanded, perhaps to cover the whole range of Hemalurgically-theftable traits. We know that the ability to summon a Shardblade can be spiked out, and Nahel bonds probably can too.

This is mostly semantic, but I guess I'm saying we should define it as "sDNA = hardwritten into Spiritweb".

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I think I may have to disagree with the Shardic Radiation Theory. If the Spiritual Realm is a network, than mutations to sDNA would occur through the connections, not by 'radiation'.

For example,

Let's assume that mutations to complex sDNA (people) would most likely occur during a new individual's development.

Let's also assume that the people who inhabit a world have a strong spiritual connection to it.

A Shard comes to a world and develops a connection to it. Spiritual energy leaks from the shard (high concentration) to the world (low concentration) and seeks to bind to a node (complex sDNA structure). It attaches itself to living creatures (especially humans) and starts the process of mutating sDNA over a few generations until people start being able to make bonds with the Shard directly (use magic).

In layman's terms energy moves from the shard to the world and then to living things until they can access and use magic.

Worlds like Sel and Roshar which have broken shards would have a much more active process than worlds with whole shards, due to the spiritual energy having no node or person already bound to it, so it would more activly seek a host.

This might explain how Elantrians come about, a person develops a suitably strong enough connection to the energy's intent, and the influx of spiritual energy forces an unnatural mutation in the sDNA outside of development.

Edited by Aaradel
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^I don't think we really disagree there. I don't agree with everything WeiryWriter said on that thread (s/he gets a bit too literal with talk of "mutations), I just wanted to acknowledge the source for the general theory.

Your story is quite plausible, and really just an alternate, more "connectiony" narrative as compared to talking about "radiation". That's probably the right way to go about it, given what we now know, but the end result seems to be the same.

Edited by Kurkistan
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We know that the ability to summon a Shardblade can be spiked out, and Nahel bonds probably can too.

I would contest the spikability of Nahel bonds, as they seem to be linked closely to actions and oaths. But I imagine that is an argument for after WoR is out :D . I really like the theory that is forming. I just don't have the motivation to delve in to the theorizing myself, but it is fun reading it.

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Don't think Nehal bonds alter sDNA. Rather the spren shares its sDNA with you. The spren would have to be spiked...

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Don't think Nehal bonds alter sDNA. Rather the spren shares its sDNA with you. The spren would have to be spiked...

I dunno, if you can steal a shardblade you might be able to steal a spren bond.

Of course, the spren could probably break it as normal, losing its sapience.

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On Nahel bonds: We don't have much info, but my gut says that bonds are theftable. To use the language of connections, spren would form exceptionally strong and unique connections with their partners. We know that Spiritual properties don't have to be especially intrinsic in order to be spiked (see: Shardblades), so I can see wherever the bond is "anchored" being spikable.

Now, whether the spren would stick around for more than 2 seconds before breaking the bond and going all Iron Bank on the Hemalurgist, that's another story that depends on whether the bond can be broken from the spren's side alone.

As for whether this means the bond is in sDNA, I think that's more than a bit dependent on how we define it. I've been waffling a bit on how to define sDNA as it relates to the Spiritweb and the Spiritual Aspect as a whole (if those two are even different). I guess I'll stick with my "sDNA as the nucleus" definition for now. In that case, Nahel bonds would be stolen from the point on the "nucleus" where the connection to the spren is located. This might have some implications on whether "normal" connections (to Forms, other people, etc.) can be stolen as well, or if they have to be magically charged in order to "stick out" enough for Hemalurgy to get a hold of them.

Also, I find it somewhat amusing that a thread with such a heavy OP-investment (sorry about that) has gone so completely off-track. It's a good track to be on, and I like where it's going, but still, a bit far from Forms and Forgery. Just as an aside, is this due to "wow Kurkistan, your theory is so complete and amazing (and obviously right) that we don't have anything more to say about it!" or due to "okay, well the OP was wrong/unreadable, but look at Aaradel's theory!"?

Edited by Kurkistan
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Aradel's stuff is just a revision of yours. He's standing on the shoulders of giants :P . So as a bit of speculation, something occurred to me as you were talking about stealing the nahel bond. Though I don't quite buy it in its current state, what if that is (more or less some details) how Szeth has surgebinding powers? Maybe it's possible to steal the Nahel bond (but maybe not the spren?) in a magic form on Roshar akin to hemalurgy or forgery.

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My "theory" is less a theory and more a change in how we look at the spiritual realm, and it was inspired by Kurk anyway. I nod to him as a superior theorist.

As to how bonds affect sDNA and/or forms, my gut says the cognitive aspect has something to do with it but I don't have an arguement worked out for it. I do have a few points to make though.

Shards are giant masses of spiritual energy, but they are limited by an intent (cognitive maybe?), and a holder (spiritual node?).

Koloss are humans who are radically changed by a hemalurgic spike (sDNA transplant) and we find out from brandon and more specifically the broadsheet for AoL that post-HoA they breed true. Could this be a permanent mutation passed down to children or a shardic hand wave from Sazed?

I think that Forging manipulates spiritual bonds to trick an object into changing it overall cognitive aspect. And that Soulcasting makes a change in the cognitive aspect directly to convince all the little aspects that make it up to change.

Edited by Aaradel
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