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Another in my ongoing series “A Theory of Cosmere Magic”

Classification of Magic Systems

Pre-Shattering Magic

In the Beginning – The Cosmere’s Origin

I include this topic because my views on Realmic theory underlie the over-arching cosmere magic theory. While most of my views are canon, you shouldn’t be surprised some aren’t. I changed from “Realmatic” to “Realmic” to follow Khriss in AU. I am concurrently posting “In the Beginning – The Cosmere’s Origin,” since that post provides some background to the conclusions I reach in this post.

THE THREE REALMS

Preservation’s Metaphor. In M:SH, Preservation metaphorically describes the Realms to Kelsier. The Spiritual Realm shines a beam of “perfect” light that the Cognitive Realm “filters” before the light “pools” on the Physical Realm’s “floor.” The Spiritual Realm is the place of perfection, of Spiritual energy (the Powers) and structure (Spiritwebs). The Cognitive Realm is the place of perception, filtering the Spiritual Realm’s perfection. The Physical Realm is the place of material existence, where perceived objects and lifeforms take shape. I use the term “Creation” to describe the sum of all Spiritwebs and their corresponding Cognitive and Physical Realm aspects.

Kelsier himself calls this description a “metaphor.” (M:SH, Kindle Loc 530, Part 2-1 .) The description does not address the mechanics of magic. Brandon intends this metaphor to help us understand Realmic differences, not how the magic works.

Spiritual Realm. The Spiritual Realm consists of two types of Investitures: the Powers (Spiritual energy) and “Spiritweb Investiture” (Spiritual structure). Spiritweb Investiture constitutes the Spiritual aspect of Creation (the sum of all Spiritwebs). The Spiritual Realm holds the most Investiture because of the Powers: Shards are “mostly Spiritual.” Location “isn’t particularly important” in the Spiritual Realm, only Connection.

Cognitive Realm. The Cognitive Realm is the collective mind of the sentient entities on each planet (an idea Brandon expressly borrows from Carl Jung). Non-sentient objects exist in the Cognitive Realm as the perceptions of the collective mind, since such objects have no cognitive function of their own: “Whenever a planet has enough thinking life on it that's considering it a planet, it drops into Shadesmar.” The collective mind includes the conscious and the unconscious. (WoR, Kindle p. 40.)

a. Correspondence to Physical Realm. Brandon describes the Cognitive Realm as relatively flat, but not two-dimensional – a plain, not a plane. He contrasts its topography with the Physical Realm’s, which is three-dimensional. The SLA maps and the Dor show there is a one-to-one correspondence between locations in the Physical and Cognitive Realms.

b. Subastrals. Each collection of sentient minds has its own “subastral” – the term Hoid uses in M:SH to describe Scadrial’s Cognitive Realm. Each Shardworld with a sentient population has at least one subastral. Roshar has two subastrals: one for its Physical Realm sapient population (humans, listeners and Aimians), and a second subastral for its sapient spren. Brandon calls all sapient entities “people.” Sapient spren are ideas that have ideas. These spren have their own politics and cities. The discarded Oathbreaker chapter where Jasnah first Elsecalls shows the Rosharan spren subastral. Braize also has a subastral – Khriss says there are splinters and Cognitive Shadows there. Cognitive Realm distance is measured by thought, and the distance between subastrals compresses minds.

c. Shadesmar’s Sun. I believe the “sun” in Roshar’s and Scadrial’s subastrals represents those planets’ collective perception of the afterlife – the place the spirits of dead people go. Brandon refers to these collective perceptions as “cultural.” The Cognitive Realm sun is like the “light” that Earth people see during near-death experiences. That “light” is the Cognitive Realm’s collectively perceived Connection to the Spiritual Realm. The “clouds” that trail towards the sun represent the collective mind’s perception of the souls of the dead moving towards the Spiritual Realm. Everything in the Cognitive Realm “moves towards the light,” including shadows. This movement is how the collective mind perceives entropy: “all things must pass.”

Physical Realm. The Physical Realm is the material world sentient life actually experiences. It consists of the matter and energy into which the Powers convert plus the Physical Realm aspect of each planet’s Unique Investiture – one can see Stormlight, Breaths and the mists. Adonalsium’s Creations comprise most of the Physical Realm cosmere:The effects of Adonalsium permeate everything.”

SPIRITUAL REALM INVESTITURE

Spiritweb Investiture. Spiritweb Investiture composes the Spiritual aspect of Creation – Creation’s “Spiritual matter.” Spiritweb Investiture gives Creation its Spiritual structure. Each use of the Powers creates new matter, energy and/or Unique Investiture. That new part of Creation either has its own Spiritweb or is part of other Spiritwebs.

a. A Spiritweb consists of a soul and its Connections.  Each soul has unique Spiritual DNA and unique Connections – a unique Spiritweb.

b. Connections bind the cosmere together – not only between souls (“External Connections”), but also between the three Realmic aspects of each soul (“Internal Connections”). Kelsier could not return to Scadrial’s Physical Realm because his death severed his Internal Connections to that Realm.

(i) Internal Connections maintain mind-body-soul unity. They “vertically” link the Realmic aspects of each attribute of a lifeform or object. The Feruchemy sections of recent Ars Arcana list many human attributes. Each attribute has an analog in all three Realms.

(ii) External Connections “horizontally” link a soul to other souls. These Connections can extend between people, between objects, between a person and a planet, a person and other objects, and a person and Unique Investiture. A temporary Connection can extend between a person and the Powers – that’s how catalytic magic systems work.

c. A Shardworld’s Unique Investiture is encoded into the Shardworld’s soul and is part of its Spiritual DNA. Unique Investiture is thus a form of Spiritweb Investiture. Sazed says a Shard’s Unique Investitures are its “flesh and blood.” (HoA, Chapter 14 Epigraph.)

             d. Connections link to different Spiritual “genes” of an entity’s Spiritual DNA. A planet’s soul includes as Spiritual “genes” each location on that planet. When Allik Neverfar in BoM uses his language-translation medallion, he Connects his soul to a different “Spiritual gene” of Scadrial’s soul – a different birthplace location on Scadrial. Allik retains his accent because his soul still knows he is Malwish. Allik explains, “My soul thinks I was raised here, in your lands, but it knows that I am Malwish by descent…so I cannot help but have an accent…” (BoM, Kindle p. 302.)

e. Brandon says Connections are not “on/off” switches. They can widen or narrow over time.

f. “Identity” refers to the relationship between a mortal and the Unique Investiture of his native Shardworld. Unique Investiture is “keyed” to the mortal, enabling the mortal to perform “Unique Investiture Magic” on that Shardworld: “The Spiritual self is tied to the Investiture of the world that you come from.” Identity is embedded in the mortal’s Spiritual DNA. It can develop over time as part of an adaptive, evolutionary process. Non-natives must “hack” local Unique Investiture to use it (except for Breaths, which automatically “key into their holder’s Identity.) Non-natives’ Identity is not “keyed” to the local Unique Investiture. Feruchemists’ Unique Investiture is “internal” and personal to them. BoM shows their Identity relates to the use of their personal Unique Investiture inside their metalmind.

The Powers. The Powers are the cosmere’s “Spiritual energy,” the “the energy of Shards.” Under Brandon’s “one substance” principle, the Powers are the source of everything else – they convert into all of the cosmere’s matter, energy and other Investiture. The Powers are “raw” undifferentiated Investiture awaiting a directing mind to tell them what to do. Brandon also calls this form of Spiritual Realm Investiture “true Investiture” or “raw power.”

COGNITIVE REALM INVESTITURE

Unlike Spiritual Realm Investiture, Cognitive Realm Investiture is different everywhere – it is a form of Unique Investiture. If the Cognitive Realm is the collective mind of a Shardworld, Cognitive Realm Investiture is the collective mind’s ideas. These ideas have a Spiritual Realm aspect with their own Spiritwebs. Shai describes how this happens in TES (Kindle p. 74).

Splinters are bits of the Powers that become “self-aware.” That means a splinter (including spren) has its own Cognitive function. Bits of the Powers that become splinters convert into Cognitive Realm Investiture: splinters are “less physical, more a blend of the other two [Realms].”

PHYSICAL REALM INVESTITURE

Differences Between Shardworlds. Like Cognitive Realm Investiture, Physical Realm Investiture is also a form of Unique Investiture. It is different everywhere. Roshar, Nalthis and Scadrial have gaseous manifestations of Investiture: Stormlight, Breaths and the mists. Lerasium and atium differ from Autonomy’s Investiture of microflora. The Tears of Edgli differ from Devotion’s perpendicularity. Each Physical Realm manifestation of Investiture reflects the Mandate of the Investiture’s Shard plus the planet’s “inherent Investiture.” Minor Shardworlds continue with whatever Unique Investiture Adonalsium and/or a Shard left there.

States of Physical Realm Investiture. Brandon says the liquid state of a Shard’s Unique Investiture (its “shardpool”) is the most “potent.” The Coppermind asserts, “the liquid essence of a Shard is said to be related to the Cognitive aspect.”  The solid state of Physical Realm Investiture (metals) is the least potent, and each metal has a single function. The gaseous state of Physical Realm Investiture is somewhere between the two in potency – it can directly fuel a Connection to the Powers like the mists did for Vin.

PERPENDICULARITIES

Realmic Conduits. Perpendicularities are conduits between the three Realms. They permit Worldhopping. The only Worldhopping we’ve seen so far is between the Cognitive and Physical Realms.

Formation. Khriss says perpendicularities arise from a Shard’s presence on a planet. (AU, Kindle p. 477.) The weight of the Shard’s Investiture punches a “spike-like” hole through the planet’s Realmic aspects, forming the conduits between Realms. Brandon states the existence of a perpendicularity means the Shard cannot easily divest itself from its Shardworld: “Once you’ve got a Perpendicularity, you are starting...That’s trouble for going other places.

Speculation: Investiture Residue. I speculate a perpendicularity is the precise spot where a Shard Invests in a planet, where its Investiture “enters" the planet’s three Realmic aspects. That’s where the Shard “is present” and why the perpendicularity is “spike-like.” Otherwise, the weight of Investiture seems like it would form multiple perpendicularities per Shard on that planet. When Investiture is complete, residual unused Investiture remains – like water dripping from a turned-off hose. These attuned “catch-basins” collect a planet’s recycling Investiture.

Brandon says perpendicularities “normally” disappear when a Shard divests itself from a planet, but “there are circumstances that could prevent the shardpool from disappearing.” Since Sazed says Physical Realm Investiture (like a shardpool) is the “body” of a Shard, I speculate the Shard Vessel’s death might be one such circumstance: Aona’s shardpool didn’t “disappear” after her death. I also speculate that a Shard can choose to leave Investiture behind when it divests. (Brandon recently confirmed this speculation when he stated at least one planet has a shardpool the Shard abandoned (voluntarily or not).)

Edited by Confused
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4 hours ago, Confused said:

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b. Subastrals. Each collection of sentient minds has its own “subastral” – the term Hoid uses in M:SH to describe Scadrial’s Cognitive Realm. Roshar has two subastrals: one for its Physical Realm sapient population (humans, listeners and Aimians), and a second subastral for its sapient spren. Brandon calls all sapient entities “people.” Sapient spren are ideas that have ideas. These spren have their own politics and cities. The discarded Oathbreaker chapter where Jasnah first Elsecalls shows the Rosharan spren subastral.

The Coppermind asserts, “the liquid essence of a Shard is said to be related to the Cognitive aspect.”

Speculation: Investiture Residue. I speculate a perpendicularity is the precise spot where a Shard Invests in a planet, where its Investiture “enters" the planet’s three Realmic aspects. That’s where the Shard “is present” and why the perpendicularity is “spike-like.” Otherwise, the weight of Investiture seems like it would form multiple perpendicularities per Shard on that planet.

Brandon says perpendicularities “normally” disappear when a Shard divests itself from a planet, but “there are circumstances that could prevent the shardpool from disappearing.” I speculate the Shard Vessel’s death might be one such circumstance: Aona’s shardpool didn’t “disappear” after her death.

(Brandon recently confirmed this speculation when he stated at least one planet has a shardpool the Shard abandoned (voluntarily or not).)

I really didn't want to get sucked into another one of these threads, but I always see one small thing that needs to be pointed out, and then I have to reply to the whole post b/c double posting is bad :) Anyway...

So that's where you got the term from. Subastral looked so out of place when you first started using it, and I hadn't seen anyone use the term except you. (And apparently Hoid, even if I don't remember him doing so)

I'm very curious about why you think Spren have their own Subastral. As far as I was aware, they live in the human one, as it's the Cognitive Realm of Roshar, and they largely function in the Cognitive.

Tis a sad day when I can say that trusting the Coppermind's assertions and ideas is a bad idea. Countless pages are in need of updating with the wealth of recent knowledge, and the community can only work so quickly.

Shards are primarily Spiritual, where location means nothing. I am curious about how that plays into the "exact spot they invest," not even considering the fact that it can happen naturally just by being there.

You are confusing terms. Aona did not "divest from the planet," she merely died and is for all intents and purposes, still invested in Sel. That is why they still have fully functioning magic systems and a Shardpool. It's the same with Honor.

Final thing: that WoB says that there is at least one Shard has a Shardpool on a planet they are not currently on. It does not in any way say that a Shard abandoned their Pool.

Edited by The One Who Connects
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The spren subastral appears in the withdrawn Oathbringer chapter. Jasnah Elsecalls there to save herself from the Wind’s Pleasure assassination attempt. She hadn’t been there before. Ivory says painspren “harm more” in the spren subastral. The in-world “Words of Radiance” also mentions the “far realm of spren.” (WoR Chapter 53 Epigraph). Only Elsecallers are “the true masters of that realm.” These references to the "far realm" suggest that "realm" is not in the human Cognitive Realm.

I agree about the Coppermind. That’s why I put the onus of the assertion on them. I’ve found no other references for this assertion, and the Coppermind doesn’t state a source. But I’ve found no refutations either. Perpendicularities do mediate among the Realms, and the Cognitive Realm is the “intermediary.” Most perpendicularities we’ve seen are composed of a Shard’s “liquid essence.”  The Coppermind’s statement may be true. Perhaps I should have prefaced the quote with “FWIW.”

You make two points about perpendicularity location: (1) how Shards being “mostly Spiritual” affects the “location” of perpendicularities, and (2) perpendicularities “can happen naturally just by [the Shard] being there.”

First, I don’t think Shards being “mostly Spiritual” affects the “location” of perpendicularities. Once Investiture leaves the Spiritual Realm for the Cognitive and Physical Realms, location does become relevant. Khriss says perpendicularities form because of a Shard’s “presence” on a planet. The Shard chooses the planet to be “present” on, its “location.”

Second, I agree with you: perpendicularities “can happen naturally just by [the Shard] being there.” Shards have too much “Investiture mass,” and if they linger too long in a specific location, their “Investiture mass” descends into the other Realms forming a perpendicularity.

But Shards choose their Shardworld. They’re only “there” if they choose to be. I doubt we’ve seen an incidental, unintentional Investiture of a planet, even on First of the Sun.

I speculate a perpendicularity is the site of the Shard’s Investiture of a planet for two reasons: First, we’ve only seen planets with one perpendicularity per Shard. If “Investiture mass” were the sole cause, I would expect more than one perpendicularity per Shard on some planet. There would be multiple “tunnels” as Khriss describes them. Second, Brandon’s description of a “spike-like hole” sounds to me like a hypodermic needle injecting Investiture into the planet. But this is all speculation, and labelled so in the OP.

Re Aona, I wasn’t confusing anything, I was flat-out WRONG! Thank you for raising this. I just missed it. The death of the Shard’s Vessel does not cause divestiture of its Investiture. (Ironically, I’ve made this argument myself elsewhere.) Bad example. I will edit this to fix.

The relevant WoB says, “There are Shards whose Shardpools are not on a planet they currently inhabit. At least one.” I interpret that statement to mean the Shard left its Investiture on that planet – “abandoned” it there without intending to come back. It is not the only interpretation, but it is a fair one. Like the poster of that WoB, I believe the planet is First of the Sun and that this Investiture is Autonomy’s. 

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2 hours ago, Confused said:

The spren subastral appears in the withdrawn Oathbringer chapter. Jasnah Elsecalls there to save herself from the Wind’s Pleasure assassination attempt. She hadn’t been there before. Ivory says painspren “harm more” in the spren subastral. The in-world “Words of Radiance” also mentions the “far realm of spren.” (WoR Chapter 53 Epigraph). Only Elsecallers are “the true masters of that realm.” These references to the "far realm" suggest that "realm" is not in the human Cognitive Realm.

I'll disagree on this as well. Jasnah said that she hadn't been there fully before, but she has been there before. We have no proof that painspren don't harm more normally, so that's not an argument of something different. I disagree on the WoR excerpt as well. It feels unlikely that the writer was a Knight Radiant, so would have little understanding of the cognitive realm, so of course it would feel far and distant from some explanations. Furthemore, since spren are cognitive entities it makes sense that the cognitive realm is their realm, without need for some separation. 

Overall, I don't think there's anything which indicates it's possible for there to be two overlapping cognitive areas for the same physical location, and most of what we've seen indicates that the spren are existing in the same Cognitive Realm that is visited each time by either Shallan or Jasnah. 

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On 4/3/2017 at 2:44 PM, Confused said:

While most [a few] of my views are canon

^ fixed that for you. Seriously, that would be misinforming new lurkers. That is an especially important distinction when a fair portion of the Shard's most dedicated cosmere theorists so frequently disagree with your points, or at the very least require a great deal of clarification. That doesn't inherently make you wrong, lots of people disagreed with Galileo, but it does mean everything you say needs its fair grain of salt. Besides, it implies that less of your post is extrapolation, speculation, and interpretation than it is.

I'm going to have to say I'm with the other two on the CR. The spren don't have a separate subastral. The cognitive realm is their home, so of course it's known as the realm of the spren. In a sense, when you visit you are trespassing on the spren's land. As others stated, Jasnah just hadn't been fully physically in the CR before, which was why she couldn't leave easily. Before, she was just projecting her physical mind there, rather than fully physically entering.

I guess our most fundamental disagreement is the state of the Shard's power that isn't manifest in someone's personal spiritweb or the CR/PR. I would totally disagree with anything saying that it isn't inherently connected to the souls of everything it contacts. Sazed was Connected to R/P, so he could Ascend to them both. He wasn't burning metal to give him a temporary Connection that let him pick up Preservation. People's Connection to their local Shard is important, and it isn't Connecting them to some little chunk, it's Connecting them to the full body of power. The Spiritual Realm is not a bunch of connected, tangled up souls of people and stuff, and then the Shards off to the side disconnected, the Shards are more like the central hub of their portion of people in the SR. Your actions and beliefs change your Connection to the Shards, but once a Connection exists, only stuff like Hemalurgy or Shardblades can destroy/remove it completely. Magic users have a better and slightly different Connection to the relevant Shard. Allomancers burn metal to channel power through that Connection. That is why Lerasium mistborn are so powerful, the Lerasium gives them a very strong Connection to Preservation, so they can tap more power.

Using a power like Allomancy or AonDor isn't like sticking in a straw to drink, it is opening the pipe and letting power squirt out through a specifically shaped grate. A bigger Connection means a bigger pipe that you can safely open farther.

As for the WoB about shardpools, my first thought was that it's Ambition's pool on Threnody, or maybe a pool in the Rosharan system on Ashyn that got left behind when H/C moved to Roshar the planet. Something like that. I very highly doubt that First of the Sun has ever had a Shard, let alone one that would leave behind a shardpool. That just doesn't make sense in context of what we know so far about cosmere timeline. Plus, it doesn't match up with WoB about First and the Eye.

Quote

QUESTION

What differentiates a minor Shardworld like First of the Sun?

BRANDON SANDERSON

The amount of Investiture, and whether there is actually a Shard in presence.

QUESTION

I'm assuming there is not one there?

BRANDON SANDERSON

There is not one there.

QUESTION

So it's like a Splintered one from something else?

BRANDON SANDERSON

No what you'll find is that the worlds were all created with a level of-- a little bit of sort of ambient magic. What you'll find in worlds like that is things like, Shadows for Silence and things like this, the magic, it's not necessarily "people with magic" it's you can interact with nature...

QUESTION

So there is inherent investiture...

BRANDON SANDERSON

There is inherent investiture in every world created but you are going to see-- You aren't going to find Mistborn on a world like that but what you might find is a way there are magic aspects to the setting. Spren could exist on a world like that but they would be like the minor spren, you wouldn't find Syl, but you would find something like lifespren.

Thanks, @Extesian, for reminding me of this one. I knew there was one, but couldn't find it. Finally I can point to something definitive that the Eye of Patji is leftover Adonalsium Investiture.

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On 06/04/2017 at 7:19 PM, Djarskublar said:

^ fixed that for you. Seriously, that would be misinforming new lurkers. That is an especially important distinction when a fair portion of the Shard's most dedicated cosmere theorists so frequently disagree with your points, or at the very least require a great deal of clarification. That doesn't inherently make you wrong, lots of people disagreed with Galileo, but it does mean everything you say needs its fair grain of salt. Besides, it implies that less of your post is extrapolation, speculation, and interpretation than it is.

Excellent point. I'll add that this is really the only topic that is mostly canon, as it's just a write-up consolidating canon information we've been given about realmatic theory for the most part. The others seem to be far more speculation and theorization, so to say they're canon is both arrogant and misleading. If so many people are arguing over the wording and interpretation of the canon material that you're using to construct your arguments for your theories and your theories themselves, then the theories are definitely not canon.

Edited by Spoolofwhool
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I wouldn't have minded if he said that most of the things he was listing were canon, but saying that his views were canon rubbed me the wrong way. Most of the post is pretty solid.

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Everything being networked together by the external connections is something I agree with. It almost seems like there is one vast complex spirit web , kind of like a computer program, with individual tags for each person.... when considering this with how feruchemy works, it almost seems like feruchemy is then the pinching off of a single strand and the letting it out... kind of like kinking a hose to stop the flow, then getting higher pressure out of it when you release it... i guess I'm just rambling, but the long and short of it is I agree with your basic theory, although not entirely with the subastral. I do think that Soren could have just taken a bit of shadesmar and expanded it, stretching the space there and creating their cities, if they didn't just build them wherever, rather than there being a separate layer of the cognitive realm. 

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Spren Subastral

@The One Who Connects@Spoolofwhool, and @Djarskublar, I looked again at the Jasnah outtake and see why you think she appears physically in the place of glass beads. You may be right, but that view creates a conundrum: If spren are ideas and “live” in the same subastral as other ideas, where do spren ideas go? The same subastral as the spren themselves, right beside the spren? That seems…awkward.

Jasnah tells Shallan in WoR (Kindle p. 42),

Spren are…the ideas of collective human experience…somehow come alive. Shadesmar is where that first happens, and it is their place. Though we created it, they shaped it. They live there; they rule there, within their own cities…. Spren are wild in their variety. Some are as clever as humans and create cities. Others are like fish and simply swim in the currents.

Here's how spren are “born”:

Spren are pieces of Investiture, usually pieces of Investiture that come straight from one of the Shards of Adonalsium, split off in some way, that because of human or other sapient creatures thinking about it or interacting with the power, the power starts to take on a life of its own.

Roshar and Sel are the only known planets with Invested ideas (though Nalthis has “hints,” but “not quite”). The Cognitive Realm otherwise represents only non-Invested ideas. “Sapient creatures” collectively think about something, and (Shai says in TES) the idea develops a Spiritweb with aspects in the Spiritual and Cognitive Realms.

Spren are Invested ideas. Roshar’s inherent magic system (described in my Pre-Shattering Magic post) causes power to “leak” into the Cognitive Realm. Sapient creatures “thinking about…or interacting with the power” causes the power “to take on a life of its own” – spren. Brandon says, “on Roshar Shadesmar there are spren cities, and a spren ecology [Wyndle and his gardening circle?]” That doesn’t sound like the “place of glass beads.”

Unlike non-Invested ideas, spren in Shadesmar may not appear as glass beads. Pattern and Ivory don’t appear in Shadesmar as a glass bead. Jasnah (in the WoR Prologue) and Shallan (in Kharbranth’s Palanaeum) both drift into Shadesmar to see other spren of the same type as Ivory and Pattern, none of whom are glass beads.  Elhokar also sees “number head” creatures at the corner of his eyes. Ivory’s Physical Realm form (the one Shallan sees on the Wind’s Pleasure), differs from his Cognitive Realm form, which differs from his “spren subastral” form. This suggests each of these appear in different “planes.”

“Clever” spren, presumably the Stormfather, the Nightwatcher, Cusicesh and other sapient spren like Radiantspren, “create cites.” These may be the “great ones” of the spren who live in their “far realm.” (WoR, Chapter 53 Epigraph.) Among the “ideas” these spren invented was Surgebinding. Honor tells Dalinar that the spren surprised him when they copied the Honorblades. Spren did this on their own.

We’ve not seen mortals on other planets enter their subastrals cognitively, only physically. The Powers Surgebinders wield aren’t unique to Roshar. They’re simply expressed through Roshar’s pre-Shattering spren-based magic system. Shallan and Shai’s magic both “transform” souls, for example. Magic users elsewhere could have the ability to enter their subastral cognitively, but there’s no evidence they have. 

Putting this together, I conclude that the “place of glass beads” is the subastral for the ideas of both Roshar’s Physical Realm sapient species and its sapient spren. These spren, the “great ones” whom Brandon would consider “people” because of their sapience, reside in a separate subastral. That subastral is the equivalent of a “physical realm” for living ideas like spren.

Brandon says “Roshar is special and a key on Shadesmar.” I think Brandon means Roshar’s pre-Shattering inherent magic system uniquely allows two subastrals to exist. That’s my theory, anyway, even if down the road you do turn out to be right.

Shards and Spiritwebs

@Djarskublar, I think we agree on a lot of things, but I must not be clear. I address your comments in the order you present them.

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I guess our most fundamental disagreement is the state of the Shard's power that isn't manifest in someone's personal spiritweb or the CR/PR.

I understand you to mean Spiritual Realm Investiture that isn’t part of a Spiritweb. Brandon uses many terms to describe this Investiture: “power,” “raw power,” “the godly powers,” “true Investiture,” a “Shard’s energy,” a Shard’s “energy of being,” and (my favorite) the “powers of creation.” My posts call this many-named substance the “Powers.” I want to make sure we’re talking about the same thing.

If we are, then we agree this substance is different from “the state of the Shard's power” that IS “manifest in someone's personal spiritweb or the CR/PR.” I call this “manifest” substance “Unique Investiture.” I believe all forms of Investiture in the Cognitive and Physical Realms are Unique Investiture – each is different from every other form of Unique Investiture and from the Spiritual Realm Powers. The Investiture “in someone's personal spiritweb” (what I call “Spiritweb Investiture”) likewise differs from the Powers.

Quote

I would totally disagree with anything saying that it isn't inherently connected to the souls of everything it contacts. Sazed was Connected to R/P, so he could Ascend to them both. He wasn't burning metal to give him a temporary Connection that let him pick up Preservation.

I think we agree that Sazed has equal amounts of Ruin and Preservation in him. The confusion arises with the meaning of “Connection.” I view the Spiritual aspect of Creation (existence) as consisting of souls and Connections. Souls hold the lifeform/object’s inherited Spiritual DNA, just like human bodies hold inherited Physical DNA.

Feruchemists like Sazed are born with “innate” Investiture genetically encoded into them – it is part of their soul just like blood has a Spiritual aspect encoded into their soul. Feruchemists don’t Connect to the Shards to draw the Powers because their Investiture – Ruin and Preservation’s Unique Investiture – is “internal” to them.

We thus agree Sazed’s soul holds Ruin and Preservation’s Unique Investiture in equal amounts. We disagree that Shard Investiture is “inherently connected to the souls of everything it contacts.” I think “inherently” refers only to the Spiritually inherited parts of a soul.

Investiture can later be grafted onto an existing soul, like Radiantspren graft themselves to Surgebinders through the Nahel bond. A bond is a symbiotic (mutually beneficial) Connection. That is different from inheritable innate Investiture that is part of a magic user’s soul. Some may call this distinction “semantics”; I consider it a different mechanic.

Allomancers’ inherited innate Investiture is also form of  Unique Investiture, Preservation’s. Like Feruchemy’s Investiture, this Unique Investiture is genetically encoded into an Allomancer’s soul. I think this innate Investiture doesn’t Connect the Allomancer to Preservation’s Powers, but instead grants the Allomancer the capacity to Connect to the Powers.

I understand you to define “Connection” to include any form of relationship. I limit “Connection” to relationships bound by Spiritweb Investiture strung between the souls. If no Investiture binds souls together, then IMO those souls aren’t “Connected” – the relationship hasn’t been sufficiently “idealized” to create a Connection. (I address below the related question you raise – a Shard’s Connection to “everything it contacts.”)

Brandon does say lerasium “gives one a permanent connection to the mists and the powers of creation. (I.e., it makes them an Allomancer.)” If Brandon means a string of Spiritweb Investiture runs between the Allomancer and Preservation, then I concede your point: “connection” in this context means “Connection.” Without an Investiture string between the person and Shard, it remains a mere “connection.”

Maybe we can agree to call this a “latent” Connection – like preparing a road surface before applying tar so cars can drive on the road. Burning non-Investiture metal conduits (the temporary “tar” in this awful metaphor) IMO turns a latent Allomantic Connection into an actual one.

Merely holding a Shard’s Investiture does not by itself make you capable of fully ascending. Kelsier was an Allomancer, but his many “Ruinous” aspects – psychological traits that Connected him to Ruin – prevented him from fully exercising Preservation’s Powers when he briefly ascended. Brandon says Vin’s Well experience “attuned” her so she could later ascend in full. She too was already an Allomancer, but that by itself wasn’t enough. We thus disagree Sazed could ascend even if he “was Connected to R/P.” You need something more.

Like Vin could, but Kelsier couldn’t, Sazed ascended because of his mind’s Connection to the Shards, not (solely) because of his innate Investiture. He was temperamentally attuned to the Shards. Not every Feruchemist could have been the “Hero of Ages.” Tindwyl suggests other Feruchemists weren’t as “balanced” or even-keeled as Sazed.

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People's Connection to their local Shard is important, and it isn't Connecting them to some little chunk, it's Connecting them to the full body of power.

I agree: Magic users who Connect “to their local Shard” Connect to the “full body of [the Shard’s] power.” That’s why systems like Allomancy and AonDor need “focuses” to constrict the full flow of the Powers’ force.

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The Spiritual Realm is not a bunch of connected, tangled up souls of people and stuff, and then the Shards off to the side disconnected, the Shards are more like the central hub of their portion of people in the SR.

I’m uncertain I understand your point or know who “their portion of people” is. I assume you refer to people who live on the planet the Shard currently resides on. Do you mean everyone on that planet (and not just magic users) is Spiritually linked to the Shard, or only magic users? I’ll address “everyone” and “magic users” separately and assume you mean a Shard’s “essence” permeates human souls.

First, “everyone”: Your statement is clearly true on Scadrial because the Shards created humans there. The “essence” of Ruin and Preservation (and Harmony) permeate every Scadrian’s soul. Shard “essence” in human souls elsewhere is more attenuated, since “Adonalsium” created most of the cosmere. Khriss says there are planets with humans that no Shard has ever visited, as in the Drominad system. Those humans have no “connections” (lower case “c”) to Shards. Even people on Major Shardworlds may have more “Adonalsium” in them than their local Shard – “[t]he effects of Adonalsium permeate everything.”

Second, “magic users only”: All magic users hold innate or bonded Shard Investiture, including catalytic magic system users. If that’s what you mean, then we agree. I assume you intended your statement “Shards are more like the central hub of their portion of people in the SR” to be metaphoric. Shards exist everywhere in the Spiritual Realm, since location has no meaning there.

You state the Shards are not “off to the side disconnected.” We agree. The Shards do have various Connections. My main point, though, is the difference between a Connection and something built into a magic user’s Spiritual DNA. “Inherent” and “innate” Investiture are not “Connected” to a Shard even if the Shard is the source of that Investiture (except possibly in some latent way).

I do think “Adonalsium” was “off to the side disconnected.” That’s why there were no pre-Shattering catalytic magic systems.

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Your actions and beliefs change your Connection to the Shards, but once a Connection exists, only stuff like Hemalurgy or Shardblades can destroy/remove it completely.

Agreed with caveat. I think changing your “actions and beliefs” can also destroy your Connection to the Shards, at least on Roshar. The Recreance proves that.

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Magic users have a better and slightly different Connection to the relevant Shard.

I assume you compare magic users to “ordinary people.” Again, I distinguish between “Connection” and the Spiritual DNA incorporating Shard Investiture into one’s soul. I also distinguish between a Connection to the Shard’s Spiritual Realm Powers and a Connection to the Shard’s local Unique Investiture.

Only catalytic magic system users Connect to a Shard’s Powers. Other magic users hold or Connect to a Shard’s local Unique Investiture. “Ordinary people” on Sel (through the absorption of Unique Investiture from the ground, IMO) and Nalthis (Breaths) do hold Shard Investiture in their souls. Other than the “spark of life,” it’s unclear whether “ordinary people” on other Major Shardworlds hold any Investiture.

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Allomancers burn metal to channel power through that Connection.

We just conceptualize this process differently. I think metal forges the Connection through which it “channels power.” I offered a compromise view above where we describe an Allomancer’s innate Investiture as forming a “latent” Connection. Brandon says the metals are Preservation’s “concentrated essence, a pathway to Power.” (BoM, Kindle p. 359.)

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That is why Lerasium mistborn are so powerful, the Lerasium gives them a very strong Connection to Preservation, so they can tap more power.

Lerasium Mistborn are powerful because they have MORE of Preservation’s Unique Investiture inside them, undiluted by a millennium of genetic dispersal. More Investiture does enable them to form a stronger Connection. I think we agree the amount of Investiture available is directly proportional to the amount of power the Investiture can generate. This is an example.

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Using a power like Allomancy or AonDor isn't like sticking in a straw to drink, it is opening the pipe and letting power squirt out through a specifically shaped grate. A bigger Connection means a bigger pipe that you can safely open farther.

Agreed, although I don’t see much difference between your straw and your pipe other than diameter and the shape of the straw.

*   *   *   *   *

In the end, I think we have equally workable models. Yours claims Shard “essence” is in everything, and therefore everything is Connected to the Shards. I try to add some precision and uniformity to that view, so terms will have the same meaning wherever they apply. Does it make a difference? Who knows…

Regards, all!

Edited by Confused
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Alright, looks like I need to clarify my thoughts on two sets of things. The spren and the spiritual realm.

First, the spren. There is a fundamental difference between the spren and the beads. The beads are the 'minds' of objects that are affected by how people view them. The spren are intelligent splinters of Investiture that are mostly cognitive in nature, and therefor influenced by the cognition of other people. Also, the sea of beads is only on land. On physical water bodies, the cognitive realm is actually 'land'-- see SH. Spren live somewhere in the cognitive realm in cities they have... 'built?'

3 hours ago, Confused said:

If spren are ideas and “live” in the same subastral as other ideas, where do spren ideas go?

Why would the spren's thoughts need to go anywhere? By your logic, you wouldn't be able to fully enter the cognitive realm physically, because then where do your thoughts go? It is clearly possible to enter the cognitive realm physically, so your logic can't apply. The thoughts of spren are self contained.

As for the spiritual realm, for a moment I will ignore that it doesn't really have 'location' for the sake of the metaphor. I mainly picture the SR as a neural network, or maybe something like a food-web. Anything and everything can have a Connection to anything and everything else. It just has to have some physical, cognitive, or, in some instances, ideological interaction that puts them together. In this sense, just passing someone in the street would Connect the two of you in the SR, albeit infinitesimally. On the other hand, Sazed couldn't Ascend to both R/P before Hero of Ages. It was in that book that his moral/religious dithering and grief Connected him to Ruin enough to be able to Ascend to it. Those thoughts and actions basically extended a tether through the 'neural network' of the SR to Ruin, and the two were Connected. Kelsier, with his birth, was Connected to Preservation such that he could become mistborn. Eventually, with all of his destructive thoughts and behaviors, he had a very powerful Connection to Ruin, and that is what prevented him from properly using Preservation. The neural network isn't necessarily the best metaphor, but I will try to do it justice. You are just a point with no substance. The things that matter to 'you' in the SR are your Connections. They are 'lines' between you and other points. These lines can have different 'width' and 'color.' The wider the Connection, the more powerful it is. Different colors of Connection mean different things, like ones that grant magic versus ones where you just know someone really well. These Connections comprise 'you'-- and are your sDNA. Hemalurgy grabs one end of the line and attaches it to a different point, Ruining it somewhat in the process.

Think for a moment about TeS. The reason Shai could experiment on Gaotona was because he was well Connected to Ashravan, so the stamps would take for a minute or so. I think that all Connections are, as you put it, latent. It's just that some of those Connections can be conduits for power under certain conditions.

You can Connect to any of the Shards ideologically, but you are essentially always going to be more Connected to your local Shard than others, even if it's only because of your proximity to their physical and cognitive portions of power. That is what I meant by them being a central hub. Shards have substantial, if not large, Connections to all the people and things on the planet they Invest, so they kinda have a domain in the SR. This is why it's so hard for a Shard to leave a planet, and part of why Odium is very displeased at the moment. Just being nearby for so long, on top of sending Desolations to untrap himself, has Connected Odium fairly well to the locale, so it's hard to leave without leaving some power behind in the form of those Connections. I would guess it is mostly about the Connection to the planet(s) itself, since those are so large I would presume they can handle a much larger Connection.

The place this metaphor falls apart is with internal Investiture. I would say it is more like the network Connects your Investiture to other Investitures. When you store a Feruchemical aspect, you are temporarily moving the effect of that Investiture into a different location- the metalmind. Then when you draw on the mind, you temporarily enhance a certain aspect of your personal Investiture, thereby changing how it filters down through the cognitive and physical realms. Ugh... that could have been worded better, lets try again. When you store, the shafts of light metaphor from SH is key. I think you are storing those shafts of light in the metalmind, and then when you tap them, you have extra shafts of that kind of light. That wording was a little better.

3 hours ago, Confused said:

Agreed, although I don’t see much difference between your straw and your pipe other than diameter and the shape of the straw.

It's about where the pressure is coming from. With a straw, you are sucking up the Investiture. With a pipe, it's trying to get to you, but you have to do something to open the valve. A particularly apt example is Raoden with the Dor, though that is something of an exception to the rule for obvious reasons. Another distinction is that the pipe is already in place, it's only on/off. With a straw, you can take it in and out of the drink as well as suck up power.

3 hours ago, Confused said:

Lerasium Mistborn are powerful because they have MORE of Preservation’s Unique Investiture inside them, undiluted by a millennium of genetic dispersal. More Investiture does enable them to form a stronger Connection. I think we agree the amount of Investiture available is directly proportional to the amount of power the Investiture can generate. This is an example.

That's... no. They probably had more of Preservation's Investiture 'inside' them when they had just eaten the bead and not burned it, honestly. The burning of Lerasium changes your latent Connection to Preservation. To use my metaphor, the line is wider and the color is better suited to conducting power. You are more permeated with Investiture, yes, but all that really means is that it takes longer for you to pass Beyond after you die, and may have implications for interference when others use magic on you. That is more a residue effect of burning in general.

 

*Sigh* I really just think Occam's Razor shreds your ideas. The ideas you present require too many obtuse interpretations to work. You've built a massive house of cards, and I really think it will all just collapse once you accept the loss of one or two cards. Pretty much everything you say about WoBs is prefaced with "I interpret." Just take the darn things at face value sometimes!

I may edit this later if I feel I've poorly explained something. I may just post again.

Edit: yep, editing. I found this WoB that should put the spren case to rest. May edit more later.

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Question

So in Secret History, Kelsier goes out onto the ocean and he finds plants in the Cognitive Realm. Do they have a physical aspect, or are they just Cognitive...?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, they’re Cognitive only. They don’t follow a standard ecology that we would understand, but well, it’ll make sense, hopefully, when eventually the science of that is understood in the cosmere. And there are, and I’ve said this before, on Roshar Shadesmar there are spren cities, and a spren ecology and stuff so…

 

Edited by Djarskublar
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