Thursday, September 14, 2017

Neo-Rational Symbolism and Ceremonies

Neo-Rationalists tend to be less formal than other philosophies. They lack strict organizations and what passes for Neo-Rationalism tends to change based on what is currently fashionable among the intellectual elite, united only by the Rationalist Canon and its antecedents. Neo-Rationalists do like ways to display their rational piety and to hone their minds, however, and so ceremonial actions do occasionally become popular and widespread.

Neo-Rationalist Scriptures: the Rationalist Classics

The Neo-Rationalist reveres the great minds that founded rationalism, and holds their works in equal reverence, often quoting from them to drive home a rational point. Later generations have come along and “clarified” the words of the original Rationalist Masters with commentaries and glosses. Modern Neo-Rational work does not break new ground, it only expands on the original ideas of the original masters. All Neo-Rationalist works exist in digital form, and most Neo-Rationalists have entire libraries on their datapad, but some Neo-Rationalists like the idea of books and have printed copies of the classics on their shelves or their desk, simply so they can hold that wisdom, physically, in their hands.

The works of the Rationalists and Neo-Rationalists are too numerous to name, and GMs and Players alike should feel encouraged to come up with their own titles and personages, as well as their own quotes. Some suggestions below:

Rationalist Works

Ad Astra: the Hope of Mankind, by Tai-Sun Saga

The Mirror of Consciousness, by Kun-Lun Kaku

Chaos: A Study of Emergent Systems, by Kun-Lun Kaku

Hyperphysica, by Tillika

Neo-Rational Works and Commentaries

The Rationalist Canon, by Avienna Kaku

God-Slayer, by Dawkins Nigh

Purity of the Mind: On Psycho-Social Analytics, by Zeb Lancaster

The Machinery of the Mind, by Calvin Del

The Original Rationalist Masters

Tai-Sun Saga, one of the original founders of the Denjuku colony, never lived to see its completion. Neo-Rationalists often consider him one of the greatest of the Neo-Rationalists, and many have holographic recordings of his awe-inspiring speeches in his deep and attractive voice. He had a strong presence, dark skin and a warm smile. He strongly advocated for exploring and colonizing the stars in his work Ad Astra: the Hope of Mankind.

Kun-Lun Kaku, an adviser to the Shinjurai royal family and tireless advocate of Rationalism wrote many works in his long, long life, and is the most quoted of all the Neo-Rationalist classics except for his decendent, Avienna Kaku. He lived to a ripe old age, and his withered visage with long, wild white hair and classic, Shinjurai features grace many Neo-Rationalist holo-sculptures. He wrote, among others, The Mirror of Consciousness and Chaos: a Study of Emergent Systems.

Tillika, a Trader logician and scientist, contributed greatly to the body of Rationalist lore, especially with her classic Hyperphysica which laid the groundwork for the modern hyperdrive, and her complex system of logic, which continues to be practiced in Neo-Rationalism to this day. She had a slender build even for a Trader, never showed her mouth, and her penetrating gaze could pin a fly to the wall.

Neo-Rationalist Commentators

Avienna Kaku is the most prolific and well-known of the Neo-Rational commentators and compiled her life’s work, the massive volume known as the Rational Canon, which is the basis of all modern Neo-Rationalist study. She lived long, like her ancestor, but retained a girlish charm in her features; her most common images show her in her 30s and prefer to show her in a youthfully nerdy light.

Zeb Lancaster still lives, though he has reached his twilight years and still runs the Rationalist Academy on Denjuku. Professor Lancaster is best known for his work in creating the field of Psyco-Social Analytics and his work, Purity of the Mind: Psycho-Social Analytics. The old man has a powerful voice and an upright posture, and his magnetic charm and sparkle-eyed wisdom draw people into a cult of personality that swirls around him, which has caused some scandal when he’s taken advantage of the trust other people have given him.

Dawkin Nigh still lives and works tirelessly within the Empire to hunt down and destroy the last vestiges of supernatural cults. Some regard him as a bloody-handed executioner, but Neo-Rationalists recognize that he does what he can to save mankind from the darkness of the irrational. He has a single work, a study into the words of the original Rationalists on their hidden truths on the supernatural called God-Slayer. Handsome, grey streaks his brown-gold hair, and his broad shoulders and chiseled features give the impression of a soldier, rather than a scholar.

Neo-Rational Symbolism and Motifs

For Neo-Rationalists, the greatest symbolism of their devotion to rationalism is the image of the Neo-Rationalist masters themselves. Holographic sculptures of bygone sages grace the homes of Neo-Rationalists, a flickering bust on a shelf, or a full image greeting visitors at the entrance. Most Neo-Rationalists have at least one “favorite” Rationalist, but the wealthy like to collect as many images of great Rationalists as they can. Academies typically have a full pantheon of them, and no greater honor can be bestowed upon a Neo-Rationalist than to see their image go up next to those hallowed saints of Rationality.

The works of those sages also carry great weight. Neo-Rationalists often decorate their walls with flat, flexible computer screens dedicated to prominently displaying the text of their favorite Rationalist classic, usually zoomed in on some particularly pithy passage.

While Neo-Rationalists don’t have explicit symbols in the way other philosophies might, they do have motifs that they return again and again, including:

The Star (and other Astronomical Imagery): Neo-Rationalists like the image of the star, especially the four-pointed star with a long tail. They often use it to represent a fascination with astrophysics and an inquisitive nature: the desire to explore the world and to understand all.

Math Equations: Nothing says “rational” to a Neo-Rationalist like a series of math equations. The old rationalist used complex mathematics to prove their physical laws, and modern Neo-Rationalists use their own logical calculus to prove their own postulates. Some Neo-Rationalists like to have emblazoned equations as decorations, which often look like cryptic, unfathomable characters to the uninitiated.

Robots: Neo-Rationalists like to compare humanity to robots or vice versa and argue that no fundamental difference exists between them (a precept that the Cybernetic Union is quick to use against any Neo-Rationalist opponents!). They like to be accompanied by robots, or use robotic metaphors in discussions of the human psyche.

The Color White; Barcodes: Neo-Rationalists like to wear white, or decorate their homes in stark colors. White represents cleanliness and the purity of a rational mind. They also like the high contrast of black symbols or black bars against white, which represents the clear lines in which a rational mind thinks and a contrast to the wild flux of chaotic colors that represents the irrational mind.

Misappropriate Religious Imagery: Neo-Rationalism loves to borrow the metaphors of other “irrational” philosophies and repurpose them for their own examples and metaphors. Realistically, these should borrow strongly from the Akashic Mysteries (“The economic crisis facing the Alliance is their true Coming Storm.”) or True Communion (“You could say we follow the path of science!”), but a GM might use real-world religious imagery so that players easily understand what’s going on.

Neo-Rationalist Ceremonies

Mindful Meditation

The Neo-Rationalist, having not yet completely escaped the bonds of irrationalism, centers herself, usually at the beginning and ending of her day. She takes up a lotus position on a mat and brings one hand before her, and recites a mantra. The mantra is typically a logical formula, perhaps a favorite logical formula that she finds especially beautiful or that proves a principle important to her, or perhaps one she has devised herself to reflect some personal truth. This usually takes no more than a few minutes and does little more than clear her thoughts.

Psycho-Analytical Mentorship

Zeb Lancaster’s Purifying the Mind synthesizes the ideas about achieving full rationalism and applies a system to it. The Neo-Rationalist seeks a “mentor,” or a “purity guide.” The mentor then arranges sessions with the Neo-Rationalist that resemble a sort of confession. The Mentor asks the Neo-Rationalist questions, starting with simple ones that grow increasingly pointed and personal until the Mentor finds some emotionally charged point and verbally presses on it until the character breaks down. The Mentor and Neo-Rationalist then explore this point, and the Mentor explains to the Neo-Rationalist why the Neo-Rationalist feels this way, explains that it’s okay, but offers a way that the Neo-Rationalist might purify this from his mind. This pairs especially well with Mindful Meditation.

Neo-Rationalist Conventions

A Neo-Rationalist Convention is a gathering of all (notable, invited) Neo-Rationalists to a single point to discuss findings, to share works, to have readings and, especially to listen to diatribes and lectures by Neo-Rationalist masters. A convention can last days and is often a free-wheeling affair where well-heeled Neo-Rationalists rub shoulders with the most admired Neo-Rationalist minds; new philosophers attempt to spread their ideas or sell their works, and avid students might arrange readings of beloved works, or attempt to even touch one of the great masters of Neo-Rationalism.

The Laureate

Should a Neo-Rationalist achieve a great intellectual feat, such as writing a great Neo-Rationalist work, a Neo-Rationalist academy may choose to honor her and add her to their rolls as one of their Laureates. Each Academy does this in a different way, but most generally announce their Laureates once per year (the most prestigious add only one per year). In the actual ceremony, three representatives wearing white robes mount a podium and speak to the gathered guests and explain who the laureate is and why her achievement is worthy of addition (often lavishing her with praise, or describing the story of her life in a deific manner). Finally, she is invited to come forward , wearing her white robes, and given some token associated with the academy, and invited to speak. The Laureate ceremony is usually bracketed by feast, party or a convention.

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