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[personal profile] keleren
I imagine that it might be difficult to get a grasp of what is meant when I write of "Chaos," "Law," "The Tobril," and so forth in writing of my experiences and thoughts concerning Galen Dracos, what I know of Daniel, the Cult of Storms, and so forth. After all, there is a difference between "chaotic" or "chaos" and "Chaos". But what is actually meant?

Surely, Chaos is not as it is usually defined by lexographers:

  • A condition or place of great disorder or confusion.

  • A disorderly mass; a jumble

  • The disordered state of unformed matter and infinite space supposed in some cosmogonic views to have existed before the ordered universe.

  • A dynamical system that has a sensitive dependence on its initial conditions.

  • An abyss; a chasm.

Let us begin by remembering what is written of the creation of Krynn. In the beginning was Chaos -- the myths and religions tell us little of what this Chaos was like, other than a rolling void of mist, unformed matter, and so forth. At some point in forever, the High God appeared from elsewhere, introducing thought and order. Judging by what is written and recited, the High God recognized the potential for creation in the raw stuff of Chaos, and he invited the Dark Queen and Paladine to Chaos. The High God, for whatever reason, decreed that a "new time" and a "new place" should come to be. However, Chaos on its own is nothing more than everything and nothing all at once, infinite potential unmanifest and unborn, no focus, as simultaneously new things come into existence only to be washed away as they change without order or reason.

Several of the myths mention how "one thought became many," implying that a will or some kind was needed in order to shape Chaos. The three gods sought out another who would hold the blueprints of creation, what is now known as the great book of creation, the Tobril. The High God eventually found the sage Gilean in another world and time, and found the sage worthy enough to safeguard the tome, to guard the plan of Creation from the conflicting desires of the Dark Queen and Paladine. For whatever reason, the High God did not want either of them to be the ones who would ultimately direct Krynn's formation and existence, trusting one who was impartial and concerned more with knowledge and wisdom over conflicting morality and ethics of extremely opposing viewpoints.

The knowledge of the Tobril made Gilean a god in his own right. At this point, the gods brought others to what would become Krynn. Reorx, the Smith God, and patron god of the dwarves, arrived and with a forge and hammer given to him by the High God, Reorx began to tame Chaos towards the will of the gods, guided by the Tobril.

Now, as a Wizard of High Sorcery, I should assure the reader that most likely a gigantic man did not simply hammer formless matter on a cosmic forge. Of course, were we to see some manifestation of Reorx, our minds and perceptions would likely interpret him as having a hammer and the like, but we are dealing with sublter and grosser realities than Thorn's smithy. A hammer and forge are tools, tools used for shaping and crafting. These are symbols of the act, and we should never expect that somewhere in the multiverse a gigantic hammer of godstuff hangs from some cosmically scaled dwarf's belt.

As a Wizard, I am accustomed to wading through a sea of metaphysical symbolism and possibilities. On one level, these symbols are tools used by the mage to focus and direct will and the arcane energies of our magicks. However, on another level, in the psychic landscapes wizards dwell within, symbols are also as real as Thorn's hammer is in his mind in his hands. In a sense, a symbol is a thought given form -- whether it be the holy symbol of a cleric, symbolizing his or her faith and devotion, manifesting physically as the medallions of faith of the Holy Order of the Stars, or the words we speak to each other, each a manifestation of a discrete moment of thought, which when taken together form even larger symbols that are shared with others, enabling understanding and communication. Wizards, then, seek to learn symbols that grant them an understanding of "broader" realities, while tapping into the same wellspring of potential that formed the world in its earliest days.

At the same time, the manipulation of symbols requires dedication, discipline, and willpower. Consider the priest whose faith and devotion are lacking -- their holy symbol becomes hollow, an empty shell of thought without purpose or power. Or even your own experiences with people in conversation: one who understands language, who has had the dedication to master its intricate nature, who has the discipline to manipulate it in the manner needed or wanted, and the will to speak or write in such a way that it means something. These are the marks of a master of language, who can sway people, inspire them, lead them, deride them into ruin.... How many would-be orators merely recite those who have come before them, or who stumble through the maze of allusion and meaning, or who cannot bear to raise their voice to be heard by their fellows, let alone the universe?

Creation and power, no matter what kind or for what end, are rarely the province of the inept or meek.

So, through whatever artifice the gods use, on the scale and level of physical, psychic, and conceptual existence they operate upon, Reorx tamed Chaos, casting and shaping it through symbol, and with the potential that always existed within Chaos, those symbols came to have existence and manifestation.

The Tobril then, also, is not likely some ancient and moldy book, the size of the Blood Sea in Gilean's godlike hands -- it is also, likely, not the "blueprint" most would probably think it is -- not some static outline of rules and orders and mathematical tables of logarithms. The Tobril, I think, are merely the ideas and symbols the High God left with Gilean -- the symbols needed for an entire universe. On their own, however, they are merely concepts. Ideas. Symbols and allusions lying dormant and unused.

What Reorx did was to take these symbols and to impress them into the stuff and potential of Chaos, so that potential and order came together, and manifestation was born. Chaos was the stuff that allowed the symbols of the Tobril to exist. Put another way, the Tobril contains the essence of all things. Chaos contains the potential for those essences to achieve existence and reality.

However, something curious happened. Chaos, so mingled with the symbols of the Tobril, changed. Of course, Chaos had always been changing before hand, but its infinite changability became more limited. No longer could purple suns frolic over the tangerine creme seas of Silvenesti's vast deserts. No longer could the lupine lords of Palanthus massacre mountains upon altars of liquid grass beneath eyes the size of the heavens. No, the potential of Chaos was forced to work within the symbolic contexts of the Tobril, which has yielded the Krynn we know.

Consider this rather limited and somewhat inaccurate but appropriate analogy. An artist stands before a canvas. The canvas is Chaos. It has the potential to hold any limitless number of possible paintings and scrawls. The artist we can think of as either the High God or Reorx or Gilean or whomever. The brush becomes Reorx's hammer. The Tobril, though, are the symbols and patterns of symbols in the artist's mind, which cannot come into existence until the canvas provides a medium for it to exist. Otherwise, all the artist has are colors, a brush, and ideas.

Now, when Chaos was tamed, and consciousness and symbols were forced upon it by the cosmic magic paintbrush of the gods, Chaos attained the potential for consciousness. No longer was Chaos merely the amorphous mass of potential constantly playing out, although certainly there are aspects of it still that are like that (perhaps we might consider that the "white space" on the cosmic canvas, or whatever). We might imagine that in the infancy of this newfound awareness, Chaos wanted nothing to do with these rampant acts of enforced creation and order, but it was relatively powerless against a group of already ancient gods armed with paint and brushes.

One must also remember that what was created was not simply Krynn, but the other aspects of our cosmology: the Dome of Creation where the gods of light dwell, the realms of the grey gods, the Abyss of the Dark Queen and her allies, the River of Souls, and so forth. These realms are part of the Tobril, as well -- massive symbols associated with the gods and their existence in this universe. Remember, everything is a symbol made manifest.

Now, by the same token, I have written of various courts of Chaos and factions therein. The symbols of the Tobril are not merely static images on some cosmic parchment; they are living symbols and concepts embodying everything "possible" in our world. However, without Chaos, they would not have a medium to exist -- all would be static and dead. Time would cease to have any meaning. Of course, some symbols are more dynamic than others: the history of Solamnia is just as much a symbol as the concept of "cat" or "sleep."

Anyway, those aspects of Chaos closest to our frame of reference and existence might be thought of as echoes of the symbols that formulate the existence of this world. The slight alterations to the canvas after the paintbrush has passed, as the paint hardens and dries, which might leave an impression of somekind if we looked at the canvas from behind. Or the echo of our words as they reverberate on the wind, the original symbol lost in the cacophony of walls and terrain. Such an analogy would help shed light on why three primary courts came into existence with the creation of the three races (the elves, irda, and humans). Also, when the bakali and the first dragons were all that walked upon the world (as well as the animals and plants), that "echo" was much more primal and distinctive of the active symbols of the time.

What Galen Dracos did, one presumes, is to project enough of his own "artistic" will upon Chaos so that he could begin changing the resulting painting from the canvas out. And because the canvas is creation itself, he seeded himself within Chaos, like a stain spreading its way through the fibers of the canvas, controlling more and more. Also, the gift of the grey gods, free will, implies that the people of Krynn possess the potential to choose how they are painted, or maybe even the possibility of taking up their own brush, to some degree. Galen Dracos, in this instance, hopes to eventually be the only hand painting the canvas. His summoning of a spirit from the Tobril -- literally, the essence of communities protecting their own -- implies that he has been practicing how to choose his paints and brush slowly but surely.

The Cult of Storms, on the other hand, merely seek to take advantage of Chaos to the point that they can control how the canvas is used, opposing the Conclave which probably has the most prevalent ability to play with the paints and the canvas (one might say the Conclave is merely a restrictive art school with a fatal drop-out policy).

However, the aspect of Chaos that Daniel serves would seem to be that part of Chaos that wants to get rid of all this caked up paint, beat the artist's skull in, and go back to just being a canvas and not a painting. Or something like that. Or perhaps merely the wild and unchecked aspect of Chaos that might merely be content to scrawl all over the canvas, smear the paint, and doodle strange lupine lords atop Palanthus.

We are, in a way, the painting trying to express itself, and not simply be painted by some cosmic artist who cares more for line and texture than what we want, and we want to be more than a distorted canvas or white space. In a sense, we want to become our own artists, and our own works of art.

Most likely, I have not explained Chaos and Law or the Tobril very meaningfully. The forces and influences in question are as subtle as a songt and as gross as the viscera of our bodies. However, I do hope I have at least conveyed a sense of these cosmic forces, and of how their interplay forms what we know of as existence. I could have used another analogy rather than that of the painting (a chorus comes to mind), but I hope it works reasonably well to express something of the natures of Chaos and the Tobril in a meaningful and (at least somewhat) accurate manner.


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August 2006

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