(urth) Oldest altar

Roy C. Lackey rclackey at stic.net
Tue Oct 5 23:19:17 PDT 2010

Take two. Let me give the Tartaros quote again:

"When the first people came, Auk, they were shown how we desired to be
worshipped. Soon, they were made to forget. They did, but because they had
seen what they had seen, a part of them remembered, and when they found our
altars on the inner surface, they sacrificed as we had taught them. First of
all, here."

Interpretations aside, it is indisputable that the worship preceded the
forgetting. Why? I mean, why did the Typhons want to be worshipped at all?
Lemur said the monarch's doctors had erased "as much as they dared of their
patients' personal lives." Okay, I can accept that erasing the first
people's personal memories might keep them from becoming disaffected with
their new environment, but I have a hard time believing that the best way to
go about making people forget someone is to first teach them to worship that

I can accept, in theory if not in practice, that an absolute dictator of a
whole planet, who also had an unbridled ego, might have made himself so
prominent in the lives of his subjects that he would leave an indelible mark
on their memories, but why and how should that be the case for his wife and
young children? His seven kids would have ranged in age from about 13 to 7
at the time they were scanned. We know that the eldest, Cilinia, died soon
after being scanned.

In Typhon's eyes, all of his children were found wanting in some way, if
only by gender. Molpe was crazy, Tartaros blind and Hierax was a psycho who
"inherited his father's virile indifference to the physical sensations of
others to the point of mania." "He allowed himself to be seduced by it, to
the point that he came to care for nothing else and while still a child
slaughtered thousands for his amusement." (LAKE, chap. 12, 300) Under what
possible circumstances would a boy of about ten have been allowed to slay
thousands of people?

Speaking confusedly of the Monarch's small second daughter, Mamelta said: "I
remember seeing her often at home, dancing through my dreams. She was a
wonderful dancer, but we cheered because we were afraid. You saw the hunger
in her face for the kind of cheers the others got." (LAKE, chap. 10, 262)
Why would Mamelta (and others) have feared how a little girl reacted to
audience response? Had she feared the girl or one or both of her parents?

Kypris also described a scene in which Typhon, apparently, had killed a
thousand people who had been forced to kneel in a public square, while she
was made to watch from a balcony while he watched her from another balcony.
(NIGHTSIDE, chap. 12, 296-97)

Scylla (in Chenille) told her newly appointed prophets (Auk, Dace, Incus) to
kill fifty or a hundred children to attract her attention if Kypris made
another theophany. When she departed Chenille at the Window at the lake, Auk
saw "the sneering features of a girl a year or two from womanhood." (CALDE,
chap. 1, 31) She was said to be "as strong-willed" as her father. The three
youngest girls were: "Thelxiepeia with her spells and drugs and poisons, fat
Phaea, and Sphigx, who combined her father's fortitude with her mother's
vile temper. In a family such as hers, she would be forced to cultivate
those qualities or die, unquestionably." (LAKE, chap. 12, 299-300)

These things paint an ugly picture of the Typhons while they were
flesh-and-blood people on Urth, and explains why they might not want the
first people put aboard the ship to remember them. However, Mamelta, though
she seemed not to have remembered Molpe's real name, remembered the dancing
and the girl's hunger for adulation. The girl became the goddess of music,
dance and art on the ship. The boy who slaughtered thousands became the god
of death on the ship. Scylla said of her father, "In the beginning we chose
up, with Daddy to be the god of everything--that's what his name meant--and
boss over everybody." (LAKE, chap. 11, 274) Aggressive Sphigx became the
goddess of war. Each family member's role as gods in Mainframe was a
reflection of their personalities when they were flesh-and-blood people.

The Typhons' names were changed when they became digitized entities in
Mainframe, became gods with as much or more power than they ever had on
Urth, now over a captive congregation rendered meek and unable to even think
about opposing them, but that was *after* the first people on the ship had
been taught how to worship them by burning animals on a sacrificial altar.
So, again, what really changed when the Cargo was made to forget?

Like Mamelta, Duko Rigoglio (aka Roger) had been a Sleeper forced to board
the ship. Also like her, he could not remember what Pas' real name had been
on Urth. But he remembered Nessus and the fact that he had lived somewhere
south of the Citadel (IGJ, 218-19), which is where he received his fatal
wound while on that astral trip there with Silkhorn. His rise to power on
Blue had been modeled on Typhon's rise to power on Urth (279). When Silkhorn
and Fava made that astral trip to the Duko's palace in Soldo, Rigoglio was
curious about Oreb. Silkhorn explained that the bird had originally been
intended as a sacrifice. The Duko admonished Silkhorn, saying "You failed
repeatedly to honor the gods as is their right." "You wakers on the _Whorl_.
In Nessus the gods walked among us, lords and ladies of Urth, even unto
Shining Pas." (217)

Note the plural, gods, flesh-and-blood entities seen by the public in
Nessus. By Pas he means Typhon, the man with a single head. As I have said
before, I don't care what religion(s) had been practiced during Typhon's
reign or what the state religion may have been. But Rigoglio claimed that
the Typhons had been regarded as gods on Urth, and that helps to explain
some of the outrageous behavior attributed to them that I outlined above,
and the sense of fear felt by people who had known them on Urth; gods can
get away with anything, so long as they have the power. It also explains why
Typhon's kids were so prominent in the minds of people put on the ship that
they could not be forgotten.

Rigoglio came to realize that some of his memories were false. If you want
to argue that his memory of the Typhons as gods on Urth was false, then that
directly contradicts the idea that Typhon wanted both sleeping and waking
Cargo to forget him and his family.

Though flesh-and-blood on Urth, in Mainframe they could only be virtual
people, computer personalities who manifested themselves in computer
terminals when they chose, or when summoned by sacrifices made in proximity
to a computer terminal. The point is, they wanted to be worshipped, which
brings me back to the oldest altar and the forgetting. Typhon elected to be
portrayed as a two-headed freak, his wife with snakes in her hair, and their
children not as little kids but as adults with physical attributes
appropriate to their chosen roles as gods. An image on a computer screen
lacks the presence and authority of a living physical being, but the Typhons
had little choice and the worshippers they commandeered none. The people on
the ship depended on the ship's gods for everything from day and night to
the weather and almost everything else they needed to live.

It seems to me that to maintain their positions as lords of the _Whorl_,
when they were actually only virtual beings in a big computer, the Typhons
used their god-like powers, which existed only by virtue of Mainframe, to
intimidate those subject to their whims and utilized their
computer-generated images as an interface, as their medium of command. On
Urth, those people subject to their whims had been conditioned to obey real
people, but on the ship those lords and masters were no longer real. On the
ship as on Urth, the Typhons conducted themselves as gods, and they had the
power to get away with it in both places. The altars and the burned
sacrifices on the ship may have been new, but not the egos and behavior that
prompted them.


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