Neph Talks Set Theory

The mightiest Yozi creation magic takes different shinma and anchors a constant set of operative laws upon the congruency zone of their precepts. Once you pick the defining variables and lock them down, you have a universe. Since the set chosen for Creation contains shinma for Time, Space, Identity and all the other building blocks of properties we know and recognize, anything that exists or could exist in any meaningful sense will be defined by comparative values of those particular shinma assigned as properties to all objects. If your eyes are glazing over reading that, bear with me.

Rebecca and I have theorized how you could have other universes defined by different sets of shinma, but there would be no way to know this fact or test for this fact since there would be no point of intersection between the different universes. This is esoteric subject matter, so I'm going to use extremely simplistic examples to make sense of this model.

Let's imagine a hypothetical alternate universe which a crude Primordial anchored upon shinma X and shinma Y and absolutely nothing else. What can we know about this universe?

Truth 1) Anything which exists or could exist will be defined by its "X-ness" and its "Y-ness" and no other properties. Nothing is red or bitter or angry, because color and taste and emotion aren’t valid properties. You cannot determine or perceive anything about an object in this universe besides its X and Y values.

Truth 2) The values of X and Y are expressed as positive and negative integers ranging from "0" to infinite. Thus, you can have an object with (X=3;Y=46,000) or an object with (X=-42,000,000,000; Y=0) or any other combination of numerical values that fit within this set.

Though simple in design, you may have noticed our basic universe is still infinitely vast by containing an infinite number of combinations. It is possible to establish a graphical representation of this universe by establishing a plane with an X and Y axis. Any object can be depicted on this graphical model by drawing a point corresponding to the appropriate value of X and Y.

Truth 3) Because values of X and Y can be compared, you can establish comparative relationships between objects that will be very visible if you plot them on a graph like I suggested.

Let's pretend you're an omniscient observer who notes two objects in our universe. We'll go ahead and name these objects Bob and Carl, but these are just names I'm giving so you can follow who I'm talking about more easily. There is no property of "Name" in the universe, so Bob has no "Bob-ness" to him, any more than Carl has "Carl-ness" as part of his nature.

If you could somehow communicate with Bob and told him he was Bob, the information would be useless and meaningless to him. It would be like telling you that you have a Qlizoth value of Zorb. You can’t perceive your Qlizoth-ness (it’s not something defined by the shinma which anchor your universe), so it doesn’t matter whether that Qlizoth value is Zorb or Vuk. It’s just an arbitrary notional tag to you.

However, since we're omniscient higher-dimensional observers studying this model universe, we get the luxury of assigning placeholder values that don't have relevance to the universe at hand. Behold our awesome cosmic might! From our vantage point, we determine the following:

Bob is (X=3;Y=1)

Carl is (X=0;Y=1)

Bob is different than Carl because his X value is 3 greater than Carl's X value, even though their Y values are the same. In a more complex universe where X represented height and Y represented gender, we might say that Bob is taller than Carl (i.e. his X is greater) even though they are both boys (i.e. their Y is the same). If Bob and Carl both had (X=3;Y=1), then they would be truly identical objects, and this would be horribly confusing. To use our placeholder labels helpfully, we shouldn’t have two identical values labeled differently, so we can say this:

Bob = (X=3;Y=1)

Anything with (X=3;Y=1) is a Bob. By the same logic, anything with (X=0;Y=1) is a Carl.

Truth 4) We’re going to make a second universe now, which means it’s time for more placeholder labels. We’ll now call the universe defined by X/Y “Creation.” Creation contains Bob and Carl with the values I mentioned previously.

Our second universe has the shinma G and the shinma D, making it an equally simple universe to Creation. Fortunately, these properties also use infinite integer values of positive and negative. I’m dubbing the G/D universe the “Otherverse.” Otherverse is a lonely place compared with Creation, because its only resident has the value (G=5;D=-6). We’re going to name her Sue.

Bob and Carl exist in Creation. They can perceive one another and measure the differences between them, because the properties they possess (X value and Y value) both fit inside Creation. We’re still mapping Creation as an infinitely large plane.

Even though Sue also exists over in the Otherverse, she might as well not exist from the perspective of Bob and Carl. No matter where they go in Creation, they will only encounter values of X and Y. Sue doesn’t have an X-value or a Y-value, so she’s not in the set of possibilities that they can encounter.

The reverse is also true. Sue can explore the Otherverse all she wants, but she’s only going to encounter values of G and D. Bob and Carl don’t have these values, making them non-existent from her perspective.

Truth 5) If we extrapolate our simplistic Creation into the setting of Exalted, X/Y becomes shorthand for everything that exists in that universe: time, space, identity—everything and anything that can be experienced or could possibly exist.

With his power, Oramus perceives all things not on the X/Y grid. As a result, he can perceive Sue just fine because her G/D values aren’t encompassed by the X/Y plane. She is real to him, precisely because her reality is outside the universe bounded by X/Y. From the perspective of anyone Oramus might communicate with, discussing her traits might as well be talking about her Qlizoth-ness. It’s a fascinating notional exercise, but it’s all imaginary as far as anyone else is concerned.

Truth 6) When the Ebon Dragon banishes someone, they retain most of the same values except “location” and “things end” (thereby creating an oubliette of eternal loneliness). Going back to the geometric example, what he is doing is plotting the plane of Creation onto a three dimensional space in which all of existence has Z=0 by default. That makes the Z-value of all things irrelevant since they share it and can therefore interact with one another.

Bob is (X=3;Y=1;Z=0)

Carl is (X=0;Y=1;Z=0)

Since “Z=0” is just how things are, it’s an invisible value. You don’t ever have to factor it into relationships between things. Let’s add a third native to Creation:

Jill is (X=-2;Y=2;Z=0)

To the degree that they perceive one another, Bob and Carl and Jill all recognize that their X value is different. Bob and Carl note that they have a Y value in common, making them more alike to one another than they are to Jill. Since Y can vary among the experienced values, it’s useful to track Y as part of understanding Creation.

By contrast, the Z-factor of all three is constant, so it isn’t meaningful data. The lack of contrasting points makes it a non-issue.

Until… suddenly… ZOT! The Ebon Dragon pulls cosmic dickery and flips Bob’s Z constant from 0 to 12. Now Bob is off the grid of Creation, unable to interact with Carl or Jill. Since nothing else has Z = 12, then there is nothing for Bob to interact with. He can’t see Sue because he still doesn’t have G/D coordinates. He’s not in another universe precisely, because he’s still bounded by X/Y. But he is outside of Creation, since Creation has Z=0 as a cosmological constant. This leaves him precisely where the Ebon Dragon wants him: alone forever, but still able to make sense of that isolation through continued expression of X/Y traits.

Oramus can perceive exiled Bob because he can perceive all things that aren’t Creation. Since Creation has Z=0, then the Z=12 coordinate is within his power’s field of view.

Whew, that was a lot. Hopefully that makes more sense.

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