The Islanders Week 3b: Sharp Rocks + Large Home + Dark Home

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This entry is for the 3 DERRIL islands - two of which I had mistakenly included in Week 3, and the third in Week 4. I'm putting them all together here as 'Week 3b'. For CHEONER and COLLAGO, see the Week 3a discussion. https://ttrpbc.com/discussion/555/the-islanders-week-3a-rain-shadow-silent-rain/p1?new=1

SHARP ROCKS (DERILL-TORQUIN)

  • This seems to be a single island (rather than part of a chain) previously named OSLY
  • The authors don't seem to know anything about this island, nor do they care about it.

LARGE HOME/SERENE DEPTHS (DERRIL-TORQUI)

  • There is much confusion between this island and the next. The confusion stems from their similarities in name, island chain, coordinates, and the fact that they each have military bases from opposing forces dominating parts of them.
  • This Derril is the home of the signing of The Covenant, which we first learned about in Chester Kammeston's Introductory. A brief history of it is given.
  • The military base, built on land leased by Glaund, is described.
  • The artist Dryd Bathurst makes another appearance in this book, first introduced in the entry on Aay. One of his pieces, Derril Nymphs in Succour, is described. It's considered to be too risque for public display.

DARK HOME/HER HOME/EVENING WIND (DERRIL-TORQUIL

  • The last of the three Derril/Derill islands is described briefly. Coal mining was once a thing, but this has now been cleaned up. There is a Faiandland military base located here.
  • The island's main claim to fame is as the location of the so-called Manifestation of E.E. Caurer. We were introduced to her in two of the previous entries (see Week 3a). Only her last name has been used to date, but we now learn her first two initials from the name of the airport.
  • As the legend goes, two girls with disabilities disappeared for a time. When they returned a few days later with their disabilities removed, they credited the miracle to a vision of Caurer.
  • Caurer denied any involvement, but admitted to sometimes using a double of herself named Dant Willer.
  • Upon her death, Caurer's diary revealed her true thoughts - that the girls made up the vision as a cover for something clandestine.
  • A large tourism industry has grown up around the Caurer Shrine.
  • There's also a Caurer Foundation located on Rawthersay. The two organizations are at odds.

QUESTIONS / DISCUSSON

  • About the Introductory, @BurnAfterRunning wondered why it was included in the book if the person writing it didn't know anything? It's a fair question, and one that will be answered as we keep going through The Islanders. It's very easy to ask the same question about the DERILL / TORQUI entry - if the authors of the guide don't care, why is it here? In fact, we learn as much, maybe more, about this Derill in the entry for the third Derril.
  • Thoughts? Does Priest have a long game, or what it's inclusion just a whim? Is he messing with us? What do we gain from having this confusion of islands in the book?
  • It seems to me that the various entries have different unnamed authors. Do you agree? This is not uncommon in real guidebooks, where different authors are sent to different islands and all their entries are compiled.
  • Now that we've learned a little more about The Covenant, do we know anything more about The Islanders?
  • We're seeing several personages (could they be described as 'characters'?) coming back again. E.E. Caurer and Dryd Bathurst, to name a few. Is this slowly becoming a book about Islanders?
  • Any thoughts on the Caurer Manifestation mystery? Any evolving thoughts on Caurer as an evolving personality?
  • The names of several islands have been dropped which the index tells us have entries coming up later in the book, including Rawthersay and Goorn. I think it's safe to assume we'll be revisiting some of the characters again.

Comments

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    I didn't find Derill as in Manifestation Derill very credible, I'm afraid. What is it's supposed history? One in which coal was mined and processed so heavily as to cause major pollution, but which retains large tracts of virgin forest? One would have thought that wood would have preceded coal as fuel, in which case not much virgin forest would be left around. And what have the islands moved on to now that coal has been so thoroughly abandoned?

    The whole religious bit also seemed very tacked on. I don't recall that we have heard much about "standard" religion, faith or worship on the islands yet - though this section refers casually to multiple major churches - so it seems premature to talk about a very specific appearance, and the paraphernalia accreted around it. How are we to understand the background to this? It is tempting as a bunch of Europeans and North Americans (pace other nationalities I have overlooked) to simply assume that the background is some variation of Christianity, with the Manifestation branch as more like Catholicism... but we have absolutely no evidential warrant for that, so far as I know from the book so far.

    So... "Does Priest have a long game, or what it's inclusion just a whim? Is he messing with us? What do we gain from having this confusion of islands in the book?" - excellent questions, to which I have no clear replies :)

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    We have two islands with the same names. Both islands have foreign military bases. Both islands venerate the same person. But the islands are in mirrored locations, the bases are from mutually-hostile nations, and the veneration is about very different aspects of the venerated person.

    Could this be a metaphor in action?

    If we are going to be more invested in the characters, I hope Priest will clearly mention when they recur. At the moment, I can't recall the names of anyone we might be revisiting in later episodes.

    @RichardAbbott 's comments on religion are spot on. The culture of the Islands seems boringly "liberal Western".

    There's also repeated references to havenic, importunation, and shelterate laws. I guess that we're not supposed to know what they are. Is this an interesting piece of worldbuilding?

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    ... And Erotomane laws. And why the fixation with tunneling?
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    LAWS

    Importunation seems not to be a word. Importunate means 'troublesome : troublesomely urgent : overly persistent in request or demand'. The history or the word is a bit interesting, given it's latin roots and our archipelagic setting: it might literally mean 'to come to port in an untimely fashion'.

    https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/importunate#:~:text=1 : troublesomely urgent : overly persistent,2 : troublesome

    Havenic and Shelterate sound like real things, but a google search of havenic laws or shelterate laws yields links back to this book rather than to any legal sites. Neither word is in the dictionary linked above.

    So these are made up terms, though they sound rather plausible in the context of the text. One can almost imagine what they mean. One must imagine what they mean.

    As for Erotomane laws - lets save this for next week.

    CHARACTERS

    I'll start a dictionary of characters to help keep track. At this point we certainly have:
    Chaster Kammeston (author of quality and introducer of questionable quality, biographer of Dryd Bathurst),
    Dryd Bathurst (unequalled painter)
    E.E. Caurer (social theorist)
    Dant Willer (Caurer's double and a former journalist)
    Visker Deloinne (philosopher, author of Renunciation)
    Esphoven Muy (wind researcher, perhaps one of Dryd Bathurst's lovers)
    Jordenn Yo (a landscape artist, tunneller)
    Jaem Aubrac (entomologist)
    Kerrith Sington (deck hand and part time criminal, executed for murder of Commis the Mime)
    Commis (aka Akal Drester Commissah - a mime who died in the Seacaptain Theatre on Goorn)

    Important names tend to be capialized when first introduced. Jaem Aubrac is capitalized in the Thryme chapter, for example, but the other members of his expedition (Hadima Thryme, Dake Lei, Antalya Benger, Fran Herkker) are not. I'm not sure this is consistent, though.

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    > @Apocryphal said:

    Many thanks for the name list :)

    > LAWS
    >
    > Importunation seems not to be a word. Importunate means 'troublesome : troublesomely urgent : overly persistent in request or demand'. The history or the word is a bit interesting, given it's latin roots and our archipelagic setting: it might literally mean 'to come to port in an untimely fashion'.
    >

    My feel for "importunate" leans towards the troublesome side - kind of nagging or hassling - so maybe I might phrase it as "to force oneself into port without proper protocol".


    > Havenic and Shelterate sound like real things, but a google search of havenic laws or shelterate laws yields links back to this book rather than to any legal sites. Neither word is in the dictionary linked above.
    >
    > So these are made up terms, though they sound rather plausible in the context of the text. One can almost imagine what they mean. One must imagine what they mean.
    >

    My personal take is that haven and shelter are very close in meaning, but the distinction I would suggest is that seeking a haven is a longer term thing than just looking for shelter (which might just be for a night). So a legalistic slant might be that havenic laws relate to long term residency, perhaps like asylum, while shelterate laws might be shorter-term. But that's pure guesswork really.
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    One might also consider this distinction, if we look at the comparative uses of the words in tax lingo:

    A tax haven is generally an offshore country that offers foreign individuals and businesses little or no tax liability in a politically and economically static environment.

    A tax shelter is a vehicle used by individuals or organizations to minimize or decrease their taxable incomes and, therefore, tax liabilities.

    A haven is a place. A shelter is a construct.

    Possibly, one might look at the laws as pertaining to taxes, investments, immigration, asylum, visitor entry requirements, deportation, and probably a number of other things. Sometimes Priest does give a clue as to what a law refers to - lax laws of one type make certain things easier, for example. I haven't been playing close attention to these (I always assumed I could look them up) but will from now on.

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    I thought it had to do with boats - haven is when you land, tie up to a dock, shelter is when you don't: hide in the lee of the island, in a cove etc. But since the culture appears to be of magical technology, who knows?

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    @BarnerCobblewood said:

    I thought it had to do with boats - haven is when you land, tie up to a dock, shelter is when you don't: hide in the lee of the island, in a cove etc. But since the culture appears to be of magical technology, who knows?

    That was my understanding as well. the purpose of any language is communication. In English, one may create whatever word one wishes in whatever way one wants, but HOW it is constructed should tell you what it means. "Havenic" would thus mean of or pertaining to havens, AKA harbors, while "Shelterate" would either be either the state or quality of shelter (c.f. affectionate) or verbing shelter (c.f. hesitate); which last would be strange because shelter is both noun and verb, so I strongly lean to the former. "Havenic" implies a support structure built for the purpose, while "shelterate" implies nothing but temporary protection.

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    Finally got around to reading this.

    @Apocryphal said:

    • Thoughts? Does Priest have a long game, or what it's inclusion just a whim? Is he messing with us? What do we gain from having this confusion of islands in the book?

    A conceptual confusion among what is mysterious and what is boring. I trust him to have a long game, but so far I can say this is a master-class on why character and personage matter to me in novelistic narrative. I'm trying to decide of I would continue to read this book if it were not in the club. Not sure.

    • It seems to me that the various entries have different unnamed authors. Do you agree? This is not uncommon in real guidebooks, where different authors are sent to different islands and all their entries are compiled.

    Sure. I am more and more seeing this as a tourist guide book to places that I am so far uninterested in visiting.

    • Now that we've learned a little more about The Covenant, do we know anything more about The Islanders?

    Not really. I have some questions about governance - I can't understand how they prevent people from the Continent of War from immigrating, which warlords would object to. Probably these islands are invisible or something to the muggles - dream science of time and gravity.

    And there are no refugees it seems, so I guess they never have accidents that are beyond them. Kind of like the people who buy Priest's books, or the US and UK. The real religion is that the winners are winners. Everyone knows that successful management consists of creating crises the manager can solve, then solving them for glory, while letting the institution decay.

    • We're seeing several personages (could they be described as 'characters'?) coming back again. E.E. Caurer and Dryd Bathurst, to name a few. Is this slowly becoming a book about Islanders?
    • Any thoughts on the Caurer Manifestation mystery? Any evolving thoughts on Caurer as an evolving personality?

    Again, I sense several similarities with Star Trek and Star Wars's dealing with religion, or more properly magic - it's science. This is religion as seen by very comfortable neo-liberal elites, i.e. a caricature. I sense a crisis coming. As we can see, their responses will not be up to the task.

    • The names of several islands have been dropped which the index tells us have entries coming up later in the book, including Rawthersay and Goorn. I think it's safe to assume we'll be revisiting some of the characters again.

    I'm sure we will. The question is do we care? So far I do not.

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    edited February 21

    @NeilNjae said:
    We have two islands with the same names. Both islands have foreign military bases. Both islands venerate the same person. But the islands are in mirrored locations, the bases are from mutually-hostile nations, and the veneration is about very different aspects of the venerated person.

    Could this be a metaphor in action?

    I'm feeling that this is more like literary technique in search of a point.

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    edited February 21

    @RichardAbbott said:
    I didn't find Derill as in Manifestation Derill very credible, I'm afraid. What is it's supposed history? One in which coal was mined and processed so heavily as to cause major pollution, but which retains large tracts of virgin forest? One would have thought that wood would have preceded coal as fuel, in which case not much virgin forest would be left around. And what have the islands moved on to now that coal has been so thoroughly abandoned?

    Imagine the Dude's voice: "There's no real economy man, only magic technology - it's a dream." I do think there is a kind of profound truth there, but I find it distasteful, so I can't imagine why I would consume it.

    The whole religious bit also seemed very tacked on. I don't recall that we have heard much about "standard" religion, faith or worship on the islands yet - though this section refers casually to multiple major churches - so it seems premature to talk about a very specific appearance, and the paraphernalia accreted around it. How are we to understand the background to this? It is tempting as a bunch of Europeans and North Americans (pace other nationalities I have overlooked) to simply assume that the background is some variation of Christianity, with the Manifestation branch as more like Catholicism... but we have absolutely no evidential warrant for that, so far as I know from the book so far.

    I think we might be making a mistake in considering this religion. Tolstoy writes about religion. And it's also not really about any actual people from any actual North America or Europe, it's about fascistic and de-localised cults of personality, perfectly appropriate I think to the guide book reader, who thinks they float above the world they visit. Religion needs an actual world to work. So there might be a meta-meta thing happening, but then again Theory is boring.

    Edit - oh yeah I forgot one thing. It seems to me that the idea of "standard" religion, or "standard" anything, is tied up with industrialisation and its concomitant governance which cannot tolerate variation beyond its specification, as opposed to organic governance, which simply deals with what grows. The novel is a form that has grown with industrialisation. Religion is a lot older than industrial politics. I would, and do, argue that such politics are entirely derivative of religion for its authority, that religion is primal, and so must be ignored and caricatured by the industrialised to prevent its power from manifesting. Unfortunately that is as effective as remaining safe by not turning over to see the monster.

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    @BarnerCobblewood said:
    I think we might be making a mistake in considering this religion. Tolstoy writes about religion. And it's also not really about any actual people from any actual North America or Europe, it's about fascistic and de-localised cults of personality, perfectly appropriate I think to the guide book reader, who thinks they float above the world they visit. Religion needs an actual world to work. So there might be a meta-meta thing happening, but then again Theory is boring.

    Yes, I think you could well be right here. I guess what I am not seeing in this particular "guidebook" is any of 1) the tourist-attraction side of religion ("you surely must not miss the spectacularly-ornamented Grotto of Omnipresent Enlightenment, with graffiti dating back to the very earliest days of Prelate Bloggs"), or 2) the historical side ("in this little building, Pastor Smith delivered the words which would lead - ultimately - to universal suffrage"), or even 3) the cutesy-homely ("please notice on your left the humble shrines at which so many of the original inhabitants of this island found solace amidst the toil of daily life"). Basically, I don't have any sense of how this Manifestation might have meshed with - or clashed with - other forms of island religious experience.

    Edit - oh yeah I forgot one thing. It seems to me that the idea of "standard" religion, or "standard" anything, is tied up with industrialisation and its concomitant governance which cannot tolerate variation beyond its specification, as opposed to organic governance, which simply deals with what grows. The novel is a form that has grown with industrialisation. Religion is a lot older than industrial politics. I would, and do, argue that such politics are entirely derivative of religion for its authority, that religion is primal, and so must be ignored and caricatured by the industrialised to prevent its power from manifesting. Unfortunately that is as effective as remaining safe by not turning over to see the monster.

    Nicely put.

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    Anyone else notice this?

    “In the generally accepted version of the story both girls are described as entirely normal, but there is evidence that they suffered from learning difficulties. The older of the two had been lame since birth; the younger had endured a disfiguring skin infection all her life.”

    Did they have both learning difficulties AND physical problems. It kind of reads like the physical difficulties are the explanation of the learning difficulties, which makes no sense. And is there confusion over whether they were really healed or whether they ever had conditions to begin with?

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    @Ray_Otus said:
    Anyone else notice this?

    “In the generally accepted version of the story both girls are described as entirely normal, but there is evidence that they suffered from learning difficulties. The older of the two had been lame since birth; the younger had endured a disfiguring skin infection all her life.”

    Did they have both learning difficulties AND physical problems. It kind of reads like the physical difficulties are the explanation of the learning difficulties, which makes no sense. And is there confusion over whether they were really healed or whether they ever had conditions to begin with?

    I am beginning to think Priest is an elf, as in "Go not to the Elves for counsel, for they will say both no and yes"

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