Friday, September 9, 2011

Fairy Logic

Fairy Logic, at least in the Craicéailte School, is unifying rather than fragmentary. To the largely Sylphic disciples of Craicéailte, there is no paradox in Zeno or rather, nothing of concern. That Achilles will never outrun the Turtle, while at the same time will naturally outpace it in seconds is not an issue that needs fixing. To many of the fay, accepting the contradictory is as natural as breathing, both statements are true. A paradox is not something to be solved but celebrated. To a Craicéailte, that you can empirically disprove a paradox of Zeno is irrelevant. In their fashion, Craicéailtes reject the idea of repeatable causality. Solvitur ambulando might have given credence to one point of view a one particular moment, but that is no indication that it will do so ever again. Holmes' maxim has no place in their world. Why rule out the impossible, when it so often occurs?

This is best expressed in the central Craicéailte concept known as Liused's Apophthegm, for which we shall take a brief detour to first contextualize before discussing its impact.

There has been no more enduring figure of second wave Craicéailte thought than Doctor Mell Liused (1693? - 1740). Liused was both a logician and temporal physicist, although it is the second discipline for which she is best know. Her work in that field was so revolutionary that next to none of her contemporaries grasped her mathematics or gating theories. Her work was to remain forgotten and ignored until it was rediscovered by Adalmar Wesserman in the late 1940s, who would both expand upon it and restore the good doctor's position in the eyes of physicists.

However, it is not her work on gating mechanics that is of interest to us. She remains a “patron saint” to Craicéailtes after her death owing to a series of documents know as the Gwrn-Mell Letters. In her youth Liused had studied under Dr. Gwrn Hywel (1651-1742) at Glorianna University in Gyre-Carling, and afterwords worked with him for a number of years. After Cordeilla III founded Ard Rí College (Fairy's first institution devoted purely to the study of worldgates) in far off Andlang, Liused did what was unthinkable in those days and travelled all the way to its Endymion chapter in Dome, where she would remain for the rest of her life. Until her early death, she would remain in constant correspondence with Dr. Hywel, and from the letters that survive we have a fascinating look at the life and times of intellectuals of the period.

In many ways, both doctors were of among the last of their era. Although he would die before the pogroms started, in Gyre-Carling Dr. Hywel was witness to rise of the neo-glamour movements that would see the deaths of thousands of academics and students in the century to come. To the neo-glamourists, the study of scientific principles was a rejection of everything a fairy was, they considered persons like Hywel to be species traitors. The extent of their destruction and the set-back to knowledge that their reign entailed is far beyond the scope of this book, so we shall touch upon it no further.

While the neo-glamour movement never had any force in Andlang, the economic and social toll of the Ranrike War would decimate the youth of the kingdom. There would be only of handful of young people able to attend universities, and it would be a long time before academic knowledge would be increased and improved by anyone educated in Andlang colleges.

For Liused and Hywel, then, theirs was the last flourishing of intellect before a dark age, and nowhere is this better reflected in Hywel's admonishments to his former student, who had been introduced to Craicéailtism at Ard Rí. For Hywel, Craicéailte thought was a form of scholastic nihilism, a rejection of everything a teacher should stand for. He sought to illustrate this by drawing attention to what he called the Pixie Dilemma. In brief, this is the demonstrative fact that, according to scientific law, a pixie cannot fly. Their delicate, lacy wings simply don't have the power or lift to make a creature of that body mass fly. But pixies do fly, regardless of their size or encumbrance.

Hywel believed that the Craicéailte approach was a destructive one to the pursuit of answers. The paradox of pixie flight, the solution to which (no doubt) lay tangled in science and magic, should be treated as a contradiction and be unravelled and solved. That the Craicéailtes wanted to celebrate the paradox was criminal, a learned fairy ought to find answers, not revel in their absence.

It was in Liused's response in 1711 where we find what we know call her eponymous Apophthegm. Their letters were written in the Vulgar-Carling dialect of south-western Sylphic, I am indebted to Mateo Cwna for the translation.

A theory that is contradictory in itself cannot begin to explain the contradictions inherent within it. As persons of learning, we are expected to dismiss any such theory on principle. This is also true for any two theories that, should one be “correct”, the other is automatically “wrong”. And yet on the emotive, psychological level we accept both the reverse and the obverse all the time.

Do we not often hate one we love the most? Is there not often lust for one we wish to destroy? Why then can this acceptance of the contradictory not continue onto the physical plane? Why must the impossible be rejected in favour of partisan positions on that most subjective of nouns, the ever elusive Truth?

To accept that they are both true is not say that they should not be examined, debated or discussed. But it is a rejection of the concept of 'impossible'. We celebrate that which is contradictory because it shows that learning is without bounds. To 'take a side' is limiting. To accept both and build upon it is to leave the labels and boundaries of normative thought behind.”

It is important to know that Liused would later note that Craicéailte thought is one that works best in the abstract. Unlike other thinkers of the same school, who went so far as reject not just objective truth but objective reality entirely, Liused stressed that one should never abandon realist practicality. “One can, if one so chooses, build a house in mid-air having accepted both 'theories' that it will both collapse and never collapse. To do so, however, is at best specious and imprudent, at worst, outright fatal.”

An Excerpt From The Beat Betwixt the Pixie's Wings: A Fairy's History of Thought
Dr. Seumas Kermichil
Endymion University Press, 1997


Jerry Prager said...

And to think we used to have difficulty getting you to right a paragraph.
I assume you know that non-fairy dictionaries define Craicéailte as lunacy, zany. Must be the net of paradox woven around and through the concept.

The Lord of Ábrocen Landmearca said...

I wouldn't of had to right those paragraphs if you hadn't kept knocking them over.