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Zzabur


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Another topic from Jeff on FB:

"Rather than let Malkioni hijack the thread about mysteries, I figured I'd start a new thread about Zzabur. Now we all know this guy - the son of Malkion in most stories, and the First Wizard. Supposedly he's been around for more than five thousand years and is the master of the Brithini sorcerer caste, and his sorcery is said to have destroyed entire nations, closed off the seas, and twice nearly changed the very nature of the world.

He's kind of a Pandelume figure from Vance's Dying Earth. Like Pandelume, Zzabur possesses knowledge of many things which are otherwise lost or unknown to mortals, "including the method of creating artificial life, of all the spells which have ever been invented, and of mundane sciences such as mathematics." But like Pandelume, Zzabur is a mortal (if ageless). He is not perfect nor infallible, although he never admits an error.
And like Pandelume, Zzabur no longer exists in this world, as he and his island of Brithos have vanished from the mundane world, to no one's regret.
I imagine Zzabur is incredibly alone, removed from even his fellow Brithini. He remembers interacting with the gods, views them as beings like himself - but he is not a god. He was a first hand witness to many of his father's pronouncements, at least to begin with. But Zzaburi rejected his father's second revelation - that of Solace and he did not accompany his father when he departed Brithos. Some claim Zzabur was a parricide and was even responsible for Malkion's death, but most say he turned his back on his father and made his own arrangements to survive the end of the world.
Greg never liked Zzabur and what he stood for (and thus in all of Greg's stories, Zzabur comes over as an unmitigated arrogant prick), but he was an important part of Glorantha and one of its earliest characters."
 
...
"Of course Zzabur is pure ego - he is the great objectifier. He is the intellect that stands between Us and Things. He seeks to survive at whatever cost, knowing that as a mortal his ego is all there is to him - the soul is sentimental drivel and spirit is merely an animating energy. Egoism is his drive - a very personal egoism. "I AM that I AM."

He is also a very very very old mortal who lives alone in a tower and knows lots of things."

...

"there is more than a touch of His Blueness with Zzabur"  [i.e. reference to the Blue Meanies from Yellow Submarine movie]

"although there is also a bit of Jeremy Hillary Boob Ph.D. in Zzabur as well"  [i.e. additional reference from Yellow Submarine to the Nowhere Man]

...

"I am pretty sure personal survival and continuation is at the top of the list [of Zzabur's personal goals] though."

[Zzabur] "also had the advantage of being able to witness stuff as it happened" [i.e. Elrond in LotR: "I was there Gandalf. I was there 3000 years ago"]

"Good old Zzabur is usually claimed as Malkion's first or second son with the goddess Britha. Zzabur was given the Great Gift of sorcery from his father, who was a mortal being, not a god."

"Certainly Zzabur holds himself to be a peer of such entities [e.g. Orlanth, Ernalda], but that is not wholly the case. Zzabur, like Malkion, is a mortal, not a god."

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It's interesting that Zzabur is referred to as a mortal when he is literally an immortal. (I know it refers to him being flesh and blood and presumably killable, but it's funny nonetheless.)

Nothing super-new there, but it does raise some interesting questions about to what degree concepts like srvuali and burtae hold up. Zzabur claims to be a srvuali (pure runic emenation being on par with the purely elemental gods) doesn't he? Can those be mortal? What distinguishes mortals from gods in the earliest of the God Times? (Something does, clearly, because we have consistent references to mortals as opposed to gods even then... well, sometimes. Sometimes not). Relative level of power. Participation in the Compromise. Being a subgradient creation, etc.

The early "Malkioni heresy" has also always been fascinating stuff. The relationship between Brithini and mortal (err, I mean... time-mortal, I guess) Malkioni has some similarities to the Jewish-Christian relationship, albeit with a far stronger position for the former than in the RW.

Britha being his supposed mom... And him potentially denying that in favor of a more intellectual Runic emenationist genealogy... I wonder if that sheds light on how the Brithini might treat Britha the goddess. 

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6 minutes ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

Zzabur is referred to as a mortal when he is literally an immortal.

The terrifying aspect of this is that he understands that being born mortal implies that he's only "immortal" up until this moment. The future is still dangerous. Any sufficiently random factor can take all that away and leave him with nothing, no consolation. Everyone who emulates him accepts a similar situation.

Being born mortal undoubtedly embarrasses him as a screen for something more existentially uncomfortable. I think this embarrassment feeds the way his people are encouraged to treat his mother.

It didn't have to be this way. Old fragments about the ritual function of the zzabur suggest that he once had the potential to be a brisk and leaping person, a collective effervescence if you like. But he took all that good stuff and ran.
 

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3 minutes ago, scott-martin said:

The terrifying aspect of this is that he understands that being born mortal implies that he's only "immortal" up until this moment. The future is still dangerous. Any sufficiently random factor can take all that away and leave him with nothing, no consolation. Everyone who emulates him accepts a similar situation.

Being born mortal undoubtedly embarrasses him as a screen for something more existentially uncomfortable. I think this embarrassment feeds the way his people are encouraged to treat his mother.

It didn't have to be this way. Old fragments about the ritual function of the zzabur suggest that he once had the potential to be a brisk and leaping person, a collective effervescence if you like. But he took all that good stuff and ran.
 

Yes. That's it exactly.

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24 minutes ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

It's interesting that Zzabur is referred to as a mortal when he is literally an immortal.

Which seems to indicate he has embraced the Man Rune (mortality) of his father, and rejected the Goddess of his mother.  He is not a God, hence mortal (even if he has so far avoided aging and Death).

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54 minutes ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

It's interesting that Zzabur is referred to as a mortal when he is literally an immortal. (I know it refers to him being flesh and blood and presumably killable, but it's funny nonetheless.)

Nothing super-new there, but it does raise some interesting questions about to what degree concepts like srvuali and burtae hold up. Zzabur claims to be a srvuali (pure runic emenation being on par with the purely elemental gods) doesn't he? Can those be mortal? What distinguishes mortals from gods in the earliest of the God Times? (Something does, clearly, because we have consistent references to mortals as opposed to gods even then... well, sometimes. Sometimes not). Relative level of power. Participation in the Compromise. Being a subgradient creation, etc.

The early "Malkioni heresy" has also always been fascinating stuff. The relationship between Brithini and mortal (err, I mean... time-mortal, I guess) Malkioni has some similarities to the Jewish-Christian relationship, albeit with a far stronger position for the former than in the RW.

Britha being his supposed mom... And him potentially denying that in favor of a more intellectual Runic emenationist genealogy... I wonder if that sheds light on how the Brithini might treat Britha the goddess. 

Another way of reading it is that immortals/gods are eternal, outside Time, and there are two obvious problems with Zzabur accepting godhood:

1) His entire understanding of the universe is conditioned on eternity being a hoax, that personal existence is ephemeral. So if he were a god, he would lose his existence as a person, his subjectivity. 
2) If he was a god, you could be Zzabur. And so Zzabur's personal existence really would be lost, because it would be possible for people to share it and there could be many Zzaburs. (Capitalization makes all the difference.) 

There is another, non-obvious problem with Zzabur accepting godhood:

3) If Zzabur was a god, he would be outside Time and it would be possible for anyone to directly interact with him at any point in his existence. It seems fairly likely that he's hiding something, possibly several things. But because Zzabur is not a god, and there are thus a different set of limitations on how well you can turn back time and relive his boasts and claims, it's very difficult to prove any of it.

 

(This would also, if you were nasty-minded and paranoid, equally apply to Malkion, and prevent anyone from correcting the record on what Malkion really thought, whether he was a Rex Mundi or a Sophia, etc. Well, anyone who doesn't achieve a transcendence that would allow them to outdo Zzabur and go beyond the organizing principle of Law to whatever existed before multiplicity, and those people who have have not really seemed very interested in calling Zzabur a liar directly. So perhaps what Zzabur Says is correct in its essentials.)

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The Thelxinoë of the Graclodont set.

Eight Arms and the Mask

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Zzabur rejecting the Compromise and thus choosing to stay within Time and maintaining his personal, individual agency seems congruent with the character. 

To paraphrase Lex Luthor:
"A god? Hah, do you KNOW how much power I'd have to give UP to become a god?!"

Hence the existential angst continues, inevitably.

Edited by Sir_Godspeed
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Are there any connections between Grandfather Mortal and Malkion? Then Zzabur would simply be a mortal via inheritance. As for him being the personification of Law, uh something like "Law is created by Mortal man's perception of/interaction with the universe" seems like a suitably philosophic thing to say.

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27 minutes ago, Richard S. said:

Are there any connections between Grandfather Mortal and Malkion? Then Zzabur would simply be a mortal via inheritance. As for him being the personification of Law, uh something like "Law is created by Mortal man's perception of/interaction with the universe" seems like a suitably philosophic thing to say.

I was of the impression that Malkion the Founder and (El)Malkion the Sacrifice (4th and 5th action, or something like the Storm Age and Greater Darkness) were basically Malkion acting as Grandfather Mortal, or the Man Rune. 

It certainly has always seemed sensible to me that some incarnation of Malkion is analogous to Grandfather Mortal in some sense or another.

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Several Henotheist sects claim Malkion as one of the Seven Lightbringers. They often come to blows over whether he can be recognised as Flesh Man (doomsaying mortal prophet): Issaries (mediator between the mortal and divine worlds), Lhankor Mhy (bearded sorcerous bookworm from the West; MLKN = LNKM), or another role. Later heroquesting has done little to clarify matters, as Malkioni can of course participate in any appropriate role to obtain whatever “proofs” they seek.

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It's interesting to read of Zzabur's mortality because I had the impression from latter Gregly sources that Zzabur was some sort of divine emanation of the Invisible God.  That he is unable to stop thinking of himself as Mortal is a fascinating psychological detail.  

As for the monomyth identities, Jeff has said that some God Learners did see Malkion as Flesh Man (ie when the spell to put the world to right went wrong and killed everybody, Malkion/Flesh Man was left alone gibbering amidst the corpses when Chalana Arroy found him).  But I think they ended up dropping the idea in light of its absurdities.  Lhankor Mhy and Issaries would supposedly be known to the Malkioni as Enroval the Philosopher and Kachast the Speaker.  

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9 hours ago, Eff said:

Another way of reading it is that immortals/gods are eternal, outside Time, and there are two obvious problems with Zzabur accepting godhood:

[...]

Also, becoming a god would not be a solution for his dilemma. Zzabur has seen gods die, reclaimed by the Prime Matter.

There is little doubt that Zzabur left his imprint on Godtime, though, unless it was just him waving arms while some divinity did things. (Which is a scary thought for him, too.)

Can Godtime mortals reach eternal conservation in Godtime? Are Zzabur's brothers Talar and Horal still around in Godtime?

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Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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6 hours ago, metcalph said:

It's interesting to read of Zzabur's mortality because I had the impression from latter Gregly sources that Zzabur was some sort of divine emanation of the Invisible God.  That he is unable to stop thinking of himself as Mortal is a fascinating psychological detail.  

 

If I remember correctly, in Revealed Mythologies he claims to be an Erasanchula (not Srvuali as I claimed above), so some sort of primal Runic being on par with some of the greatest gods, basically.

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On 1/6/2022 at 7:54 AM, Sir_Godspeed said:

If I remember correctly, in Revealed Mythologies he claims to be an Erasanchula (not Srvuali as I claimed above), so some sort of primal Runic being on par with some of the greatest gods, basically.

Let me use this as a jumping-off point for a moment. Zzabur also names a few other Erasanchula in Revealed Mythologies, who he castigates as unfaithful to the Law and therefore defeated by him. 

He names Worlath, Ehilm, Ladaral, and Neliom. Orlanth, Yelm, Lodril, and the Neliomi Sea. Not the primordial Umath, Aether, and Zaramaka. He also later names Genert, Vith, and Pamalt as his rivals at the other edges of the world. 

And the idea of a systematic set of Runes doesn't emerge until the God Learners have been busy theologizing. 

So "Erasanchula" probably means something related to lawful or pure authority under Malkion, a state that Zzabur says can be achieved by humans (like him and his brothers and sisters). Orlanth and Lodril, in Zzabur's mind, probably were appointed by Malkion the Creator by their adherence to Malkion the Law to the positions of authority they held in the universe, but strayed from that in a way Zzabur associated with their acceptance of worship and especially sacrifice. And so they became fallen and inferior to Zzabur's logic. 

But Erasanchula may not be associated with power directly, but instead with, perhaps, being righteous governors over a sector of the universe, with Srvuali and Burtae being different forms of impure or unrighteous beings. And these are then retrofitted in light of the Monomyth and Runic cosmos to presume that Erasanchula are incarnate Runes. (And then identification of them with the known "Rune sources" begins, and no end of trouble results.)

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The Thelxinoë of the Graclodont set.

Eight Arms and the Mask

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