Jump to content

Zzabur


jajagappa

Recommended Posts

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."

  • Thanks 6
Link to comment
Share on other sites

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. 

  • Like 2
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.
 

  • Like 7
  • Helpful 1
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

  • Haha 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

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).

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.)

  • Like 4
  • Thanks 2

Though a Lunar through and through, she is also a human being.

Eight Arms and the Mask

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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
  • Like 3
  • Helpful 1
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

  • Like 2
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

  • Like 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.  

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

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?

  • Like 4

Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.)

  • Like 7

Though a Lunar through and through, she is also a human being.

Eight Arms and the Mask

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 months later...
On 1/5/2022 at 4:12 PM, Eff said:

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. 

As someone new to the setting I would like to ask: is my understanding that the loss of subjectivity is a condition of Time correct? My understanding is that prior to the compromise the gods possessed as much agency/subjectivity as “mortals” but I could totally be misunderstanding things.

(On a related topic has it ever been explained why the Only Old One was a “mortal” and not bound by the compromise instead of being a god?) 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There are (as always) many different interpretations. Mine is that the Compromise exchanges freedom for survival of the world, and also of the Deities that joined it. Those that did not join will benefit in that the world is not breaking up fast anymore, but they are not protected from death, no matter their apparent power. 

That allows Zzabur to act within time, but also means he could be obliterated too, edwhile for a deity in the compromise you can decrease their influence, as Orlanth during the Windstop, but with effort you can still get through and access them in the Godtime.

That is the defining factor of the West. When they visit the Godtime they do not see their fundational heroes / gods performing their myths and showing the right way of living. They see their enemies, and only partial echoes of their own myths, because their founders did not join the compromise because for Zzabur being frozen in Godtime was worst than dying, and I suppose Malkion did too, and that is why he stayed dead and unreachable, when so many dead deities returned at Dawn.

That also explains why Western heroquesters adopt an exploitative approach to heroquests, something you do to get power, not because it is the way to be close to your deity and right living. Unfortunately their perspective has been adopted by many others in Glorantha and this approach is behind many of the heroes of the Hero Wars.

In my opinion the difference between pre-Dawn mortals that continue within Time, such as Zzabur or The Only Old One, and gods and goddesses within time, such as Nysalor, Sedenya and most of the Lunar pantheon, is that those so called deities either identify themselves with a deity from before time, so they are already in the compromise, though the mortal part could act in time before being subsumed in the deity, or they accepted compromise afterwards, and that is what apotheosis is, make someone a god, which in Glorantha means joining the Compromise loss of freedom, but also the protection from destruction.

Sartar apotheosized, so the Lunars cannot destroy him, though they can try to suppress his cult, murder his family and limit his influence, but he will be there yet for those who know where to look.

It also means the immutable Godtime is quite mutable. Welcome to Glorantha!

  • Like 1
  • Helpful 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

IMG every morning Zzabur checks his apotheosis notes, knowing that it would be enough that a pea-brained overpowered brute like that Harrek (that he spends so much time watching in a crystal ball that it seems improper) lands in Brithos to put everything at risk.

Every morning he caresses Malkion's skull on the mantelpiece and decides that today is not the day.

  • Like 3
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

9 hours ago, FlamingCatOfDeath said:

As someone new to the setting I would like to ask: is my understanding that the loss of subjectivity is a condition of Time correct? My understanding is that prior to the compromise the gods possessed as much agency/subjectivity as “mortals” but I could totally be misunderstanding things.

(On a related topic has it ever been explained why the Only Old One was a “mortal” and not bound by the compromise instead of being a god?) 

I mean, I'm of the opinion that the Compromise doesn't mark any loss of subjectivity (or agency) for gods, personally. But Zzabur's interpretation of the universe is that, despite any magic that allows you to talk with the dead, death is the end of the ego. So Zzabur presumably defines "I"/the subject differently than I do. 

  • Thanks 1

Though a Lunar through and through, she is also a human being.

Eight Arms and the Mask

Link to comment
Share on other sites

To be fair, afaik it's been established that dead spirits do eventually lose their memories of their old life and get reincarnated into someone else. How that meshes with being able to summon specific ancestors to the nth generation I'm not sure, but maybe those are more like "memories" of the ancestor rather than the actual spirit they possessed in life. Either that or the timelessness of the Other Side has something to do with it. So it seems fine to me that Zzabur can both accept death being the end of the ego and that the dead can be communicated with.

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

10 hours ago, JRE said:

There are (as always) many different interpretations. Mine is that the Compromise exchanges freedom for survival of the world, and also of the Deities that joined it. Those that did not join will benefit in that the world is not breaking up fast anymore, but they are not protected from death, no matter their apparent power. 

That allows Zzabur to act within time, but also means he could be obliterated too, edwhile for a deity in the compromise you can decrease their influence, as Orlanth during the Windstop, but with effort you can still get through and access them in the Godtime.

That is the defining factor of the West. When they visit the Godtime they do not see their fundational heroes / gods performing their myths and showing the right way of living. They see their enemies, and only partial echoes of their own myths, because their founders did not join the compromise because for Zzabur being frozen in Godtime was worst than dying, and I suppose Malkion did too, and that is why he stayed dead and unreachable, when so many dead deities returned at Dawn.

That also explains why Western heroquesters adopt an exploitative approach to heroquests, something you do to get power, not because it is the way to be close to your deity and right living. Unfortunately their perspective has been adopted by many others in Glorantha and this approach is behind many of the heroes of the Hero Wars.

In my opinion the difference between pre-Dawn mortals that continue within Time, such as Zzabur or The Only Old One, and gods and goddesses within time, such as Nysalor, Sedenya and most of the Lunar pantheon, is that those so called deities either identify themselves with a deity from before time, so they are already in the compromise, though the mortal part could act in time before being subsumed in the deity, or they accepted compromise afterwards, and that is what apotheosis is, make someone a god, which in Glorantha means joining the Compromise loss of freedom, but also the protection from destruction.

Sartar apotheosized, so the Lunars cannot destroy him, though they can try to suppress his cult, murder his family and limit his influence, but he will be there yet for those who know where to look.

It also means the immutable Godtime is quite mutable. Welcome to Glorantha!

If Malkion had accepted the compromise sorcery might have stopped working at night. The gods resurrected by the compromise have to spend time in the underworld.

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

8 hours ago, Eff said:

So Zzabur presumably defines "I"/the subject differently than I do. 

As we all know, the blue man and I "have come to terms." By which I mean he continues to ignore me and I in turn no longer see any threat emanating from the island. He wants to live in the world where he's the only god who matters? Bon voyage. We'll stay over here and take our chances.

I think his definition of subjectivity is always going to be colored by a deep and IMO irrational failure to tolerate the ambiguities of experience here in the paseren or strange phenomenal world (double veiled kate bush reference). He just can't do it. He also refuses to really accept intersubjective viewpoints or other people as really real. And in this view, any threat to his subjective existence (the only subjectivity that matters to him) is a threat to creation itself. Contemplating his own death, overthrow, surrender of agency, compromise or any other forced transition is equivalent to contemplating the end of the world. Naturally he struggled to separate himself from all such potential indignities and now I believe, since I no longer care what he's doing to whoever or whatever is left on the island, he's succeeded.

I really like the evolving view here that acceptance of death is the compromise. Where the "I" leaves off is where "you" can begin. We'll go separate ways. Maybe we'll get in each other's way. The dead recede, increasingly ancient ancestors converge with "gods" the farther back you go, becoming static but also hieratic in their postures, harder to contact than mom and dad and Aunt Harriet who know you. The blue man also receded in what I think is another subjective direction (all roads lead to death) and is something like the most ancient of ancestors except for the little fact that I don't think he tolerates a line of inheritance as we understand it. The blue man might or might not have had children who can contact him today like a forefather. 

He did, however, promulgate a system of apprenticeship that takes over some of the same functions.

  • Like 1
  • Helpful 2
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

6 minutes ago, scott-martin said:

As we all know, the blue man and I "have come to terms." By which I mean he continues to ignore me and I in turn no longer see any threat emanating from the island. He wants to live in the world where he's the only god who matters? Bon voyage. We'll stay over here and take our chances.

I think his definition of subjectivity is always going to be colored by a deep and IMO irrational failure to tolerate the ambiguities of experience here in the paseren or strange phenomenal world (double veiled kate bush reference). He just can't do it. He also refuses to really accept intersubjective viewpoints or other people as really real. And in this view, any threat to his subjective existence (the only subjectivity that matters to him) is a threat to creation itself. Contemplating his own death, overthrow, surrender of agency, compromise or any other forced transition is equivalent to contemplating the end of the world. Naturally he struggled to separate himself from all such potential indignities and now I believe, since I no longer care what he's doing to whoever or whatever is left on the island, he's succeeded.

I really like the evolving view here that acceptance of death is the compromise. Where the "I" leaves off is where "you" can begin. We'll go separate ways. Maybe we'll get in each other's way. The dead recede, increasingly ancient ancestors converge with "gods" the farther back you go, becoming static but also hieratic in their postures, harder to contact than mom and dad and Aunt Harriet who know you. The blue man also receded in what I think is another subjective direction (all roads lead to death) and is something like the most ancient of ancestors except for the little fact that I don't think he tolerates a line of inheritance as we understand it. The blue man might or might not have had children who can contact him today like a forefather. 

He did, however, promulgate a system of apprenticeship that takes over some of the same functions.

image.png.da5d6a4a7124339197f1c81b92ec7aeb.png

There's a definite logic in solipsism as the ultimate rejection of death. Before Death came out, there was the act of splitting gods and predark entities into different parts, and sometimes the parts resisted reintegration...

  • Thanks 1

Though a Lunar through and through, she is also a human being.

Eight Arms and the Mask

Link to comment
Share on other sites

7 minutes ago, Eff said:

There's a definite logic in solipsism as the ultimate rejection of death. Before Death came out, there was the act of splitting gods and predark entities into different parts, and sometimes the parts resisted reintegration...

The call is definitely, as we say, coming from inside the house.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...