What a deeply disturbing, nay, even frightening experience my stay on Bambata, the heart of the Emple-Dokcetic polity was. Not disturbing or alarming in any physical way, of course – every person I met was more than welcoming, more than friendly, their hospitality a credit to the Emple-Dokcetic as a whole. And their multitude of appearances and attitudes, while unusual in some cases, was not more than one might encounter in some of the more cosmopolitan polities outside of the Emple-Dokcetic.
No, what is disturbing are the implications of their embracing the concept of modularity. Of each individual being a fundamentally transient, temporary, entity, constantly swapping and changing not just elements of their physical selves, but also of their mental selves. Memories. Values. Drives. Responses. All are transient for each individual, but nothing is ever lost to their society as a whole. And the constant creation of new individuals, replacing the old and remixing all elements of their population in new and diverse ways gives them a drive, a dynamism, a vitality that I have rarely seen in any group, let alone an entire society. And with it comes a unity, a knowing that all within the Emple-Dokcetic are truly, at a fundamental level, one.
I think the ancient saying, ‘live as you were to die tomorrow, plan as if you were going to live forever,’ is at the centre of an understanding of their society, for, for them, both parts of the saying are true. The transient specific person will only live a short time, but their parts will live forever.
And all of this is without taking into account their ability to temporarily link themselves – many individuals – into larger gestalts, to the level of entire worlds, to gain consensus, or the ability to tackle, and solve, particularly thorny issues.
No wonder they so greatly dislike the use of violence. From their modular state they know the feeling of others, and clearly extrapolate that understanding to others outside of the Emple-Dokcetic too. Hurting another must be, to them, analogous to hurting a part of themselves, with the subconscious implication that part of the individual one has hurt may one day be a part of oneself, and so allow one to know, intimately, the consequences of ones actions… Thus I suspect the utter lack of corruption in their society arises from the same source, that hurting others, in the end, hurts only oneself.
And perhaps that, too, explains their vivacity, their seeming love of life.
They know transience. They know that the ‘them’ of them present moment is temporary, but that all that makes them up will go on. So each of them – each transient individual – loves their life, but does not fear the transition to the next ‘them’. Combined with the Zarathustran beliefs which are part of the Dok, live for the now, and the future, living with directness, joy in life and every moment, regardless of what it brings, they move forward rapidly.
No wonder the Emple-Dokcetics expand so quickly, to become a major power of the Outer Volumes. Dynamism. Vivacity. Seeming benevolence. High technology. A potent combination, to say the very least. Are they, perhaps, the future?
And no wonder I find them so disturbing. They are alien, yet of humanity quite as much as I, myself…
Such a strange child of the synthesis of Zarathustrism, manimal animism and Bot Marxism. But nonetheless have achieved a society that appears to work, better than many others I have encountered. And their Dok explains matters with … admirable clarity. It is not, after all, a religious text to be loaded down with metaphor and symbolism to the detriment of information…
They asked if I wished to contribute, genetically or mentally, to the creation of a new set of modules. But I could not – would not – do so, and politely declined. I could not give a part of myself to them, even though I would lose nothing myself. I value my individuality, my being me, and regardless of how sugar-coated the pill, I will not give that up, even in a copy of myself.
More about the author, Tony Jones, here.