Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Idea Emporium #7: The Agloanikoi [3/3]

While the earliest social organizations left little influence for males, one has since been carved out for them: commerce. It is not hard to imagine troop queens as having a kind of ownership over their harems, but this control goes no further than that. In a peculiar arrangement that is without equivalent in human history, the heads of the social order often have no property themselves. In some cultures, the troop queens own the herds. In others, the land, and sometimes even its produce. But in none do they own artifacts, we might way, or minerals or other resources. If troop queens have their grand masters, then the males might be thought of as sometimes having tycoons or merchant kings.

To be sure, these are rare, and usually restricted to cultures where troop queens have the least property. Merchant kings are sought after for their acumen, are ambassadors as much as they are business men, and where they exist are prone to functioning in a more egalitarian order— which in no way means that the balance of power cannot also be tilted too far in their direction, only that it is more difficult and therefore less common.

What it comes down to in every culture is that a male has, shall we say, widgets. He may dispose of these widgets as he pleases. They are idols, trinkets, weapons, and labor-saving devices. Their fate is determined by him alone, and if he is traded off or kidnapped by another troop queen then the widgets go with him unless he determines that they will remain behind. In some cultures the kidnapping of a male means the seizure of land, or fruit, or herds, because these belong to the male. In many cultures they are able to position themselves in a desired troop through the promise of bringing their riches with them.

There are no strict inheritance rules across the species. Mostly it is a kind of post-mortem gift-giving, with no requirements dictating the rules of distribution. A male records his wishes, orally or through writing, and his troop queen ensures that they are followed. Friendship, more than genetic descent, is most-valued here, and where merchant-kings establish “dynasties” of inherited wealth it is almost never according to lines of descent but simple camaraderie.

Another interesting divide is found in their approach in metaphysics, which has ultimately psychological origins, and their respective modes of empathy. Females empathize via intelligence. Except in their wanderjahre, when they potentially forge lifelong rival-friendships with other exiles that will be strengthened in future bouts of flowery-warfare, they will rarely if ever meet with other females face-to-face. They prefer to use males— called knights in this context— as go-betweens.

Males, on the other hand, have to react much more quickly and judge all kinds of books by their covers. They need to read intent immediately. Like humans, their sense of empathy is based on appearance. Females have a lessened sense of biophilia, or innate attraction to life in general, but males find life in everything.

An interesting result is that females are better at relating to humans, perhaps better than humans are at relating to Agloanikoi. It also has an effect on the metaphysical systems of both sexes. Females never anthropomorphize (or Agloanimorphize, as the case may be). They’re used to peers that they never see, and so the forces of the supernatural, whether these be spirits or something else, are just fine being formless. Atheism hasn’t really ever done anything to female metaphysics, just inspired a slight reorientation, much like it is not a contradiction in terms to be Buddhist or Hindu and also an atheist.

Males are very prone to anthropomorphizing. Spirit or will, and divinity, is inherent in everywhere. Their metaphysics is much more animist. Despite the omnipresence of divinity, however, its potential is almost never fully-realized. Males complete the process of divinization by completing the process of anthropomorphizing: the tree, which once was only a tree, is now carved in the semblance of an Agloanikan. Now it is an idol, but not just a representation, for it is a god in truth, its nature self-evident for all to see. Which is not to say that these gods are always considered superior to the Agloanikoi. Many consider the Agloanikoi to be equal to the gods, or even superior to them. For these there is not only symbolism but actual power in the Agloanikan form.

To describe them as Taoists on one side and theists on the other would not be totally inaccurate.

Most Agloanikoi believe in the existence of multiple souls. Each is represented by a mode of communication, as if humans based the souls on speech and body language. The first soul is that which reasons things out, which the xenologists call the Ibba, an adaptation from the Egyptian conception of the soul. The Ibba is represented by— perhaps inherent in— speech. It comes and goes in a flash, like sound, and thus the conscious, self-willed aspect of the personality ceases to exist in death.

The second soul, termed the Sheut-Ka, corresponds to scent, and lingers after death just as one would expect. It is the emotional, instinctive, feeling part of a person. It is without self-awareness. For the Agloanikoi there is no conscious thought after death, only feeling, a kind of pseudo-Nirvana for alien centipedes. Not surprisingly, many Agloanikoi have become interested in Buddhism.

Agloanikoi do not have hard concepts of good and bad. It’s more about appropriate/acceptable and inappropriate/unacceptable. In this way they are well-disposed to moral relativism. There is little in the way of thinking that the rules of engagement are some kind of moral order. They are simply a way of preventing conflict from getting out of hand and keeping resources preserved, and violators are exterminated because the system demands that all play fair. In the Prisoner’s Dilemma, defectors get shot before they can defect again.

In the realm of social interaction, young Agloanikoi are just smaller-than-you Agloanikoi that may have a likewise smaller-than-you vocabulary. Maybe they can’t hunt quite yet but they’re able to feed on scraps. They learn to avoid certain behaviors not because these are an offense to some moral order, but because “cut that stuff out or we’re just not going to tolerate it and we have no problem with just sending you away.” At a certain point in their development, eating scraps becomes another unacceptable behavior, now freeloading, and the young have to follow along with the males and hunt with them thereafter.

This system of right behavior has nothing to do with their arguable obsession with cleanliness, despite what many humans tend to believe. Social interaction is often followed by washing, but only because of the role that scent plays in communication. A human ceases to convey the emotion of happiness as soon as the smile is over or the laughter ends. An Agloanikoi, who emotes by scent, can only wipe the slate clean by getting rid of the scent that makes the slate.

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