Color Me Calm

IMG_1766

Photo by pedrojperez.

The early twenty-first century included some of the most turbulent decades of Earth’s history. Terrorist plots and atrocities raised anxiety levels to an all-time high. Confusion reigned in the 2016 electoral face for the US Presidency as Republican candidate Donald Trump’s popularity soared. Immense global issues, such as global warming, fracking, and impending superbug epidemics, were deprived government funding for scientific investigation and neatly swept under the rug. If ever the nations of Earth needed strong leaders, it was then. No one, however, was emotionally prepared to deal with these crises.

Still, there is evidence that the early decades of the twenty-first century was a time when humans began to take a strong interest in controlling their emotions. Enrollment in yoga classes and religious retreats increased, but one particular movement took the world by storm. In 2015, Amazon.com reported that for the first time in the company’s history, a coloring book made the best-seller list. Everywhere adults picked up colored pencils and gel markers to return to an activity they once enjoyed in the care-free days of childhood. Humans discovered, as Vulcans did during the violent times when Surak lived, that creating art – even, and perhaps especially, at an elementary level – offered a release of tension and a way to spend time in mindful contemplation; a way to focus on the here and now away from the violence and despair. Earth’s coloring trend also provided a social outlet, bridging generation gaps and enticing youngsters away from electronic media and games to enjoy meaningful social contact with their cohorts and elders.

The situation on Vulcan was no different in Surak’s time. Despite the violence, the elemental arts, such as pottery, drawing, and calligraphy flourished. As on Earth, coloring books or tablets were created to help children unwind and learn basic concepts, such as the alphabet, as a precursor to reading.

Recently there has been a gathering interest in this particular Vulcan art form. Over the next two years, the College of Historical Studies at the Vulcan Science Academy’s Shi’Kahr campus will have the coloring tablet Kur’voh ish-veh hayalik (Color Me Calm) on display. The work was created by artist S’harien and was designed to teach Vulcan children the glyphs of the Seleyan script, in the manner of “A is for apple,” “B is for ball,” etc. The drawings feature highly stylized images of common but important objects – most from the natural world – from Vulcan life. The exhibition will also be available for viewing here and will feature a new page each month. The pages have been arranged in a pattern that will be familiar to speakers of Federation Standard English, with the alphabet starting with the glyph corresponding to A and ending with Z, instead of the traditional Vulcan sequence. Viewers will note that there is no glyph for J, Q, and X.

Visitors are welcome to download and print the pages for personal enjoyment, but the pages may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the written permission of the copyright holder. Click on the links to the PDFs below.

Viewers should also note that the Seleyan script was only one of many popular Vulcan writing systems. It was one of a few that was adapted for computer use and can be downloaded here: http://www.dafont.com/vulcan-script.font. Another important script in Vulcan’s history was the Dzhaleyl script: https://kirshara.wordpress.com/2012/02/15/the-dzhaleyl-script/  To learn about Vulcan calligraphy, visit http://korsaya.org/vulcan-calligraphy.

Along with the fine arts, music also flourished in Surak’s time. To learn about the Vulcan musical tradition, please visit https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ralash-tanaf-VuhlkansuVulcan-Music/399311346930693. Many of Surak’s teachings have been set to music by T’Prion and are available through my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8kuP8GHIoLXI1RzhSn6lWA

Kur’voh ish-veh hayalik (Color Me Calm)

A is for arev (desert wind)

B is for bah-ker (garden)

C is for cir-cen (cactus)

D is for dunap (book)

E is for el’ru (hand)

F is for fau-yut (road)

G is for gad (day)

To Understand without Knowing

Art by Jonliza Velox

Art by Jonliza Velox

Ken-tor rik’faiyan. The phrase comes from Dahr-Krus, or Part Two, of Surak’s Analects. In it, Surak considers the subject of epistemology, or how we know what we know. He wrestles through the systems of knowledge prominent on Vulcan in his day, including: 1) empiricism – the insistence that all knowledge is derived from sensory experience; 2) rationalism – the doctrine that knowledge (and ultimately, truth) must be tested by intellect and deductive reasoning ; 3) the scientific method – the rigorous discipline which combines and utilizes both empiricism and rationalism in the pursuit of knowledge and truth; and authoritarianism – the acceptance of knowledge and the truth of ideas asserted by an unquestionable authority.

He concludes that all these systems have their place in the daily quest for knowledge but that none are satisfactory for developing understanding. “Wide experience increases wisdom,” he said, “but to know the ultimate truth, we must transcend knowledge.” It was this assertion that won him favor with the priests of the Suta Temple in Shi’Kahr, and it was there on the ancient steps that he first began to teach a new philosophy to a wide audience. Before the Awakening, Vulcan monasteries were institutions of peace, as they remain today, but they were closed to all but the initiated. Before Surak, holy men and women practiced isolationism, removing themselves from the violence of the day behind thick walls. They had little hope the average Vulcan could live in peace, but when Surak began to advocate the strict control of emotions, the priests of the Suta Temple thought he was onto something.

Since that time, Vulcan philosophers, priests, linguists, scientists, and educators continued to debate what the phrase “to understand without knowing” means. One renowned voice in the debate was Professor Aravik who taught music and psychology at the Vulcan Science Academy. He was particularly interested in how the brain processes, stores, and retrieves information. He recognized that the unconsciousness stored a vast amount of information that was more readily retrieved when paired with a musical phrase, which acted as a trigger. Working with psychologists and musicians at the VSA, he developed a musical style call tumaun-ralash-tanaf, or “programming music.”  The technique involves creating a meaningful word-phrase that embodies a concept, construct, lesson, method, or any subject matter the student wishes to master. The word-phrase is then paired with a simple but memorable musical phrase, which is repeated at predetermined intervals in the learning process. Dr. Aravik discovered that his subjects – students who were required to master vast sequences of equations or to recall lengthy passages of scientific theorem or legal doctrine – improved their recall ability on exams by 96.78% when the material was paired with tumaun-ralash-tanaf. The musical phrase alone (without what he termed the “word-crutch”) became for the student a key that unlocked the unconscious mind where a large amount of the memorized information was stored. “Music,” he wrote in one of his reports, “enters the brains at a deeper level than language. Music acts as a trigger for our deepest memories and can access that part of the brain where information once thought to be irretrievable by normal methods of recall is easily, quickly, and precisely brought into the conscious mind.” (Aravik, 2423, p. 16)

Modern Vulcan education employs tumaun-ralash-tanaf at all levels, from the primary learning pods through the doctoral dissertation. To this day, the Vulcan ability of extraordinary recall continues to amaze non-Vulcans throughout the galaxy. Many species have requested the use of the technique for their own educational programs. Vulcan scientists, however, are reluctant to share the procedure since the Vulcan mind does not exhibit the same structure as the brains of similar humanoid species. Even other Vulcanoids, such as Romulans, have a remarkably different brain structure from modern Vulcans. The teachings of Surak and the discipline adhered to for the last two millennia are partly responsible for the development of the modern Vulcan mind.

The following is a sample of tumaun-ralash-tanaf in a song composed and sung by T’Prion. The phrase ken-tor rik’faiyan, “to understand without knowing,” is used by followers of Surak, often with the guidance of a priestess or other instructor, to reach a deeper level of consciousness in meditation and to commit Surak’s teachings to memory.

Ken-tor rik’faiyan video

Here are the lyrics in Modern Golic Vulcan and in Federation Standard English:

Ken-tor rik’faiyan lyrics  (Art by Jonliza Velox)

SOURCES

Aravik & Sern. (2422). Learning and the control of behavior: principles, theories, and application of operant conditioning. Shi’Kahr: Vulcan Science Academy Press.

Aravik. (2423). Learning in a new key: a study in the application of music and its effect on cognitive processing and recall. Journal of Vulcan Cognition, 45(2), 12-36.

To read a selection of Aravik’s work, click on this link:

http://korsaya.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Tumaun-ralash-tanaf.pdf

Join the Forum at Korsaya.org to discuss this work and many other topics regarding Vulcan culture and language.

 

 

You and I Have Learned

The death of beloved actor Leonard Nimoy did not come as a

Photo by T'Prion

Photo by T’Prion

shock. He was, after all, a man of advanced age and ill health. It was a logical end of a life thoroughly lived, enjoyed, and shared – a life of creativity, reflection, and learning. These virtues were devoted to developing the Vulcan character the world came to love and the culture he represented – both material and moral.

As an actor, poet, and photographer, Nimoy shared much of himself with the world – and never more so than within his portrayal of Spock, the archetype by which all other Vulcan characters have been measured since. He was the first and the last – the end and the beginning.

Although the melding of actor and character was uncomfortable at times for Nimoy, he expressed sincere gratitude for his involvement with the Vulcan. “Because of him, I’ve had a number of wonderful opportunities. And I’d like to think that, just as his Vulcan logic has had a tempering effect on me, my emotional human personality has rubbed off on him a bit. I know we’ve both matured and mellowed a great deal over these three decades.” Nimoy went on in his autobiography to tell Spock, “We’re both very lucky — lucky to have had each other.” Instead of expounding on the nature of luck versus statistics, Spock softly agrees, “Yes, I suppose we have.”1

For Vulcans, whose greatest love is learning and the accompanying growth of intellect and spirit, life is one big classroom. At the end of a life well-lived, a Vulcan should be able to look back and reflect upon all that has been learned. Nimoy did this simply and succinctly in one of his poems called You and I Have Learned, originally published in 19812 and shared again with the world on Twitter3 five days before his death. He wanted to remind us of the important gift we all possess – a gift he shared with the world through Spock – a gift he wanted to remind each of us to share.

To that end, we offer here You and I Have Learned translated into Modern Golic Vulcan in a video tribute to the honored Mr. Nimoy. Light with him always…and with us.4

http://youtu.be/eWwBeTRalqk

 

SOURCES

1Nimoy, L. (1995). I am Spock. New York: Hyperion, p. 11.

2Nimoy, L. (1981). These Words are for You. Boulder, CO: Blue Mountain Press.

3Nimoy, L. (2015, February 22). You and I Have Learned [Twitter]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/TheRealNimoy

4Sarek offered this blessing to T’Pau on the scattering of her ashes. Duane, D. (1988). Spock’s World. New York: Pocket Books, p. 296.

Now We Shape the Wind

With the recovery of the Kir’Shara, containing the original teachingsT'Prion
of Surak, and the destruction of the Vulcan homeworld (T’Khasi), much study has been devoted recently to pre-Reform civilization – the Vulcan that existed before Surakian philosophy and discipline were widely accepted. The purpose of this intense study by surviving scholars serves not only to assist in the restoration of Vulcan society but also to provide assurance that it will continue into the future. It was not long ago that the biological and cultural connection between Vulcans and Romulans was kept secret – a secret that was nearly lost. During the time of the Sundering, those who rejected Surak left T’Khasi to found a homeworld on a distant planet. They continued on as pre-Reform Vulcans and developed a new civilization in which emotions went unchecked.

Now Vulcans are once again faced with rebuilding, restructuring, and preserving their society. By studying Vulcan’s past, her people will not be doomed to repeat its violence.

One of the more fascinating aspects of this project is the ancient wisdom that comes to light. As archival networks, databases, and primary source documents are recovered, examined, and restored, many facets of former Vulcan life – most unfamiliar to the modern Vulcan – are made available again for public analysis and consideration. Files and manuscripts that have long been forgotten or even lost are now coming again to the forefront.

One study currently under investigation is the music – passed down from generation to generation in a wholly oral fashion – preserved through Vulcan’s monastic tradition. The College of Historical Studies of the Vulcan Science Academy has contracted with singer/songwriter T’Prion, to study a cache of newly discovered journals and documents, and to compose new material encompassing sacred traditions.

To hear the first of these compositions, click on this link:

http://youtu.be/DqGrsQuuS5E

Lyrics in both Vuhlkansu and Federation Standard English are provided here:

Lyrics in Vulcan                                     Lyrics in English

The song I’kushizhau etek salan (Now We Shape the Wind), composed and sung by T’Prion, is based on three distinct musical traditions. The oldest, zhit-ralash-tanaf (word-music) is a spontaneous style performed only by priestesses, who received their inspiration from sacred texts. Here, T’Prion focused on the text of Part One of Surak’s First Analects. The words convey the struggle for survival in Vulcan’s harsh climate, the endless battles for precious resources and wars that nearly destroyed the planet, and the philosophy that saved it. I’kushizhau etek salan encapsulates the evolution of the Vulcan species.

The song also builds upon the tradition of shean-ralash (rising-sound). The key of each succeeding stanza is raised by a step or half-step, gradually elevating the song to the heavens.

The third musical tradition T’Prion studied for this composition is uralal-varlar (sung-stories), a type of narrative singing used for epic poems and heroic tales. Each of these traditions can be explored more fully in the writings of T’Prion. As the documents and translations become available, links will be provided here. Read the original Modern Golic Vulcan transcriptions of these writings and join the discussion:

http://korsaya.org/forum/?mingleforumaction=viewtopic&t=62.0

The images in the video accompanying I’kushizhau etek salan are ancient holo-images of Raalan life, dating to the Second Dynasty, restored here in two-dimensional format. The chimes heard at the end are believed to from the T’Shen Monastery.

What Does a Vulcan Listen To?

In the Earth year 1957, a Vulcan research vessel went down in CarbonMoodies Dead Can Dance Creek, Pennsylvania, with four crewmen aboard. Although the captain perished, officers Stron and T’Mir were later recovered without incident, but the fourth crewman was inadvertently left behind, believed by the Vulcan authorities to have also perished and his body adequately buried or incinerated.1 But this Vulcan male, anthropologist and navigator Mestral, managed to live on Earth for over a century before he was detected. He was promptly recovered after First Contact.

On April 5, 2063, the crew of the T’Plana-Hath not only detected Zefram Cochrane’s warp-drive signature but also Mestral’s life-signs and were directed to make contact with humanity and to retrieve Mestral. He was brought back to Vulcan for debriefing before the High Command, which was not only curious about his first-hand experience living among humans, but was also anxious to learn how much human behavior had polluted Mestral’s Vulcan bearing. At that time, many in the High Command had little hope for humanity and viewed humans with contempt.

The transcripts of the interviews with Mestral have just been declassified. Below is a segment covering a topic many humans find fascinating: what do Vulcans listen to? Or, more precisely, what human music does a Vulcan living on Earth in the late twentieth and the early twenty-first century, far removed from the culture of his homeworld, find acceptable and even…pleasing? This segment of the interrogation was conducted by Minister Sepek, who not only taught at the Vulcan Science Academy as Professor of Xenopsychology, but also served as Secretary for Offworld Affairs.

Sepek: Forty billion terabytes of data classified as music have been recovered from your personal devices. This unprecedented amount suggests that you spent considerable time listening to Terran music.

Mestral: That is a correct assumption.

Sepek: Do you find it…enjoyable?

Mestral: Yes.

Sepek: We selected for review two songs at random from the collection labeled “Popular Music.” They are titled Wild Thing and Disco Duck. We found no reason to preserve this category of Terran music in the Vulcan Archives. And yet you have collected 4,256,172 songs, including songs which predate your arrival on Earth. Enlighten us.

Mestral: I might point out, Ministers, that your sample size – given the extent of the collection – was inadequate and therefore your summation inconclusive. Terran popular music is highly varied in its presentation.

Sepek: Be that as it may….

Mestral: If you will allow me to present some further samples, I can demonstrate to you the high degree of skill and, in some cases, “Vulcanness” in popular Terran music.

[A brief discussion ensues among the High Command. The consensus is to allow Mestral to continue with his presentation. Links to the popular Youtube site containing the selected songs are embedded in this transcript.]

Sepek: Continue.

Mestral: The first group of Terran musicians I would like to present to you is the Moody Blues, active from the mid 1960s and into the early decades of the twenty-first century. Their music was hailed as “the thinking-man’s rock ‘n’ roll” and it was most popular during the Vietnam War.

Sepek: The name of this band suggests that its members or their music are highly emotional.

Mestral: Indeed. Many humans found their music a way to explore and go beyond their emotions to achieve a higher level of consciousness.

Sepek: Such a practice is dangerous. In order to achieve a higher state of consciousness, one must suppress the emotions.

Mestral: If I may demonstrate, Ministers, here is an example every Vulcan explorer can relate to.

[The assembly listens to Gypsy http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wWuwUhSis1U]

Sepek: It is evident that you identified with the singer of this song.

Mestral: Justin Hayward?

Sepek: His name is not in question here, nor is the Vulcan emotional state evoked by this song. It is your judgment.

Mestral: If I may continue, Minister, I believe I can demonstrate that the Moody Blues represent humanity’s higher understanding of the universe.

Sepek: You may continue.

Mestral: Consider this sample.

[The assembly listens to Tuesday Afternoon http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a3aphxaDZMg ]

Sepek: Correct me if I’m wrong, but this song dates to 1967, the very height of the counter-culture’s experimentation with psychedelic drugs. Does humanity need to ingest mind-altering substances to reach a higher state of consciousness? Is this humanity’s understanding of the universe?

Mestral: Not at all. Consider the work of the Dalai Lama.

Sepek: We are considering the work of the Moody Blues. Have you anything more to say about these Terran musicians?

Mestral: A good deal more. This next song demonstrates that these five musicians from England felt the interconnectedness of all humanity and humanity’s ultimate connection to the universe. Although the song is performed in a minor key, indicative of great loss and urgency, the lyrics suggest hope that all mankind will understand this oneness. It is then that hostilities will cease.

[The assembly listens to A Simple Game http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VlnExthvVQE]

And if you will indulge me by listening to one last example by the Moody Blues, Ministers, this poem demonstrates that humanity is capable of understanding Surak’s teachings.

[The assembly listens to The Balance https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JBZ7-NUZoJc]

Sepek: Perhaps, but these are just five humans out of 256 billion. You spoke of a “Vulcanness” you found in Terran popular music. Please clarify.

Mestral: This next group of modern musicians known as Dead Can Dance….

Sepek: An ominous name.

Mestral: Their music features influences from multiple cultures and ancient traditions. This first song could have been written by a follower of Surak. Due to the deep echo effect, you may not be able to hear the lyrics, but the opening stanza is this:

We scaled the face of reason

                                To find at least one sign

                                That could reveal the true dimensions

                                Of life, lest we forget.

                                And maybe it’s easier to withdraw from life

                                With all of its misery and wretched lies

                                Away from harm.

 

[The assembly listens to Anywhere Out of the World https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rdjqIBZoIEY ]

 

Surak teaches us, “It is not the withdrawal from our world that will save it, but instead the desire to go out and transform it.”2

Sepek: Indeed. I think we can all agree to mark this song for preservation. [There is a consensus among the High Command].

Mestral: I have other examples from Dead Can Dance, which several musicologists agree mimic ancient Vulcan traditions. This song, known as Cantara, is very close in instrumentation, vocalization, melody, and rhythm to the te-Vikram dance ritual used to evoke a state of euphoria. Only their priestly castes of the deep desert are allowed to perform the song, and until recently, it was a closely guarded ritual of the Brotherhood. Yet here is something very similar from Earth.

[The assembly listens to Cantara https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DFcWwHPVy3s]

Sepek: Fascinating. Do you have an explanation as to how this close parallel between Vulcan and Earth music occurred?

Mestral: I do not. Nor can I explain how the song The Arrival and the Reunion resembles the chant performed in the fal-tor-pan ritual, in which the katra is reunited with the body.

[The assembly listens to The Arrival and the Reunion https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RJRsWErKCxA]

Sepek: Remarkable.

Mestral: I have two more examples of this parallel musical expression. I understand, Minister, that you listen to the compositions of the Vulcan flautist Selar.

Sepek: I do on occasion.

Mestral: Then you may hear some resemblance in this next instrumental piece by Dead Can Dance to his composition entitled The Hot Wind of Kir.

[The assembly listens to Windfall https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kg4AEPC4uqw]

Sepek: Truly astonishing. Are you suggesting, Mestral, that there has been a connection between Vulcan and Earth prior to First Contact and prior to your violation of the Prime Directive?

Mestral: I make no suggestions, Minister, only observations. Within the scientific community, the hypothesis put forth by the noted archaeologist Professor Richard Galen is generally accepted, namely that many humanoid species were seeded on their home planets by the ancient race referred to as The Preservers. Ancient Vulcan texts speak of the Vhorani, the Ancient Ones, who came from Vorta Vor, the Wellspring of Creation.3 And here, perhaps Dead Can Dance sing of them or of their offspring in this song.

[The assembly listens to Children of the Sun https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Z4uITELiqw . There follows a lengthy debate among the ministers until a consensus is reached.]

Sepek: We shall retain the recorded files of popular Earth music within the Vulcan Archives for future study. Your efforts to understand the human mind, Mestral, are noted here.

________________________

SOURCES

1ENT: Carbon Creek episode: http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Carbon_Creek_(episode)

2 Sherman, J. & Shwartz, S. (2004). Exodus. (Vuclan’s Soul: Book 1). New York: Pocket Books, p. 48.

3 The Way of Kolinahr: The Vulcans. (1998). Culver City, CA: Last Unicorn Games, p. 18-19.

From War to Knowledge: The Vulcan Science Academy

In Surak’s youth, there were centers of learning, but the Vulcan VSA Shi'KahrScience Academy did not yet exist. In its place stood a massive fortress complex known as Pelasht, named for the Phelsh’t, the ancient tribe which occupied the basalt cave and defended the oasis that became the city of Shi’Kahr.1  Vulcan education was centered in nearby temples and led by a pyllora, a word usually translated into Federation Standard English (FSE) as “mentor” or “guide.” One such pyllora was T’Plana-hath, whose dictum, “Logic is the cement of our civilization, with which we ascend from chaos using reason as our guide,” shaped the philosophy of Surak and the future of Vulcan.2 Surak was one of her prized pupils.

Surak himself became a pyllora at the Suta Temple, where he could be found on the steps spreading his message of logic and emotional restraint to a curious audience in the plaza below.3 Before a formal collegium developed around his school of thought, most of his early lectures were given in the open air in the shade of the temple. Eventually, his lectures became so popular that the old fortress was repurposed into vast halls to hold audiences of thousands. In 399, when Surak was 120 years old, it became the heart of the new Vulcan Science Academy. While he lived, Surak encouraged the study of all subjects and the application of logic to learning in order to reach a heightened understanding of the universe and its infinite possibilities. This ultimate quest for knowledge and truth led to the birth of the concept of IDIC, a leading dictum of the Academy to this day.4

It wasn’t long after Surak’s death in 481 that the campus of the VSA spread beyond the walls of Pelasht. Today this central core of the earliest building houses the administrative complex, along with the lecture halls, the archives, and visitors’ center. The silver-white domes and spires of ancient temples contain labs, classrooms, and offices, and blend with clusters of new facilities devoted to specific disciplines.5 Beyond the fortress complex, where public lectures and performances are held, only two other areas are open to the general public: the Archives and the Medical Center. The Medical Center serves as the main hospital for the city as well as a state-of-the-art research facility. Above its bronze gates on a plaque in flowing calligraphy is its simple mission statement, which reads: “Nam-tor hakaya svi’la na’fan-veh ma vi bolaya. (There is healing within for any who have need.)”6 The databases of the Archives serve as a repository of knowledge on a planetary scale, housing over 164 billion volumes. Offworld, the VSA Archives are often referred to as simply the Vulcan Archives. A few documents remain classified by the Minister of Defense, but the vast majority of the archival files are accessible to any who wish to do research.

In most cases, it is not difficult to gain access to other areas of the VSA. All visitors are asked to stop at the Visitors’ Center to gain admission. Tours of various colleges, labs, and research centers are easily arranged. A special stop on any tour of Pelasht is the stone building annexed on the west side. Archaeologists believe it originally served as an armory. Here T’Pau’s office is located, situated close to the bubbling spring. Outside the entrance one can find an interactive plaque featuring recordings in over 400 languages welcoming visitors and giving a brief history of the VSA. Here is an excerpt in FSE, recorded by Amanda Greyson:  “To this oasis in the desert, Surak came five thousand years ago with a small band of followers, to practice a new philosophy of nonviolence. It is said that when warrior bands approached, seeking to seize control of the precious source of water, Surak welcomed them and bid them drink their fill while he spoke to them of logic, and the peace found through emotional control…..The Academy grew up around the philosophers who followed Surak. Disciples came here to learn from them, and the first buildings are the ones clustered here about the spring. Over many centuries the Vulcan Academy of Sciences grew from this center into the huge complex you see today.”7

There are a few rooms, such as private offices, which are not open to the public and they are marked with signs only in Vulcan. All public spaces, including a small museum displaying some of Surak’s personal belongings, are marked with signs in multiple offworld languages.8 T’Pau often keeps a few relics from the museum in her office for study. At present these include scrolls written in Surak’s own hand.9 Offworlders are often puzzled as to why these writings were committed to a papyrus-like paper and the words hand-written in an ancient script when Surak had digital technology at his disposal and communicated with the masses through the nets. These scrolls were specifically created for the monks of the Kolinahru Monastery, who to this day lead an austere life and use no advanced or automated technology. The scrolls are currently on loan from the monastery for three more years and are displayed in the museum every tenth day.

Offworlders are surprised to find that classrooms, laboratories, dorm rooms, and other nonpublic areas of the campus are not marked with any signage. Instead, the Vulcan tradition is to use variations in texture and shades of color as cues to function and location.10

Following traditional Vulcan architecture, all interior rooms throughout the Academy complexes receive natural light through an elaborate system of skylights, even at ground-level and sub-surface locations in multistory buildings. The thick stone walls and minimalist transparent steel windows keep the interiors naturally cool. The acoustics of the lecture halls are such that no amplification is needed at the lectern or during theatrical or concert performances. The largest hall of the fortress complex, simply known as the Hall of Pelasht, is noted in many guidebooks as “one of the largest room in the known worlds – nearly half a mile long, a quarter mile across, five hundred feet up to the roof, and all carved out of the living stone, an ancient volcanic basalt.”11 Thousands of lamps recessed into the walls often remind visitors of distant stars.

Another of the Academy’s grand lecture hall complexes lies off campus on the other side of Shi’Kahr. Originally known as va’ne’meLakht (Hiding from the Rage), it was built as a place of refuge from sunstorms and was large enough to hold the entire population of the city and its environs just prior to Surak’s time – a time when there was a resurgence of solar activity. Today it is known as the Halls of the Voice and is constructed out of a smooth blue-grey stone known as bureki. The majority of the halls in this complex are located several hundred feet underground. They are cool in temperature and light but far from dark. Shafts, cut through the vaulted ceilings, allow sunlight to stream in slanting columns from ground level. The halls are mostly used today for the biggest lectures, debates, and meetings, in addition to many ceremonial occasions.12

The main campus, tucked away in Shi’Kahr’s oldest quarter is laid out so that its buildings, walkways, and green space make maximum use of the small plot of land. All VSA buildings are multi-story both above and below ground and are positioned so that the pedestrian has a view of most facilities from any one point on the carefully groomed pathways. The meditation gardens are open to all and no permission is needed to stroll or sit within their quiet beauty. Most species of trees planted on the grounds, such as lhm’ta and mah’ta, are actually giant herb specimens, according to their botanical classification. Other trees include the ancient flame-leaved induku, clustered near the fortress complex. The carpet-like blue-green groundcover is a plant known as kh’aa and may be walked upon. Unlike Earth’s lawn grass, it never needs cutting. The various fountains are programmed to display an endless variety of cones, parabolas, and hyperbolas through their water jets.13

The visitor is reminded that there are no parking facilities for vehicles of any kind. The closest structures are located in the adjacent government quarter. Shuttle services and grav-chairs are available for the non-ambulatory, and all campus buildings are connected through underground tunnels where it is always possible to escape the extreme heat of the day. There one will find cafés and full cafeteria services.

When attending lectures and other performances, it is important to remember that at the end of the presentation, there is no applause. It is customary to wait a few moments – to show respect to the speaker – before asking questions.14

It is hoped that your visit to the Vulcan Science Academy will be an enlightening and meaningful one. Below is a list of colleges and their corresponding departments, along with a map of the campus. Please direct your questions and requests for tour arrangements to Stepn, Head of Visitor Services.

Vulcan Science Academy: Shi’Kahr Campus

Vulcan Science Academy Map (click here)

College of Agriculture

  • Dept. of Agroforestry
  • Dept. of Conservation Biology
  • Dept. of Horticulture
  • Dept. of Hydroponics
  • Dept. of Soil Science
  • Dept. of Veterinary Science

College of Chemistry

  • Dept. of Analytical Chemistry
  • Dept. of Photochemistry
  • Dept. of Physical Chemistry
  • Dept. of Quantum Chemistry
  • Dept. of Theoretical Chemistry
  • Dept. of Thermochemistry

College of Computer Science

  • Dept. of Artificial Intelligence
  • Dept. of Computer Architecture
  • Dept. of Cryptology
  • Dept. of Holography and Optics
  • Dept. of Medical Imaging
  • Dept. of Network Engineering
  • Dept. of Plasma Engineering and Diagnostics
  • Dept. of Robotics
  • Dept. of Sensor Technology
  • Dept. of Software Engineering

College of Engineering and Applied Science

  • Dept. of Aerospace Engineering
  • Dept. of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences
  • Dept. of Chemical Engineering
  • Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Dept. of Electrical Engineering
  • Dept. of Industrial Science
  • Dept. of Macromolecular Science
  • Dept. of Mechanical Engineering
  • Dept. of Nanotechnology
  • Dept. of Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences
  • Dept. of Photonics

College of Geophysics

  • Dept. of Aquatic Sciences
  • Dept. of Ecology
  • Dept. of Geochemistry
  • Dept. of Geology
  • Dept. of Geophysics and Seismology
  • Dept. of Meteorology
  • Dept. of Volcanology

College of Historical Studies

  • Dept. of Archaeology
  • Dept. of Architecture and Urban Planning
  • Dept. of Art and Music
  • Dept. of History
  • Dept. of Language and Linguistics
  • Dept. of Literature
  • Dept. of Museum Studies
  • Dept. of Paleontology
  • Dept. of Political Science
  • Dept. of Religion
  • Dept. of Sociology

College of Information Technology

  • Dept. of Archival Sciences
  • Dept. of Communications Engineering
  • Dept. of Infomatics and Information Theory
  • Dept. of Information Analysis and Retrieval
  • Dept. of Information Services

College of Mathematics

  • Dept. of Adaptive Systems
  • Dept. of Analysis
  • Dept. of Applied Mathematics
  • Dept. of Fluid Dynamics
  • Dept. of Mathematical Logic
  • Dept. of Probability Science
  • Dept. of Topology

College of Medicine and Life Sciences

  • Dept. of Biochemistry
  • Dept. of Biology
  • Dept. of Biomedical Engineering
  • Dept. of Biophysics
  • Dept. of Cardiology
  • Dept. of Dentistry
  • Dept. of Dietetics
  • Dept. of Endocrinology
  • Dept. of Experimental Medicine
  • Dept. of Genetics
  • Dept. of Geriatrics
  • Dept. of Internal Medicine and General Surgery
  • Dept. of Kinesiology
  • Dept. of Microbiology and Immunology
  • Dept. of Neurology and Neurosurgery
  • Dept. of Pediatrics
  • Dept. of Pathology and Toxicology
  • Dept. of Pharmacology and Therapeutics

College of Physics

  • Dept. of Applied Physics
  • Dept. of Astrophysics
  • Dept. of Nuclear and Subatomic Physics
  • Dept. of Quantum Physics
  • Dept. of Theoretical Physics

College of Thought

  • Dept. of Mental Disciplines
  • Dept. of Philosophy
  • Dept. of Psionics
  • Dept. of Psychology

College of Xenology

  • Dept. of Xenobiology
  • Dept. of Xenolinguistics
  • Dept. of Xenopsychology
  • Dept. of Xenosociology

_____________________

SOURCES

1 Duane, D. (1988). Spock’s  World. New York: Pocket Books, pp. 117, 126.

2 The Way of Kolinahr: The Vulcans. (1998). Culver City, CA: Last Unicorn Games, p. 15.

3 ibid, p. 55.

4 ibid, p. 56.

5 ibid, p. 57.

6 Sherman, J. & Shwartz, S. (1999). Vulcan’s Heart. New York: Pocket Books, p. 366.

7 Lorrah, J. (1984). The Vulcan Academy Murders. New York: Pocket Books, p. 183.

8 ibid, p. 185.

9 ibid, pp. 187-188.

10 Strickland, B. & B. (1996). Crisis on Vulcan. (Starfleet Academy). New York: Pocket Books, p. 57.

11 Duane, D. (1988). Spock’s  World. New York: Pocket Books, p. 117.

12 ibid., pp. 184-185.

13 Strickland, B. & B. (1996). Crisis on Vulcan. (Starfleet Academy). New York: Pocket Books, pp. 55-57.

14 Sherman, J. & Shwartz, S. (2004). Exodus. (Star Trek: Vucan’s Soul, Book 1). New York: Pocket Books, p. 143.

The Logic of the Forge

Recently, an excerpt from Surak’s teachings appeared in a publication commemorating the firstThe Forge 150 years of the United Federation of Planets. The selection is included as a sample of Vulcan philosophy and as an artifact of interest from one of the founding worlds. While the translation into Federation Standard English is satisfactory, the opening commentary is insufficient in detail to adequately introduce non-Vulcans to Surak’s writings. I would like to expand on and clarify that introduction here.

The journal entry featured in Federation: The First 150 Years is from a selection of writings typically referred to as The Logic of the The Forge, dating to the year 312 when Surak was 33 standard Vulcan years old. The entry is part of the Awakening phase of his life, after his family was killed and he lost his best friend Senet in the Sudocian Wars. While he took refuge in various part of Shi’Kahr, he was captured and tortured – not behind enemy lines – but by Shi’alan officials who believed he possessed military intelligence that would aid them in pinpointing the location of the mindlord Sudoc. Sudoc’s strikes on the region of Shi’al, and in particular the city of Shi’Kahr were Surak lived, were vicious and unrelenting. Shi’alan military officials sought to end the war by infiltrating Sudoc’s compound and executing the warlord. Sudoc knew they were getting close. Days earlier, his mind-controlled assassins penetrated Shi’Kahr and slaughtered several of its top-ranking officers, including General Solek, Surak’s father, and their households.

When they brought Surak in for questioning, they found him wandering the streets in a state of shock. He’d been out with his friends – one of whom was Senet – when Surak’s family was murdered. His confusion only increased when officials began interrogating him about his defection from the army. They accused him of desertion and, therefore, treason. They accused him of orchestrating his family’s murder. Surak, they said, deserted his position in the Shi’alan army and killed his own family because he was under the influence of Sudoc’s psychic powers. Stunned, Surak invoked the right of privilege. In those days, the sons and daughters of the wealthy were spared from the draft. Only a handful these young people freely chose to enter military service, preferring instead days of leisure. Surak was no exception and spent his youth enjoying games of strategy and debating the finer points of philosophy with a close circle of friends.

General Solek was so embarrassed by Surak’s lack of patriotism that he created a complete forgery of records detailing his son’s distinguished career in the army. Hence, the officials’ confusion and the comment in the aforementioned introduction: “The Vulcan philosopher Surak grew up in a world plagued by war and on the edge of self-destruction. As a young man, he fought in those wars in the infantry; he attributed much of his later philosophy to the changes he underwent during his ordeal.”[1]

This last statement is undeniably true.  In his journal, Surak wrote: “Vesht nam-tor nash-veh has-bosh fna’mesh; Nekal nash-veh agreibaya t’au, vesht tan-tor na’au ek’ro’fori ik psal au. I was sick over my humiliation; I had succumbed to their torture, given them all the information they had sought….”[2] In passages preceding the one quoted here, Surak described the nature of the information he had given the authorities and how that revelation affected him.

“I did have the information they sought,” he wrote, “for I had touched my father as he lay dying and saw it in his mind. I saw his hopes and his fears. I knew where Sudoc hid. I knew where all his wives and children were. I knew where his generals were, and all their wives and children. My father had learned their location through his operatives, who were also killed that night – before any of that intelligence could be utilized. With a few cowardly words, I sentenced them all to death.”

Later, when Surak began teaching peace and compassion in the crowded markets, he was often asked, “Why did you not rejoice at this information and give it eagerly? Here was your chance to destroy the man who destroyed your family and countless others.” Surak replied, “Does the destruction of the man who destroyed my family elevate me above him? Does the destruction of innocents for the sake of his execution absolve my conscience of the blood that has been spilled due to my words? Will not the survivors in his compound wish to retaliate? When will it end?”

Although Sudoc escaped the storming of his compound, the majority of his family was killed. During the raid, Surak managed to flee his cell and escaped through a series of tunnels into the neighboring kingdom of Lhai where he wandered the Forge for days until the search parties thought him dead.

In this journal entry, Surak wrote, “Katal nahp pa’svik mesh, heh vesht fai-tor hash-veh ta worla kupi hal-tor nash-veh na’ha-kel. The thought of my betrayal brought guilt, and I knew I could never go home.”[3] The betrayal he speaks of here is not only the betrayal of his close circle of friends but also the betrayal of self. At that point in his life, his friends had become his family, and during his incarceration, he had revealed their whereabouts through the pain of torture. They were all charged with sedition and wanted for questioning. But most of all, Surak was troubled by his betrayal of his own morals. By giving into his emotions and the pain, he failed to stand by his convictions, he later said.

One of the most interesting segments of this entry is Surak’s confession that he broke one of Vulcan’s ancient taboos. After he had wandered in the Forge for several days without food and water, he was awoken by a scout craft flying dangerously low overhead. Moments later, he witnessed its crash and ran to the crumpled fuselage to check for survivors. He pulled the bodies of two pilots – both dead – from the wreckage and searched the craft for survival rations and water but found none. “Thirst was overcoming me,” he wrote, “and I thought…I could drink their blood. It would allow me to survive. My religious upbringing considered this a violation of sacred law. If I did this and was discovered, I would be an outcast, I would be tried and executed.”[4]

Surak sat with the bodies for a long time, thirst and uncertainty gnawing at his mind. He thought of his home and his family of friends. He struggled to find meaning in his life and why he even might want to continue living. He thought of all the emotional states that had brought him to this place, that had brought all of Vulcan to this place, and began to formulate his renowned treatise on fear. The elimination of fear, he believed, was the key. He concluded, “Vesht pla-ash-tor nash-veh s’riklopaya; u’samu-esh, khal ozhika eh vesht var-tor ozhika nash-veh rish-tor. Vesht mon-tor nash-veh plak, visolektal nash-veh vukhutlar heh fa’lefator nash-veh. I stepped back from my indecision; like a cool breath, logic took over and told me to survive. I drank the blood, buried the bodies, and continued on.”[5]

Surak’s treatise on fear remains to this day one of the most influential pieces of Vulcan literature.

While copyright restrictions prevent me from posting the FSE translation of Surak’s journal entry, here is the original in Traditional Golic Vulcan:  Ozhika t’ah’Hrak


[1] An Excerpt from the Teachings of Surak in Goodman, David A. (2012). Star Trek: Federation: The First 150 Years. London: Titan Books, p. 17)

[2] ibid, p. 19.

[3] ibid.

[4] ibid.

[5] ibid.