The Lost Writings
Never mind his Analects: the hope that Vulcan would survive was Surak’s greatest achievement. — Karatek
For 1800 standard years, it was thought the original writings of Surak existed only in fragments culled from the Nets. Not long after his death, Surak’s original writings disappeared, presumed destroyed by those, like the te-Vikram warlords, who opposed his appeals for peace and cthia reforms. But in the eyes of many Vulcans of the younger generations, Surak grew to become a legend, and his words offered hope in a world ravaged by war. When Surak obtained a following on the Nets, his writings were posted as a series of musings and social commentary, much like a blog today.
Whether the power surge that destroyed the online files containing Surak’s works was vandalism or an accident, we’ll never know. If it was deliberate, the act was carefully concealed in one of the strongest sand-fire storms ever to rock Shi’Kahr. Redundant backup systems were in place, but even those failed. Surak’s words, revered at that time by an estimated 2.53 million Vulcans, were lost to the ravaging sands of time.
The work published during the Time of the Awakening as the Analects of Surak was a treasury of sayings and commentary attributed to him. Surak spent most of his time traveling to war-torn areas of Vulcan and suing for peace among the fighting factions. He had no time to gather his outpourings into a cohesive volume. He left that to his students and followers.
Over the centuries, the Analects became a commentary, collected and rendered by multiple analysts and scholars, who poured over the electronic fragments left behind by Surak and his followers and attempted to make sense of them. Spock’s grandfather, Skon, a mathematician and linguist, was first to translate the Analects into Federation Standard English as the Teachings of Surak. Unfortunately, no matter the interpreter, any interpretation is just that — a new work upon which the translator has projected, consciously or subconsciously, his own moral and philosophical tastes. The tastes that prevailed from the renderings in the Analects over the centuries before the discovery of the Kir’Shara were more reserved and isolationist than the Vulcan custom today. Emotions were to be purged and replaced with logic, but that’s not what Surak originally taught, as you’ll see.
It wasn’t until 2154 that the Kir’Shara was found by the Syrrannites, a Vulcan splinter group who practiced mind-melding and believed Surak’s writings had been misinterpreted for 1800 years. The group formed around Syrran, a kolinahr master and archaeologist bent on finding Surak’s original writings.
Logic brought Syrran to the T’Karath Sanctuary, founded by T’Klaas, who was one of Surak’s first students and one of the first kolinahr masters. Syrran believed Surak had been entombed in secrecy by his students — to protect their master’s beloved katra — along with the unidentified mummified remains of over a hundred Vulcan masters and monks, including T’Klaas. Deep within the T’Karath Sanctuary in 2137, Syrran achieved a breakthrough when he located the katric ark of Surak, long missing from Mount Seleya. Before returning the vessel to the priests of Seleya, he melded with Surak’s katra in the hope of learning — from the mind of the author — where the original writings might be found. At the very least, Syrran hoped to bring new translations to light through melds with Surak’s katra, demonstrating the true nature of mind melding — something Surak encouraged but all Vulcan came to view with profound distaste and distrust — and how corrupt Vulcan had become. He was surprised when Surak’s katra took up residence in his own mind. “Surak wants the centuries of misinterpretation to end,” Syrran told his followers, after taking on Surak’s katra. “The writings are stored in a vessel called the Kir’Shara. It is in T’Karath where we will find it.”
Knowing death was fast approaching, Surak had hurried to create both a hard and digital copy of the writings he wanted most to preserve and hoped Vulcan would take to heart.
Syrran knew he was looking for an ark described as “a tetrahedral prism with a beveled base, approximately 457 millimeters in height and 220 millimeters at its widest point….Its worn, gray metal surface was adorned with Old High Vulcan calligraphy on all three of its large isosceles faces, one of which also contained a pattern of three interlocking triangles with a small circular depression in the central, inverted one. Four similar depressions were found on another side, five on the third. These were the control keys for activating the artifact’s functions. The primary activation sequence would trigger the holographic circuitry within, projecting a ring of blood-green text into the air above the artifact, with translations into other leading Vulcan languages of the time appearing in overlapping rings of other colors.” Stored within the base of the ark were the printed texts, etched in Surak’s own hand on thirty-six thin trapezoidal titanium sheets, housed upon correspondingly numbered racks. The sheets provided a low-tech backup in case the destruction of the wars reverted Vulcan to more primitive technology.
Syrran perished in a sand-fire storm before he could locate the Kir’Shara. But in the instant before his death, he transferred his own katra, along with Surak’s, to Captain Jonathan Archer. Archer, with Commander T’Pol as guide, were investigating the bombing of the Terran Embassy on Vulcan and the Syrranites’ alleged involvement when they ran into Syrran. Archer went on to locate the Kir’Shara with help from Surak’s katra. With Archer and T’Pol, the Syrrannites delivered the only surviving copy of Surak’s original writings to the Vulcan High Command.
Corruption and Recovery
The discovery of the Kir’Shara in 2154 sparked a philosophical and cultural reformation across Vulcan and toppled the Vulcan High Command, then under the corrupt leadership of Administrator V’Las. Syrrannite activist T’Pau became a high-ranking minister in the reformed Vulcan government. In a secure and climate-controlled study vault at the Vulcan Science Academy Museum, Skon undertook the effort to translate the Kir’Shara into English.The endeavor proved to be a challenge.
“I have encountered certain difficulties interpreting Surak’s concepts and expressions,” he told his colleagues once, “into as emotive a language as English. This was an issue I faced in my earlier translation of the Analects, but since the Kir’Shara represents Surak’s own words rather than secondary accounts thereof, it calls for exceptional care.”
The challenge proved even more difficult when the Kir’Shara was stolen in 2165 and replaced by a forgery by the ousted V’Las. The forged sections made it appear that V’Las’s corrupt views of cthia had originally been Surak’s, and therefore, the Reformation under the Syrrannites did not reflect the original writings of Surak after all. But, once again thanks to Archer and crew, the true Kir’Shara was recovered, Skon’s linguistic work continued, and the Reformed views held sway.
Skon’s friend Surel was heard to comment, “Even with the most committed effort…I fear such a translation of the Kir’Shara will be a rough approximation at best. Useful for introducing the general population — of various worlds — to the ideas express in the works, perhaps. But the full power and magnificence of Surak’s wisdom can only be experienced in the original Old High Vulcan.”
“An overly romantic interpretation,” Skon said. “It is merely a matter of understanding the historical context. The Kir’Shara is a product of its time and place, as is any piece of our history.”
The Kir’Shara, as translated by Skon, is offered here in Federation Standard English with links to the Old High Vulcan, also known as Traditional Golic Vulcan. Each chapter covers an og-elakh, or philosophical thread, begins with a kohlan or meditation on the subject, and concludes with naph, or Surak’s summarizing thoughts. The writings are, to this day, presented in analytical form, divided into three volumes. Along with Surak’s original writings, information about Vulcan culture, language, and history at the Time of the Awakening — when Surak waged for peace on Vulcan — can also be found here to aid understanding and, hopefully, inspire a new awakening among today’s readers.
Bennett, C. L. (2015). Uncertain logic. New York: Pocket Books.
Sherman, J. & Shwartz, S. (2004). Exodus. New York: Pocket Books. (Vulcan’s soul: book 1)