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.

A Message from the Vulcan Academy of Cultural Heritage

While we wait for the release of Surak’s Second Analects, I thought I would share with you a message I recently received from the archivist of the Vulcan Academy of Cultural Heritage. A few months ago, I wrote to inquire about the existence of a map, showing major settlements and territories, from Surak’s time. I’m frequently asked about the history of Na’nam Province, political alliances and divisions, the location of various monasteries, and I’m not always able to answer such questions without a cartographical reference. Unfortunately, maps from Surak’s time were lost through intervening wars.

Here is what Archivist Karek had to say. A translation into Federation Standard English follows:

oSidzhan,

Ki’poprah n’ya’akashan s’odu na’to’ankha-besan t’Na’nam s’pal t’Surak. Vun-ro’fah ta veling ri kup-prah n’ish-ro’fori-ves fna’noshtra khrashik t’ish-pal. Ma n’yeht’es ta fator kla-hil-tor heh besau Sarvahl tsokallar heh shi’fiferhanaunlar ik vesht nam-tor fa’Va’ken-Izaya. S’talal tuwak s’T’Par t’razhilan t’Aba’kur heh fna’ta hau n’oska t’Anonak, kup i’fereik-tor n’nen-besan t’krusol. I’ma n’toyeht-sep-wafikhan k’besan-tanafsu ik T’Rel, heh gish ta ovsoh n’ar’tu fa’tevun-shataya. Dungi mestau n’odu ish-wak ik nam-tor is-bosh-besan la’ka-yehat.

Kal-tor fator tal-tor n’kilkolar t’deshkerlar t’odu.

s’Karek ik Oskasu t’Shi’Oren t’Ek’Iyula-Visak’a T’Khasi

____________________________________________________

Sidzhan,

We have received your request for a political map of Na’nam dating to the Age of Surak. We must inform you that due to the violent nature of the times, such information does not come readily to hand. You are correct that Sarvahl continues to research and plot the territories and settlements which existed prior to the Reformation. With the recent findings by T’Par of the Aba’kur Excavation and the records kept at Anonak, we can now create a basic rendering of the province. We have a contract with artist T’Rel and expect her to complete the project before year’s end. We will contact you when a useful image is available.

May you continue to find answers to your questions.

Karek, Archivist of the Vulcan Academy of Cultural Heritage

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If you would like to see the original transmission from the Academy, click on the link below. Here you’ll see the Academy’s official logo and letterhead. The text appears in the Zun typographic system, developed by Briht’uhn. For more information about Zun and the Ogen dialect of Modern Golic Vulcan, please visit korsaya.org. Special thanks to Briht’uhn for the Ogen translation and transcription into Zun.

Transmission from the Vulcan Academy of Cultural Heritage

In Service,

Sidzhan