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.


The Dzhaleyl Script


Not long after Surak’s death, his Analects were disguised as ship manifests to prevent their destruction. Although Surak had gained many followers by the end of his life, there were still those who found his teachings a threat to their way of life. The script of the Kir’Shara, the artifact believed to contain the Analects in their original form, has been identified as Dzhaleyl. It was a writing system developed by traders who sailed the Voroth Sea from the city-state of Dzhaleyl. The earliest examples of the script are preserved in the red clay of the Na’ri Valley. The Varith Tablet, dating back over 8,000 years, is the oldest find to date. Images from the excavation are expected to be released by the Vulcan Science Academy in a few months and will be posted here when available.

Five hundred years before the birth of Surak, the Dzhaleyl script was still in use but had moved from the cumbersome clay medium to scroll with the invention of dun, a paper-like material made from the fibers of the dun-yar plant, much like papyrus. It was on such scrolls that the Analects were preserved in Traditional Golic Vulcan (TGV). At the time, TGV served as a universal language in the way Latin did on Earth for over a millennium.

The Dzhaleyl script – sometimes spelled Jaleyl in Federation Standard English (FSE) – consists of twenty-four glyphs. Like the Hebrew of Earth, the script originally contained only consonants, with vowels and the glyph for heh/eh (and) added sometime after the year 100. According to an ancient primer used to teach the young sons of merchant-sailors, the script — to aid memory — was designed to resemble Vulcan plant-life. Although the flora throughout Vulcan is restricted to small cacti and succulents, the temperate Dzhaleyl Region is known for its vines and creepers. The carnivorous d’mallu is particularly aggressive there.


Written on consecutive vertical lines or stringers, the script is read top to bottom, right to left. Glyphs often flow into one another, although in some hands, spaces are left between words. In others, the text continues without a break, although paragraphs are always started on a fresh line. There is no punctuation.

In keeping with the botanical theme of the script, the vertical line is commonly referred to as the kas-fek or stem. The top horizontal, which heads each line, is the gel (branch). The sinuous curves of the S, K, H, G, Z, C, L, R, F and V glyphs suggest a kas-elakh or vine and the semi-circular form of M and N stylized mor (leaf). The nei-savas (berry) can be seen in the A, O, and U glyphs and the kastik-og-lum (thorn) in E, I, and Y. The B and P glyphs are thought to represent buds and W the svai or mature bloom. The T glyph is a delicate tendril curling up from the branch of the glyph it precedes or follows.

Glyphs from Dzhaleyl (Click for chart)

The glyphs in this chart are arranged according to FSE custom – as individual symbols read left to right – to make it easier for the learner to distinguish them. For Vulcan children, they are presented in the customary vertical strings. Here the glyphs are shown in relation to the gel, the head of the line. If a glyph – such as those for S, K, W, M, N, T, B, and P – incorporate the gel, then it must always be written with a horizontal line. The rest of the glyphs do not incorporate the gel and are shown here below it. Vowels are placed within the sinuous curves of vine glyphs. The H glyph (hla’meth) is only used at the start or end of a word. Where it serves to denote aspirated consonants, as in kh, ch, th, or zh, the hla’meth-nei (hla’meth seed) is used, which is recognizable in the example at the right as a double line intersecting the S glyph.

To date, Shi’Oren t’Ek’Iyula-Visak’a T’Khasi – the Vulcan Academy of Cultural Heritage – had not released a Dzhaleyl font for use with Terran computer systems, but since interest in the ancient script is growing, the Academy will likely do so.  At that point, a more detailed analysis, along with practical usage, will be appropriate.

In the meantime, since curiosity runs strong among humans, here is a listing of the glyphs and the translations of their common names. Logically, they are plant species.


an herb1; a bushy, grey-green creeper with a sweet resinous aroma that reminds some of lavender. Its oils are used in teas and soaps.


an herb2; a pungent creeper with a refreshing, minty aroma. Its fresh leaves are used in teas and baths.


a flowering plant with tiny white blossoms3; a desert succulent, growing in dense globular clusters. Its flesh is used as a source of water by travelers.


an herb4; tall with deep crimson spiky flowers. The leaves make a resinous, citrus-scented tea not unlike bee balm.


a night-blooming vine.5


a grain-bearing grass; a staple in the Vulcan food supply6. The tips of the grass blades dry and curl in late season, making it an excellent choice for dried arrangements.


an herb7; its olive-green tendrils invade crevices and affix themselves to the smoothest stone.


a berry bush8 producing small, brownish-green buds which are crushed to make the beverage known as Vulcan mocha. The spiral of the glyph can be seen on the tips of the berries.


rust-plant; a tall, tree-like cactus with a growth of rust-colored wooly hairs. The abundant pollen from its golden blooms resembles rust.


dried strings of this plant were used for weaving nets for hunting.9


an herb10 with a leggy growth habit and long, narrow leaves. The leaves when crushed remind Terrans of lemon and are used for tea and salads.


a vine grown on trellises for tea.11


a legume12 used in soups; has a nutty flavor.


weed13; the generic term for a weed or nuisance plant, but even weeds are utilized on Vulcan. If threatening more desirable plants, weed species are carefully removed and encouraged to grow elsewhere or immediately used for their various benefits.


a sweet herb, often used in flavoring water.14


A squash-like vegetable used for the soap that is a staple in Vulcan cuisine.15


a large, carnivorous plant.16 Although the glyph looks nothing like the dangerous, sprawling creeper, folklore explains that the glyph represents the plant after the Vulcan child had successfully dealt with it during kahs-wan.


a bush that grows nowhere else but the temple that bears its name. It provides soft fibers for the weaving of fine cloths on handlooms17 and nut-like edible seed-berries.


finger-plant; a cactus-like plant this is columnar at first but produces finger-like shoots – usually five in number. The tender nodules of the shoots are edible.


crop(s)18  This glyph was likely inspired by hirat, a grapelike fruit – a common export of Dzhaleyl.


breath-plant; a pungent herb used to ease breathing and congestion, especially in cases of lung-lock fever. The fresh leaves are also chopped and used with dried fruit in the baking of krei’la.


a berry bush19, gnarled and tiny-leaved20 with thorns.


grass21; an invasive species that when disturbed produces stinging nettles.


1Bonanno, M. W. (1985). Dwellers in the crucible. New York: Pocket Books, p. 5.


3Gardner, M. R. & The Vulcan Language Institute. (2011). The Vulcan Language. Raleigh, NC: Lulu Enterprises, Inc., p. 58.

4Bonanno, M. W. (1985). Dwellers in the crucible. New York: Pocket Books, p. 5.

5 Michael Sussman (Writer), & Allan Kroeker (Director). (2004). Home [Television series episode]. In Star Trek: Enterprise. Hollywood, CA: Paramount Pictures.

6Duane, D. (1988). Spock’s world. New York: Pocket Books, p. 118.

7Bonanno, M. W. (1985). Dwellers in the crucible. New York: Pocket Books, p. 5.

8The way of kolinahr: the Vulcans. (1998). Culver City, CA: Last Unicorn Games, p. 45.

9Duane, D. (1988). Spock’s world. New York: Pocket Books, p. 127.

10Bonanno, M. W. (1985). Dwellers in the crucible. New York: Pocket Books, p. 5.

11Crispin, A.C. (1994). Sarek. New York: Pocket Books, p. 89.

12 Gardner, M. R. & The Vulcan Language Institute. (2011). The Vulcan Language. Raleigh, NC: Lulu Enterprises, Inc., p. 21.

13ibid, p. 56.

14Orion Press Lexicon.

15Gardner, M. R. & The Vulcan Language Institute. (2011). The Vulcan Language. Raleigh, NC: Lulu Enterprises, Inc., p. 40.

16ibid, p. 16.

17Bonanno, M.W. (2010). Unspoken truth. New York: Pocket Books.

18 Gardner, M. R. & The Vulcan Language Institute. (2011). The Vulcan Language. Raleigh, NC: Lulu Enterprises, Inc., p. 55.

19Martin, M.A. (2009). The Romulan War: Beneath the raptor’s wing. New York: Pocket Books, p. 71.

20Fontana, D.C. (1989). Vulcan’s glory. New York: Pocket Books, p. 10.

21 Gardner, M. R. & The Vulcan Language Institute. (2011). The Vulcan Language. Raleigh, NC: Lulu Enterprises, Inc., p. 59.


Peace and long life.

This site is offered as a vehicle for discussion in the best of Vulcan tradition. Here the visitor will find links to the Analects of Surak and to each of the volumes as the text and translations becomes available. The reader is invited to post comment, in either Gol-Vuhlkansu or Federation Standard English. As time permits and discussion warrants, some of translator Shupal’s  Tuhskayalar (Commentary) will be posted for further debate. As this is a work in progress, the reader is encouraged to visit often. Additionally, visitors are welcome to contact me at

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Sidzhan, Site Administrator