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.