January 18, 2011
Today I shall answer a couple of questions concerning the existence and formation of the living soul.
When contemplating the soul, we need to remember that it is composed of Incarnum, and that all Incarnum is drawn from its home plane. Consequently, there needs to be a kind of electromagnetic pull from, say, the being’s home plane to attract the Incarnum to it.
Problem here: Living beings tend to be pretty small and, unlike what The Matrix would have you believe, the living brain is not very highly charged, electrically speaking.
So how does the living brain draw Incarnum to form the living soul? The answer here is the Bastions.
The Bastions of Souls are huge swirling masses of Incarnum, typically one to a given planet (and more common on life-bearing planets than sterile ones, for obvious reasons), and they are formed from the same things that attract Incarnum in living brains. The only difference between a Bastion and a brain is that the Bastion is huge and kickstarted, typically, by lightning. I’m sure all of you remember the end of Back to the Future: Lightning packs a huge punch. Consequently, not only are Bastions self-sustaining, they are also huge magnets for Incarnum.
Now, it is very easy to see that pulling Incarnum towards yourself is much easier on an intra-planar level than an inter-planar level, so the Bastion serves as a kind of “Incarnum highway”, drawing Incarnum in bulk whilst living brains draw it from them at a much decreased volume.
Now that we’ve solved how the living brain acquires its Incarnum in the first place, we can move on to our next question: How does the living brain form a soul?
Here is an interesting fact: Bastions are not alive, and they do not have souls of their own. There is a big difference between having Incarnum and having a soul, and that is the manner in which the Incarnum is attracted.
The fundamental and most popularised quality of Incarnum is that it energises organic matter, allowing it to grow bigger than otherwise or stronger than otherwise, etc. But if you have too much of it at once, it disintegrates that living matter. To give an analogy, a small lamp will help a flower grow, a big one might cause it to burst into flames. The accumulation of Incarnum has to be slow and gradual, or else the living brain will simply burn out under the pressure of it. The Bastions have a massive burst of Incarnum when they are created, which is why there is no organic matter left inside of them, and only trace remnants of the minerals and other materials that helped them spark their own genesis, what keeps them going is the fact that they are already there (It is much easier to pour water down a hill than it is to carry that water up the hill in the first place, if you will).
So what does that tell us? It tells us that, when the living brain is first firing up, it starts attracting Incarnum, which in turn energises the brain and helps it along to develop and attract more.
Now, archaeology on Avbaroy is a spotty subject at best, but I can tell you for certain that humans and the Bastion did not appear on the planet in that order, but lets consider for a moment the consequences of what would happen if they had. It’s a very short answer, really: Assuming they survived the Incarnum being drawn to their brains, the humans would not have souls until a generation after the Bastion appeared.
Why is this? Well, consider that issue above. The tiny little infant human has a very low-power electromagnet for Incarnum in its brain, and then slowly builds it up as they develop and get a stronger electromagnet. The adult human on the other hand, initially bereft of Incarnum, would not have a brain capable of surviving the sudden rapid influx of it, because the Incarnum energises living tissue, as we know. Consequently, the developing babies would be fine, but the adults would have a hard time surviving. This also tells us that intelligent, soul-bearing, life on a planet must develop after the local Bastion appears or else it stands a very good chance of being annihilated by the influx of Incarnum. This is also different from travelling to a planet with a Bastion from one that doesn’t, since one is the Bastion appearing and the other is it easing into view, but you won’t magically get a soul from a day trip to Avbaroy, because it must develop over time as with the babies.
And now for a very unique case: Maeter Minoblendy.
As we know from the end chapters of Book 3, Maeter is a Sovice entity from the planet Jannah.
Jannah has no Bastion of Souls, the Janni therefore had no souls and did not even know of magic, and consequently neither do Sovices or indeed any lifeforms from Jannah. However, as Mersenne discovered during his examination of her, Maeter does have a soul.
So, question: How did Maeter acquire a soul?
Let’s review how she came to be in the first place: Maeter crash landed on Avbaroy with Tala, riding a meteorite. She then reformed into a human newborn (a form based on the nearby form with the then-deceased natives and on Tala’s natural shapeshifting response) with no knowledge of, well, pretty much anything.
So we know from this that, at one time, Maeter was scattered about the forest floor in a fiery crater near the deceased remains of beings that possessed souls. We also know that the nanites that compose most of her being had to perform some form of “memory dump” during her reformation, since if it happened before she would not have reformed at all and if it happened afterwards she would be unaware of herself, as was the case.
We can conclude then that when Maeter reformed, her injured nanites dragged with them some impurities and contaminants from the surrounding environment, including Tala and the deceased natives. In attempting to reconstruct a humanoid form, the first thing they would have constructed would have been the brain, which would therefore be where those impurities would have ended up initially. When that brain fired up, it could have functioned as an Incarnum electromagnet, due to the electrical activity and the impurities present, causing Maeter’s new brain to attract Incarnum and start developing a soul*, which in turn could have caused a drastic error in her nanites which caused them to destroy most of their memory, whilst leaving the more insulated memory responsible for reconstruction intact (because it was only a small amount of Incarnum to begin with).
And, as a result, Maeter grew up with a living soul.
Now I should stress: Maeter is tremendously unique. Souls very rarely come into existence accidentally like this. You could build a supercomputer to simulate the activities of a thousand living brains and never once would it house a soul, and you could also build a full replica of a living brain and it might also never have a soul. It seems more often that it is the way the living brain thinks and conducts its electrical activity that makes it act like an electromagnet for Incarnum (I’m using that phrase too much, incarnumagnet?) is what is responsible more for the soul being produced. As a rule of thumb, things you make to mimic living brains will not acquire souls whilst things you make to think like living brains may. There are still the requirements of specific chemical mixtures within the system and a local Bastion of Souls, but there are examples even on Avbaroy of intelligent species just like humans that do not have souls.
Personally I’ve been writing and re-reading this article with various themes from Stephen Hawking’s Universe going through my head, but I’m sure not all of you will be as fascinated as this world of unique physics that I almost-accidentally cobble together in such a coherent fashion, but I hope you enjoyed this latest foray into the world of magic physics.
*I say “developing” but a baby’s soul is no different to an adult’s, just smaller and less “refined” to their personalities. Babies are by no means soul-less.