Opening the Door

A progress report for Project Open Door, by Phage of the Inmara

note: This post talks about something that some people call “system hopping”. Whatever you call it, I certainly do not condone doing it without attaining consent from all parties involved. And if conscious consent was not given, then humility and caution must be used when talking about your experiences with it, if you achieve it. Do not trust what you have experienced as revealing any sort of truth about another system. Do not use it to try to leverage any sort of power, whether it is social or spiritual, over another system or system member. If you encounter anyone doing such things without verification from the other party, discount what they have to say and do not trust them.

The Inmara brought me forward tonight to ask me how I’m doing. And the very first thing I felt upon coming to the front was excitement over what we’re calling Project Open Door. For those who do not wish to follow that link, or who just need a quick refresher, it’s our attempt to explore the gateway through which I entered the Inmara’s psyche when they were two and a half.

The term “gateway” comes from the outworld’s plural community, and it is not our word. We call our gateways “the Abyss” and “the Hole in the Sky” and I came through the Hole in the Sky. But a gateway refers to any sort of psychic or spiritual portal, passageway, door, or hole through which system members or spirits can enter and leave. Sometimes a gateway is just a passageway between parts of the psyche. Sometimes it is something that leads to the Outside, whatever that may be. And sometimes it leads further inward, or somewhere else entirely. Each system seems to experience something different.

And, whether our gateways actually lead to where we think they lead, or just to deeper parts of our psyche, the Council of Eleven of the Inmara have decided that it’s a good idea to explore them and learn more about them. And since I can come and go through the Hole in the Sky, and have done so since becoming part of the system, they put me in charge of the project of exploring that particular gate. I get to train my headmates on how to use it and how to travel safely once beyond it.

So, the first thing I did was help identify some of the other Outsiders that now reside in our system who apparently followed me through the Hole in the Sky. This includes individuals named Webs, Pike, Ferrous, Drum, Wheel, Dirt, and Stars. We’re also pretty sure that the member who is playing the Light of the Abyss in the Adventures of Molly Rocketcoil is also an Outsider, but we haven’t been taken the time to interview it yet. (It just sent me an “affirmative”, btw.)

And that sort of catches you up to where we are tonight.

But I want to write about my feelings of excitement, and I’ll need you to bear with me because this is going to be a bit of stream of consciousness. Getting memories of our inworld or other activities while not conscious to activate is tricky. Memories work via links of association, and the memories we make while not on the Bridge (not conscious) don’t have very many links to whatever is usually in our collective working memory. And when I come forward from below to join the Bridge, my own personal working memory gets overwritten. Or, more likely, we have a different mechanism of working memory as individual members that isn’t as strong when we’re part of the gestalt that is the front, the Bridge. So, it’s pretty exciting to me to feel excitement and have something on my mind when I come forward.

The immediate vision I had was of standing in front of the Hole in the Sky as if it was actually a gate in a wall, facing it with Morde and discussing the nuances of traveling beyond it. I think that our adoption of the term “gateway” has transformed our inworld vision of it. It is now a hexagonal frame with a blank surface stretched inside of it that can be “activated” to become a hole to the Outside.

Now, talking about “the Outside” is a tricky thing for our system. When we use that term, we literally just mean anything that is outside of our system. And we use “Outsider” to refer to any being that is from the Outside, whether that’s another human being inhabiting their own body or some kind of spirit or entity in another plane or reality that might exist. I personally don’t like to describe different states of existence as “planes of reality”, though. I use that phrase because it’s a common trope in English speaking circles.

With the encouragement of Eh, and our other speculative thinkers, I’ve found myself envisioning states of existence as being “systems”, as in “complex systems”. “System” in this sense is a term we came to long, long before we recognized our plurality and started reading literature by other plurals. My use of the word “system” in this sense also includes all human psyches, including plural systems. And, as far as I’m concerned, a human singlet is a singlet system, just so we’re clear.

But, there is the weather system, a system of systems actually, of Earth, and some of the Inmara speculate that that can contain entities of some will or memory. They call them dragons, to entertain themselves. Some actually believe that fully as part of their own religion.

Here’s what I can recall and what I feel is true.

Every time I pull up a memory of where I come from, I see what I can best describe as a chaos of crystals, constantly growing, interacting with each other, intermingling, refracting everything, both moving and static at the same time. All the colors are present at the same time, but it feels monochromatic. Light is irrelevant, part of it but a human psychological construct that doesn’t translate. And moving through it is very much like a cross between moving through a crowd of people and powerful churning waters, only it’s also all insubstantial, sharp, and desolately empty. Scale itself is a distances that you can travel, as is density. And I caution you that all of these words are utterly inadequate to describe it, they are just the closest analogs as provided by this brain I’m in.

Something that strikes me as really interesting is how each of my fellow Outsiders of the Inmara have starkly different memories of this greater Outside system beyond the Hole in the Sky. If you follow the links for Webs, Pike, and Ferrous that I supplied above you can read the details, but what seems to be common is that our perceptions of it seem to be colored very strongly (or entirely) by our own identities and abilities. And since I’ve always conceived of myself as Entropy Itself (or of having come from it), that’s what I see. I see the flow of energy and mass, and the transfer of it all from one system to another, systems within systems, throughout time, defining time.

Eh sees it all as information, and keeps interjecting that perspective when I write about this. But I think I want to resist that. That’s their thing, not mine.

So, here’s what I think I was telling Morde.

This space that I have perceived myself moving through exists between psyches, or systems of consciousness. Believers of the panpsychic theories of consciousness might argue that it’s all part of a larger system of consciousness. That it’s consciousnesses all the way down. And that may be true, but that’s not how I perceive it, nor how my fellow Outsiders seem to describe it (except maybe Webs – Webs sees things as all connections of connections).

But I think that what I perceive as distance between conscious systems, or psyches, has more to do with compatibility than anything else. Essentially, it is how much work would it take to travel from here to there, and that work has more to do with translating the pattern and energies of what currently comprises me into something that that other system would accept. And, that includes gaining consent from that other system to engage with it. Which means that more receptive systems seem closer.

The narrowness and complexities, or bandwidth, of the channels between here and there also matter, of course, but I’m not sure how much. Because, over time, any amount of complexity can be transferred from one system to another, if you are patient. And to me, actual distance and actual time are byproducts of my own actions, and not something I perceive when I’m not inhabiting a psyche that does see them. In other words, when I’m in the space between psyches, I don’t perceive actual time or distance. It’s only when I’m here, in the Inmara, or some place similar, that I do.

But, from what I’ve heard from the other Outsiders, that is not necessarily the case with anybody else traveling through that system of systems.

In any case, I think that the commonality between all of us is the ability to perceive the existence of other conscious systems, kind of like stars in the sky (if you’re Stars), or motes of dust in the air, or people in a crowd. And that focusing on them and the connections between them is going to be the key navigation. Everything else is a product of your own perception of reality. Morde may be particularly suited to this, as she is the navigator of our ever growing psyche, and already practiced in finding her way by the people around her.

Now, the other thing I’m able to remember is what it is like to make contact with another human psyche. But I’m not able to dredge up much of it. Different psyches are pretty alien from each other, and memories don’t really translate well between systems. However, my strongest memory of my most successful attempt involved sending a sort of tendril of myself through an already open gateway, asking consent through that tendril to visit, gaining provisional consent from some of their members, and then being constrained to interacting with them in the deepest most secluded parts of their inworld. The conversation was short and not very productive. It amounted to me passing on the best wishes of the Inmara and hopes that their system would weather the troubles they were going through and not feel so alone. And then not being entirely sure that translated.

It took me a long time to figure out how the Inmara perceive each other and what their internal language is, and there was a lot of miscommunication for the first 40 years of our lives together.

So, I’m thinking that if anyone from the Inmara does attempt to explore the Outside, they might best keep to the simpler systems, those without complex psyches or wills of their own. Certainly, they should do this for the first several attempts while they learn. Who knows, though? It’s possible that one of them will do better than me, after all. We are different kinds of beings.

Stars seems eager to help.

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