A scholar and his student sat in the garden, drinking wine, breaking bread and pondering.
And so the student asked the scholar "O' great and wise Master please answer to me this; what word should describe the practice every man and every woman should do at all times?"
With no hesitance, the scholar replied "O' learned disciple, 'Reciprocity' is the word ye seek."
- The Biv, Tome of Life, The Ethical Collections (6), Parable 32
The Biv (known as the 'Albivha' or 'Bibal' in Sahar, and 'Byb' in Orientalis) is a collection of philosophical, artisanal, and experimental works dating all back to the last several centuries of humanity on Old Terra, and up to the reHuman Renaissance of 200 TCE. The 'Good Book' is the basis for much of the philosophical, scientific and religious activity in prominent spheres across all of New Terra.
The Biv is not a Holy Scripture per se, though it does discuss aspects of life concerning a "Religious Living" in the philosophical segment of the book. Nor is it purely a philosophical piece, as it contains a substantial amount of instructions that deal with practical issues, vocational directions and leisure activities. The Biv has an entire collection titled "The Appreciations" which is essentially the "How-to-Guide for Understanding Art." Other notable sections deal with proper behavior in court, how men and women should live equitably, and even table etiquette (albeit this segment appears slightly dated.) But not just that - the Biv has an extensive section dealing with the sciences, and the human interaction with the physical world, and the consequences of such actions. Complicated materials that the Old Terrans had mastered also exist in several collections. Unfortunately, much of reHumanity's understanding of the scientific portions have been lost in translation or simply forgotten, leaving the scientific mysteries of the Biv as convoluted as the Philosophical and Religious pieces.
Which is a unifying cause for the intellectual and academia of New Terrans. When the world emerged from the Age of Night, there were few reasons to ever trust your neighbor, much less your neighbor who had probably been an enemy just decades before. The Age of Night offered little solitude to the small folk, and luxuries such as public education had completely faded away from the world. Thus, most people couldn't read. Those who could had mixed reactions. There were many who rejected the Biv outright, finding it sickeningly optimistic in a world that offered the weak only bloodshed and loss. The wishy-washy philosophical pieces hadn't saved society from Armageddon, and the scientific portions had helped fuel the fire that promoted the massive growth of the weapons industry. As for the practical portion - there was little time for reading and self help when there were mouths to feed and children to raise.
But there were some, a very small group, who embraced the Biv and continued to support it as a viable source for healthy, ethical living. They argued that the Biv provides a foundation for a person to grow to their full potential, by offering a basic and fundamental understanding to the arts and sciences, to philosophy and a practical set of social skills. What one did with these skills was completely up to them.
The simple problem remained - very few scholars of the Biv survived the Age of Night. Bivlical analysis had effectively been halted. Literally thousands of years of the most academic work that New Terra had ever seen, became little more than series of dusty old tomes that only a select few had the ability to read or comprehend. What made things worse was that Bivs, nearly two thousand pages, had to be painstakingly reproduced by Monks and Scholars, who would charge astronomical fees for a single copy. As language changed and evolved, it became necessary to be fluent in Archeoc, the lingua-franca of the pre-Age of Night New Terra. This seemed to be the final nail in the coffin for the Good Book - since most native speakers of Archeoc had died off in the Imperial Age wars, or simply had taken to speaking local dialects or language in the Age of Night, and became unknown to the world. Because the demand fell so low, Bivs stopped being produced altogether. At the lowest point, literally only several thousand existed, scattered across the three continents of New Terra.
Into the Age of Kings, Bivlical studies have re-emerged with the foundation (or in some cases re-foundation) of Ecclesiastic and Civic Universities. With the advent of the Monastic Autoscribe, Bivs were once again able to be printed at an affordable rate for those literate enough to be interested in it. Thirteen versions existed, and from these thirteen versions, 'The New Terran Standard Biv' was created. Though this was meant to be a standard Biv across the world, it was composed mostly by Greatlanders, the entire project funded by the up-and-coming monolithic institution known as "The Ark." Thus it is in Greatland where the 'Standard' Biv it sees the most use. In Sahar and Orientalis however, the 'Standard' edition never caught hold. As a result, the thirteen versions of the Biv are circulated, each slightly different, each with it's own minor discrepancies.
Regardless of Edition the Biv is Organized into Three Tomes, each Tome being divided into a number of "Collections" of individual parables, anecdotes , examinations and lessons.
The Three Tomes
The Tome of Life
The Paradox Collections 1-23
The Ephemeral Collections 1-29
The Ethical Collections 1-56
The Tome of Life is about the inter connectivity of humanity, the importance of respect, our supposed place in the universe, the supposition of an afterlife and/or deities. The Collections within the Tome of Life are mostly philosophical parables, some free standing, but many revolving around a wizened Scholar and his knowledge hungry Disciple. It deals with both simple and complex philosophical and religious issues such as the existence of evil, the formation and eternal nature of the cosmos, the discussion of principles of Government and War, and the interaction between the body and soul. The Tome is broken down into three collections; the Paradoxes - dealing with the inevitable paradoxes of life, such as the existence of evil or suffering, The Ephemeral Collections - discussing arguments for or against the existence of a heaven or hell, and denizens who inhabit it, and the Ethical Collections - which is essentially determining what exactly is "Right" and what exactly is "Wrong."
The Tome of Impericals
The Natural Collections 1-50
The Immaterial Collections 1-7
The Subjunctive Collections 1-3
The Dark Collections 1-45
The Tome of Impericals may be the largest book in the Biv. It contains a wealth of knowledge in three distinct collections, though much of it remains unknown or unusable to New Terrans currently. The Natural Collections explain both basic and complex biology and physics. They seek to explain the phenomenon of the natural world, even going so far as to asserting an advanced grasp on evolution. The Immaterial Collections were added much later during the first years of reHuman transplantation onto New Terra, when reHumanity first came into contact with Ether and Ethereal phenomena. The Subjunctive Collections are considered "Speculative Sciences" where philosophy, religion and sciences all make an ugly, violent clash. It's a number of "Arguments" where each party has a discussion about why the other is wrong, and why their claim is right. Naturally, the Imperical nature of this particular tome leans towards the opinion of the sciences. The Dark Collections are a conglomeration of many scientific principles which are not fully understood by contemporary New Terrans. They may be alien in origin, Old Terran, or perhaps the know how had been lost during the age of night.
The Tome of Equiuxerids
The Vocational Collections 1-15
The Social Collections 1-18
The Appreciation Collections 1-29
The Honorable Collections 1-9
The Martial Collections 1-32
The Authoritative Collections 1-19
The name of this tome is derived from the Old Archeoc word for "Gentlemen" or "One who rides upon an Equiux." Despite it's colloquial name, this tome applies to both Gentlemen and Ladies. It's in essence a book on practical living. The Vocational collections are often times quite lengthy, and they prove to be effective "how-to" manuals for apprentices learning a trade; from blacksmithing to tailoring. These are essentially beginner's 'skill scrolls' and they see much use within the circle of the Society of Makers. The social collections deal with the fashion, social and political 'faux pas' of the world. Strangely enough, they are not specific to clothing or culture, they are simple and broad enough to be implemented when amongst any (reHuman) culture. The Honorable Collections are one of two collections aimed at the warrior class, though pragmatically it would apply to all males. The honorable collection deals with the equitable treatment of women, the sanctity of battle, and the rights of ransom. The Martial Collection, far lengthier, is a 'how to fight' tutorial, outlining the basics of fencing, unarmed combat, acrobatics, improvised weaponry and a host of other martial arts. Lastly, and most easily overlooked by politicians, is the Authoritative Collections - or how one should go about justly governing people. It has some very distinct tie-ins with the Tome of Living, and the Scholar and Disciple even appear in several parables.
The Standard New Terran Biv is the most widely read book on Greatland, and the thirteen or so versions of the Biv in the rest of the world are all following close behind. It's contents have not only created a dramatic cry for more literature, but it has quite literally started a miniature Renaissance within the Age of Kings. The Biv has filled the curious hunger for knowledge within humanity, and while a meager estimated 3% of the New Terran Population can read that's quite a huge improvement over the less than .5% of the population that could read, just 300 years earlier. It continues to raise heated debates between scholars, theologians, philosophers and scientists (sometimes getting quite violent) but it has also satiated reHumanity's need for intellectual stimulation, as well as a certain feeling of reassurance in a time when nothing is certain.
Amending the Biv
As stated earlier, the Biv is not a Holy Scripture, and cannot be categorized as "Orthodox" in any way. Rather, it might be considered an "Orthopraxis" - meaning a book that details 'Right Actions' as opposed to 'Right Doctrine.' Because reHuamnity's grasp on the material in the Biv is always changing, so too does the material in the book. Particularly in the Tome of Impericals, as with any science, understanding broadens with experimentation and research, and as new (or old) theorems, postulates and suppositions are discovered (or rediscovered.) In history there have been councils held on New Terra (how the Old Terrans handled Bivlical amendments is largely unknown) where the most prominent magnates of every country or kingdom would meet, and have a year-long convention discussing new advances in technology, science and philosophy, and would agree to make necessary changes to the Biv. These council convened once every decade or so, and even then there was no guarantee that anything would change.
This, of course, was doable in a time when paper and ink flowed like water from intellectual fountains. As one might suspect, that leisure was but one of the many things lost in the Age of Night. The Biv may be on an upward trend now, with slightly more advanced printing technology and a broadening audience, but a global council to make changes to the Good Book is near impossible, especially with numerous different editions floating about as it is. Instead, those interested in modern advances can seek out local scribes, who convene in smaller, Kingdom or Regional councils to talk changes. These councils usually don't amount to more than a hundred or two hundred of the region's best and brightest intelligentsia who may or may not share ideas with others who are doing similar research in regions outside their own. The inserts simply slide into the book, between pages, as the name might suggest. Inserts are printed at the council once everyone is satisfied with the changes and sold to the scribes who sell them to anyone looking for the newest additions or changes made to the book. As one might suppose, these inserts can cause a bit of controversy, if not outright conflict between two opposing scholars, and as a result, Bivlical inserts vary widely from place to place. "Fluxers" (coming from the Archeoc word meaning 'Constant Change') or people who constantly keep their Biv "up to date" are considered the eclectic elite, perhaps more learned than the average reader. Most people consider themselves "Purists" who just read the vanilla Biv, and ignore the radical updates of the Inserters. Still, both Purists and Fluxers have reason to chose the way they do, and the debate whether or not it's better to change the Biv regularly, or not, will be forever argued.
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? Responses (5)
A wonderful take on a critical piece of literature. I love how comprehensive it is, both the contents of the Biv and the contents of the submission. I also like how its circulation and treatment are a reflection of societal values. So we have society changing the Biv, but the one thing I feel this piece lacks is how the Biv influenced the people (other than obvious literacy). Does it actually lead people to better lives? I don't get the sense it actually had a strong impact on leading people out of the Age of Night. Are there Biv radicals of obscure versions and interpretations? I understand it is not a religion by some definitions, but it is by others and that is why I am trying to precieve it through that lense of experience.
Well, like you said, it's a very complex piece. The closest thing you have to radicals is the Fluxers vs Purist conflict. It's not religious extremism as we see it today - in fact, it's more akin to hyper-progressives (Fluxers) and stoic conservatives (Purists) The religious sects of New Terra have their own holy scriptures that may or may not coincide with the Biv, depending on the personal beliefs set in place by the religious institution. With that being said, conflict concerning the Biv are usually political in nature, if not scholarly.
A rather long and complicated read, it has a sense of history and bears a certain sense of ponderance and antiquity that a massive archaic book should have. Nicely done
This is mighty impressive to me. And what Scras said.
This time I'm just going with 'wow'.