Archives for the month of: March, 2015

Oh, the snow it falls, the way is long,
long, long, long as a song
and this path is strange to me
for I am lost in the Sea of Trees:
I must get home, to my wife Mari –

– in my house she waits for me:
she is warm, and I am cold,
and she is young, and I am old,
for I am lost in the Sea of Trees
upon this path so strange to me:

Ah, she is my world, my all-in-all –
oh, why must the snow fall?’

Excerpt from Mask [i] / Volume 9 of Dustless

Dustless | Volume 9



hoo-sha-ha: hoo-sha-ha…

Zy was warm enough. The night continued still, with virtually no breeze – and it was usually the breeze that brought the more violent cold.

Gradually, the noise grew louder: Lord Berensota was right about the direction – they were moving towards the source of the sound.

They’d crossed the footbridge, and trudged through rougher and deeper snow, less compacted, in the empty area between perimeter fence and the main part of the outskirts of BerKur. There were some isolated buildings, but they seemed to have been abandoned by the town, and let stray out there in the darkness. There was no one about.

hoo-sha-ha: hoo-sha-ha… hoo-sha-ha: hoo-sha-ha… click! Zrrrrr! Click! hoo-sha-ha: hoo-sha-ha…

The lord had also been right: it was a machine making the noise – it could be nothing else. As they walked through the tranquil night, with the uninhabited darkness of the Endless Plains out on their right, and the town on their left, its centre giving off a soft aura from the many lanterns, its outlying streets and buildings black and silhouetted, the machine could be heard uttering a repeated sequence of sounds: on this day of wonders, a new, alien wonder was waiting for Zy.

Zrrrrr! Click! hoo-sha-ha: hoo-sha-ha…

Zyso began to tremble: he had never heard anything like this before. Or… Well: he had grown up among the sounds of a working SharDo – the low hums and clicks of a tower whose tanks were operative; and the almost inaudible tickings of Ancient mechanisms, the mechanical sighs of pumps, the purr of filters, had served he and Zysa for lullabies, almost for a mother – but those sounds weren’t, somehow, the utterances of machines; they were what home sounded like; they were natural; they were the only world he knew.

But this sequence of sounds…

hoo-sha-ha: hoo-sha-ha… hoo-sha-ha: hoo-sha-ha… click! Zrrrrr! Click! hoo-sha-ha: hoo-sha-ha…

He could see smoke – a number of fires were burning, on the outer edge of the town, although Zy’s view was obstructed by some straggling buildings. The riders worked their way round the wasteground, and approached another bridge – and there was another one further ahead, as well – which was covered in snow, though only by a thin frozen paste. The ground was more uneven here, with softly swelling, shallow dome-like mounds; and it was from a depression beyond one of these mounds that both the smoke and the repetitive noises of the machine were coming.

Under the clear sky that hung above them, the stars and the rising moon visible through a giant, motionless hole in the surrounding grey cloud, the air was very still and pure, and the machine’s noise was penetrating rather than loud. Its sound travelled not only through the air, but seemed to be communicated through the earth as well: the sound possessed Gur – “weight”. Indeed, even before he saw the machine, Zy felt the heaviness of its being, its presence – it seemed to be the sound of weight, of massivity, of bulk: of metal.

They clunked across the bridge, and began to follow a path that led round and through the swelling mounds.

Zy’s heart was like a flower, tensed and opening before the light of the sun.

Trembling: a trembling inside Zy, where his heart was; and a trembling in the air; and a trembling through the ground.

hoo-sha-ha: hoo-sha-ha… hoo-sha-ha: HOO-SHA-HA: HOO-SHA-HA… CLICK! ZRRRR! CLICK! HOO-SHA-HA: HOO-SHA-HA…

Still, the sound wasn’t loud – if the riders had spoken (but they didn’t speak), their natural voices would have been perfectly audible above the sound of the machine – but there was something profoundly convincing about the solidity and denseness of the noise.

Zy sensed an animal patience about the throbbing, humming, buzzing, clicking thing: it was curiously bestial – passive, ponderous, unmoving. It was the sound of waiting. For a few moments, just before he saw the machine, Zy associated it with the Chun trekking ponies the riders had used to cross the dusty eastern provinces of the Endless Plains; if they had been metal, this was the sound the ponies would have made as they stood, motionless, at the command of their human riders, during a halt in the ride.

The two riders entered a surprisingly large bowl-shaped dell. There were about ten fires, burned down low, arranged in a wide ring: they were embering now, and the blackened wood was cooling and smoking in parts, and only in the hearts of these small bonfires was the timber glowing and shimmering and sparkling in its own heat.


In the centre of the ring of fires, it stood: a vast machine. Before he’d seen it, Zy had felt its sound was the sound of weight: now, once the two riders had entered the dell, and gained an uninterrupted view of the machine, Zy knew he was hearing the sound of power.

He was shivering, not with cold but with excitement: his whole being was fanning open, responding to the deep, bowel-rippling sound – even this close, not particularly loud (you could still hold a conversation in your normal speaking voice, and easily hear each other) – emanating from the machine. This was sound you could feel: it was physical, it made the air shudder and, from within the foundations of the air itself, the sound throbbed out, hitting you in gravid waves.

Zysoshin was thrilled: he felt as if the sounds were making his nerves quiver in awesome sympathy.

The machine was about three times as high as the tall Lord Berensota, and about ten horselengths long – about twenty dedaziles. In terms of width, it was around seven or eight dedaziles. It was basically oblong – a stretched block of metal. The block was curved and smoothed, however, so that the sides didn’t form sharp right-angles with the top of the machine, but flowed gracefully over into it. The front and back of the machine – if it could be said to possess a front or back – were identical: here too there were no straight angles, but at both ends the oblong resolved itself into a high, basically semi-circular forehead, which then descended and pushed outwards to form a massive snout.


Zy’s initial impression was of sleekness and of enormous weight. The machine appeared seamless – cast from a single block of sculpted zuth – a metal of rich, glowing, silver-like sheen. There was no snow on it: although Zy could see no vent, the machine was steaming with a very fine, almost invisible pale vapour. The air around the machine rippled faintly with exuded heat. The ground seemed to be throbbing and trembling in time to the rhythm of the machine.

After standing for a few moments, contemplating the wall-like bulk of the machine’s sides, which flowed down and then flanged out to form a kind of armoured skirt at the base, the two riders walked along a little way towards one end of the machine, where the mighty, snub nose gleamed in the firelight. Here, near where the forehead began, Zy now made out a metal ladder, which seemed not so much fixed to the main frame, but to grow out from it. The ladder looked at first very dainty – against the mass of the machine, it had a rather slender delicacy – but seen close up, the ladder itself had a moulded, chunky weight to it. Glancing upwards, Zy could just make out faint seams in the metal, which appeared to indicate a door or at least a break in the flawless surfaces.

About a third of the way from the ground, the machine’s snout emitted two large, short, horn-like prongs, which ended in flattened discs of shining metal – if the machine had arms and hands, then these stubby protuberances were its arms and the discs its hands, the palms held up and outwards. These were towards the sides of the snout: from the centre, a hooked extension was sited not far from the base of the machine.


At first, Zy had thought the machine was standing on perfectly flat, level ground: now, though, he could see that one end was slightly higher above the earth than the other, and that the machine was also tilted over a bit to one side – the more Zy stared, the more definite was his impression that the machine had sunk into the ground and subsided a little as well.

The broad swerving snub nose – so smooth, it seemed to have been drawn from an immaculate, gigantic mould; and so shining that it appeared as if someone must come every day and polish the metal (but the machine was so big, a single person would take hours and hours to do that) – held a square plate that didn’t seem fastened on, but an integral part of the fundamental structure of the machine; and within the square, bone-like struts of metal formed an unusual Gonfic cluster. This cluster wasn’t like any Zy had seen before – it was more sophisticated than any LateAncient cluster, and yet it didn’t possess the dizzying complexities and asymmetries of truly Ancient hypergrams; and Zy was able to interpret it only very tentatively, and only in part – although of a rather alien configuration, the boy reckoned he could make out, at the centre of the dense array, in a large, bold cluster: AmAm Trai – “No. 3”.

Walking right the way round it now, Zy had a quite swooning sense of this gigantic machine. His earliest intuitions about it were confirmed: weight, power, patience; mass, strength, weight.


It seemed to be breathing. Breathing, not like a person of course, but like a machine. That hoo-sha-ha sound, repeated over and over again in what felt like an utterly regular and ceaseless circuit – it was the sound of metallic lungs. From somewhere within that sleek cladding, there must be moving parts – the innards of such a machine were unimaginable, but Zy had the sense of giant but beautifully organised elements working through a very limited sequence of actions, over and over again. The metal breath of this No. 3 machine was like a kind of panting, only, paradoxically, Zy didn’t feel the machine was exerting itself, or had exerted itself – it was simply there, breathing, waiting, prepared.

He became conscious again of the sounds that were rippling through his flesh, it felt, and moving up through the ground, and the thick soles of his boots, passing into his bones and treeing off through his whole nervous system. The clicks the machinery uttered were profoundly interior, but, like the exterior, sculpted, precise, integral. The zrrrrr!, a buzzing, toothed noise, seemed to indicate movement, as if, under the burnished cladding, one part of the machine was being passed along, then halting, then being passed back again in an endless shuttling cycle.

Zy felt flushed with the heat from the fires. The two riders moved slowly on, coming to the end of the machine, the one that was slightly sunken into the ground, but which otherwise appeared a perfect replica of the end they’d already walked round: there was the same forehead and snub nose, the ladder, the door-like seams, the moulded protuberances. Seen now from every angle, the machine – bigger than many single-storey peasant houses – stirred Zy’s imagination and his senses: the machine was brutally beautiful, it seemed a thing of dense, almost tragic power – though why tragic, Zy couldn’t have said. As big as a house, and like a house, in some ways – a house for power, a place power sheltered. It was staggering.

Yes – staggering. But what did it do?

Excerpt from Mask [iv], Volume 12 of Dustless

Please consider…

Dustless | Volume 1


One should at all times strive to purify the mind of impurity: of the poor habits of anger, jealousy, hatred, all habits which deviate from the pure Way and lead to loss of care and of compassion * The Way is the Way of respect for other creatures… People of the pure Way abstain, above all, from physical violence * Violence is a catastrophic loss of respect for oneself and for others * Violence is a mistaken belief in oneself and a mistaken perception of others * A person who is violent spreads chaos and ruin through the cascade, polluting the ancestral stream of events * To harm another person is to harm the world * Even to think of harm depletes the world | for cruel thoughts are cruel, and demean people of the pure Way, who are the Way * If, at any moment, one is thinking an ugly thought, then that ugliness is in the world, and the world is reduced by one ugly thought * But if, at any moment, one is thinking a gentle thought, then that gentleness is in the world, and the world is enlightened by one gentle thought * Therefore, human beings should strive at all times to be vigilant over their thoughts | for a thought is a lever upon the whole world…

Re-posted | Original post April 2013

If you pursue the Way, and remain vigilant, you will maintain the Way | which is the Way of gentleness and non-engagement * You will abstain from self * This means, you will abstain from actions which depend upon the erroneous belief in a creature you call your self * This false creature supposedly possesses the quality of standing apart from, and superior to, the world * This erroneous belief in the creature of self | and the erroneous ascription of powers to this creature | is the root of all impure thought and of deviation from the simple Way * Therefore, wise men and women of the Way | abstain from thinking of themselves as creatures of power | standing apart from the world, with interests separate from, and superior to, the world

Consider: your heart is not your own | Your heart is inside you, but can you reach your heart? | If your heart sickens, with damaged blood or limping beats, what can you do? | You may not reach in and take out that sickened heart | or replace it with another heart | for you depend upon your own heart | and may not escape it * Is this not true? * Are you separate from your own heart? | Are you stronger than its beating? | Consider: you are clad in air | Air surrounds you, and holds you intact, giving shape to your body | permitting you life * Are you stronger than your body? * Are you separate from your own flesh? * Is this not true? * Air surrounds you, and is necessary to all human beings * You hang to a thread of air every moment of your life * Are you stronger than the air? * Are you separate from your own breath?

In the stillness of meditation, in the stillness of the Building which has no motion, in this stillness you will find that you are not a creature of power | but a cloud moving through space | a spider in a sparkling web of mist | or a stream which must flow…

Re-posted | Original post April 2013

Please consider…

Dustless | Volume 1


In the world of O-yon…

The mighty cities and machines of the Metallic ones stand, leaving us a sign of their greatness.

Left behind, too, the famous metal books: however, the hypergrammatic language of the Metallic ones is beyond our understanding, and the metal books remain eternally mysterious to us.

After the passing of the Metallic ones, the Neo-Metallic ones came. Their language, a language of grams, was translucent to a certain degree, and formed a ubiquitous tongue across the whole world of O-yon, both east and west, to bond human beings through the long years of the chaos of dialects.

With the passing of the Neo-Metallic ones, the end of metal days arrived. The world entered, for an unknown gulf of time, the Clouded Era.

“A thousand kingdoms, and a million kings: a thousand kingdoms, and a million queens” – this was the scramble of the Clouded Era, a period when political life was like a perpetual boiling of clouds, a foaming of vapour in and out of existence, with the rise and fall of nations and empires, all built as if for millennia, but all in the proof insubstantial as the bubbles a child blows at bathtime.

After the hundreds of years of chaos, in the Era of Rival Clans, in the extraordinary city of LuinShar, greatest of Metallic cities, a clan rose to claim the throne, to enter the high and sacred citadel, and to impose empire on the warring states of the west.

This clan, supported by like-minded clans, gathered under ancient Marks, symbols of allegiance, declared an end to the Epoch of Metal, and ruled that henceforth, in the west, in the territory known, according to the old map, as O, all pretense to recover the glories of the Metallic ones was ended, and life would begin under a new ethos, styled under a more humble but vital material: so the west entered the Epoch of Paper.

It took centuries to assert the will of the founding emperors of O. At last, though, all terrain was conquered, all the lights of insurgent clans extinguished, all barbarians expelled, and the empire was settled to the culture of the peaceful and beautiful Way, known as TanZo.

The empire, having been ruled by a fervour of steel, declined from rigour, grew more gentle. The Way spread, and the wisdom of TanZo permeated the air of the western lands.

In the era known as the Dark Season, a terrible war between east and west overcame humanity, and the Way was threatened: TanZo, however, survived, and a Zone, buffering west from east, was established, ending for eternity the threat of hemispherical war.

Since the first emperors of Shar expressed empire on the western lands, four thousand years have passed.

And though the emperors and empresses of recent eras and dynasties may perhaps not possess the greatness of their forebears, and though the edges of the empire may no longer answer quite so directly to the centre, still, there is peace, and TanZo, while no longer flourishing, remains integral to the substance of O.

Distant from all places, in a region called the Desolate Cantons, winter.

Beside a road no one travels, a tower of watch stands: each night, according to the Way, a lone sentinel climbs the stairs, and exercises vigilance over the deserted lands.

Two young children, twins, grow in isolation, guided by their father, the sentinel.

And though no one comes, the road waits: and beyond the road?…

Please consider…

Dustless | Volume 1

Do not make the error of believing there are large things and little things | or actions of great consequence and actions of no consequence * All actions are actions of the Way | and upon each and every action, the meaning of the world depends… Remember, upon each action depends the whole meaning of the whole world… For action is also the world…

It is the easiest thing in the world to deviate from the Pure Way * It is a glance, a yawn, a moment of inattention * It is the easiest thing in the world | to break a world * But it is hard, once you have left the Way, to return * And meanwhile, you will have broken a world, which will be a world of other people * It is one thing to break your own world | but quite another to break the world of other people * It is the easiest thing in the world | to break a world * But what will you do when you have broken the world? * You will find, it is not so easy to live at peace then * How do you live in a world which is broken?…

Re-posted | Original post, April 2013

Remember, Zysoshin had always lived beside an imperial road. The road ran through his memory all the way back to the point at which there was no memory, back to the beginning. For Zy, there had always been a road. The road was inside him: it ran straight through his heart.

Excerpt from Mask [i], Volume 9 of Dustless


Yes, how quickly worlds melted away, and melted into being. The stuffy, oppressive grandeur of FerZon, although it was only an hour back behind the riders, now felt particularly dreamlike. For this was Ahamuji, the MerZirvora – the Sea of Trees. The forest was the law here: the forest was real, and the forest would endure. FerZon, it seemed to Zy, for all its venerable history, was an anomaly, an error, even – and for all the massivity of its buildings, its civic weight, it now appeared to Zy to be a kind of fragile bubble of stone, one that, within a few centuries, perhaps, the forest would pop, closing in on it, and crushing it back out of being.

Excerpt from Mask [i] | Volume 9 of Dustless

Please consider…

Dustless | Volume 1 | The Sentinels


The Way is the pure Way, the Way of compassion and of men and women being together for the sake of men and women, who are the Way of the Way * The Way is the Way of human mind, and of the serenity of mind…

Although all things move upon the Way, for human beings, who are the Way of love and compassion | the Way should be simple and straight * To guide confused men and women, there is this book, and this law, and this law guards over the Way * If men and women maintain and honour the law, those men and women will inevitably find themselves upon a Way which is simple and straight * However, should a person neglect or dishonour the law, that person will inevitably find themselves upon a Way which is complex and crooked * To describe these men and women who neglect or dishonour the Way, we speak of “deviation”…

Deviation is to be guarded against at all times * Good conduct depends upon good principles | and the best safeguard of good principles is purity of mind * Purity of mind will ensure purity of action * Even if one’s mind is impure, and one remains unilluminated, providing one follows the rules of good conduct, then the Way will be maintained, and the consequences of one’s actions will be Pure * But if one neglects to follow the rules of good conduct, then the Way will be neglected, and the consequences of one’s actions will be impure…

 Re-posted | Original post April 2013