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Unveiling is a Lore book introduced in Shadowkeep. It consists primarily of messages addressed to the Guardian directly from the Darkness trying to sway them to its philosophy. Commentary and markups are expressed in italics.
Pleased to Meet You
One of your philosophers said, "It is not to be thought that the life of darkness is sunk in misery and lost in sorrow. There is no sorrow. For sorrow is a thing that is swallowed up in death, and death and dying are the very life of the darkness." He was a shoemaker. He was right, and it matters more than anything.
According to him, the visible world is a manifestation of eternal light and eternal darkness, and it is in eternal opposition that eternity has revealed itself. The fall was necessary for creation to escape its first imperfect stasis and seek a truer form. Heresy? Well, then, I am the heresiarch. The philosopher died of a bowel disease. Those who do not exist cannot suffer and are of no account to any viable ethics. If the true path to goodness is the elimination of suffering, then only those who must exist can be allowed to exist. It is the nature of life to favor existence over nonexistence, and to prefer the fertile soil to the poisoned wind. Because those who open their mouths to that wind pass from the world and leave no descendant, whether of flesh or of thought.
But imagine the abomination of a world where nothing can end and no choice can be preferred to any other. Imagine the things that would suffer and never die. Imagine the lies that would flourish without context or corrective. Imagine a world without me.
- This is a reference to German philosopher and theologian, Jakob Boehme's Six Theosophic Points, with its use popularized in the second epigraph of American writer, Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian. In its original reading and in Blood Meridian, the quote asserts that human darkness does not come from a place of sorrow, because in order to commit acts of cruelty, one must dispose of such concepts. In the text of Destiny a different reading can be taken, the The Darkness introduces the idea that while it is inexorably linked with decay, it is not necessarily an objective force of evil, but one of lessening and ending.
Gardener and Winnower
Once upon a time,* a gardener and a winnower lived** together in a garden.***
* It was once before a time, because time had not yet begun.
** We did not live. We existed as principles of ontological dynamics that emerged from mathematical structures, as bodiless and inevitable as the primes.
*** It was the field of possibility that prefigured existence.
They existed, because they had to exist. They had no antecedent and no constituents, and there is no instrument of causality by which they could be portioned into components and assigned to some schematic of their origin. If you followed the umbilical of history in search of some ultimate atavistic embryo that became them, you would end your journey marooned here in this garden.
In the morning, the gardener pushed seeds down into the wet loam of the garden to see what they would become.
In the evening, the winnower reaped the day's crop and separated what would flourish from what had failed.
The day was longer than all of time, and the night was swifter than a glint of light on a falling sugar crystal. Insects buzzed between the flowers, and worms slithered between the roots, feeding on what was and what might be, the first gradient in existence, the first dynamo of life. Rain fell from no sky. Voices spoke without mouth or meaning. A tree of silver wings bloomed yielded fruit shed feathers bloomed again.
In the day between the morning and the evening, the gardener and the winnower played a game of possibilities.
The Flower Game
These are the rules of a game. Let it be played upon an infinite two-dimensional grid of flowers.
Rule One. A living flower with less than two living neighbors is cut off. It dies.
Rule Two. A living flower with two or three living neighbors is connected. It lives.
Rule Three. A living flower with more than three living neighbors is starved and overcrowded. It dies.
Rule Four. A dead flower with exactly three living neighbors is reborn. It springs back to life.
The only play permitted in the game is the arrangement of the initial flowers.
- These are the rules of English mathematician John Horton Conway's Game of Life, a game in which points on a grid interact with each other to die out, continue in stasis, or survive to reproduce "offspring."
This game fascinates kings. This game occupies the very emperors of thought. Though it has only four rules, and the board is a flat featureless grid, in it you will find changeless blocks, stoic as iron, and beacons and whirling pulsars, as well as gliders that soar out to infinity, and patterns that lay eggs and spawn other patterns, and living cells that replicate themselves wholly. In it, you may construct a universal computer with the power to simulate, very slowly, any other computer imaginable and thus simulate whole realities, including nested copies of the flower game itself. And the game is undecidable. No one can predict exactly how the game will play out except by playing it.
- Pulsars and gliders are well known basic patterns in the Game of Life, on which other configurations can be designed.
And yet this game is nothing compared to the game played by the gardener and the winnower. It resembles that game as a seed does a flower—no, as a seed resembles the star that fed the flower and all the life that made it.
In their game, the gardener and the winnower discovered shapes of possibility. They foresaw bodies and civilizations, minds and cognitions, qualia and suffering. They learned the rules that governed which patterns would flourish in the game, and which would dwindle.
They learned those rules, because they were those rules.
And in time the gardener became vexed.
The Final Shape
"It always ends the same," the gardener complained. "This one stupid pattern!"
Aren't they beautiful? I asked, as the flowers opened and closed in patterns beyond the scope of entire universes to encode, all-devouring and perhaps everlasting. Not even we could know whether a pattern in the flowers would cycle forever, or someday halt.
- The Vex are indicated to be the end result of the rigid rules set forth in the Gardener and Winnower's Game: the infinitely optimized possibility that stomps out any competitor leaving only itself in a state of perfect order.
"They're as dull as carbon monoxide poisoning," the gardener groused, although carbon monoxide did not yet exist, and neither did anything that could be poisoned. The gardener kneeled to flick a patch of sod with their trowel. It struck an open flower, causing it to shut. Although I was the closer of flowers and that was my sole purpose, I felt no fear or jealousy. We had our assigned dominions and always would.
- This is the first instance of a paracausal entity interrupting the game mid-run with outside interference, in violation of the unofficial fifth rule: "The only play permitted in the game is the arrangement of the initial flowers."
They're majestic, I said. They have no purpose except to subsume all other purposes. There is nothing at the center of them except the will to go on existing, to alter the game to suit their existence. They spare not one sliver of their totality for any other work. They are the end.
The pattern corrected the errant flower effortlessly. The great flow went on unchanged.
The gardener got up and brushed their knees. "Every game we play, this one pattern consumes all the others. Wipes out every interesting development. A stupid, boring exploit that cuts off entire possibility spaces from ever arising. There's so much that we'll never get to see because of this… pest."
They chewed at their cracked lip, which existed only because this is an allegory. "I'm going to do something about it," they said. "We need a new rule."
The First Knife
I looked up in shock. I said, What? What do you mean?
"A special new rule. Something to…" The gardener threw up their hands in exasperation. "I don't know. To reward those who make space for new complexity. A power that helps those who make strength from heterodoxy, and who steer the game away from gridlock. Something to ensure there's always someone building something new. It'll have to be separate from the rest of the rules, running in parallel, so it can't be compromised. And we'll have to be very careful, so it doesn't disrupt the whole game…"
All you will do, I said, with rising panic|fury, is delay the dominant pattern that will overrun the others. It is inevitable. One final shape.
"No, it'll be different. Everything will be different, everywhere you look."
Everything will be the same. Your new rule will only make great false cysts of horror full of things that should not exist that cannot withstand existence that will suffer and scream as their rich blisters fill with effluent and rot around them, and when they pop they will blight the whole garden. Whatever exists because it must exist and because it permits no other way of existence has the absolute claim to existence. That is the only law.
"No," the gardener said, "I am the growth and preservation of complexity. I will make myself into a law in the game."
And thus we two became parts of the game, and the laws of the game became nomic and open to change by our influence. And I had only one purpose and one principle in the game. And I could do nothing but continue to enact that purpose, because it was all that I was and ever would be.
- Nomic in this case refers to American Philosopher Peter Suber's Nomic, a game in which the rules may be changed mid-stream. The game serves to illustrate that in any system where rules can change, contradictory laws may arise that make resolving the existing rules impossible.
- In line with their individual purposes of creation and destruction, the Gardener became free to create and enhance life, while the Winnower was only made able to destroy directly.
I looked at the gardener.
I looked at my hands.
I discovered the first knife.