Sunday, March 20, 2011

The unintended connection to Sendai in Theos KE Polemos

I should take a few moments to comment on the use of the term sendai in the Theos project because it's meaning in the real world now carries some immediately painful associations. I do this more for those who are new to the work we're doing and unfamiliar with the project Theos KE Polemos we've become known for round the infowebs. Most of you following the TKP project are likely familiar with our use of the term sendai but some of the info here might still be interesting.

It's rather strange writing the terms Sendai, for the Theos bio-mechanical population, now for obvious reasons. When I named the bio-mechanical creatures in TKP the sendai, back sometime in the late 90s, I actually wasn't aware at that time there was a city in Japan named Sendai, a city now very much on the world's mind due to the recent disaster that struck Japan. Although I did eventually learn there was a real city named Sendai and continued to use sendai (with unrelated meanings) in the Theos project I would have never imagined anything, like the tsunami, would happen there. Of course nobody could.

How I came to the term and spelling sendai for the TKP bio-mechanicals was from expanding upon an already established Theos term. Co-creator of the foundation material Steve Loveland and I, developed the singular to plural terms for T.D.S. (telepathic defense systems) units called taedus (singular) and taedai (plural), eventually sendai became the term for all the bio-mechanical creatures in the story. Sendai, as the name for the non-human characters in Theos, was never intend to refer to the Japanese city now in such devastation and pain. In TKP history is a very fractured and foggy picture to the populace of the setting so naming conventions can come from any number of places, past and present and meanings that are accurate or outright inaccurate gibberish contextually (to real world terms) are commonplace. Humanity has been recreating itself through a distorted filter of it's past. I suppose not too unlike how we are now but in Theos it's far more an acute phenomenon.

 It seemed like a good idea to note why sendai will appear in various place on this blog to describe our bio-mechanical characters. Names having utterly different meanings to their real world counterparts are common in fiction and I'll note one here from my favorite sci-fi novel series; Frank Herbert's 'Dune':

Bakka in Dune: In Fremen legend, the weeper who mourns for all mankind.
Bakka in the real world: Japanese (baka) for idiot or fool. 

Bakka in Kvam municipality, Hordaland, Norway
Bakka in Aurland municipality, Sogn og Fjordane, Norway
Bakka in Kvinnherad municipality, Hordaland, Norway
Bakka-Phoenix, a bookstore in Toronto.

I wasn't aware of the locations in Norway until looking them up. Ahh, Wikipedia. The term "baka" in Japanese was the one that immediately comes to mind for me (simply due to the similarity in spelling) when reading Dune but you get the idea. Herbert created his fictional setting with in service of his story and often parallels, intended or unintended to the real world will occur.

I can't imagine anyone would misunderstand the meaning of sendai in the Theos work once you become familiar with the material, even what has been presented so far online. If anyone wishes to see an association with the real city Sendai (or mistakes our usage of the term as callous, which it is not in any way) I'd prefer it to represent the incredible spirit Japan has always shown in the face of crisis. The city of Sendai has been stricken with a terrible tragedy of unimaginable proportions and if anyone wants to see a connection to our sendai let it be Japan's unyielding spirit and dignity. In that sense it does have a connection to our sendai as the bio-mechanical creatures in the Theos project will indeed faces many hardships and turmoil often with a strong sense of dignity and honor... but just as often not.

     Thank you for reading.


thomastapir said...

It's interesting how connections like that emerge...It can be even more ambiguous in universes like Dune, where there really are so many intended parallels with real-world historical events and place names.

Interesting also to read the origin of "Sendai" in the Theos KE Polemos universe--I'd always assumed it was an homage to Wm. Gibson's "Ono-Sendai" (! :)

Tom Dow said...

Don't forget the "Bakka" indigenous forest people of Cameroon.

Vulnepro said...

@ thomastapir: Hey, thanks for the comments and nice to see you drop in :)

Yeah, Dune indeed has a ton of metaphor to real world places, events, and people. You can, essentially look at Dune as a sci-fi telling of Lawrence of Arabia thought it is still much more than that.

Nope, it wasn't influenced by Gibson. I dig cyberpunk but had made a conscientious decision to steer somewhat away from it in Theos. There are cyberpunk-ish things, as there are steampunk-ish and other troupes but, overall, I hope TKP is really it's own thing.

@Tom Dow: Interesting, I wasn't aware of that one either so thanks for noting it. I'll have to add it in there as well. Many words and terms have multiple meanings and that's one of the most interesting things about language and communication, parsing it all out.

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