Society of the Metempsykosids
|A Metempsykosid contemplates eternity and reincarnation|
Overview: The Society of the Metempsykosids is a subculture defined by its particular approach to the technology and culture of mind state backups and longevity. Metempsykosids prefer to have relatively short life-spans, after which they reinstantiate in another form.
Participants in the Metempsykosid system often deliberately adopt forms with a limited lifespan. Bionts can simply eschew immortality treatments in order to age naturally. Vecs can forgo regular maintenance and refurbishment cycles, or use bodies built around some 'irreplaceable' component. Virtuals and alife can use suboptimal programming paradigms that accumulate errors over time. Those who do not wish to age but simply die can set up various forms of suicide triggers which will terminate their lives in a variety of fashions, either after a certain amount of time has elapsed or in response to a particular stimulus. The exact nature of the arrangements are limited only by the imagination of the participant.
Upon death, an adherent's backup is transmitted to a random temple of the Metempsykosids where they are reinstantiated. As temples are scattered throughout almost the entirety of the Known Net, this means that each resurrection will almost certainly be into an entirely foreign land and culture. Since they are resurrected as a member of a randomly selected local clade, they will probably even be an entirely new species as well. Thus, the adherent will have to adjust to a new mode of life every time they die. There are naturally a wide variety of death and rebirth rituals surrounding this process, adjusted to fit the local culture.
The purpose of the Society is twofold. The first is to prevent intellectual and cultural stagnation, both on the level of the individual and the wider society. By repeatedly being immersed in new cultures and new ways of doing things, individuals are prevented from ever becoming mentally complacent and stagnant. Similarly, cultures are introduced to new ideas they would never have been exposed to otherwise through the circulation of resurrectees. The second is to reduce conflicts. By exposing people to alien modes of living, those modes become less alien and ideological or xenophobic clashes become less likely. Some commentators believe that these goals are mutually incompatible; that the goal to reduce conflict necessarily demands reduced, not greater, diversity. But the Society is forever adamant that the two can be reconciled.
The name is derived from an ancient dialect of Greek, from meta, meaning change, and empsykhoun, to grant a soul, together meaning the movement of a soul from one body to another. It is uncertain why this name was chosen; it is hypothesized that the Society's founding transapient ascended from a Greek derived culture, but no modosophont knows for sure.
Extent: The Society is widespread across the Terragen sphere. Viewing its mission to promote diversity and interconnection across Terragen space as virtually holy, it has long tried to ensure that its reach extends the length and breadth of the Sephirotic empires and beyond. In this it has largely succeeded, with only highly isolationist or memetically incompatible clades devoid of Society presence and all major Sephirotic empires at least permitting them to operate. Even in the wilds of the ever expanding frontier, missionaries of the Society are rarely far behind the Lightway constructors of the Deeper Covenant. It is even rumored there is a sister organization operating within ahuman space.
In addition, its memetic influence is extensive, with many societies adopting similar systems on a smaller scale. For instance, many inhabitants of Kiyoshi who are not already part of the Society adopt similar methods as an extension of the Vagabond Way. Similarly, both the Society itself and its various offshoots are extremely popular within the Sophic League. Many of the League's innumerable religions emphasize cycles of death and rebirth which mesh well with the ideals of the Society.
All that being said, it is a subculture, not a complete culture in and of itself, and it is certainly no empire. It controls no systems of its own and tries to stay aloof in politics, preferring to remain simply a provider of unique backup services.
It is difficult to say exactly how many individuals are part of the Society, as it has an internal culture of confidentiality. However, it is known to be between three hundred trillion and five hundred trillion embodied beings (a disproportionate number of them bionts) and approximately ten times that number in virtuals. It is even known to include several million transapients of S:1 and S:2 level.
The current public leader of the Society is ||Resplendent | Aeon||, an S:3 mind originating from the ||Sea | Sky | Void | Time|| post-dolphin cultural collective. As, in fact, all of the high transapient leadership of the Society has been. ||Resplendent | Aeon|| ensures the integrity and security of the backup and transmission systems, manages the internal memetics of the Society to maintain its unity, and advocates for the Society in the political realms of the transapients. That said, it is suspected that the highest archailects support its existence at some level, finding its purpose useful in their own memetic projects.
History: The Society of the Metempsykosids traces its origins back to the early years of the Concord Ontology. In those heady days of unprecedented interstellar connectivity, many fads swept across the Inner Sphere and experimental societies sprung up to explore the new and rapidly shifting memetic landscape. Among these was the Life and Death Interstellar Correspondence, established in 3835 A.T; the immediate predecessor of the modern Society of the Metempsykosids. The LaDIC flourished in the environment of the Ontology... until the Version War.
The stresses of the Version War, and the subsequent collapse of the Concord Ontology, almost totally destroyed the LaDIC. With the collapse of the Ontology and the accompanying memetic chaos and growth in isolationism, the challenges of running an organization across polity boundaries multiplied. The Correspondence collapsed into a series of isolated sub-organizations which looked doomed to wither away.
Fortunately, the S:3 mind ||Blueshift | Horizon|| took on the task of reuniting the scattered sub-organizations and reorganizing them for the new state of the galaxy. The internal structure of the Correspondence was adapted to more flexibly adapt to the needs and conditions of diverse polities. More than that, ||Blueshift | Horizon|| imbued the Correspondence with a new sense of purpose. Before, the Correspondence hadn't aspired to be much more than a novelty reincarnation service. Now ||Blueshift | Horizon|| charged it with a borderline religious mission, as a unique medium for fostering interstellar diversity, understanding, and peace. In the wake of the far reaching traumas of the Version War, such a goal seemed vital to the future of civilization itself.
The process was done by 4738. In recognition of the dramatic changes wrought, the Life and Death Interstellar Correspondence was renamed, as the Society of the Metempsykosids. In 5997 ||Blueshift | Horizon|| transcended to the fourth toposophic and lost interest in er old project, leading to ||Resplendent | Aeon|| taking control.
The next great challenge to confront the Society began in 6642. The continued growth of the Society alongside the Terragen Sphere as a whole came to a point where even an S:3 mind was hard pressed to manage it all. Like the Life and Death Interstellar Correspondence before it, the Society threatened to splinter into competing factions. In order to deal with this looming problem, ||Resplendent | Aeon|| decided to elevate another mind to assist em, mentoring ||Pyreful | Sky|| through the ascension to the third toposophic in 6503. However, ||Pyreful | Sky|| began to develop er own ideas about the course the Society should be taking.
The issue at hand was the use of randomness. The Society of the Metempsykosids chose the location of each reincarnation at random, believing that any directed influence would compromise the purity of the mission to increase diversity. ||Pyreful | Sky|| argued the opposite, that using transapient direction to reincarnate particular people in particular places would maximize user satisfaction and achieve maximum impact in both the prime missions. ||Resplendent | Aeon|| responded that becoming an agent of actively directed memetic influence would destroy the trust the Society had built up and lead to many polities expelling it. This difference of opinion between the two ruling transapients proved intractable, and in 6642 exploded into an open memetic struggle. This struggle divided the Society, and although it never came to violence, the ideological conflict was frequently bitter.
This conflict lasted for thirteen years, until 6655. In a peace rumored to be brokered by the old master of the Society, ||Blueshift | Horizon||, the Society was split in two. ||Pyreful | Sky|| and er followers departed, and formed the (Im)mortal Peregrination Collective. Although relationships between the Society of the Metempsykosids and the (Im)mortal Peregrination Collective started off frosty, by the modern era the two have come to an amiable agreement with each other.
In fact, the conflict alleviated the problems facing the Society. After splitting in two, each group faced much reduced logistical and administrative burdens, and the act of the struggle revitalized an internal culture which was in danger of becoming moribund. The two groups appeal to different areas; cultures accustomed to a high level of transapient intervention usually prefer the Collective, while more independent polities prefer the Society. It is hypothesized by some that the entire conflict was in fact orchestrated by ||Resplendent | Aeon|| and ||Pyreful | Sky|| for this purpose, although the full truth may never be revealed to lesser toposophics.
Since this event, the structure and goals of the Society of the Metempsykosids have remained stable. The Society remains influential in many parts of the Terragen Sphere, as does the Peregrination Collective.
Text by Xandeross
Initially published on 26 May 2020.