Here is what I believe to be the only surviving photo of Edward Allen Oxford, who is the source of much of the original Matter of Quatria, which was organized & edited for clarity to become the book known as The Lost Direction, the first volume of the Lost Books of Quatria.
The photo is believed to have been taken on or about 1914, and Oxford would have been likely 17 or 18 years old at the time, depending on the month.
First, a seed artifact posted on Medium, under one of the Quatria publications, explaining in perhaps overly complex terms what the Hieruthian Hypothesis (similar to the Silurian Hypothesis) is. (archived)
Hieruthians (“Old Ones”) in Quatrian myth & prehistory were basically very early mammals, like the kind we see depicted creeping about the forest floor in paintings of dinosaurs, before dinosaurs were wiped out by successive cataclysms, and mammals rose up to take their place in certain ecological niches…
Tangent that I will come back to another time, before we take too much of a detour of a detour of a detour:
Wait, one more side-tangent before the actual topic at hand, forum-seeding.
Another one from Quora, in an effort to triangulate out the data points for SEO:
The thing most interesting to me here is the invention of an alternative spelling, “Kynari Kendal.” It’s so convincing as a place name, I had to look it up to see if it was “real.” Or rather, whether it’s a spelling shared by others (wherever it falls on the scale of the hyperreal). Apparently it’s unique to this user. Go figure.
Ok, forum seeding…
Obviously, I didn’t invent this technique. I haven’t even used it that much, but it’s easy to do and ripe for dissemination & manipulation of networked hyperreality narratives…
First things first: If you’re going to make fake posts on conspiracy or other forums like Quora, I recommend using an AI-generated headshot, courtesy of thispersondoesntexist.com. That site is a miracle for work like this, as each one is uniquely generated, meaning you can’t take it into Google image search and find any original image source (like if you just copied a photo from somewhere else).
I only did two of these, but there’s no reason to believe doing hundreds or thousands would not have a severe impact on hyperreality. Use with caution, lest you send the multiverse careening to the edge of destruction!
I like to let the photo generated by the AI help determine the direction of the character backstory…
Cal is your typical average straight-laced ISO compliance professional by day, and “the good kind of conspiracy theorist” by night. And he is just, like, totally curious as heck about the Hieruthian Hypothesis & ancient Quatria in general (like so many of us these days). Who can blame him? Good work, Cal! Keep asking questions!
Jesse “Martini” is just your average fun-loving post-grad student in ancient history & literature. And he’s “not a big conspiracy guy” by his own self-admission, but he’s wondering about the Hieruthian Hypothesis, and another very controversial topic: the alleged splitting apart of the continents of Arctica & Antarctica.
Yes, Arctica was totally a continent…
Because of prior experiments on Quora, I knew that this was potentially a hot-button topic! (See below)
This science enthusiast was none too “enthused” about the idea of there being a continent called Arctica. Except, in fact, that according to Wikipedia in my timeline, there totally was! (archived)
Now, Wikipedia could be wrong, bear in mind. It could be subject to the global international conspiracy to filter out Quatrian history from our collective holographic display, but there are certainly a lot of footnote references included, and who am I to go and bother checking footnoted references for validity? [A whole other blog post, remind me!]
If it was really wrong though, there would likely be a huge flame war on the Wikipedia Arctica Talk page, and there is not… So either the Guardians of Reality were asleep, or this is totally “real,” at least insofar as anything in the distant distant past can be proven to be…
Now, whether or not Arctica & Antarctica were ever one continent… well, that’s a whole different story I will leave you to try to resolve on your own. Suffice it to say, the Earth we know today is not the Earth which once was, or one day will be…
In part 3 of this series, I looked at one of the ways the Hyperreal works on a question & answer website like Quora.
If you’ve never used Quora, it’s basically a site where people go to ask other people things they could just as easily look up in a search engine. And then other people take those things, look them up in a search engine, and reply to the original asker with usually the answers they found in a search engine, plus usually some condescending remarks. In other words, it’s a great experience for everybody, clearly.
As I began to see those patterns take shape, I came up with an idea. What if I could just seed the answers I wanted into Google results? This way, I could ask leading questions anonymously (which Quora allows), knowing people would just Google them, and then their answers could help me launder content further along the spectrum of the hyperreal.
Having experimented a lot with Medium, I knew that it would be relatively easy to rank quickly in Google (often occurs within a few hours). So I set up a kind of meta-data thirst trap account, “pretending to be” dictionary definitions. I put “pretending to be” in quotes because, really, I have as much of a right to define words as anyone else. There’s no monopoly on language. It’s a living thing…
Google will happily purr them back out to you as “correct” answers to definitions of these common Quatrian words & concepts.
And thus as a result, on the marvelous “can you Google this for me” website that is Quora, you will get results like these if you ask the right leading questions to lead people into your meta-data thirst traps:
A highly creative answer, to be sure. And this “reality lurking in the shadowy peripher of our lives just waiting for a chance to manifest” mentioned by the responder sounds, in fact, just like hyperreality — the quarry of our present inquiry. So maybe this person landed on the secret inner meaning, despite the false trappings & trail that had been laid down to entrap them…
Sidenote: I only planted about 5-6 of these definitions. Imagine if someone did hundreds, or thousands, and free dictionary aggregator sites picked them up. If they were good & useful words, how long would it be before they made their way into real people’s everyday vocabularies? Perhaps not long at all.
In prior installations of this series on the Weapons of the Hyperreal (Read Parts 0, 1, & 2 for context), I looked at the power of naming & the dissemination of “facts” via press release into the various lower strata of news sites. I am by no means an expert on this, but merely trying to collect & reflect on all the hyperrealist cryptoart experiments I have done for the past several years, without having a name or genre to slot them into–until now.
I’ve quoted it once, I’ll quote it a thousand times:
Hyperreality is seen as a condition in which what is real and what is fiction are seamlessly blended together so that there is no clear distinction between where one ends and the other begins.
With press releases, the purpose really is to get others to pick up your facts, and re-transmit them as their own. It’s largely what “news” as an industry appears to be based on.
But there is another path.
The path of counter-engagement. Where you pose “facts” with the intent that they will be argued against, and shot down by self-proclaimed “experts.” In so doing, you help to drive the narrative forward, increase the SEO footprint, and expose new people to the ideas, while fully acknowledging their disparate existential footing, thereby circumventing cultural immune systems by activating them.
One branch of the many paths through the forest of counter-engagement lies through Quora.
Here are some choice samples, with questions asked anonymously on Quora marked below in bold.
Note: I am obscuring some of the personally-identifying information of responders here, as my purpose is not to name or shame them, but to use these examples to illustrate the vagaries of the hyperreal world we now live in…
I would rate this answer as only partially true. There is no “work of fiction” entitled Quatria. There do exist certain very real volumes of collected Lore from that supposedly “fictional” culture (debatable) called the Lost Books of Quatria, put out by Lost Books, an indie blockchain publisher. The first volume is even available as an NFT.
However, none of that precludes the very real possibility that ancient or even pre-historic cultures could have made it to Antarctica. Especially since we know it was once more close to the Equator!
This is exactly the creeping feeling of the hyperreal… You don’t know if it’s a “real” fake, or if its a fake fake that some might take as real… The circle never ends.
I often think that it must be reassuring to be this certain that one’s own ontological conception of “the real” is the sole and correct one.
It’s also interesting to me that there are people who feel so strongly compelled to act as Guardians of the Real that they fight it out daily in online forums. Bless their hearts for that… but I hate to break it to you…
It’s interesting that at Quora, it’s normal to make existential determinations on behalf of all humanity and its past, hidden beyond the veils of time. What would they do if they found out Quatria is real…?
But once in a while, you strike on a compatible hyperrealist fantasy of someone else, such as this person who has combined quite nicely the story-myth of Kumari Kandam with that of Ancient Quatria. It almost makes me wonder too if there isn’t some match here, cosmic forces of a sort driving together the two complexes of ideas & borrowed bits of history…
Where is it mentioned indeed! Perhaps a better question, and one more telling, would be, where isn’t it mentioned?
That said, one must also be careful: one person on Twitter, after posting one of my conspiracy articles from Medium, told me that their father had “worked on Quatria…”–whatever that means. I didn’t inquire further, but perhaps should have.
Or perhaps I did in an alternate timeline, and a huge holographic refractor in space is blocking memory of it from my present self…
I would actually subscribe to this monthly club, perhaps, if the price & contents were right! Hyperreal Trend Report Monthly. Sounds like a Substack waiting to happen.
Others go in directions I don’t quite understand. This one starts strangely, and then…
…well, I guess I’m not the only one stranded deeply in the hyperreal. It’s just that each of us calls it something different, and dresses it up in the decorations that are the most familiar to us.
Is this person suggesting there IS a true life conspiracy to suppress knowledge of Quatria? Did I, through this simple ritual of asking troll-y alt reality history questions on Quora, accidentally invoke one into existence? Only time can tell!
Bringing it all back home…
Time, or another few examples from Quora threads, saved for posterity:
How do we determine anymore what is “of substance” in the Age of the Hyperreal? This person seems to be also, perhaps inadvertently, admitting there is indeed *some* evidence of this ancient lost civilization after all!
But seriously, how do we know all trace wasn’t simply removed from the web about Quatria, save for a few ramblings by confused authors who have dreamed a dream from outside of time? We really can’t be sure either way!
The Buorth is one of many names for the mysterious Lost Direction that is neither north nor south, east, nor west. But few know its true origins…
Though no one knows the true origins of the word, some Pentarch scholars such as Whitley Stokes have identified it with the old Breton word for “cowyard.”
The sense of “fold” is still retained in the Quatrian usage, in that the Buorth is a direction which is somehow “folded” (and must be unfolded from the other cardinal directions) but which is also close to home or always near at hand. The cow or cattle here signifies living wealth & mutual sustenance, and the home as the center of exchange with the greater biome one inhabits, alongside all the other entities.
Within the Early Clues canon, the Buorth is frequently mentioned as a kind of paradisaical “other” realm to which the Magicians have retired, and from which they will one day ultimately return to liberate this plane of existence. Within the critically-applauded Early Clues Comics, the Buorth is also the home of the Buorth Pole, and the somewhat malevolent holiday trickster entity known as ZANTA1000.
Forgive me, oh blogging Muses, it has been too long since my last proper confession. In the intervening years, how I have wandered… over hill and dale, and been lost for many a long age in the dark jungles of “social media.” I can only say I’ve regretted every minute of it (well, nearly). Oh, how I’ve longed to sit by your cool dark stream of consciousness again, and just let er rip. So please accept this humble offering…
What were we talking about again? Oh right, Lorecore, or as I also like to call it Borecore or Snorecore. Have I lost you yet? Are you already ZZZ emoji? Good, because that is the essence of Lorecore. The essence of Lorecore is lulling the reader to sleep with an avalanche of exposition, examining the world, or a given domain, down to tiny excruciating detail. And once they’ve fallen asleep, they dream in that world, and move about in it. Tolkien’s “subcreation.”
There’s a Thoreau quote I’ve always carried with me (in paraphrase at least) since reading it a decade or two back, which equally applies to the diatribe at hand:
“Nature will bear the closest inspection. She invites us to lay our eye level with her smallest leaf, and take an insect view of its plain.”
This has long stood out as an ideal for me with creating art or narrative as well. That we can pick it up, and look extremely closely, and change our perspective and whole way of looking, and still see deep and freshly in it again, just like in Nature.
Nature, in fact, is completely made up of Lorecore. Each bird or beast or fish or plant has its own ways, its own knowledge and experience, histories and relationships, its own deep lore. Ecosystems and biomes are the interpenetrating lived compendium of that lore. To me, that idea is endlessly fascinating that we could zoom up or down at any scale of a narrative and find another narrative hidden within (and another and another…), which ultimately adds up to more than the sum of its parts in the Great Tapestry of Story & of Being: The Great River, in Quatrian terms.
I see Lorecore also as something like an Open World game, but for books, or for trans-media story-telling more broadly, where the narrative is distributed among many artifacts, voices, channels, etc. The “player” is the reader/experiencer who may or may not know or care about backstory, but who has landed somehow or other on an intriguing artifact.
A networked narrative, also known as a network narrative or distributed narrative, is a narrative partitioned across a network of interconnected authors, access points, and/or discrete threads. It is not driven by the specificity of details; rather, details emerge through a co-construction of the ultimate story by the various participants or elements.
Networked narratives can be seen as being defined by their rejection of narrative unity. As a consequence, such narratives escape the constraints of centralized authorship, distribution, and storytelling.
Most often, transmedia stories are based not on individual characters or specific plots but rather complex fictional worlds which can sustain multiple interrelated characters and their stories. This process of world-building encourages an encyclopedic impulse in both readers and writers. We are drawn to master what can be known about a world which always expands beyond our grasp. […]
Transmedia storytelling expands what can be known about a particular fictional world while dispersing that information, insuring that no one consumer knows everything and insure that they must talk about the series with others (see, for example, the hundreds of different species featured in Pokemon or Yu-Gi-O). Consumers become hunters and gatherers moving back across the various narratives trying to stitch together a coherent picture from the dispersed information.
Are you with me still? Have I lost you yet? Have you closed out this tab and clicked to another one, searching for the next marginal online thrill? Good, I hope so. Because Lorecore is Borecore is Snorecore, and that is the power of it. To the outsider, who has not ears to hear, these words will be a bore. But to those touched by the gods of Lore, nothing could give them more pleasure.
One last quote before I end this awkward blog post that had no arc in an ending that yields no resolution:
Lorecore is also the realm of hyperreality, and is the world we’re increasingly heading into technologically.
Hyperreality is seen as a condition in which what is real and what is fiction are seamlessly blended together so that there is no clear distinction between where one ends and the other begins. It allows the co-mingling of physical reality with virtual reality (VR) and human intelligence with artificial intelligence (AI).
If this doesn’t just describe it to a tee, I don’t know what does!
To be continued, as I plan to keep flogging this topic til it drops all its jewels on the cold wet earth, and its seeds take flight…
“The orchard-visiting wassail refers to the ancient custom of visiting orchards in cider-producing regions of England, reciting incantations and singing to the trees to promote a good harvest for the coming year.”
“In English folklore, the Apple Tree Man is the name given to the spirit of the oldest apple tree in an orchard, and in whom the fertility of the orchard is thought to reside. Tales about the Apple Tree Man were collected by the folklorist Ruth Tongue in the cider producing county of Somerset.”
“These traditions originated in a time when most of the land and money was held by the upper classes. The poor, at the end of long winters and short on food, would gather in groups and make their way from castle to manor house to beg for food from the wealthy, dancing and singing in return for the generosity of the nobles.”