Friday, May 6, 2016

The Successor: The Ether

Despite Gunnerkrigg Court taking place in our world, it makes pains to add a layer that is at once mysterious and frightening:  The Ether, the place that is above and beyond everything.

For all it's talk about gods and mythology, the Siddell seems to take pains not to alienate anyone from enjoyment.  There is no Christain God, for example, and the only deities that show up are, well, not really all that powerful, comparatively.  Their power stems from the Ether, and it is something that can only be kind of understood.

The Court does have a school for it, the etheric sciences, where there is an attempt to quantify and study it much as physics and chemistry do to there respective fields.  It's effective enough that Donald and Anja use it rather extensively, and almost easily in some cases.

Even then, though, the Ether remains almost unexplained.  Almost because there are entities that have some information, the Psychopomps.  They are the escorts of the dead, and it's through them we get some hint as to what the Ether really is and what it's for.  In their words, the keeps the world spinning, though I doubt it means that literally.

In any case, it binds everything together.  Every living being must, at some point, die and all of them have a Psychopomps that guide them to the Ether itself, even insects.  It is everywhere and just under what is visible.  It powers magic, IS magic, but it can also be farmed and produced.  Through it many of the characters can interact with the world in a new way, or view it in a different way, and be view through it as what they really are.

It's where the dead go, but it's also used by the dead.  The Realm of the Dead uses it to create the "creepshow" that is the source of ghosts, spooks and scary stories in the world.  At the same time, it seems the world uses it to give life to the myths of the world, including the seemingly powerful Coyote.

In a sense, the Ether unites the living and the dead, the magical and the scientific, and the image with the self.  It's not a Heaven or Hell, a God or anything like that, it simply is, and thus a kind of power source and where everything comes together, in the end.

The Ether and The World form a pair of opposites, but neither is opposed to the other, more like they flow into and through each other.  Complementary without being contradictory, and open enough to allow both to exist without problems.  Which is not to say everything in Gunnerkrigg Court does so.

Next time, The Forest.  Until then kiddies.

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