Sythyry (sythyry) wrote,
Sythyry
sythyry

An Essay on the Theory and Practice of Transaffection in Hanija, by Vind

Mirrored from Sythyry.

(Afterward the questioning, Prof. Mump handed me this essay by one of his senior students and told me, correctly, I would find it remarkable. — Sythyry)

Hanija is a city in which transaffection is highly common, to the point of being extremely common. It is understood that any successful person, whether successful by means of rank, money, sorcery, stature, or notoriety, will take a lover of another species (called a tofyof) as an emblem or marker of their success. Behold! To refrain from doing so would be a significator that their success was imperfect. Or perhaps so transient that they could not be trusted with a tofyof.

Evidence: Consider, for one, the Guest-List at the Grand First-Day Ball of 4372, which starts out:

  1. Bu-Ekhom, prince of Kafru, and his wife Ka-Shi and tofyof Gilitanglei
  2. Bira, princess of Shida, and her husband Gubuhei and tofyof Wuwupa
  3. Gu-Legipa, prince of Buru, and his tofyofs Shidithzu and Ookaf
  4. Jeth-Toza, head of the Smith’s Guild, and her wife Jofra and tofyof Ozepuchi
  5. Goto Bosuzo, grain magnate, and his wife the poet Ha-Oawuwa and tofyofs Harof and Heni
  6. Iliro, prince of Du-Gif, and his wife Zerung
  7. Ku-nija, City Judge, and her tofyof Pubolei
  8. – 108. [it continues in the same style]

Of the hundred and eight entries on this list, ninety (83%) have spouses, and eighty-seven (80%) have tofyofs. The total number of spouses attending is one hundred and thirteen (105%); the total number of tofyofs attending is one hundred and forty (140%).

Certain conclusions are inescapable from this evidence. There is no social stigma attached to transaffection. Tofyofs are flaunted in public, in vast numbers, by the greatest ones of the land. Rather the opposite! The poet Ha-Oawuwa flouts her enemy Rakuguhef with these verses:

Ah, Rakuguhef, your verse is ugly,
Each clause carefully adorned with its own infelicity.
This is so that we can recognize you in it.
You are an ugly man, without elegance,
True, many people have fur the color of mud
But you and you alone take advantage of the fact
By neglecting to wash the mud off of it for months on end.
Of course you have neither husband nor wife,
But even with the income of Kepa-Echo,
You have been unable to acquire a single tofyof,
Not even that Khtsoyis girl you have your eye on.

A socio-prosodical analysis of a corpus of six hundred and eighteen Hanijan love poems reveals the following revealing trends.

Subject of the Poem Number of Poems Percentage
Spouse 37 6%
Tofyof 332 54%
Same-Species Lover of Unclear Relationship 51 8%
Other-Species Lover of Unclear Relationship 18 3%
Courting Same-Species 108 17%
Courting Other-Species 5 1%
Unclear 66 11%

The vast majority of poetical devotion — and, from this, it clearly follows, romantic devotion — is focussed on other species. It is well-known that Hanija has particularly strict laws and customs of responsibility. Nobles and important people do not have, in most respects, the freedom that they enjoy in more Ketherian cities. Their clothing, their marriages, their diet, their public appearances, even their hobbies, all are constrained to follow traditional forms. Spousal relationships are utterly formal. After reading a dozen Hanijan novels, one gets the sense that spouses are utterly interchangeable: if one is Rassimel, any other Rassimel of a suitable age and rank will do for a spouse, and the contacts between spouses are so rare and ritualized as to make the personality of the spouse all but irrelevant.

However, the tofyof appears to be a personal choice — one of the few circumstances under which one may indulge one’s whims. The requirement that the tofyof be a different species somehow relegates the tofyof relationship to a suitable sort of unimportance; it is beneath public notice and public ceremony, and thus, a matter of personal choice. So, perversely, that is where interest, passion, and romance lives.

The social forces at work are quite unusual. In most places, transaffection is discouraged. Whatever other-species interests an ordinary person may have, are suppressed (when they are suppressable), and their attentions are channeled quite properly towards one’s own species.

(This contrasts with certain other places, such as Vheshrame, in which the upper classes are pressured to be libertines, indiscriminant in behavior and appetite, required to flirt with all species, but free to pick lovers of whatever species meets their attention. In such places, the fraction of people indulging in brief cross-species relationships is high, some 70%, but actual long-term transaffectionate relationships are unheard-of.)

(Sythyry notes: “Vind’s perspective is quite long indeed, if he considers my relationship with Mynthë to be short-term! I am uncertain about his 70% figure. If I were guessing, I would think that number too high by half. I shall have to ask Vind about his sources.)

In Hanija, at least among the upper and literary classes, the unusual social pressures result in unusual social results. Same-species relationships are reduced to a matter of obligation and responsibility. Whatever instincts towards romance — be it for excitement or for love — one may have, are channeled towards other species. Thus, we conclude that, under sufficient social pressures, transaffection can be induced in four primes out of five. This result is remarkable and unusual, and, if confirmed, will revolutionize the understanding of prime affection and transaffection.

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