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Realmatic Theory

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Realmatic Theory
Dalinar by horizonproblems.jpg
Related to Physical Realm, Cognitive Realm, Spiritual Realm
Universe Cosmere

All things exist in three Realms, Gaotona. Physical, Cognitive, Spiritual. The Physical is what we feel, what is before us. The Cognitive is how an object is viewed and how it views itself. The Spiritual Realm contains an object’s soul—its essence—as well as the ways it is connected to the things and people around it.

Shai discussing the application of Realmatic Theory to Forgery with Gaotona[1]

Realmatic Theory refers to the study of the three Realms—Physical, Cognitive, and Spiritual—that constitute the fundamental structure of the cosmere. Along with other fundamental properties like space and time, the Realms were created at the cosmere's equivalent of the Big Bang, before the Shattering of Adonalsium.[2]

Components[edit]

All things exist in three realms, Dalinar. The Physical: what you are now. The Cognitive: what you see yourself as being. The Spiritual: the perfect you, the person beyond pain, and error, and uncertainty.

Physical Realm[edit]

Of the three Realms, the Physical Realm is the most readily understood as it behaves in much the same way that our universe does.[4] It is the natural world as we experience it with our senses, consisting of space and time and adhering to empirical scientific law.[1] Unlike the Cognitive Realm, the Physical Realm is a three-dimensional plane.[5] The two Realms are not mapped perfectly to each other for this reason.[6] The cosmere is a single star cluster within the Physical Realm consisting of between fifty and one hundred stars,[7] though at least one person has tried to travel beyond that.[8] Travel between planets within the cluster can be achieved without using either of the other Realms through purely Physical FTL travel.[9]

Investiture within the Physical Realm will manifest as a solid, liquid, or gas.[10] Solid Investiture in the Physical Realm is metallic.[11] Pushing the entirety of a Shard’s Investiture into the Physical Realm would have disastrous effects.[10] Changes in the Spiritual Realm filter down to and cause changes in the Physical Realm.[10] Perception has a part in those Physical changes.[12] After a person dies, they need a continued tie to the Physical Realm to prevent passing to the Beyond after death.[13] Someone with such a tie could become a Cognitive Shadow.[14]

Cognitive Realm[edit]

by Yasen Stoilov
Shallan and Adolin in Shadesmar

The Cognitive Realm is the world of thought and perception.[15] It is known locally on Roshar as Shadesmar, though at least some academics of Silverlight have taken to using the term to refer to the entire Realm.[16] A planet's reflection in the Cognitive Realm is referred to as a subastral. The nature and appearance of objects in this Realm are shaped by the views of people and even the objects themselves. The environment itself changes from one world to the next, often exhibiting features characteristic of that world.[17] Investiture, including that within souls, glows visibly within the Cognitive Realm.

While time appears to flow normally, space is also warped by perception.[18] Some aspect of the nature of the Realm allows one to walk to space, and the distance between worlds is significantly contracted, so that traveling from one world to the next by foot is possible. Indeed, worldhoppers generally make use of this Realm to move between worlds. Traveling between the Physical and the Cognitive Realms may be accomplished at perpendicularities.

One effect of existing in the Cognitive Realm seems to be unusual longevity, perhaps not aging while in there, allowing worldhoppers to appear in multiple books that take place hundreds of years apart. This attribute of the Cognitive Realm has not been confirmed.

Spiritual Realm[edit]

The Spiritual Realm exists beyond space and time.[19] It is made up entirely of Investiture and Connections.[20][21] This Realm contains a person's Spiritweb, which is a person’s Spiritual aspect. The Spiritweb is closely related to a soul, but they are not the same. The soul is a philosophical concept while a Spiritweb can be measured and quantified.[22] It also contains information on a thing’s Identity, Connection, and Fortune. Looking into the Spiritual Realm is required for cosmere future sight.[23] Most of the Investiture that makes up a Shard’s power exists within the Spiritual Realm.[24]

Interactions[edit]

Perception[edit]

Perception is a vital part of how the three versions of a person or an object interact with each other. The Spiritual Realm filters through the Cognitive Realm to get to the Physical Realm.[25] While the Spiritual Realm contains the ideal version of something, the Cognitive filter makes sure the Physical version matches their perception of what should be.[26] One of the ways this manifests is in healing. For example, Kaladin feels he deserves his slave brands, so they don’t heal. Lopen, on the other hand, never viewed himself as disabled, so his arm grew back.[26] The application of this can extend to changing the body of a transgender person to match their identity or rejoining Siamese twins that were separated.[27][25]

Perception is also important for how the Invested Arts interact with the three Realms. What a person thinks they can do often limits what they can actually do. For example, Shallan required ten heartbeats to summon Pattern as a Shardblade, despite him being a living blade.[28] Perception makes using a soulstamp on an object easier or more difficult. The more an object is viewed as a whole, the easier it is to soulstamp.[29] Perception of an object can and does change over time. As an object changes owner or various ingredients are combined into a whole, people’s perception of the objects change.[30][31] The transition does not happen instantaneously. There will be a period of time when the line is fuzzy and multiple perceptions of an object can be true.[30]

Investiture[edit]

Giving water to the tiny plant causes a chain reaction of sudden growth, energy, and Realmic transition. Certain people can control this reaction, using the water from their own bodies to forge a brief cognitive bond. They can draw Investiture (in very small amounts) directly from the Spiritual Realm, and use that to control the sand.

Khriss's assessment of Dayside's magic system, sand mastery.[32]

In addition to having ordinary mass and energy, the cosmere also has a magical power known as Investiture. Investiture is closely tied to the Spiritual Realm,[33][34] which holds a vast reserve of Investiture,[35] but ultimately transcends the divisions between the three Realms.[33] Over time, Investiture will cycle between the Realms,[35][36] but ultimately returns to the Spiritual Realm.[37][38] Like matter and energy, high concentrations of Investiture curve space, but it primarily affects the geometry of the Realms and brings them closer together rather than creating ordinary gravitational effects. At a certain point, this effect will cause a perpendicularity to form.[39][40]

Perpendicularities[edit]

In general, perpendicularities are created by the presence of a Shard on the planet. The concentration of so much Investiture on the Cognitive and Physical Realms creates points of ... friction, where a kind of tunneling exists. At these points, Physical matter, Cognitive thought, and Spiritual essence become one—and a being can slide between Realms.

Under certain circumstances, the Realms will bend to the point where they are no longer separate and are instead connected by a perpendicularity. The most common cause of a perpendicularity is a high concentration of Investiture in either the Physical or Cognitive Realms—though this is harder to achieve in the Cognitive Realm—but other methods work as well.[39][41][42] Because they are built out of Investiture, a perpendicularity would likely collapse if Nightblood were wielded in its vicinity for a significant period of time.[43]

Perpendicularities can be used to see into the Spiritual Realm and to transition between Realms,[44][42] though someone has to know what the perpendicularity does in order to use it.[45][42] This requirement gets weird for non-sapient things, but a creature like an Aviar could reasonably transition between Realms with a perpendicularity.[46] Perpendicularities are the most common method worldhoppers use to transition between the Realms, but they are not the only method.[42]

As a large amount of Investiture is generally required to create a perpendicularity, they most often appear when a Shard takes up residence on a world.[41] The process of creating a perpendicularity begins to occur naturally once a Shard arrives on a world,[47][48] but Shards can control where and how the perpendicularity manifests.[49] They can also choose to create more than one,[50] to create one on a world they do not inhabit,[51][52] and to share in the creation of one with another Shard.[53] A perpendicularity generated by a Shard will usually remain in place if the Shard's Vessel dies, but not always.[54]

While most perpendicularities are created by Shards, they can also be created by other methods.[55] Some Invested Arts, like the Surge of Transportation, are particularly built to accomplish this.[56] Other methods of creating a perpendicularity include storing a sufficient amount of Investiture in a nicrosilmind,[57] an unknown method of "morbid origin" used on Threnody that creates predictably unstable and hard to predict perpendicularities,[58] and an unspecified ability of Bondsmiths bonded to the Stormfather after Honor's death.[59][60]

Shards[edit]

Men—all things, truly—are like a ray of light. The floor is the Physical Realm, where that light pools. The sun is the Spiritual Realm, where it begins. This Realm, the Cognitive Realm, is the space between where that beam stretches.

While the Shards of Adonalsium exist primarily in the Spiritual Realm,[24] their immense power has notable effects on all three of the Realms. Perhaps most significantly, Realmatic interactions between a Shard and a planet are what define the structure of any Invested Arts associated with that Shard on that planet.[61] Shards can consciously make some changes to this structure,[62][63] but the extent to which they can interfere is limited.[64] If a Shard used their power to create the planet in the first place (as Preservation and Ruin did with Scadrial), they will be able to exercise more control.[65]

As Shards are composed of a significant amount of Investiture, their presence also bends the local Realmatic geometry. This effect is mostly limited to the Cognitive Realm, where a Shard's presence is partially responsible for the planet's subastral taking up a relatively large space compared to the space between planets.[40] If a Shard remains in a system for some time, this Realmatic bending will generally result in the formation of a perpendicularity.[40][48][41] If a Shard wishes, they may also use their Investiture to curve the Realms in a way that creates a body in the Physical Realm.[66]

Culture[edit]

Nalthis[edit]

On Nalthis, the Five Scholars stumbled upon Realmatic Theory and the broader cosmere during their studies[67] and are known among the scholars of Silverlight for their discoveries.[68] Subsequent Nalthian scholars appear to have retained some of the Five Scholars' knowledge and, aside from worldhoppers, are probably the most aware of the mechanics of the cosmere.[69] Indeed, the Nalthian perpendicularity has customs,[70] suggesting Nalthis has a sizable population with at least some Realmatic awareness.

Roshar[edit]

On Roshar, the philosopher Gavarah first developed Realmatic Theory some time well before 1173.[71] Since then, her theory appears to have become widely accepted among scholars, who are aware that the Spiritual Realm is a place of pure truth but the Cognitive Realm is more malleable.[72] However, it appears that few, if any, scholars have actually studied it in detail, as Jasnah Kholin was unable to find much information on the Cognitive Realm with six years of research.[73] This difficulty may be compounded by the fact that some religions have integrated aspects of Realmatic Theory into their theology,[74][75] though the return of the Knights Radiant and the reactivation of the Oathgates may soon lead to new knowledge.

Scadrial[edit]

I have come to see that each power has three aspects: a physical one, which can be seen in the creations made by Ruin and Preservation; a spiritual one in the unseen energy that permeates all of the world; and a cognitive one in the minds which controlled that energy.

Sazed's earliest experiences after his ascension.[76]

On Scadrial, the ancient Terris were aware of Realmatic Theory and included it in their religion.[77] This knowledge may have come from experimentation with Feruchemy, which organizes its metals into quadrants based on which Realms they affect.[78] Their research into Realmatic Theory appears to have been an ongoing affair; when he met Alendi, the Worldbringer Kwaan was studying the Cognitive aspects of trees.[79] Much of this knowledge appears to have been lost when Rashek destroyed the Terris religion,[80] though at least some of it was retained by the First Generation of the kandra.[81]

Sazed included some basic information on Realmatic Theory in the Words of Founding.[76] Since the Catacendre, the Terris have been experimenting with the Feruchemical metals that store Spiritual properties, but refuse to speak of those powers with non-Terris.[82] The kandra and the Set have also been conducting research and have likewise been keeping it quiet.[83][84] As a result of this secrecy, the people of the Elendel Basin at-large seem to have little more knowledge of Realmatic Theory than they received in the Words of Founding. However, this situation may soon change as the people of the Basin begin to interact with the Southern Scadrians.[85]

The people of Southern Scadrial have a much more advanced understanding of Realmatic Theory. Ten years after the Catacendre, Kelsier arrived in their lands and gave them the tools and knowledge needed to make unsealed brassminds. After he left, the Southern Scadrians were able to use what they knew to figure out how to make unsealed metalminds for all abilities in the Metallic Arts. They have been unable to create unsealed metalminds that grant more than three abilities, suggesting that the Realmatic principles involved become more complex as more abilities are added to the metalmind.[86]

Sel[edit]

Shai explaining Realmatic Theory to Gaotona

The people of Sel have developed the most advanced knowledge of Realmatic Theory of any planet in the cosmere.[87] The MaiPon learned much about Realmatic Theory and how it relates to Forgery by study and observation[88] and are aware of concepts like Identity and Connection.[1] The Ire, and perhaps other pre-Reod Elantrians, similarly had an advanced understanding of Realmatic Theory.[89][90]

Silverlight[edit]

Well before the True Desolation, the city of Silverlight was founded.[91] Located entirely in the Cognitive Realm,[92] Silverlight is home to many worldhoppers who have settled down as well as several people who live their entire lives there.[93][94] Located as it is in the Cognitive Realm, most of Silverlight's residents are aware of the mechanics of the cosmere.[93] Additionally, Silverlight is also home to several universities with scholars who study the cosmere,[95] at least one of which was founded by Khriss.[96]

Development[edit]

The inspiration for Realmatic Theory comes from a number of real-world philosophies. Those philosophies include Plato’s theory of the forms, Shinto beliefs,[31], and Spinoza. Plato’s theory of forms is the original concept for the Realms. The theory of forms states that the physical world is merely an imitation of the ideal essences of all things. This true ideal matches up with the Spiritual Realm, and the human perception of ideals matches up with the Cognitive Realm.[97] While Plato’s philosophy only includes two forms, Brandon uses three. The idea that everything has a spren comes from Shinto beliefs.[98] Spinoza’s influence is in God being in everything and everything being made of one substance. Brandon’s interpretation of this is the Shards’ Investiture permeating everything in the cosmere. Other, more minor influences include Jung in the concept of Connection,[97] idealism,[99], and the ship of Theseus thought experiment.[100] The large number of philosophical influences on Realmatic Theory and the cosmere is because Brandon finds philosophy interesting. He took many philosophy classes in college.[99]

Realmatic Theory was first used in Dragonsteel, Brandon’s second book set in the cosmere.[101] The opening chapters include someone learning about the three Realms in a classroom.[102] As Brandon wrote more cosmere books, he noticed patterns in the themes. He began to create a common energy source for the magic systems to use. Linking the books and creating the cosmere grew naturally from those themes and connections.[101] Within the currently published cosmere, the term Realmatic Theory has only been used once, by the Ire.[89] Khriss has used the phrase "Realmatic Transition" in the Words of Radiance Ars Arcanum to describe the Surge of Transportation.[103] She also used the phrase "Realmic transition" once in the essay on the Taldain system to describe how sand mastery works.[32] The difference, if any, between these two terms is as yet unknown.

Notes[edit]

  1. a b c The Emperor's Soul - Day 12 #
  2. ICon 2019
    Arcanum - 2019-10-15#
  3. Oathbringer chapter 103 #
  4. 17th Shard Forum Q&A
    Arcanum - 2012-09-28#
  5. Arcanum Unbounded signing Chicago
    Arcanum - 2016-12-06#
  6. Prague Signing
    Arcanum - 2019-10-26#
  7. Emerald City Comic Con 2018
    Arcanum - 2018-03-01#
  8. Starsight Release Party
    Arcanum - 2019-11-26#
  9. ICon 2019
    Arcanum - 2019-10-15#
  10. a b c Starsight Release Party
    Arcanum - 2019-11-26#
  11. Emerald City Comic Con 2018
    Arcanum - 2018-03-01#
  12. Words of Radiance Seattle signing
    Arcanum - 2014-03-08#
  13. Hero of Ages Q&A - Time Waster's Guide
    Arcanum - 2008-10-15#
  14. Steelheart release party
    Arcanum - 2013-09-24#
  15. a b Mistborn: Secret History part 2 chapter 1 #
  16. Steelheart Chicago signing
    Arcanum - 2013-10-05#
  17. Skyward San Francisco signing
    Arcanum - 2018-11-08#
  18. Oathbringer London signing
    Arcanum - 2017-11-28#
  19. Shadows of Self release party
    Arcanum - 2015-10-05#
  20. Oathbringer London signing
    Arcanum - 2017-11-28#
  21. Emerald City Comic Con 2018
    Arcanum - 2018-03-01#
  22. General Reddit 2019
    Arcanum - 2019-11-27#
  23. Oathbringer release party
    Arcanum - 2017-11-13#
  24. a b Shadows of Self Chicago signing
    Arcanum - 2015-10-12#
  25. a b DrogaKrolow.pl interview
    Arcanum - 2017-03-17#
  26. a b Orem signing
    Arcanum - 2018-03-10#
  27. Legion Release Party
    Arcanum - 2018-09-19#
  28. Words of Radiance Washington, DC signing
    Arcanum - 2014-03-20#
  29. JordanCon 2018
    Arcanum - 2018-04-20#
  30. a b Orem signing
    Arcanum - 2018-03-10#
  31. a b Oathbringer Glasgow signing
    Arcanum - 2017-12-02#
  32. a b Arcanum Unbounded - The Taldain System #
  33. a b Words of Radiance Houston signing
    Arcanum - 2014-03-11#
  34. /r/books AMA 2015
    Arcanum - 2015-05-24#
  35. a b Firefight release party
    Arcanum - 2015-01-05#
  36. Skyward Pre-Release AMA
    Arcanum - 2018-10-05#
  37. #SandersonChat Twitter Q&A with Audible.com
    Arcanum - 2016-02-04#
  38. The Bands of Mourning chapter 28 #
  39. a b Salt Lake City signing
    Arcanum - 2017-12-16#
  40. a b c /r/books AMA 2015
    Arcanum - 2015-08-09#
  41. a b c d Arcanum Unbounded - The Drominad System #
  42. a b c d OdysseyCon 2016
    Arcanum - 2016-04-08#
  43. DragonCon 2019
    Arcanum - 2019-08-29#
  44. Skyward Pre-Release AMA
    Arcanum - 2018-10-04#
  45. Arcanum Unbounded release party
    Arcanum - 2016-11-22#
  46. Orem signing
    Arcanum - 2017-12-21#
  47. /r/books AMA 2015
    Arcanum - 2015-06-24#
  48. a b Arcanum Unbounded Chicago signing
    Arcanum - 2016-12-06#
  49. Skyward Pre-Release AMA
    Arcanum - 2018-10-20#
  50. Skyward Seattle signing
    Arcanum - 2018-11-10#
  51. Kraków signing
    Arcanum - 2017-03-21#
  52. /r/Cosmere
    Arcanum - 2018-03-18#
  53. Bonn Signing
    Arcanum - 2019-05-15#
  54. Arcanum Unbounded release party
    Arcanum - 2016-11-22#
  55. Oathbringer release party
    Arcanum - 2017-11-13#
  56. Arcanum Unbounded Chicago signing
    Arcanum - 2016-12-06#
  57. Oathbringer release party
    Arcanum - 2017-11-13#
  58. Arcanum Unbounded - The Threnodite System #
  59. Oathbringer chapter 119 #
  60. Oathbringer chapter 122 #
  61. Hero of Ages Q&A - Time Waster's Guide
    Arcanum - 2008-10-15#
  62. Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A
    Arcanum - 2009-07-08#
  63. Waygate Foundation Write-a-thon
    Arcanum - 2014-01-17#
  64. Oathbringer release party
    Arcanum - 2017-11-13#
  65. Shadows of Self London UK signing
    Arcanum - 2015-10-19#
  66. JordanCon 2018
    Arcanum - 2018-04-20#
  67. Arcanum Unbounded release party
    Arcanum - 2016-11-22#
  68. Arcanum Unbounded Chicago signing
    Arcanum - 2016-12-06#
  69. Arcanum Unbounded release party
    Arcanum - 2016-11-22#
  70. JordanCon 2018
    Arcanum - 2018-04-21#
  71. The Way of Kings chapter 29 #
  72. Words of Radiance chapter 24 #
  73. Words of Radiance chapter 1 #
  74. The Way of Kings interlude I-8 #
  75. Arcanum Unbounded release party
    Arcanum - 2016-11-22#
  76. a b The Hero of Ages chapter 57 epigraph#
  77. 17th Shard Forum Q&A
    Arcanum - 2012-09-28#
  78. Alloy of Law release party
    Arcanum - 2011-11-07#
  79. General Reddit 2016
    Arcanum - 2016-11-06#
  80. The Well of Ascension chapter 12 #
  81. The Hero of Ages chapter 71 #
  82. The Bands of Mourning Ars Arcanum #
  83. The Bands of Mourning chapter 3 #
  84. The Bands of Mourning chapter 17 #
  85. The Bands of Mourning chapter 31 #
  86. The Bands of Mourning chapter 21 #
  87. Hal-Con 2012
    Arcanum - 2012-10-30#
  88. General Signed Books 2015
    Arcanum - 2015-08-10#
  89. a b Mistborn: Secret History part 5 chapter 2 #
  90. White Sand vol.1 release party
    Arcanum - 2016-06-28#
  91. Skyward Pre-Release AMA
    Arcanum - 2018-10-04#
  92. Arcanum Unbounded Fort Collins signing
    Arcanum - 2016-11-29#
  93. a b JordanCon 2016
    Arcanum - 2016-04-23#
  94. Arcanum Unbounded Hoboken signing
    Arcanum - 2016-12-03#
  95. Arcanum Unbounded - The Selish System #
  96. Oathbringer San Francisco signing
    Arcanum - 2017-11-15#
  97. a b /r/fantasy AMA 2013
    Arcanum - 2013-04-15#
  98. YouTube Livestream 1
    Arcanum - 2020-01-11#
  99. a b Skyward San Diego signing
    Arcanum - 2018-11-07#
  100. Stormlight Three Update #6
    Arcanum - 2017-02-09#
  101. a b YouTube Livestream 14
    Arcanum - 2020-07-30#
  102. Skyward Chicago signing
    Arcanum - 2018-11-16#
  103. Words of Radiance Ars Arcanum #
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