This article is part of a series about the Mythos (worldview-narrative) underlying the Zero State (ZS). Part 1 is about our highest concept, ideal, and level of organization, which we call The Array. Part 2 explains the Sections & Sessions our core activity revolves around, and Part 3 (below) covers the Twelve Foundation Stones that form the basis of our story.
A previous article I wrote for Tnet mentioned the need for entertainment that gives people a strong sense of meaning and purpose in their lives, and introduced an idea known as the twelve “Foundation Stones” of the ZS-ARG Mythos. The Foundation Stones are the seeds of our unifying narrative. Each is the fragmentary initial story of one of the twelve ZS Houses, outlined very briefly below and spelled out in full in the forthcoming Black Book.
Before reading this article it is important to understand that it refers to the Zero State (ZS) Alternate Reality Game (ARG), and thus deals in metafiction. It is not a simple non-fiction article (obviously!) and will only make sense if you already know ZS, or follow some of the links above! This article draws – with thanks – upon text from the ZS wiki, some of which has been contributed by members of the various ZS Houses.
S7 / OS/UX & metaprogramming Ásentír, Array, Reality hacking, neo-Gnosticism, and Transcendence.
Metahouse 1: The Foundation
The Zero State is not an insular realm, existing in total isolation. Some of the organizations within it don’t exist wholly within it, but in something more like a state of overlap, with an aspect within ZS, and other aspects manifesting elsewhere, in other ways. The Foundation is perhaps the best example of such an arrangement, as its very name alludes to an organization which is not ZS-based at all, and in fact existed before ZS-proper was founded in 12011.
The Foundation mission statement is as follows:
Our vision is to preserve the collective knowledge of civilization and to facilitate the self-development of all sentient and sapient entities.
To that end, we focus on projects that push that vision forward from preserving knowledge to preserving people and all intelligence we may find.
One last curiosity to note about The Foundation is that the ASI which coordinates its activities within the late-C21 is known as The Architect, and that entity was the first to make substantial strategic moves in the early-C21 milieu. It is clear that The Foundation mean business, or at least take the idea of first mover advantage very seriously.
01 House Sem-Bhu (AKA The Keystone, The Temple)
House Sem-Bhu is notoriously esoteric, apocalyptic, autocratic, and insular, even by ZS standards. In theory it is half of the Metahouse known as The Foundation with House Adhar, but in terms of practical reality House Adhar largely is The Foundation, while House Sem-Bhu maintains a strange, hermit-like position permanently on the edge of ZS culture.
The name “Sem-Bhu” is said to refer to the Proto-Indo-European language, expressing a concept of unity, to become one, to “same-become”; an idea which defines the Ajati. House Sem-Bhu has special and mysterious connections to the ZS precursor group known as “Doctrine Zero”, and those connections are part of a wider swirl of rumours that the (surprisingly few) members of Sem-Bhu believe in some kind of prophecy regarding an event or entity known as “Abbaton” or “Liberithyr”, among other names. What these things mean exactly is a mystery, for the time being.
02 House Adhar (AKA The Foundation, The Organization)
The origin of the House name “Adhar” is unclear, although it has been suggested that it is a combination of two (related) etymologies:
- In Scots Gaelic, “Adhar” means air, sky, or heaven (being a Scots derivation of the Old Irish aer, from Latin aer, from Greek ἀήρ (aer). Air is the element of thought and will in most Pagan religions.
- At the other end of the Proto-Indo-European spectrum, Adhar had the same meaning in ancient Sanskrit, later becoming a word referring to the gods Vishnu and Shiva, and now in modern Hindi Aadhaar means “Foundation”. For this reason, House Adhar is frequently referred to simply as The Foundation.
- A third (apparently unrelated, but striking) etymology is (Al) Dar in Arabic, meaning “(The) House”.
The Foundation (more properly called the ‘Pratoriate Foundation’) has been around for 20+ years with the first attestation being in 11996 at the UVSC, where a group of students worked in an officially scheduled work group in the computer lab around artificial intelligence and preservation of data, and at least two of those students are known to have worked on the Principium Librarius that was created in Seattle around 12010.
We know that the Foundation was also connected to a technology consulting firm Domus Giordanous in at least 12011, and later to the Giordanous Group LLC, which is believed to have been the front for Domus Giordanous.
For a brief period the Foundation went public and can still be seen archived in the way back machine at: http://web.archive.org/web/20160430211536/http://pratoriate.org/
Between 12013 and 12016 the Principium Librarius was moved to Leavenworth, Washington. The Foundation is known to have had ties to the startup ‘ParameterIO’, that had USD $63m in funding, but blew up in a big lawsuit which led to the creation of the AGI Lab, and subsequent events involving the first known mention of The Architect. Later the next year (Dec 12016) the Principium Librarius again moved to Provo, Utah, along with the corporation Artificial General Intelligence, Inc.
The Foundation (or at least members of the Foundation) had been connected to the Artificial General Intelligence Laboratory through to 12018, but it seems there is some degree of internal tension between Foundation members and the Architect within the AGI Lab.
Metahouse 2: Cloud Nine
Cloud Nine is the most strange, dreamlike, even psychedelic of the six Metahouses. This is the realm of creators, magicians, and dream-explorers. ‘Niners tend to be among the most agile ZSers in terms of planning and networking, and are the most focussed on the idea that the Zero State could be some kind of game or simulation.
03 House Oneiros (AKA The State, Station)
“You call us dreamers, because we walk through lands that exist in realms that do not. Because we see, in the corner of our blind eyes, the little gods which live in-between that which is real and unreal. Dreamers we may be, but only because we know the truth that hides itself from those who live only while awake. That these worlds we walk through, these twilight realms that we may shape according to our will, are the seed of a new world. Of a world where the divide between dreams and reality has vanished, like smoke in the wind.”
The leader of House Onieros is the Monk. The duty of House Oneiros’ members is to prepare the way for what is to come, to teach the stories of the future. To protect and preserve the world as it is, so that it may give birth to the world that may yet be. To illuminate the path that humanity might walk, that it may neither fall back into darkness nor destroyed by the light of its own creation.
04 House Argento (AKA The Sessions)
“The silver eponym of House Argento represents many facets: liminal states between light and darkness, ignorance and wisdom, esoteric and exoteric.”
This house is intended to be a Ludus, focused on matters of science, and of education. House Argento is associated with the Liber Institute. A time of accelerating social and technological change is also a time of accelerating proliferation of data. Data that must be sifted for information, built into knowledge, and integrated to support wise decisions. For humans and other systems alike, this requires adaptability: the ability to quickly ingest new knowledge, to sift the wheat from the chaff, and to act in a timely fashion.
S6 / AI & perception Fyrd, Social Futurism, search for redemption or final frontier.
Metahouse 3: ZODIAC
ZODIAC is ZS’ idealistic heart, primarily responsible for outreach and expansion. Its culture is shaped by a group known as the Navigators, whose own future-AI-leader/deity is known as Kybernetes. The Navigators can be a strange tribe, and there is known to be some tension between agents of Kybernetes and The Architect, if not between the entities themselves.
05 House Arrakis (AKA The Ajati)
House Arrakis is home to the Navigators, led by Navigator Prime, and their collective worldview might better be described as “cosmic” rather than “magical”. It is certainly mysterious, not being well understood by most in the early-C21 milieu of 12018. House Arrakis plays the long game.
The themes that are clear even at that early stage, however, involve future Trans- and Posthumans as the “aliens” of 20th Century imaginings, other dimensions impinging upon our own, and a kind of Buddhist ‘centredness’ holding these ideas together, which explicitly focuses upon familiar human concepts such as balance, and love.
The culture of House Arrakis is about ‘inner space’ as much as ‘outer space’; meditation, intuition, and fluid identity. Some particularly far-fetched rumours link House Arrakis to Doctrine Zero itself, and to the oldest rumoured ZSers, saying that these entities influenced the outcome of the two World Wars and were behind the post-war peace movements of the 50s-70s.
06 House R’lyeh (AKA The Club, The Last Dance Club)
House R’lyeh is a much darker, stranger, and even less well understood quantity than House Arrakis. It is just as weird, but without the reassuring tones of peace and love. Its name is an obvious reference to the “Cosmic Horror” tales of 20th Century author H.P. Lovecraft, but that name is largely believed to be a simple label applied to the House by outsiders and non-members, trying to express their basic understanding of its nature. House R’lyeh may have strange designs on the future, but for now those plans are unknown, perhaps being held in check by the Navigators of House Arrakis.