Using Analogy to Express the Unknowable

David Lindsay's A Voyage to Arcturus could be the best book I haven't read yet. I'm waiting till I find it in the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series paperback...

If anybody has an extra copy -- e-mail me (see above address) and let's work out a book trade.


One of the ingenious elements of Lindsay's novel is the invention of colors that the reader has never seen.

"Just as blue is delicate and mysterious, yellow clear and unsubtle, and red sanguine and passionate, so he felt ulfire to be wild and painful [and] jale [to be] dreamlike, feverish, and voluptuous."
(See also Lovecraft's "The Colour Out of Space")

These analogies have a concise sort of poetry that I think we could replicate and apply to other sorts of concepts:

  • Alignments -- those that cannot be fully comprehended by player characters
  • Energies -- fire-like elements that behave unlike fire
  • Alternatives to Dreaming/Dream Experience
  • Fey concepts that do not translate well into Mortal tongues

choon [chewn. fey concept]
As hatred conjures a violent burning in the heart, as love a gentle gloaming, so choon is like a sizzling grease fire of the soul. It is an emotion that elicits bizarre behavior in fey beings that may appear to mortals as a kind of schizophrenia. Choon is the grinding of the soul's foundations, like two great stones being struck together to create sparks. Many fey experience love and choon as a mental tincture of equal parts -- adoring, loathing and being at one with everything simultaneously.


  1. "A sizzling grease fire of the soul" - great turn of phrase.

  2. My guess is Cyclopeatron has a spare copy.

  3. It's free at Gutenberg...which might be better than nothing. Dreamhaven has a copy of the 2nd edition paperback for $6, plus shipping, or the hardcover for $150. If that helps.

  4. You should read this book immediately. I have a copy you can have, but unfortunately it's not a BAF. Seriously - stop f*ing around and pay $10 for your BAF copy on eBay or Abe, or just read the copy I give you. ;) Email me and I'll send you a copy right away.

    The BAF is probably the third or fourth best edition, after the original, the Savoy, and possibly the Gollancz.

    btw, I love the concept of this post. I try to hold back on this type of stuff in gaming though, because I'm not sure how weird I should let things get. It depends on the players...