When They Want to Leave Gala?
Saturday, September 15, 2018
Migration is a fundamental economic activity in any individuated species. It also occurs for political, cultural, social, and environmental reasons. People move. Sometimes it's happy. Sometimes it's sad. Sometime's it's pragmatic. Sometimes it's urgent.
This is at odds with a Gala that I have always depicted as being hidden away in secrecy from the rest of the world prior to the events of After The Hero. The element of surprise was always foremost in Galavar's strategy for world conquest.
Moreover, despite the fact that I have made great efforts to present every society on Relance as plausible and therefore legitimate and potentially relatable, it's no secret that I personally tend to align with Galan ideology. I also depict the City of Sele—which for all intents and purposes is Gala prior to the events of ATH—as being prosperous and mildly utopian. There's an unspoken problem here: If Galan society is really so great, no one would want to leave, right?
Wrong! People do want to leave Gala, for all the reasons listed above. So this week's article discusses the question of what happens then.
Emigration vs. Secrecy: Two Necessary but Seemingly Irreconcilable Conditions
There is a term in the Galan language that describes Gala's culture of secrecy as a prerequisite to a successful Galan Conquest. It translates to "in the sand." Galans often refer to themselves, when speaking of the eventual Galan expansion, as being in the sand—that is, immediately at hand, yet just out of view. This metaphor is also used more broadly among the Galans, to refer to virtually any forthcoming yet unforeseen revelation or development.
For instance, an acidic meal might hold indigestion in the sand. Artists might speak, gesturing at their blank canvases, of a masterpiece in the sand. Coming down with an unexpected infectious illness might be reported as "there was a bug in the sand."
The Galan people prior to ATH—so, the Selish—are well-educated in the Galance Ideal and therefore are aware of the thinking behind the Galan Conquest. And the relevant bit of it goes like this: "We are too small, and do not have enough resources, to take the world in a full frontal attack. So we must stay hidden, until the time is right, and from there we must sow confusion at every step along the way, so that the nations do not see the truth of our intentions clearly enough to focus their resolve against us."
This carries a practical and severe consequence: There can be virtually no emigration. For, if people left Gala, and carried word of it to the nations, there would be a grave risk that the great powers would be able to discern the rise of a vast and menacing power in the east. Yet, as I conceded at the beginning, migration is inevitable, and by extension so is emigration.
So what does the Galan government do about it? And what is the public attitude toward it, and what are the processes involved for emigrating individuals?
The goal of these questions is to preserve Gala's mildly utopian nature without revealing some horrifying underbelly, while also successfully protecting the secrecy of Gala. This is one of those situations where I came up with the outcome before I designed the mechanism, so I've had to go back and engineer something that produces the desired result.
The Harshness of Galan Retention in the Early Novelization
Long ago, my solution to this problem was to say that the impulse to emigrate was very rare, and when it did happen the offenders were put to death.
There was a lot of this kind of stuff in my younger writing, depicting many societies—not just Gala, and not so different from most of the history of Earth—where to go against the established order was a potentially lethal subversion. It could get you killed.
I remember writing a scene, early in the novelization, where other members of the Guard of Galavar were prepared to slaughter Benzan on the spot, unbeknownst to him, if he declined to join them.
Later I understood that there were a number of things wrong with this picture, and I knew I would eventually need to tackle the question of emigration. But a solution was a long time in coming.
The Types & Circumstances of Emigrants
"Emigrants" are not a monolith. The reasons for emigration are an integral variable in the Galan efforts to mitigate the risks of emigration. These are the various types of emigrants, and circumstances driving emigration, in the pre-ATH era of Gala:
The most important group from a philosophical standpoint—and probably the heart of why this is an interesting topic—are those who would leave Gala because they don't buy into it.
Gala, more so than any other realm on Relance, is a land of high ideas. And if there's one thing we can count on in individuated species, it is the diversity of thought and the subjectivity of experience. Well...I guess that's two things. Any "high concept" society is going to generate strong opinions about those ideas. There will always be people who understand Gala and hate it. (For that matter, there will always be people who don't understand Gala, and hate it.)
Much about Galan society is deeply radical: Gala's empowerment of females and minorities is rare on Relance. Gala's communal rearing of children is also rare. Radical ideas breed powerful dissent. Gala's willingness to use physical violence and numerous forms of deception in pursuit of the Galan Conquest is inevitably controversial. Some even disagree with the Galance Ideal itself—the premise that Gala should cover the whole world so as to provide certain guarantees to all the Kindred.
This kind of dissidence was not common in early Gala. The first Galans were mostly Ieikili, and they were mostly persuaded by the vision of their great son, Galavar, and the blessing of their God, Sourros. Beyond them, the first generation of Galans were composed of immigrants who had been explicitly chosen as ideal candidates to build Gala.
Galavar and the prominent thinkers of early Gala anticipated some amount of native dissent eventually, but not until the first native generation of Galans had come of age, and even then they expected it to be minimal. They also planned for the Galan Conquest to commence not long after, rending the point moot.
They anticipated much greater dissent among the conquered nations—people who would become Galan not through a selective recruitment process but by virtue of their residence in an occupied territory—but again the point would be moot, as by then the trap would be sprung and the element of surprise cashed in.
It should also be noted that few dissidents actually become emigrants. It's a lot easier to complain and argue than it is to migrate.
Distinct from dissidents, the disaffected are those who once bought into Gala but no longer do, or come to see a better opportunity elsewhere. Maybe they got a raw shake. Maybe they had a bad experience with some person, group, or organization, and generalized it to all of Gala. Maybe they met with a heavy setback, economically or otherwise, that caused Gala to lose its sparkle in their eyes. Maybe they didn't like some of Gala's leaders, or policies.
Disaffection is inevitable. There are always cracks to fall through. There are always situational circumstances that cause things to turn out poorly for someone. And there is almost always a gap between a person's expectations for something and the reality of it.
There are lesser disaffections too, which can nevertheless sometimes drive people to want to leave. Lack of satisfaction with the culture, or difficulty with its norms. Lack of acceptance. Difficulty with the language. Maybe Galans just don't sing "the right songs." These things and more can spur alienation, which leads to disillusionment and disaffection.
Those Who Are Pulled by Foreign Ties
Love—love of family, love of place, love of country, love of climate or ecology. Obligations and duty. Familiarity, acceptance, and comfort. Wealth, or the opportunity for wealth, or for status. Many people move away only to find a strong voice calling them back home.
Referred to in Gala as sessility (meaning "immobility"), it is understood that people who had built roots elsewhere will sometimes find those roots, in whatever form, calling back to them, and that some will wish to succumb to this.
Those Who Suffer from Ill Health
The City of Sele is extremely high in elevation, extremely cold, and extremely dry. Many people are not able to cope with the adversity. Some find that their health deteriorates, either quickly or over a long time, and blame this on the environmental conditions in Sele.
The Perse Hollows offer some respite, but they have the disadvantage of being underground, and most people do not like to live without seeing the sun.
It is enough to drive some people to want, or even to need, to leave.
The main causes of emigration in the real world are economic incentives and political or cultural oppression, in that order, with occasional spikes caused by famine or disease. This sort of emigration is opportunistic in nature.
In Gala, economic and political instigators like poverty and persecution are minimal, as are outbreaks of famine and epidemics. (More on that later.) In that respect, the impetus for opportunistic emigration is low.
But there can still be opportunism generated from the other side of the equation: Gala's superb educational system teaches people about the world, and therefore clues them into many foreign possibilities and opportunities they would not previously have known. There is a legitimate reaction, sometimes, of people who realize there is something even more compelling awaiting them outside Gala's reach.
The Components of a Workable Solution I: Deterrence
To help me out in solving the problem of what happens when Galans want to leave Gala, I had the benefit of some supplementary knowledge. Like I said, I knew Gala was mildly utopian: prosperous, educated, and free. And I knew that the population of Sele was primarily composed of immigrants—people who, like I also said, had been explicitly chosen as ideal candidates to migrate to Gala and become the first generation of Galans.
Most importantly, I knew that emigration had to be compatible with Galan secrecy. That meant there could only be two viable solutions: preventing emigration, and neutralizing the risk posed by emigrants.
My ultimate solution was necessarily multifaceted, and is one that I find plausible and realistic and therefore quite satisfying. Here is what I came up with:
The Galan Essential Articles
Gala's equivalent of our Constitution is called the Essential Articles. This is a topic for another day, but among the Articles are numerous guarantees of legal status, economic opportunity, and social welfare.
This prevents the worst triggers for emigration. When you're not starving; when you have a place to sleep; when you know you won't die of deprivation or exposure; and when you know you will be treated well by your neighbors and by the law...you're way less likely to want to leave.
Galavar's personal take on the question of emigration was to rely on prevention as the main strategy. He saw this as far and away the best solution. The conditions that spur emigration are broadly controllable, and he had every intention of controlling them to the maximum, most intervening extent possible.
It's hard to understate this accomplishment. Just as in the real world, Gala came up with a system that systematically dissipated most of the impetus for emigration.
Preempting the Failure Modes of Galan Society
More brilliantly still, the scourges of unwieldiness, complacency, and degeneracy that eventually afflict prosperous, self-determined, and egalitarian societies were carefully mitigated by the engineered Galan civil society.
Unwieldiness—the outcome of an uncontrolled and self-destructive society brought about by freedom of thought and speech in an environment where people do not face serious repercussions for subverting the norms, questioning the government, speaking their minds, or deliberately provoking others—is forcefully counteracted by education specifically addressing this risk and teaching people about the consequences of political partisanship, contrarianism, and by the promotion of a strong cultural cohesion, instilling a sense of shared identity and communal obligation. Additionally, there are limitations in Gala on lawful behavior. Specifically—and this is the in the Essential Articles themselves—it is forbidden to discriminate against people on the basis of traits not involving their character. All of the physical bigotries—against sex, ethnicity, size, and so on—are illegal. People are taught from a young age, very firmly, to use their powers of freedom responsibly.
Complacency—the outcome of a naïve society, blinded by its own success, where most people live their whole lives without knowing the true depths of poverty, suffering, and oppression—is directly opposed by exposing all native Galan children, as well as many immigrants, to educational deprivation. This carefully controlled scenario of suffering is meant to illustrate the real distance between Galan hardships and the full potential of hardship outside the Galan way of life. It is called in Galan parlance the adversion, and is one of the milestones in a Galan's life. Similar to military boot camp in its destruction of comforts and conceits, though more focused on conditioning the character than the body, adversion entails a full season of living with multiple deprivations and hardships—though this is tailored to each individual's natural abilities and limitations. Adversion is a test, a test that can be failed, and, if failed, it must be repeated, this time for an entire year. (After that, regardless of a person's performance, the adversion is ended.) Children grow up knowing they will face the test someday, and, while many do fear it to some extent, they also look forward to proving themselves, and achieving the wisdom that awaits on the other side. Adversion is also one of the available punishments in the Galan penal system.
Degeneracy—the outcome of a prosperous society whose people have never struggled for their personal survival and therefore begin losing calibration in valuing activities and obligations that are necessary to a society's sustainability—is addressed through education, as with the other perils, and through a compulsory national service (we would call it "national service"; the Galans call it something else), where individuals are educated firsthand about what makes a society work. All Galans are required, at various periods in their life, to contribute this mandatory service, though they have a good amount of choice in what that service looks like, ranging from (to name a few possibilities) military enlistment, to participation in childrearing or teaching at the Academy, to joining the various Selish Works departments, building the city's civil infrastructure. No one is exempted from this; not even Galavar himself.
All of this has a strong Ieikili pedigree, with heavy influence from the Panathar Empire, which in Galavar's time has succumbed in varying degrees to all three scourges. Galavar's early experiences in the Empire showed him not only many things to admire, but other things to be wary of.
None of these things might seem, at face value, to relate to emigration, but all of them lead to emigration by undermining the workings of a society, eventually creating an opening for persecution, poverty, and other emigration triggers to gather strength. On the same note, Gala built itself up from the very beginning to have a stable food supply and a strong healthcare system and strong public health, hygiene, and sanitation practices—thus greatly reducing the likelihoods of famine and disease.
Preventing the Failure Modes of Galan Governance
Similarly, there are many ways that the government of a society like Gala can fail, leading to all sorts of potential emigration triggers. As far as the issue of preserving Gala's secrecy was concerned, Galavar only needed a solution that would last a few decades, but of course his main goal here was to sustain Gala in the long term, and wanted to develop the longest-lasting, most virtuous and efficacious government that he could.
To make a long story short (there's a lot I could discuss here), the Galan government was designed from the beginning to be resistant to internal corrosion and corruption that would lead to emigrations.
Primary Emigratory Deterrences I: The Disaffected
In addition to preventing economic, social, and political emigration triggers, Gala also developed three primary deterrents to emigration, targeted at three of the above types of emigrants I mentioned.
First, to prevent or relieve emigratory sentiments among the disaffected, Galan leaders developed an agency called the Bureau of Assimilation, which had arisen out of a larger Galan cultural movement known as the pibroch, or "great music." (More on that in a moment.) Assimilation had always been a key component of Galan sociopolitical ideology, with Gala eschewing what we call multiculturalism, seeing it as dangerous and destructive by virtue of its inherent segregation, and instead favored a system of what we call cultural pluralism, whereby it was understood that cultural diversity would be represented through various subcultures, and that these would be accepted and even cherished provided they abided by the rules of the overarching culture.
Regarding the disaffected, the job of the Bureau of Assimilation, one of the bureaus under Zirin Aloryane's sprawling portfolio, was twofold: First, it had the task of integrating newcomers into Galan society—immigrants. Second, and functionally identical to the first, it had the task of looking for existing Galan denizens who were falling through the cracks somehow, or had grown disillusioned with the Galan way of life, and seeking to help them restore their investment either by solving their problems directly or by connecting them with people, groups, organizations, or projects who could provide them with new ties, new purposes, and, ultimately, a renewed sense of belonging. If no suitable groups or projects existed, the Bureau would help people create their own, and would proactively seek other participants. In conjunction with the Bureau of Public Health, mental health services were also available as needed.
Primary Emigratory Deterrences II: Those Pulled by Foreign Ties
The Bureau of Assimilation also had the responsibility of implementing the second of the three primary emigratory deterrences. To prevent or relieve emigratory sentiments among those pulled by foreign ties, the Bureau developed two programs.
The first was a reunification program, targeting those who sorely missed family or friends still living abroad. As Sele grew and became more stable, it became feasible to admit less-qualified immigrants into the city, for the sake of maintaining the health and wellness (and loyalty) of existing Galans. These auxiliary individuals would not be likely to contribute as much to the Galance Ideal directly, but were understood to be of great importance to the people already in Gala who were missing them. They were still vetted thoroughly, but if admitted they were granted full status, in keeping with Gala's egalitarian convictions. In some cases, animals and possessions were also imported. It was also taught that, eventually, Gala would reach those far-flung lands, and, in that time, those who were still homesick could finally go home—while still being a part of Gala.
The second program was a seeder program, and helped people to recreate elements of their old life that they missed. This might entail planting certain plants, building or acquiring certain musical instruments, acquiring ingredients for certain types of food, and so on. The Bureau, much as with its work in helping disaffected people create new purpose in Gala, would help these individuals carry on their lost traditions and customs in a new land, and would connect them with people interested in sharing in those experiences. (Most Galans volunteered to be in this pool of individuals who might be invited to help someone else build ties; applicants would complete a survey and a series of interviews, and would then be matched accordingly with those in need.)
I mentioned the pibroch movement as having originated the Bureau of Assimilation. Here's where that comes in: "Pibroch" is a real thing. The Wikipedia entry does not do it justice. In Scottish culture, it isn't just a certain type of music, but represents the Scottish heritage. It is a unifying idea.
I like that idea, so I integrated it into The Curious Tale, where it exists in various societies on Relance, including Gala, in a similar form. In Gala, "the pibroch," while literally referring to music, is understood to refer to these culturally unifying forces—music, food, art, stories, and so on. Gala has a rich tradition of embracing the arts, not only for their artistic value but for their folk value, bringing people together, conveying cultural information, and cultivating shared experiences and, ultimately, a mutual heritage.
The Bureau of Assimilation is the governmental derivative of that idea, but the whole Galan people share in something similar thanks to the pibroch. And when it comes to those who are pulled by foreign ties, the idea—and ideal—of the pibroch is presented to them, both organically and through the Bureau—as, on one hand, an opportunity to create new customs, rituals, and memories, and, on the other hand, a way to share one's old customs etc. with one's new peers.
Primary Emigratory Deterrences III: Opportunists
Opportunists are both some of the hardest and some of the easiest people to reach when it comes to deterring emigratory sentiments. They're hard to reach because their objectives are concrete and often practical. They're easy to reach because those objectives are not generally part of a deep-seated conviction.
Therefore, the third primary emigratory deterrent is to either talk these people out of what they want, or give them what they want. There are three channels for doing this:
The first is, whenever feasible, to simply talk the person out of whatever it is that would lead them to emigrate. Emigration is strongly discouraged in Galan culture (more on that later), and those who are observed to be harboring emigratory sentiments of an opportunistic nature are intercepted for an interview with the Bureau of Assimilation. Oftentimes in these discussions, it becomes apparent that what the opportunist really wants is not necessarily the specific thing they're coveting, but something else which the coveting thing contains or represents. And, oftentimes, simply pointing this out to the person is enough to dissuade them.
The second channel of intervention takes this a step further. Routinely, the Bureau will try and connect these people with whatever it is they covet, or set them on the road to acquiring or achieving it within Gala. Building perspective is the central focus of this type of work, because it is often people's limited perspective that leads them to think they can't get what they want in Gala.
The third channel is completely separate, and not administered by the Bureau of Assimilation, and that is to take the Test of Tethers, and, if successful, ends in an individual becoming either a star-stealer or a spy.
The League of Star-Stealers is the organization that recruits foreigners to come to Gala. In the earliest days, only a handful of people traveled abroad to do this, but as Sele's population grew so did the pool of viable recruiters, and eventually these efforts were codified into the League of Star-Stealers.
If an emigratory opportunist—or sometimes another type of prospective immigrant, such as one who suffers from health problems owing to Sele's environment—can be shown to Gala's satisfaction to possess sufficient devotion to the Galance Ideal, as well as sufficient self-discipline in protecting the secret of Gala, and if they can be shown to possess or be trained to possess the necessary skills for star-gathering, then they can potentially be released back into the nations to pursue whatever opportunistic goal it is they desire, while also functioning on Gala's behalf as a star-stealer and a provider of intelligence. Having this independent goal—whatever it may be—adds great credibility and helps a person to be much less suspicious, for they often spend long amounts of time in specific villages, towns, and cities.
And there is another, similar outcome, which is to become a spy or surveillant rather than a star-gatherer. This work is administered by the Council of Eyes, a consortium that interconnects the various Galan intelligence services—there are several of them—and requires extensive skills for which an interested party may apply to train, if they pass various the various tests first to show their devotion to the Galance Ideal and second to demonstrate their suitability for intelligence work.
The Patchwork of Secondary Deterrences
In addition to those three primary deterrences, there is a great patchwork of secondary ones. There is a specific department in the Bureau of Assimilation that essentially functions as a catch-all for emigratory risks not otherwise dealt with by the government. These personnel then either resolve the problem themselves if they can, or, more often, refer the case to somebody else.
For instance, people who develop health problems because of Sele's climate or altitude can register with the Sele-Sickness List, from which they can be referred for a variety of therapies ranging from medical treatment to relocation to the bottom of the Perse Hollows, where they can support the Sand Fleet efforts or even serve in the navy directly, or partake in some of the other operations that go on down there.
Then there are those who have nothing wrong with them but a good case of wanderlust. The Board of Assimilation typically refers these individuals to various services where they'll have the opportunity to travel abroad.
Another example would be social deviants (here used as a neutral term) who develop views or concerns that would cause them to desire to leave Gala. The desire for personal ownership of their children is one of the most common ones. Oftentimes, newcomers to Gala are fine with the idea of raising their children communally until they actually have a kid, whereupon they suddenly realize they want ownership. This is usually resolved with counseling, and an invitation to serve at the Academy. Religion is another common issue, as most people on Relance either worship Derishos or a local god, whereas in Gala there is no official religion, and most religious observance is oriented around Sourros. People who develop religious views that put them at emigratory risk (most often by being directly at odds with some core aspect of Galan society, or otherwise by coming to believe that they need to reside in, or pilgrimage to, a different part of the world) are often intercepted and counseled, and, in most cases, are able to reconcile their competing priorities. Sometimes they retreat from their newfound convictions entirely.
And here's an interesting emigratory sentiment that falls under the jurisdiction of the secondary patchwork: Did you know that there is a disease on Relance that causes its sufferers to develop an overwhelming urge to go to Mareceous Core (the capital of Marecea) in the Western Middemesne and physically bond with an enormous formation of stone in the hills above the city, thereby petrifying themselves to death? The pathology and mode of transmission (if any) are unknown, and there's no known cure, but it is treatable, and looking out for this among the Galan populace is just one of the many vigilances maintained by the hardworking civil servants at the Galan Bureau of Assimilation.
The Components of a Workable Solution II: Restraint
I haven't answered the title question yet, have I? Not directly. We've talked about deterrence. But what happens when all of that fails, and somebody just really wants to leave?
Well, the first and largest answer is: They usually don't get to. Would-be emigrants, one way or another, usually end up appearing before the Board of Emigration to discuss their situation—though not sometimes without drama first.
Unauthorized Escape Attempts
The worst way to go about emigrating is to try it without permission. For as freedom-loving as Gala is, there are certain laws and customs that must be obeyed in order to protect freedom more generally. There must be tolerance for others. There must be civic participation. Etc., etc. And the secret of Gala must be maintained, for the sake of the existence of Gala.
Now, this isn't just the honor system. Sele has a fully-warded perimeter. No one can leave or enter the boundaries of Sele—including the lower entrance of the Perse Hollows—without being detected. The perimeter is spherical and transparent to ordinary matter, meaning that tunneling and flying are both going to result in a detection.
Unapproved departures are immediately intercepted by the authorities. Sometimes there is a chase, but, in every case, the individual (or sometimes multiple individuals) are apprehended. If the departure is determined to be a case of attempted emigration, the individual is taken under custody to the Board of Emigration.
Rarely, a person will undertake an elaborate scheme in order to gain authorization to leave the perimeter for any of numerous legitimate reasons, and then attempt to emigrate later on. Unlike simply walking across the border perimeter, this type of action is deemed more serious—a defection—and usually carries a criminal penalty. It also carries a risk of death: Once an individual is determined to have gone missing, they are tracked down ruthlessly. And, once located, if a situation arises where the authorities cannot apprehend the emigrant without causing more problems for Gala, they will kill the emigrant.
I should note that most of the situations that entail someone trying to escape from outside the perimeter involve the intention to betray of Gala. Not all of them, however; there are a few people who are simply that desperate to leave.
They are few indeed. I mentioned that emigration is strongly discouraged. From a young age, or from their earliest recruitment conversations, Galans and prospective Galans are taught about the importance of the secrecy of Gala, and, more importantly, are taught about ways to cope with stress, unhappiness, and frustration in their life. Very few people end up developing a conceptual framework for their problems in a way that leads them to want to escape Gala.
But it does happen.
The Board of Emigration
Anyone who wants to leave Gala, whether or not they tried to escape first, will eventually appear before the Board of Emigration. They will first be appointed a public counsel, who will advocate with or for them before the Board.
Upon appearing before the Board, they and their counsel will make their case. This interview is more conversational than anything—not really much like a court proceeding. Even though the proceedings are formal, there is no adherence to strict legal language (something that Gala generally frowns upon anyway), and virtually no risk that the letter of the law, or proficiency in the law, will interfere with the spirit of the law.
At the end, the Board will make a determination. Most of the time, that determination is to remand the individual into custody for counseling and rehabilitation, at the other end of which will be the assimilatory opportunities proffered through the Bureau of Assimilation and other entities.
Sometimes, if there is criminality involved, there will be a penal sentence first. (The Galan penal system is a topic for another day.)
But sometimes the Board will determine that an individual's desire to leave is so genuine and so strongly held that it should be granted.
The Components of a Workable Solution III: Conditional Emigration
Whenever that happens, the individual is retained in custody and another office in the Board of Emigration will advise them on their final remaining options.
First, they explain the emigration option itself. An individual may be allowed to emigrate from Gala on one of four conditions: They must either subject themselves to a gesh, to amnescence, to connation, or imprisonment in the Sub-Material Plain.
All four have their own serious drawbacks. Largely (though not without exceptions), the choice of which option to take is up to the emigrant.
The Four Options for Emigration
A gesh (patterned off a real-world mythical geas), is essentially a mental block, which prevents the affected individual from thinking about the prohibited topic(s). A gesh is very slippery, and grows more so with time, till ultimately the prohibited topics simply do not exist in the mind of the ensnared individual. The drawback here is that, in order to preserve the secret of Gala, the range of the gesh must be very broad, and will cause the individual to lose most of their identity and experiences surrounding their time in Gala—sometimes with unanticipated collateral damage resulting in the loss of access to other areas of thought.
Amnescence—the inculcation of amnesia—is an irrevocable solution, causing permanent memory loss of the individual's entire life. There is no known way to target the amnesia more narrowly. It has to be so deep that it erases knowledge of language, imagery, and song. So absolute is this process that it is reserved only for those who wish to completely start over in life—the only one of the four options that an emigrant is not allowed to choose unconditionally. They are also given the choice of being given a prefabricated persona, or spending an extensive period of time in reeducation with a team of Galan doctors, teachers, and counselors, at a secluded location outside Gala, whereafter they will be released into their previous life (if applicable and if so desired), or into a place where they can build a new life without raising too many eyebrows.
The third choice, connation, you would probably better know as mindwashing. The most prominent and by far the most powerful practitioner of this in Gala is of course Galavar himself. And it is indeed Galavar who administers the mindwashing to any emigrant who chooses this option, engendering a situation where there is a sort of disappointed fatherly goodbye. At the onset of the events of ATH, there are two other individuals, both doctors, who are training in connation under Galavar, with the intention of eventually taking over this workload for him. Sometimes an individual must wait for quite a while until Galavar is available. There is also an ironic outcome of this option: Most of the time, it eliminates the individual's desire to emigrate. In fact, knowing this, some people actively seek out this option, hoping to eliminate their desire.
The fourth option is to accept imprisonment in the Sub-Material Plain. A narrow planar spike facilitates the passage, and embeds the individual securely in a furnished pocket of the underworld. There, time passes one thousand times more quickly than on the Prime Material Plain. The idea is that a few days in this prison will allow enough time to pass in the Prime Material Plain so as for the Galan Conquest to succeed. Prior to imprisonment, the individual identifies the location they want to go to. This is documented, and, once the Galan Conquest secures that place, or once the need for Gala's secrecy is no longer necessary, the individual will be released. The spikes degrade over time, as a safety feature, so that if for any reason someone is left in the Sub-Material Plain, they will be restored to the physical world in a little over a fortnight of their own time (equivalent to over 50 years in the physical world). This is important for a variety of reasons. Meanwhile, the major drawback is that it is understood that, once released, the place to which an individual returns will not be at all the same as the place they wanted to go. The location will likely be much the same, but the year will be different, and everything that goes with that.
Most people choose the gesh.
The Fifth Option
If all of these options are too daunting, the emigrant is then advised of a fifth option: Wait. Wait until the Galan Conquest commences, and secrecy is no longer required. And return to Galan society in the meantime.
Quite a few people—more than half—find the emigration conditions so harrowing that they change their mind and decide to accept this fifth option, and simply wait.
For some of them, time soothes the itch.
For others? We shall see.
The Sixth Option
There is also a sixth option: supervised visitation. Not a case of emigration so much as temporary travel, some people's emigratory itch can be scratched simply with a visit to their old homeland.
In rare instances, the Board of Emigration approves supervised visitation in this manner, with a small team of people accompanying the individual and monitoring their activities so as to ensure that no word of Gala is revealed. The individual is coached in maintaining Gala's secrecy, as it can be quite difficult not to divulge important details without the proper training. They are given a false story, and coached in how to pivot and deflect from anything that might directly reveal Galan details or raise suspicions that could lead to Gala.
Possible, But Not Easy
Is it possible to prevent emigration? Yes, theoretically. Many societies on Earth have tried, with varying degrees of success. It usually involves a lot of bullets.
Gala has found something less deadly, and certainly it comes from a less tyrannical place, but it still rubs some Galans the wrong way. There is a small but vocal minority opinion that emigration should be legal, even at the expense of squandering Gala's secrecy. Free societies do not limit emigration, they argue, and Gala must uphold this, even at the risk of its very existence. There must be a better way, they insist, because such a policy undercuts Gala's supposed virtue.
Their opponents often raise the point that, if the Galan Conquest succeeds, everywhere will be Galan, someday, to which the rejoinder is often that this is semantics since Gala is technically a transnational entity and not an actual country, and that emigrants want to leave Sele more so than Gala per se.
And the debate continues.
But that's all for this week. Join me next week for a special Curious Tale Saturdays, when we mark the Autumn Equinox in the Year of 36 with a glimpse of perhaps the most beautiful and ancient species among the Yondred: the elusive, enchanting, comforting, terrifying, and awe-inspiring Eishiloni: ...the Dwends of the Dead Light.
Until then, damn the fuzz and jump that fence.
O day and night, but this is wondrous strange!