Whim of the beholder

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Research and scholasticism in Ghyll, for at least the last few centuries, has relied on the Observational Principle. The whim of the beholder is the means by which a researcher is able to cause observed phenomena to be fact, even if what is observed is just something the researcher has created by their own preferences and biases.

The Observational Principle

The Observational Principle holds that no event occurs unless and until it has been observed. Consequently, there was no distinction between darseeds and puffball flowers until Kmuppens took the time to observe that there were differences between them, and wrote them down. Until that time, no one had bothered to notice that there was in fact anything that distinguished one from the other. Now that it has been pointed out, any schoolchild can tell the difference between a darseed and a puffball.

But, once an observation has been made, the facts, which may have been indeterminate until that time, are henceforth fixed. The whim of the beholder may, in fact, serve to influence the facts in the matter. This is a matter that is debated by philosophers. But I cannot determine that you are not an ordinary Ghyllian but instead a hideous, carpaceless, pink grub just by looking at you, because you have already been observed and distinguished beforehand. The whim of the beholder can only be applied to previously indeterminate phenomena.

Because of this misunderstanding, the whim of the beholder has come to be misused all too often in common parlance. The establishment of fact that the Observational Principle describes applies to the initial observer only. Once a phenomenon or an object has been observed, no future changes can be affected, although folk superstitions such as the notion that a witch can curse people by looking at them or that the sun warms things by looking at them, still abound.

When the scholar Morbus Iff writes about the Order of Mnerr: "Regardless of how ... .. passive the monks of Mnerr are, you'd think them a crazy bunch once you got to know them; that is, got to know the literature that's been distributed about them. Could - Be - Arfrus won't confirm or deny the more religious and cultural of the following, but most are accepted as truth, especially those at the whim of the beholder:" he is writing in the vernacular sense, rather than the scientific sense of the phrase.

Pre-Harandraffian Knowledge

It is well known that King Harandraff the Great sought to obliterate all knowledge, other than histories that were favorable to him, personally. Very few records of any sort survived the Harandraffian Period. In the aftermath, with very little information available, everyone was forced to start making things up.

It is believed, though this is, of course, only conjectural, that there were many, many scholars in the land before Harandraff came to power, and that King Harandraff the Great, and his anti-librarian, Borges W. Gush, tried to systematically remove as much knowledge as he possibly could. Logically, then, there were hundreds if not thousands of scholars, philosophers and other learned types who were put to death during this period. But something more insidious must have taken place. In order for so much knowledge to have been forgotten, not only would the scholars had to have been put to death, but some kind of forgetfulness must have been forced upon the remaining populace in some fashion.

Practices such as grenfing may have originated as a means of storing and collecting information during the Harandraffian Period. After the intellectual suppression of that period, the practice was able to become something that was solely recreational, rather than as a clandestine method of preserving information.

The evolution of Ponce Gardening is one of the first post-Harandraffian expressions of popular observation taking place. Sailors who enjoyed exercising their whims would go out and collect interesting things from the sea in order to classify them. This is why so many phrases about ill-informed scholars have a nautical theme: He's only got one oar in the water, Sails full and tied to the dock, etc.

Kmuppens and the Whim of the Beholder

It was, of course, the taxonomist Ull Gitshire Kmuppens who brought the Observational Principle to the forefront of Ghyllian science. Kmuppens' categories are "based on their internal and external visual characteristics, their reproduction and feeding habits and the whim of the beholder." Particularly in Kmuppens' time, and still to a lesser degree true to this day, the scientist has the capacity to formulate new discoveries.

The special (maybe?) quantum criterion is particularly important in considering the whim of the beholder. This designation is the value that is given to rich earth cacti, phaelrosen, Desert Pziqq trees, and a few others which indicates a potential ability on the part of these organisms to withstand the whim of the beholder, since their ability to generate untruthfulness is indeterminate. Therefore, not only are they unreliable, but they may have powers over us that we do not fully understand.

Whim of the Beholder and the Heh-blammo Balance

One of the key questions remaining is whether the Heh-blammo balance is maintained by the Brothers of the Lantern through their exercise of the whim of the beholder. If this is the case, then there may be closer similarities between them and the Order of Mnerr, who steadfastly work to ensure that if a tree falls in the forest, it does make a sound.

Finally, An Experiment in the Whim of the Beholder

For years scientists and historians have wondered about how it came to be that so much knowledge was apparently lost during the Harandraffian Period. The very existence of this encyclopedia project is a testament to the fact that, at some point in the past, some cataclysmic event must have happened. No scholar or historian has been able to identify it to date.

Therefore, as an experiment in the power of the whim of the beholder, I propose to outline the mechanism by which this vast removal of information took place. If I can successfully exert my whim, historical records will begin to incline toward the identification of this fact as truth, and supporting evidence will begin to mount. Thus, the experiment. The following statement is my whim:

King Harandraff and his cronies 
created the Absolute Erasure to
destroy almost all existing knowledge
in Ghyll in the year -392 EC.

Citations: Absolute Erasure, King Harandraff the Great, Grenfing.

--Brother Arfrus 19:16, 28 October 2005 (EDT)

Well, Brother. I don't know how you managed it. Not a fortnight from the submission of your entry, and the finest scholars in Ghyll have fully realised your whim. Know you not what power you hold over your ill-witted peers? --Snood Trunion 06:24, 25 November 2005 (EST)

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