The Snooted One

The Historicity of Origin

—Nisi Shawl—

Volume 1: Inherited Arguments


". . . the Snooted One stands as mediator at the doorway of our racial heritage. At our approach her ears prick up, and she turns her smooth-furred head toward us. We stare upon her muzzle, so dearly familiar, yet so strange. We are indebted to her for our understanding of ourself."

—Marcar 3f, Sounds and Smells

Our use of this quotation from Marcar 3f illustrates the depth of haunting beauty invested in this legendary figure. It is our intention to provide final and conclusive proof of her existence as a real, historical personage.

This is the first of three projected volumes. Volume 1, the present volume, deals primarily with the historical background of earlier attempts to pinpoint or discredit the existence of the Snooted One. Volume 2 will outline our model of the dawn of civilization, the establishment of the first lines, and the role we postulate for her in all this, as opposed to that traditionally assigned to her. Volume 3 will address recent discoveries in the fields of reconstituted data and deconstructive biology which directly impact this subject.

But before we outline the areas covered in this volume, perhaps we should discuss our methods. The non-colineal can never have the control of detail gained so painfully over generations of study. Nor do they so easily grasp the technical language which has evolved to support and describe the knowledge arrived at through an ex-lineal field of study. This leads them to see simple-minded correspondences between superficial resemblances. However, some of these resemblances are much more than superficial, especially when taken in context of the background of co's own work. Thus the eighth Berfoto cohort, whose line's traditional field of endeavour is that of culinary science, made significant contributions to the discipline of rhinoaesthetics.

Still, in this case each member of the cohort simply strayed into the same field, so to speak. No new posts were created, and no ex-lineal methods were incorporated. Rather, Berfoto 8a noted the shared and distinct responses of her pups to various stimuli, 8d conceived a mode of classifying these infantile responses according to similar adult olfactory phenomena, 8f communicated this schema to other lines for confirmation, and so forth, more or less as co would expect.

We have done something much different. The approach conceived of by Altin 10a and 10c, for which we have coined the descriptive term "muta-disciplinary," is one in which several members of our greatly expanded cohort of 18 are responsible for different branches of knowledge, which are brought to bear upon a single problem. With the aid of holographically encoded proteins we are able to induce within ourself enough temporary knowledge to share our findings. Of course the basic functions, such as hunting and the replication of offspring, go on much as before. But the function of inter-lineal communication, for example, has been assumed by a "sub-cohort" of three, which explains the near-simultaneous appearance of these volumes. For a complete breakdown of the 11th Altin cohort's posts and functions, see Figure 1. Other differences in the structure of Altin 11 will become apparent in the course of reading.

Fig. 1: Muta-disciplinary structure of Altin 11







Chapter I begins with a definition of terms as used in the context of this work. We have basically used the accepted cross-lineal terms where we could, but found that bringing in concepts such as non-self-replicating intelligences and the means by which such anomalies could transmit their genetic material necessitated some invention. To extend our vocabulary we have included some lineal terms relating to the mysteries of cross-replication. This is done with the full consent of Altin 11a.

Chapter II recounts briefly the myth of the Snooted One in as many guises as we could scent out: nursery rhymes, the classic tale cross-linealized by Nayol 12f, and the various scholarly explanations of that most unlikely of all unlikely phenomena: a single birth.

Chapter III gives an outline of the work of two important, though extinct lines, specifically that of Redd 6, 7, and 8d, and of Porep 1 and 2d. Though the originals are, of course, undecipherable, the two opposing views held by these cohorts were so fundamental to attempts at understanding the Snooted One that portions were translated into the languages of their contemporaries. Some of these lines have survived intact to this day, and we were able to obtain copies which we then retranslated into our own line's tongue.

In Chapter IV we deal with the Shocton 3 affair. Disastrous though this unscrupulous cohort's foray into fraud was for archaeology, we feel it behooves us to look closely at the dynamics which led to the construction of the so-called "Shocton Skeleton." And many of the "Skeleton's" most widely ridiculed features (the narrow hips; the flat, broad muzzle; the curiously reticulated jaw and dentition) we now believe to be essentially correct.

Chapters V and VI contain expositions on the development of the two most widely known schools of thought on the subject of the Snooted One's historicity. Chapter V covers the Seed Throwers, who following Porep, postulate the existence of a closely related species which, in prehistoric times, was responsible for the distribution and reproduction of genetic information. Such an arrangement is not without parallels in nature. According to Altin 11dd, it is remotely possible, as suggested by the Extreme Seed Throwers, that only one species was involved and that genetic randomization was provided by a subspecies split, as in the case of certain sparsely but reliably attested mainland species. Both factions of the Seed Throwers theorize that the Snooted One sprang from such a milieu and that from her, through many contacts with this species or subspecies, came the first lines, our remote ancestors.

In Chapter VI we look at the Continuists, a school of thought derived from Redd's arguments and currently given much more academic credence. Continuists maintain that no mythical racial beginning is necessary to explain the archetype of a single ancestress. At birth, we all look to a single care-giver, a single conduit of nutrition and knowledge. Continuism finds, in this resonance with the legends of the Snooted One, their cause and source. It points to a lack of documentary or linguistic evidence, the patchiness and interpretability of electronic remnants and the impenetrability of physical clues. It is essentially a negative rationale. Its strength lies mainly in its consensus with conventional wisdom on the link between self-replication and civilization. Its seductiveness lies in the ease with which it avoids the nose-tickling question of how our ancestress came into being.

In Chapter VII we detail the rise of our own model, which began purely as an intellectual exercise of no expected weight or consequences. Commencing with an obscure essay by Altin 5d on the oddity of the Snooted One's title in light of traditional representations, Altin 10e plunged deeper and deeper into the controversies centering on this uncertainty. At last the decision was made to devote an entire cohort of the line to the problem, and to all its ramifications. The results you see here.

Developments in such far-flung fields as regressive chemistry and theoretical linguistics played a large part in the construction of our model, which we have named Revised Extreme Seedism. In explicating this model, we touch briefly on matters which are amplified in the next volume.

The Snooted One lived and breathed, lapped and panted, just as surely as we do. It is possible to prove this. It may even be possible, at some later point, to confirm individual moments in her life, such as the famous "Your World Does Not Spin" speech, which she is popularly believed to have given upon escaping her creators. But first we must accept the fact that she was created, and all that that implies.

It is our hope that these implications, which have in the past generated so much furor, are subject to calm, rational discussion. But our sad expectation is otherwise. Many, we fear, will take exception to this cohort's structure and base their objections on the unorthodox feel of a muta-disciplinary approach. More important, though, is the fact that the Snooted One and the constellation of beliefs surrounding her are the foundation of our culture's self-definition. When co questions those beliefs, or even reiterates them in a slightly different form, co irritates the very pads upon which whole lines walk.

Therefore, we expect, at least at first, rejection of our findings. Yet we crouch firmly behind them and believe, in the last analysis, that they will run, and run quite well. Sniff them closely, and, if possible, in a neutral atmosphere. That is all we ask.

—Altin 11f, 11ff 11fff

Nisi Shawl's Asimov's Science Fiction story "Cruel Sistah" was included in The Year's Best Fantasy & Horror: 19. She has also appeared in So Long Been Dreaming: Postcolonial Science Fiction and Fantasy and both volumes of the groundbreaking Dark Matter anthology series. With Cynthia Ward she teaches "Writing the Other: Bridging Cultural Differences for Successful Fiction." The workshop's companion book came out from Aqueduct Press in Summer 2005. In 2004 and 2005 she edited the online magazine Beyond, which publishes Afrocentric sf by high school students. A board member for the Clarion West Writers Workshop, Nisi likes to relax by pretending she lives in other people's houses.

content Copyright 2006, Nisi Shawl—All Rights Reserved
image, "Snoot," 2006, Darin C. Bradley—All Rights Reserved