The Correspondence [SPOILERLAND]

I’d like to try and collate everything we know and reckon about the Correspondence, if at all possible. I’ve gone to the end of any storylines concerning it and I have no definitive answers.

[ul][li]It’s used by the Masters to communicate via couriers (the couriers ‘never looked so relieved to be robbed’ when you jump them).[/li][li]It’s inscribed on the spires of the Bazaar, and about various buildings of the Fifth city (and in the Fourth City).[/li][li]If you say it incorrectly, you can set people on fire, and if you learn too much you can send yourself insane. And the Masters occasionally use it to torment captives (this happens if you fail in robbing the Bazaar).
[/li][li]Things inscribed with symbols of the Correspondence appear to illuminate, or glow (the Everlasting Candle has ‘tiny symbols of the Correspondence’).[/li][li]Interestingly, despite the fact that whole Correspondence symbols seem to translate into phrases rather than specific words, it is noted to have a grammar.[/li][li]The Correspondence is not limited to symbols or written language; those who have journeyed on the Sea of Voices know what I mean (perhaps it has a connection to Polythreme’s vitality?)[/li][li]There are loads of hints; it’s called the ‘mathematics of hell’, the diary of Jack-of-Smiles and the letters leaders of former Fallen cities/prospective Fallen cities wrote to the Bazaar[/li][/ul]My theory: The Correspondence is the language of the Bazaar, which we know to be sentient in some manner. Since the Bazaar feeds upon love stories, might the Correspondence be the manner in which those stories are translated by the Masters for its delectation? Could the language be the Correspondence between lovers? Love too, can send people insane, or set them ablaze. On a final note; their are hints at a connection with the sun, and with Icarus. Icarus burned up in the sun because he was in love with himself.
edited by Mysterious Gentleman on 12/21/2012

I just remembered that Hell has been searching for answers about The Correspondence for at least a thousand year (back to at least the third city) so it would appear that they have no control over it. Could be a connection between Aztec/Mayan mathematics and the Third City/hell thing though.

The devils you encounter seem to have no knowledge about it, but that doesn’t mean that other demons in hell, who would presumably be the ‘ruling class’, don’t. In fact, that might well be why they are the ruling class.

It seems clear to me that the Correspondence is the language of intelligences incomprehensibly vast and ancient compared to our own tiny lives - possibly even the language of reality itself. A complete sentence of the Correspondence can alter reality - an example seen in both the Everlasting Candle and the Zubmarine is a flame that burns without fuel or smoke. An improperly inscribed sentence of the Correspondence explodes… if you’re lucky. From our perspective, the Correspondence may appear to be a form of magic, but it’s more likely that it represents our toying with something far more powerful than our brains or souls can handle.

(Incidentally, I wouldn’t wonder if, in addition to being a form of lettering, the Correspondence relates to the Hermetic or Swedenborgean theories of Correspondence - that the laws which dictate the microphenomena of our caprices, fancies and, well, loves, equate to the laws which dictate the macrophenomena of physical laws, stellar movements, chemical reactions, and the behaviour of creatures over millennia.)

I was under the impression that the Everlasting Candle’s light was from an everlasting flame, not that the sigils themselves gave off the light.
Here’s a quote from the option of you deciding to make your own: “Let’s see… That’s the symbol for Light, obviously, and the one on the base is Constancy…”

I’ve noticed the correspondence seems to have some sort of magic. In addition to the everlasting candle, I’m fairly certain I’ve found other things with correspondence runes on them, where it appears the runes themselves create the effect they describe.

[/li][/ul]i want to know what definition of “incorrectly” you’re using here

You can also use the Correspondence to power a zubmarine.

It’s been a while since I’ve been to Flute street, but aren’t there some Correspondence signs down there as well? I suppose we can’t go into detail if so, but I thought I recalled seeing them there, which, if true, would imply some interesting things about where Correspondence was invented, and, more to the point, where it was not.

This is kind of a tangent, but I just finished reading an interesting article in the latest New Yorker magazine about Ithkuil, a recently-created artificial language. It certainly isn’t the Correspondence - Ithkuil seeks to precisely reflect reality, while the Correspondence can evidently shape reality - but certain aspects of the language struck me as Correspondence-like, particularly in the way that a single word can be translated as a long phrase. For example, a word that can be transliterated into English as “ašţal” has a literal translation of “That chin-stroking moment you get, often accompanied by a frown on your face, when someone expresses an idea that you’ve never thought of and you have a moment of suddenly seeing possibilities you never saw before.” The lettering of Ithkuil looks vaguely runic, sort of like how I imagine the Correspondence to look.

That translates as “gawk”.

The article will probably go behind a paywall after a week or so, but it might be of interest to some people here.

There are lots of references to the correspondence, most of which are probably false, but this one struck me as important:
“I love the thunder. The thunder tells stories to those it loves. The thunder tells me of the correspondence between lover and loved and invites me into its heart. I see with the thunder’s eyes. I demand to be loved!”

@Spacemarine9 by ‘incorrectly’ I meant all of those times when your character gets their Correspondence study wrong and sets things on fire, but also particularly the University storylet with the Committee for Semiotic Safety (the fail option sees you incorrectly pronounce a character and set fire to some MPs or something).

Perhaps it is not the act of incorrectly using the language, but the will behind its usage.

@Seberin I always imagined it to be runic in the sense of Germanic (Norse) runic inscriptions - perhaps like the Gothic alphabet used by the Visigoths Gothic alphabet - Wikipedia

My theory is that the Correspondence is not merely the language - it’s a living, vast and ancient intelligence in its own right.

Although this entity’s organism is composed of ideas and concepts rather than flesh and blood, it still wants to live and grow. And that’s where we come in. The Scholars, the Masters, even the Bazaar herself - we’re all mere hosts for the Correspondence to infect (or, if your prefer a different term, possess).

We read the symbols and they take root in our minds. We suffer from nightmares as these memetic seeds absorb concepts from our memories and germinate. Finally,when they’re ready, they burst forth as we cover the plaques and spires with new symbols. In this manner, Correspondence continues to grow and live and endure. Those packages the couriers carry? Think of them as pollen for Correspondence. That glowing effect? A mechanism to attract new carriers.

Passionario, your theory is truly frightening, and truly lovely. Also, we know that the Correspondence is directly linked to the formation of spider-councils.

Then perhaps this infection process isn’t limited to sentient life. We’ve seen the Correspondence plays a role in breeding- creating new life. Perhaps the creation of all life in this universe has correspondent components. In fact, given the Correspondence’s destructive reality warping capability, its very possible this could be used not just for the creation of life and soul but its capture;and perhaps even its destruction. Imagine the power this could hold. Not to spoil recent fate-locked content, but it appears many factions are already developing technology and material that could kill or injure a Master in certain circumstances. Perhaps this is the “Sun” connection referenced earlier? Perhaps this capability is why the Masters paid so much personal attention to the study of the correspondence in the University proper.
edited by friendshipranger on 1/14/2013

Passonario, that sounds eminently plausable. The only thing that manages not to encompass is the competence of the Masters in the Correspondence (perhaps they are manifestations of it, or beings that have been ‘possessed’ for a very long time).

It’s also a nice analogue to ideas about sentience/conciousness; we tend to only think of animals/humans being properly sentient if they possess language - but in Fallen London, language possesses them?

Also just realised something; if the Correspondence is an intelligence in its own right, then the reference to it being “Jack-of-smiles’ diary” makes more sense, bearing in mind how and why he was brought into the world, and how he continues to menace the city…

Hmm. A rather terrifying theory, Passonario!

Alternately, perhaps the Correspondence, with its ability to bend and shape reality, is the in-game incarnation of the coding used to CREATE the game? ;) (Not really, I’m sure, but I think it’s a fun theory!)

@Proto Omega, this is the part of the film where the Inception music comes crashing through the cinema

Here’s a little idea that popped into my mind a while back. Marvelous Seekers, we know that Tristam Bagley’s unfinished masterpiece is named The Bell and The Candle. And some of us know Mr. Eaten’s previous name.

I’m not sure where this theory would go next, but considering how the Correspondence and the Masters are linked, it would certainly be an interesting idea.