8FOLD: Nonfiction # 4, "Top 5 Explanations for Ranovia and Why They All Suck"

Tom Russell joltcity at gmail.com
Fri Sep 12 17:24:04 PDT 2014

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 -- NUMBER 4 --- [8F-127] --- [HCC] ------- BY TOM RUSSELL --

'||''|.     TOP 5 EXPLANATIONS FOR           ||
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                          AND WHY THEY ALL SUCK

Does Ranovia, an obscure and tiny nation in the Balkans famed for its
cheeses and unique "dance-opera" folk tradition, exist?
   The answer is no. Unequivocally, undeniably, completely and
definitely, no. There is no such place.
   Did there used to be? That's a whole 'nother can of worms, or, as
they say in Ranovian, a spider in your aunt's eyelash, as there are
apparently no lakes in land-locked Ranovia, and so no need for worms,
canned or otherwise, employed literally or in metaphor. Whereas we can
be reasonably sure they have (had?) aunts, eyelashes, and spiders,
though the origins of the idiom are charmingly inscrutable.
   Before July 5, 2012, we can be reasonably certain that Ranovia did
not exist and had never existed. Let's call it ninety-nine percent,
with a margin of error of +/-0.3% to account for the usual fracturing
of time and space due to varying cosmic crises. And from July 8
onwards, we're one hundred percent certain that Ranovia does not and
did not exist.
   Which only leaves the question of those three days in July five
years ago. There are many explanations for this. All these popular
theories have their merits and their adherents, but none of them quite
manage to extract that troublesome spider from your aunt's eyelashes.
   In GRAF VON JAROSLAV, the best-regarded (and, to this day,
most-performed) of all Ranovian comic dance-operas, the eponymous Graf
is destined to fall in love with the Princess Sophia, but before they
meet, he must dance with each of her sisters, who initially seem
promising matches but prove to be ill-mannered and flatulent. Like
Jaroslav, we will in turn flirt with each of the usual explanations,
examine what makes them initially attractive, and then find out why
they stink.


This theory is one that, frankly, I hesitate to even call a theory,
but here goes: Ranovia wasn't, then it was, then it wasn't again. It
just popped into existence for three days. For those three days, it
existed, and it always had, and after those three days, it didn't, and
never did.
   Those that buy this "theory" point to various physical artifacts--
books, the aforementioned dance-operas, and three precious wheels of
Ranovian cheese. Where did all this come from, if it hadn't existed?
Some of it could have been manufactured or faked, but surely not all
of it.
   So (according to its adherents), Ranovia just started existing for
no reason. That's the important part, and the reason why I don't think
it really qualifies as a valid theory. Just saying, "it happened, but
there's no explanation as to why, so let's throw up our hands" isn't
good enough, and it certainly isn't science.
   Wir mussen wissen, wir werden wissen.


This theory's a little better than its predecessor. It states that
yes, Ranovia did exist, but was on "loan" from some parallel earth.
Earth, as we know now, sits on a kind of fault-line in reality. It is
the place in our universe-- in all universes-- where the walls between
those universes is the weakest. (That's why, some theorize, most alien
civilizations give us a pretty wide berth; we're not worth the
   Except for things like the Day of Terror in 2008, those walls
themselves are naturally weakest, for reasons we still don't quite
understand, during the exceptionally rare transit of Venus-- i.e.,
when Venus, Earth, and the Sun are all perfectly aligned. This rare
event last took place on July 5, 2012-- the day any of us first heard
of Ranovia.
   The theory here is that Ranovia was on a parallel Earth, and during
the transit, it accidentally pushed through to our Earth. Three days
later, it disappeared-- either on accident again, or due to efforts of
the champions of whatever Earth Ranovia originated from. This explains
the physical presence of Ranovian stuff and culture, so, like I said,
it's a step above number five. But there's still a couple of problems
with this one.
   First, it's the idea that one entire country, and only that entire
country, could "accidentally" end up on our world. Multiple cities,
countries, whatever popping up all around the globe? Sure, I'll buy
that. But that the displacement would be limited to one specific
geographical location? That stretches credibility. The next theory
addresses this, to a degree, but has its own problems, one of which it
shares with this one:
   Secondly, there's the fact that we have no evidence that a physical
place called Ranovia ever showed up. None of the countries it bordered
noticed any kind of displacement. But more on that in a hot second.
   The third thing, and this is something specific to the transit of
Venus theory, is a lack of precedent. While the walls are weakest
during the transit, we don't have a record of anything like this
happening in 2004, or in 1882 (the last two transits; the next won't
be until 2117). It becomes easier for things to push their way
through, but there's always been someone on the other end doing the
pushing. Which brings us to...


Exactly what it says on the tin.
   The idea here is that, during the transit of Venus, a parallel
Earth invaded ours, intentionally pushing Ranovia, and only Ranovia,
through the walls of reality.
   This theory is certainly better than the previous ones, in that, at
base, it is at least plausible, and such invasions have occurred, and
been successfully beaten back, in the past. And it also stretches
credibility less than number four.
   The major question with the invasion theory is, where was the
invasion? There were no battles, no Ranovian troop advances, and (as I
mentioned above) seemingly no Ranovian border from which to advance
into the other Balkan nations. And, per my previous article, "Top 26
Wars in the Balkans", the Balkan nations are pretty anxious and on top
of this stuff, so the moment one of their borders shifted a
millimeter, we would know all about it. But we don't. Neither are
there any reports of our various super-folk super-fighting the
invasion, and you know those glory-hounds would have publicized it up
the wazoo.
   So while this is the most plausible of the "Ranovia existed"
theories, it still has major holes. But if Ranovia didn't exist, not
just before or after, but during the time it existed?


A "tlonic event", for those not in the know, is when something
fictitious becomes real. The term comes to us from Jorge Luis Borges's
prescient short story, "Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius", written some
twenty years before the first tlonic event took place. This doesn't
happen terribly often-- our world is weird enough as it is, thank you
very much-- but the one most people know about is what happened in Rex
Falls, Ontario about ten years back.
   So the theory here is that Ranovia is a fictitious country. That
everything-- its culture, its history, etc.-- was made-up, and for
those three days, it had altered our reality.
   It's cool and meta and appealing in a first-year philosophy and/or
literature, "what is the nature of reality?", kind of way. But this
too, has a couple of holes. The biggest and most obvious is that a
tlonic event usually works on a meme principle-- that, slowly, more
and more people would have become aware of Ranovia, accepted bits of
its culture, etc. But Ranovia wasn't a slow, gradual, insidious
process. Instead, suddenly, without warning, it was there: hundreds of
books, coins, knick-knacks. Two dozen Wikipedia articles on Ranovia
proper, with hundreds of links and mentions on other articles, each
with edit histories going back for years-- but none of which, it is
generally agreed, was ever there before.
   The fact is that when we talk about Ranovia, we talk about those
three days in 2012 in particular-- that the world, as a whole,
suddenly noticed that something was transparently wrong. And that's
just not how tlonic events work.


Our number one theory, like our number two, assumes Ranovia is
fictional. The importance difference is that in this theory, it was
not a tlonic event, but a prank. The theory goes that someone (or
someones) carefully created all the culture and history of Ranovia,
perhaps as an elaborate gag-- like the game "Lexicon", or the "game"
"Dwarf Hammer". The Wikipedia history could have been forged by a
ridiculously sophisticated computer program. Ranovian books, coins,
etc., could all have been made, then distributed in secret.
   The question, of course, isn't who would go through all the trouble
to do all of this-- if you're asking that question, you obviously
haven't been on the Internet before-- but how they would have kept it
a secret during all the preparation. It would have been an incredibly
complex and massive undertaking, certainly more complex than your
average flash-mob. Finding all those people to participate in the gag,
*and* to keep it secret? That's what stretches credibility.
   Which brings up a related possibility-- that all of the above was
done, not for a lark, but for something more sinister. It would not be
past FEVER, or the Gorgon-- both of which have previously used the
Internet to implement their villainous schemes-- to have created and
orchestrated Ranovia, and kept it a secret until then.
   It fits, to a degree, but the only issue with that, of course, is
what scheme were they furthering? Much like the invasion theory
(number three), the three days of Ranovia passed without incident.
Adherents will gloss over this, and argue that Ranovia may have been a
trial run for something bigger and deadlier down the road.

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