No longer a work in progress. That's right, I've finished it!
In the Open GeoFiction world, Tamarindia is a nation of Tarephia, on the northern border of the major political and economic power of the region, Latina. Predominantly mountain, tropical rainforest and river basin country with a large proportion of the population living in coastal urban seats, the long-time egalitarian and shambolic syndicalist country, descended from pirates and liberated slaves, is a burgeoning independent economy emerging from recent internal turmoil, rebuilding the state in the model of it's famous progenitors, the pirate captains James Mission, Francisco el Cisne, Della Swing, Kelso Scrote & Sabriyya Munya, Typhoid Babür, Etienne Makongo and Captain Argent; as well as long time dictablanda, Comrade-Presidente Doctor Iago Luz del Sol.
Of course in reality, as we all know, it's an entirely made up country. In keeping with my thoughts on the distinction of IC-OOC writing, I present here the real-life history of Tamarindia and the aims and objectives of it's author in OGF and beyond.
- 1 Developing Tamarindia
- 2 The History of An Invented Nation
- 3 The Future History of Tamarindia
What Tamarindia represents, and how it is represented in maps: neither my mapping nor my narratives around Tamarindia are perfect, shaped as they have been over time by shifting the focus of my geofiction according to which platforms I have worked in. I hope in these sections to illustrate the progression of the idea from it's infancy to it's place now in OGF and where, or what, it might become.
A Mountain & Rainforest Nation
As I had always imagined Tamarindia as isolated and inaccessible, I had to make some rugged landscapes to enclose it. Inspired by the geography of South America, with particular nods to Chile, the Amazon, and northern Colombia, I went with a wall of mountains along it's western border, swamps to the north, and a huge flood basin to the south, with an inhospitable coast to the east and a dense rainforest at the heart of the whole thing. Try getting in and out of that in a hurry...
I suspect the amount of water flowing down from the mountain range, Las Murallas, is somewhat high considering the width and height of those mountains and the territory to the east of it, but I'm saying, in a non-geography voice, it must be a very rainy rainforest. There. I said it. Quote me, I don't mind.
A Syndicalist Utopia
What if a society could come together, under a series of charismatic leaders, and create a vast complex of worker-owned syndicates, and with a natural good humour, hard work-ethic, and healthy cynicism for top-down heirarchies, actually build a paradise of co-operatives that are historically descended from liberal pirate havens and free city states, and then make it work for three centuries? Welcome to Los Sindicatos Libres de Tamarindes!
Syncretic Atheism - The Shambolic Tradition
"A Casa Búa is a Tamarindian 'spirit house' where observers of the peculiar but widespread Tamarindian belief system, Shambolicism, can come to meditate and otherwise relax from the usually hectic lifestyle of the typical Tamarindo. Shambolicism or more commonly simply Casa Búa is somewhere between a syncretic religion, folk tradition and humanist philosophy; fusing historical lessons relating to the origin of the nation as a pirate enclave with absolute rejection of religion and authority. It provides a pantheon of characters both historical and fictional who interact with the world, somewhat contradictorily, to illustrate an absolute atheism embodied by most Tamarindo. Explicit in the text of Casa Búa is the understanding that believers must be non-believers and all teachings of the principle character Búa are nonsense."
I am a devoted atheist myself, and so are my Tamarindians, but they share with me the joy of incredible stories including but not limited to supernatural creators, intelligent design, flying spaghetti monsters and dudeisms. Oh how we all laugh. And that makes the world a much better place.
The History of An Invented Nation
So, we have established Tamarindia is a mountain and rainforest nation of latin influence; a somewhat chaotic syndicalist utopia of piratical origin with a very bizarre anti-religious attitude. But how did that happen? For anyone who is interested, this is how Tamarindia came about, and how it's real and imagined histories influence my mapping in OGF.
The Invention of Tamarindia
Tamarindia was first imagined well over 30 years ago. In it's initial form, it was imagined as a real-world alternative history, and was in the approximate area of the north coast of South America, somewhere between the Caribbean side of the Darien Gap and the Amazon delta. It was inspired by discovering the near-mythical Captain Mission, as he was interpreted as some kind of socialist pirate liberator by a favourite writer, William S. Burroughs, in the novel Cities of The Red Night. 'What if,' I imagined, 'pirate enclaves successfully established a free colony and managed to fight off the naval superpowers of the day to grow into an independent mongrel country?' And that was Tamarindia, complete with stories of my invented libertarian buccaneers, some of my earliest characters who would emerge again and again in different forms: Chu Mango, Chillibean Acosta, Skua Ortiz, Etienne Makongo, Jimmy Sunshine (named for a real life eccentric lifeguard from real life Portsmouth, England in the early 20th century) and a very angry man called Masvidal, a Haitian witch doctor who had a dark secret - that his first name was Dwayne. This unlikely bunch were the first heroes of Tamarindia, establishing a chaotic and buccaneering pirate paradise named after some little monkeys I once encountered when travelling in Venezuela.
Tamarindia in NationStates
The nation of Tamarindia first made it onto the internet in 2011, as my second nation in the online nation-building game Nationstates (my first being The Saltern Islands, 2009). It was a brief appearance, in which I had to reinvent the nation within an entirely fictional world, losing many real world references including, significantly, it's geoposition. Using only a photograph of a flaking slate roof tile I found in Wales, Adobe Illustrator and my Photoshop overlay skills, I created the first map of Tamarindia in a geofiction world, although at that time, the way Nationstates worked as a game, that world was not really a defined planet; in fact, for convenience, most users at Nationstates consider it a multiverse, with 'regions' which are more like planets or systems, but not entirely... unless you've been there, it's hard to explain. Suffice to say, a certain flexibility of thought was required to attach a narrative to the nation, and this was key to future developments in the way Tamarindia materialised on OGF.
Chu Mango and Masvidal made it back into the fictional universe on Nationstates, along with a host of new characters based on a formula that I would return to several times in world-building - all the narratives associated with the country were based on a song: Fiesta, by The Pogues. Welcome, among others, Francisco Vasquez García and Leonardo di Accordione. Almería in Dolores is Almería in Fiesta. (The Dubliners' Irish Rover was an influence too, introducing Old Mickey Coote, Barney McGee, Jimmy McGurk who was scarred stiff of work, Slugger O'Toole, fighting Bill Tracey and your man Mick McCann from the banks of the Bann, the skipper of the Irish Rover).
I was never entirely happy with Tamarindia on Nationstates, and a new narrative thrust (with new songs) took me in a different direction on Nationstates - but I wasn't done with the Latinamerican pirate nation just yet.
Martograph in OGF
In August 2014, when starting a hiatus from Nationstates, I discovered OGF. By then I had been working on other imaginary nations and Tamarindia had been sleeping for three years. Thinking about where and what I wanted to do in this exciting mapping website, it seemed to me time to dust off the land of the golden monkey - and Tamarindia was born anew, in the equatorial zone of Tarephia, north of the mighty Latina, by the mighty user:histor. Having sketched out the town of Fronterizo in collaborative Tara as my trial period before receiving a nation, I then inherited a country that was approximately three times the size of the current Tamarindia in OGF; I set about my mapping with the usual unbridled enthusiasm... for a couple of months... until I realised, the size... the size... the damned size of the task...
But, before being overwhelmed, I mapped out some early spots... the river delta to the south (Colmillo in my pre-OGF map, but Tamarin Delta in my new thinking)... the islands on which a Venice-on-Amazon type city would be built (Barciña or Barciño, I hadn't decided)... the ancient part of Misión, capital, northern city, the quarter being called Anciens and naming heavily referencing Cities of The Red Night. I labelled a number of other city locations, created the Aguafisura from the original map and the great flood rivers of southern Tamarinda that washed into that delta. At the same time, having lots of written material from previous projects on the nation, I became an overwikifier. Probably not the worst of them, but I dived into the wiki and described a nation that was undeniably a world power. Almost, I dared to presume, on a par with mighty Latina. And of course, a lot of familiar characters started hanging around - Chu Mango, Masvidal (having somehow bullied everyone into accepting him as entirely mononym by nature), Leonardo Acordeóne, and Doctor Iago Luz del Sol - the real-life Portmuthian lifeguard Jimmy Sunshine, latinised, and promoted to Father of The Nation, amongst others.
Then, I hit the wall.
So big... the size... etc...
I sent a message to admin, saying I couldn't do it, it was unfair to hold the territory, I was leaving, please delete everything. I left without looking back, and so missed the really helpful message back with lots of encouragement, a suggestion to take a smaller territory, and a request that if I was determined to leave, and didn't want the mapping to exist, I should kindly see to it myself and delete it.
The World of Asyluum
Meanwhile, back in Nationstates...
After deciding, in 2012, that Tamarindia was not the best fit for my projects in that online nationbuilding game, I went completely leftfield with the admittedly lunatic nation of zombies, ghosts and necromancers called Wight. I had two years of work on that, really having fun creating a shambolic afterlife with a very strong satirical leaning, full of famous real - but dead - people who had been brought to life inspired by the mischievous conversation starter - "if you could invite five famous people, dead or alive, to join you for a dinner party, who would they be, and why?" Mixed in with comedian Tommy Cooper, cartoon Homer Simpson, actor Yul Brynner, martyr Joan of Arc, goddess Farrah Fawcett and a host of other dead icons, I invited back some of my own, including Masvidal (don't call him Dwayne), Etienne Makongo and one Donna Maw, uncanny in the most traditional sense of the word.
Two years later, after a lot of writing and silliness, (200,000 words in collected stories) I decided to take a break - and that's when I discovered OGF and had my moment as Martograph, above. Soon, when I lost the will to live in Tamarindia (or at least map it), a few months later, I stopped world-building for about three years.
You can't escape the bug (or desire to be God?) for long. Returning to Nationstates in 2017, I decided to revisit themes - pirates, shambolic behaviour, and Wight - but this time as if it were only a legend, or a religion. I established a new nation, in which I asked myself, "what would Britain and in particular it's navy be like if Harald Hardrada, the Viking, had won at Stamford, held off the Normans, expelled the Christians, and established a United Kingdom that was of viking inclination even into modern times?" Surely, I thought, Britain would still Rule The Waves, but somehow it would be more like the Golden Age of Pirates... in ships at the leading edge of technology, Bristolian accents with a Scandinavian shift, a pantheist belief system with a hearty sceptical streak, and falling back to my beloved idea of a chaotic utopia with a syndicalist honour system and heirarchies only permitted as an indulgence - from first mate all the way up to dictator of the nation. Welcome to Bonesea, another nation of 200,000+ words, which I wrote through to last year, 2019.
Around all of this sprang up a range of other moderately imagined nations - because, after all, where do the likes of Typhoid Babür, Shams al-Din The Dildoman and Sabriyya Munya, the Cut-Throat Queen, well met out on the open ocean, actually come from, if not Bonesea? With so many words written, a whole world - Asyluum, because, of course, it's a madhouse down there - and dozens of countries needed inventing to colour the adventures of the legendary Bonesea sailor, Admiral Ratio Suckling, and his famous ship The Custom Of The Sea. (Babür, Shams, and Sabriyya, incidentally, are all from the notorious corsair country of Barbary Salé).
What is the point I am trying to make here? To keep track of it all, I made a wiki - the Wikibone - and before I knew it, I had not only a planet but an actual solar system to manage, all the planets, all the theories, all the elements; and a great desire to complete a Universal Theory Of Everything in My Imagination (UTOEMI, hereinafter, utoemi ). That, I realise, is a bigger project even than the Enormous Country of Tamarindia I tried and failed to map as Martograph - it will never be finished. But that's ok. I'm alright with that now.
The Invention of The Shambolic Tradition
Within the course of all those imaginary shenanigans, I seem to have invented a faith system, the basis of a cult and a philosophy for the living, that might actually work in real life. One day I would like to go on a year-long retreat somewhere really isolated and work all this out to start a cult. But in the meantime...
I believe I have two tools to accomplish the utoemi, and the first of them is The Shambolic Tradition, described above. Having written dozens of short and long stories - on the ghoulish nation of Wight, and the contemporary piratical Bonesea - that I felt more than capable of being collected into two sizeable volumes (an assumption based on quantity rather than quality of words) I decided I needed a way to turn them into a persistent universe of sorts, to make sense of what was, to some considerable extent, a great pile of nonsense that might form a new wave of nonsense writing. Or not.
So, as hinted at before, I realised I could use my extensive writing on the dead realm of Wight as a sort of chaotic belief system held by the pantheistic Bonesfolk. My only problem was that, as a militant and determined atheist myself, I could only ever be comfortable communicating any form of theism by mocking it. How could I get my Bonesfolk to mock their own beliefs? Well, the seed for that was in Wight - I had already written extensively that Wight was overseen by a supernatural being with godlike powers, Búa, who, despite being a god, was himself/itself/themself a determined and militant atheist. I realised then I could incorporate anything and everything into Shambolicism - it means my persistent universe can be persistent, even when it's not consistent. Búa practically insists on contradictions.
And now, I can see a time when a real-world faith (cult) arises with me as the messiah channelling Búa, explaining to everyone that every holy book is a tremendous work of fiction, to be celebrated and cherished and learned from; and that there is no afterlife unless you are clever enough to get yourself into a popular story of the Shambolic Tradition - an ever growing collection of holy and quite entirely unreliable narratives. And thus I might bring about global unification and peace, for a modest consideration or annual subscription to The House of ShamblesTM
Shambolicism, by the way, was a name I adopted around 2014, to reflect both the in-character nature of my fictional countries, and my own assessment of my incoherent writing concepts and styles.
The Haphazard Machine
Starting with a story from 2009 set on a farm in Wales, I have written frequently about a bit of treasure called The Haphazard Machine. I don't really know what it is or what it looks like; or how it works. But what I do know is, the thing once belonged to The Vatican until some rum cully - probably a pirate called Dwayne - stole it. And the other thing I know, as Dwayne subsequently found out, if you can get it to work, The Haphazard Machine can transport you between worlds and times - specifically between my geofictions. Perhaps even into OGF.
And this is the second tool to accomplish the utoemi. More on that later.
A Return To OGF
Inspired by my developing idea of The Shambolic Tradition and The Haphazard Machine, I made a tentative return, in early 2019, to OGF. What I planned was for my Bonesfolk - people of Bonesea - to make footfall from the geofiction of Asyluum into the geofiction of OGF. In another world they were messing about with another narrative device of convenience - Fluid Time, a refined liquid that could fuel rapid shifts in story time when you wanted to jam together two bits of divergent story into one.
"Damn, in this story, this is the unpopulated nuclear-contaminated island of Anywhere Atoll - but in that one, it's the densely populated city state of Taxhavn; how the devil are we going to marry up these conflicting narratives?"
"Don't worry, I've got three tanker-loads of Fluid Time on the way, we'll have this place cleaned up and constructed in no more than a jiffy or two."
Like the Haphazard Machine, I have very little information on Fluid Time and how it works, all I know is it is a very easy shortcut to explaining things you recently contradicted yourself with. But I decided it needed a very rare mineral to make, and with the benefit of The Haphazard Machine the people of Bonesea could come to OGF, dig a mine in Commonia where no-one cared what you did (apart from the apparently self-appointed tyrant dictator masquerading as a Cute Chick) and build a town to support said mine, from whence could be extracted the mineral to be secretly exported to other geofictions and refined for other narrative purposes. No-one would even notice, I thought, and it seemed tremendously shambolic and mischievous. I would probably appoint a pirate as plant manager - Etienne Makongo, or Typhoid Babür perhaps - and I might even forego reviving my old identity, Martograph, and use another name from my various geofictitious histories: Donna Maw. She's done some things in her time, let me tell you.
But then someone did notice. I thank Udi for spotting and appreciating my mapping, and offering to relocate the project out of Commonia to a safe location within one of their collaborative territories where it was less likely to be vandalised. By then I was enjoying mapping Skellingshaven and grateful to carry on, but I'd have to be quiet about the not-very-similitudinous mythical mineral extraction (damn, and now I've gone and blown it... but can you even find the mine?). So much was I enjoying things that counter to my original plan, I even applied for a territory. Eventually - this was during a phase of admin blackout so the wait was pretty long - I got Langskalla.
Skellingshaven and Langskalla were really extensions of my pirate nation Bonesea, but I felt it should be different, to cover up the mineral rape going on in Skelling Vein Mine; encouraged by Udi to explore language variation and already having a nordic shift in my Bonesea past, I opted to evolve the Skelling Diaspora, who are, if I'm totally OOC honest, a large population of paid workers from Bonesea who have come through the Haphazard Machine to pretend to be sea gypsies whilst actually working for the mining corporation and sending Fluid Time minerals back home to another world...
I'm joking, Verisimilitude Police! This is just another instance of the Shambolic Tradition; silly stories made up for fun. Just like all the OGF countries, each one of them made up for fun too.
I had not long been back in OGF, constructing Skellingshaven and beginning to make designs for Langskalla, when, out of the blue, Tamarindia came on the market again.
I won't pretend I hadn't looked at what the old place was like. And this is what is was like: it had been split into a number of smaller states, and incredibly, most of my mapping, after a four year break and some, was still there. To the west was a sketchily-mapped state, Reino Pablo, with a few town markers that I'd laid down in my brief time as Martograph. That state was hardly touched and in fact the owner of the territory has since gone, or given it up - it's a white territory now. To the north east, another hardly-touched state, Islatramma, featuring, to my surprise, Misión, the capital of Tamarindia, now in the hands of a new owner. But what mapping I'd done on the original town was still there and even the Burroughsian street names were intact. And to the south east, the recently vacated San Alvarez, complete with my old river systems and a capital city where Barciña-Barciño had been, Port Diarmid - with a lot of work put into it by previous user McCaul. An old OGF acquaintance had just become admin of the area too - BMSOUZA, who I think started in OGF around the same time as me but had managed to stick with it. Viva Brasonia! And viva BMSOUZA, who gave me a bit of Tamarindia back - I took vacated San Alvarez, and I'm about restoring Tamarindia, at least in one third of the old country.
With a bit of a trade-off with Jamie Clumpas, owner of Islatramma, I managed to get the name Misión back for my capital city, in exchange for creating a mountain range and tropical forest through our countries. Port Diarmid, heavily mapped on the site of Barciña-Barciño and my Amazonian Venice, has become Dolores. Mapped as a seemingly part-Hispanic part-English language city, I like a lot of what McCaul produced there, and did not want to destroy it but only tidy, improve and build upon it.
The Future History of Tamarindia
Tamarindia, no longer imagined as a global power of might and intellect, will remain something of a backwater nation comfortably sufficient and reliably unambitious.
I continue to plan the mapping of Tamarindia, now in a much smaller and more manageable territory. Apart from this long OOC entry and one IC wiki entry that draws heavily on previous writing, characters and ideas, I will not be producing great reams of wikification for Tamarindia this time. And I don't think I will despair of incompletion, because the Shambolic Tradition reminds me that all work is impossible to complete, when you are making it up as you go along.
Chu Mango is dead! Long live Chu Mango!