The Coastal Post - July, 1998

The People Of Niram

By Helene E. Hagan

I started fieldwork among the Nacirema People a long time ago. After taking a few years off to return to my own country, visit my relatives, or visit kindred nations living in Indian Country, I began research in Niram County. The people of Niram County are very isolated from the rest of the world and provided an ideal context for anthropological research known classically as ethnography of a small community. It is difficult to find such isolated groups nowadays, as the global Nacirema civilization is engulfing the whole world. The Niram people are a specific group of Nacirema, and provided both an excellent opportunity for the understanding of a small community and the wider context of Nacirema belief, ritual and customs.

The habitat

The Niram County is a recently-developed area, inhabited by Nacirema for a very short time, about 170 years in Nacirema time. This land is situated between a bay and the ocean with an original abundance of plants, animals and people who were quickly decimated and replaced by Nacirema transplants. What remains of original life is called "wild life" and "endangered species," and is studied through rituals.

Today, the land is partitioned into three corridors, a coastal corridor reserved for wildlife rituals and recreation, with some pockets of Nacirema animals enslaved for food; the central land is mainly reserved for food production and is badly eroded and defaced. The eastern urban corridor is more intensely polluted and exploited and is carefully divided and subdivided into smaller portions, or atomized. The bulk of Niram people live in crowded lodgings in the eastern corridor, together with a few additional individuals of other origins who are restricted to foul pockets such as The Canal District and Niram City on the edges of the Niram urban world.

The myth of an original population which lived differently without cattle, roads, or permanent homes, and without an understanding of land-ownership and profits, survives dimly in the annals of Niram County. Those were the Kowim people of yore. There are small reminders of their existence in Seyer Point and a place called Otavon Museum.

Political organization

The Niram people, like all Nacirema, are organized in a hierarchical fashion in an oligarchy. Rule of Niram is mainly by age, color of skin and gender. There are some exceptions to the main rule.

Some people who do not belong to the Nacirema stock are also taken into the territory for manual labor and lowly jobs. Some darker ones are relegated in separate areas which the Niram people view as dangerous, the Niram City area, for instance, where even the conductors of mechanized chariots do not go anymore, day or night. The crime rate is too high.

Niram people view themselves as disciplined, well-regulated and compassionate people with high ethics. They take care of their needs, manage their lands judiciously, and plan for their future reasonably.

An observer coming from outside finds them to be cordial, considerate and pleasant hosts and hostesses who are seldom curious about the origins of others. They rarely inquire if those outsiders have feelings or thought which may differ. Would they differ, they would be considered irrelevant. In general, everyone is thought to have the same values, just because they speak the same language. Even mistakes in Nacirema language are tolerated by Niram, with smiles of knowing and understanding. One thing, however, which is not tolerated is that importation of strange ideas or concepts from elsewhere. They suggest that such political turbulence would infringe upon Niram behavior and precepts, and breach the propriety of Niram existence as planned.

Cosmology

The most remarkable feature of Niram existence is their preoccupation with a god called Time, manifest in its sequences known as months, weeks, days, hours, minutes and seconds, and embodied in fetishes called clocks. Clocks are sacred objects depicting aspects of Kcolc, the Spirit of Niram land and Nacirema universe.

Clocks are arbitrary mechanisms which divide the continuous flow of daylight and night into segments. Because the Niram people like fractions and fractures, divide and count continuously, they even divided their divinity Kcolc into an infinity of little and big objects, just as they divide their other god, Ecaps, into smaller and smaller divisions they all want to own, parcels of Ecaps. While divisions of the god Kcolc is recorded in clocks, divisions of god Ecaps are kept in records called Maps, or SPAM.

The Niram people seem to have both fear and respect of the ubiquitous presence of Kcolc. Every action is regulated according to its dictates and Niram people are meticulous in all their rituals to observe the demands of that god. They are in fact obsessed with ritual. The day is divided into segments ordered by Kcolc, and all life maintained by ritual.

Beliefs and mythical concepts

The central and most important objects of cult are the many replicas of Kcolc. They have different names derivative of the central divinity Kcolc. They are shaped in a variety of cloned objects of various shapes and dimensions too numerous to itemize in this short ethnography. Those are displayed everywhere, in homes, places of work and places of leisure, on their roads, inside and outside buildings. They are displayed on tables and walls, inserted in machines of transport and entertainment. Some are worn as jewelry on the wrists or as pendants and lockets. Those are called Sehctaw, or fetishes generally classified as Watch.

Each of those representations of Kcolc works in a synchronized fashioned to attune all Niram to the same spirit of Kcolc. There are penalties for not observing the imperatives of Kcolc. Nirema can miss out on tremendous opportunities if they do not obey the rules of Kcolc.

To the outsiders who know not this Kcolc or do not move to the imperatives of Kcolc, the universe of Niram may appear very bewildering and confusing. But to the Niram, those outsiders are seen as confused and possibly living outside a civilized universe. Their actions do not fuse or fit exactly with the actions of other Niram. The ideal behavior in Niram territory, as in most of Nacirema territory, is therefore perceived as Kcolc-wise or Kcolc-deprived, or non-Kcolc.

Non-Kcolc behavior is reprehensible among Niram because it is seen as uninitiated and unproductive, immature and foolish. They honor and reward Kcolced knowledge and punish or ignore non-Kcolced knowledge. Long-term research of Niram myth and ritual is by force a collage of thousands of morcelled moments of Kcolc known as History.

This history is recorded in Kcolc archives and also transposed into another dimension or aspect of Kcolc on strange morcelled documents containing a variety of lines and measurements. I already mentioned this aspect of the cult preserved in Maps, the SPAM cult of cartography.

Ritual

The Niram people, like all Nacirema, love ritual and cannot conceive of a single moment of their lives without ritual. Ritual, as all anthropologists have come to recognize, is a model of acceptable behavior in a community. Niram ritual can be encoded in a single day's activities. A whole ethnography of its many phases would take us very far and might be forthcoming in a future study to be entitled "Cycle of ritual among the Niram."

The one day ritual starts in all homes with sounds of Kcolc awaking the people. Sometimes, the Niram people call each other on wired ritualistic objects, the names of which mean far-sound, to remind each other it is imperative to join in the ritual of the day, and meet at the certain Kcolc moment in a parking lot, on a marsh, or a park. Others just meet at a place of work.

From that moment, every activity is strictly over-viewed by Kcolc ritual specialists who are elders or initiates in the cult. They are specially appointed for their organization and knowledge of Kcolc practices. They hand out a script encoded with notations of kcolcs-numbers, such as 10:15, 12:30 or 2:00. These numbers are accompanied by another notation which is binary: either A.M. or P.M. It is believed among these people that the day is divisible at one point called Meridian. Everything that happens before this point is called before Meridian. Everything else is after Meridian. For further confusion of the non-initiates, the initials used for this code are borrowed from another ancient language no longer spoken in Niman County or Nacirema land: Ante Meridian and Post Meridian. There is no clear explanation for the strange mixture of languages in expressions which are either coded in the ancient language altogether, nor in a modern language understood by all.

All actions of the group are overseen by the ritual experts of kcolc, who distribute or apportion the activities in portions of Kcolc. If one of the participants goes over his portion of kcolc, he or she is reminded by ritual experts that it is not proper behavior. If a participant or trainee in this ritual speaks out of turn and reminds one of the ritual experts of Kcolc infraction, this is not considered proper behavior. It is simply ignored or judged as coarse, uninitiated behavior. Only ritual experts are the manipulators of kcolc knowledge and initiative trainees in the best uses of Kcolc.

The ritual contains a series of steps over seasons or units of measurement, at the end of which the initiates declare the trainees capable of receiving the rewards and values of Kcolc scared universe. They are formerly called "Initiates of the Society."

Conclusion

The penalties of non-observance of Kcolc Law is to be doomed to non-historical status. The non-initiates are not killed savagely, but simply relegated to the marginal status of Niram society. Marginal individuals are seen as slaves or in some cases "wild." They are kept in preserves of endangered species and other wild habitats and are slowly disappearing in a society which does not even record them on their maps.

In the case of human beings, non-Kcolc behavior is unthinkable. It is suspiciously regarded and classified as poets, artists, criminals, retarded or crazy. Criminals are easier to deal with for they are put into guarded environments strictly regulated by ways of Kcolc under guards, and by force, these people are re-educated into the good observance of Kcolc production through simple manual tasks of value to the Nacirema society, such as plates with numbers on them. The others are humored along as poets and artists of little value for Kcolc people.

Wild species and human non-initiates of Kcolc are all endangered species. They are pitied and put on certain lists which need to be managed by more knowing Kcolc people who are called "stewards" of Kcolc, instead of being appreciated for their natural wisdom as "elders."

The Kcolc people have forgotten true wisdom, and think their ritually ordained Kcolc universe is the only one that matters. Though newly installed on their lands, they have only their Kcolc ways to measure everything. They don't know that, not far from where they live, in Ksa/Iktomi Country, for instance, in the interior of Nacirema land, there are people who know of Kcolc worship, but have different beliefs which are based on non-kcolc measurement, wit and humor, and compassionate ways unknown to Kcolc Ritual Worshippers. These people call themselves Kola or similar other names meaning friends, and they sometimes communicate in far sounds without wires and without fetishes of Kcolc and without SPAM. The Kola people know rhythms and vibrations and communicate mostly through feeling waves.

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