Asuran Superiority and Internal Competition.
Where do we begin with the asura? Oh, right, you couldn’t possibly understand them, and they’re far better than you’ll ever be. That’s perhaps the best introduction one can make for the diminutive race that has arisen from the Depths of Tyria. As a matter of fact, that’s rather how they would introduce themselves. However, that’s not the focus here, our focus is on how they view their place in the world of Tyria and the world’s place in everything.
As already noted, the asura see themselves as superior to the other races, and as the rightful rulers of them. The interesting part is, since they all see themselves as superior, they also tend to see themselves as superior to one another, and compete amongst one another to devise better inventions and devices than one another. Each of them wants to be better than the asura next to them, they want to create the next best device, and if they’re working on an existing device, you can be sure it’s so that they can improve it in comparison to the inventor’s original model.
Image courtesy of Sura.
This internal competition is beneficial in some ways, as it appears to result in higher quality creations, progress, and a stream of innovation. At the same time, however, it prevents them from ever being strongly united, as it took some negotiation between the asuran Arcane Council and highly proficient individual asura to assemble a krewe to develop the Genius Operated Living Enchanted Manifestation to combat the Destroyers. Then there’s also the fact that it also causes them to safeguard their knowledge, often leading to a loss of knowledge as they die, leading them to having to reverse engineer inventions. Nevertheless, it doesn’t appear the asura view this in any way as a negative characteristic of themselves, and even tend to see those asura in the Council as being lesser than themselves, since being in the Council disrupts their work on personal projects that would convey their talents and abilities.
Asuran Humility? Or just seeing a bigger picture?
Even more fascinating about how the asura view themselves is that they do not betray a sense of seeing the world revolving around them. The asura consider themselves better, yet do not make the mistake of thinking the world is for them, as far as we can currently tell, instead they think themselves the best and most appropriate to rule. Despite this, they do not force the issue, they instead display a strong sense of foresight, attempting to maintain neutrality as they position themselves in the influential parts of society. The most obvious point where they do this is in their creation of the gate network and waypoint system that offers ease and convenience of travel between distant cities around Tyria.
It is possible that the reason for this patient positioning of themselves has something to do with their understanding of the world conveyed through what they call the Eternal Alchemy. While we do not know the details of this idea, we have some hints of it as viewing the world as a great mechanism to be comprehended and tinkered with, and everything has its part in the mechanism. It makes slightly more sense then why the asura would not try to overtake the other races in any quick manner with this view of the world; well, beyond the fact that asura cooperating with one another is almost on par with getting the norn to work together.
Asura and Golems
The asura can see the world on a much larger scale than individuals of the other races with this philosophy, and they can better understand how and what to do to meet their ends, by subtly operating or trying to operate the machinery of existence. Where the other races may not see the larger picture, it is possible that a group of asura would, albeit they are likely to have differing views of that picture and won’t agree to put it together to acquire an even better, broader picture.
Cooperating with Inferiority.
It is in part for this reason that the asura work with the other races, despite seeing them as inferior. Whereas other asura may argue against whatever method or idea they’re trying to work out, the asura hiring other races knows that those members of the other race won’t, or at least probably won’t, have a clue what they’re getting into. It is another part of the asura having a bigger piece of the larger picture, how all of it interlinks in intricate manners that they may rightly or wrongly determine the other races wouldn’t be capable of making the connections between. The central point of asuran intelligence is in holding a vast idea, and being too arrogant and/or impatient to highlight the connections between thoughts and/or ideas that make up that bigger idea to those of another race, or even a member of their own race.
The likely reason for this, also, deriving from the Eternal Alchemy, is that they may see sharing these ideas or thoughts as allowing another to tamper with the parts of the greater mechanism they alone want to access. They may think that should another only vaguely understand it, that they may break it and ruin all their efforts to better understand that particular element of the mechanism they were examining. However, it must be noted that on this point, since we currently lack deeper interaction with the asura and their society, that this is highly speculative. After all, if this were the case, it would not explain the phenomena of asuran krewes, except in that they are each interested in the same part of the mechanism of the world and are each operating on different pieces of that part of the mechanism to gather more information on it.
It may be apparent by now that just as the asura are an intellectual race, so too is their understanding of the world of Tyria and the multiverse highly intellectual; not to mention, this understanding seems suggestive of many intricate details that we likely won’t completely understand or grasp even after playing as one amongst them in Guild Wars 2. It is no wonder then why, with such a complex perspective on the world, the asura think themselves better than the other races and are so quick to discount even bothering to explain it in very much detail. The asura think they have the basic structure of the world down, even if they don’t understand all the details of it just yet, which is a step above the other races to them. Nevertheless, hopefully when we receive the opportunity to play as one, we will garner a little more respect so that we may access more insight into their worldview than when they only very generally tried to explain it to us as “bookahs.