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General Earwa / What is the Eärwan Soul?
« on: October 19, 2018, 01:43:47 pm »
What is the Eärwan Soul really?

On the one hand, it seems fairly obvious that the “Soul” is one's connection to the Outside, if nothing else.  The Outside, of course, is the pleroma, and so then the question would be: is the Soul of the pleroma or of the manifest world?

Given the No-God's function and whatever the Great Cycle of Souls is, it follows to think the Soul is not of the manifest world, even if neither actually proves this as a fact.  If the Cycle of Souls is a mundane process, there should be a direct mechanical way to disrupt it.  There does not seem to be a manner of doing this though.  While the No-God is a sort of mundane object, in part, its functionality is actually predicated on a Soul itself.  This points toward there being something particular about Souls and things that can interact with Souls.  That is, that it seems the mundane means alone are not sufficient to interact with Souls.  Then it follows that the Soul must be pleromatic, or it would seem it is at least pleromatic in nature (that is, in origin).  If this supposition is incorrect, however, it is not at all clear why then the Soul can connect one to the Outside, or why it endures where other mundane elements do not endure past death.  I think we must take the position, based on the circumstantial evidence that the Soul must be of the same nature of the Outside, plausibly being of the pleroma before birth and rejoining it after death.  But here we return to the issue at hand, none the closer to an actual answer to the question that opened the thread, only having arrived at the plausible idea that the Soul is of a pleromantic nature.

So, just what is the Soul?  And if Souls cycle, what makes one yours and the other mine at any given time?  Recall that the Outside, as pleroma, is atemporal.  So, if your Soul was once my Soul, then it is both our Souls at all times in the Outside.  This does not stand to what we are shown to be the case in Eärwa.  So then, am I misunderstanding what cycle means?  I surely am, since if it was a 1:1 cycle, in and out, the population of Eärwa could never grow as well.  No, I think what is meant by the cessation of the “Great Cycle of Souls” is the Soul itself is "locked into place."  That is, it cannot undergo the cycle of transformation.  That is (presumably) it's "attachment" to life in the manifest world at conception, it's "development" during life, and its subsequent "return" to the pleroma (the Outside).  (This actually makes sense, given how the Wright of the Mountain stays fixed to a spot, how souls on the planes of Mangedda do too.)

It's unclear what this "development" really is though.  In some ways, the Soul must be a ledger of sorts, in others, a manner of identity preservation. These things might not be wholly separate functions/processes though and might even be one and the same.  As Koringhus seems to relate to us, part of the problem of Damnation (or a problem of simply having a Soul) might be how Souled things in Eärwa cling to identity.  That the trouble of Damnation is due to denying the true interval between each other and the world (and/or the plemora, I'm not sure).  Or could it be the acknowledgement of the interval, in imagining the interval demanded by our perceived (constructed?) singular identities is real and meaningful.

So, I guess to answer part of the initial question, along the line of Koringhus, is that the "false" identity we acknowledge as “The Self” is the Soul, as it is what is Damned.  That delusion of individuality, according to Koringhus, which is clung to and won't be let go is what constitutes what bears the “ledger.”  It is, in a manner of speaking, the Cross which is beared, or the yolk that keeps one enslaved.  Which, mind you, from the perspective of the only intercessional, manifest Divine powers (the Hundred) is exactly what they want.  (I’ll come back to that, shortly.)

We confront a problem here though.  If the Soul is of the Outside (or at least shares its nature) and the Outside, as pleroma, is timeless, than Souls are Damned the moment they exist, if they are ever to be damned.  Even more confusingly, there was never a time in which they did not exist in the state they end up!  The same if they are redeemed.  If ever to be redeemed, the Soul is so from the very moment of existence (which actually is eternity).  Since the Soul is the ledger, when is it “written?”  In the Outside, there simply is no time to inscribe the Soul and frankly, there would be no need.  Everything, timeless as it is, simply is, at all times.  There must be something else at hand, to model the process more intelligibly.

What then enables a process in which the Soul can be changed?  Somehow, there must be a process that enables a Soul to be altered.  Timeless as it is a plermomantic Soul could not change itself, since it would be the same at its end as it was at its beginning, meaning there would be no need to have changed (and of course, no time to have done it anyway).  Yet, we know that one, Souls undergo some kind of Cycle, two, that Souls experience does effect their place in the pleroma.  So, to reconcile, we must postulate something along the line that what constitutes a Soul is both timeless and subject to mundane time and experience.

How then do we figure this dual-nature of the Soul then?  The “answer” here, I think, can be that same tripartite of the real-world Gnostics to say that the Spirit (i.e. the pleromatic spark in each individual, gained at birth) is imprinted by the Soul (i.e. the psyche) in an indelible, or at least semi-permanent manner.  So then the Soul is not pleromantic, or of the Outside, then but of the Psyche (i.e. Logos, if not The Logos, or the consciousness, more generally).  It is the Spirit that is of the Outside.  The last portion of the division, the Body, is merely the container that binds your Soul and your Spirit, merely the vessel by which both navigate the World.  So, it may not be your Soul passing on, but rather your Spirit so imprinted by your Soul.  This can largely solve the issue of why a Spirit, timeless, can become differentiated, because the Soul is unique in being a mundane “mechanism” that can somehow operate on the pleroma.  This also would partially explain why, once dead, there wouldn’t be a chance for Redemption.  The Body, engine of union, is gone in death and so the Soul can no longer function in altering the Spirit.  All that is left is the Spirit and the markings of the Soul has left upon it.

Interestingly enough, I think this tripartite is also the “answer” to what and how the “head-on-a-pole” is and what it does.  Consider: what keeps the Soul and Spirit together?  The Body.  So, when Kellhus visits the Outside, how does he keep his Soul (Psyche) and his Spirit from being snatched by Ciphrang?  Through the understanding of there being a “head on a pole behind him.”  It was Geoffrobro’s keen observation (confirmed, by my standards, by Bakker) that when Kellhus visits the Outside, he looks within himself (of course, where else is his Spirit?) and so the head is his own head, behind him, because he is looking “backward” (that is, inward, “behind” his eyes).  The Head keeps in from being separated and destroyed by Ciphrang, because he has not left the protective shell of The Body.  So, he cannot be divided, he cannot be torn apart, cannot be taken.

But to return to what we were discussing, now the Spirit is the ledger, the Soul the stylus that writes upon it and the Body the vessel of the union.  This Spirit-as-ledger is how Mimara’s Judging Eye functions.  It’s view is the view to that ledger and in doing so, render judgment.  That is, human judgment.  Could it be then that Mimara's "power" to banish that Wight is similar to the sort of "thuamaturgy" we see Kellhus-Ajokli wield versus the Mutilated?  As in, a power not of Sorcery but of Divine providence.  That is to say, I somewhat disagree that Mimara's power is "setting the world" to a more "naturalistic" state.  Eärwa's "natural state" is that of enchantment, a place where the dead can linger.  So, the Wight's position is eminently natural.  Which, of course it is, because it is

I would divide out is that her intentions and the God's intentions aren't specifically one.  That is to say that Mimara's intentions are still her own.  The God couldn't care less if the Wight stayed there or not.  But Mimara certainly did.  In this way, she is right to declare that she holds the Gates.  This is not divine justice carried out by Mimara.  No, this is Mimara's justice carried out by the divine.  That distinction is important, at least in my estimation, because it means that Mimara is the locus of Judgement, the Eye only a tool to that end.  The "stillborn" issue, it was pointed out to me, seems to be a linguistic play on words, in the same manner as Éowyn can kill the Witch King in LotR.  Éowyn is no man, rightly.  So, Mimara does carry a stillborn, just also a living baby as well.

What Mimara seems to be doing, rather, is waking the God.  That is, "fixing" the frame, such that the world is as it should be, by Mimara's judgement.  This might well be the role of the Judging Eye.  That is, the same role taken on by God-as-Christ, post-Job, in rendering the perspective of God from the mortal vantage.  That is, the infinite cannot have a perspective on itself, because it is all thing.  The Infinite cannot have any perspective, because it has all perspectives, which is no perspective at all.  (This could easily be bias on my part, as I have at other times personally noted that there is a plausible parallel of sorts between Mimara and a Christ-figure.) (There is also something about Mimara's role being specifically conscious, as oppossed to the passive unconscious role of The God.)

Now, having explored the Spirit’s function as ledger, let us explore more just what this Spirit actually is. The Spirit, of course, is of the Outside, being your share of the One, that is, of the God-of-gods.  This is a major portion of the revelation of Koringhus, that the Sprit is a portion of the Divine.  Your Soul's (that is, consciousness’) delusion, of course, is that it is both the Spirit itself and separate from the One.  Both are incorrect.  The Fanim, and Kellhus, were right in one thing, that the God was shattered and that the Outside is littered with its fragments.  In Kellhus’ words the Outside is littered with “warring splinters” of The God.  So, each Spirit is but one piece in that war.  What are they warring over?  My hunch is “more pieces.”  Each piece longs to complete itself, and so they war to achieve Unity, to achieve completeness, to become One, that is, whole.  We will return to this momentarily.

So, now we have something of a more substantial model of what “the Soul” is on Eärwa.  It is the Spirit, that is, the metaphysical pleromantic, “animating” (that is, consciousness-granting) part of life, as opposed to the Body (the physical corpus) and the Soul (the mind, the Psyche, the Self).  In his way, it is a bit confusing, how the Soul, which is actual consciousness and Spirit, that which grants the ability to be conscious, but for the sake of our own sanity, I think we need to leave that there, for now.

The state of living is pretty clear, but once one dies in Eärwa, what happens?  Well, naturally the Body expires and presumably, so with it the mind, that is, the Soul.  What is left then, is the Spirit, being as it is pleromantic, it is timeless, it cannot expire.  The Soul though, having been imprinting on the Spirit since birth, is so captured but only in that final state.  The Spirit, now, having collected all such impressions, passes back into the realm of being wholly of the Outside.  With no body to moor it against various Outside agents, is seems the Spirit is prey for various agents of the Outside.  Here we return to the “warring pieces” of The God, but just what are these pieces?

One such agent of the Outside, one sort of division of The God are Ciphrang: Spirits who's Body/Soul so marred them as to be completely incapable of being assimilated back into the any other pieces upon death.  So, a Ciphrang could be a thing so temperamentally opposed to the Unity concept (that is, so distinctly marred as to maintain identity) that it cannot and never will be able to rejoin the One, or join oblivion.  It's a forever torper, hungering when nothing can feed.  But hunger for what?  Let us consider the following quote:

Quote
But if there’s no hiding from Him, why doesn’t He simply kill me?
Because He plays you!
But how could a God play at anything?
Because that is what he feeds upon ‘ere you die, the grain of your experience.
Fool! I asked how, not why!
Who can say how the Gods do what they do?
Maybe because they can’t!
And when the ground shakes, when mountains explode, or the seas rise up?
Pfah. The Gods do these things? Or do they simply know they will happen before they happen?
Perhaps there’s no difference.
This is little Kel's internal discussing with his Voice.

Kellhus also liken the same thing to us, later.  How Eärwa is a granary.  That Damnation is the bread.  That is, Damnation is the “food” of the Hundred.  It is their sustenance.  That is, it sustains their differentiation.  Recall, the Hundred, like all Spirits, are simply divisions of The God-of-gods, in this the Fanim are correct.  The Hundred are not so wholly different than Ciphrang except in relative “power.”  So, in the Outside (and plausibly even on Eärwa), all things crave completeness, being that their nature is that of a division.  All things know, a priori, that they are not complete and in turn, desire to be so.

So the Hundred, their nature as divisions gives rise to the desire for wholeness, however since they are differentiated, they see the route to wholeness as through further differentiation.  So, they hunger for completeness and crave differentiation in an attempt to fill this need.  It could also be that the nature of the Outside is such that Identity, that is, marked differentiation, is passively eroded.  It could be the case continued existence in the Outside is predicated upon a source of differentiation, lest the nascent nature of the Outside dissolve singular Identity.  While it seems preferable to allow this to happen, rather than suffer such hunger, the same could be said for the living.  Why cling to a singular identity, when you can give in and dissolve back into the stuff of “nature?”  Such is not an “easy” proposition.

So, the agents of the Outside, Ciphrang, small, and The Hundred, large, crave the sustainance of differentiation, and Damnation is this marked differentiation of the Spirit/Soul.  The “experience” of difference, as the Voice tells little Kel.  The trick though, what they do not realize, is that the Completeness they desire cannot be achieved through acquisition, but through loss.  One can approach One from fractions, but cannot ever reach it: the infinite shattered pieces of the infinite God are infinite.  Being that only the God-of-gods is (was) infinite; all divisions are necessarily not infinite and so are incapable of being or becoming so.

Here we can use one of the tools that Koringhus gives us.  The concept of Zero made One, or the Zero-God (or as I call it, Zero-as-One).  This is to say that Zero, the total loss of The Self and the acceptance of the falsity of differentiation, is made or is-as One, the Unity.  This can be rephrased as: the loss of Interval is the acceptance into, and of, the Unity.  If nothing divides, than everything is as One.  This can also be conceptualized as the loss of particular perspective, is the opening to all possible perspectives.

This is diametrically opposed to what The Hundred, Ciphrang, and actual Souled beings strive toward.  Since Identity is so key their existence, they cling to their shard and exist in a state of marked differentiation.  Their aim, given the conceits of this position, is to achieve the completeness of One, but through Zero.  Through Zero meaning that they aim at achieving zero differentiation from everything by acquiring all differentiation.  This can be rephrased as: if a thing is all things, than it is only One thing.  One thing, and so completeness, achieved by being comprised off everything.

Since the Cubit, which could be surmised as being the God-of-gods, that is the Zero-God, or a sort of principle of Zero-As-One (a unity concept) is the source of damnation, not the Hundred.   Or, if the God-of-gods does truly slumber, or in it’s shattered state is not manifest, the Cubit is at least the perspective of this origin. And damnation could well be simply your distance from this unity concept.  That is, sin could be what demarks your soul as apart from "the rest," that is, that which enforces an interval between your Spirit and that of everything else.  If Koringhus is to be believed, this denial of interval, no check that, this insistence on (of?) interval is what damns.  The true interval is Zero.  This is why the true God-of-gods is Zero-as-One, not One-as-Zero.  To rephrase that, Zero is the Unity, as in zero interval between "things" and One is the Identity, that is, the "individual."  So, in Zero-As-One, the individual Self is subsumed and replaced by the Unity, or to say the Unity is the new Self.  To attempt to gain One-as-Zero, would be to gain all portions of Selves and so enforce a Unity by acquisition, that is, if One was comprised of All, there would be no interval and would be a Unity.  This cannot work.  Or at least, not practically.  No One can acquire All, so achieving the Zero interval is functionally impossible through achieving One-ness (this is possibly why The Absolute is a trap).  What is plausibly doable though is to lose everything, achieve Zero differentiation and so through loss, gain Unity.

The Logos (the elevation of the Intellect, the Self) is another trap, so perhaps this is why Kellhus (mostly) abandons it?

As a side note, why then are Sorcerers damned?  Well, it could be because they demand (not unlike the Consult do) that reality conform to their demand.  And so offend Unity, because they are forcing a "false frame," that is a individually determined, individually demanded frame upon the Unity.  So, this fundamental violation of Unity so offends the God-of-gods (Zero-As-One, the Cubit) as to demark that soul as irrevocably "set apart."  If that is true (or even partly so), it opens the interesting next step to asked: what then of the Psûhke?  In this case, we must return to the earlier discussion, that there isn't just a bifurcation of Being (into Body and Soul), but rather a tripartite of Body, Mind and Spirit.  Body and Mind being what can "imprint" on the Spirit and give it it's metaphysical character.  OK, fine, but what does that tell us about why the Sorcery Marks, where the Psûhke does not?

Well, we are told that the Psûhke is decidedly non-intellectual.  That is, it arises not from the intellect but from the passion.  In our "normal" parlance, this hardly makes a difference, passions are of the mind and so is the intellect.  But on Eärwa, I don't think this is as true.  That is to say, that the Mind isn't the brain, but is the Intellect.  So, what damns is not the brain, but the metaphysical Intellect, that is, conscious thought.  It is conscious thought that sets Sorcery apart from the Psûhke.  It is conscious thought that then damns.  The Psûhke comes from the Body, that is, without conscious thought, without intellect.  That is why, as in the "curious case" of Titirga, it seems to just issue forth, a priori.  It is also no coincidence that Sorcery, language and so conscious thought are bound concepts in Eärwa, where the Psûhke is not linguistically based.
In Eärwa, the Body (that is, the literally corpus) is the conduit of the Darkness that Comes before, i.e. what is natural.  That is, what is indistinguishable from God's own will.  It is the conscious direction of the Mind that differentiates the Spirit.  That does open the question of whether you can be unconsciously damned on Eärwa and to that I'm not at all sure.  Although I am not sure what it would mean to live your whole life completely unconscious either.  This differentiation, with regards to Sorcery, is called The Mark. The deepness of The Mark seems proportional to some kind of metric that measures how much disjunction, or perhaps “ruin” one has caused in the “natural” fabric of reality.

My guess would be that being Marked does about the same as Sin, that is, puts your soul in a state of marked differentiation and so does damn without a question of what, specifically was done.  I think it correct that Sorcery=the Mark, and I think it reasonable that The Mark=Damnation.  So then, since we know that Sorcery is cognitive, or intellectual, then it is reasonable that in this round-about way, conscious thought, through the cypher of Sorcery, does equal Damnation.

I think the issue that makes it more, and less, clear is that of the Psûhke.  So, if the Mark is just a tally of "ruin" on the fabric of Reality, what constitutes actual "aesthetic ruin" (that is, disjunctive changes in reality) can't simply be, say, "change outside of The God's will" or else the Psûhke is actually divine and I think that Ajokli's demonstration of Thaumaturgy or Divine Magic proves that Chorae are no match for that.  So, the fact that Chorae effect the Psûhke seems to defeat the idea that something Divine is actually involved.

So, what does does "aesthetic ruin" mean?  If Sorcerous changes are and the Psûhke's changes are not, I think the answer lies in this quote from Bakker:

[Quote]Everything comes down to meaning in Eärwa. Where sorcery is representational, utilizing either the logical form (as with the Gnosis) or the material content (as with the Anagogis) of meaning to leverage transformations of reality, the Psukhe utilizes the impetus. Practitioners of the Psukhe blind themselves to see through the what and grasp the how, the pure performative kernel of meaning–the music, the passion, or as the Cishaurim call it, the ‘Water.’ As a contemporary philosopher might say, the Psukhe is noncognitive, it has no truck with warring versions of reality, which is why it possesses no Mark and remains invisible to the Few.[/quote]

They key differentiator in there seem to be (at least in my reading) to be Congitive vs. Non-Cognitive.  Both are Sorcery (which is why Chorae work all the same on all of it), just differing in how the changes are writ.  And that seems to make a real difference in how the changes made reconcile against the practitioner's soul.  So, it seems to me that the Conscious component of Sorcery is indeed what Marks and if it is true that the Mark Damns, then indeed, it seems plausible that Conscious Thought is indeed a vehicle to Damnation.  Now a Chorae does not Salt a Sinner, because a Sinner is very much in line with "natural reality" (being that Eärwa is a damnation factory and the "universality" of the Cubit) where Sorcery invites "warring versions of reality."  So, it seems that the "ruin" is the breaking of the continuity of reality.  That is, the entertaining and issuance of "warring versions of reality" that is Marking Sorcerers and in turn, Damning them and the Psûhke, given it's lack of Conscious (cognitive) intentionality does not Mark and plausibly does not even Damn, at least, on it's own.

A Chorae simply resolves the paradox that is Sorcery.  That is, it doesn’t matter if it Marked the Spirit of the practitioner, or if not.  It simply undoes Sorcery and those that practiced it.  It isn’t clear though, if the Spirit of those that practice the Psûhke isn’t Marked, it still must bear something on it’s ledger that allows a Chorae to undo them.  I guess it’s the case that while not a Mark, as it is with intellectual Sorcery, it still somehow “carries with it” the accumulated paradoxical nature of what it has done.  Unless, of course, it’s possibly the case that the Psûhke so invokes the “Divine nature” of creation, that Spirits having practiced it are actually closer to the Unity than they are distant from it.

As a side note, I think I finally actually get why the Dûnyain regard sorcery as a violation of Before and After.  I never made sense to me, because it wasn't as if Sorcery altered the past, that the After changed what happened in the Past, but I might now get it.  It is that the fundamental underlying facts of Reality determine what can come after.  So, the fundamental fact of, say, gravity (among other things, but just to keep it "simple") determines that a human can't fly.  Or, say, laws of free energy (again, among other things) dictate that Dragon's head doesn't just pop out of thin air and vomit fire.  Sorcery violates these laws, violates the facts of the Before, and so changes the After.

Since we have been discussing the fact of Damnation in Eärwa, what about the mechanism of it, the Cubit.  As in, why are some things sins and others not?  Is it arbitrary?  Are "sins" arbitrary, in the real world?  Although I can't "prove" it one way or the other, I'm not so sure.  Although I can more readily recognize that the label of "Holy" could be more arbitrary.  It certainly depends on how we choose to define "Holy" and unfortunately the books themselves don't give us many examples to build on. So, is Eärwa a place of just capricious Damnation?  Or is it discrete, like Physics?

Geometry, physics and other distinctly mathematical properties determine in a way that might seem arbitrary from a certain human rational standpoint, but are distinctly rational once the underlying mechanisms are exposed.  In the same way, nickel has the more tightly bound nucleus, follow by iron, which, is arbitrary from the standpoint of there being a whole periodic table to choose from, why those two?  No one chose them, true.  But the "rules of the game" that is, physics determined it to be so.

Perhaps I am misapprehending the notion here, but I don't think most sins are really vastly different, even though they do not necessarily come from such an objective frame.  To take a real world example, the "sin" of eating pork was very rationally grounded, since improperly cooked pork was rather dangerous. 

It then really isn't so arbitrary that pigs were considered "filthy" and "unholy."  Unconscious objects could be Vile and Holy, yes, but this (I don't think) isn't the same as Damned and Redeamed.  That is to say, I don't think pigs go to Hell and Storks go to Heaven.  No, rather these "things" are, as non-conscious objects, merely symbols of what is to be Consciously revered, or reviled.  So, a pig might be Vile because it is regarded as an "unclean animal" (plausibly due to trichinosis).  A stork might be "holy" because it invites (or invokes) thoughts of venerating parental care.  The object itself isn't destined for Hell or anywhere, since it has no soul.  Rather, it is the Souled Observer, who interprets Value.

Now, it could be that on Eärwa things are just arbitrary, I mean, of course they are, Bakker simply just chose them.  But not so arbitrary that pretty much all of them came from some real-world religion or other cultural place.  So, they are based off something, but something more nebulous and less discrete than physics.  When Mimara views, via the Eye:

Quote
Between women and men, women possess the lesser soul. Whenever the Eye opens, she glimpses the fact of this, the demand that women yield to the requirements of men, so long as those demands be righteous. To bear sons. To lower her gaze. To provide succor. The place of the woman is to give. So it has always been, since Omrain first climbed nude from the dust and bathed in the wind. Since Esmenet made herself a crutch for stern Angeshraël.

This is arbitrary from the completely objective standpoint.  Why is it that Eärwan women possess lesser Souls?  Well, first, what does that even mean?  First, we must again recognize that the Eärwan conception of the Soul is always a something of a misnomer, as used.  That is, since no one seems to differentiate Spirit from Soul, as we do above, the Soul is confusingly relegated to attempt to cover as both.  I think we have previously demonstrated this is plausibly not true.  So then, it isn’t that women in Eärwa are spiritually inferior, it is that they are placed into a position where the demands on their psyche is such that there is less demand on their Soul to differentiate their identities for than men.  In fact, dictates of biology and so societal organization largely demand it.  In this sense, the burden of birth is a call to connection.  In the manner of  Koringhus’ revelation then, women are actually Spiritually superior to men.  The designation of “Lesser” as opposed to “Greater” denotes, in this case, the acceptance of loss, forfeiture of the Self, and the path to Unity, so the actual method away from Damnation.  In the same way, Kellhus denotes a “Greater Proyas” and a “Lesser Proyas.”  We, just by the terms, would equate “Greater” as “better” and preferable to “lesser.”  This is false and it is “Greater Proyas” is lead into Damnation.  Because Greater Proyas is the Proyas who desires to be more.  It is Lesser Proyas who seeks Unity and loss, deference to the Holy.  It is the Greater, who Kellhus enslaves, which is his Proyas’ conscious desire to aspire toward The God, to be more, rather than less.  The Soul, that which differentiates, is the engine that drives the Spirit to Damnation, so calls to “Greater” individualization and differentiation are both Spiritually inferior.

In the same manner, this is why women of Eärwa are, in general, more Holy and lesser Souls.  Because they are driven, in general to a role that subsumes their individuality and drives them toward something closer to Unity.  In this way, women are the Greater Spirits.  In this way, women are more Holy.  Also, because of how shackled they are to men, by biological (as well as psychological) facts, they are also victims of men’s Spiritual deficiency.  So, while women are the Greater Spirits, they are still Damned by association with the iniquities of men’s Spirits.  This is why Mimara repeats the proclamation that women should follow a righteous man. Since not all men are righteous, then so are many women Damned.

Note that this, in general, offends the modern egalitarian, gender-equality lines of thought.  Of course it does, as it is made to approximate the situation pre-Modern people thought they lived in.  Eärwa is designed to be the Hell of a world we thought we lived in.  Not only this, but the very offense is given to highlight and cue our moral intuitions on the subject.  Since we identify the unfair nature of Mimara’s (and every other woman in the series) situation, we are directly confronted with the unfair nature of our own world.  The imposition of being is not adjudicated fairly, not in the real world, nor on Eärwa.

It’s interesting to think to the next step though, how, if women were “unshackled” from this “arbitrary” imposition of subservience, what would the effect be?  I think the answer is that they would still be Damned though.  They, taking on the same role as men would be placed in the same trap that Eärwan men are in, that of applying the Soul in carving out individuality or questing toward being “more” is seemingly a sure-fire route to Damnation.

Not only that, but since what comes before determines what comes after and since culture itself can most certainly be a vehicle of pan-societal damnation, I  think it is most certainly the case that one can be born directly into a state of being set up to be Damned.  In fact, we know it from the Dûnyain to be true.  That is the Eärwan version of Original Sin.  You are the culmination of your culture's collected sins and Damned even further by continued adherence to it's (probably) flawed precepts.

So, the “rules” that the Cubit offers might seem arbitrary, might even be somewhat arbitrary, but they are that which allows Eärwa to be the granary that feeds the Hundred.  The path to Unity is absolutely contrary to the fundamental way which consciousness construes the reality of Identity.  And that is the thing that Damns most of all.

2
General Earwa / Eärwa and the Nature of the Soul.
« on: September 10, 2018, 03:42:30 pm »
So, just looking to log a conversation had elsewhere, about just what is the nature of the Soul in Eärwa:

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I think your post highlights just how little we know (understand?) about what the Eärwan soul really is.  On the one hand, it seems fairly obvious that the soul is one's connection to the Outside, if nothing else.  The Outside, of course, is the plemora, then the question would be: is the soul of the plemora or of the manifest world?

Given the No-God's function though and whatever the Great Cycle of Souls is, then I don't think the soul can be of the manifest world.  It must be pleromatic, then, and wholly so.  Or at least, in nature at least.  But here we return to the issue at hand, none the closer to an actual answer.  Just what is the soul?  And if souls cycle, what makes one yours and the other mine?  Or am I misunderstanding what cycle means?  I surely am, since if it was a 1:1 cycle in and out, the population of Eärwa could never grow.  No, I think what is meant is the the soul itself is "locked into place."  That is, it cannot undergo the cycle of it's own transformation.  That is (presumably) it's "attachment" to life in the manifest world (at Birth), it's "development" (during life), and it's subsequent "return" to the plemora (the Outside).  (This actually makes sense, how the Wright of the Mountain stays fixed to the spot, how souls on the planes of Mangedda.)

It's unclear what this "development" really is though.  In some ways, the soul must be a ledger of sorts.  In others, a manner of identity preservation.  As Koringhus (seems) to relate to us, part of the problem might be the clinging to identity.  That we are in the trouble of damnation because we deny the true interval between ourselves and the world (or the plemora, I'm not sure).  Or is it that we acknowledge the interval, in imagining (or acknowledging) the interval demanded by our perceived (constructed?) identity.

So, I guess to answer your question, along the line of Koringhus, the "false" identity we acknowledge is what is damned.  Which we cling to and won't let go.  And so costs eternity and the price of the now.

Or something, man, I don't know...

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I think your post highlights just how little we know (understand?) about what the Eärwan soul really is.  On the one hand, it seems fairly obvious that the soul is one's connection to the Outside, if nothing else.  The Outside, of course, is the plemora, then the question would be: is the soul of the plemora or of the manifest world?

Hmmm. We know Bakker was greatly influenced by Blood Meridian, where the Judge considers the Good within the kid to be of alien origin. I would dare to suggest that Outside is of the psyche but not the pneuma - see this quote from Geoff Klock's X-men, Emerson, Gnosticism:

"It ia Gnosticism's conception of the self that is most interesting and radical: Gnosticism makes a distinction between the soul (in Greek the psyche) and the spirit (the pneuma). The psyche is primarily what we traditionally associate with the mental self, most exhaustively treated by Freud in his psychoanalysis: appetites and passions certainly, but also our love and our tastes, and much - perhaps all - of our personality. Emerson, an implicit Gnostic, referred to this as the "adhesive self."[4] Christianity, implicitly or explicitly, conceives of the body as a prison for the soul; Gnosticism conceives of BOTH the body and the soul (again, the personality, appetites and desires) as a prison for the spirit, the Gnostic spark, the part of God."

I'm thinking of how Mimara sees past the "false foil" of the Abyss to the drowsy compassion of the God. It also seems this connection the foundational power of the One is what allows her to banish the Wight. Of course there she is maintaining the "Gate", the boundary between the Outside/Abyss and the dreamed world rather than banishing in the way a Catholic exorcist invokes Christ/God. This however could make a certain sense, as anarcane ground itself is where the God dreams most lucidly.

So by enforcing the Gate Mimara is in fact summoning the dreaming mind of God which is, in fact, the world of Earwa in its more naturalistic aspects. (Naturalist being different than our conception for our world, since Earwa is an enchanted world and at the least Naturalism usually refers to a disenchanted world in context of our reality..."enchanted" I guess would be the interweaving of sentient purpose and physics/chem/bio)

This is also suggests animals may naturally be of the One, given they have no souls to damn whereas humans - really all sentient entities with reflective consciousness - only exist due to the lapses in the God/One's own consciousness. Individuals, then, might be that aspect of the One that is lead into the illusion of a persona...the closest analogous reality I can think of is the "voices" in our heads offering praise, criticism. shame, etc. 

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Given the No-God's function though and whatever the Great Cycle of Souls is, then I don't think the soul can be of the manifest world.  It must be pleromatic, then, and wholly so.  Or at least, in nature at least.  But here we return to the issue at hand, none the closer to an actual answer.  Just what is the soul?

     

The soul seems to be microcosmic, perhaps even fractal/holographic, portions of the One. This would distinguish them from the Hundred who are, from what I gathered out of Bakker's AMA, subconscious processes smeared across the Eternal/Now joint of reality more than fully complete conscious entities.

I believe it was Eskeles who compared the Hundred to shattered fragments and Kellhus to a perfect rendition of the One writ small? We now know that was incorrect, given Kellhus was no savior, but the model works to distinguish the Hundred from an actual soul. (This leaves the issue of Ciphrang who seem to be individuals within the Now though they exist in the supposedly Eternal place of the Ouside?)

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And if souls cycle, what makes one yours and the other mine?  Or am I misunderstanding what cycle means?  I surely am, since if it was a 1:1 cycle in and out, the population of Eärwa could never grow.


Well souls could come and go from other worlds, but I agree with your latter assement:

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No, I think what is meant is the the soul itself is "locked into place."  That is, it cannot undergo the cycle of it's own transformation.  That is (presumably) it's "attachment" to life in the manifest world (at Birth), it's "development" (during life), and it's subsequent "return" to the plemora (the Outside).  (This actually makes sense, how the Wright of the Mountain stays fixed to the spot, how souls on the planes of Mangedda.)

I also suspect the cycle refers to the creation of souls through birth and then the movement of that soul into the afterlife. But if souls are pinched off bits of Outside then it would be a cycle...a harvest in some sense if the Hundred are responsible for this cycle. Perhaps there is nothing natural at all about birth/death of ensouled beings, and the One truly intended every conscious being to play out P-Zombie characters in Its dream?

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It's unclear what this "development" really is though.  In some ways, the soul must be a ledger of sorts.  In others, a manner of identity preservation.  As Koringhus (seems) to relate to us, part of the problem might be the clinging to identity.  That we are in the trouble of damnation because we deny the true interval between ourselves and the world (or the plemora, I'm not sure).  Or is it that we acknowledge the interval, in imagining (or acknowledging) the interval demanded by our perceived (constructed?) identity.
     

Yeah, that's how I see it, that one must escape identity/individuality to be free from damnation. Or at the least one must see one's "self" as an emanation of the One rather than an individual with a subjective-boundary. After all what is an "individual" but this boundary, this being that feels the its feeling only extending to the outer surface of its skin?

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So, I guess to answer your question, along the line of Koringhus, the "false" identity we acknowledge is what is damned.  Which we cling to and won't let go.  And so costs eternity and the price of the now.

Or something, man, I don't know...

Agreed on this...but then the challenge is that Kellhus could get past that "here-ness" but this didn't save him from damnation...or perhaps his own fears kicked in while on the Circumfix. The figure beneath the World Tree was waiting for him to give in, the Trickster at the Crossroads offering a deal to save the "self" of Kellhus. Ajokli seems like a cross between Satan, Papa Legba, and Mara the Tempter to me.

Could Kellhus have found the One? Or is Dunyain conditioning problematic in the sense that it can, in theory, lead to awareness of the One but given the millennia of breeding for survival in the material world one is predisposed toward preservation and thus damnation?

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Hmmm. We know Bakker was greatly influenced by Blood Meridian, where the Judge considers the Good within the kid to be of alien origin. I would dare to suggest that Outside is of the psyche but not the pneuma - see this quote from Geoff Klock's X-men, Emerson, Gnosticism:

Hmm, in fact, I round-aboutly came across the same sort of idea from a completely different place in the last week.  No such thing as coincidence though, must mean something.

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I'm thinking of how Mimara sees past the "false foil" of the Abyss to the drowsy compassion of the God. It also seems this connection the foundational power of the One is what allows her to banish the Wight. Of course there she is maintaining the "Gate", the boundary between the Outside/Abyss and the dreamed world rather than banishing in the way a Catholic exorcist invokes Christ/God. This however could make a certain sense, as anarcane ground itself is where the God dreams most lucidly.

So by enforcing the Gate Mimara is in fact summoning the dreaming mind of God which is, in fact, the world of Earwa in its more naturalistic aspects. (Naturalist being different than our conception for our world, since Earwa is an enchanted world and at the least Naturalism usually refers to a disenchanted world in context of our reality..."enchanted" I guess would be the interweaving of sentient purpose and physics/chem/bio)

This is also suggests animals may naturally be of the One, given they have no souls to damn whereas humans - really all sentient entities with reflective consciousness - only exist due to the lapses in the God/One's own consciousness. Individuals, then, might be that aspect of the One that is lead into the illusion of a persona...the closest analogous reality I can think of is the "voices" in our heads offering praise, criticism. shame, etc.

Hmm, could it be that Mimara's "power" to banish that Wight is similar to the sort of "thuamaturgy" we see Kellhus-Ajokli wield versus the Mutilated?  I.e. not sorcery (i.e. of the psyche, read: soul) but of divine providence (i.e. of the pneuma, read: spirit).  That is to say, I somewhat disagree that Mimara's power is "setting the world" to a more "naturalistic" state.  Because, as you say, Eärwa's "natural state" is that of enchantment.  So, the Wight's position is eminently natural.  Which, of course it is, because it is.

What Mimara seems to be doing, rather, is waking the God.  That is, "fixing" the frame, such that the world is as it should be, by Mimara's judgement.  This might well be the role of the Judging Eye.  That is, the same role taken on by by God-as-Christ, post-Job, in rendering the perspective of God from the mortal vantage.  (This could easily be bias on my part, as I have at other times personally noted that there is a plausible parallel of sorts between Mimara and a Christ-figure.)

Your last point though is interesting though, since if the soul is not pleromantic, or of the Outside, but of the psyche (i.e. Logos, if not The Logos) than it is more confusing how the soul is enduring, when the mind (that is, the physical brain) is not.  The only way I think I can square that, off the top of my head, is to say that the Spirit (i.e. the divine spark in each individual, gained at birth) is imprinted by the Soul (i.e. the psyche) in an indelible, or at least semi-permanent manner.  So, it may not be your soul passing on, but rather your Spirit so imprinted by your soul.  Your Spirit, of course, being your share on the One.  Your soul's delusion, of course, is that it is both the Spirit itself and separate from the One.  Both are incorrect.

However, I think I need to preface the use of One though.  One is not the Unity.  As Koringhus puts it, it would be the Zero-as-One.  For brevity's sake, I shall continue to just use One to denote this, even though the actual unity concept must be Zero-as-One.

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The soul seems to be microcosmic, perhaps even fractal/holographic, portions of the One. This would distinguish them from the Hundred who are, from what I gathered out of Bakker's AMA, subconscious processes smeared across the Eternal/Now joint of reality more than fully complete conscious entities.

I believe it was Eskeles who compared the Hundred to shattered fragments and Kellhus to a perfect rendition of the One writ small? We now know that was incorrect, given Kellhus was no savior, but the model works to distinguish the Hundred from an actual soul. (This leaves the issue of Ciphrang who seem to be individuals within the Now though they exist in the supposedly Eternal place of the Ouside?)

Well, if we follow our earlier line of thinking, it isn't the Soul than, rather it is the Spirit.  The Spirit is the division of the One, the Soul is the manifest world's interface to the Spirit.  That is, the Body does not work directly on the Spirit, rather it is Mind, the Psyche, that so interfaces the Pleromantic (Outside).

In this way, Ciphrang are Spirits who's Body/Soul so marred them as to be completely incapable of assimilating back into the One.  Or, at least, so marred as to be incapable of existing within the Pleroma (Outside) without extreme discomfort.  So, a Ciphrang could be a thing so temperamentally opposed to the Unity concept (that is, so distinctly marred as to maintain identity) that it cannot and never will be able to rejoin the One, or join oblivion.  It's a forever torper, hungering when nothing can feed.

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I also suspect the cycle refers to the creation of souls through birth and then the movement of that soul into the afterlife. But if souls are pinched off bits of Outside then it would be a cycle...a harvest in some sense if the Hundred are responsible for this cycle. Perhaps there is nothing natural at all about birth/death of ensouled beings, and the One truly intended every conscious being to play out P-Zombie characters in Its dream?

Well, I think you have relapsed a bit.  Souled being simply flavoring for Spirits.  It is Spirits that the 100 harvest, gaining greater share of One.  Souls simply give "taste" to the Spirit.  In that vein:

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But if there’s no hiding from Him, why doesn’t He simply kill me?

Because He plays you!

But how could a God play at anything?

Because that is what he feeds upon ‘ere you die, the grain of your experience.

Fool! I asked how, not why!

Who can say how the Gods do what they do?

Maybe because they can’t!

And when the ground shakes, when mountains explode, or the seas rise up?

Pfah. The Gods do these things? Or do they simply know they will happen before they happen?

Perhaps there’s no difference.

This is little Kel's internal discussing with his Voice.

So the 100, divisions of the Zero-as-One, desire divisions of Spirit, to demark their existence as One-not-Zero.  Damnation, as Kellhus puts it, "is their harvest" because damnation, the Soul's selfish tainting of the Spirit as to exclude it from Zero-as-One, i.e. as Indentity, helps to define the Hundred.

This means that Koringhus is even more correct.  The way out of the trap of Eärwa is regressive.  Or at least, regressive of the Self.

The Logos is another trap, so perhaps this is why Kellhus (mostly) abandons it?

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Yeah, that's how I see it, that one must escape identity/individuality to be free from damnation. Or at the least one must see one's "self" as an emanation of the One rather than an individual with a subjective-boundary. After all what is an "individual" but this boundary, this being that feels the its feeling only extending to the outer surface of its skin?

Yes, yes, I believe now we are getting somewhere.  I'd say it a bit differently though, that one must realize that these is no Self, rather is it a delusion of perspective.

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    Souls can no more see the origins of their thought than they can see the backs of their heads or the insides of their entrails. And since souls cannot differentiate what they cannot see, there is a peculiar sense in which the soul cannot self-differentiate. So it is always, in a peculiar sense, the same time when they think, the same place where they think, and the same individual who does the thinking. Like tipping a spiral on its side until only a circle can be seen, the passage of moments always remains now, the carnival of spaces always sojourns here, and the succession of people always becomes me. The truth is, if the soul could apprehenditself the way it apprehended the world—if it could apprehend its origins—it would see that there is no now, there is no here, and there is no me. In other words, it would realize that just as there is no circle, there is no soul.

—MEMGOWA, CELESTIAL APHORISMS

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Agreed on this...but then the challenge is that Kellhus could get past that "here-ness" but this didn't save him from damnation...or perhaps his own fears kicked in while on the Circumfix. The figure beneath the World Tree was waiting for him to give in, the Trickster at the Crossroads offering a deal to save the "self" of Kellhus. Ajokli seems like a cross between Satan, Papa Legba, and Mara the Tempter to me.

Could Kellhus have found the One? Or is Dunyain conditioning problematic in the sense that it can, in theory, lead to awareness of the One but given the millennia of breeding for survival in the material world one is predisposed toward preservation and thus damnation?

It's hard to say, because if you read TTT Chapter 10, where my above quote comes from, Kellhus seems to "get" this.  The question than is, what of it?  Koringhus seems to have been able to "get it."  But only through the lens of Mimara, through her forgiveness, and (the) Eye.  I think Kellhus could have found that, but he doesn't seem to have.  In other words, it would seem that Kellhus knew the fundamental nature of the meta-physics, but still (like the Consult) demanded the world to change rather him change to it.  In other words, I do not buy that Kellhus ever gave up his Self, or allowed his Soul to die to his Spirit.

No, in the way Bakker likens it, I'd say it makes sense that Kellhus is "dead but not done."  He is at minimum a Ciphrang, a Spirit too marred by his Soul to be devoured.  But considering his power, perhaps even more.  If the Fanim are right, that the Hundred are basically Ciphrang, than Kellhus might well be a near god-like Ciphrang.

Sorry for the weird nested nature, being quotes from somewhere else and transplanted here.

3
The Almanac: PON Edition / ARC: TDTCB Chapter 5
« on: May 07, 2018, 11:11:02 am »
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The difference between the strong emperor and the weak is simply this: the former makes the world his arena, while the latter makes it his harem.
—CASIDAS, THE ANNALS OF CENEI

Thread for chapter 5, read whenever people get through it.

4
The Unholy Consult / Subject and Object Ruminations
« on: October 09, 2017, 05:42:31 pm »
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profgrape [09|Oct 11:59 am]:   In this context, perceived = sensation + unconscious decisions about how to interpret that sensation
profgrape [09|Oct 11:59 am]:   The Sarcophagus is AFAICT a completely real thing
profgrape [09|Oct 12:00 pm]:   Maybe the most utterly Objective thing in the universe
H [09|Oct 12:00 pm]:   But the soul running it must be the real key.
profgrape [09|Oct 12:01 pm]:   Yes
profgrape [09|Oct 12:01 pm]:   It needs the right Subject.
profgrape [09|Oct 12:02 pm]:   That's why I'm riffing on the idea that Kelmomas' lack of a fixed identity somehow leads to a non-fixed Subject
H [09|Oct 12:02 pm]:   So, the "collapse" is where Kel and the Sarcophagus are one.
profgrape [09|Oct 12:02 pm]:   It creates some kind of motor based on the fact that it can't be collapsed into the Object.
tleilaxu [09|Oct 12:02 pm]:   there is a post in the AMA
tleilaxu [09|Oct 12:04 pm]:   "Consider the difference between what you're presently looking at (an objective thing) and how you're looking (via subjective experience). Thus the famous subject/object dichotomy. So say you pose the question, which comes first? An idealist believes the object is a figment of the subject, whereas a materialist believes the subject is a figment of the object."
tleilaxu [09|Oct 12:04 pm]:   I dunno
H [09|Oct 12:06 pm]:   Definitely something to that quote, yes. Consider, the dichotomy as presented in that quote and what the No-God continually asks.
tleilaxu [09|Oct 12:06 pm]:   good point
tleilaxu [09|Oct 12:07 pm]:   the is both at once, it doesn't know what it is
tleilaxu [09|Oct 12:07 pm]:   the no-god*
profgrape [09|Oct 12:09 pm]:   As the NG has been described as a p-zombie, it sounds like it takes the Subject and forces it into the Object's frame.
H [09|Oct 12:09 pm]:   Right, presumably the whole fuction of the No-God could come from the "potential difference" of a soul connecting the anode of Subject on one side and Object as the diode..
profgrape [09|Oct 12:10 pm]:   I guess I'm putting forth that as Kel is an unfixed Subject, it has a special reaction with the object.

Just putting this here for the moment, so we can further collect our thoughts on the No-God being some kind of collapse of Subject and Object.

5
General Earwa / General Wracu Discussion
« on: October 05, 2017, 10:22:44 am »
Ghoset - ?
Murathaur, the Silver, the Dragon of Knives - Killed in antiqity by Cilcûliccas (The Lord of Swans).
Skafra, Tyrant of Cloud and Mountain - Killed by Seswatha at Mengedda in 2155.
Skogma - "thought destroyed during the Cûno-Inchoroi Wars."
Skuthula, the Black - "one of the few Dragons known to have survived the Apocalypse." Resides in Golgotterath itself.
Tanhafut, the Red - Killed by Nau-Cayûti at the Battle of Ossirish.
Wutteät, the Black, the Terrible, the Black-and-Golden, Father of Dragons - Still alive, somewhere near Sauglish.

So, this list should be current as of TUC.  We learned for a "new" Wracu, only to also learn it was already dead.  The mystery of which is dead in the Black Halls is still open, although if it is one we already know of, between the option of Ghoset and Skogma, the former seems more likely.

6
The Unholy Consult / [TUC Spoilers]The Incû-Holoinas
« on: July 11, 2017, 02:17:35 pm »
For lack of a better title, this is what I'll put this under and port it over here for perusal.

First, we have the interesting "revelation" that the Sarcophagus is a prosthesis of the Ark.  In other words, it is a part of the Ark itself.

But wait, it goes further...why does the No-God need a soul in it at all?  How did that work on other worlds?

 Unless, the Ark didn't need a soul, because the Ark already had a soul.

Consider, the Ark made the Inchoroi to serve it.  Why?  It was the Ark itself who was looking for the answer to the "soul problem."  So, when Seswatha says the Ark was once living, it wasn't living in the sense of breathing, it was living in the sense of it having had a soul.  In other words, perhaps the Ark is the Progenitor, or rather, what is left of them.

But wait, look how the DûnSult refer to it.  Not the Ark, but just Ark.  That's it's name.  It is a being.  A mostly artificial one at this point, but one nonetheless.  It died, in the sense that the soul that kept it running was gone, post-Arkfall though, which is why the Inchoroi were so lost, they were a weapon race with nothing to wield them.  Because it was Ark who wielded them before, via the No-God apparatus, which was probably where the soul of Ark was.  It was Ark's "brain," which is probably why it can control all the Tekne things too.

So the No-God apparatus didn't need a soul while Ark "lived," Ark had it's own soul, a soul that was seeking to find the answer to the 144,000 question.  That question is what lead to it making the Inchoroi, who, later abandoned by Ark when it died in the fall, were left to try to figure out just what Ark was trying to do.  A prosthesis needs something to wield it.  Ark wielded it while it was still "alive" but now, some other soul needs to "read the code."

So, what kind of soul is needed to do so?  Presumably one that is suitably close to Ark's original one.  And if the DûnSult are right and the Progenitor's sin was to stray too close to Absolute, then the surrogate soul needs to also be suitably close to the Absolute too.

7
General Misc. / Thread for the Threadless (Surrogate Quorum)
« on: July 05, 2017, 01:09:48 pm »
Just figured we could have a thread for everything that doesn't warrant a tread of it's own.

I just got back from a cross country road trip with the family.  Yeah, never doing that again...

I'm just too damn old to be driving that long and the kids were restless, to say the least.

8
Philosophy & Science / NPR PodCast: Invisibilia
« on: June 08, 2017, 11:49:20 am »
Invisibilia

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Invisibilia is Latin for "the invisible things." We explore the invisible forces that shape human behavior — things like ideas, beliefs, assumptions and emotions. The show is co-hosted by two of NPR's award-winning journalists — Alix Spiegel and Hanna Rosin — who have roots at This American Life and The Atlantic. In past seasons, the show was also hosted by Lulu Miller, who has roots in Radiolab, and is currently on leave writing a book.

We weave incredible human stories with fascinating new psychological and brain science, in the hopes that after listening, you will come to see new possibilities for how to think, behave and live.

Invisibilia has explored whether our thoughts are related to our inner wishes, our fears and how they shape our actions, and our need for belonging and how it shapes our identity and fuels our emotions over a lifetime. We investigate ways everyday objects can shape our worldviews, the effects we have on each other's well-being, and the various lenses we don.

Pretty interesting listens there.  Certainly implications for lots of things that Bakker touches on and his BBT.

9
General Earwa / Why did Moë really leave Ishuäl?
« on: May 16, 2017, 02:51:58 pm »
For a long time now, I've had this feeling that the story of why Moënghus left Ishuäl simply didn't really add up.  Prima facie, it seems plausible that to keep Dûnyain society effectively isolated, outside influence must be avoided at any cost.  Compromised individuals must be eliminated, lest the whole endeavor necessarily fail.  However, some aspect of why Moënghus left don't really jive with that.

Let's start with what we're told:

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“The Dûnyain have hidden from the world for two millennia, and they would remain hidden, if they could, for all eternity. Yet thirty-one years ago, while I was still but a child, we were discovered by a band of Sranc. The Sranc were easily destroyed, but as a precaution, my father was sent into the wilderness to ascertain the extent of our exposure. When he returned some months later, it was decided that he must be exiled. He’d been contaminated, had become a threat to our mission. Three decades passed, and it was assumed he’d perished.”

So, previous to a close reading of this paragraph, I had the mistaken assumption that it was encountering the Sranc that lead to Moë leaving, but this is not the case at all.  That stands to reason, encountering Sranc would be litter different than encounting a pack of wolves, especially if one never bothered to learn Aghurzoi, the Sranc language.  I mean, it is plausible that even knowledge of Sranc would be something of an outside influence, but I don't believe they were unaware of Sranc, so their continued existence would not be much of a shock.

On that point, Kellhus doesn't question Leweth when he speaks of Sranc, only show unfamiliarity with their particulars when Leweth points out their particulars.  This, to me, speaks to Kellhus knowledge of Sranc in the intellectual sense, but unfamiliar with the practicalities and particulars of them.  That is something of an aside though.

So, going back to the above quote, Moënghus leaves Ishuäl to investigate the Sranc's finding of them, so what would he presumably do?  Track them backwards, to see where they came from.  There are a few obvious options on what he would find would plausibly include:
More Sranc
More Sranc, but lead by Ursranc.
More Sranc, but lead by a Nonman.
A human settlement.
Human ruins.
Nonman ruins.

In the first two cases, there is little to suggest why Moënghus would need to be exiled.  Even if he learned Aghurzoi, what might a Sranc or Ursranc tell him that would lead him taint him?

If he met a Nonman, he could have learned of sorcery.

If he met a human, he could have learned of history.  The same for the ruins of the former Kûniüri empire and so the lineage of the Anasûrimbor.  Plausibly, something of the same for Nonman ruins.

None of this really seems all that tainting.  But wait, we once asked Bakker about this very topic.

Isolation from external causes is the key to the original Dunyain mission. Allowing Moenghus back in would have been tantamount to allowing every he had experienced back in.

My emphasis added.  My above analysis is presuming that it was something Moënghus learned that lead him to not be fit to be allowed back to Ishuäl.  But cagey, cagey Bakker points out, it was what Moë experienced that left him unfit for return.

I asked Bakker, in that thread a follow up question:

I never doubted this.  However, I have, at times, doubted the wisdom of allowing a Dunyain to exist in the wild, from their perspective.

It's hard to imagine them not considering the risks in allowing someone with knowledge of Ishual's location to simply walk out.  Why didn't they force him into the Thousand-Thousand Halls, like the Pragma did when he polluted them in turn?  I've come up with some conspiracy theories on this, because it seems somewhat unfathomable that they didn't consider the risk in allowing him to leave.

They had no difficulty killing themselves afterward, and he was their better, so why assume he would have difficulty?

So, wait, I took this to mean that Moënghus was yet another Anasûrimbor prodigy and so the Pragma felt no right to demand he kill himself.  I don't this is what he meant though.  It wouldn't make much sense to allow a prodigy to go on a seemingly suicidal mission to scout out Sranc anyway.

No, I think, again, Bakker is being cagey with his wording here.

Moënghus didn't leave Ishuäl the first time as their better, he returned to Ishuäl as their better.

What?  Why would tracking Sranc better Moënghus?

Because, just as Kellhus learned when he left Ishuäl, Moënghus experienced domination.  He experienced that Sranc could be manipulated (as his latter appearance to Scylvendi in the "captivity" of Sranc shows).  He probably experienced that world-born men could be dominated as if children.  He returned to Ishuäl knowing full well that he was more, the full power of the Dûnyain.  The Logos unleashed.

He had a taste of the power that the Logos offers.  Why give it up?  Rather, he chose to leave Ishuäl.  This is also why he chose to head south.  He must have known that was where human civilization was.  He would go there and he would dominate it.  A Dûnyainic dynasty to lead and guide Men.  But he made the first major blunder with choosing the Psûkhe and so the rest is history, as they say.

10
General Earwa / [TGO Spoilers] Nonman Philosophy
« on: February 14, 2017, 03:36:26 pm »
So, we have a thread on Nonman Society, but this thread looks to investigate more of Nonman philosophy.  That is, what they seemed to have believed and worshiped and why.

First some relevant quotes on these things:

Quote
"Before they began forgetting, the Nonmen had been obsessed with the mysteries of time, particularly with the way the present seemed to bear the past and the future within it.

Long-lived, they had worshipped Becoming... the bane of Men."

Quote
"You think Nil'giccas is something I have lost!" the Nonman King called down. "And therefore something that I can recover!"

"You forget," Cleric shouted, "that before the Nonman King's passing, I did not exist!"

"I can no more recover him than you can recover your mother's virgin womb."


Quote
"We are Many!" the Erratic roared. "We are legion! What you call your soul is nothing but a confusion, an inability! A plurality that cannot count the moments that divide it and so calls itself One."


Quote
"Only when memory is stripped away!" Cleric cried out, the glow fading from his eyes. "Only then is Being revealed as pure Becoming! Only when the past dies can we shrug aside the burden that is our Soul!"
"Only then does the Darkness sing untrammelled!" Cleric cried. "Only then!"
"And yet you seek memories!" the Wizard cried, at last delivered to tears.
"To be! Being is not a choice!"
"But you claim Being is deception!"
"Yes!"
"But that is nonsense! Madness!"
Again the Nonman King laughed.
"That is Becoming."

So, what are the key concepts here?  First, these all seem to be related on the level of identity.  Not only that, but then how does the plurality of time relate?  And the plurality of the soul?

Being, presented as the forbearer of Becoming, is implied to be contingent, or at least somewhat dependent upon memory.  So, what does that mean?  And what does memory have to do with distinction?

I would venture to speculate (since we have so little information) that Being is something of the narrative view we tend to have of our lives.  That is, we take experience, each moment, as a sort of story, unfolding, to some conclusion.  In this way, each moment has meaning, since the construct of I or The Self is composed of all these pieces of time.  So, in this way, we have our connection, why th Nonmen were so interested in what FB correctly identified, in a conversation we had, something of superpositions and what Akka describes in the depiction of the wolf sculptures of Cil-Aujas as well.  Time, divided into moments, nonetheless encapsulate each other and so, in a way, exist with each other.  The present, enfolding the past within in, yet yielding to the future, another moment's present, and so on.  Consider then, in this way, your present Self as a sponge, constantly absorbing what comes and holding it as the past.  So, you (now) are the culmination of all the (past) you-who-was-but-now-is-more.  In other words, your Self is generated by the layering, or encapsuling of you in past moments into the you in the present moment.  So, in this way, I would guess that Being is the state of existing within that narrative structure, the Self constructed to be of and with the story it tells.  But Being is a deception though, right?  In a way, yes, our stories are just that, stories.  Based on fact, sure, but stories nonetheless, but importantly they are memory-driven stories.  What is the story of things no one can remember?  Nothing.

This recursively generated, past-driven Self, what happens to it when memory fails though?  Who are you then, if you can't remember?  This is where the transition happens from a past-driven attempt to Being (what you were) to Becoming (what you are).  Becoming, the existence in the present moving to the future.  Not what was I in the past and so where does that place me now as I move to the future, but rather, what am I now and what do I become from here?  This is not so easy though.  The mind seeks to fill the gap, where memory was.  So, it endlessly seeks memory, even fleetingly, because Being is the Self's natural state, Becoming is simply it's broken down attempt to still function with failed ability.  The Self wants to make a story, even if none is available.

Consider:

Quote
"He means that he's not a... a self... in the way you and I are selves. Now go to sleep."
"But how is that possible?"
"Because of memory. Memory is what binds us to what we are. Go to sleep."

So in summary, what is the difference between Being and Becoming?  Being is the story that tells of who one was and so is and will be. Becoming is the story that tells only who one is now, shorn from the past, and so is new again in every moment.  A story written only in the present about the future.  Simply, a story with only a present.

No surprise here, the Nonmen lost their past with their memories and lost the future with their women.  So, the present is thier only recourse, the only place they can be sure they exist.

Quote
“There comes a point where all the old ways of making sense just slough away. You persist in your daily ablutions, your ritual discourse and habitual labour, but an irritation claims you, the suspicion that others conspire to mock and confuse. This is all that you feel …”
Massacres lined their passage, the toil of making dead.
“The Dolour itself is invisible … all you ever see are cracks of fear and incomprehension where before all was seamless … thoughtless … certain. Soon you dwell in perpetual outrage, but are too fearful to voice it, because even though you know everything is the same, you no longer trust those you have loved to agree, so spiteful they have become! Their concern becomes condescension. Their wariness becomes conspiracy.
“And so the Weal becomes the Dolour, so the Intact become the Erratic. Think on it, mortal King, the way melancholy is prone to make you cruel, impatient of weaknesses. Your soul slowly disassembles, fragments into disconnected traumas, losses, pains. A cowardly word. A lover’s betrayal. An infant’s last, laboured breath. And for the heroes among us, the heartbreak commensurate with their breathtaking glory …”

Quote
“And so the Weal becomes the Dolour, so the Intact become the Erratic. Think on it, mortal King, the way melancholy is prone to make you cruel, impatient of weaknesses. Your soul slowly disassembles, fragments into disconnected traumas, losses, pains. A cowardly word. A lover’s betrayal. An infant’s last, laboured breath. And for the heroes among us, the heartbreak commensurate with their breathtaking glory …”
Oinaral lowered his head as if at last conceding to some relentless weight.
“This is how you know that you stand before the least of my Race,” he voice raw. “The fact that I stand lucid and Intact before you.”

Quote
“Depravity, Son of Harweel. Only depravity retrieves the Wayward soul. No one knows why, but only horrors can render it whole, the commission of atrocities. You recover yourself for a slender interval, and you despair, crack for shame at the dishevelled beast you have become, and you rejoice. You live! The hunger for life burns far stronger in us than in Men, Son of Harweel. The suicides among us are miraculous, rare names in the Great Pit of Years …

Here we are presented with something different.  Perhaps this isn't really even philosophy, but I present it here anyway because I believe it does dovetail in a way with what Nil'giccas relates to us about the plurality of time and the soul.

The idea of Nonman states of being seem to be presented as the following:

The Weal: This seems to be the "natural state" of Nonmen, before they were forgetting, weal meaning "that which is best for someone or something."  So, the Nonmen, pre-immortatlity, had found ways, seemingly through ritual and such, to keep themselves in a well-being state.  When memory failed though, as Oinaral says, the daily routines failed to keep their these practices intact (because thier meaning was lost in the past).

The Dolour: The state of having lost one's Self.  Shorn of memory, the lost past speaks to a lost future.  Everything has no meaning.  Cruelty seeps in, since there is nothing but irritation in a meaningless existance.

So, The Weal begets the Intact and the Dolour begets the Erratics.  But the question is, why does depavity seem to mend?

I think it goes back to how the soul, plural, as Nil'giccas likens it, is composed.  I had an idea that the soul must, in some way, be like a ledger, since it can tell of your sin.  So, in this way, perhaps new entries, new atrocities written into it spark a "reverse flow" where past entries come back.  Of course, these are fleeting for Nonmen, since memories are simply unable to be held for long.

Thought anyone on this crack-pottery?

11
General Earwa / Further Curated Sayings of Cû'jara-Cinmoi
« on: January 25, 2017, 01:50:50 pm »
A new attempt to collect all that we can of what R. Scott Bakker himself has said in interviews and Q&A sessions in one place (to make it easier to source things).

I'll try my best to put a source to each thing.  Please don't respond with discussion to this thread, I'd like to keep it clear of everything but actual quotes.  Do, however, feel free to add a quote, so long as you post it's source with it.  If you want to discuss a point, please copy the quote and start a new thread with it.

I believe all this came from the old Three-Seas Board, I'll dig deeper later.  Thanks to who curated it in the first place, I just reformatted it a bit:

Arboreal Themes

Otherwise, and I cannot emphasize this enough, trees DO NOT have any particular significance
to the Nonmen - as I think will become apparent in TTT.

The motif you're picking up on plays a far different roll...

Benjuka

Benjuka is something I've had swirling around conceptually for some time now. I've tried a
couple of times to cook up an actual version of it, only to be stymied (things got pretty
complicated pretty quick!). The hard thing is determining how various configurations of
pieces would reconfigure the rules in a manner that could be manageable.

Characters

More generally, I've been thinking about Martin with regards to this question as well. The
difference between his characters and mine, I think, is that he tries to make his characters
- even the brutes like Sandor - likeable. Mine all end up being these crazy inversions, where
I give the form of a favourite fantastic archetype - like Cnaiur - and I fill it with very
flawed and distorted contents. I want my characters to be out and out troubling, whereas -
and I in no mean this as a criticism - Martin wants his characters to be 'gritty.' I think
it's just a function of our differing goals. Mine are either far deeper or far more
pretentious!

But Martin does have a clear moral centre with the Starks, and I think this has an overall
impact on the way people identify with his characters. The only difference between his work
and the rest of the mainstream in this respect is that he's actually willing to use this
identification to wring his readers' hearts. It's a much different kind of 'reading buzz'
he's aiming for with his works than I'm aiming for in mine - and I think much more
accessible. I don't so much want to strain my readers' moral muscles as to interrogate them.

Does that sound like a good/fair characterization? Too flattering, maybe? It's always a
temptation to try to reason away what might just be a flaw in your work...

I self consciously picked three mysogynistic types for my female characters (just as I picked
fantasy cliche types for my male characters): the whore, the waif, and the harridan. Earwa is
a brutally patriarchal world, much as our own was (which makes our own fascination with
fantastic versions of our past that much more peculiar), and I wanted to explore the
significance of those types in such a world. Serwe is obviously the waif, the frail innocent
wronged by the machinations of a cruel world. As such she had to die.

But it was the innocence part, that struck me as the most significant and the most
redemptive. Without giving too much away, there is a manner in which Serwe is the most
important character in the book.

Most people shake their head when I say that... Hell, even I shake my head.

Kellhus is an inversion of 'the Young Man who would be King.' My UK editor calls him the
'Anti-Frodo.' He is of course, far more than that besides.

Cnaiur is the All-conquering Barbarian (who cannot conquer himself).

Achamian is the Wise Sorcerer (who continually fools himself).

<How powerful is Akka?>

The suggestion is that Achamian's unconventional beliefs and feud with Nautzera are the only
things that prevented him from being bumped up the 'administrative class' in Atyersus.

Typically, the sorcerers who join the Quorum are the most accomplished, but that isn't always
the case, especially as they get older.

Chorae

The basic idea is this: the Quya first developed the Aporos in the prosecution of their own
intercine wars, but it was quickly forbidden. The arrival of the Inchoroi allowed several
renegade Quya to pursue their sorcerous interrogations, leading to the production of tens of
thousands of Chorae, which were used throughout the Cuno-Inchoroi wars.

The Aporos possesses a contradictory, or negative, semantics, and as such is able only to
undo the positive semantics of things like the Gnosis, Psukhe, Anagogis - even the Daimos.

Aporetic Cants have no other effect. Salting is actually a kind of side effect. I would
rather wait until TTT comes out before discussing the metaphysics - it has to do with the
Mark.

---

My original idea was for the Aporos to be a 'dead and ancient' branch of the esoterics. I'm
still leaning in that direction, but I find the notion of a sorcery based on a semantics of
contradiction and paradox almost too juicy to resist!

---

Personally, I've always worried that the Chorae may come across as too ad hoc, as mere
narrative conveniences that allow a happy (but not very credible) balance between the
sorcerous and the non-sorcerous. But in point of fact, that role came after - the Chorae
developed independently. From the outset, I've looked at each of the sorcerous branches in
linguistic terms, as practices where language commands, rather than conforms to, reality. So
the Anagogis turns on the semantic power of figurative analogies, the Gnosis turns on the
semantic power of formal generalizations, the Psukhe turns on speaker intention, and so on.

And much as language undoes itself in paradoxes, sorcery can likewise undo itself. The Aporos
is this 'sorcery of paradox,' where the meanings that make sorcery possible are turned in on
themselves to generate what might be called 'contradiction fields.'

---

Yes, the depth of the Mark is proportional to the amount of sorcery cast, and the severity of
the Chorae is proportional the depth of the Mark.

---

The issue of the Chorae threshold is also broached in TWP. There is, however, a limited grey
zone, consisting of arcane keys, ciphers, and so on, which one of the Few can utter without
suffering the bruise or Mark of sorcery. It's the Mark that determines whom the Chorae can
kill. If one of the Few can recognize you, then so can those accursed Trinkets...

---

They're almost as fatal to the Cishaurim as well, though the mechanics differ. The Inrithi
would be in a whole heap of trouble otherwise.

I've actually structured the different sorceries of Earwa along the lines of different
philosophical theories of language. For the Cishaurim, it's the THOUGHT, and not the
utterance that is key, as it is in traditional sorcery. The Chorae are each inscribed with
metaphysical contradictions, impossible propositions, that undo thoughts as readily as they
undo utterances

---

Physical contact with a Chorae grants an individual and their immediate effects immunity -
nothing else.

---

The Chorae are actually sorcerous artifacts (of something called the 'Aporos'), manufactured
prior to the Cuno-Inchoroi Wars (by Quya defectors) as a way for the Inchoroi to counter the
sorcery of the Nonmen. The script inscribed across each embodies a contradiction that
unravels the semantics of all known Cants - even those of the Aporos!

Daimos

The Daimos is a subcategory of the Anagogis, and though the Gnostic Schools have flirted with
summoning various 'Agencies' (to use the Nonman term for gods and demons), the Daimos is
largely monopolized by the Scarlet Spires. It's a powerful weapon indeed. (Wait and see!)

Dunyain

Kellhus is actually a prodigy among even the Dunyain, though any one of them would have us
raking their yard and taking out their trash (and loving them for it) inside of five
sentences.

Before the First Apocalypse the Dunyain were a heretical community of Kuniuric ascetics
(originally based in Sauglish) who sought enlightenment (the Absolute) through the study and
practice of reason (the Logos). They were a young movement, but they had already suffered
sporadic persecution for some time. But since the Kunniat faith practiced by the High
Norsirai was not hierarchical, no concerted effort was made to punish their atheism.

As for the why the Dunyain would spend so much time with faces when they're utterly isolated
(and they are - almost), the issue is indirectly broached in TWP - chapter sixteen, I think.

Otherwise, I would point to Kellhus's surprise in the Prologue, when he meets Leweth for the
first time. The idea is that the Dunyain have developed this skill for training purposes (to
root out passion, one must be able to detect it). The fact that it translates into the
ability to dominate of world-born men is simply a happy coincidence (or as you say, Jack, a
byproduct).

On the other side there is the strange feedback that occurs between emotion and displays of
emotion - as evinced by those 'laughing classes' that seem to be sweeping the world. The idea
here is that by mastering the display of the emotion (which is under your self-conscious
control), you gain some measure of control over the emotion itself. The Dunyain are fond of
control.

The form of the Kellhus flashback scenes ultimately comes from my days smoking fatties and
watching Kung Fu with my grandmother, back when I was fourteen... How I loved that show.

---

The bottomline, though, is that we really don't know how much it would take to suppress
emotions. Sociopaths, for instance, don't seem to experience the 'social emotions' the way
normal people do. If this does have something to do with an underdeveloped amygdala, and
other emotions share similar neurological convergence zones that act as choke points, then it
could simply be the result of a single happy mutation.
And don't forget the ancient art of neuropuncture...(lol emote)

---

Pragma is the ancient greek word for 'deed' or 'act,'

---

As for the Dunyain, they themselves destroyed their own historical records to better immunize
themselves from their 'darkness riddled' past. As a result, no one knows what their original
intentions might have been.

Earwa and the Five Tribes

Earwa is actually some four or five times the size of Europe. I put that allusory analogue of
the Norwegian coast along the top as a sneaky way to guage the land masses involved.

Save for some contact in Jek at the headwaters of the River Sayut, the Xuihianni, the Tribe
left behind at the Breaking of the Gates, are entirely confined to Eanna.

The castes are strictly hereditary in the Three Seas. There would have been somewhat more
mobility in the Ancient North, but only because in many ways they retained the 'freeman'
tribal structure of their ancestors.

I actually haven't worked out any details for lands surrounding Earwa, and nor do I have any
plans to. One of the things that characterizes the ancient relation to the world is
ignorance, the sense of occupying a small circle of light in a dark and cavernous room.

Actually most of the norsirai from the so-called 'Middle-North' are descendents of Meornish
refugees, who would eventually be responisible for the destruction of the Nonman Mansion of
Cil-Aujas.

All told, I would say the population of the Three Seas would hover around 75 million - just
somewhat larger than that of the Roman Empire circa 300CE. Since Zeum has a big role to play
in the future books, I'll take a pass on answering that one.

Like I say, I want Zeum to be a mystery, to be a 'pregnant unknown' similar to 'Cathay' for
the Persians or the Romans. As for the population, don't forget that this number includes
Nilnamesh, which is very densely populated.

Nilnamesh is Ketyai with a Satyothi admixture, and though it was incorporated into the
Ceneian Empire (the famous fortress of Auvangshei, which for denizens of the Three Seas is
synonymous with the ends of the world, is actually a Ceneian fortress), it's grip was
shortlived and dubious.

So far, the deepest the histories go is to the Fall, which is to say, the arrival of the
Inchoroi in the last Age of Nonmen. At the moment, that feels plenty deep, and it precedes
the Tusk by quite a few thousand years. I haven't been looking at the history of Earwa so
much from the standpoint of an 'absolute observer,' as from from the standpoint of what is
known or thought to be known at the time of the Holy War. This isn't a rule that I adhere to,
just a tendency I seem to have largely followed. There are things from the time of the Tusk I
do want to flesh out, such as the conflict between the Old Prophets and the Shamans, the
question of how the surviving Inchoroi brought Chorae, the 'Tears of God' to the Five Tribes
before the Breaking of the Gates, and the Cuno-Halaroi Wars (Halaroi is the Nonman name for
Men). Stuff like that.

Men only tried to enter Earwa through the Northern Kayarsus, though no one knows why. The
Cunuroi have no record of having to defend the gates from any race other than Men.

Gender roles and historical parrallels

In relation to your portrayal of women (and any controversy thereof), it seems to me that
the demands of the (Kellhus-centric) plot rather the constraints of gender roles in pre-
modern societies have dictated your choice of weaker, more needy female types over stronger
ones. Would you say that this was the case?>

Not at all. I've always thought that sanitizing gender relations in ancient worlds comes very
close to 'selling out.' The only real editorial pressure I received to make the book more
commercially palatable was to make it more 'female friendly' - they even wanted me to change
Conphas into a woman at one point! Apparently the male share of the fantasy book market is
dropping quickly (because of weed and video games, I suspect).

Once you decide to portray a repressive patriarchal society, then character becomes the place
to explore the inevitable distortions that result. I actually think of Esmenet as quite
strong, though in a conflicted (which is to say, unsentimental) fashion.

---

What you're doing is akin to arguing historical periodization. Arguing similarities and
dissimilarities, accidental or essential, is bound to be plagued by interpretative
underdetermination. It's always better I think, just to take the 'family resemblances' tack
and to try to stipulate rather than to assert. There's no authority on which association-sets
are canonical and which are not (as you yourself agreed in a previous discussion, I think,
Aiturahim).

Personally, for me the family resemblance that works the best is 'Medieval Mediterranean,'
but even that could be plausibly contested. It's a mishmash.

As for your original questions Aiturahim, yes, I thought about the change, but only because I
try to give due consideration to all my editors' suggestions, even if I disagree with their
motivations on principal, as I did in this case. The longer I thought about it, however, the
worse the suggestion became.

Otherwise, I'm afraid I don't share your historicist tack when it comes to questions of
gender, which I'm very interested in exploring, and try to approach as self-consciously as
possible. I think it follows that I'm not saying anything about women in general by having
both of them fall under Kellhus's spell. In narrative terms, Kellhus simply gets what he
wants, and he wanted both of them. In thematic terms, my quarry is actually contemporary
society, not the 'nature of femininity.'

As far as paralleling the First Crusade goes, I'm curious as to why you think this is a
problem. I've had a couple of people complain to me about this, but I've been unable to make
any sense of their explanations. Certainly you don't want to suggest that historical
parallels, even when thematically motivated, have no place in fiction, do you?

---

The 'too historical, therefore too predictable' criticisms I've encountered previously seem
more opportunistically motivated than anything else: an excuse to show-off how much one
knows, rather than say anything meaningful about the work. I would think it's obvious that
I'm up to something, as opposed to being lazy or derivative or whatever. Your question,
Aiturahim, is the decisive one, I think: Why the parallel?

I see, and have always seen, the parallel with the First Crusade as one of the thematic keels
of the book, but I'm inclined to let others puzzle that out. There just seems something
disingenuous about an author decoding too much of his own work. To answer your other
question, the world started congealing several years before the story.

And I agree with you as well, Damaen: though the Holy War parallels the First Crusade, there
remain some significant differences - enough to render the outcome entirely undecidable. I
don't think I give any guarantees - especially since the Keebler Elves have yet to show their
foul hand...

Inrithism

The big thing to remember is that Inrithism is founded on Sejenus's reinterpretation of the
traditional Kunniat faiths, whereby each of the old gods are thought to be 'aspects' of the

God. It is a 'syncretic faith,' both in theme and in practice. The Inrithi have no 'saints,'
primarily because they do not parse the worldy and the divine the way we do, but they do have
'Kahiht,' or 'Great Souls.' They might pray to a renowned ancestor the way a Christian might
pray to a saint. Piety and the redemptive value of suffering are two of its central themes.

<Influence of Hinduism?>

I have a copy of the Upanishads which I reference from time to time, but otherwise Inrithism
slowly grew from a melange of influences over the course of several years, and just sort of
'happened' to fall into a 'Hinduism + Catholicism' form. I never self-consciously set out to
make it 'like' anything in particular.

Language bits

My original idea was to have a layered nomenclature, with the Sheyic versions of different
names rendering hard K's as soft C's (parallel to the difference between latinized version of
Greek names, where things like the original Kyklops are rendered as Cyclops). But at some
point in the naming frenzy I got lazy, and whatever systematicity I originally had got lost
in the shuffle - I always told myself that I would 'straighten in out later' and change those
hard C's (as in Cishaurim) into K's.

Lokung

The Scylvendi believe in the Outside, but since Lokung, their God, is dead, they don't
believe they have any place in it. And they hold all outlanders accountable for this...

They don't believe they have any afterlife. You have to remember too, that just as most
religious people have no consistent, systematic understanding of 'noumenal world' that
brackets the mundane, neither do the Scylvendi, nor the Inrithi, though the latter have many
scholarly accounts of what awaits them.

Lokung is indeed the No-God - though this is not necessarily how the Scylvendi themselves see
things.

Moenghus vs Skoitha

The fight between M and S was actually recapped in an old version of PoN, and until you asked
this, Mith, I'd completely forgotten that I'd cut it out. If I remember correctly, in the old
version M crushes his throats. It's the way he verbally manipulated the situation that left
its mark on Cnaiur.

No-God & Stillbirths

<re: question asking if it affected animals>
Since the Nonmen no longer reproduce, it only affected humans. The idea has been that only
the rare animal ever 'awakens' enough to develop a soul in Earwa, but that's not something
I've ever explored to date

Nonmen

Here's a clue: since the Inchoroi used the Nonmen as the foundation for their creation of the
Sranc and Syntheses, you could use some of their features to get an impression of the
Nonmen's appearance.

---

Nimil, which is the artifact of millennia of Nonman craft and metalurgy, is actually stronger
than Dunyain steel, which in turn is stronger than the best Seleukaran steel in the Three
Seas.

---

Unions between the races were rare, as you might imagine, but some interbreeding was
inevitable. The first recorded mention of it is in the Isuphiryas, which relates the tale of
Sirwitta, an Emwama slave, who seduces an unamed Cunuroi noblewomen, who later conceives a
daughter, Cimoira. This is going waaay back, though, before the Womb-Plague.
The Siqu need not be Quya, though they could be. The ability to see and work sorcery is
heritable, though far less so in Men than in Nonmen. The Quya are in fact hereditary
sorcerers.

---

The southern Mansions were entirely obliterated.

---

'Mansion' is used both as a term to describe Nonmen cities, and much as the way 'House' is
used - as an epithet for dynasties, families, etc.

---

In my old notes the Nonmen also used totemic devices, but in the multi-form manner that
characterizes much of their art. So for instance, a Nonmen representation of a wolf would
likely show it occupying two or more postures at once, like sleeping/running.

Having Nonmen blood means many things - things, which come to the fore when the Nonmen take a
more active role in The Aspect-Emperor.

---

The Nonmen have no scriptural prohibiltion against sorcery.

---
1. Is it possible for unions between Sranc and Men to have offspring?

No. Though it is possible with Nonmen.

Nonman = Mek... Oops (Or "How we found out it was Mek in tDtCB)"!

<Q.
Okay here's a question... if the Nonmen once warred against the Inchoroi and the Consult...
then why are they now the "badguys" so to speak? Why do nonmen ride with the Sranc?>

The Nonmen are generally 'good,' (in their own myopic, self-interested way), but the problem
is that they are all going insane. They're immortals with mortal brains, and the problem is
that the longer they live, the more the traumatic events they suffer crowd out their other
memories. A group of them, called the 'Erratics,' actually actively seek out trauma as a
means to remember. Since the Consult is good at providing horrifyingly unforgettable
experiences, a number of Erratics have joined them. Mekeritrig is one of them.

Outside

there's three basic options: Oblivion, Damnation, or Redemption. The idea is that without the
interest of the various 'agencies' (as the Nonmen call them) inhabiting the Outside, one
simply falls into oblivion - dies. Certain acts attract the interest of certain agencies. One
can, and most Inrithi do, plead to redeemed ancestors to intercede on their behalf, but most
give themselves over to some God. Doing so, however, puts their souls entirely into play, and
the more sketchy one's life is, the more liable one is to be 'poached' by the demonic, and to
live out eternity in everlasting torment.

Philospohical Influences

<re: Deleuze and Guattari?>
Never been a fan of Capitalism and Schizophrenia, actually (which is to say, the Guattari
stuff). It was the earlier Deleuze of Difference and Repetition and The Logic of Sense that I
found more interesting - though I'm not sure I would 'recommend' reading either of those
books! D&R, especially, was one of the most difficult books I ever read.

Despite the parallel concerns of the relation between anteriority and power, I just can't say
I absorbed enough of the Deleuze and Guattari stuff for it to have played an actual formative
role in my work. I'd be more inclined to say that the parallels are more the result of me
taking the same departure point, which is to say, Nietzsche and Freud.

In terms of French post-structuralist influences in a more general sense, I would have to say
that early Derrida and the Foucault of The Order of the Things (especially the "Man and his
Doubles" chapter) are pretty important. But in a critical sense as much as anything else. The
question of veracity, which is almost always translated into questions of power in the French
post-structural tradition, is given quite a different spin in my books, I think... I have
many, many problems with post-structuralism. I am a skeptic after all.

Probability Trance

The idea for the Probability Trance as described comes (in part at least) from Daniel
Dennet's Multiple Drafts Model of consciousness, where 'conscious experience' is the artifact
of competition between multiple neuro-subprocessors. The Dunyain, the idea is, have developed
the ability to direct and access those subprocessors - or 'Legion' as they call them -
through the Probablity Trance.

Sorcery

The sorcery of the Three Seas, Anagogic (and Daimotic) sorcery, arose from its shamanistic
roots without the benefit of the Quya, the Nonmen sorcerer caste, whose sorcery was ancient
before the Tusk was even written. The Gnosis, the sorcery of the Ancient North, is the result
of what was called the Nonman Tutelage, a period in ancient Norsirai history marked by
cultural exchanges between Nonmen and Men. The Gnosis is simply what the Anagogis could be,
if the proper conceptual leaps were made...

Differences between sorcerers sharing the same Metaphysics is determined in much the same way
differences in any profession are: native ability, knowledge, training, and experience.
... as many women are born to the 'Few' as men, but due to oppression, they have no formal
tradition as such: they're typically burned as witches. Neither the Schools nor the mundane
powers tolerate sorcery outside the aegis of the Schools, so wizards suffer much the same
fate.

Sample Timeline exerpt

820 - The Rape of Omindalea. Jiricet, a Nonman
Siqû to the God-King Nincarû-Telesser II
(787-828), rapes Omindalea (808-825), first
daughter of Sanna-Neorjë (772-858) of the
house of Anasûrimbor in 824, and then flees
to Ishterebinth. When Nil’giccas refuses to
return Jiricet to Ûmerau, Nicarû-Telesser II
expels all Nonmen from the Ûmeri Empire.
Omindalea conceives by the union and dies
bearing Anasûrimbor Sanna-Jephera (825-
1032), called ‘Twoheart.’ After a house-slave
conceives by him, Sanna-Jephera is adopted
by Sanna-Neorjë as his heir.
- The cuneiform script and the syllabaries of
the Nonmen are outlawed and replaced with a
consonantal alphabet, c.835.

The Rape marks the end of the Nonman Tutelage, though the relations between the two races
would have their mecurial ups and downs until the First Apocalypse. The old Siqu caste, as
well as that of the Quya, have transformed considerably over the years. But then that's a
story for some other day.

12
Philosophy & Science / Convergent AI: what is Artifical or Natural?
« on: January 09, 2017, 01:36:27 pm »
Love the turn this thread is taking :)

TL;DR What makes a Skin-Spy different from Asimov's robots and their three laws? The Weapon Races (aside from Dragons perhaps) are quite literally artificial intelligence
Which is to say that "natural" is a pretty meaningless term once fully unpacked.
Yup. In nearly all cases I cringe when people discuss 'natural' . Its either in reference to something that's explicitly supernatural, ie coming from some sort of metaphysical deity, or totally meaningless as to what distinguishes it from whatever unnatural counterpart.

I can't follow that a spin-spy is a robot.  It is simply a sentient animal. 
There is no difference between a sentient robot and a sentient animal, except the hardware maybe. I

In the case of skinspies, I presume they have flesh and tissue brains and/or synapses and nerves, making even that no longer an available cop-out.

So, robots/AI/skinspies are indistinguishable from sentient animals. From humans. Well, except the whole soul thing.

It just lacks a soul. 
Right :)

Same with Sranc and Bashrag.  They aren't AI because their intelligence is "natural", that is, simply a debased version of a Nonman
They are an intelligence created using technology. Not sure how you get more Artificial than that. But, as I mentioned initially, 'natural'?

Do you mean anything 'natural' must have been created by Ciphrang/Gods/Gods/Zero-God/Solitary God/[insert whatever metaphysical supernatural being ends up being correct]? If so, then any of the derived are unnatural/artificial.

Or does a 'natural' process have to arise from random change? ie Evolution? If so, sranc must be unnatural/artificial in that they were created systematically by the Inchoroi.

, in the same way that a dog's intelligence is a heightened version of a wolf's. 
Quick aside, I'm pretty sure in this analogy the Wolf is the Nonman, the Dog Sranc. Similarly, dogs are dumbed down versions of wolves - if there is in fact any functional way to measure the intelligence of either (dogs/wolves I mean. I'm sure you could get a sranc and a Nonman to take an IQ test ;) )

In another real-life example, we don't make robot sheep that are subservient to us, we just breed out any signs of heightened awareness or intelligence.  In the same way, Sranc were probably "made" by either breeding out, or using the Bios to delete, the higher cognitive abilities of Nonmen.  A Scranc's brutality isn't coded, per se, it is simply what's left after higher functionality is removed.
What's the difference between the two things you described - selective breeding or using the Bios to delete, and coding?
I don't see any difference. In either case, you are purposefully creating a set of instruction that are hard wired into the electronic bearing circuitry of the thing - be it a positronic brain or a wet brain. In either case you have neurons or circuits that fire in the pattern that you prefer, and don't fire in a way you don't prefer.

Organic tissues and DNA are no different from inorganic metals, organic wires (remember, organic refers to just about anything with Carbon in it, as long as it doesn't have any of the listed 'inorganic' atoms), and computer code.

A skin-spy is a little different, but I don't think it is literally coded, in the same way that a robot would be.  I think the "issues" we see with skin-spies are more due to their limited capacity in having no souls, rather than than a limitation of coding.  Indeed, I think skin-spies can act "outside of the box" as Soma seems to do with Mimara, where he changes the mission based on what he thinks Aurang wants.  Sure that could be some sophisticated neural network sort of shit, but considering how limited the Tekne is at the time when skin-spies seem to come to be, I can't imagine that their minds are much more than warped human brains.
The amount of understanding you'd have to have to create even a simulacrum of a mind in a functioning, artificially created, organic body capable of complex thoughts and reasoning, would be pretty immense. Skinspies are sophisticated as fuck. Call it selective evolution or organic-coding, I don't see any difference.

The amount of understanding you'd have to have to create even a simulacrum of a mind in a functioning, artificially created, organic body capable of complex thoughts and reasoning, would be pretty immense. Skinspies are sophisticated as fuck. Call it selective evolution or organic-coding, I don't see any difference.

Indeed, this is kind of why I don't think the skin-spies are akin to robots.  It seems implausible (to me) that skin-spies were made from scratch.  Instead they are simply modified humans/whatever, that have been made for a focused purpose.  To me, that is a difference between what I would call a robot (wholly built) and a bred (or forcibly evolved) being.  We are definitely getting into some Westworld-esque shit here and I'm not sure I am articulate why I see a difference.

Perhaps I can use another poor dog analogy:

I wouldn't consider a rat terrier a robot, even though they were bred to hurt and kill rats.  They were just bred for an explicit purpose.  And so I would consider a skin-spy the same way.  The foundation of a skin-spies is already something preexisting (which is why I used "natural" in quotes) and is simply modified/bred for a different purpose.

There is no difference between a sentient robot and a sentient animal, except the hardware maybe.

I would tend to disagree, in the sense that there is both a hardware and software difference.  Unless we can discover that biological brains literally run on code, there is a definite difference between what we could call AI now-a-days and a biological mind.  Now, plausibly in the future a machine mind could fully emulate a biological one, but in the end, there is still some difference, however fleeting.  Is it a meaningful difference, by way of experience of the subject?  I don't know.  I only have a biological mind and could never know fully what a machine coded one would be like.

They are an intelligence created using technology. Not sure how you get more Artificial than that. But, as I mentioned initially, 'natural'?

Do you mean anything 'natural' must have been created by Ciphrang/Gods/Gods/Zero-God/Solitary God/[insert whatever metaphysical supernatural being ends up being correct]? If so, then any of the derived are unnatural/artificial.

Or does a 'natural' process have to arise from random change? ie Evolution? If so, sranc must be unnatural/artificial in that they were created systematically by the Inchoroi.

But the thing is, I don't think they created that intelligence themselves, simply corrupted/debased/repurposed an already existent one.  Like I said, the word "natural" is highly problematic and all I meant by it here was "already preexistant" without Inchoroi input.  Sranc certainly are artificial in the sense that they were designed, but that doesn't mean they are robots.  My point was a Sranc is artificial just as a dog is.  I don't think we want to take the leap that dogs are robots, right?

Quick aside, I'm pretty sure in this analogy the Wolf is the Nonman, the Dog Sranc. Similarly, dogs are dumbed down versions of wolves - if there is in fact any functional way to measure the intelligence of either (dogs/wolves I mean. I'm sure you could get a sranc and a Nonman to take an IQ test ;) )

That was just a shitty analogy by me, haha.  Really I meant it more as dogs would simply be different version of wolves though.

What's the difference between the two things you described - selective breeding or using the Bios to delete, and coding?
I don't see any difference. In either case, you are purposefully creating a set of instruction that are hard wired into the electronic bearing circuitry of the thing - be it a positronic brain or a wet brain. In either case you have neurons or circuits that fire in the pattern that you prefer, and don't fire in a way you don't prefer.

Organic tissues and DNA are no different from inorganic metals, organic wires (remember, organic refers to just about anything with Carbon in it, as long as it doesn't have any of the listed 'inorganic' atoms), and computer code.

If the artificial mind functioned the same way as a brain, that is, it was literally a 1:1 copy of an organic brain, then I think we have a valid questioning of "what is the difference, really?"

However, if you had a brain that functioned like computers do now, relying on binary code, I think the distinction is meaningful, even if in a indeterminate way.  Indeed, for all the advance AI we have now, it is usually pretty clear when output comes from an AI or from a real biological brain.

However, I don't think this is what the Bios/Tekne/Inchoroi are doing though.  I think they just take things preexistant and modify them for different aims.  Like what humans did to make dogs of wolves.  I hesitate in this case to call what you end up with a robot, even if it is at your beck-and-call.  Dogs often are subservient to humans, yet, again, I don't think we would consider dogs robots.  I don't see Sranc or even skin-spies outside that kind of logic, even if they are far more advanced (another problematic word, perhaps I should avoid) than dogs.

At that point though, every living thing is a robot, so what is the point of distinction?

All the humans, all the Inchoroi and all the Nonmen are, so all the Sranc, Bashrags and Skin-Spies are, as are all the animals, every one of these are robots, exacting some biological code.

Yes. The  point is that there is not a distinction.

Oh, looks like FB followed that up for me already ;).


H, you seem to dislike that idea - the lack of difference. What makes it important? I think imposing a difference allows people to justify actions to things, animals, other people. Slavery/holocost/genocide are super examples. The industrial meat industry another (mmmm The Meat. I still eat it) . When things are different, its super easy to justify action. So, I think remove the distinction between 'us' and 'them' is a good thing. Maybe not?

I don't think that acknowledging difference is inherently evil, or even biased, though.  Unless you use that information to confirm bias or for an agenda that would be evil.  For example, a distinction between men and women isn't inherently evil, but saying that "only men should be able to do X" or "women should be compensated less for Y" is biased and so what I might call evil.  I think that often, failing to acknowledge difference is actually what undermines steps toward equality.

If we say, "there are no differences between cats and dogs" because we believe that both (as living things) should be treated equality, that is a fair, and probably noble, endeavor.  However, while the purpose has merit, the proposition that there are no differences is false and plainly so.  In this way, you instantly lose a great deal of people, who might agree with the later equal treatment, but plainly disagree with the proposition that there is no difference between Fluffy and Rover, when difference abound to the naked eye at every turn.  Another absurd example (of course it involves dogs, because my primitive brain is incapable of coming up with better ones) is to imagine you come across a dog and a scorpion.  As living things, you know these should be treated equally, yet if you fail to acknowledge difference and so say "well, I want to pet the dog, so I should pet this scorpion to not be biased" will probably net you an unhappy result.  This doesn't preclude a destruction of the scorpion and/or the praising of the dog, but rather and understanding that both have merits, in different ways.

So, what I am saying is that there should be distinctions, if distinctions are warranted.  If something is literally indistinguishable, that is, a brain that is organic, built on neurons and so literally living, then I see no reason to distinguish.  At that point, I would hesitate to even call that a robot and really my point of "objection" was with that term.  If we deign to call a dog a robot, then every living thing a robot, then the term robot seems to literally have to meaning any more.

13


So, what are we to make of this?

First things that come to mind:

The changes to the Dreams are either Seswatha moving Akka in a way that is similar to Kellhus disillusioning Proyas, or when Kellhus forced the Gnosis from Akka, he changed the dreams themselves (and presumably still is).

Second, it would seem that it's just Akka being deceived, so the Dreams (in the usual sense) are not lies.  So, it must be the changes that are deceiving him.

That being said, what are the changes?  And so, what could be the deceptive parts of them then?

14
The Great Ordeal / [TGO SPOILERS] Kellhus and the Voice.
« on: December 13, 2016, 03:34:35 pm »
Quote
“My father had anticipated this, had known that the trial of my journey would transform me, that the assassin who had departed Ishuäl would arrive his disciple.”
Petulant fury. Toddler defiance. “No! This canno—!”
“But there was something he failed to realize …”
Swollen indecision. Hope reaching out through anguish and asphyxiation, clutching for the reversal that would return everything to what had been. “What? What?”
“That my trial would drive me mad.”

----------

But you are my Lord! M-my salvation!
“Caraskand … The Circumfix …”
No—cease! Stop this! I’m-I’m begging you! Pleas—
“I began seeing … phantasms, hearing voices … Something began speaking to me.”
Please … I-I …
“And in my disorder, I listened … I did what it commanded.”
Sobs wracked the man, the convulsions of a bereaved child. But these words yanked something through Proyas, as if he had been wound by a windlass and released. The Place relaxed its grip, lowered him back to its lap. The man’s bloodshot eyes fixed him heedless of any shame or fury.
“I killed my own father,” the Place said.
“The God! It has to be the God! The God spe—”
“No, Proyas. Gird yourself. Peer into the horror!”
I tend the fields …
A glutinous breath. The squint of a soul attempting to squint away its own misgivings. “You think th-this voice is … is your own?”
And burn them.
The Place smiled the negligent smile of those who could have no stake in feuds so minor.
“The truth of a thing lies in its origins, Proyas. I know not from whence this voice comes.”
Hope, beaming with a hand-seizing urgency. “Heaven! It comes from Heaven! Can’t you see?”
The Place gazed down at its most beautiful slave.
“Then Heaven is not sane.”

I think this exchange is one of the most fascinating portions of TGO.  Before I cloud the waters with my own suppositions, how did this come across to you?

My initial reaction was that he admitted that killing Moe was a mistake.  But on a reread, it actually doesn't seem that way.  Thoughts?  Then I'll throw in my two cents.

15
Literature / N. K. Jemisin's Broken Earth Series [Spoilers]
« on: August 23, 2016, 09:02:21 pm »
So, I've had a thread for discussing the whole series here.  This will include spoilers for The Fifth Season and The Obelisk Gate.

We get some interesting in information in TOG, regarding how the Earth was basically ruined and if your eBook or regular book had the sample chapter, who did it.

One thing that stood out to me was that it seems my speculation on the Guardians being part of Father Earth was somewhat wrong?  It's not entirely clear, but it certainly seems like the Guardians are part of the deadciv that Alabaster visits on the other side of the world.  Or a derivative thereof perhaps?  It also seems like Orogenes are the main driver of everything, Guardians get power from them and stone-eaters were once them before they changed.

More later, in the mean time, discuss.

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