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General Earwa / Re: What is the Eärwan Soul?
« on: October 19, 2018, 01:52:24 pm »
Just want to add the following disclaimer: There is no possible way that all of this is "correct" in any way.  In fact, there is a very good chance that none of it is correct.  It's mainly just a thought exercise in bringing disparate ideas.

Given the length of it all though, if you want to discus parts, I'd advise you take one small bit at a time, because there is no real way to discuss 10 points at once.  We can resolve issues one at a time.

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:

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:

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.

General Misc. / Re: Quotes
« on: October 17, 2018, 02:40:19 pm »
If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid with regard to external things. Don't wish to be thought to know anything; and even if you appear to be somebody important to others, distrust yourself. For, it is difficult to both keep your faculty of choice in a state conformable to nature, and at the same time acquire external things. But while you are careful about the one, you must of necessity neglect the other.
-The Enchiridion, 13

Reminds me of an article I read a while back about how people abandon hobbies for not being "excellent" at them.

“For who is it that made the heavens crimson and the sun golden, who has given light to the moon and the stars with it, who has dried the earth in the midst of the many waters, who set you yourself among the things and who has sought me out in the perplexity of my thoughts?”
- The Apocalypse of Abraham

Reminds me of the line of thinking about consciousness, that its purpose is the ability to supply a specifically limited perception of God to God.

however I do think it's interesting to consider the notion of Ciphrang being summoned even before the soul who went on to become that Ciphrang -- though I also think the greater Ciphrang are amalgamations of souls -- and that, for example, Zioz could have in fact been Achamian-as-Ciphrang (or someone else) and for this reason it did not kill him at the end TTT so much as kinda bring him away to safety in a weird way?
I hate this idea!!! But I'm still confused as to why the Ciphrang did not kill Akka.

Well, pragmatically, we can consider that if it could have, it would have.  Since it didn't, it seems it couldn't.  Probably because Akka's Skin Wards or other Wards were just strong enough.  In light of this, it took the next best option, pick him up and go drop him in the sea.  The Wards wouldn't protect him from drowning though, plausibly.  IIRC though, the Ciphrang was just too wounded for the plan to work and plausibly it dies just short of the water, dropping Akka on the beach.

General Earwa / Re: Further Curated Sayings of Cû'jara-Cinmoi
« on: October 16, 2018, 03:26:32 pm »
Ao attempt to organize The TUC Reddit AMA with R. Scott Bakker in a manner that is more "readable" to me, part 2.

Question: Hi Scott, thanks for doing this. Loved The Unholy Consult.

Anyway, here's my barrage of questions:

Are gods just greater forms of Ciphrang? They both seem to do the same thing (eat souls). Do both exist in the Outside?

Where do saved souls go? Is there a nice part of the Outside, like Elysium in the Greek myths, or is there another place entirely?

Over the last two novels it seemed there were hints that Kellhus was beginning to feel human emotions like love, hence his rescuing Esmenet (unless that was just another part of his Dunyain scheming). Assuming he was becoming more human, his motives that he expresses to the other Dunyain in Golgotterath don't make sense to me. If I recall, Kellhus says something to the effect that he wants to become a god and feast on souls, contradicting the idea that he has come to actually give a shit about people. Was he just lying when he said that?

Following from that, why did he have to go to Golgotterath to merge with Ajokli? Was that the only place in the world close enough to hell for the god to break through into the world? But the gods seem to intervene outside of such places, so I'm a bit confused on this point. Was his fusion with Ajokli meant to be his method of achieving god-hood? It didn't seem to work very well, unless Kellhus now is Ajokli in the Outside.

Now for one that I know you won't answer: Is Kellhus gone for good? I suspect it's a bit more difficult to get rid of the bastard than that.

Answer: Thanks, EmpiricalMiracle - great handle!

Gods are greater shards of the Shattered God, and Ciphrang the lesser. The greater the Shard, the greater the associated reality, or 'heaven/hell.'

Darkness has been claiming more and more of Kellhus as the Great Ordeal advanced. Ajokli was his destination, and the closer he came, the more he began to resemble him, finally becoming him in the Golden Room.

Kellhus is dead.

Question: Hi there! thanks for doing this,

-Which character evolved the most from your original conception and as you completed the 2nd Apocalypse series? Why?

-If you could go back and change anything in entire 2nd Apoc series what would they be?

-What has been the greatest influence on your writing?

Thanks again!

Answer: It's a good question from the standpoint of AE. I was actually frightened at times by the fun I had writing Ikurei Conphas in PoN. In AE, I feel like every character surprised me at this or that turn. I always be thankful to Proyas for dying the way he did. Moenghus surprised for turning out to be so difficult.

My influences are now too numerous to mention aside from Herbert, Howard, Tolkien, Lamb, and Nietzsche.

Question: Are the gods actively at odds with one another? It seems like Ajokli and Yatwer at least are on opposite sides in this thing.

Will we see anything from the people of Eanna? I assume every child being stillborn is a global thing, and raises concerns all over. Are there any eastern Nonmen? Nonmen that were never exposed to the Womb Plague?

I feel like Zeum, as the only intact Earwan nation will play a large role in The No-God.

And one small final thing, as I was browsing the Appendices last night, I noticed that Ikurei Conphas' entry has no date of death... I'm guessing that it's just a glitch saved over from TTT appendices and never updated, but you've thrown a few curveballs that I have missed over the years.

Answer: Yes, the Gods do strive and compete in their incomprehensible ways. Zeum has no choice but to throw off its arrogance and insularity, and as for Eanna, all I can say is RAFO.

The Conphas entry is just an oversight. Some 'errors' are intentional on my part, however. For one, prescientific encyclopedias are messy, messy things, and for another, working on the EG makes me feel like God... a cruel and wicked one.

Question: Your prose in the Aspect-Emperor just really took off and knocked me over. Was there anything in particular that inspired you to do the second half of the series with that style of storytelling?

Answer: Thanks, Kvotable. I sat on TGO/TUC for so long because of TTT, which I felt I had shortchanged in the name of deadlines. But at a certain point in writing, it felt like the sheer length of time I had lived with the story led to my unconscious taking over. It remains the most extraordinary writing experience of my life.

Question: 1.) As far as I'm aware this has been the first book where we've seen "partial" salting. Where a limb or part of one, usually arms of legs is salted from contact instead of killing them. We've seen "rinds" or skin damage from proximity to Chorae but not from direct hits. Serwa survives a direct hit and only loses the arm? But before we've seen cases with those have especially deep Marks to start salting from just proximity. Surely a Mark like Serwa's should have left her dead after a direct hit to the arm rather than losing the limb? In fact, in the first chapter of TDTCB, Achamian is essentially held at gunpoint by a Chorae above his palm. Now, at 44 years of age at the start his Mark must have been pretty deep.

Is there a "spectrum" to being salted by Chorae?

2) Is there any hopes for a further edited Glossary in future printings? While I loved reading it, all the character entries from TTT are lifted with no death dates added and there are loads of things I looked forward to looking up in the Glossary but alas, were nowhere to be found. Some I had hoped for, an entry on the Tall, the Cinderswords.

And is Glimir and Alamir the same sword? It's described as the High-King's sword, spelt as Kelmomas, and matches Glimir's description from TGO.

There's an entry on the finger locking handshake of Boonsmen...but not one on Boonsmen.

3) I noticed in TUC Thanteus Eskeles changed to Teus, eye colours changing etc. Are these just oversights?

Answer:1.) There's been partial saltings at a couple points prior to Serwa's "barely stubbed" knuckle.

2.) It's not true that "all the character entries from TTT are lifted with no death dates added." Not at all. I'm not worried about the odd oversight, and in fact (as I've mentioned a couple times now) there's a good number of intentional errors. You're making a yardstick out of a decidedly modern sensibility, Wolfdrop. Check out Diderot's Encyclopedie if you want a gander at what authentic prescientific compendiums look like.

That said, Glamir/Alamir is likely a continuity error.

3) There's no such entry in TTT.

Question: 1.) Will we be seeing Kosoter again, or is his story finished?

2.) Can Nonmen become Ciphrang?

3.) What's the deal with Aurax? Was he always so meek, or was that a result of the Mutilated?

Answer:1.) Define 'finished.'

2.) Gin'yursis, I think, qualifies as a Ciphrang. A certain intensity of ill-will is all that's required.

3.) Define 'meek.'

Question: So does Kellhus truly love Esmenet in his own way?

Also how did the dreams lie to Akka?

Where is Meppa?

Why did Kellhus have Malowebi's body go out to High Holy Zeum to wipe out the dynasty's blood line?

Was he paving the way for a perceived future that has now gone to salt?

Was it Kellhus or Ajokli who made deals with the pit?

Thank you for this series, it is perhaps the series that has stuck with me, and intrigued me since 2009.

Answer: Thank you, Feckless Fool.

There's a fine line between dreams lying and dreamers misinterpreting. Kellhus sent Malowebi back to punish the Satakhan for violating his treaty with the New Empire.

The rest are RAFO, I fear!

Question: Some questions I didn't post on TSA forum q&a:

1. Mimara is described as having green eyes by Akka in TJE (in contrast to Esmenet) but as having brown eyes by Esmenet in TUC. Does the EYE change one's eye colors or is this a continuity error?

2. Are Aurang's Wards aporetic? Does Aurang know aporetic sorcery?

3. Why did the Survivor only have one son? What's the point of the Whale Mothers if they don't give birth to large litters? Or was the unnamed boy the least defective of a massive litter?

edit: Oh, remembered another couple:

4. Qirri is totally Chanv right? Do the Jekk go to the ruins of Curunq and just gather the dust there? Or is it imported from somewhere further in Eanna?

5. I don't understand how the Breaking of the Gates functioned in practical terms. Even with supplied Chorae, the Tribes were described as being Neolithic in technology at best, right? So, even if the population of Siol were a few depleted thousands - how did the Tribes actually break Siol's literal gates with stone weapons and stone tools?

Answer:1. Continuity error. A consequence of losing track of my original character sheets, I imagine.

2. No his Wards are not aporetic, but yes, he knows some aporetic sorcery, but he has grown decrepit over the ages, the same as Aurax.

3. We have no idea how many sons the Survivor sired (say that 5 times fast!). Whalemothers were bred for the 'quality' of the children they birthed, not quantity.

4.1) No, it's not, though it's a fascinating supposition.

4.2) This has been a hot point of debate among various Three Seas scholars as well. The Eannans had overwhelming numbers and Chorae to be true, but they were little more than savages. The tribes also had their Shamans, but these shouldn't have been any match for the Siolan Quya. Some claim that a great number of Nonmen were actively searching for a way to die, that it was a matter of 'death by Halaroi.'

Question: Hey Scott, thanks for doing this! Before I get my questions out of the way, I'd like to thank you for kindling my interest in philosophy. I was at a loss for what major I would go into, but Three Pound Brain and The Second Apocalypse steered me in what I think was the right direction. I never would have thought of taking up philosophy (at least not when I did) as my field of study had it not been for The Darkness That Comes Before. In that sense, your works have been among the most influential in my life so far. I really appreciate that.

Now, for Worldly things. I tried to cut down the number of questions, but I find that after seven books and years of wait, that is kind of difficult. Please pick whatever tickles your fancy!

    Kellhus's two Decapitants -- who were they? I originally thought one of the heads might be Kosoter's (decapitation seems to have a certain weight in Eärwa), but that was a theory I discarded.

    Was Kelmomas's obsession with invisibility and stealth a personality quirk that simply happened to coincide with his being invisible to the Gods, or does being the No-God (assuming the Outside is timeless and Kelmomas has always been the No-God) impress itself upon the Object even before it happens in the World?

    The scalper whose heart had an eye in it -- was there something special about him (or the eye), or was this merely a reality-warping effect of Cil-Aujas being topoi?

    Did Kayûtas really succumb to the Meat and the following episode of madness, or was this part of a ploy to sway Proyas?

    144,000 is a number that appears several times in the series as crucial in sealing off the Outside. If successful, would the seal be permanent, or would the population of ensouled beings need to remain at or below the allotted number in order for the population to escape Damnation?

    Does the blood of the Anasûrimbor have anything to do with activating the Carapace? And, as a tie-in question, does the absence of a soul have anything to do with the mechanics of reviving the No-God?

    Was Nau-Cayuti fundamentally flawed in the way that Kelmomas was, or am I reading too much into similarities between them?

    What effects would ingesting Sranc ash have on the mind/body?

    Is the Heron Spear simply a mobile variant of the Sun Spear?

    When Kellhus was training in the Daimos, did he kill a bunch of Believers as part of his practice?

    Did Shaeönanra really have no agency in the meeting between the five Dûnyain and Kellhus? It seemed improbable, although fitting, that he would succumb and falter against the Dûnyain, but perhaps this is just me projecting my expectations upon circumstances.

    Was Moënghus forthright with Kellhus about his reasons for leaving Ishuäl?

    It has been established that Esmenet is Kellhus's "only" darkness (strictly not true, but in his own view at least) -- when he imprisoned Kelmomas after the murder of Sorweel and asked Esmenet not to free him, did he do this because he knew she would do the opposite of whatever he asked, or was it an honest plea to a woman he actually loved?

    Did the Tusk really come from Man?

    Does all of the world that Eärwa is located on exist at a roughly similar level of technological (and sorcerous) advancement?

    Although I fear this might be in classified territory; whence the Consult's obsession with the Psûkhe? I took it to be a unique threat to their existence and their plans (maybe even to the No-God itself), and Meppa did nothing to answer my lingering questions. Was it simply a variable they needed to eliminate, or is there something in the Psûkhe's metaphysical properties that makes it separately threatening, as opposed to the Gnosis/Metagnosis and the Anagogis, for example?

    And finally, have you begun scribbling on the first drafts of The No-God, or are you enjoying a well-deserved break?

Answer: Thanks Z. You've got to many Qs to realistically answer, but I can clear up a couple of things.

The Consult was obsessed because of Moenghus's discovery of their skin-spies. No part of Earwa's native population enjoys any 'technological advantage' in any gunpowdery sense. And lastly, it's not the blood that enables the Carapace, its the ability of the brain to functionally emulate that of an original Insertant.

Question: Ok, probably a weird question, but still: Are phrases ocassionally said by characters in foreign languages just some random keybashing, or have you applied Tolkien-ish linguistic complexity to this aspect?

Because, you know, Tolkien's fans have their Quenya; Star Trek nerds have their Klingon. Might we, by any chance, ever expect some kind of linguistic insight into Earwa's languages? Would be certainly fun to be able to say something in Aghurzoi aside from "mirukaka hor’uruz" and "chigraaaa … ku’urnarcha murkmuk sreeee"

Answer: I agree it would be cool, but even though I have studied five different languages aside from English, I regard it as the biggest waste of time in my life. It's never a matter of simple keybashing, tho. I still regularly turn to my old ancient Greek, Latin, and Anglo-Saxon dictionaries.

Question: Hey Scott,congrats on the book.

Just a tiny thing that's been bugging me; both Ajokli and Gilgaol have been described as having a four-horned aspect (Gilgaol due to his crown). In the end, when Cnaiur can't find Kellhus, was he possessed by Gilgaol or Ajokli?


Answer: Thanks Arjenics. Cnaiur becomes a vehicle for Ajokli at the end. Hate has become impotent.

Question: I'm not terribly familiar with the continental tradition in philosophy, having been "trained" on analytic philosophers, but as of late I've found the continental folks more and more interesting, if sometimes sort of opaque to me.

Who do you see as the central contemporary figures in continental philosophy? Which thinkers have influenced you the most? Same for the analytic philosophers, if that's something you can speak to.

To what degree are you connected to/influenced by the sphere of "rationalist" bloggers and thinkers currently working on things like AI risk, probability theory, general science-informed philosophy, etc? There are a lot of similarities between some of your writing, especially the Dunyain and their "probability trance", and some of the stuff coming out of that corner, so I wonder how much is causal influence and how much is convergent evolution.

Which articles/blog posts best illustrate your own thinking? Is "On Alien Philosophy" the current go-to? Congrats on your recent publications, by the way!

Answer: A pox on both their houses, I say. For me, Heidegger is the biggest continental influence, and Wittgenstein the biggest analytic, but the boundaries between these figures have been dissolving for decades now. For me, preference now largely turns on the ingroup academic cultures belonging to either pole. Science is really the only provender of reliable theoretical explanation we have, and to the degree that 'analytics' embrace skepticism regarding a priori speculation, I find them far more willing to engage in genuine debate. Continental philosophy is so groupish: I often have difficulty isolating arguments that have any appeal outside narrow, ingroup expectations. So much of what I read smacks of cheerleading. There are notable exceptions, such as Ray Brassier and David Roden, but they actually lie between the poles. Dan Dennett and Eric Schwitzgebel are my go to 'analytic' thinkers.

As an eliminativist with a genuine explanation of intentional phenomena, I find myself quite alone. The world's only 'post-intentional' philosopher, or thinker, or hobbyist, or whatever.

Pretty much the whole of my position can be unpacked from "On Alien Philosophy."

Question: Hi Scott,

First of all I have to say that I loved all of your books. I was hooked ever since reading the first sentence of The Darkness That Comes Before to be honest. Many of the questions that have been asked so far are great, but here are a few of mine:

    Besides the effects that we see already for consuming Qirri, does it also extend your lifespan? I'm asking because I would hate for Achamian to just drop dead due to old age in the middle of the Second Apocalypse.

    Did Kellhus have any further use for Malowebi or was Malowebi's "survival" just a side effect of attaching the Decapitant's head to his body?

and finally:

    Was Kellhus convinced of his ultimate victory against the Consult, or did he plan some kind of fail-safe?

Answer: Thanks, Anomandaris26. There's no known accounts of humans consuming Qirri - which is taboo among the Nonmen and missing from their historical records as well. No one knows.

Otherwise, Kellhus is dead. I think it's safe to assume he regarded the Great Ordeal as an all or nothing affair.

Question: Scott, first of all thanks for doing another AMA and then - congratulations for finishing this huge endeavour with a bang!

Though I appreciate the Greek tragedy touch to all of it, I can't help feeling sad for how it all turned out :) I guess thats the beauty of it.

Anyway, here are my questions:

    Was Kellhus aware that he would be literally possessed by Ajokli? Was he in his full faculties during/after their merging, or did he rather turn an unwitting pawn for the god?

    Who was the figure Kellhus was speaking to in his dreams/visions, on the Circumfix and onwards?

    Why did Yatwer attack Kellhus at all? Was she aware of the Ajokli deal?

    Sorweel's change into the WLW felt a bit abrupt. What turned him away from the revelations he experienced thanks to Oiranal?

    You've mentioned @ other places that the theory about the Nonmen creating the Gods ("and bid their fathers as sons..") is not factual. But how? It ties in so well! And if not, what was the meaning of that origin song anyway?

    Ultimatley and apart from the real-world coffee-shop inspiration for the head on the pole, what was its meaning? Is it a Daimos thing that all practioners employ, or is it something unique that Kellhus fashioned to keep himself sane/alive while in the Outside?

    The whole God/Mimara/baby thing was built up way too much for what happened at the end. Was all of it a red herring or is the God of Gods truly taking part in next installments in any way? Is he, too, blind to the No-God? Is he splintered and not-splintered at the same time? Did the Progenitors reach any conclusions about that entity?

Thanks again for all these years and all the best! :)

Answer: Thank you, Joro, I'm glad you enjoyed!

He drifted into it, before finally being seized in the Golden Room.

Ajokli seems a safe supposition.

'Aware' is not a term quite applicable to the Gods. This is simply unknown--perhaps unknowable.

Serwa and Zsoronga, especially, were the final straws, what finally forced the planks of reason to break. Just list all the mad reversals and revelations, not to mention indignities and deprivations he had suffered. Being so close to Golgotterath didn't help.

I'm not sure how one have 'too big' a build-up for the death of birth! I'm guessing you were just expecting something different.

The rest, I fear, is RAFO.

Question: What academic works should one read to better understand your ideas? I have already singled out a few authors: Dan Wegner, Metzinger, Dennett, Joseph Carroll, Keith Oakley, Gregg Caruso. Who am I missing?

I guess Gigerenzer as well.

Also, it's not asking a lot of you to write a book on BBT, concurrently with your fiction output, is it?

Answer: If follow through on the references listed in "On Alien Philosophy," understood through the lens of that paper, and you should be in good shape. I've yet to refire the generators over at Three Pound Brain, but once I do, you can ask followup questions there.

Question: What was your favorite scene to write? The Werigda prologue was the most terrifying to read, and all of Achamian's final scenes in each book felt cathartic.

Answer: For me, personally, Cnaiur/Ajokli wading into the hoard, screaming at the Whirlwind, looking for Kellhus. I wrote the first version of that scene in my 20's if you can believe it. Countless things in my life were tied off by it.

Question: Hi Scott. Thanks for these fantastic books.

    What is the significance of those the Judging Eye sees as ciphrang? Is this a sign of deep sin (extra-toasty damnation) or transcendent spiritual power?

    Does Kellhus only let Sorweel die slowly so that Akka will kneel?

    Is the Thousandfold Thought done, or will it survive Kellhus as it did his father?

    Has Resumption bared the rest of the Hundred from interferiing in the real world?

Answer: Thank you!

    Yes. 2) I'm not sure what you're referring to, unless you actually mean Proyas. If so, then, no. Kellhus has far too much going on to worry such details at this point. 3) The Thousandfold Thought has run it's course. 4) The Gods are pretty much witless now. Imagine a virus erasing your memories and your meta-memories simultaneously. Theological Alzheimers.

Question: Have you imagined up any detailed theories of the gnosis and metagnosis, like particular metagnostic inutteral combinations Kellhus uses and how it gives effect above regular gnostic versions? I'm fascinated with your treatment of sorcery in the books.

Is the outside intended to represent a solution to the meaning problem, a type of existence that is meaningful? According to the wiki, Ajencis posits, "The many regions of the Outside then represent diminishing levels of objectivity, where circumstances yield more and more to desire..." To me this seems still mechanistic in nature, just the circuits of thought of strong beings taking priority over external rules/mechanisms. If it lies within scope of logic, anything I can imagine concerning intentionality is just a different kind of mechanism from the mundane world, so ultimately subject to many of the same problems. Not fundamentally different from the dunyain conclusion of matter dominating matter. The exception would be some eternal absolute self-creating god that somehow is everything and so has no external influences, but that doesn't much help us in the shallow end.

Answer: The Outside is definitely part of the problem, not the solution to it. The structure of the World/Outside in the anthropomorphic cosmology of the books is akin to that of conscious/unconscious. The latter is famously antithetical to logic, and in many ways, prior to it.

Question: Hey, I was wondering if there was anything new in Fantasy you'd gotten into and enjoyed recently?

Also: I'm curious; you've said that this is as far as you planned and are now exploring but would you be fine with the series ending here? Does it feel like an appropriate seal on Earwa and its mysteries or did some things you want to deal with grow beyond this planned point?

EDIT: Oh! And is there a popular fan theory that threw you?

Answer: Yes... and no. This ends the Thousandfold Thought that has obsessed me all these years. The No-God has always been part of the plan, but the future has always been, for whatever reason, fuzzy beyond the assault on Golgotterath.

I actually stopped perusing fan theories quite some time ago because I found it was jamming my own theories of where things needed to go. But recently, on the Second Apocalypse Forum people kept referring to something called the 'Baby Kellhus' theory, and though I have no damn idea what they're on about, I find it shocking and absurd.

Question: Hello from Russia Scott! Thanks for your work. I believe you're the best writer in the genre now. I wanted to ask you one question. We know the fate of Shauriatis, but what about other Mangaecca schoolmen? Did they all perish in the first Apocalypse? Did they all fall victim to Shae's magic experiments? Or is the answer to this question a spoiler for the third series? (Sorry for my English)

Answer: Welcome Neonowain!

Do we know the fate of Shauriatis? The Mangaecca, on the other hand, died out a long time ago.

Question: Thanks! I assume, Mangaecca was already gone by the time of the First Apocalypse? Was it because Shae built only one soul-entrapping device for himself, and they just died of old age?

Answer: Shae has actually resorted to a couple of different ways to mummify his soul. Some of the Mangaecca were able to hold on for quite some time, the way I've seen it.

Question: You seem to present a lot of psycho-socio-theo meta theorems in your works, but you never quite phrase them literally enough to be academically evaluated (in a traditional sense). Some of your characters make pretty specific statements intermittently, but these are normally fragments or derivatives of the larger theorems.

Your writing style seems to be verbose, but academic concepts are normally discussed with concision and density. Do you intend to compile a list of your theorems at some point, or would you prefer to keep it entangled with a fiction? Do you see this as making it inaccessible to some academics? In some ways does this function as a defense mechanism against scrutiny?

Answer: I used to get questions like this all the time, more aimed at chipping away at my credibility than pursuing any genuine curiosity. Despite my verbosity and imprecision, despite being a nonacademic, I've somehow managed to place pieces in a number of different refereed journals, some quite prestigious, and I find myself regularly invited to contribute to others. If you had done any degree of legwork, you would know as much. But then animosity is rarely found in the company of diligence or care.

The question is why? What motivates someone to ask a question like this? I ask out of genuine curiosity, I assure you, because for some reason my claims or my style (or some combination of them) rankles a certain kind of reader, motivates them to prove that I'm poser of some description.

Question: I meant quite the opposite of your interpretation. I find much of your work inspired and simply fear the opposite.

I ask this because I enjoy your work, specifically the theorems. But, I'm a busy guy. I'm a mathematician by education and a software developer by trade. I'm predisposed and conditioned to concision and density. Additionally, I'm a new father and I'm fairly busy. Parsing truth from verbosity is no longer a luxury I'm afforded.

However, this does not sate my curiosity to understand your theorems. I knew that your are published in journals and I care not for your academic standing. I merely wondered if you would present your work differently eventually - clearly, concisely, compiled.

Then people like me would have a better accessibility.

I come off as a cynical asshole by default. Sorry to seem a detractor and defamer. I meant the opposite. I meant your work deserves academic consideration.

Answer: My apologies just_a_question_bro! Sincerely. I feel like Achamian, more often or not, a heretic in genre quarters, and a traitor in academic towers. It leaves me thin-skinned sometimes.

My views are horribly counter-intuitive, which is part of the reason I have the blog: I use it as a place to run formulation after formulation. My recent publications represent a huge personal advance for me, insofar as I'm finally making sense to specialists in the fields I graze. I do intend on writing something broadly accessible at some point, but I'm not sure I'm quite there yet--or if, in fact, I ever will be.

Question: Hey Bakker! Apperantly you have replied already to my questions in the forum so I deleted them from here. One new question now,did Serwa, Kayutas or Saccarees survive?

Answer: That would be a big fat RAFO, my friend! Unless, that is, that dumptruck I've been fearing finally finds me in the near future. In which case, they are duly dead.

Question: Hi Scott,

Yours is one of the most interesting literary universes I have been given the chance to explore and loved the latest installment!

Here are my questions:

-I found the Cishaurim and their psûkhe fascinating will we ever see their return?

-I'd also love to know more about the Ciphrang (despite the dangers of Diamotic sorcery). Are they just like smaller fractions of the 100 gods or do they have a different origin? Is there a difference between divine and infernal?

Answer: Thank you, CHOOCHOO.

There's the matter of Meppa, so we aren't quite through with Indara's Waterbearers. The provenance of the original Ciphrang escape the Ciphrang themselves, but the club continues to grow, given the potency of certain evil souls to find the grave.

Question: Hi, Scott! Thanks for doing this AMA.

Been reading the series since 2008 (I was fifteen at the time!), have also checked your blog from time to time throughout the years, and I feel that I must sincerely thank you for ”reaching out”, as you’ve said, through writing in genre. I can’t recall any other book that I’ve read that has affected/challenged me as much as TDTCB (the overall series may even have contributed to a depression I suffered some four to six years back!) yet I kept on reading and have only found more reward and insight along the way. The scene where Proyas flees from Kellhus’ tent in TGO had me smiling in recognition of those years. Finally convinced a friend to try and read the series, so I’ve let him borrow my old copy of TDTCB, hoping to hear his thoughts soon. The series really needs more recognition.

Also, speaking of TUC... That ending! Man, am I looking forward to the next series!

Two questions:

1.) Will we be seeing more Atrocity Tales before the next series? With worldbuilding this rich, I’m very interested in seeing more tales from its history.

2.) Regarding writing… Any tips, or things to consider, for an aspiring writer? I already feel somewhat comfortable with my own writing as of late but I’ve heard of writer workshops as being immensely helpful for many. Would you still say it’s worth checking one out?

Answer: Thank you, Creative Wasteland - I love your handle!

1.) I want to, but short story writing is an art-form all its own, and not one I feel I much good at.

2.) Reciprocal writing/editing relationships with peers with goals similar to your own. But most importantly, just make sure you write every damn day. Keep that unconscious primed, on edge, ready to be trained and trained and trained. Do that with trusted peers and mindfulness, and your ability will take care of itself.

Question: Question 2:

Since Kelmomas was always the No-God, but him becoming the No-God is actually contingent on him BEING the No-God (surviving and arriving at that precise place and time) - is this a paradox or is there a loop outside of normal time both for inside and outside the world?

OR does what come after decide what comes before in this regard, somehow without initial causality? And if so - could this be a divine plan?

Question 3: Would it be possible for someone to master both Puske and the Gnosis? To speak with God's voice and tone? Perhaps if they were blind as a child like Titirga, perhaps a Dunyain? What would that make them, what kind of power would they wield?

Question 4: On a 4th or 5th re-reading of the series, I noticed that there is very little mention of the gods in the first trilogy, barely mentioning them and mostly focusing on the God. In the second trilogy, there is immediately a lunge towards Ajokli and Yatwer, in very different (and fascinating) ways. Was this on purpose or were you more interested in that aspect while writing the second trilogy?

Question 5: You probably detest this idea, so I apologize, but have you considered doing a public financial backup of some kind? I know I, and many of the fans, would put in to support the writing and publication of The No-God. I would be proud to invest in something that serves my mind, for a change, instead of some the newest dull thing.

Answer: Great questions!

1&2) The big thing to remember is that the big reason we can't make scientific sense of meaning is that it seems intrinsically contradictory: this has led a number of philosophers, like Zizek, for instance, to posit contradiction as a fundamental property of the universe. Add to this paradoxes pertaining to the relation of things like the eternal and the temporal, and things get weedy indeed. The bottom line is that there's no way to square any number of circles pertaining to a universe where meaning/soul/God/etc. are objectively real. Getting people thinking through these paradoxes is the best I can hope for!

3) This is the implication with Titirga, in fact.

4) The Gods were always going to get their due, but I refrained from working out their details in PoN, which seemed prohibitively complicated as it was.

5) Not my style. My wife might demand I do so, though, if things get too skinny over here. Thank you shaik2016!

Question: Thanks for making these books my friends and I are completely obsessed with. Just have a few questions.

1.) Not much info is provided regarding he breaking of the gates. When the mean of Eanna came to Earwa. Is there anyone left in Eanna? What else is happening on this world outside of Earwa and Eanna? If there are men, non-men, or other lifeforms elsewhere, can they sense Mog Pharau? Can the creators of the Ark sense him from their faraway home? We know more about the void than we do about anything beyond the Kayarsus!

2.) Where is the heron spear!? I've been teased by the heron spear for 7 books. It says in the glossary that it was lost when the Scylvendi sacked Cenei. I was so sure that Cnaiur had it and was going to bring it out at the last second, but then he didn't.

3.) Thanks for at least mentioning characters like Xinemus and Inrau in this latest volume. In previous volumes it really felt weird that somehow they had been completely forgotten, even though so many years had passed.

Answer: 1) RAFO. 2) RAFO. 3) Your welcome. I agree. The texts should have been more interpolated.

Question: Hi Scott. I'm still processing the end of Unholy Consult, it was pretty great. I found Kelmomas getting axed by getting Carapaced intensely satisfying. I'm going to miss Serwa and Sorweel though. Though the former went out in a really epic way.

Answer: Why does everyone assume Serwa is dead? I'm not saying she's alive, mind you, but I had thought I was being exquisitely ambiguous on this point. Someone above even said something about her going to Kansas, which I thought both cool and strange. (I had never consider a Dorothy angle before).

Question: There was a 20 year gap between PoN and AE--will The No-God be a similar gap?

A running theme I found interesting: Proyas and Kellhus had their discussion about how Earwa is essentially a granary and our souls are basically just take-out for everything on the Outside to eat. Then, there's a substantial amount of plot related to what happens when mortals consume other humanoids (Sranc, Nonmen via Qirri, uh, other humans.) What makes these things so potent in Earwa?

Answer: Consumption, consumption, what's your function?

(Sorry - couldn't help myself). The metaphorics of material sustenance are big, yes, the suggestion being that everything is a kind of meat, only with some possessing more dimensions than others, and all of it driving people insane in some way or another.

Question: Are we eventually going to find out what Kellhus was planning by using the Daimos to seal Malowebi in the Decapitant? Malowebi was one of my favorite characters?

Answer: Malowebi will not rest until Likaro is punished for his treachery!

Question: Oh! Forgot to ask and someone's answer reminded me:

Do you ever take inspiration from Biblical texts (especially for the first series)?

If you don't, is there any time period or set of works you feel have influenced the work?

Answer: There's only two books I always have with me when writing at the coffee shop. The first is Blood Meridian. The second is the King James translation of The Holy Bible.

For me, the most salient milieu is the Byzantine Empire at the time of the Caliphate.

Question: A question that might get a BIG RAFO: When did Ajokli and Kellhus reach an agreement? Did it ever happen or was Kellhus "ambushed" by Ajokli in the Golden Room (since it is topos it was possible for Ajokli to enter the world). I have a hard time imagining that this was what The Thousandfold Thought was supposed to lead to. If Kellhus made a bargain with Ajokli already at the circumfixion (as some suggest) it seems to me that TTT died with Moenghus and all the plans and The Great Ordeal was really the actions of an avatar of Ajokli, designed to elevate him above all other gods.

Answer: Think of the gradual possession suffered by Sorweel whilst wearing the Amiolas. Kellhus knew something was up, but the 10-sided die was cast. The great weakness of the Dunyain is the weakness discovered by Moenghus. For all the power of their intellect, their spirit is actually quite weak.

Question: Hey Scott,

Congratulations on finishing The Unholy Consult.

I a big fan of the Southern Gothic and reading the Second Apocalypse always reminds me of O'Connor in particular because she was focused on revelation, used the grotesque, and was oft-criticized for it.

O'Connor's "Some Aspects of the Grotesque..." outlines the idea that the grotesque is a tool that forces the character (and reader) toward revelation. In another answer you talk about Kelhus being a meaningless man in a world of meaning, I believe that's how many of her characters are written except that the meaning is explicitly Christian in her stories.

On to the questions.

1.) I think your answer to Shaik2016 insists that the revelation in the books is aimed at the arbitrariness of meaning. In contrast to the grandmother dying in "A Good Man is Hard to Find", is arbitrariness the revelation a character's like Proyas finds when he or she is damned in your work?

2.) O'Connor argues that the greatest challenging in using the grotesque is "to know how far he [the writer] can distort without destroying, and in order not to destroy, he will have to descend far enough into himself to reach those underground springs that give life to big work. "

I sometimes struggle with the violence in your writing. In my mind your work deals with evil that is almost explicitly pornographic: the distortion. We learn the Inchoroi are created to rape, kill, and damn themselves and we see this with the srancs's phalluses rising in combat. How did you juggle the line between distortion and pornography in your writing? For instance, the 1st third of the book lingers on the description of cannibalism, murder, and rape. How do you balance pointing toward arbitrariness of morality /the wreckage of meaning and depicting atrocity (and what is the goal in this use of the grotesque)?

Answer: Thank you, buperman.

Arbitrariness is the symptom, the expression of a crucial cognitive failure: the inability to sort good and evil. The tradition indexes good/evil via spirit/body, and vice versa. Think of how you can trigger powerful moral intuitions simply via descriptions of meat entering into different configurations of meat. To wallow in bodies, the way they do, and and then set out to save their spirit contextualizes what happens in Golgotterath in endlessly interpretable ways. And on top of everything else, it adds meat to their desperation.

I think it says something to motivate the description of such events. To this is extent, its far more a critique of pornography as a symptom of the semantic apocalypse, than actual pornography.

Question: I have a question...

1.) Do you believe in the existence of the Soul?

And three non-questions...

1.) You are the author of my favourite chapter I've ever read. The scene with Cnaiur attempting to have an argument with Kellhus, sweet Seju! I could feel his anguish, his impotence of trusting even his own thoughts. And as I read I tried to find some outs for his impossible situation, and felt as lost as he was. There's a famous scene it reminds me of, Ivan Karamazov's dialogue (monologue?) with the devil, and I can honestly say it reaches that level of writing.

2.) Your metaphors are absolutely stellar. When you say Laughter like tumbling heaps of coal - I can hear it. When you say There was a feeling to the sand, a sterility that made meat of other earth - I can taste it. When you say dozing in amniotic serenity - I can feel it. You reach out, pluck the meaning out of words and hand it to your readers. It's like your work is... Dûnyain. And for that, you make me feel a tiny bit like a Schoolman.

3.) The only thing I disliked about your writing is that there are these inflexion points in the narrative which actually suffer from your craft. Too much lyricism makes it hard to understand what's actually going on. I had to go back, re-read three times, and I still had no clue if it actually happened, if it's some metaphor that was lost on me, if you employed some untrustworthy believer's narrative, etc. Sometimes, it fits - like the Narrindar passages. But sometimes, if Billy fell down a flight of stairs, I think it's ok to say that Billy fell down a flight of stairs.

Answer: Thank you, BlackElf.

My wife is forever complaining that I'm always 'Mr Mysterioso' in these books for the very same reason you cite in (3). And there's so many scenes I rewrite for clarity for this very reason, but I'm also wedded to pairing emotional/dramatic intensity to poetic intensity, so I constantly find myself threading these needles... and I know a lot people hate it, but for me these are the most intense, genuinely challenging scenes to write. I fail for different readers at different points, but it's because I'm constantly targeting this expressive vector that I have as many successes as I do.

Question: Hi Scott, longtime series fan here hoping for a miracle late-night return for a few more answers. My question: are there ever exceptions to the rule that sorcerers are damned from the moment they cast their first Cant (other than those who are powerful enough souls to become Ciphrang)? I'm particularly curious about the scene when Psatma/Yatwer tells Meppa that all he has to do is kneel -- is this a genuine offer or just a taunt?

Answer: Hi DankKnight. In intercessory faiths special dispensations can always be granted, so long as you know the right people, like Psatma Nannaferi. This is why the priestly castes wield the influence they do, and why ancestor lists possess so much religious importance. The Gods are nothing if not political.

General Earwa / Re: Further Curated Sayings of Cû'jara-Cinmoi
« on: October 16, 2018, 02:39:13 pm »
Finding the structure of Reddit thoughtly incomprhensible, here I am to attempt to organize The TUC Reddit AMA with R. Scott Bakker in a manner that is more "readable" to me.

Question: Where does the judging eye get its subjectivity? In other words, why is sin SIN? In my mind, perhaps there is no answer, the God has its own reasons, its own unconscious motivation perhaps. But it seems some animals are more holy than others, some acts more heinous than others. Is this human morality (Mimara interpeting what she sees) or God's morality? Is there a reason for this morality?

Answer: Ad hoc arbitrariness is the problem all traditional religions share. Blind consensus covers this arbitrariness over, but as soon as you start asking questions, it becomes ever more obvious. Ethics and meta-ethics represent attempts to rationalize this arbitrariness, but can never seem to bootstrap any scheme out of the mire of philosophical disputation, leading to the suspicion that they too, are arbitrary. The suspicion in our world is that moral authority basically boils down to power. The fact in the World is that this arbitrariness is an objective feature of reality. Since modern readers rely on modern versions of blind consensus, the idea was to write a fantasy that would grate against moral sensibilities, calling attention to the plight of all morality in the modern age.

Question: I'll have a second shot at my question from the SA forum - when Mimara sees Esme as saved, the responce is she is saved. It's great she's out of the eternal torture machines grasp (jn that way), but is there a theme here that what might be taken as caring is kind of powered by hate? I mean, how saved can you be when to be in that position requires massive torture - or is that too bleeding heart? Anyway, I kinda got that from the book - I wondered if it was actually intended to be there.

Also Happy Ent pointed out the idea that destroying one of the horns of Golgoterath is symbolic of the pairing down of possibilities represented in branching trees previously and the mysterious twig, down to a final pair being the horns - one of which is pruned. Did he call it?

Also is Aurang actually dead?

Answer: Sorry I missed this, scrollbreak.

My answer to shaik2016 covers this, I think. You need only be liked. The answer is as simple and as complicated as that. Many things the God hates, such as premeditation and rarely forgives. If one's heart is 'in the right place,' this often helps. But you have to ask Him - I fear he stopped talking to me a long time ago! Apparently he only likes those who believe as children do.

Happy Ent is a wise and jolly soul. I would trust him regarding all symbolic matters involving thorns, horns, and branches.

Aurang is dead, yes.

Question: What's next for you?

Will the ending for TUC be made clearer in the following books?

How long until the name for the next series is revealed? My bet is on

Talking about following books, what is the current plan for more fiction in Earwa?

Are you writing more papers in the style of On Alien Philosophy?

Are more detective-style novels in the works?

Also, your works are fucking mindfucks, pardon the french, of the highest order and I love them. Not only my favorite fantasy, but favorite literary work I have ever read.

Answer: Hindsight often has a tendency to clarify things - there are revelations to come, certainly! I'm guessing the next iteration of "What has come before..." will be a welcome read for some readers.

The next series is, and always has been, entitled The No-God.

There's the matter of the last surviving full Dunyain Anasurimbor on the loose--that's what's been commanding my attention most these days. I'm actually just finishing a paper on literature after the death of meaning for a big anthology on Philosophy and Literature by Palgrave. I sorely wish to write another Disciple Manning novel (The Enlightened Dead has been my working title for, like, ever, now) but genre jumping has proven to be a punishing experience, sales-wise.

Thanks for digging the vision, simbyotic. The whole point is to complete the circuit and loose the whirlwind!

Question: Hello Scott!

I'm a big fan of your books (I especially liked the descent into "hell" that Mimara and Achamian makes). I do wonder about the fact that Kellhus couldn't spot his own son. I understand that by then he had somehow been possessed by the gods but at the same time it was also Kellhus? It left me kind of confused. Was it a temporary blindness that doomed him or something else?

Thank you so much for your books, they are by far the most violent, disturbing, dark fantasy I've ever read and I love it!

Answer: Thanks, nohearts! Great handle, btw.

Precisely the same thing has happened with Kelmomas twice before, the first time with the first incarnation of the White-Luck Warrior on the Andiamine Heights, the second with Sorweel/Yatwer in the Umbilicus.

Question: Hey Scott,

Thanks for doing this!

Now that TAE is finished, is there anything you can tell us about The Series that Shall Not Be Named? And what about after that? What does the future hold for R. Scott Bakker once the vision is complete?

Answer: So for over 30 years now I've lived with the certainty that I would die before completing The Aspect-Emperor. For me, in a powerful sense, the story ends here with the death of Kellhus and the birth of the No-God. I've scribbled down countless ideas and scenes pertaining to The No-God in the interim, but I have nothing resembling the thousandfold thought born in that teenager's fantasy/philosophy besotted head all those years ago. No grand plan. For the first time in my life I find myself a 'discovery writer.'

And I'm excited to be alive!

Question: Mu'miorn?

TUC was the most brutal of all the books. I am excited and hopeful that we will get the next chapter in Earwa. Were Inri Sejenus and/or Fane Dunyain?

Answer: Breaks my heart. I'm not sure why Immiriccas saddens me so.

As for Fane and Inri-Sejenus, neither were Dunyain.

Question:So what was Kellhuses big plan and its endgame? How did being possessed by Ajokli factor into it?

Did Ajokli abandon Kellhus to be salted in the end? Did Kelmomames presence break possession somehow?

What was up with an image of Kellhus descending to greet the Ordeal and turning into NoGod? Was it a decoy hologram of some kind? Were those some kind of parallel universe shenanigans? (EDIT: oh, I see Bakker answered on TSA forums that this was, in fact, a decoy hologram)

Were the proto-Inchoroi meant to be Earwans? Were they meant to be Earthlings?

Will the final, conclusive series be called "The Second Apocalypse", "A Pile of Salt" or "The God of Endless Hunger"?

Why is Esmi mostly holy while Serwe was, apparently, damned? What made a difference?

When Kellhus is talking to the Mutilated, what language are they speaking? I'd imagine it would make sense for them to use their native Dunyanic, but why does Malowebu understand it then?

Answer: Kellhus's endgame was to prevent Resumption and save the World. He knew something was amiss, and that the closer he came to Golgotterath the more amiss it became, but he, ultimately, was every bit as blind as we are to the darkness that comes before.

Kelmomas is the No-God, and as such invisible to the Gods. He stands outside the outside. This is why he short-circuits both incarnations of the White-Luck Warrior. And this is why he short-circuits Ajokli/Kellhus. This is why only Kellhus is salted.

The Inchoroi are not proto-Earwans.

The final series is entitled The No-God.

My answer to shaik2016 covers this.

Souls speak but one language. They need only remember it.

Question: What overall theme or point are you trying to make clear with TSA? You tend to tie your philosophy into your works of fiction, which I find extremely helpful in understanding wtf is said on TPB, so how does TSA tie into that?

Here's what I'm thinking, hopefully it's not way off base. Thaf the pitfall of humanity is our ignorance. That we all fall into the same trap every time - time and time again. We are the Gods, We are the Dunyain. The Nonmen. The Inchoroi. The Consult. We are simply our own infinite folly - the kind only possible by those who think infinitely of themselves. We each believe we won the 'magical belief lottery'. That OUR certainty is certainly correct because we see so much farther than everyone else.

TSA is the story of ourselves, falling into traps we set ourselves and saw coming and yet still fell for them - still fall for them - ad infinitum.

Answer: The preposterous idea was to write the only kind of scripture that could be written at the end of civilization, so one of the things I did was invert the biblical emphasis on belief and fidelity--thus the textual emphasis on ignorance, doubt, and folly.

When I was fourteen I stumbled upon the problem of free will all by my lonesome, and it fucked me up large. The original idea, that of a prophet rallying humanity to overcome the No-God, grew out of the combination of that dark epiphany and my passion for epic SF&F. My old AD&D crew actually set out on a quest to destroy the Consult and the No-God!

In university a few years afterward, I read Dennett and Hofstadter on memes, and the idea of turning my prophet into a 'meme master' struck me as a lightning bolt. The Dunyain were born. While studying modernism, I realized that fantasy actually provided the perfect literary vehicle. Where the modernist paradigm always features a protagonist struggling to find meaning in a meaningless world (typically through some form of love), I realized I was writing a photographic negative of that, the story of a meaningless character struggling in a meaningful world.

These books are 'about' many things, but the overarching theme is the death of meaning. The crash site of the Ark echoes our 'crash space,' the way all the stone age tools we evolved to make sense of our lives and our time belong to an ancestral ecology that is in the process of collapsing before our very eyes.

Question: First of all, I loved the final battle in TUC. It really brought the epic conclusion that the previous books promised us.

However, I wasn't quite clear on what happened with Kellhus when facing the other Dunyain and he somehow merges with Ajokli? Why would he do that if it meant it would make him blind to the Unholy Consult/No God?

Another question: Now that you are 7 books further down and look back at the Darkness that comes before, what would you have done differently if you were writing that book now?

Answer: Thanks, Theyis. To ask Mimara's question of Achamian, why assume Kellhus is in control of everything? The text is littered with indications that he wasn't.

There's several continuity issues I would love to resolve. But the big thing I would do is tell the entirety of Kellhus's story. I only realized the genius of Frodo-type characters afterward, the way they pair the reader with an innocent, allowing him or her to learn the complexities of the world with the protagonist.

Question: Hi Scott. Big fan since i picked up the first book back in 2004. You're the only author i still purchase in print form.

About your latest book: The Unholy Consult.

I'm going to leave others to ask about the Golden Room, Kellhus/Ajokli and whether or not Shauriatus is soul disperded amongst the Dunyain.

What i really want to know is what is the significance of all the untimely deaths in 4121 and does it tie in with Kellhus training in the Daimos. Anything to do with the Decapitants.

And if you are feeling really generous, could you say if we will ever hear more of Eanna and the tribe that repudiated the Tusk.

Many thanks

Answer: Some shrewd questions, SimilarSimian... I fear your spade has struck hard, golden RAFO.

Question: I hope questions not about your fantasy series are also allowed.

Do you see anyone currently taking up your call for a post intentional humanities and if so can you list them?

What is your advice for those of us who are interested exploring the ethical implications of BBT yet lack academic or scientific standing?

Are there other people producing fiction that you think explore these themes?

When is Through The Brain Darkly going to be released?

What are your plans when it comes to future posts on BBT etc.?

Will the Enlightened Dead ever be released?

You recently said that you would not have given Neuropath the same ending if you were to write it now you have a child. Do you have any idea what ending you would now chose for it?

Just want to conclude by saying thank you for your writing and here's hoping you never stop butting horns with the wankademic intentional establishment!

Answer: All questions are allowed, save those concerning the great toe on my right foot.

Post-intentional humanities are coming, but thanks to the tenure system, a great number of retirements are required for it to embraced as such. The first of the tools are already in play, and people like Joe Carroll and Keith Oatley and the growing band of 'cognitive literary theorists' are clearing the underbrush. But no one in the academy--at least that I've been able to find--has been able to see their way past traditional illusions of meaning. The invitation to contribute to Palgrave's new Literature and Philosophy anthology has been a big step: I'll be sending my contribution out any day now. And once the first AI written novel climbs the bestseller list, things will loosen up, I'm sure.

The best way to explore post-intentional thinking short scientific or academic standing, I think, is via fiction. That's what I've been doing! Peter Watts is exploring all this stuff in fantastic ways. Ligotti, and all the Lovecraftians seem to be following similar trails, or so I've been told.

Through the Brain Darkly is on my 'to complete' list, but at the moment, I find myself absolutely terrified by the AI debate. I have a number of articles in the work, all of them aimed at mass media platforms, all them arguing the urgent, urgent (URGENT) need to begin looking at AI in cognitive ecological terms. If everything I'm saying about heuristic neglect is even remotely true, then the slow slide into the semantic apocalypse is about to go exponential.

If I ever get a chance to write The Enlightened Dead it will be released. I love that guy. As for Neuropath, I waver. Soul-rotting, that book. An indecision machine. But the ideas it conveys are only growing more important, not less. What is the Whitehouse, anymore, if not yet another crash space?

I will never stop poking eyes, you never need fear that! Thanks, johnbriz.

Question: What a reckoning! The Amiolas you've written is a fucking trip, buddy!

Thinking of informative lobs...

On the recent Second Apocalypse Q&A, you mentioned that someone is showing interesting in TSTSNBN (though, you named it there, I don't want to spoil exclusive redditors on your behalf). Can you tell us the publisher? Is it Overlook? If it's not Overlook, would they part with the rights to PON/TAE so that a new publisher can reprint, say, new canonical box sets.

You also mentioned that the TV rights for PON had been optioned as far back as September on your blog and now revealed that "Amazon welched on the TV deal." Anything else you can tell us about future possibilities?

Are there any projects, like the mysterious Lollipop Factory you mentioned last AMA, that you're working on, would like to work on, or have completed that you'd like to talk about?

Looking forward to Zaudunyanicon, brother!

Answer: Thanks Mike--a Cauldron of souls it is!

Everyone's holding their breath, waiting to see what happens with the series, whether it gains the visibility it needs to bootstrap the backlist. I'm forging ahead regardless. I would love to see the whole series marshaled beneath the same banner, but we shall see.

I have nothing to report on the optioning front, I fear. But there's nothing like these books. I think it's only a matter of time, especially with a rowdy fan base like you all!

I actually reserved the recovery report for my crashed harddrive, and from the looks of things The Lollipop Factory is part of the 75% they were able to save.

Zaudunyanicon it is!

Question: Hello, word dancer.

I have two questions, one decidedly banal, one less so.

1.) At one point in the first series, I believe in TTT, you make mention of the terrifying concept of a skin spy with a Mark, as if that is going to play a role of some importance. To remembrance, it doesn't come up again. Where did (do?) you intend to take that concept?

2.) As a writer, I feel like one of the most fruitful techniques for extracting realism and depth from characters is "letting them write their own story". At a certain point of development, they become well formed enough to show you a truer path through the narrative of them.

Is this a phenomenon with which you are familiar and, if so, is there a character that springs to mind who embodies the concept most strongly in your work?

Thank you for any discussion. You are among my very favorite authors of all time.

Answer: Thank you, Irixian.

The skin-spy you're referring to, I'm pretty sure, is the thing called Simas.

As for characterization, it almost feels like these people have always lived in my head. Sometimes they go away, but they always come back. They take turns getting disgusted with me, and me with them. I really am an oddball from a writerly standpoint, I guess, given that I've pursued what amounts to a single cast of characters for the entirety of my professional career.

Question: Hey there, throwing in my couple of questions:

You argued in The Second Apocalypse that both Quya and Dunyain are mistaken in that the absolute cannot be attained, either by will (magic) or comprehension (logos), however we see that Koringus actually achieves it. Am I missing something, or in truth he didn't get it?

About Oblivion, why do souls that go unnoticed by Outside agencies simply vanish at the subject's death? Asking this simply for clarification's sake, but as it was explained in the books, wouldn't the soul simply create their own subjective space on the Outside?

Finally, and please don't take this as s critique, when asked about some specific scenes, such as Kellhus pulling Serwe's shining heart, for example, you always point that the uncertainty of interpretation is one of the key points of such scenes. I'm absolutely okay with that, but do you think that there is any real difference between what you're trying and simply stating a Deus ex Machina situation? In the end in both cases things happen because they happen, and trying any further interpretation is futile.

Anyways, thank you very much for your time and I wish you good luck with the publication of The No-God. By the way, just for curiosity, do you have any provisional title for the first book?

Answer: Does Koringus achieve it? The question is your answer. The idea is that our most certain end, oblivion, is the least certain in the World. It simply follows from the inverted ontology of the World. Oblivion arguably counts as a form of embracing the absolute, insofar as it collapses the dichotomy of subject and object.

The problems souls encounter in the Outside is that they're puny, and so find themselves trapped in intentional realities belonging to infernal and divine agencies. This is why powerful souls (think Gin'yursis) often carve out different fates after death.

I'm not sure I get your use of deus ex machina, since this refers to saving the day via arbitrary plot mechanisms. This is bad because it's lazy. The way you use it, it applies to all true-crime fiction, or any form of writing lacking conventional narrative 'closure,' doesn't it? And what's lazy about intentionally delivering readers to points that deny stable interpretation? It's hard bloody work, let me tell you!

Could it be you possess narrative instincts, the way we all do, that balk at the absence of closure? Some find it more difficult than others. And all this means is that you viscerally feel the problem of meaning more keenly than most.

The question is what do you do next. Do you rationalize, chalk your narrative frustration up to my failure, or do you open yourself up to a new kind of narrative experience. Either I've failed you, or I've shown you a new way to experience meaning. Although I totally understand why people opt for the first, I just don't see what they gain from it.

Question: Hi Scott- I first have to say that I haven't yet read your work, but it is the very first thing in my to-read list. My question regards the role of philosophy in your work, as I understand you are ABD in your PhD. What thinkers (or concepts) are most influential in your work, and where do you fall in the continental-analytic "split"?

I have a continental background (undergrad thesis on Deleuze, and moderate readings in Foucault and Derrida) so I'm wondering, if it's the case that you're more analytic, how much of a divergence there would be between the way you explore or pursue philosophy and how I've been exposed to it.

Answer: It's the attitudes toward ontology and epistemology that most clearly divides the two camps. But as you know there's a host of other factors as well. But apart from diverging views on the priority of the how versus the what, they both share a deep commitment to the ability of intentional cognition to actually solve for intentionality, despite the millennia of disputation--the inability to even agree on any formulation of their ontological or epistemological explananda, let alone any explanation of them.

I like to think I've moved beyond it all, that I'm charting 'post intentional' philosophical territory. My opening blurb actually has a link to my Journal of Consciousness Studies piece, "On Alien Philosophy," which lays out the confusions afflicting both camps in a horrifyingly parsimonious fashion.

Question: So, we didn't get to see it, but who do you think would have come out on top in an Kakaliol (Demon) vs Skuthula (dragon) all out brawl, in a topos?

Answer: Interesting question! It would have to be Skuthula, tho.

Question: Hi Scott, congrats on making it to Book 7.

So I really enjoyed your recommendation of ** Moral Tribes** and ** Homo Dues** any other good books in the same space ?

Piggybacking on this, its 7 books in and I still have no idea what the Absolute is; what Subject and Object are and how they can collapse into one. Reading the above books helped me to really appreciate some of the main themes in your book, is there any other approachable book I can read to understand the ideas behind the Absolute ?

Finally is Kellhus/the Dunyain your idea of what Strong AI may be like ?

Answer: Thanks, Kriptical. In terms of recent reads, I quite liked Dennett's latest, as well as Sperber and Mercier's book on reason. But I would actually recommend Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow, as well as Haidt's, The Self-Righteous Mind.

Hegel is the go to person on all things absolute, but I wouldn't visit that on anyone! 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. Once you begin playing this game, everything bogs down into disputation, and it seems there's no escape. Hegel's 'absolute' stands among one of the more famous escape attempts.

As for Kellhus and AI, yes. One of the things I want people to understand is the degree to which 'freedom' is a function of where you stand in the pecking order of intelligences. We're actually on the cusp of becoming 'worldborn,' given that the rudimentary 'conversational user interfaces' presently being sold to corporations by Microsoft, just for instance, have access to vast data sets allowing them to predict your preferences better than you can predict them yourself.

Question: So many questions. I'll try not to be greedy and stick with one topic:

You referred to the Mutilated (on the SA forum) as the Sons of Imimorul. An interesting quote from TUC, where our Skin-Spy Serwe says:

"The Nonmen seek the Absolute" ... "They practice Elision, thinking they can hide themselves from Judgement, and so pass into Oblivion unseen, find absolution in the Absolute. The Dunyain use the same word the Kuniuri inherited from the Nonmen, but enamoured of intellect and reason, they believe it to be a goal ..."

It made me wonder if the Dunyain were originally created by the Nonmen as an experimental "race" with the sole purpose of finding "Elision". When the Apocalypse happened they ended up migrating and finding Ishual, continuing with their single goal. The Dunyain believe history needs to be forgotten, so they wouldn't know their origins.

With your added blurb above, I have to wonder if the Dunyain are as old as Imimorul, and he simply created them (along with the Nonmen) to have help finding Oblivion. Did Imimorul create the Inchoroi as well? Did he simply beat them to Earwa? Gotta admit, their stories and goals are very similar. Why not cast a wide net to solve your problem instead of focusing on one potential solution?

Is the story of planting his flesh inside of Lions (to create the Nonmen) related to the Tekne and creation of sranc / skin-spies? I ponder the similarities between Imimorul, the Larvals, and (to an extent) Mutilated. Perhaps this is the reason for the awful things done to their bodies.

Answer: I never refer to them as the Sons of Imimorul, though I recall answering a question regarding them as well as a question whether we'll see the Cunuroi in the future in the same sentence.

The Dunyain are a product of the Apocalypse, the collection of a group of refugees who blame their misfortune on sorcery and dysrationalia. Imimorul has nothing to do with the Inchoroi either, though I feel bad for nixing a surprising and interesting line of speculation!

Question: Thank you for taking the time and answering our questions! Mine is as follows:

Are topoi and anarcane grounds connected to Earwa being the Promised World?

Answer: Thank you, SmilerLoki. Only insofar as they are isolated, surrounded by arcane grounds. The Inchoroi homeworld, for instance, is entirely anarcane.

Question: I am terrible at coming up with questions on the spot. Was the idea of time as a constant cira kelmonas and the white luck I can't believe I didn't see that coming. Was he always going to be the no god?

Answer: Kelmomas was always the No-God.

Question: 1.) Is Earwa a computer simulation?

2.) Are the Inchoroi literally supposed to be mankind from Earth's future or just a cautionary representation?

3.) Have we seen the last of Eryelk? The Knife of Many Hands seems like it was the beginning of something larger.

4.) What video games are you into besides NHL? Are there any fantasy RPGs that had an impact on you?

5.) You said you took a copy of TDTCB to show your Dad, since he always thought working on your tabletop campaign was a waste of time. How did he react to it?

6.) Do you think the depravity in these books enhances the audience's experience enough to compensate for the readers it drives away?

7.) Were Moenghus and Maithanet at odds during the First Holy War? Moenghus cuts a deal to sabotage the crusaders but it seems like Maitha really wanted them to make it to Shimeh.

8.) Would Inrilatas have activated System Resumption if he were placed in the Ark?

9.) Why was Nau-Cayuti able to activate System Initiation?

10.) What was Kellhus' plan for Achamian in this series? Why did he send the Skin Eaters to find Nil'Giccas and wait by Hunoreal?

11.) If Kellhus didn't care if the Empire fell, why didn't he just leave it to Maithanet anyway?

12.) Does Kellhus love Esmenet?

1.) No.

2.) No.

3.) I hope not, but I have no immediate plans.

4.) Some Total War. I make a point of playing each new CoD.

5.) He grinned and congratulated me.

6.) Only time will tell. In the meantime, trackless ground is trackless ground.

7.) No.

8.) No.

9.) Because his brain could complete the System circuit.

10.) To witness his fidelity.

11.) Because his brother was part-Dunyain.

12.) She's a blindspot, possessing some consequence, but no more than an anomaly.

Question: Hello, and thanks for writing the most disturbing, depraved, and darkest books I've probably ever read. Sorry if these questions are irrelevant or asked and explained elsewhere. I just finished The Unholy Consult yesterday and they stem from the Confusion That Comes After, and are rambling fruits of my attempt to digest what I just read.

    Did Kellhus fail because of his professed abandonment of Logos as the ultimate path, and his pact with Gods? In any case he wasn't truly walking the Conditioned Ground any longer? If indeed walking it is possible at all (see below).

    Why didn't Kellhus see that Esmenet would free Kelmomas and that Kelmomas would seek the Inchoroi, when he clearly otherwise saw what Kelmomas was?

    Was Malowebi right about the Dûnyain being as Sranc or Inchoroi, at the end engineered towards a singleminded goal/Cause, the Logos and the Absolute, unable to pursuit anything else, and thus in fact becoming the very opposite of a self-moving soul?

    What is the true role of the Gods? If Kelmomas is invisible to the Gods, what has touched him? Or are they just tools to emphasize the arbitrariness and randomness of the universe, the absurdity of the pursuit of mastering existence and life in general, the futility of trying to fight the darkness that comes before, the impossibility of escaping the ultimate flailing blindness of existence? Like the final irony of the results of the Dûnyain breeding experiment.

Answer: Thank you distantdiscord: Kellhus became less Kellhus and more Ajokli the nearer he came to Golgotterath. He failed to execute on the Thousandfold Thought because he took the stability of his personal identity for granted.

Because he's under spiritual duress, while planning to assault the most dread fortress that ever existed.

Under a certain interpretation he is unquestionably right. But a great number of interpretations can be argued here.

Plato has a version of this question, as does Nietzsche. They are a fantastic conceit, of course, but within the logic of the World, they can be seen as the Unconscious of the real, and so in an important sense prior to questions of rationality.

Question: Big fan of world building, so i have to ask: What is in Eanna, and will we see it at some point. I know from a world building POV that all authors need an end to their world (this question could also be asked of Tolkien, GRRM, etc.), but the Kayarsus mountain range at the Eastern edge of your map makes me wonder about the relationship between Eanna and Earwa.

Answer: RAFO - the second one!

One thing I can say is that edges of my maps will never be filled in. What characterizes ancient worlds, profoundly, I think, is the degree to which they are encircled in darkness.

Question: Hello Scott,

Congratulations on finishing the Aspect-Emperor series! I am awestruck at the series.

I have tried to work out for myself what your series is commenting on. And if I understand it correctly, there are multiple moralities at play in the world of Earwa. There is the saving and damnation by the gods, and there is Kellhus' attempt to save humanity from the consult, but both of these actions do not align along the same vectors of morality. On top of that, there are any senses of morality that readers themselves bring into the text. And none of these moralities is shown as the ultimate reality in Earwa. Is this close to what you were aiming for with this series? Even the confrontation at Golgotterath undermines any conclusion about which morality is right or wrong. greets, HS

Answer: Thank you, HumanSieve.

Yes. All the lines of moral speculation (many of which are incompatible, as you say) converge on Golgotterath, the point where all meaning and morality breakdown. And this crash site is meant reflect our contemporary crash space of meaning and morality. I wanted Golgotterath to be the point where the story climbs out of the World, and onto the skin of our planet.

Question: Let me just start by saying that TUC was amazing, but it sure raises a lot of questions (like much good art does).

1.) Why did Kellhus say to Proyas that the Inchoroi must win? Was he arguing from the perspective of the Consult?

2.) If the 100 are re-written in the shadow of Golgotterath, does that mean that if the World is closed to the Outside, the Gods will cease to exist as they have always not existed?

3.) How are the 100 re-written? How can the Ark be a disfiguring absence if it's "sentience" is dead and the No-God isn't resurrected?

4.) Is the vision of Gilgaöl Akka has while dreaming of being Celmomas in TGO Ajokli?'

5.) If your response to Tasty_Y is meant to be read as Kellhus genuinely wanting to save the World, does that mean that he didn't count on getting possessed? Also, when did Ajokli start inhabiting him/speaking to him? Was it on the Circumfix?

Answer: Thank you WA.

1.) Is that what he says?

2.) That's definitely a suggestive interpretative possibility.

3.) The Ark isn't invisible, only its meaning. That's the disfiguring absence.

4.) The Trickster is as eternal as any of the other Gods.

5.) That which comes after determines what comes before.

Question: My first time asking a question on one of these AMAs, I'm very self-conscious about it.

In some posts on Three Pound Brain you've written about how authors who strive to create Literature should reject the Myth of the Vulgar Cage and embrace genre fiction. Do you know of, or can you recommend any authors who seem to be doing this?

Answer: There's many people here who could answer that question better than I could, dharm. One of my greatest shames/regrets is having stopped reading in the genres I write. Cognitive science owns me anymore--as you probably know better than most!

Question: i get that the gods can't see Kelmomas, but was it possible for Kellhus as a human to unravel the nature of the threat he posed? Given the Yatwer face concealer Sorweel was wearing, it's understandable that Kellhus never understood Sorweel was the WLW and missed the significance of what happened. But was it possible for him to unravel what happened with the other WLW? In other words, did he just never have a chance to figure it out because Kelmomas is outside the outside or can we take it that Kellhus failed because he wasn't looking closely enough at things that were right under his nose.

Answer: How is Kellhus supposed to find something he never looks for? The Dunyain, for all their intelligence, remain finite. They are every bit as vulnerable to neglect, especially when taxed by something like running an empire, and confronted with a child who can hide within himself, if need be.

Question: What books do you find yourself recommending most to others?

Answer: Lately, Homo Deus, by Yuval Noah Harari. And if the ideas he's working with seem difficult or unfamiliar, then I recommend reading it again. He has a low grain, and therefore more accessible, account of the very things I've been warning about for a long, long time. And the tipping point is very near.

Question: Thoughts on the untimely death of Chris Cornell? I know from past discussions you're a big Soundgarden fan.

Do you feel like you're writing what you want to express now? The last two books have been amongst the very best I have ever read and I hope you are more satisfied with your writing than you were with The Darkness That Comes Before.

Answer: I'm still trying to wrap my head around it. I was angry for a good couple weeks, so much so I probably would have made the mistake of writing about it and so remained angry for the rest of my life. But my computer died just the week before, and I was forced to mull the fact the ancestral way, and to come to grips with the fact, rather than my public statements regarding the fact.

Question: I love what you did with House Anasurimbor. The most interesting family I've ever read.
My question is, will we ever read about them growing up or do you have any prequels/backstory in the plans?

Answer: Thanks, er, Kel. The story isn't over yet, so I haven't given much thought to prequels. Say hi to Sammi for me ;)

Kellhus hanging from his own salted waist... I don't know, we're desperately lacking in new information.

I didn't present it as if it was a good idea, just something that would probably be possible.

First, yeah, as you point out 'two random ciphrangs' seems unlikely lol.
although it probably would be something that makes them unquestionably loyal (or bound) to Kellhus' will.
Like how he conquered Ajokli ;)

There is also a possibility that one of them is Kellhus himself...

Interesting thought that the Ciphrang had something specific about them that made them worth    Decapitating.

When the thought struck me, I was rather surprised to have assumed it could have been otherwise though.  As in, would it really have just been two random Ciphrang he just happened to find?  That seems exceptionally unlikely.  The further implications are hard to figure though, since they could be literally anyone.  Hell, one could be Seswatha for all we know.  Also, since we don't know the implication for the other head, for example the one currently on Malowebi's body, it's unclear what distinction is desirable, although it probably would be something that makes them unquestionably loyal (or bound) to Kellhus' will.

Well, what about the possibility that Iyokus wasn't even really his "own person" any more?  As in, however Kellhus convinced him to teach him the Daimos left him basically Kellhus' puppet (or something similar).

Also, considering that we know one of the Decapitants had a very real purpose, so it figures that the other one did too.  Just what the purpose is we don't know, but it probably is important, as is that Glossary entry about the head-swapping incident.  I doubt if Kellhus' objective with the Daimos was to "summon" Ciphrang in general.  What does he need Ciphrang for when he can wield far greater power than probably any of them?  Rather, he probably was looking for two very specific Ciphrang, for the exact purpose of being the Decapitants.

General Misc. / Re: Board Games and Miniatures
« on: October 12, 2018, 08:46:26 pm »
You mean the Imp, not the dead human he's on, correct? not sure I see it, you mean the legs are too long/big?

No, the human guy.  To me it looks like from where his knee bends to what I imagine the length of his thigh should be doesn't leave room for his hips/rest of his abdomen.  Again, maybe that is just me though...

General Misc. / Re: Board Games and Miniatures
« on: October 12, 2018, 07:52:52 pm »
A denizen of Earwa?

I dig it.  Perhaps it is an illusion of the perspective, but his lower half seems disproportionate to the upper.  It might be one of those things where the real scale looks less real than an exaggerated one though...

General Misc. / Re: What are you watching?
« on: October 12, 2018, 02:29:27 pm »
Yeah, my wife has been watching this, I should jump in at some point.

Just make sure you watch from the beginning and get caught up, or nothing will make much sense.  The 3rd season has been good, but the first two are definitely a little better.

General Misc. / Re: Quotes
« on: October 03, 2018, 07:53:07 pm »
Today humanity, as never before, is split into two apparently irreconcilable halves. The psychological rule says that when an inner situation is not made conscious, it happens outside, as fate. That is to say, when the individual remains undivided and does not become conscious of his inner opposite, the world must perforce act out the conflict and be torn into opposing halves.

C.G. Jung -Aion, Researches Into the Phenomenology of The Self

Written in 1950, this is still just as relevant, if not more so, today...

General Misc. / Re: Board Games and Miniatures
« on: September 27, 2018, 11:56:25 am »
Ok, you haven't responded - that's ok if you don't to do it. Would you consider egging his house?

Well, he probably hasn't responded mostly because there is an ocean between him and Toronto.  But hey, I guess he might make a trip?

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