Nonmen Society

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Inshallabel

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« Reply #120 on: December 11, 2014, 05:17:22 am »


A few questions about Nonmen {initially posed at westeros.org but received few contemplations in return}...

Do we know anything about the evolution of the Nonmen?

The Dunyain's Principle of Before and After is used by Kellhus to see through the veneer of human modernity, into the roots of their emotion and expression, into the bestial past of human behavior.  But we never really see Nonmen subjected to the same intensity of scrutiny {i.e., Kellhus peering through the Nonmen and into a potentially bestial precursor species they may have evolved from}. 
Did Men and Nonmen share a common ancestor, with Nonmen representing the absolute peak of artificial selection and genetic refinement?  Or are Nonmen artificially designed in someway?  Or are their superficial similarities to Men largely incidental somehow?

Also, does anybody have any theories about the inhabitants of the other planets throughout the Universe that were visited by the Inchoroi?  Were Men and Nonmen a common occurrence throughout the stars at some point in time preceding the events of TSA?  Or is it more likely that Earwa is their actual home?

The Nonmen seem to have always had an affectation for Oblivion... does this mean that they had some presentiment that they were always Damned?  Even before their war with the Inchoroi / Nasamorgas and condemnation by the Eannean Men?  Due to their treatment of the Emwama, or something even more fundamental than that?

Do the Nonmen see in color, similar to Humans?  Or is their vision largely muted, or entirely monochrome?  {I don't think the books ever stated this specifically, but I kind of get that impression from them}.

Kellhus, observing the Nonmen ruins in Kyudea, notes that their obsession with the living form points to their terror.  What is this terror?  Existential terror at the state of being alive, of being encased in mortal, breathing flesh?  Terror of the possibility or certainty of damnation?

Also: Kellhus says the Kyudean Nonman Ruins remind him of Ishual's Thousand Thousand Halls...  I wonder if this is again just coincidence or if the Dunyain have some connection with the Nonmen in founding the basic tenets of their philosophy before dredging the Thousand Thousand Halls {do we know if the Dunyain built them, or if they were present in Ishual before their arrival?}.

Ishroi Warriors, Quya Mages, Judges of the Ishroi, Nonmen Kings and Queens, I am wondering why they settled into a hierarchical monarchy-type structure.  Were there ever any Democratic mansions?  Or are their forms of government largely uniform across the Mansions {it seems this way, they all seem very homogeneous} and somehow hardwired into their neurology?

'Pologies for the lengthy post, Nonmen are incredibly interesting to me and I would love to see Bakker do a Silmarillion-type novel {after completion of TSA's trilogy of trilogies} recounting the origins of the Nonmen and the Cuno-Inchoroi Wars in more detail.
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Wilshire

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« Reply #121 on: December 11, 2014, 01:47:47 pm »
I think this post is complex enough to warrent its own topic, but there is nothing wrong with putting it here.

Welcome,  Inshallabel, to the Second Apocalypse. What a great first post. Lets hope some people come around and answer some of your questions.

I'll certainly gret back here later today/tonight.



I'll just start here since I have a second, and because its an easy one :P

Do we know anything about the evolution of the Nonmen?

As far as I know, we have little insight into the tens of thousands of years of Nonman history before the breaking of the gates. There might be a few phrases hidden in Four Revelations, but thats about it. 
Without any, or many, hard facts, all that is left is to speculate. Huzzah.
« Last Edit: December 11, 2014, 06:12:44 pm by Wilshire »
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Wilshire

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« Reply #122 on: December 11, 2014, 06:11:29 pm »
The Dunyain's Principle of Before and After is used by Kellhus to see through the veneer of human modernity, into the roots of their emotion and expression, into the bestial past of human behavior.  But we never really see Nonmen subjected to the same intensity of scrutiny {i.e., Kellhus peering through the Nonmen and into a potentially bestial precursor species they may have evolved from}. 
I think this has purposefully hidden from us. Too many answers, I think, if a dunyain such as Kellhus looked into the faces/souls of Nonmen and told us what he say. The idea of the Darkness that Comes Before affecting all things is very central, and the nonman preceded the men of Eanna more completely than anything else.

Did Men and Nonmen share a common ancestor, with Nonmen representing the absolute peak of artificial selection and genetic refinement?  Or are Nonmen artificially designed in someway?  Or are their superficial similarities to Men largely incidental somehow?
Not sure I understand where these questions are coming from. How would you answer these?
I'd say it wouldn't be too terribly unlikely that two unrelated species evolved similarly. Fish and dolphins, for example. Personally, I hope there is some kind of not too distant link between them (go back far enough and everything has a common ancestor. I'd prefer a somewhat more recent ancestor )

Also, does anybody have any theories about the inhabitants of the other planets throughout the Universe that were visited by the Inchoroi?  Were Men and Nonmen a common occurrence throughout the stars at some point in time preceding the events of TSA?  Or is it more likely that Earwa is their actual home?
I prefer my aliens to be alien.  I'd be extremely surprised if the humaniod form was dominant on other planets, in the Earwaverse or IRL.

The Nonmen seem to have always had an affectation for Oblivion... does this mean that they had some presentiment that they were always Damned?  Even before their war with the Inchoroi / Nasamorgas and condemnation by the Eannean Men?  Due to their treatment of the Emwama, or something even more fundamental than that?
"Seem to". I think this notion comes from the fact that our view of Nonmen comes from the men who came in after they where already defeated. I think the young nonmen of eons past worshiped Gods i a manner similar to men.

Do the Nonmen see in color, similar to Humans?  Or is their vision largely muted, or entirely monochrome?  {I don't think the books ever stated this specifically, but I kind of get that impression from them}.
Its mentioned in the books that Nonmen cannot see paintings, which is why they only do carvings. Take from that what you will.

Kellhus, observing the Nonmen ruins in Kyudea, notes that their obsession with the living form points to their terror.  What is this terror?  Existential terror at the state of being alive, of being encased in mortal, breathing flesh?  Terror of the possibility or certainty of damnation?
I'd have to look up this part and read it again to answer this. Or you could provide a quote and/or reference so I can be as lazy as possible ;)

Also: Kellhus says the Kyudean Nonman Ruins remind him of Ishual's Thousand Thousand Halls...  I wonder if this is again just coincidence or if the Dunyain have some connection with the Nonmen in founding the basic tenets of their philosophy before dredging the Thousand Thousand Halls {do we know if the Dunyain built them, or if they were present in Ishual before their arrival?}.
Seems too coincidental to me. I think there is a connection.
As for their origin, I think there is mention of their existence and/or creation at some point in the books, but I can't remember exactly what. I also think this has been brought up somewhere on the forum. You might try the search function is no one comes up with a better response.

Ishroi Warriors, Quya Mages, Judges of the Ishroi, Nonmen Kings and Queens, I am wondering why they settled into a hierarchical monarchy-type structure.  Were there ever any Democratic mansions?  Or are their forms of government largely uniform across the Mansions {it seems this way, they all seem very homogeneous} and somehow hardwired into their neurology?
I get the monarachy-type feeling as well, but I don't think there is actual reference to it. Only ever heard of Nonmen Kings, not Presidents, though this could just be that the men of Earwa, or the nonmen themselves, lack the words/translation to describe a democratic society.

'Pologies for the lengthy post, Nonmen are incredibly interesting to me and I would love to see Bakker do a Silmarillion-type novel {after completion of TSA's trilogy of trilogies} recounting the origins of the Nonmen and the Cuno-Inchoroi Wars in more detail.
No apologies necessary. More is always better :)

I hope there are many books to come after TSA as originally envisioned comes to a close. I'm certain, in fact, that there will be more, though if he stops writing full-time, we might never see a full length novel ever published. There is certainly enough within within the current lore for many a story to be told.
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Inshallabel

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« Reply #123 on: December 12, 2014, 09:11:48 am »
I think this has purposefully hidden from us. Too many answers, I think, if a dunyain such as Kellhus looked into the faces/souls of Nonmen and told us what he say. The idea of the Darkness that Comes Before affecting all things is very central, and the nonman preceded the men of Eanna more completely than anything else.

The Nonmen preceding the Eannean Men does not necessarily mean that they themselves would not be just as susceptible to the Principles of Causality and the vagaries of history and evolution, though {even though they claim they can decide to leave at any time}.  Anyone as adept as Kellhus at peering into the Darkness would likely be able to peer into the Darkness that precedes the Nonmen, it would just be a slightly more strenuous effort perhaps {lacking a Nonman equivalent to the Unmasking Room in the Ishual and other things}.  But this doesn't mean such Sight would be impossible.
The "What Came Before" segments in the books always mention Nonmen having reached a pinnacle of civilization while men roamed the wilds wielding stone tools and dressing in furs.  But any cultural zenith implies a gradual / historical development from preceding eras.  The institutions / relationships of Kings and Ishroi and Quya mages must have their roots somewhere before the apogee of Nonman Civilization, just as much as the caste-system and jnan must have roots before the height of Three Seas Civilization...
Even though the Nonmen could have witnessed the evolution of Men from Beasts throughout the ages, this doesn't mean that they are any less subject to the Principle of Before and After... i.e., the "modern Nonmen" of the Cuno-Inchoroi Wars must have been built upon preceding generations of Nonmen back into the depths of history...
It does not make sense for Nonmen to simply incarnate, or appear, at the summit of their civilizational development.  Unless they did not, in fact, ever evolve and are artificial in some sense.
In short: Nonmen and Nonmen Society must be derived from something that Came Before, due to the Causality Principle.  If not, this has wide reaching implications for the Causality Principle and Earwa as a whole.  Although it seems that the Nonmen are as oblivious to their ultimate origin as humans are to theirs.

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Not sure I understand where these questions are coming from. How would you answer these?
I'd say it wouldn't be too terribly unlikely that two unrelated species evolved similarly. Fish and dolphins, for example. Personally, I hope there is some kind of not too distant link between them (go back far enough and everything has a common ancestor. I'd prefer a somewhat more recent ancestor )
The questions, they come from the darkness...  :D
But yeah, there may be indications in the text that we've overlooked that Nonmen could be evolved from a more bestial ancestor...  This ancestor could be a close relative to the ancestor of Men or something else entirely {in which case their superficial similarities to Men would be incidental, as opposed to ancestral}. 
Think of it this way... could be a species of proto-ape from which Nonmen and Men both branched off and evolved from.  Or Men could be derived from an ape-ancestral with Nonmen somehow being evolved from a hairless, subterranean creature.  I know that's probably a stretch but it does throw the difference between the species in a new light.
But if neither is the case, then it would seem to indicate that the Nonmen had somehow been engineered or designed instead of evolved...
Which would, of course, really change the scope of the setting and the relationships between the races / gods.

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I prefer my aliens to be alien.  I'd be extremely surprised if the humaniod form was dominant on other planets, in the Earwaverse or IRL.
The Humanoid form appears to have cropped up at least twice in two separate examples on Earwa, Men and Nonmen...

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"Seem to". I think this notion comes from the fact that our view of Nonmen comes from the men who came in after they where already defeated. I think the young nonmen of eons past worshiped Gods i a manner similar to men.
Good point.

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Its mentioned in the books that Nonmen cannot see paintings, which is why they only do carvings. Take from that what you will.
I feel like their colors are largely muted or near-grayscale, with perhaps some exceptions with bronze or copper {the Copper Tree of Siol, etc.}.  Color has significant implications for language and communication though, at least for Men.  So for Nonmen their muted world's characteristics would have to be read in entirely alien ways.... i.e.. a mineral would not reveal itself to be copper or bronze just by noting its color, they would have to deduce its mineral properties in some other fashion.

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I'd have to look up this part and read it again to answer this. Or you could provide a quote and/or reference so I can be as lazy as possible ;)
Quote from: R. Scott Bakker
Upraised palms braced his every step.  Blank eyes studied his every angle.  The Nonmen who had authored this place possessed more than a fascination with the living form; it had been their obsession.  Everywhere, they had cut their image into the dead stone about them, transforming the suffocating weights that hemmed them in into extensions of themselves.  And Kellhus realized: the mansion itself had been their devotional work--their Temple.  Unlike Men, these Nonmen had not rationed their worship.  They did not distinguish between prayer and speech, idol and statue ...
Which spoke to their terror.
{TTT, p. 316-317, RSB}
Bakker's emphasis in italics, mine in bold.
The Nonmen do not sequester religion / worship into a certain societal niche, all of their activities are religious / worshipful in nature.  They are obsessed with the living form, beyond mere fascination, and this indicates their terror....  But terror of what?  Terror of being flesh and blood?  Or terror of the living form's connection with the Outside, and the potential of Damnation?
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Wilshire

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« Reply #124 on: December 12, 2014, 03:19:31 pm »
Kellhus would have to fashion his own Room of Faces to fully decifer the nonmen. I'm sure he's disected at least 1.

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In short: Nonmen and Nonmen Society must be derived from something that Came Before, due to the Causality Principle.  If not, this has wide reaching implications for the Causality Principle and Earwa as a whole.  Although it seems that the Nonmen are as oblivious to their ultimate origin as humans are to theirs.
Completely agree. The lost history of Nonmen spans far more years than all the recorded history of Men. Their darkness is far deeper. Nonmen may not have appeared as children to the Dunyain, had the remained sane.

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The Humanoid form appears to have cropped up at least twice in two separate examples on Earwa, Men and Nonmen...
The difference though, is that both evolved on Earwa, which has supplied all its species with a very similar set of evolutionary pressures. I would just be terribly surprised if those pressures were so similar on an entirely different solar system to create the humanoid form. Also, consider in the case of Earwa, it has only occured twice, while there are far more numerous kinds of bugs, birds, and fish

At the end here, I think we are agreeing. Mole -> human and ape -> human would be just as possible as both from apes.

As per a more artificial selection/creation mechanism, that would be an intersting twist. Adding some sci-fi into the story, which I think we will see more of as we get closer to the Inchoroi.


Living Form:
Intersting passage. I think, for one thing, what was once a passion and religion became an obsession post-immortality.

"the living form" I always thought refered to not simply to flesh and blood, but life in motion. Their multi-pose statues/carvings reflect this.

As to why all of that would show their terror, I don't know. It could again have be forged after they become immortal. After living so long and with their memories fading, maybe they forgot why/how to worship, so they became obsessed with what facets of their society remaind to them. Terror of losing more of their heritage, and terror of become like the silent stone, of eternal existing in a single form.
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locke

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« Reply #125 on: December 15, 2014, 08:24:02 am »
Terror not at being statues but being the spaces between the statues, the carved away bits of nothingness

We silly humans think they were sculpting themselves. nope they were sculpting the spaces between themselves, fashioning an idol of the nothingness they worshipped.

Aural

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« Reply #126 on: December 15, 2014, 10:54:19 pm »
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A few questions about Nonmen {initially posed at westeros.org but received few contemplations in return}...

Yep, you’re a lot more likely to get accused of being a Bakker alt than any real discussion over there. Which is what happened. Not that what I said is any more useful.  :P
« Last Edit: December 15, 2014, 10:56:37 pm by Akkeägni »

Wilshire

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« Reply #127 on: December 15, 2014, 11:43:47 pm »
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A few questions about Nonmen {initially posed at westeros.org but received few contemplations in return}...

Yep, you’re a lot more likely to get accused of being a Bakker alt than any real discussion over there. Which is what happened. Not that what I said is any more useful.  :P

;) you could always take a shot at one of the questions
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Ciogli

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« Reply #128 on: December 16, 2014, 04:03:05 am »
to make them more like Tolkien's elves


... and now I can't help but compare dunyain & mangaecca with numenorians.

I think the Numenorians and the Nonmen are a better analog.
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The Great Scald

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« Reply #129 on: December 17, 2014, 01:05:54 pm »
In short: Nonmen and Nonmen Society must be derived from something that Came Before, due to the Causality Principle.  If not, this has wide reaching implications for the Causality Principle and Earwa as a whole.  Although it seems that the Nonmen are as oblivious to their ultimate origin as humans are to theirs.

If I remember the appendix right, the Nonmen's endonym means "People of Dawn" or something like that, but that they've long since forgotten what their own endonym refers to. So, yeah, their own history is a question mark even to themselves.

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Personally, I hope there is some kind of not too distant link between them (go back far enough and everything has a common ancestor. I'd prefer a somewhat more recent ancestor )

Nonmen and Men don't need to be closely related, or even have any shared ancestors more recent than primordial slime. They could be a close relative of Men, and that's more biologically realistic, but they could be something else entirely. Convergent evolution has produced a lot of creatures that look similar and fill similar functions, but are from completely different species. The similar looks of dolphins (mammals) and marine dinosaurs (reptiles) is probably the most famous case:



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I feel like their colors are largely muted or near-grayscale, with perhaps some exceptions with bronze or copper {the Copper Tree of Siol, etc.}.  Color has significant implications for language and communication though, at least for Men.  So for Nonmen their muted world's characteristics would have to be read in entirely alien ways....

Or maybe their colors are just invisible to the human eye. Maybe they can see in the infrared spectrum, or on other planes that we can't perceive. It's possible that the big Nonman Mansions in their glory days were full of art and color, but would just look colorless and grim to us. 

The screenwriter of the Ridley Scott movie "Prometheus", when talking about the god-aliens (who, as many posters have noted, look very much like Bakker's Nonmen), describes their culture like this:

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Their civilisation is millions of years old. Once, the Engineers expressed themselves as humans do - taking pleasure in music, colours and story - but they’re able to see in more dimensions than we do. Their art and ornament exist on planes imperceptible to human senses. Their constructions look dark and grim to us; but the Engineers’ eyes see far more than our own. The individual Engineers live for a hundred thousand years. Aeons ago, their race abandoned sex and gender, reproducing by more abstract methods. In recent millennia they have ceased to reproduce altogether.
~ Jon Spaihts, “Alien Master Narrative”, script notes.

https://alienseries.wordpress.com/2013/07/21/gods-monsters/

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The Nonmen do not sequester religion / worship into a certain societal niche, all of their activities are religious / worshipful in nature.  They are obsessed with the living form, beyond mere fascination, and this indicates their terror....  But terror of what?  Terror of being flesh and blood?  Or terror of the living form's connection with the Outside, and the potential of Damnation?

I dunno. Maybe they had an existential terror, or fell into pessimism like Nietzsche thought the Greeks did - they were already a really old and exhausted civilization by that point. Pretty likely that their "terror", and obsession with the void, was because of the Outside and their own damnation after death.

Or it could just be their terror of forgetting and being forgotten. Akka talks a lot about the statues in Cil-Aujas, and how the ancient Nonman art is a lot more dynamic and simple, while the later stuff is so detailed it's almost photographic. His point is that the Nonmen went insane as a culture and tried to record every little detail in their art, down to the smallest cracks on people's toenails, since they'd forget it otherwise.
« Last Edit: December 17, 2014, 01:08:03 pm by Auriga »

Wilshire

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« Reply #130 on: December 17, 2014, 01:46:25 pm »
Convergent evolution, that's the term I was looking for, and yeah I guess its irrelevant when/what the common ancestor is.
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« Reply #131 on: December 18, 2014, 10:16:40 am »
i wonder if there are genre limitations for combining evolution and high fantasy?  i don't remember ever reading fantasy that included evolution except for something by Pratchett.  does fantasy and epic/high fantasy in particular mandate a non-evolutionary origin in order to resonate with the readership?

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Wilshire

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« Reply #133 on: December 23, 2014, 04:41:18 pm »
i wonder if there are genre limitations for combining evolution and high fantasy?  i don't remember ever reading fantasy that included evolution except for something by Pratchett.  does fantasy and epic/high fantasy in particular mandate a non-evolutionary origin in order to resonate with the readership?

Evolution falls into a similar category as gene-manipulation, and as such is a subject that is more akin to sci-fi. I'm not sure authors feel like one belongs in the other? But, imo, its a thin line anyway.
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« Reply #134 on: December 27, 2014, 01:52:03 am »
Malazan had little touch here and there about evolution. I mean, the subject wasn't delved into extensively, but there was mention of the E'sra (sp?), who was there in the dreams or warrens or what the hell ever! I'm confused now! Longest read I've ever done.
“No. I am your end. Before your eyes I will put your seed to the knife. I will quarter your carcass and feed it to the dogs. Your bones I will grind to dust and cast to the winds. I will strike down those who speak your name or the name of your fathers, until ‘Yursalka’ becomes as meaningless as infant babble. I will blot you out, hunt down your every trace! The track of your life has come to me,