TDTCB, Ch. 1

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« Reply #15 on: April 19, 2013, 04:06:36 am »
Quote from: Callan S.
Re: Judging eye stuff
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« Reply #16 on: April 19, 2013, 04:06:47 am »
Quote from: Callan S.
Quote from: Madness
I internalized that as ignorance. Achamian could hold the conceit for a variety of reasons. It sounded to me, though, that Achamian doesn't know enough about the Cishaurim and fears the Spires to an extent. Clearly, Achamian's perspective colours our perspective.
Isn't it classic genre though? "But it can't be done!" "Ah, but they have the McGuffin, so it can be done!" "Ohs noes!"

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« Reply #17 on: April 19, 2013, 04:07:12 am »
Quote from: bbaztek
Quote from: Callan S.
Quote from: Madness
I internalized that as ignorance. Achamian could hold the conceit for a variety of reasons. It sounded to me, though, that Achamian doesn't know enough about the Cishaurim and fears the Spires to an extent. Clearly, Achamian's perspective colours our perspective.
Isn't it classic genre though? "But it can't be done!" "Ah, but they have the McGuffin, so it can be done!" "Ohs noes!"

It would have not have served the first-time reader well for Bakker to have gone into detail about the precise power levels of the various Schools and how they stack up so early. Establishing the Spires as a dominant political force in the Three Seas waging a secret war against a smaller, more alien School that succeeds through stealth is comfy and familiar to genre readers, and I don't think we are supposed to ponder Achamian's ignorance or cast him as an unreliable narrator from the get-go.

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« Reply #18 on: April 19, 2013, 04:07:27 am »
Quote from: sologdin
chapter 1 is doubly epigraphed:  first, a taxonomy, now breaking out the “men regret” item from the first taxonomy into cynics, fanatics, and mandati. 

the text will lay out appropriate language regarding the mandati, and, without spoilering, the fact that there is a primary text involving a holy war should outline fanaticism.  I confine myself therefore to cynicism, and rely principally on mr. sloterdijk:

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Cynicism is enlightened false consciousness.  It is that modernized, unhappy consciousness, on which enlightenment has labored both successfully and in vain.  It has learned its lessons in enlightenment, but it has not, and probably was not able to, put them into practice.  Well-off and miserable at the same time, this consciousness no longer feels affected by any critique of ideology; its falseness is already reflexively buffered.
(critique of cynical reason (1987) at 5).  it is

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an uneasiness that sees the modern world steeped in cultural insanities, false hopes and their disappointment, in the progress of madness and the suspension of reason, in the deep schism that runs through modern consciousness and that seems to separate the rational and the real, what we know and what we do, from each other for all time.  […] the perversely complicated structures of a consciousness that has become reflective and is almost more melancholy than false; it is a consciousness that, under the compulsions of self-preservation, continues to run itself, though run down, in a permanent moral self-denial.
(sloterdijk at 217). we might note this for now and track it through the novel.

the second epigraph, again the DA compendium, lays out DA’s theory of history: at the “genesis,” the arche, human persons are unable to know future consequences, and invokes the “trivial” as the engine of history.  this invocation is not explained, and instead we get the non sequitur of one persons chasing a hare finds a hare, but many persons chasing a hare find a dragon.  the conclusion:  “In the prosecution of competing human interests, the result is always unknown, and all too often terrifying.”  (I.i at 32).  That DA has just now laid down a rule of history in predicting consequences (one man finds a hare, many men find a dragon) contradicts and erases the principle that consequences are not knowable at the arche--unless he is not described as part of “men.” 

Several notes otherwise--

we see immediately that DA plays a “game” with his intelligence assets.  (I.i at 32).  we note this for now to recover it later.

we see a tavern owner boast of “authentic imitations” (I.i at 33)--alleged original copies.  we note this also, perhaps for later comment.

we note that DA feels “an absence” “tug at his bowels” (I.i at 36), for later, also.

we note the “mark” of sorcery (I.i at 42).

we see that “ink might be immortal, but meaning is not” (I.i at 51), tying nicely into prior comments on the prologue, regarding writing as wall against the forgotten while also itself a forgetting.  the sentiment quoted is lifted slyly from walter miller, incidentally:

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Not only did the original copies fade, but often the redrawn versions became nearly illegible after a time, due to the impermanence of the inks employed.
(canticle for leibowitz (1959) at 75).  this is pronouncement is later expanded, however:

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The Memorabilia was full of ancient words, ancient formulae, ancient reflections of meaning, detached from minds that had died long ago, when a different sort of society had passed into oblivion.  There was little of it that could still be understood.
(miller at 146).  not only the signifier deteriorates through time, but its linkage to a signified degrades.  in a setting that moves swiftly through thousands of years, the potential for degradation of significance seems plausible.  but we shall see if there's anything that ties significance down over time (as the semiotics of face appear to not degrade significance for KA).

the centerpiece of chapter 1 is the structuring of DA.  the equivalence between both espionage and sorcery with prostitution is brashly made.  (I.i at 38).  what’s more substantial is the lengthy summarized bildungsroman:

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For him the Three Seas had possessed only two dimensions in his childhood:  there places far and near [emphasis added] and there were people high and low [emphasis added]. […] Certainly, as he matured, Achamian’s world became more complicated.  He learned that there were things holy and unholy [emphasis added], that the Gods and the Outside [emphasis added] possessed their own dimensions, rather than being people very high and a place very far away.  He also learned that there were times recent and ancient [emphasis added], that “a long time ago” was not like another place but rather a queer kind of ghost [emphasis added] that haunted every place.
(I.i at 38-39).  we have here a series of binary oppositions that structure the character of DA:  far/near, high/low, holy/unholy, outside/world, recent/ancient.  traditionally, the first part is considered more important or privileged in this type of analysis, which looks similar to saussurean linguistics or levi-strauss’s anthropology.

but:

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when one became a spy, the world had the curious habit of collapsing [emphasis added] into a single dimension.
(I.i at 39).  the binaries implode, as the high take on characteristics of the low, the far look much like the near, holy things become variants of unholies, recent is simply a repetition of the ancient. 

several items of interest here:

a ) outside/world is not imploded, and remains a structural principle of the character: the “world was hollowed of its wonder” (I.i at 39), but it’s still different than the outside.

b ) recent as repetition of ancient ties into the “ghost” that haunts “every place.”  this is a metaphor with a prestigious history: 

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A spectre is haunting Europe — the spectre of communism. All the powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre: Pope and Tsar, Metternich and Guizot, French Radicals and German police-spies.
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Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce [emphasis added]. Caussidičre for Danton, Louis Blanc for Robespierre, the Montagne of 1848 to 1851 for the Montagne of 1793 to 1795, the nephew for the uncle. And the same caricature occurs in the circumstances of the second edition of the Eighteenth Brumaire.

Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living. And just as they seem to be occupied with revolutionizing themselves and things, creating something that did not exist before, precisely in such epochs of revolutionary crisis they anxiously conjure up the spirits of the past [emphasis added] to their service, borrowing from them names, battle slogans, and costumes in order to present this new scene in world history in time-honored disguise and borrowed language. Thus Luther put on the mask of the Apostle Paul, the Revolution of 1789-1814 draped itself alternately in the guise of the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire, and the Revolution of 1848 knew nothing better to do than to parody, now 1789, now the revolutionary tradition of 1793-95. In like manner, the beginner who has learned a new language always translates it back into his mother tongue, but he assimilates the spirit of the new language and expresses himself freely in it only when he moves in it without recalling the old and when he forgets his native tongue.
the first bit opens the manifesto of the communist party, whereas the second opens the eighteenth brumaire of napoleon bonaparte.

mr. derrida wrote, incidentally enough, an entire treatise on the spectre metaphor as used in marx (and shakespeare and kojeve and fukuyama--it‘s good times), and noted:

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It plays between the spirit (Geist) ad the specter (Gespenst), between the spirit on the one hand, the ghost or the revenant on the other.  This articulation often remains inaccessible […] let us once again underscore that Geist can also mean specter, as do the words “esprit” or “spirit.”  [Marx] uses and abuses this equivocation.  it is [his] principal weapon.  And especially, although its operates with constancy and consistency, and even if it is less tenable than Marx himself thinks, the argument that permits him to distinguish between spirit and specter remains discreet and subtle.  The specter is of the spirit, it participates in the latter and stems from it even as it follows it as its ghostly double.
(specters of marx (1994) at 125-26).  sure, RSB’s usage of “ghost” is simply history-occurs-twice-first-as-tragedy-second-as-farce:  but--we are in a setting wherein “souls” are said to be ontological rather than epistemological:  facts of reality rather than facts of discourse.  we shall see.

doubtful that any of this makes DA a marxist (he‘s a bit too complacent about slavery for that, among other things)--and very much disagreed with the reading that reduces characters in the novel to philosophical ideas (allegory, roman a clef, and so on).  we can make those interpretations, but there’s more to the story than that.  but: the marxist principles are what negated several binaries of his upbringing.

c ) we should track these allegedly collapsed binaries through the novels to determine how honest DA is about the extent of his liberation from childish binaries, to see if he reverts--and perhaps for comparison with other narrators because

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d ) he concludes, perhaps childishly, that

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Avarice, it seemed to him, was the world’s only dimension
(I.i at 39).  this may be marxist and it may be out of character: he’s mandati, right--or, is he sloterdijk’s cynic, bearing enlightened false consciousness?

e ) the dream (I.i at 46-48) does more than implode the recent/ancient binary--though this is important.  it is, first, a thought that comes when it wants, rather than when DA wants--it is a good example of nietzsche’s “concise little fact.”  it is also baudrillard’s hyperreal--it is a simulation, but for DA the dream is more real than the waking world, even to the extent that he believes that he is seswatha, the original experiencer of the dreamed experience.  this is like an advanced form of virtual reality in science fiction, and so should trigger all of the normal media & film studies analyses as well as baudrillard’s usage of marshall mcluhan.  something else, then, to follow throughout.

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« Reply #19 on: April 19, 2013, 04:07:39 am »
Quote from: Callan S.
Quote from: bbaztek

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« Reply #20 on: April 19, 2013, 04:09:03 am »
Quote from: Wilshire
Quote from: bbaztek
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« Reply #21 on: April 19, 2013, 04:09:19 am »
Quote from: Happy Ent
Possibly an inconsistency: Skin Spies do not need to peel off their enemy’s faces to emulate them (we see several face changes later; no dead matrix is required). So why does The Thing Stalking Geshrunni peel off Geshrunni’s face? Either RSB changes his mind, or it’s random torture (and in that case, very confusing.)

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« Reply #22 on: April 19, 2013, 04:09:33 am »
Quote from: bbaztek
Quote from: Happy Ent
Possibly an inconsistency: Skin Spies do not need to peel off their enemy’s faces to emulate them (we see several face changes later; no dead matrix is required). So why does The Thing Stalking Geshrunni peel off Geshrunni’s face? Either RSB changes his mind, or it’s random torture (and in that case, very confusing.)

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« Reply #23 on: April 19, 2013, 04:09:47 am »
Quote from: Happy Ent
Oh, that may very well be. As I said, I can’t really remember the details of that particular conspiracy.

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« Reply #24 on: April 19, 2013, 04:09:57 am »
Quote from: Madness
Welcome, Happy Ent. Good to see you here. While I don't have TTT on me - and have misplaced my vacation copy of TDTCB until tonight:

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« Reply #25 on: April 19, 2013, 04:10:08 am »
Quote from: lockesnow
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« Reply #26 on: April 19, 2013, 04:10:18 am »
Quote from: Callan S.
Aye, it's Happy Ent! Welcome!

Now, I'm just remembering...a skin spy managed to emulate Mimara without taking her face off.

Though it had to observe for some time. It might be faster if...gah, this is a gruesomely pointless efficiency...to remove a face to observe it flat? A bit like observing a texture map for a 3D face. Maybe the skin spy was in a rush?

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« Reply #27 on: April 19, 2013, 04:10:27 am »
Quote from: lockesnow
Also consider that in the cutting of the face, Bakker probably wants us to connect the prologue Nonman's cloak of faces with the face-cutter, to make the assumption that they are allies (or the same thing, as someone said they initially thought on a first read).  putting the two in the same faction would be a correct assumption for the reader to be guided into.

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« Reply #28 on: April 19, 2013, 04:10:36 am »
Quote from: The Sharmat
Quote from: bbaztek
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« Reply #29 on: April 19, 2013, 04:11:02 am »
Quote from: Callan S.
Not sure why he'd do that personally here
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