Sociopathy in Light, Time, & Gravity [SPOILERS]?

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Bolivar

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« on: February 20, 2015, 03:36:18 am »
[EDIT Madness: Title changed]

Obviously, major spoilers.

The twist ending of Light, Time, and Gravity completely changes the reader's perception of everything Dylan had to say up to that point. One thread that I became skeptical about is his depiction of Cutter. Almost from the beginning, Dylan explicitly paints him as a sociopath and I initially expected this to manifest in some dramatic, violent way, after the intro vaguely references that he is connected with a crime. Time and again, the narrator returns to this characterization, both when Cutter is in a scene (by highlighting his behavior) and even when he is off-screen (via analogies, such as the Canadian elections passage). It occurred to me that this might just have been Dylan's way of rationalizing the fact that he ultimately murdered Cutter on a whim.

While he's no doubt a scumbag, it's hard to say whether Cutter actually ever crosses the line of typical alpha-male nonsense and steps into sociopath territory. He didn't react at all in the way Dylan was certain he would when Dylan beat him at arm-wrestling. His eventual decision to tell Jerry about the affair is something I think a lot of us would do in his position, and he indeed says he told Jerry because of their friendship. He tells this to Dylan like it was something that should be obvious but Dylan immediately disbelieves him, attributing it instead to Cutter's need to create drama.

Does Dylan's constant cynicism regarding human connections suggest that Dylan is actually the sociopath? This kinda ties into the BBT-esque cognitive science rants, where the protagonist aggressively challenges belief in meaning, despite desperately longing for it in other passages. I wonder if this book was in part Bakker poking fun at and taking himself less seriously, as he often emphasizes on his blog that he knows he is not above his observations on human shortcomings. In Light, Time, and Gravity, we have a protagonist who embodies just how true that is.
« Last Edit: February 21, 2015, 02:51:31 am by Madness »

Madness

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« Reply #1 on: February 20, 2015, 04:14:39 am »
Yes! I will respond to this this weekend. Something I can talk about :)!
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Aural

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« Reply #2 on: February 20, 2015, 01:45:55 pm »
Title could be a spoiler?

Madness

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« Reply #3 on: February 20, 2015, 10:10:43 pm »
Lol - I will think on that. However, please lend your eye to the Earwa subforums; if this is a spoiler, then most of those definitely are.
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Aural

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« Reply #4 on: February 20, 2015, 10:38:12 pm »
It basically gave away the ending... And the book is not even out yet.

Bolivar

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« Reply #5 on: February 21, 2015, 03:05:43 am »
Sorry, tried to make it clear with the first line! Thanks for the title edit, Madness.

Madness

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« Reply #6 on: February 23, 2015, 01:25:27 pm »
Excellent. I wish there were more people discussing this - though, as it exists only on Bakker's blog, I can see why people don't read it. In the comments of each sequence, specifically the section with the hit and run, I believe there were specifics mentions of this inversion you're writing about.

In the Every Life Has a Nineteen thread, I mentioned that about half the books takes place before Dylan hitting *someone* with a car. So I'd wonder if all or, perhaps, none of Dylan's ruminations of about Cutter reflect your thoughts of rationalization.

Also, your post makes me curious. I've met guys like Cutter in my life - the scary ones are not always violent, but they're definitely the smart ones, while the vapid ones are just sometimes violent in ignorance. The one point towards Cutter being a sociopath is his reaction to Dylan beating him in the Acid Arm-Wrestling. Cutter betrays nothing, if I recall in that scene, Dylan is left with an odd "that was unexpected." But if deception and vulnerability is their game, then Dylan is both deceived and vulnerable following this moment, as it's his expectation of actually winning when he confronts Cutter at the end.

In the ELHAN thread, I did suggest something further wild, that Cutter is Dylan's rationalization of his own behavior. That It, Dylan, Cutter are all one.

Also, one other thought for you. There's a passage, which I don't have time to link at the moment, where there is a lock and key metaphor regarding brains and murderers. The idea basically is that because of predisposition, environment, and behaviour, the fact that you can only consiously affect a "BBT" portion of that interaction, suggests that there are certain circumstances that will see all of us murderers. Sometimes the complex interplay of life will key those circumstances, sometimes it won't. I know Bakker to be of Machiavelli's mind, that fortune (the complexity of the multiplicity of circumstances affecting each of us) governed half of what all we will do and all that will be done to us.
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