[TGO Spoilers] Prophecy as viramsata

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« on: October 29, 2015, 02:12:56 pm »
So, from the earliest days of reading TTT, something has always sort of bothered me:

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“But on the Plains of Mengedda,” he said. “The Shrial Knights … What I prophesied came to pass.” To the worldborn these words would have sounded blank, devoid of concern or occasion. But to a Dûnyain …

Let him think I waver.

“A fortuitous Correspondence of Cause,” Moënghus replied, “nothing more. That which comes before yet determines that which comes after. How else could you have achieved all that you have achieved? How else could you be possible?”

He was right. Prophecy could not be. If the ends of things governed their beginnings, if what came after determined what came before, then how could he have mastered the souls of so many? And how could the Thousandfold Thought come to rule the Three Seas? The Principle of Before and After simply had to be true, if its presumption could so empower …
His father had to be right.

So what was this certainty, this immovable conviction, that he was wrong?

Am I mad?

This never made any sense to me.  Moe is certainly misleading him here.  He knows that Prophecy is real, because he'll later tell Kellhus how this is so:

Quote
“Have you heard of a game played in southern Nilnamesh, a game called viramsata, or ‘many-breaths’?”
“No.”
“Across the plains surrounding the city of Invishi, the ruling caste-nobles are very remote, very effete. The narcotics they cultivate assure them of the obedience of their populations. Over the centuries they have elaborated jnan to the point where it has eclipsed their old faiths. Entire lives are spent in what we would call gossip. But viramsata is far different from the rumours of the court or the clucking of harem-eunuchs—far more. The players of viramsata have made games of truth. They tell lies about who said what to whom, about who makes love to whomever, and so on. They do this continually, and what is more, they are at pains to act out the lies told by others, especially when they are elegant, so they might make them true. And so it goes from tongue to lip to tongue, until no distinction remains between what is a lie and what is true.

Prophecy is real.  It doesn't violate the principle of Before and After.  It's simply a story, crafted to put this who hear it at pains to exact it.  Kellhus realizes this, because he will later do exactly this, craft a story to have people do exactly what he wants.

The Celmomian Prophecy was what started it all.  The Celmomian Prophecy is a lie, it is simply Seswatha's way of casting his will into the future.  The question is, does Kellhus realize this?  I think the answer is that he thinks he does.  He thinks he has out thought Seswatha though.  Remember, Moe tells him, point blank, "nothing violates the Principle of Before and After."  Kellhus thinks he knows all the before of Seswatha.  He can't, because almost everything he/we know of Seswatha is a lie or misdirection.  Kellhus can't truly precede "what comes before" simply because he can't/doesn't know what it really was.  He imagines he does, but I don't think he truly does.

My crack-pot theory is on record that while Kellhus thinks he walks the trackless steppe, Seswatha has really preceded him at basically every turn.
“I am a warrior of ages, Anasûrimbor . . . ages. I have dipped my nimil in a thousand hearts. I have ridden both against and for the No-God in the great wars that authored this wilderness. I have scaled the ramparts of great Golgotterath, watched the hearts of High Kings break for fury.” -Cet’ingira

Wilshire

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« Reply #1 on: October 29, 2015, 02:23:00 pm »
He doesn't necessarily have to know about seswatha. With enough history he can see the events around seswatha, and divine his true plans. Maybe a bit harder than directly reading people, but I'm sure he can pretty accurately gage a soul from the souls surrounding that person.

On the other thiught, about prophesy and viramsata, I agree. It'd likely not relevent if a prophesy is true, but only that people believe it to be. That's why the consult mentions they must follow all prophesies, even the false ones.
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« Reply #2 on: October 29, 2015, 02:39:14 pm »
He doesn't necessarily have to know about seswatha. With enough history he can see the events around seswatha, and divine his true plans. Maybe a bit harder than directly reading people, but I'm sure he can pretty accurately gage a soul from the souls surrounding that person.

He probably can.  Yet, who around Seswatha isn't also largely shrouded in misdirection too?

On the other thiught, about prophesy and viramsata, I agree. It'd likely not relevent if a prophesy is true, but only that people believe it to be. That's why the consult mentions they must follow all prophesies, even the false ones.

Exactly.  The whole Great Ordeal smacks of being viramsata, because The Thousandfold Thought is too.  It's all a lie being acted out.
“I am a warrior of ages, Anasûrimbor . . . ages. I have dipped my nimil in a thousand hearts. I have ridden both against and for the No-God in the great wars that authored this wilderness. I have scaled the ramparts of great Golgotterath, watched the hearts of High Kings break for fury.” -Cet’ingira

profgrape

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« Reply #3 on: October 29, 2015, 06:08:49 pm »
On the other thiught, about prophesy and viramsata, I agree. It'd likely not relevent if a prophesy is true, but only that people believe it to be. That's why the consult mentions they must follow all prophesies, even the false ones.

Exactly.  The whole Great Ordeal smacks of being viramsata, because The Thousandfold Thought is too.  It's all a lie being acted out.

Eureka!  So the directive to "follow all prophecies" more or less means to "reinforce false beliefs".  That's been bothering me, like, forever.

I still wonder what the false prophecy in question actually is.  It's hard for me to imagine that it's the Celmomian -- how would the Consult benefit from people believing that Mimara (or her baby) could be the one to fulfill the process?  Seems way more likely that they'd support Kellhus as "the one".  Especially if they need a couple hundred thousand souls delivered to Golgotterath to raise the No-God.

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« Reply #4 on: October 29, 2015, 06:38:21 pm »
On the other thiught, about prophesy and viramsata, I agree. It'd likely not relevent if a prophesy is true, but only that people believe it to be. That's why the consult mentions they must follow all prophesies, even the false ones.

Exactly.  The whole Great Ordeal smacks of being viramsata, because The Thousandfold Thought is too.  It's all a lie being acted out.

Eureka!  So the directive to "follow all prophecies" more or less means to "reinforce false beliefs".  That's been bothering me, like, forever.

I still wonder what the false prophecy in question actually is.  It's hard for me to imagine that it's the Celmomian -- how would the Consult benefit from people believing that Mimara (or her baby) could be the one to fulfill the process?  Seems way more likely that they'd support Kellhus as "the one".  Especially if they need a couple hundred thousand souls delivered to Golgotterath to raise the No-God.

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.  I guess what Aurang could mean by "even the false ones" are that perhaps some of them are contradictory to each other?
“I am a warrior of ages, Anasûrimbor . . . ages. I have dipped my nimil in a thousand hearts. I have ridden both against and for the No-God in the great wars that authored this wilderness. I have scaled the ramparts of great Golgotterath, watched the hearts of High Kings break for fury.” -Cet’ingira

profgrape

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« Reply #5 on: October 29, 2015, 06:54:46 pm »
That or he's referring to a prophecy that we don't know about.  Speaking of which, are there any prophecies other than the Celmomnian?

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« Reply #6 on: October 30, 2015, 11:41:47 am »
That or he's referring to a prophecy that we don't know about.  Speaking of which, are there any prophecies other than the Celmomnian?

Not that I can recall.  Although we are told that Earwa is the "promised world" to the Inchoroi.  I guess that sort of counts?
“I am a warrior of ages, Anasûrimbor . . . ages. I have dipped my nimil in a thousand hearts. I have ridden both against and for the No-God in the great wars that authored this wilderness. I have scaled the ramparts of great Golgotterath, watched the hearts of High Kings break for fury.” -Cet’ingira

Parsh

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« Reply #7 on: August 08, 2016, 12:53:15 am »
I can't resurrect the No-God, but I can ressurect this thread. And I shall.  :D

I just wanted to revisit this in light of the dream Achamian has, from Celmomas's perspective, in The Great Ordeal:

(from p. 218 of the American edition--obviously, there are spoilers here for TGO)

Quote
Gilgaol, the Dread Father of Death, the All-Taker.
Brave, broken King...
...
He opened his hands, and lo! Another stood within the curved palms, another man, bright as a ceremonial knife. A Norsirai, though his beard was squared and plaited in the fashion of Shir and Kyraneas. His dress was strange, and his arms and armour bore the glint of Nonman metals. Two decapitated heads swung from his girdle...
Behold the son of a hundred fathers...
Behold the end of the World...

"He says... he says such sweet things to give me comfort. He says that one of my seed will return Seswatha--an Anasurimbor will return..."

That sure looks like a true vision of Kellhus, doesn't it, right down to the Decapitants? One way or another, the Celmomian prophesy appears to have some absolutely true element of what came after determining what came before. Or something. The future influencing the present (from Celmomas' perspective). I'm assuming this is one reason that "Drusas Achamian awoke screaming," and perhaps also a further goad to question his urge for revenge.

In any case, this doesn't seem to be viramsata, does it? Neither Seswatha nor Celmomas is making it up, at least according to this dream (though Celmomas kind of massages things--not sure how "Behold the end of the World" falls under "such sweet things").

Now, there are still open questions here: what's the source of Achamian's dreams? Is it actually--somehow--still Seswatha? Or is someone else controlling his dreams (which would be one way to explain how he has dreams that are detached from Seswatha)?

Or if it is a true depiction of the pre-death experience Celmomas has, what is its source? Is it actually Gilgaol? If the gods' awareness extends forward and backward in time, that could account for it, but why would one of the Hundred put this prophesy out there? But then, what is the prophesy? In the version we get from the Mandate, it's rather ambiguous, that an Anasurimbor will return at the end of the world. But here the sense of it seems to be slanted toward the idea that Kellhus is the end of the world (i.e. he's the bad guy in this story after all).

I don't know. Thoughts?

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« Reply #8 on: August 08, 2016, 03:37:05 am »
I think one of the important characteristics of Earwa is that belief shapes reality in some undisclosed fashion on it and in the Outside. I can't let go of that little information that Swerve (I am misspelling her name probably) from the PoN is in some way one of the more pivotal characters to the story. Recall that place, where our Macho Man Nayu Savage has his way with her, she looks to Kellhus, believes he sees her, feels her and is there save her. That he has been sent by Fortune to make her life great again. And Kellhus feels a smidgen of outrage.

Frustratingly I don't have the relevant passages at hand, only the unimportant parts. Another possibility it's something like that Greg Egan novel Distress. Playing 20 questions with the Universe, slowly elaborating the rules of the game through a lot of quantum weirdness that I've forgotten.
“Because you’re a pious man born to a world unable to fathom your piety. But all that changes with me, Akka. The old food pyramids have outlived the age of their intention, and I have come to reveal the new. I am the Slimmest Path, and I say that you are not damned.”

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« Reply #9 on: August 09, 2016, 02:22:33 pm »
I can't resurrect the No-God, but I can ressurect this thread. And I shall.  :D

I just wanted to revisit this in light of the dream Achamian has, from Celmomas's perspective, in The Great Ordeal:

(from p. 218 of the American edition--obviously, there are spoilers here for TGO)

Quote
Gilgaol, the Dread Father of Death, the All-Taker.
Brave, broken King...
...
He opened his hands, and lo! Another stood within the curved palms, another man, bright as a ceremonial knife. A Norsirai, though his beard was squared and plaited in the fashion of Shir and Kyraneas. His dress was strange, and his arms and armour bore the glint of Nonman metals. Two decapitated heads swung from his girdle...
Behold the son of a hundred fathers...
Behold the end of the World...

"He says... he says such sweet things to give me comfort. He says that one of my seed will return Seswatha--an Anasurimbor will return..."

That sure looks like a true vision of Kellhus, doesn't it, right down to the Decapitants? One way or another, the Celmomian prophesy appears to have some absolutely true element of what came after determining what came before. Or something. The future influencing the present (from Celmomas' perspective). I'm assuming this is one reason that "Drusas Achamian awoke screaming," and perhaps also a further goad to question his urge for revenge.

In any case, this doesn't seem to be viramsata, does it? Neither Seswatha nor Celmomas is making it up, at least according to this dream (though Celmomas kind of massages things--not sure how "Behold the end of the World" falls under "such sweet things").

Well, does this seem like viramsata?  In a way, yes, it is possible is we discount the time paradox.  The prophecy is one of the main reasons why Kellhus is able to gain such power.  In fact, it is the reason he isn't ended by Akka straight away.  It's also the reason he gains the Gnosis, without that he would never have been able to best any sorcerers, let alone dominate them.

So, is the prophecy a lie?  Well, no, but it is a self-fulfilling truth.  It is the reason itself is true.  Therefor at some point, it was false, and yet, it never was.  In other words, it made itself true.  It is actually the greatest piece of viramsata ever, a lie made literally true.

On the "sweet things" well, he is telling him that his line doesn't end.  "One of of my seed" harkens right to his "seeds" comment about Ishual.  In other words, Cel was very concerned about the line living on.  Here is "Gilgaol" to say that the seeds indeed succeeded, that the line does live on.

Now, there are still open questions here: what's the source of Achamian's dreams? Is it actually--somehow--still Seswatha? Or is someone else controlling his dreams (which would be one way to explain how he has dreams that are detached from Seswatha)?

Or if it is a true depiction of the pre-death experience Celmomas has, what is its source? Is it actually Gilgaol? If the gods' awareness extends forward and backward in time, that could account for it, but why would one of the Hundred put this prophesy out there? But then, what is the prophesy? In the version we get from the Mandate, it's rather ambiguous, that an Anasurimbor will return at the end of the world. But here the sense of it seems to be slanted toward the idea that Kellhus is the end of the world (i.e. he's the bad guy in this story after all).

I don't know. Thoughts?

I don't know if Gilgaol is really the source, or not.  Maybe it is Seswatha.  Maybe it is actually Kellhus.  In any case though, Kellhus is the end of the world (as it was).  If Kellhus succeeds or if the Consult succeeds, Earwa isn't ever going to be the same.  This is the End, one way or another.
“I am a warrior of ages, Anasûrimbor . . . ages. I have dipped my nimil in a thousand hearts. I have ridden both against and for the No-God in the great wars that authored this wilderness. I have scaled the ramparts of great Golgotterath, watched the hearts of High Kings break for fury.” -Cet’ingira

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« Reply #10 on: August 09, 2016, 05:39:53 pm »
Lol, Parsh

@ H - The Celmomian Prophecy as Viramsata, WOW

The part about prophecy being a lie... true prophecy would be incompatible with a world where the future is open.  In a world where everything has already happened, prophecy can exist because statements about the future can be 100% true in the present or past.  I'm not agreeing or disagreeing with you, just pointing out that when Kellhus at the end of TTT is dismissing the idea prophecy in a world where the future cannot be changed. 

I bet if Kellhus got to spend more time with Seswatha (maybe he did lots more inteverviews with mandati or talked at the heart or maybe he could meet Ses in a mandate dream), then he would be like "Ses, you old fox, sure prophecy is 'true' if you manipulated everything to make it so."

I wonder--if Ses is just as vulnerable to Dunyain manipulations as any other worldborn?  The idea of Kellhus dominating Seswatha's soul living in the mandati is frightening.  But if Ses did start the Dunyain project, maybe living in lots of bodies with lots of brains was a safeguard against being dominated by the result of his project.

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« Reply #11 on: August 09, 2016, 10:28:20 pm »
I think one of the important characteristics of Earwa is that belief shapes reality in some undisclosed fashion on it and in the Outside.

Yes, this what is called Viramsata. Belief shapes reality on Earwa, but not in the Outside. As morality is objective, so are lies objective. They shape belief on Earwa. But, they cannot change the Objective Morality of Earwa. It cannot have any affect on the Outside. What I'm saying it changes nothing to do with damnation and such. Viramsata has completely transformed Earwa and made Kellhus the most powerful man on Earwa. I think it's very important to separate what belief can do on Earwa, a lot. What belief can do in the Outside and changing rules of damnation, absolutely nothing.
“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,

Parsh

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« Reply #12 on: August 10, 2016, 12:54:25 am »


Well, does this seem like viramsata?  In a way, yes, it is possible is we discount the time paradox.  The prophecy is one of the main reasons why Kellhus is able to gain such power.  In fact, it is the reason he isn't ended by Akka straight away.  It's also the reason he gains the Gnosis, without that he would never have been able to best any sorcerers, let alone dominate them.

So, is the prophecy a lie?  Well, no, but it is a self-fulfilling truth.  It is the reason itself is true.  Therefor at some point, it was false, and yet, it never was.  In other words, it made itself true.  It is actually the greatest piece of viramsata ever, a lie made literally true.

I'm not sure I'm buying this as "self-fulfilling prophesy" (unless Kellhus is, in fact, somehow the source) and I'll tell you why:

First, I feel like it's too specific, calling for an Anasurimbor to return at the end. The Anasurimbor line could have died out (in fact, it almost did in the prologue to TDTCB). The could have never emerged from Ishual (as far as we know, Moe wasn't influenced by the prophesy to come out and Kell didn't know about it). But to fulfill the prophesy, it had to be an Anasurimbor, not just, I don't, an ancient king of the north or something even more vague.

Second, it's the vision that we get--it's not just words, proclaiming that an Anasurimbor will return... it's the fact that, thousands of years before Kellhus is born, Celmomas sees him. Well, okay, that's an assumption, based on the decapitants in the vision. But it's pretty distinctive, and I suspect that's why Akka wakes screaming from the dream. Granted, he neither explicitly confirms or denies that he has seen, through Celmomas' eyes, Kellhus. But that seems to be what's happening.

Additionally, there's the fact of the Consult becoming/being very active in the Three Seas at the time of the First Holy War. They were bringing about the end of the world whether Akka or Kelhus did anything about it.

Even leaving that aside, with the White Luck and Yatwer, we've seen intimations that the gods are capable of seeing future events... even if it's at least somehow possible for Kelmomas to (accidentally) subvert the future that they've already seen.

Maybe we're talking past each other rather than really arguing, but this seems like some real prophesy going on. I'm not seeing it as a lie that made itself true--just because knowing the prophesy may have influenced the actions of some people involved in fulfilling the prophesy, I don't see that as the same thing as "self-fulfilling," unless every prophesy is, by definition, self-fulfilling unless no one involved in its fulfillment is privy to the prophesy, and that seems like too high of a bar to be reasonable.


On the "sweet things" well, he is telling him that his line doesn't end.  "One of of my seed" harkens right to his "seeds" comment about Ishual.  In other words, Cel was very concerned about the line living on.  Here is "Gilgaol" to say that the seeds indeed succeeded, that the line does live on.

Good point. I guess it's all in your perspective, eh?

I don't know if Gilgaol is really the source, or not.  Maybe it is Seswatha.  Maybe it is actually Kellhus.  In any case though, Kellhus is the end of the world (as it was).  If Kellhus succeeds or if the Consult succeeds, Earwa isn't ever going to be the same.  This is the End, one way or another.

Fair enough. I think my money's on Gilgaol actually sending the vision, but even if that's the case, I don't know what to make of it.

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« Reply #13 on: August 10, 2016, 10:51:28 am »
I'm not sure I'm buying this as "self-fulfilling prophesy" (unless Kellhus is, in fact, somehow the source) and I'll tell you why:

First, I feel like it's too specific, calling for an Anasurimbor to return at the end. The Anasurimbor line could have died out (in fact, it almost did in the prologue to TDTCB). The could have never emerged from Ishual (as far as we know, Moe wasn't influenced by the prophesy to come out and Kell didn't know about it). But to fulfill the prophesy, it had to be an Anasurimbor, not just, I don't, an ancient king of the north or something even more vague.

Second, it's the vision that we get--it's not just words, proclaiming that an Anasurimbor will return... it's the fact that, thousands of years before Kellhus is born, Celmomas sees him. Well, okay, that's an assumption, based on the decapitants in the vision. But it's pretty distinctive, and I suspect that's why Akka wakes screaming from the dream. Granted, he neither explicitly confirms or denies that he has seen, through Celmomas' eyes, Kellhus. But that seems to be what's happening.

Additionally, there's the fact of the Consult becoming/being very active in the Three Seas at the time of the First Holy War. They were bringing about the end of the world whether Akka or Kelhus did anything about it.

Even leaving that aside, with the White Luck and Yatwer, we've seen intimations that the gods are capable of seeing future events... even if it's at least somehow possible for Kelmomas to (accidentally) subvert the future that they've already seen.

Maybe we're talking past each other rather than really arguing, but this seems like some real prophesy going on. I'm not seeing it as a lie that made itself true--just because knowing the prophesy may have influenced the actions of some people involved in fulfilling the prophesy, I don't see that as the same thing as "self-fulfilling," unless every prophesy is, by definition, self-fulfilling unless no one involved in its fulfillment is privy to the prophesy, and that seems like too high of a bar to be reasonable.

Well, indeed, there are two possibilities for how and why Kellhus is in that vision.  The first is that that was the true vision, Kellhus was really shown to Celmomas.  The second is that this is revisionist, that whatever or whoever is manipulating Akka's dreams changed things.  In the second case though, what is the point?  Akka already knows that Kellhus is the harbinger, so why bother to change a dream to show him that?  Just to mess with him?  To try to convince him that Kellhus is a legitimate savior?  But the Prophecy doesn't say that, so Kellhus being in it doesn't prove anything, only that he will return (which Akka certainly already knows).

The first point seems more likely, that Kellhus was really shown to Celmomas and that was the spark of the Celmomian Prophecy.  This means that somehow, the exact future Kellhus was shown 2,000 years before anyone or anything could possibly have known he would exist, let alone exist in that exact state.  He isn't shown in some vague sense, he is shown exactly garbed as he is as of TJE.  If the prophecy was just something that a God or someone had inferred at the time, as you say, there are tons of variables, how could they have known about the decapitants?  The exact armor he'd wear?  The way he'd have his facial hair?

In reality, we are splitting hairs.  My stance is that the vision to Celmomas was indeed a lie, but one that made itself true.  It's as if a spark from a fire was sent back in time to light the fire that would send the spark.  It's a paradox.   The prophecy could only have been true if the prophecy had already been and was true.  It is self-referential.  The means to justify it (seeing Kellhus) is the justified end (Kellhus himself).  So, it is both a lie and the truth.  It is a lie for the reasons you state, how could it be known then, there are too many variables.  And yet, it is true, we know this, because we see Kellhus.

Indeed though, I do find that every prophecy is self-fulfilling if you know about it and are working to make it true.  "True" prophecy would indeed be only "in the dark" in to far as those it pertains to couldn't know, because just the knowledge of it's existence changes the whole paradigm.  Knowledge creates the paradigm.  The Mandate are created specifically to both perpetuate the Prophecy and to be ready for it's fulfillment.

Good point. I guess it's all in your perspective, eh?

That's the crux of these books though, haha.

Fair enough. I think my money's on Gilgaol actually sending the vision, but even if that's the case, I don't know what to make of it.

It's ambiguous for sure.  If it's just Kellhus, than it's a paradox we probably can't ever resolve.  If it's Gilgaol, or whatever God, then it's ordained.  Either way, it was still untrue when said 2,000 years ago, until it made itself true, 2,000 years later.
“I am a warrior of ages, Anasûrimbor . . . ages. I have dipped my nimil in a thousand hearts. I have ridden both against and for the No-God in the great wars that authored this wilderness. I have scaled the ramparts of great Golgotterath, watched the hearts of High Kings break for fury.” -Cet’ingira