TDTCB, Ch. 12

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« on: April 19, 2013, 10:21:46 am »
Quote from: kalstone
I had some free time and I thought I would throw up a quick summary to keep the discussion going.

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I have explained how Maithanet yoked the vast resources of the Thousand Temples to ensure the viability of the Holy War.  I have described, in outline, the first steps taken by the Emperor to bind the Holy War to his imperial ambitions.  I have attempted to reconstruct the initial reaction of the Cishaurim in Shimeh from their correspondence with the Padirajah in Nenciphon.  And I have even mentioned the hated Consult, of whom I can at long last speak without fear of ridicule.  I have spoken, in other words, almost exclusively of powerful factions and their impersonal ends.  What of vengeance?  What of hope?  Against the frame of competing nations and warring faiths, how did these small passions come to rule the Holy War?
Drusas Achamian, Compendium of the First Holy War

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... though he consorts with man, woman, and child, though he lays with beasts and makes a mockery of his seed, never shall he be as licentious as the philospher, who lays with all things imaginable.
Inri Sejenus, Scholars, 36, 21, The Tractate
Early Spring, 4111 Year-of-the-Tusk, the Northern Jiünati Steppe

Cnaiür takes a journey to the burial ground of his fathers.  He finds a few dead men and a mountain of dead Sranc surrounding Kellhus who sits atop a barrow.  Cnaiür sees the resemblance to Moënghus, but Kellhus loses consciousness before he can be questioned.  Cnaiür realizes that they are atop his father's barrow.

Cnaiür's wives nurse Kellhus back to health.  His arrival has given Cnaiür the hope that he could lead him to Moënghus to gain revenge.  He has a flashback to Moënghus' arrival at the Utemont camp as a slave captured from the Sranc.  He recalls his slow seduction by Moënghus and how Moënghus opened his mind beyond the narrow ways of the Scylvendi.  Moënghus helps him become chieftain by killing his father, but when his mother gives birth to Moënghus' son and is killed by the other women in the tribe, Cnaiür realizes how much he had been used by the Dûnyain.  Though he is chieftain, he has earned the derision of his people, and he knows how poisoned the gift was.  He has longed for revenge since, and now it seems fate has delivered the means to achieve it.

Cnaiür cautiously approaches Kellhus to determine his mission.  He is astonished by the ease with which Kellhus analyzes his current situation.  Cnaiür says, "Perhaps I should think like a Sranc" and has him tortured.  That night, Cnaiür returns to him and Kellhus tells him his mission is to kill his father.

Kellhus and Cnaiür set out together.  Cnaiür remains as silent as possible, trying to protect himself.  Kellhus tells him why he must kill Moënghus, but Cnaiür does not believe him.  Kellhus realizes that Cnaiür is highly resistant to his power due to his knowledge of the Dûnyain.  He decides "Nothing deceived so well as the truth" and tells Cnaiür much about the Dûnyain and their power over non-Conditioned men.  Even this fails, and Kellhus realizes that Cnaiür cannot be controlled as other men and that he also is insane.

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« Reply #1 on: April 19, 2013, 10:22:02 am »
Quote from: Triskele
Is this the chapter where, in a flashback, Moenghus asks Sciotha if he's been measured?  That was awesome.

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« Reply #2 on: April 19, 2013, 10:22:14 am »
Quote from: Madness
Real cool, kalstone. Cheers.

Ch. 6, Trisk :).

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« Reply #3 on: April 19, 2013, 10:22:24 am »
Quote from: Mog Kellhus
One of my favourite chapters in general.The first meeting between Cnaiur and Kellhus is great but what i like most is their journey across Suskara,mainly from Cnaiur's perspective.I think that it was here that he became my favourite character,he is the only one(with the exception of Conphas)who resists the Dunyain's possession and he managed that while he was alone with him for many days(weeks?).Only after Serwe joined them Kellhus finally managed to control him and even then he surprised him many times with his actions.The flashback with Moenghus and young Cnaiur was also cool and very interesting.All in all a great chapter!!!

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« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2013, 10:22:38 am »
Quote from: lockesnow
what a chapter, tis a slog!  Again the structure of the book makes this so frustrating, I feel as though we get about two or three chapters worth of material here, and it's difficult to ruminate on any one thing when this chapter advances so fucking rapidly.

Anyone else note that Kellhus tells Cnaiur many things about the Dunyain and then it switches to Kellhus' perspective after these "reveals" and at this point Kellhus decides that perhaps he should try the truth rather than misleading the Barbarian?

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« Reply #5 on: April 19, 2013, 10:22:47 am »
Quote from: Triskele
Madness - You have shamed me and reminded me that measure is unceasing. 

lockesnow - Are you saying that we ought not trust what Kellhus told Nayu about the Dunyain?

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« Reply #6 on: April 19, 2013, 10:23:13 am »
Quote from: Madness
You think you have been measured like measure is a thing accomplished and forgotten but old measure is simply grounds for the new, Triskele... measure is unceasing.

Also, measure has momentarily lost its meaning.

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« Reply #7 on: April 19, 2013, 10:23:23 am »
Quote from: lockesnow
Quote from: Triskele
Madness - You have shamed me and reminded me that measure is unceasing. 

lockesnow - Are you saying that we ought not trust what Kellhus told Nayu about the Dunyain?
yeah

presumably at this point Kellhus has rehearsed and perfected many explanations about himself in Atraithau and he is feeding Cnaiur these lines.  Note that he drops most/all of these after these experiences with Cnaiur and goes with the Prince narrative when he reaches THW.

The important thing seems to be that Kellhus deciding to use the Truth to Deceive comes AFTER telling Cnaiur details of the Dunyain.  We should probably presume that everything Kellhus reveals is misleading at best and outright lies at most.

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« Reply #8 on: April 19, 2013, 10:23:33 am »
Quote from: kalstone
So to recap, things Kellhus says before deciding to tell the truth:

1. My father summoned me.
2. The Dunyain were discovered by a band of Sranc.
3. Moe was sent out to determine the extent of the exposure, but was determined to be too contaminated to return.
4. He contacted them through dreams.
5. The purity of the Dunyain and the possession of the Logos had to be protected.

If we can trust the Prologue, we know that 1, 4 and 5 are true.  So the story about the band of Sranc must be a lie.  I wonder if Cnaiur's wives told Kellhus that Moe arrived in a band of Sranc.

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« Reply #9 on: April 19, 2013, 10:23:41 am »
Quote from: lockesnow
actually we don't know 5 is true because we don't know if the Dunyain possess the Logos, don't they seek the Logos?

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« Reply #10 on: April 19, 2013, 10:25:12 am »
Quote from: sologdin
Does the epigram reveal that DA told more than RSB’s narration?  The phrase “I have explained how Maithanet yoked the vast resources of the Thousand Temples” (I.12 at 334) is suggestive of some omission.

We again are in great man theory of history with the tyranny of “small passions” (id.).

An oddity that “the horror of the man on the summit” is sufficient to “transcend the abyss between their races” (I.12 at 338) for CuS.  Not sure if that’s a comment about racial antipathy in general, Scylvendi politics, or just CuS personally.

CuS notes that the burial mounds are an “ancient earthen record of his blood” (id.).  An oddity, perhaps salient later.

CuS notes that self  “degradation was a potent tool” for AK (I.12 at 340).  Noted as an incidental. 

“Violence between men fostered an unaccountable intimacy” (I.12 at 342).  Uh, okay?

Moenghus’ lesson, wherein “words are like journeys” (I.12 at 343), regarding the trackless step (I.12 at 342-48) takes us back to IC’s commentary that the Scylvendi are “obsessed with custom (I.6 at 188).

When CuS sees “his people through the eyes of an outsider” (I.12 at 344), we are in brechtian estrangement:  “stripping the event of its self-evident, familiar, obvious quality and creating a sense of astonishment and curiosity about them.”  RSB is accordingly Epic Theatre.

“To question everything.  To ride the Trackless Steppe” (I.12 at 344) is the master figure of this chapter, and we might keep it in mind going forward.  It is certainly cartesian doubt.

CuS learns that the Dunyain are “guides and trackers” along the Trackless Steppe, seeking the “Shortest Way”  (I.12 at 345). “Of all the world, we alone have awakened from the dread slumber of custom” (id.).  They are therefore engaged in cartesian doubt, awakening like Kant from a dogmatic slumber.

CuS “had taken pride in transcending his kinsmen, in being more” (I.12 at 346).  Noting the superhuman again.

CuS knows that he “was the knife,” wielded by AM (id.).  A nifty progression thereafter:  AM noted to be a “whirlwind” (I.12 at 347).  Hmm. The whirlwind makes everything “violently rewritten” (id.)  During the whirlwind rewriting, routine communications became “chits in some mad game” (id.).  Which game, one wonders, involves a situation wherein “order had replaced order”?

Nod to ideology theory with the acknowledgement that “The thoughts he had called his own had all along belonged to another” (I.12 at 348).  That this is the default condition of thinking is the next inference that should come.  CuS is a step ahead of the pack in recognizing in part the external origin of ideas.

Anything bizarre going on when CuS “squatted before the entrance flap and touched to fingers to the ground, bringing them to his lips,” comforted, despite “the reasons for it were long dead”? (I.12 at 350). 

CuS adopts Nietzschean slave morality in doing “the contrary of many things [AK says], simply because it is AK who [says] it” (I.12 at 351).

“Most violent of all men” (I.12 at 354)!

The plot becomes AM’s trackless steppe metaphor when AK & CuS enter “the Jiunati interior” (I.12 at 357).

AK states (lies?) that “only the Logos allows one to mitigate that slavery,” i.e., of causality (I.12 at 358).  if this is a true statement of dunyain philosophy, then they’re the most mystical of the bunch.

CuS is a “chorus of signs, a living text” for AK to read (I.12 at 359).  though this is presented as an exceptional skill of AK’s, the point of dunyain magic, it really is the pedestrian rule of everyday life.

CuS objects to dunyain philosophy to the extent it is “Womanish deception. An outrage against honour!” (I.12 at 364).  aside from the predictably barbarian gender politics, we get a pre-feudal insistence on honor.  that this “makes all men your foes” should not automatically convert the dunyain into hobbesians.

nice summary of deconstructionist methodology:  “Moenghus had used the Steppe, the central figure of Scylvendi belief, as his primary vehicle.  By exploiting the metaphoric inconsistency between the trackless Steppe and the deep tracks of Scylvendi custom, he’d been able to steer Cnaiur toward acts that would have otherwise been unimaginable” (I.12 at 366) (emphasis added).  emphasized bits call to our attention the rhetorical nature of the dunyain/deconstructionist method.

we also find that history “is anathema to the dunyain” (I.12 at 367), which is curious, except that it fits well with the dunyain as demanian deconstructionists on the one hand, and involuntarist idiots on the other.

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« Reply #11 on: April 19, 2013, 10:25:35 am »
Quote from: Triskele
So Moenghus is the No-God?

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« Reply #12 on: April 19, 2013, 10:25:46 am »
Quote from: sologdin
nah.  he's just a chump.  NG is adams' whale.

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« Reply #13 on: April 19, 2013, 10:25:56 am »
Quote from: Madness
I think throughout Cnaiur's perspective, indeed, many who reflect on the Dunyain (with or without that knowledge) end up using whirlwind metaphor, asking the self-same questions of the Dunyain as the No-God asks of the World in their reflections.

Good call on adams' whale lol.

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« Reply #14 on: April 19, 2013, 10:26:15 am »
Quote from: Church
Lockesnow talked about in an earlier chapter, and Solo picked up here as well, the idea of AK being able to 'read' people. The full quote is this:

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He became a chorus of signs, a living text, and Kellhus would read him. If these circumstances were to be owned, everything had to be measured.

If Kellhus is reading CuS, he's also trying to write him - make him a character who acts only in a way that fits Kellhus's narrative. Which leads me onto what Rowan Williams and other Christian apologists have written about narration (I wrote about this in an earlier chapter, but I think what I said then wasn't that coherent so I'll have another go!).

Williams, in a book on Dostoevsky, writes about the 'demonic narrator', a narrator who sees themself as entirely cut off from other human beings and who thinks of language as only a tool to reach their own ends. Which is pretty much what AK is - in his communication with other characters he is never changed (his mission remains, though we're still guessing what that is), and he speaks to make people do what he wants. This is not a good thing, as Williams says:

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someone who has lost the capacity to hear and speak, to engage humanly with others and to change in response, is already potentially a murderer. The crime comes out of the intensity of an inner dialogue that is practically never interrupted by a real other.

In William's view this kind of character is an impossibility, the result of acting like this is becoming like Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment, where actions are made not because of some supreme self-moving will but rather in complete confusion. I'm not sure what RSB means by AK's character in TSA, whether he's saying that this kind of control of self and others might actually be possible given enough technological progress (his blog would seem to support that idea). But, it does seem that RSB is edging towards the idea that language is primarily an instrument of control in the way that AK uses it, especially when he goes off on riffs about Dan Dennett. Which contrasts pretty strongly with the views of the Christian apologists, who see language as always being far more than a simple instrument. In their view the way it allows dialogue is far more important, as this shows how it can not just be simply instrumental. So, people can try to use language to make someone else do something, but the people being talked to can always respond in a way which does not meet the original speaker's intentions. And in speaking in a real dialogue people can form a mutual understanding which helps them both to move forwards in a positive way, and in so doing change themselves. So coming back to Williams he writes (drawing on Bakhtin):

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dialogue [is] the medium for the formation of persons... language itself is the embodiment of freedom

AK presents the opposite view, for him language is not freedom but the strongest form of control. There is no real dialogue with AK, as when he speaks with others he is not changed in any decisive manner, there is just him using speech to further his own ends. And if RSB believes that is true to even an approximate level I find that absolutely terrifying! AK is a demon, have no doubt about it...