[TGO Spoilers] Whale Mothers

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RedSetter4570

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« on: July 21, 2016, 01:29:24 am »
I'm confused and disturbed by many things in Great Ordeal.  But I do have to ask for further opinions on the Whale Mothers.  It was surmised or stated (I had the audiobook so I can't cite the passage) that Dunyain women are different from men, bred for breeding, and such much larger, less able to move around.  Yet Kellhus's 1/2 world born children, the girls at least, are either the hottest chick to ever spit sorcery, or a sranc-like being with superior intellect and the best dresses this side of Tim Gunn.  I can't wrap my head around how that whole thing works, or how the biology of the Dunyain male/females allows such.

[EDIT Madness: For title. I know it seems tedious but it's so members who browse the recent topics, unread posts, or see which was the most recent thread posted in don't inadvertently spoil themselves.]
« Last Edit: July 21, 2016, 02:38:05 am by Madness »
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Cüréthañ

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« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2016, 01:36:03 am »
Yeah, its pretty silly to me as well.  And Khellus explicitly selects Esme as a breeding partner because of her superior intelligence - which makes no sense in light of the whale mothers and the fact that Khellus is well acquainted with Dunyain breeding practice.  A real stumble in the world building - even if it's just a failure to foreshadow/explain whatever the rationale behind the dissonance is.

Should've just found a thick bodied healthy woman, nah?

edit; you double posted this thread man, I went ahead and deleted the other one for you ;)
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RedSetter4570

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« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2016, 01:52:40 am »
Thanks for the solid, guess I got over eager on hitting the post button!
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« Reply #3 on: July 21, 2016, 02:44:34 am »
Yeah, its pretty silly to me as well.  And Khellus explicitly selects Esme as a breeding partner because of her superior intelligence - which makes no sense in light of the whale mothers and the fact that Khellus is well acquainted with Dunyain breeding practice.  A real stumble in the world building - even if it's just a failure to foreshadow/explain whatever the rationale behind the dissonance is.

Call me foolish, Curethan, but I'm going to put it out there because it's sparked so much dissonance.

In the Q&A here, Bakker claimed to have had pieces of writing detailing the Whale-Mothers in TGO as far back as pre-TDTCB publication. It's possible there is something else going on here, in terms of being consistent with the world he's crafted?

Also, I've only the Westerosi or Wilshire to look to for really in-depth articulations - though, there was a thread on r/bakker too - about the biology of it all. What does happen to a broodmare? What happens to generations of broodmares? Doesn't Esmenet's composition affect matters at all? Certainly, Kellhus is much less likely to have a girl resembling the Whale-Mothers with Esmenet?
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« Reply #4 on: July 21, 2016, 03:36:14 am »
I'm not sure of your contention aside from the possibility of more successful daughters.
 
I mean, even there we have foreshadowing that seems to dismiss that possibility; where previous volumes' "what has come before" state that Khellus requires sons.

Sure, there is the probability that there is more going on, but that isn't really the point as far as my dissatisfaction (except insofar as there is no hint of anything more going on).

I look at it as a world-building issue for now.  I mean that in terms of consistency from a reader's perspective, something Bakker is usually very, very good at in my eyes. And for me it is worse than 'why not Chorae plus Wracu?'.

The whale-mothers just contradict many implications of character actions, in-world consequence and assumptions from real-world experience without much set-up or explanation. It is used as the premier example of why the Dunyain are objectively evil and then simply left at that without further edification.
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« Reply #5 on: July 21, 2016, 03:47:28 am »
I'm not sure of your contention aside from the possibility of more successful daughters.
 
I mean, even there we have foreshadowing that seems to dismiss that possibility; where previous volumes' "what has come before" state that Khellus requires sons.

Sure, there is the probability that there is more going on, but that isn't really the point as far as my dissatisfaction (except insofar as there is no hint of anything more going on).

I look at it as a world-building issue for now.  I mean that in terms of consistency from a reader's perspective, something Bakker is usually very, very good at in my eyes. And for me it is worse than 'why not Chorae plus Wracu?'.

The whale-mothers just contradict many implications of character actions, in-world consequence and assumptions from real-world experience without much set-up or explanation. It is used as the premier example of why the Dunyain are objectively evil and then simply left at that without further edification.

Hmm... somewhere I've been unclear.

My only "contention," I think, is why it's perceived automatically as implausible in-world and why that should cause the reader such dissonance.

If Bakker had drafts of the Whale-Mother passages done pre-TDTCB release, then it implies to me that Earwa doesn't reflect our real-world "causal mechanics" so much as we previously thought. Or real-world generations of broodmares do eventually resemble Tleilaxu Axolotl tanks. Or that Esmenet's contribution to their progeny would yield normal, human-looking daughters.

Also, Bakker addressed the Chorae/Wracu gripe in the Wracu and Chorae and in another secondary thread with some interesting responses.
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« Reply #6 on: July 21, 2016, 03:56:33 am »
Hmm... somewhere I've been unclear.

My only "contention," I think, is why it's perceived automatically as implausible in-world and why that should cause the reader such dissonance.

If Bakker had drafts of the Whale-Mother passages done pre-TDTCB release, then it implies to me that Earwa doesn't reflect our real-world "causal mechanics" so much as we previously thought. Or real-world generations of broodmares do eventually resemble Tleilaxu Axolotl tanks. Or that Esmenet's contribution to their progeny would yield normal, human-looking daughters.

I get you now. I kinda covered this above - the three-fold issues (implications of character actions, in-world consequence and description and assumptions from real-world experience) combine into a gripe greater than the sum of it's parts in my head. It's not the fact of the Whale-mothers - it is the execution that sucks.

Quote
Also, Bakker addressed the Chorae/Wracu gripe in the Wracu and Chorae and in another secondary thread with some interesting responses.

Thanks man, I have browsed those Chorae/Wracu discussions. Not that it was ever much of an issue to me. ;)
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Wilshire

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« Reply #7 on: July 21, 2016, 02:14:11 pm »
Why do people assume the Whale Mother's weren't intelligent? I can't remember if that's stated by mimara or not.

If its not said, I can't imagine that they would be unintelligent. That, at least, would be consistent with finding an intelligent woman to bare dunayin children, since Kellhus/Moenghus wouldn't be able to find a true dunyain woman.

I totally get the criticism of them, though they didn't bother me. There needs to be more exposition on how/why they came to be. Women baring a differing portion of the Mission compared to men is fine, but a few more words on the matter would have gone a long way.

 Bakker responded somewhat generally to the criticisms in a TPB post. He mentions that the Logos and other Earwa-metaphysics things somehow allow for this type of gender dysmorphia. That's nice I guess but does little to explain what is actually happening there. Evidently Bakker thinks that we have either already received enough information on the subject and haven't figured it out yet (regarding logos/metaphysics/subjective-realities, etc.), or that information later on will reveal to us the greater workings of the world. I'm inclined to the latter. Once TUC wraps up, I assume we'll have all the information required to unravel the remaining mysteries - barring actual mistakes.

I doubt the entire Whale-Mother thing is as poorly thought out as some people suggest. So far, nothing in the series has been, so I have faith. Unfortunately, the series as a whole is about layered revelations, so until the story is done there just isn't currently sufficient in-text evidence to satisfy all critics.
« Last Edit: July 21, 2016, 02:16:12 pm by Wilshire »
One of the other conditions of possibility.

Cosi

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« Reply #8 on: July 21, 2016, 02:22:05 pm »
I'd guess that the Whale Mothers are intelligent, and the physical dysmorphia is required to support full-blooded Dunyain children ("the seed is too strong"). Doesn't explain why Serwa and Thelopia look human though. Maybe the Whale Mother gene is recessive?

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« Reply #9 on: July 21, 2016, 03:14:39 pm »
I'd guess that the Whale Mothers are intelligent, and the physical dysmorphia is required to support full-blooded Dunyain children ("the seed is too strong"). Doesn't explain why Serwa and Thelopia look human though. Maybe the Whale Mother gene is recessive?

It's been a long, long time since Biology class, but there are possible explanations in a double recessive genes, which if non-Dunyain humans have a dominant one, or even series of linked alleles that mean that inbreeding (which the Dunyain certainly are) will give Whale-Mothers almost all the time (between Dunyain parents).  We actually don't know how many "defective" (i.e. closer to familiar human) females there ever were, so there certainly is plausibility in just being pretty simple genetics.
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Wilshire

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« Reply #10 on: July 21, 2016, 03:20:05 pm »
For the sake of argument: for example IRL, all cell organelles are given to you by your mother. Some organelles, like mitochondria, have their own DNA that is entirely separate from all the DNA in your body - different than everything else that "make you you".
Could be that the Dunyain women are infected, accidentally or on purpose, with some special something. Could be a mutation in the mitochondria, or for some reason a special organelle, or a virus embedded in one of those organelles. These types of things could happen IRL. At any rate some change that occurs would only be passed from Dunyain mothers to Dunayin children. A Dunyain father and a world-born woman would simply never be able to pass along whatever it is that this change was. Never. (This is why there is a "mitochondrial eve", ie we can trace our genetic line back, from woman to woman, to a single mother of the species.)

Btw, the assumption would be that whatever makes the Whale-Mothers so big, and whatever it is that keeps the Dunyain male children relatively normal, is due to this special/mutated/extra organelle. When its lost, you get screwed up half-dunyain and relatively physically normal looking female children.

Also, the Rape of Omindalea, I believe, is exceedingly important. This is a direct causal link for nonman genetics in the Anasurimbor. We could further assume, then, that whatever this mutation or virus or whatever it is that makes Dunyain and/or Whale-Mothers is something that can only affect/infect/effect those humans that have their genetics intertwined with the Anasurimbor line. A species specific thing that always affected Nonmen, and their giant whale-like women that we conveniently never see, and found its way to Ishual.


That turned into a bigger post than I expected. Anyway, there are plenty of reasons why Whale-Mothers could exist IRL. Assuming that they can't, I think, is more of a knee-jerk reaction at the disturbia of the scene rather than any real thinking through of possibilities.

Anyway, this is only a worthwhile discussion if you believe that everything in Earwa is the same as it is in our universe. Its not. We've got magic, special metaphysics, and alien interbreeding genetics going on. There should be some way to incorporate any of that into the "why/how whale-mother" question. However, if you want earth/human genetics, there you go.  If you want other options to make this happen, let me know. I'm sure several other examples can be found.
« Last Edit: July 21, 2016, 03:24:08 pm by Wilshire »
One of the other conditions of possibility.

RedSetter4570

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« Reply #11 on: July 22, 2016, 01:47:13 am »
A recessive trait,  or traits, exploited over thousands and thousands of generations makes sense, kind of like how birds have different colors, or frog females are larger than males.  Those without the recessive traits would be culled.  The Dunyain are an extremely small gene pool, I mean we have met what?  Four Dunyain, and they all were named Anasurimbor?   By bringing in world born genes, the recessive traits are erased.  Considering how many of Kehllus's children would not be considered defective (2?) it illustrates how many Dunyain children reach adulthood, much less breed, which indicates how exclusive the genes are.
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« Reply #12 on: July 22, 2016, 06:31:21 am »
For this if he wanted to he could invoke the Nonmen genes, with the Tall their is precedent for the enormous size. If those genes for the Tall lay dormant within the Anasurimbor line then the genes could have been activated during the breeding project and only expressed in the females. The Dunyain Elders seeing this could have selected for it to become dominant in all females. These females would be full Dunyain but of great size. They would have been selected for native intelligence like the male's, but imprisoned and maimed before their size made them unmanageable.

It is a interesting thought of what an unbound Dunyain female would be like, would they be like Oirunas or Ciogli? If they were as capable as their men has intelligent it must have been an unimaginable life for them. Think of how fast Kellhus thinks and then not be to move or speak until death, cloaked in eternal darkness. They could have calculated to the day in minutes and hours of how long this would last. The Elders must have kept them sequestered as children from all the boys, they could have guessed for themselves why their were no grown females about and sought escape or death.

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« Reply #13 on: July 22, 2016, 03:27:11 pm »
I think the Dunyain would have lobotomized them, this would solve the managability problem while having no dysgenic effects for future breeding.
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if Kellhus was thinking all of this, he's going to freak out when he get's back and Kelmomas is all "i lieks to eatum peeples da"

the whole thing is orchestrated by Kellhus who is wearing a Bashrag as if it were a suit

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« Reply #14 on: July 22, 2016, 04:39:12 pm »
This is why I invoked Wilshire's perspective.

Also, Wilshire, now that the book is out in the open we should check out your mind-map as the Survivor ruminates on the "twelve Germs," which are implied to be the twelve seed groups the Dunyain started with.
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