[TGO Spoilers] Whale Mothers

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Titan

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« Reply #30 on: August 08, 2016, 05:24:01 pm »
You need a couple of guys around to teach, a couple of the most promising 20-somethings thinking and working in TTT, and those that are too old to think/work breeding. Once a son is identified that will likely surpass one of the elders, I'm sure they'd kill off the elder.

4 to 8 dunyain adults, maybe only a half dozen mothers and a few children. Could be as little as 10 - 15 people at once.

That seems a bit on the low side, especially considering the massive amount of work done at Ishual. The tunneling of all those massive spaces, those massive structures. The population must have been bigger - even if they only kept the 'defectives' around as a work force.

I would multiply your population estimate by 10. At least.

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« Reply #31 on: August 08, 2016, 05:32:05 pm »
A few other points to indicate a larger populace.

1) Koringhus muses on 'those who left and the suicides' like he didn't know them.  Seems with a low population, everyone would know everyone.

2) The Dunyain wouldn't be so agreeable to exiling/giving up people (Moenghus and Kellhus) if there were that few of them.

3) They held off an army of sranc and nonmen in the TTH for years.  Even considering their superiority in just about every way, they would need many to achieve that.

4) Regarding the above point, I think Koringhus states that many lost their lives to the Quya (sorcery) before they went underground.

I would hazard hundreds rather than tens.
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« Reply #32 on: August 08, 2016, 05:37:15 pm »
You need a couple of guys around to teach, a couple of the most promising 20-somethings thinking and working in TTT, and those that are too old to think/work breeding. Once a son is identified that will likely surpass one of the elders, I'm sure they'd kill off the elder.

4 to 8 dunyain adults, maybe only a half dozen mothers and a few children. Could be as little as 10 - 15 people at once.

That seems a bit on the low side, especially considering the massive amount of work done at Ishual. The tunneling of all those massive spaces, those massive structures. The population must have been bigger - even if they only kept the 'defectives' around as a work force.

I would multiply your population estimate by 10. At least.

I really severely doubt that Ishual was built in any capacity by The Dunyain.  We've bandied the idea around (or at least, I have) that Ishual is an abandoned Nonman mansion.  From it's name being Ihrimsu to Kellhus remarking how the mansion at Kyudea looked so much like Ishual leads me to conclude there is  really no way the Dunyain made Ishual in any capacity, let alone dug out the massive complex that is The Thousand Thousand Halls.
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Wilshire

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« Reply #33 on: August 08, 2016, 06:01:39 pm »
Just depends where you want to cast your doubts.

Since they apparently had minimal means to support a large population, until we get information otherwise I'd rather assume they don't have  one.

2000 years of digging is a long time, but you'd need quite the army, slaves or superhuman worker-bees, if 100% of Ishual was built by the dunyain. 10 or 10,000 would likely not be enough.

For sranc, Koringhus survived for years on his own caring a child. That miracle aside, assume the others are nearly as competent. A very small army of dunyain would be able to hold off an indefinite number of sranc for a long time. Its not about killing them, its about living. And live they did. A large population, again, needs sustenance and is harder to hide. Smaller is more likely to succeed in this case than larger.

"Like he didn't know them" - or like they were not worth remembering since they were failures. I doubt they kept close count of the defectives.

Per giving them up - the opposite to what you said. They need to keep the population small. Once a superior specimen is available to replace the older one, the older one would be sent out or killed. Kellhus replaced Moenghus, Koringhuis replaced Kellhus.

"Many lost their lives" is a relative term. If you've got 10 people, 4 is many (not to suggest only 6 went into the halls). If you've got 10million people then 10,000 is negligible. No way to use that for numbers.

They would never use defectives as a workforce, waste of resources. We know that only the best, most agile of limb and mind worked on the halls - it was a form of meditation and training, not just some monument building exercise like the pyramids.

Multiplying my number by 10 is too arbitrary. Why stop at 10? How about 10,000? 10 million?

In addition, we've never seen flashbacks or memories of any large gatherings. Everything has been left to a small handful. If there were hundreds of people milling around, harvesting food, excavating the Halls, etc. etc., I'd think that there would have been at least some descriptions to that effect. Ishual is not a huge place, all those people must have been somewhere. [edit: obvious answer: they were all in the halls always]


Now, if we start with the assumption that they had the means, whatever they were, to support a relatively large population, then hundreds is not unreasonable. Ishual wasn't particularly well hidden, a large population would go undetected just as well as a small one as long as no one was looking. If they had the resources, larger groups should be able to fight off the attackers. If there were enough of them and they never ran out of food, then they should have eventually killed all of the attackers. Clearly that wasn't the case, so there must have been few enough for them to lose.

In my mind, it makes sense for there to be less than 100 rather than more. Big groups of Dunyain doesn't jive with my psyche for some reason. Get too many of them together and you've got an unstoppable force, especially with home field advantage in the darkness of the halls.
« Last Edit: August 08, 2016, 06:04:11 pm by Wilshire »
One of the other conditions of possibility.

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« Reply #34 on: August 09, 2016, 10:40:43 pm »
Well, didn't Bakker say in the Q&A that hea had scenes deleted that went into the day to day lives of the Dûnyain. Farming and sustenance and so on. My guess is there are a few 1000 Dûnyain that lived in Ishüal.

As for the TTH, doesn't Akka remark how different they are from Cil-Aujus? That everything was mathematical and no ornament at all. I think they were built by the Dûnyain and I think there are several quotes to back that up.
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Callan S.

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« Reply #35 on: August 13, 2016, 11:02:53 pm »
SMBC helps explain whale mothers? http://www.smbc-comics.com/comic/adam39s-rib


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« Reply #36 on: August 14, 2016, 11:22:16 am »
The Dunyain would have to number in the hundreds at the least.  The room full of neuropunctured defectives not only requires producing enough defectives to match turnover but also enough food to feed them, the rest of the Dunyain, the unsorted children, and the Whale Mothers.  Ishual doesn't exactly have a year round growing climate and that's a lot of work.  Now Scott mentions that the Dunyain use labour to condition the body so I imagine that everyone works in the fields during the productive months and spends the winter hacking more passages in earth, but there needs to be a substantial agricultural labour force to support so many extra mouths.

I was a little disappointed in the Axotl Tank Whale Mothers (Dune's great, but its flawed as well as glorious and we've been there before), but this is partially ameliorated by Scott making clear the horror inherent in this concept.  Tongueless women strapped down with iron bands and condemned to an endless cycle to rape and pregnancy is pretty damn horrific.   

Callan S.

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« Reply #37 on: August 15, 2016, 04:31:37 am »
I'm not sure agriculture needs to be that great, when you can eat acorns raw and other short cuts like that. If you look up various gardening sites, you'll find some people providing a lot of food from a very small amount of land.

But you know what would be evil fun - if the Dunyain, with their penchant for efficiency, have been eating sranc all along...

With the whale mothers, really perhaps 9 out of 10 (or some ratio) female babies are human normal and the whale mother mutant is rare. But the female babies that seem normal to us are...sent off to Happyberinth and play in the thousand, thousand ballpits. While the rarer whale mothers are kept.

I mean what if they looked relatively normal - it wouldn't matter. The dunyain males would still treat them horrifically. In a world of meaning it just seems, like a topos, that horrific treatment has taken it's toll on the victims bodies themselves as well, making them all the more victims of misogyny.

Cynical Cat

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« Reply #38 on: August 15, 2016, 06:39:01 am »
Gardening is part of agriculture.  It's small scale agriculture and it requires a considerable amount of labor when you add it all up.  The Dunyain have enough space around them and probably enough manpower, but those Whale Mothers are going to require a lot of calories.  Adults doing hard physical labor also require a lot of food and you're going to need to generate a surplus to cover the bad years and up north there are going to be bad years.  So yeah, they can do it but there has to generate enough extra food to cover them, the Whale Mothers, the kids, the rooms full of defectives, and the surplus while living in a region with a limited growing season.  So they need a good sized work force.

The Sharmat

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« Reply #39 on: August 16, 2016, 07:32:59 pm »
I really hate the whale-mothers. Felt like beating a dead horse and stretched my suspension of disbelief too far. When I first read the previews I held out some hope that maybe Dunyain women just ended up that way once impregnated and it was some kind of weird second-puberty, but nah, seems like they're born incubators and lack Dunyain emotional stunting and conditioning for yet another example of "Hey don't women have it bad?"

This will be criticized for being more examples of Bakker's horrible misogyny but I think it's the opposite. It's some really extreme feminist message at this point.

In any case: Considering the whale mothers are so primed for reproduction that they become gravid, I think there's a deceptively high population somehow. You don't get women that look like naked mole rat queens unless yoou intend to have them survive producing dozens to hundreds of offspring. I suppose this could be offset by aggressive culling of inferior specimens, and possibly lots of crippling congenital deformities from inbreeding depression, but still. Guessing there are no less than 5,000 or so people in and around Ishual at any given time.
« Last Edit: August 16, 2016, 07:35:41 pm by The Sharmat »

Cynical Cat

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« Reply #40 on: August 17, 2016, 08:49:51 am »

This will be criticized for being more examples of Bakker's horrible misogyny but I think it's the opposite. It's some really extreme feminist message at this point.

That's the impression I get from it as well.  Bakker's writing fantasy as if it was as nasty as real life, and in many ancient cultures being lower class and/or a woman was a life full of suck.  In the Prince of Nothing, all the terrible shit that happened with Esmenet filled me with outrage for the unfairness of it, not at the author but at the world that trapped her.  This is a series of books that has two different armies slaughter all their slaves, one of them taking slaves out into the wilderness knowing that they're going to have to kill them, and not one, but two world ending Apocalypses.   Bad things happen to powerless people and even power is no guarantee of safety.

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« Reply #41 on: August 17, 2016, 03:04:50 pm »
This will be criticized for being more examples of Bakker's horrible misogyny but I think it's the opposite. It's some really extreme feminist message at this point.

It's already happening, TS.

Basically everything I've learned of "feminist philosophy," I learned because of interacting with these texts while I happened to be able to take university courses in analogous philosophy credits.

For one, I know that I don't know enough (as much as Bakker) to analyze these texts properly in relation to that tradition but also that most of the discussion online misses that a lot of "feminist philosophy" is less about gendered prejudice - though that certainly is a specialized focus for some academics and writers - and more about questions of form, identity, and personal agency.
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Parsh

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« Reply #42 on: August 17, 2016, 04:16:26 pm »
I will admit that I was somewhat surprised that the Dunyain went in the direction Bakker took them. What I mean is, when a medieval-ish and/or tribal society is presented, and kind of equality between the sexes would be more surprising than not. So when we're presented a world in which rape and abuse of women is common, that doesn't strike me as "here's an author with misogynistic tendencies."

So we have the Dunyain. And for my part I've always said that Kellhus as their representative is a mixture of appealing and appalling. But with the way that they see through the arbitrary nature of culture, as the darkness that comes before, I thought we might see something like equality. But of course, there also hasn't really been any hint of that.

And, of course, we have it on the authority of the Judging Eye that, in this world at least, women are "less" than men. In other words, it's not "just" cultural. And I can see how that opens Bakker up to criticism: it's an artistic choice he's making, but why this choice?

But then, I'm an atheist. I don't believe that our world is one in which damnation, gods, etc are true concepts. Should I get all bent out of shape because this secondary world is one where those are objective facts? Earwa isn't our world, even if it sometimes rhymes with it. The world is a big what if: what if the world worked this way. And one of the deep things about this world is that even though it works differently (at least, I'm pretty sure it works differently) from our world, it's still true that, just as in our world, the exact nature of that reality is not exactly obvious or agreed upon by everyone.

Anyway, that's my $.02.

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« Reply #43 on: August 17, 2016, 08:00:06 pm »
I was reminded by the TV tropes page of the idea that the Dunyain are really beyond what is possible with human breeding. I think that idea helps contrast it, given the fantasy world is one where if you want something really, really badly then it's actually more likely to happen (or can happen even though it should be impossible).

So we're accepting that the Dunyain males can snatch arrows out of the air, which is, let's say an example of being beyond human breeding potential. But the other extreme for the whale mothers, we reject?

The Sharmat

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« Reply #44 on: August 18, 2016, 01:13:10 am »
I think Bakker perhaps goes even farther than the worst bronze age societies in the world in terms of treatment of women. Humans are human. Even in horribly restrictive societies like early Hebrew states or Assyria or what have you, I think we must presume men loved their wives, daughters, and sisters; for the most part. And I also think it's important to remember that no society on Earth has been a perfect expression of its codified social mores. There will always be dissenters, favoritism, and simple incompetence. In systems we'd find morally acceptable as well as in ones we consider abhorrent.


And, of course, we have it on the authority of the Judging Eye that, in this world at least, women are "less" than men. In other words, it's not "just" cultural. And I can see how that opens Bakker up to criticism: it's an artistic choice he's making, but why this choice?
Ahh...but are they less equal because the God of Gods deems them such...or because Mimara has been taught that they are such? I'm gonna keep pushing that crackpot.

So we're accepting that the Dunyain males can snatch arrows out of the air, which is, let's say an example of being beyond human breeding potential. But the other extreme for the whale mothers, we reject?
That stretched my disbelief too. But this need not be a double standard. When it keeps piling on, something has to be the final straw for some people. If we were introduced to the whale mothers first and Kellhus' super-hero levels of strength and speed second, I'd feel the same way, I think.