[TGO Spoilers] Whale Mothers

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Callan S.

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« Reply #45 on: August 18, 2016, 03:04:37 am »
I don't think he goes any further, unfortunately. There are pick up artists who would protest vehemently that they don't hate women. But the thing is, they don't get that they don't hate women in the same way as a farmer doesn't hate his cattle. They can't see any other form of relation to women, so they think the whole 'hate' thing is misplaced in just that way. I'm inclined to think it's some kind of theory of mind retardation right at the genetic level.

And [controversial], I wonder if women picked for this gene expression at some point. I'm reminded of the lyrics "I don't care what you do to them,
just be good to me"

In stark nihilistic/darwinistic terms a male that damages other females but not the female that is you would mean your gene line would carry on while other females gene lines wouldn't, yeah?

But even ignoring the abhorance of that, all you have to do is lose the targeting for that female that isn't harmed and bang...you've picked for all females harmed.

Extra controversial - perhaps picking for 'He loves me and me alone' tends to make males that hold no love for women, to the point of destructive indifference?

The Sharmat

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« Reply #46 on: August 18, 2016, 04:48:19 am »
I don't think pick up artists are remotely comparable to historical (and in some cases, current) things like stoning a woman to death for "enticing" a man. Further, a lot of them are like that in their relations with any human. Just, y'know, not for sex.

Cynical Cat

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« Reply #47 on: August 18, 2016, 05:05:18 am »
I do think going so hard in for the misogyny is a mistake.  Sure there were ancient societies as bad (the Assyrians managed to be worse than the Greeks and the Romans who managed to pretty much push women out of public life), but not all of them were, and its just so god damn relentless its almost numbing.  A little variety would help the rest of it keep the impact.  It's not like the Dunyain don't do other horrible shit.  Anyone filled with joy about how they treat their defectives?  No, I didn't think so.

As for the Judging Eye, it's pretty clear that the judgement of God is nothing to yearn for.  Absolute morality means that the circumstances of your life and your decisions have no impact on how your judge.  Your beliefs about right and wrong have no impact.  The best reasoning of the wisest moral philosophers is worthless.  The only standard that matters is that which is upheald by an inhuman tyrant who punishes those that break its arbitrary rules with eternal damnation irregardless of weather or not those rules are just or not or that its victims even knew the proper rule set.  The Nonmen and Inchoroi seek to avoid God for very good reasons.

The Sharmat

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« Reply #48 on: August 18, 2016, 10:27:36 am »
That's an important recurrent theme in the series. It's very blatant in particular in that segment at Mengedda when Saubon asks his groom "Is good simply good because God wills it?" or something along those lines. If it is, then the statement is indistinguishable for all practical purposes from "Might makes right".

Cynical Cat

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« Reply #49 on: August 18, 2016, 10:39:24 am »
That's an important recurrent theme in the series. It's very blatant in particular in that segment at Mengedda when Saubon asks his groom "Is good simply good because God wills it?" or something along those lines. If it is, then the statement is indistinguishable for all practical purposes from "Might makes right".

I agree absolutely.  The question is actually closer "Is something right just because the gods ask it?" and the answer, according to Kesult's memories of the Tusk is "no." 

Wilshire

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« Reply #50 on: August 18, 2016, 01:13:02 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?

Except I'd like to note that in this case, both your examples are well within the realm of possible. There are plenty of videos of people catching arrows - even mythbusters did an episode of it. And though the jury may still be out, AFAIK no one has bothered trying to refute any of my claims regarding the possibility of whale mothers in this thread.

Its really hard to say what's outside the bounds of human capabilities. Check out any history of sports that measures things. Running, swimming, and cycling are really obvious, but such things as gymnastics are also quite interesting here. You'll find some extraordinary examples of "impossible" being achieved on a yearly basis. We are pretty entirely unaware of what the human body is capable of, though every 'now' we think that we've done it - we've achieved the best a human get do.

Or, if you want to get into Eugenics and sports, look into Kenyan distance runners.

Saying we know whats possible within the bounds of a few millenia of strict eugenic breeding is, imo, a ridiculous conceit. There is no basis for that projection. You might be able to figure out something simple, like for example, how fast a person can throw a baseball. There is a fulcrum and a lever, some force calculations on how much strain a ligament can handle before it snaps, but even then you have to assume some kind of maximum body size for a person. A 7' person would have a faster max pitch speed compared to a 5' person. The more complex the subject, the less anyone can say what is and isn't possible.
« Last Edit: August 18, 2016, 01:28:35 pm by Wilshire »
One of the other conditions of possibility.

Callan S.

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« Reply #51 on: August 19, 2016, 12:29:29 am »
The point is anyone who both says whale mothers are impossible but that the dunyain arrow catching/dodging is entirely possible, there's a conflict in their ideas.

For peeps who say both are possible, there is no conflict.


On the subject of gods, it seems to me salvation isn't - to accept salvation is to accept the massive eternal torture of plenty of people as counterpart to such 'salvation'. To condone it. 'Salvation' is kind of like becoming a prince of nazi's. Except I wouldn't even say the nazi's are as bad as the god things of Earwa.

The Sharmat

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« Reply #52 on: August 19, 2016, 04:46:09 am »
The point is anyone who both says whale mothers are impossible but that the dunyain arrow catching/dodging is entirely possible, there's a conflict in their ideas.

For peeps who say both are possible, there is no conflict.

I'd be willing to accept any small set of super human Dunyain abilities. I find them implausible merely in their sheer sum. I think you're kind of pigeonholing me here.

Callan S.

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« Reply #53 on: August 19, 2016, 06:34:54 am »
I'd say it's the logic doing the pigeonholing, not me.

But I've seen enough people cite 'logic' when they really just referenced their own preferences, so I'm not gunna say it's definitely not just my own preferences showing through. Could be.

Wilshire

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« Reply #54 on: August 19, 2016, 05:39:24 pm »
The point is anyone who both says whale mothers are impossible but that the dunyain arrow catching/dodging is entirely possible, there's a conflict in their ideas.

For peeps who say both are possible, there is no conflict.


Ah, that makes sense.

The point is anyone who both says whale mothers are impossible but that the dunyain arrow catching/dodging is entirely possible, there's a conflict in their ideas.

For peeps who say both are possible, there is no conflict.

I'd be willing to accept any small set of super human Dunyain abilities. I find them implausible merely in their sheer sum. I think you're kind of pigeonholing me here.

I find this very confusing. Why just a small set, and where do you draw the line? It seems like the harder task to come up with a logical rule for "this many things, but not that many", rather than accepting them all to start with and finding solace in the explanations that the book and/or others have put forth.

Have any of my justifications/explanations helped? If not, why? I'd like to think I help clarify things for people, but if I'm way off that mark I'd like to know why not, and how I might improve.
One of the other conditions of possibility.

The Sharmat

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« Reply #55 on: August 19, 2016, 05:46:15 pm »
I should probably talk about this with someone I know that actually knows a ton about selective breeding in particular. I'm in biology but that's not really my training. Things aren't always intuitive or even logical in the real world.

The point is anyone who both says whale mothers are impossible but that the dunyain arrow catching/dodging is entirely possible, there's a conflict in their ideas.

For peeps who say both are possible, there is no conflict.


Ah, that makes sense.

The point is anyone who both says whale mothers are impossible but that the dunyain arrow catching/dodging is entirely possible, there's a conflict in their ideas.

For peeps who say both are possible, there is no conflict.

I'd be willing to accept any small set of super human Dunyain abilities. I find them implausible merely in their sheer sum. I think you're kind of pigeonholing me here.

I find this very confusing. Why just a small set, and where do you draw the line? It seems like the harder task to come up with a logical rule for "this many things, but not that many", rather than accepting them all to start with and finding solace in the explanations that the book and/or others have put forth.

Have any of my justifications/explanations helped? If not, why? I'd like to think I help clarify things for people, but if I'm way off that mark I'd like to know why not, and how I might improve.
Where to draw the line is arbitrary but breeding for even one or two traits can be extremely time consuming, much less a wide variety at once that all need to appear in the same organism and may even be mutually exclusive. There's very few genes that actually follow Mendelian inheritance patterns. So far we've seen denser bones, stronger muscles, faster reflexes, keener eyesight, near perfect recall, enhanced hearing, enhanced smell, enhanced kinesthetic sense and proprioception, increased ability to analyze faces (something incredibly difficult already that utilize a ton of human wetware), extremely exaggerated primary and secondary sexual characteristics exclusive to the female sex (at least some of which completely reverse the human female trend to neoteny) increased fertility and the massive internal changes needed to support it, and an entirely novel (though cultivated in part by training) mode of cognition.

It's too much for me to believe in a mere two thousand years with an extremely small and likely homogeneous starting population.

Callan S.

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« Reply #56 on: August 19, 2016, 06:28:30 pm »
I think we keep skipping how in Earwa the more you want something the more likely it will happen. The time period doesn't really matter, it's how much they wanted it over time. Once we're freed up from merely 'what is possible' to what we want to be possible is possible (if we want it hard enough), what then?

I mean, it's kind of like accepting magic when it does fireballs out of thin air, but when it casts a disfiguring spell on women it's...not accepted?

Wilshire

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« Reply #57 on: August 19, 2016, 07:15:12 pm »
Yeah Callan I definitely get that, but I'm trying to avoid that path since often those that are thinking along the lines of The Sharmat simply ignore that line of reasoning entirely - so I'm trying to stay on their ground here.

I think I mentioned upthread at the end of one of my bigger posts that everything I said was moot based on nearly that exact same reasoning. Earwa's metaphysics entire screw with any hardline interpretation of what is/isn't possible for a person based on "how it works IRL".

But I've been trying to ignore that and show those who choose to believe Earwa works exactly like Earth does, or that somehow only certain parts of Earwa work just like Earth and not other parts, that most of what is said to be 'impossible IRL' is actually not only possible, but in many cases easy to explain.
One of the other conditions of possibility.

Wilshire

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« Reply #58 on: August 19, 2016, 07:59:15 pm »
Where to draw the line is arbitrary but breeding for even one or two traits can be extremely time consuming
How time consuming? 2000 years is a long time. We can speciate flys, though I'm not sure what the timeline is. Without any human studies of strict eugenics, what is the basis for possible/impossible on this timescale?

, much less a wide variety at once that all need to appear in the same organism and may even be mutually exclusive.
They also might just as easily be all selected for at once. Most of what you mention below are phenotypes that seem to run together.  Sure maybe not, but either way its just an assumption that's plucked from the ether.

There's very few genes that actually follow Mendelian inheritance patterns. So far we've seen denser bones, stronger muscles, faster reflexes, keener eyesight, near perfect recall, enhanced hearing, enhanced smell, enhanced kinesthetic sense and proprioception, increased ability to analyze faces (something incredibly difficult already that utilize a ton of human wetware), extremely exaggerated primary and secondary sexual characteristics exclusive to the female sex (at least some of which completely reverse the human female trend to neoteny) increased fertility and the massive internal changes needed to support it, and an entirely novel (though cultivated in part by training) mode of cognition.


I noticed you forgot to mention increased occurrence of the ability to see the Onta. How are you factoring in that trait, which we know must be heritable based on the Inchoroi ability to graft it into their genome.

How about nonman DNA in the genome? We know humans are neanderthal DNA, so such a thing is not unprecedented, and in fact likely vital to the survival of our species.

It's too much for me to believe in a mere two thousand years with an extremely small and likely homogeneous starting population.
Its actually extraordinarily unlikely that they started with a homogenous population, otherwise inbreeding would have stamped them out long ago. They must have been very genetically diverse to begin with to have any chance at all.

We do all kinds of crazy stuff by subjecting test animals to extreme environments. We've been able to speciate fruit flys by splitting a group and putting one in a hot environment and the other in cold. We've seen bacteria assimilate cyanide into their genome when forced with no alternative.

We have ethics, so we haven't any experiments to show how extreme eugenics might affect a base population of more complex creatures, but by extension, people could accomplish in their own population similar results over longer periods of time. So a few decades to speciate flys, who not two millennia to nearly speciate humans?

denser bones, stronger muscles, faster reflexes
These don't have to be genotype changes.
You get denser bones by hitting hard stuff all the time. See - martial arts.
Stronger muscles and reflexes are the same - simply training.
Don't you think if you took an extraordinary athlete from today, and threw him into the first olympic games, that people would perceive him as a god?
Michael Phelps makes Mark Spitz look like a JV player.
Usain Bolt would make Jesse Owens look like he was standing still. (their best times are over 1 second apart in a race that lasts ~10 seconds. That's 10%, or 10 meters.)
Are the achievements of the Dunyain any more miraculous?

keener eyesight,  enhanced hearing, enhanced smell, enhanced kinesthetic sense
These are hard to explain. I think you need eugenics for this. But how many generation? Is there anyway to estimate that?
Still though, phenotypic changes. Throw a kid into a dark labyrinth, his eyesight will underdeveloped and and his other senses hyper-develop.

 
faster reflexes ... proprioception... near perfect recall ... an entirely novel (though cultivated in part by training) mode of cognition.
These are all kind of the same thing. Increased cognitive ability would lead the the perceived quicking of reflexes, proprioception, and perfect recall. Yes, the dunyain's cognitive abilities are beyond what we have seen in humans. One might even say fantasy-esque.

Subjecting children to the kinds of extreme rigours that the dunyain do would likely lead to many of their traits as adults, including cognition. You can throw out genetics almost entirely for most of what we see. Adding in eugenics only heightens the odds that there is going to be some huge disparities between what is IRL and what we seen in the Dunyain.

So the big question: If it's possible, or conceivable in the very least, for parts of what are happening to the Dunyain to happen IRL, at what point do you factor in the idea that it just isn't Earth? Clearly the Dunyain are a fantastical breed of superhuman mutants in a fantasy world that don't exist IRL, but this isn't real life.

Why, if this or that combination of dunyain traits are possible, can't the rest be infused with a bit of fantasy? Why doesn't magic and subjective reality, alien non-human interbreeding and space farring alien, gods and demons, simply bridge that gap between "some of this can happen in real life" and "wow this is just too much to be real on Earth"?


Where to draw the line is arbitrary
But how and why did you draw it where you did, and why not choose to draw it somewhere else if it is in fact arbitrary?
Why not arbitrarily pick a line that leads to further enjoyment of the book?
Sure, you could pick to draw that line at magic and aliens and just throw the book in the fire, but you didn't. I'm asking about the why rather than the fact itself.
« Last Edit: August 19, 2016, 08:04:39 pm by Wilshire »
One of the other conditions of possibility.

sohorat

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« Reply #59 on: August 19, 2016, 08:49:16 pm »
Despite the fantastic elements of Earwa, Bakker is clearly obsessed with "rigor" with respect to his worldbuilding - however, that "rigor" seems to focus more on internal consistency than strict analogues to reality as we know it in our universe. 

Some of the metaphysical (quasi-physical?) elements of Earwa just seem intended to instantiate a "Scriptural" model of the universe (e.g., sorcerers getting "salted" by Chorae, which I think Bakker has explicitly admitted).

Clearly, the Whale Mothers jangles the nerves of many readers, while other elements likely bother some more than others, depending on each reader's expertise with respect to material reality. For example, the idea that Nonmen can't parse two-dimensional images (TJE) seems completely absurd to me, but I've never read any other complaints.  And there's a payoff - the alien ornamentation of the Mansions requires it, to a degree. 

The explanation for why Nonmen don't commit suicide - that they effectively can't - struck me similarly as a bit of a post facto "whoops" when Bakker wanted to populate Ishteribinth with ghouls at various stages of dementia (Dolour, then the Gloom). But there's a payoff, there, too, given the centrality of Damnation to the entire narrative structure.

I suppose one could try to force analogies between the "singing" of Quyan Erratics to relatively spared musical memory in Alzheimer's patients - but is it really necessary?  I'm more than willing to suspend disbelief regarding the physical instantiation of memory in human brains if that means Achamian gets to go Gnostic Wracu-hunting with Cleric.

Nevertheless, Bakker does seem at pains to justify many if not all of these fantastic elements in ways that are satisfying to him, based on what he knows. But, as he would likely admit, he is himself blind to the Earwan divergences from the features of material reality he knows comparatively little about, and it's those storey elements that are going to bother people who know most about them IRL. 

I'm guessing that there are features about the map of Earwa that annoy geologists (but I'm not a geologist/geographer, so I have not idea what those might be). 

Somewhere, a structural engineer who likes dark fantasy is howling about the Medial Screw, or the Viritic Well, or the Cthonic Manse, and on and on.

That having been said, the Anasurimbor "Germ" is thought to contain Nonmen genetics (Rape of Omindalea), so I assumed that the Whale Mothers might be Wide in much the same way that Nonmen Heroes are Tall, and that Nonmen genetics support greater epigenetic lability.  Or whatever.

My own problem with the Whale Mothers was that I failed to see the point - what purpose did they serve, if the Dunyain children looked like the "worldborn", instead of this:

http://vignette4.wikia.nocookie.net/memoryalpha/images/2/24/Talosians_3.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20081206044328&path-prefix=en

Were the Dunyain born in litters? 

It seems like the real issue is that readers suspend disbelief in the service of their own interests, and if those aren't served, they balk.

"So, you want to tell me about super-badass Thought-Dancer Monks? SOLD."

"Wait, that dude just blew up that building by yelling at it? NICE."

"Ok, there's these women...shackled...and - did you just say shitting dogs?  Um, NOPE."