TDTCB, Ch. 7

  • 13 Replies
  • 3699 Views

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

What Came Before

  • *
  • Administrator
  • Emwama
  • *****
  • Posts: 0
    • View Profile
    • First Second Apocalypse
« on: April 19, 2013, 10:57:11 am »
Quote from: Madness
Sorry, late on creating this one, once again. Figure we'll give this "week" go to the 29th instead of the 28th. Cheers all. As always, feel free to go back and speculate, join in forming and ongoing discussions.

What Came Before

  • *
  • Administrator
  • Emwama
  • *****
  • Posts: 0
    • View Profile
    • First Second Apocalypse
« Reply #1 on: April 19, 2013, 10:57:22 am »
Quote from: Tony P
Chapter 7 also has the feel of a set-up chapter, more specifically the last set-up before the Holy War really gets underway and it becomes clear just what the Ikurei’s deal is. The narrative gives some important information, but in the first part at least, not a whole lot actually happens, though there is a lot of introspection by Conphas and Xerius, which is a joy all in itself.

The world is a circle that possesses as many centres as it does men.
–AJENCIS, THE THIRD ANALYTIC OF MEN

Early Autumn, 4110 Year-of-the-Tusk, Momemn

Conphas is receives a triumph back in Momemn. He’s feeling almost lightheaded with joy over his phenomenal victory: I’ve wrought what no man has wrought. Doesn’t that make me more than a man? He is eager for others to echo this sentiment, but so far that hasn’t happened. There is to be a big procession/parade, at the end of which Conphas is to be honourably received by Xerius.

Conphas arrives at a moment in which Momemn is somewhat unsettled. The masses of Men of the Tusk are camped around the city, and angry at the emperor. The great names that are present (Calmemumis, who we’ve seen before, the Galeoth earl Tharschilka and Kumrezzer, Palatine-Governor of the Ainoni district Kutapileth) are unwilling to sign the Indenture, and so there’s trouble. Conphas’  troops get into a fight with the Men of the Tusk, and Conphas has no choice but to enter the city by boat.

Conphas talks with Martemus of the dangerous balance between being a tool for the emperor and a threat. Conphas believes Xerius still needs him for the Holy War, but Martemus is not so sure. He encourages Conphas to think that all his soldiers would be willing to risk their life for him. Conphas takes this as an inducement to rebellion; the more he thinks about it, the more he favours the option. He has a vision of giving Xerius the kiss of peace, and simultaneously punching his dagger through Xerius’ sternum. He doesn’t get the chance, however, as Xerius has stolen a march on him and has replaced Conphas’ troops with his own, leaving Conphas no choice but to submit to his uncle.

The day after the triumph, Xerius, Conphas and Istriya are sailing down the River Phayus on the emperor’s pleasure barge. Istriya is blowing smoke up Conphas’ ass, which upsets Xerius extremely. They argue amongst themselves, with the Ikurei’s lovely insanity still on full display. Xerius is worried about Conphas, as he realized there was murder in his nephew’s eyes the other day. He must win Conphas for his plan; fortunately for Xerius, Conphas grasps a fair bit of it already. During their talk, he understands more of it. Istriya appears out of the loop, but she manages to goad Xerius and Conphas into explaining it to her. She is horrified with the implications of Xerius’ plans, but she understands that Xerius is making a bargain with Skauras and the Kianene. The Vulgar Holy War will be destroyed on Kianene ground, and the Ikurei’s will betray the Holy War again before it reaches Shimeh, as a deal to the reacquisition of the former Nansur provinces long since fallen to the Kianene.

What Came Before

  • *
  • Administrator
  • Emwama
  • *****
  • Posts: 0
    • View Profile
    • First Second Apocalypse
« Reply #2 on: April 19, 2013, 10:57:36 am »
Quote from: Church
As Tony P says, pretty much a set-up chapter. Some interesting details in terms of the set-up though I thought, in particular given what happens in the next chapter.

Scott seems to have tried as hard as possible to make shocking the scenes where Xerius thinks about Istriya. Take this for example:

Quote
It has been across her [his mother's] hand that he had first come, and she'd taken his seed and bid him taste it

I mean, seriously?! Now I know you could get all Freudian (or a host of other interpretations) if you wanted to, but I think it's more interesting to look at it as linked in to what a lot of the rest of the books seem to be doing - taking old fantasy themes and updating them/excavating hidden content. Most obvious example:

(click to show/hide)

I was re-reading Tolkien the other day, and what's really noticeable is the almost complete lack of conflict within societies in the books. Yes ok you have Wormtongue with the Rohirrim, Denethor at Minas Tirith, but these are exceptional characters already largely outside their societies - the normal is for everyone to act together, as a collective. Now take what's happening in Earwa - conflict at every level between everyone, expressed in this chapter with the most outrageous blurring of boundaries between mother and son.

Though actually I think a better example of how old themes are being reimagined is the violence in the series. In Tolkien a big thing is made of the Orcs eating human flesh, but the violence you would associate with that and other related acts is never really fully described. It really is in this series (just look at the first scene of the next chapter), and everyone's at it (see what the men of the tusk do later in the second two books of the trilogy). So is this Scott trying to say that there was all this hidden violence, unrepresented conflict implicit in earlier fantasy, and he's just trying to make it a bit realer? But given that this is meant to be fantasy and not real that seems a bit too simple to me - maybe something more to do with representing deeper desires buried in fantasy, cognitive processes we'd rather not be aware of?

What Came Before

  • *
  • Administrator
  • Emwama
  • *****
  • Posts: 0
    • View Profile
    • First Second Apocalypse
« Reply #3 on: April 19, 2013, 10:58:30 am »
Quote from: sologdin
trying to say that there was all this hidden violence, unrepresented conflict implicit in earlier fantasy

in tolkien, it's not at all hidden--it's just not presented squarely.  consider the lobbing of severed heads over walls or the existence of half-orcs and other degrees of human-orc mixture.  we can only assume that the mixtures are the result of rapes, but LotR is not interested in showing the severing of heads very often or sex offenses at all.

What Came Before

  • *
  • Administrator
  • Emwama
  • *****
  • Posts: 0
    • View Profile
    • First Second Apocalypse
« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2013, 10:58:38 am »
Quote from: Church
I agree that rather than being hidden it's not presented squarely in earlier fantasy, though actually I don't think it's presented squarely in much contemporary fantasy either. George RR Martin, Steve Erikson, Robert Jordan... all the violence serves pretty much the same purpose as porn, fascinating us with something we really know we shouldn't be fascinated by (though given the success of GoT maybe it's fine now to love violent medieval porn). Now I know we're getting into the subject of a thousand bad-tempered debates here when we talk about what the violence (which more often than not contains at least an element of sexual violence) in PoN means, or more precisely how it's represented, but seems almost time given the chapter we're about to move on to...

What Came Before

  • *
  • Administrator
  • Emwama
  • *****
  • Posts: 0
    • View Profile
    • First Second Apocalypse
« Reply #5 on: April 19, 2013, 10:58:45 am »
Quote from: lockesnow
finally caught up!  Will post later about this chapter, but ack, circles  in this chapter.

Goddamn selection bias, writing the post about TUC/circles last night primed me to notice and overdetermine every instance in this chapter, ugh.

What Came Before

  • *
  • Administrator
  • Emwama
  • *****
  • Posts: 0
    • View Profile
    • First Second Apocalypse
« Reply #6 on: April 19, 2013, 10:58:58 am »
Quote from: lockesnow
Chapter 7 is the farthest I ever got in a reread.  Before this, I've reread the prologue probably six times,  and chapter one probably three times chapter two & three a couple times, but I only made it up to Chapter 7 once, and I didn't even finish the chapter, I fell asleep in the middle of rereading it and wound up never returning to the reread.  I guess that's not terribly surprising, Conphas and Xerius were always my least favorite POVs, the ones I'm most likely to skim or skip and the story thread I overall found the most boring and extraneous. and here's the first chapter with Conphas and it's every bit as boring as I remember.

Certainly there is good stuff here. The opening chapter quote is a great one and it ties in nicely to a rumination on circles later in the chapter and putting the three Ikurei's in a scene together gives them all a good dynamic that reveals much about their three different agendas.

But even on a reread I still don't care. I realize this is crucial to understanding how the Ikurei political considerations tried to undermine/sabotage the holy war and how Conphas was used as a crucial bargaining chip, but I still don't really care, even knowing how important all of this is doesn't make it more interesting, this is where my interest in the story starts to falter.  Fuck Momemn.

Best part of this chapter was Conphas' belated realization that Xerius set a mega trap for him during his victory lap through the city, that's fun, particularly because it is the same trick Conphas pulled on the Scylvendi, disguising elite troops to enable a surprise 'attack'.

My biggest question is, was Conphas really in connection with Skauros' court?  It seems like he guessed it, but thought that displaying his smarts by guessing it would make Xerius much more upset than saying he has typical political information networks.  And it seems he's right, Xerius is relieved and believes that Conphas learned it through an info-network, but he was more upset that Conphas might have guessed it.  So was Conphas telling the truth or merely telling Xerius what he wanted to hear?

What Came Before

  • *
  • Administrator
  • Emwama
  • *****
  • Posts: 0
    • View Profile
    • First Second Apocalypse
« Reply #7 on: April 19, 2013, 10:59:06 am »
Quote from: lockesnow
Quote
I mean, seriously?! Now I know you could get all Freudian (or a host of other interpretations) if you wanted to, but I think it's more interesting to look at it as linked in to what a lot of the rest of the books seem to be doing - taking old fantasy themes and updating them/excavating hidden content. Most obvious example:

Doesn't Xerius preface that--or follow up on it--with a thought of how he poisoned his father, By pouring poison in his Ear?

If you're talking about updating old themes, it seems as though Bakker is deliberating invoking Shakespeare with these elements.  Poison in the ear and all the attendent royal wierdness of Macbeth and Hamlet all mashed up and displayed in vulgar glory for all to see--rather than hidden in the psyches of interpreters and literaryanalysts intent of finding incest in Lady Macbeth or Hamlet.

What Came Before

  • *
  • Administrator
  • Emwama
  • *****
  • Posts: 0
    • View Profile
    • First Second Apocalypse
« Reply #8 on: April 19, 2013, 10:59:37 am »
Quote from: sologdin
some incidentals that i noed in my margin:

bit of commentary on the law: "poorly worded articles of the Martial Code" (I.7 at 197), from IC's perspective, indicating the cynicism of pwer that knowingly abuses ambiguous statutes (the lawtypically construes ambiguity against the drafter, contra proferentem).

a reference, again in IC, to the "unwritten secrets of statecraft" (199).  this is an oddity, as those secrets are here written for our consumption.  it is an irony, likely connected to my ongoing yet currently inchoate project of critique against speculative fictions that represent the perspective of power--a critique against both the political problem of developing sympathy for arbitrary state or corporate power, if not necessarily sympathy for the powerful person (a distinction of role v. personality) and the rhetorical problem of representing an unfolding speculative setting & story.  these two problems produce a contradiction for the speculative writer working in secondary creation: the rhetorical problem is easily solved by establishing the setting and narrating the story from the perspective of those most likely to have collected the most and the most accurate information about the setting and being most involved with and having the most at stake in the unfolding of the story.  this rhetorical problem is often therefore resolved by presenting the perspective of the emperor, as here.  tolkien solves it by presenting the perspectives of emperors and sorcerers (the two poles of dumezil's analysis of state power & mythology), but also of middle & lower class bumblers who, through their incidental attachment to power, can narrate, in an increasingly unlikely manner, the unfolding of things that should properly remain the "unwritten secrets of statecraft."  we see how this increasing unlikelihood begins to unravel narrative discipline in george martin, for instance, as the tight focus on the stark & lannister families gives way, as they are dispersed and killed, to other new perspectives necessary to fill the gaps left by their absence.  they are thrust from the position of access to the "unwritten secrets of statecraft," which the narrative requires to unfold in this rhetorical model, and thus their untenable replacement becomes mandatory. 

that this rhetorical focus on fictional state power also enhances actually existing state power, and its arbitrary employment, should not be lost on the thoughtful progressive--and it appears that a significant number of writers working in secondary creation have progressive politics, in contradiction to the rhetorical problem's current gold standard of resolution.  it as yet remains a mystery to me that an alternative resolution to the rhetorical problem has not presented itself--but i am beginning to suspect that the presence of "unwritten secrets of statecraft" is the irreducible precondition for the possibility of these secondary creation endeavors.  without them, what tension, what conflict, what suspense might be developed outside of the problems generated by dissymetries of information among characters and between characters & readers?

we note the naked irredentism of the byzantine empire here:  "his uncle's dream of a Restored Empire" (200).

we note incidentally the "gull mysteriously suspended in the heart of a distant thunderhead" (210).

some overt freudian domestic melodrama (217).

we note lastly the source of our illustrious site administrator's name (218-19).

What Came Before

  • *
  • Administrator
  • Emwama
  • *****
  • Posts: 0
    • View Profile
    • First Second Apocalypse
« Reply #9 on: April 19, 2013, 10:59:51 am »
Quote from: lockesnow
not sure I understand on the 'unwritten rules of statecraft' approach, are you saying that authors are not accurately representing the historical real rules of statecraft nor are they accurately representing contemporary real rules of statecraft in their secondary world creations?   or do you mean that authors are lazy, and rely on internal monologue vague ruminations of something like 'unwritten rules of statecraft' to make the narrative problems of believable representation of said statecraft go away?

I think it can safely be presumed that virtually all of the common, usual and typical interactions of statecraft have been implied to be written due to the texts' frequent invocation of the ruleset known as 'jnan.'  So the question then is what rules might be unwritten?  I think the text of this chapter gives us several clues (I don't have the text to hand, and your quote strips the phrase 'unwritten rules of statecraft' of context so I'm not sure what Conphas was referring to).  The unwritten rules would probably apply to the darker sides of statecraft, the situations in which people with power would be expected to apply it in ways that contravene accepted cultural norms, mores and expectations--at the same time, the nature of these as rules implies that there is a certain expectation that rulers will will defy expectations.  An interesting paradox the ruler finds himself in, is it not.  In any event, these unwritten rules would strike me as most likely having to do with royal-on-royal assassination plans.  In this chapter Conphas considers killing his uncle to seize control of the empire, and The Emperor anticipates this and goes to the effort of replacing his nephews loyal troops with the Emperors loyal troops disguised as Conphas' men--implying that the Emperor would have killed his nephew as well (or at the very least he would have him stripped of power and imprisoned).   It is interesting psychologically that Conphas did not premeditate his move on the Emperor but the Emperor anticipated his treachery nonetheless--to Conphas' surprise.  One wonders if Conphas would have anticipated his uncle's anticipation had he actually plotted and schemed to remove his uncle, this suggests that Conphas has a bit of a blind spot in overestimating his own brilliance, which the end of the next chapter will more or less state explicitly.

Additionally there are other mores and values of these royals that are alluded to them transgressing, notably incestuous relationships between mother and son and grandmother and grandson are implied or stated.

What Came Before

  • *
  • Administrator
  • Emwama
  • *****
  • Posts: 0
    • View Profile
    • First Second Apocalypse
« Reply #10 on: April 19, 2013, 10:59:59 am »
Quote from: sologdin
Quote
authors are not accurately representing the historical real rules of statecraft nor are they accurately representing contemporary real rules of statecraft in their secondary world creations? or do you mean that authors are lazy, and rely on internal monologue vague ruminations of something like 'unwritten rules of statecraft' to make the narrative problems of believable representation of said statecraft go away?

not so much either of those items.  was thinking that there's a paradox here: the "unwritten rules of statecraft" are presented for our inspection, whatever those rules might be.  there's plenty of that in IC, IX, and II's dialogue and monologue.

more generally, am interested in why the project of secondary creation tends to be so top heavy, politically & economically.  if there's a laziness, it's in the genre relying solely or primarily on those who readily inhabit hobbes' corridor of power.

What Came Before

  • *
  • Administrator
  • Emwama
  • *****
  • Posts: 0
    • View Profile
    • First Second Apocalypse
« Reply #11 on: April 19, 2013, 11:00:11 am »
Quote from: Madness
School's winding down for the semester and work picks up its craziness for the next couple weeks. Its an opportunity I want to take to get back into the reread and, I think, for me to take a cue from you all and cease with the academic summary and move on to impressions. To think, I have like a four or five page write-up going on this chapter.

On that note, this is one of my favorite chapters in the entire series, supporting TDTCB as one of my all-time favorite titles, as there is an... intimation of politics, as sologdin, highlights. It is reminiscent of Marco's The Grand Design, which I think captures an example of plot driven by the political events of interacting characters rather than war itself.

Wish Bakker's narrative allowed for more of it.

§7.1 - Ikurei. Ikurei Conphas:

This chapter introduces us to Ikurei Conphas, Exalt-General, and nephew to the Emperor Xerius.

Conphas walking into the Imperial Precincts is such an epic scene, staking Scylvendi heads right into the interior.

Conphas gives us a low down of events from Kiyuth to Momemn. Momemn is basically besieged by the Men of Tusk as most of the arriving Great Names refuse the Indenture and so the Emperor rations their provisions from the Granaries. Legit.

We've all noted the subterfuge between Martemus and Conphas, where our everyman skews Conphas' long-term plans by appealing to his narcissism. Conphas passage seems to focus on recognition. We also have his intimations of Divine Revelation, which interestingly plays into Dunyain madness. If mastery of circumstance at Kiyuth delivers Conphas religious revelation...

Conphas is something of a child entirely. In his quest for those around him to recognize his self-proclaimed divinity, he's willing to sacrifice the most elemental political advantages and reflections, so caught up is he in his own fervour.

I also appreciate how devious Xerius is. He just couldn't contend with a Dunyain. But it showcases, the political mastery of the circumstance.

§7.2 - Deadly Drunken Emperor:

First off, I need to point out that the farce perpetuated by the Consult on Xerius' barge is supremely creepy.

(click to show/hide)
.

We have the long slow reveal of Xerius' plan for the gathered Holy War. Ultimately, the Consult's only motivation to advocate the Holy War is so that the Men of Tusk will destroy the Cishaurim.

Istriya seems practiced in playing her son and has Xerius' hotkeys at her fingertips. She goads him, influencing his mood and motivations, plays Conphas and Xerius against each other, all the while Skeaos plays the mummer, parroting Xerius' opinions before this false council.

Ultimately, we discover in the course of the familial interrogation, Xerius intends on provisioning the early, less useful third/half of the Holy War, in order that following its destruction, Maithanet will sign the Indenture for Conphas' leadership, in light of his new found notoriety after defeating the People of War. Also, that Xerius and the heathen have made a pact past the failing Siege of Shimeh for Fanim survival.

I also find it interesting that Istriya makes appeals to the judgment of the Gods, in her attempts to sway Xerius from forestalling the Holy War to Shimeh.

Phallus Pendulus

  • *
  • Suthenti
  • *
  • Posts: 67
    • View Profile
« Reply #12 on: March 06, 2014, 02:44:06 pm »
One of my favorite chapters. When Bakker really makes the effort, he can write almost any subject pretty well; we see him writing political intrigue in this Momemn chapter. It's a shame he limits himself to the same blind brain topic these days, both in his books and blog posts.

Lots of parallels to Roman history in this chapter. Conphas has a lot in common with Germanicus (nephew of the emperor, military leader, loved by everyone after a genocide of barbarians), while Xerius reminds me of Tiberius (emperor of Rome, paranoid and suspicious of everyone). The wheeling and dealing and scheming in Momemn is definitely inspired by the backstabbing of the Roman court.

Madness

  • *
  • Administrator
  • Old Name
  • *****
  • Conversational Batman
  • Posts: 4926
  • Strength on the Journey - Journey Well
    • View Profile
    • The Second Apocalypse
« Reply #13 on: March 06, 2014, 06:40:56 pm »
+1 Pendulus. As I mentioned above - one of my favorite chapters for these reasons.

(click to show/hide)

I really wish Bakker would have focused more on the political asides. Perhaps, in TUC, if not TSTSNBN.
The Existential Scream
Weaponizing the Warrior Pose - Declare War Inwardly
carnificibus: multus sanguis fluit
Die Better
The Theory-Killer