[TUC Spoilers] But seriously...what was the plan?

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seitzandsounds

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« on: July 21, 2017, 03:05:12 pm »
Hi All! Long time lurker, first time poster.

Overall I really enjoyed TUC. This was actually my first time reading a Bakker novel (I'd literally listened to the series up to this on a few cross country trips). Where I think the book fell down though was in showing the reader a clear plan on the part of Kellus. it left me with a bunch of questions so I figure I'll post them here and maybe, like this board has many times, it'll allow me to get a better grasp on this story.

First though, because I haven't seen it anywhere yet, I want to put together a timeline. I'll skip over a bunch of parts of the book that I don't think are central to the questions I have about the overall plan. Needless to say this will be the spoileriest spoiler that ever spoiled, so stop here if you're not done.

...

TIMELINE
TGO

-Kellus leave the Great Ordeal, returns to the Three Seas, kills Fanayal and Psatma.
-Before beheading Malowebi, declares he is "weary"
-Beheads Malowebi, replaces his head with one of the decapitants, instructs it to kill Nganka’kull. Malowebi's head goes on the girdle.
-Teleports to the Palace.
-In the Palace he sees Esmenet. Demands to know "what did you do?"
-The White Luck Warrior fails to kill him when Kel interrupts the unerring grace

TUC
-Kellus teleports away with Esmi and Kel

TIME WARP

-Kellus attacks Aurang and forces him to open a door in the Ark.
-Aurang is killed.
-Kellus enters the Golden room and encounters Mekeritrig before gazing into the inverse fire.
-When asked by Mekeritrig what he sees, Kellus responds ""I see...myself...yes."
-When Mekeritrig describes what he sees in the Inverse Fire as torments, Kellus responds "But I suffer no torment."
-Kellus describes what he sees within the fire "where you fall as fodder, I descend as hunger."
-Kellus demands to see Shauriatis
-Shauriatis appears but Kellus immediately reveals him to be an illusion
-Serwa and Kayutas meet in front of the Intrinsic Gate.
-Kellus calls out the Mutilated
-Serwa, sensing that the Consult has placed the Wracu here to keep them from joining Kellus, decides to confront Skuthula.
-The mutilated explain how they have subsumed the Consult to Kellus.
-Serwa begins her battle against Skuthala
-The Mutilated explain that damnation is the impediment to the Absolute, and that in order to attain it, the world must be shut.
-One of the Mutilated uses sorcery to bring the Sarcophagus to Kellus.
The Mutilated explain that Scald used at Daliash was the last working of those devices and that culling of souls must be done by the No-God in order to shut the world from the outside.
-Kellus responds to the Mutilated declaring him the salvation "but I am already saved...I have walked the infernal deep. I have struck treaties with the pit."
-Kellus explains that he is an inverse prophet, set by the living to the eternal to tell them of the Consult.
-Malowebi looks at the other decapitant.
"For the first time he noticed the same obscuring distortion that marked the Anasurimbor-like globules of ink hanging in quicksilver-marring it.
...
Antlers, savage and knuckled, rising mangled as if scribbled by a drunk or a child. Four of them..."
-Kellus stomps his foot, rocking the room but not using sorcery to do so. He declares "I am Master here"
-Serwa's arm is salted off. She attacks Skuthala as the Mandate destroys the chamber he is in. She falls.
-Kellus speaks to the Mutilated. Tells them their goal is to shut the world againt the outside, his is to conquer hell. His head explodes in flame and becomes a black, four-horned image within the fire as he becomes Ajokli
-Kellus/Ajokli decapitates Mekeritrig
-The Skin Spies in the room suddenly have their chorae holding hands pulled and stuck to the ground
-Kellus/Ajokli declares the golden room "my place".
-Kellus/Ajokli declares to the Mutilated "you shall be my angels. You shall be my goad, the scourge of nations. Children shall keen for the simple rumor of your coming. Men shall rage and weep. And whatever horror and anguish you sow, I shall reap."
-Kellus/Ajokli kills the one eyed Dunyain
--Kellus/Ajokli declares
"Four brothers, four horns. Together we shall gore this World, drink of it as a pierced fruit raised high. The Inverse Fire is not but a window into my house. You have seen what awaits you. Adore me, or suffer eternal damnation. I alone...brothers...i am the absolute."
-Malowebi sees Kel running between the skin spies.
-Kel declares "He can't see me either"
-The fire that had consumed Kellus/Ajokli's head sputters out leaving Kellus swaying.
-A skin spy grabs Kellus' ankle with a hand that has a chorae.
-Kellus turns to salt
-Kel is seized by the remaining Mutilated and put into the Sarcophagus.
-The Sarcophagus raises and climbs from the room

OK...so with that done, lets ask some questions

1) Why was Kellus "weary"? He claims that the empire dies in all incarnations of the thousandfold thought, so is he tired of having to keep leaving the ordeal to come back and delay its death?

2) What do you think the overall plan would have been had Skuthala not been guarding the Intrinsic Gate? Serwa and Kayutas meet up with Kellus in the golden room to face the consult? If Kellus has the ability to become Ajokli he didn't really need them.

3) What did Malowebi see when he looked at the other decapitant? He talks about a distortion like the one around Kellus, but I don't remember early in the book where he mentions a distortion the first time.

4) Does Kellus change plans while he's in the golden room. Originally the plan was to get to the ark and destroy the consult, ending the threat of the second apocalypse. But once he becomes Ajokli he tells the Mutilated he will use them as a threat of terror for the world. So what does that mean? It certainly sounds like he's decided to keep them around.

What does everyone think?

Madness

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« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2017, 03:22:11 pm »
Hi All! Long time lurker, first time poster.

Welcome to the Second Apocalypse, seitzandsounds. Great timeline summary.

1) Why was Kellus "weary"? He claims that the empire dies in all incarnations of the thousandfold thought, so is he tired of having to keep leaving the ordeal to come back and delay its death?

I don't think he's acted out each timeline and resets like the movie Next. I think he's weary because it's actually taxing for him to rush horizon to horizon from Dagliash to Momemn.

2) What do you think the overall plan would have been had Skuthala not been guarding the Intrinsic Gate? Serwa and Kayutas meet up with Kellus in the golden room to face the consult? If Kellus has the ability to become Ajokli he didn't really need them.

I don't think Kellhus knew that Ajokli was going to subsume him - though, I am a clear minority on this point

For my bet, yes, Kellhus actually wanted to overcompensate and have his chillens and the Ordeal rush up to meet him and confront the Consult and/or (especially) the Mutilated, if Kellhus surmised he would be confronting multiple Dunyain alone.

3) What did Malowebi see when he looked at the other decapitant? He talks about a distortion like the one around Kellus, but I don't remember early in the book where he mentions a distortion the first time.

He doesn't and this, for me, feeds into the "it doesn't matter which head was on Kellhus' shoulders when in the Golden Room." As per the Decapitants entry in the Glossary, Ajokli tried to manipulate a take-over of Kellhus' agency at Mengedda and save himself a trip to Golgotterath but that didn't work. Once in the Golden Room - the deepest Topoi in Earwa - he was able to go God-Mode and contradict basically all Earwan physics (mundane/sorcery) as we'd previously understood them.

4) Does Kellus change plans while he's in the golden room. Originally the plan was to get to the ark and destroy the consult, ending the threat of the second apocalypse. But once he becomes Ajokli he tells the Mutilated he will use them as a threat of terror for the world. So what does that mean? It certainly sounds like he's decided to keep them around.

Again, I'm basically alone so far in this interpretation, but I think all dialogue in the Golden Room by Kellhus should be attributed to Ajokli.

Kellhus didn't see Ajokli coming and got played. 'Nuff said ;).

What does everyone think?

Indeed, let other - better - minds than mine own bend their souls to these thoughts.

Cheers, seitzandsounds, well met.
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Walter

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« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2017, 05:46:55 pm »
My take on 'Kellhus Plan' is that it was something like:

"Put Ajokli in Golden Room.  Whatever he does there will be the end of the No-God.  Resumption will never happen."

I dunno if he thought he had a deal, or what have you, but I think it was his only play.  Can't beat a bunch of Dunyain, but Ajokli, on a Topos, probably can. 

Kellhus has always been about preventing the Apocalypse at any cost (Any wound, save the one that is mortal).  He'd let the world be savaged by a Ciphrang-God like his son lets his body be pared away by Sranc.  Any wound that doesn't kill is acceptable, if the No-God can be aborted.

Heavenfall

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« Reply #3 on: July 21, 2017, 09:36:21 pm »
I believe Kellhus planned to wage a war against the Outside because that is what he tells us. As long as there was an Outside he and everyone around him would never be masters of their own fate. They would never reach the Absolute, the ultimate goal of the Dunyadin, which was defined as having no "darkness that comes before". As long as there's a bunch of gods running around the humans are just playthings. Not only was the No-god a physical threat to his plan (it would conquer the world) but it was an abstract one as well since it planned to "shut the world" from the Outside. This directly contradicted Kellhus' plan of destroying the Outside.

Once the nuke had gone off and he began to speculate on whether the Mutilated existed, I believe he quickly reached a dead-end in his thousandfold thought. Planning against one or several Dunyadin was simply beyond him. He also admits to not knowing the Arc or the Tekne. That's why he asks a lot of questions from the Mutilated, to understand their goals and tools. So while the Mutilated are trying to recruit him, he's finding out their goals and they are incompatible with his own because they do not have any designs beyond the physical world. Kellhus through the Gnosis believes the Absolute lies in the Outside (the god in him later claims to be the Absolute, it is possible that the Absolute = godhood).

His plan going into Golgotterath never changed much, he brought every resource the half-world could bear to help him fight. His goal was to overcome any threat against his path to the Absolute. The fact that he learned more and more about those threats did not change his goal or much alter his plans to get there.

Ajokli was going to fight everything that Kellhus couldn't. Aurang, for example, is defeated by cheating the laws of physics. The one hundred skinspies with chorae are as nothing before Ajokli.

As for Kelmomas, I believe the simplest explanation is the most likely. Upon becoming possessed by Ajokli, Kellhus mostly lost the ability to perceive Kelmomas and calculate what part he would play. He failed to foresee Kelmomas as a threat against any god. Although Kellhus absolutely retains the ability to read Kelmomas' face as seen after Kel kills Serwal, Kellhus reading of Kel back in the palace is fairly haunting. Kellhus tells Esmenet that Kel is the most damaged out of all their children. This is effectively Ajokli speaking through Kellhus, I think. Kelmomas is just a huge itch that they can't quite figure out together because of Ajokli. Kellhus is literally incapable of making the decision to kill Kel (he rationalizes this to "because I love Esme", which he never ever fucking did), nor can he see that Kel is in any way significant even after Kel saved him from the White Luck Warrior and Serwal.

So to sum it up, Kellhus planned to overcome any threat in Golgotterath. Knowing his foe had many legendary monsters and several great unknowns he brought every force he could, including Ajokli. Ajokli was able to overcome any enemy except Kel. Ajokli and Kellhus got fucked up.
« Last Edit: July 21, 2017, 09:44:56 pm by Heavenfall »

MSJ

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« Reply #4 on: July 22, 2017, 01:25:19 am »
Quote from: Madness
Again, I'm basically alone so far in this interpretation, but I think all dialogue in the Golden Room by Kellhus should be attributed to Ajokli.

I agree. After rereading the scene, after the foot stomp that is Ajokli talking until Kel comes and Kellhus is caught unawares...maybe.

So, you can have it one of two ways Kelly is went back to Momemn because he knew Kel was the No-God (which makes absolutely no sense, because he would kill him and end the threat there.), or he does love Esme, which I believe and have said all along.

I think Kellhus's plans got ducked and got caught unawares and it didn't go down like he wanted to. But, nevertheless, I believe he's still in the game on the Outside in his own little nitch, the one from the dreams. Which is why Ajokli cannot find him, he is not in the pit. Kellhus tricked the Trickster.

[EDIT Madness: Fixed a close quote tag.]
« Last Edit: July 23, 2017, 02:18:27 pm by Madness »
“No. I am your end. Before your eyes I will put your seed to the knife. I will quarter your carcass and feed it to the dogs. Your bones I will grind to dust and cast to the winds. I will strike down those who speak your name or the name of your fathers, until ‘Yursalka’ becomes as meaningless as infant babble. I will blot you out, hunt down your every trace! The track of your life has come to me,

codebread

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« Reply #5 on: July 22, 2017, 03:07:07 am »
I don't think Kellhus knew that Ajokli was going to subsume him - though, I am a clear minority on this point

I'm with you here. Just finished my first read today and after the shock wore off I re-read CH 19/20 again. I suspect Kellhus was actually intending to stop the Consult and save the world. Being so close to the Inverse Fire gave Ajokli enough strength to break whatever hold Kellhus had on him (Metadaimos, anyone?) similar to Kakiol and Iyokus.

The question becomes: Why was Ajokli involved at all in the first place? A few ideas...

1) Was Kellhus wearing the Trickster's head on his girdle as a way to prove to the gods that the Consult and No-God exist? If it really is Ajokli speaking the entire time in the Golden Room, it means he was calling himself the Inverse Prophet, which makes sense... a God sent into the world of the Living to report back to the Gods, "Yeah guys Mog-Pharau is a real thing". I don't think this is the case, however, since the Hundred are clearly hunting Ajokli.

2) Ajokli possessed Kellhus while he was staring into the Inverse Fire. I'm simply listing this one for the sake of writing down anything that comes to mind. I'm pretty certain this isn't the case, considering we see Kellhus using Ajokli's powers as he gets closer to the Ark (during the Last Whelming to float, for instance).

3) Kellhus was possessed when he ventured into The Outside, and Ajokli simply continued with Kellhus' plans in order to get to the Golden Room and obtain full power / take over the world.

4) Kellhus has been an evil bastard the entire time and worked with Ajokli willingly, knowing that getting him to the Golden Room would grant him god-status.


Gah, I don't know... there are so many things to consider! Why/how did Ajokli inhabit Cnaiur at the end? Why is it that Kellhus can see Kel, but Ajokli-Kellhus can't?

It's going to be a long wait for whatever comes next.

PS: This is a bit off-topic for the thread I think, but it's tangential... how did Kellhus know about the Mutilated "After Dagliash"? What's the connection there? Maybe it helps shine a light on the rest.

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« Reply #6 on: July 22, 2017, 04:02:59 am »
I know the mutilated said the Gods are hunting Ajokli, but why? And how do they know this?
“No. I am your end. Before your eyes I will put your seed to the knife. I will quarter your carcass and feed it to the dogs. Your bones I will grind to dust and cast to the winds. I will strike down those who speak your name or the name of your fathers, until ‘Yursalka’ becomes as meaningless as infant babble. I will blot you out, hunt down your every trace! The track of your life has come to me,

themerchant

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« Reply #7 on: July 22, 2017, 04:08:17 am »
Probably an extrapolation based on what was happening. Once they recognised Ajokli they seemed to know , not sure using the same i died before i could finish my sentence as Uncle Holy is any less frustrating mind you.

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« Reply #8 on: July 22, 2017, 09:34:25 am »
The way I see it, Kellhus knew what he was doing ("I have struck treaties with the pit."), i.e. he deliberately became the vessel of Ajokli, and it was his plan all along to create hell on earth, as his way of attaining the Absolute.

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« Reply #9 on: July 22, 2017, 12:47:13 pm »

As per the Decapitants entry in the Glossary, Ajokli tried to manipulate a take-over of Kellhus' agency at Mengedda and save himself a trip to Golgotterath but that didn't work. Once in the Golden Room - the deepest Topoi in Earwa - he was able to go God-Mode and contradict basically all Earwan physics (mundane/sorcery) as we'd previously understood them.

I took a different rating of the Mengedda scene. Either Kellhus was just "practising" his new skill, or (more likely) this was the only way he could talk to Ajokli once he was a Decapitant. So he was just having a conversation.

Kellhus *must* have known that the Ark was a powerful topos - that was his plan! Get Ajokli to a place in the world where he could manifest fully and this be powerful enough to over power anything the Dunsult threw at him, i.e. somewhere that was basically hell already. I think his plan was definitely to allow Ajokli to take over.
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« Reply #10 on: July 23, 2017, 05:44:47 am »
It's a great question. It's taken me a couple of weeks to sort the finale within the context of the trilogy and the overall series. Momentous events certainly tumble in an apparently random manner, but it's actually clockwork.

I think it's important to note that Kellhus was in service to a plan he did not create. The Great Ordeal is part of the Thousandfold Thought and so is Kellhus. Kellhus did not create it, the opposite is true.
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I shall never tire of underlining a concise little fact which these superstitious people are loath to admit—namely, that a thought comes when “it” wants, not when “I” want . . .
   —FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE, BEYOND GOOD AND EVIL
When you think about it the idea of rallying humanity wasn't a new one for Moenghus either.

Kellhus tells those who know his true nature that he has succumbed to the Darkness. It was on the Circumfix when it happened ... he later tells his Father that is when he grasped the Thousandfold Thought.

Once I understood that Kellhus is not running the show, things fell into place. He is just one large part of a bigger plan that includes Gods, ancient heroes and the Judging Eye.

The story told across Prince of Nothing and the Aspect Emperor is not the story of Kellhus. It is the story of the Thousandfold Thought. From this perspective all of the split narratives come together coherently.

The question left at the end is two-fold. First - whether the Thousandfold Thought couldn't stop the Resumption or whether it wanted this result. Secondly - who or what is the ultimate agency behind it? (And that is where Bakker's "metaphysical whodunit" comment comes from, imo.)

At this stage I'm inclined to think Ajokli has won out. He is the only God that managed to sneak past the end of the world and he gets all the souls and suffering the Consult can reap, effectively becoming the absolute, as all Meaning in the post apocalypse World belongs to him. So, did he subsume the Thousandfold Thought, or is this just a wrinkle on the Golden Path it represents?
« Last Edit: July 23, 2017, 06:00:46 am by Cüréthañ »
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« Reply #11 on: July 23, 2017, 02:24:54 pm »
I was going to quote individually and then I realized I'd basically be writing the same thing four times.

To be clear on my reading, I think Ajokli is the entity from Kellhus' post-Circumfix visions and I don't think Kellhus knew the Vision was Ajokli, thus, from my perspective, making all these "Kellhus planned it" theories problematic.

On Mengedda in the Decapitant's parable perhaps Kellhus was simply suffering worse, more intense, more immediate nagging by Ajokli the Vision (whose form taken we know to be a mirror of Kellhus' own). This Vision drives Kellhus to strange and dire efforts - if I recall, he's somehow removing his own head and alternating heads atop his shoulders, laughing the whole while? (Unnerving for that poor witness, to say the least.)

EDIT: You know, it would have been remarkably helpful for our thinkenearing if Bakker mentioned which of the heads - the one on the shoulders or Kellhus' specifically - "shone with Daimotic meaning" (as per Ciphrang-Malowebi's creation in TGO) while Kellhus was at Mengedda.
« Last Edit: July 23, 2017, 02:27:10 pm by Madness »
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« Reply #12 on: July 25, 2017, 06:32:56 pm »
Well, if the end of the Thousandfold Thought as interpreted by Kellhus was "let's just get Ajokli to the Golden Room so he can kick some ass" then I am thoroughly disappointed. Not much of a plan, and certainly not anything like TTT as envisioned by Moenghus Sr. It can't have been even similar since Moenghus didn't believe in damnation.

Was there ever a TTT after the death of Moenghus? Or did Ajokli claim Kellhus already at the circumfixion, had Moenghus killed and everything after has really been about the ascension of Ajokli?

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« Reply #13 on: July 26, 2017, 05:07:05 pm »
It feels like the core insight of TTT is enslaving Hell rather than evading it.  Typical Dunyain 'master your circumstances' stuff.

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« Reply #14 on: July 26, 2017, 08:53:59 pm »
I think it might be about emptying or somehow reordering Hell, but that does entail conquering it.

However the Thought is not of the Dunyain - it comes before both Kellhus and Moenghus. Indeed, it's pretty clear that the Dunyain side with the Consult's methods because the Logos and the Tekne proceed to the same dead end, as explained in different ways by Kellhus, Koringhus and the Mutilated.
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