[TUC Spoilers] Metaphysics of the Second Apocalypse

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SmilerLoki

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« on: July 25, 2017, 07:57:56 pm »
Greetings to all! First time poster here.

After just finishing the series (but following it for quite some time) I should say I'm very satisfied   that, in my opinion, almost all serious metaphysical questions pertaining to the world of the Second Apocalypse found their answers. It took some thinking, but in the end I came up with explanations that work for me and, basically, require no other installments in the series to feel content. I would like to offer my views below. I would, of course, place them under a spoiler tag since they are all huge spoilers.

The main reason for me to post what is essentially my personal interpretations is to solicit thoughts and observations I may have missed in my reasoning. While some things do work as explanations for me, they can also seem a bit too complicated, even contrived. So I would like to hear what other people think about them. The Second Apocalypse is dense, and I'm also less acquainted than I would like with relevant pieces of information R. Scott Bakker gave outside of the series (it's really hard to find all of them). I do think I quite possibly missed something crucial somewhere and feel I may be mistaken in my assumptions, thus missing simple, elegant explanations of complex concepts. There are also some plot points (though not very significant in the grand scheme of things for me) that I'm not sure about.

I quite enjoy the inner workings of the Second Apocalypse and would like to better my understanding of the series. I apologize if my following post seems like a stream of consciousness, but I fear never actually completing editing it otherwise. Making personal notes easily readable for others is hard. Thank you in advance for reading (or at least attempting it)!

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« Last Edit: July 25, 2017, 08:09:50 pm by SmilerLoki »

mostly.harmless

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« Reply #1 on: July 25, 2017, 08:52:00 pm »
Welcome and great first post! A lot to digest here but I agree with a lot of it. Will respond more later :)

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Wilshire

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« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2017, 03:00:34 pm »
Check out Interviews & Articles and Further Curated Sayings of C'jara-Cinmoi. In case you are unaware, Bakker has often used C'jara-Cinmoi as his name on various forums, including here when we had an Author Q&A. This might help you get some first hand views of things you feel you might have missed.

Wow, that's a big first post :) . As I imagine there was plenty of time put into crafting it, so too must there be time spent in replying. I will find my way through it in due course!
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Walter

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« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2017, 04:56:46 pm »
I've always found the notion that the No-God was motivated by tactical concerns in the First Apocalypse to be suspect.  Not because of any doubt about those concern's soundness, mind.  I trust the Mandate's estimation of the tactical situation.  No, my gripe is that it doesn't seem sentient in a way that would allow it to understand such issues.

The point has been made a bunch that Kelmomas doesn't know what motivates him.  He is a repeater for the Darkness That Come Before.  I don't think being in the Object will change that.  He will do what his instincts bid him.  I think Nao Cauyuti was the same way.

Consequently, attributing motives such as a lack of Sranc to the No-God seems pointless to me.  I think it just does what it will do, full stop.

SmilerLoki

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« Reply #4 on: July 26, 2017, 09:30:18 pm »
Check out Interviews & Articles and Further Curated Sayings of C'jara-Cinmoi. In case you are unaware, Bakker has often used C'jara-Cinmoi as his name on various forums, including here when we had an Author Q&A. This might help you get some first hand views of things you feel you might have missed.
Thank you for the links! I can say that I've read the entire Author Q&A section of this forum, and at least some of the interviews, but there is also Bakker's blog with comments on it (it's huge and only some of it pertains to the Second Apocalypse; obviously in no way is this a fault) and sites that no longer work. Considering interviews, they were always of secondary priority to me since they rarely are about the roots of metaphysics in the series, which is the topic that really ignites my interest.

SmilerLoki

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« Reply #5 on: July 26, 2017, 11:33:38 pm »
I've always found the notion that the No-God was motivated by tactical concerns in the First Apocalypse to be suspect.  Not because of any doubt about those concern's soundness, mind.  I trust the Mandate's estimation of the tactical situation.  No, my gripe is that it doesn't seem sentient in a way that would allow it to understand such issues.

The point has been made a bunch that Kelmomas doesn't know what motivates him.  He is a repeater for the Darkness That Come Before.  I don't think being in the Object will change that.  He will do what his instincts bid him.  I think Nao Cauyuti was the same way.

Consequently, attributing motives such as a lack of Sranc to the No-God seems pointless to me.  I think it just does what it will do, full stop.
I can see how all of this can very well be true. Thinking about it, I've come to some more observations and questions. I'm going to put them under a spoiler tag below.

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« Last Edit: July 30, 2017, 11:53:28 am by SmilerLoki »

Crtha

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« Reply #6 on: July 26, 2017, 11:58:10 pm »
SmilerLoki: Regarding your last post;

Given the tactical way that the No-god uses the Sranc and Chorae against the Ordeal, I'd say it's quite definitive that it aware of cause and effect. If we believe Aurang and Skafra's comments and reactions, it also communicates quite cogently with it's ensouled worshippers.

A prosthesis is an artificial body part. Presumably, Tsuranmah is the part of the Ark used to control the weapon-races, subjugate Nospheres and depopulate worlds. A functioning sample of the Bios that links the Nosphere to the world is required - in this case it appears that only a creature containing both Nonman and Man bios (that can also apprehend the Onta - I'm going to assume that Nau-Cayuti was of the few) makes it work.
Retracing his bloody footprints, the Wizard limped on.

SmilerLoki

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« Reply #7 on: July 27, 2017, 12:08:12 am »
SmilerLoki: Regarding your last post;

Given the tactical way that the No-god uses the Sranc and Chorae against the Ordeal, I'd say it's quite definitive that it aware of cause and effect.
Yes, I do believe it can use cause and effect. My point was, while being able to perceive cause and effect and manipulate it, the No-God does it in a fundamentally different way than conscious beings. So even while using cause and effect, the No-God is not aware of it, at least not in our sense of the word. Does this clarify anything?

Crtha

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« Reply #8 on: July 27, 2017, 12:30:27 am »
Fair enough. To me, understanding of cause and effect is a fundamental part of reasoning. It's my position that the way the No-god communicates with it's enemies is different from the way it communicates with it's servants who are extensions of itself.

It's repetitive questions spring from the fact that it denies subjective experience. It's unable to comprehend itself from an outside perspective, because it is opaque in a metaphysical sense. Rather than being unable to perceive itself, it cannot recognize itself.
Retracing his bloody footprints, the Wizard limped on.

SmilerLoki

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« Reply #9 on: July 27, 2017, 12:46:29 am »
Fair enough. To me, understanding of cause and effect is a fundamental part of reasoning.
The same with me. That's why I constantly question my reasoning about the Second Apocalypse; at least some of its workings seemingly contradict the stance expressed above. Do I misunderstand something? Is it a use of artistic license on Bakker's part, or a kind of study, a mental experiment concerning the nature of self and reason (if this is the case than even apparent severe contradictions to reality leading to a collapse of the narrative are not a negative result)? Is Bakker's stance on the matter just different from my own? I'm afraid I have no answers to these questions.

Rather than being unable to perceive itself, it cannot recognize itself.
I feel both of those explanations conform to the No-God's described behavior and also work in the framework of its metaphysical nature that I've outlined.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2017, 12:49:58 am by SmilerLoki »

Crtha

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« Reply #10 on: July 27, 2017, 01:19:31 am »
Indeed. I feel like there must be some confusion between the levels of consciousness discussed here.

However, even introducing terms such as sentience and awareness might not bring clarity.
The No-god at first seems non-sentient, but it says via Skafra that it has tasted Celmomas' soul and is pleased, which indicates the ability to feel. Perhaps this is only because it processes such experience through the medium of the souls it consumes, it is unclear.

I would also point out the existence of animals that are able to reason and yet lack a sense of self. The implication of that is the developmental stage of consciousness that assumes other people are facsimilies of oneself i.e. a sense of being absolute within ones' own subjective experience.

Not really trying to make any point here btw, just trying to contribute food for thought.

edit: At any rate, here's a link to a great SEP paper on consciousness if you are really bored or really interested.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2017, 01:33:35 am by Crtha »
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SmilerLoki

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« Reply #11 on: July 27, 2017, 01:29:39 am »
Indeed. I feel like there must be some confusion between the levels of consciousness discussed here.
Very likely. It's also a problem with trying to understand the Second Apocalypse, since questions of consciousness are very important to the series, but there is no universal definition of consciousness.

The No-god at first seems non-sentient, but it says via Skafra that it has tasted Celmomas' soul and is pleased, which indicates the ability to feel. Perhaps this is only because it processes such experience through the medium of the souls it consumes, it is unclear.
Could you please direct me to this episode in the series? I now want to re-read it.

Not really trying to make any point here btw, just trying to contribute food for thought.
And I'm very grateful for it!

Crtha

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« Reply #12 on: July 27, 2017, 01:35:08 am »
Hmm, the Skafra comment is in one of Akka's dreams in TWP iirc. I'll try and get you a chapter and edit it into this comment.

edit: Haha, easy. Chapter One, and it's actually Nautzera dreaming and Akka dropping in to chat. Not quite as I remembered it, but;

Quote
"Our Lord," the dragon grated, "hath tasted thy king's passing, and he sayeth, 'It is done.'"
« Last Edit: July 27, 2017, 01:43:00 am by Crtha »
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SmilerLoki

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« Reply #13 on: July 27, 2017, 02:48:44 am »
Thank you!

I think here the words of the dragon are so imprecise that a vast array of meanings can be attributed to them. Did the No-God really speak to him? Or was it more of a feeling belonging to a unified body of the Inchoroi creations the ruler of which is the No-God? It's entirely unclear in the same way that Kelmomas effect on the White-Luck Warrior (be it the first one or Sorweel) and the Gods was unclear. The true nature of the dragon's words is quite possibly deliberately concealed by the author to not give away crucial parts of the series easily.

I can't really derive any hard conclusions from it.

Crtha

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« Reply #14 on: July 27, 2017, 03:47:57 am »
Well, to be fair that is the largest direct hint that the No-god is more than what his foes see. Obviously it is not conclusive, as you say.

There are a fair few other incidents where the servants of the No-god behave as though there this is the case. For instance, when Kellhus confronts Aurang-as-Esme and (probably bluffing) says he talks to the No-god and that He regards Aurang as a failure (or similar). Aurang's reaction to that suggests it hits a nerve.

Digression;
I think it's a brilliant touch that the No-god is literally a Black Box. It's becoming increasing likely in neuroscience that ignorance of how 'consciousness' itself functions is an integral part of its effectiveness in pattern recognition and decision making. The reason that neural networks are the heart of AI technology is because they operate as a black box. The problem that this raises is that it's impossible to prove they are not fallible.
Retracing his bloody footprints, the Wizard limped on.