TDTCB, Ch. 10

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« on: April 19, 2013, 11:23:43 am »
Quote from: lockesnow
[size=200]SUMNA[/size]
Quote
How should one describe the terrible majesty of the Holy War? Even then, still unblooded, it was both frightening and wondrous to behold, a great beast whose limbs were composed of entire nations—Galeoth, Thunyerus, Ce Tydonn, Conriya, High Ainon, and the Nansurium—and with the Scarlet Spires as the dragon’s maw, no less. Not since the days of the Ceneian Empire or the Ancient North has the world witnessed such an assembly. Even diseased by politics, it was a thing of awe.
—DRUSAS ACHAMIAN, COMPENDIUM OF THE FIRST HOLY WAR

Midwinter, 4111 Year-of-the-Tusk, Sumna[/i]

§10.1: Esmenet walks at night through a blank parchment world, remembers the Consult interro-rape and is ashamed, thinks of herself as a kahiht equal to the events she is caught up in.

§10.2: Esmenet arrives at a hostel, tries to join travelers, a snapped sandal band isolates, reflections on the Karian Way, reflections on how Esmenet collected experience and cultivated her knowledge of the world, reflections on her dead daughter, arrives at a village & cannot find a cobbler, is confronted by querulous youths, stones, a priest, retreat, confession of damnation, stoning, Sarcellus.

§10.3: Achamian arrives at Xinemus' camp outside Momemn and is welcomed into camp.

§10.4: Xinemus helps Achamian make camp, they catch up, Xinemus defends Achamian and knocks sense into Dinchases and Iryssas.

§10.5: Achamian has offscreen dreams and does not reflect on them, Xinemus and Achamian play benjuka and catch up, reflections on benjuka (a game that mimics life),  Achamian hears the Vulgar Holy War was destroyed, a history of Proyas, a story of Xinemus knocking sense into Proyas, reflections that Proyas caused the Vulgar Holy War and that such a large event could be writ small as a benjuka move, but who is meant to be the person moving the pieces, The Emperor, Conphas, Achamian concedes the match.

§10.6: Esmenet and Sarcellus, The Mandate are fools and women who love fools do not have dream when they sleep.

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« Reply #1 on: April 19, 2013, 11:23:52 am »
Quote from: Church
I found this chapter quite hard going, still a lot of set-up going on. Take me back to the jiunati steppe! One quote I found interesting though:

Quote
So many men, she'd found, harboured a void of some kind, a place accountable only to other men.

This is from the early part of the chapter, when Esme is reflecting on what she's learnt from being a prostitute. If we go with lockesnow's theory that these chapters are all about Esme being supernaturally (literally) gifted with insight then that quote becomes a lot more significant. The idea of men harbouring a void, that's seems to me to pretty much say that the essence of the No-God is within men in Earwa.

If you consider the Scylvendi, they're pretty much the most masculine (or at least orientated towards male prerogative) society in the series, and they're also instrumental in some way to the creation of the N-G. Is RSB pointing us towards something here - the other Gods share to some degree feminine attributes, but the masculine attributes of the N-G are 'accountable only to other men', ie. only accountable to those who have sufficient power and force to make themselves useful?

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« Reply #2 on: April 19, 2013, 11:24:05 am »
Quote from: lockesnow
I'm not sure that I think these chapters involve Esmenet being supernaturally gifted, rather I think these chapters describe her becoming kahiht--a world soul.

We can actually look to the structure of the novel to maybe support this, a structure I have long found troubling.  It is less troubling if you look at four sections as referring to the appearance of four kahiht: The Sorcerer--Achamian, The Emperor--Conphas, The Harlot--Esmenet, The Warrior--Cnaiur.  The final section is the stage on which they will play: The Holy War.  And of course the entire series is named for the biggest kahiht of them all, Prince-of-Nothing--Kellhus.

Quote
The idea of men harbouring a void, that's seems to me to pretty much say that the essence of the No-God is within men in Earwa.

If you consider the Scylvendi, they're pretty much the most masculine (or at least orientated towards male prerogative) society in the series, and they're also instrumental in some way to the creation of the N-G. Is RSB pointing us towards something here - the other Gods share to some degree feminine attributes, but the masculine attributes of the N-G are 'accountable only to other men', ie. only accountable to those who have sufficient power and force to make themselves useful?

This is fascinating, is there something about Nihilism and other various philosophies that is inherently masculine?  Is there something in religion and community that are inherently feminine?  Are men the reason the world could be destroyed?

Is all philosophy inherently misogynist.

QUICK!  Name a female Philosopher!

Anyone? Buellor?

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« Reply #3 on: April 19, 2013, 11:24:24 am »
Quote from: Church
The only female philosopher that springs to mind is Patricia Churchland, but she's about as rabidly materialistic as you can get! I'm not sure how far I'd generalise from what Bakker's writing about Earwa to the real world, though I guess you could say that nihilism is in some ways about elimination, whereas feminine traits are more about generation (think Yatwer). so there is that opposition there.

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« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2013, 11:24:32 am »
Quote from: sologdin
eh?  de beauvoir, kristeva, luxemburg, arendt, cixous, butler, nussbaum, wollstencraft, and the arch-inchie herself, ayn rand!

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« Reply #5 on: April 19, 2013, 11:24:45 am »
Quote from: sologdin
epigraph of this section, DA's war memoir, notes that the purity of holy war is "diseased by politics" (I.10 at 273).  whatever intellectual maturity that i noted in the previous chapter must evaporate by the time he writes his memoir, as this is a fairly fascistic statement.

we are given to recall the prior chapter's black semens by "inky sensations stained everything" at the vatican (id.).  eww?  nevertheless the "parchment of the world was blank" (I.10 at 273-74).  so, it's writing again.  but fairly naive, maybe, to think that nothing had yet been written.

recalling the black ejaculate guy, esmi notes that "her body had been notched that night" (I.10 at 274).  she bears a mark of her own, then.  and, in comparison to DA's thought's about owning her, she admits "[black ejaculate guy] had taken her body captive, had seized what was hers and remade it not in his own image, but in the image of what he needed her to be" (id.). 

she's loony as a toon, kinda like people on fantasy message boards who adopt the names of characters in their favorite books and speculate on what might happen in as yet unpublished installments of the serial, but loony in the manner of baudrillard's hyperreality thesis in simulations and simulacra, when "she styled herself a character from The Sagas" (I.10 at 275), a showingthat the represenations of the saga is more real than the reality that it purportedly represents.

nifty geertzian moment (cf. the writings on the balinese cockfight--NB esmi's "my men are more than cocks" (I.10 at 279)) when esmi notes that men gambled, "they sought coin, certainly, but they also yearned for a demonstration, a sign that the world, the Gods, the future--someone--had somehow set them apart" (I.10 at 279).  we note this also as an incidental, in the event that something later makes it pregnant--such as, perhaps, when DA might be falling for a "juvenile urge to appear to be more than he was" (I.10 at 288).  i suspect that superhumanity might be a relevant consideration for this type of story. 

were esmi a man, she "wouldn't need to make teachers of everyone" (I.10 at 279).  which way is the pedagogy flowing?  we'll see.

we get teabagger producerist mythology in rumors that esmi has encountered regarding the "free yeomen and craftsmen" of some old imperial district (I.10 at 280).  the 'bagger producerism is revealed for its naked chauvinism and puritanical zeal when a pack of ragamuffins assault her, as it is not sufficient for these little 'baggers that she is damned, "already dead" (I.10 at 283).

DA is revealed to be buying into the holy war, even as he realizes that he is victim to the propaganda: "How could we fail?  He pondered this thought, "we," for some time." (I.10 at 286).  but what's to ponder?  if one thinks we while the war is on, then one is ideologically aligned with the war.  that was one of the most sickening things about the recent unlawful invasion of iraq by the united states, when even some opponents of the war thought in terms of "we" when discussing US policy.  you bought the "we," you bought the war, fascist.  the only answer, of course, is the critical distance afforded by repudiation of the vandal state's unlawful policies and unremitting enmity with those who engineered the crime.   DA can't get there.  we shall see if he ever can.

we note the appearance of harold bloom's anxiety of influence in the occurrence of "wraiths" (I.10 at 287).  as far as i'm concerned, any mention of "wraiths" in any context only pulls us back to tolkien.  the distinction in the usage will tell us exactly which bloomian mechanism is used here to kill-the-father (clinamen, ain't it?). 

perhaps the intellectual center of gravity of the volume is the discourse on benjuka (I.10 at 294 ff.).  we get a routine saussurean explanation of games (games are their rules; change the rules, and it's a different game).  the discourse draws the express parallel between "games and life" (id.).  herr wittgenstein had already drawn the express parallel between games and language for us.

but: "the cunning of benjuka lay in the absence of this fixed framework" (id.).  so, it's calvinball? no!  "the rules of benjuka were yet another move within the game" (id.).  it's all fairly badass, and we should yield to the temptation to read any game/gambling metaphor in this volume as a benjuka match (though this might be complicated, if, for hypothetical example only, other games arise in subsequent installments). 

we hear that charges had been brought against some idiot or another "to the ecclesiastical courts and to the King" (I.10 at 298).  so, some law.  where are the lawyers? i may have to write an epic fantasy serial about lawyers and law, considering the absence of it in genre generally.  that may suggest a definition: epic fantasy is what you get when you have secondary creation plus supernaturalism minus law.

an endorsement of great man theory of history with "great catastrophes are often wrought by such small things.  The intolerance of a prince and the stupidity of an arrogant lord." (I.10 at 299).  barf.

anyway, "true victories were so rare--as rare across the benjuka plate as they were in life" (I.10 at 299-300).  we note this now, in case it shows up, incidentally.

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« Reply #6 on: April 19, 2013, 11:24:53 am »
Quote from: Church
Quote
eh? de beauvoir, kristeva, luxemburg, arendt, cixous, butler, nussbaum, wollstencraft, and the arch-inchie herself, ayn rand!

Ok fair point - my philosopher recall system is clearly misogynistic! But I still think that it's reasonable to say that the books are aligning the philosophical, nihilistic attitude with masculine attributes (and any of the other major destructive forces in the book, such as the Inchies).

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« Reply #7 on: April 19, 2013, 11:25:02 am »
Quote from: sologdin
nothing misogynist there.  there's a long tradition of specific feminist theorizing, mostly by female writers, and mostly less well known than the Old Names in the field.

i'm not aware of any particular female or feminist nihilisms out there, so y'all may be on to something.

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« Reply #8 on: April 19, 2013, 11:25:13 am »
Quote from: lockesnow
Quote from: sologdin
nothing misogynist there.  there's a long tradition of specific feminist theorizing, mostly by female writers, and mostly less well known than the Old Names in the field.
Would this seem to indicate that female writers have their own tradition of philosophy separate from the 'great' (male) names of philosophy; names society and culture have chosen to elevate into the common (educated) knowledge? 

Are the mechanisms  that enforce this tradition of feminist theorizing responsible for their (presumed) marginalization or are external forces at play?

What does it mean that my mind immediately leaps to narratives of marginalization (read victimization) when thinking about my ignorance of the names already referenced?  Why does my brain immediately presume that there is a problem with them and not that I have a deficiency (lack? heh) of knowledge of them?  The fault is mine, is it not, and yet I blame not myself but rather I blame this agglomeration of individuals of which I am ignorant, I blame them for my failings?  ugh.

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« Reply #9 on: April 19, 2013, 11:25:20 am »
Quote from: Madness
Cool thoughts... need to stew on 'em.

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« Reply #10 on: April 19, 2013, 11:25:51 am »
Quote from: lockesnow
Quote from: sologdin
she's loony as a toon, kinda like people on fantasy message boards who adopt the names of characters in their favorite books and speculate on what might happen in as yet unpublished installments of the serial, but loony in the manner of baudrillard's hyperreality thesis in simulations and simulacra, when "she styled herself a character from The Sagas" (I.10 at 275), a showingthat the represenations of the saga is more real than the reality that it purportedly represents.
But is she loony?  Truly on Earth someone would be loony, if they believed themselves to be a character out of stories or mythology.   But within the world of Earwa cannot her looniness be seen as sanity?  Could not something we think to be crazy in our world be rational observation in this other world?

Indeed, within Esemenet's perspective in this section named "the  Harlot" by the author, she reveals to us there is a defined word for this phenomenon, kahiht, she describes the same phenomena for us, should we not assume, later, that she is exhibiting both signs of becoming kahiht and an internal awareness of this implicit change even if she is not consciously applying the label, your quotation indicates an implicit understanding on her part.

And as readers with four other books to follow it would appear that Esmenet was rationally correct when she made this assumption, that although we might label her crazy making absurd projections she was actually sane and made an accurate assessment of the world, her place in it and her future position within the world.

Esmenet is not blind to what is happening to her, even if the other (male) characters are blind.

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« Reply #11 on: April 19, 2013, 11:26:13 am »
Quote from: Madness
I'm rereading this passages in a different light than you, lockesnow, though I feel like I share your overall thoughts.

Also, solo, thanks as always for your perspective.

Sumna

How should one describe the terrible majesty of the Holy War? Even then, still unblooded, it was both frightening and wondrous to behold, a great beast whose limbs were composed of entire nations - Galeoth, Thunyersus, Ce Tydonn, Conriya, High Ainon, and the Nansurium - and with the Scarlet Spires as the dragon's maw, no less. Not since the days of the Ceneian Empire or the Ancient North has the world witnessed such an assembly. Even diseased by politics, it was a thing of awe.
- DRUSAS ACHAMIAN, COMPENDIUM OF THE FIRST HOLY WAR

Midwinter, 4111 Year-of-the-Tusk, Sumna[/b]

§10.1 - Esmenet, Scion of the Consult

I'm definitely reading this a little differently than, lockesnow is. Esmenet's first perspective has a confrontation with Aurang - however that happens.

She feels owned, feels changed, as lockesnow and sologdin referenced. Remade as the her rapist needed her to be (p295). This means that Esmenet's inauguration as a player - as a student, at least - is directly initiated by the Consult.

All her thoughts continue as she walks - note Achamian's reference to the Consult believing in the genesis of the dark (p296), which is never referenced again as far as I know.

Most importantly, the entire passage is a build up to her feeling fortunate to be sole person with knowledge of the Consult's existence...?

And then she immediately redirects her thoughts, in classic indications of dissonance, and revises her explanatory style, caccooning herself in lies and fantasies (p297) as sologdin had noted - which is what we readers are doing o.O, neh?

Also, the references to blank world parchment and here is where it all started (p294-295) again reflects her characters initial dissolution into the World, outside the world of her birthplace, Sumna, all she's ever known.

§10.2 - Damned & Stoned, or Sarcellus, Slap-Commander

Esmenet reflects again on Sumna branding her whores.

She recounts how she's learned about the world from her custom (p299). She is living by-proxy and this is the first instance of dissonance she experiences in her own narrative - these are Esmenet's first steps in forming her own identity after all. I find it very interesting how despite the stories she's been told, the experiences she collects, she has been sheltered from the real dangers of the World.

Losing her daughter (p299) is one thing and probably a commonality among many whores in Sumna. However, she's used to the tolerance born of usage in the city - she is entirely unprepared for the certainty in ignorance of those yokels who believe literally in the Tusk (p303). Keeps asking what was happening? I can't believe she is so ignorant as to never had heard of or imagined literal retribution as described by the Tusk or the Tractate... but then Esmenet seems to respect Kiunnat traditions more closely than Inrithi.

Regardless, the entire town turns out to stone the hapless whore, who admits to believing in her damnation, and seems to think that this was the rational as to why her Shrial custom didn't summarily stone her after sex (p305).

And then the skin-spy, Sarcellus, Slap-Commander of the Shrial Knights shows up to slap a Priest and save our girl... really backward behavior for someone who should probably be helping the townfolk.

What is it the Consult sees in Esmenet? Why unlike all other past-use informants - say, Geshrunni - does Aurang spare Esmenet? Is Sarcellus' mission to protect her?

§10.3 - Strong & Weak Brothers

Achamian finally arrives at the Holy War... though, it really didn't take too long.

Again, as sologdin noted, the awkward, inclusive, "we" (p308) by Achamian - already embedding himself and the reader with him into the Holy War groupthink.

He finds the Conriyan contingent and we're introduced to Achamian's old friend, Krijates Xinemus, the Marshal of Attrempus - the same who rebuked his Lord Calmemunis in audience with the Emperor Xerius.

Xinemus seems genuinely happy to see his complicated weak brother...

§10.4 - Can't make friends with Damnation

Our introduction to Xinemus' camp, and Achamian's temporary home. We have the first comparison of sorcery, Gnosis to Anagogis - iron to bronze (p311).

Another reflection on damnation: the faithful obviously fear that associating with the damned is considered grounds for damnation itself (p312). Xinemus seems to take social risks in his friendship with Achamian.

There is some hilarity and prejudice as Xinemus reintroduces Achamian to his vassals. Achamian is giving a chance to be free of the grand scheme of things for an evening with friends.

§10.5 - Benjuka, or the Game which reflects social interactions (and would probably be GO in real-life)

We have the admonishing that *drugs (alcohol) change the nature of the Dreams* (p315).

(click to show/hide)

We again get a recap of what's going on in the World of politics between Achamian and Xinemus - clearly two players.

We have a major reflection Benjuka (p316 - 318) and history, which is imperative to these discussions concerning Kahiht and the manifestation of the God of Gods and Inrithism.

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As they play the game, the reflections on things that have happened continually make Achamian sense greater frames of patterns, rules, among the game pieces.

We get a bunch of backstory on Proyas (p320) and the man he's been shaped into by Xinemus and Achamian. We know that Proyas has repudiated Achamian, due to the latter's impiety, but the story is filled in some more. As he's playing Benjuka, Achamian reflects that the unfolding drama, historical events like the Vulgar Holy War, are moves in The Game of life (p322).

"But this isn't a game. The Holy War will march, and no matter what, thousands upon thousands will die.

So many men. So many competing ends. And only one outcome. What would that outcome be? And who would shape it?

No one?

The thought terrified Achamian" (p323)

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Ultimately, their conversation boils down to two important things for the reader as they figure out Xerius' plan to use the Indenture as leverage for Conphas, in light of Maithanet's doubts.

"And unless Proyas is able to outmanoeuvre him, all of us will be spilling blood for Ikurei Xerius III rather than Inri Sejenus" (p325)

And though, Achamian has the winning move at hand, "'I've no hope,' Achamian replied, thinking not of benjuka but of Proyas. The Prince would arrive a man besieged, and Achamian had to further harass him, tell him even his gilded Shriah played some dark game" (p326).

§10.6 - Those Who Don't Dream Are Women Who Love fools... or Skin-Spies

Esmenet travels with Sarcellus, unknowing that the Slap-Commander is a Consult skin-spy. He's been plying our girl for information, clearly (p326).

Real... fucking... creepy.

What are his intentions?

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« Reply #12 on: April 19, 2013, 11:26:24 am »
Quote from: Triskele
Lots of interesting questions there, and I don't claim at this time to have any good responses. 

Was not the original Esmi the wife or lover of the guy who literally stuck his face in the fire at Husyelt's suggestion?  If so, what does that mean?

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« Reply #13 on: April 19, 2013, 11:27:05 am »
Quote from: Duskweaver
Quote from: Triskele
Was not the original Esmi the wife or lover of the guy who literally stuck his face in the fire at Husyelt's suggestion?  If so, what does that mean?
Yep. She was the wife of Angeshrael. Who was ultimately doing the Inchoroi's bidding in leading the Tribes of Men into Earwa.

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« Reply #14 on: April 19, 2013, 11:27:12 am »
Quote from: Callan S.
Quote
So many men, she'd found, harboured a void of some kind, a place accountable only to other men.
It'd be funny if it implied, in the souls of men, a kind of vagina like space for women to enter!

Ohh, can't help free associate!
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