Moenghus is a lying liar who lies

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« Reply #30 on: April 26, 2013, 04:07:03 pm »
Quote from: The Sharmat
When did Moenghus have time to do all this traveling? Unless the Psukhe has some equivalent of the metagnostic cant of transposition it seems quite improbable he could be in so many places at once. It's understandable given the narrative, but I think fans of this series give the Dunyain entirely too much credit. They're human, for all their protestations. Just with a very narrow set of alleles and tons of conditioning. They make errors. And they aren't omniscient.

How did Moenghus know Kellhus would make it to him? He didn't. But it was the most likely chain of events that could lead to the goal he sought. The shortest of all possible paths he could see. It's a probability trance, not a certainty trance. And besides, Kellhus is a Dunyain too. Easier for things to work out when you have one working on both ends.

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« Reply #31 on: April 26, 2013, 04:07:13 pm »
Quote from: Twooars
Quote from: Curethan
Except Kiyuth was an essential part of the inception of the holy war.  The Nansur gambled their entire military strength in order to free their harrassed borders so that they could provision and lead the expedition to regain their lands from the Fanim.  If Conphas had failed, then so would the holy war.  Also note that Conphas' intel and insights that allowed him to defeat the Scylvendi came from his time with Kascamandi.

Freeing borders wasn't really the concern of Xerius/Conphas when they planned the Kiyuth expedition... they wanted to use the victory there as a lever to make Conphas the leader of the holy war. Conphas says,
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the glorious victory we've just won, is nothing more than the first engagement of the Holy War?... Whether the Holy War is the Shriah's or no is the very point at issue
. And Xerius provisioned the vulgar holy war while the Kiyuth battle/seige was in progress, so clearly, provisioning (= mainly food, other essentials) the holy war was not directly affected by availability of manpower. Also, Istriya notes how Xerius planned the Kiyuth battle to free manpower from the borders, but considering the number of nations involved in the holy war, would the absence of the Nansur have made a big difference? I don't think so.

The point of Moenghus summoning Kellhus is that a Dunyain can assess circumstances and improvise in a way that worldborn men cannot. If Moenghus could direct events so closely and accurately, he might as well have worked with Maithanet instead of summoning Kellhus all the way from Ishual (which has so many more variables to take care of).
And Conphas learnt warfare from Skauras as he was his ward, not Kascamandri. Mallahet/Moenghus is more likely to be in Shimeh, not in Shigek, so unlikely to have conditioned Conphas. And as I said earlier, the peculiar psyche of Conphas makes him so eminently unconditionable that it is hard to believe that Moenghus could have conditioned him early in life.

Bottomline, while Bakker leaves some things unexplained and ambiguous, I don't think he is going for an unreliable narrator theme. When Kellhus explains Moenghus' motivations at the end of TTT, I think it is only a storytelling device to make the revelations seem more readable, not an attempt to foreshadow secret machinations by moenghus. So I am inclined to take what Kellhus surmises about Moenghus as Fact. This doesn't mean that there isn't more to Moenghus than Kellhus surmised, it just means that when Kellhus thinks that Moenghus failed to do something, he probably was right. for eg. Moenghus' probability trance really failed him (when it came to Kellhus convincing the ruling caste members of the holy war about his prophet-hood).

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« Reply #32 on: April 26, 2013, 04:07:23 pm »
Quote from: Twooars
Quote from: The Sharmat
It's understandable given the narrative, but I think fans of this series give the Dunyain entirely too much credit.

Exactly. Take the circumfixion sequence for example. Kellhus
1. tries to kill Sarcellus - fails
2. Uses Achamian to convince the great names - fails
3. manipulates Cnaiur - almost fails, but succeeds only because of a freak occurrence (distraction of the skin spy by Gotian)

How then did Moenghus make sure that Kellhus would get to the holy war safely? Well, IMO, Moenghus couldn't be absolutely sure. He just thought it would be likely that another Dunyain can make it from Ishual to the Three Seas, because he himself made it 20 years back. He couldn't condition individual actions, but he just set up broad circumstances that Kellhus could use to his advantage.

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« Reply #33 on: April 26, 2013, 04:07:36 pm »
Quote from: Curethan
@twooars

I think you underestimate Moe's machinations.  For instance, Conphas inteded to betray the holy war - which Moe knew because Conphas had planned it with the Kian.  'Mallahet' was the cish advisor/priest there. 

When Moe (as Mallahet) meets with Xerius Ikurei, he uses sorcery to allow Skauras (Sapatishah-Governor of Shigek) to speak directly to the king (which seems a lot more effective than Gnostic long distance dream communications know that I think about it).  There is definately a connection between them.  And Skaurus is also in contact with Conphas (previously his hostage iirc).  It seems quite possible that Mallahet met with Conphas whilst he was visiting Nansur.

I think we have the same feeling about Moe and Kellhus' talk though - I have a feeling that its useless for dunyain to lie to each other and that is why the conflict in their conversations is based on who is steering it.

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« Reply #34 on: April 26, 2013, 04:07:43 pm »
Quote from: Wilshire
Finally some people that are making a bit of sense, or at least speculations that I agree with. From above one of my favorite points is that its called a probability trance. The dunyain are intelligent, but they are not gods or any similar omniscient being. They are just a group of people that employed some social Darwinism for the past several centuries.

They can, and do, fail. Nothing is 100% for sure to happen, and even if your at 99%, there is still that 1 chance in a hundred that things go horribly, miserably wrong. Think about all the possible decision made from Ishual all the way to where Moe was at. How many of those choices, decisions, and actions fell onto a 50/50 chance, or a 60/40 chance? Even if something is less probable, that doesn't mean its unlikely. Even at 75% success, 1 of 4 times is a failure.

The reason why Moe absolutely needed Kell was because there was no other choice. He might have only had a 10% chance at success and any other human that tried such a ridiculous journey would have failed outright (obviously). The only possible chance was that Kell had the ability to adapt to all the multitude of circumstances that were left unconditioned. If Moe had the ability to condition every single step of the way, why would he need another dunyain at all? If he had that much power, why not simply have Mat walk the golden path to victory? Surely with every step conditioned, a half dunyain could be trusted to not screw up.

Moe only had just enough influence to give himself the slightest chance of success. Just a glimmer of half hearted hope that maybe the TTT could be realized as he saw it. And as it turned out, his tiny chance turned out to be a dead end anyway. He could not overcome his circumstances and died because he made to many mistakes along the way (mainly having no sight, but that was certainly not his only blunder).

Simply put, Moe failed, was outsmarted (or at least out-lucked) by Kell and other circumstances, and died because of it. I sincerely doubt he had some super secret mega ultra KO punch that he was hiding, or some kind of amazing scheme that he was waiting to employ after faking this or that outcome. If he did, he wouldn't have risked everything for Kel.

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« Reply #35 on: April 26, 2013, 04:07:50 pm »
Quote from: Curethan
It's pretty much guaranteed up to the the circumfixion, I think.

Really, it's authorial fiat.  Throughout the PoN, it is repeated so many times that the dunyain leave nothing to chance.  It's like setting up dominos.  Preparing everything so that the dominos fall one after another and form the pattern that is desired.  In Ishual, even the fall of a leaf from a tree is certain - from when it falls to where it lands.  That isn't 50/50 or even 99% certainty...  Whether this is a believable conceit is up to the reader, but I'm pretty sure that is what is intended.  The idea that everything is determined by prior events and that the logos allows one to control their flow is central.

Moe needed a blank Dunyain.  That is, someone who could fight a nonman to a standstill, who could pluck arrows from the air, bend a mandate sorcerer so that he would teach the gnosis, learn and master the principles of war etc etc.  Maitha just wasn't good enough, maybe a 10% chance, as you say.

Kellhus is aware that he is walking conditioned ground from the outset.  Things like Cnaiur and the political situation when he gets to the 3 seas proper are big flashing signs that show what he needs to do next, because Kellhus knows to walk the shortest path.  He's not planning against Moeghus.  It's repeated over and over throughout Kellhus' pov chapters where ruminates on the shortest path and wonders what Moe has planned for him.

Moe wasn't 'risking everything', neither was he outsmarted or out-lucked.  His purpose is to unite the nations of men under one belief so they can oppose the consult, which works out quite nicely, thank you.  A
In the end he is made obsolete by his own designs, he dies because he could not see the probabilities of TTT beyond the flash point where Kellhus takes control - the circumfixion - and by admission, that is where the probability trance fails and the chances of his goals being achieved go down from 99.9recurring%.  Then Kellhus starts playing his own game and talking to twigs.

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« Reply #36 on: April 26, 2013, 04:07:57 pm »
Quote from: Twooars
Quote from: Curethan
It's pretty much guaranteed up to the the circumfixion, I think.
No, not really. I agree that the Dunyain do not leave much to chance, but their probability trance is entirely dependent on the information they have. It's not like they can foresee events, they assess the possible outcomes from the knowledge they are privy to. This actually is the big difference between Kellhus' and Moneghus' journeys. Moenghus made a lot of mistakes because he did not have all the necessary information or did not foresee the turn of events:
1. Manipulating Cnaiur in a rather obvious manner, resulting in Cnaiur figuring out that he was manipulated (Kellhus reflects on this during his journey with Cnaiur through the steppe)
2. Scarring his arms like a Scylvendi - while this is arguably the only course of action for him to leave the steppe unmolested, it limited options for him - he could not go into the Nansurium, effectively leaving him only the Psukhe among all sorceries
3. blinding himself, for the Psukhe - the biggest mistake, obviously

Quote
Things like Cnaiur and the political situation when he gets to the 3 seas proper...
Cnaiur is actually an excellent argument against the idea that Moenghus 'planted' him to prepare the path for Kellhus. Kellhus has a really difficult time trying to 'possess' Cnaiur, with little success. He actually succeeds only after they meet Serwe on the way, as mentioned in one of the 'What came before' sections, IIRC (which could only be a chance occurrence, surely, as she was a complete nobody, so Moenghus has no reason to arrange her to meet Kellhus).

Other strong arguments against the Moenghus-conditioned-everything theory, IMO:
1. Cnaiur - Shows poor planning by Moenghus, but that's because he had no idea what he was getting into when he met Cnaiur. His only aim then was to get out of Scylvendi hands.
2. Advice to Saubon to 'sacrifice' the shrial knights. A totally random (uninformed) decision  by Kellhus, but resulted in him getting elevated in the eyes of the great names.
3. Sparing Cnaiur's life on the beach (?)- again something totally irrational from a Dunyain POV, but was what saved Kellhus later.
4. Kellhus almost dying in the snow but found by Leweth (who is a nobody, so there is no reasonable explanation for Moenghus knowing him)
5. Kellhus finding water in the Carathay desert
6.
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someone who could fight a nonman to a standstill
actually, Kellhus could escape this confrontation only because Mekeritrig chose not to use sorcery from the outset, so I think he was extremely lucky here.
Some of these, however, are arguments for the-world-conspires theory, IMO.

The TTT was Moenghus' big gamble.
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Each of its folds possesses a haze of catastrophic possibilities, most of them remote, others nearly certain. I would have abandoned it long ago, were not the consequences of inaction so absolute.

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« Reply #37 on: April 26, 2013, 04:08:06 pm »
Quote from: lockesnow
Quote from: Twooars
Moenghus made a lot of mistakes because he did not have all the necessary information or did not foresee the turn of events:
This is a presumption that flatters the reader in a couple different insidious ways, one the reader is 'on the side' of the 'hero/protagonist' in this case Kellhus, and against the antagonist, in this case Moe; two it privileges the narrative the reader has followed and thus preps the reader into going along with Kellhus without question.  Note that the confrontation with Moe is primarily Kellhus going full Bond Villain Monologue in explaining his projections of what Moe did, it is not Moe doing a Bond Villain Monologue explaining what happened.  We take Kellhus' assumptions at full truth because the conventions of literary tradition.

Imagine if the Kianine are correct, their religion is the 'right' religion and only they will not be damned.  Moe joined that religion and became the equivalent of a high priest in that religion.  Can we say that he made a mistake if he in fact made a completely accurate assessment of the validity of the various religions of the world?  We don't know that Moe made a hasty decision once he was in Fanim territory, it may have been quite a long time of study before he became Cishaurim.

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« Reply #38 on: April 26, 2013, 04:08:26 pm »
Quote from: Wilshire
Well Curethan when I read through Moe's lines during Moe and Kell's meetings, it seemed to me that Moe was completely with the Consult. Moe saw the culmination of the TTT as shutting the world from the gods and thus saving everyone. He wanted to unify everyone under one banner so they could all docilely go to their deaths, instead of continuing to fight anything and everything. Then Kell grasped it, and decided that no, shutting the world was a bad idea, and he choose an end that saved everyone by opposing the consult instead of helping them like his father wanted. This, I believe, is what see further into the TTT is. It is stated that the TTT does not lead the world to one end, but rather its basically just a lump of cause and affect that leads the world to very similar ends. Moe saw it as getting rid of the gods, Kell letting the gods stick around.

Maybe that is a different interpretation to whats typically accepted, but thats how I see it. Moe lost because he made to many mistakes, so he called the upon not the shortest path, but the only path. That path had consequences that he could not forsee, mainly his own death and the "perversion" of what he thought was the proper outcome of TTT.

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« Reply #39 on: April 26, 2013, 04:08:40 pm »
Quote from: Twooars
Quote from: lockesnow
This is a presumption that flatters the reader in a couple different insidious ways, one the reader is 'on the side' of the 'hero/protagonist' in this case Kellhus, and against the antagonist, in this case Moe; two it privileges the narrative the reader has followed and thus preps the reader into going along with Kellhus without question.  Note that the confrontation with Moe is primarily Kellhus going full Bond Villain Monologue in explaining his projections of what Moe did, it is not Moe doing a Bond Villain Monologue explaining what happened.  We take Kellhus' assumptions at full truth because the conventions of literary tradition.

As I said above, I am assuming that Bakker is not going for an unreliable narrator (I'm using the term loosely here) theme. My impression is that in the closing scenes of TTT, Kellhus explains Moenghus' motivations simply because it is a plot device, as Moenghus explaining himself would seem too cheesy (too Bond Villain-esque, as you say). My assumption may be wrong, but I'd be seriously disappointed if so, mainly because without a third person omniscient perspective, Kellhus is the only POV we have there and for a (metaphysical) whodunnit, it would be disingenuous of the author to say 3 books later, 'well, everything Kellhus said and thought about Moenghus was wrong actually'. For me, it would seem like the author is taking the easy way out.
Having said that, I still don't get Moenghus' motivations completely. I am leaning towards Wilshire's idea that Moenghus' version of TTT intended shutting the world against the gods, but uniting the Fanim and Inrithi seems like an incredibly roundabout way of doing that. So I think new revelations in the coming books will explain Moenghus' actions further, but I think these revelations will not negate what Kellhus already surmised about him. The new revelations will have to be something that wasn't mentioned to the reader before, not something that was already mentioned and negated in later books. That's my take of it anyway, I know my reading is not the One True Reading. The one thing I love about this series is the ambiguity, moral and otherwise, but I really hope that by the end of it, we will have some clarity! :)

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« Reply #40 on: April 26, 2013, 04:08:45 pm »
Quote from: Curethan
Interesting perspective.  Allow me to add my own ridiculous speculations. ;)
(eta. trying to be humourous, not trying to be rude)
Moenghus is actually already wanting to join the consult but never does.  Guess he never got round to sending an application.  Probly should've just sent one of theose skin spies back with a message.  Nope, instead he's going to hide from the consult and oppose them from the shadows until he's united the entire world and then he'll march everyone up north and present them to Golgotteroth like a bunch of flowers and rely upon grattitude to get him a job as EO of the Consult's Evil R&D.
But then he summons Kellhus at random 15-20 years after blinding himself and failing to make any further headway on any of his possible goals (i.e. world domination or joining the consult).
I'm not sure what he is supposed to be hoping for here... perhaps he has some rough intuition from the probability trance that there is a 2% chance Kellhus will be able to restore his vision... or help him write a love letter to Aurang?
Ultimately he just waits for Kellhus to kill him, instead of revealing what he was really up to and trying to convince Kellhus to join him... 
Yeh, can't really buy into it, but seriously, its possible, I guess. 

In defence of my own reading, I'll address some of the points against raised by Twooars.

    It's not like they can foresee events, they assess the possible outcomes from the knowledge they are privy to. This actually is the big difference between Kellhus' and Moneghus' journeys. Moenghus made a lot of mistakes because he did not have all the necessary information or did not foresee the turn of events:

Agree completely.  The difference is that Kellhus walks conditioned ground.  Moenghus couldn't know, but Kellhus can be certain that following the shortest path will take him in the direction that has been prepared.

Other strong arguments against the Moenghus-conditioned-everything theory, IMO:
1. Cnaiur - Shows poor planning by Moenghus, but that's because he had no idea what he was getting into when he met Cnaiur. His only aim then was to get out of Scylvendi hands.

Cnaiur is used because he presents obvious evidence that Moenghus has prepared the way.  Cnaiur is a challenge because, like Conphas, he is already conditioned.  Kellhus needs him to learn war as well as a way through Scylvendi lands without making the same mistakes as Moe (i.e. becoming like the Scylvendi - scarred arms etc.) 

2. Advice to Saubon to 'sacrifice' the shrial knights. A totally random (uninformed) decision by Kellhus, but resulted in him getting elevated in the eyes of the great names.
In their face-off, I suspect that Kellhus mentions the voices he has been hearing because he suspects Moenghus may have been behind them.  Not sure why else he would have mentioned it - seems dangerous because if it isn't that way.  For example, the prophecy of the Shrial knights is something Moeghus may have had the ability and knowledge to pull off.  He had a sophisticated intelligence network that exceeded the consult's skinspies and could have put the suggestion into Kellhus' mind while Kellhus slept, rather than intervening at the moment Kellhus thinks he makes the decision.
Interestingly, Moeghus neither confirms or denies this, instead he changes the direction of the conversation by asserting that Kellhus has cracked.  Moe is a lying liar?  If Moe isn't responsible then he should be aware that Kellhus might go for the sneaky stab because someone/something else has been manipulating him.

3. Sparing Cnaiur's life on the beach (?)- again something totally irrational from a Dunyain POV, but was what saved Kellhus later.
Kellhus reflects that he should have killed him at one point, why not kill him then?  It never matters so much that it undoes any of his progress, and the consult probably would have learned of him through other methods eventually.  In fact, when he recognizes Cnaiur's methods of resistance in Aurang's strategy for dealing with him it enables Kellhus to deal with that too because he has managed to manipulate Cnaiur regardless.  Cnaiur saving Kellhus on the circumfix is very unlikely to have anything to do directly with Moe - he admits that this is where the probabilities escaped his ability to manipulate, but I think that it is part of TTT nonetheless.

4. Kellhus almost dying in the snow but found by Leweth (who is a nobody, so there is no reasonable explanation for Moenghus knowing him)
Given that Moenghus made it to Scylvendi lands, this would be a reasonable point to suggest that Kellhus almost rolled a critical failure (.000001%).  It's likely that running into Mek's band of Sranc was very unlucky and prevented Kellhus from using them to get himself through the wilderness like Moenghus did.  For example, if he had just run into a regular band of sranc he could have killed them all, workjed out their social patterning and learned either avoid them and use the same food sources they do (instead of trying to subsist on acorns) or assimilate himself into a sranc band like Moe.  My earlier point about escaping Mek was intended to show that (as a dunyain) he could escape such poor odds rather than Moe knowing that such an encounter was bound to happen.

5. Kellhus finding water in the Carathay desert
Iirc he does that by applying scientific principles ala Bear Grylls.

Finally, TTT was a gamble unless he could get a dunyain to walk his conditioned ground.  That's why he didn't try to take control of the three seas personally or via Maitha or the Ikurei or one of the other options that TTT would have thrown up.

As you say though, it really depends on the reader. 
Moeghus has definitely been screwing around with the political situation and using indiviuals like Maitha, the Ikurei dynasty, the Fanim etc etc in order to get things into a situation that Kellhus will be able to take advantage of.  The question I was seeking to look at is to what extent did Moe micromanage his manipulations?  Obviously, what ever the truth is, we are not privy to all of Moe's machinations or the true extent of his sorcerous abilities.  He actively demonstrates skills with telepathic communication, dream manipulation and illusion that equal or exceed the extent of what is demonstrated by practitioners of any school included in the series to date.

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« Reply #41 on: April 26, 2013, 04:08:52 pm »
Quote from: lockesnow
Quote from: Twooars
Having said that, I still don't get Moenghus' motivations completely. I am leaning towards Wilshire's idea that Moenghus' version of TTT intended shutting the world against the gods, but uniting the Fanim and Inrithi seems like an incredibly roundabout way of doing that. So I think new revelations in the coming books will explain Moenghus' actions further, but I think these revelations will not negate what Kellhus already surmised about him. The new revelations will have to be something that wasn't mentioned to the reader before, not something that was already mentioned and negated in later books. That's my take of it anyway, I know my reading is not the One True Reading. The one thing I love about this series is the ambiguity, moral and otherwise, but I really hope that by the end of it, we will have some clarity! :)
I really like this idea and more or less agree with it.  OTOH, I'm suspicious we're all being played because Bakker is relying on our adherence to genre convention and literary tradition, and thus can manipulate the reader and their expectations in interesting meta and micro ways. 

Also, one must keep Nerdanal's Grand Moenghus Conspiracy Theory alive and well.

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« Reply #42 on: April 26, 2013, 04:08:59 pm »
Quote from: The Sharmat
Wait, you think we were supposed to find Kellhus sympathetic and be rooting for him vs. the 'antagonist', Moenghus...who is barely present in the narrative and whose motives are shrouded in mystery? I never found Kellhus sympathetic. At best he's the lesser of myriad evils.

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« Reply #43 on: April 26, 2013, 04:09:06 pm »
Quote from: lockesnow
no, by the end of TTT I was rooting against Kellhus, but within the conventions of genre Kellhus is the fucking hero.  Bakker is actively deconstructing that with how he writes the book and he's quite consciously playing with convention and expectation and uses both as tools to prime or disarm a reader as he wants.

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« Reply #44 on: April 26, 2013, 04:09:13 pm »
Quote from: Callan S.
Yeah, but is it deconstructing towards something (which is constructing) or just a faff around?