What is the meaning of a deluded life?

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What Came Before

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« on: April 19, 2013, 02:36:08 pm »
Quote from: Truth Shines
Serwe...

Re-reading her "introduction" in the Hethanta Mountains, I can't help but notice something...

"She was Serwe.  She was nothing."
"The fact of her nothingness was a lesson hard learned."
"Serwe had though herself something then."
"She had heard many tales of suffering, to be sure, but then the hardships related had always been ennobling, encased in morals, and containing lessons she had already learned.  Besides, even if fate did betray her... she would be steadfast and heroic, a beacon of strength for the flagging souls about her."
"Other than pride in their ardour, pleasure in their gratification, what else did she have?"
"And she continued praying to the idols... She, Serwe, had to mean something, hadn't she?  All she wanted was some sign, something, anything..."
"Despite all her vanities and all her peevish sins, she meant something."
"...but she had continued praying.  Show them!  Please!  Show them I mean something..."
"...she had understood.  There was only whim.  There was only submission.  There was only pain, death, and dread."

Hers of course is a tale of suffering.  The interesting thing, upon this rereading (what, the fourth, or fifth time?), is this motif -- she wants to "mean something."  With Kehllhus, of course, she will.  Or at least in her own mind.

So then, the question comes back -- what is the meaning of a deluded life?

Ah measure is indeed unceasing...

What Came Before

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« Reply #1 on: April 19, 2013, 02:36:46 pm »
Quote from: Callan S.
It's also like she doesn't want raw martial ability that could physically empower herself (to be, like, not so treated as she is) - she just wants raw meaning. Whatever happens, it's the meaning that matters, not what happens to her. As long as what happens to her has meaning, gives her meaning, makes her meaningful...

What Came Before

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« Reply #2 on: April 19, 2013, 02:36:54 pm »
Quote from: Truth Shines
Agreed.  Continuing my re-reading, continuing this intriguing story line of Serwe:

As the three of them try to evade the Nansur pursuers, Serwe falls deeper into Kellhus' trance, we read...

"...  What was impossible was that a God might walk now, that a god might fall in love with her, with Serwe, the daughter sold to House Gaunum.  But perhaps this was the meaning of her beauty, the reason she had suffered the venal covetousness of man after man.  She was also something too beautiful for the world, something awaiting the arrival of her betrothed.  Anasurimbor Kellhus."

While in the camp of the Holy War, we read...

[Kellhus speaking to Serwe] "...when the world denies us over and over, when it punishes us as it's punished you, Serwe, it becomes difficult to understand the meaning.  All our pleas go unanswered.  Our every trust is betrayed.  Our hopes are all crushed.  It seems we mean nothing to the world...  You mean something, Serwe.  you are something.  This whole world is steeped in meaning.  Everything, even your suffering, has sacred meaning.  Even your suffering has a crucial role to play."

"... but for a moment she almost felt whole, speaking their secret language [Kellhus speaks Nymbricani with her], saying tender things...  I mean something."

Increasingly, it seems Serwe can be read (I shall not speculate on if this is Bakker's intention) as a devastating indictment of religion in general: a thoroughly deluded mind, crushed by harsh realities, lured by the promise of meaning, in the end betrayed -- yet through it all, experiencing a subjective happiness the likes of which more sober, skeptical minds (such as that of Achamian) can never hope to obtain.  Is it really such a bad bargain?

The question originally posed was -- "What is the meaning of a deluded life?"

Perhaps the answer is -- "Only a deluded life has meaning."  :o

Man I love this book.  So ass-kicking awesome.

What Came Before

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« Reply #3 on: April 19, 2013, 02:37:01 pm »
Quote from: Callan S.
When the yardsticks for what is a good or bad bargain are thrown in the air by the bargain itself, how do you judge anymore?

If you look at her time line - if she could have had food, shelter and simple joys instead of her past, would she be at the point where she'd want this bargain? Would the Serwe of that past be in such a need of this bargain?

If not so much, how is it such a bargain?

But she is swollowed up by her history, like all of us. Measuring the now by the now.

That's currently the only way I can argue that bargain.

What Came Before

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« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2013, 02:37:08 pm »
Quote from: Bakker User
I'm not sure I understand the above post very well.

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When the yardsticks for what is a good or bad bargain are thrown in the air by the bargain itself, how do you judge anymore?

Was that the case?

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If you look at her time line - if she could have had food, shelter and simple joys instead of her past,

She had the first two, didn't she?

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would she be at the point where she'd want this bargain? Would the Serwe of that past be in such a need of this bargain?

I.e. would she settle for the "bargain" had her life gone just great up to that point?

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If not so much, how is it such a bargain?

This is the most confusing bit to me. Exchanging $X for whatever is not a good bargain because in another life, one may have gone on to be a millionaire?

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But she is swollowed up by her history, like all of us. Measuring the now by the now.

I feel like the latter belies the former somehow.

Don't take this the wrong way, but from the Three Seas to the ASOIAF boards to 3PB to here, your posts have rarely not confused me.  :(

What Came Before

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« Reply #5 on: April 19, 2013, 02:37:18 pm »
Quote from: Callan S.
Quote from: Bakker User
I'm not sure I understand the above post very well.

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When the yardsticks for what is a good or bad bargain are thrown in the air by the bargain itself, how do you judge anymore?

Was that the case?
When the bargain involves giving over the very method by which you measure bargains, yes, it's the case. Well, unless she was taking a cold and clinical approach to the initial appraisal and I didn't read that in the text.

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If you look at her time line - if she could have had food, shelter and simple joys instead of her past,

She had the first two, didn't she?
No. She didn't have them, she merely experienced them as a side effect of a screwed up situation.

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If not so much, how is it such a bargain?

This is the most confusing bit to me. Exchanging $X for whatever is not a good bargain because in another life, one may have gone on to be a millionaire?
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I.e. would she settle for the "bargain" had her life gone just great up to that point?
That's pretty much what I'm suggesting. It's not that in another life you'd go onto be a millionare, but instead in that other life one would have said no to the bargain.

How can it be what you really want, when given a different set of prior circumstances, you'd say no?

Speaking of millionares, that's a similar test I think of in terms of the job you do. Do you really like the job you do? If you were a millionare, would you keep doing that job? For some people, actually the answer is yes - those people really have found a job they love. Which contrasts against the rest (the majority) who have come to normalise their job as what they do. When really it deserves their scorn.

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But she is swollowed up by her history, like all of us. Measuring the now by the now.

I feel like the latter belies the former somehow.
Exactly.

Does that sound like it's automatically for the best?

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Don't take this the wrong way, but from the Three Seas to the ASOIAF boards to 3PB to here, your posts have rarely not confused me.  :(

When assured a happy ending, confusion is a much sought after thing - from roller coasters to movies to books.

So am I confusing, or is it that I don't assure a happy ending? Or any ending, for that matter? Riddle me this, Batman! :)

What Came Before

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« Reply #6 on: April 19, 2013, 02:37:28 pm »
Quote from: Bakker User
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When the bargain involves giving over the very method by which you measure bargains, yes, it's the case.

Was that ultimately the case for Serwe? I don't see that Kellhus altered her measuring stick; he just served throughout as its quintessence or something like that.

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No. She didn't have them, she merely experienced them as a side effect of a screwed up situation.

Well, heh...uh - OK?

She had food and shelter, but their provenance and dispensation were not under her control: is that precise enough?

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That's pretty much what I'm suggesting. It's not that in another life you'd go onto be a millionare, but instead in that other life one would have said no to the bargain.

How can it be what you really want, when given a different set of prior circumstances, you'd say no?

Speaking of millionares, that's a similar test I think of in terms of the job you do. Do you really like the job you do? If you were a millionare, would you keep doing that job? For some people, actually the answer is yes - those people really have found a job they love. Which contrasts against the rest (the majority) who have come to normalise their job as what they do. When really it deserves their scorn.

I can't even tell whether this is relativism or absolutism. At any rate, in another life I would be an entirely different person and not myself, so I don't see why special weight should be put on my speculations on this one random guy's beliefs over those on another's, all else being equal. "What would Richard Branson do?", it might as well be. I dunno about that last value judgement.

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Exactly.

Does that sound like it's automatically for the best?

?

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So am I confusing, or is it that I don't assure a happy ending? Or any ending, for that matter? Riddle me this, Batman!

I just don't get you, man. Some accuse me of being cryptic; I figure some brains aren't equipped to discern certain semantic strands.

If that sounds like horseshit to you, we might yet be capable of reaching an understanding.

What Came Before

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« Reply #7 on: April 19, 2013, 02:37:41 pm »
Quote from: Callan S.
Quote from: Bakker User
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When the bargain involves giving over the very method by which you measure bargains, yes, it's the case.

Was that ultimately the case for Serwe? I don't see that Kellhus altered her measuring stick; he just served throughout as its quintessence or something like that.
An unchanging quintessence? Is that what you're describing?

Remember when Kellhus killed the child that spied them early on? The child Serwe called out to? But then she blamed herself for the childs death!

Would she have done that if Kellhus was just a man to her?

And was her quintessence really about child killing (or even; was it about child killing, just on the off chance the child might have affected their plans)?

Or did 'her' quintessence change?

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No. She didn't have them, she merely experienced them as a side effect of a screwed up situation.

Well, heh...uh - OK?

She had food and shelter, but their provenance and dispensation were not under her control: is that precise enough?
That reads as 'She had food and shelter, but she didn't have food and shelter'. How is a lack of provenence and dispensation still somehow 'had'?

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That's pretty much what I'm suggesting. It's not that in another life you'd go onto be a millionare, but instead in that other life one would have said no to the bargain.

How can it be what you really want, when given a different set of prior circumstances, you'd say no?

I can't even tell whether this is relativism or absolutism. At any rate, in another life I would be an entirely different person and not myself, so I don't see why special weight should be put on my speculations on this one random guy's beliefs over those on another's, all else being equal. "What would Richard Branson do?", it might as well be.
An entirely different life? Somehow having food and shelter makes for an alien of this other? If you were to say being hit by some object in the head causing a brain injury were to make some other person, I could perhaps understand you saying that. But having food and shelter makes for a brain injury of difference? Makes for 'some random guys beliefs'? I'd almost suggest capitalism/the general western infrastructure has got you well trained to be just as Serwe is - where food and shelter are merely experienced, not had. And from within that training, that's normal - indeed, anything else is abnormal. Some alien other/random guy's beliefs. They even have you ostracising yourself!

And my, how quickly you discard yourself. Like the very spirit of normalisation! So, if someone punches you - well, that person before the punch was another random guy. Now you're guy who was punched in the face. And indeed, why do anything about it, because that's who you are now - measuring the now, by the now.

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Exactly.

Does that sound like it's automatically for the best?

?

About now I'm tempted to ask how much money you have, as with enough money padding oneself from the sharp end, all nows generally are the same. And in such a case, why not measure the now by the now? Measure the fine, by the fine?

I think you said the now belies the now. But if you were to be struck, what, you measure yourself having been struck against yourself having been struck - and since they are both the same, all is well? Does measuring the now by the now sound like it's automatically for the best? Perhaps with money padding each now from the sharp end - yes.

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So am I confusing, or is it that I don't assure a happy ending? Or any ending, for that matter? Riddle me this, Batman!

I just don't get you, man. Some accuse me of being cryptic; I figure some brains aren't equipped to discern certain semantic strands.

If that sounds like horseshit to you, we might yet be capable of reaching an understanding.

I'll try and describe the 'quintessence' part in a physically grounded dungeon example. Okay, you are in a dungeon, which has two exits which look identical, but what follows are very different (and you can't go back after exiting). You have a compass that leads to one exit. But your compass is kinda crappy and leads you to dead ends a fair bit. Then this other guy joins yous and you accept him - BUT here's the difference from Sewe's example, you notice he tries to swap your compass for an identical one. And if you keep letting him hang around, eventually he'll swap it without you knowing.

Now suppose you didn't know someone had swapped your compass, and I'm trying to describe how you wanted exit 1 previously, but you're saying that's just some random guys beliefs. I'd be watching you with scientific scrutiny, as you make the others trickery your own will AND you make your own will some alien other/random guys beliefs.

And maybe I'd laugh as well, to make this not just seem like theory, but grounded in consequence.

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« Reply #8 on: April 19, 2013, 02:37:51 pm »
Quote from: Callan S.
Too full on of me? I tried to only ask what I'd be okay (or atleast think I'm okay) in being asked myself.

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« Reply #9 on: April 19, 2013, 02:38:00 pm »
Quote from: Truth Shines
Eh...  The two of you probably need to get a room  :lol:

In any event, please let me continue my obsession with Serwe...

During TWP, her role would segue from the matter of meaning of life to the matter of love.  I'd always thought that her relationship with Kellhus is meant to contrast with that between Achamian and Esmenet -- fraudulent love vs true love.  But reading some passages yet again, the message seems to be far more complex.

Here's Achamian's reflection on his relationship with Esmenet (during the Chapter 10 "Atsushan Highlands"):

"She [Esmenet] knew him...  She seemed to have a talent for him.  For Drusas Achamian.  It was strange, to be known -- truly known.  To be awaited rather than anticipated.  To be accepted instead of believed.  To be half another's elaborate habits.  To see oneself continually foreshadowed in another's eyes.

And it was strange to know.  Sometimes she laughed so hard she belched.  And when disappointed, her eyes dimmed like candles starved of air...

Details.  Simple enough in isolation, but terrifying and mysterious in their sum.  A mystery that he knew...

Was that not love?  To know, to trust a mystery..."

Note the emphasis on mutual knowing as the foundation of love.  Yet Achamian (or Bakker?), the perverse fool that he is, insists on calling it a "mystery."  What is the mystery here?

Now let's consider Serwe's reflection on her relationship with Kellhus only 10 pages later:

"Serwe didn't know when she'd begun speaking to him [Kellhus] with her face, but she did it so often now that many times she couldn't sort what she'd told him from what she'd shown him.  This was part of the infinite peace between them.  Nothing was hidden."

Again, the emphasis on knowledge (albeit stated indirectly here).  Certainly there is no question that she's madly in love with him.  Yet there is also no question that he does not love her by any stretch of the definition of the word love.

So how can knowing be both the foundation of true love and fraudulent love?  What is then the true foundation of love?  Or is there even such a thing as true love -- that is, the fanaticism of a world born lover who longs to trust a mystery is really no different from the fanaticism of a Dunyain who is determined to come before? 

I'm reminded of this astonishing turn of phrase from the "The Logos is without beginning or end" scene near the end of TDTCB:  "He was a wayfarer through the abyssal gallery of mirror set against mirror, his every step as illusory as the last."

R Scott Bakker -- The Writer Prophet.  He's not from Canada.  He's from the Outside.  ;)

sciborg2

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« Reply #10 on: August 28, 2013, 02:21:30 am »
You lied to her.

No. I told her a story.

Shit! You sound just like your dad.

Actually I was thinking of something...my mother said. That most
times, the truth is like a close-up conjuring trick. You can look
straight at something and think you're seeing the truth of it. But
really, you're seeing what someone else wants you to see.

So FUCK the truth. We don't know where it is, and we probably won't
know it when we see it. She just chose the story she needs right now.

The story that keeps her standing. That's probably all any of us get to do.
  -the Unwritten # 17: The Many Lives of Lizzie Hexam
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The Sharmat

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« Reply #11 on: September 03, 2014, 05:06:38 am »
Aspect Emperor Spoilers:
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SilentRoamer

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« Reply #12 on: September 03, 2014, 08:07:03 pm »
I agree with Sharmats analysis here.
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For me an important question is was he deluded as a Dunyain? Or is he deluded now?

The Sharmat

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« Reply #13 on: September 03, 2014, 08:36:57 pm »
The Dunyain answer would be that all men are deluded, until they grasp the Absolute. Even the Dunyain.

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Crtha

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« Reply #14 on: September 04, 2014, 09:03:11 am »
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Retracing his bloody footprints, the Wizard limped on.