IDENTITY vs BECOMING

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« on: May 14, 2013, 09:26:31 pm »
Quote from: Galbrod
Below are some not so very structures thoughts about the relationship between Identity and Becoming in the series. I apologise in beforehand if I'm unclear or not so very concise in my arguments, but it's a topic that has been on my mind for some time and it would be interesting to get some input from others. If this has already been covered in another thread (that I have missed) please do not hesitate to point that out to me :-)

Throughout the series there appear to be several variants of the theme of IDENTITY vs BECOMING (the loss of memory/identity by the nonmen, the predestinated actions by the WLW...). As a prerequisite for identity it appears to be necessary to limit the scope of perception. Individuals are conditioned by the world around them and the choises they make in life are thus, in a sense, already decided by the events/surroundings leading up to them. As individuals widen their insight into the workings of the world, as the Dunyanin have done, they become more and more aware of how the conditioning works. However, by being aware, their choises become narrower and narrower. This narrowing leads to a point (the thousandfold thought?) that they are able to make decisions where they are consciously aware of (most of) the factors that are leading up to the moment of decision. This is (in my mind) a definite step from being rooted in seeing yourself as being separate from the world (Identity) to making yourself a human vessel/machine for consciously processing input from the world into action (Becoming).

We can compare this to Clerics statement in WLW: "Only when memory is stripped away!" Cleric cried out, the glow fading from his eyes. "Cleric: Only then is Being revealed as pure Becoming! Only when the past dies can we shrug aside the burden that is our Soul!... Achamian: And yet you seek memories! Cleric: To be! Being is not a choice!"

From a humanistic perspective Cleric's statement is very reasonable. Everyone (almost) strives to Be, to have a 'self'. What the Dunyanin have done, is to strip away the humanity part, thus taking away this 'limitation'. What is ironic in this sense, is that what is a great tragedy for some (the Erratics) at the same time exist as a goal for others (the Dunyanin). How can this be? Well it appears to me that Bakker wants his universe to be free from making simple choices and has thus made Identity impossible to strive for without losing out on the Becoming part. And, vice versa, made Becoming into a goal that is impossible to reach without losing out on Identity.

Apart from making things difficult and hard for individuals within his universe, what would be the point of this? Well, if we are to believe (you can never be sure) Kellhus reasoning about the ur-soul it would be possible to envision Bakker's universe like this: At an unknown point in time we have an counsciousness with perfect insights into the world, an ur-soul that is a creature of 100% pure becoming. However, by being conscious about everything (according to the logic above) this being is lacking a sense of identity. Thus, in order to attain a sense of identity, the ur-soul decides to split itself up into parts that will be lacking in knowledge (but thus gain in identity).

Does this make some kind of sense?

Regards

G.

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« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2013, 09:26:37 pm »
Quote from: Meyna
I was approaching this conversation somewhat from a different angle a few weeks ago: http://secondapocalypse.forumer.com/the-darkness-that-comes-before-irl-anyone-else-disquieted-t1272880-30.html#p12149909

The main question is something like "Would two self-moving souls necessarily have the same exact brain structure," and thus, be the same person. I am glad that this topic is getting its own thread!

I agree with your assessment: there is an inverse relationship between identity and becoming. A more defined identity would seem to move away from the "becoming" state. As a student of physics, though, I have to wonder whether, a la Heisenberg uncertainty, a being of 100% identity or a being of 100% becoming is possible, or whether there is a limit to how well-defined each particular state can be due to inefficiency of biology or what have you. On that note, overcoming such a limit, if it exists, could serve as motivation for Kellhus to Teknefy himself!

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« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2013, 09:26:42 pm »
Quote from: Duskweaver
The self is an illusion. Every instant of experience changes who we are. There is no entity called 'I' sitting inside your head whose identity is fixed and unchanging. The 'I' is an illusory construct formed from a chain of remembered experiences. Change those memories and the 'I' is someone else. Obliterate them and the 'I' disappears, leaving only consciousness untethered to an individual identity. In other words, God.

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« Reply #3 on: May 14, 2013, 09:26:46 pm »
Quote from: lockesnow
Quote from: Duskweaver
The self is an illusion. Every instant of experience changes who we are. There is no entity called 'I' sitting inside your head whose identity is fixed and unchanging. The 'I' is an illusory construct formed from a chain of remembered experiences. Change those memories and the 'I' is someone else. Obliterate them and the 'I' disappears, leaving only consciousness untethered to an individual identity. In other words, God.

So, what does that say about Whelming and the dunyain conditioning of world-born souls?

Early on in the Conditioning-of-Achamian, he thinks this:

Quote
Because there was something something about him. Something that bid Achamian to wait. A sense of impossible becoming But what? What was he becoming? And was it enough? Enough to warrant betraying his School? Enough to throw the number-sticks of Apocalypse? Could anything be enough?

Bakker, R. Scott (2008-09-02). The Warrior Prophet: The Prince of Nothing, Book Two (Kindle Locations 673-675). Penguin Group. Kindle Edition.

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« Reply #4 on: May 14, 2013, 09:26:52 pm »
Quote from: Callan S.
How do you mean you miss out on the becoming part? Do you mean you miss out on seeing the becoming happening? Because I don't know how you're supposed to just miss out on the becoming happening at all?

Quote
Apart from making things difficult and hard for individuals within his universe, what would be the point of this? Well, if we are to believe (you can never be sure) Kellhus reasoning about the ur-soul it would be possible to envision Bakker's universe like this: At an unknown point in time we have an counsciousness with perfect insights into the world, an ur-soul that is a creature of 100% pure becoming. However, by being conscious about everything (according to the logic above) this being is lacking a sense of identity. Thus, in order to attain a sense of identity, the ur-soul decides to split itself up into parts that will be lacking in knowledge (but thus gain in identity).
If I were to riff on that, I wouldn't say the ur-soul decides to spit itself into parts. I'd describe it more like the no god - every part/soul bump on the ur god is a question much like each question of the no god 'What am I? Tell me!". The ur god hopelessly(?) philosophizes, and those philosophies are people.

Perhaps the no god just IS the ur god/god of gods in the setting. That's why no more live babies come when he's around, because he's been moved to the whirlwind and can't provide more soul bumps/philosophical questions/people?

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« Reply #5 on: May 14, 2013, 09:26:57 pm »
Quote from: Madness
I have thoughts about these subjects a la Duskweaver's, perhaps, my interest is more psychologically academic rather than narratively academic...

Depending on where the conversation extends, I'll partake. Just going to let the thoughts blend for now.

For thoughts though:

I always wondered at the analogy between Greater Brain and Blind Brain - Blind Brain is human consciousness in its worldly manifestation and Greater Brain is the Outside...

I like the idea of the Legion of Consciousness being mirrored by the Legion of Gods.

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« Reply #6 on: May 14, 2013, 09:27:02 pm »
Quote from: Galbrod
I would see individuals as having element of both aspects, but in different mixes As Duskweaver correctly observes, the function of identity is dependent upon the collection of personal memories. It is thus interesting that the characters in bakker's universe that have taken the biggest steps towards a state of pure becoming are the memoryless nonmen Erratic and the Dunyanin (trained since childhood to 'rise' above the emotions of ordinary men and thus de-personalise the experiences/memories they have).

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« Reply #7 on: May 14, 2013, 09:27:07 pm »
Quote from: Auriga
Interesting thread.

I once posted something similar, along the lines of "the Nonmen are already dead; they only experience but don't actually live, since a living identity is built of memories, and they have no true "self" as a point of reference."

I basically agree with the idea that the "self" is an illusion (although an important one, which we couldn't function without).There is no "real" you. No one has an eternal, inviolable, unchanging identity that defines them from the day they're born to the day they die. I'm not the same person I was ten years ago, and I won't be the same person ten years from now. I'll have the same name and see the world through the same eyes, but events in and out of my control will permanently change me.

Sadly, I haven't read enough of Plato's writing on Being and Becoming. I'll have to read up on my Plato one of these days...

Quote from: Madness
I like the idea of the Legion of Consciousness being mirrored by the Legion of Gods.
Bakker makes this parallel himself, IIRC. The whole thing about the Hundred Gods being "aspects" of one God, a bit like personality traits in a single brain.

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« Reply #8 on: May 14, 2013, 09:27:14 pm »
Quote from: Madness
Indeed, I only meant to utilize the ready associative terms from the books :).

I like your thoughts, Auriga - indeed, they reiterate my assertions, which took it the one further that if the Dunyain had Conditioned Ishterebinth, they might try and create new, controllable "selves" in the Nonmen husks. (Sorry - not intending to detract from your separate hypothesis, sometimes meaning is easier to exploit out of another's words. I need to capture all the communication tools I can.)