TDTCB, PRLG

  • 74 Replies
  • 18463 Views

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

What Came Before

  • *
  • Administrator
  • Emwama
  • *****
  • Posts: 0
    • View Profile
    • First Second Apocalypse
« on: April 19, 2013, 02:11:47 am »
Quote from: Madness
Some thoughts post-writing. I definitely see the point of lockesnow's suggestion that we break things down in simple sentences to have a sequential way to refer to the sectionals in each chapter, though I haven't done so here. This is the point of immersing ourselves and trying individual ways to do these write ups. Even though I started late, I do think that for the Prologue posting and discussion we limit ourselves to the 19th, Ch. 1 can begin on August 20th. Rather than post specifically first like this, I will probably just make a new topic on the first day of each reading "week."

Here goes. I invite everyone to join at their leisure. Let's consider this a soft start - I have relatively few expectations as I like to approach the evolution of these communications as organically as possible. I advocate adopting our own styles of posting and see what emerges. I do ask that references to anything past the thread title be spoiler tagged. Anyone is welcome, of course, to join in at any time during our experience of this epic. For the moment, we'll consider this the active thread until end of day August 19th - I'm working from EST, I believe the forum is GMT. Then onto TDTCB, Ch. 1 August 20th to the 24th.

I am reading from the small black TDTCB and my page numbers will reflect that.

Cheers everyone. Strength on the journey... Journey well.

The Wastes of Kûniüri

2147 Year-of-the-Tusk, the Mountains of Demua

If it is only after that we understand what has come before, then we understand nothing. Thus we shall define the soul as follows: that which precedes everything.

- AJENCIS, THE THIRD ANALYTIC OF MEN

The prologue begins with a short tale of Anasurimbor Ganrelka II's household. The citadel of Ishual is described as the secret refuge of the Kuniuric High Kings and having fled the Apocalypse, plague finds Ganrelka within its walls.

In the end only Ganrelka's bastard son and the Bardic Priest survive the disease. The Priest catches the bastard and molests him in some fashion, muttering "there are no crimes when no one is left alive" (p3).

Following the winter snows, a group of refugees finds Ishual. They scale the walls and in finding the bastard, one asks, "with a voice neither tender or harsh ... 'We are Dunyain, child. What reason could you have to fear us?'" (p3) to which the boy responds "'so long as men live, there are crimes!' ... 'No, child ... only so long as men are deceived'" (p4).

This passage also mentions that these Dunyain have "repudiated" (p4) the Gods. "Here awareness most holy could be tended. In Ishual, they had found shelter against the end of the world ... And the world forgot them for to thousand years" (p4).

A few interesting notes.

Firstly, this passage very much seems to focus on the introduction of the Dunyain. It also seems to suggest that they are a threat - "one cannot raise walls against what has been forgotten" (p1) resonates with the last sentence of the passage, quoted above.

Secondly, Ishual is apparently a secret of the Kuniuric High Kings yet these Dunyain are the only refugees of the Apocalypse who stumble upon the citadel.

Lastly, Apocalyptic Dunyain have voices "neither tender nor harsh" (p3) and yet "the man's eyes filled with wonder" (p4).

This is a history of a great and tragic holy war, of the mighty factions that sought to possess and pervert it, and of a son searching for his father. And as with all histories, it is we, the survivors, who will write its conclusion.

- DRUSAS ACHAMIAN, COMPENDIUM OF THE FIRST HOLY WAR

Late Autumn, 4109 Year-of-the-Tusk, the Mountains of Demua

The second set of passages in the Prologue begins almost two thousand years later with a set of recurring dreams, which are viewed by the dreamers as desecration. Someone demands that their son be sent to them, to the holy city of Shimeh.

The son in question is Anasurimbor Kellhus, seemingly descended from Ganrelka's bastard of the year 2147. Our first encounter with Kellhus is as he looks back upon the Elder Dunyain, decending into the Labyrinth called the Thousand Thousand Halls of “unlit depths” (p5).

According to the text, it is Kellhus’ father, whom Kellhus seems to think travelled as he himself now travels, who has sent the Elder Dunyain, the “dreamers” (p5), the dreams that desecrate. In Kellhus’ perspective the Dunyain return to the Thousand Thousand Halls in order to die, to limit the connection Kellhus’ father has with their fastness.

“What comes before determines what comes after” (p6). This is described as being paramount to the Dunyain who seek “to know what would come after … the hallowed communion of intellect and circumstance – the gift of the Logos” (p7).

Kellhus wanders even as he begins to lose all semblance of self as he travels horizon to horizon. Nature inhabits and possesses him. I find it interesting that, as this seems to be Kellhus first journey into the world from Ishual’s walls, Bakker seems to evoke a sense of Tabula Rasa - the idea of the mind as a blank slate at birth, that experience then writes itself upon.

Kellhus eventually finds ruins and seeing his reflection – probably the first time ever – and some animals he makes his first distinction: “I am not one more animal … I am a man. I stand apart from these things” (p10).

Finally, he is too weak to travel and walks “until he could no longer … The way is too narrow, Father. Shimeh is too far” (p10).

He is found buried in the snows by a trapper named Leweth. Since Kellhus is our introductory perspective to Bakker’s story, we are as captive to Kellhus’ interpretations as Kellhus is to Leweth’s perspective.

We also learn that Leweth is little more than a child to Kellhus, in that Kellhus can read some measure of Leweth’s thoughts and emotions through the man’s face.

Leweth is an alcoholic and Kellhus, in needing more than “drink-exaggerated passions” (p13) to study, pours the casks of whiskey into the forest.

Bakker takes a passage it seems to showcase Kellhus’ power over Leweth, his ability to manipulate the man as his mission requires. More importantly, it also serves to suggest Kellhus’ father’s requisite import: “Thirty years, Father. What power you must wield over men such as this” (p16).

“Why, the ancient Dunyain had asked, confine the passions to words when they spoke first in expression? A legion of faces lived within him, and he could slip through them with the same ease with which he crafted his words. At the heart of his jubilant smile, his compassionate laugh, flexed the cold of scrutiny” (p16).

Throughout much of Kellhus and Leweth’s interaction at the cabin, Kellhus’ perspective refers to much of Leweth’s description of the world as myth and superstition. We’re told of the No-God and his Consult, the Gods, Sorcery, and the Apocalypse, much of which Kellhus dismisses outright until finding the Kuniuric Stele of Celmomas II – in a language almost identical to his own.

Eventually, Leweth and Kellhus are forced to leave Leweth’s cabin and his dogs to creatures called Sranc, whose tracks Kellhus finds returning from the Stele. Having not seen them in-text, for us and “for Kellhus the threat existed only in the fear manifested by the trapper” (p23).

They are tracked through the forests by a number of these creatures until they can run no longer. We are granted a perspective from Leweth, who watches while Kellhus manages the impressive feat of killing some of the Sranc pursuing them. Finally, when Leweth tells Kellhus they can shelter in some Nonmen Ruins west of them, Kellhus drops Leweth in the snow and leaves him for the Sranc.

This I believe is the first mention of creatures called Nonmen (p26).

Finally, in sheltering in the ruins and fighting the remaining Sranc beneath an immense dead oak, Kellhus encounters one of these Nonmen, who owned and commanded the Sranc chasing Leweth and Kellhus.

The Nonman tells us that one of the Sranc was his “elju … our ‘book,’ you would say in your tongue” (p30). He seems very concerned with memory and remembering. He corroborates for Kellhus and the reader some ideas concerning the No-God and the Apocalypse.

However,  in this final passage the existence of sorcery seems most important. After Kellhus defeats the Nonman in traditional combat, the Nonman simply blows Kellhus away with an example of what Kellhus deems to be sorcery, before Kellhus flees.  “Sorcery? Is this among the lessons I’m to learn, Father? (p33)

Cheers.

What Came Before

  • *
  • Administrator
  • Emwama
  • *****
  • Posts: 0
    • View Profile
    • First Second Apocalypse
« Reply #1 on: April 19, 2013, 02:12:25 am »
Quote from: lockesnow
Fabulous summary Madness, I especially loved your insight regarding the way the §P.1 contains bookends with the first and last sentances.  Great catch.  I also think this primed me to see some other associations from one sentence to the next that I might have otherwised overlooked in my close reading.  I'll get to more of the chapter tomorrow, I'm particularly enticed by the water water everywhere imagery that dominates Kellhus' journey prior to encountering the ruins.

***

Prince of Nothing Re-Read

Prologue
I sort of feel that this first section is more of a preface than a prologue; partly because this is the only chapter of any of the books that has chapter header aphorisms in the middle of the chapter.  So I think of §P.1 as sort of the preface and when the next two aphorisms come up and the timeline jumps forward 1970ish years, that’s sort of the start to the prologue.  This will be long; much longer than I’ll probably ever go into again for any chapter.  That is because I’ve reread this chapter more times than anything else in the series—and I tend to think that this may be the piece of writing that Bakker re-wrote more than anything else in the series, I think he does remarkable things with the text throughout these sections.

I never quite know what to make of this Ajencis quote—I think it is the single most important aphorism in the entire series—and I always seem to come up with a different way to interpret.  In terms of what this accomplishes on a first read, it sets up the reader to realize that souls are at stake in this universe, I sometimes feel like souls are rarely referenced in fantasy; this use of souls right at the very beginning--with a new definition of what a soul means in this mileau--is really unique.

§P.1 The first thing I noted was the second paragraph.  I wonder if Bakker had read Orson Scott Card’s ‘How to write Science Fiction and Fantasy’, because this paragraph is a textbook example of how Card describes a Speculative world should be introduced to the reader.  It really is impressively masterful, reminiscent of the master herself, Octavia Butler (Card references her opening to Wild Seed in his text). 
Quote
The citadel of Ishuäl succumbed during the height of the Apocalypse.  But no army of inhuman Sranc had scaled its ramparts.  No furnace-hearted dragon had pulled down its mighty gates.  Ishuäl was the secret refuge of the Kûniüric High Kings, and no one, not even the No-God, could besiege a secret.
What is so impressive about this paragraph? The first sentence entices you by telling you something major happened, but it’s teasing, a tactic to keep you reading to find out how a great castle was overthrown—already the second sentence and the book is exciting right?  And before we even get to the end of the second sentence of the book, suddenly the stakes are raised.  “The Apocalypse.” It sends shivers down your back.  Not only is there an epic war going on, but the very term invokes all sorts of biblical and science fiction imagery, it’s not just a war we’re thrown into the middle of, the use of the term Apocalypse implies it is a war for the very survival of the human race.  An end of the world.  This is going to be epic. 

Next we find out who (presumably) the opponent is, inhuman Sranc, and they can scale walls.  It conjures similarities to the word "Orc" and that is what the word immediately conjures for me, the image of Peter Jackson’s portrayal of Orcs.  These Sranc are clearly the enemy.  But wait, Dragons.  Even better.  This really is big.  Dragons and Sranc against the humans, magnificent.  Furnace-hearted, that’s got a nice, poetic ring to it, odd, almost, old-fashioned, it makes me thing of older epics like the Aeneid where elaborate metaphors described the inhuman enemies of man.

(spoilers for the series)
(click to show/hide)
Anyway, back to the second paragraph, Kuniuric High Kings, excellent, I’m immediately reminded of various fantasy High Kings, almost always the good guys, so that’s who I’m rooting for, and they're give the title of 'king' so they’re probably human.  Ah, and it matches the prologue title, Wastes of Kuniuri; so the Kuniuric High Kings rule the Kingdom of Kuniuri and they’re being attacked by inhuman legions.  But wait,  The “No-God,” aha, this must be the Big-Bad, the leader of the Sranc and Dragons.  The Sauron who has brought the Apocalypse and whom the humans are warring against.

The point of this lengthy breakdown is to really highlight just how efficient this opening paragraph is at conveying really essential information, in broad strokes Bakker lays out some of the key terms of what is ultimately the conflict for all three series, The Apocalypse, mankind versus the hordes of the No-God.  It’s a really impressive and compact form of writing that does the heavy lifting of providing a bunch of background information while also enticing the reader to continue onward without overwhelming the reader.   A paragraph like this creates a partnership with the reader because the reader isn't aware of doing any work, but neither does it feel chintzy, everything is smooth sailing from the beginning, other than the foreign fantasy names (and for a genre reader, foreign fantasy names can be comforting in their own right). It’s an incredibly enticing piece of writing and fully within the classic forms of how this genre handles introducing an entirely alien mileau.

Next paragraph, note that the sentries are not watching, their ‘thoughts are stricken,’ so they don’t see… something.

Then the plague strikes, suspiciously it takes out the King first. And his entourage sees “wolves” eyes in the light of his bier.  There is some interesting wolf imagery later that this will connect to.

In the next paragraph, Bakker reiterates the sentries are not watching, ‘they saw little,’ so once again, Bakker emphasize that they don’t see… something. 

Also in this paragraph is a beautiful phrase “bloodline to its thinnest tincture.”  But this phrase is also the first glimpse we get of the rather loaded spiritual world that Bakker has establish for us.  Because thinnest tincture refers to the blood of Ganrelka’s concubine and the concubine’s daughter; from the very beginning Bakker is telling us that in this world, women’s blood is not equal to men’s blood.  Also, we should start to get really suspicious here.  The sentries are not seeing something and simultaneously the royalty of the household are mysteriously dying, as though they were targeted first because they are most important.

And the next paragraph we get a catalog of the gruesome deaths that await the elite of the household, All the descriptions are incredibly enticing, for a reread, these names should leap with significance, but I remember zeroing on the ‘sorcerous texts’ part of this paragraph my first time through.  Note that the text does not say that Ganrelka’s uncle suicided, only that he was found hanging from a rope.  And all the elite crème de la crème knights of the household were found dead in their beds.   Note also that the text explicitly avoids saying that this paragraph’s victims died of the plague—the reader just assumes that because we’ve been primed by the earlier paragraph, which suggested it hit the entire household (but household is paired with bloodline so…), but only the first three were explicitly claimed to be victims of the plague. 

Conveniently, only a boy—now the heir, although apparently the plague didn’t target him, despite being part of the bloodline (unless he’s not of Anasurimbor blood…), and a bard survive. 

Is the Bard behind it all?  Perhaps, the text is vague on this point.  Note the transition from “when no one is left alive.” To “But the boy lived.”  Coupled with the ending of this paragraph, “Was it murder when no one was left alive?” Interesting how the boy takes on the exact same rationalization in committing his crime that the bard used in committing his crime.  In a single paragraph Bakker has the victim become the perp and shows how radically changed a person can be, while also tweaking his readers, who will probably justify the boys actions because culture demands that such justifications be used.  These two paragraphs are a really stunning piece of writing, and in a small form—and completely under-the-table, manage to convey one of Bakker’s favorite themes.  Ever are men deceived (which may help explain what the Dunyain is about to tell the boy, the dunyain says, only so long as men are deceived, and the boy realizes that he justified crimes for the same reason the Bard did, that the justification both of them used is unacceptable, and only so long as they are deceiving themselves will they be unable to overcome their circumstances in which they both committed and justified crimes to themselves). 

The boy survives an entire winter on his own, and there are indeed wolves in the woods. And in the next chapter he will describe the Dunyain first as a ‘wolf people’ (this would be the payoff I mentioned earlier to the notations of wolves.’

The Dunyain scale the walls.  What else scales the walls in this chapter?  Sranc.  That’s a deliberate comparison, same words, we don’t yet know that these wolf people are not Sranc—they are a threat.  And in case you didn’t catch the point of comparing them to how Sranc have been described, here’s another hint that is more obvious, “Like the Bardic Priest,” again, this imagry is of threat and danger, predation and so on.  Very interesting. 

The boy seems to pass the test of the Dunyain, and understand his own self-deception, and the Dunyain celebrate… but are they celebrating Ishual, or celebrating the inclusion of the boy in their ranks—the text seems to celebrate the boy, not the place, “The stranger brought him to the others, and together they celebrated their strange fortune.”   But note how the Dunyain deceive themselves,  They repudiate gods but elevate ‘awareness’ to a godlike status, “awareness most holy.”  From the very beginning are we seeing that the cause of the Dunyain is a vain one?  I’m not sure.

I remember well how the second to last paragraph of this section shocked me on the first reread.  They chiseled away the runes and sorcery, they burnt the books of magic, they discarded all that supernatural about them.  I was not ready for that sort of repudiation, it’s very different from anything else I can think of in fantasy.

And I have to say that Madness really hit a major homerun noting the beautiful literary way that Bakker bookends §P.1 with “One cannot raise walls against what has been forgotten,” and “And the world forgot them for two thousand years.” And to emphasize this point for the reader, Bakker follows this up with a quote that tells us that “Man Forgets”

What Came Before

  • *
  • Administrator
  • Emwama
  • *****
  • Posts: 0
    • View Profile
    • First Second Apocalypse
« Reply #2 on: April 19, 2013, 02:12:51 am »
Quote from: Triskele
One thing that I've always wondered about is exactly who and what the Dunyain were before fleeing the Apocalypse and finding sanctuary in Ishual.

It seems like we know that they had already formed The Project, but they'd not been able to put it into practice in anything like the way they would come to now that they'd taken root in Ishual. 

I am not sure if we'll ever get any more information on this at all, or if we'll get some huge reveal about how some other historic character planted the Dunyain seed somehow. 

I could see it going either way, but I kind of suspect we won't get anything more.

ETA:  Are we supposed to keep this thread spoiler free, or can we assume that everyone reading this has made it through WLW by now?

What Came Before

  • *
  • Administrator
  • Emwama
  • *****
  • Posts: 0
    • View Profile
    • First Second Apocalypse
« Reply #3 on: April 19, 2013, 02:13:22 am »
Quote from: lockesnow
Quote from: Triskele
ETA:  Are we supposed to keep this thread spoiler free, or can we assume that everyone reading this has made it through WLW by now?
The God has decreed that only virgins may tread these hallowed grounds, their innocence blesses us all; the guilty and the damned profane this place with the spoiling stench of their rot as they revel in the mud and madness of their inner delusions.

What Came Before

  • *
  • Administrator
  • Emwama
  • *****
  • Posts: 0
    • View Profile
    • First Second Apocalypse
« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2013, 02:13:43 am »
Quote from: Madness
Yeah, I'd ask that if you must post spoilerific thoughts here, use tags. We can't just assume that everyone who comes to Second Apocalypse has read through all the books thus far - I specifically remember multiple people commenting on TPB over the past two years that they wouldn't return because Bakker or others had simply posted things that pertained to TAE without consideration of newcomers.

I realize that many of us have survived the years since Three Seas fell in the Westeros One-Thread Famines and it was acceptable to post immediately and thoughtlessly. If these threads inspire you with thoughts pertaining to ongoing speculation there are plenty of threads that exist or don't yet exist in TUC, WLW, and Misc. Chatter subforums.

Or you can do what lockesnow did above.

Unless, of course, the ten of us actively posting on Second Apocalypse are set to pay Bakker's mortgage to keep him writing full-time.

What Came Before

  • *
  • Administrator
  • Emwama
  • *****
  • Posts: 0
    • View Profile
    • First Second Apocalypse
« Reply #5 on: April 19, 2013, 02:14:08 am »
Quote from: Twooars
Quote from: lockesnow
The boy seems to pass the test of the Dunyain, and understand his own self-deception, and the Dunyain celebrate… but are they celebrating Ishual, or celebrating the inclusion of the boy in their ranks—the text seems to celebrate the boy, not the place, “The stranger brought him to the others, and together they celebrated their strange fortune.”   But note how the Dunyain deceive themselves,  They repudiate gods but elevate ‘awareness’ to a godlike status, “awareness most holy.”  From the very beginning are we seeing that the cause of the Dunyain is a vain one?  I’m not sure.

I remember well how the second to last paragraph of this section shocked me on the first reread.  They chiseled away the runes and sorcery, they burnt the books of magic, they discarded all that supernatural about them.  I was not ready for that sort of repudiation, it’s very different from anything else I can think of in fantasy.

Well spotted and I agree, it is /very/ strange for a sect so interested in knowledge to eliminate all references to sorcery. very uncharacterisitc and I hope there will be some explanation about this in future books.

And yeah, awesome way to introduce a new world with almost no infodumping at all.

What Came Before

  • *
  • Administrator
  • Emwama
  • *****
  • Posts: 0
    • View Profile
    • First Second Apocalypse
« Reply #6 on: April 19, 2013, 02:14:47 am »
Quote from: Madness
I could see them removing sorcery because they thought it made men of the world fat and lazy? Obviously, throughout the prologue, we see in Kellhus that they managed some kind of martial prowess over two thousand years of training and breeding.

What Came Before

  • *
  • Administrator
  • Emwama
  • *****
  • Posts: 0
    • View Profile
    • First Second Apocalypse
« Reply #7 on: April 19, 2013, 02:15:17 am »
Quote from: sologdin
good contributions above as to the content.  as i can’t improve upon them, i offer merely some commentary as to form, though marxism may argue also that form is its own peculiar type of content.

RSB's prologue opens with an epigraph, drawn from the in-setting tome of ajencis, The Third Analytic of Men:

Quote
If it is only after that we understand what has come before, then we understand nothing.  Thus we shall define the soul as follows: that which precedes everything.

(I.pro (2003) at 1). 

the prologue continues to narrate “the end of the world” (I.pro at 4), several thousand years prior to the main action that the novel itself purports to describe, as well as to the action of the second part of the prologue.   in skipping ahead two thousand years, the prologue introduces a primary character for the main action of the novel.  this character’s quest, commencing in the second part of the prologue, is itself prefaced by the actors of the first part of the prologue, about whom the text intones “the world forgot them for two thousand years” (I.pro at 4).

the first part of the prologue begins post-epigraph with a gnomic

Quote
One cannot raise walls against what has been forgotten.

(I.pro at 1). 

what is to be done with these formal minutiae?

we might begin with some standard definitions, and thereby find the standard reading of prologue, about which harmon & holman's handbook to literature opines:

Quote
An introduction most frequently associated with drama and especially common in England in the plays of the Restoration and the eighteenth century.  In the plays of ancient Greece a speaker announced, before the beginning of the play proper [emphasis added], such salient facts as the audience should know to understand the play itself [emphasis added].

the pertinent principle that is encoded by prologue is therefore that it occurs before the beginning, and is exterior to the play itself, which might only be understood through comprehension of the salient facts.

regarding preface, a related concept (as we shall see further, below), in harmon & holman:

Quote
A statement at the beginning of a book or article--and separate from it [emphasis added]--which states the purpose of the work, makes necessary acknowledgements, and, in general, informs the reader of such facts as the author thinks pertinent.

this, then, gives us to understand that the preface is separate from the text itself, and should deploy the purpose, the necessary acknowledgements, the author’s statement of the pertinent.

to round it out, harmon & holman note that the epigraph in literature is:

Quote
a quotation on the title page of a book, or a motto heading a section of a work.

more to the point, the current wikipedia entry for epigraph holds:

Quote
In literature, an epigraph is a phrase, quotation, or poem that is set at the beginning of a document or component. The epigraph may serve as a preface [emphasis added], as a summary, as a counter-example, or to link the work to a wider literary canon, either to invite comparison or to enlist a conventional context.

the epigraph is itself a preface.  we have, then, a prologue with a epigraphic preface, at the very least.  but, as the prologue is bifurcated, with parts separated by much time and space in-setting, it is fair to state that the first part of the prologue prefaces the second part, just as the epigraph prefaces the entirety of the prologue--and, just as the prologue, separate from the play itself, prefaces the novel proper.

taking these definitions and rationales into account, RSB’s prologue amounts to three separate prefacing maneuvers:

1 ) the epigraph;
2 ) the first part “at the end of the world”; and
3 ) the entirety of the prologue itself.

the first preface works as a moment of willful blindness of inventing an axiom (“the soul precedes everything”) in order to cure the purported cognitive defect of coming to understanding only after the fact, which means “we understand nothing.”  the precession of the soul is supplied as a remedy. 

something therefore precedes everything, all signification--here, the “soul”--which presumably must also precede the epigraph of ajencis, which, as stated, itself precedes the first part of the prologue, which precedes the second part of the prologue, which precedes the novel itself.

we are accordingly presented with a precession of prefacing that terminates only by virtue of a rhetorical trick of begging the question of the existence of a “soul.”  the precession of prefaces must be amended, then, to:

0 ) the “soul“;
1 ) the epigraph;
2 ) the first part; and
3 ) the entirety of the prologue.

the weirdness that remains is that the prologue as a whole is “separate from” the “the play itself”--simultaneously parcel to and distinguished from the novel that follows. 

regarding prefaces, mr. derrida notes, in the ironic no-preface to dissemination, that

Quote
Prefaces, along with forwards, introductions, preludes, preliminaries, preambles, prologues [emphasis added], and prolegomena, have always been written, it seems, in view of their own self-effacement.  Upon reaching the end of the pre- (which presents and precedes [emhasis added], or rather forestalls, the presentative production, and, in order to put before the reader's eyes what is not yet visible, is obliged to speak, predict, and predicate), the route which has been covered must cancel itself out.  But this subtraction leaves a mark of erasure, a remainder which is added to the subsequent text and which cannot be completely summed up within it.  Such an operation thus appears contradictory, and the same is true of the interest one takes in it.


(dissemination (1981) at 9). 

taken this way, however, RSB’s layered prologue manifests expressly its own self-effacement:  the doctrine of the “soul” self-cancels to the extent it is tautological fiat by definition and responsive to a non-problem; the epigraph self-cancels insofar as it proposes a cryptic problem and then supplies an answer, curing its enthymemic dilemma; the first part of the prologue self-cancels as it raises its own forgetting, and self-cancels the forgetting ab initio when it suggests that the forgotten will return to besiege those who are unable to raise walls against it; and the prologue itself as a whole self-cancels when it deploys a “route” for the primary character that

(click to show/hide)

the prologue puts “before the reader’s eyes what is not yet visible,” what can be understood only after, the bizarre and incomprehensible setting details that are fundamental to certain strands of post-tolkienian secondary creation.  we might reduce the prologue, to preface, to soul, to precession itself, consistent with the oft-stated determinist principle that “what comes before determines what comes after” (I.pro at 6).  despite the layers of erasure, the cancelling is never complete and must remain incomplete--both because the determinist principle continues in “the play itself,” “separate from“ the prologue, and because the principle of precession exemplified in the layers of the prologue itself embodies the determinist principle. 

the precession of the “soul” is not incidental, but is at root of the primary character’s prior training in the semiotics of face, which allows him to read the “fine musculature of [redshirt's] face,” allowing the reader to see that “whatever moved [redshirt’s] soul moved his expression as well,” granting, through mere reading, an “ability to anticipate [redshirt’s] thoughts, to re-enact the movements of [redshirt’s] soul” (I.pro at 11).

there is therefore no direct access to the “soul,” but only indirectly through the protocols of reading, which, though in general sufficiently problematized when it comes to the discipline of linguistics, is presented here as initially unproblematic with respect to the semiotics of face.  it should be problematic, however, and, if it ultimately is not, then the unproblematic semiotics of face would be the single most fantastic item in a setting filled with fantasy content. 

the face is nevertheless a language, and in the prologue is structured like writing; the preceding soul that is being understood through the face is something of the mysterious signified, the trace of which is marked out and subject to erasure by the signifier of the writing/face.  it is, as in linguistics, an exercise in unsuccessful searching for the origin, the arche, which might only been revealed in its traces, its telling absences, rather than any true manifestation or presence.

i have not addressed the salient facts, the necessary acknowledgements, the pertinent items that prefaces and prologues are supposed to disclose; perhaps those can best be pulled out when we actually get to the play itself, which is separate from the prologue.  only by knowing what comes before the play itself might we understand the play itself, and if we only understand what comes before the play itself after reading the play itself, then we understand nothing.

in this last connection, derrida's preface literally begins with its mind-numbing conclusion:

Quote
This (therefore) will not have been a book.

(dissemination at 3).  as RSB’s prologue begins simultaneously at “the end of the world” as well as at the origin, the “soul,” the absence that stands postulated as the beginning of a chain of causal precession, it might similarly be said to stand for the proposition All good things must come to a beginning.

What Came Before

  • *
  • Administrator
  • Emwama
  • *****
  • Posts: 0
    • View Profile
    • First Second Apocalypse
« Reply #8 on: April 19, 2013, 02:15:37 am »
Quote from: Madness
Thanks for coming, sologdin. Very interesting perspective. It will take me some time to digest.

What Came Before

  • *
  • Administrator
  • Emwama
  • *****
  • Posts: 0
    • View Profile
    • First Second Apocalypse
« Reply #9 on: April 19, 2013, 02:15:59 am »
Quote from: lockesnow
Quote from: sologdin

we are accordingly presented with a precession of prefacing that terminates only by virtue of a rhetorical trick of begging the question of the existence of a “soul.”  the precession of prefaces must be amended, then, to:

0 ) the “soul“;
1 ) the epigraph;
2 ) the first part; and
3 ) the entirety of the prologue.

the weirdness that remains is that the prologue as a whole is “separate from” the “the play itself”--simultaneously parcel to and distinguished from the novel that follows. 
Everything in your post was amazing, but I kept thinking you were going to include the Nietzsche quote that precedes all of this.  How does that work in, particularly as Nietzsche is presumably non-diagetic?

What Came Before

  • *
  • Administrator
  • Emwama
  • *****
  • Posts: 0
    • View Profile
    • First Second Apocalypse
« Reply #10 on: April 19, 2013, 02:17:04 am »
Quote from: sologdin
good point.  didn't even think of that, but it should be included, because i think that the prologue, as i have read it, must move between diegetic and non-diegetic references.

What Came Before

  • *
  • Administrator
  • Emwama
  • *****
  • Posts: 0
    • View Profile
    • First Second Apocalypse
« Reply #11 on: April 19, 2013, 02:17:22 am »
Quote from: Ajokli
Quote from: Madness
I could see them removing sorcery because they thought it made men of the world fat and lazy? Obviously, throughout the prologue, we see in Kellhus that they managed some kind of martial prowess over two thousand years of training and breeding.

Like the Bene Gesserit with the Jihad.

What Came Before

  • *
  • Administrator
  • Emwama
  • *****
  • Posts: 0
    • View Profile
    • First Second Apocalypse
« Reply #12 on: April 19, 2013, 02:17:40 am »
Quote from: Tony P
Managed to keep up with the project, though I'm not nearly as well versed in the metaphysical aspects as you guys. Still, some things stood out.

An interesting point about sorcery:

Quote
And there were sorcerers whose assertions were decrees, whose words dictated rather than described how the world had to be. (p. 19, black paperback)

To be on the safe side, I'm going to put the next bit in spoilertags.

(click to show/hide)


there is also, perhaps, a reference to the White Luck Warrior in the very same paragraph:

(click to show/hide)

What Came Before

  • *
  • Administrator
  • Emwama
  • *****
  • Posts: 0
    • View Profile
    • First Second Apocalypse
« Reply #13 on: April 19, 2013, 02:18:07 am »
Quote from: Oreb
Quote from: lockesnow
§P.1 The first thing I noted was the second paragraph.  I wonder if Bakker had read Orson Scott Card’s ‘How to write Science Fiction and Fantasy’, because this paragraph is a textbook example of how Card describes a Speculative world should be introduced to the reader.  It really is impressively masterful, reminiscent of the master herself, Octavia Butler (Card references her opening to Wild Seed in his text). 
Quote
The citadel of Ishuäl succumbed during the height of the Apocalypse.  But no army of inhuman Sranc had scaled its ramparts.

That's very strange, because that's not quite how it reads in my copy (the UK paperback edition). These are the first two sentences of the second paragraph in my copy:

Quote
The citadel of Ishuäl succumbed during the height of the Apocalypse. But no army, human or inhuman, had scaled its ramparts.

Sranc, as you can see, are not mentioned.

What's the reason for this discrepancy?

What Came Before

  • *
  • Administrator
  • Emwama
  • *****
  • Posts: 0
    • View Profile
    • First Second Apocalypse
« Reply #14 on: April 19, 2013, 02:18:23 am »
Quote from: Imparrhas
Prologue I
This is the only pov we have of the time before the Three Seas ascendancy that's not a vision or dream. We don't see anything of the old religion beyond the Bardic Priest. The Dunyain that speaks to the prince is more human than the Dunyain seen after 2000 years of breeding and training. The last High King is described as an Emperor of nothing, leaving behind a dynasty of nothing through his bastard son.

Prologue II
The two examples given to show the predictability in Ishual are a leaf moving across a path and what others will say. The first is purely material, the second involves the soul of another. Both can be grasped by the Logos.

pg 14. How did Leweth avenge himself?

pg 28. Kellhus's sword is described as seizing space like the brances of a tree. This same description was used for the trees that had Kellhus mesmerized earlier.
(click to show/hide)
.