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Messages - SmilerLoki

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Author Q&A / Re: Unholy Consultation - *SUPER SPOILERIFIC*
« on: July 30, 2017, 03:36:21 am »
Okay, so I just spent 3 hours typing nonstop answering every question on the topic summary and only the last two posted... Oof...

Sorry guys. I'm shaking with rage at the moment. Not sure when I'll have a chance to get back to these... You might want to save them for the AMA.
A very unfortunate mishap for sure. I was disillusioned with web forms for long posts when the Internet was all forums similar to this one. Now if I want to post anything substantial, I just type it into Word first (other editors work, of course). Obviously, this practice evolved from some unfortunate experiences of my own…

I'm going to repeat my first message here during the AMA, since I'm really interested in your comments. I hope you don't mind. I even registered a reddit account specifically for that.   

The Unholy Consult / Re: [TUC Spoilers]The effects of Chorae
« on: July 29, 2017, 02:10:00 pm »
And in TGO the Boy used Mimara's knife pilfered from the Coffers to "make light" scraping a Chorae so Emidilis was able to fashion sorcerous weapons that counteract the effects of Chorae in some way.
Actually, all sorcerous artifacts created by Emilidis are immune to Chorae. It's in the glossary.

Author Q&A / Re: Unholy Consultation - *SUPER SPOILERIFIC*
« on: July 29, 2017, 12:59:21 am »
Hello, Mr. Bakker!

First, I want to congratulate you on finishing "The Aspect-Emperor" at long last! I'm very grateful for your work, and have no desire to blame it or you for anything. And I'm very satisfied with the ending.

I actually have quite a complicated relationship with the Second Apocalypse. I couldn't read "A Song of Ice and Fire" (and have no plans to do so, as well as only superficial plans to watch "Game of Thrones") because it was too violent and cynical for my taste. Instead, I've read wikis on it, following the bits of the plot and setting that interested me. When I first heard about the Second Apocalypse (browsing TV Tropes, actually), that was my first instinct, too. But then a strange thing happened. Wikis and spoilers actually clarified nothing for me, and after some consideration I began reading the books themselves. And so it is: "A Song of Ice and Fire" is too grisly for me, but I've read the Second Apocalypse (more than once, and will re-read it again). Needless to say, I have no regrets.

And the concept that first and foremost caught my fancy way back when? The No-God.

It's my belief that you've spectacularly succeeded in your quest to make a work that challenges, even abhors, but keeps people reading all the same, imparting thought and making them more then they were. It most certainly did in my case. If you're proud of your accomplishments, then you should be! I can only concur.

At this point I have two questions for you:

1. I should not expect Earwa to be perfectly thought out in every respect, since no writer is God, but there seem to be actualized philosophical principles in the world of the Second Apocalypse. Some of them are created by the Tekne (the Inverse Fire and the No-God), some have unknown origin (the Outside, possibly the Judging Eye), and some are sorcerous (Chorae, though I feel only to an extent). This troubles me since there are no real world alternatives to such things, and so I can't relate. Which means any kind of logical reasoning about the nature of the world of Earwa is fundamentally flawed (more than usual), because those are things in themselves, working as you want them to or as needed for the narrative. Could you comment on this issue?

2. In my opinion, there is (after the end of "The Unholy Consult") one and only one undoubtedly heroic character in the Second Apocalypse and that character is Anasurimbor Serwa. She was, of course, by no means perfect, but her intentions and actions (as I see them, and my sight is also by no means perfect) speak for themselves. She followed her father, because she wanted to save the world. She battled the Horde and suffered hardships of the Great Ordeal. She lived through Ishterebinth. She saved Moenghus. She was capable of love, and loved Sorweel. She mourned him when he died. She saved Mimara, Achamian, and Esmenet before attending to her mission, which makes her human as opposed to Kellhus. Oh, and she also killed a dragon with all its retinue. A dragon that kept the entirety of the Great Ordeal at bay. Some people argue that your books are misogynistic. And yet the most heroic character in them is a woman. Are you laughing now? I know I would be, quite evilly so!

btw, regarding spoilers:
Open spoilers in subforums up to and include the book they are named after. IE, in TUC subforum, open spoilers for all content including TUC. In TDTCB, only open spoilers for TDTCB.

General Earwa will be open spoiler for everything (like it normally is) after the release has been out for a few weeks.
Got it. I'm just overly cautious, because I know I would have spoiled everything for myself by just glancing at any discussion. I specifically refrained from visiting places with such discussions before I've read the book. But then again, I never was a regular there.

Again, welcome to the Second Apocalypse, SmilerLoki, and I apologize for the issues you had to surmount to post in the first place.
Don't worry about it! I completely understand the problem that spammers present. I also don't think many people would have tried to register here with an e-mail on a Russian domain. It's unlikely the Second Apocalypse has many Russian fans (fortunately, it does have some), since someone managed to translate the title of "The Darkness That Comes Before" as "(The) Servants of The Dark Lord". This is not a joke.

- I don't think the No-God nor the God ever talked to Kellhus. For my reading, Ajokli is solely responsible for the Visions.
Right now I'm inclined to view this as by far the most likely possibility. It lacks only direct confirmation from Bakker.

- We're missing a crucial data-point in this discussion. I believe, in similar fashion to the aforementioned Skafra quote, Wutteat and, if I recall correctly, the Skin-Spy Tsuor impersonating Mimara when speaking with Sranc clans, both speak of "the Black Heaven calling," which denotes some unique internal experience. Just another loose seed Bakker's planted in TAE's arc.
I agree.

It talks to you inside your head or with the voice of the Horde only when you are in it's area of immanence, as it literally comes before you. My speculation is that it knows you completely (like a Dunyain) at that time and can mess more directly with your soul.
It appears to me that the No-God's perception of reality is metaphysically quite important to the series.
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Yes, but why would Aurang be worried if the No-god doesn't ever say anything aside from the same phrases the Mandate hear?
(As ever, can't trust what Kellhus says, but it is the reaction that is important.)
That's exactly what surprises him - that Kellhus might hear something new, something Aurang isn't aware of. Or that Kellhus is somehow connected to the No-God and can perceive it as its followers do, the mechanics of which are left unclear in the exchange. The No-God "speaking" in that scene might be literal or figurative even if Kellhus is actually being honest.

My thought on it's repetitive questions is that they are analogous to echo-location. The no-god overrides the transmission band of the Outside and broadcasts existential questions that causes souls to resonate. Seems fair that if all men know the direction of the No-god, it in turn knows where people are and how many of them.
Interesting thought! But people are aware of the No-God without hearing it. If this connection works both ways, then the No-God should be able to know where people are without speaking to them.

It's definitely a step forward but I'm not sure it is really exposing the black box issue. But then, I am not an expert.
Not in a comprehensive way, I'm inclined to say. It just reinforces my opinion that there is not enough information uncovered about the brain to come to conclusions. Many equivalent frameworks of reasoning about how it functions can be constructed; presently it's unclear how close any one of them is to the truth.

Here's another link on the subject, if you're interested. A bit more on the machine side.
Thank you! It's unfortunate that my understanding of neural networks is rudimentary. I only read entry-level papers on them, and even those I failed to absorb completely. So many things to learn, so many new (not to mention old) inventions, but so little time, and such a small head...

Well, to be fair that is the largest direct hint that the No-god is more than what his foes see.
It most certainly can be read this way.

For instance, when Kellhus confronts Aurang-as-Esme and (probably bluffing) says he talks to the No-god and that He regards Aurang as a failure (or similar). Aurang's reaction to that suggests it hits a nerve.
I understood that scene as Aurang being rattled by the fact that Kellhus talks to the No-God and not by the alleged contents of those conversations. I also think that Kellhus might be mistaken at that point in time.
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I think it's a brilliant touch that the No-god is literally a Black Box.
I agree. The execution shines here. There are other inclusions of black boxes in fantasy, but the way Bakker has done it with the No-God is masterful. It invokes the sheer feeling of incomprehensibility. It was that feeling that got me into the series, actually.

It's becoming increasing likely in neuroscience that ignorance of how 'consciousness' itself functions is an integral part of its effectiveness in pattern recognition and decision making. The reason that neural networks are the heart of AI technology is because they operate as a black box. The problem that this raises is that it's impossible to prove they are not fallible.
There was a recent study on the subject of face recognition that seems to support the opposite, that the brain isn't a black box and its workings can be deciphered. It's outlined here:

Thank you!

I think here the words of the dragon are so imprecise that a vast array of meanings can be attributed to them. Did the No-God really speak to him? Or was it more of a feeling belonging to a unified body of the Inchoroi creations the ruler of which is the No-God? It's entirely unclear in the same way that Kelmomas effect on the White-Luck Warrior (be it the first one or Sorweel) and the Gods was unclear. The true nature of the dragon's words is quite possibly deliberately concealed by the author to not give away crucial parts of the series easily.

I can't really derive any hard conclusions from it.

Indeed. I feel like there must be some confusion between the levels of consciousness discussed here.
Very likely. It's also a problem with trying to understand the Second Apocalypse, since questions of consciousness are very important to the series, but there is no universal definition of consciousness.

The No-god at first seems non-sentient, but it says via Skafra that it has tasted Celmomas' soul and is pleased, which indicates the ability to feel. Perhaps this is only because it processes such experience through the medium of the souls it consumes, it is unclear.
Could you please direct me to this episode in the series? I now want to re-read it.

Not really trying to make any point here btw, just trying to contribute food for thought.
And I'm very grateful for it!

Fair enough. To me, understanding of cause and effect is a fundamental part of reasoning.
The same with me. That's why I constantly question my reasoning about the Second Apocalypse; at least some of its workings seemingly contradict the stance expressed above. Do I misunderstand something? Is it a use of artistic license on Bakker's part, or a kind of study, a mental experiment concerning the nature of self and reason (if this is the case than even apparent severe contradictions to reality leading to a collapse of the narrative are not a negative result)? Is Bakker's stance on the matter just different from my own? I'm afraid I have no answers to these questions.

Rather than being unable to perceive itself, it cannot recognize itself.
I feel both of those explanations conform to the No-God's described behavior and also work in the framework of its metaphysical nature that I've outlined.

SmilerLoki: Regarding your last post;

Given the tactical way that the No-god uses the Sranc and Chorae against the Ordeal, I'd say it's quite definitive that it aware of cause and effect.
Yes, I do believe it can use cause and effect. My point was, while being able to perceive cause and effect and manipulate it, the No-God does it in a fundamentally different way than conscious beings. So even while using cause and effect, the No-God is not aware of it, at least not in our sense of the word. Does this clarify anything?

I've always found the notion that the No-God was motivated by tactical concerns in the First Apocalypse to be suspect.  Not because of any doubt about those concern's soundness, mind.  I trust the Mandate's estimation of the tactical situation.  No, my gripe is that it doesn't seem sentient in a way that would allow it to understand such issues.

The point has been made a bunch that Kelmomas doesn't know what motivates him.  He is a repeater for the Darkness That Come Before.  I don't think being in the Object will change that.  He will do what his instincts bid him.  I think Nao Cauyuti was the same way.

Consequently, attributing motives such as a lack of Sranc to the No-God seems pointless to me.  I think it just does what it will do, full stop.
I can see how all of this can very well be true. Thinking about it, I've come to some more observations and questions. I'm going to put them under a spoiler tag below.

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Check out Interviews & Articles and Further Curated Sayings of Cû'jara-Cinmoi. In case you are unaware, Bakker has often used Cû'jara-Cinmoi as his name on various forums, including here when we had an Author Q&A. This might help you get some first hand views of things you feel you might have missed.
Thank you for the links! I can say that I've read the entire Author Q&A section of this forum, and at least some of the interviews, but there is also Bakker's blog with comments on it (it's huge and only some of it pertains to the Second Apocalypse; obviously in no way is this a fault) and sites that no longer work. Considering interviews, they were always of secondary priority to me since they rarely are about the roots of metaphysics in the series, which is the topic that really ignites my interest.

Greetings to all! First time poster here.

After just finishing the series (but following it for quite some time) I should say I'm very satisfied   that, in my opinion, almost all serious metaphysical questions pertaining to the world of the Second Apocalypse found their answers. It took some thinking, but in the end I came up with explanations that work for me and, basically, require no other installments in the series to feel content. I would like to offer my views below. I would, of course, place them under a spoiler tag since they are all huge spoilers.

The main reason for me to post what is essentially my personal interpretations is to solicit thoughts and observations I may have missed in my reasoning. While some things do work as explanations for me, they can also seem a bit too complicated, even contrived. So I would like to hear what other people think about them. The Second Apocalypse is dense, and I'm also less acquainted than I would like with relevant pieces of information R. Scott Bakker gave outside of the series (it's really hard to find all of them). I do think I quite possibly missed something crucial somewhere and feel I may be mistaken in my assumptions, thus missing simple, elegant explanations of complex concepts. There are also some plot points (though not very significant in the grand scheme of things for me) that I'm not sure about.

I quite enjoy the inner workings of the Second Apocalypse and would like to better my understanding of the series. I apologize if my following post seems like a stream of consciousness, but I fear never actually completing editing it otherwise. Making personal notes easily readable for others is hard. Thank you in advance for reading (or at least attempting it)!

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