Rereading again, new insights again

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Monkhound

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« on: September 02, 2021, 07:41:03 am »
It's been a while since I visited here, but you know... You reread PON for the so-manyeth time and you're inexorably drawn back to this Place, since everytime there are new insights, and new things that stand out. This time is the first one since finishing TUC a few years back though. A passage in Chapter 12 related to Cnaiür remembering his youth after capturing Kellhus, struck me as interesting:

Quote
The revelation was as breathtaking as it was heartbreaking. Once, when Cnaüir was a child, a whirlwind had roared through the Utemot encampment, its shoulders in the clouds, yaksh, cattle, and lives swirling like skirts about its feet. He had watched it from a distance, wailing, clutching his father’s rigid waist. Then it had vanished, like sand settling in water. He could remember his father running through the hail to assist his kinsmen. He could remember beginning to follow, then stumbling to a halt, transfixed by the vista before him as though the scale of the transformation had dwarfed his eyes’ ability to believe. The great rambling web of tracks, pens, and yaksh had been utterly rewritten, as though some mountain-tall child had drawn sweeping circles with a stick. Horror had replaced familiarity, but order had replaced order.

Like the whirlwind, his revelation regarding Moenghus had blasted a different, far more horrifying order from what he had known. Triumph became degradation. Pride became remorse.

The passage continues referring to the whole whirlwind theme that fits Cnaiür's fear (PON) and vengeance (TUC). This is especially awesome when you keep in mind that Bakker mentioned Cnaiür walking into the whirlwind at the end being THE image he had in mind all along for the end of the series (Can't find that specific quote anymore though  :-\).

Another thing that I found interesting, were the similarities and continuity between PON Chapter 17 and the whole chapter 14 of TGO, where the Survivor has his insights (the "Cuts and cuts and cuts" chapter): It's the chapter where you have both the whole showdown between the great names and the emperor, the unmasking of Skeaös, and Kellhus's intruction by the pragma. Ever since reading it, I've been of a mind that the TGO chapter was key for understanding some major elements of the book. But together with the PON chapter, I think it explains exactly what has been going through Kellhus's mind ever since he was hung from the tree in Caraskand (so in TWP). It's still heavy stuff; I'm still trying to decipher it and share what I get, but I'll get to that when I reach the passages during the reread of the series ^^.
Cuts and cuts and cuts...

Wilshire

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« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2021, 12:19:14 pm »
I have always found rereads rewarding for TSA, especially going back through the whole series once a new book was released. I admit that I haven't done this post-TUC though. After  X many reads it feels like there shouldn't be anything left... obviously this isn't the case though! What comes after determines what comes before.

I don't have a great memory so connections between books has always been somewhat fleeting to me unless I'm coming down from a reread. I'll have to take a look through the two chapters you've mentioned there and see what there is to see.

As always, thanks for posting! Its been quite around here for a while, but there are still those of us lurking. Share with us, the silent audience, your revelations as they come ;)
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H

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« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2021, 03:52:57 pm »
Another thing that I found interesting, were the similarities and continuity between PON Chapter 17 and the whole chapter 14 of TGO, where the Survivor has his insights (the "Cuts and cuts and cuts" chapter): It's the chapter where you have both the whole showdown between the great names and the emperor, the unmasking of Skeaös, and Kellhus's intruction by the pragma. Ever since reading it, I've been of a mind that the TGO chapter was key for understanding some major elements of the book. But together with the PON chapter, I think it explains exactly what has been going through Kellhus's mind ever since he was hung from the tree in Caraskand (so in TWP). It's still heavy stuff; I'm still trying to decipher it and share what I get, but I'll get to that when I reach the passages during the reread of the series ^^.

Yeah, I had, for a pretty long time, figured that Korginghus was "right" in his framing of the Absolute.  That is, in thinking of the Absolute not as a generative, "positive" accumulation of Being, but rather as a notionally negative Abolsute of loss.  I still think he is "more right" than anyone else (perhaps minus Mimara, but that is another issue really) but he probably misses something in his sort of Kierkegaardian frame.

From Todd McGowan:
Quote
The substantial Other in the case of Kierkegaard is more subtle. In many ways, Kierkegaard, despite his rabid opposition to Hegel, formulates a very Hegelian philosophy that identifies dialectical moments in the structure of belief. But Kierkegaard refuses Hegel’s interpretation of Christ’s death. For Kierkegaard, God remains utterly distinct from the world of finitude. The humiliation of Christ in the finite world does not manifest God’s descent or desubstantialization. This is an impossibility that would eliminate the infinite distance that separates the subject from God, but it becomes everyday theology in the Christendom that Kierkegaard excoriates. This infinite distance is correlative to the subject’s freedom. Kierkegaard poses it in opposition to Hegelian absolute knowing as the emblem of freedom.

The subject’s freedom, for Kierkegaard, depends on an absence of knowledge about God, who thus acquires a substantial status. Despite God’s appearance in the finite form of Christ, Kierkegaard’s God is not subjectivized. Kierkegaard’s critique of Hegel focuses on how the latter fails to grasp his own inability, as a finite subject, to know God. We can have access to God, but this access is only indirect, which is why Christianity requires the leap of faith on the part of the subject. Unlike Hegel, Kierkegaard gives the subject a task—accomplish the leap and become an authentic Christian—but the cost of this task is prohibitive.

And further:
Quote
The fundamentals of the critique originate with Søren Kierkegaard, who mounts it soon after Hegel’s death. For Kierkegaard, the problem with the whole is double: it is always only an illusory totality, a conceptual whole that fails to capture the actuality of the particulars, but the very attempt to conceptualize the whole has the effect of violently altering the status of the particulars. For critics of Hegel like Kierkegaard, the conceptual inadequacy of the whole augments rather than mitigates its violence. The thought of all particulars in light of their relationship to the whole distorts their particularity by framing it in terms of an illusion—the totality—and does not do them justice. The whole can never become whole enough to include the variegations of multiplicity that constantly escape it.
(Bolding added by me.)

Now, granted, I do take a sort of Hegelian Absolute (i.e. that contradiction is inextricable and is constitutive) to generally be the case, so where Koringhus does make some fair points, I think ultimately he does fail in some regard.  But he, I think, does give us something to think about in regards to just what we should even consider the Absolute to even possibly be.  That, of course, is situated very much astride what Kellhus' (and the rest of the Dûnyain) consider as the "achievable" Absolute.  There is a lot more here though, how the Kellhus/Dûnyain program adheres very much to a Logocentric idea, where I think Koringhus well and abandons that sort of thought.

In any case, I have likely rambled on enough with tangential nonsense at this point.
I am a warrior of ages, Anasurimbor. . . ages. I have dipped my nimil in a thousand hearts. I have ridden both against and for the No-God in the great wars that authored this wilderness. I have scaled the ramparts of great Golgotterath, watched the hearts of High Kings break for fury. -Cet'ingira

Monkhound

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« Reply #3 on: December 13, 2021, 10:17:40 am »
I'm not a slow reader but still it took a while to get through TWP again due to life getting in the way  :)

Chapter 6 had some funky references during the Battle of Mengedda:
Quote from: Chapter 6
Now the wind came from the east, and men swore they could smell the sea.
Mengedda being quite far inland, it gave me a flashbacks to the Battle of Dagliash, though that could be because of the "Saubon dying" passage in the same chapter.

Quote from: Chapter 6
And when the day is done,
In our eyes the Gods shall lurk!
These two lines of the chant that the Inrithi sing during the battle struck me as a weird parallel to the "What do you see?" passages that we get from Akka's dreams by the thousands of sranc. The parallel being "After we have killed, the (No-)God will be able to see what we have done (and reward us?)".

Another passage that especially struck me was the one in chapter 17. where Kellhus finally breaks Esmenet, using a repetition of words that we encounter later in TGO in the passage of Koringhus's "cuts and cuts and cuts" revelation:
Quote from: Chapter 17,  The words in bold are mine
"You break and remake, cut and cut and cut, all so you might answer in you conqueror's tongue!"
[...]
"And you tell yourself", Kellhus continued, "'These tracks I will not follow!', Perhaps you refuse certain perversity. You pretend to scruple, to discriminate, though the world has forced you onto trackless ground."
[...]
"'What love lies beyond sacrifice?'"

Though worded slightly different, I encountered the same explanation a few chapters later, when Cnaïur finally understands how Moënghus and Kellhus have controlled him all along:
Quote from: Chapter 24,  The words in bold are mine
He was bound to the Dûnyain as the Dûnyain was bound to Serwë's corpse - bound by the cutting ropes of an unconquerable hate.
Any shame. Any indignity. He would bear any injury, commit any atrocity, to whet his vengeance. He would see the whole world burn before he would surrender his hate. Hate!
[...]
Hatred, and hatred alone, had kept him sane.
Just like Esmenet, Cnaiür has been chipping/ cutting away at himself to fit his view on the world, and to soothe his own mind. In the case of Cnaiür, these cuts seem to be both physical and mental, with him scarring himself with his swazond to pove the point of his hatred... Which in turn gives an extra dimension to Mimara's Judging Eye vision about him later in TGO. I'm currently under the impression that, especially given how we see Kellhus's deduction at work, the Dûyain see the cuts that people made in reverse, since we get a similar deduction described again when Koringhus has his Zero-God revelation.

With the knowledge of the description of Saubon's death in TGO, there is the fun passage in TWP where he calls for his own damnation:
Quote from: Chapter
[Saubon:] "Then fie on it! Fie on the truth!"
[Kellhus:] "And what of your immortal soul?"
"Then let it be damned!" he roared, leaping to his feet. "I embrace it - embace it all! Damnation in this life! Damnation in all others! Torment heaped upon torment! I would bear all to be King for a day! I would see you broken and blooded if that meant I could own this throne! I would see the God's own eyes plucked out!

Finally, chapter 23 has the passage where Kellhus has his revelation:
Quote from: Chapter 23
And upon it two silhouettes, black against clouds of stars, impossibly bright.
The figure of a man seated, shoulders crouched like an ape, legs crossed like a priest.
I remember a similar passage (in TGO, I think? Or maybe in TWLW) where Kellhus encounters people with animal features. Did we get an explanation about that somewhere, or is it simply his madness that is leaking through?

I know there are supposed to be parallels between TPN and TAE, and I'm still amazed at how Bakker pulled it off  ;D.

Going to pick up TTT again next of course, and I'll share the things that stood out to me, with the knowledge of how TAE ends.
Cuts and cuts and cuts...

Wilshire

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« Reply #4 on: December 13, 2021, 03:41:47 pm »
One of the best things about TSA is the foreshadowing. Whether intentional or not by Bakker, its these little moments, like those you highlighted, that make the entire series feel like it was fully developed prior to being written. There are discontinuities and/or reversals that prove this isn't the case, but at the very least many specific events past/future are linked together beautifully.

Saubon selling his soul to be king for a day is fantastic, especially because its so literal. He is hardly a sovereign King for more than a few days before becoming part of Kellhus' Empire, and he does end up damned (though this is a fate that basically everyone shares). Fantastic stuff like this is what makes the series worth reading and rereading, over and over.
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Monkhound

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« Reply #5 on: January 20, 2022, 07:07:43 pm »
TTT starts with full force in the quote and the Dream where Mekeritrig tortures Seswatha:
Quote from: chapter 1
"To understand the soul of a Nonman, the philosopher Gotagga had once written, one need only bare the back of an old and arrogant slave. Scars. Scars upon scars. This was what made them mad. All of them."
[...]
"I will strip you to your footings", the Nonman grated. "Though I love,  I will upend your souls foundation! I will release you from the delusions of this word 'Man', and draw forth the beat - the soulless beast! - that is the howling Truth of all things..."
First the parallel with Cnaiür's scars and madness, of course. With that, does it somewhat insinuate that killing chips away at your sanity?
Secondly the illustration that if you take away one's humanity, a human is no different from a sranc?

The first passage that Esmenet reads from the Sagas. I'm pretty sure that I remember it being sung by the Nonman on the elevator in Ishterebinth, in TGO:
Quote from: chapter 8
"Rage - Goddess! Sing of your flight,
From our fathers and our sons.
Away, Goddess! Secret your divinity!
From the conceit that makes kings of foods,
From the scrutiny that makes corpses of souls.
Sing us the end of your song. "

Conphas thinking before being brutalized by Cnaiür:
Quote from: chapter 9
"Where the Nansur wheedled and negotiated, the Scylvendi simply took - seized. It was as though they had embraced violence as a whole, while the Nansur had shattered it into a thousand pieces to set as splinters across the multiform mosaic of their society.
It made them seem... more manly."
Again, the shattering of a "one into thousand" symbolism.

Quote from: chapter 12
"Only when things were broken did their meaning become clear. "
This one struck me particularly with respect to the whole brutality that is inflicted on the Scalded in TUC.
At the same time, do I note aparallel between "meaning" and "Truth" in this? Both concepts are flung around a lot in this book. Only when a Truth or a meaning is broken, do we understand what it actually meant.

About chapter 15:
The tunnels under Kyudea and Ishuäl are referred to as similar in architecture, and then as Nonman work.
For Kyudea it is confirmed to be Nonman architecture. I can't remember: Do we know this to be the case for Ishuäl as well?
Is the whole Sorweel in the Ishterebinth underground meant to help understand the whole Dunyain journey here, with both Kellhus and the Siqu looking for their father?
Cuts and cuts and cuts...

H

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« Reply #6 on: January 24, 2022, 07:29:48 pm »
About chapter 15:
The tunnels under Kyudea and Ishuäl are referred to as similar in architecture, and then as Nonman work.
For Kyudea it is confirmed to be Nonman architecture. I can't remember: Do we know this to be the case for Ishuäl as well?

We don't know it for sure, but I think it is fair the read it in, since Ishuäl is an Ihrimsû name, meaning "Exalted Grotto."  Seems likely to me that the Kûniüric High Kings learned of it somehow, likely after it had ben abandoned by the Nonmen and then used it for their own purposes.  Meaning, of course, that the Thousand Thousand Halls were carved with some Nonman purpose, the Dûnyain only later found their own use for them.
I am a warrior of ages, Anasurimbor. . . ages. I have dipped my nimil in a thousand hearts. I have ridden both against and for the No-God in the great wars that authored this wilderness. I have scaled the ramparts of great Golgotterath, watched the hearts of High Kings break for fury. -Cet'ingira