[TUC Spoilers] TaoHorror’s big take away from the series

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TaoHorror

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« on: August 23, 2017, 01:22:32 pm »
Friends, you’ve been so patient – for that, I thank you. More so than any zCon or Bakker Q&A or AMA or stealing Bakker’s notes/computer, you’ve been biting at the bit wondering what I have to say about all of this. Accept my apologies, it is not for design/manipulation/drama I have forestalled until now. I slow … so it took me a few weeks to “experience” the text. And I reread many parts, so much was the joy, delaying the ending to embellish the experience – really take it all in as it were. I made the decision to allow the text to surprise me over the joy I would have had talking with the author in Q&A ( I would have been pissed knowing it all went to salt before reading it – didn’t want the spoilers to rob me of living the story ).

Caveats/emptors/relegations aside, what you’ve been waiting for – the TH brain dump/insight/truth.

My big take away from the work ( maybe not intended by author, I do not know ), even more so than the discovery of the truth of soul ( conceptualized/derived or scientifically ) is the implication of damnation. Damnation is thrown about like candy at Halloween without giving it its due. Damnation ( if it’s a real thing ) is not a simple punishment – it is the mad everlasting cosmic shaft. We have “competing” religions damning each other for “not getting” the truth. Damnation is a so beyond serious accusation and we would do well to really grasp what we’re saying before distributing it. If some of us REALLY believe it to be a true thing, a possibility for our “souls” in the afterlife, then the logic of murdering 74+ million people is not out of bounds, even for your progeny. This state is FOREVER with no apparent way for redemption out of it. I think Bakker is saying if damnation is real, then the gods are evil pure and simple. Unforgiveable perpetual nightmare pain/agony is evil – no human, regardless of wares, deserves such a fate ( not even the likes of Hitler ).

In Earwa, it pushes the point to theological/logical limit with the stain yielding damnation without hope of redemption. In Earth, you can “choose” redemption, but the dicey nature of that with competing religions renders it really the same having the mark – it’s simply unrealistic to “ask” someone who was brought up in a different location/different culture/different parenting/different laws to “wake up” and see the truth of a foreign invading religion. The “realness” of what it is to be a Muslim is identical to the “realness” we Christians feel ( apologies for assuming more Christians than Muslims would be reading this – just reverse what I’m saying if you’re of a non-Christian faith ).

So if you are damned and you know it ( clap your hands! Sorry, couldn’t resist – a nod to our scribbler’s new “life” ) … then ANY path to avoid it is valid and not available for moral scrutiny. The Consult/The Mutilated/The Mangaecca may well be on the “right” path if it does lead them to successfully avoiding damnation. It’s “obvious” to us they’re evil and at best, misguided … but if we really take in what damnation really is, implications, then they aren’t. Is there a better way to remove the stain without killing off so many people? Who knows, but every day you’re trying to figure it out is a day you could die and it’ll be too late.
I think the ( maybe one of several ) overarching “message” of this story is a warning for us to be careful for how we “indulge” in distributing damnation. Without something more than what we’ve experienced ( i.e. thousands of years of communal belief ), it is simply either an awful manipulation by religions or horrible evidence “the god” is not good.

Would’ve been cool to have thrown this by Bakker, but I can wait – the deliciousness of the ending was too good to pass up. Maybe I’m a garden variety sadist, but Bakker knows how to put a smile on my face  :D
« Last Edit: August 23, 2017, 03:02:14 pm by TaoHorror »
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Sausuna

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« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2017, 02:53:49 pm »
So if you are damned and you know it ( clap your hands! Sorry, couldn’t resist – a nod to our scribbler’s new “life” ) … then ANY path to avoid it is valid and not available for moral scrutiny. The Consult/The Mutilated/The Mangaecca may well be on the “right” path if it does lead them to successfully avoiding damnation. It’s “obvious” to us they’re evil and at best, misguided … but if we really take in what damnation really is, implications, then they aren’t. Is there a better way to remove the stain without killing off so many people? Who knows, but every day you’re trying to figure it out is a day you could die and it’ll be too late.
I always felt like the most compelling idea that both sides had merits was the fact that keeping the status quo isn't necessarily a good thing for humanity. Given most people seem damned due to the fickle nature of god/the gods, landing them in an eternity of torture that is so extreme that it cannot be physically replicated by the biggest, baddest group of immortal sadomasochist torturers. Is it thus necessarily good to continue the worship of these fickle 'gods' who seemingly gain some sustenance upon the suffering of Man? To damn countless more to eternal torment because they didn't manage to hide their souls or do something to please the gods enough? Certainly, the Consult has numerous other failings and killing nearly all of humanity is hard to reckon as the 'greater good'. But their mission itself does have some merits...

Also, I know someone mentioned some book in the reading thread that had a very similar concept to what you posited. 'Your god would create something then damn those who do things wrong to an eternity of torture? Sounds like a real jerk!' Which, funnily enough, has always been a big grip about religion for me (not to derail or flame at all, each their own).

Madness

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« Reply #2 on: August 24, 2017, 01:55:45 pm »
Damnation ( if it’s a real thing ) is not a simple punishment – it is the mad everlasting cosmic shaft.

Way to be, TH.

To the quote, exactly... fuck.

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Duskweaver

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« Reply #3 on: August 25, 2017, 08:18:11 am »
Assuming souls are conscious. Assuming damnation feels the same to the damned as it looks to an outside observer. Assuming it's not just a visual metaphor for the Gods and Ciphrang absorbing emotional content from the memories of mortals (i.e. it looks all fiery because fire consumes). Assuming there isn't some genuinely fair judgement behind who is Saved and who is Damned that we mere mortals are simply unaware of.

We flat-out do not know enough about Damnation (even after 7 books!) to make any moral judgements about whether global genocide is better or worse than leaving things as they are.

The Consult are basically like a government that becomes more and more brutally authoritarian in the name of fighting terrorism. The ends justifying the means, even though the ends are based on assumptions about what evil might occur, while the means are immediately and obviously evil.
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TLEILAXU

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« Reply #4 on: August 25, 2017, 11:19:24 am »
I dunno, the Inverse Fire seems pretty clear on it. You soul is shredded and devoured forever. I see the Consult more as... alchemists, desperately seeking the Philosopher's Stone because the mere act of practicing alchemy has damned them.

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« Reply #5 on: August 25, 2017, 01:48:31 pm »
Might be Duskweaver is unclear on the whys and the wherefores constituting individual Damnation...
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Sausuna

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« Reply #6 on: August 25, 2017, 01:54:55 pm »
Might be Duskweaver is unclear on the whys and the wherefores constituting individual Damnation...
I think Bakker answered the question before, in a way.

Q - Where does the judging eye get its subjectivity? In other words, why is sin SIN? In my mind, perhaps there is no answer, the God has its own reasons, its own unconscious motivation perhaps. But it seems some animals are more holy than others, some acts more heinous than others. Is this human morality (Mimara interpeting what she sees) or God's morality? Is there a reason for this morality?

A - Ad hoc arbitrariness is the problem all traditional religions share. Blind consensus covers this arbitrariness over, but as soon as you start asking questions, it becomes ever more obvious. Ethics and meta-ethics represent attempts to rationalize this arbitrariness, but can never seem to bootstrap any scheme out of the mire of philosophical disputation, leading to the suspicion that they too, are arbitrary. The suspicion in our world is that moral authority basically boils down to power. The fact in the World is that this arbitrariness is an objective feature of reality. Since modern readers rely on modern versions of blind consensus, the idea was to write a fantasy that would grate against moral sensibilities, calling attention to the plight of all morality in the modern age.

And to a different question.
A - My answer to shaik2016 covers this, I think. You need only be liked. The answer is as simple and as complicated as that. Many things the God hates, such as premeditation and rarely forgives. If one's heart is 'in the right place,' this often helps. But you have to ask Him - I fear he stopped talking to me a long time ago! Apparently he only likes those who believe as children do.

Now, this doesn't answer the actual 'what' of individual damnation. But arbitrariness might be enough to validate trying to interrupt. It is at least an unfair practice.
« Last Edit: August 25, 2017, 02:18:01 pm by Sausuna »

Duskweaver

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« Reply #7 on: August 25, 2017, 03:21:35 pm »
I dunno, the Inverse Fire seems pretty clear on it. You soul is shredded and devoured forever.
Yes, but what does that actually feel like, when you're a disembodied soul? It sure looks horrible to a living person seeing their soul's fate through the Inverse Fire... but that's why it's the Goad. What the IF shows could be both 100% accurate and completely misleading.

To an extent, I'm playing Ajokli's advocate here. If it were me looking into the IF, I'd probably join the Consult in a heartbeat. But that's not the point. As a dispassionate outside observer (as opposed to an observer of the Outside ;) ), I am not convinced of the moral rightness of the Consult's plan. As I said, there are a lot of ways they might be completely wrong, even assuming what the IF shows them (and what the JE shows Mimara) is accurate:

Souls might not be conscious, or might have no sense of self.
Damnation might not actually be painful. Being burned and eaten by Ciphrang might not hurt when you're a disembodied soul.
There might actually be good reasons why the Damned are Damned, even if we can't know what they are. 'Arbitrary' is not the same as 'random and meaningless'.
There might be other ways of preventing Damnation besides the global genocide one.
Finding Oblivion might be possible after all (bonus: we now know this one is true!)
"Then I looked, and behold, a Whirlwind came out of the North..." - Ezekiel 1:4

"Two things that brand one a coward: using violence when it is not necessary; and shrinking from it when it is."

Sausuna

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« Reply #8 on: August 25, 2017, 03:50:26 pm »
I dunno, the Inverse Fire seems pretty clear on it. You soul is shredded and devoured forever.
Yes, but what does that actually feel like, when you're a disembodied soul? It sure looks horrible to a living person seeing their soul's fate through the Inverse Fire... but that's why it's the Goad. What the IF shows could be both 100% accurate and completely misleading.

To an extent, I'm playing Ajokli's advocate here. If it were me looking into the IF, I'd probably join the Consult in a heartbeat. But that's not the point. As a dispassionate outside observer (as opposed to an observer of the Outside ;) ), I am not convinced of the moral rightness of the Consult's plan. As I said, there are a lot of ways they might be completely wrong, even assuming what the IF shows them (and what the JE shows Mimara) is accurate:

Souls might not be conscious, or might have no sense of self.
Damnation might not actually be painful. Being burned and eaten by Ciphrang might not hurt when you're a disembodied soul.
There might actually be good reasons why the Damned are Damned, even if we can't know what they are. 'Arbitrary' is not the same as 'random and meaningless'.
There might be other ways of preventing Damnation besides the global genocide one.
Finding Oblivion might be possible after all (bonus: we now know this one is true!)
Eh, I think there are enough other sources that seem to confirm the badness of hell for those within it. First, conventional use of the term hell/damnation and the associated smoke/fire as being bad would imply it is a place of suffering. Second being essentially all dogma of the Three-Seas validate this view that people are tortured there. Literal prophets of the Gods preach them as unpleasant places for those who go there. Kellhus says it is a bad place (I can't find the scene where I think he is actually there, so one might quibble as to his experience, but it does point in agreement, especially for someone who has made a deal with the gods). The Progenitors thought it was bad (supposedly), it seems like they would be very capable in verifying such a view and would do their best to (given the extremes they've gone to now avoid it). We have the dying moments of Saubon that seem pretty grim. The language Cnaur/Ajokli and Kellhus/Ajokli use. But most telling, the PoV chapters from Kakaliol's view made it seem like it was aware enough as to what inflicting torture was.

Idk, I just don't find the first three objections very reasonable. As far as arbitrary not being the same as random/meaningless, it kind of does, not to get into semantics. Either way, it is at best unfair and poorly relayed to some. As for five, we also know it is extremely hard. Three seems like the most reasonable objection.

TaoHorror

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« Reply #9 on: August 25, 2017, 04:23:22 pm »
I dunno, the Inverse Fire seems pretty clear on it. You soul is shredded and devoured forever.
Yes, but what does that actually feel like, when you're a disembodied soul? It sure looks horrible to a living person seeing their soul's fate through the Inverse Fire... but that's why it's the Goad. What the IF shows could be both 100% accurate and completely misleading.

To an extent, I'm playing Ajokli's advocate here. If it were me looking into the IF, I'd probably join the Consult in a heartbeat. But that's not the point. As a dispassionate outside observer (as opposed to an observer of the Outside ;) ), I am not convinced of the moral rightness of the Consult's plan. As I said, there are a lot of ways they might be completely wrong, even assuming what the IF shows them (and what the JE shows Mimara) is accurate:

Souls might not be conscious, or might have no sense of self.
Damnation might not actually be painful. Being burned and eaten by Ciphrang might not hurt when you're a disembodied soul.
There might actually be good reasons why the Damned are Damned, even if we can't know what they are. 'Arbitrary' is not the same as 'random and meaningless'.
There might be other ways of preventing Damnation besides the global genocide one.
Finding Oblivion might be possible after all (bonus: we now know this one is true!)

I think you're point is since we don't really "know" what damnation will be like ( and in kind, neither The Consult/Mutilated ), then their approach HAS to be evil since their design is based on an assumption. Sounds like the logic of the "sane" to me  8)

I think the bigger point is damnation scares the shit out of EVERYBODY - high evil and the low. They appear convinced what they see in the Inverse Fire is accurate and they are in for the eternal cosmic shaft for not even the master, mega powerful can subvert or sustain ( I hear the screams from Cnaiur as I write this - the biggest, baddest ass barbarian I've ever had the pleasure of reading about - the breaker of horses and men is now quite broken ... and forever ). So the varacity of your point hinges on what they're seeing/experiencing with the Inverse Fire. Should they have the wherewithal to "know" it may be a lie or their interpretation inaccurate? Someone wrote in TSA elsewhere an intriguing idea that it "modifies" the brain of the viewer ... still kinda like that idea, though the ending of TUC brings it into question. If they're not whole sale convinced of their conclusion, then you're right - their approach is simply evil. But if it really scared them, frozen their consciousness facing their ETERNAL dire straights, then their approach may not be evil, but panic. Panic may look quite the sinister expression, but it is not the same as evil.
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Duskweaver

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« Reply #10 on: August 26, 2017, 09:39:28 am »
First, conventional use of the term hell/damnation and the associated smoke/fire as being bad would imply it is a place of suffering.
This isn't even an argument. You can call anything anything. The Fanim claim the 'Heavens' of the Hundred are really Hells.

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Second being essentially all dogma of the Three-Seas validate this view that people are tortured there. Literal prophets of the Gods preach them as unpleasant places for those who go there.
Various prophets and religions in Earwa claim all kinds of things. At least some of them are very wrong. All we actually know on this particular point is what we've been directly shown by PoV characters (which is almost nothing) and what Bakker has said extra-textually, which is basically that Ajencis and Memgowa are somewhat close to being right and that Fane was mostly wrong. The Scylvendi don't believe they get an afterlife at all (and are implied to be dead wrong about this). The Nonmen told the High Norsirai they could find Oblivion merely by "hiding their Voices" (and it is implied that it's actually much harder, or maybe just more random than that). The Tusk claims whores are damned, but Esme and Mimara seem to prove that isn't automatically true. Proyas' father (and the Mutilated) claim that being a ruler inevitably leads to Damnation, but again Esme seems to disprove that.

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Kellhus says it is a bad place (I can't find the scene where I think he is actually there, so one might quibble as to his experience, but it does point in agreement, especially for someone who has made a deal with the gods).
Because Kellhus always tells the absolute unvarnished truth, right? :)

Actually, Kellhus' visit to the Outside is probably the best evidence we have that you're right. But he still only sees what the Gods/Ciphrang appear to be doing to the souls of the dead from his own PoV. There's no evidence in those scenes that the souls are conscious.

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The Progenitors thought it was bad (supposedly), it seems like they would be very capable in verifying such a view and would do their best to (given the extremes they've gone to now avoid it).
We're back to "these guys believed X, therefore X is objectively true". For all we know, the Progenitors might have been really prone to jumping to conclusions based on little actual evidence.

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We have the dying moments of Saubon that seem pretty grim.
Could easily be his last impression of dying in a nuclear fireball. Or maybe souls retain consciousness for a few instants after death before being consumed. Still doesn't prove the suffering is eternal.

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The language Cnaur/Ajokli and Kellhus/Ajokli use. But most telling, the PoV chapters from Kakaliol's view made it seem like it was aware enough as to what inflicting torture was.
All these characters had a vested interest in being scary. Of course they're going to promise eternal punishment.

Quote
As far as arbitrary not being the same as random/meaningless, it kind of does, not to get into semantics.
Nope. Especially not in the way Bakker seems to use it in this context. He says it depends on whether the God likes you and that he (Bakker) doesn't know what the rules are that determine whether the God likes you. He never claimed it was random. Just that even he doesn't know all the rules (because he wants it to seem unfair and arbitrary to the readers). Bakker does hint at some rules that seem to apply, though. Premeditation, for example.

Damnation also cannot be meaningless, because the whole point of the series is that Damnation is a result of things having meaning, and that stripping the World of meaning (via the No-God) makes Damnation go away.

For the record, I actually agree that Damnation is probably exactly what it looks like, and that the Consult are probably at least mostly right. My objection is to people claiming that the Consult are objectively the good-guys. You're making assumptions based on limited information and then using those assumptions to justify genocide.

I think you're point is since we don't really "know" what damnation will be like ( and in kind, neither The Consult/Mutilated ), then their approach HAS to be evil since their design is based on an assumption. Sounds like the logic of the "sane" to me  8)
No, I'm saying we the readers don't know enough yet to say whether the Consult are the good-guys or the bad-guys. I'm entirely open to the possibility that the Consult actually know more than we do.

I do find it slightly disturbing just how quick and eager people are to construct an interpretation that justifies genocide, though.
"Then I looked, and behold, a Whirlwind came out of the North..." - Ezekiel 1:4

"Two things that brand one a coward: using violence when it is not necessary; and shrinking from it when it is."

Cüréthañ

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« Reply #11 on: August 26, 2017, 10:40:03 am »
I'm kinda with you on this, Duskweaver. Kellhus' flashback includes a bit where the boss Ciphrang eats a baby. A baby... in hell. Um,  how does a fucking baby get itself damned?

Maybe the outside is primarily where memories go and ideally they are stripped from souls, removing identity on the way to oblivion or reincarnation?

It kind of makes sense if the idea that souls are tiny fragments of the True God through which he experiences Its creation is true - otherwise It is slowly damning itself across eternity, no?

Idk, probably getting a bit too into these ideas without any real point to make. Pure speculation, but it certainly is an intriguing line of thought.

As for the Consult being justified on utilitarian grounds, I'm totally opposed primarily because I think they are wrong about their ends and their means are indefensible.
« Last Edit: August 26, 2017, 10:43:26 am by Cüréthañ »
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TLEILAXU

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« Reply #12 on: August 26, 2017, 01:05:14 pm »
I think you guys are getting a bit too liberal with the interpretations here, too far into unreliable narration territory.
Anyway, I think it's a mistake to think that the Consult is morally justified in their actions from our POV, trivially because morals are arbitrary. In the World they are clearly NOT justified because it goes against God's wishes. In the World-post-sealing morals are arbitrary anyway. It comes down to what you see as the better world or whether the trade-off in lives is worth it.

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« Reply #13 on: August 26, 2017, 01:48:15 pm »
The Consult are the good guys? Seriously? They want to anihilate human and nonmen to achieve salvation for themselves. And they have no problem of use sexual violence, mass murder, torture, nukes and whatever means to achieve their fucking goal?
The fact that the ordealmen are violent bigot fuckers doesn't make the Consult right.
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« Reply #14 on: August 26, 2017, 06:56:34 pm »
Sure, the Consult aren't justified at all. But would I make the same choice in their place? Hell yes. I wouldn't be as rapey, but I'd definitely side with them :)
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