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Messages - H

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For posterity, what I managed to transcribe (very poorly) from the Podcast @54:00 in:

Q: So it's worth mentioning, in all of this that modern neuroscience presumes that the gods do not exist, in your Second Apocalypse saga, the gods are real and sometimes do speak.  Can you provide an overview of how the gods function in a fictional universe where you put so much thought into the inner works of consciousness and philosophy?

A: Yeah, I mean, this is kind of embarrassingly simple ultimately.  The gods are the "Drive," the "heuristic module," the "sub-personal processes" that are constantly underwriting, sometimes undermining, to sometimes making possible, the workspace of conscious, which is the world, which is physical reality in my book.  The whole series is itself analogy, or allegory, for this ancient anthropomorization of the universe and the cosmos only as projected given a modern understanding of the way in which cognition works.  System two, which is reality, system one, which is all the sub-personal processes that are constantly impinging upon System two, with deliberative reality (our conscious experience) and we can crib a term from Lawrence, System Zero, which lies outside of that Inside/Outside.

General Misc. / Re: What are you watching?
« on: April 05, 2021, 02:15:14 pm »
Possibly interesting in a Bakker-Crash-Space related way (probably in the same sort of way that Upload was) Made for Love debuted 3 episodes and was pretty good.  I'd recommend it (if it matters though, it's not particularly appropriate for kids, language/sexual content).

I still haven't watched this, H. Did you enjoy it?

Honestly, I was a little disappointed, but it was decent.

Maybe the post-video meet-up was more interesting, but I wasn't home at the time, so I wasn't able to join.

Next video in the series should be premiering April 10th, link to come when it gets put up.

The Unholy Consult / Re: "Kellhus is dead, but not done."
« on: March 18, 2021, 01:20:53 pm »
@H - you had me at Deleuzian rhizomes! 

As for Khellus playing all ends, honestly I think: 1) he really did fail, however, 2) he had back up plans.

Failing via ignorance is just so Baker, if Khellus hasn’t, then a greater similar failure is on the way.

The situation Baker set up is so fun—Khellus lies about being a prophet but convinces the world by accidentally dying.  Now Mimara/son really is the propher(s) but their ability to elicit belief from the people is utterly fucked.  If anyone believes her at all, it will be because they think she is some sort of mini-prophet that is part of Khellus’ story.  It will be neat to see if she lies and tells people that Khellus was holy or if that is intolerable and she becomes an outcast at the end of the world.

Maybe that’s the angle Bakker is going for: Mimara will be executed by the mobs she could save if they would only listen to her.  Baker subverts Christ dying on the Cross for our sins in 2 ways: fake Christ (Khellus) dies but not for our sins and Mimara dies even though she could have saved us.

Well, I think it was more than just ignorance though.  As Bakker said once, it was also something like "taking the unity of his personal identity for granted."  To me, it is about a sort of Logo-centrism, the same as Moe the Elder, who just discounts the Outside as trivial and inconsequential.  Kellhus realizes it is consequential, then just figures that the Logos can supersede it, harness it, and conquer it anyway.

Maybe the punchline is that Kellhus fails to realized that the Ground of the Logos is, in fact, full-well in the Outside or maybe we should say that the Ground of the Logos simply is not within the Logo-sphere.  So, here Kellhus figures his personal identity can be a bulwark against the Outside and be the foundation of the Logos, all the while never seeing the sand slipping out from under his feet.

I guess I just really want Mimara to actually be the prophet.  Does she actually get to do it?  I'm not sure.  I think it's a toss up, so maybe the idea is more than she doesn't get the universal acceptance, but maybe a small band of people realize she is the real deal.  Perhaps the "ultimate" is that she does avert the Apocalypse, she does manage to reframe things to some extent, but in the end, it's only a small incremental change and it will all happen again, just hopefully a little less badly next time...

Tangent: What about the possibility of performing sorcery in hell?  Sorcery requires two voices, each securing the meaning of the other — Khellus lost his physical mouth but can still sing with 2 voices internally.  Not sure there is anything here, just wondering, it’s my adhd.

Hmm, I'd guess not and interestingly, the main way we see Kellhus leverage the Outside was via the Head On A Pole, which if we are right and is now not a thing since he is dead, then what does he have as leverage on the Outside?

As far as Khellus being motivated by love of Serwe, I still don’t think it’s a possibility, but I am reminded of this…when Sutadra dies, Mimara sees “the clear skin of heroism and sacrifice.  The white of devotion.  The GOLD of unconditional love.  The gleam of loyalty and long silence.  The high blue of indomitable strength.”

I think the answer is a sort of "yes, but no" on that.  Does he "love" Serwe?  Yes, but in his own sort of stunted way and his aim was always more toward the elevation of himself to the Logo-centric place, a conqueror of all that is Outside the usual sense of control.

Dr. Gregory Sadler's World's of Speculative fiction series moves to cover Eärwa.

Link the channel, which has some great philosophy content.

We have restarted the Worlds of Speculative Fiction lecture/discussion series in a new online monthly format.  Each session will have a roughly 90-minute video, which will be premiered (allowing chat interaction between viewers and myself).  Then immediately following that, we will have a Zoom videoconferencing session, where we'll continue the discussion.

This session focuses on the fantasy writer, R. Scott Bakker, and on the first book of his Prince of Nothing Trilogy, The Darkness That Comes Before.  We discuss his biography, the narrative universe of his stories, and several philosophical themes of that first book.  In the next two sessions, we will discuss the second and third book in that series.

Link the the first video in the series.

Premieres tomorrow, March 13th, 2021.

The Unholy Consult / Re: "Kellhus is dead, but not done."
« on: March 12, 2021, 11:29:29 am »
@TaoHorror - Can’t remember where, but there are passage(s) that talk about the ttt being a living thing.  I’m not sure that Kellhus was deluded, just caught unawares … that skin spy reaches out to him from an unseen corner just like wlw got Maithanet (the unseen corner in every room).  Kellhus failing to pull off the ttt as he intended it but succeeding from the pov that his death causes more belief than his life would be a very Bakker thing to do.

Could we maybe think of it as "living" in the Deleuzian way of a rhizome?  Although, really, it would be an "inverse rhizome" in many ways, how Bakker that would be.  Or, more likely, to consider it "living" as a Body Without Organs?

@ H - I think you put you’re finger right on it—Bakker’s pessimism.  All 7 books take us to the Golden Room where we find Science vs Religion.  Humanity is fucked either way.  Science exterminates the possibility of eternity.  Religion means humans are the playthings of greater beings (this is the ugly possibility hiding behind every religion—any promises of paradise are only good of the Speaker is hones and keeps their word and no higher court can compel them to,  Jesus could have come to Earth just to deceive, which makes me want to call and check on my family).  Science beats Religion in the Golden Room, I think, because Earwa is a commentary on this world.  Religion held sway for most of the time but now Science is supplanting a lot of it. 

Wouldn’t it be something if Kellhus orchestrated (successfully but we don’t know his plan yet) the whole thing as a way to get Serwe back?  It’s too sweet for Bakker but it’s a neat possibility that isn’t yet extinguished.  Sometimes Kellhus really did seem inclined to her beyond his Dunyainity.

I get the feeling that the next 3 books tell the story of the unlikely victory over New Mog only to end when a second golden ark lands.

Back to what I said earlier, “humanity is fucked either way,” I think Bakker identifies with Akka, the guy in the middle.  Opposed to the Consult but no friend of the gods who would damn him, a man caught in the middle.  Perhaps things end with Akka musing about how Seswatha’s line, “though you lose your soul you will gain the world” is ultimately just a piece of fabricated bullshit, a necessary bit of propaganda for the catechism to perpetuate an impossible middle way.

Indeed, we could think of a "centrism" as a way of losing two ways.  My guess is usually though that Kellhus sees the two extremes as clear losses, so he, in his own way, tries to play both sides to his own middle.  To what end?  I think to, again, carve out a "center position" of sorts.  Kellhus would install himself as a sort of god, but also as a secular ruler, who, unlike the Consult, has two feet fully in the infinite eternity and so is fittingly a true God-Emperor?

However, I do think a literal Eternal Return might be a bit too literal though?  My guess is just my general, "Mimara manages to undo the No-God, the Consult is barely defeated.  But the whole problem arises again.  The Ark is still there, Mimara is a real prophet, but the problem of hermeneutics is still just as present, if not more so.  Mimara can reframe it all, but to what and why?

Also, it’s neat to think about how the Consult-Dunyain where just playing Kellhus (albeit they were executing a plan they had come up with mere minutes before because Kel could not have been there long).  They must have suspected that Kellhus had an ace up his sleeve even if they didn’t know it was Ajokli because there’s no way he just waltzes into a room full of skin spies armed with chorae without some kind of leverage.  There’s no indication that he could have put up his detritus globe like he did at the end of TTT.  The aspect emperor got straight up played (supposing of course he wasn’t intending on his own salting). 

Also, I assume that all of the Consult-Dunyain that were not sorcerers DID have chorae, but it just didn’t matter when Kellhus came for that one because he was channeling hell—like the way Akka says a single chorae would not have mattered against the shade of Cil-Aujus.

Yeah, that thaumaturgy does not care about Chorae at all.  I think that the Dunsult probably thought that Kellhus might well have been something up his sleeve, but one, they really didn't have many options and two, they probably still did actually think that the Inverse Fire was an ace in their sleeves.  Which, in their own empiricist way, wasn't that bad an idea.  No one ever had seen the Inverse Fire and resisted it before.

The Unholy Consult / Re: "Kellhus is dead, but not done."
« on: March 05, 2021, 04:10:08 pm »
We can only go with our own emotional preferences.

Yeah, in a sense I'd say it maybe as: we'd like to think we have a hold of some internal logic to the series.  In actuality, contradiction and negation is just as likely, if not more so, than any logic of necessity.

So, where I want to say it makes sense for Mimara and the Eye to have some major role/impact, that point is trivially easy to be negated where it simply makes no difference at all and that is the real point.  In a sense, we'd like to think we have some sort of "predictive power" that the future is not "wide open" where nearly anything could happen.  Sure, maybe in the actual world, this is somewhat true, because there seems to be something like necessity at hand.

But in Eärwa, where narrative necessity is likely the only sort we ever could have, contradiction and negation are just as likely at all times, if not even more so, than what we think might be logically necessary.  Or, maybe I am just off on a tangent...

The Unholy Consult / Re: "Kellhus is dead, but not done."
« on: March 04, 2021, 03:45:36 pm »
What do you think H?

Honestly, so much much seems "up in the air" I really don't know what to make of it.  On the one hand, indeed, Kellhus was an authentic prophet of Ajokli, but on the other, was that really a net positive or a negative?  I guess it really depends on just what happens if it is the case that Ajokli is sort of "stuck" in-the-world, or something like that.  Thaumaturgy is so much more powerful than sorcery could even dream of being, but to what end would Ajokli really use it?

Then again, I could see Bakker learning into something like a "success through failure" for Kellhus though.  He does like to compare Kellhus' journey to that of Frodo and the One Ring.  But he intentionally subverts the ending there.  To what end?  We don't know and we have precious few clues to say just where he takes it.  To me, it makes little sense if the Second Apocalypse is just a carbon copy of the first.  It also makes little sense, to me, if the Second Apocalypse simply just crushes everyone and succeeds.  So, the answer is how does it fail and why?

I think part of that will likely be Kellhus' status, "dead but not done" meaning he is still at something from the Outside.  Perhaps he takes a sort of Seswatha-like role?  Perhaps that leads to Akka's role going forward?  Then the biggest question to me is what of Mimara?  I mean, besides my usual "she will answer the No-God's questions" prediction.  I guess I'd say that maybe she manages to reframe the moral fundament, since in a way she holds the Cubit within herself.

All of that to say, well, that I am really not sure just where Bakker wants to take it.  It's hard to discount his general pessimism (or, maybe rather cynicism) but on the other hand, I don't know that he will go all-in on that.

The Unholy Consult / Re: "Kellhus is dead, but not done."
« on: March 02, 2021, 06:57:30 pm »
Rereading the end of TTT, Kellhus as dead creates a kind of ultimate Viramsata.  If he permanently enhanced the schools' abilities to find and train the few, then in a decade or so, there might be more sorcerers about than the crowd that crossed in sacrifice 1k sorcerers and 280k soldiers in order to produce 10k sorcerers and millions of soldiers.

The sranc have surely grown in the intervening 2000 years (minus 1 hoard) but so should the population of Zeum/3 Seas/Eanna.
Well, the issue with a plan that long in the making is that you have to try to not die to the Consult/Sranc/No-God until you can fulfil a 10-year plan.  It is a little hard to surmise the Three Seas, having lost as many people as they did, to muster as strong a defense as was put forth in the First Apocalypse, when most of the North was still intact.

I guess, as always, the sort of wild-card is Zeum though.

Literature / Re: Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
« on: February 08, 2021, 04:53:46 pm »
Pretty much my relationship with JS&MN, although I still hold it in high esteem. But there is just too many words there that do relatively little, and certainly nothing for story progression.

Yeah, I think this is pretty much exactly it for me.  The story just doesn't seem to "get" anywhere nor does it seem to reveal much in the process or journey.  Maybe I just miss it though, somehow.

Literature / Re: Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
« on: February 05, 2021, 02:25:56 pm »
I really wanted to like this book, but like JS&MN the writing is good, the concept is great, but ultimately the book just didn't "do it" for me and I struggled to get myself to finish it.

General Misc. / Re: Crash Space or just politics?
« on: February 05, 2021, 02:21:13 pm »
So, the crazies, I mean the very nice people who follow Q and Proud and whatever, have they:

a) always been here, just variations of the same throughout human history
b) what R's been talking about for years now, chaos resulting from Crash Space

Well, I don't think these are separate though.  Yes, A has always been the case (because humans are still just humans) but B is sort of the case, because the environment (read: cognitive ecology in Bakker terms) is different now, more apt to exploit the fact of A ever more so.

Crash Space, from how I (mis)understand it is the psychological blow back of scientific discovery stressing religion. As more lose faith, it can lead to a trauma and to nihilism. The possibility of life having no meaning will trip us up and many may go crazy, doubling down on religious identity to the point of violent absurdity, failures of institutions and the like.

Well, yes, in a sense, but also not quite, since the "collapse" doesn't necessarily predict a "return" to something like religious faith.  The same result can come of overly secularized, Logo-centric thinking as well.  Take Bakker's summary:

We’re conscripting heuristic systems adapted to shallow cognitive ecologies to solve questions involving the impact of information they evolved to ignore. We can no more resolve our intuitions regarding these issues than we can stop Necker Cubes from spoofing visual cognition.

‘crash space,’ a circumstance where ecological variance causes the systematic breakdown of some heuristic cognitive system.

So, the crash space is where the cognitive "tools" we have been "given" through evolution, simply fail to be good enough to deal with all the stressors, factors, pressures, and gaming that we can now put on our heuristic cognitive apparatuses.  In other words, our thinking isn't immediate, or un-mediated, it is very much heuristic, meaning that we don't utilize anything like "reason" or "rationality" directly and our thinking is often just an approximation based on some "shortcuts" we have at-hand.  So, that means if we can game those heuristics, by preying on what information can slip past, or intentionally trigger the heuristic warning bells, we can game people's reactions and so game their behaviors.

So, what is going on?  We have the technology to exploit your supposition A and the result is actually something like supposition C, it's rather chaotic seeming.  However, because that exploitation is not just random, or scatter-shot, it is directed and so it is out to benefit those who would use it, so it ultimately isn't all that chaotic.  That's not some sort of shadowy conspiratorial thinking though, I don't think, because there is nothing shadowy about it, the exploitation is out in the open.  Vested interests have vested interests and are well out working on their behalf.

General Q&A / Re: (TAE Spoilers) Ordeal before or after
« on: February 05, 2021, 01:33:42 pm »
I keep coming back to this thought, that the both Celmomas’ ordeal and Kellhuss’ ordeal are the exact vehicles needed to bring the correct soul to golgotterath and initiate the nogod. So which determines what comes before? It almost feels like the matrix, where the one is a design component of the system and must return to restart the program. Both ordeals feel like they were designed to do something similar.

Well, both superficially and actually, yes.  Both ordeals have the same goal in mind but consider, Nau-Cayuti doesn't end up in the Consult's hand as a result of the Ordeal really, he is delivered by Iëva's treachery.  So, in a way, it is of course history repeating itself, but not quite the same.

Also, I came across something in the collected sayings of the author that sranc and nonmen could have viable offspring. Is it possible nonmen and seswatha helped found ishual and the whale mother morphed due to sranc nonmen human hybrids ? (this one is out there ).

I'm rather skeptical on these sorts of things, because I see the whale mothers more as drawing the parallel lines of what the Consult was up to with the Tekne and what the Dûnyain project ultimately worked toward (and with what methods).  In other words, I think's narrative function is the highlight just how the Logos is not at all far from the Consult's methodology (and how, in a sense, they are one and the same).

That being said, I do think there is a hidden thread about the Anisûrimbor line having Nonman blood in the line, since it is mentioned fairly explicitly with Nanor-Ukkerja I's stated lifespan of 178 years.

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