Battlejesus, Wonder Woman, DNA, and Chekhov's Gun.

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Truth Shines

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« on: August 24, 2018, 08:33:59 am »
So, I have just finished The Unholy Consult (bought the book when it came out, but just haven't gotten around to read it until now). I haven't participated in this forum for a very long time, but, after an ending like that, well, !!!  :o

I have been browsing various topics and found a lot of fun and interesting insights. Here are just some of my random thoughts.

First, nobody, but nobody writes battle scenes like Bakker. There are already many great examples in this series, but here it reaches a mind boggling sustained climax. Two instances stand out to me. One is the sequence where Kellhus goes into his "full metagnostic battleJesus" mode (as someone put in from another forum) and seizes the Sun Spear and casts down the Canted Horn. I was screaming and jumping up and down just reading it. Another is when Serwa becomes Wonder Woman squared and takes down an army plus a centipede/dragon all by herself, all the while, if you recall, delivering killer one-liners! ;D While I understand and accept why women in Earwa are often shown in depressingly subordinate and/or passive positions, my inner fanboy can't help but rejoice/mourn that this one glorious counter example should show up only by the very end.

Second, there's one interesting line (of course there is; this is like scripture and we all enjoy quoting our own prooftext). One of the mutilated said to Kellhus "... A code lies buried in the ebb and flow of life on this World. The more deaths, the brighter this code burns, the more Ark can read..." Code? My mind immediately leapt to DNA. Then a bit later they started talking about "collapsing the subject and object." Hmmm. What about DNA? Is that not both a subject and object simultaneously? Does it not direct and organize life but also engineer its own construction and change?

Lastly, the appearance of Ajokli, I must say, doesn't quite sit well with me. I suppose it does make some sense. After all, Kellhus has perceived the danger of this final confrontation (converting to the Consult's cause) as early as the end of TTT, so it makes sense that he should have prepared for it by striking some bargain with some elements of the Outside. Yet I feel like this is a variant of Chekhov's gun problem ("One must never place a loaded rifle on the stage if it isn't going to go off.") A mighty blast did go off, yet I feel that that gun was perhaps a bit too well-hidden up to that point?

« Last Edit: August 24, 2018, 08:38:06 am by Truth Shines »

TLEILAXU

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« Reply #1 on: August 24, 2018, 04:26:26 pm »
Second, there's one interesting line (of course there is; this is like scripture and we all enjoy quoting our own prooftext). One of the mutilated said to Kellhus "... A code lies buried in the ebb and flow of life on this World. The more deaths, the brighter this code burns, the more Ark can read..." Code? My mind immediately leapt to DNA. Then a bit later they started talking about "collapsing the subject and object." Hmmm. What about DNA? Is that not both a subject and object simultaneously? Does it not direct and organize life but also engineer its own construction and change?
I think it has more to do with the Outside. Something about the passage of souls. It's a cryptic passage for sure.
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Does it not direct and organize life but also engineer its own construction and change?
DNA is relatively inert, it contains only instructions for the machines that read it to make more machines.

TaoHorror

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« Reply #2 on: August 24, 2018, 08:40:34 pm »
... yet I feel that that gun was perhaps a bit too well-hidden up to that point?

I agree, the read did make it clear Kellhus was engaging the Daimos and we do see scenes of him ( somewhere/hell ) and so forth, but the Ajokli possession was a bit too "hinted at" that when it becomes full on possession/take over, maybe too much of a surprise - so much so it appears my take on it was incorrect as I thought at that point, Kellhus "brought" Ajokli with him, backup if you will ( from Bakker's AMA and discussion here, I guess it was "unwelcomed"/"unknown  possession with Ajokli having access to Kellhus's strings - which brings into all sorts of thoughts on how much can gods pull them, etc ). Looking back it's clearer, "my thoughts are not my own", but in real time read, it wasn't hitting home with me that the entire thing could/would unravel from the Daimos. This being my favorite fiction of all time, it is imperfect and I think Bakker thought a little too much of us to get some of this ( which has yielded some robust disputation here about whether that was a weakness of the books, or brilliant art and some of us ( read: smaller minds ) will struggle. Bit of both, to my view.
« Last Edit: August 24, 2018, 08:43:23 pm by TaoHorror »
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Wilshire

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« Reply #3 on: August 27, 2018, 07:44:47 pm »
Yet I feel like this is a variant of Chekhov's gun problem ("One must never place a loaded rifle on the stage if it isn't going to go off.") A mighty blast did go off, yet I feel that that gun was perhaps a bit too well-hidden up to that point?
Ha!We've got all kinds of guns. From your run-of-the-mill Chekhov's guns with tidy setups and firings, to No-Guns that either existed or didn't exist and went of (or didn't go off?) exactly as they should have (or shouldn't have). And many combinations of those too lol.

I think for me the series feels like Bakker had a plan and went through with it, but that plan was not precisely clear and the storytelling definitely got muddled along the way. As if he had a very clear start (Ishual and TDTCB) middle (end of TTT) and end (end of TUC), but the path between the points were not so clear. There was evolution of the story throughout, and it seems he might have made choices in later books that he didn't account for fully in earlier books. Or, perhaps spent too long obscuring things to keep us guessing to the point of total opaqueness lol.

Glad you finally finished it Truth Shines, and glad to see you back. There's lots of us still lurking around - as always - so keep posting :) . If you post it, they will comment.
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themerchant

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« Reply #4 on: August 28, 2018, 08:58:25 am »
The ekkinu arras make no sense to me. They keep getting mentioned even flare up etc and disappear, right at the end of TUC, from where they've been the entire TAE, yet nothing...

Akka's changing dreams or indeed the dreams themselves are another thing that just exists.

Wilshire

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« Reply #5 on: August 28, 2018, 02:24:56 pm »
Yeah perfect example of an un-fired Chekhov Gun.
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Truth Shines

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« Reply #6 on: August 30, 2018, 04:36:47 am »
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TLEILAXU: DNA is relatively inert, it contains only instructions for the machines that read it to make more machines.

Ehh, I can quibble but you are mostly right. Fine, RNA then! :D For those who are not familiar with this topic, this has to do with a debate on the origin of life. Specifically, the question is which came first, the code (nucleic acid) or the machinery (protein)? As things stand now, the code (DNA) is, as TLEILAXU says, mostly inert; it contains the information on how, when, and in what quantity to build the machinery of life (proteins); the machines (proteins) do the works of life, including making more DNA, but contain no transmittable information. Right now they work in a perfect partnership. Most people, however, believe that it's improbable that both should arise simultaneously. One proposed solution is that in the early days of life, a generalist did both (encode information and act on it), such as RNA, and only later this job was split into two and handed to two specialists (DNA and protein).

So when an RNA molecule transmits information to itself and modifies itself, is it not in sense acting both as a subject and an object? Is not the world SEALED AGAINST THE OUTSIDE?!  ;D


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TaoHorror: ...in real time read, it wasn't hitting home with me that the entire thing could/would unravel from the Daimos. This being my favorite fiction of all time, it is imperfect and I think Bakker thought a little too much of us to get some of this

These are exactly my thoughts. Looking back Kellhus' solution makes sense, but as the story was told, there were just too many other things going on and I didn't really see it coming.

BTW this would make a good poll question (if it had not been asked before on this forum): how many people saw the Ajokli (or some sort of god) solution coming?

Also, it's interesting to trace Kellhus' possible logic. Once he began to understand the nature of damnation, Daimos, and Gnosis, he sought to "come before." But how do you come before the gods? You have to have god-like power and knowledge ("Gnosis" is thus the perfectly named double entendre). But then why did the other surviving Dunyain not come to the same solution? Maybe it's a matter of lack of time. Or they just never learned Gnosis (all the Erratics are nuts so they don't make good teachers; Aurang could have taught them, but perhaps he/it was just too busy humping some corpse somewhere?) It should be noted that Moenghus (Kellhus' old man) also did not learn the Gnosis, and Kellhus judged him to be a Consult-member-in-waiting and shivved him.

If Kellhus did sought to "come before" Ajokli, then it's interesting to speculate what his real plans were. Near the end when his head became "a jetting torch" and was ranting and raving about the world as a "pierced fruit," it's clear that it was not Kellhus but Ajokli talking. But when Kelmomas came, Kellhus seemed to snap back. This means the possession was not complete, and Kellhus was still at least in some control. So I think Kellhus' plan was to lure Ajokli into our world, use its power to destroy the Consult, and somehow stab it in the back.

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themerchant: Akka's changing dreams or indeed the dreams themselves are another thing that just exists.

I think they revealed to him how to find Ishual, so there was some purpose. But I also seem to remember them implying Nau-Cayuti was Seswatha's son? If so, then Achamian and Mimara's baby was also a candidate for the no-god sarcophagus? Maybe that's why Mimara's Judging Eye was struck blind when she tried to look at her own belly.

Truth Shines

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« Reply #7 on: August 30, 2018, 04:44:56 am »
OK, one more thing to add to the BattleJesus thing. I must say that whole section of storming Golgotterath was an unbelievably exciting section to read, and not just because of the action sequences. That part (in fact, pretty much all the way to the end) was just see-sawing back and forth. One moment I was terrified that the Ordeal would fail, then the next I was ecstatic that it was succeeding despite the Consult traps, then I had to deal with the thought that this whole campaign was just part of some deeper plan by Kellhus that I didn't understand, so should I be cheering it on? I was just in a horrendous, almost never-ceasing emotional roller coaster all the way to the end. It was glorious.

TLEILAXU

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« Reply #8 on: August 30, 2018, 07:15:18 am »
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TLEILAXU: DNA is relatively inert, it contains only instructions for the machines that read it to make more machines.

Ehh, I can quibble but you are mostly right. Fine, RNA then! :D For those who are not familiar with this topic, this has to do with a debate on the origin of life. Specifically, the question is which came first, the code (nucleic acid) or the machinery (protein)? As things stand now, the code (DNA) is, as TLEILAXU says, mostly inert; it contains the information on how, when, and in what quantity to build the machinery of life (proteins); the machines (proteins) do the works of life, including making more DNA, but contain no transmittable information. Right now they work in a perfect partnership. Most people, however, believe that it's improbable that both should arise simultaneously. One proposed solution is that in the early days of life, a generalist did both (encode information and act on it), such as RNA, and only later this job was split into two and handed to two specialists (DNA and protein).

So when an RNA molecule transmits information to itself and modifies itself, is it not in sense acting both as a subject and an object? Is not the world SEALED AGAINST THE OUTSIDE?!  ;D
It's a bit of a chicken and egg thing right? They could've co-evolved. There's a nice pop-sci article at quanta magazine about this https://www.quantamagazine.org/the-end-of-the-rna-world-is-near-biochemists-argue-20171219/

SmilerLoki

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« Reply #9 on: August 30, 2018, 07:28:16 am »
Near the end when his head became "a jetting torch" and was ranting and raving about the world as a "pierced fruit," it's clear that it was not Kellhus but Ajokli talking. But when Kelmomas came, Kellhus seemed to snap back. This means the possession was not complete, and Kellhus was still at least in some control.
I can help with this, but, probably, in a noticeably unsatisfying way. The fact is, Bakker explained it in fairly straightforward terms, just not in the books:
Quote from: R. Scott Bakker
Kelmomas is the No-God, and as such invisible to the Gods. He stands outside the outside. This is why he short-circuits both incarnations of the White-Luck Warrior. And this is why he short-circuits Ajokli/Kellhus. This is why only Kellhus is salted.
https://www.reddit.com/r/Fantasy/comments/6r3hba/unholy_consultation_r_scott_bakker_bares_the_soul/dl24wvn/

If so, then Achamian and Mimara's baby was also a candidate for the no-god sarcophagus? Maybe that's why Mimara's Judging Eye was struck blind when she tried to look at her own belly.
As far as we can tell, the No-God has no effect on the Judging Eye. At the very end of TUC Mimara sees the Sarcophagus through the illusion of Kellhus and understands what it is while the Judging Eye is open.

Perhaps the Eye is struck blind when she looks at her belly because it cannot relay its own origin. Though there is quite probably not enough information to make conclusions.