ARC: TDTCB Chapter 17

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TheCulminatingApe

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« on: July 29, 2018, 03:35:32 pm »
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The event itself was unprecedented: not since the fall of Cenei to the Scylvendi hordes had so many potentates gathered in one place.  But few knew Mankind itself lay in the balance.  And who could guess that a brief exchange of glances, not the Shriah's edict would tip that balance?
But is this not the very enigma of history? When one peers deep enough, one always finds that catastrophe and triumph, the proper objects of the historian's scrutiny, inevitably turn upon the small, the trivial, the nightmarishly accidental.  Wen I reflect overmuch on this fact, I do not fear that we are "drunks at the sacred dance," as Protathis writes, but that there is no dance at all.

-DRUSAS ACHAMIAM, COMPENDIUM OF THE FIRST HOLY WAR
Sez who?
Seswatha, that's who.

TheCulminatingApe

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« Reply #1 on: July 31, 2018, 08:13:04 pm »
All Kellhus POV.

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...  In that time, Kellhus had spent long hours in the probability trance, assesing, extrapolating, and reassesing this extraordinary twist of circumstance.  But the Holy War had proven incalculable.  Nothing he'd thus far encountered could compare with sheer number of variables it presented.  Of course the nameless thousands who constituted its bulk were largely irrelevant, significant only in their sum, but the handful of men who were relevant, who ultimately determine the Holy War's fate, had remained inaccessible to him.
This would change in a matter of moments.

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Always, Cnaiur bristled at their patronizing tone.  His nostrils even flared.
How much degradation will he bear to see my father dead?

Would Kellhus have been able to manipulate Conphas in the same way that he does Cnaiur?

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"The game is never over," Proyas asserted.  "The game is without beginning or end"
Without beginning or end

And then we segue in to the first of a series of flashbacks to Kellhus as a child - all very good pieces of writing.  We are supposed to see a link between the pimped-up meditation process (which by my reckoning must last for at least a week) that enables the Dunyain to 'survive the Labyrinth' and the meeting of the Emperor and the Great Names.  Don't really see it myself.

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The Pragma regarded him with utter dispassion.  "Interruption is weakness, young Kellhus.  It arises from the passions and not from the intellect.  From the darkness that comes before."
 
Not true in my opinion - interruption can be intellectual - or done intelligently.  Also in the immediately preceding dialogue, we learn that the Dunyain still retain knowledge of their founding - what comes before.

The Quandary of Man
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"That he is a beast, that his appetites arise from the darkness of his soul, that his world assails him with arbitrary circumstance, and yet he apprehends the Logos."
"Precisely.  And what is the solution to the Quandary of Man?"
"To be utterly free of bestial appetite.  To utterly command the unfolding of circumstance.  To be the perfect instrument of Logos and so obtain the Absolute".

What the Dunyain are all about.  Utter command of the unfolding of circumstance.  Hence why Kellhus fears Moenghus would join the Consult, and why the Mutiliated do - to seal the Outside and remove the Gods from the equation. 
The Tekne would be very attractive to this philosophy - if we are assuming it is what we would call technology - it can be predicted and designed. A link back to the Sarcellus skin-spy using the term 'Architect' to describe the Inchoroi/ Synthese in one of the earlier Chapters.  Architect is (I think) a term for the gnostic demiurge - the insane or evil god of the material world.
Kellhus however encounters the Gnosis, and we must assume develops a different perspective.

We meet the Great Names.  Kellhus (of course) knows them all inside out merely by looking at them.  Except Chepheramunni (and the other Ainoni) whose face is (very conveniently) hidden.  And except the Thunyeri - who do not count because they are 'uncouth, illiterate barbarians' - Proyas showing his prejudice.  Cnaiur is not impressed.

Back to Ishual.  Kellhus discovers it is far more difficult to speak the proposition 'within' rather than out loud.  Correspondence with the Gnostic inutterals?

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The sun waxed across the disheveled mountainsides, mottling his periphery with the contrast of dark plummets and bright bald faces.  Kellhus found himself at war.  Inchoate urges reared from nothingness, demanding thought.  Unuttered voices untwined from darkness, demanding thought.  Hissing images railed, pleaded, threatened - all demanding thought.  And through it all:
The Logos is without beginning or end.  The Logos is without beginning or end.  The Logos is without ...
Long afterward he would realise this exercise had demarcated his soul.  The incessant repetition of the Pragma's proposition had pitted him against himself, had shown him the extent to which he was other to himself.  For the first time he could truly see the darkness that had preceded him, and he knew hat before this day, he had never truly been awake...

... As darkness entombed the shrine, the struggle intensified.  By turns, his body became remote to the point of giddiness and near to the point of suffocation.  One moment he would be an apparition, an accident of coiling smoke, so insubstantial it seemed the night breeze might smear him into nothingness.  In another, he would be a bundle of cramped flesh, every sensation sharpened until even the night chill chattered like knives across his skin.  And the proposition became something drunken, something that stumbled and staggered through a nightmarish chorus of agitations, distractions, and frenzied passions.  They howled within him - like something dying.
Then the sun broke from the glacier, and he was dumbstruck by its beauty.  Smouldering orange cresting cold planes of shining snow and ice.  And for a heartbeat the proposition escaped him, and he thought only of the way the glacier reared, curved like the back of a beautiful woman...
The Pragma leapt forward and struck him, his face a rictus of counterfeit rage.  "Repeat the proposition!" he screamed.
Deep - and what beautiful prose. 
How does Kellhus know what the back of a beautiful women looks like? Agitations, distractions and passions dying - is this why the Dunyain are spiritually weak?

Back in Momemn, Kellhus concludes any of the Great Names cold be possessed as easily as Leweth - but all together, they were incalculable.  He makes the specific analogy with the labyrinth and the thousand thousand halls - that he has to pass through and own.  He doubts.

We learn dreams are a serious matter in the Three Seas, and that the Dunyain had discounted their full implications prior to Moenghus' 'sendings'.  Kellhus tells us dreams are a portal where the Outside infiltrates the World,
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where what transcended men - be it the future, the distant, the demonic, or the divine - found imperfect impression in the here and now.

Who Dreams? - Achamian and the Mandate - keepers of the Gnosis.

Xerius turns up - just after being unintentionally mocked by a Galeoth.  His is angry to the point of murder.  And Skeaos - there is something wrong with his face - is Moenghus involved?

More from Ishual - again beautifully written.

The debate between the Nansur and the Great Names.  Conphas vs Cnaiur. 
Skeaos has no face - not sorcery.  Only Kellhus can see this.  But Xerius can see him looking.

Final Ishual section.
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Cause everywhere, but amid countless minute happenings - diffuse, useless.
Now I understand
Not sure I understand this.  Are we supposed to see human beings the countless minute happenings  - given the clearly intended analogy between what goes on in Ishual and Momemn?

Should Conphas or Cnaiur be trusted?

Cnaiur tells it like it is
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"Do not mistake me, Inrithi.  In this much Conphas is right .  You are all staggering drunks to me.  Boys who would play at war when you should kennel with your mothers.  You know nothing of war.  War is dark.  Black as pitch.  It i s not a God.  It does not laugh or weep.  It rewards neither skill or daring.  It is not a trial of souls, not the measure of wills.  Even less is it a tool, a means to some womanish end.  It is merely the place where the iron bones of the earth meet the hollow bones of men and break them.
You have offered me war and I have accepted.  Nothing more.  I will not regret your losses.  I will not bow my head before your funeral pyres.  I will not rejoice at your triumphs.  But I have taken the wager.  I will suffer with you.  I will put Fanim to the sword,and drive their wives and children to the slaughter.  And when I sleep, I will dream of their lamentations and be glad of heart.

In your face, Conan ;D

Some are swayed by Cnaiur's words, but Gotian, the man who makes the decision, remain undecided.  Kellhus speaks the words that convince him.  Xerius has Skeaos taken away, and Kellhus leaves with Cnaiur.

Personally I don't think Kellhus' speech is all that impressive.  To me it's the sort of thing any capable political communicator would do.
« Last Edit: July 31, 2018, 08:17:14 pm by TheCulminatingApe »
Sez who?
Seswatha, that's who.

MSJ

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« Reply #2 on: August 01, 2018, 08:19:19 pm »
Quote from:  TheCulminatingApe
Deep - and what beautiful prose. 
How does Kellhus know what the back of a beautiful women looks like? Agitations, distractions and passions dying - is this why the Dunyain are spiritually weak?

We've had some serious and long threads devoted to this topic here. And, no one has come up with a clear cut answer. We see later about the Whale Mothers, but are there other Dûnyain women? It would almost seem to be the case, but we never, ever hear about them in the text. That would make one think that they do not exist. I guess it's a matter of what you want to believe. It's certain that the Whale mother don't have a body like that though...
“No. I am your end. Before your eyes I will put your seed to the knife. I will quarter your carcass and feed it to the dogs. Your bones I will grind to dust and cast to the winds. I will strike down those who speak your name or the name of your fathers, until ‘Yursalka’ becomes as meaningless as infant babble. I will blot you out, hunt down your every trace! The track of your life has come to me,

TheCulminatingApe

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« Reply #3 on: August 03, 2018, 07:31:28 pm »
Quote from:  TheCulminatingApe
Deep - and what beautiful prose. 
How does Kellhus know what the back of a beautiful women looks like? Agitations, distractions and passions dying - is this why the Dunyain are spiritually weak?

We've had some serious and long threads devoted to this topic here. And, no one has come up with a clear cut answer. We see later about the Whale Mothers, but are there other Dûnyain women? It would almost seem to be the case, but we never, ever hear about them in the text. That would make one think that they do not exist. I guess it's a matter of what you want to believe. It's certain that the Whale mother don't have a body like that though...

Reckon realistically Bakker didn't have a fixed idea about Dunyain women when TDTCB was written, then overlooked the sentence in question when writing TGO.  It does jar though, when you consider the Whale Mothers
Sez who?
Seswatha, that's who.

TheCulminatingApe

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« Reply #4 on: August 05, 2018, 06:47:20 pm »
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No thought.
The boy extinguished.  Only a place...
...A place without breath or sound.  A place of sight alone.  A place without before or after... almost ...
...And the place where Kellhus had once existed extended an open hand - the blond hairs like luminous filaments against tanned skin -  and grasped the knife from open space...

It just struck me that topos/ topoi can mean place - for example in topography. 

Is there a relationship between the Dunyain Conditioning and the presence of physical Topoi in Earwa?

Is Kellhus himself a Topoi?

With the exception of Koringhus (who does ultimately completely reject the Dunyain philosophy), all the Dunyain we encounter outside Ishual seem to be major instigators of trauma/ suffering?
Sez who?
Seswatha, that's who.

Wilshire

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« Reply #5 on: August 07, 2018, 06:43:32 pm »
Reckon realistically Bakker didn't have a fixed idea about Dunyain women when TDTCB was written, then overlooked the sentence in question when writing TGO.  It does jar though, when you consider the Whale Mothers

Though note that the MOUNTAIN is a beautiful woman.  Sounds to me like huge round objects for bent/warped spines are beautiful to Kellhus. Therefore Whale Mothers make sense. Its his sense of beauty after all, not ours.

 Years of conditioning would almost certainly guarantee that the dunyain men would like the physical form of the women. As seen IRL with different cultures preferring different body types.

;)

Is there a relationship between the Dunyain Conditioning and the presence of physical Topoi in Earwa?

Is Kellhus himself a Topoi?

With the exception of Koringhus (who does ultimately completely reject the Dunyain philosophy), all the Dunyain we encounter outside Ishual seem to be major instigators of trauma/ suffering?
Don't exclude Koringhus, after all he spent years and years doing nothing but killing. He alone might have began turning ishual into a topos.

But I think the two are not intended to be connected, Dunyain and Topos.

I do think its interesting to think about how this entire training bit is Kellhus' encounter with the probability trance, and how it took however many days to achieve it the first time, but eventually can be entered and exited at will.

Which rolls into your Cause question. I think the point there is showing that Cause, like anything else, can be refined into a usable tool - but its mere existence doesn't make it so until manipulated. Much like iron ore's relationship to a steel blade.
« Last Edit: August 07, 2018, 06:49:07 pm by Wilshire »
One of the other conditions of possibility.