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Runes, Part 2, Chapter 4 - Heedless in Rain
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2007 5:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
What does this mean to the end of WGW? Is Covenant's sacrifice--his apparent victory--as shortsighted as Kelenbhrabanal's? I predict we're going to see some dire consequences from that act, consequences which will force us to reinterpret Covenant's apparent victory. Maybe it even has something to do with Kevin's Dirt. Or the reason Lord Foul is back. It is certainly no coincidence that Donaldson explicitly linked his sacrifice to the horserite and Kelenbhrabanal's sacrifice.


Wow. I must confess I had never given it thought like that before.


Hmmm, much thought to be undertaken....
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2007 5:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another thing about sacrifice being the wrong solution to despite: if sacrifice were the solution, then wouldn't that just be a repeat of the 2nd Chronicles? Surely Donaldson is writing this particular Chronicles to offer a different perspect, rather than simply repeat himself. At the very least, I expect him to force us to reexamine Covenant's sacrifice, and see it in a new light, if not completely undermine it.

But I also expect one thing to remain the same: his point about how good things can unexpectedly come from apparent defeats. So even if Covenant's apparent victory is reinterpreted this time out, there will be yet another reinterpretation that finds the requisite silver lining. ("White gold" lining? Smile )
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 21, 2007 9:32 pm    Post subject: Re: Runes, Part 2, Chapter 4 - Heedless in Rain Reply with quote

Wayfriend wrote:
I have to wonder ... could the Ranyhyn have given Linden her visions when she was summoned? The visions now and the visions then have the same basic message. And the Ranyhyn can see far ahead in time, which would explain why they could give Linden a vision that felt like a prophecy. And there's this transposition thing, which seems like a common trait.

Okay, maybe this isn't exactly correct ... but the coincidences have to mean SOMETHING. (Curse you, Donaldson!)

This is something that I've wanted to do for a while now: compare the visions that are granted to Linden at the horserite with the visions granted to her at her summoning. I'm interested in exploring the idea that it was the Ranyhyn who were communicating with Linden at her summoning, not Lord Foul or one of his Ravers.

To start, I want to note a few things.

First: in later chapters, we learn that Linden is completely unfamiliar with Ranyhyn: she barely recognizes the word.

Therefore, it is plausible that during her summoning she would not recognize a Ranyhyn vision as coming from Ranyhyn.

If you look at it backwards, you might even argue that Donaldson later in the story made a point of emphasizing that Linden was not acquainted with Ranyhyn in order to make his case that she did not recognize them as she was summoned.

Second: we (I and others, not everyone) recognized that there was a difference in this Chronicles and earlier Chronicles, in that Linden received visions instead of having a conversation during her summoning. I even went so far as to point out that such differences were important clues.

However, since Lord Foul had always been the speaker during earlier summonings - at least the initial, first book summonings - we assumed, without really questioning it, that he was behind them again. The enigmatic differences we attributed to a change of tactics rather than a change of source.

Doesn't Occam's Razor suggest that our first hypothesis should be that the change from conversation to visions means that the source is not the same one? If we know that the differences are clues, then this is a clue, and we should follow it.

These two points make it plausible that Linden's summoning visions could have been provided by Ranyhyn and not by Lord Foul or a Raver.

Next, we can enumerate some evidence that this is indeed what happened. We can do this by considering how the summoning visions and the horserite visions are similar in substance and style.

First: during the horserite vision, the Ranyhyn prove that they have access to arcane information. They know the anguish of Elena's parents. They know of Jeremiah, and his kidnapping. They know of Covenant, and the stasis imposed by the Elohim. They even know of the intimate field of flowers and sunshine where Linden met Covenant and freed him of that stasis.

These are things which no Ranyhyn directly experienced. Either because they were not there, or because they were someone's private thoughts. And yet they knew of it.

I'm not concerned about explaining how this knowledge was obtained. A traditional fantasy element is the Wise One who seems to know all about the hero's problem and can therefore provide wise guidance. If it needs to be explained, it may simply be that they were able to get this directly out of people's minds, and that they have access to this information across time.

The source of the summoning visions demonstrates a similar access to arcane information. They know the words that Joan spoke to her son Roger when he was only ten. They know about Joan's torment and possession. They know what happened to the Quest on Bareisle.

The visions demonstrate the same access to arcane knowledge. The Ranyhyn were capable of both of them.

Second: During the horserite, the Ranyhyn demonstrated that they don't speak in words, or communicate in any direct manner. No hello, how do you do, welcome to the Land. No boy, do we have some things to tell you.

They speak in visions. Emphasis and direction are provided by two things: sequencing and transposition.

Sequencing implies cause and effect: the Ranyhyn show one vision, and then another, with the implication that the first leads to the second in some way. The Ranyhyn first showed Elena's young life and her relationship with her parents, then they showed her at her own horserite receiving the Ranyhyn's message, then they showed her error of interpretation. The conclusion is that Elena's tragic upbringing led to her misinterpretation of the Ranyhyn's message.

Tranposition is when one person is substituted for another, or is symbolically combined with another. For example, the Ranyhyn let Linden experience Elena's plight as her own. The implication is, as Linden figures out, "I'll do the same thing Elena did." In another part, they show Jeremiah's plight as Hyn and Hynyn wished her to see it: as if he were simultaneously herself occupied by a Raver and Thomas Covenant lost in the stasis imposed by the Elohim. We are forced by these kinds of transpositions to infer that there is some connections or correlations between the two persons: Jeremiah's plight is like Covenant's statis, and that implies something significant, perhaps that Linden can save Jeremiah by entering him and transfering the posession onto herself.

With sequencing and transposition, the Ranyhyn shape their visions into a message.

We see the same sequences and transpositions occurring during the summoning visions.

Sequences: We see Linden threatening to rouse the Worm, then we see the skurj loose in the Land. Again, the perceived implication is that one has led to the other: Linden is responsible for the threat to the Land.

Transpositions: Linden as Joan. Covenant as Roger. Roger and Covenant and Jeremiah and a preacher, blurred together. Again, the perceived implication is that there is a connection, a correspondence, that is significant.

Third: there is the matter of prophesy. The Ranyhyns’ perceptions extend beyond what is now, into the future. They can fortell the future: prophesy. They admitted as much to Linden during her horeserite: [Elena] had been a child, too young to apprehend the truth of their prophecies. And admitted to using prophesy to guide others: how could they see what they had seen, dread what they dreaded, and not try to guide the hope of the Land?

Prophesy, too, occurs in the summoning vision: No! This was more of Joan's madness; more of Lord Foul's malice. But it was not: it was prophecy.

Arcane knowledge, sequencing, transpositions, and prophecy are all traits that the two visions share. Within the same story, that is certainly sufficient to prove that they are visions from the same source. An author would not accidently or intentionally confuse such things for the reader.

If, then, it is possible and conceivable that the Ranyhyn provided the visions that Linden had during her translation to the Land, we can go back and re-interpret those visions in light of that hypothesis. We can think about the visions in terms of what the Ranyhyn intended to communicate rather than what Foul intended to communicate. If this sheds new light on the story, reveals new resonances, or explains mysteries, then we can conclude that the new theory is better than the old one.

The change, you will discover, is profound. For instead of presuming that the images are a form of Foul's manipulation, revealing just enough information to cause despair, but not enough to help, we can instead presume that the visions are sent by the Ranyhyn to warn and guide Linden.

Quote:
She saw him sitting on the edge of the bed in which she lay: Thomas Covenant as she had known him on Haven Farm, gaunt with pain and empathy, his stricken gaze fixed on her. She saw fingers that must have been hers rise to rake their nails along the back of his right hand. Appalled, she watched herself smear her fingers in his blood and lift them to her mouth.


Joan's torment. The Ranyhyn remind Linden that Joan is Foul's victim, and his tool. But, by transposition, they also seem to imply that Linden is hurting Covenant, or is going to hurt him. Or that Covenant's love and fealty to Linden will also be used by Foul. A Warning.

Quote:
... and found herself stretched out in a bed in Berenford Memorial, her arms tied to the rails. At the same time, she sat beside herself, wearing a doctor's white coat and a plain skirt. In scorn, her external self snorted, Of course you can bear it. That's what you do.


Here, Linden is Joan, but some snorting, scornful person is Linden. Linden is told she can bear it, but the line is not comfort, it is a threat. Joan is trapped and coerced; she bears nothing voluntarilly, and she is promised that it isn't going to end. Perhaps Linden should see that Joan is a victim, manipulated; or perhaps Linden should see that she is in the same predicament, trapped and coerced, serving Foul against her will.

Quote:
She had a son, a ten-year-old boy. He gazed at her earnestly, absorbing every word, while she held his face between her hands. He goes somewhere, she told him. I know he does. She loved and loathed Roger's features as though they were his father's. It's a powerful place. He matters there. He makes a difference. Everyone makes a difference. Now the face she held was Thomas Covenant's, the man she had known and loved and betrayed. I have to go there. I have to find that place.

He met her tormented stare as if he understood her; as if he acquiesced.

If I fail, she adjured him, you'll have to take my place.


One the one hand, this might be simple revelation. Joan knows about the Land, has known about it since before the Second Chronicles. And she's telling Roger about it.

But there are two transpositions. First, Linden is the mother speaking to her son. As Linden has a son, this cannot be ignored. The message here, I think, is that Jeremiah, like Roger, has also learned of the Land, maybe even from his mother somehow. The second transposition is when Linden begins to speak to Covenant. She is telling Covenant she has to go to the Land. The message here could be that Linden is needed in the Land - she is NOT just serving Lord Foul.

But the last part is the most confusing. If Linden fails, Covenant will have to take her place?

Quote:
Time blurred and ran; and Linden folded to her knees. Even in death, Joan's pain consumed her.

Kneeling, she heard fanatics preach over her like Roger or Thomas Covenant hurling imprecations. You failed him. You broke your vows. You abandoned him when he needed you most.

The preachers might have been Jeremiah.

Her knees hurt as if she had dropped to the hard floor from a great height. The figure before her had become Roger again, impossibly tall and cruel. Behind him rose a gleaming brass cross. Within each of its arms hung a bitter eye like a fang suspended in fire. Gothic letters on a banner beyond the cross announced like a shout:

The COMMUNITY of RETRIBUTION

You are worthless. Broken. Empty of faith. Without value to God or man or Satan.

Unworthy even of damnation.

Joan! she cried into the grinding silence. Dear God. Is that what they told you? You must expiate, her son retorted. Sacrifice. But you are worthless. You have nothing to sacrifice that God or man or Satan would want. The sacrifice must have some value. Otherwise it counts for nothing.

Is that what they told you?

Only the man you betrayed can expiate for you.

Righteous and enraged, Thomas Covenant turned his back on her.


This one is too perplexing for me. Yes, it includes some revelatory glimpses in how Joan was cruelly brainwashed into throwing her life away for Lord Foul. But I cannot otherwise get a handle on it, except I get the impression that this is a warning to Linden to not sacrifice herself in some self-imposed desire for expiation. That she and Thomas Covenant will be at odds somehow. That Jeremiah will one day call her a betrayer.

Then there is the paired vision of Linden in the depths of the isle achieving only cataclysm, and then the prophecy of the skurj.

This one is the clearest to me. Clearly the Ranyhyn are warning her that if she does not use caution she will threaten the Earth; this is very much the same warning that she received at the horserite! And the vision includes the shape of the threat: the skurj.

And finally, there is the famous lines: It is enough. She will work my will, and I will be freed at last. Tell her that I have her son.

If the Ranyhyn were providing this vision, this could imply so many things. One interpretation is that Foul is speaking about Joan and Jeremiah, but the Ranyhyn, who have used transposition to tell Linden that she “is” Joan, wants her to know that she and Joan share the same predicament: Foul has both their sons. Perhaps for the same reason.

Another interpretation is scarier: that Foul and the Ranyhyn are cooperating somehow. That Foul’s plans and the Ranyhyns’ plans are so similar that they are indistinguishable.

In conclusion, I will say that I think that there’s a good argument that the Ranyhyn were involved when Linden was summoned to the Land. But I am unable to understand the intent and message in the vision, either way it is interpreted, and so I cannot be sure.
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 21, 2007 11:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wayfriend, once again you show us all how deep your insight goes. now I have to go back and reread all that stuff to see these connections. my hat is off to you my friend.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 22, 2007 5:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good Post

WF, this is very compelling. I'm gonna have to go back and check the parts again too. I wonder if this also implies that somehow the Ranyhyn were directly involved somehow in doing the summoning. Great stuff!!

(just when I thought I was going to be able to put the book down and give myself a break for the summer ... Smile
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 22, 2007 2:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow! I'll have to come back and seriously study this--looks like really good stuff! "when Wayfriend speaks, dissectors listen..." Cool
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 22, 2007 8:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm surprised anyone could stand to read the whole thing! Tx.
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 05, 2013 5:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rereading this chapter, I'm struck by the same passages, and frustrated that I still seem to be missing their point. The horserite message touches upon the three-Chronicle structure of this entire work of fiction, all 10 books. Donaldson has told us in the GI that all of these books represent various solutions to the "problem of evil." The First Chronicles gave us the solution of fighting against Despite, while the Second Chronicles taught us the value of surrendering against Despite, while the third and final solution is mere months away from being revealed.

Given that there *is* a Last Chronicles, and one more solution to be revealed, it's not surprising that Donaldson would be revising his previous solution. That's why he reveals in this chapter that Elena's mistake was that she

Quote:
"had learned something akin to worship for Kelenbhrabanal. His sacrifice had seemed splendid to her: an act of valor so transcendental that it could not be tainted or surpassed."


This could just as easily describe us as readers of the Second Chronicles, enamored with the beautiful, poignant ending of The White Gold Wielder, about to have our fondness for that near-perfect ending turned on its head. It could be tainted. But it could also be surpassed.

But we are also told in WGW how Covenant's surrender to LF was different from Kevin's, how it wasn't despair or despite. That contrast is explicit in the warning Linden received from Dead Kevin in Andelain, which sets us up to fear another Desecration from TC, only to have those fears assuaged in TC's victory.

But this comparison was always misleading from the beginning. Kevin didn't sacrifice himself. He destroyed what he loved in an act of power, which TC forswore. TC's sacrifice is much closer to Kelenbhrabanal's, in which he gives up himself in a powerless act of surrender.

And yet the issue is further clouded by Kevin's despair being compared to Kelenbhrabanal's, a linkage made by Elena ... which was her biggest mistake, leading to both a) misinterpretting Kelenbhrabanal's sacrifice as, "... splendid ... an act of valor so transcendental that it could not be tainted or surpassed," and b) misapplying that lesson to Kevin's despair, which leads to her raising Kevin from the dead. But as we learned in the last chapter, "... despair is not more potent or salvific beyond death than it is in life."

The third and final solution to the Problem of Evil is somewhere in these discrepancies. In the GI, when responding to my question of why Linden thought she needed the Staff of Law, Donaldson answered that Covenant never fought Lord Foul directly with the white gold, emphasizing how he instead attacked the Illearth Stone. At the time, I focused only on how this clashed with my memory of TC also forcing Foul to age backwards, nearly out of existence, which seemed like a direct attack to me.

But now I'm thinking of one more quote from this chapter (my emphasis):

Quote:
"Better to combat Fangthane directly and die than to believe that some grand sacrifice might alter Fangthane's nature--or the Land's fate."


Maybe the problem in the First Chronicles was that Covenant fought the consequences or effects of Despite, rather than Despite itself. If Donaldson is right about his own work, and Foul has never been fought directly, this is the only solution left. Various characters have sacrificed themselves, have sacrificed the Land, and fought Despite indirectly. But everyone is scared of fighting Foul directly because they believe he can't be beaten, or they'll destroy the Land or even the Arch if they try.

What if this fear is the problem? What if it was wrong?
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 05, 2013 9:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zarathustra wrote:
But everyone is scared of fighting Foul directly because they believe he can't be beaten, or they'll destroy the Land or even the Arch if they try.

What if this fear is the problem? What if it was wrong?


First...interesting couple of posts, this one, and the one in the other chapter.

On the fear and wrong...I think, like the solutions along the way, they have evolved/transformed.
The fear and answer were justified and correct when they happened.
But...heh...what was true fighting Despite in the 1st and 2nd may not have always been so...and need not remain so in the future.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 05, 2013 9:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Donaldson has described the relationships between the struggles taking place in each Chronicles as a sequence. "You can't get to the [next] stage unless you have done the [previous] one." [link]

I don't think the earlier solutions were wrong. They were steps along the path.

I have often said that Foul might have seen his defeats in the first and Second Chronicles as necessary steps toward his final victory. Certainly they were steps towards Covenant's. Incomplete, but nevertheless necessary.

To discover Covenant's early victories as mistakes is certainly fair game as plot twists go. But, as those victories reflect metaphorically as personal growth for Covenant, discovering that they were mistakes does something to undermine our view of that growth, I feel, in ways which viewing them as necessary-but-inconclusive do not.
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 05, 2013 10:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good points, WF. You're right, it would be a mistake to categorically call the previous solutions wrong, at least in absolute terms. I don't think SRD is aiming for an absolute solution. I like the idea of progress and revision, leading to more progress and then more revision. It's certainly how a writer (like Covenant) would tackle a complex issue: have a go at it from a couple different angles, and then settle into the final solution after learning from previous successes/failures. But that also requires recognizing failures, and how previous successes can be undermined or flawed. I think it's the strength/weakness quote which you've emphasized, applied to victory/defeat.

However, I think we can say that absolutism is "absolutely" wrong. And perhaps the idea that Foul can't be fought directly with wild magic is wrong. And perhaps it's wrong to think that the Land should be saved at all, because that only preserves Lord Foul in time as a "deity," along with the idea that the "transcendent" or the miraculous is what we should strive to be and accomplish.

Hell, the Masters might have been right! Maybe they finally got it, this time. Or at least they might have correctly identified one aspect of the problem. Seen in this light, Kevin's Dirt might be a blessing, rather than a curse, because it "corrects" people's mistaken impression that the answers they should seek are transcendent, rather than mundane.
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