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AATE, Part II, Chapter 11: Kurash Qwellinir

 
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earthbrah
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2012 11:42 pm    Post subject: AATE, Part II, Chapter 11: Kurash Qwellinir Reply with quote

AATE, Part 2, Chapter 11: Kurash Qwellinir

We all know that SRD is a rarefied and highly-talented writer. One specific aspect of writing that I think he does particularly well is the crafting of lead or introductory sentences for a chapter. The first sentence in this chapter —“Dawn was little more than a faint smudge of grey in the cleft of the chamber when Clyme entered, bearing treasure-berries for Thomas Covenant.”— sets an emotional mood by a simple showing of the setting. Not complicated, but powerful when done well, as I believe it is here. I mean, we get the chapter started off with the Unbeliever having some little viridian nuggets of hope delivered right into his hand! Beauty!

As the penultimate chapter in this novel, “Kurash Quellinir” brings an incredible amount to the table. Firstly, we have a full-on Covenant point-of-view chapter here, one of three total for AATE. This trip to KQ is the second one that the Ur-lord has made in the Chronicles, and there are numerous echoes and overlaps from his first journey. Covenant doesn’t just slip around in the fault lines of his Timewarden memories, but rather time does something more subtle with him here. Before really digging in, a quick plot summary:

Covenant is with the Humbled, two Ranyhyn and a horse. They are still working their way across the Shattered Hills (otherwise known as Kurash Quellinir) to get to wherever the Ranyhyn are leading them. The going is tough enough for the terrain, but then they get attacked by skest. As they proceed, a caesure appears briefly which sends Covenant slipping into his memories as Timewarden for the rest of the chapter pretty much. The Feroce return and honor their bargain with TC; they take care of the skest. Finally, another caesure erupts, and Thomas Covenant walks right into its core.

Two Trips in Resonance

“But other things he could not forget— Foamfollower in vast agony…” (536)

“As far as he was concerned, no Haruchai had ever failed him. Not even when Bannor had refused to accompany him to Foul’s Creche.” (539)

“Blood pulsed from a cut on Covenant’s forehead. He recalled striking his head on the edge of a table.” (542)

So these are just a few examples from the text of the clearly synchronous overlap between TC’s two experiences/trials in this locale. Such a resonance is very appropriate for this character at this point in this story. I loved the experience of reading this for the first time, of (re-)discovering those little elements from his trip with Foamfollower. In fact, considering the cut on Covenant’s forehead I would venture to say that the strength of this two-journey-overlay phenomenon causes TC’s time slippage in this chapter to be more like a translation between worlds experience (where, if you recall, specific details like forehead cuts happen in one world before being translated back to the other). But that’s up for debate.

It is fascinating to me that the Unbeliever is with Haruchai this time, and no Giants, unlike being with Foamfollower the first time round, and without the referenced Bannor who chose not accompany him. In this place I believe we can honestly say that absence is just another form of what is present.

The Time Element

Okay, so at this point in the novel we are all well aware of TC’s loss of the present via his memory slips. However, in this chapter those slips seem to take on a bit of a new quality. At the top of 540, it states that “he stood where Ridjeck Thome had once held the apex of the promontory and watched time run backward, incrementally unmaking seven thousand years of ruin. Ages were erased in instants. Instants were ages. … Sand gathered into stones.” Sounds pretty insequent to me! He’s apparently not just being dropped into the middle of a memory directly from his physical present, but he’s actually seeing the effects of time reversing; he’s witnessing the backward flow of time via review of his Timewarden memories. And as if that’s not wild enough, he is also continuing to see his physical present while bouncing around in the past. (still 540) “In a reality which he no longer inhabited, Covenant observed his mount’s panic.” Though his body is still there with the Humbled in Kurash Qwellinir, his spirit is not.

So TC trips his way around in the past all while still being aware of his present for much of the chapter. He sees himself and Foamfollower at the climax of his first journey to this place in TPTP. The Despiser somehow knows that TC’s spirit is there in the scene, and banishes him. He says, “You have no place here. You do not exist. Your time will never come.” (still 540)

Okay man, did that just happen? How can that be??? “That voice violated time and memory. It came from a different version of existence, a brief disruption enabled by the caesure. Lord Foul then had not known that Covenant’s spirit was watching now from its remembered place within the Arch of Time.” Right, so the caesure is what allowed Foul to rid TC’s spirit from that memory, gotcha. But the last sentence on 540 really makes me feel the overlap from the two trips in resonance: “The Despiser had believed himself triumphant.” Whoa, wait…are you implying that the Despiser’s defeat the first time is connected to this moment??? If not, why use the past perfect?

Origin and Integration

In addition to (and perhaps also in conjunction with) the overlapping of time in this chapter from TC’s perspective, there appears (to me) to be numerous echoes of origin laced throughout these overlaps. I found three parts from the text that made me think of origin echoing in the present:

1. On 532, near the end of paragraph 4, it is written that “His only real virtue was that he had striven to prove worthy of aliantha and hurtloam.” The text goes on to list other things and people from the Land of whom TC had striven to prove worthy. I recall that hurtloam and aliantha were among the first things in the Land that he had encountered way back in LFB. And his experience of hurtloam elicited quite a strong reaction from him. In fact, if I recall correctly, it was the way that hurtloam made his nerve endings apparently regenerate (impossible for a leper) that was the original cause for his adamancy about the Land being a dream. DO correct me if I am wrong on this. And that contradiction—the marvel of the sudden visceral experience of health through hurtloam and his insistence that the Land be a dream because it causes something in him that he MUST continue to believe impossible for the sake of his own survival—reached its culmination in Foul’s Creche when he affirmed both sides of this contradiction, both the unreality and importance of the Land in the eye of his paradox.

2. Near the end of paragraph 7 on the same page it says that “His leprosy was not the whole truth.” Covenant has always deemed his leprosy to be essential. He did not allow Linden to cure him of it after she had resurrected him; he still felt he needed it in order to be who he is, to be true. Though still central, the fact of his leprosy is not the singular defining aspect of his character, his essence, his being. Though Linden resurrected him, he did not return to life whole. He was fragmented as evidenced by his slippage down the fault lines of his Timewarden memories. This chapter sees this slippage reach a sort of culmination.

3. And on pages 548-9 it is described how the Feroce use their power to cause the stone to remember its strength. We’ve already seen them do this twice before—when they tried to get the Staff from Linden, and when they caused the horse to recall his strength in the previous chapter. But the power itself, or really the result of its exertion, causes the object (in this case the stone ground of the Shattered Hills) to remember. That word itself—remember—causes me to think of both origin and integration.

I think of origin because recollection is a form of drawing to the present that which is past; and though what is recalled from the past may not directly stem from some specific beginning point, the fact of recalling something from deep in an entity’s past is at least akin to drawing upon that which is original for that entity. Or should I say prototypical? And the word remember makes me think of integration because a simple chunking of the word reveals it to contain the idea of re-membering. If we take the word member to be a verb implying to bring disparate parts together, then remembering can be seen as a process of taking those members that once (originally?) were unified and then recombining them into that whole once again. Clear as mud?

Closing Thoughts

My personal experience as a reader of this chapter was to feel and to some extent experience Covenant’s mad swirl of memory slippage and time overlaps for myself. I recognize that there are plenty of moments and aspects to this chapter that I have not touched on; I will leave those open to be broached by others. But I did find a couple oddities that I will mention:

In the first paragraph on 533, there is no article used when referencing the Humbled. I checked the entire chapter, and this is the only instance in which the word Humbled is used without the usual article of the before it. Now, this could be a typo or an authorial error. OR, it could be intentional on SRD’s part. Maybe I’m nitpicking about this one tiny little thing, but it stood out to me as strange, and knowing how focused on words SRD is when he writes, I am inclined to think that he did this on purpose for some reason...I just can’t figure out what that reason may be. Then again, in paragraph 10 on 539, he uses the word fornication when it really should be formication. After having to swallow that word many times in ROTE, I found the lack of it being used in this instance to also stand out as strange, and a missed opportunity.

And I will conclude this initial dissection post by pointing out one more thing from the chapter that really grabbed hold of me. Despite all the awesomeness that I feel the chapter contains, this one moment shines forth for me as the most beautiful: On 533, Clyme is remarking about the onset of a violent storm. “Instead of responding, Covenant dug in his pockets for treasure-berry seeds. As he and his companions rode, he scattered seeds two or three at a time, sowing the grassland with aliantha like a gesture of defiance.” Frankly, I find his act of spreading aliantha seeds to be a response in and of itself. When I first read this, it seemed almost like an act of prayer. Ur-Lord, Timewarden and Unbeliever sowing the seeds of hope together! BEAUTY.
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 10, 2012 4:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Late, but I am caught up at last. This breakneck dissection schedule is killer.

Thanks, earthbrah, for starting us off with so much to think about. There's certainly a lot of ruminative material, making it more than a connecting chapter. You've found some things I hadn't thought of.

As per usual, I shall mix my responses and my own thoughts into story-line order.

Idea
earthbrah wrote:
“His only real virtue was that he had striven to prove worthy of aliantha and hurtloam.”

Aliantha and hurtloam are gifts of the Land. To be worthy of the Land's gifts is to serve the Land well. This is what I think Covenant means here: he has been a true servant of the Land. I can't disagree.

Idea I thought that this was an insightful passage.

In Against All Things Ending was wrote:
Chewing, Covenant tried not to believe that this was his last meal; that this day would see the end of his renewed life. The end of Linden’s greatest gift—

Linden's greatest gift. An ambiguous statement, but fascinating on either side.

On the on side, Covenant is grateful for his resurrection. Perhaps it affords him the chance to participate in necessary ways where he could not as Timewarden. Or perhaps he just appreciates being alive rather than being dead. Either way, it looks like he is, as they say, glad to be alive. After "What have you done?", it's important to know this, I think.

On the other side, Covenant may be considering the spirit of the giver rather than what was given. Linden gave him life - what greater gift could she have given him? Love, honor, service - none of these possible gifts would mean as much unless you are alive to appreciate them.

Personally, I see the mechanizations of the Timewarden in this sentiment. Somehow, his plans required his resurrection into mortality. Without that act, everything the Timewarden wanted could not be achieved. So of course he appreciated it. She literally gave him a chance to save the Earth.

Idea And another.

In Against All Things Ending was wrote:
Linden Avery.

He knew that Linden blamed herself for many things. But she was wrong. He wanted to earn the chance to tell her so.

There's not only vindication here for Linden. There's also a hint someone else is instead to blame. Perhaps this refers, again, to Covenant's regret that Linden had to be pushed so far with so little support or even explanation.

Perhaps this also means that the arguments Linden has used to castigate herself, blame herself, are not good arguments. The topic of Blame and Guilt is a constant one in this series.

Idea Once again Donaldson is channeling a bit of Tolkien.

In Against All Things Ending was wrote:
By one measure or another, he had lived for something like seven millennia; and now he had no time.

Sound familiar, any one?
Spoiler:
In The Two Towers [movie], Gandalf says, as he leaves Edoras, "Three hundred lives of men I've walked this earth, and now I have no time." Okay, okay, it's fairer to say Donaldson is channeling Jackson.

Idea For Zorm.
In Against All Things Ending was wrote:
Ah, God. The Giants. They were all of them miracles, every one whom Covenant had known

I have nothing to add. Smile

Idea I find that the imagery of the retreating ocean to play very well after establishing the earlier imagery of the sea storm-ravaged and threatening.

In Against All Things Ending was wrote:
Far below him, a simple spin and topple over the precipice, seas no longer thundered against the base of the cliff. When he first looked down, clinging fervidly to his saddle, he saw no breakers at all. The whole of the ocean seemed to have vanished, leaving slick rocks, splintered menhirs, and knife-sharp boulders like the detritus of landslides exposed to the air.

[...] But when Covenant raised his eyes, cast his gaze farther, he saw the Sunbirth in retreat. Perhaps half a league from the cliff, waves still toppled onto the ocean floor. But they were ebbing. Ebbing dramatically. With every fall and return, they withdrew as if they were being sucked away. As if they were being swallowed by the depths of the world.

No one, I think, could read this and feel relief that the threat of the sea has been abated. It's not natural. It is the calm before the real storm. The stories from Phuket and Honshu in recent years can leave no doubt in anyone's mind as to what is about to happen.

In Against All Things Ending was wrote:
Somewhere scores or hundreds of leagues out to sea, a shock like a split in the Earth’s crust had begun to gather a tsunami.

The Worm has been loose for days. But the Earth has finally begun to fracture and split. It must have fed; it must have grown.

The end, as they say, is nigh.

Idea This is dire news.

In Against All Things Ending was wrote:
He watched turiya Raver pounce on her, into her; watched the Raver compel her to summon Roger, Jeremiah, and Linden. Because they were dead in their former lives, they would never escape this reality.

So. Back in the real world: Linden is dead. Jeremiah is dead. Roger is dead. The Timewarden has seen it.

No one is getting out of here alive.

Well, they are the Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. There will be no hooks left around for a subsequent story to pick up and expand upon. There will be no denouement involving someone waking up and remembering their dream of the Land. This is it.

Idea
earthbrah wrote:
However, in this chapter those slips seem to take on a bit of a new quality.

Indeed.

I find myself torn between two interpretations. One is that Covenant is at the mercy of unseen forces which imposes this upon him; these forces may be merely those parts of himself which he has lost. The other is that this something like a subconscious trying to tell him something; it may be fair to wonder if that something lies in a different time.

The latter notion fits with the fact that Covenant finds an answer relevant to the present by dropping into the past. (House on the bus, anyone?) If this is true, then maybe Foul's words to him are merely Covenant's imagination. That would be a mercy. And the reverse playback is merely a first, poor attempt to say, "Time! The answer is Time!", the answer which he subsequently obtains.

(A darker suspicion is that Covenant and Foul are more "one" than we realize at this point.)

Idea I rather enjoyed the ghost convention that Covenant remembers.

In Against All Things Ending was wrote:
Covenant remembered this. He and these spirits had gathered together in an effort to imagine or devise some form of salvation.

Unfortunately, all we have the privilege of viewing is the enumeration of all the problems that need to be faced. We don't get any clues as to how they can be solved.

However, the notion that these noble beings had gathered together to share their ideas and work out a solution does bring us hope. The Dead, we know, are limited in what they can do. But they can see things, and then they can, somehow, be of some help.

Only two answers do they share with the reader.

One. We must abide by the judgement of the Ranyhyn. Well, okay, but everyone is already doing that. I guess it's good that this decision is validated by the Dead.

Two. It is Time which is endangered. The path to its preservation lies through Time. Now that's exciting, if cryptic. Does it's meaning refer only to how Covenant uses this clue to see his way forward past the maze of Kurash Qwellinir? Or does it serve double or triple duty as the answer to other things? It sounds so promising.

Idea the chapter ends

In Against All Things Ending was wrote:
The area around him was clear enough. He had room to move.

This is your mistake, Joan. Not mine. I’m coming for you.

Dropping the scraps of Anele’s tunic, he clutched the krill in both hands. Its heat was Joan’s fury; but he knew how to bear it.

Anchored to everything that he loved by nausea and stings and searing pain, he ran straight into the core of the Fall.

Clyme or Branl may have shouted after him, but he did not hear them. As soon as the gyre caught him, it swept him out of existence.

Thank goodness this is not the cliff hanger Donaldson chose to end the book with!

Notice how succinct and brief Donaldson can be when he wants to! Such changes of style I think convey action and excitement, especially in contrast.
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 13, 2012 9:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That was an enjoyable read; well done! AATE's Covenant chapters belong to my favorite moments of the Last Chronicles. While retaining some repetitive patterns, the writing appears to twist back towards its old expressiveness and pace. Those Linden chapters...while real people do think like that, rehashing old memories and lines over and over again in their attics, it gets a bit tedious to slog through after a while.

Quote:
“That voice violated time and memory. It came from a different version of existence, a brief disruption enabled by the caesure. Lord Foul then had not known that Covenant’s spirit was watching now from its remembered place within the Arch of Time.”


This felt oddly disturbing; makes the reader indeed go "Huh, what just happened?" Damn cliffhangers that won't yet resolve themselves in another year or two. Laughing

Quote:
For Zorm.

Ah, God. The Giants. They were all of them miracles, every one whom Covenant had known


Very Happy Very Happy I'm afraid if the Land ever suffered the presence of people like me, they'd have to introduce Giantfangirl into their selection of titles.


This chapter makes me consider more and more the option of the Land eventually experiencing a recreation or a resurrection of some ilk, perhaps Covenant and Linden merging into some kind of new Creator-being, unless SRD literally decides to follow his next title and make the Land wink out of existence in the end. The previous would pursue his Norse mythology pattern. Recently read in the GI that SRD doesn't actually encourage peeking too detailedly into NM, but that he's overall more acquainted with (and influenced by) Wagner's works. On my to-do-list to read the lyrics.

Even so, something about this segment from Völuspá strikes me as very familiar, instantly reminding me of the ghosts Covenant beholds in his mind, gathered in Andelain. If someone here doesn't know what Völuspá actually contains, then to put it shortly: it's a poem about the Norse end of the world, the last battle of gods and giants and monsters--including vast worms and wolves--and the subsequent recreation of everything.

The gods in Iðavöllr | meet together,
Of the terrible girdler | of earth they talk,
And the mighty past | they call to mind,
And the ancient runes | of the Ruler of Gods.


Iðavöllr (splendor-plains) would share the beauty of Andelain, the gods talk of the World Serpent and runes (or runic magic, in this case), which in NM are most often used to ward off evil or otherwise protect the bearer or rune-caster.

However, this might be just my mythology mode overheating again.

Probably have forgotten several pointers I had in mind about this chapter...just had time to rush through it during a few bus rides to work and back.
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 15, 2012 5:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wayfriend wrote:
Quote:
Linden's greatest gift. An ambiguous statement, but fascinating on either side.

On the on side, Covenant is grateful for his resurrection. Perhaps it affords him the chance to participate in necessary ways where he could not as Timewarden. Or perhaps he just appreciates being alive rather than being dead. Either way, it looks like he is, as they say, glad to be alive. After "What have you done?", it's important to know this, I think.

On the other side, Covenant may be considering the spirit of the giver rather than what was given. Linden gave him life - what greater gift could she have given him? Love, honor, service - none of these possible gifts would mean as much unless you are alive to appreciate them.

Personally, I see the mechanizations of the Timewarden in this sentiment. Somehow, his plans required his resurrection into mortality. Without that act, everything the Timewarden wanted could not be achieved. So of course he appreciated it. She literally gave him a chance to save the Earth.


I see both sides very clearly...let's put them together. Covenant is indeed glad to be alive. He is grateful to Linden for this gift in and of itself. I would venture to say that the gift of life could not have been given by Linden if she did not already have love, honor and service in her heart. The value of the gift is supported by those very virtues; dare I even say that the value of the gift finds its cause in the virtues that led her to give it???

If Covenant knows that stricture enable[s] as much as it denie[s], then perhaps he appreciates Linden's gift on a grander scale. The thing that is broken and has been given back to Covenant is his mortality, and it couldn't be more precious to him...


I too enjoyed the gathering in Andelain by the Dead in TC's memory.

Wayfriend wrote:
Quote:
Unfortunately, all we have the privilege of viewing is the enumeration of all the problems that need to be faced. We don't get any clues as to how they can be solved.

However, the notion that these noble beings had gathered together to share their ideas and work out a solution does bring us hope. The Dead, we know, are limited in what they can do. But they can see things, and then they can, somehow, be of some help.

Only two answers do they share with the reader.

One. We must abide by the judgement of the Ranyhyn. Well, okay, but everyone is already doing that. I guess it's good that this decision is validated by the Dead.

Two. It is Time which is endangered. The path to its preservation lies through Time. Now that's exciting, if cryptic. Does it's meaning refer only to how Covenant uses this clue to see his way forward past the maze of Kurash Qwellinir? Or does it serve double or triple duty as the answer to other things? It sounds so promising.


If Time is the keystone of the Arch, and wild magic is the keystone of Time, and if preservation lies through Time, then perhaps the path to the power that preserves is Covenant himself. You are the white gold.
_________________
"Verily, wisdom is like hunger. Perhaps it is a very fine thing--but who would willingly partake of it."
--Saltheart Foamfollower

"Latency--what is concealed--is the demonstrable presence of the future."
--Jean Gebser
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