Kevin's Watch Forum Index
 HomeHome   MemberlistMemberlist   RegisterRegister   SearchSearch   ProfileProfile   FAQFAQ   StatisticsStatistics  SudokuSudoku   Phoogle MapPhoogle Map 
 AlbumAlbum StoresStores   StoresItems Log in to check your private messagesLog in to check your private messages   Log inLog in 

TLD. Fusing the psychological alloy - an allegory unravelled
Goto page 1, 2, 3  Next
 
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Kevin's Watch Forum Index -> The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant -> The Last Dark
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
TheFallen
Master of Innominate Surquedry

Male
Joined: 04 Jan 2011
Posts: 1610

Thanks: 23
Thanked 24 Times in 22 Posts

Location: Guildford, UK
18011 White Gold Dollars
Tokens
HP

User Items:
1 Member of THOOLAH


PostPosted: Wed Oct 23, 2013 9:39 am    Post subject: TLD. Fusing the psychological alloy - an allegory unravelled Reply with quote

Okay so I'm sure that the following two snippets from SRD interviews have both been picked over before, but now that we're actually able to analyse the Last Chronicles in their totality, it seems to me to be well worth going over them again and holding them up against the culmination of TLD. Can we now learn anything new or see the author's intent any more clearly?

Firstly a quote from SRD as featured in W.A. Senior's lengthy critique "Stephen R. Donaldson's Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: Variations on the Fantasy Tradition", published in 1995. A link to the text of this can be found here.

The interview from which the below passage is taken is actually dated March 1991 and it's thus pretty clear that SRD knew what shape the dénouement of any Last Chronicles would take, even before he'd thought of starting on them:-
On pages 235-236 of the above-mentioned book was wrote:
W.A.Senior: All right. Last Covenant question. You may not want to answer this but we've been talking about this for - what is it - five years we've been meeting. In a hundred words or less, if you ever write the Third Chronicles, what are they going to be? You always know the stories before you write them. In essence, Covenant is dead. Where are you going to go now?

SRD: OK. In a hundred words or less In the First Chronicles, Thomas Covenant faces Lord Foul and defeats him. In the Second Chronicles, Thomas Covenant surrenders to Lord Foul and accepts him. In the Last Chronicles, Thomas Covenant becomes Lord Foul. Following the psychological paradigm through, what happens at the point that you become your own other self is that you become whole, and the universe is made new.

The self-same concept is echoed again by SRD in the following quote from a 2006 interview with Anthony Head featured on the author's own website. The link to this is here and the relevant answer is to the interviewer's question "I've got twenty dollars..." (thanks to SlickThomas for pointing me towards this):-
In the above interview from 2006, SRD wrote:
Um, well, that's a powerful inducement, I must admit. I'll tell you what, I've said this before: I think as an exercise in intellectual construction, it's possible to predict the exact shape of how the story is going to end. Not how, not the details, not even the content. But the shape of it. There's a very paradigmatic structure: In the first chronicles, Thomas Covenant defeats Lord Foul. In the second chronicles, Thomas Covenant surrenders to Lord Foul. What's left? I think you can sit down and reason this out for yourself.

And if you can't, it's not a flaw in you, it's just because you haven't studied the particular schools of psychology that I've studied. It's probably only obvious to me because of the particular areas of interests that I have. But I feel like there's a way in which everybody already knows how the story's going to end. My job is to get there in a way that is satisfying and still takes everybody completely by surprise. I feel, rightly or wrongly, I feel like anybody can figure it out for themselves.

The key to the entire Chronicles of Thomas Covenant seems to be in Donaldson's twice-made reference to psychology, but more on this to follow.

Okay, the later answer seems a little more accurate when held up against the culmination of TLD, in that SRD no longer states that Covenant "accepts Lord Foul" at the end of the Second Chrons, merely limiting himself to restating TC's "surrender". He also no longer states that Covenant will "become Lord Foul" by the end of the Last Chrons - I suspect that this may well be because the ending of the Last Chrons had crystallised more clearly within his imagination over the fifteen year gap between the two interviews.

As we now know from the end scenes of TLD, Covenant doesn't exactly become Lord Foul - that's way too simplistic a reading. Instead he embraces the Despiser and takes LF within himself. However, as per the first interview quoted above, it is this very act that allows the universe to be "made new". Without the lore gained by Covenant in his acceptance of Lord Foul into himself - and tellingly, without Linden's wisdom won in her facing up to her biggest fears as embodied in SHE and subsequent redemption of that anguished bane, plus equally tellingly Jeremiah's attained knowledge in his rejection of the temptations of moksha Raver during that final possession, the salvation of the World would have been impossible:-
The Last Dark - Chapter 12 wrote:
We have everything we need," Covenant assured Jeremiah. "Two white gold wielders. The Staff of Law. Linden's health-sense. Your talent. Hell, we still have the krill. And I think - " His face twisted in pain and chagrin and hope. "I'm not sure, but I think I know everything Lord Foul knows."

The Despiser had striven for eons to escape his prison. His knowledge of the created world was both vast and intricate.

Jeremiah stood straighter. His hands tightened eagerly on the Staff. "I've learned a few things myself."

"And I've seen She Who Must Not Be Named without all that agony and bitterness," offered Linden. "I know what She means."

All three key protagonists achieve a kind of epiphany in confronting their personal demons . They gain lore - revelatory knowledge that is crucial to their being able to save and/or remake the World. But, given SRD's twice-given insistence above that, if we look to psychology, we'd have known the way that the Last Chrons would end, it's well worth looking beyond and behind the narratively superficial in the books.

SRD clearly believes that humanity is by its very nature imperfect - an alloy, much like white gold, but of Good and Evil, with individuals equally capable of both saving and damning and he's encouraging us to realise the redemptive necessity in our both discovering and acknowledging that fact. Without such realisation, we are lost.

There is a strong religious undertone within this view - "Bless me, Father, for I have sinned" - because within Christianity, salvation is impossible without a prior and sincere acknowledgement that we are flawed and sinning.

However, unlike Christianity, Donaldson doesn't look to an external power to deliver salvation, to redeem us, to forgive us of our sins. Instead, he looks to each individual to provide and attain his/her own redemption, and the roots of such salvation are to be found within one's own psyche. Note that in both interview quotes above, Donaldson refers to "the psychological paradigm" and "schools of psychology" that he has studied. His personal "answer" - if so it may be called - seems to stem from both Freudian and more particularly Jungian psychological theory. After some considerable thought, here's how I see it.

Freud famously divided the human psyche into the Id (the unconscious, that part of the mind that has no morality and seeks instant gratification at any cost), the Ego (the intellect, that part of the mind that rationalises and deals with reality) and the Super-Ego (the conscience, that part of the mind that houses morality and is one's inner critic). Freud viewed the Id as primarily negative, one's dark side, containing such impulsions as the "death instinct" alongside the pleasure principle, with the former being as he said "an instinct of destruction directed against the external world and other organisms" - could this be any more apt a characterisation of Lord Foul? Freud believed that in the psychologically damaged, the Ego uses a number of defence mechanisms to paper over the conflicts between the paradoxical drives of the Id and the Super-Ego, including "denial" (TC in the First Chrons, anyone?), "repression" and "regression" (anyone recognising Linden here?), plus "displacement " and "dissociation" (Jeremiah, anyone?).

Jung on the other hand went further. He firmly believed that the only way in which an individual could become complete was by acknowledging, assimilating and reconciling one's internal paradoxes, the differing drives of the conscious and the unconscious. He called this vital process "individuation". This from Wikipedia, which puts it better than I would have been able to:-
Wikipedia wrote:
Jung considered individuation, a psychological process of integrating the opposites including the conscious with the unconscious while still maintaining their relative autonomy, necessary for a person to become whole.

Individuation is a process of transformation whereby the personal and collective unconscious is brought into consciousness... ...to be assimilated into the whole personality. It is a completely natural process necessary for the integration of the psyche to take place.

Besides achieving physical and mental health, people who have advanced towards individuation tend to be harmonious, mature and responsible. They embody humane values such as freedom and justice and have a good understanding about the workings of human nature and the universe.

The underlines are all mine, but doesn't this ring so true when viewed against the backdrop of the culmination of the Last Chrons? Isn't this exactly what Covenant - and for that matter, Linden and to a lesser extent Jeremiah too - achieves?

So if we are to take SRD at his word - and there's no reason why we wouldn't - viewing the Last Chrons both allegorically and psychologically, there seems to me to be a clear call to action, an exhortation to "know thyself" as per the ancient Greek maxim variously attributed to Socrates and Plato amongst others. SRD highlights the absolute importance of self-examination, the acknowledgement and then the reconciliation of (rather than the denial or the repression of) the existence of one's imperfections, one's capacity to "sin", one's darker side. You don't achieve ultimate victory by fighting it (First Chrons) or surrendering to it (Second Chrons). The only viable answer, the only means to redemption is by assimilating it (Last Chrons).

Okay, so SRD may externalise Covenant's "inner Despiser" as Lord Foul. So he may similarly separately portray Linden's propensity for self-loathing and fear of rejection, of love lost as SHE. But isn't the internalised allegory now becoming clear? And as for other externalisations, to go back to Jungian theory again, the Land and its various inhabitants/denizens can easily be seen as the reification of mythic archetypes within the collective unconscious, used as a backdrop against which the main "otherworldly" - or "definitively real", if you'd rather - protagonists undergo their discrete personal struggles towards individuation.

This is the solution to the paradox of white gold. This is how the circle is squared. This is how something that is by its very nature bound to be imperfect can achieve perfect works. This is how something that can so easily damn can also save - and in so doing also be saved. This is how our own personal universes can be "made new"... only by knowing that we are flawed and guilty, that we sin, can we be redeemed or made psychologically complete - "only the damned can be saved", remember?

Is this not what Donaldson was alluding to in his two interviews? Aren't all ten books allegorically about humanity's struggle to recognise, then reconcile and thus transcend its imperfect and conflicted nature? Isn't this the core lesson that Donaldson is holding up for us all?
_________________
Newsflash... the word "irony" doesn't mean "a bit like iron"

Some people say I'm egocentric... but hey, enough about them


Last edited by TheFallen on Wed Oct 23, 2013 2:31 pm; edited 5 times in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Phoogle Map
Hiro
Elohim


Joined: 20 Oct 2007
Posts: 235

Thanks: 1
Thanked 2 Times in 2 Posts


888 White Gold Dollars
Tokens
HP

User Items:


PostPosted: Wed Oct 23, 2013 10:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you very much for your detailed and considered view. I quite agree with you, thematically.

The interview with Senior has always been in the back of my mind while reading the Last C's and in particular in looking forward to TLD.

Although I don't think the story of the Last C's evolves in a similar organic way as the psychological themes do from the previous works. I certainly appreciate the ideas put forward by SRD, I have some doubts about the execution of said ideas in the Last Chron's.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
TheFallen
Master of Innominate Surquedry

Male
Joined: 04 Jan 2011
Posts: 1610

Thanks: 23
Thanked 24 Times in 22 Posts

Location: Guildford, UK
18011 White Gold Dollars
Tokens
HP

User Items:
1 Member of THOOLAH


PostPosted: Fri Oct 25, 2013 3:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You're welcome, hiro Very Happy although I highly doubt that I'm the first with this take on the Chrons.

'm sure that others before now have picked up on a pretty conspicuous Jungian interpretation though. It almost seems self-evident in the light of SRD's two "psychological paradigm/schools of psychology" comments.
_________________
Newsflash... the word "irony" doesn't mean "a bit like iron"

Some people say I'm egocentric... but hey, enough about them
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Phoogle Map
aliantha
18k or bust!

Female
Joined: 05 Mar 2002
Posts: 17551

Thanks: 28
Thanked 73 Times in 72 Posts

Location: Arlington, VA
14467 White Gold Dollars
Tokens
HP

User Items:
1 Aliantha Berries1 Andelain1 SRD's Green Rock


PostPosted: Tue Oct 29, 2013 6:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice interpretation, TheFallen. Smile
_________________



EZ Board Survivor

"Dreaming isn't good for you unless you do the things it tells you to." -- Three Dog Night (via the GI)

http://www.hearth-myth.com/
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Phoogle Map
Zarathustra
Be True


Joined: 04 Jan 2005
Posts: 17392

Thanks: 37
Thanked 174 Times in 167 Posts


20150 White Gold Dollars
Tokens
HP

User Items:


PostPosted: Wed Nov 06, 2013 3:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Maybe this psychological theory is the point, but I guess I'm stuck on the details of how it was achieved. How does embracing your destructive side (or a Raver, or hurt women) give you the knowledge to remake the universe?

Is there really any difference between, "I am yours" and "you are mine" (i.e. the psychological endings of WGW and LD)? Did we really need 4 more books to make that "clear?" Is the additional nuance really worthy of an entire Chronicles, or couldn't it have been said in a single sentence at the end of WGW?

How is this the enduring solution to the problem of evil, and entropy? Sure, if you give your characters the inexplicable power to remake worlds, it sure looks like an answer to entropy, but that's magic. It's fantasy. It has no relevance to the real world, to us. What's the real world counterpart to this magical power?
_________________
Meaning is created internally by each individual in each specific life: any attempt at *meaning* which relies on some kind of external superstructure (God, Satan, the Creator, the Worm, whatever) for its substance misses the point (I mean the point of my story). -SRD

Remain faithful to the earth, my brothers, with the power of your virtue. Let your gift-giving love and your knowledge serve the meaning of the earth ... Do not let them fly away from earthly things and beat with their wings against eternal walls. Alas, there has always been so much virtue that has flown away. Lead back to the earth the virtue that flew away, as I do-back to the body, back to life, that it may give the earth a meaning, a human meaning. -Nietzsche
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
TheFallen
Master of Innominate Surquedry

Male
Joined: 04 Jan 2011
Posts: 1610

Thanks: 23
Thanked 24 Times in 22 Posts

Location: Guildford, UK
18011 White Gold Dollars
Tokens
HP

User Items:
1 Member of THOOLAH


PostPosted: Wed Nov 06, 2013 5:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zarathustra wrote:
Maybe this psychological theory is the point, but I guess I'm stuck on the details of how it was achieved. How does embracing your destructive side (or a Raver, or hurt women) give you the knowledge to remake the universe?

Is there really any difference between, "I am yours" and "you are mine" (i.e. the psychological endings of WGW and LD)? Did we really need 4 more books to make that "clear?" Is the additional nuance really worthy of an entire Chronicles, or couldn't it have been said in a single sentence at the end of WGW?

How is this the enduring solution to the problem of evil, and entropy? Sure, if you give your characters the inexplicable power to remake worlds, it sure looks like an answer to entropy, but that's magic. It's fantasy. It has no relevance to the real world, to us. What's the real world counterpart to this magical power?

Well... I'm going to play MASSIVE Devil's advocate here and try to argue from an imagined SRD point of view.

I think I'm onto something with this Jungian claptrap (I don't buy into it at all, really, but SRD's pretty explicit about "schools of psychology" that he's interested by as quoted in the two interviews mentioned in my OP).

Jung was convinced that to become a fully-rounded and mentally healthy mature human being, one had to accept the existence of one's unconscious, one's Id, one's dark side and fuse it into one's whole psyche, rather than being unaware of it and then presumably subject to non-understood psychological pressures. He didn't advocate giving in to this amoral animalistic side, just that one should acknowledge and understand it, in order to be able to deal with it. It's about uniting the disparate conscious and unconscious parts of the psyche - allowing one to create "perfection" out of an alloy of impurities (cf. white gold, I suppose).

As I said, largely a load of pop psychological claptrap that's nothing new. Someone else mentioned a classic Star Trek episode where Captain Kirk was split into a nice but wimpy and impotent half and an evil but decisive and powerful half by a transporter manfunction. I also couldn't help thinking of that at the ending with TC and LF. Here's the episode...



*** ADDED LATER EDIT ***

I just looked up a plot synopsis of this episode, "The Enemy Within" and found the following dialogue lines from it. The parallels with SRD's apparent psycho-philosophy are staggering - I think he must have seen it and would have simply LOVED it. Check out these snippets:-
Star Trek - The Enemy Within - first broadcast Oct 1965 wrote:

Spock to McCoy: We see here indications that it's his negative side which makes him strong, that his evil side, if you will, properly controlled and disciplined, is vital to his strength.

Kirk's good half, on his evil counterpart: He's like an animal. A thoughtless, brutal animal. And yet it's me. Me!

McCoy, to Kirk's good half: We all have our darker side. We need it! It's half of what we are. It's not really ugly. It's human.

McCoy, to Kirk's good half: The intelligence, the logic. It appears your half has most of that. And perhaps that's where man's essential courage comes from.

Spock, on merging the two Kirks: Being split in two halves is no theory with me, doctor. I have a human half, you see, as well as an alien half, submerged, constantly at war with each other. Personal experience, doctor. I survive it because my intelligence wins over both, makes them live together.

Kirk's good half, to his evil counterpart: Can half a man live?

Kirk's evil half: I want to live!

Ring familiar to anyone in hindsight? As I said, nothing really new in SRD's apparent view of the world... Rolling Eyes

*** END ADDED LATER EDIT ***

Anyhoo...

IF (and it's a bloody HUGE) "if", SRD is using the Universe as a macrocosmic symbol of the individual and IF (there's another one) he's so hellbent upon ramming home his personal allegorical view upon his readership, then yes, one can "remake/repair" oneself by accepting one's Despiser... that's classic Jung #101. It's POSSIBLY SRD's solution to personal temptation towards evil and personal entropy (=despair=despite).

However, no matter how fervently SRD may believe in the solution to existential problems that, with the help of Jung and/or some other theoretical psychologists, he's worked out for himself, I'm massively disappointed that he seems to have abandoned paying attention to the narrative vehicle by which he's trying to share his allegorical epiphany. Well-crafted allegory works precisely because it's subtle - the narrative means of conveyance should stand up in its own right on the purely narrative level.

TLD sadly doesn't. It becomes ever more rushed, ever more "clunky", ever more dissatisfying on the narrative level and thus alienates the readership - well, it does this reader, and trust me, I really wanted to like it. I'm actually annoyed with SRD for disappearing up his own ass somewhat.

Instead, this lack of authorial care and attention in the narrative - yes I know it's his book, but for God's sakes - it runs the risk of feeling like a trite puppet show fronting a lecture. Or a sermon. The fourth wall gets broken by the didactic clunkiness and we begin to stop caring...
_________________
Newsflash... the word "irony" doesn't mean "a bit like iron"

Some people say I'm egocentric... but hey, enough about them


Last edited by TheFallen on Wed Nov 06, 2013 6:54 pm; edited 7 times in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Phoogle Map
ussusimiel
Ghurning

Male
Joined: 31 May 2011
Posts: 5346

Thanks: 69
Thanked 66 Times in 63 Posts

Location: Waterford (milking cows), and sometimes still Dublin, Ireland
7868 White Gold Dollars
Tokens
HP

User Items:
1 Unfettered1 Member of THOOLAH1 2011 Watchies


PostPosted: Wed Nov 06, 2013 5:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zarathustra wrote:
What's the real world counterpart to this magical power?

This for me (a big thanks to TheFallen for laying it out!) is becoming one of the main keys which are allowing me to finally get a handle on the purpose of the LCs. I'm not sure how much use the insight SRD is presenting in his allegory (are we calling it that openly now? Laughing ) will be to you, Z, as you are a long way down Existentialist Road. However, for me I am finding an important real-life resonance with Covenant's final merging with Foul.

I don't know what your religious background is, but it may be an important factor in how you experience what SRD is trying to convey. I was brought up by parents who are committed practising Catholics and I was such a Catholic myself until my early twenties. It was only then that my existential journey began. The first stage of that journey is recognising that the potential for evil exists within, not without, and that you cannot defeat it by attacking or trying to destroy it (1st Chrons). The 2nd stage is understanding that denying, rejecting or suppressing your negative potentials will not work either. Unless you come to accept your own capacity for cruelty/murder/rape etc. you are always going to be at war with yourself (2nd Chrons). The final stage (still not quite there yet myself, but a step closer after reading TLD and SRD's interviews) is the full integration of what previously was externalised, denied, feared and disowned. My guess is that this involves being able to live with your dark capacities and coming to an understanding that they actually enhance and stengthen your positive ones.

To someone like you, Z, with your long-run commitment to existentialism, there is a possibility that this may seem the most obvious thing in the world, but to someone like me (and possibly SRD, who comes from an even stricter religious background) it is a huge shift (which has taken me until my mid-forties to come to terms with).

And as I have said elsewhere I am not sure that the last stage is amenable to being easily told in story-form, which maybe why the LCs are so tortuous.

u.
_________________
Tho' all the maps of blood and flesh
Are posted on the door,
There's no one who has told us yet
What Boogie Street is for.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Zarathustra
Be True


Joined: 04 Jan 2005
Posts: 17392

Thanks: 37
Thanked 174 Times in 167 Posts


20150 White Gold Dollars
Tokens
HP

User Items:


PostPosted: Wed Nov 06, 2013 7:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I guess my problem comes from the disconnect between the literal plot and the symbolic resolution. The two seem out of alignment. When did TC not realize he has a darker side? Wasn't that pretty much apparent to him as soon as raped Lena? I didn't get a sense that he failed to accept blame and responsibility for that; in fact just the opposite--which is a recognition that it's part of him. So his "embracing his own inner Foul" was there from at least the 1st Chronicles, if all it takes to embrace your dark side is to acknowledge that it's part of you.

However, TC then goes on to fight Foul in TPTP ... as if he doesn't already recognize that they are one. [That's probably the first symbol/plot misalignment: the 1st Chrons resolution.]

Then he surrenders to Foul in the 2nd Chrons, certainly realizing they're one, both symbolically and literally. Covenant actually says it. So, this is obviously accepting his own dark side, once again.

And then we get an entire 3rd Chronciles to show (yet again) that he accepts his dark side. No, REALLY accepts it this time! I suppose. So that which was already both literal and figurative becomes ... melodrama? I don't know what else to call it. Maybe it's the union of symbol/symbolized that I've been talking about for years. Foul starts out as the externalization (i.e. symbol) for TC's inner despite. Then TC recognizes the symbol for what it is (himself). Then he internalizes the external symbol, eh, symbolically. So we have a symbol for the process of realizing the literal meaning of the symbol is you.

Maybe that's what "I am myself" means? No, Linden did the opposite of Covenant: instead of internalizing her symbol for herself (i.e. She) and keeping that being inside the Arch, she went inside her own symbol and freed it from the Arch. Both actions solved their personal dilemmas, and made them capable of remaking the world.

Hmm ... maybe there's something there after all.
_________________
Meaning is created internally by each individual in each specific life: any attempt at *meaning* which relies on some kind of external superstructure (God, Satan, the Creator, the Worm, whatever) for its substance misses the point (I mean the point of my story). -SRD

Remain faithful to the earth, my brothers, with the power of your virtue. Let your gift-giving love and your knowledge serve the meaning of the earth ... Do not let them fly away from earthly things and beat with their wings against eternal walls. Alas, there has always been so much virtue that has flown away. Lead back to the earth the virtue that flew away, as I do-back to the body, back to life, that it may give the earth a meaning, a human meaning. -Nietzsche
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Zarathustra
Be True


Joined: 04 Jan 2005
Posts: 17392

Thanks: 37
Thanked 174 Times in 167 Posts


20150 White Gold Dollars
Tokens
HP

User Items:


PostPosted: Wed Nov 06, 2013 7:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ussusimiel wrote:
Zarathustra wrote:
What's the real world counterpart to this magical power?
...The first stage of that journey is recognising that the potential for evil exists within, not without, and that you cannot defeat it by attacking or trying to destroy it (1st Chrons). The 2nd stage is understanding that denying, rejecting or suppressing your negative potentials will not work either. Unless you come to accept your own capacity for cruelty/murder/rape etc. you are always going to be at war with yourself (2nd Chrons). The final stage (still not quite there yet myself, but a step closer after reading TLD and SRD's interviews) is the full integration of what previously was externalised, denied, feared and disowned. My guess is that this involves being able to live with your dark capacities and coming to an understanding that they actually enhance and stengthen your positive ones.
Some of my previous post dealt with some of this, but the bolded portion (my emphasis) seems to answer my quoted question best. So the knowledge of the Raver and Lord Foul get internalized once J and TC accept their dark sides within them. [Doesn't that leave out Linden?] That's where they get the ability to remake the world, right when they internalize these dark sides of themselves. So the "real world" counterpart to that magic is how we can use our own destructive side in conjunction with our creative side to ... that's where I get lost. What's the counterpart to remaking the Land in our own lives?

There's a deep theme in the Chronicles that reality is inexplicable. That's what all the doubt was about in the 1st Chrons, and then resolved (held in abeyance) in the 2nd. TC comes to the conclusion that the issue of the Land's reality doesn't matter; that's the wrong question, because one particular, absolute, definitive definition of "reality" can't be given. Therefore you must create your own values in the absence of any absolute certainty. This theme of fundamental ignorance is repeated in the LC, along with our necessity (of freedom) to choose a meaning for our lives, nevertheless.

So perhaps this is what I was looking for in my question above; but if so, it's still unsatisfactory. Obviously, I have no problem with the belief that we must create our own meaning, and we can only do so by first accepting that there is no absolute meaning. However, just because we create our own meaning doesn’t mean that we can create our own universe anew. We may be able to view our universe anew, but not escape our own deaths and reverse entropy. Just because life/reality is ultimately inexplicable doesn’t equate to it being magical. Nor does being able to view reality anew and create meaning imply that we can entirely eschew the question of reality itself, or allow our values to diverge from reality into wishful thinking. Creating your own values isn’t creating fictions. It’s finding ways to navigate this world to discernible goals.

So without a recognition of these fundamental limits--what the Worm itself was supposed to symbolize--this is no longer a symbol of What It Means to Be Human. It's pure fantasy without any connection to reality. That's why the Worm was such a necessary part of all this, why there has to be a Worm: it grounded this magical Land as a place where the distinction between life and death still mattered, even though magic was used as a symbol for mysterious capacities of real humans. But remaking the world anew is a much worse violation of this necessary symbolic structure than breaking the Law of Life and Law of Death. It's completely severing the symbol from its own meaning ... right at the moment when we were supposed to see a grand unification of figurative/literal.
_________________
Meaning is created internally by each individual in each specific life: any attempt at *meaning* which relies on some kind of external superstructure (God, Satan, the Creator, the Worm, whatever) for its substance misses the point (I mean the point of my story). -SRD

Remain faithful to the earth, my brothers, with the power of your virtue. Let your gift-giving love and your knowledge serve the meaning of the earth ... Do not let them fly away from earthly things and beat with their wings against eternal walls. Alas, there has always been so much virtue that has flown away. Lead back to the earth the virtue that flew away, as I do-back to the body, back to life, that it may give the earth a meaning, a human meaning. -Nietzsche
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
lurch
Swamp Thang

Male
Joined: 04 Jan 2005
Posts: 2671

Thanks: 12
Thanked 24 Times in 21 Posts

Location: Dahm dahm, dahm do dahm obby do
3761 White Gold Dollars
Tokens
HP

User Items:


PostPosted: Thu Nov 07, 2013 12:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

http://www.studiocleo.com/librarie/breton/bretonpage.html
TheFallen..I very much suggest you read up on Surrealism and its main originator, Andre Breton. It will nottake you very long to see the connections thar SRD alludes to in those interviews. The link I provided..in the upper left corner is,,biography...click on that and there two essays that serve to introduce you to Surrealism , Read them. I suggest reading Breton's,,What is Surrealism? especially the later revised 1932 revision. Read as much as you can handle or care to. Surrealism is very much still alive today.

A key word in the first quote you reference above is .." whole". The whole person not torn apart by the conflicting contradictions of how we think and perceive. This is Bretons initial vision and the goal of Surrealism; developing whole human being living a life in a whole state of mind, brings peace to that individual and one person at peace with themselves is the first step to a planet of human beings at peace with themselves...

Its my perception that an understanding of the original surreal movement and its practitioners will give you an understanding of TCoTC... Of course I am here to help.
_________________
If she withdrew from exaltation, she would be forced to think- And every thought led to fear and contradictions; to dilemmas for which she was unprepared.
pg4 TLD
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Phoogle Map
TheFallen
Master of Innominate Surquedry

Male
Joined: 04 Jan 2011
Posts: 1610

Thanks: 23
Thanked 24 Times in 22 Posts

Location: Guildford, UK
18011 White Gold Dollars
Tokens
HP

User Items:
1 Member of THOOLAH


PostPosted: Fri Nov 08, 2013 8:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lurch, I take the point regarding surrealism and its varying goals of unifying, of providing a greater understanding of reality by fusing all its aspects into one and of utilising both the creativity and the archetypes within the unconscious - whether personal or collective - to give greater insights into both the individual and the world of the material.

However, SRD is very insistent upon his study of schools of psychology, rather than those of philosophy or art as providing the key to the Last Chrons - which is why with respect I am going to stick with a Jungian interpretation.

This is not to say that I disagree with yours - as I am sure you are aware, both Freud's and Jung's psychological theories were hugely influential in the birth of the Surrealist movement. Bréton himself trained in psychiatry and is known to have used Freudian psychoanalysis in efforts to help soldiers suffering from shell-shock. So it's only natural, given the near-on contemporaneous intertwinedness of these two movements, that you should see a more than validly drawable correlation between surrealism and the Last Chrons.

These two quotes from Jung may be of interest to you:-
Carl Jung wrote:
The creative process, so far as we are able to follow it at all, consists in the unconscious activation of an archetypal image and elaborating and shaping the image into the finished work. By giving it shape, the artist translates it into the language of the present and so makes it possible for us to find our way back to the deepest springs of life.
and
Carl Jung wrote:
Therein lies the social significance of art: It is constantly at work educating the spirit of the age, conjuring up the forms in which the age is more lacking. The unsatisfied yearning of the artist reaches back to the primordial image in the unconscious, which is best fitted to compensate the inadequacy and one-sidedness of the present. The artist seizes on this image and, in raising it from deepest unconsciousness, he brings it into relation with conscious values, thereby transforming it until it can be accepted by the minds of his contemporaries according to their powers.

_________________
Newsflash... the word "irony" doesn't mean "a bit like iron"

Some people say I'm egocentric... but hey, enough about them
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Phoogle Map
Seppi2112
Stupid Intern...

Male
Joined: 10 Mar 2004
Posts: 227

Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

Location: Los Angeles
340 White Gold Dollars
Tokens
HP

User Items:
1 Caamora1 Rubber Duck


PostPosted: Fri Nov 08, 2013 9:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zarathustra wrote:
How is this the enduring solution to the problem of evil, and entropy? Sure, if you give your characters the inexplicable power to remake worlds, it sure looks like an answer to entropy, but that's magic. It's fantasy. It has no relevance to the real world, to us. What's the real world counterpart to this magical power?


Amen.
_________________
<i>"Kupo?"</i>
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message AIM Address
lurch
Swamp Thang

Male
Joined: 04 Jan 2005
Posts: 2671

Thanks: 12
Thanked 24 Times in 21 Posts

Location: Dahm dahm, dahm do dahm obby do
3761 White Gold Dollars
Tokens
HP

User Items:


PostPosted: Sat Nov 09, 2013 12:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fallenn..At its beginnings,,Surrealism borrowed from "Psychology" as it was developing at that time...My point is..there is hard correlation between the original Surrealists tenets and Donaldson in TCoTC. Of course any artist will make the Surreal as an individual statement..The artist will Create their own Surreal..Lost and Donaldson's TCoTC are Surreal expression but see how different they are..yet they touch on the same issues about Personal Identity..Who Am I?..Thats just for beginning. Its the unique and individual way two different venues relate the same themes that all come back to ones Humanity,,that i find fascinating. Heck there is a totally wack comedy on NBC that is hilarious and full of Dark Humor. Its called Community..But it is just as Surreal as Lost and TCoTC....And all at their core..explore..Who Am I?..What is it to be a Human Being,,in the modern era...I guess what I am emphasizing here is the " out side the box" nature of Surrealism...The genre of Surrealism is whatever you, the individual creates. Yet there still is a dogma to it.
_________________
If she withdrew from exaltation, she would be forced to think- And every thought led to fear and contradictions; to dilemmas for which she was unprepared.
pg4 TLD


Last edited by lurch on Sat Nov 09, 2013 12:39 am; edited 2 times in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Phoogle Map
Zarathustra
Be True


Joined: 04 Jan 2005
Posts: 17392

Thanks: 37
Thanked 174 Times in 167 Posts


20150 White Gold Dollars
Tokens
HP

User Items:


PostPosted: Sat Nov 09, 2013 12:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lurch, to your credit and influence, I've been looking around for surrealist literature lately now that I've finished the Chrons. Do you have any recommendations besides Breton? I love Vonnegut and Phillip K. Dick ... not to mention Robert Anton Wilson, if those count.
_________________
Meaning is created internally by each individual in each specific life: any attempt at *meaning* which relies on some kind of external superstructure (God, Satan, the Creator, the Worm, whatever) for its substance misses the point (I mean the point of my story). -SRD

Remain faithful to the earth, my brothers, with the power of your virtue. Let your gift-giving love and your knowledge serve the meaning of the earth ... Do not let them fly away from earthly things and beat with their wings against eternal walls. Alas, there has always been so much virtue that has flown away. Lead back to the earth the virtue that flew away, as I do-back to the body, back to life, that it may give the earth a meaning, a human meaning. -Nietzsche
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
lurch
Swamp Thang

Male
Joined: 04 Jan 2005
Posts: 2671

Thanks: 12
Thanked 24 Times in 21 Posts

Location: Dahm dahm, dahm do dahm obby do
3761 White Gold Dollars
Tokens
HP

User Items:


PostPosted: Sat Nov 09, 2013 1:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I like Arthur Phillips's The Egyptologist..its sly surrealism,,and full of Dark surreal Humor..

Wm Burroughs gets out there..Soft Machine

Kafka

..Lewis Carrols Alice in Wonderland and Thru TLG..

Haruki Murakami..just about anything..Kafka on the Shore..
_________________
If she withdrew from exaltation, she would be forced to think- And every thought led to fear and contradictions; to dilemmas for which she was unprepared.
pg4 TLD
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Phoogle Map
TheFallen
Master of Innominate Surquedry

Male
Joined: 04 Jan 2011
Posts: 1610

Thanks: 23
Thanked 24 Times in 22 Posts

Location: Guildford, UK
18011 White Gold Dollars
Tokens
HP

User Items:
1 Member of THOOLAH


PostPosted: Sat Nov 09, 2013 12:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Point of order on Kafka... having had to study him many many moons ago at University, I'd call him more of an expressionist than a surrealist. However, definitions quite naturally blur at boundaries.

Z, regarding Kafka,I'd recommend Metamorphosis and other short stories (notably The Hunger Artist and In The Penal Colony. As for full-length novels, The Trial is chillingly evocative... just don't expect so much as a smile from anywhere within it.
_________________
Newsflash... the word "irony" doesn't mean "a bit like iron"

Some people say I'm egocentric... but hey, enough about them
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Phoogle Map
Zarathustra
Be True


Joined: 04 Jan 2005
Posts: 17392

Thanks: 37
Thanked 174 Times in 167 Posts


20150 White Gold Dollars
Tokens
HP

User Items:


PostPosted: Sat Nov 09, 2013 4:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Haruki Murakami's name keeps popping up a lot in my Google searches on the subject. I'll have to give him a try.
_________________
Meaning is created internally by each individual in each specific life: any attempt at *meaning* which relies on some kind of external superstructure (God, Satan, the Creator, the Worm, whatever) for its substance misses the point (I mean the point of my story). -SRD

Remain faithful to the earth, my brothers, with the power of your virtue. Let your gift-giving love and your knowledge serve the meaning of the earth ... Do not let them fly away from earthly things and beat with their wings against eternal walls. Alas, there has always been so much virtue that has flown away. Lead back to the earth the virtue that flew away, as I do-back to the body, back to life, that it may give the earth a meaning, a human meaning. -Nietzsche
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Mr.Land
Stonedownor


Joined: 09 Nov 2004
Posts: 28

Thanks: 0
Thanked 1 Times in 1 Posts


252 White Gold Dollars
Tokens
HP

User Items:


PostPosted: Sun Nov 10, 2013 3:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for the comments Fallen. Very thoughtful. From a stylistic perspective I would have enjoyed less heavy-handedness in terms of the psychological/allegorical components, but that is quibbling. The same could be said for the ending itself, which suffers a bit from statements that SRD himself has made that don't quite pan out. It would have been interesting to have one of the main Three (TC, L or J) make it back to the normal world, and by so doing, better preserve the idea that Donaldson has long advanced, namely that the Chronicles are rooted in the real world, and feature main characters that have to survive there (compared to Frodo who isn't). In Campbell terms, it would be the Return With the Elixir.
_________________
Something there is in beauty.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
peter
the spider from Mars


Joined: 25 Aug 2009
Posts: 7429

Thanks: 38
Thanked 50 Times in 49 Posts


28563 White Gold Dollars
Tokens
HP

User Items:


PostPosted: Sun Nov 10, 2013 1:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Damn, thats a fine post TheFallen. Alas I haven't the time to follow the thread through or the necessesary erudition to add much by way of meaningfull comment - but I very much see where you are coming from and if the idea *is* fallacious, then it would want some showing to be so!
_________________
http://jhfv.blogspot.co.uk/

....and the glory of the world becomes less than it was....
'Have we not served you well'
'Of course - you know you have.'
'Then let it end.'

We are the Bloodguard
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
ussusimiel
Ghurning

Male
Joined: 31 May 2011
Posts: 5346

Thanks: 69
Thanked 66 Times in 63 Posts

Location: Waterford (milking cows), and sometimes still Dublin, Ireland
7868 White Gold Dollars
Tokens
HP

User Items:
1 Unfettered1 Member of THOOLAH1 2011 Watchies


PostPosted: Mon Jan 06, 2014 11:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

*bump*

'cos I keep on referring people to it! Laughing

u.
_________________
Tho' all the maps of blood and flesh
Are posted on the door,
There's no one who has told us yet
What Boogie Street is for.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Kevin's Watch Forum Index -> The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant -> The Last Dark All times are GMT
Goto page 1, 2, 3  Next
Page 1 of 3

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum


Powered by Earthpower © Kevin's Watch