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Thomas Covenant 2.0

 
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 09, 2014 8:08 pm    Post subject: Thomas Covenant 2.0 Reply with quote

There's a conclusion that I have arrived at ... but I can't quite find the right angle on it to discuss it easily. So I will make a great big pile of ideas. I hope it spurs some good discussion.

In the Last Chronicles, Covenant isn't driven by any need resolve anything personal, as he has been in the first two Chronicles.

And I am starting to think, that isn't bad writing, that is an important clue.

Another clue is the way Covenant seems to lack any concern for whether his hands get charred to a crisp by the krill or not. Well, okay, he does care, but not for reasons of his own well-being.

And this is another clue:

In the Gradual Interview, Stephen R Donaldson was wrote:
Life is process. The word "mended" sort of implies "returned to its original state". About that I'm skeptical. Everything has moved on. And the whole notion of "mending"--or even "healing"--broken Laws troubles me: it could so easily have the unintended effect of diminishing the significance of the earlier stories. "Well, the Land was in trouble, but now everything is fine. No problem. Ergo: no reason to read the previous books. Or even this one." The past made us who we are. I like to think that I can find a better solution to the dilemma.

(08/30/2006)

The past made us who we are. I cannot help but wonder how Donaldson would apply this sentiment to Covenant's resurrection.

Because in the Second Chronicles, Covenant gave his life, and giving his life in the way he did was the meaning of his life. I think Donaldson would consider resurrection a way of diminishing this meaning, at least if it's not handled properly. We've all played video games, so we know that dying in a game isn't significant when you re-spawn in a few seconds. Does self-sacrifice mean anything if it can be erased?

So I suspect that there's more to Covenant's resurrection than being alive again. I think that, in some way, Covenant 2.0 doesn't consider his new life to have the same purpose as the old. Specifically, his new life isn't for himself - it's not for finishing any unfinished business he had in his first true life, nor is it for a second chance of getting a better result. In this way, the meaning he found in his old life isn't touched.

This explains the crispy hands. This explains the missing personal issues.

But this seems, at first, to raise as many issues as it settles. What, for instance, is Covenant's new life for, then? And what is Donaldson trying to say this way?

Well, we know that Covenant has lots of things he "needs to do", and that he is "responsible" for many things in the wide Land. That's a clue.

And he's missing entirely from the first half of the Last Chronicles. Again ... I am starting to think that this isn't bad writing, this is an important clue.

I see something, but it's hard to describe.

As we go from the first Chronicles through the Second to the Last, we see more and more that the Land itself is a reflection of Covenant - everything he does, which is in turn a reflection of who he is. The destruction of the Staff, the emulation of the Humbled, Joan's insanity, Elena's unforgivenness -- all are just different guises of Covenant.

I think as Covenant becomes more god-like, or at least more Creator-like, Covenant's journey is becoming less of a personal journey and more of a journey for the Land itself. Things are less about Covenant, and more about Covenant's Creation. Something that is perhaps slightly reminiscent of the Arthurian notion that the king and the land are connected, except in a Donaldsonian way. Covenant's concerns are far wider now than they were; his personal journey is over, what is left is the Land's journey.

Or -- better -- the Land's journey is now his personal journey. Everything Covenant is, is the Land.

His leprosy, like his hands, are now only things he needs, needs in order to fulfill his responsibilities to the Land.

This explains the extensive set-up before Covenant actually arrives in the narrative. The story really is about Covenant, but it's about Covenant reflected through the state of the Land, and the state of it's peoples, that Linden finds. (Even Linden herself is shaped the way she is shaped because of Covenant.) And this explains why Covenant 2.0's needs and concerns seem more impersonal than before.

These thoughts are ill-formed, but I think it's a good direction to explore anyway. I was hoping people could share their thoughts on this.
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 10, 2014 2:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As Linden said to Jeremiah.." you are trying to hard". Relax..that amorphous blob of thought and observation will come into its own with a little help. See if I can be of any.

Thomas Covenant defines "Hope" in The Last Chronicles. That is the purpose of the Thomas Covenant character in The Last Chronicles: he fills out, further defines Hope to its broadest, deepest meanings and implications. It can be perceived that.. Thomas Covenant has always defined Hope...Hope against the despair brought on by Leprosy, since the beginning of LFB.

That 2.0 business reflects a linear progression. IMHO TC doesn't evolve linearly in defining " Hope" through the complete TCofTC. The character's evolving is more spherically,,the pebble thrown in the pond concept,,the growth is 3d rather than linear, in one direction.

With that in mind, literally, his time spent as The Arch of Time is metaphor..unless you believe some one can actually..There is Nothing Ican say or do then that will resolve your conflicted confusion. You have to make the call..when does TC stop being a " person" and begin being a Metaphor. Until you make that call ,your thoughts will be jumbled and difficult Because you are trying to have it both ways if you will..For me, the Land has always been an " extra reality" the sur-real, that existed between the ears and the Author's Success has always been how easy and well he took that extra reality from his imagination and gave and planted it into mine. The Land has always been metaphor for me.

And by end..all is metaphor..PLot has gone from the extra reality brought on by a concussion to complete and total Metaphor. TC as " Hope" evolves and at end..promises to keep evolving. A future is created with Hope, Love and Compassion that promises not to be a repetition of the past. That is the author's answer to doing better than.." your past creates you"..That is the fulfillment of " Hope" on a deep personal level; the transition is complete, from a character in an Epic Fantasy to..YOU...When you think about and create the future, be sure to use Hope and Love, otherwise you are just repeating the past.

Relax, give it Time.
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 11, 2014 4:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting thoughts, WF. It reminds me of what I was saying in the Creator thread, that perhaps TC's journey in the 2nd Chrons did for the Creator what the Last Chrons did for Foul: TC internalized him. As I said there, maybe that's what his Apotheosis was all about.

Or maybe that's what his Resurrection did for him. This would resolve (or represent the resolution of) most of his personal issues from the first two Chronicles, with the one remaining element of not yet internalizing Foul. So perhaps you're right that his personal issues were done ... though that one remaining issue is a pretty big one. I wish it had some kind of personal impact upon the story, the plot, and not just the final metaphor. I can understand Covenant having a measure of peace earned or gained by his previous victories, but if everything personal was solved, the last step wouldn't have been necessary. If it *was* necessary (which we can assume, since that's the ending of the entire saga), then it would have been nice to have been shown that necessity, because this is, you know, a story. Rolling Eyes (My sarcasm directed at Donaldson, not you. Wink )
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 11, 2014 6:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

lurch wrote:

And by end..all is metaphor..PLot has gone from the extra reality brought on by a concussion to complete and total Metaphor.


Hmmm...I can kinda buy that as an external explanation/view/function.

But internally...I might think [still chewing on it] that it is exactly the opposite.

TC doesn't represent/stand for anything any more...he isn't a metaphor.
AND he [and the rest of the Land] don't NEED metaphor anymore.
Metaphor has become concrete. Metaphysics physics.
Metaphor/Metaphysics have not come down, though. Concrete/Physics has ascended.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 11, 2014 11:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

V..chicken/ egg type thing , yes, after all, TC and Linden got married..Pretty big event for both on either Plot or Meta or Thematic levels; Major development that had to have Joan dead, out of the picture, before these two could be unified. Both are very large and important things for TC to have done. But the author took the 2nd half of the book to bring about all the change necessary to ascend. Don't forget the concrete, the mountain, was crumbling all around.. when the Unified Triumvirate ascended to a ..extra reality..that is only for your imagination to know..In that regard,,the concrete is..The Reader, You. I like how the author plays on the Time that he had fun with thru out the series and went absolutely bonkers with in TLD...Between the ascension of " Now!" TC, Linden and Jerry rise in Glory..and the Epilogue..How much Time? As the author thru the Story Teller said it more the once,,a split second? an hour?, a day? an infinite?..

How " concrete" is the natural state of any human being? writ in water..
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 12, 2014 3:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

lurch wrote:


How " concrete" is the natural state of any human being? writ in water..


Sure...but what I'm looking at is something like an amalgamation, or perhaps an emulsion.
And water is "concrete," too...
We only need metaphor to reveal ABOUT, or relate TO something we cannot grasp in itself.
Metaphorically speaking, the final transformation is from struggling with what the poem MEANS, to BEING the poem.

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the difference between evidence and sources: whether they come from the horse's mouth or a horse's ass.
"Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation."
the hyperbole is a beauty...for we are then allowed to say a little more than the truth...and language is more efficient when it goes beyond reality than when it stops short of it.
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PostPosted: Wed May 14, 2014 2:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There is also the thing that it was Linden who resurrected Covenant, and she rebuilt him using the memories of him in her soul. She mentions to someone in TLD that she was capable of this only because how deeply TC had been imprinted on her being; and although this included warts and all, leprosy included, clearly it was different from the original TC.

Also, what Zarathustra said. The Land came into being (well at least that can be one interpretation of it) because TC externalized his personal demons, and he needed a resolution for that.
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PostPosted: Fri May 16, 2014 7:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Maybe the complaints that the 'Creator' character wasn't in this series is off? Maybe in the previous series, the creator was an outside character just as lord foul was, but after the second series, TC internalised the creator aspect of himself just as he finally did with the lord foul aspect at the end of the series? At the end, he is certainly involved in a creation process.

But, unless you think it is a happy ending, wait till the bill arrives from his therapist.
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PostPosted: Sat May 17, 2014 3:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ananda..Allow me...I am always tickled when readers make the " psychological" observation and connection. Modern comparison was ,with the recent TV series, LOST...Somebody had a nervous breakdown for an example.

The " psychological" is common between ,,say, LOST and TCoTC because both are rooted in Surrealism..imho anyway. And Yes, the originators of Surrealism , Andre Breton for one, spent time " healing" or at least attending to,,the wounded of WW1 and was involved in the mental healing of the war's victims. Breton was not alone as one of the originators of Surrealism in his awareness and study of Sigmund Freud's early theories on psycho-analysis. They grasped Freud's concepts but didn't necessarily agree with everything Sigmund theorized. In Breton's classic surreal , " Nadja" the fall guy for Nadja's incarceration is a psychologist who Breton says is basically full of crap...oh well.

But the inner sanctum being the Universe of the Land seems to fit the Tale from the beginning. What trips up a lot of GI followers is that when SRD says the Land is real..hes saying what goes on in between the ears is as real as the brick laying in the alley. And yes..that is quite the surrealist's perception. Our inner reality is just as valid as the exterior tangible world. The surrealists wanted to unite those two " realities" rather than allow the two to be in endless conflict.
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PostPosted: Sat May 24, 2014 6:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I had sort of hoped all along that the book would end with TC dying in the lepersarium at the end of the book. At the end of the bed is a brown haired doctor holding a clipboard that said AVERY Pharmaceuticals on it. Over the doctor's should is a picture of a linden tree on the wall. TC had been there since the incident with the snake poison. The insequent are specialists that were called in on his case. et cetera.

The subsequent series were all him coming to terms with his loss of family and so. The last series is him destroying his old family and making a new, fantasy one, right? Razz
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PostPosted: Sat May 24, 2014 8:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In your post Wayfriend you have stated explicitly what I think we all overtly or subconcioussly knew [and that is not to debase it's iteration I assure you], that TC's journey was essentially done in respect of himself *as Himself*, at the end of the 2nd Chrons. Yes, he had become all those things you mention, The Land, The Creator, Foul, the whole shebang, and thus the continuing story was as much about him, even in his absence, as when he was [nominally] present, allbeit in his much changed second manifestation. But this knowledge in itself raises deeper yet issues in that it throws into sharp relief his relationship to, and treatment of the other 'real-world' based peoples around him. What I mean by this is that in the Land/TC amalgum that he has attained in his second coming, all that remains *is* his relationship and treatment of those people who knew and remembered plain, simple[!] old Thomas Covenant. In the harsh illumination of this light will he not be found wanting?
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PostPosted: Sat May 24, 2014 8:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ananda wrote:
I had sort of hoped all along that the book would end with TC dying in the lepersarium at the end of the book.


Really, now. What happened to those wishes about a pan-Landish ur-vile orgy?

I'm quite content about the MLP:FIM hugfest ending (about which TheFallen made a very cute wiki collage), even if it did leave too many threads open. Would've thrown the book into the kiuas and had hearty löylyt over the heated rocks powered by the burning pages in case of a "it was only a dream..." conclusion. Razz Razz Razz
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PostPosted: Sat May 24, 2014 9:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

But, I always thought it was just a 'dream' so to say- his way of working out his issues. If the third series has TC needing a focus, I would say it was the destruction of his family and the creation of a new one.

We have a violent and horrible death for both his ex-wife and son after a period of them being tortured and destroyed from the inside. He gets a new woman from the ashes of Joan's ghost and a new son (who was as mute and distant as his own son had been in his life). Clearly, the man still had issues he needed to work out.
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PostPosted: Sat May 24, 2014 10:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Related to a different anomaly, but I'd say this GI response answers a key question here...Thomas =/= Linden =/= Jeremiah =/= Roger, etc. They're all independent beings. My opinion is that the Land's a place that evolved into an actual world from Covenant's mental workings, merged with other baby cosmoses thanks to quantum and other Pratchett-y wossnames, and became a weird parasite universe somehow dependent on the main characters, and which could intermingle with Covenant's reality as well (the cult of Foul, etc.). The Haruchai, Giants, etc. would be real persons within the Arch of Time, but a form of fate would draw forth suitable characters to accompany the anti-heroes and help them heal. However, that's just my point of view.

Maybe you could participate in the dissections even if you don't like the book?
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PostPosted: Sat May 24, 2014 12:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I had sort of hoped all along that the book would end with TC dying in the lepersarium at the end of the book. At the end of the bed is a brown haired doctor holding a clipboard that said AVERY Pharmaceuticals on it. Over the doctor's should is a picture of a linden tree on the wall. TC had been there since the incident with the snake poison. The insequent are specialists that were called in on his case. et cetera.


That would have sucked. This would have resulted in a legion of SRD fans burning their Covenant books.
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PostPosted: Mon May 26, 2014 10:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here's a thought that cropped up the other day - at the end of the third Chrons the real world/Land paradox is settled; it is the Land that is TC's real world - it always was. The 'real world' [as in Haven farm etc] was in fact the illusory one from the word go. Shocked

[Does anyone remember a terrific film where a similar turn about was enacted, in which a white american guy wakes up one morning to discover that overnight he has turned black. After extensive medical tests to discover why this has happened [during the course of which, he looses his good upmarket job and his family dump him], the doctors take him aside and reveal [with no small degree of embarrasment] that in actual fact he always was black - he just had white skin before, an anomoly that had corrected itself over the course of the one night.]
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PostPosted: Tue May 27, 2014 8:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Frostheart wrote:
Related to a different anomaly, but I'd say this GI response answers a key question here...Thomas =/= Linden =/= Jeremiah =/= Roger, etc. They're all independent beings. My opinion is that the Land's a place that evolved into an actual world from Covenant's mental workings, merged with other baby cosmoses thanks to quantum and other Pratchett-y wossnames, and became a weird parasite universe somehow dependent on the main characters, and which could intermingle with Covenant's reality as well (the cult of Foul, etc.). The Haruchai, Giants, etc. would be real persons within the Arch of Time, but a form of fate would draw forth suitable characters to accompany the anti-heroes and help them heal. However, that's just my point of view.

Maybe you could participate in the dissections even if you don't like the book?

I don't read the SRD notes thingie, so if there is more information there, then I have not read it. If that is the only quote about the topic, then I wouldn't say it says that all creatures are separate beings. But, it wouldn't be a problem if Linden or even the annoying kid in serial three are 'separate' entities creating a shared delusion for their group therapy. As Lurch likes to say, a surrealist metaphor. That's okey, too. I still like to think of it all as fractured pieces of TCs mind and psyche rebuilding itself, but having some of the multiple perspectives be outside him wouldn't change much- just means group therapy instead of solo therapy.

And, participating in the dissections would mean I would have to read the book again and that will never happen! Razz As I said before, I enjoyed the other serials as a teen, so SRD and I will always have Paris, but I am not going to Fucking Åmål with him. Razz

dlbpharmd wrote:
Quote:
I had sort of hoped all along that the book would end with TC dying in the lepersarium at the end of the book. At the end of the bed is a brown haired doctor holding a clipboard that said AVERY Pharmaceuticals on it. Over the doctor's should is a picture of a linden tree on the wall. TC had been there since the incident with the snake poison. The insequent are specialists that were called in on his case. et cetera.


That would have sucked. This would have resulted in a legion of SRD fans burning their Covenant books.

I know! I wasn't really serious. Then again, the current version of the book had a bit of that effect as well. Razz
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Back to the topic, Wayfriend, I think family was TCs 'issue' in this serial. I think this is a personal need that drives him, even if less obviously so than the other motivators in the previous two serials. His first family who abandoned him were either murdered by him or in front of him after they had gone through terrible torture, both mental and physical. Whatever the specifics of their torture and demise, they surely paid for abandoning him. In the end, TC creates his new, fantasy family construct.
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PostPosted: Tue May 27, 2014 4:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

But...I read Twilight three times so I could hammer my points in with Mjölnir... And this is Den sista mörkheten, ingen skymning...

STONE AND SEA, I AM MYSELF! TASTE THE KEENNESS OF MY GLAIVE, THOSE WHO INSIST ELSEWISE!
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However, I do not sport a degree in GI perusing either; WF will probably appear soon with a score of more entries. Now, thoolahians would inhale some serious bees up their noses if SRD confirmed that Linden happened to be an aspect of Covenant's psyche... Twisted Evil
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