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Terribly disappointed by the ending :-( *spoiler*
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 09, 2014 8:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zarathustra wrote:
Vain + Findail = Staff of Law certainly didn't "come out of nowhere." This is an illusion created by an author who depends upon "Ignorance (in this case, ours) as a Plot Device." The healing of the Sunbane came from the plans of the Elohim, the Ur-viles, and Covenant's Dead. This is the opposite of instant knowledge of how to rebuild a world. It's lore of the lore-wise, prescience of the Dead, and machinations of the "gods" (angels?) of this world.

Whereas the knowledge of how to rebuild the world came from [incorporation of] Lord Foul, a Raver, and the Staff of Law. It even says as much in the book, IIRC. So this, also, was knowledge which the readers were unaware of until they came by it. No one could anticipate that these things would be acquired in Mt Thunder. So it still seems the same to me.

Zarathustra wrote:
I don't understand why it's so hard for some to see the difference.

Because everyone who doesn't agree with you is uninformed, unobservant, or unintelligent? I suppose that's not as bad as just being mistaken.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 09, 2014 8:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wildling wrote:
It's not just The Kid, The Leper, and The Doctor, there's also The Guy Who Stuck His Nose In The Initial Making Of The World And Has Been Wandering It Ever Since.* Could he not have had some input into the rebuilding, especially if it meant he got to keep living, albeit inside Covenant.
That's who I was talking about when I mentioned the wrecking ball guy vs the engineer who designed the building. Saying that Lord Foul knows how to remake the world, when he's only ever been bent on destroying it, is like saying a child molestor would be a good person to ask how to raise children. Or asking a serial killer who cuts people up how to save someone's life with surgery. The two activities are diametrically opposed, even if they "operate" on a common body of knowledge. Thus, I'm not saying that Lord Foul wouldn't have some kind of knowledge about how the world is put together ... but that knowledge would be of the kind necessary to tear down an old paradigm in order to build an entirely new one (not merely a copy of the old one). This is the sense in which destruction is necessary for true creation, because the old values/views are often the biggest obstacles to growth or change ... i.e. paradigm revolution.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 09, 2014 8:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Vraith wrote:
Brief note to peter/u rainbow list thing....maybe in scanning my eyes missed something, but I think you both neglected the one that might matter most, if it matters at all: the origin-story rainbow from way back. And notice this one doesn't have a flaw/gap in it.

DOH! I thought of that and then promptly forgot it. It's a nice mirroring of the original creation (without the flaw). (I'm going to go back and edit it into my post, so that I don't feel so stooopid! Laughing )

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 09, 2014 11:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

wayfriend wrote:
Zarathustra wrote:
Vain + Findail = Staff of Law certainly didn't "come out of nowhere." This is an illusion created by an author who depends upon "Ignorance (in this case, ours) as a Plot Device." The healing of the Sunbane came from the plans of the Elohim, the Ur-viles, and Covenant's Dead. This is the opposite of instant knowledge of how to rebuild a world. It's lore of the lore-wise, prescience of the Dead, and machinations of the "gods" (angels?) of this world.

Whereas the knowledge of how to rebuild the world came from [incorporation of] Lord Foul, a Raver, and the Staff of Law. It even says as much in the book, IIRC. So this, also, was knowledge which the readers were unaware of until they came by it. No one could anticipate that these things would be acquired in Mt Thunder. So it still seems the same to me.
AFAICT, the only thing that's the same here is that we have two cases of necessary knowledge coming from some people. But the people or enties certainly aren't interchangeable. If it doesn't matter who these people are, or whether the nature of these people is such that knowledge of creation would develop out of them naturally, then substituting Foul's knowledge for Covenant's, or a Raver's knowledge for Jeremiah's, accomplishes nothing besides passing the buck. Donaldson could have just left it in J's/TC's/LA's hands. So, clearly, he felt they needed help, or the text wouldn't have explicitly pointed out the help they received, as you've pointed out.

Therefore, the entities in question aren't interchangeable, and it does makes sense to ask whether or it's plausible for this knowledge to have been imparted by them--in this case, by ravers or Lord Foul. And since we're looking for similarities, we can ask if it comes from them in the same way that creating Vain or planning for the Staff is a plausible development from Ur-viles and Elohim. If not, well then, there's your difference.

I think you can see where I'm heading with this already, but I'll go ahead and sketch out an answer. While it's surprising that Ur-viles would change their weird after all this time and make something as beneficial and beautiful as Vain, this was something they were in process of doing for quite some time. And their "cousins" the Waynhim had already shown them the way by example of their own weird. And it follows plausibly from the Demondim-spawn's long abhorrence of their own forms that they would try to perfect this perceived flaw in their own "children." Indeed, this is a tendency passed down from the Viles and the Demondim. So it fits their character and their capabilities.

The Elohim are equally plausible as sources for such a plan, given their already near-omniscient knowledge of the earth, and their desire for its continuation.

So we've got motive + opportunity + capacity = plausibility.

There is absolutely nothing like this for Ravers or Lord Foul. It makes NO sense to think that such constructive, beneficial knowledge would come from people who make it their business to be destructive and undermine anything that is beneficial. I've outlined the reasons why this makes no sense for Lord Foul in other posts. It seems like it would be even easier to show for a Raver, who are lesser beings within the Arch with no connection to the Creator whatsoever.

wayfriend wrote:
Zarathustra wrote:
I don't understand why it's so hard for some to see the difference.

Because everyone who doesn't agree with you is uninformed, unobservant, or unintelligent? I suppose that's not as bad as just being mistaken.
[/quote]It was a genuine expression of confusion. I honestly don't understand. There are clear differences. I keep pointing them out, along with others here. I can see the similarities you and others have noted. I acknowledge them, but I also see fundamental reasons why those similarities are either superficial or miss the point.

It's also possible that the differences I keep stressing miss some point, but that would be for others to point out, since I have no idea what it is.
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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
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 10, 2014 2:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zarathustra wrote:


It's also possible that the differences I keep stressing miss some point, but that would be for others to point out, since I have no idea what it is.


I'm not sure exactly what the problem is...maybe I'm missing the point/essence of your question.
But I'll take another, different angle [I hope] shot at it since my last had no effect/influence.
The heroes have the talent, powers, and most of the knowledge they need in GENERAL.
They have to solve their personal/interpersonal dilemmas to choose the right side/commit their passion/work together.
They don't need what they acquire from LF, for instance, to assemble/save A world...they need that to reassemble the world they LOVE. If TC hadn't needed to cauterize his Timewarden memories in order to survive as a mortal, maybe LF's knowledge wouldn't have been necessary.

I don't see any knowledge/power being substituted/replaced/interchangeable. It's more like master craftsman referencing the original blueprints cuz they want to re-create a cathedral, not just use the rubble to make any old new one.

On a more general note...much of our knowledge of building comes from testing to destruction [intentional or otherwise]...a large portion of healing originates from corpses or those soon to be so.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 10, 2014 4:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good point V. Still a risky image to play with at the very end like that.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 10, 2014 4:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Vraith wrote:


The heroes have the talent, powers, and most of the knowledge they need in GENERAL.
Where do you get this conclusion? Talent and power, I'll give you. But if they had the knowledge already, there would have been no reason for SRD to say that incorporating Foul gave TC this knowledge.

Vraith wrote:

They have to solve their personal/interpersonal dilemmas to choose the right side/commit their passion/work together.
That was crucial for their individual character arcs, but they were already working together. It wasn't necessary to solve their personal dilemmas in order to remake the world. I truly wish it was, because that would have been awesome! But that wasn't in the text.

Vraith wrote:

[color=indigo]They don't need what they acquire from LF, for instance, to assemble/save A world...they need that to reassemble the world they LOVE.
I think the points WF brought up undermine this. Also, I think stressing the love angle misses the point that destruction is necessary for creation. I can see the thematic point Donaldson was going for: you have to allow yourself the freedom to destroy in order to bring new creations into the world. Heck, just take writing a book as an example. If a writer didn't allow himself the freedom to delete, his book would be full of first draft crap. But writers grow fond of their carefully crafted crap, sometimes. LOVE can be misled by personal glamors. That's why you need an editor, or to be in touch with your own Lord Foul who doesn't hesitate to say, "You love that sentence? So what! It's crap! Destroy it!" [In fact, I wish SRD had tapped into his own Despiser more for this work and rewrote much of it.]

So I think it could have been written in such a way that Lord Foul was absolutely crucial to the creation process, for these very reasons. And I know that this is what Donaldson actually believes, because he has listed these reason in interviews as the justfication for incorporating your "dark side" in order to be whole and productive. But he just didn't make use of it in the story, which is a wasted opportunity.

Vraith wrote:

I don't see any knowledge/power being substituted/replaced/interchangeable. It's more like master craftsman referencing the original blueprints cuz they want to re-create a cathedral, not just use the rubble to make any old new one.
But using the rubble to make "any old new one" (that phrase is actually perfect for what they created) is exactly how the text describes what they did. They were following after the Worm, picking up the pieces as fast as they could, and putting them back together. Come to think of it, that might be the explanation right there for how easy it was, if the pieces were like a jig-saw puzzle that had come loose but not yet jumbled (like WF's high-speed photography example), but it's certainly not creative in that sense. Just restorative. It reduces them to super-repairmen, not Creators. I haven't been reading these books for 30+ years to get Thomas Covenant, the Maytag Man.

I really, really, really wish his skills as a writer had been brought back into this. That was his original Creator side, right there. His ability to write books could have informed him how to Create worlds. Heck, that's how Donaldson does it. What was the point of making this character a writer--in a story about Creation--if it was going to have nothing to do with him later when he becomes a Creator? Has anyone else noticed how this is completely absent in our discussion of where these characters got the ability/knowledge to create worlds? We talk about Jeremiah's ability to build stuff, and Linden's background as a healer, but Covenant was a writer. It wasn't even mentioned.

Vraith wrote:

On a more general note...much of our knowledge of building comes from testing to destruction [intentional or otherwise]...a large portion of healing originates from corpses or those soon to be so.
That's a fair point. But that's people who are destroying something with the aim to see how it's put together. It like a scientist dissecting a corpse with the aim to learn something useful, not a serial killer torturing his victim (which is more like Foul). Deconstruction, not destruction. Lord Foul was no deconstructionist.
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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
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 10, 2014 5:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zarathustra wrote:
Wildling wrote:
It's not just The Kid, The Leper, and The Doctor, there's also The Guy Who Stuck His Nose In The Initial Making Of The World And Has Been Wandering It Ever Since.* Could he not have had some input into the rebuilding, especially if it meant he got to keep living, albeit inside Covenant.
That's who I was talking about when I mentioned the wrecking ball guy vs the engineer who designed the building. Saying that Lord Foul knows how to remake the world, when he's only ever been bent on destroying it, is like saying a child molestor would be a good person to ask how to raise children. Or asking a serial killer who cuts people up how to save someone's life with surgery. The two activities are diametrically opposed, even if they "operate" on a common body of knowledge. Thus, I'm not saying that Lord Foul wouldn't have some kind of knowledge about how the world is put together ... but that knowledge would be of the kind necessary to tear down an old paradigm in order to build an entirely new one (not merely a copy of the old one). This is the sense in which destruction is necessary for true creation, because the old values/views are often the biggest obstacles to growth or change ... i.e. paradigm revolution.
In order to properly destroy something you have to know what it's made of, how it's put together, weak and strong points, and any of a thousand other things that a non-engineer like me wouldn't be able to name. That knowledge wouldn't be useful in rebuilding something? Or are you saying all Foul knew after hundreds of thousands of years of wandering around is "well if I get a lot of dynamite it should blow up"?
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 10, 2014 7:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wildling wrote:
In order to properly destroy something you have to know what it's made of, how it's put together, weak and strong points, and any of a thousand other things that a non-engineer like me wouldn't be able to name. That knowledge wouldn't be useful in rebuilding something? Or are you saying all Foul knew after hundreds of thousands of years of wandering around is "well if I get a lot of dynamite it should blow up"?
But how much knowledge about destruction did Foul really have, if he--an immortal being on par with the Creator--couldn't destroy it?

Or maybe--if we accept that the Despiser manipulated Linden into waking the Worm--Lord Foul *did* destroy the world. He finally did it this time. But if so, then we have to view Linden's actions through the lens of Despite, which many here seem reluctant to do.

If Foul's capacity for creation comes from a knowledge of the world sufficient to destroy it--and this success at destroying arises from his essential character (i.e. Despite)--then Linden didn't just make a mistake that turned out to be the "right thing do," she fell prey to Despite, in some way. And then the reason why they were still able to pull a victory out of this is because that knowledge for destruction necessarily carries with it the seeds of creation. So it's not because "we should always trust Linden," but rather because of something Linden couldn't really help: the nature of creation/destruction being inseparable.

But doesn't that mean that Despite and Love are inseparable? Well, that's the point of Covenant accepting LF into himself, I suppose. But that also seems to say that it doesn't really matter what you do in the end, or what your intentions are, because good and evil are interchangeable. If doing the Worst Thing in the World just leads to rainbows and new creation, then why try to do the Right Thing? If you can slip up and land in Utopia, then let's line the road with banana peels and hope for some wonder to redeem us as we fall on our ass. It's certainly not good intentions that lead to redemption. It's just a "cosmological" fact about the nature of creation.
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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
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 10, 2014 8:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zarathustra wrote:
Vraith wrote:

]They have to solve their personal/interpersonal dilemmas to choose the right side/commit their passion/work together.
That was crucial for their individual character arcs, but they were already working together. It wasn't necessary to solve their personal dilemmas in order to remake the world. I truly wish it was, because that would have been awesome! But that wasn't in the text.

[color=indigo]A number of things worth responding to, and maybe I will at some point...but on the above I think we're in fairly "objective" territory. Linden, for instance, basically says flat-out..."Guys, I'm really freakin sorry, but I gotta sort out my shit with myself and SHE...cuz I'm useless...hell I'm DANGEROUS...otherwise." It IS in the text. For her and the others.

On a different note: TC the Maytag man?!? That was funny...and I'd likely hate it, too. But I never thought of TC [and later the others] as beings like "THE Creator." [or on a path to become such]...but that doesn't mean not creators at all. I guess it's more a "standing on the shoulders of giants" thing...but that COMBINED with "Justice," or something like...even "redemption" if one insists. In my previous, I emphasized love...but I didn't mean to emphasize it quite the way you took it. [heh...counter intentions, I did it as I did it to try to avoid folk taking it the way you took it, which somehow made what I didn't want happen.]
They did, and should have, and in their hearts needed to, recreate what was...the RIGHT way. The life and meaning it SHOULD have a chance at... because the whole of existence, due to LF and SHE being within creation, was sort-of reverse Macduff...ripped from its womb untimely, but to be aborted, not saved.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 11, 2014 5:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zarathustra wrote:
Wildling wrote:
In order to properly destroy something you have to know what it's made of, how it's put together, weak and strong points, and any of a thousand other things that a non-engineer like me wouldn't be able to name. That knowledge wouldn't be useful in rebuilding something? Or are you saying all Foul knew after hundreds of thousands of years of wandering around is "well if I get a lot of dynamite it should blow up"?
But how much knowledge about destruction did Foul really have, if he--an immortal being on par with the Creator--couldn't destroy it?

Or maybe--if we accept that the Despiser manipulated Linden into waking the Worm--Lord Foul *did* destroy the world. He finally did it this time. But if so, then we have to view Linden's actions through the lens of Despite, which many here seem reluctant to do.

If Foul's capacity for creation comes from a knowledge of the world sufficient to destroy it--and this success at destroying arises from his essential character (i.e. Despite)--then Linden didn't just make a mistake that turned out to be the "right thing do," she fell prey to Despite, in some way. And then the reason why they were still able to pull a victory out of this is because that knowledge for destruction necessarily carries with it the seeds of creation. So it's not because "we should always trust Linden," but rather because of something Linden couldn't really help: the nature of creation/destruction being inseparable.

But doesn't that mean that Despite and Love are inseparable? Well, that's the point of Covenant accepting LF into himself, I suppose. But that also seems to say that it doesn't really matter what you do in the end, or what your intentions are, because good and evil are interchangeable. If doing the Worst Thing in the World just leads to rainbows and new creation, then why try to do the Right Thing? If you can slip up and land in Utopia, then let's line the road with banana peels and hope for some wonder to redeem us as we fall on our ass. It's certainly not good intentions that lead to redemption. It's just a "cosmological" fact about the nature of creation.


You're going way over my brain level there dude.

But it does occur to me that sometimes the only way to fix something is to break it apart. So, if you want to take that a bit further, the whole chronicles (first, 2nd, and third) was a setup by the creator to make the world screwed up enough to be finally fixed for good.
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 11, 2014 6:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zarathustra wrote:

We can also wonder why Covenant had to accept Foul, instead of fight him. Thematically, I understand why accepting Foul is the culmination of the three-Chronicle saga, but the literal reason in the plot for why Covenant can't fight Foul has always been that using enough wild magic to kill Foul will destroy the Arch. But that logic flies out the window once the Arch is already destroyed. There's no longer any danger. One quick, ultimate blast, and he's gone, then repair the world.


I was thinking about that too. What makes sense to me is this: first we were originally told "use too much power and shatter the arch of time/wake the worm", "the worm will destroy the earth", "the worm will shatter the arch of time", which all sounds very instantaneous. But that was mainly due to our not knowing how the process works, and that it was gradual - the arch was being destroyed, not already fully destroyed. And I think this can also answer the main question in this thread. Sorry if this is going to be a somewhat long comment Smile

After the worm was roused, Berek told us that the world is not unmade in a moment. It's a process that takes time. The worm starts to move, it eats the elohim, its suitable initial food, and then it seems out the earthblood, its final food. And we are told that when the worm drinks the earthblood, the arch will shatter. But again, that sounds instantaneous due to our not having all the information.

Later still, the worm actually starts to feed on the earthblood. The process takes a while. Time starts to unravel around the worm (trees flicker in and out of existence in garroting deep), then shocks travel farther to the rest of the earth. Things start to come undone.

Given all that, I don't think the arch was totally destroyed at the point in time you refer to - when they could have blasted Foul. It was in the process of being destroyed. If enough power was used to blast Foul, it might then shatter entirely and it would truly be game over. But it was just in the process of shattering. It was doomed to shatter, but still partially intact. Right before the chapter ends, the status is described as "the accelerating collapse of Law and Time" - it's a process, not yet completed.

So blasting Foul would have unmade the world entirely, and it could not have been rebuilt. (It might have been recreated from nothingness, but not by living beings that require time to exist and act, so that option was out, Covenant made that clear when he told Roger how Foul could not take him to anywhere safe after the arch was done.)

Getting back to the main topic of this thread, I feel like the crucial point is exactly the process-like nature of the end of all things. The worm drinking the earthblood is not a switch, it's a source of immense power that the worm consumes, becoming more and more powerful, and that power piece by piece shatters the arch. But since it is done piece by piece, it is also possible to undo what the worm is doing, also piece by piece.

During the last chronicles we saw ceasures being resolved out of existence, which is basically fixing of breaches in time and law. And it was specifically mentioned that Joan could eventually destroy the arch and the earth, by creating ceasure after ceasure over a very long period of time. I think that's analogous to what the worm causes when it drinks the earthblood, except that Joan as an intent-less tool could not wield enough power to do it quickly, whereas the worm can do it in less than an hour.

So in some sense the harm caused by the worm is not uniquely new or different, just much more. It's much much harder to undo the worm's harm as it causes it than to undo Joan's harm, but still possible in theory, just a matter of getting enough power to counter it, piece by piece - and the ending implies that by some combination of intent, knowledge, wild magic and law, as well as perhaps a lingering Timewarden affinity for the arch, it was achieved.

Finally, the worm does not crave the end of the world or the collapse of the arch of time. The worm hungers for specific forms of earthpower. And the legends say that it has a finite appetite - it awakes, eats, sates, and eventually slumbers again. The bad part of course is that as it eats, it destroys everything - we were told that the worm ate all the stars in the creation myth, and no earth was left, a new earth arose around the worm in its slumber. But this time, two things were different.

First, most of the stars, the elohim, were saved by Jeremiah's Fane. Second, we have the extremely-powerful trio which can mend rents in time.

Together, that means that the immediate harm the worm causes can be repaired after it. And after it finally eats its fill, and wants to rest, it won't wander around doing more harm, since the surviving elohim can fulfill their purpose (as described earlier in the books) of helping it slumber properly. They can't put it to sleep, but once it needs to sleep, they can direct it to a proper place and manner of slumber, which restores the One Tree and so forth.

In conclusion, I think the ending does make sense. The actual act of saving the world was, interestingly and oddly, skipped over, but I do think enough hints were present. Basically, the main twist from my perspective is this: Yes, you can't defeat the worm - nothing can. It being roused starts a process that inevitably causes enough harm to undo the world. But you can undo the harm, if you're powerful enough and fast enough. The last few chapters showed us how the trio became capable of that. And even though they may have assumed like us that the worm touching the earthblood is instantaneous game over, it turned out to be, like all other parts of the worm's life cycle, a gradual process. So unexpectedly, they were capable of using their power to save everything.
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 13, 2014 3:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I really like the ideas in that post, thoughtcube. By which I mean, they are similar to mine. Smile

I would only add that, I think Covenant did not blast Foul at the end because that was not the proper way to handle Foul. He can't be killed, even with unlimited wild magic. He can be reduced, but he comes back, as we know.

What MIGHT have happened is that he could have been ejected from the Earth before it was remade. And Covenant chose NOT to do this. Which, I believe, is the most important part of this whole thing. Covevant realized that finding a way to come to terms with Foul was important to his own self.

Sure, he needed Foul's knowledge to make everything else possible. So ejecting Foul also meant forgoing saving the Earth and the Arch. But I'd like to think that Covenant is more noble than that, and that believing otherwise is a bit cynical.

Or maybe the way to look at it is that coming to terms is synonymous with being able to save. That sounds best of all to me.

Secondly, I would add that "repairing" is not the same as "undoing". I think that that is an important distinction where Donaldson is concerned, because he values the consequences of everything everyone does, for how it creates who we are. Undoing means not dealing with consequences, because they are obviated. While repairing, like healing, means that consequences are mitigated, but nevertheless remain. Certainly the new Earth won't be as if the old Earth was never destroyed.
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 14, 2014 3:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

wayfriend wrote:
What MIGHT have happened is that he could have been ejected from the Earth before it was remade. And Covenant chose NOT to do this. Which, I believe, is the most important part of this whole thing. Covevant realized that finding a way to come to terms with Foul was important to his own self.


Yes, definitely. Covenant and the others could have let Foul escape out of the Arch, and to be free outside - what he always wanted - but instead they prevented him from doing so, even at their own risk and cost.

If Covenant doesn't come to terms with Foul, if he lets him escape, then that despite becomes someone else's problem, which would be the wrong thing to do.
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 14, 2014 11:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Would anyone like to give a quick account of the final relationship of TC and LF vis a vis The Land and the 'real world'. There seems to be a consensus that they were essentially one and the same being [ie in the Land LF was an externalisation of TC's own hatred and despite in his real world] and that in essence at the end of TLD TC was essentially drawing that part of himself back into situ [by 'absorbing' LF in the way he did]. I didn't get that however. To me it seemed presented as though LF was essentially being 'imprissoned' within TC and retaining his separate identity therein. Where does this leave the TC and LF are one and the same thesis?
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 14, 2014 2:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Peter, to me, arguments over the external "reality" of the Land and all its inhabitants are by now largely irrelevant. It doesn't stack up against pure logic - nor should it necessarily need to in a work that focusses more and more on both the symbolic and the allegorical.

If one takes a purely logical approach, then if LF is all nothing other than an external expression of the darker aspect of TC's psyche, then how come other "real world" protagonists such as Linden and Jeremiah can be even aware of him? Similarly, if the Land itself is nothing more than an externalisation of features of TC's un-/subconscious, the very same question applies. One could only settle upon a rather weak "shared dream" scenario. Or instead plump for an "it's all real" view.

However - and again only IMHO - it's pretty clear that the overall narrative should not be taken only at the literal level. I'm pretty convinced that SRD is dealing throughout with fairly thinly veiled archetypes - anthropomorphising concepts, issues and aspects of the psyche within the collective unconscious of humanity as a whole (sorry, yes I know I've come on over all Jungian again, but it seems to me to really be the interpretation that makes by far the most sense).

Hence, LF is the externalised manifestation of the despite, the capacity for negativity, contempt and destruction that lives within us all. However, as an "adversary", he is most relevant within the paradigm of the Chrons to TC and it is TC who finally achieves SRD's view of the only solution to this mix of negative emotions and personality traits. One needs to recognise its existence and accept it, only so that it can be acknowledged and guarded against. Fighting against such destructive tendencies does not provide a lasting solution (as in TPTP), any more than giving up does (as in WGW).

Referring again to my comparison of TC's personal resolution at the end of TLD with the Star Trek episode "The Enemy Within", there's a strong argument that one cannot be a fully rounded and mature individual coming into one's full potential as a human being unless and until one has accepted such... Jung's process of individuation again. To support this thought, remember that it's only with the addition of LF's knowledge of the Arch of Time (presumably gained over aeons of trying to probe it for weaknesses) that TC is able to participate in repairing the world.

So TC is the most suitable character to to face and resolve the subconscious and entirely negative call within to destruction - he has to deal with power in its negative propensity, namely the power to wreak ruin and destroy, the dark side of "active" - the externalised archetype of which is Lord Foul himself.

And Linden? Well she has almost the opposite demon to slay. She needs to resolve the dark side of "passive", powerlessness and inutility. Her issues all revolve around her lack of self-worth, her over-riding self-pity, bitterness and sense of being a victim - all this of course embodied in another archetype, namely SWMNBN. Again, remember that, despite clearly having godlike powers - which one would expect from the feminine aspect of the Creator - SWMNBN is entirely trapped. SHE's incapable of release, because of being chained by and within her own self-loathing. Linden achieves her epiphanic apotheosis, her (and HER) personal resolution by letting go of the negative emotions that have trapped her into indecision and powerlessness for so long. She does this by recognising at last how self-obsessed and thus selfish they are. In her confrontation with SWMNBN, Linden becomes the quintessence of selflessness - her only thought is to redeem Elena and the other lost souls of women scorned. In doing this, Linden finally realises her own potential and also becomes enabled to participate in the repair of all things. She becomes powerful and no longer powerless. Just like SHE does - once released and thus being able to perceive HERSELF truly, SHE regains her power, and is more than able to bitchslap LF and take her rightful places within the cosmos, sailing past the Arch as if it wasn't there.

As well as the Jungian, there seems to be something very Taoist about all this. The following from Wikipedia on yin and yang:-
Wikipedia wrote:
Yin is characterized as slow, soft, yielding, diffuse, cold, wet, and passive; and is associated with water, earth, the moon, femininity and nighttime.

Yang, by contrast, is fast, hard, solid, focused, hot, dry, and aggressive; and is associated with fire, sky, the sun, masculinity and daytime.

Yin and yang applies to the human body. In traditional Chinese medicine good health is directly related to the balance between yin and yang qualities within oneself. If yin and yang become unbalanced, one of the qualities is considered deficient or has vacuity.
Against the above, TC and his resolution of the problem of the duality of power could well be taken as a symbol of the archetypally masculine. Similarly, Linden and her resolution of the problem of powerless passivity could equally well be taken as a symbol of the archetypally feminine (maybe interesting that in Taoist symbology, yin, the feminine, is also associated with water, which as we all know, Linden's fate is written in?). Anyhow, the key importance is to achieve balance.

I'n not quite sure how this post ended up diverging along these lines but anyway...

And despite the above interpretation of the Chrons' metaphysics, I'm *still* highly annoyed that the author didn't give more care and attention to the narrative vehicle used to convey the allegory.
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 14, 2014 3:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Massive respect TheFallen for the time and thought you have clearly put into the Chrons. As Donaldson's works moved more and more toward the allegorical there was never any doubting that those of us whose reading was essentially of a story taken literally at the narrative level, were going to struggle with a) grasping the meaning[s] that he was trying to imply and b) letting go of those aspects of the Chrons which though [deemed no longer of import] were still never the less the questions which had drawn us in and held us in the first place.

I am rapidly discovering that there are no easy answers to those early questions raised in the first Chrons [whether they remain salient or not] but this will not prevent me from trying, by rereading and paying attention where I can, to the insights other Watchers have gained from both their readings and their arguments within these pages. Alas much ofwhat is said is lost on me - but with time and responses such as your above post I hope one day to also begin to see a little light at the end of the tunnel. [And if it doesn't happen the journey will still have been worthwhile Wink].
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 14, 2014 4:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think I agree with everything TheFallen just said. However, I see different "levels" of this issue. And I want to wax pedantic about it now, so ...

First, there is a story construction level.

Start with a story and a protagonist. An author might say, I need to create an adversary for my character who just happens to be what my protagonist fears most. Or an adversary who just happens to share a trait with the protagonist, but exaggerated to the a great degree.

Authors do this because it creates the kind of story arc, and the kind of character growth, that they need for a story. Or for many other reasons, probably. Donaldson says that what happens in his stories are what the characters need to happen to them. Anyway, it isn't limited to fantasy stories, but it is more overt in fantasy stories; people accept with less incredulity the "coincidence" of such relationships when the author pens them.

Certainly, Covenant and Lord Foul are related at this level, and have been since day one. Lord Foul was designed to have certain parallels and similarities to Covenant. And Covenant was designed to have certain parallels and similarities to Lord Foul.

Just above this level, is the level of metaphor.

You can think of metaphor is when the author really wants to stick such relationships in your face. He wants the reader to think about them, to ponder them. And he wants to convey something at the end of all that pondering. A thought or a belief that is best illustrated through that metaphor.

Metaphor is when the author wants you to see that, when the protagonist is fighting his adversary, he is really fighting himself. Or healing himself. Or something. When the protagonist reconciles with his adversary, he is reconciling his disparate desires. Or he is succumbing to his baser instincts. Or whatever. Metaphor has lots of possibilities.

Certainly in the first Chronicles, there is a plethora of metaphors surrounding Covenant's approach to Lord Foul.

The level above that is what I call "in-story" logic.

You can call it plot, or world-building. But basically, this is what the author chooses his characters to know, and to make decisions on. This is the internal logic, the character knowledge, and the reasons why what happens happens, as far as the characters are concerned. At this level, you have to exclude story design and metaphor.

Usually. That's where Donaldson is genius.

In the Chronicles, the setup is that Covenant doesn't know if it is a real place or a dream.

We know why it's important for Covenant to behave as if it is real - because the effects it has on him are real, as are the effects of what he does about it.

But it's also important for Covenant to behave as if it is a dream. When Covenant considers the Land as a dream, he can consider it's inhabitants, including Lord Foul, as arising from his own mind. Thus, he can consider them incarnations of aspects of himself, created either to embody something in himself, or to embody something antithetical to himself.

In other words, the metaphoric level and even the story construction level manifest at the in-story level!

Pause for OMG.

Covenant can consider -- in-story! -- Lord Foul as an adversary who just happens to share some traits of his, who just happens to embody some of his fears. He can wonder -- in-story! -- if fighting Lord Foul is fighting himself or healing himself.

For the first Chronicles, as it was written, its own thing unto itself, that is a great achievement.

Donaldson of course took things to the next level in the Second Chronicles. And further again in the Last chronicles. It is a clear, and for all available evidence intended, progression.

In the Second Chronicles, Covenant goes beyond seeing Foul as a reflection that mirrors or distorts himself. He sees Foul and himself as brothers entwined by fate, destined to come together and fall apart. Empathy and compassion come into play -- he cares about Foul's fate as well as his own fate. His answer is to accept Foul as a necessary part of himself (and therefore of his dream) and chose a fate that considered both their needs.

In the Final Chronicles, Covenant goes beyond even this. They become one in all senses of the word. This unification heralds the dawn of a new age for the Land and for Covenant. The health of the king is the health of the land. And so, a rebirth.

I think it's important to have all these levels in mind when considering the Chronicles. As well as to think about the implications of Donaldson's genius subversion of the levels.
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 15, 2014 11:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That Wayfriend is a VERY helpfull post. I begin also to see that SRD is a much cleverer author than I gave him credit for. Many thanks.
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 24, 2014 9:50 am    Post subject: Re: Terribly disappointed by the ending :-( *spoiler* Reply with quote

joques wrote:
I've never known Donaldson to bring any narrative to such a cheap end before. Everything always has consequences, and it always makes sense within the narrative. That the Elohim now suddenly are able to put the worm to sleep goes against *everything* that has gone before. I get the image of Donaldson disgustedly saying: "Here's your happy ending. Enjoy. I wash my hands of the whole mess."


Beautifully put.

This was my main problem with the book. It was finished in a way that said to me as a reader 'I don't care anymore. We're done.'

I went with everything, even the changes in character that I thought were unearned, or out-of-character.

But the end was a real kick in the face for me.

I felt cheated too.
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