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Where are the issues?

 
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2014 12:43 am    Post subject: Where are the issues? Reply with quote

I loved the first and second chronicles because they dealt with so many issues, serious topics worth thinking about. And this feels missing from the last chronicles. I wonder if I am missing something, or if other people feel this way?

To explain what I mean, in the first chronicles here are several of the big issues raised:

    The fundamental question of ethics - is it ok to do whatever you want, if you think you are dreaming? Or does it start to matter if the dream doesn't fade away? If you start to feel that the other people in the dream are in some sense real as well? (This goes into the whole issue of solipsism in philosophy.)

    Pacifism as a response to violence. This happens both when TC says he'll never kill again, and in another sense in the Oath of Peace. The Oath is an even bigger issue - you try to suppress strong emotions of any kind, for fear of what may result - Desecration - but then you also become weak. This builds and developers over the first three books extremely well.

    Rape. Can you ever atone for such a horrifying crime? Can others ever forgive you. Are you responsible if there are extenuating circumstances (it must be a dream, since leprosy can't be cured, etc.)?


I could go on and on. Stuff like this is why the chronicles feel so deep. Most other fantasy has little such depth.

I see one major issue dealt with in the last chronicles - the stubbornness of the masters. This is really a brilliant topic, and it goes all the way to showing us why they act as they do, to showing us how they persist in doing it even to our horror. And it takes 4 books and Kenaustin and killing a raver and Stave and the Ramen explaining stuff and so many other things to make even a dent in the Master's position. This felt like substantial, solid stuff.

Perhaps another issue is the recurring theme of "can good be achieved by evil means"? While a strong topic, not much happened to get into it, I feel.

And what else is there in the last chronicles? I feel like we were shown cool stuff (Demondim, Viles, Insequent, etc.), and there were great battles. But something felt empty. The battle of soaring woolhelven in LFB was also a great battle, but also the scene where Covenant killed and horrified himself by doing so, thus beginning the pacifism storyline. It was both a good battle and part of an issue the story raised and developed. Whereas in the last chronicles, good battles are mostly just good battles.

Am I wrong? Do I need to read it again to fully appreciate it?
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2014 3:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

to answer your question directly tc..the " deep" is in the metaphor...or...the message is in the Metaphor. There are plenty of " heavy" and " deep" discourses of thought in the LC and brought to the near surface in TLD..but..they are in the metaphors.

So, you have to perceive the metaphors that the author created and put in the books. An example,,because its current and fresh, is the opening line of TLD.." Linden Avery's fate may indeed have been written in water." Thats a metaphor. written in water.. suggests a non-permanent property, a fluidity, a conform to the environment immediately around it..easily changed etc, etc..The idea maybe that Linden is looking to change,,willing to make changes,,and with her history of being brought up by the not so loving parents,,the message becomes,,Linden is enroute to create a future that includes Love rather than repeating the past which had no love.....The message is in the Metaphor.

Characters in the Chronicles are metaphors. Perhaps you can see the TC becomes blatant Hope,,Linden, finds Love,,and Jerry finally realizes Compassion..From there, its possible to see All of the Chrons,,from LFB toTLD,,as Metaphor....An irate leper goes to town to restore his dignity, falls down, bonks his head,,and goes on journey. That journey is of self discovery, what it is to be a human being,,and finally, the journey to a human beings identity, to the answer to The Age Old question.".Who Am I?"..Its all metaphor. By the end of TLD..All IS Metaphor.


So, your questions are good. That you are questioning things,,and yourself,,is good and right. Because thats the idea...the author wants you to take the same journey as does TC, Linden and Jerry; a journey of self discovery...a journey to Who,,or What,,you are.

I can only suggest a deep google on Surrealism to help.
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2014 3:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There are certainly metaphors, like "writ in water", good point. I guess what I'm trying to say is - there is a difference between a deep issue and a metaphor. It's hard to explain. "Writ in water" just doesn't open up many questions or thoughts, for me at least. Whereas the Oath of Peace being a moral stance that made the Lords too weak to resist the Despiser, was something that you can't help but wonder about and identify with.

Certainly in the first and second chronicles I agree with you that there was a journey to discover who the main characters are. I think the issue is, in the last chronicles I don't feel as if I learned much new about TC or LA, or myself for that matter.

Except, perhaps, for the issue of the stubbornness of the Masters, as I said above, this did feel like it showed us the stoicism and lack of flexibility on the part of the harachai and bloodguard, taken to its extreme. This was so cleverly handled in the first chronicles (ending with the Elena's sculpture and Bannor's talk with TC) and then briefly touched upon in the second (when they leave TC's service and refuse to reconsider that). But the last chronicles really go in depth into that issue.

Really, the more I think about it, the last chronicles did a very good job with the Haruchai. Both the issue of their stubbornness, and also the actions of especially Stave but also the Humbled.
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2014 4:39 am    Post subject: Where are the issues? Reply with quote

to add to your list of 'issues' or themes raised in the LC, Thoughtcube :

that which was evil to begin with needn't remain so at the last (or something to that effect). we saw plenty of that; the ur-Viles, Horrim Carabal .. in the ur-Viles case this was a pretty profound change, they renounced the self-hate that had led to their former crimes against the Land. In the lurker's case change was completely motivated by self-interest, but I suppose it's big-picture thinking showed a certain 'humanity' from this creature once thought to be a Monster.

I thought disempowerment was a theme that was touched upon a bit; the Masters decision to suppress the Land's people of their 'birthright' (in this case their relationship with Earthpower), and also Linden's tendency toward protecting her friends from danger to the point of robbing them of agency for their own fate.
I suppose Jeremiah's plight falls under that umbrella too ..

de-mystification and de-bunking of legends and myths came up a fair bit; Berek's relative naivety in FR, the concept of the Worm vs the reality of the Worm.

the puissance of Friendship was really pushed by SRD, although I thought he tackled that trope with less sentimentality and more resonance in 1C.

less overt, or maybe even unintentional, was the ruminations on the legacy of parental influence; Esmer was completely fettered to the antithetical natures that comprised his heritage, Anele was overawed by the achievements of his parents, Roger and Elena both suffered greatly due to Covenant's impact on their lives.
On the flip side, Kevin was afforded peace when Loric made clear his empathy for his son's plight (why did it take them millennia to have that conversation again?) and Linden's parental integrity in unconditionally loving and redeeming Jeremiah were keys to her ultimately saving the Land.

the whole 'betimes some wonder' thing has been a theme running throughout the entire series imo; striving in the face of extreme adversity, not giving up; Mhoram conveyed very similar sentiments in TPTP; that in dark times, with the absence of a tangible Creator/God, all that can (and should) be expected of humanity is that it conduct itself with the greatest integrity and strength.

There's tons of stuff like that in the LC, but I agree with the thrust of your post; the themes raised in Chrons 1 & 2 were integrated more cohesively than those running through the LC ..
I also very much agree that the conceit of the Masters was one the more thought-provoking, interesting and original themes explored by the SRD in the LC
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2014 5:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Perhaps another issue is the recurring theme of "can good be achieved by evil means"? While a strong topic, not much happened to get into it, I feel.
I think there is more made of this theme than you may realize.

There are certainly good outcomes that are realized out of evil deeds. Both the death of Liand and that of Anele, for instance, were essential steps to all the good that was realized by Jeremiah eventually freeing himself from his catatonia.

More poignant is the evil done by our protagonists enroute to the eventual confrontations with the archetypes of Evil. Most obvious of these is the scene in the Cavewight village under Mount Thunder late in TLD.
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2014 6:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good points SleeplessOne, I agree that "evil can change", parental influence, and "betimes some wonder" were strong themes throughout.

Somehow these feel "less" than the themes and issues in previous books. Ok, evil can change - but so what? I don't feel like I learned anything deep from that. Parental influence could have been an interesting topic, but it felt like it didn't get serious treatment. Esmer was perhaps the strongest symbol of how parents can influence you - and what did that amount to? I don't get much from that.

Savor Dam, I see what you mean about "good by evil means", I guess it does occur more. But the closest it gets to an actual debate is Linden saying to herself stuff like "I know it's wrong to create caesures/give away the ring and staff/etc., but I have to". That's the problem - it never feels like there is a real decision. There is always the only possible thing to do, and she does it even if it's bad. But that doesn't raise a complex issue to be thought about, to me at least.
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2014 7:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Add:

Can good be accomplished by evil means? This theme was explored.

And "Must it transpire that beauty and truth shall pass utterly when we are gone?"
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 2:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think you are off target by a little bit...this good by evil and evil by good...To me the point is...the subjectivity of what is deemed good and what is deemed evil..The whole scene of Linden being taken to the Sarangrave by the Ranyhyn made that point..What was thought to be evil turned out good,,the Lurker and feroce, and what was thought to be a good idea,,turned out to be a bad head ache pop in the head for Linden from Stave..a bad idea..and the Intuitive Ranyhyn,,took Linden there cuz they knew what had to be learned..You have to think and perceive beyond the polar opposites,,good and evil..for example.

So..the ISSUES aren't the tried and true ISSUES,,The ISSUE is,,thinking and Perceiving a whole new way,,beyond the diametrically opposed True/ False of Logic and Reason..The ISSUE isn't What You Think,,,but HOW YOU THINK.

.In the vein of the original Surrealists, the author gets as about deep as one can get. He displays the faults and fallacies of the basic Foundation of Thinking and Perceiving we are taught. He displays often enough the pretense that such ways of thinking and perceiving lead to and get us in trouble with. Its made clear how the very way we think and perceive leads to violence. Its made clear how the very way we think and perceive makes us easy victims to illusions, and manipulations brought on by being so easily predictable with our logic and reason.

TC tells Linden to do something they don't expect. TC decides to go up into Mt Thunder btw of Defiles Course, the least likely way suspected by Foul..etc..Your ISSUES have gone,,not in hiding,,,but escaped the Box you had them in and now have a whole different dimension to them brought on by the Freedom of escaping the Box.
Linden escapes the box of her life as it was created by her parents..Damn rite parents get their lumps in TCoTC. Its about personal identity,,not what the parents want you to be, but your talents and likes and dislikes that make you who you are...And when There,,one becomes whole, less conflicted and divided,,and thus more at peace with one self...And,,one person, happy and at peace with them selves,,is the first step to a world at peace with itself...

Its all connected..The author gets deep alright..He floods the Lost Deep with water..a great metaphor for the Changes to what one thought was " deep".
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 2:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the title of Part I of TLD "to bear what must be borne", says a lot about the themes running through TLC. To "bear" is to aacept responsibility for something, and persevere in the atruggle that must follow in seeing things through to achieve something worth while. The moral issues encounted along the way in TLCs include whether one can recognize and accept one's own personal limitations, which yields a new kind of strength; wheter one is willing to makie the sacrifices necessary for the greater good, trusting in others and welcoming their desire to help; and whether one is willing to makie the attempt when to despair or turn away seems more rational. Overall, it's an attitude of looking at where you have landed in life, no matter how or why you got there, and striving the best you can to try and right the wrongs, trusting in the support and fidelity of others, and perhaps even in things as yet unforeseen.
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 3:11 am    Post subject: Where are the issues? Reply with quote

wayfriend wrote:
Add:

Can good be accomplished by evil means? This theme was explored.

And "Must it transpire that beauty and truth shall pass utterly when we are gone?"


Thoughtcube mentions the 'can good be accomplished by evil means (?)' theme in the OP - as the reader is given examples of Linden (among others) choosing to fight Foul & co. by using destructive methods (summoning caesures, killing, sacrificing people for the greater good), it therefore appears that SRD is suggesting that in the face of evil it's ok to compromise your integrity/beliefs if no other choice is possible - e.g. Linden believes caesures to be destructive and of evil origin, yet when cornered she accepts the neccessity of summoning one herself.
And Covenant clearly abhors sacrificing human beings (see : the Clave, Jeremiah and the bonfire) yet when forced into a tight spot he decides to offer up his own daughter in order to ensure the company's safety.

... TC of the 1C's might call this line o thinking 'sophistry', but then again TC of the 1C's was pretty hard-line about most everything.

SRD's post-9/11 views seem to allow for a level of 'ends justify the means', probably a more pragmatic view in the 'real' world.

As for 'must it transpire ... ?'

This question was was answered in TLD, but I didn't feel as though it had any applicability to us real-world readers, at least not as I understood it ..
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 4:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

wayfriend wrote:
Add:

Can good be accomplished by evil means? This theme was explored.

And "Must it transpire that beauty and truth shall pass utterly when we are gone?"


To be sure, the phrase "beauty and truth shall pass utterly" brings shivers down my spine when I hear it, due to the first chronicles. But what new insight was there regarding that in the last chronicles? Caer Caveral ponders it, and creation was saved at the last instant by total annihilation by TC+LA+JA, but that's all I can remember.

The phrase itself is fascinating, and the first chronicles say a lot about beauty and its connection to meaning and truth. If the land were not beautiful, would TC have defended it? "Something there is in beauty" etc. And of course the despair that can arise from knowing that if you fail all that is good may perish. Kevin's story, Mhoram's insights, etc. all refer to that.

Do you see something I'm missing in the last chronicles on this subject?
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 5:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
that which was evil to begin with needn't remain so at the last (or something to that effect). we saw plenty of that; the ur-Viles, Horrim Carabal .. in the ur-Viles case this was a pretty profound change, they renounced the self-hate that had led to their former crimes against the Land. In the lurker's case change was completely motivated by self-interest, but I suppose it's big-picture thinking showed a certain 'humanity' from this creature once thought to be a Monster.


The most important example of this is provided at the very end when Covenant describes Lord Foul to Infelice and Jeremiah as follows:

Quote:
“Well, sure,” Covenant shrugged. “But ask yourself why he’s like that. Berek said it. ‘Only the great of heart may despair greatly.’ All that malice and contempt is just love and hope and eagerness gone rancid. He’s the Creator’s curdled shadow. He –“

He grimaced again. “I’m not saying this right.

“He gives us the chance to do better.”


What we are given a glimpse of here (and in some other places) is that Lord Foul is not a being like the Christian Devil or like Melkor in the Tolkien legendarium, but in some sense an essential cosmic principle (as is SWMNBN) whose role in the entire scheme of things in the Chronicles universe may have somehow come amiss, but who is not simply evil in the same sense that we usually think of the other two beings I've mentioned.

The fact that this glimpse only comes at the very end gives us plenty to argue about and speculate on. However, would the Last Chronicles (or the Chronicles generally) have been better if this issue had been more fully explored/explained/backgrounded in the text? I'm not sure.
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 2:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

DrPaul wrote:
Quote:
that which was evil to begin with needn't remain so at the last (or something to that effect). we saw plenty of that; the ur-Viles, Horrim Carabal .. in the ur-Viles case this was a pretty profound change, they renounced the self-hate that had led to their former crimes against the Land. In the lurker's case change was completely motivated by self-interest, but I suppose it's big-picture thinking showed a certain 'humanity' from this creature once thought to be a Monster.


The most important example of this is provided at the very end when Covenant describes Lord Foul to Infelice and Jeremiah as follows:

Quote:
“Well, sure,” Covenant shrugged. “But ask yourself why he’s like that. Berek said it. ‘Only the great of heart may despair greatly.’ All that malice and contempt is just love and hope and eagerness gone rancid. He’s the Creator’s curdled shadow. He –“

He grimaced again. “I’m not saying this right.

“He gives us the chance to do better.”


What we are given a glimpse of here (and in some other places) is that Lord Foul is not a being like the Christian Devil or like Melkor in the Tolkien legendarium, but in some sense an essential cosmic principle (as is SWMNBN) whose role in the entire scheme of things in the Chronicles universe may have somehow come amiss, but who is not simply evil in the same sense that we usually think of the other two beings I've mentioned.

The fact that this glimpse only comes at the very end gives us plenty to argue about and speculate on. However, would the Last Chronicles (or the Chronicles generally) have been better if this issue had been more fully explored/explained/backgrounded in the text? I'm not sure.



I like that. Something truly to ponder, DrPaul, and I wonder that last point too. But perhaps it's only something that can be realized at the end of a journey, not during. The experiences, the earned knowledge, the suffering, the joys, all contribute to an understanding and perspective of life and it's deeper meaning, what makes us tick, what's truly important, etc. This more mature perspective, developed through the experience of the journey, allows us to now go forward without all the bitterness and anger and "what might have beens", but rather grow stronger from the failings, and decide that maybe the world could have gotten better, that good may have come albeit perhaps through some evil means.
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 16, 2014 3:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

another way to put it is...TLD RESOLVES the issues..TLD is about what it takes to create a future with the Issues Resolved...the issues no longer " Issues"..Again..the Issues are reduced to their proper place and time by changing How We Think and How We Perceive..imho..
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 17, 2014 3:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

thoughtcube wrote:
Somehow these feel "less" than the themes and issues in previous books.
I think you're absolutely right. There were some issues raised, as others have pointed out, but that's not the same as exploring them. The plot of the 1st Chrons depended crucially upon Mhoram's insight into Desecration and the Oath. It also depended upon Covenant putting aside his unbelief in order to act, to fight, to love. Those books put the questions on the table, and then the characters changed precisely in as much as they found answers to those questions. The questions mattered, the answers mattered. There would have been no plot without them.

We don't see this in the LC. The default position for Linden from the beginning was that she'd risk the Land for Jeremiah. She doesn't learn LOVE, she already embodied it from the beginning. She doesn't learn that sometimes "good can be done by evil means," that's her starting point. TC doesn't wrestle with the idea that Foul is part of him, he pretty much accepted that at the end of the 2nd Chrons. The "issues" this time aren't really there for the plot or even character development. They're window dressing, or setting. They give the impression of deepness, but then just lie there on the surface of the story, without affecting it. The course is already set. No one changes their minds (except Haruchai, as you've pointed out), no one grows, no one wrestles with these issues. Linden does learn to face her guilt as she confronts She, but this feels like a retread of her 2nd Chrons dealing with the possibility that she's evil.

We do see some secondary characters (monsters) change from "evil" to "good," ... or perhaps our perception of them changes. But all this really shows is that when the world is ending, enemies will sometimes set aside their differences. Nothing surprising or deep about that. It becomes obvious that "we're all on the same ship" when it starts to sink. Survival instinct can overcome ancient animus. I'm not feeling the depth here.

I didn't feel that Wildwood's question was sufficiently answered at all. How is truth and beauty preserved? Oh easy! You go back in time and retrieve the knowledge of forbidding and create a new forestal. Why didn't we think of that in our own lives? So true ... so applicable to the real world. Rolling Eyes Sarcasm aside, I'm not even sure how it helped in the story. So it diverted the Worm ... so what? The Worm still destroyed the Arch and the world. Truth and beauty weren't preserved, they were simply recreated. Would the story really have been all that different if the Worm had simply gone straight for the Earthblood? It was already on its way to the Land before the Elohim were protected. Once diverted from Mt Thunder, it seemed to be making straight for Skyweir. It certaintly didn't need to eat all the Elohim prior to that move. So Jeremiah and Linden were kind of irrelevant to that plotline. Wildwood's question was posed, but never answered.

Like I said ... it's the illusion of depth. You're absolutely right to point it out, Cube.
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PostPosted: Wed May 14, 2014 3:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I see another 'issue' that has been addressed.
In the beginning TC's main issue, original sin, was his unbelief, the insistence on the Land being a dream and therefore having no consequence; and he spent two Chronicles to find the eye of the paradox and realize that it doesn't matter, he can still care for it and take actions. The same happened to Linden in TLC. Her 'issue' was that she put Jeremiah's rescue above the Land's rescue, and it took her the entire LC to realize that it doesn't matter, by rescuing one she will rescue the other.
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PostPosted: Wed May 14, 2014 4:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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I'm not even sure how it helped in the story. So it diverted the Worm ... so what?


The Elohim were preserved, and could then later put the Worm back to sleep.
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