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Bakker's The Prince of Nothing series
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Holsety
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 20, 2017 10:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Avatar wrote:
Interesting first question...I don't remember anything ever actually being said about Kelhus dreaming Seswatha...although of course he should be...

As for the second, IIRC, it was at the beginning of TJE, when he dreams of Seswatha stubbing his toe or something. Very Happy

--A

I figure not necessarily. Maybe there's something about gnostic sorcery he doesn't know, but he seemed to have quickly eclipsed any mandate sorcerer's abilities just by learning from Akka and expanding/reworking what he learned. I believe somewhere in TGO I saw the narrator state that Kellhus had eclipsed Titirga, who - when he appeared in a short story by Bakker - was a pre-seswatha sorcerer who in terms of sorcery exceeded nonmen and the head of the consult (when the consult was just starting to use science/tech).

What I'm basically saying is Kellhus likely doesn't have to kowtow to any requirements of the Mandate, and if he doesn't have to do the ritual, he may never have. I assume he knows of its existence and at least considered it - I dunno if he "undertook" it.
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As for the second, IIRC, it was at the beginning of TJE, when he dreams of Seswatha stubbing his toe or something. Very Happy

That's wonderful.

I don't remember TJE enough, but I remember the phrase "Seswatha does not shit."
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 21, 2017 9:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, Akka says it in explaining why his new dream was so unusual. Very Happy

As for the dreams, I seem to remember him telling Kelhus that there was some point, beyond which if he proceeded, he would start having the dreams.

Might be remembering it wrong though.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 21, 2017 9:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh. Perhaps you are right - I don't remember well enough myself.

A quick question regarding events in Momemn (after the conclusion of ch 3, pgs 80-109 for me):
Spoiler:
So Esmi missed with the chorae but the cishuarim died to arrows. It's not like guys weren't firing arrows at him before. Did the chorae tear a gap in sorcerous defenses? Or did the archers just get lucky at just the right time?

General pondering re TJE - the thing in the books, not the book - (I'm around pg 425 of TGO). I'm willing to offer a simple proposal of why it shows us "some truth" and yet it is not a perfect judge of moral reality, in case no one has argued this already:
Spoiler:
If TJE is some sort of sight attuned to the objective truth determined by the gods of the tusk, who determine damnation - and apparently, just about everything is damned - and if those such as the nonmen are correct, and the gods cannot perceive the no-god - then TJE's sight isn't perfect. Potentially incredibly flawed. The nonmen believe the disasters of the no-god were perceptible by the gods of the tusk - but that they would not accept the no-god's place in them, attributed them to all the other disasters.

Whatever the ultimate result of missions such as the consult, to (apparently) stop up hell with souls, if the effects of the no-god can't be seen by the gods of inithrism, perhaps they have no real way to perceive what actually will be damned or saved (I believe Oiniral or perhaps another nonman states that the no-god represents the end of everything they see, or some such). The two basic prongs of this sort of reasoning are:
-If the consult triumphs, and everyone who survives the stopping of hell doesn't go to hell, and the consult's success hinges at least partially on the no-god, then the gods will see people who will avoid their hell as damned when in fact they will be saved.
-If the consult fails, and stopping the no-god is important in stopping the consult, and stopping the consult is an even remotely laudable thing, then people who "should" be saved may be damned by the gods "incorrectly." Even if Kellhus's mission turns out very straightforwardly and the consult's plans are destroyed forevermore, this likely has clear ramifications for the world - but the gods may be unable to attribute these ramifications properly. What makes someone worth saving to the gods? Well, I don't think we know that, given how small our sample size is.

The ultimate lesson might be taken by the game (forgot the name) sometimes discussed in quotes that begin chapters, or any game (chess), where the possibilities present from the location of every piece govern the possible results. Think of any kind of viewpoint which endorses structuralism and the absolute reign of cause and effect. Remove the ability of the gods to see even one piece - the no-god, for now - and there goes the ability for them to really know what can happen to ANY piece. Imagine playing chess with your opponent having an invisible queen - or even an invisible pawn - and you being unwilling/unable to accept its existence even after pieces begin disappearing from the board (to better make this illusion realistic, make the game computerized, since a physical game against a human opponent would make you assume your opponent is cheating/crazy as he grabs pieces from the board).

I actually have dealt with this sort of thing before. I am terrible at warcraft III, but years ago I was accused of maphacking - using a hack to have constant vision of the map - by someone I beat. In reality, I was using units called wraiths, which are invisible to most units/structures, to scout him.

If TJE is calibrated to the sights of the gods of inithrism, and it cannot see the effects of something which seems rather important - the no-god, possibly - then the judging eye is merely opinion, not objective truth. At best, it gives us an objective understanding of the eye itself and whatever essence we learn of when we are told how it judges. Perhaps we can glean a little of the collective judgment of the inithri gods.

The darkness that comes before may be many things. For the inithri gods, it may be the no-god. It is far in the past and its existence affected the present quite a bit, and all their information ignores it.

The basic sort of failure we would accept is that if the consult succeeds, and hell is "stopped up", then souls which the inithri gods would condemn to hell will not go to hell. Maybe the world will be as bad as hell anyway, or whatever, and maybe the gods will exist and still see living things as damned if they ever get their hands on them, but at the very least, souls that would be damned according to the judging eye may avoid damnation, at least as meted out by the inithri gods.

In short, TJE falls from determining fact to showing mere desire - the desires of the inithri gods.

Disclaimer: I've based my conclusions on fairly straightforward statements. It doesn't make much of the repeated allusions and foreshadowing and anything ambiguous in these books. It might also be a fairly obvious question at this point for other readers, I dunno.


Also, a bit of pondering regarding survivor, taking the above spoilers as reasonable conclusions:
Spoiler:
You can read my full reasoning at the top of this post, but I laid out a basic rationale for why we shouldn't accord the judging eye moral truth - where moral truth is "will something be damned or saved? evil or good."

I think I would need to read again to better weigh the reasons survivor kills himself, but I think there are two major things worth considering in light of the possibility that TJE is not perfect. First, survivor considers the dunyain way false (something we can likely endorse). Second, survivor sees TJE as further proof of this - Mimara has no Dunyain perception, she can't read people's very lives from the twitches on their faces, but her "madness" is true, and sees truths of survivor she shouldn't be able to know. Survivor believes he was often difficult to follow for other dunyain, iirc.

(the truth of that cannot be known, since the dunyain are dead - but it is probably safe to assume that is true because bakker killed the other dunyain and then survivor, destroying our ability to see others undo survivor's appraisal of his measure compared to other dunyain. Forget assumptions like "survivor survived, therefore he is the most able," or even twists like "survivor's unique flaws allowed him to survive" - survivor is probably our most reliable source for determining what survivor is, even if we distrust the conclusions he draws about himself).

So when survivor is confronted with the truths TJE reveals, he assumes it represents the absolute.

But if we assume TJE represents the gods of the tusk particularly, and not a truly perfect, all grasping absolute - which we have some reason to, though I don't think we can yet be sure - then survivor has been deceived, has deceived himself. Why assume, when confronted with your own ignorance, that the next thing that reaches further than your own ignorance represents all truth? Simply because the eye outpaces the ability of dunyain observation does not mean it is perfect - we already know dunyain observation is imperfect."

Artistically, Survivor's mistake - if he did make a mistake - mirrors the mistake of men in general. Men accepted Kellhus as aspect-emperor; Survivor accepted limited deities as absolute. Of course, I think Survivor's suicide might have come even if he recognized that TJE was imperfect.

Survivor is possibly like someone who is predicted are predicted by an invisible unit and assumes the opponent maphacked the entire screen.


EDIT-RE conclusion of Dagliash battle:
Spoiler:
Remember the message on the probable nuke? Something like "not everyone can be saved." That's one of the basic forms of arguments justifying the two times nukes were used aggressively in war - that we'd kill a bunch of people but we'd probably end up with less people dead overall. Not trying to weigh in substantively on the morality of nuclear weapons - just pointing out a parallel likely intended by Bakker.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 23, 2017 5:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Can't remember about Esmi and the chorae.

Good reasoning about TJE. (The game is "benjuka" IIRC.)

Would have to re-read TGO with the comments about "survivor" in mind...seems reasonable, but he wasn't all that memorable for me.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2017 3:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Holsety, excellent work! I wish we'd been reading at the same time so I could make a more detailed response.

I thought the chorae ripped through the magical wards, allowing arrows to do their thing.

Is TJE really attuned to objective truth as defined by gods of the Tusks, or is it rather defined by some higher, "the one god?" What the Survivor called The Absolute? If so, I think it undermines your argument. I agree that the gods don't have a monopoly on truth--as revealed in this book--but that doesn't mean that there isn't still room for some objective, absolute truth within this mythology. I'd be disappointed if that were the case, since it would seem to argue against Bakker's own vision/philosophy with this series, but it's still possible.

I like that Bakker keeps finding ways to undermine what we think is true/absolute. The revelation that the gods can be wrong undermines the validity of Sorweel's mission to kill Khellus, which had seemed to be blessed by the gods. It is still unclear whether Khellus is good or evil, whether his intentions are good or bad, so that even this far in we don't know who to root for. That's amazing.

The final twist could be that after Bakker has undermined everything, after he has gotten us to believe and then disbelieve (much like Proyas), that he once again shows us a path to belief, or at least some kind of pragmatic acceptance. He could retain some version of Objective Truth, some level where we can definitely say, "this is real, this is good," even after giving us every reason to doubt the reality and/or value of everything.

This would mirror Nietzsche's role in the history of philosophy (especially as he viewed it himself), where he tore down the old morality with a brief period of nihilism, only to build it back up again with a human-based, earth-based morality.
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2017 4:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I do love that I still can't decide if Kelhus is "good" or "bad." Very Happy

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2017 5:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Is TJE really attuned to objective truth as defined by gods of the Tusks, or is it rather defined by some higher, "the one god?" What the Survivor called The Absolute? If so, I think it undermines your argument. I agree that the gods don't have a monopoly on truth--as revealed in this book--but that doesn't mean that there isn't still room for some objective, absolute truth within this mythology. I'd be disappointed if that were the case, since it would seem to argue against Bakker's own vision/philosophy with this series, but it's still possible.

This is true. I don't see the survivor as a "reputable authority" on determining whether the TJE is "the absolute". It's definitely beyond dunyain reasoning, at least in terms of guessing things like what Mimara guessed (how many stones, etc). But he definitely is yet another sign that TJE is...no everyday fluke.
Quote:
I like that Bakker keeps finding ways to undermine what we think is true/absolute. The revelation that the gods can be wrong undermines the validity of Sorweel's mission to kill Khellus, which had seemed to be blessed by the gods. It is still unclear whether Khellus is good or evil, whether his intentions are good or bad, so that even this far in we don't know who to root for. That's amazing.

Yup. Beyond questions re "what is kellhus after," I think the time-gap also makes it tough. I wasn't as attentive to it prior - but the scene where he uses one of his decapitated heads to create a servant (maybe just a rebirth of that demon - don't remember/know) is a good illustration of this. Because 3 seas people generally are so awed by his achievements, they are merely impressed by the heads. Now we know as readers that the heads aren't just a flourish or a way to intimidate enemies - he had a use for them.

From the end of TTT to the start of TJE, Kellhus has learned a hell of a lot. We don't know how much of it is true or false, to what degree, whatever. But it would make him even harder to be sure of.
Quote:

The final twist could be that after Bakker has undermined everything, after he has gotten us to believe and then disbelieve (much like Proyas), that he once again shows us a path to belief, or at least some kind of pragmatic acceptance. He could retain some version of Objective Truth, some level where we can definitely say, "this is real, this is good," even after giving us every reason to doubt the reality and/or value of everything.

This would mirror Nietzsche's role in the history of philosophy (especially as he viewed it himself), where he tore down the old morality with a brief period of nihilism, only to build it back up again with a human-based, earth-based morality.

Ya, even though I'm not truly familiar with Nietzche, I'd say if you can just go as far as Descartes ("I Exist") you can go a little further without walking on tenuous ground and say "I want to be happy" or "I want." Sure, then finding happiness regularly could be tough.

The next step would be nearly any faction on earwa. Not just the consult or the dunyain. The hardest to really accept would be sorcerors - eternal damnation doesn't seem to outweigh sorcery in the mortal coil, and sorcers seem to actually believe in eternal damnation prior to kellhus. But then you just accept that humans can sacrifice long term and short term and are capable of denial, and even sorcerers are believable.

If you accept that you want - even that you want to be good at not wanting something you don't have more than you want anything else (take that as a basic form of buddhism or stoicism as I understand them) - then the question of good and evil kind of falls away in a pragmatic sense.

It takes another step - a pragmatic step, I think, though it has emotional appeal to me - to sometimes accept a different good. But it doesn't always take any more than the realization that a different person's idea of good is based on a different perspective. While that means wants will likely not be entirely mutual, it also means that whether they are mutual or not, another person's concept of good may more accurately achieve good for you than your own - let alone how selfish or unselfish "good" for you is, how rigid or flexible, however oriented. The exceptions would be things like if good for you is being good, being right, and being the source of that goodness and rightness. Which is surely true for all of us in part, but likely absolutely primary for few or none of us.

It is not typically true of an omnipotent, all good, omniscient god as we're told of it - it seems that god, at least in many religions, asks us to recognize it as the unquestioned source of good, right, etc. Some christians, jews, and muslims will tell you that acknowledging god's perfection, with moral goodness being part of that perfection, is required for salvation. The absolute in bakker - if TJE is it, truly or falsely - also might have that characteristic. Mimara seems to be less willing to accept dissent in recent passages, less willing to be content near akka, while simultaneously willing to accept on some level survivor's decision to reunite with the all (i.e. die). Not sure if she thinks it redeemed him, but she seemed to think it was proper. I don't remember TWLW anymore - but the "what has gone before" section described her reacting to Lord Koster (sp?), the scalper who was totally fucking damned as far as TJE was concerned, differently - I think it said she had actual sympathy/compassion for him...?

Possible explanations for the difference perhaps include survivor's relative confidence prior to realizing TJE was something special. Sure, he had lost faith in the dunyain, but I think TJE's ability to know a surely unknowable fact went beyond the consult's ability to change reality (to change facts) because the dunyain likely saw themselves as closer to knowledge than to power (very basic assessment). The absolute for them wasn't to do anything - it was to know what was the best thing to do, or the thing required, or the thing most appropriate - things of that nature were prioritized, I think. See the dunyain's dismissal of sorcery - dismiss amazing and wonderful abilities, seek what's actually possible. Maybe they initially believed sorcery really was possible, but that seems to be how they thought of it in the "modern" time.
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 18, 2017 1:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Unholy Consult manuscript is submitted - now with new cover art and sometimes appearing synopsis!

EDIT: Sorry I haven't been around to keep up with the thread. Low-key, I can't discuss anyways, having read TUC draft last Sep.
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 18, 2017 4:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Madness wrote:
The Unholy Consult manuscript is submitted - now with new cover art and sometimes appearing synopsis!

EDIT: Sorry I haven't been around to keep up with the thread. Low-key, I can't discuss anyways, having read TUC draft last Sep.


Hey Madness,

Thanks for this. That new cover, who is that, Achamian?!
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 18, 2017 5:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I believe so. As much as I disdain the face covers, it's damn near time that the publishers found a face that actually parallels the gravity of the text.
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 20, 2017 5:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

1) Nice to see you around. Very Happy

2) It's out in July already? Awesome!

3) Can't wait. Very Happy

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 24, 2017 4:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hiro wrote:

Hey Madness,

Thanks for this. That new cover, who is that, Achamian?!


I just learned yesterday that Bakker won the fight for that specific "generic face cover" over some other lessers.

Avatar wrote:
1) Nice to see you around. Very Happy

2) It's out in July already? Awesome!

3) Can't wait. Very Happy

--A


Thanks, Avatar Smile.

Yes, July already. I actually received the finalized draft a couple days ago but won't have a chance to read it for a week or two. Updated glossary included - super excited!

I swung by after work tonight to let you know - and will remind in a week since I'm super busy with work - but Bakker scheduled an AMA on r/fantasy for April 3rd Surprised ?!

It's going to be a shitshow Very Happy!!!
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 24, 2017 5:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey, that's my birthday. Very Happy

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 25, 2017 2:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, happy birthday to you Smile!
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 27, 2017 4:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Haha, thanks. Very Happy

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 03, 2017 2:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Happy Birthday, Avatar! (link to Bakker's AMA Wink )
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 04, 2017 5:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hahaha, thanks Madness. Very Happy I didn't make the AMA, but I'll read through it. Very Happy

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PostPosted: Wed May 03, 2017 4:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Werthead reported at Westeros and Pat's Fantasy Hotlist posted that they've both received The Unholy Consult ARCs!
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PostPosted: Thu May 04, 2017 1:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bakkerfans announced a forthcoming ARC giveaway and Pat's Fantasy Hotlist has released a "Quote of the Day," which basically amounts to an excerpt a couple paragraphs long. Definitely shows off Bakker's amazing writing!
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PostPosted: Thu May 04, 2017 4:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looking forward to it. Very Happy

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