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Atoning for the rape of Lena as the core problem in TCTC

 
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Mighara Sovmadhi
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 14, 2015 7:03 pm    Post subject: Atoning for the rape of Lena as the core problem in TCTC Reply with quote

If Linden's personal perception of Time is functionally equivalent to the Arch of Time, then from Covenant's point of view, his first entry into the Land is the beginning of Time (in the Land). Subjectively, the Land and its Earth are created by Covenant in the initial act of transition, which is a paradox (pertaining intimately to the issue of Unbelief).

Covenant, as the Creator who has cast himself into his own creation, meets an innocent young woman whom he half-seduces and ultimately rapes, an act of betrayal whose ramifications spiral towards the World's End. It is, as it were, the betrayal of Diassomer Mininderain Herself, the antitype of all treacherous love. Even though Landsdrop and the history of She Who Must Not Be Named are "true" of the Land "prior" to Covenant's historical knowledge of the Land, they are ontologically successors of the rape of Lena. It is this sin that defines not only Covenant's but eventually even Linden's moral problem in the story--not (just or centrally) leprosy or parental torment or whatever.

Evidence? Two passages, first:

Quote:
... sickened at heart by Lena's madness, and by the imminent ruin of the Land, he [Covenant] resolves to confront the Despiser himself. [TLD, "What Has Gone Before," xvi.]


And second:

Quote:
But she [Linden] remembered too well what she herself had done to the first Law-Breaker. Now she considered it the least forgivable of her sins... Because of it, ... she had forsaken her husband and her son and the imminent destruction of the Earth. [TLD, "All Lost Women," 486.]


The first passage showcases a particular detail of the Land's plight that was the turning-point impetus, for Covenant, in deciding to suspend his Unbelief and save the Land. The second passage shows a priority of motivation in Linden otherwise absent from the narrative (as far as this priority being stated goes: since usually, throughout the Last Chronicles, Linden is upset over being away from Covenant or her son). The rape of Lena created Elena, who herself created the foundations of the destruction of the Earth by breaking the Law of Death, whose abuse of the Staff of Law resulted indirectly in the Staff's own destruction, which opened the door to the Sunbane, the quest for the Isle of the One Tree, the near-rousing of the Worm there, the succession of Brinn over the Theomach as the Tree's guardian, and so on and on and on. Elena, as the first soul freed from Her, inaugurates the exaltation of the Demondim-spawn, which is the outcome of the Viles' ages of planning (the androgyny of the Vile-sired is an implicit repudiation of a culture revolving around such things as patriarchy). Because of Her redemption, Covenant and Jeremiah are preserved from the final atrocity of the Despiser's violence and given the chance to help Linden recreate the Earth and its Time.

Metaphorically speaking, the issue is of the cancer in Covenant's soul. He is a leper, mistreated by the people of Haven Farm's nearby town. But he is not just a victim, he is a victimizer, and in an exceptionally terrible way. Something in his soul makes him think that at least dream-rape has appeal. The issue is not misogyny, though, but a failure of self-command, the overarching virtue in the series. Covenant "allows" his passion to override his moral awareness.

The series' constant equation of demonic possession with rape also reflects the rape of Lena as the core moral problem that Covenant and his friends are implicitly dealing with over the course of the entire story. What Linden's father did to her has rape-like qualities, as does Linden's killing of her own mother. Moreover, the incarnate entropy of the Worm would not pose a moral problem for the people of the Land if they were not given to the eternal commitment of romantic ideality. We want to be with the people we love, forever. (Not all of us do, but some of us, and enough of us even so.) If we love ourselves (and respect ourselves, too), we will want to "be with" ourselves forever, too. Accordingly, the conflict between the corruption of love and self-command on the one hand, represented in the base act of rape, and on the other the wild magic of the silver circle of Time--manifested in a wedding ring--unfolds throughout TCTC.

Wherefore not only does the Despiser desire his own freedom from what he "perceives to be a prison" (TLD, "What Has Gone Before," xiv)--as if Time is not a prison for him, in fact, but the proper place for his self-expression as the recursive brother of God--but he desires to rape himself, and the Law and God for that matter. The eternal desolation of Jeremiah's possible real world-prison would have been the form this molestation of self-command took. But therefore when Linden forgives herself for failing to forgive Elena--forgives all this by freeing Elena from Her--metaphorically Covenant is forgiven his willingness to commit dream-rape, and Despite fundamentally loses power over his soul, enough to where the personification of Despite is "struck down," readied for reconciliation inside Covenant's soul.

And then, as Lena first told Covenant (IIRC), "The soul in which the flower grows survives."
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 14, 2015 9:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mighara,

I am not sure I can see this quite the same way you do, but I think that the way I see it has a lot of correspondence with what you say.

Mighara Sovmadhi wrote:
Covenant, as the Creator who has cast himself into his own creation, meets an innocent young woman whom he half-seduces and ultimately rapes, an act of betrayal whose ramifications spiral towards the World's End.

Covenant need not "be" the Creator, but he certainly shapes the world he is cast into by his deeds. Over time, he shapes this world as much as the Creator has. So there is "creation" here, yes. And a creator's responsibility for what he has made.

Mighara Sovmadhi wrote:
Something in his soul makes him think that at least dream-rape has appeal. The issue is not misogyny, though, but a failure of self-command, the overarching virtue in the series. Covenant "allows" his passion to override his moral awareness.

Covenant's impotence, as I see it, is a symbol of his initial, powerless state. When he is translated to the Land, he has power - the white gold - even though he doesn't know it. Hence, he is no longer impotent. But Covenant is unaware of his wild magic power, heedless of it, and would have no idea how to use it if he did. He's dangerous! Rape, in this light, is merely the logical consequence of someone who has power without the wisdom to use it. The result is evil deeds, done to innocent people.

And the text itself tells us that this is wild magic, uttered without conscious control: her loins were stabbed with a wild, white fire.

Yes, it is a failure of "self-command", in a way. As a powerless person, what kind of self-command does one need? Covenant lacks self-command because he is unaware he needs it - he is unaware he has power, and he is unaware of the cautions that power requires. He is utterly unaccustomed to having the kind of power that can harm anyone. So why not heedlessly pursue ones passions?

But, let's also remember, Covenants act is evil, but it is also an act of creation. From this act is Elena born. So that fits, too. Elena's rape is the act of a creator without self-command.
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 15, 2015 3:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I guess the ochre-robed fellow's existence does tell strongly against identifying Covenant with the Creator per se. However, let us suppose that Covenant is not the First Person of the Ur-Trinity (we'll call it), i.e. he is not quite the Despiser's brother. But he is not quite the Despiser either, despite(!) his and the Despiser's quasi-mockery of Christ's, "The Father and I are one." He is the Creator, as the Despiser, becoming the Creator anew, i.e. he is the Third Person of the Ur-Trinity (SRD indicates this when in the GI, I think it is, he equates wild magic with the Holy Spirit).
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 15, 2015 8:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lena's rape was not just the act of someone with newfound power who doesn't know how to control it. That would be Covenant in the second chrons before he was forged in the Banefire. When he raped Lena he expressed his long shimmering resentment toward his neighbours and wife. When he walks into town and see teenaged girls in a clothing shop he has rapy thoughts about them. He wants to hurt them and have his way with them.

For me a big part of the rape, what made the multi-generationtional atrocity it turned out to be, was the Land's people attempt to suppress it and idolize Covenant instead of blaming him. It made the rape what in our world would be a family scandal of a father raping his daughter that no one must know about, not even themselves instead of just a random horror by a stranger in an alley.

Wayfriend - that quote about the rape being an act of Wild Magic is interesting. Covenant hurts Lena with the very power that's held in every speck and aspect of the Land, the power that's supposed to save them: Family Love?
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 15, 2015 2:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

shadowbinding shoe wrote:
Wayfriend - that quote about the rape being an act of Wild Magic is interesting. Covenant hurts Lena with the very power that's held in every speck and aspect of the Land, the power that's supposed to save them: Family Love?

Actually, I had expounded on this topic more pedantically, and more eloquently in this post. But, yes, his power is a save or damn kind of thing, right? There'd be no ethical dimension to a story about power if it could only do good.
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 15, 2015 2:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

wayfriend wrote:
There'd be no ethical dimension to a story about power if it could only do good.


Absolutely.
I don't think the rape is the cause/source/central problem.
It is the first effect that shows us just how bad the problem is.
It's one focal point/anchor...it's terrible that it was done.
It is worse that it can never, ever, be undone [or even completely paid for]...
It is one particular expression/instance of the problem.

The two-pronged issue is---how do we limit such things being done without exerting power/force? And then how do we live with the fact that they will always be possible unless everyone is powerless/effectless?

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 15, 2015 10:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I suppose it's more like the problem is that Covenant and Linden are to atone for the sin of not forgiving themselves, Covenant for the rape and Linden for the destruction of the world, events that are tied together in the person of Elena. Therefore when Covenant meets the Dead in Andelain, including Atiaran and Lena for example, he is told that, "In punishing oneself, one comes to merit punishment. This is Despite." This is, in fact, recursive disgrace (where grace is taken in the redemptive sense, as a redemptive force), to wit the morally incorrect point of view towards the very concepts of retribution and forgiveness, the priority of punishment over restoration. And that is part of the problem Linden deals with when dealing with Her, and which is revealed to her through the bereavement of the trees of the ancient Forestals. (Wherefore it will not come to pass, that beauty and truth shall pass utterly from the ur-Earth.)
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 15, 2015 10:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

An interesting discussion.

I tend to agree with Vraith's comment.

I think we also need to remember the issue of Unbelief. The question raised in this regard - which is not straightforward - is the relationship between Covenant's unrestrained act of violence against a woman he initially believes to be a figure in a dream rather than real, and his subsequent refusal to commit to decisive action in a world he doubts is real for fear that to do so will destroy his capacity to do what is necessary to survive in the real world.
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 15, 2015 10:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

On the question of Covenant's Unbelief, we should also remember that Atiaran's behaviour towards Covenant, from the time she learns of the rape until the time they part company when they reach the Soulsease, is completely at odds with how a person from our world would expect the mother of a rape survivor to behave towards the rapist. Covenant would have woken up each morning after he and Atiaran had stopped to rest for the night to find that he was still in the Land, rather than waking up in the "real" world after this woman in his dream had slipped a knife into his ribs as he was dozing off. Does this experience dispose him to consider the possibility that the Land is real, or does it simply confirm for him how Unbelievable the whole thing is?
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 16, 2015 10:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Let's not forget that (and why) Atiaran ended up summoning Hile Troy, who was quasi-in love with Elena, and who joined her as a Law-Breaker.
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2015 2:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

wayfriend wrote:

Covenant's impotence, as I see it, is a symbol of his initial, powerless state. When he is translated to the Land, he has power - the white gold - even though he doesn't know it. Hence, he is no longer impotent. But Covenant is unaware of his wild magic power, heedless of it, and would have no idea how to use it if he did. He's dangerous! Rape, in this light, is merely the logical consequence of someone who has power without the wisdom to use it. The result is evil deeds, done to innocent people.

And the text itself tells us that this is wild magic, uttered without conscious control: her loins were stabbed with a wild, white fire.

Yes, it is a failure of "self-command", in a way. As a powerless person, what kind of self-command does one need? Covenant lacks self-command because he is unaware he needs it - he is unaware he has power, and he is unaware of the cautions that power requires. He is utterly unaccustomed to having the kind of power that can harm anyone. So why not heedlessly pursue ones passions?

But, let's also remember, Covenants act is evil, but it is also an act of creation. From this act is Elena born. So that fits, too. Elena's rape is the act of a creator without self-command.


Well said.
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 05, 2020 3:39 pm    Post subject: Re: Atoning for the rape of Lena as the core problem in TCTC Reply with quote

Mighara Sovmadhi wrote:
Covenant, as the Creator who has cast himself into his own creation


To be honest, I think it might make more sense if High Lord Kevin were considered as being the Creator. In this way Kevin and Covenant are more easily identifiable as one and the same person. Covenant has not exactly cast himself into his own creation, it's just that he has forgotten everything about it. Not difficult to believe if the creation of The Land had happened a very very long time ago!

That is why Kevin has to remain so distant. That is his role in the story. That he must stay as close as possible to the very very beginning, so that Covenant stands a good chance of making it to the very very end.

This makes perfect sense when Covenant destroys Ridjeck Thome. When Covenant takes possession of the wild magic it is here we witness a direct link between the Leper and the Landwaster - a piece of the sun - "The soul in which the flower grows survives."

But then if Covenant is Kevin surely the old beggar man in the ochre robe ...

His staff rang curiously on the sidewalk, as if the wood were harder than cement

... is Caerroil Wildwood - a much better candidate for the role of the Creator.
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 08, 2020 2:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

From Group Readings/2nd Chronicles: The One Tree/Chapter 26 Fruition
Quote:
She flung her arms around [Covenant] and forced her face toward his. Mad ecstasy distorted his visage. Kevin must have worn that same look at the Ritual of Desecration. Focusing all the penetration of her senses, she tuned her urgency, her love, her self to a pitch that would touch him.

A good example of Covenant and Kevin sharing the same space. (worn - a thought-provoking word).
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 09, 2020 12:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If Covenant is Kevin, then the events under Melenkurion Skyweir are pretty hard to explain. Was Covenant, then, mastered by the Illearth Stone and sent to destroy ... Covenant? That's a very odd plan, even for Lord Foul.
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 09, 2020 5:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

wayfriend wrote:
If Covenant is Kevin, then the events under Melenkurion Skyweir are pretty hard to explain.
Kevin's Fourth Ward needn't be hard to understand, let alone explain.


This is pretzel logic!
wayfriend wrote:
Was Covenant, then, mastered by the Illearth Stone and sent to destroy ... Covenant?
Elena had the Staff of Law ... Elena misused the power of command ... Elena broke the Law of Death ... not, Covenant.




wayfriend wrote:
That's a very odd plan, even for Lord Foul.
Not when Kevin's Seventh Ward is the 'Door' through which he returns.





Elena lost the Staff of Law,
Lazy Luke wrote:
But then if Covenant is Kevin surely the old beggar man in the ochre robe ...

His staff rang curiously on the sidewalk, as if the wood were harder than cement

... is Caerroil Wildwood - a much better candidate for the role of the Creator.
... not, Covenant.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 17, 2020 3:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
To be honest, I think it might make more sense if High Lord Kevin were considered as being the Creator. In this way Kevin and Covenant are more easily identifiable as one and the same person. Covenant has not exactly cast himself into his own creation, it's just that he has forgotten everything about it. Not difficult to believe if the creation of The Land had happened a very very long time ago!

As someone who (at this point) frequently wonders if other people around him may be projections of his own consciousness, but perhaps dislikes the escapism and the imprisonment assumed as a result, I'd like to respond to this a bit, although I know the posting itself is probably a parody of my own defensive thought processes in the face of overwhelming evidence of my synonymous evil and incompetence.

It might be simpler to go through the Chronicles and simplify together characters, but if so, isn't Covenant already Bannor due to that sculpture Elena made? Isn't Covenant an omni-Joan, breaking all the ranyhyn of the land in a single scene?

Regarding your post in response to Wayfriend's, I'm not sure that what you said clarifies the sense of your post. Is Foul trying to avenge Elena's misdeed against the law of death? Or is he trying to get the white gold ring? Why does the fact that Elena broke the law and lost the staff make it any less odd than that Elena sent Kevin - and thus Covenant - to attack Foul, and that Foul then sent Kevin - and thus Covenant - to attack Elena? Do you think that Lord Foul mastered Kevin - and thus Covenant - and thus the ring - in the Illearth War?

I admit, I can foresee creative solutions to these questions.
Quote:
But then if Covenant is Kevin surely the old beggar man in the ochre robe ...

His staff rang curiously on the sidewalk, as if the wood were harder than cement

... is Caerroil Wildwood - a much better candidate for the role of the Creator.

Maybe? The biggest problem is that the Creator is widely believed to be outside the world the land takes place in. Is that a little fib he and Foul are pulling on everyone? Also, there used to be more Forestals, IIRC.

I'm a little confused by the prospect though. Maybe the Creator was subordinate to Covenant and other people of "our world" for some reason as a result of being homeless? Maybe this explains why they say that wild magic is graven into every rock of the land. Maybe the homeless creator was divorced - maybe he gave up on his marriage.

Even then, I think the worm of world's end would be an even more primal force than the forestal, and again, the worm is within the world, not without it. Maybe the worm is the creator's hungry belly and when he gets hungry it wakes up and he eats his kids like Cronus.

I don't think anything you are saying is particularly bad, but I admit I'm a little confused and think you might be in need of a reread, but I admit that to really discuss this, I am kind of in need of a reread too - and I probably won't get to it.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 17, 2020 12:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

From the perspective of Covenant's time in the land being only a dream, then every character he meets is a projection of some aspect of himself.

But that's a trivial answer. From the perspective of the Land, believing this to be so, on any and every occasion, destroys the integrity of the story. In the Land, they are, and need to be, independent actors, or else the point of the dream/reality dichotomy becomes meaningless.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 17, 2020 8:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

No doubt -
Holsety wrote:
I don't think anything you are saying is particularly bad, but I admit I'm a little confused and think you might be in need of a reread, but I admit that to really discuss this, I am kind of in need of a reread too - and I probably won't get to it.


That the nature and purpose of the Kevin's fourth ward is now open, a reread is indeed a good idea.
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