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Bakker XXXVII: One Big Happy Fanimry


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This is the perpetual thread devoted to the works of R. Scott Bakker, primarily the books in The Second Apocalypse series, the first of which is The Darkness that Comes Before.

The current publication status is 5 volumes of novels, including the latest, The White-Luck Warrior, as well as 3 short stories, The False Sun and The Four Revelations of Cinial'jin on Bakker's Blog Three Pound Brain and The Knife of Many Hands, which is available for purchase. This thread contains spoilers for these publications.

Since Bakker's writing uses layers of revelation, newcomers are strongly advised to finish the books before coming here; otherwise the spoilers will rot your soul. Eternally.

Most denizens of this thread have also read Bakker's non-fantasy novels Neuropath and Disciple of the Dog, but the spoiler policy is unclear. You are advised to hide crucial plot points in those novels.

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(Hopefully my thread title is acceptable to the masses.)

Continuing where we left off, I posted:

Just to throw in a crackpot theory-of-the-day, what if Chorae are blind-spots to the No-God?

Evidence of this?

Well, coincidentally (and by that I mean, no way it's a coincidence) the two places that "survive" the Apocalypse are Atrithau and Sakarpus. Atrithau is built on Anarcane ground and Sakarpus has the Chorae Hoard. They survived because the No-God could not see them to marshal all the constructs against them.

In addition, that's why the carapace is covered in them and why he is constantly asking, "What do you see?" It was purposely made blind to itself, so it could not discern it's own nature.

Also, discussed was Akka's self-proclaimed title of spy:

Well yes, and you are hardly a spy if every character you encounter knows you are a spy or you tell them you are a spy. That's effectively a complete and categorical textual refutation of the claim to spyhood.

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I think the No-God's issues will tie in more with the Blind Brain Theory and us being too close to ourselves to understand what we really are. Since it can control multiple bodies and is perhaps made up of multiple souls, the No-God is a consciousness without a sense of self, and that leads to the psychological breakdown.

As far as Akka spying, it's interesting but we do see him spying first in Carythusal and later in Sumna. The Quorum expressly sends him out to continue spying so I'm not sure he was lying or what else he could be.

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It seemed like Akka was only a "spy" in a loose, courtly way, but by the time the series begins it's clear that this part of his so-called career is coming to an end, considering the entire world goes totally apeshit with him thrust right in the middle.

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In my defense, well Akka's spy gig was up after his time in Momemn. And when the holy war starts, he is still keeping an eye on the Scarlet Spires. I know his role as a spy was compromised, yet he was still a spy. I think it was more just his back story.

ETA: Sorry FB didn't see your post. That how I always thought of it too.

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Agreed on the title!

Huh. Would be interesting to dig through all that stuff Solo dug up on chorae or khora or whatever from other texts and see if any of it would tie into the no-god being blind to them, but I am much too lazy to actually do it, so I'll just kind of casually mention it instead.

Glad my title was acceptable. Now, lets see on the note of Khora...

Any further thoughts? I think Darzin is right and Eanna may well play the role of a Chekhov's Continent a lá Shara in WoT.

I also wanted to make an enquiry regarding Chorae. I noted that Plato refers to the khora (originally referring to the territory of a Greek polis outside the city proper) as being spaces enfolded between being and non-being which act as receptacles for the Forms. If Bakker's chorae references Plato's khora, can we think of the chorae as being receptacles for the objective (i.e. the God), which 'correct' any woundings to the onta in their vicinity (so the salting of sorcerors is really a healing of their Mark).


Back to Chorae, then.

I seem to have completely missed the boat on that, so forgive me if I plow a long-depleted rut.

Wiktionary has, at χώρα [ http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/χώρα ] the definition the proper place. That suffices already for a description of the metaphysics of Chorae in Bakkerworld: it puts reality back in its proper place, i.e., the reality posited by the God. Apparently khora play a huge role in Derrida.

As to the mechanism by which Chorae work in-universe, this is by lost knowledge of the branch of magic called aporos. We can assume out-of-universe that this branch is based on the philosophical meaning of Aporia, having to do with insoluble puzzles (paradoxes). Since Bakkers magic is based on language (or logic), the aporetic paradox nullifies its meaning. Again, Derrida has written a lot of nonsense about this as well, so were on the right track.

Now, what interests me, and which solo touched on tangentially, is the meaning of chora as receptacle, womb. (Im not sure I follow Derrida in this) There is some kind of argument that goes from chorae to womb, and Mimara fits in there somewhere. Can somebody spell this out for me? (Not why Mimara is a womb, and therefore acts as a force multiplier for chorae. Instead: why have chorae wombish nature?)

The ancient Greeks had words for two senses of place - chora and topos. Chora is the older of the two terms, and was a holistic reference to place: place as expressively potent, place as experience, place as a trigger to memory, imagination and myth - ic presence. Topos, on the other hand, signified place in much the way we think of it nowadays - simple location, and the objective, physical features of a locale. Topography. Aristotle took this sense of place, and abstracted it further into the pure concept of position. Ultimately, even sacred places be- came topoi, shorn of their mythic dimension, shorn of chora.

In his Timaeus, Plato, on the cusp of the old mythic worldview and the new rationalist, intellectual order, struggled to define the process of becoming aware of chora, of primeval space. He claimed that chora could not be appre - hended by the senses alone, but required in addition a kind of " bastard reasoning" it could only be known " in a kind of dream, " (Lee, 1965) a phrase Eu - gene Walter interprets as " dreaming with our eyes open " (Walter, 1988). This is not metaphor, it is technique, that Plato was referring to. What he was saying about a special kind of dreaming, was in effect, that we need to place a mythic filter onto our perception if we are to experience chora, the imaginal qualities, of a place. (The visionary poet William Blake expressed this ability well when he stated that " double the vision " was always with him, so that a thistle across his way could also appear to him as " an old man grey. " ) So, in short, chora relates to an engaged, mythic or imaginal sense of place rather than a physical, utilitarian and mundane one. Our present disengagement from a soulful sense of place is leading us to the danger of no longer standing on meaningful ground.

and thus the wheel is come full circle. i shall have much more to say about this later (i.e., when i finish digesting & writing), but topos and khora are brought into equation by mr. derrida:

(on the name, 'sauf le nom' at 56-57 (emphasis original)).

so, that's obvious, then, aye?

probably the RSB topos and chorae are thus intimately related, if we are to privilege the derridean background.

we left off in our discussion of the khora with plato's timaeus. We now resume that colloquy with derrida's essay from on the name.

we note two precessions, though, of the khora in on the name, prior to the essay actually on the khora (other than the passage cited, supra, in the prior RSB thread):

in "Passions: An Oblique Offering": "And the secret will remain secret, mute, impassive as the khora, as Khora [sic] foreign to every history, as much in the sense of Geschichte or res gestae as of knowledge and of historical narrative (episteme, historia rerum gestarum), and outside all periodization, all epochalization" (loc. cit. at 27). so: mute and secret?

in "Sauf le nom (Post-Scriptum)": "or some khora (body without body, absent body but unique body and place [lieu] of everything, in the place of everything, interval, place [place], spacing. Would you also say of khora, as you were just doing in a murmur, 'save its name' [sauf son nom; safe, its name]?" (loc. cit. at 56). so: incorporeal?

Point of departure for the khora essay proper is an epigraph by mr. j-p vernant, regarding how "the mythologist was left with drawing up, in conclusion this statement of deficit, and to turn to the linguists, logicians, mathematicians, that they might supply him with the tool he lacked: the structural model of a logic which would not be that of binarity, of the yes and no, a logic other than the logic of the logos." (on the name at 88).

fuck me, yo. the relevant structuration there is accordingly logos/mythos. essay itself is a hyperformalist close reading of the timaeus. no need to rework all that stuff. (it is of course very cool, and i recommend it.)

the khora fits in as what "goes beyond or falls short of the polarity of metaphorical sense versus proper sense that the thought of the khora exceeds the polarity, no doubt analogous, of the mythos and the logos. [...] the thought of the khora would trouble the very order of polarity, of polarity in general, whether dialectical or not." (on the name at 92). to 'trouble' something in Bigg D is classic 'solicitation,' the shaking of the foundations of a structuration. here, D solicits the structure of binarism, polarity--which had been the basic assumption of deconstruction hitherto--that things were structured around binaries that could be solicited. the khora apparently deconstructs deconstruction. that's brainmelty shit.

anyway, lots can be said of this essay. but here, we pull out bits obvious for the RSB:

"Not having an essence, how could the khora be beyond its name? The khora is anachronistic; it 'is' the anachrony within being, or better: the anachrony of being. It anachronizes being." (op. cit. at 94).

"Does the thought of khora, which obviously does not derive from the 'logic of noncontradiction of the philosophers,' belong to the space of mythic thought? is the 'bastard' logos which is regulated according to it still a mythos?" (op. cit. at 100).

"According to Hegel, philosophy becomes serious [...] only from the moment when it enters into the sure path of logic: that is, after having abandoned, or let us rather say sublated, its mythic form: after Plato, with Plato. Philosophical logic comes to its senses when the concept wakes up from its mythological slumber, Sleep and waking, for the vent, consist in a simple unveiling: the making explicit and taking cognizance of a philosopheme enveloped in its virtual potency. The mytheme will have been only a prephilosopheme offered an promised to a dialectical aufhebung. This teleological future anterior resembles the time of a narrative but it is a narrative of the going outside of narrative." (op. cit. 100-01). this is fairly awesome, the teleological future anterior. what comes when determines what comes when, again? do we need a prophet of the past to sort that shit out?

overall point of the essay is remarkably plain (for a derrida writing, at least):

(op. cit. at 119-20). that's kinda deconstruction in a nutshell. as a conclusion, it is warranted by the essay that precedes it; the khora is something that does not fit in with the standard interpretation of 'platonism' as the synthesis of the parmenidean aletheia and the heraclietean polemos. instead, the khora is the triton genos that unravels this tidy reading. it is a marginal concept in a marginal portion of a marginal text of plato; it is classic deconstruction to use this brief interlude as the point at which the entire narrative comes apart, the now standard 'oblique approach.' it is neither sensible nor intelligible; it is neither logos nor mythos. i.e.:(op. cit. at 113). the point has been to implode the timaeus' notion of 'probable myth': "The demiurge formed the cosmos in the image of the eternal paradigm which he contemplates. The logos which relates to these images, to these iconic beings, must be of the same nature: merely probable." (op. cit at 112).

so: the chorae will dick up the teleological future anterior. and, yeah, it is pandekhes, "a whole gamut of senses and connotations: to receive or accept (a deposit, a salary, a present), to welcome, to gather, or even to expect, for example, the gift of hospitality, to be its addressee." (op. cit. at 111). this is the womb/receptacle stuff. the chorae are there to unravel tidy narratives and otherwise persuasive schematics. text tells us that they are inscribed with aporetics, which is a well known deconstruction term. thing is, in our world, these aporetics will apply generally; in RSBland, they are contained within the aporos, whereas proper sorcery can apparently articulate undeconstructible language. that be some real fantasy. not only is the RSB a fantasy of demographics, but is apparently a fantasy of linguistics too.

pretty sure that's all cleared up now!

Well, uh, that is a lot. I need to read over all this, but at a very cursory blush, all I can see that is obvious is that the idea of Khora (Chorae) as wombs and the No-God's stated effect on wombs and the death of birth.

I'll see if I can wrap my monkey brain around all this...

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I think I'd thrown this idea out at some point in the past, but here it is again (the following assumes that lockesnow's theory above is not correct);

What if Chorae are special not just because of whatever art the Aporetics applied but also because they come from a rare substance that is itself special, and what if said substance is abundant around Atrithau? Perhaps it is on anarcane ground because it is where Chorae-mining was done? Have we been told of any other instances of the supposed anarcane groud besides Atrithau? I don't believe so. But as .H. points out, the two northern cities that survived the Apocalypse, Atrithau and Sakarpas, both had a big dose of anarcane somthing-or-other in their own way.

Could the Consult's design of the No-God with Chorae on the carapace have been a double-edged sword? That is to ask, could the blindness have been considered an unfortunate drawback of including the Chorae as protection but they concluded that the protection was worth it since they thought they just needed to Roomba for long enough?

ETA: Also, no formulate theory here, but I have to think that Atrithau comes back into play in the story somehow. It seems like a Chekhov's Gun; just not sure how. It would be hilarious if it was somehow Kellhus' undoing since he's the Prince of Atrithau and all that.

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Good shit, Triskan. I agree, I believe Atrithau will come into play somehow. Its been mentioned aplenty.

And it's the setting of the tantalizing deleted chapter from book one. That's the atrocity tale I want.
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And it's the setting of the tantalizing deleted chapter from book one. That's the atrocity tale I want.

I never knew there was a deleted chapter from book one. That's interesting.

ETA: OK, when he goes to Atrithau after escaping Mek, and before Cnaüir. In all seriousness, was there actually a deleted chapter or no?

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And it's the setting of the tantalizing deleted chapter from book one. That's the atrocity tale I want.

It's actually several books worth of Kel POV chapters. He starts a new religion and learns to rule, making several semi-humorous mistakes along the way. Nothing much of importance ever seems to happen though.

And the reader is left wondering how Kel could forget that he is on a mission to find his father. Why can't he get off his ass already and cross the trackless Scylvendi sea to Westeros?

I personally think Bakker made the right call and cut the Atrithauian knot out of the book entirely.

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Read a comment on Scott's blog by someone who may or may not also post here:

Dave S

July 1, 2015 at 3:50 pm

I called Overlook a week or so ago to ask about TUC. Nice young lady said she didn’t know but would have someone call me. No one called. I also emailed that day. No one responded.

So, today, I called back. Got the same young lady who checked with her sales team (whom, she eventually told me, know better about production schedules and timelines than she) and shared that TUC not currently on their schedule or production timeline.

I asked what hold ups there might be, since the manuscript is finished and shared that I (and others) have been waiting a considerable time for the novel. I also noted that I was keenly interested in purchasing TUC and was curious why they weren’t moving forward on completed manuscripts. No responses to any of this, except to share that they’re a small publishing house and as a result could alter course quickly and move to starting the publication process abruptly.

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Yea, that sucks. I just wish that a company could have the common decency to respond their customers. This no reply is what is so disheartening. Callan S., so much for it being due to their work schedule, huh? But, in all fairness you said next week will be the latest the would respond by, because of holidays. We shall see.

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No responses to any of this, except to share that they’re a small publishing house and as a result could alter course quickly and move to starting the publication process abruptly.

Wow. I think I'm just going to forget about Bakker and TSA for awhile. I was hoping to plan a re-read before the publication, but it's really looking farther and farther away at this point.

He should release that first chapter on Pat's blog and other places in order to drum up interest. Heck, release two or three chapters like Martin does. The book is over 300k long.

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