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lokisnow

Bakker XLIV: The Goddess of Negative Theology

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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 novel is The Darkness that Comes Before, the sixth novel will be published on July 5, 2016 and is The Great Ordeal.

The series is called The Second Apocalypse and is currently comprised of two sub-series, a trilogy and a quartet. Potentially, there will be a third series, although the author has stated that the quartet completes his original vision for the story. 

The first trilogy of books is subtitled The Prince of Nothing these three books are:

  1. The Darkness that Comes Before
  2. The Warrior Prophet
  3. The Thousandfold Thought

The second quartet of books is subtitled The Aspect Emperor, these four books are:

  1. The Judging Eye
  2. The White-Luck Warrior
  3. The Great Ordeal (2016)
  4. The Unholy Consult (2017)

The seventh novel, The Unholy Consult is completed, and will be published in 2017, a precise publication date is not yet set. This novel will also include an expanded Appendix/Encyclopedic Glossary. Such a Glossary exists currently only at the end of the third book, The Thousandfold Thought

Additionally, Bakker has published three 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. The False Sun is the most discussed work of these shorts.

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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Regarding the thread title, a few weeks ago I got sucked down a wikipedia click hole trying to comprehend WTF sologdin, HE and Sci2 were talking about in regards to Chorae, topos, Derrida, & Plato, (see: Plato's Timaeus and Derrida's Sauf le nom) and I came across the rather compelling and fascinating phrase/concept completely new to me: 

The God of Negative Theology

The No God?

The similarity between these two terms immediately made me think this sort of repurposing was exactly the sort of thing Bakker is thinking of when he says he believes he's left massive red flags throughout the text that seem incredibly obvious to him.

I am not sure whether or not the two map on to each other or not. Frankly I am struggling to understand WTF the God of Negative Theology is. Frankly, I am struggling to understand WTF the No God is.

(apropos of nothing, this has led me to believe that the third sub-series will be titled: The No-Goddess)

In any event, it suddenly struck me out of the blue while driving to work today listening to a podcast about 1950s japanese films that The No God might be the negation of god, but this "Absence" is personified, drawn into the world and given form by the carapace.

And that the entire point of giving form to the negation/absence of god was to force a collision between it and God.

like matter colliding with anti matter

In other words the entire point of summoning the No-God was to destroy the No God at the right moment, when it would maximally encounter God and either:

  1. Annihilate God
  2. Annihilate part of God or weaken God and set the stage for a second such confrontation millenia down the road, at which point they can successfully conclude what they began in the first apocalypse.

How do you kill God? hmm? well, probably the same concept as the way one destroys matter.

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I read this on the other forum. It certainly appeals, especially the matter/anti-matter connection.

If Kellhus is the god he is heading right to the No-God and his collision.

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derrida likes negative theology because it assumes that the divine is not reasonably subject to linguistic description, and that the <i>via negativa</i> allows only a description of what signifiers do not describe the divine; for deconstruction, this becomes, as usual, a metaphor for all linguistic interaction--even if there is a transcendental signified, we should not reasonably be able to assign a signifier to it (and don't even dream of fitting a referent to either).  negative theology also fits the derridean 'oblique approach,' the manner of analysis that has both grammatical and geometrical registers.

can this map to the no-god?  we know that philosophical concepts have been made manifest as ontic features of the setting previously in this text (though the best one ever is still platonist forms in abraham)--so it is completely plausible.  one way to make the case is to cross-reference each and every reference to the NG and its nicknames via electronic text searches.  my copies are paper, so i am not doing the work.  the line of inquiry:  is the NG ever described with apophatic terminology, or is it cataphatic, or is it mixed?  which characters approach the NG in apophatic terms?  which in cataphatic?  is it apophatic or cataphatic to describe the NG in aporetic terms, such as an absence, as any good derridean will point out that absence etymologically is latin ab- (away) + esse (to be): is that positive of negative theology? is away from being different in a significant way from not-being?  is that triton genus, the khora? wtfzomgbbb&c! does any of that differ from the space between the gods that the cunuroi like? sounds like away from being to me, that SBG.  blowing own mind here motherfuckas!

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12 minutes ago, sologdin said:

derrida likes negative theology because it assumes that the divine is not reasonably subject to linguistic description, and that the <i>via negativa</i> allows only a description of what signifiers do not describe the divine; for deconstruction, this becomes, as usual, a metaphor for all linguistic interaction--even if there is a transcendental signified, we should not reasonably be able to assign a signifier to it (and don't even dream of fitting a referent to either).  negative theology also fits the derridean 'oblique approach,' the manner of analysis that has both grammatical and geometrical registers.

 

This is basically a description of sorcery, correct? Sorcery is extra-textual analysis of the world with both grammatical and geometrical registers (aka parabolas of light made manifest by use of dead linguistic structures with fixed meanings).

If a chorae deconstructs extra-textual analysis, or as described in the text, "unravels" sorcery perhaps we can tease out the side effects of why it also unravels the Psukhe which is extra-textual declaration of the world-as-it-is with neither grammatical nor geometrical registers, is it because the language (utteral and inutteral) by which the cishaurim declare their 'vision' of the world also utilizes deconstructible signifiers, and thus the anchor-place of a chorae successfully deconstructs said signifiers just as it deconstructs the linguistic signifiers underwriting other sorceries.

So if Moe wanted to give himself immunity to chorae he would try to construct undeconstructible nonlinguistic signifiers to underwrite a meta-psukhe, thus giving the chorae-anchor-point nothing to unravel.

I have no idea what apophatic and cataphatic are. 

 

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Solo, I love your posts but honestly I only ever understand about 1/10th of them, which is to say I never understand them really.

However, I can sort of understand you last couple sentences, I do think there is a difference between what the Nonmen worshiped, the spaces between the Gods, i.e. Oblivion, and what the No-God really is.  Oblivion seems to me to signify annihilation, like your soul just ceases to be.  The No-God seems to be different, at least, as it seems from what little we are told.  The No-God seems to exact a "no souls out, no souls in" kind of vibe, not a "destruction of souls" kind of vibe, at least to me.

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4 hours ago, themerchant said:

I read this on the other forum. It certainly appeals, especially the matter/anti-matter connection.

 

indeed. much digital ink has been spilt here on the comical ineptitude of the Inchoroi plot to "let" the no-god take the field. 

Perhaps that was the plan all along, to kill their own creation successfully in a way that yields them a future, as yet unknown, advantage.

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9 hours ago, lokisnow said:

 

I have no idea what apophatic and cataphatic are. 

 

not 100% firm on the concept, but basically it's knowledge (specifically of god, but, like, whatever) via either negation or affirmation, respectively

like, apophatic (negative) theology is all "you can't say what god is or isn't, because it is beyond being" -- neither existent not non-existent as its so far outside of existence, that any attempt at framing in such ways we might conceptualize are necessarily limiting and so inherently false.

I think solo is asking if the way the no-god is described in-text is in a purely abstract way (I dunno, like oblivion?) or in real, not necessarily tangible, terms. like anchored in the onta or some shit. can one say, even if we don't know, what the no-god is?

not sure if I got that right, but like, whoa, man. picked most of this shit from you guys, I could be way off base here.

plz correct as necessary 

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14 hours ago, sologdin said:

ROH and RSB dueling as in poe's 'william wilson.'  HE outed as pinker's alt attempting to take over the world. kal just jumps up and down in the same spot. fairly sure that i'd be counting stacks all day.  so, not really a great show.

 

So basically this thread if you replaced Bakker and ROH with their respective sockpuppets?:leaving:

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Reading Derrida entries on Wikipedia literally give me sensations of vertigo. It is the weirdest cognitive experience. 

 

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3 hours ago, R'hllors Red Lobster said:

not 100% firm on the concept, but basically it's knowledge (specifically of god, but, like, whatever) via either negation or affirmation, respectively

like, apophatic (negative) theology is all "you can't say what god is or isn't, because it is beyond being" -- neither existent not non-existent as its so far outside of existence, that any attempt at framing in such ways we might conceptualize are necessarily limiting and so inherently false.

I think solo is asking if the way the no-god is described in-text is in a purely abstract way (I dunno, like oblivion?) or in real, not necessarily tangible, terms. like anchored in the onta or some shit. can one say, even if we don't know, what the no-god is?

not sure if I got that right, but like, whoa, man. picked most of this shit from you guys, I could be way off base here.

plz correct as necessary 

Thank you, this is helpful.

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yep.  'allah is merciful' is a cataphatic allegation, whereas the contrary statement that allah is not cruel would be apophatic, i.e., negative.  

but it's not always an easy thing to sort these descriptions.  what if a god is 'hidden'?  that seems to cut both ways conceptually.  'unknown'? that's fairly plainly a grammatical negation in the prefix, but is there an affirmative content buried in there to the extent that objectively the god is something, but subjectively is not known to the adherent?  there doesn't appear to be any defect in the language in describing the god in this circumstance; the defect is cognitive, say, rather than linguistic.  

sadly, "no-god" functions, in its name, at least, in the same way as 'unknown'--grammatical negation in the prefix, but some sort of positive content otherwise.  the encyclopedic glossary entry for the NG is markedly cataphatic, even to the heretical point of wondering that "it is not even known whether he is a creature of flesh or spirit," a formulation that would annoy the holy fuck out of apophatic theologians insofar as god is not a creature, a created thing--some might even say that 'created thing' is redundant--god is not even a thing. on the other hand, the EG entry contains negative statements, sorta, such as "utterly lacks remorse or compassion" (so NG is not merciful and ergo not allah).

EG entry:  "antithetical to human life" is grammatically affirmative, but a manifest dialectical negation conceptually?  "immune to sorcery" is a positive grammar but a negative rhetoric?

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If the God is the underlying ground of Being, the substratum that underlies Earwa's objectivity of meaning and semantics, then the No-God isn't, I would vouch, a Non-Being but rather a groundlessness, a void to which semantics do not adhere or are unbound by from material instantiation. If the movement of souls from Outside to Inside is dependent on moving down the threads of this manifold of objective semantics, then perhaps the closing of the world occurs through the deracination of these semantic threads, leaving them as nomological danglers vainly searching for a ground in the world. What then, produces the groundlessness of the No-God? It has been suggested before that the No-God is some form of AI possessive of hyper-recursive metacognition. Perhaps it is through an infinitely regressive recursive self-analysis that this groundlessness is born out of, for the No-God (being an unsouled intelligence) sees that there is no true foundation, no true self at bottom to which its cognitions ultimately refer, only an endless hall of mirrors. But the No-God nonetheless continually searches for this ultimate ground of being. Its cry of 'WHAT DO YOU SEE' is a plea for the ensouled to offer testimony as to the ground of their being ti aid its fnding its own ground. But as its own being is groundless, it continually algorithmically searches ever downward. This continual movement downward and inward ultimately has the effect of creating a semantic singularity, and as semantics are part of the metaphysics of Earwa, this has effects similar to a cosmological singularity, namely it exerts a gravitational pull that distorts and deracinates the fabric of meaning, thus spreading the No-God's groundlessness beyond the original singularity and encompassing the world. The effects of the No-God are perceived by humans and Nonmen, who exist in both the worlds of meaning and of brute nature. The Gods however, as creatures of the God's Being and thus of meaning and semantics, cannot see beyond the horizon of meaning, and therefore are blind to the No-God. That they are blind to the groundless is the cause for the Consult's hope of escaping damnation. 

As a note, this theory would render the No-God's groundlessness as different to the Oblivion sought by the Nonmen. Oblivion is the space of non-meaning beyond and between the cracks in the God. It is outside the God and outside of Being. To enter Oblivion is to enter non-being. The groundlessness of the No-God, on the other hand, is found by creating contradictions within being that lead to an infinite regress and singularity. Whether this singularity is infinite in extent, opens out into Oblivion or bottoms out in some other form is not clear. 

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Holy shit. I believe you are right in all points.

That is what I see.

of course that could be because I think you just confirmed my crackpot that the no God is a singularity and confirmed my offhanded comment/thread title "anarcane turtles all the way down"

 

a a semantic singularity that forms via infinite regression. Absolutely amazing

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I'd be cooler with that explanation if it also explained why births stopped entirely and everyone felt sad. Or how it ruled and controlled the Sranc and other Tekne creations. Or why the Consult would let it take the field. 

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ok, i love y'all for indulging all this abstruse philosophical-linguistic stuff.  

on the other hand, in attempting to explain and thereby pimp the books to fellow new orleanian @Ravenhair, i let slip the traumatic black insemination stuff &c (it just kinda cascades out, yaknow?).  she suggested very reasonably that the catastrophe should likely include traumatic black oviposition, as with hymenoptera, say.  

so, ergo, inchie or cunoroi women show up with motherfugly ovipostors to inject fuligin ova?

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fetishized obfuscation will get one nowhere, such that there is a where in the nonplace of the Internet.

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5 hours ago, sologdin said:

ok, i love y'all for indulging all this abstruse philosophical-linguistic stuff.  

on the other hand, in attempting to explain and thereby pimp the books to fellow new orleanian @Ravenhair, i let slip the traumatic black insemination stuff &c (it just kinda cascades out, yaknow?).  she suggested very reasonably that the catastrophe should likely include traumatic black oviposition, as with hymenoptera, say.  

so, ergo, inchie or cunoroi women show up with motherfugly ovipostors to inject fuligin ova?

The Ichneumon method?

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So questions I'd ask Bakker if I were giving an interview (and ideally it would be a conversational one that allows for clarifying questions, not a simple here are the questions and go answer it):

On the books:

  • Now that you're at the end point of the second series, have you gone back and reread the first trilogy to see how well it fits with your vision of where things are going? 
  • Have you found it frustrating the reaction of fandom to your purposeful use of an unreliable narrator? Specifically, when fans use details gleaned by character's views as what the Truth is?
  • If you could collaborate with another writer to write stories set in Earwa (or whatever the Earwan universe would be called), who would that writer be, and what would you want to write with them?
  • Similarly, assuming it wouldn't spoil too much - what stories would you like to write other than the main series?
  • What fan theories and ideas have surprised you when you've heard them? Any that you thought 'wow, I wish I had thought of that' or something along those lines?
  • What character in the series was the most difficult to write for, and why?
  • How much of the history and the details of the history were set in stone when you started with the series, and how much have you added to it since you started?
  • One of the things that you mentioned was that you wanted to go away from Kellhus from PoV character in the first series to a force of nature in the second; I've also noticed that you've done the same thing with the Consult and their villainous ways. We get a lot more of their PoVs in the first series than the second. The question isn't why you did that this time - but why you gave us PoVs for them in the first series at all. With Kellhus it was to give some background; was that the same with the Consult, or was there a different reason? 
  • What psychological detail of the Nonmen is there that you wish everyone knew, and wish you could make everyone understand?
  • Similarly, what metaphysical reality of Earwa and the universe is there that you wish everyone understood? 

On outside the books:

  • You mentioned that after having your daughter you could not fathom writing what happened in Neuropath again due to how horrible certain things were for parents and children - and something I agree with, frankly. As a parent that was probably one of the most horrifying things I've ever thought about. Now that your daughter is older, have you had any other revelations of things that you would never write again or write differently?
  • Have you read the study that David Lisak put out about who most rapists are? Does that change your views at all about how all men are predisposed to raping?
  • How close have you been following American politics, and if you've been paying attention what's your take on the rise of people like Trump and Sanders?
  • Which do you think will come first - the AI singularity or the semantic apocalypse?

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