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Bakker: Pounded In The Brain By The Great Ordeal Spoilers III


Durckad

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22 hours ago, Damned with the Wind said:

I think my post came across wrong... When I was reading the chapter with Proyas, I didn't consider the fact that Kellhus rapped Proyas. Don't think less of me because I wasn't smart enough to consider the scene a rape. I mean, take a look at these quotes leading up to the sex scene: 

"The Place held its weeping slave, rocked him in its arms. The smell of burnt lamb wicked through the closed confines of the chamber."  

"He pulled the man to the side, and down, so that his bearded face lay like a plate on his lap."

"He paused to brush a greying lock from the man's brow." The Place drew a long-fingered hand across the side of the Believer-King's face, temple to jaw." 

The scene had a feeling of intimacy from my perspective. I mean initially I was even suspecting that some sort of sexual act was forthcoming. The fact that Proyas is ashamed afterwards could've been because it was a homosexual act, which is obviously frowned upon. I'm aware of what victim blaming is, and that's not what I was hinting at. I just literally read it as an intimate sex scene between Kellhus and Proyas.  

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9 hours ago, WEWLAD said:

Esmenet's arc is "disappointing", and she's relatively useless, because her life is a lie. In the same sense that everything Proyas and Koringhus's son, like her, were taught by a Dunyain was a lie. (snip)

I thought this was a really well-thought out theory and fits the facts that we've seen. The reason I disagree is because of of the ultimate conclusion.

Let's say that women are on Earwa disadvantaged not just morally and spiritually, but are also fated to be less than men period. What is the point of this? Esme's thematic story was always (per Bakker) a story about the lie of empowering women based on modernity, and nothing changes if the universe doesn't conspire to screw her over in that way. She is still ultimately hosed because the modernity is a lie - or perhaps she's not hosed, and she can continue on in her life despite it being a lie. (note that this is still a theory that is completely bullshit in the real world, but it is what Bakker believes). 

But what you're suggesting is basically an exploration of a sucky world, and the conclusion is that...it would suck. I think I asked this a long time ago when it reminded me of a world made of chocolate as proposed by a 7 year old. (What if the world was made of chocolate? Wouldn't that be...awesome?!) What thematic exploration is aided by making a world where women have it objectively worse than men? Why is this something particularly special to explore? What conclusions do you reach that aren't immediately obvious? I personally can't come up with any. Basically, a world where women are objectively worse than men would suck for women. That shouldn't be particularly surprising or special in any way. If you made that world and showed how much it sucked for everyone, not just women - that'd be interesting. That's one of the reasons that the Handmaid's tale is so good - everyone suffers in this world that oppresses women. Same with Lolita. Now that's an interesting story. But that's not what we have here. 

I mean, we already have the biggest reason ever to fight against the world and its machinations - namely that almost everyone suffers for eternity after they die. You don't need to add 'and it is also sexist!' to that mix. 

 

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24 minutes ago, Kalbear said:

(note that this is still a theory that is completely bullshit in the real world, but it is what Bakker believes).

do we know that he is an illiberal?  and, if so, need that knowing contaminate our interpretation?  he can of course be erroneous regarding the significance of the text he has otherwise written.

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1 minute ago, sologdin said:

do we know that he is an illiberal?  and, if so, need that knowing contaminate our interpretation?  he can of course be erroneous regarding the significance of the text he has otherwise written.

I believe that he is a fiendish fluoridator. 

As to the interpretation, he specifically stated how Kellhus represents modernity and how he wanted to thematically explore how modernity gave emancipation and women's rights because of a need for factory workers and women to enter the working system, and said this in response to why Earwa is the way it is. Again, it's total bullshit, but it's what he believes.

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3 minutes ago, sologdin said:

you mean, like, one of general ripper's enemies?  purity of essence?

That very same. He seeks to deny women the essence. In fact, that's entirely why women are lesser than men in Earwa - because they do not have the precious bodily fluids.

And the inchoroi simply aim to provide them. They are the true heroes.

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1 hour ago, sologdin said:

do we know that he is an illiberal? 

He's definitely working with different priors than most liberals, but I think his practical political ideology is solidly left-of-center.   I imagine Bakker's ideal polity, however, is a tyrannical Dunyainic Philosopher-King ruling us.

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1 hour ago, Kalbear said:

What thematic exploration is aided by making a world where women have it objectively worse than men? Why is this something particularly special to explore?

I think Bakker would say he's just following the axioms of the setting. Earwa has intentional "initial conditions", like the laws of physics, and they say such and such. He could have written a series allegorical toward any set of intentional claims, but he chose Christian-fascism since that's his background.

Initial condition: "Men are superior to women both in life and the afterlife" -> Dunyain raises woman to the station of a man through the power of the Logos (a lie with objective consequences) -> Esmenet is free! -> Universe conspires to make her fail as Empress and she lets it happen.

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"The belly of her vision blackened, and she collapsed at his knees-as perhaps a dutiful wife should."

To US this is obviously the result of misogynistic brainwashing, but IN Eärwa... it's simply true. Esmenet's arc is literally "uppity woman gets what she deserves". This has to be how Bakker conceived of it from the very beginning. He's had the story planned out for decades, after all, but to state it plainly would probably just have attracted more negative attention.

She's a character that's fairly easy to empathize with, that has a fate we find utterly revolting. And she accepts it.

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33 minutes ago, Kalbear said:

He chose the axioms of the setting after all. Why choose those? 

I don't think there's any answer to this, at bottom, beyond "Scott likes those axioms".

To be clear, do you think the consequences of fate and all the erudite intentional explanations that go along with them are simply pointless questions? I mean, to most people, they ARE. But to Vox Day or ISIS, they're actually pretty important questions. Bakker's already been criticized to hell and back just for trying to communicate to teenage males and Christians, so...

Edit: To avoid confusion, I don't think Esmenet's storyline is the key to the meaning of the series or anything, or that it's the best thing he could have possibly written. I just think this theory is a good explanation of what's been going on in Bakker's mind this whole time. Or yeah, maybe he just changed his mind recently.

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28 minutes ago, Kalbear said:

You didn't answer the question. What is the point about making a setting that sucks for women that ends up sucking for women? What is the intended message?

He chose the axioms of the setting after all. Why choose those? 

Didn't Bakker say at some point in the past that one of the primary inspirations for the series was that he wanted to create a world where reality itself is dictated by the seemingly arbitrary beliefs that religions and the religious subscribe to? Women are less than men BECAUSE the Gods say so. Sorcerers are damned because the Gods say so. There's some shit in there about WHY sorcerers are damned, but it could just be justification provided after the fact rather than truth.

While I don't personally find the theory that Esmi fails because she's a woman to be compelling or interesting, it does strike me as something that Bakker would do. I would assume that if Bakker did intend it, it would be primarily as a thought exercise or something.

34 minutes ago, Triskan said:

I still think there's at least some chance that Bakker never had planned out all that much about women and just wanted to do an epic fantasy with Inchies and Dunyain and the Gnosis but then had to respond to the emerging criticism as if everything was premeditated with purpose.

The whole 'Women are lesser than Men' thing has been a part of the series since the beginning so I don't think it's an (un)happy accident that he's just decided to embrace/confront.

32 minutes ago, Darth Richard II said:

Well, i do not find Esmi easy to empathize  with at all. I in fatc find that statement somewhat baffling. I mean I;ve never been a whore, or a mother, so...

I quite liked her in the first three books, but not so much in the Aspect-Emperor books.

Oh and thanks for all the praise for the title of the thread, but Kal deserves most of the credit for the inspiration. :)

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6 minutes ago, Durckad said:

.

I quite liked her in the first three books, but not so much in the Aspect-Emperor books.

. :)

We all know Bakker is DYING to come mansplain to us that we don't like esme in the second series because we all are inherently are culturally unaccepting of women in power and thus are irrationally compelled to denigrate her, right? ;)

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Just now, lokisnow said:

We all know Bakker is DYING to come mansplain to us that we don't like esme in the second series because we all are inherently are culturally unaccepting of women in power and thus are irrationally compelled to denigrate her, right? ;)

EVER ARE MEN something... something...

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1 hour ago, WEWLAD said:

I don't think there's any answer to this, at bottom, beyond "Scott likes those axioms".

To be clear, do you think the consequences of fate and all the erudite intentional explanations that go along with them are simply pointless questions? I mean, to most people, they ARE. But to Vox Day or ISIS, they're actually pretty important questions. Bakker's already been criticized to hell and back just for trying to communicate to teenage males and Christians, so...

If he's writing a book where the first 6 pages has a boy raped as something that's going to appeal to Christians and teenage boys, good luck with that.

I think that the consequences of making a world shittier for women, objectively, and then showing that when you make a world shitty for women it is shitty for women is a pointless exercise, yes. If this is a way of shitting all over religion it's certainly a very long-winded way of doing it. And, as has been pointed out repeatedly, a whole lot of Bakker's fanbase saw this as either realistic instead of being specifically not what our world was like (and was perfectly fine with women's roles) or actively were happy with this situation, and thought (and likely continue to think) that it was completely awesome. 

It's also largely unnecessary as making hell a real thing and having everyone suffer for all eternity for not believing the right way is far, far worse than anything that could be done to women in the normal life, so the message of 'your religion would suck for women' kind of gets drowned out by the 'and also, it would be completely horrifying and evil for 99% of the population'

Quote

 

Didn't Bakker say at some point in the past that one of the primary inspirations for the series was that he wanted to create a world where reality itself is dictated by the seemingly arbitrary beliefs that religions and the religious subscribe to? Women are less than men BECAUSE the Gods say so. Sorcerers are damned because the Gods say so. There's some shit in there about WHY sorcerers are damned, but it could just be justification provided after the fact rather than truth.


 

Kinda. He said he wanted to write a story where the rules of the universe were as the religious believed it to be. Where the rules of morality are as rigidly defined as the atomic weight of uranium. And it appears that the Gods don't say anything about it - they simply act in concert with the morality, but theirs are not the eyes that judge. And it makes sense in that context that women would be considered spiritually less worth than men. 

If, on the other hand, women are not only spiritually less valuable than men, they are unable to do as much as men in the real world - that's a different matter. It not only implies a distinct lack of free will (which has already been implied other ways, so that's likely fine), it also implies a whole lot of wrongness that Bakker argued against for a long time. That women are capable, that Esme is smart, that wanting women with agency is ridiculous, that women not being around in positions of power and influence is simply an accident of the prose and not deliberate. 

Like I said above, I like the theory and it makes a huge amount of sense. It also implies Bakker has been lying about his goals for years now, and the notion that he wanted to problematize feminism goes completely out the window if all the feminists were right and he has just been writing a world where women just suck. 

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19 hours ago, Triskan said:

I still think there's at least some chance that Bakker never had planned out all that much about women and just wanted to do an epic fantasy with Inchies and Dunyain and the Gnosis but then had to respond to the emerging criticism as if everything was premeditated with purpose.

Yeah, I think it's a high possibility that some of this was just Bakker doing the medieval fantasy version of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit where you have women put through some horror tropes because that's just how it's usually done.

It's not that Bakker has some inner sadist or whatever, it's just old hat that was stale Grimdark window dressing on a larger story. In the past I'd be more against this idea that Bakker had no plan but then even Theli is revealed to be abused right before she gets her head crushed.

OTOH, I think Kellhus having intercourse with Proyas touches on something about the sexualized element of religious devotion. Here is where I'd say the discussion - at least what I've read of it - hasn't given Bakker enough credit. 

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