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Bakker LIII - Sranc and File

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And here is the semantic apocalypse - ie, when I have a good idea, it's a good idea. When you don't agree, you're being triggered in some sort of way I know is just a cave man responce. For I am Kellhus.

In the semantic apocalypses there's always an excuse to be found to not treat someone as a peer. The other guy is always being triggered.

 

Huh. So Bakker has been the personification of the semantic apocalypse this whole time?

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On 1/16/2018 at 11:28 PM, Kalbear said:

Bakker believes that humans will always go for the worst of all things, and so he envisions a group of people that happily removed all compassion and sympathy in order to improve their pleasure; I envision creating humans that increase their compassion because compassion (such as gratitude, or parental love, or love of pets) has been shown to be the most enduring and lasting form of continuous happiness humans have.

Bakker certainly is a pessimist, no doubt.  I share a bit of the pessimism, because I have doubts that, in taking control of a system we don't fully understand, there won't be a catch in "simply" doling out "good stuff."  I mean, maybe rewiring the brain for greater compassion is a universal good, I don't know, my meager psychology knowledge isn't apt to deduce the larger implications there, but I can't help but have a suspicion that there would be at least some unintended consequences to such action.

Consider, if you made it so that people felt, lets just say, unfettered compassion, how does that effect their daily life?  Do we have the mental resources to attend to such compassion while still doing what we need to?  That's not a rhetorical question, I honestly have no idea.  When suffering comes, say a major natural disaster, what happens to people who had their "compassion meter" set to "100?"  Would they be overwhelmed?  Could you eat, with the guilt of knowing that thousands are starving elsewhere?  Again, I have no idea.  I'm not sure if we could know what would happen.

If we surmise though that we can't keep the "compassion meter" at 100 all the time, because we simply wouldn't get anything done, when we add the dial, we get into some sticky places though.  What happens when we can control it?  When do we turn it up?  When do we turn it down?  Why?  Then we have a whole ecology to solve about when to have it at 100 and then to have it a zero.  What happens when people start turning it to zero?  Do they do depraved things?  Do they ever turn it back up?  Again, I am not pretending to know what the answer here is and I don't know that anyone can know the broad effects of such a thing.

It goes further though.  If we have such great compassion for everyone, what becomes of the feelings we have for those closest to us?  Again, if the meter is set to 100, do we have the same feelings for strangers as, say, our spouse?  In that case, what kind of actions do we take with respect to them?  Are they still "special" to us?  Is "romantic love" completely separate from the same kind of feelings as compassion?  Again, I don't know if we know.  Even if they are separate, if compassion brings us the most happiness, why would we bother with anything else?

If we use your example to construct a crude hypothetical case:

Compassion is the greatest long-term happiness.

We can increase compassion.

We can then engage in actions to leverage that increased compassion capacity and therefor experience greater happiness.

We then decrease actions that don't leverage that compassion, because they simply aren't worth it, so there would seem to be a risk of becoming "compassion junkies."

Again, I don't know this.  But I can imagine it might happen.  We'd need compassion dials and if we had a dial, who knows what we'd do with "full control."  Sure, it might be used for good, but how long until someone realizes they can use it for "bad?"  If providing our own psychological needs is anything like providing for our dietary needs, we might end up doing a very poor job indeed.  I need food, but I want the worst kind for me.  Are our psychological needs along the same lines?  Again, I don't know.

I was going to add more about how the Semantic Apocalypse is more about meaning but I think I pretty knee-deep right now...

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11 hours ago, Hello World said:

Huh. So Bakker has been the personification of the semantic apocalypse this whole time?

Well, yeah, largely.

And note that I don't mean to imply that just because the origin of your idea is likely an intrinsic, monkey emotional value means that it's a bad idea or somehow wrong, nor do I mean to imply that my idea is better. That moral judgment doesn't factor in here. You should be aware of it though - that somehow there's a 'natural' way to do things and other ways are 'unnatural', and why one is good and one is bad, and as @lokisnowpointed out what we consider natural and unnatural is largely a product of individual moralities, not something particularly universal. And if that's the case, do question the origins of it and whether they are meaningful and really do matter. 

8 hours ago, .H. said:

Consider, if you made it so that people felt, lets just say, unfettered compassion, how does that effect their daily life?  Do we have the mental resources to attend to such compassion while still doing what we need to?  That's not a rhetorical question, I honestly have no idea.  When suffering comes, say a major natural disaster, what happens to people who had their "compassion meter" set to "100?"  Would they be overwhelmed?  Could you eat, with the guilt of knowing that thousands are starving elsewhere?  Again, I have no idea.  I'm not sure if we could know what would happen.

If we surmise though that we can't keep the "compassion meter" at 100 all the time, because we simply wouldn't get anything done, when we add the dial, we get into some sticky places though.  What happens when we can control it?  When do we turn it up?  When do we turn it down?  Why?  Then we have a whole ecology to solve about when to have it at 100 and then to have it a zero.  What happens when people start turning it to zero?  Do they do depraved things?  Do they ever turn it back up?  Again, I am not pretending to know what the answer here is and I don't know that anyone can know the broad effects of such a thing.

I don't pretend to know either, but the general thought in my mind is 'better things'. People would be unable to reasonably do  things like war, wouldn't tolerate for a second massive famines, wouldn't waste food, wouldn't allow things like recycling to not happen. There are probably extremes - and that would make for an interesting book, where someone fell into paralysis because of the fear of crushing a parasitical worm in their house - but having more of it seems like a good thing in general. 

It's obvious that selfishness is an important trait. But it's also clear that it causes a lot of short-term failures in planning. Being unable to even empathize with others outside of your monkeysphere is another problem. 

8 hours ago, .H. said:

It goes further though.  If we have such great compassion for everyone, what becomes of the feelings we have for those closest to us?  Again, if the meter is set to 100, do we have the same feelings for strangers as, say, our spouse?  In that case, what kind of actions do we take with respect to them?  Are they still "special" to us?  Is "romantic love" completely separate from the same kind of feelings as compassion?  Again, I don't know if we know.  Even if they are separate, if compassion brings us the most happiness, why would we bother with anything else?

Probably because everything has diminishing returns, including sources of happiness, and there are other things worth pursuing than happiness. 

8 hours ago, .H. said:

If we use your example to construct a crude hypothetical case:

Compassion is the greatest long-term happiness.

We can increase compassion.

We can then engage in actions to leverage that increased compassion capacity and therefor experience greater happiness.

We then decrease actions that don't leverage that compassion, because they simply aren't worth it, so there would seem to be a risk of becoming "compassion junkies."

Again, I don't know this.  But I can imagine it might happen.  We'd need compassion dials and if we had a dial, who knows what we'd do with "full control."  Sure, it might be used for good, but how long until someone realizes they can use it for "bad?"  If providing our own psychological needs is anything like providing for our dietary needs, we might end up doing a very poor job indeed.  I need food, but I want the worst kind for me.  Are our psychological needs along the same lines?  Again, I don't know.

Sure, I don't know either! But the solution to not knowing isn't 'therefore, don't ever do anything' - it's to experiment and figure things out, and try again. And the idea that somehow these things are horrible because they're not 'natural' is especially disappointing. 

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I forget if this came up in a Bakker thread in the past, but is that old Star Trek episode about Darmok at Tanagra an example of the semantic apocalypse?  

Or maybe that came up in a Wolfe thread because it's quite similar to the Acians in Book of the New Sun.

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I just remembered that a few days ago I had a dream where Bakker completes the next book and a release date is announced, but the weird thing is that the book turned out to consist of 17 atrocity tales and only the first features the boy crabhand. :dunno:

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Random aside, but something I haven't really seen discussed but has bothered me in TUC...

Akka and co leaving Proyas to die seems like a huge misstep or editing error. I understand the action from a logical standpoint - Proyas was dead anyway, there were like a million scranc incoming, etc.

But I feel like it was a huge misstep to not have a scene devoted to it or any thoughts on it from Akka at all after such a huge deal was made of Akka desperately trying to save him. I mean, he knelt to Kellhus and even cried, thinking of Proyas as his boy...but then leaves him to die without a thought? Again, the action is fine, but devoting no scene to it is just rankling.

On another note, what reason did Kellhus have to let Proyas live (by dying slowly)? He claims it was his act of mercy, that hell was so much worse, and that seems to be true based solely on the fact that he even has that conversation with Proyas, as it doesn't seem to serve any strategic purpose. But Proyas just dies and goes to Hell anyway, so it doesn't really work then as an answer, as Kellhus has to know there's no way he'd survive what he'd been put through. 

I dunno, Proyas have such a horrible end still bothers me. Even if one dislikes him, the concept of damnation as painted by Bakker is so overwhelmingly horrible that it's really just such an awful end for someone so devout - systematically broken in every conceivable way before being dragged to eternal torment. I figured someone would be damned but I figured it'd be Akka. 

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1 hour ago, IllusiveMan said:

Random aside, but something I haven't really seen discussed but has bothered me in TUC...

Akka and co leaving Proyas to die seems like a huge misstep or editing error. I understand the action from a logical standpoint - Proyas was dead anyway, there were like a million scranc incoming, etc.

But I feel like it was a huge misstep to not have a scene devoted to it or any thoughts on it from Akka at all after such a huge deal was made of Akka desperately trying to save him. I mean, he knelt to Kellhus and even cried, thinking of Proyas as his boy...but then leaves him to die without a thought? Again, the action is fine, but devoting no scene to it is just rankling.

On another note, what reason did Kellhus have to let Proyas live (by dying slowly)? He claims it was his act of mercy, that hell was so much worse, and that seems to be true based solely on the fact that he even has that conversation with Proyas, as it doesn't seem to serve any strategic purpose. But Proyas just dies and goes to Hell anyway, so it doesn't really work then as an answer, as Kellhus has to know there's no way he'd survive what he'd been put through. 

I dunno, Proyas have such a horrible end still bothers me. Even if one dislikes him, the concept of damnation as painted by Bakker is so overwhelmingly horrible that it's really just such an awful end for someone so devout - systematically broken in every conceivable way before being dragged to eternal torment. I figured someone would be damned but I figured it'd be Akka. 

I figured there would be an ultimate point to Proyas, that he was being conditioned to serve as N. Cauytas or whatever (engine for the NG that Kellhus would then yoke). As it is, it's both horrible and somewhat underwhelming, like most of TUC.

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3 hours ago, IllusiveMan said:

Random aside, but something I haven't really seen discussed but has bothered me in TUC...

Akka and co leaving Proyas to die seems like a huge misstep or editing error. I understand the action from a logical standpoint - Proyas was dead anyway, there were like a million scranc incoming, etc.

But I feel like it was a huge misstep to not have a scene devoted to it or any thoughts on it from Akka at all after such a huge deal was made of Akka desperately trying to save him. I mean, he knelt to Kellhus and even cried, thinking of Proyas as his boy...but then leaves him to die without a thought? Again, the action is fine, but devoting no scene to it is just rankling.

On another note, what reason did Kellhus have to let Proyas live (by dying slowly)? He claims it was his act of mercy, that hell was so much worse, and that seems to be true based solely on the fact that he even has that conversation with Proyas, as it doesn't seem to serve any strategic purpose. But Proyas just dies and goes to Hell anyway, so it doesn't really work then as an answer, as Kellhus has to know there's no way he'd survive what he'd been put through. 

I dunno, Proyas have such a horrible end still bothers me. Even if one dislikes him, the concept of damnation as painted by Bakker is so overwhelmingly horrible that it's really just such an awful end for someone so devout - systematically broken in every conceivable way before being dragged to eternal torment. I figured someone would be damned but I figured it'd be Akka. 

He wasn't dead at that point, but he was certainly not in the best of shape. I do, however, agree that if Akka DID manage to save him, then he would have survived. Or died a better death--in AKKA's arms, but that would make literary sense and I guess we can't have that in the Bakkerverse. 

Mercy!? HAH! It's bullshit! If he REALLY wanted Proyas to be spared of hell, then he would have handed him over to Achamian and/or done whatever it took to ensure his survival even if it mean ending up like Malowabi, but NOOO! Proyas was chattel to Kellhus and he would rather destroy Proyas than let someone else have him. And the morale thing? I think that's BS too.

It STILL bothers me too and I STILL get angry thinking about it. I firmly believe that Proyas's fate served no purpose except to be subversive for the sake of being subversive. There were so many possibilities and expectations (at least on my end) raised for him and ALL of them were subverted/averted. Like, WOW. 

 

"I figured there would be an ultimate point to Proyas, that he was being conditioned to serve as N. Cauytas or whatever (engine for the NG that Kellhus would then yoke). As it is, it's both horrible and somewhat underwhelming, like most of TUC."

Yea, pretty much this. I honestly thought so too. I also thought a whole lot of things, including Kelmomas being the battery with Proyas being the "Unholy Steersman" after being the one to salt Kellhus. because why not? He was betrayed by Kellhus. Might as well become literally part of the Consult  >:( 

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On 1/19/2018 at 4:07 PM, Kalbear said:

Sure, I don't know either! But the solution to not knowing isn't 'therefore, don't ever do anything' - it's to experiment and figure things out, and try again. And the idea that somehow these things are horrible because they're not 'natural' is especially disappointing. 

Well, I probably misrepresented my position.  I am not actually against doing any of what you proposed.  I am just saying that I think there is a logical reason to be somewhat pessimistic about what would actually be done with such technology.

And I think that is the real point of the idea of a "Crash Space," something where we become disjointed from the ecologies that brought us here.  So we just don't know what the "long-term" or the unintended consequences of those actions would be.  I think that is what Bakker is getting at when he says things like, "we are under Golgotterath right now."  We are at the point where we can (and will) start doing things that we simply have no (or little) idea about the consequences of, in the same way that Kellhus enters the Golden Room.  He has a plan, he has objectives, but he can't actually know what would happen.

I think that is Bakker's "caution" in a sense, that for all Kellhus knows about the world and metaphysics and so on, he is still just as vulnerable, if not more so, than anyone else.  We are in something of the same boat, psychologically, for all we know of the world we know comparatively little about ourselves.  We are out the change the system, but without a full understanding of the system.  That's risky, is all I am saying.

That's not to say don't do it.  But rather, do it with caution.

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I think Kellhus is supposed to be Acratic at that point. It's like he has a greater will, but then the legion he's supposed to have yoked just wiggle out and do their thing under the radar of the greater will. Like workers sneaking a peak at a forum while the boss looks the other way. Remember how Kellhus was going to execute Cnaiur, but then just surprisingly finds a different purpose for him at the last second? [Rorschach] Convenient [/Rorschach]

Proyas and keeping him alive was one of the legion who cares about Proyas getting out from under the thumb of the facistic logos. So Kellhus has him hanging, yet drags him up for a conversation. He'll kick him back down, but he'll save him a few minutes or hours of eternal torture machine time because that's the best optimization the Kellhus fragment can manage without the facist catching it.

Also remember Kellhus says the closer the gets to Golgoterath the greater the darkness before becomes to him. He's becoming more eratic and closer to his possession point. He's screwed though, because what is he going to do? Cancel? This is the one shot he has at this. It's almost like he's caught in circumstances or something!

Well, that's how I read the situation, anyway.

But yeah, why would it somehow be any more fair for Akka to go be damned?

That's something Proyas had thought. But maybe those who think themselves loftier can just plummet all the faster for it?

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4 hours ago, The Prince of Newcastle said:

The more I read these threads, the more I realise I havent got a clue what actually happened in the 7 books I have read in this series.

I feel this way about the 7th book. I've already forgotten most of it, and I sped through it just to know what happens thinking that I'll go back and reread it carefully like previous books. Since then all I wanted was to forget about this series and get into other stuff that I've been meaning to read. 

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8 hours ago, The Prince of Newcastle said:

The more I read these threads, the more I realise I havent got a clue what actually happened in the 7 books I have read in this series.

 

Thus the layers of revelation.

Though I think Bakker indulges his desire for mysteriousness a bit too much at times.

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1 hour ago, Callan S. said:

Thus the layers of revelation.

Though I think Bakker indulges his desire for mysteriousness a bit too much at times.

Wow, that really went over your head, huh?

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4 hours ago, Darth Richard II said:

Wow, that really went over your head, huh?

My head isn't big enough to stop some things, it's true.

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I think even if we had a bunch of in-groups with only subjective morality, they'd still be subject to game theory, etc - which means you could have rules constraining bad behavior arise and be enforced by retaliation. 

I have a rather benign view of desire modification. I think we'll mostly end up using it to make ourselves happier, less bored, better at constraining short-term urges for long-term planning, and better at social interaction. The people who want to wire themselves for pleasure can probably do it without hurting anyone (except those who depend on them) - after all, if it's just inputs into the brain, it doesn't matter if your pleasures are simulated or not (and simulating them will be vastly easier and cheaper). 

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Right so whoever mentioned The Good Place when we were talking about baker( I believe it was kalbear) gets an a+, cause, no spoilers, but damn, I kept thinking about Bakkerworld the whole time.

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I have never understood the 'layers of revelation'.  What the fuck is the difference between layers of revelation' and writing that isn't strictly superficial?  I mean I think Bakker has written some of the best stuff I've read but I'm not sure why his stuff is some kind of example of 'layers of revelation' whatever that may be.  

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2 hours ago, larrytheimp said:

I have never understood the 'layers of revelation'.  What the fuck is the difference between layers of revelation' and writing that isn't strictly superficial?  I mean I think Bakker has written some of the best stuff I've read but I'm not sure why his stuff is some kind of example of 'layers of revelation' whatever that may be.  

I think it's just Bakker speak for spoiler warning.

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The layers of revelation bs should be removed from the intro given that Bakker specifically said nothing was layered to begin with. Layers of revelation is just wishful thinking by fans.

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