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Bakker LIV - Soul Sphincter

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And all of this just makes me think that a Kellhus PoV would have been significantly better served. If we see Kellhus doubting his own plan to set up Akka, stating internally 'why didn't I just kill him? Why do I spare these fools who cause such difficulties' and having the void answer 'you know why' - we start to see how Ajokli continues to influence him without actually knowing what's going on. 

So that when we get the big reveal about Ajokli basically taking over, it serves to frame all of Kellhus' interactions - that void talking - in an entirely new light, makes a big sweet reveal like Red Wedding where all the pieces were in place in full view but you didn't know until the end. 

This was something that Bakker did really well in PoN with both Kellhus and Moenghus, where you could go back and see all the places that were hints and foreshadowing and outright telling us what was up, and then completely removed it from the next series. 

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11 minutes ago, Kalbear said:

The shortest path in this case is to kill Akka. If you are correct there is zero value in keeping him alive, much less setting up one of the most powerful Nonmen in the world with a soul-blasted veteran to stick around the area Akka is so that when Akka decides to go off, he'll have a guard and a watch - both of which spectacularly backfire. 

I never really said there was no value in keeping him alive.  In fact, just the opposite, there is zero value in killing him.  If Kellhus kills Akka, he loses his "proof," loses putting Akka through the torpor of having him ostracized, and plausibly lends credence to Akka's account by making him a martyr.  Plus, Kellhus loses an easy pawn, should he need one.  It's rather pragmatic, not killing Akka.  Sure, there is limited value in him being alive.  But there would seem to be zero, or even negative value, in him being dead.

Kellhus is off the Shortest Path, as of TTT, by his own admission and that is borne out by what happens in TAE.  It would be the Shortest Path to just leave Moe the Elder alive and go the path that Mutilated would take and so convert the Consult and so win.  But Kellhus does not walk the Shortest Path any more.  He works to make a "Shorter" Path, but he certainly meanders around a number of debatable, but in some capacity still present, things.

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Just now, .H. said:

I never really said there was no value in keeping him alive.  In fact, just the opposite, there is zero value in killing him.  If Kellhus kills Akka, he loses his "proof," loses putting Akka through the torpor of having him ostracized, and plausibly lends credence to Akka's account by making him a martyr.  Plus, Kellhus loses an easy pawn, should he need one.  It's rather pragmatic, not killing Akka.  Sure, there is limited value in him being alive.  But there would seem to be zero, or even negative value, in him being dead.

 

Letting Akka be completely alone and unavailable for 20 years and then killing him doesn't make him a martyr. No one cares about Akka. The only people who know he exists are Esmi and Mimara. Thus the only value in keeping him alive is how they will perceive it.

But keeping him alive is very different than keeping him alive with a guard consisting of one of your most loyal subjects and one of the most powerful people on the planet. 

And none of that explains why Kellhus would send Mimara to Akka, or allow Mimara to go to Akka, knowing full well that her arrival would likely spur Akka to action. 

Just now, .H. said:

 

Kellhus is off the Shortest Path, as of TTT, by his own admission and that is borne out by what happens in TAE.  It would be the Shortest Path to just leave Moe the Elder alive and go the path that Mutilated would take and so convert the Consult and so win.  But Kellhus does not walk the Shortest Path any more.  He works to make a "Shorter" Path, but he certainly meanders around a number of debatable, but in some capacity still present, things.

And that's fine - but it still doesn't explain particularly well why Kellhus, the person who raped his commander, allowed and planned for his army to devolve into cannibalistic rape machines, sacrificed a third of his army to a nuke, etc - would keep Akka of all people around. Akka isn't remotely as valuable as, say, a large part of the Swayali or the Mandate who got wiped out. Akka is arguably not as valuable as Cleric, for that matter, and Cleric is significantly easier to manipulate. 

Now, I know what extratextually this is supposed to be - which is that the whole Akka/Mimara storyline is supposed to trigger your meaning-searching brain bits. If all of this happens in a meaningful world, there should exist a meaning to it, especially since so much of it is so hard compared to what would be 'easy'. And Bakker inverts it by simply saying 'nope, this all was nothing I'm gonna explain' and that's that. It doesn't happen meaningfully, it just happens, and that's the way it goes sometimes. Kellhus did it because of any number of logical and illogical reasons, and it doesn't matter. It wasn't part of his big plan, he made some rationalizations and moved on.

Again, that's fine, and it also makes for a shitty story. 

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2 minutes ago, Kalbear said:

Letting Akka be completely alone and unavailable for 20 years and then killing him doesn't make him a martyr. No one cares about Akka. The only people who know he exists are Esmi and Mimara. Thus the only value in keeping him alive is how they will perceive it.

But keeping him alive is very different than keeping him alive with a guard consisting of one of your most loyal subjects and one of the most powerful people on the planet. 

And none of that explains why Kellhus would send Mimara to Akka, or allow Mimara to go to Akka, knowing full well that her arrival would likely spur Akka to action. 

That's a fair point, but Kellhus left him alive at the end of TTT, presumably to lord the conquest of Esmenet and eventually all of Eärwa over him.  You're right though, if he were to kill him 10, 12, 19 years later, who would care?  No one.  But then he goes against why he left him alive in the first place.  That's where the pragmaticism fell through, was right at first.  Since Kellhus didn't, it belies that for whatever illogical reason, there was value him Akka being alive.

I don't think that Kellhus sent Mimara to Akka.  I think she went of her own volition.  And it gave Kellhus an "easy out" of sorts, giving her a place to run to that he already knew about.  It's not highly logical, since he could have just as easily locked her away, but I think Kellhus was indeed attempting to manage his relationship with Esmenet to some degree.  Locking up Mimara probably would have gone poorly in the respect.

15 minutes ago, Kalbear said:

And that's fine - but it still doesn't explain particularly well why Kellhus, the person who raped his commander, allowed and planned for his army to devolve into cannibalistic rape machines, sacrificed a third of his army to a nuke, etc - would keep Akka of all people around. Akka isn't remotely as valuable as, say, a large part of the Swayali or the Mandate who got wiped out. Akka is arguably not as valuable as Cleric, for that matter, and Cleric is significantly easier to manipulate.

Well, the Great Ordeal is a suffering factory.  Everyone on it is made to suffer completely over-the-toply.  Akka isn't just some mean sorcerer, or just some rando Swayali though.  Even collectively, he isn't just a cabal of witches.  He has history with Kellhus and his life being given to him had a purpose, even if that purpose is "Kellhus just wants to be a jerk."  It's made abundantly clear that Kellhus has no qualms about throwing people in the trash when they aren't useful any more, or sacrificing some for his own aims.  Kellhus is alternatively pragmatic and not at all.  Where he would throw Proyas in the thrash heap, he would not sacrifice Kelmomas.  Where he would let a sizable portion of the Ordeal, Swayalia and all die, he would not kill Akka.  It's not just pragmatism.  There is some emotional element to Kellhus that is hard to really pin down.  Because it's not logical.  (I'd also contest that Cleric is easier to manipulate though, but that's probably mostly irreverent.  He is, until he breaks, and then he is really not.  Also, I don't think Cleric is more valuable, because a highly potent lose cannon is still a lose cannon.  And one with not much to aim at.)

35 minutes ago, Kalbear said:

Now, I know what extratextually this is supposed to be - which is that the whole Akka/Mimara storyline is supposed to trigger your meaning-searching brain bits. If all of this happens in a meaningful world, there should exist a meaning to it, especially since so much of it is so hard compared to what would be 'easy'. And Bakker inverts it by simply saying 'nope, this all was nothing I'm gonna explain' and that's that. It doesn't happen meaningfully, it just happens, and that's the way it goes sometimes. Kellhus did it because of any number of logical and illogical reasons, and it doesn't matter. It wasn't part of his big plan, he made some rationalizations and moved on.

Again, that's fine, and it also makes for a shitty story. 

Now, this is much harder to square.  I realize that there are a ton of things that happen in the books without a larger connection to other things.  Akka living though, it had some reasoning.  Now, that reasoning can be as flimsy or as concrete as you'd like, since we don't know.  I can't say you are wrong and you can't say I am right, but we can both look at what happened in the story and come to plausible alternative conclusions.

I'm not going to argue your opinion though, because that is pointless.  It can have meaning, or be meaningless, whichever you decide.

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5 minutes ago, .H. said:

 I don't think that Kellhus sent Mimara to Akka.  I think she went of her own volition. 

I was pretty sure that the book established that either Kellhus sent her or Kelmomas did. Kelmomas certainly thought he sent Mimara away because he wanted Esmi. Esmi believes that Mimara would go to Akka as well, and prayed that he would protect her. 

5 minutes ago, .H. said:

There is some emotional element to Kellhus that is hard to really pin down.  Because it's not logical.  (I'd also contest that Cleric is easier to manipulate though, but that's probably mostly irreverent.  He is, until he breaks, and then he is really not.  Also, I don't think Cleric is more valuable, because a highly potent lose cannon is still a lose cannon.  And one with not much to aim at.)

I think the best way to pin down Kellhus' emotional value is you can attribute that to Ajokli's influence. That makes this weird-ass thing that Kellhus continues to do (which we all can't pin down and think is weak plotting) turn into an actual strength and a reveal. 

5 minutes ago, .H. said:

Now, this is much harder to square.  I realize that there are a ton of things that happen in the books without a larger connection to other things.  Akka living though, it had some reasoning.  Now, that reasoning can be as flimsy or as concrete as you'd like, since we don't know.  I can't say you are wrong and you can't say I am right, but we can both look at what happened in the story and come to plausible alternative conclusions.

 

Akka living is one thing. Akka living, AND Mimara coming to him, AND them meeting with the skin eaters, AND them going through Cil-Aujus, AND them going to Ishual, AND them finding Koringhus and Crabicus, AND Mimara having a holy baby at Golgotterath though? Come on. 

Another thing is that it does have meaning, but it isn't deliberately done by Kellhus. It's deliberately done by something else. Perhaps its predestined, the same way Kelmomas was predestined to be the No-God. Perhaps this happened because this was the only way that <future thing of awesome> could happen, and since that ends up happening clearly this did happen in the past. But I think we can safely argue given Akka's final role at Golgotterath that Kellhus wasn't planning on Akka showing up at the end, was honestly surprised about his return, and didn't really give him much thought at any point in the past. 

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2 minutes ago, Kalbear said:

I was pretty sure that the book established that either Kellhus sent her or Kelmomas did. Kelmomas certainly thought he sent Mimara away because he wanted Esmi. Esmi believes that Mimara would go to Akka as well, and prayed that he would protect her. 

Man, I could be remembering, I am old and getting older.  But I remember it as Kelmomas driving her away and Esmenet (and so Kellhus) knowing that she would go to Akka.  Presumably Kellhus has no qualms about this, probably because it does not upset Esmenet over-much, lest he stop it happening.

4 minutes ago, Kalbear said:

I think the best way to pin down Kellhus' emotional value is you can attribute that to Ajokli's influence. That makes this weird-ass thing that Kellhus continues to do (which we all can't pin down and think is weak plotting) turn into an actual strength and a reveal. 

Plausible.  I don't think it's bad that it could be a confluence of Kellhus' latent emotionality (textually proven early on as real), his forsaking the Shortest Path for something of a Short Path, and the Ajokli taint.  We just have to play with which relative level of each is given in each case.

7 minutes ago, Kalbear said:

Akka living is one thing. Akka living, AND Mimara coming to him, AND them meeting with the skin eaters, AND them going through Cil-Aujus, AND them going to Ishual, AND them finding Koringhus and Crabicus, AND Mimara having a holy baby at Golgotterath though? Come on. 

Right, I mean, I don't think that post-TTT, when Kellhus lets Akka walk and tells him he'd return to kneel he realizes that whole chain of events.  In fact, it seems plausible that Kellhus is just being an outright jerk and pompously celebrating having stripped Akka of everything meaningful in his life, despite Akka being right about Kellhus being a lying, deceitful charlatan who has hoodwinked (almost) all of them.  And so he wants Akka to return to him, later, broken, basically assenting to the fact that Truth didn't matter, Kellhus wins.  That doesn't happen if Akka is dead.  It also doesn't happen if he leads the Ordeal to victory.  They all think Kellhus is the Truth (or at least act as if they do).  Only Akka (and Cnaiûr) know he isn't and act as if he isn't.  It could also be seen not as a proof, but rather if he can break Akka, he can break the world.  Which presumably he would, if everything went according to plan.

The whole chain of events that happen after though, well that is beyond the scope.  Once Akka is left alive, things fall into place around it.  He's alive so Mimara can run to him.  She can run to him, so he feels emboldened to try to make it to Ishuäl.  There is only one real way to get there plausibly and so they make the run.

I don't think Kellhus fathomed the "importance" of Mimara's Judging Eye, if he even understood it at all.  I don't think Kellhus fathomed that Koringhus would be alive, let alone with Crabby.  But he didn't have to, because that wasn't part of his plan.  He only wanted Akka to return to him at his moment of triumph and be broken.  And he was right, he did, just not how and when he expected, perhaps.  Just a whole bunch of other stuff happened along the way...

20 minutes ago, Kalbear said:

Another thing is that it does have meaning, but it isn't deliberately done by Kellhus. It's deliberately done by something else. Perhaps its predestined, the same way Kelmomas was predestined to be the No-God. Perhaps this happened because this was the only way that <future thing of awesome> could happen, and since that ends up happening clearly this did happen in the past. But I think we can safely argue given Akka's final role at Golgotterath that Kellhus wasn't planning on Akka showing up at the end, was honestly surprised about his return, and didn't really give him much thought at any point in the past.

Yeah, that's a good point, I think I am muddling things myself.  Things happened because that's how they were bound to happen.

But I think Kellhus did expect Akka "at the end" but not at that exact moment.  In other words, he expected it to be "post-Victory."  I mean, all things considered, that Kellhus wouldn't probably have predicted Cleric's death when it happened, or Koringhus, or maybe even Cnaiûr's return, Akka still gets there.  And had Kellhus not failed the real sacrificial test and offed little Kel, he'd probably have gotten the grovelling out of Akka he must have wanted.

Frankly I think a little too much is made about the lack of some canonical meanings.  I'd sure have liked more, no doubt, but I think the ability to supply some of your own is actually kind of key to the series having some longevity and rereadablity.  I know many here probably see me as too much of an apologist, but I do think the series is still pretty good, even if it clearly could have been better (TAE, vs the clearly superior PoN).

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