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lokisnow

Bakker LVI: the Rectum of Creation

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***Contains spoilers from THE UNHOLY CONSULT****

__-----_

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 seventh novel is The Unholy Consult.  This thread is for the series through The Unholy Consult and contains spoilers through that novel.

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

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
  4. The Unholy Consult 

The third sub series is presumably subtitled “The No God.”

The Unholy Consult also includes an expanded Appendix/Encyclopedic Glossary. The original Glossary exists at the end of the third book, The Thousandfold Thought. 

Bakker has published four short stories within the universe of the second apocalypse series, The False Sun and The Four Revelations of Cinial'jin on Bakker's Blog Three Pound Brain (and now also as appendices in The Unholy Consult) and The Knife of Many Hands, which is available for purchase. There is also another short story, The Carathayan, available for purchase in this anthology (along with an introduction by Bakker). This thread contains spoilers for these publications. The False Sun is the most discussed story.

Newcomers are strongly advised to finish the books before coming here; otherwise the spoilers will rot your soul. Eternally.

Bakker posted in Westeros shortly after the release of The Great Ordeal and answered several questions.  That discussion can be found here.

Some denizens of this thread occasionally refer to  Bakker's two non-fantasy novels, Neuropath and Disciple of the Dog. Posters are advised to hide crucial plot points in those novels when referring to these two novels.

Thanks to Happy Ent for the intro to the thread

Edited by lokisnow

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Thread title inspired by the Cubit of Creation scene and the infamous heart in an unholy butt scene.

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To pick up where we were:

4 hours ago, noshowjones said:

Do tell. I don’t think I agree, but what is the theme of the series and how is Mimara important to that theme? Or which particular theme do you think is most important (I can come up with several themes for it off the top of my head)

That Mimara is an actual prophet.  Not in the sense that God speaks to her, because the Eärwan God-of-gods is the demiurge, it does not care, isn't conscious, has no active will.  And not that she speaks to The God, again, because the Eärwan God-of-gods doesn't listen.  Rather, that she is the perspective of God from the mortal viewpoint.  That is, the view of God, from God (because The God is infinite), by God, through Mimara.  But the kicker is that God is not conscious and doesn't care.  But Mimara does.  So, in this way Mimara can actually judge, where The God cannot.  This is the same as Christ as judge, in the Christian sense.  That is, Christ came to "humanize" Old Testament God, by allowing God to suffer, to be mortal, to be limited in a way God could not otherwise be.  Mimara fulfills that same role.  It's just that we have only narratively read the "Old Testament" by Bakker so far.  And so Mimara's narrative role is totally incomplete.

4 hours ago, noshowjones said:

This all just seems like BS he came up with after the fact. Because reality (which the interviewer seems to ignore) is that Bakker’s world was more patriarchal than the reality that inspired it. He went out of his way to create a world where it was worse for women. Where exceptions didn’t exist (be they individual or societal—female dominated societies  existed in human history).

After which fact?  That interview was in 2008.  Yes, Eärwa is more patriarchal to display how bad it would be if we actually lived in a world that our pre-modern ancestors thought we lived in.  That is, if the world really was determinately patriarchal as people thought it was.  In the same way that the world was as meaningful and moral.  In the same way that the gods  were real.  That Eärwa is akin to actual Hell because of this.  That fact that you object to the character of Eärwa proves Bakker's point: that the pre-modern world is sexist and capricious and akin to Hell.  If he included token female roles, or empowered more female characters, he would be saying instead that the gross, arbitrary nature of Eärwa isn't so bad, because you could transcend it if you just really tried.  But the fact is that Eärwa is morally stacked against this, so much so that it is basically impossible.  And this is what should offend our modern sensibilities.

4 hours ago, noshowjones said:

The argument that Bakker makes in that interview is itself a sexist argument, because he’s he can’t conceive of a world where a strong female character isn’t a token.

I think you take that the wrong way, because Eärwa, again, is fashioned directly off a worse-off version of our own past.  That is, the past where the "arbitrary nature" of reality isn't just opinion, it is a fact.  So, yes, in Eärwa, a strong women would just be a token, because the sexist nature of reality there would demand it be so.  Substituting a woman in a traditional masculine role isn't really feminism.  It's egalitarian, in a sense, and perhaps a victory for some women but isn't a victory for femininity at all.  Because it actually discounts the importance of femininity itself, saying it should be replaced by the masculine role.  What  then of the feminine role?  What value does feminine virtue have, if our default position is to assume it be better off replaced by a masculine role?

You seem to want things to be very cut-and-dry here, but I'm not seeing it anywhere near as such.  Could Bakker right better women characters?  Yes.  Is his depiction of a misogynistic world sexist?  Well, yes, in the sense that it highlights how shitty and sexist it is the believe that kind of crap.  Is then Bakker a misogynist?  Nah, not buying it.

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44 minutes ago, lokisnow said:

Thread title inspired by the Cubit of Creation scene and the infamous heart in an unholy butt scene.

Was it honeyed or anus you objected to? haha.

 

I apologize. I am not sure how to quote from one thread to the next.

I'll bold your quotes:

That Mimara is an actual prophet.  Not in the sense that God speaks to her, because the Eärwan God-of-gods is the demiurge, it does not care, isn't conscious, has no active will.  And not that she speaks to The God, again, because the Eärwan God-of-gods doesn't listen.  Rather, that she is the perspective of God from the mortal viewpoint.  That is, the view of God, from God (because The God is infinite), by God, through Mimara.  But the kicker is that God is not conscious and doesn't care.  But Mimara does.  So, in this way Mimara can actually judge, where The God cannot.  This is the same as Christ as judge, in the Christian sense.  That is, Christ came to "humanize" Old Testament God, by allowing God to suffer, to be mortal, to be limited in a way God could not otherwise be.  Mimara fulfills that same role.  It's just that we have only narratively read the "Old Testament" by Bakker so far.  And so Mimara's narrative role is totally incomplete.

That's not really thematic as much as it is plot. And that plot went nowhere in this series. If he publishes the next I hope he does more with it, because i agree that it could be interesting.

After which fact?  That interview was in 2008. 

After the fact that it becomes obvious that people thought there were some sexism issues in his books.

Yes, Eärwa is more patriarchal to display how bad it would be if we actually lived in a world that our pre-modern ancestors thought we lived in.  That is, if the world really was determinately patriarchal as people thought it was.  In the same way that the world was as meaningful and moral.  In the same way that the gods  were real.  That Eärwa is akin to actual Hell because of this.  That fact that you object to the character of Eärwa proves Bakker's point: that the pre-modern world is sexist and capricious and akin to Hell.  If he included token female roles, or empowered more female characters, he would be saying instead that the gross, arbitrary nature of Eärwa isn't so bad, because you could transcend it if you just really tried.  But the fact is that Eärwa is morally stacked against this, so much so that it is basically impossible.  And this is what should offend our modern sensibilities.

I don't think he is doing anything groundbreaking by writing a book that is as patriarchal as everyone back then thought it was. There are a shitload of fantasy novels like that. Is he doing anything daring or new by writing the same? But that's beside the point, because even in a time when people legitimately thought females were objectively inferior, there were exceptions to the rule. There are none in Bakkerverse. Your argument, while valid to many Bakker fans, doesn't really hold up. It would still be an equally objectionable world if he included a couple of empowered female characters, because real life iron age societies are objectionable by modern sensibilities even though we know there were such exceptions. We know a lack of effort wasn't the only thing keeping women from succeeding because reality, not just his books, has a gross arbitrary nature. Effort or lack thereof wasn't (and still isn't) the only thing keeping people from bettering their situation.   

I think you take that the wrong way, because Eärwa, again, is fashioned directly off a worse-off version of our own past.  That is, the past where the "arbitrary nature" of reality isn't just opinion, it is a fact. 

Yes, he intentionally fashioned a world worse than reality. I think anyone applying a little academic rigor would question his motives. He hasn't done anything to earn me taking his explanations at face value. In fact, he's done the opposite.

So, yes, in Eärwa, a strong women would just be a token, because the sexist nature of reality there would demand it be so.  Substituting a woman in a traditional masculine role isn't really feminism.  It's egalitarian, in a sense, and perhaps a victory for some women but isn't a victory for femininity at all.  Because it actually discounts the importance of femininity itself, saying it should be replaced by the masculine role.  What  then of the feminine role?  What value does feminine virtue have, if our default position is to assume it be better off replaced by a masculine role?

You seem to want things to be very cut-and-dry here, but I'm not seeing it anywhere near as such.  Could Bakker right better women characters?  Yes.  Is his depiction of a misogynistic world sexist?  Well, yes, in the sense that it highlights how shitty and sexist it is the believe that kind of crap.  Is then Bakker a misogynist?  Nah, not buying it.

I would argue that you are the one who wants it simple, because the actual feminist argument to this is that gender roles (what we deem as masculine and feminine) are socially engineered. This is evidenced by the fact that what we consider masculine (or feminine) behavior is not the same across cultures or history. What do you perceive as the feminine role? Having children? Making a home? What is feminine virtue? The very idea of femininity as something women have to adhere to is the root of sexism.

If you want to talk about "traditional" male roles, then he could have substituted women into traditionally feminine roles ie shield maidens or female warriors which have been present in history. Scandinavian regions had female warriors. Africa and Asia had several female dominated societies in which women participated in warfare prior to the modern advent of "equal rights." 

I don't know if Bakker is a misogynist. I've never met the guy. But the more I debate people about this the more skeptical I become. But to take another example, Flannery O'Connor wrote a lot of stories that engaged with racism, and a lot of people don't want to say she was a racist herself. But if you read all of her short stories, you'll find at least one which will lead to the inevitable conclusion that she was a product of her time, and as such, had some racist beliefs.

 

Edit - You reposted while i was typing. My bad:)

 

 

 

Edited by noshowjones

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24 minutes ago, noshowjones said:

I don't think he is doing anything groundbreaking by writing a book that is as patriarchal as everyone back then thought it was. There are a shitload of fantasy novels like that. Is he doing anything daring or new by writing the same? But that's beside the point, because even in a time when people legitimately thought females were objectively inferior, there were exceptions to the rule. There are none in Bakkerverse. Your argument, while valid to many Bakker fans, doesn't really hold up. It would still be an equally objectionable world if he included a couple of empowered female characters, because real life iron age societies are objectionable by modern sensibilities even though we know there were such exceptions. We know a lack of effort wasn't the only thing keeping women from succeeding because reality, not just his books, has a gross arbitrary nature. Effort or lack thereof wasn't (and still isn't) the only thing keeping people from bettering their situation.

Doesn't hold up to what?  I never allege he did anything groundbreaking.  I am telling you what Bakker said he did.  Eärwa is literally worse than the world our ancestors thought they lived in, because they only thought the world was like that.  In Eärwa it is a metaphysical fact, a fundamental nature of the universe.  Women in Eärwa can transcend this only in the same way that they transcend the laws of thermodynamics, because sexism in Eärwa is the same as a law of physics.  That's the point.  That if such things were actually natural facts, the universe is much, much worse than we even thought back then.  It isn't for lack of effort on any women in Eärwa that their situation is terrible, it's the sexist nature of the metaphysical laws of reality there.  Were women in Eärwa to transcend this, they would be tokens, because the point is that the craptastic world that Eärwa is doesn't allow for it any more than it allows people to breathe under water, or fly by flapping their arms.

35 minutes ago, noshowjones said:

I would argue that you are the one who wants it simple, because the actual feminist argument to this is that gender roles (what we deem as masculine and feminine) are socially engineered. This is evidenced by the fact that what we consider masculine (or feminine) behavior is not the same across cultures or history. What do you perceive as the feminine role? Having children? Making a home? What is feminine virtue? The very idea of femininity as something women have to adhere to is the root of sexism.

If you want to talk about "traditional" male roles, then he could have substituted women into traditionally feminine roles ie shield maidens or female warriors which have been present in history. Scandinavian regions had female warriors. Africa and Asia had several female dominated societies in which women participated in warfare prior to the modern advent of "equal rights."

Sure, gender roles can be socially constructed to various degrees, but we can, for the sake of this discussion assume that biology has no role.  That's not really disproving that gender roles exist though.  In fact, it proves they do exist.  The historical argument really doesn't make much of a difference, because Bakker didn't write these books in 100 B.C. Greece, or anywhere else for that matter.  Not to mention, I never said anything about femininity being something women have to adhere to, that springs forth from you.  That women tend to be "feminine" isn't really some leap of patriarchal instance.  Nor is that men tend to be "masculine."  Let me share with you one of my favorite quotes: "The second fundamental antinomy in psychology therefore runs: the individual signifies nothing in comparison with the universal, and the universal signifies nothing in comparison with the individual."

As for my perception, well, I have no clarity for you.  Mainly because I haven't done much scholarly work on gender archetypes.  Engendering psychological archetypes are something that human beings have always done and always will do, because it is how our brains function.  Culture can determine what that outputs as, but that doesn't change the fact that it was done and will continue to be done.  Mary, as the Mother of God is an example of an archetypal mother.  Consider also Isis, or Tiamat, or whatever.

Again, you ackowledge that Bakker set out to fashion Eärwa as objectively-worse version of our own, but then ask why he didn't put in the exception that were in our own.  The answer to why is implicit in the directive of making an objectively worse model.  So, why did he do that?  To show how objectively worse such a model is.

It's unfortunate that he didn't manage to prove that to you, but the very fact that you object to the nature of Eärwa means that Bakker succeeded in making an objectively worse model of reality, which is what he set out to do.  So, you question his motive for this out of what, I'm not sure, personal dislike?  Or some standard of depiction, I guess?  Fair enough, but that is a bias on your part, not really proof of Bakker's bias.

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cripes, we are doing this again?

*looks for gasoline*

let us not forget that we are having this discussion because back in the eighties or nineties a sixteen year old Bakker lad read Dune and whilst playing a body odorific D&D campaign he opined, “wouldn’t it be kewl if all the powerful women in Dune were replaced by even more powerful men? and rather than a desert it was all kind of pseudo mideval like lord of the rings but with rapey orcs?  and Sauron was an alien with a two foot long cock?”

And his brother replied, “dude!  give me a hit... but it should be two Well hung aliens, not just one, bro!”

”dude! So kewl!”

 

 

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8 minutes ago, lokisnow said:

cripes, we are doing this again?

*looks for gasoline*

let us not forget that we are having this discussion because back in the eighties or nineties a sixteen year old Bakker lad read Dune and whilst playing a body odorific D&D campaign he opined, “wouldn’t it be kewl if all the powerful women in Dune were replaced by even more powerful men? and rather than a desert it was all kind of pseudo mideval like lord of the rings but with rapey orcs?  and Sauron was an alien with a two foot long cock?”

And his brother replied, “dude!  give me a hit... but it should be two Well hung aliens, not just one, bro!”

”dude! So kewl!”

 

 

and then they read an H.R. Giger book :P

 

Edit: And hey at least there aren't people here screaming about how it will all be revealed in book 7 and all us nay sayers will see what an amazing feminist he is and also how dare we find anything misogynistic in any of these books we must be crazy!

Edited by Darth Richard II

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 Scandinavian regions had female warriors. 


This is actually quite interesting, there has been some literary depictions, but no real archeological remnants, a few years back they did find a woman who had seemingly been involved in fighting... But DNA testing turned out that she was actually probably from somewhere on the Pontic Steppes. (which is an area where we have both literary and archeological indications of women warriors) 

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On 11/6/2018 at 8:44 PM, Darth Richard II said:

BBT?

Bakker's theory, or what have you, on how our brains work. I can barely understand most of it. My layman take from it, is basically we are blind to how our brain works - biases, thought process, etc, etc..

What I meant in that post is this. There could be several reasons on why the Whale Mothers are what they are. Could have been forced into it. Could have accepted that it was indeed what they needed to do for the Dûnyain to reach the Absolute. Multiple angles. Yet, through our subconscious biases, biases for the other reason and so on, we inevitably make it what we want. And, most refuse to accept any other possible explanation, than the one they want, because it conforms to the biases they have created on the subject and in this case the author.

Sort of like meaning of the books. Maybe Bakker wantednto create a series that had no meaning, and therefore have you questioning just what meaning is. Yet, I feel that meaning of any book is different for all of us. We all take away different meaning from any book. Regardless of what the author sets out to do. Who are we to discount what any of us find in a book, and what we take away from it?

Edited by Esmenet

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Just now, Esmenet said:

What I meant in that post is this. There could be several reasons on why the Whale Mothers are what they are. Could have been forced into it. Could have accepted that it was indeed what they needed to do for the Dûnyain to reach the Absolute. Multiple angles. Yet, through our subconscious biases, biases for the other reason and so on, we inevitably make it what we want. And, most refuse to accept any other possible explanation, than the one they want, because it conforms to the biases they have created on the subject and in this case the author. 

There aren't though, because Mimara actually sees the life behind them and we get a pretty good idea of what they're about. You can have multiple different opinions out there, but some of them run into the cold hard reality of actual data. 

For example, 'accepted it' doesn't fly in the face of them being chained up and lobotomized. You don't lobotomize willing victims typically. You don't chain up women when they're pregnant or birthing, either. Now, if you want to interpret that differently, fine, but you also need to have a reasonable theory of mind about what people intend to elicit when they say things like this person is lobotomized or this person is chained up, and these aren't subconscious biases - these are direct statements of observable data, as clear as the sky being blue. 

Just now, Esmenet said:

Sort of like meaning of the books. Maybe Bakker wantednto create a series that had no meaning, and therefore have you questioning just what meaning is. Yet, I feel that meaning of any book is different for all of us. We all take away different meaning from any book. Regardless of what the author sets out to do. Who are we to discount what any of us find in a book, and what we take away from it.

Sure, and you can happily think that the sky is green too, and who am I to take that away from you. 

Except shared experiences is part and parcel of what makes us actual human beings. 

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Great rebuttal. That all does make sense. I just thought that @Sci-2 made a great point that at some point, your previous statement in that thread, would've ultimately happened at some point.

Also, we dont really have any "hard" data to say it didn't either. I agree, really is no real life evidence that whale mothers would be even possible. Look, I get it, and not really defending the whale mothers. I agree with you, I hated them, and thought it was really poorly done. But, we really have no idea as to how it come about. We dont know for certain that they didn't accept that fate, for the better of the Dûnyain goal to reach the Absolute.

Sincere question. Would lobotomy lessen the mental and physical pain of being what they were? I have no clue, just asking. Would them being chained, also be to keep them out of sight? I'm sure. It's all awful for sure. And, I agree, having "normal" women would've probably been a better idea.

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On 11/7/2018 at 7:39 AM, noshowjones said:

That's not really thematic as much as it is plot. And that plot went nowhere in this series. If he publishes the next I hope he does more with it, because i agree that it could be interesting.

...

I would argue that you are the one who wants it simple, because the actual feminist argument to this is that gender roles (what we deem as masculine and feminine) are socially engineered. This is evidenced by the fact that what we consider masculine (or feminine) behavior is not the same across cultures or history. What do you perceive as the feminine role? Having children? Making a home? What is feminine virtue? The very idea of femininity as something women have to adhere to is the root of sexism.

If you want to talk about "traditional" male roles, then he could have substituted women into traditionally feminine roles ie shield maidens or female warriors which have been present in history. Scandinavian regions had female warriors. Africa and Asia had several female dominated societies in which women participated in warfare prior to the modern advent of "equal rights."

First part - that's one major half of why this argument falls flat for me. If the capacity of Mimara to see truth, to see sin, to forgive were important due to actions they allow her to take, that would be something. If the importance of Mimara is simply that she's inherently holy because she gives birth to a holy child thats...not remotely doing what is being made out. That's boiling her importance down to her biological ability to have offspring and I'd say is actually a really sexist thematic note. H seems to be thinking that there is some importance to Mimara forgiving etc, but aside from Koringhus we don't see that impact in the story. Her entire arc with Akka amounted to nothing of import happening in the final book and *that* is one of the big disappointments of this for me.

You can argue he's not finished yet and the Mimara as prophet angle is going to be worked further in the last series, but I don't think it matters if he can't sell me on getting to that point. His treatment of women in the first 3 books was bad and he asked to be trusted on where he was going with it, that got him 4 more books that have done nothing but squander that trust. At some point an author has to take responsibility for writing the story in a way that carries the reader to the conclusion, all the good messaging in the world doesn't amount to jack if what comes before it is harmful and drives people away.

On the second part - if he was going to be situating femininity as the positive thing I think it would be far more effective to include masculine women and have the unusual feminine man be the one that fills that saviour role. Akka even gets criticised on these grounds at times, he could absolutely have taken this tack if he wanted to. On the other hand if its gendered roles that are what ties to being the prophet rather than biological essentialism or femininity vs masculinity...I'm not even sure how you could get a good message based on that out of the story we got. At the very least you'd need to give examples of people violating their gender norms in other cases, but simply having a woman follow the prescribed role of a woman and that being holy is once again pretty fucking sexist even if you think its "positive" because her role in the narrative or themes is positive.

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half-way through warrior prophet on my re-read/listen. It's striking how much my view on kellhus has changed over ten years. I remember when reading it the first time that it felt like he was a genuine hero and I was wanting him to succeed. This time around it's far more clear that Bakker never explicitly has him thinking anything heroic - it's all about him finding the shortest path to his father and how best to use/manipulate everyone. I guess at the time I was just used to the main character being the obvious hero - whereas I've now read a lot of series where that isn't the case.

I'd also forgotten how entertaining Xerius and Conphas are when we get inside their heads. I like how they are both such egomaniacs that they are immune to Kellhus - Conphas in particular. It's fun how the only ones who can see through Kellhus are the ones who are some form of "mad".

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8 hours ago, karaddin said:

H seems to be thinking that there is some importance to Mimara forgiving etc, but aside from Koringhus we don't see that impact in the story

That is why I stress that I see her role as thematic, rather than narrative.  That is, it relates to understanding the mataphysics Eärwa itself, rather than her role in the narrative.

8 hours ago, karaddin said:

On the second part - if he was going to be situating femininity as the positive thing I think it would be far more effective to include masculine women and have the unusual feminine man be the one that fills that saviour role. Akka even gets criticised on these grounds at times, he could absolutely have taken this tack if he wanted to.

More effective?  That is plausible, yes.  Once again, I have never, and will never, make the case that these books are perfectly written.  However, your set up there falls directly into what noshowjones is apt to criticize, that "femininity" is something that needs to be adhered to.  In fact, noshowjones seems to be making the point that there is no such thing as "femininity" at all and that the idea of it as something that anyone should embody is necessarily misogynistic.

As a matter of fact, Kellhus actually directly says that to Proyas, that Akka is the prophet (and so possibly a savior):

Quote

Achamian.
The Place smiled, as if things catastrophic could be gentle ironies all the same.
“The teacher you renounced …”
A grimace seized the man’s expression of wronged incredulity. Jaw pulled down. Lips cramped about a soundless cry. Spittle strung like spider’s silk across the void of his mouth …
He is the prophet you sought all along.”

It's fully plausible that Kellhus is gaslighting him, but it is also likely that he is telling him the truth.

8 hours ago, karaddin said:

On the other hand if its gendered roles that are what ties to being the prophet rather than biological essentialism or femininity vs masculinity...I'm not even sure how you could get a good message based on that out of the story we got. At the very least you'd need to give examples of people violating their gender norms in other cases, but simply having a woman follow the prescribed role of a woman and that being holy is once again pretty fucking sexist even if you think its "positive" because her role in the narrative or themes is positive.

I think we are approaching the fundamental disconnect here.

The point is not that there isn't sexism in the books.  There directly, explicitly is.  In fact, that is a major thematic point, that Eärwa is a metaphysically deterministically sexist place.  And so, the fact that it offends our modern sensibilities is exactly the point.  It should.  Because it is very fucked up to think that the world is metaphysically, ontologically determined in the way.  However, that is the kind of world that our ancestors thought they lived in.  And that is the kind of world some people think we still do live in.

If he included all kinds of exceptions, he'd be diluting his own point, that that kind of world is fundimentally fucked up.  He'd then be saying, well, it's not so bad, because look, these women "got out" of it, or these men "transcended it," or whatever.  That isn't the point, the point is to point out how fucked up such a system is.

Everyone is very quick to cite the lack of "realism" in Eärwa, especially since Bakker confusingly uses the world realism to describe what he was after.  They ask, "if he wanted realism, why not include realistic examples of exceptions?"  The point that Bakker makes is that the reality of the past is that is was overwhelmingly sexist, no matter if there were "exceptions" here or there.  His point then, is that the "realism" of Eärwa is that it points directly to this fact.  There is no sugar coating, where some women manage to bootstrap themselves and escape such systematic sexism.  It's the brutally cold reality that it was systematically that bad.

Consider, if you were to write a book about slavery, but include many examples of slaves escaping, or slaves that were "well taken care of" or slaves who were set free by their owners, what would you expect people to say about that book?  However, if you wrote a book about slavery and had none of those aspects and it was just a wildly depraved depiction of cruelty, suffering, capriciousness and malice, what do you think other people would say about that book?  What would you question in each case, despite the fact that both those depictions reflect "reality" to some degree.

There is zero doubt that the books explore sexist themes and feature sexism.  My point is that this does not de facto make Bakker a misogynist.  In fact, plausibly just the opposite.  It comes down to what you want to imagine Bakker's intention was.  A lot of people here willfully want to interpret what he wrote in a way, despite it being at least ambiguous and denying what he has actually said as post-hoc attempts to rationalize simply because the books do not meet their standard of depiction.  Or so it seems to me.

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You can believe what you want, if he's not a misogynist he had 4 books here to show what he was doing and the best you've got is that he showed.... Forgiveness in the face of failure comes from women? I honestly can't tell what you think is the thematic pay off for Mimara because I don't see it at all.

At the end of the day I don't think it even matters whether he's a misogynist for this conversation, it's a question of whether he succeeded at doing anything that challenges real world sexism or subverts genre problems. When his series utterly alienates female readers and only a handful of fans can scrape the barrel enough to claim it's there then he's simply failed in that goal as a writer.

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29 minutes ago, karaddin said:

You can believe what you want, if he's not a misogynist he had 4 books here to show what he was doing and the best you've got is that he showed.... Forgiveness in the face of failure comes from women?

Indeed, it cuts both ways: you too can believe what you want.  You have your interpretation and I have mine.  There seems to be plausible evidence of a contradictory case, I think I have shown.  If not, well, you've not shown me anything to show me the error of my interpretation except to say, seemingly, that it is insufficient.  I'm unsure how you distilled down the last part of my entire post as your last sentence I just quoted, but suffice to say that no, I don't think that was the thematic aim.

41 minutes ago, karaddin said:

At the end of the day I don't think it even matters whether he's a misogynist for this conversation, it's a question of whether he succeeded at doing anything that challenges real world sexism or subverts genre problems. When his series utterly alienates female readers and only a handful of fans can scrape the barrel enough to claim it's there then he's simply failed in that goal as a writer.

Well, I think it does, because questioning Bakker's intentions were key to nowherejones' critique of the sexism in the books.

I do think that Bakker's take was far too subtle though and I have never, not even once, proclaimed that his approach was perfect, or even ideal.  That doesn't mean his aim wasn't aligned with feminism, it just means he isn't an ideal feminist writer.  As I would expect, because he is not an expert on feminism, or feminist philosophy.

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2 hours ago, .H. said:

I do think that Bakker's take was far too subtle though and I have never, not even once, proclaimed that his approach was perfect, or even ideal.  That doesn't mean his aim wasn't aligned with feminism, it just means he isn't an ideal feminist writer.  As I would expect, because he is not an expert on feminism, or feminist philosophy.

To be really clear, his stated goals were to problematize feminism. He stated this several times in interviews. The idea that he wanted to be a feminist and failed at it seems to belie this entirely. I got confused about this for a while too, but here's his words about it:

Quote

 

Young women have longer reproductive windows, which is why male sexual interest is keyed to youth, which is why women spend billions slathering themselves with chemicals, removing hair, and so one – to appear young. And we find ourselves in this very peculiar paradox, where the gradual political and economic ascendency of women (in the West, at least) is accompanied by a growing compliance to the dehumanizing demands of the male gaze. And we have this crazy situation where women escape traditional gendered oppression, only to find themselves caught in the vise of a more insiduous, nihilistic form (Esmenet, anyone?). They’ve escaped forced female circumcision only to want vaginal plastic surgery. It is well and truly fucked up, I think.

I think this is the central dilemma for modern feminism (with the possible exception of globalization). And it resounds through my books at every turn

 

Basically, as Foz Meadows points out, his viewpoint is largely that sexism, rape, abuse, etc is very heavily based not on environment or social dynamics but simply on biology. And that all the things that we do to try and fight it - more laws, more education, more discussion of equality and equity - all of those are doomed to fail, because unless you are changing the fundamental biological programming of humans it'll never actually work. 

In this, I don't think he's subtle about his viewpoint at all. His series creates a world that sets up metaphysically what he personally believes is set in biology. He sets up a world where the metaphysics is deeply unfair to women, which is precisely his viewpoint of the biology in our world now. 

And if you're claiming that Mimara is the thematic savior of the series (despite, ya know, not saving anything) what this implies with her gift is that the person who basically leans into that unfairness the most - who accepts the inherent unfairness of the universe and accept their role in it and doesn't fight it - is the bestest thing ever. That's also a deeply unfeminist interpretation, as @karaddin notes above, but it's also perfectly in line with his thoughts in that conversation. And I think you're right - that Mimara is meant to be at least the savior of something, if not everything - but I think that's because she's a mother and more in tune with the actual universe than anyone else, which includes embracing that women are less than men. 

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