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lokisnow

Bakker LVI: the Rectum of Creation

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On 3/22/2019 at 11:55 PM, Darth Richard II said:

I do find the "you didn't like the ending cause it was a bad one" argument to be tired at this point. I read "grimdark" for fucks sake, bad endings are kind of cliche almost now.

Well, I didn't like the ending cause it was a bad one. Although by bad I mean lousy and disappointing. I'm still pretty salty at how this series ended up. I suppose Bakker can mark it down as a success tho since this was what he was going for, right? To write it deliberately in a way that allows for a ton of speculation only to reveal there was never any depth to it. I do have to admit that there was significant skill in keeping up the appearances for 6/7 books and then catching everyone by surprise by serving them a pile of shit for.. uh.. reasons. In the end though, deliberately shit is still shit.

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8 hours ago, lokisnow said:

I really like this idea of Kellhus as a Abrahamic failure, but I don't think it's supported by the text, rather, I think it's an explanation that fits the text very well--in other words you've found a narrative framework for the text that operates within the familiar narrative frameworks we regularly experience in western culture.

But this sort of fitting should be resisted by the reader because the text was explicitly designed to reject fitting narrative frameworks, and scrambling to find the framework within which to fit it (and thus achieve victory in the magical belief lottery) is to willfully miss a key point of the text.

I thought TUC's ending was fine because it works somewhat, but it's also poorly designed and executed in terms of pulling off theoretically ambitious ideas.  The AMA threw me off the series as a whole, but I don't remember strongly the details of it, other than Bakker rejecting the text-as-he-wrote it and positing all sorts of extra textual information enforcing a bunch of bizarre interpretations the text could not in and of itself support. So I've sort of just let all that nonsense bugger off as more or less pointless. 

Well, I think there are elements that support my idea, but indeed, it really is a way of framing certain elements and constructing what likely is a "conditioned" response to what Bakker called "Kellhus' spiritual deficiency."  Despite that, I am not really claiming that this is a certifiable fact, much in the same way that most things in the series are simply plausible ways to understand what we are shown, not cold, hard, facts.

To me, it's the synthesis, or rather the "product" of: Bakker's statement of the Dunyain's "spiritual" deficiency, the tying together of Kellhus and Angeshraël (and the common thread of an Esmenet), to the expanded Mount Kinsureah entry in the TUC glossary and the question of "Imboreshalat," that the question related to both Angeshraël's and Kellhus' youngest child by an Esmenet, to the "question" of if Kellhus was "free" to kill little Kel even if he wanted to.

At the end of day, of course, that is all circumstantial.  It's all subjective valuation, a "meaning generative" exercise.  I can't "prove" it's true.  I don't even offer the idea that it would be "true."  All I suggest is that it seems to me to be a "plausible" way to interpret some elements of the book.  It's not about me somehow "winning" with my interpretation.  In fact, I usually preface whatever I say with the idea that I am most likely incorrect.

Nothing I ever present is anything more than my opinion.  My method of interpreting the series.  I don't pretend to have "won the Magical Belief Lottery" with anything.  In fact, I am fully confident I have lost that lottery by a long-shot.  I read the books, I interpret the books from my own perspective.  Full stop.  Nothing I say, do, or think is "objective" in the grand scheme of things and I really don't make that case that it could, would or should be.

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Which gets at the whole exercise the series represents, you simply cannot stop interpreting.

in other words don’t interpret. 

attempting to interpret something designed to unravel interpretations (and the idea of interpretations) is an inherently Sisyphean task

not to mention, the unraveling the text is designed for is also extratextually accompanied by an author intervening to block and/or redirect (generally into dead end or  self destructing directions) the synthesis of interpretations, theories and assorted critical structures.

perhaps consider the text a chorae, and your interpretations as socrcery, the two will not mix, no matter how much of ones life is dedicated to the sorcerous arts, you’re still fundamentally unraveled no matter what.

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2 hours ago, lokisnow said:

Which gets at the whole exercise the series represents, you simply cannot stop interpreting.

in other words don’t interpret. 

attempting to interpret something designed to unravel interpretations (and the idea of interpretations) is an inherently Sisyphean task

not to mention, the unraveling the text is designed for is also extratextually accompanied by an author intervening to block and/or redirect (generally into dead end or  self destructing directions) the synthesis of interpretations, theories and assorted critical structures.

perhaps consider the text a chorae, and your interpretations as socrcery, the two will not mix, no matter how much of ones life is dedicated to the sorcerous arts, you’re still fundamentally unraveled no matter what.

But in another way, if I can't stop interpreting, I can't stop.  So, why bother even trying?  Even "not interpreting" is a way of interpreting, really.

I'm honestly not even sure that the series is designed to "unravel interpretation" so much as maybe it is made to not give itself over to definitive interpretation.  It isn't that the series has no meaning, because that must be false, but rather it has no provable definitive meaning.

In other words, I view the series as just a long, protracted ink-blot test.  The thing is, it's not really the same as that, because the "pattern" isn't random, the elements and patterns, the cultural cues and narrative elements are made to have us question what are the point of those sorts of things at all, perhaps.  What is  the valuation of 

So, maybe in a way, when I say that the lack of catharsis at the end didn't bother me, I'm making an ontological statement about the role of catharsis to me.  And when I say that the lack of resolution didn't bother me, I'm making an ontological statement about the role that resolution would have for me.

Perhaps Bakker is taking some kind of page from Derrida in this regard, a play on a dichotomy between absence and presence.  We are, of course, naturally biased to see "presence" as the superior form of Being, perhaps even the only form.  But absence, what is not there, might well tell us more about something in some cases.

Inevitably, the knives will come out though, I'll be once again branded something of a "Bakker apologist" and someone might even think that I am attempting to tell them that the ending they see as bad actually isn't.  Which is not at all what I am trying to do.  I don't know if the end is bad or good.  I don't pretend to inform anyone of either conclusion.  Sometimes I personally think of the end as bad, sometimes good, sometimes I have feelings about it and other times not.  It depends on how I am thinking about it.

Which might be my overall point.  We can't do anything but interpret it, trap or no trap.  We can't do anything but take what-it-is and make what-it-is-to-me.  Which might be part of the whole question of Subject-Object dichotomy.  What is an Object, exactly, as a thing-in-itself without a Subject?  How might we know?

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Very nicely said, I especially like the bit about Derrida.

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1 hour ago, .H. said:

I'm honestly not even sure that the series is designed to "unravel interpretation" so much as maybe it is made to not give itself over to definitive interpretation.  It isn't that the series has no meaning, because that must be false, but rather it has no provable definitive meaning. 

I think that's fair, though I'd argue that it has any actual intentional meaning behind it. I think it's designed to hint at several ideas of meaning, while ensuring that none of them are authoritative - and even worse, allow the author to hold that over people's heads when they claim to know something about it. 

But I think that Bakker himself had no specific intent beyond 'rocks fall, everyone dies', and the best evidence I have on that is that he doesn't know what comes next, by his own words. 

1 hour ago, .H. said:

Which might be my overall point.  We can't do anything but interpret it, trap or no trap.  We can't do anything but take what-it-is and make what-it-is-to-me.  Which might be part of the whole question of Subject-Object dichotomy.  What is an Object, exactly, as a thing-in-itself without a Subject?  How might we know?

I think that you're missing a central thing here, which is framing. Yes, there's no objective way to talk about the series any more - at least the second one - in the same way that people talk about books in general. The language is fuzzy enough and vague enough that even basic facts are occluded, and other information is deliberately hidden to create mystery. It's a fractal of a book, designed to avoid analysis and trap people in searching for meaning.

So take a step back. 

Don't look for small details that support hypotheses. Look for larger pictures. It's hard for me to do, and I suspect it's hard for you as well, but one of the reasons that it appears to be a failure in many people's eyes is because of this big picture system. From a narrative perspective, it fails a lot of tests. It is incomplete, unclear, in heavy need of an editor and needing major structural reform from the first book on. It is a book that punishes the careful reader and punishes the reader for reading prior books  in the series. 

None of those things need to figure out about interpretation or meaning vs. meaninglessness. They are the Pshuke to the interpreter's Gnosis. 

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The thing is, if Bakker had wanted to set this series up to be interpretation-defying, he really should have sign-posted it from the very beginning. If he wants to write an epic fantasy version of Finnegans Wake, that's his business, but as a reader, the earlier books had given me particular expectations - and those expectations were not of the Finnegans Wake or anti-novel variety. It'd be rather like George R.R. Martin making The Winds of Winter all about Ser Pounce frolicking in the garden - sure, he could do it, and people would argue that it was a clever subversion of convention, but it'd be cheating. A bait-and-switch within the pages of the book.

I have also read the AMA. Honestly, he comes across as a better educated and more pretentious version of J.K. Rowling. What the author wants to achieve (or what they think they are achieving) is not actually the same as what the book achieves when read by the reader.  

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54 minutes ago, The Marquis de Leech said:

The thing is, if Bakker had wanted to set this series up to be interpretation-defying, he really should have sign-posted it from the very beginning. If he wants to write an epic fantasy version of Finnegans Wake, that's his business, but as a reader, the earlier books had given me particular expectations - and those expectations were not of the Finnegans Wake or anti-novel variety. It'd be rather like George R.R. Martin making The Winds of Winter all about Ser Pounce frolicking in the garden - sure, he could do it, and people would argue that it was a clever subversion of convention, but it'd be cheating. A bait-and-switch within the pages of the book.

I have also read the AMA. Honestly, he comes across as a better educated and more pretentious version of J.K. Rowling. What the author wants to achieve (or what they think they are achieving) is not actually the same as what the book achieves when read by the reader.  

 

Are you referring to the Dumbledore thing(which we've gone back and forth on like 100 times I think) or is there some new J.K. Rowling fuckery I am not aware of?

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Also, eh, full caustic mode enaged:

The problem with any interpretation at this point is that we know that the painting we've been starring at for a while now is actually just some shit the artists accidentally smeared on some canvas. I like what you said about WOW being about Sir pounce, That's a good description if any.

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13 minutes ago, Darth Richard II said:

 

Are you referring to the Dumbledore thing(which we've gone back and forth on like 100 times I think) or is there some new J.K. Rowling fuckery I am not aware of?

I was actually thinking more along the lines of Rowling claiming that the Potter books are a "prolonged plea for tolerance". A situation where the author is intending to say something in a text... but the text doesn't say it.

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14 hours ago, Kalbear said:

I think that's fair, though I'd argue that it has any actual intentional meaning behind it. I think it's designed to hint at several ideas of meaning, while ensuring that none of them are authoritative - and even worse, allow the author to hold that over people's heads when they claim to know something about it. 

But I think that Bakker himself had no specific intent beyond 'rocks fall, everyone dies', and the best evidence I have on that is that he doesn't know what comes next, by his own words.

Well, I agree in part, but also by his own words, he did have some specific intent:

"In university a few years afterward, I read Dennett and Hofstadter on memes, and the idea of turning my prophet into a 'meme master' struck me as a lightning bolt. The Dunyain were born. While studying modernism, I realized that fantasy actually provided the perfect literary vehicle. Where the modernist paradigm always features a protagonist struggling to find meaning in a meaningless world (typically through some form of love), I realized I was writing a photographic negative of that, the story of a meaningless character struggling in a meaningful world.

These books are 'about' many things, but the overarching theme is the death of meaning. The crash site of the Ark echoes our 'crash space,' the way all the stone age tools we evolved to make sense of our lives and our time belong to an ancestral ecology that is in the process of collapsing before our very eyes."

So, maybe part of his intent was "rocks fall, people die" but at the same time, something about a "death of meaning."  And then all that about "crash spaces."  I mean, maybe that all is the same thing though, because "meaning" is a very hard thing to define.  The more I use the word, the less sure I am of what it even might signify, let alone would or should signify.

14 hours ago, Kalbear said:

I think that you're missing a central thing here, which is framing. Yes, there's no objective way to talk about the series any more - at least the second one - in the same way that people talk about books in general. The language is fuzzy enough and vague enough that even basic facts are occluded, and other information is deliberately hidden to create mystery. It's a fractal of a book, designed to avoid analysis and trap people in searching for meaning.

So take a step back. 

Don't look for small details that support hypotheses. Look for larger pictures. It's hard for me to do, and I suspect it's hard for you as well, but one of the reasons that it appears to be a failure in many people's eyes is because of this big picture system. From a narrative perspective, it fails a lot of tests. It is incomplete, unclear, in heavy need of an editor and needing major structural reform from the first book on. It is a book that punishes the careful reader and punishes the reader for reading prior books  in the series. 

None of those things need to figure out about interpretation or meaning vs. meaninglessness. They are the Pshuke to the interpreter's Gnosis.

Well, this actually hints at why, despite what are "narrative failures" I still do have an interest in the books and the series.  Because for me, the narrative aspects were the least interesting and least important aspects of the books.  So, that is naturally my failing as a reader.  But I can't get away from it.  To me, the interesting parts of the series are the metaphysics and the "rabbit holes" of dead-end "meanings."  I don't imagine that any of these things will grant narrative clarity, but I'm honestly not after that.

I mean, do I wish the series was better edited?  Of course.  Do I wish it was less opaque?  Of course.  But do I feel punished for having spent over 14 years thinking about this series?  No at all.  And I can't tell you exactly why.

I guess in many ways I can't help but be Gnostic in interpreting things.  Because I have no Psûkhe, except for the Gnostic investigation.  So, while one might considering endlessly analyzing fractals, staring at ink-blots and "seeing" things as pointless, I see it as specifically point-ful.  I don't imagine I find some key to "unlock" or "uncover" hidden meaning in the series.  Rather, it's just a self-reflective exercise only.

I kind of dig that.  But, let's not forget that there is certainly something wrong with me.  But what can I do?

10 hours ago, The Marquis de Leech said:

I have also read the AMA. Honestly, he comes across as a better educated and more pretentious version of J.K. Rowling. What the author wants to achieve (or what they think they are achieving) is not actually the same as what the book achieves when read by the reader.  

Well, let me start by saying I know essentially nothing of Rowling.  But I think Bakker's background, essentially being a dissertation away from a philosophy phD, means he is probably more educated than is likely good for him.  And his manner of speaking, his manner of conceptualizing, his manner of relating, is really just too obtuse in practice.  That's fine when you are slinging jargon with your philosophy buddies, but in the real world, no one knows what the hell you are talking about really.  If you didn't read Derrida, Dennett, 

In the end, you are likely quite right and we know, from quotes here and there, that what Bakker thinks he wrote and what he actually wrote are not one-and-the-same.  And that isn't just from an interpretive standpoint, there are times where words he literally thought are in the books are actually not.  So, what is "clear" to Bakker isn't necessarily clear to us.  I don't think I need to bemoan the editor the series lost even more, but here we are...

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Posted (edited)

I will say that I think the whole Ajokli thing was set up from the scene where Kellhus and Cnaiur first meet Serwe. encountering her is why Kellhus deviates from the shortest path and from his father's instructions and travels to Momemn instead of traveling conditioned ground directly to Shimeh. And Kellhus becomes his most-undunyain in the entire first book at this point, he thinks about how he will SEIZE the holy war and BEND it to HIS will, Ajokli thoughts, not his own. And he constantly rationalizes away his blindness to Ajokli's manipulations and all his incredibly undunyain decisions in this section of the text, it's kellhus at his most inconsistent.

Moenghus also seems to know that Kellhus is possessed of another agency, and some of his interactions with Kellhus seem to be attempts at teasing out which agency has taken him over.

Edited by lokisnow

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18 hours ago, lokisnow said:

I will say that I think the whole Ajokli thing was set up from the scene where Kellhus and Cnaiur first meet Serwe. encountering her is why Kellhus deviates from the shortest path and from his father's instructions and travels to Momemn instead of traveling conditioned ground directly to Shimeh. And Kellhus becomes his most-undunyain in the entire first book at this point, he thinks about how he will SEIZE the holy war and BEND it to HIS will, Ajokli thoughts, not his own. And he constantly rationalizes away his blindness to Ajokli's manipulations and all his incredibly undunyain decisions in this section of the text, it's kellhus at his most inconsistent.

Moenghus also seems to know that Kellhus is possessed of another agency, and some of his interactions with Kellhus seem to be attempts at teasing out which agency has taken him over.

Well, I am already biased to think that Ajokli really enters the equation during the Circumfixtion.  So, in that way, I'd consider that Serwe had, as you said, already broken parts of Kellhus' Dunyain training.  So, in a way, Sewe is the counter to "Logocentrism" and the Circumfix is what finally breaks Kellhus open enough that Ajokli can truly enter.

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Well from what we know of the gods, Kellhus is was already always possessed of ajokli, the circumfix is where he first intervenes bodily by taking kellhus over to do all the impossible things like walking talking and transubstantiating serwes heart for his own.

so if he is always already possessed, then there is no point where it begins, there are only points where we can ascertain that manifestation may be contributing.

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the author's stated interpretations are not particularly helpful overall--but certainly this author should not be taken seriously while the narrative is subject to revision.  CUS was supposed to have been dead, for instance--his return was accordingly a revision, or the cunning author by means of these ultra vires pronouncements inhabits our interpretation as ajokli inhabits AK, puppeteering our readerly experience but leaving us blind to the cause thereof. 

whether premeditated trickery or spontaneous amendment, it is nevertheless a very flexible plot spoiler insurance policy to bodyguard the truth of a work in progress, a whispered revelation...the secret of prattle: unconquerable deceit, indomitable affliction.

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Posted (edited)
31 minutes ago, sologdin said:

...the secret of prattle: unconquerable deceit, indomitable affliction.

+10

Relates to the original line, there was a passage in the new expanse book that talks about battle as persuading your enemy.

Edited by larrytheimp

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On 3/31/2019 at 6:24 AM, sologdin said:

the author's stated interpretations are not particularly helpful overall--but certainly this author should not be taken seriously while the narrative is subject to revision.  CUS was supposed to have been dead, for instance--his return was accordingly a revision, or the cunning author by means of these ultra vires pronouncements inhabits our interpretation as ajokli inhabits AK, puppeteering our readerly experience but leaving us blind to the cause thereof. 

whether premeditated trickery or spontaneous amendment, it is nevertheless a very flexible plot spoiler insurance policy to bodyguard the truth of a work in progress, a whispered revelation...the secret of prattle: unconquerable deceit, indomitable affliction.

Yes to all this.

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Posted (edited)
On 3/31/2019 at 5:10 AM, One-Winged Balrog said:

“A novel is a machine for generating interpretations.”

Umberto Eco

“A novel is a machine for assaulting the genetic interpretive compulsion immanent in readers.”

RS Bakker

(some pollution begs the knife, and Bakker is going to try to cut it out)

Edited by lokisnow

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