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Bakker LVI: the Rectum of Creation

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Thanks @Kalbear you managed to articulate what I've been struggling to.

4 hours ago, .H. said:

 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.

Sorry as this is miscommunication on my part. You've made it very clear that you see her as the thematic lynchpin of the series, but I have no idea what theme it is that you see as the central one and without knowing that I can't see how Mimara fits into it. That was the closest guess I have to what that theme might be, but it wasn't based on your posts beyond it having Mimara as the center.

Please elaborate on what you see as the central theme, because my read of the series after the AMA is nihilism and biological determinism. I can't see anything positive that centers on Mimara after TUC.

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Given that sorcerers are damned, and the Mandate Schoolmen know they are damned and that damnation is real, I'm surprised they don't put a ton more work into soul-trapping magics. We know it can be done - Shaeonanra figured out how to trap his soul long after his body's death, and the Artisan seems to have figured out how to trap most of a soul (Immirricas was trapped in the Amiolas, mostly - and the choice he was given was either "risk the hells" or "get bound in a magic translation armor"). 

Alternatively, maybe they should try to steal part of the Outside with Daimotic sorceries for their souls. Or deliberately create a God for sorcerers, something which I suspect would already happen (it'd be amusing if Seswatha turned into a ciphrang who has been absorbing all the Mandate Schoolmen souls for generations, because they're all bound to his soul and he can periodically possess them). 

I've been reading the appendices against for Unholy Consult. It sounds like Inri Sejenus might have unwittingly screwed over a bunch of people, because the Hundred Gods are described as jealous connoisseurs - they won't share souls or worship with other gods. Or course, the Fanim treated the Hundred with complete disdain and were thus the most screwed over. 

 

Edited by Winter Bass

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Aw fuck shit hell dammit _of course _ Seswatha is a ciphrang how in the hell did I never see that?. Shit its damn possible he’s ajokli. But probably he’s just a clever god that realized via agriculture/ animal husbandry he could raise a very reliable extremely tasty crop of ultra rare truffles (so to speak) . Just give them the “heart” and they become yours forever, they get some shiny stuff they think is very impressive, but the more they shine The tastier  they get. Win win. They’ll even build a culture around discovering all the few who can taste so good doing your job for you. Win win win.

sorcerers salt because salt tastes good by the way, it’s a reflection of the sorcerers  nature as being inherently food stuff, nothing more.

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2 hours ago, Winter Bass said:

Given that sorcerers are damned, and the Mandate Schoolmen know they are damned and that damnation is real, I'm surprised they don't put a ton more work into soul-trapping magics. We know it can be done - Shaeonanra figured out how to trap his soul long after his body's death, and the Artisan seems to have figured out how to trap most of a soul (Immirricas was trapped in the Amiolas, mostly - and the choice he was given was either "risk the hells" or "get bound in a magic translation armor"). 

Alternatively, maybe they should try to steal part of the Outside with Daimotic sorceries for their souls. Or deliberately create a God for sorcerers, something which I suspect would already happen (it'd be amusing if Seswatha turned into a ciphrang who has been absorbing all the Mandate Schoolmen souls for generations, because they're all bound to his soul and he can periodically possess them). 

I've been reading the appendices against for Unholy Consult. It sounds like Inri Sejenus might have unwittingly screwed over a bunch of people, because the Hundred Gods are described as jealous connoisseurs - they won't share souls or worship with other gods. Or course, the Fanim treated the Hundred with complete disdain and were thus the most screwed over. 

 

It's not entirely clear if the practice or beliefs continue into the modern era, but based on the False Sun the Mandate's predecessor school, the Sohonc, followed the Nonman practice of trying to achieve Oblivion on death.  Based on the Ciphrang PoV in TUC and confirmed by Bakker to represent achieving Oblivion, Oblivion is actually achievable - at least one of the Nonmen killed's soul disappears in the eyes of the Ciphrang. 

But per Oirunas or whatever his name was, Oblivion is difficult, enough Nonmen apparently don't manage it that they see themselves in the Inverse Fire.  For whatever, whether delusion as to the odds of Oblivion or because they're irrational even in the face of certain damnation, the Mandate doesn't seem to engage in any sensible behavior.  That said, Achamian says he used to mock Tusk with his roommate when he was a kid at the Mandate, so there's also probably some amount of denialism.

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1 hour ago, ير بال said:

That said, Achamian says he used to mock Tusk with his roommate when he was a kid at the Mandate, so there's also probably some amount of denialism.

For sure, although I figured that would be a lot harder for Mandate Schoolmen than for the Anagogic Schools. They'd also be better equipped to try and find soul-trapping sorceries, since they can achieve precision far, far greater than the Anagogic Sorcery can. 

1 hour ago, ير بال said:

Based on the Ciphrang PoV in TUC and confirmed by Bakker to represent achieving Oblivion, Oblivion is actually achievable - at least one of the Nonmen killed's soul disappears in the eyes of the Ciphrang. 

I feel like they've abandoned the belief in oblivion as something they can achieve. Certainly Achamian seems to believe that he's damned, and Mimara confirms it. They even have the saying about "losing their soul but gaining the world", although perhaps that falls into denialism (they simply can't fathom how bad damnation will be, and opt not to think about it). 

As for the Nonman, I have a sneaking suspicion that that only reason he achieved oblivion was because he was so thoroughly Erratic that his soul was completely broken and faded faster to oblivion. It'd be a cruel joke, that the only way for a soul to find oblivion is to be utterly spent and broken till almost nothing remains (sort of like how Shae used near-death, weak souls to "catch" his own in his own soul-trap). Intact souls are just too noticeable and catch the attention of one demonic power or another. 

"False Sun" is so good - it's like the best parts of Bakker's Second Apocalypse world-building writing, concentrated into a short story. I do love how it gives away the game about the heavens and hells of the Outside with that anonymous quote at the beginning of the chapter, something which we more or less get a confirmation of in the "head on a pole" sequence. You may be moaning with pleasure or shrieking in agony, but either way you're feeding the Gods and ciphrangs. 

 

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

The very idea of femininity as something women have to adhere to is the root of sexism.

Really? Seems like if men don't give up 'masculinity' then women abandoning feminity will just be adopting masculinity - more patriarchy shit. Gosh, here come the shield maidens, doing the stupid thing that is war just like the men! Just made into more men and perpetuating patriarchal agendas.

It would seem very odd that if women were in charge of defining femininity that them being in control of that is somehow sexism.

The sexism comes in with the override of their controlling that. Femininity is sexism...sure, when it's assumed women don't control that and wont.

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12 hours ago, Kalbear said:

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. 

Well, that is true, Bakker is big on biological "determinism" even though I don't think he is a deterministic.  I mean, it is plausible that biology has some measure of effect, but it certainly isn't a binary or blind determinism.  In the broadest possible scope, he probably has some point, that regardless of how "advanced" we are socially, we are still grounded somewhere in biology.  He is too apt to equate that to "doomed to fail" though.  But that's just Bakker's pessimistic nature, I think.

12 hours ago, Kalbear said:

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. 

Fair point, it isn't something he is apt to hide or anything.  I mean, if we want to make the case that biology is unfair to women, we can do that.  It is likely better to consider that biology, and specifically in this case, sex is uneven in the gender sense and the act sense.  Even if we achieve perfect equity of opportunity, there is no guarantee of equity of outcome, because there are other factors at play, i.e. biology.  I think it is likely as incorrect to assume that culture is 100% deterministic as it is to assume that biology is 100% deterministic.

12 hours ago, Kalbear said:

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.

But the thing is, she does fight it, at least in places.  If she merely accepted what The Cubit established, she would have died to the Wight Under The Mountain.  But in other places, she does accept it.  So, at times, she enforces her will and not at others.  I'm actually unsure what to make of that.  It's definitely uneven, that's for sure.  Again, it's never been my position that the books are wildly successful feminist literature.

12 hours ago, Kalbear said:

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.

Sure, I don't think the fact that she is a mother is irrelevant.  Likely it is very relevant.  The thing is, that while the Cubit decrees that women are "less than" men, it is men who make Eärwa the living Hell that it is, in large degrees.  That is, The Logos, as a "masculine principle" is overwhelming terrible.  And whatever you want to term the Consult's worldview, along with the Progenitors, is also horrendous.  I guess one could term these, the "active" role.  That is, "inclined to act."

On the other hand, what then it turn is the "passive" role and what gets labeled then as the "feminine" role is actually, as you point out, also terrible.  Because if loss and forfeiture is the path to salvation, it means that the whole world is either doomed to Hell in life, or Hell in the afterlife.  Or, maybe both.

And, in a sense, Mimara has to accept that, in the same way as she has to accept breathing air.  Because on Eärwa, it is an ontological fact.  And that is really fucked up.  But Bakker goes and "spices" this terrible fact with the inverted idea that the only way out of the shitty game that is Eärwa is to not play at all.  Which is rather fucked up, again, like I explained above.

So, I do agree that Bakker's "feminist" take isn't great, because it seems to advocate for passivity.  But I think he meant it more as a critique of the perceived necessity of passivity.  That is, to say that it is very fucked up to have that be in Mimara's position, that is, against ontological facts and her own judgement.

I don't have any way to "prove" anything though about Mimara's role in TNG.  For all I know, she has her head exploded by Ajokli on page 2.  But it's my hunch that her judgement is something that is key.  Maybe I will be wrong though.  And if I am, then I'll reconsider my position, of course.

11 hours ago, karaddin said:

Please elaborate on what you see as the central theme, because my read of the series after the AMA is nihilism and biological determinism. I can't see anything positive that centers on Mimara after TUC.

Broadly speaking, the theme would be that nihilism, in the form of the Consult is a trap.  And noble intended lies, in the form of Kellhus, are also a trap.  Strict rationalism, in the form of the Dûnyain (and Kellhus), is also a trap.  The God-of-gods is inert, passive, uncaring and unconscious.  The Hundred, the anthropomorphize gods, are even worse, capricious and literally set at odds with salvation.

What then is left?  In that sense, my hunch is that we have read Bakker's "Old Testament."  What Mimara, in the role of Christ, is a making of a New Covenant.  That is, rendering God's position from the mortal perspective.  Rendering judgement where The God cannot, because The God is all positions, as it is no position.  The God is passive enforcement of "laws" where Mimara-as-Christ is the interpretation there-of.  In the most concrete of things, it has been my hunch that Mimara will answer The No-God's question, by telling him/it what exactly she sees.

Again, I can't prove this.  The books haven't been written.  For all I know, TNG might just open with Mimara dead.  But that's my hunch for where it is going.  If I am wrong, then I will reevaluate my position, naturally.

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7 hours ago, ير بال said:

But per Oirunas or whatever his name was, Oblivion is difficult, enough Nonmen apparently don't manage it that they see themselves in the Inverse Fire.  For whatever, whether delusion as to the odds of Oblivion or because they're irrational even in the face of certain damnation, the Mandate doesn't seem to engage in any sensible behavior.

Well, the issue with achieving Oblivion, I think, is that it is a very fine line to try to walk.  I've written about 5,000 words on Eärwan souls, but haven't posted it here, because I didn't want it to get lost in the shuffle.  One day I will.  For now, if you want to read it, What is the Eärwan Soul?

It is an attempt to reconcile some of the ideas of the series, in the framework of what Sci2 and I have been talking about of late.

I think the "issue" of the Mandate though is interesting.  I think you can rightly consider the Seswatha-homunculus as nearly the same as the Inverse Fire, in it's roll of essentially gas-lighting people towards it's aim.  It isn't that it is lying, per se, it's that it is a willful interpretation of facts meant to bend souled beings toward's it's aim.

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Anyone ever read Beserk?

It's uncanny the parallels the series has to the Bakkerverse, though the cosmology is definitely more Theosophical, possibly also in the vein of Sri Aurobindo.

But there's also a false(?) messiah who is referred to as The Absolute...

Maybe we discussed this all centuries ago but I can't recall...

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1 minute ago, Sci-2 said:

Maybe we discussed this all centuries ago but I can't recall...

Yeah it's been noted from time to time.  Along with the similarities in Kill Six Billion Demons, as well.

I forget who generally brings it up here, but they had an avatar that was a character from Berserk.  It's also been mentioned over at the tSA forum as well.  I think they come from the same sort of "philosophical space" generally speaking.

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1 minute ago, .H. said:

Yeah it's been noted from time to time.  Along with the similarities in Kill Six Billion Demons, as well.

I forget who generally brings it up here, but they had an avatar that was a character from Berserk.  It's also been mentioned over at the tSA forum as well.  I think they come from the same sort of "philosophical space" generally speaking.

Ah I think I mentioned KSBDemons here, it's creation story seeming to parallel what we might imagine of the Bakkerverse...although as you point out it's not clear the God of Gods is as active as Yisun seemingly is.

Or rather, the Bakkerverse draws from the Idealism where the Ground is Consciousness-as-Awareness but not necessarily Consciousness-as-Reflection. KSBD draws from the Idealism where God is somehow Non-Dual, Eternal, but also an "I" of sorts. There are some interesting branches of Hindu/Vedic/Buddhist philosophies going on, though I am not sure if Bakker directly drew from these rather than the more Idealist Western philosophers.

Also in Berserk we have Theosophically distinct arenas with the Physical, Spiritual, and Mental worlds. Bakker seems to acknowledge the Forms that would dwell in a World of Ideas - how else can Gnostic sorcery work? - but never explicitly.

I would be curious what philosophers *within* the Bakkerverse think of, say, Mathematical Platonism and a bit surprised that, AFAIK, it never came up in the series anywhere?

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35 minutes ago, Sci-2 said:

I would be curious what philosophers *within* the Bakkerverse think of, say, Mathematical Platonism and a bit surprised that, AFAIK, it never came up in the series anywhere?

I think it's just a case of there just being a limited scope.  And plausibly just that Mathmatical Platonism is just something that Bakker is/was all that interested in.  Consider too, how our Mind/Body/Spirit distinction could do so much "work" yet is never explored in-world.  I think that is likely deliberate, that is, the conception of a Soul in Eärwa is deliberately "shallow."

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17 minutes ago, .H. said:

I think it's just a case of there just being a limited scope.  And plausibly just that Mathmatical Platonism is just something that Bakker is/was all that interested in.  Consider too, how our Mind/Body/Spirit distinction could do so much "work" yet is never explored in-world.  I think that is likely deliberate, that is, the conception of a Soul in Eärwa is deliberately "shallow."

But we do see awareness and consideration of mind/body/spirit within the text. Kellhus talking about the shared here, Memgowa, Anjecis, and others quoted in the Aphorisms talking about the questions of identity, God, and afterlife.

Where I guess it seems odd to me is that Gnosis is to Aganosis as Mathematics is to Poetry, yet we never have people wonder about the reality of Mathematics. We [on Earth] have more of that question regarding the relation of Mathematics to the physical aspects our world, going back to the Ancients, and no one AFAIK has used math to make searing light cut through enemies.

My guess is that if asked Bakker would say there are philosophers who consider it, but I'd have thought Akka might specifically reflect on it given that the exactness of underlying description/meaning plays such a fundamental role in Gnostic sorcery.

Or, perhaps, I just don't understand what the Gnosis actually is or how it actually works...

Edited by Sci-2

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17 hours ago, Winter Bass said:

Given that sorcerers are damned, and the Mandate Schoolmen know they are damned and that damnation is real, I'm surprised they don't put a ton more work into soul-trapping magics. We know it can be done - Shaeonanra figured out how to trap his soul long after his body's death, and the Artisan seems to have figured out how to trap most of a soul (Immirricas was trapped in the Amiolas, mostly - and the choice he was given was either "risk the hells" or "get bound in a magic translation armor"). 

Alternatively, maybe they should try to steal part of the Outside with Daimotic sorceries for their souls. Or deliberately create a God for sorcerers, something which I suspect would already happen (it'd be amusing if Seswatha turned into a ciphrang who has been absorbing all the Mandate Schoolmen souls for generations, because they're all bound to his soul and he can periodically possess them).

It's also odd that some of the damned, even according to the Judging Eye, seem destined to be Ciphrang...which doesn't seem that bad comparatively?

So why is the Inverse Fire so convincing?

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On 11/6/2018 at 4:43 PM, .H. said:

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.

IIRC Bakker specifically didn't want to have token women characters push the "see they did it so can you" libertarian bootstrap idea.

Even Serwa (who somehow isn't whale-mother-esque?) and the Witch School are sort of a mockery of egalitarianism, a tool for Kellhus to use. This is, IIRC, allegorical to an idea Bakker mused about - the degree to which equality was driven by capitalistic concerns rather than any genuine improvement on the part of the human race.

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16 minutes ago, Sci-2 said:

Where I guess it seems odd to me is that Gnosis is to Aganosis as Mathematics is to Poetry, yet we never have people wonder about the reality of Mathematics. We [on Earth] have more of that question regarding the relation of Mathematics to the physical aspects our world, going back to the Ancients, and no one AFAIK has used math to make searing light cut through enemies.

My guess is that if asked Bakker would say there are philosophers who consider it, but I'd have thought Akka might specifically reflect on it given that the exactness of underlying description/meaning plays such a fundamental role in Gnostic sorcery.

Or, perhaps, I just don't understand what the Gnosis actually is or how it actually works...

I don't think math vs. poetry is correct; it's more about using better estimates of measure. Like, let's say you could only use buckets for recipes; your recipes would be probably somewhat okay, but they wouldn't be quite right and sometimes would be wildly off. Whereas the gnosis uses measuring cups. It's still not identical to, say, a loaf of bread evolving on its own (which is why it leaves a mark), but it's far more consistent and better than the estimates. 

And really, the gnosis isn't math, despite it having descriptions of mathlike things. Probably a better comparison isn't math to poetry - it's literature to poetry. As we've seen, the gnosis is simply using multiple statements of intent to shape the world; anagogic is just using one. Both are using language to do what they want, instead of whatever root source code was used, and both are causing massive ugliness to the world. 

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3 minutes ago, Kalbear said:

I don't think math vs. poetry is correct;

I thought I was quoting Bakker on that, but I'll have to double check....I think it was in the AMA...

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22 minutes ago, Sci-2 said:

Where I guess it seems odd to me is that Gnosis is to Aganosis as Mathematics is to Poetry, yet we never have people wonder about the reality of Mathematics. We have more of that question regarding the relation of Mathematics to the physical aspects our world, going back to the Ancients, and no one AFAIK has used math to make searing light cut through enemies.

My guess is that if asked Bakker would say there are philosophers who consider it, but I'd have thought Akka might specifically reflect on it given that the exactness of underlying description/meaning plays such a fundamental role in Gnostic sorcery.

Or, perhaps, I just don't understand what the Gnosis actually is or how it actually works...

I think you've got it pretty well and right.  I just think it's a case of Bakker simply not wanting to dig down in that particular direction, thematically.  Baker seems more inclined to describe Sorcery along the lines of linguistics, rather than abstract forms, even though the two are obviously intertwined at some point.

2 minutes ago, Kalbear said:

I don't think math vs. poetry is correct; it's more about using better estimates of measure. Like, let's say you could only use buckets for recipes; your recipes would be probably somewhat okay, but they wouldn't be quite right and sometimes would be wildly off. Whereas the gnosis uses measuring cups. It's still not identical to, say, a loaf of bread evolving on its own (which is why it leaves a mark), but it's far more consistent and better than the estimates. 

And really, the gnosis isn't math, despite it having descriptions of mathlike things. Probably a better comparison isn't math to poetry - it's literature to poetry. As we've seen, the gnosis is simply using multiple statements of intent to shape the world; anagogic is just using one. Both are using language to do what they want, instead of whatever root source code was used, and both are causing massive ugliness to the world.

I'm not sure so about that.  Bakker has said:

Quote

So the Anagogis turns on the semantic power of figurative analogies, the Gnosis turns on the semantic power of formal generalizations, the Psukhe turns on speaker intention, and so on.

So, I don't know, unless I am misunderstanding the nature of these terms, that the difference between "figurative analogies" and "formal generalizations" is necessarily the precision of measure.  I think it is more like what Sci2 proposes, really.  I don't know that it is the precision that is key, rather than it's directness that is key.  So, Anagogic fire only figuratively alludes to heat, where Gnostic fire is literally the essence of heat itself.

It's only the meta-Gnosis that has more than one statement though.  And it only can probably because of it's precision, but I don't think that is the whole story.

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7 minutes ago, Sci-2 said:

I thought I was quoting Bakker on that, but I'll have to double check....I think it was in the AMA...

Perhaps thinking of this quote:

Quote

Everything comes down to meaning in Eärwa. Where sorcery is representational, utilizing either the logical form (as with the Gnosis) or the material content (as with the Anagogis) of meaning to leverage transformations of reality, the Psukhe utilizes the impetus. Practitioners of the Psukhe blind themselves to see through the what and grasp the how, the pure performative kernel of meaning–the music, the passion, or as the Cishaurim call it, the ‘Water.’ As a contemporary philosopher might say, the Psukhe is noncognitive, it has no truck with warring versions of reality, which is why it possesses no Mark and remains invisible to the Few.

 

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10 minutes ago, .H. said:

So, I don't know, unless I am misunderstanding the nature of these terms, that the difference between "figurative analogies" and "formal generalizations" is necessarily the precision of measure.  I think it is more like what Sci2 proposes, really.  I don't know that it is the precision that is key, rather than it's directness that is key.  So, Anagogic fire only figuratively alludes to heat, where Gnostic fire is literally the essence of heat itself.

Right; the analogy I was making was about how it is like baking and chemistry. Both sorcery types are about the preciseness of intent and meaning, and both essentially revolve around being able to be as precise in meaning as you can possibly be. But you're right, it has nothing to do with measure - it has to do with being able to be more able to dictate your intent. 

10 minutes ago, .H. said:

It's only the meta-Gnosis that has more than one statement though.  And it only can probably because of it's precision, but I don't think that is the whole story.

No, both the Gnosis and the metagnosis have more than one statement. The Gnosis has the utteral and inutteral. The Anagnosis has the utteral. The metagnosis has apparently at least two inutterals, and possibly more. There's also a big discussion in the books about using a dead language because it has no linguistic drift. This all implies to me at least that the meaning of the words themselves is not anchored in stone, and is instead being used as a crutch to imply meaning. When you have multiple statements that back each other up, the real intended meaning becomes stronger. But it's still not perfect; it is not, as you might say, mathematically precise

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