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Bakker LVIII HITB: A Literalist Interpretation (Spoilers for all books)


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5 hours ago, sologdin said:

dunno, kal. the series is named the second apocalypse.  the narrative just caught up to the title, is all.

Think you're misinterpreting what I'm complaining about. The complaint is not 'it ended with the apocalypse' - as you say, that would be a ridiculous complaint on its surface. The issue is with inserting those points that 'deny stable interpretation' as he put it above. 

5 hours ago, sologdin said:

 i don't mind the narrative being suspended--that enacts in terms of literary form the significance of the content. if it remains unfinished, it'll mean that the suspension is indefinite.

I don't really care that the narrative is suspended. What is bothersome is that many of those things were inserted and will have literally no actual resolution, by design. Not because it is a serialized story, but because they were explicitly put in to convey meaning and not have anything to pay off later. 

Here's an example. The 'head on a pole behind you' screed. Do you know what that means? What it's supposed to mean? Per Bakker, it was just a cool phrase that he came up with because he saw the reflection of a head in a window at a coffee shop. There will be nothing more about that. There is nothing there. 

5 hours ago, sologdin said:

 this is still a matter of interpretation, and what one reader thought was a plot hint regarding things beyond the text might've turned out to be something simply regarding the setting or character or thematics or whatever. 

Or, per Bakker above, it was a deliberate insertion to convey meaning that was never intended to exist. 

5 hours ago, sologdin said:

it's difficult to discuss abstractly, though, without knowing what you thought were the markers that got lost--it's not obvious to me what people think is a dead end, you know?

Regardless of whether or not people think it was a dead end or not, I think it's not a good thing to deliberately put things in to a book with the knowledge you will never intentionally resolve them - but still hint at some future existence. I think there's a difference between the reader never getting a clear idea of what's going on (but there still being some actual knowledge behind the scenes), and the author deliberately putting things in when they themselves have no idea what's going on. 

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There's also this quote:
 

Quote

The Conphas entry is just an oversight. Some 'errors' are intentional on my part, however. For one, prescientific encyclopedias are messy, messy things, and for another, working on the EG makes me feel like God... a cruel and wicked one.

 

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thank you kindly for the specifics.  as for this--

Quote

There will be nothing more about that. There is nothing there. 

--do we care if he intended it to be meaningless? his lack of imagination need not control our understanding.  readers can take the poled head and use it in their own understandings. i personally never nailed that one down, but that doesn't mean there's nothing there--just that my understanding hasn't assimilated it yet.  maybe it will develop for.me in rereadings or of new volumes emerge in the fullness of time. for now, we can file it as an exhibit in topics such as dismemberment and bodily horror, prophetic visions and dreams, phallic imagery, and other catalogs of thematic significance.

i appreciated the encyclopedia errors--it comes across as written by a character in the setting, rather than an omniscient reference work. a primary text rather than a tertiary, say.  part of the charm, maybe, fitting DA's equally fallible historical writings that preface various chapters. 

regarding authorial deliberate indifference, consider tolkien's recitation about the istari:

Quote

What success the Blue Wizards had I do not know; but I fear they failed, as Saruman did, though doubtless in different ways; and I suspect they were the founders or beginners of secret cults and 'magic' traditions that outlasted the fall of Sauron. (The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, No. 211)

isn't that just cool as all hell?

Edited by sologdin
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You just know there was 'weird sex stuff' going down in those Istari cults 

that's one point of difference between tolkien and RSB that makes me appreciate both of them more.  even if arda is not drenched in black semen, we know that there were sadean occurrences in tolkien's setting--the existence of half-orcs suggests mass rapes (though not necessarily traumatic insemination).  tolkien's writing bears the imprint of swift's era--gulliver fucks all kinds of people on the voyages (including his own horse FFS), but it's all veiled by self-censorial editing, sous rature erotica.  the RSB works over this textual lacuna in tolkien while creating others--NG as a doubly inverted dark lord, say.

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I think I said this before in an earlier iteration of the thread, but it's worth repeating: no book series by any author, no matter how intelligent, can survive the analysis of dozens to hundreds of moderately intelligent people over the course of a decade. Either the author will have to start adapting ideas from the commentators or will have to stick to their original guns and likely end up producing something not as interesting, because one person's ideas cannot trump the ideas of dozens of people working against one another. That's true of ASoIaF, it was true of WoT and Malazan (both ended with some fans grumpy that the much deeper and wilder ideas that people had come up with over the decades beforehand had not come to fruition) and it's sure as hell true of Second Apocalypse.

I do think maybe Scott's commentary about SA made it a bit worse than normal though, although I think it was less deliberate trolling and more simply not being as interested as going into some ideas and plots as deep as others wanted them to. I also found it helped only really getting into the discussion in the few weeks leading up to and following release, and not spending vast amounts of time, say, three years out from a book release coming up with theories.

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Again, the author said he deliberately put in red herrings in order to mislead readers. This is not about the ideas of readers being better than the conclusion. This is about putting in shit meant to imply things that are never intended for followup. 

I don't get this repeated argument about being upset with the presented conclusion as a response. 

I mean, we can also talk about the shitty ideas of the last book if you want, too! The incel dragon, the 4 chapters of cannibal shitraping, the opaque wiring that made basic details like what happened to main characters and how they died unclear, the entire dropping of mimara and Akka and esmes plots, the whole kayutas as insertant and am anasurimbor being a whole cuck fantasy. Those all sucked and were way worse than things discussed on the boards!

But that isn't the complaint. 

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Great writing rewards rereads and reexamination of the ideas presented in it.  In the case of Bakker, it feels like he was trying to create this effect by planting seeds and teasing ideas that in the end were never followed up. 

What we actually got in TUC was...pretty underwhelming.  In general the Aspect-Emperor quadrilogy was not nearly as well edited or as tight as PON and TUC was easily the worst in that regard.  Not that a better editor could have solved all the problems of TUC, but they could have solved a lot of them.  Giving a little more time to Esmenet/Mimara/Akka's arcs at the end and a little less time to weird rape-madness would be great start. 

Just think about the arcs that Esmenet or Akka or Conphas had in PON.  They are clear and the decisions/personalities of the characters propel them to where they end up. 

What is Mimara's arc in the second trilogy?  What purpose does Akka's entire journey serve?  Why do we need to spend so much time with both of them when nothing they do matters to the overall plot, and their characters don't particularly change?  Why is Esmenet a POV character, when she makes no meaningful decisions in the four books?  Would the entire Momemn plotline really suffer if we had it entirely from Kelmo's perspective? 

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  • 1 month later...
On 9/23/2021 at 8:05 PM, Werthead said:

No comments from Scott in well over a year at this point, and the last thing he said was that he'd put projects on hold for well over a year before that to do a barn-into-mancave conversion.

Has anyone heard from him at all in the last year and a half? He used to be active on his blog but he's nowhere to be seen now.

I agree with you that this is probably it for the SA books. If he was working on the next series there would be no reason for him to cut all online communication for this long.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Some people have heard from him (not me) but no idea if/when he wants to return to blogging/online stuff.  I am pretty sure the pandemic has not been kind to him/his family, but I don't know what exactly is up.  There is/was some circumstantial evidence that some things might be going on, with respect to the series, but there is no way to confirm this, realistically.

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