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Bakker VII: fens, bogs, dens and shades of death


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[quote name='Happy Ent' post='1698340' date='Feb 24 2009, 12.07']Funny thing is that I actually changed my original suggestion, modernity, to modernism, because I wasn’t sure about the English connotations. (Not being a native speaker.)[/quote]
Sounds like we're just having a terminology issue. I was trying to line Kelhus up with Joyce and Picasso and Schoenberg and it wasn't working for me :)

[quote name='Happy Ent' post='1698340' date='Feb 24 2009, 12.07']Oh, but the modern world contains much that isn’t [i]modern[/i] in the narrow sense. Post-modernism, romanticism are alive and well. As is a current neo-Darwinian scientism (of which I am very much a follower) that acually rejects some of the ideas of modernism: In Bakkerterms, the Argument made in [i]Neuropath[/i], and embodied by its antagonist Neill, is very modern (in the wide sense) but certainly not something the Dûnyain would subscribe to: There [i]is[/i] a Darkness that comes before, and it’s not rooted in something that is much harder to destroy than puny follies such as bigotry or faith.[/quote]
I don't disagree with any of this (although I haven't read [i]Neuropath[/i])

[quote name='Happy Ent' post='1698340' date='Feb 24 2009, 12.07']However, I readily admit that I mentioned Romanticism because I want to read an inversion of Tolkien’s aethetics into the [i]Prince of Nothing[/i], and the analogy may be forced.[/quote]
Tolkien does loom large as a precursor text, so I don't think it's forced at all. Kelhus is the Sauron who makes the old world/Serwe love and believe in him as he kills her/it off.
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Yes, he foresaw a bit. He goes into the probability trance at one point, and I distinctly recall that as he goes through the probabilities, a dead wife becomes a probable feature. In fact, to go further, I think it's not just that he sacrificed Serwë, he made sure it was Serwë and not Esmenet who was grabbed with him, because Serwë's death was necessary to motivate Cnäiur's killing of the skin-spy Sarcellus that would get him cut down from the Circumfix.
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[quote name='Triskele' post='1699037' date='Feb 25 2009, 07.38']Is it clear in the text that Kellhus forsees/plans that Serwe will be killed?[/quote]
What Ran said. It’s another transformative moment for Kellhus,

End of chapter 9, [i]Warrior Prophet[/i]. Kellhus dips into the probability trance.

[quote][i]What would you have me do?[/i]
Possible worlds blew through him, fanning and branching into a canopy of glimpses…
Nameless Schoolmen climbing a steep, gravelly beach. A nipple pinched between fingers. A gasping climax. A severed head thrust against the burning sun. Apparitions marching out of morning mist.
A dead wife.
Kellhus exhaled, then breathed deep the bittersweet pinch of cedar, earth, and war.
There was revelation.[/quote]
Here the chapter ends. It’s especially interesting that Kellhus views this trance as [i]revelation[/i]. It’s very, very un-Dûnyainic.

And the form of execution seem to be common knowledge. Proyas calls it “Yes… As a False Prophet, according to the Law of the Tusk.”

Being a false prophet, according to the Tusk, seems to imply death-with-wife. After Kellhus is seized in front of the Great Names, Sarcellus has taken Serwë.
[quote]The man who held her spoke: “According to Scripture?” It was Sarcellus.
“According to Scripture,” the Grandmaster replied, but there was now pity in his voice.
“But she has a newborn child!” another cried—the Scylvendi… What did he mean? She looked to him, but he was a dark shadow against the congregation of warlike men, spliced by tears and sunlight.[/quote]
Everybody knows what it means, even Cnaiür. Only Serwë herself is ignorant.

– * –

So the moment that Kellhus decides/figures-out/divines that he needs to submit himself to the axioms of the Tusk [i]in order to subvert it[/i], he also understands that Serwë needs to die.

This “revelation” happens while Cnaiür is away and Serwë enjoys a period of bliss in company with Esmi and Kellhus. At the beginning of the next chapter:

[quote]Late that night, Serwe was awakened by voices—angry voices, just outside their tent. Reflexively she grasped for her belly. Her innards churned with fright. [i]Dear Gods… Mercy! Please, mercy! [/i]
The Scylvendi had returned.[/quote]
The idea is now that Serwë should return to her life of nightly terror as a possession of Cnaiür.

[quote]“I have come for my things,” Cnaüir said. “I have come for my prize.”
Never in all her violent life had Serwe felt herself pitched upon such a precipice. The breath was choked from her mid-sob, and she became very still. The silence shrieked. Three heartbeats it took Kellhus to answer, and for three heartbeats her very life hung as though from a gibbet between the voices of men. She would die for him, she knew, and she would die without him. It seemed she’d always known this, from the first clumsy days of her childhood. She almost gagged for fear.
And then Kellhus said: “No. Serwe stays with me.”[/quote]

We get this through a Serwë POV, and can feel her relief. She finally gets to stay with Kellhus. She’s eternally grateful.

Of course, after a few re-reads you understand that the only reason Kellhus does this is [i]so that he can sacrifice her[/i] when he will be tried according to scripture. It’s heartbreaking.
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Sarcellus's viewpoints were certainly interesting, although I have a hard time thinking of him as just really, deeply programmed; he/it seems to have some degree of self-awareness and decision-making.

You know what we need? A sketch drawing of the Inchoroi at the end of TWP.
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[quote name='Triskele' post='1699141' date='Feb 25 2009, 10.53']I'm a huge fan of "the thing called 'Sarcellus'." So appropriately creepy, so relevent.[/quote]
Well… [i]fan[/i] is a bit much, him being a despicable monster. But he’s certainly a great invention. I’m particularly fond of a place in [i]Darkness[/i] where there is a sudden POV change in the middle of a scene, from Esmi to thing-called-Sarcellus.
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I've been thinking that the story might actually take a somewhat more LotR-ish and romantic turn, with Kellhus becoming a major villain more openly than he is now. Equating Eärwa and Serwë suggests that Kellhus will betray Eärwa too, which goes well with the idea of him being secretly on the side of the No-God.

But more than that, I was writing a long essay titled "Sorcery, Nonmen, Damnation". I don't think I will ever finish it now, as if the books keep getting released once per year, I will always be a book behind the people who read in hardcover until the whole series has been released in paperback and if true, my essay would likely be no longer conjecture.

Anyway, my idea was that Nonmen don't become Erratics due to just being Nonmen and living long, but as a side effect of using sorcery. The effect would be gradual and indicated by the deepening of the Mark. After the Nonmen became immortal, the old Nonmen would no longer die and be replaced with Nonman children and the individual Marks would inexorably deepen towards infinity and levels like Mekeritrig's. I think Iyokus may have taken his position as the chief torturer due to his chanv-prolonged life having awakened the first faint and unnoticed signs of Erraticism in him. It's also noteworthy how Achamian remembers his abusive father but doesn't think about his mother or his siblings. Similarly all of Seswatha's dreams are vividly remembered pieces from the Worst of Seswatha Collection. I think, for example, Seswatha and the prince might have rescued the prince's love from Golgotterath as the legend has it, but that was one of the memories deleted by Seswatha's use of sorcery and thus not experienced by the Mandate.

What happened to Su'juroit the legendary Cûnuroi Witch King? That's what I want to know. If Su'juroit became insane as a mortal Nonman that would suggest that using two inutterals Marks deeper than using just one. That would make it possible to accumulate enough taint to become an Erratic within a mortal lifetime without even trying that hard.

Think Kellhus as an Erratic...

Also, I've noticed that the Scarlet Spires divide Ciphrang neatly into Potents and Debiles. I think the Potents are former Gnostic sorcerers and the Debiles Anagocic, which would explain for the divide.

(I know I've been rambling. The subject matter is so large and intricate it would have really needed that essay.)
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[quote name='Nerdanel']Similarly all of Seswatha's dreams are vividly remembered pieces from the Worst of Seswatha Collection. I think, for example, Seswatha and the prince might have rescued the prince's love from Golgotterath as the legend has it, but that was one of the memories deleted by Seswatha's use of sorcery and thus not experienced by the Mandate.[/quote]

This part is definitely debunked in TJE, unless Kalbear's speculations on the subject are true.
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[quote name='Jon AS' post='1699189' date='Feb 25 2009, 13.37']This part is definitely debunked in TJE, unless Kalbear's speculations on the subject are true.[/quote]

Oh, that's again another example of why I hate speculating about series where I'm not up-to-date with people that are. However, based on the discussion that spoiled me the ending of TTT back then, I'm not at all convinced that any "definitely debunked" Second Apocalypse thing really is that way until I get to examine the evidence for myself, particularly if other people also have speculations to the contrary.

(I was saying that I thought Moënghus was manipulating Kellhus to do his bidding and I was told that no way, (spoiler) Kellhus kills Moënghus at the end of TTT. But now that I've read TTT I think Moënghus actually faked his own death to lull Kellhus into a false sense of security and thus make him easy to manipulate. The greatest evidence for this is the discrepancy in Moënghus power level as a Cishaurim as portrayed in different sections in the books. I'm not taking Kellhus's guess/estimate of his father's weakness as an automatic truth when it was contradicted by the Grandmaster of the Imperial Saik in a scene where Kellhus wasn't present. A good spy network beats masterful deduction when the one doing the deduction doesn't have access to enough facts.)

This time I'm steering clear of the spoilers. The last time had significant negative effects on my enjoyment of TTT as I knew where the story would be heading.
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[quote name='Triskele' post='1699141' date='Feb 25 2009, 04.53']Oh, incidentally, I've decided that Aurang is my favorite character and that I'm rooting for The Consult.[/quote]

I'm not alone! I've been a huge fan of both Aurax and Aurang since we first glimpsed them. My favorite passage of the series so far is on page 223 of the US hardcover TTT, where Aurang extols, to himself, his own exploits. Awesome!

Frankly, the Consult is just so great, i simply cannot root against them. Anyone who would rather work for thousands of years to fundamentally recreate the metaphysics of a world rather than repent, I cannot deny a certain respect. What audacity! What perseverance!

I still hold onto the heretical belief that the No-God is not in fact evil, it was only the means by which he was used that made him a dread instrument in the hands of the Consult. As such, i believe that we are in for a huge reversal when the No-God saves the day. I have nothing to substantiate this claim, but i will hold it until there is irrefutable evidence to the contrary.

Hmm, this has brought me to a new off the all idea...time to go post in TJE thread!
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[quote]It's also noteworthy how Achamian remembers his abusive father but doesn't think about his mother or his siblings.[/quote]

I think you're overdoing this. As Bakker mentioned earlier when discussing Nonmen in the PoN Trilogy, and Ajencis's comment about how a Nonman is like an old, defiant slave, this is mostly the nature of human (and apparently Nonmen) memory; we tend to remember the worst, the hardest, and the most painful things. That's why the Erratics become erratic; they become so obsessed with memory that they engage in atrocities in order to scar themselves so thoroughly that they remember things.
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is the theory that Kellhus becomes the No God (or is the vessle by which he is incarnated) often floated? The Great Ordeal seems, to me, to be strikingly similar to Anasurimbor Celmomas' failed 'last stand'. It seems to me like exactly the wrong thing to do taking a weapon like that army straight to your enemy. might work in your favor, more likely to be your undoing according to the rules of fantasy universes. ;)

Interesting theory on the lead poisoning, I love it, I"m only a few chapters in, but getting Esme's explanation of all the deformed children I was explaining as Kellhus' geneticly inbred heritage, lead poisoning makes much more sense.
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I dunno the prologue piece with the skin eaters had plenty of Sranc blasting wood. Maybe that wasn't enough. You're right though, death did not come swirling down nearly enough.

I'm really interested to see where the dreams go, as it now looks as if Seswatha is dreaming of Akka.
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[quote name='Jacen' post='1703625' date='Feb 28 2009, 19.36']That reminds me, TJE was severely lacking in both black semen and death did not come swirling down [i]once[/i]!

That's why I had to give it a 7.5 out of 10 ![/quote]


Fuck, now I don't even wanna read it anymore.
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  • 2 weeks later...
I'm back to rereading The Darkness that Comes Before, I just finished the first Momemn chapter after the first Juniati Steppe chapter. Some thoughts

I'd forgotten Inrau used sorcery before he died, I had remembered this as him being thrown off the tower by a mocking thing-called-Sarcellus. I guess this means he was taught sorcery, although he had never used it before? I hadn't realized he'd actually learned any of the gnosis. Also Sarcellus touched his cheek with the Chorae (and Inrau makes no mention of noticing the Chorae, unlike a similar untrained character in Judging Eye) and Inrau doesn't die, salt flakes at the 'wound' though. That surprised me. was the chorae not as deadly to Inrau because his mark was not yet deep (having just begun to use sorcery) or because he was not truly damned? just a chapter or so later the Saik that attacks Cnaiur and his band presumably explodes when his sorcery touches (but leaves unharmed) Cnaiur, so the different reaction confused and intrigued me.

I find Xerius a much more interesting character on a reread, and he was by far my least favorite perspective the first time around and the reason I almost didn't finish it. He's completely ruled by what he wants to hear, yet is extraordinarily attuned to tiny changes in behavior and patterns around him (due to his paranoia about assassination), he's the only character I remember remarking a difference in his mother, and he remarks upon it several times, Conphas is obvlivious to any difference. otoh, the reminiscence of Conphas recalling his grandmother jacking him off made me wonder if she was a skin spy back then (and not a recent transplant). The way these characters talk about the holy war, in light of knowing that they are Consult and the Consult wants the holy war because of Moenghus (they believe to be the Cishaurim) being able to uncover their skin spies makes all the scenes with Skeos and the emperor's mother entirely new scenes when rereading them. Very nicely done.

I can't remember, but did we ever discover in the Prince of Nothing who it was that attacked the Scarlet Spires grandmaster?
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My impression was that the deeper the mark, the faster and easier they salt. I think some of the Nonmen were mentioned as having marks so deep that they started to salt even in the proximity of a chorae. The Grandmaster was attacked by Cishaurim, who were convinced that the Skin Spies were the Scarlet Spires' creations.
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I think Moënghus orchestrated the attack on the Scarlet Spires as an early move in his plan to initiate a Holy War to unite the Three Seas. I think the attack was a suicide mission carried out by Moënghus's disciples without the Heresiarch's knowledge. When the Scarlet Spires then inevitably retaliated, the Cishaurim outside the conspiracy would then have seen the Scarlet Spires as the aggressors, bringing the two great factions into conflict that would have momentous consequences.
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