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The False Sun- Bakker


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Some thoughts after a first reading...


Titirga is both a Gnostic sorcerer and a Psukhari.

I've wondered whether Kellhus's metaphysics of sorcery (the Gnosis and Anagogis as the words of the God, the Psukhe as the tone of the God's voice) was right. But the descriptions of Titirga indicate it is:

No living Quya had the purity of his Recitations. Even his Stain was different, somehow muted, as if he could cut the Inward without scarring it. Even now, simply regarding him, his distinction literally glared from his image, a strange, sideways rinsing of the Stain.

The vital difference. The threat.

They said he had been blind as a child, that Noshainrau himself had found him begging in the streets. They said he went mad while Canting. They said his words seized things that should not be seized.

Does his weird Mark mean that he is not damned?

And if you can speak the God's words in the God's own voice, are you the God?

Crackpot theory: Kellhus will blind himself (by putting his face in his fire?) to grasp the Psukhe and attain Godhood.

The Golden Court of Sil:

Is the Golden Court of Sil perhaps the world's darkest topos, allowing anyone who enters it to see, not just hell, but their own damnation?

Also, is it the room in Achamian's dream that Nau-Cayuti and the chain of prisoners are approaching?


"This Ground …" Aurang continued, oblivious to his transgression. "This Ground is the one Promised. Salvation lies within your grasp. Salvation in this life…"

Is this a reference to some sort of Inchoroi prophecy, that there was a world out there on which they could find refuge from damnation? And would this be the "true" prophecy that Aurang refers to in WLW when he says (roughly) "all the prophecies must be respected, the false as well as the true"?

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What is the false sun anyway? Is that the golden room?

I was thinking the Diurnal.

Now that is a wild item, and unlike anything Bakker has shown us before. And yet I have a hard time picturing it as anything other than a really powerful flashlight.

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For a bit there I was thinking the Inverse Fire was a manifestation of the No-God - could the No-God have existed in some form, guiding the Inchies through the Void?

But then even after the No-God is shattered by the Heron Spear we have the skin-spies telling Cnauir that they are the Keepers of the Inverse Fire. Perhaps the Inverse Fire is a window/door to the Outside, one that that served as compass for the Ark (apparently in space you are still damned but no one can hear you scream).

If the Inverse Fire is the window that can show one's own specific damnation, it would make sense for the skin-spies to be the Keepers. Having no souls, they can stay sane in its presence. They are also the most manageable of the Tekne products, seeing as they serve the Consult even without the presence of the No-God.

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Titirga is both a Gnostic sorcerer and a Psukhari.

I think Titirga has grasped the fundamentals of what the Psukhe use, but he's not Psukhari. Psukhari refers specifically to the Cishaurim's method of magic.

His mark doesn't say anything about his damnation. Rather, it's like how Achamian mentions that the mark left by Gnostic sorcery looks like razors while Anagogic sorcery looks like someone smashed something. Titirga can see the world as the God sees it, like the Cishaurim blindsight - their Third Eye or whatever they call it, thus he is even more precise than Gnostic sorcerers.

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This passage seems to clarify the Inverse Fire for me:

Experience shredded into a thousand strings, each clawed and burned and burned, sucked like bottomless bones. Agony. Anguish. Horror. Lament. Shame… Shrieking-thrashing-screaming through the throat of his every memory, innumerable and one, groaning-choking-vomiting, his every particle a unique agony, a bereavement, a weeping-howling-scratching out eyes that grew and grew to witness anew, while burning-blistering-breaking–

It defeated the tongue, the intellect, what he had seen. Nevertheless it was in him, every moment in him, if not at the centre of his care then beneath, a hole that endlessly gnawed at his gut…

A terror, so profound, so abiding–and, yes, pure–that all other fears guttered into nothingness for lack of air. A terror that was a gift… such was the peace and certainty that followed upon it.

They had conjectured, the Mangaecca. They had experimented. They had taken captives and inflicted every possible agony simultaneously all in the name of some flimsy purchase, some scant knowledge of Hell. Drawing toenails, while crushing genitals, while setting afire, while murdering children, raping wives, strangling mothers, blinding fathers… They had visited lunatic misery on innocents, and they had found themselves utterly impervious, immune to the least remorse. Some of them had even laughed.

What was earthly anguish compared what awaited them? Singular. Ephemeral. Little more than a bauble laid upon the monumental steps of the wretchedness to come. They were deluded fools, the Schoolmen of the Sohonc. Every one of them lived making belief–even more, making witless and numb–when it came to their Voices. It was sorcery they coveted, the lure of the power–such potency! The Voice had a way of walling off the future when power was at hand.

All Men wailed. All Men burned all the time. They need only die to realize it.

“So that is the source of your madness,” Titirga said. “The Inverse Fire.”

It seems like the Inverse Fire is a conscious, living soul's awareness that it is damned. I think every member of the Consult has experienced damnation, either in the golden room in Achamian's dream, or elsewhere.

"A terror that was a gift..." It almost sounds identical to the Mandate's dreams of Seswatha's suffering. The pain they went through every night made any other torture seem like nothing.

And for some reason I keep thinking about Mimara's Judging Eye. She can see the pain and damnation of other people's souls, even though they are unaware of it. It could be that "Keepers of the Inverse Fire" like the Consult and the Inchoroi are intimately conscious of the ravaging of their own souls (although they can't experience the actual pain all the time, or they would be unable to function).

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Holy shit, this was fascinating. I particularly love how Bakker makes you understand clearly why the Consult did what they did - damnation truly is horrible, and it colors everything they see. That doesn't make them any less vile or monstrous, but it explains a lot.

Bakker also double-downed on the whole "Bakkerworld is special in the cosmos" idea. I suspect it's part of the general "meaningful universe" idea he's been developing - instead of Earth being an insignificant speck in a greater cosmos (as in Real Life), it's a world of great metaphysical importance and/or uniqueness, to the point where a powerful, dangerous space-faring civilization made their way here over eons in order to save themselves. Man, the back-story . . . I wish we could know more about the pre-Crash Inchoroi.

We got a fuller description of an Inchoroi, although I'm still having trouble mentally envisioning them:

The creature stood naked, as was his want, his wings folded into wicked hooks about either side of his great skull, which would have been cumbersome, had it not curved into a crest, narrow and deep, like an oyster set on end. A proportionate face hung from the fore, loutish with the absence of expression, nostrils drawn into shining gashes, sockets plugged with lobes of bare white meat. A second face filled the mouth, sheathing a second skull fused within the crocodilian jaws of the greater. Second eyes regarded the Hero-Mage with leering expectation. Second lips grinned about teeth like nails…

The light cast by the tripods slicked the creature in lines of luminous white, yellow and crimson, but otherwise, the intestinal translucence of its skin rendered it devoid of colour–the pallor of things drawn from the depths. Though he stood no more than half again as tall as man, he seemed enormous: for the wings, for the fiendish stoop, for the webbing of stone-dense muscle…

Let's see -

1. Giant wings bent into "hooks". My initial thought was they were actually giant fins, to go with the whole "translucent creature of the seas" vibe I'm getting from the Inchoroi - but nope, they're actual wings (likely the reason for the whole "flesh-angel" label, which is just so damn creepy).

2. A big head that looks like an oyster turned on edge. An oyster looks like this, for reference.

3. Big, "crocodilian" jaws that contain the "second head". I'm almost getting Alien Queen vibes with the shape of its head.

4. Translucent Skin. Perhaps the Inchoroi were originally an aquatic race, although they've obviously modified themselves using their technology to a huge degree.

The rest doesn't seem so clear - are their bodies supposed to be humanoid in general shape? They've got phalluses.

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Quick question, does reading this story spoil much for The Unholy Consult? If so, can you guys indicate in what way it spoils? Bakker has a warning up on his site, but I'm still unsure whether I should read this story (as much I would love to) for fearing of taking the edge off The Unholy Consult.

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What a blessed time we live in. First, GRRM gives us one of the missing Dance chapters for a glimpse of what that book could have been. And then RSB treats us to this awesome spoilerfest.

Titirga is too cool for school. What confidence! He walks, alone, into the headquarters of his enemy with the intention of just killing him. He confronts two of the major powers in the world (one of them an Inchoroi!) yet makes bawdy quips: “Plainly”, Titigra replied, frowning at the creature’s groin. I laughed out loud.

It takes a long time for Shae to lure Tit into the middle of the room, but finally it works. Here’s what happened: the room is built on top of a huge pit. Sorcerers don’t fly. So the trick used in countless Warner Brothers cartoons works on them. Just remove the ground, and they will fall down; there’s no “ground echo” to stop them. Kelly would be able to just translocate out of that predicaments, and Aurang could just flap his wings. But a normal sorcerer will fall as he must. In the absence of Chorae (which Tit would certainly feel), that’s the only way to get rid of a sorcerer. Clearly, Shae and Aurang expect him to actually die from the fall. (This is strange: have they no incipient wards? Acka survived a pretty long fall from a Ciphrang in Thought.) Instead, Tit is still alive and begins flashing from below. So they collapse the structure on him. It’s a strangely mundane way to go, much like the Cant of Concussion that Acka uses to fling Cleric onto some spikes at the end of White-Luck.

The Barrier around the pit of obscenities contains, among other things, sorcery that deflects force directed against it. The description reminds us of fractal geomtry and space-filling curves. (This is the kind of mathematics that appeals to intelligent nonmathematicians like RSB.) I hesitate to graft more meaning unto this than the author probably intented/understands, but imagine the entire arc covered by a fractal curve whose level of recursion increases in proportion to the force directed towards it. (Look at Wikipedia’s http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space-filling_curve. I imagine a Hilbert curve made of Nimil, with arbitrary “magical-mathematics” density whereever required. Such a curve is indeed an “interval folded”, much like what Mekki explains.) Every part of its surface is intersected by the curve, blocking it. The only way to get through it is to attack it with a dimension-less point, something of surface (measure) zero. Shae gets this, because he’s a good mathematician. Nonmen like Mekki, though super-clever, are too set in their ways to invent infinitesimal math, much like Euclid would not have thought of Cantor’s arguments because it requires a certain freshness of perspective. Once Shae gives him the definition, Mekki immediately gets it (just like Euclid would have gotten Cantor) and starts hammering the structure with the “pins” for six days. Bingo.

So far, I thought the Inverse Flame was the main AI of the spaceship, and I see no reason to abandon that interpretation now. The Golden Court of Sil is the spaceship’s main bridge, much like on the Enterprise. Sil has a Kirk-like swivelling chair there. In front of him is a huge screen. That’s the Inverse Flame. What we’d call the “Computer.” It shows you stuff, explains how you build stuff, etc.

Nice description of the Tekne. Bakker is flirting with transhumanism, and his description of technology includes the “machines that build machines” aspect: the power that can be applied to its own proliferation. The comparison with sorcery/meaning/concepts is spot on; technology instead is reductionistic but can be assembled. Very nice.

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