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Purple Library Guy Commoner | joined 29 January 2007 | 8 posts


Esmet's betrayl, Bakker's massogeny, and a criticism posted 30 January 2007 in The Warrior ProphetEsmet's betrayl, Bakker's massogeny, and a criticism by Purple Library Guy, Commoner

I think what's being ignored here is that it wasn't just Esmenet involved. We're talking about Kellhus here, The Master Manipulator. Achamian, very smart, very much the outside, relatively detached observer, gets taken in by him. Everyone falls in love with this guy except Cnaiur and Ikurei Conphas. Conphas only didn't because he was a psychopath, inherently unable to put anyone else's priorities ahead of his own. Cnaiur knew what Kellhus was, and was also very intelligent and so stubborn and generally anathema to outside control that to succumb would have broken him; despite that, resisting Kellhus' influence arguably drove him mad.

Esmenet falling for him is another example of Kellhus' power, and simultaneously of Kellhus' amorality and internal imperative to control everyone. It's another case of dissonance between his appearance to those taken in by him and his actions, which are never taken to benefit anyone but himself. view post


kellhus == good guy?? posted 30 January 2007 in The Darkness That Comes Beforekellhus == good guy?? by Purple Library Guy, Commoner

I think the foundations of ethics, by which we might judge someone to be "good", always come down to variations on the "do unto others as you would have others do unto you" and the idea that people must be treated as ends in themselves, not just means to an end. All of ethics originates in that basic insight, that sort of denial of solipsism, that accepts that other people are, in fact, people just as you are a person, and that it would be wrong of you to do things to them that you'd be upset by if they did them to you. That basic notion that it's essential that the rules be the same for everybody threads its way through ideas of democracy, justice, law and religion. One of my favourite examples is Rawlsian justice theory. This basic concept doesn't seem to change much over time or across cultures. What's different generally is the excuses people come up with for ignoring it, and what particular areas different cultures find it important to do so.

By that yardstick, Achamian is a fairly good guy, and very few of the other major characters is.
Cnaiur is an odd case--He's extremely violent, but his twisted worldview sees it as perfectly OK for everyone in the world to be violent back. He wouldn't mind if everyone else behaved as he did; indeed, he finds it strange and effete that they don't. He remains evil in that he doesn't take into account or care that the rest of the world that he's violent to don't feel the same way. But I nonetheless have a strange sympathy for Cnaiur, partly because this kind of good/evil assessment doesn't touch the complexities of individual character and background. He has some really heavy and strange forces acting on him, and he's caught strangely, between an intelligence whose potential keeps reaching past his limited, static cultural barriers, and the damage that causes to the stability and solidity of his guides to action and self-worth.

Measuring by this basic morality, it seems pretty clear that Kellhus has no ethics in the normal sense. His position is absolute, and as someone suggested further up I find that Conphas is oddly related to him. Both consider other people to be means to their ends and nothing more, both have an intellectual understanding of the things that make other people tick but rightly or wrongly consider those things not to apply to them; both also figure they don't *need* to live within any sort of contractarian considerations because they are sufficiently more competent than everyone else that in the war of each against all, they will handily win. Conphas turns out to be wrong, in some ways a foil to show how badly outclassed a normal brilliant psychopath is by Kellhus, even given the initial advantage of very high birth, wealth and power. Basically, Kellhus' exclusive selfishness and absolute disregard for the welfare, let alone rights or autonomy, of others make him the moral equivalent of a psychopath. The one question he never seems to confront seriously is what all this logos is supposed to be *for*--logic can't be an end in itself, it's a means by which to pursue ends. The ends themselves cannot be founded in logic; if you have an end that seems to be founded in logic, you haven't gone back to look at where the logic chain started that it's founded in. Kellhus is as vulnerable to a little kid continually asking "why?" to every answer as anyone else, but seems not to realize it. I have a sneaky suspicion Bakker is well aware of this; it's an intentional, fundamental flaw or limitation, possibly even an Achilles heel in the end.

One or two people on the thread have mentioned Kellhus' objectives, and whether their worthiness might justify his methods. Well, no, they wouldn't. Normal arguments about whether ends justify means don't even really apply. We're talking about someone who, if convinced there would be no longer term consequences, would kill a thousand people for a steak dinner. He would use the same methods no matter how trivial his ends might be. But in fact, there's nothing particularly "good" about his objectives in any case. He's been sent to find his father, and he clearly wants to do so. It's unclear why. Initially it was largely because of the Dunyain's extreme discomfort with the appearance that the father was capable of some kind of paranormal power, something that didn't fit into their views on logos. The whole magic thing bothered Kellhus for some time. There certainly seems to be some indication that either Kellhus needs to be in a very strong position before he finds his father, or anticipates that they may have some shared objective that will require big armies. Otherwise presumably Kellhus could have just gotten on a trading ship and gone there, perhaps in the guise of a pilgrim, rather than hijacking a whole crusade. Whatever the reasons, even if somewhere in the background they include some sort of filial feeling, they certainly don't seem to involve anything unselfish. Similarly the desire to attain some kind of intellectual enlightenment is purely a desire for him personally. It's a respectable desire, but hardly one that justifies objectifying others.

Does that effective psychopathy make him evil as such? Well . . . matter of definition. Normal psychopaths are often viewed as evil, but perhaps that's sloppy thinking. Kellhus doesn't actively prefer death or pain, as for instance the Consult constructs do. He just doesn't care. What I will say is that if the No-god weren't on the point of coming back and ending the world, I'd say the main plot question would be "Will Kellhus somehow get his?"
In fact, on an emotional level I often feel as if, despite the fact that the consult are out there, despite Achamian's dreams, despite the horror of the No-god, despite the implications all over the place that Kellhus is the only one who can save the world from all that, I'm *still* more worried about whether someone will finish him off. His existence is a danger to the world, and speaking as someone who really, really hates the idea of being dominated by anyone, and hates the idea of emotional domination far worse than the notion of just being physically tossed in jail, if I knew he existed I would fear and hate him beyond all reason. I wouldn't just want to kill him--I'd get violent with anyone who wanted me to *meet* him, potentially exposing me to the bastard's mind control. view post


Kellhus, Achamiam, and Emotion posted 30 January 2007 in The Warrior ProphetKellhus, Achamiam, and Emotion by Purple Library Guy, Commoner

I strongly disagree. Societies are not monolithic. Their "rules and morals" are never internally consistent. And often their norms move far away from their best ideas of what good behaviour should be; this is defended by elaborate rationalization.
Great reformers, such as Martin Luther and King, generally invoke the deeper ethics, the profoundest and most stable beliefs, and point out their incompatibility with common rules and practices. That's the difference between them and a sociopath: A sociopath acknowledges no rules, ethics or morality. A Martin Luther King challenges our hypocritical practices on the basis of their inconsistency with our broader notions of justice, ethics and morality. He or she exposes the inconsistencies we studiedly ignore.

Kellhus is not that kind of person. And indeed, Kellhus will use and manipulate the rules and practices of whatever society he finds himself in, for personal gain. Great reformers, to the contrary, generally risk loss and personal harm by the act of publicly repudiating such norms; they are willing to accept this precisely because of their ethical concern with matters beyond their personal advantage. view post


What about akka and esme. posted 30 January 2007 in The Warrior ProphetWhat about akka and esme. by Purple Library Guy, Commoner

Quote: "anor277":3b2fo2el
Well it seems that at least we're in agreement here. Esmenet and Kellhus say to Proyas of their relationship, that they thought somehow that Achamian would have approved. It does not sound like bull$hit. [/quote:3b2fo2el]

Well of course it doesn't *sound* like bs. Nothing Kellhus says *sounds* like bs. That's because he's a super-genius whose talents at manipulation are beyond unreasonable. He is the man who can fake sincerity and therefore has it made.

Personally, I think this whole set of events is a key indicator of the difference between Kellhus' representation to the crusaders and his reality. Sometimes we get too used to this guy. But consider--on the surface, to the world, he's basically like a *normal* hero of a fantasy novel. Think about some of your favourite fantasy books, and the awesome folks who are the central figures in them. Can you imagine them saying "Well, he's one of my best friends, but he may well be dead. No point worrying about it or going to look and see or anything. And hey, now that he is (probably) dead, I know you two were an item and all, but you wanna?"

I don't think so. Aragorn would never do that. Neither would Corwin of Amber, Druss the Legend, heck, the members of the Black Company (and they're cutthroat mercenaries), or Vlad Taltos (and he's an assassin). Their fundamental motivations are different, so ultimately at the level of actions the self-interested Kellhus will be different from a real hero. This kind of inconsistency between self-portrayal and deeds is about the only crack by which a normal onlooker or a person under his influence might be able to penetrate Kellhus' appearance to something like an understanding of his reality. I think, I hope, that will ultimately be very important to the resolution of the story.

In Gordon R. Dickson's book, "Dorsai", the protagonist runs across a master manipulator--not of Kellhus' calibre, and not so chillingly logical, but certainly headed in that direction: very intelligent, deeply pragmatic, dedicated to and very skilled at control. Donal Graeme, however, was even more brilliant, and immediately concluded


"he's apparently an absolute devil."
The pipe rattled in Galt's suddenly unclenched jaws . . .
"Who told you that?" he demanded.
"No one," said Donal. "It's obvious, isn't it?" Galt laid his pipe down on the table and stood up.
"Not to ninety-nine per cent of the civilzed world, it isn't," he retorted. "What made it so obvious to you?"
"Certainly," said Donal, "any man can be judged by the character and actions of the people with which he surrounds himself. And this William has an entourage of thwarted and ruined people."
. . .
"Also, he seems to be an almost frighteningly brilliant sort of man, in that he can dominate personalities like Anea, and this fellow Montor, from Newton--who must be a rather high-level mind himself to have rated as he did on his tests."
"And someone that brilliant must be a devil?" queried Galt, dryly.
"Not at all," explained Donal, patiently. "But having such intellectual capabilities, a man must show proportionately greater inclinations towards either good or evil than lesser people. If he tends toward evil, he may mask it in himself--he may even mask its effect on the people with which he surrounds himself. But he has no way of producing the reflections of good which would ordinarily be reflected from his lieutenants and initiates--and which, if he was truly good--he would have no reason to try and hide. And by that lack, you can read him."


I'm not sure I'd say it's precisely that way with Kellhus, but I did find myself reminded of that passage when thinking about Kellhus and his impact on the people he ensnares, and the difference between his mental dominance and the interaction between real good-guy leaders and the people around them.

As to amor's point that had Kellhus not taken Esmenet as a lover she would be dead--come now. If he could manipulate her into bed, he could certainly manipulate her into just not running off looking for Achamian. I mean, Akka at that point is either alive or dead. If he's dead, going into danger and getting yourself killed too just makes things worse; Achamian surely wouldn't have wanted it. If he's alive, he's a Mandate scholar, capable of killing with a few words, shredding buildings; his potential for violence both overt and subtle is massive, for all that he rarely uses it. If alive he will no doubt be back; anything capable of stopping him would surely chew Esmenet up and spit her out. Sure, there's a certain amount of sophistry here, but I'm sure Kellhus would be able to convince her of some such line of reasoning. view post


question about achamian? posted 30 January 2007 in The Warrior Prophetquestion about achamian? by Purple Library Guy, Commoner

Quote: "medium":31hipfdl
I'm not saying that I'm afraid of Kellhus[/quote:31hipfdl]

Well, I sure as heck am. Kellhus is one of the scariest characters I've ever seen. view post


Is Kellus the No-God? End of TTT and being in the whirlwind. posted 31 January 2007 in The Thousandfold ThoughtIs Kellus the No-God? End of TTT and being in the whirlwind. by Purple Library Guy, Commoner

Quote: "Phil":1jy2nj15
So Kellhus must become something pretty special in the last series. What could come after Aspect Emperor?[/quote:1jy2nj15]

My personal fond hope is that he'll become specially dead. view post


Was Cnauir gay? posted 31 January 2007 in The Thousandfold ThoughtWas Cnauir gay? by Purple Library Guy, Commoner

It seems to me that Cnaiur would feel ashamed at respecting any non-Scylvendi, and at liking *anyone*. I think there's a part of him that regrets how incredibly isolated he is, but his culture tells him to despise everyone he meets. He feels ashamed of any impulses he has to form bonds with other people, whether involving a sexual kind of affection or just comradeship. Certainly teaching Conphas a lesson didn't seem to interfere with his sense of self in any way.

While it seems pretty likely that Cnaiur had sex with Moenghus, and was deeply emotionally dependent on him, does that make him gay? I'm always a bit bemused at the difference in attitude towards gayness as opposed to straightness or for that matter other kinds of "what side are you on" oppositions. People seem to treat gayness like it's some kind of dread infection--let just one drop take root and all is lost, I tell you, lost! It will spread and Take You Over! Booga booga! It's like gays are the invasion of the fleepin' body snatchers or something. It seems to me this attitude is rooted deeply in homophobia, particularly religious homophobia. You wouldn't have people going around claiming that a self-defined gay person was straight because they'd slept with one woman.

To the extent that Cnaiur is basically disposed to one gender more than another, I'd say the best evidence is provided by the Consult. When they decided to lead him by the balls with a skin changer, what form did they use? Serwe. And it worked pretty well.

I'd also suggest that any strongly patriarchal society has a certain homoeroticism kinda buried in it. If women are discounted as real partners, who does that leave? You find a lot of homoerotic bonding among basically straight guys in contemporary jock/frat culture, for instance. view post


What about akka and esme. posted 02 February 2007 in The Warrior ProphetWhat about akka and esme. by Purple Library Guy, Commoner

Corwin might or might not have given a rat's ass about seducing someone--it would depend on the circumstances. But he was far from evil or even amoral, although at some point a couple hundred years before the narrative began it seems perhaps he was. Corwin's a hardass, sure, but within the books he doesn't betray his friends and he tries not to hurt people who aren't asking for it and he tends to go out of his way to help random people in trouble; in explanation for this he muses that some time during his amnesic time on earth he picked up a conscience, something that perhaps sets him apart from most of the family. His cynicism is largely skin deep. And one thing I'm convinced he wouldn't have done, and what practically no fantasy hero would do, and specifically what a person who really exemplified the image Kellhus was projecting wouldn't do, is fail to go find/try to help a close friend who'd disappeared and might or might not be dead.
The reason I think it's important is not that it's such a heinous deed per se. It's that only in such cases can one catch a master manipulator. You can never spot the wrongness in Kellhus by assessing his words, he's too smart. But a manipulator's motives and objectives are not what they appear; even where the overt objectives (get the crusade to the holy city) are what they appear, the deeper motives of character are different. Watch a manipulator and at some point their actions, to achieve their real objectives, have to depart from their self-presented character, no matter how clever they are, or they can't achieve their real goals. That's generally the only way for a normal non-super-genius to perceive the manipulation of a Kellhus level mind.

As to seducing Esmenet--well, anyone could fall for his dead comrade's girlfriend. What makes Kellhus' action both less and more of a betrayal is that he has little concept of "betrayal" and for the same reasons certainly doesn't love Esmenet. He seduces her not out of emotional need but for whatever cryptic, selfish reasons he's doing everything else. We often feel that someone falling in love is not fully in control of their actions and can be partially forgiven for what would otherwise be a betrayal; that doesn't apply to Kellhus, who is utterly in control. view post


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