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posts by Ieldra Commoner | joined 02 Sep 2005 | 1

posted 03 Mar 2006, 22:03 in The Thousandfold ThoughtKellhus, his divinity, and his "good guy" status. by Ieldra, Commoner

I think that to name Kellhus good or bad is simplistic. Remember that, according to Dûnyain philosophy, there is no morality except by the customs and passions of men, i.e. it has no ultimate reality and there is no "natural" morality. The importance of this is brought to us again and again, right from the start of the story: "So long as men live, there are crimes", says the unnamed Anasûrimbor in the prologue, to which the Dûnyain replies: "Only so long as men are deceived". Kellhus comes across as the ultimate manipulator with absolutely no scruples, which would make him evil in most systems of morality. But he does not come across as evil - at least not as evil as some other character in the story would if he did the same - because he is convincingly portrayed as being beyond these systems. Nevertheless, one wouldn't want to be in his sphere of influence (or rather, one probably would, which proves this point), and he stays human enough not to be beyond insanity. Or so it seems. There is also the matter of justification. As I read the books, I found myself thinking that someone with these abilities should really come out of it as the good guy. I wanted a justification. I didn't get it. At the end, we still don't know if there is a reason big enough to justify it all. Oh, did I find myself thinking that the end may justify the means? That's not what I usually think... As a matter of fact, despite murder, betrayal, deception and rape, I find little of the "ultimate evil" so endemic in most fantasy stories in The Prince of Nothing, to my very great relief, and very little "ultimate good" despite love, duty and friendship. Those great simplifiers all too often mask the underlying complexity. Consider the Inchoroi - there is instant revulsion when I read about them, and there can be no doubt that they are enemies and must be fought. But revulsion is no indicator of "evil" (despite, for instance, the claims of countless homophobics), and it seems such a meaningless term when applied to the Inchoroi - they are too alien to be described by it, and doing so anyway imposes a human framework that does not fit. At the end, what I think of Kellhus stays largely undetermined because of these reasons. Using his own framework as far as I can, the only thing I would name wrong is that he teaches others nothing of what he himself knows, using it to dominate instead. In his own framework, this does not constitute "evil", but I think that the Dûnyain in general would consider it undesirable. After all, they do have this ideal of becoming "self-moving souls". view post


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