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Kellhus, Achamiam, and Emotion posted 05 Aug 2004, 19:08 by Rellion, Candidate

By the title, you can probably already tell this will ramble, so bear with me. I have several thoughts I want to express about Kellhus as I just completed TWP, and still have them swirling about in my head. Also, lots and lots of spoilers. Stop reading if you haven't read TWP. I had come to the conclusion about mid-2/3rds of the way through TWP that Kellhus is not a human being. I am not saying he is not a Homo Sapiens, but he does not contain any of the qualities or traits that indicate that he shares the human condition, that he is a person, a man, or something else we would identify with. By the beginning of Part 3, he had become to me what I would qualify as a 'thing'. This emotionless golem created by the Dunyain, uncaring of the consequences of its actions, so long that its inevitable goal was reached. The shortest path, as the Logos dictates. As I read, I kept wanting or hoping for Kellhus to just stop and feel something, and be a human being and not a thing. I must credit Dr. Bakker for doing an excellent job of reinforcing Kellhus's lack of emotion during those scenes from his expression (describing a 'smile he did not feel' in one did wonders). I almost felt as he grew and gained in power that he was not fit to have any of it, that as beast as unreal as any of the Consult skin-spies he was just as unworthy to lead men. The Great Names seemed more honest in what they were than he was (even Conphas), and that's saying something. At least the failure, horror, or success of the Holy War would have been in the hands of men, flawed as they were, instead of being dragged like a dog on a leash by the hands of this thing that the hammers of Ishual's forges beat into the likeness of a man. Achamiam always seemed to me to be the great protagonist of the book. He was the good man, human in his faults, and identifiable. I like the character of Achamiam a lot, and watching him mean for good but stumble and fail and falter he seems in retrospect to be such a perfect foil for Kellhus. He is the identifier of humanity, whereas Kellhus seems the rejection of it. I kept hoping that Achamiam would learn of the reality of what Kellhus was, as Cnaiur knew already. Iothiah and Caraskand caused the two, as I read further, to push together suddenly even as Achamiam learned of Kellhus's betrayal. Achamiam lost much of what he had, unable to weep, eyes dry now to the suffering of others as Seswatha had protected him (and the Gnosis) during the interrogations by Iyolkus, while Kellhus lost control of his face, and finally wept, feeling grief (?), sorrow (?), pain (?), or loss (?) or some combination. Had Kellhus become more human? Had Achamiam truly lost some of what made him human? I feel that I will have to read Thousandfold Thought to find out for certain. I eagerly anticipate it and will have to order it from a Canadian source as soon as it is published (darn not releasing in the US for many months Canadian publishers! Grr!). view post

posted 05 Aug 2004, 22:08 by Replay, Auditor

Nice ramble. And you brought up a good point about consequences: that Kellhus isn't being as mindful of his own saying "that which comes before, determins after" as he should. Of course, being a ficitional book there is a chance he may not reap what he has sown, but let's hope not eh? view post

posted 06 Aug 2004, 08:08 by anor277, Didact

Nice points, but I think a consensus has been reached that Kellhus is not entirely human. As you say, there were signs already in TWP that Kellhus was being corrupted by his stay among the world born. After Anwurat some “darkness” (was it pity?) stopped him from turning off Cnaiür and of course Kellhus wept for poor, innocent Serwe. On the other hand it’s hard the pity the Great Names that Kellhus so adroitly manipulates; they all practise jnan and they are all self serving, arrogant, and seldom moved by emotion (except when Kellhus moves them). I’ve stated elsewhere that maybe they truly deserve Kellhus. Achamian, as you say is maybe the only moral character; I would like to see the sorcerers of the Scarlet Spires getting what is owed – especially as the novel was ambivalent on whether Iyokus survived Iothiath (maybe he is on the run from the demon he loosed on the world). view post

posted 08 Aug 2004, 05:08 by saintjon, Auditor

Proyas seemed plenty moral too, but his morals are based on the strict religious side of things. Yeah maybe Kellhus' progression through the story will be partly learning to reconcile his humanity with his beliefs, or maybe the failure to do so will unleash the no-god in some way (that vision he had was way creepy). view post

posted 08 Aug 2004, 14:08 by JustifiedHeretic, Peralogue

For myself with Characters and relations I was stuck. Akka - Can be easily related to, has that low self confidence factor that plays a huge part of us getting to like him, then when he escapes and Seswatha has kind of takne over him per say, I think he becomes such a stronger character when he reaches towards his potentials. He losses emotion towards Zin, towards Caring about Proyas, he just wants to see Esmi, which inevitably leads to more pain, worse then the torture by the Scarlet Spires, so I am hoping this leads to a showdown between him and Kellhus, cuz I ahve got my money on Akka. Proyas - Who could forget about lovable Proyas....uhh..yah. He was always my favorite Character because he SEEMS like he is suffering so much inwardly that he is a religous zealot on the out. We know who truly cares for Akka and Zin as is seen when he sees Zin again and he sees Esmi in bed with Kellhus. It is unfortunate however that due to his standing he cares more about his appearance in his religion that his friend, We must remember Akka has never once, ever, remarked about Inri Sejenus, yet Proyas constantly harasses Akka on being a socerer. To me that was a test of their friendship, although Proyas asked for forgiveness for being a fool ( as he finally comes to realize how blinded he has been) Akka rightfully declines to forgive but it can be seen that their bond has grown, which will play an important role in times to come Im thinking. Proyas seems to go through that Needs to be Accepted phase, where he needs to be accepted by Akka as a student, then find his faith and needs to be accepted (and the best I might add) in his faith. I think Zin losing his eyes and Akka surviving truly help open Proyass eyes to his true friends and his true self. Which is why I like him so much. Zin - Zin was always my second favorite character because I could relate myself to him so much, and his resemblances to Proyas. After his tortue however, I can only feel pity for this shell of a once great man when I read about him. It is unfortunate, because the character he was was such a strong character. Martemus - Ièll miss him and his practical ways. I really liked him and the way he was divided by what he thought was his faith (really seduced by Kellhuss words) and his commander (Conphas). This is truly seen when he says he would die to defence the concubine (The Nansur Standard, bue to Habit) but is then found hovering over Conphas waiting to kill him. Unfortunately however he is kiulled, which really sucked because he wa s agreat character. Just my two cents. view post

posted 27 Oct 2004, 19:10 by Ka'tar, Commoner

I really enjoyed both books, but seem to be different from many in that I think I liked the first book more. Guess I was going from the idea that Kellhus was human. As the second book progresses I just found it harder to believe that he was that much better a warrior than everyone else and he was also several levels higher in terms of intelligence. Did anyone else read the book and think "Geez, it is getting harder to swallow that every person he meets is a complete moron in comparison"? Don't get me wrong, really liked many aspects of the book....just think that perhaps the writer went too far if Kellhus is indeed human. view post

posted 07 Jan 2005, 10:01 by Faelcind Il Danach, Peralogue

I think Kellhus is related to normal humans sort of the way a Pit bull is related to mutt, or thouroughbred to a pony, furthermore he is not just any thouroughbred he is Secretariat. Imagine if you will a race between a bunch of ponies and secretariat that is the situation world born men face in Kellhus. Thought I still think catching and breaking swords a little hyperbolic. Anyways I think he most amazing thing for me personally was how Bakker was able to make me at least like Kellhus in chapters from, Akka or Esemenet's perspective even thought I knew how inhuman he was. Very convincing writing. I was just thinking about my analogy. That would make Cnaiur a wolf wouldn't or as an equid the the exceptional swift Onager(perhaps not as good an analogy). view post

posted 07 Jun 2005, 02:06 by Cohen, Peralogue

[quote="Ka'tar":1e159qom]I really enjoyed both books, but seem to be different from many in that I think I liked the first book more. Guess I was going from the idea that Kellhus was human. As the second book progresses I just found it harder to believe that he was that much better a warrior than everyone else and he was also several levels higher in terms of intelligence. Did anyone else read the book and think "Geez, it is getting harder to swallow that every person he meets is a complete moron in comparison"?[/quote:1e159qom] I struggle right now as to what offends me the most about this post........Ingnorance? How many people do you know that have been train since birth to control there suroundings and become a master at aggression? Well just the other day I watched a program on the Tibetan monks ...6 years old and this child could do things you woudn't believe. And that isn't fictional. I am beginning to realize what has offended me the most and I have to say it's when you said "Geez". :wink:.......Speaking of Morons look around you the world is full of them .. some even run countries!!!! People want to believe in something and its fairly obvious that the characters in these books need the same. p.s. The second book was better... more war. :twisted: view post

posted 07 Jun 2005, 06:06 by White Lord, Subdidact

[quote="Ka'tar":3u5dunjv]Did anyone else read the book and think "Geez, it is getting harder to swallow that every person he meets is a complete moron in comparison"?[/quote:3u5dunjv] Well, if you have read both books, something must have escaped you, if you think Kellhus's superior talents are "unexplained". It's been stated throughout that the Dunyain are the result of a 2000-year-old experiment in selective breeding; and eugenetics, when ruthlessly and relentlessly applied, will give you both incredible intellectual and physical superiority as opposed to "normal" humans. It's when the "little" details slip through the cracks, that people do themselves the disservice of undervaluing or misinterpreting a book. :) view post

posted 10 Jun 2005, 17:06 by Fell, Peralogue

White Lord is right, it's been explored in the books. Kellhus is apparently, yes, human. That is one of the difficulties of trying to relate something alien to an audience naïve of other aspects of our own history and world. As a Dûnyain monk, Kellhus has been bred and programmed to interact with his environments very differently. In the Three Seas, where Westerners can relate to so much — rhetoric [i:3glfyqyc]jnan[/i:3glfyqyc], social means, customs, fears, hates, prejudice — the Dûnyain represent a level of human capacity that has been lost to history. Look to the ascetic Buddhist monks or the solemn yogis of the East and there you will see a virtue and alien perception of the world. Emotion is not a prevalent element in them as they deal with thought and information in a much different way than the Western world. I love Kellhus because he was a this perfect monk, a human bred to logic with an insight to the very depths of knowledge, the Logos. But upon leaving the monestary he came to be bombarded by things alien to him, even contradicting and confusing. In this, he is human: because there is no real answer to anything, no good nor evil. There are only the decisions individuals make, and the stories we weave for ourselves. He is indeed more than the average person, but in our world (for relative purposes) and in Eärwa the average man is not exactly anything special. Left to their own vices, they are weak and confused. Kellhus has is a part of a system that has been millennia in development. Put him in a ring with a Tai ch'i master and see what the outcome is. ;) view post

posted 13 Jun 2005, 23:06 by diarmuid, Peralogue

Kellhus not human? He is clearly superhuman... where "super" means not "not" but "more" as for lacking emotion...he has shown lots of it to my way of thinking but think...emotion is almost always generated by surprise or the unexpected how much do you think happens among the "subnormals" that Kellhus doesn't see coming? not much in the beginning...hence no emotion that we are shown but towards the end of TWP? i am anticipating a little sumpin sumpin from TTT on this very issue! view post

posted 14 Jun 2005, 09:06 by azdahak, Candidate

Kellhus is a nietzschian übermensch as he has risen beyond the moral and social expectations of human society. I think the second book shows that having an übermensch around is a bad thing for ordinary people. It was painful to read his seduction of Esmë and Achamians reactions, but perhaps it was necessary to "burn" Akka's humanity away so that he could be a "weapon" for Kellhus. HOT view post

posted 05 Jul 2005, 06:07 by Cynical Cat, Auditor

He is the triumph of nuture over nature and that is why he is cracking. The enviroment he is living in has made inroads, despite the strictness of his training. He is superbly trained and conditioned, but human an vulnerable to the same forces that he uses to shape and mold people. His defences are merely stronger. view post

posted 07 Dec 2005, 06:12 by Artful, Candidate

The word you're grasping for is 'sociopath'. From the greek, the literal meaning is 'social illness'. That is, someone who does not conform to the expectations and morals of society. Kellhus clearly is a sociopath. He's got all the classic markers for it. The discomfort you describe feeling is typical of an uninvolved person watching a sociopath work. view post

posted 31 Jul 2006, 07:07 by alhana, Auditor

I know I am posting about an old topic here, but, I am not sure that "sociopath" is the way I would describe Kellhus. By your defination, even Martin Luther, William Wallace, and Martin Luther King would all be "sociopaths". All of them stood against the rules and "morals" of their socities at the time they rallied supporters about them to make significant social changes. I think, after finishing WP and waiting for TTT (it better come tomorrow!), I think that Kellhus stands outside of the society in which he finds himself. He was not born into the world of Conphas and Proyas and Akka and Esmi. He is not WORLD born, he is from a society that secluded itself from the rest of Earwe. Though I have a theory about what TTT will reveal, I believe that he is human but, as it was stated before, he has been conditioned and genetically engineered through selective breeding and cultivated from the womb to stand outside of all else and see The Darkness and The Logos and to walk where it leads him. Those who follow their destiny and their visions rarely appear sane; it is only after their life's work is measured against their vision that the rest of the world can see that they followed a path of brillance. view post

posted 30 Jan 2007, 22:01 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


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