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WINNERS OF THE FREE BOOK CONTEST posted 28 Aug 2004, 17:08 by Cu'jara Cinmoi, Author of Prince of Nothing

So we got some winners. I just want to thank everyone who participated – you made the decisions pretty damn difficult! I have no doubt my choices will strike many as arbitrary – this is pretty much inescapable – so in an effort to make sense of just how and why I chose the entries I did, I thought I’d explain the process a little. First off, I’m afraid I had no choice but to disqualify those entries (and there were several) that ran over the specified one paragraph. This was a drag because some of them, I thought, deserved to be winners. Otherwise, I divided the entries into three different categories: those that made me laugh, those that made me ponder, and those that used the book. I then went through all the entries from each category, choosing three comic answers, three philosophical answers, and one textual answer (because they were fewer entries of this type). Because what makes me laugh isn’t necessarily what makes others laugh, and because what I find thought-provoking isn’t what others find thought-provoking, my choices may not ring true for quite a few of you, but since all I had were my (admittedly distorted) sensibilities to go by, this simply couldn’t be helped. That said, I’m very curious to hear your responses – feel free to post your gripes and observations! So here are my choices, followed by a couple of honourable mentions. Once again, thank you all for participating! For the winners, an email asking for mailing instructions is forthcoming… What is the darkness that comes before? COMIC RESPONSES Mike: It's that special time in a little boy's life when he goes over the edge of the event horizon of a black hole. Unfortunately he didn't listen to his mother's sage warnings not to play near the edge of the black hole in the first place, but ah well that's neither here nor there. Anyhow it's said that time stretches out towards infinity and slows down to nothing as one approaches a black hole, so we hope that said little boy listened to his mother when she said A) Always wear clean underwear, and to his B) to go to the bathroom before you leave home because we're not going to stop before we get there. eg h: What is the darkness that comes before? According to ancient and modern scholars, it means many things under different contexts. It is that feeling of despair that you get when you realize that you are a little too late and are about to make a wonderful mess in your pants as you are hurriedly running to the bathroom, according to John Latrine, bathroom scholar. Kay Nyne, a scholar of all things dog, claims that the darkness is that warning smell that blows into your home before your faithful pet comes home after a wonderful day at playing with the neighborhood skunks.According to Cupid Amour, who has studied relationships in excruciating detail, it is that feeling men of all ages get just before asking the most beautiful woman in the room for a date, a dance, or the time. Sometimes, the darkness comes in the form of fainting. This is not to be mistaken for "the darkness that comes after," which one feels after asking the woman for a kiss and gets slapped so hard that he sees stars. Other scholars say that "the darkness" is that phenomenon that occurs to people watching a particularly boring movie, or a particulary bad book just before they perform another strange phenomenon called "waking up". Others simply prefer to call it "sleeping." Indeed, "the darkness that comes before" is expressed in many ways, and the scholars throughout the centuries had barely begun to scratch the surface. We may yet research this phrase for another million years before we can come to a satisfying conclusion to this question. TaskmasterJack: The agony of ravenous longing awakens and drives me, unseeing, through the blackness. Foresight of the inevitable regret forces my reaching grasp to hesitate, even as a primal hunger inches my hand forward. Surrender breeds disappointment even as it brings relief. Temptation is satisfied and wisdom ignored in the darkness that comes before I open the door... and the refrigerator light comes on. Honourable mention… Mana: BY DARYA JAKEED, for Associated Press SOMERVILLE, Ma. The winds of fortune are shifting for infamous cult favorites The Darkness That Comes Before. For nearly a decade the heavy rock group has churned out a deafening mixture of hardcore metal and pretentious lyrics to audiences mostly either too drunk to enjoy the subtleties of songs like ‘Wittgenstein’s Bladder’ or too high to catch the appropriation of Pythagorean scales in ‘Heraclitoris.’ The off-kilter savagery of percussionist Mana Kia has permanently damaged all but one band member’s hearing, and the group’s frontman, Seth ‘Breath of Death’ Young, is known to indulge in self-mutilation while exhorting audiences to holy war against Oflaccid Enlightenment positivisms. No, their fan-base has not been large. For starters, there¹s the name, which their tiny coterie of acolytes usually shorten to TDT. But what’s in a name? History and everything, say the linguistically inclined, and for once, they might be right. In the blink of an eye, R. Scott Bakker’s 2003 epic fantasy hit ‘The Darkness That Comes Before’ has brought The Darkness That Comes Before, well, out of obscurity and into the limelight. Hits on the their website have quadrupled over the last six months. I recently telephoned Seth Young and Mana Kia at their Somerville apartment to see about rumors of a trademark infringement suit against mild-mannered Canadian author Bakker. DARYA JAKEED: Is this a good time for our call? SETH YOUNG: Sure, I’m just finishing up screwing this severed headSno, just kidding. MANA KIA: Sure, yeah. JAKEED: OK, first tell me about the name. Where did it come from? Or I guess I should ask: what is the darkness that comes before? YOUNG: It’s the before everything, man, the primordial sea and the amniotic sea. I mean, there is no light in the belly. Thunderbolt steers all things. KIA: We wanted a name that was even more primordial than primordial, that would split the origin, you know? We’re, like, after and according to Black Sabbath, but we’re even more primordial than them. JAKEED: What of the rumors of a lawsuit against Scott Bakker? YOUNG: He totally ripped us off! We’ve been toiling for ten f***ing years, and this guy just comes in and steals our name. JAKEED: Are you optimistic about winning a case against him? KIA: Totally. And if we don’t, then we¹re just going to change our name to The Darkness That Comes Before The Darkness That Comes Before. YOUNG: Oh, yeah, baby, that’s heavy. PHILOSOPHICAL RESPONSES Daniel: The darkness that comes before is Life. Life, compared to the enlightenment that death brings, can only be described as darkness. [Short, I know, but for some reason, this one scared the bejesus out of me…] Atan: If all our actions and thoughts, if all our decisions are caused by, and therefore, by their nature add to and enrich the complex web of predestination, then the darkness that comes before is not just the past. The darkness that comes before is not that which has come before, it is the world itself: what it has been made and what it will make. The darkness surrounds us, it is that which counsels and comforts us, it is Locke's locked room and the choice not to try and open the door. In that we are nothing more than the logical extension of the past, we also make the past: our choices will force others' hands and their hands will force our choices. The darkness is our unbreakable covenant with the past, and we have made the past. We are the darkness, and it is the world, for each makes each. In this way the world and man are one and the same. [I just love that ‘unbreakable covenant with the past’ line…] Jamie: During thought, as humans, we drive to arrive at a certainty with our choices and our actions used to carry about said choices. However, there is a lapse of time between the making of a decision and the action taken to pursue this decision. This is “The Darkness That Comes Before”. As humans, we tend to question our choices and to never been 100% certain, this is because we are fallible, we make mistakes, we question so we can have a fleeting glimpse of pure certainty. During this questioning period however, everything is dark, we know no answers, there is no guiding light, our uncertainty before our actions and after our thoughts is our “Darkness That Comes Before”. During this period we question, rethink, question again, all in hopes of evading the Darkness and being 100% purely certain in our decision, which is a near impossibility, because to be human is to be fallible, to make mistakes, so therefore, no matter how hard we try, we can never elude to Darkness, but our eyes can adjust. [I’d never really thought that much (and I obsessively think and rethink these things) about equating the ‘darkness’ with doubt, but given the themes I try to explore, I think this really works] Honourable mention… Ryan: The darkness that comes before represents the death that delivers life. Before anything truly great can be born, an annhilation of the good must occur, and the true macrocosm of this can be seen in the human culture. As we fill our lonely, vacant existences with things like Jessica Simpson, Hummer H2s, and the Atkins diet, the light radiating from the human spirit slowly dies. Hate, apathy, banality, and avarice reduce our lives to preordained, preprogrammed paths and rob us of the vibrance that once made life pulse. But, as the old spirit dies, a revolution brews just beneath the surface. And when we grow tired of all this and all the stupidity is dead and gone, light will shine through the darkness and we'll be free again. The clear blue always lies beyond the gray sky. [For not sharing my pessimism!] TEXTUAL RESPONSES Terry: In answering the question "What is the Darkness?" we have to ask "The Darkness that comes before what?" Light is what follows darkness and so we must now ask what the nature of this light might be since the darkness will be inevitably in opposition to it. I believe there is a crucial clue to be found in The Warrior Prophet. Achamian and Proyas are in conversation and Achamian says to Proyas, "What if the choice isn't between certainties, between this faith and that, but between faith and doubt? Between renouncing the mystery and embracing it?" Surely, this is the real choice we all face. But Proyas cannot accept this truth. He responds, "But doubt is weakness! Faith is strength! Strength!" Here Proyas speaks from the tenacious grip of the darkness. He is, by choice, blind to the truth and, like so many of us, he is willing to kill wantonly and even to die himself to protect his blindness. The "light" is the understanding that Achamian offers Proyas and the "darkness" is the ignore-ance of this truth; an ignorance that leads inevitably to war and the unfathomable suffering that follows from it. An ignorance borne of faith. Faith gives rise to and perpetuates the darkness. In The Warrior Prophet an important object of faith emerges. Anasurimbor Kellus is that object. Throughout TWP Kellus increasingly inspires faith and in so doing he, himself, becomes a potent source of darkness. In as much as the cause of a thing is the thing itself, Anasurimbor Kellus is The Darkness That Comes Before. [Another example of why I’ve become so paranoid answering questions on this board!] Honourable mention… Jean: 'I could ramble on forever and ever about this, but I'll get to my answer. I tend to think in a linear fashion when not urged in another direction while reading, so I'll say that the darkness that comes before is the innocence/ignorance of the principle players in the story that comes before the burning light of revelation. Achamian lives in confusion as to whether or not The Consult still exists, and by stories end he is given confirmation. The Men of the Tusk believe that the Holy War is a pure and unstoppable thing, when it is truly directed by more subtle masters and will face peril as they've never known. The Scylvendi are unaware of how advanced everyone else has become, until they are crushed by a more brilliant tactician. Kellhus is both ignorant of how the world works in all ways until he learns to dominate it, and everyone else is ignorant of the fact that a man who will come to be known as the 'Warrior-Prophet' walks amongst them.' There they are. My thanks again. view post


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