Tue
Jan 28 2014 1:00pm

The Wheel of Time Reread: A Memory of Light, Part 46

A Memory of Light Robert Jordan Brandon Sanderson The Wheel of TimeI choose YOU, Wheel of Time Reread! You know why? BECAUSE I CAN.

Today’s entry covers Part 11 of Chapter 37 of A Memory of Light, in which we discuss luck radii, possibly random betrayals, and <reverb >THE MEANING OF LIFE.</reverb >

Previous reread entries are here. The Wheel of Time Master Index is here, which has links to news, reviews, interviews, and all manner of information about the Wheel of Time in general. The index for all things specifically related to the final novel in the series, A Memory of Light, is here.

Also, for maximum coolness, the Wheel of Time reread is also now available as an ebook series, from your preferred ebook retailer!

This reread post, and all posts henceforth, contain spoilers for the entire Wheel of Time series. If you haven’t read, continue at your own risk.

And now, the post!

Before we get started, a reminder that you have until January 31st (i.e. this Friday) to become a member of either Loncon 2014 or Sasquan 2015, in order to be eligible to nominate works for this year’s Hugo Awards.

In related news, please go read this if you haven’t already, and spread the word if you agree!

Thanks, and onward!

 

Chapter 37: The Last Battle [Part 11]

What Happens
Rand wonders why the threads of possibility he was weaving into this world resisted so, but he forces them to coalesce into the reality that he wants: a world that does not know the Dark One. He enters at Caemlyn, which is gorgeous and filled with sunlight, and heads to the palace, which has no guards at the gates; a child asks what his sword is, and Rand tells her, “a relic.”

IS THIS PERFECTION FOR YOU? The Dark One’s voice felt distant. He could pierce this reality to speak to Rand, but he could not appear here as he had in the other visions. This place was his antithesis.

For this was the world that would exist if Rand killed him in the Last Battle.

“Come and see,” Rand said to him, smiling.

[…] All things turned and came again. That was the meaning of the Wheel of Time. What was the point of winning a single battle against the Dark One, only to know that he would return? Rand could do more. He could do this.

He asks the servant at the palace doors if he can see the Queen, and the servant tells him she is in the gardens. Rand heads there, reminding himself not to get complacent and end up trapped in this world, which was not real yet. He knows that no one here has used a weapon in over a generation, and there is no theft or poverty anywhere, and that concepts like nations and borders are largely relics of the past. He lingers at a portal which shows his own grave for a moment, then continues on to the gardens. He finds Elayne alone, seeming to have not aged even though a hundred years have passed. She thinks his appearance is a trick by her daughter, and smiles. Rand thinks there is something off about her, but can’t figure out what. Elayne simpers vapidly about inviting Aviendha for a feast.

Rand looked into Elayne’s eyes, looked into them deeply. A shadow lurked back there, behind them. Oh, it was an innocent shadow, but a shadow nonetheless. It was like… like that…

Like that shadow behind the eyes of someone who had been Turned to the Dark One.

Horrified, Rand shouts at the Dark One, demanding to know what he’d done. The Dark One answers that he has done nothing, but Rand has, by removing him from their lives.

Yes, he saw it now, the thing behind [Elayne’s] eyes. She was not herself… because Rand had taken from her the ability to be herself.

I TURN MEN TO ME, Shai’tan said. IT IS TRUE. THEY CANNOT CHOOSE GOOD ONCE I HAVE MADE THEM MINE IN THAT WAY. HOW IS THIS ANY DIFFERENT, ADVERSARY?

IF YOU DO THIS, WE ARE ONE.

“No!” Rand screamed, holding his head in his hand, falling to his knees. “No! The world would be perfect without you!”

PERFECT. UNCHANGING. RUINED. DO THIS, IF YOU WISH, ADVERSARY. IN KILLING ME, I WOULD WIN.

NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO, I WILL WIN.

Rand screams and the reality he made—which he now recognizes as a nightmare—shatters. The Dark One attacks again.

Mat sits on a dead Trolloc and reflects on the situation, which is bad. Demandred had declined to take Mat’s bait at the ford, meaning Mat’s plan to sweep the Heights and attack from behind has failed. They are holding for now, but Mat doesn’t know for how much longer. He can’t tell if his luck is with him anymore.

The Pattern did like to laugh at him. He suddenly saw its grand prank, offering him luck when it meant nothing, then seizing it all away when it really mattered.

[…] Well, if they could not have a lucky Matrim Cauthon, they would at least have a stubborn Matrim Cauthon. He did not intend to die this day.

He sees something going on with the Aes Sedai in the distance; he doesn’t know what is happening, but it appears to be setting Sharans on fire, so he decides he likes it. He finds Karede and rejoins the battle.

Olver hunches under his pack of arrows as Faile’s caravan approaches the supply dump, having ambushed a Darkfriend merchant convoy earlier and taken its place. Aravine pretends to be a Darkfriend who had stabbed the former merchant and taken over. One of the guards singles Faile out for rough attention, and Olver is surprised when she takes it meekly, maintaining their cover. They are left to wait, and Olver is terrified when a Fade looks them over, searching for channelers, but it soon leaves them be. Finally, they are sent via gateway to a ramshackle camp filled with Trollocs, near a battlefield on a plateau. He sees a soldier fall in the distance, bearing the banner of the Band.

“Faile!” he whispered.

“I see it.” Her bundle concealed the sack with the Horn in it. She added, more to herself, “Light. How are we going to reach Mat?”

Mandevwin asks Faile how they’re going to get away, and Faile says they’ll scatter and run, and hope some will escape. Then Aravine comes through the gateway with the channeler who’d created it, and points at Faile. Faile is instantly bound with Air, and the rest of the convoy shortly thereafter, except Olver, who seems to have been overlooked. Aravine apologizes to Faile and takes her sack. She is shocked when she looks inside.

“I had hoped,” she whispered to Faile, “to leave my old life behind. To start fresh and new. I thought I could hide, or that I would be forgotten, that I could come back to the Light. But the Great Lord does not forget, and one cannot hide from him. They found me the very night we reached Andor. This is not what I intended, but it is what I must do.”

She starts arguing with the channeler, and Olver thinks to himself, what would Mat do? Then he leaps up and stabs the channeler in the back, releasing Faile et al’s bonds, and pandemonium ensues.

Commentary
Go, Olver, go!

*waves pompoms*

Well, that channeler obviously never read the Evil Overlord List. It might not be word for word, but I am dead certain there is a rule that says, more or less, “When you tie your enemies up, tie ALL your enemies up. Yes, including the ugly/adorable young boy who looks like he wouldn’t hurt a fly, because that ugly/adorable young boy will inevitably turn out to be perfectly capable of fucking your shit up.” And if there isn’t a rule like that, there should be.

And, I guess Faile and Co. are out of the Blight now. Which… wow, that was easy.

Well, okay, not easy, obviously, but I still blinked a little at the suddenness of how that complication was resolved. But admittedly, in a world where you’ve got at least semi-reliable access to instantaneous methods of travel, you’ve also got plausibly fast resolutions to situations of the “Oh crap we’re stuck in Hell’s ‘Hood” variety. So, okay. And hey, they’re out of the Blight! Yay!

…Sure, they’re still surrounded by enemies and just had their cover blown and are possibly all about to die, but at least it won’t be because a tree ate them, amirite?

(Just Trollocs! No prob!)

Speaking of blown covers and/or things coming out of left field, I just racked my brains trying to remember if we’d had the slightest amount of foreshadowing that Aravine was actually a Darkfriend before this point, and am unable to come up with a thing. Whether that’s because there genuinely were no hints of this beforehand and therefore it really did come out of nowhere, or because I’ve just never paid that much attention to Aravine and therefore missed it, I couldn’t tell you.

*shrug* Either way, it sucks. Boo, Aravine!

(Also, this is random and unimportant, but during her Confessional of Suckitude Aravine says “They found me the very night we reached Andor”, and maybe this is dumb but I cannot figure out what she is referring to. When were Faile and Aravine ever in Andor together? They met during the PLOD in Ghealdan, and as far as I know Faile has not been to Andor since then, so what the hell, over. Well, probably I’m just forgetting something. Certainly wouldn’t be the first time!)

Mat’s POV is very short, and is basically just to remind us that the Situation is Very Dire, in case we’d forgotten, but there’s probably a whole debate to be had, if you wanted, on whether magically-induced luck for an individual has a limited blast radius (so to speak), or if it would extend to any of his or her endeavors. In other words, is the entire Last Battle subject to Mat’s luck, or just the parts of it that are happening in his immediate vicinity? DISCUSS.

I’ll leave that to y’all, because I want to get to the big thing in this section, which is of course Rand’s disastrous attempt to Solve Everything, and how it represents a turning point in his battle against the Dark One.

I have to say that if there is any one scene in AMOL that made a bigger impact on me than this one, at least in philosophical terms, I can’t recall it offhand. Which probably isn’t surprising, since the thing Rand learns here (and which I believe is further explicated later on, but what the hell, we’ll talk about it here) is the central metaphysical conceit on which the entire Battle Between Good and Evil™ in the Wheel of Time, er, turns.

It’s hardly a new idea, of course. Practically any mediation on the nature of good and evil has at least addressed the notion that one cannot exist without the other; that the two concepts, in fact, define each other, and are meaningless without the other to fill their respective negative space, if that makes any sense. And this is always a thing that has made sense to me, because “good” can just as easily be defined as the rejection of doing bad things as it can be defined as the acceptance of doing good things. So, too, can “evil”, in reverse. How can you be “good” if you don’t have a “bad” to compare it to?

Concurrent with this is the concept of free will, and that’s actually what we are talking about here: doing “good” things is meaningless unless you’ve been given the option to choose to do them. If I fail to run you over with my car because my car is on rails and I don’t actually control where it does and does not go, then I can’t reasonably claim to have done a “good” thing by not running you over, because it wasn’t up to me. For me to have done “good” by not running you over, I must have access to the option to, in fact, run you over, and consciously choose not to do so.

Which, of course, is the big conundrum, because if we have the freedom to choose to do the good thing, we obviously also have the freedom to choose to do the bad thing, and just as obviously, there will always be people who will choose to do the bad thing, and how can something that makes the world suck so much be an ontological necessity of existence?

Just about every religion and philosophical movement (and fictional epic fantasy, natch) ever has wrestled with this problem—especially those (like WOT) which postulate a benevolent Creator, because of course that’s where it becomes particularly thorny: how can a divinity which supposedly loves us all equally allow so many of us to suffer so drastically?

And in this scene and those which follow postulate the answer: that suffering and evil must be allowed, because the alternative is worse.

I (like, I imagine, most people) have very conflicting feelings about this idea. On the one hand, the impulse is to say that’s bullshit, because human suffering is, well, terrible and I want it to not happen—to me or to anyone else. On the other hand, I have an intensely visceral aversion to the idea that I should not be allowed to control my own life, to make my own choices and direct my own fate as I see fit. So many things are already out of our control when it comes to life—our genes, our origins, the random things life throws at us—but the one thing we can all control is what we do with the choices we’re given, how we respond to the things that happen to us.

That is, perhaps, just about the only thing we can absolutely control. And if that one thing is taken away, then what was the point in the first place?

And that, of course, is exactly what Rand, all unknowingly, tried to do with his evil-free theoretical world, and it is vastly to his credit that, having been naïve enough to try it, he realized almost immediately why it was horrific and thoroughly rejected it. And it’s easy to say well of course he did, he’s the hero, and perhaps that’s true, but I can think of far too many extremely well-meaning people who would have been all over that world like white on rice, and it makes me shudder to think on it. Think of what would have happened if, say, Elaida or Niall Pedron had been there instead of Rand. (eek)

The larger implication here—that this is a battle which can never be definitively won, because winning is in fact losing—is, admittedly, fairly depressing, but it does have the benefit of meshing very nicely with the central conceit of the Wheel of Time, which is that everything is circular and everything cycles around to its beginning again, and the whole shebang just keeps on spinning. Would be kind of hard to do that if you just metaphorically stuck a pole in the spokes and made the universe go SCHPLADOW! like that motorcycle Nazi chasing Indiana Jones.

And… yeah. There is obviously a lot more I could say on this topic, because it is the extraordinarily frustrating existential dilemma that just keeps on giving, but I think I will let it rest for now, because there is no doubt that we will be talking about this more in future posts. Also, I just managed to use the expletive SCHPLADOW! in a serious philosophical discussion, and I feel like I should bask in the dubious glory of that accomplishment for a bit.


So here’s where I CHOOSE to stop, my chickens! Because free will, fuck yeah! Talk amongst yourselves, and I’ll see you next Tuesday!

140 comments
Nick Hlavacek
1. Nick31
I have never before seen SCHPLADOW! used in a serious philosophical discussion. I'm impressed. Well played.

There's a big difference between immoral and amoral, but neither one is good. Too many people who would like to prevent a partially immoral society are more than willing to accept one that is completely amoral. Every time you hear someone say "It's for the children." or "We're just doing this so people won't make bad choices." or "It's in everyone's best interests." be afraid. Be very, very afraid. This is not a right wing or left wing thing, both have elements of wanting to use power to take away freedoms. I think C. S. Lewis put it quite well:
“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
I think Rand didn't, until this moment, truly understand the nature of the Dark One or he would never have thought of killing him as an option.
Robert Crawley
2. Alphaleonis
I won't philosophize (sp?) very long about this good/evil conundrum. Primarily because I'm waiting for Wetlander's comment on it. (She has been saying for months that she will have a lot to say about it when we come to this part.)

But I will say this: I disagree with Team Jordan's concept that eliminating the primary evil force will also eliminate free agency. I see no reason to think so. Any more than if I eliminated my mother-in-laws presence from my house, all free agency to have any contentions would be gone. (JK about my mother-in-law. She was actually a delightful person - just trading on the popular mother-in-law stereotype for the purpose of this argument)
Andrew Berenson
3. AndrewHB
Leigh, I agree that doing “good” things is meaningless unless you’ve been given the option to choose to do them." As Rand comes to realize, an ultimate source of evil (in WoT, the Dark One) is necessary to allow people to have the option to choose good. I look at similar to humankind. They no longer live in the Garden of Eden. What allows people to be "good" is the knowledge that what you are doing is acting in such away that is not evil and/or not sinful (assuming one beleives that to act with sin and no regret about ones action).

I am starting to ramble incoherently. Oh well, I can think of what I want to say better than how it actually comes across on screen.

Leigh also noted: "The larger implication here—that this is a battle which can never be definitively won, because winning is in fact losing—is, admittedly, fairly depressing, but it does have the benefit of meshing very nicely with the central conceit of the Wheel of Time, which is that everything is circular and everything cycles around to its beginning again, and the whole shebang just keeps on spinning."

In addition to events happening again in the WoT mythos, do not forget what Rand realized on top of Dragonmount in TGS -- that people in WoT are reborn to try and do better in their next life. When you factor in that aspect of the time is a wheel philosophy, it does not seem as distressing or futile.

Faile and Aravine were in Caemlyn together in ToM. When Faile and Perrin went to talk to Elayen in Caemlyn (and "returned" Morgase to the city), Avarine was with the party.

Thanks for reading my musings,
AndrewB
F Shelley
4. FSS
What strikes me about Rand's "debate" with the Dark One is how much they mold the world like the Acceptatron and the final Aes Sedai testatron.
F Shelley
5. FSS
stupid double post...
Alice Arneson
6. Wetlandernw
And.... yeah. Here's where I had major problems. Because I don't understand how a particular evil being is necessary to the existence of free will.

(There's also another basic issue. I'm of the belief that Good can exist without Evil, but not vice versa. Evil is merely the choice to reject Good, as darkness is merely the absence of light. The existence of the first is not a necessary condition for the existence of the second, although the way things are in time and space, the second is often observed as a result of the first.)

Anyway... I completely disagreed with Rand's "understanding" here, and his resulting choices later on - so much so that when I reached the bit where he made his actual decision based on this concept, I walked away from the book. I could not keep reading, it was so wrong. (Fortunately for many of the cool scenes upcoming, like the Horn and related events, at this point I still had hope that Rand would see this for a lie...)

I won't (at this point) go into the greater question of a sin nature and its origin in a circular cosmology, but I simply cannot accept that the presence of an Evil Being is needed for free will. As a wise man once said, all you need for free will is a law. One single "You may not do X" gives a person the choice to obey, or not. No evil being - Satan, the Dark One, whatever - is needed; all that is needful is one Good being (the Creator) who has the authority to give that one law.

Sadly for me, this one concept threw the Wheel of Time right out of True Story and into mere story for me. (I'm not saying everyone should feel this way, but I did. And do.) After Rand decided not to destroy the DO "because it would take away their choice," I walked away from the book and spent the entire evening doing other stuff; I found my enjoyment of the remaining pages tarnished by my revulsion for this one thing.

Yes, I understand and acknowledge RJ's right to tell the story he wants to tell. (And yes, it was RJ's decision. He wrote it that way. I had hoped for a better solution, and my disappointment is my own.) I also can see where, if he was really committed to maintaining the Wheel, he couldn't allow the DO to be eliminated, and I was always okay with that. I'd have been much happier about it, though, if Rand had been unable to destroy the DO, because it's okay that a mere human being would be unable to destroy Evil. Whether in the form of trying and failing to destroy it, or simply understanding that it was not possible for him to destroy it (and Moiraine was right, for once), or... whatever, I was perfectly happy with the solution - recreating a perfect prison for the DO. But I was deeply disappointed with the reasoning behind the solution.

As I think I've mentioned before, I have managed to "accept" it by remembering that Rand's perception is not necessarily correct. We've had a gazillion instances where a character categorically states something to be true, only to find out that they are completely wrong. That's part of being human, and part of what made the WoT so good - real people believe falsehoods all the time, and well-crafted fictional characters should do the same.

I can't, of course, actually fool myself into thinking that RJ intended us to understand that Rand is wrong. I think he intended us to accept that, in this world, the existence of the DO is necessary - and that makes me sad. Because it's not True Story that way.

(Edited for a few typos & clarifications, and to add one note: I actually had some reason to hope that Rand would be able to, and would actually destroy the DO; my husband had promised that if the book ended that way, he would read the entire series. I'll never be able to get him to read it now.)
Robert Crawley
7. Alphaleonis
Yea, what she (Wetlander) said

Although it didn't throw me out of the story, because I never expect anyone else to have the same religious beliefs that I do.
Tabby Alleman
8. Tabbyfl55
I, also, was thinking pretty much the same as Wetlander.

Good thing I hit F5 before posting.
Hammerlock
9. Hammerlock
Faile et al were in Andor for a time--remember they stopped off at Whitebridge and then had their little parlay with Elayne giving Perrin the "Supreme Overlord God-King of the Two Rivers" title.
Noneo Yourbusiness
10. Longtimefan
removing evil is not the same as removing suffering. Earthquakes are not evil. Seasonal changes that have prolonged cold or heat are not evil (unless being held in place by the Dark One but that is an exception)
Death is not evil. everyone has natural setbacks and challenges to overcome and develop from.
The limited duality of the argument is the general flaw.

Only evil can make difficult things happen and if evil is removed then nothing is difficult.

To reference Leigh's point on not running people over.

The car would not be on rails to keep one from running people over. The idea would just not occur to anyone. The car would still drive like a car. The person would just not think of intentionally harming someone else. Much more like a forced way of the leaf. The way of the leaf does not keep the tinkers from having wagon wheels to repair and sick people to care for. Granted there are alledgedly tinkers who are darkfriends as well.

Is the argument that the Dark One is actually responsible for earthquakes and harsh winters and illness and death?

So imprisioned the Dark One is just a series of occurences that are difficult to deal with and the Creator is responsible for situations where things are optimal?

Is the Creator imprisoned also? Is that why the Creators hand is not seen in action the way the Dark One's can be seen?

Because there is a balance do they have to be trapped within the pattern at the same level of influence? What would happen if the Creator was freed from confinement (assuming there is a restriction placed on both entities to keep things balanced)? Would all weather be perfect? Would people live for hundreds of years and Aes Sedai for thousands of years? Would every apple be ripe a sweet?

It is somehow always easier to imagine what would happen if "evil" ran amok unchecked in the world but oddly much harder to imagine "good" abounding across the hills and dales.

I personally believe a world filled with good and lacking evil would not be as boring as fiction writers seem to think it would be.

The dramatic conflict would be different. Perhaps smaller. The obstacle of not having enough time in a day is less compelling than the obstcale of a malignant force blocking the path.

But life would not be unbearable and people would not be mindless robots.

(was typing this as WetlanderNW was typing hers so I hope I do not sound too redundant. She has a less rambling command of the language. :)
Alice Arneson
11. Wetlandernw
Longtimefan @10 - "I personally believe a world filled with good and lacking evil would not be as boring as fiction writers seem to think it would be." So, so true. I believe that a world filled with good and lacking evil would be wonderful - as in, full of wonder! - and exciting beyond our imagining.
Scott Silver
12. hihosilver28
Like Wetlandernw, I don't believe that this is true in our world, and yet there is some niggling in the back of my mind wondering what it would look like if the Dark One was removed. It wasn't a massive philosophical jump to get to what Jordan decided to do in this instance, so I can definitely buy it in the story. What I believe in life...is a little more complex than that. I agree most with @Longtimefan, that dramatic conflict wouldn't be gone, just different and maybe smaller. But it wasn't enough to pull me out of the story, just a minor tug.

@Wetlandernw, well I hope your husband reads the series anyways, because that's a pretty arbitrary point to hang the entirety of the series on. The characters still make it well worth it to me to read, and reread, and reread...(well you get the point) the series. I'm hoping to get my wife to read it at some point too, though I've noticed a worrying trend that she's quite a bit more critical against fantasy than any other genre that she reads. So, I'm a little nervous that she'll tear into my favorite series.
Hammerlock
13. Brian_E
@10:

Your sentence "The person would just not think of intentionally harming someone else." stands out, and I think you might be missing the point Leigh was making. (I also have difficulty agreeing with Wetlander for this same reason... somewhat).

"The car being on the rails" isn't the important part -- the important part is the removal of choice to do good or evil.

Where I start to agree with you and Wetlander though is the association that Evil is absolutely required for any "non good" action. Is it being suggested that any shady action (cheating at dice, scamming, etc) doing the Dark One's bidding? I find that to be a bit of a stretch.
Alice Arneson
14. Wetlandernw
hihosilver28 @12 - My husband has actually read the first 2.5 books, and just wasn't interested in keeping on. He's been giving me a hard time about my obsession with it for years, and I gave up hope on getting him to read it a long time ago. When AMoL was on the horizon, we were talking about it again, and particularly about what would happen when Rand confronted the DO. It was at that point that he said he would read it if Rand actually destroyed the DO. On the one hand it was a big concession for him to make - and a huge task, if he had to do it! On the other hand... I think it mostly shows his absolute confidence that it just wouldn't happen.

So it's not like he was waffling about reading it; he really, really didn't want to. But if it were to turn out completely different than he expected... well, it was a promise along the lines of "I'll eat my hat."
Hammerlock
15. Alea_iacta_est
I gotta disagree with Wetlander here. The existence of a law is not what gives people choice. The ability to either follow or break the law is.
Removing evil entirely (as in, not removing an entity merely embodying it, but evil itself, including all thought and desires for evil residing within humans), would remove that choice. Somebody without any evil (or selfish, or lazy, or or whichever aspect of humans you would consider bad) impulses would not be able to choose to break a law. Sure, they would have the freedom to make the choice, but they wouldn't be able to reach certain descisions due to their limited nature, which is just as much a limitation on choice as being withheld from choosing.
Adam S.
16. MDNY
So I was confused by this battle because it seems to imply that ALL evil in the word, even small evils like street urchins, theft, and sour milk, are the result of the DO's influence, and if he was removed the world would become a fake imitation with incomplete people. Yet I thought it was stated that the DO is OUTSIDE of creation, that he has never been able to really touch the word. So if he has always been kept apart from the world, why would eliminating him affect all the people in such a negative way?
T C
17. Freelancer
Sorry, Leigh, my weekly rant will have to wait, there are Words of Radiance preview chapters to read...
Scientist, Father
18. Silvertip
@Wetlander:

Well-argued and thought provoking as always.

I need to spend some time absorbing and thinking about what you had to say here, which you've obviously put a LOT of thought into! For the moment, I'll talk a bit about why this point bothered me less about the book than it did you. It's always struck me in lots of epic fantasy, and very much WoT, that the big-bad-guy is sort of two things at once. First, he or she is a character, strategizing, making choices, running battles, making mistakes, giving orders, overlooking little hobbits because he is focused on the threat from an army on the march, and all the rest. As a character, it would make perfect sense for Mr. Big Bad to be killed by the hero -- as a number of folks above have pointed out, why should poking a (physical or metaphysical) spear through one bad guy deprive the rest of the world of free will? But Mr. Big Bad is wearning another hat, as it were, and really seems to serve as a metaphor as well. A metaphor for what? I'm not sure how well I can express it, but say as a metaphor for Evil as a concept, for the choices that people make that (picture a big fuzzy guy waving his hands furiously, I'm not a theologian and didn't even stay at a Holiday Inn), say, bring suffering to others to serve one's own selfish ends. Life choices are not always, or ever, that clear-cut, of course, which is one of the problems I think you're talking about with comparing this scene to our world. So what series like WoT do is conflate killing Mr. Big Bad as a character with destroying what he represents -- somehow, in some sense, the ability of people throughout the world to make the "wrong" choice, at least as defined by the hero. So in killing the Dark One, Rand has hypothetically somehow intervened throughout the world and made people's choices for them -- remember, this world is something he consciously wove out of the threads of possibility throughout the Pattern -- to match his own picture of the Good. And RJ/BS make a neat comparison (in the DO's voice) to a concept *I've* never liked, that of Turning, which takes the Turn-ee's choices away. By weaving the Pattern as hamhandedly as he did, Rand has taken agency away from all its living threads -- turned them effectively into characters in a story he wrote, and removing their humanity as surely as if they had been Turned. This is the problem with what he's done, not the act of sticking a spear through the defined entity that has been conspiring with Moridin, punishing Graendal, et cet. The story -- or at least Rand? -- takes for granted that those two things are the same. In our world, they absolutely wouldn't be. Nor are they in series where the Big Bad is grounded in history rather than existing from the First Moment like the DO or Sauron -- think about Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, where Ineluki, however powerful and terrifying, was born at a particular moment in the world's history, had a mother and father, and so on. There are ways in which those stories are more satisfying to me, just because the discordance with how things work in our World in the large sense is less. And this kind of existential headscratching doesn't arise. However problematic the conflation, however, I have at least some sympathy for the point the writers are attempting to make -- that taking choices away from people, even if you're a "good" person putting them on the track toward doing Good, is actually destructive of them as human beings.

Phew, didn't intend for a wall'o'text, especially one as incoherent as this. Would be interested in what you or others think of the DO versus, say, Ineluki though.

S

p.s. Freelancer, can't argue with *your* choice, they're first rate chapters.
Hammerlock
19. Megaduck
Ah, this scene.

Like Wetlander the entire part of Rand trying to kill the dark one tossed me right out of the story. Though probably for different reasons.

It's not a bad scene, it would be a great ending for a long story about free will and choice and how our choices define us. Wheel of Time is just not that story.

Free Will and Choice have never been big parts of Wheel of Time, even on the good side the Pattern is pretty much playing puppet master. I always remember the battle of Cairharin where Mat decides he's going to leave, and then gets caught with an army, then tries to leave again, and again and again and again. Each time the pattern drags him back into it. That's not the indication of a story about choice, that's closer to a railroad plot.

In order to create choice, the reader has to belive that the charecters can make mistakes. They can do dumb things, their actions are not fixed in stone nor are the outcomes. In Wheel of Time you know Rand is going to fufill the prophacies, whether he wants to or not. It doesn't matter how foolish or counter productive what he's doing is (See the entire beginning of 'The Dragon Reborn') it'll turn out he's doing just the right thing at just the right time.

That's fine. I enjoy reading WoT and these charecters being tossed about by fate and the pattern. However, after reading 15 books of the charecters being frogmarched along by the pattern a big end scene with 'Choice is important' feels really out of place.

The second thing I blink at here is the question of Evil as presented by this scene.

We've already set up, that Shadar Logoth and the Dark One hate each other. Put them together and they will promptly start destroying each other. A major plot point was based on this.

So, if the Dark One is destroyed, what happens to Padin Fain? Does he just suddenly turn good? Is the only thing that makes Fain, a being just as Hostile to the dark one as Rand is, exist is the dark one himself? But if Shadar Logoth and the Dark One are ultimatly the same thing, why was the taint cleansed?

It raises all sorts of questions about what the nature of Evil is in the WoT universe. Heck, it raises questions about what good is. I could see Shai'tan is Evil, by definition, so anything Shai'tan does is evil. But then, what is the definition of goodness?

There are a lot of possible answers to these questions. I just don't think WoT ever bothered to even examine them which means this philosaphy battle between the DO and Rand comes really out of left feild for me.
Hammerlock
20. srizzo00
re: Aravine - Faile had recognized ever since being freed from the Shaido, when Aravine had refused to return to her former home, that she was hiding something from her past.
Scientist, Father
21. Silvertip
@Megaduck, excellent points. One of the things I've always liked about WoT is the way it allowed people who set themselves against the Big Evil Dude -- the rulers of Shadar Logoth, and also I would list the Whitecloaks in the early books -- to do evil things themselves in the name of fighting evil. That *is* a very useful reflection of our own world, and a reminder to us! And you're right that this scene tends to undermine it a bit ...

S
Deana Whitney
22. Braid_Tug
Really not sure where I fall on this issue. Others are expressing themselves much better.
But if Rand had wanted to kill the dark one, but could not, because he was "just a man" after all, I think some of us would have felt he "failed." And the story would leave a different taste lingering in our mouths. Not necessarily a pleasant one, either.

But the quote that does spring to me is:
“Now, we must all fear evil men. But there is another kind of evil which we must fear most, and that is the indifference of good men. " from Boondock Saints

A DO is not needed for indifference.
Jonas Schmiddunser
23. Jineapple
I also disagree about the notion that removing Evil will destroy Good as well. To know the exact outcome, we'd have to agree on what exactly evil means first, but in any case, the good actions are still available, so that's it.
Of course the concept of goodness or morality might be destroyed in the process, but while the term "good" might not exist anymore doesn't mean that the actions themselves are suddenly bad.

Whether such a world would actually be preferable to live in is again another matter...I don't know how the human psyche would react to good things happening if there's no experience of bad things, and I don't think anyone can actually answer this.

As for free will, there would be none if by "evil" you take to mean "all but the one perfect choice" obviously...but then again I don't believe we have free will to start with, so there's that.
Joseph Blaidd
24. SteelBlaidd
I think the thing that messes this up is that in that teh Creator and the Dark one are conceived as EQUAL opposites. They are as Silvertip put's it metaphores not just entities. Destroying the dark one in this conception would be like eliminating the gravity or electromagnatism.

I agree with Wetlander that it is the existance of the LAW that that creates the oppourtunity for choice (see 2 ne 2:13 ) not the existance of the Devil.

Additionaly there is no way for the good to get ot of the cycle. If life is a test to see what choices you make at some point every one reaches a check gate fher you get a grade and pas or fail. reincaarntion bsed moralities in our world posit getting OFF the wheel as the end goal.

Now I concieve of that HEroes as som type of Bodisatva I.e. persons who have chosen to forgo enlightenment to help others and that the Wheel selects them for times and places because of their established pattern of behavior. But seeing as no ne gets out off the cycle exept the souls the DO destroys I don't see any reason Mat won't get spun out again when the patten needs him even if hes not an official member of the "Heros of the Horn" club. People get picked because given certain circumstances they will choose the things that the pattenr needs them to do.

For examole Mats railroading at Cairhien, notice that it was acomplished by constraining his options, which still allowes him agency if not a whole lot of space in which to exercise it.
Eric Hughes
25. CireNaes
As I've posited before, the circular cosmology necessitates the ending that was written.

The elimination of evil to the benefit of autonomous creatures does not necessitate the elimination of its memory or the observation of its consequences. An eternal creation still needs the reminder, which is why I think annihilationism of those who choose poorly is a flawed theological premise. That being said, permanent separation is allowable in a linear cosmology. Not a circular one.
Hammerlock
26. Mike123
To me the underlying issue is what is EVIL and what is GOOD. Inorder to define that, you need an exterior force that establishes good and evil. Without the exterior force there is no knowledge of good and evil and without that knowledge one cannot be said to be good or evil. That's why I agree with what Wetlander said, when she stated all that is needed is a single law. That law then established good, obey the law, and evil, don't obey the law.
For example... killing in itself is neither evil or good. It is only when held up against the law is it determined to be good (self-defense) or evil (murder). The act of killing is not the issue. Its the breaking of the law that we consider evil. Think about it...
Rafael
27. Ryamano
Sartre said human beings are bound to make choices, they are their choices. A human cannot not choose. If I do not choose, that is still a choice.

Taking away evil would only impact our moral choices (if we could actually agree to the definition of what’s evil and what’s moral, but let’s move on). All other choices would still need to exist. At least in a world that still has limits. Limits like time. I still need to choose what to do with my limited time, and so on.

So, is the Dark One the existence of limits? Didn’t seem like, coming from the text (a world without limits is basically Paradise, isn’t it? And the world described without the Dark One still seemed normal, if a little creepy). So the Dark One is basically the ability to make evil moral choices. How is taking that away evil choices bad? Is WoT saying that what makes us human is our ability to make evil choices? What is so important about moral choices, compared to choices I can’t make (like travelling back in time – physically impossible – or living in another dimension?). If I create another world where people can’t make bad moral choices but get to choose their genes, as Leigh complained they can’t, would that be a better world or a worse world compared to ours? Call me crazy, but I’d call that world better. Less suffering = better world. Very utilitarian POV, I know, but I don’t know how to defend the other POV.
Roger Powell
28. forkroot
Megaduck@19
You cut to the heart of it. Evil exists independently of the DO (in the WOT cosmoslogy) and we had Shadar Logoth to prove it. Thus Rand was simply wrong about what the results of killing the DO would be. Remember, he "made up" his compelled-to-be-good world ... it was not reality and in fact would not have been the outcome if Rand had killed the DO. The DO doesn't help as he lies about the situation to Rand (of course he lies!)

A completely separate question is whether Rand would even be able to kill the DO. I suspect that the Pattern would have prevented it as it almost certainly would have broken the lace of the Ages. CireNaes@25 makes the same assertion with expanded reasoning.

Wetlandernw@6 - Having met your husband, and found him to be intelligent, engaging, well-spoken, and well-read it remains an object lesson to me that not everyone loves the WoT. I grasp that fact intellectually but I don't "grok" it as I simply cannot imagine not liking the series. (But I like your husband.)

On the question of whether Good can exist without Evil: This is tricky because of what "exist" means. Let me first state that the concept of Evil must necessarily exist due to the law of the Excluded Middle ("A" or "Not A" with nothing in between). Thus if Good exists, then the concept of "Not Good" (Evil) must exist.

A concept existing does not require it to be actualized. For example, you can easily pick a large number that in no way describes anything in this universe - I think anything larger that the Planck lengths across the universe probably works - perhaps a physicist can help me out. Anyway, the concept of such a number exists in the sense that any abstract object is said to exist (and that, by the way, has kept philosophers arguing for years), but there is no material reality of any sort that the number corresponds to (enumerates.)

I know of Christian philosophers who argue that a world with Evil is conceivable (logically possible) but not feasible (realizable) . Some care is needed here: "logically possible" just means the description doesn't self-contradict (compare with "married bachelor" - which isn't logically possible). Their argument is that given free will (God is uninterested in relationship with robots), even God's infinite "middle knowledge" (knowing the choices we would make freely) can not allow construction of such a world.

An analogy might help - Recall the puzzle that has 15 squares in a 4x4 matrix. From the starting position, there are certain positions that cannot be reached in any number of moves. Now those positions are "logically possible" (as philosophers use the term) in the sense that I can draw out a picture of the puzzle arranged that way. (vs. a puzzle with two tiles marked "7" -- that would be logically impossible.) Nevertheless, the positions aren't realizable because there is no set of moves that would allow the tiles to reach that arrangement.

So ... back to the theologians. There are various arguments for a "Maximally Good" world - even though it certainly doesn't seem that way to us poor slobs afflicted by our daily troubles. These are part of a set of arguments called "theodecies" which attempt to deal with the "Problem of Evil".

Some wonderfully brilliant thinkers have wrestled with theodecies over the centuries. Reading the thoughts of these great thinkers, including those who were opposed to the very concept is stimulating and refreshing. OTOH, reading the amateurish junk that shows up in so many Internet flame wars (NOT here on tor.com) is boring and depressing.

I see I've rambled along for some time here - I'll stop now :-)
Robert Crawley
29. Alphaleonis
@Silvertip Thanks for bringing in the analogy with Sauron. While it may not be apples to apples, the killing of Sauron did not eliminate free agency from middle earth, nor even evil. The cleansing of the Shire happened after Sauron's demise. It may be argued that Sauron wasn't totally killed, but only put back into that ghostly existence which he had before he started to become more corporeal during the course of our 4 book Hobbit/LOTR series. If that be the case, then it is more analagous to the DO being resealed rather than killed. But if he had been totally physically and spiritually eliminated it would be like killing the DO. Someone more an expert on LOTR maybe can tell what actually happened to him.

@ Megaduck Liked your question about Fain. It implies that not only free agency, but even evil would have remained in the WOT world if the DO had been killed.

@ Freelancer How do you get so into The Stormlight Archives. It just didn't grab me like WOT did. I have liked some of Brandon's other novels better. One - Warbreaker - I even read twice in the same week. The Way of Kings has no such hold on me. Read it once and put it down. I suppose I will read Words of Radiance, and hopefully get to the point I was with WOT where I couldn't put it down even on subsequent readings. I still can't go more than a few days without reading some Rand, Perrin and Matt. That's why I'm almost half way through the series again since reading AMOL. It's like Rand, Perrin & Matt are friends of mine, but the characters in WOK are aquaintances.
Mistborn - all my friends were killed at the end of the 3rd book - so never read the 4th.
Hammerlock
30. litg
Leigh,

You said: "That is, perhaps, just about the only thing we can absolutely control. And if that one thing is taken away, then what was the point in the first place?"

But what makes you assume there is a point, cosmically speaking?
Leigh Butler
31. leighdb
litg @ 30:

I assume there is a cosmic point because the alternative makes me want to drink heavily. ;)

(Seriously, though, I assume it because I might as well. I'm not sure there is a "point", but I feel like assuming there is one inspires me to live better than I might otherwise.)
Liz J
32. Ellisande
Actually I think people are getting a bit tangled in human theology/cosmology, when it's pretty simple in Randland. If Rand eliminates the Dark One, cosmologically speaking, what's left? The Creator (who doesn't interfere), and the Wheel/Pattern.

And that's what Rand discovers. Because the Pattern isn't "good" and it knows nothing about free will. People are constantly being shoved around by the Pattern. Think about it, nobody in Rand's family had much real free will for decades to make sure he'd be born in the right place at the right time. The Wheel Weaves As it Wills, right? Not as you, individual human, wills. The Pattern's only object is making everything fall into place to make each Age happen as it should. Period. It's not a moral force. It drops babies out of windows to live or die because of 'balance' - as we learned in TDR - those babies and their parents had no free will either, but were acted upon.

I think that what this section is showing us and Rand, is that if the Pattern has no opposition, that functionally makes all humans into ta'veren. If the Pattern wants someone dead or born, you will do it, and your morality is irrelevant.

So perhaps instead of Good/Evil a more useful dichotomy would be Chaos/Order -- without the Dark One's chaos lurking on the edges and straining the Pattern now and again, all that remains is the Wheel and the Pattern. And as Ishy realized, that is infinity of sameness.
Hammerlock
33. Porphyrogenitus
This section was a huge sticking point for me for two major reasons.

1 - I find the understanding of evil expressed in the scene to be gravely flawed. To me, evil is that which is not in accord with the Will of God. There seems to be plenty of textual evidence that the Dark One acts against the will of the Creator, which would mean that he is legitimately evil. That does not mean, however, that he is somehow Evil, as in the sole source and exclusive circumscribed entirety of evil. He is simply a supremely powerful actor.

Even while acting on behalf of the Creator, and in opposition to the Dark One, every single character in the WoT did things that violated the will of the Creator, even if they did so with the best and purest of intentions. Even if they had no capacity for willfully violating that will, they would lack the understanding to discern it in the first place (just look at Moraine and the Prophecies of the Dragon), and thus would commit evil simply out of ignorance. This of course ignores the fact that, even without a Dark One to claim suzereignty over all evil, people were in fact created with the capacity for evil even when they do possess perfect knowledge (to bring real-world religious elements in, look at Adam and Eve, who knew exactly what not to do and, of their own volition, did it anyway).

The interpretation that Rand simply misunderstood his own limitations when making the "perfect" constructed world offers a solution to my perception of a basic misunderstanding of what evil is. If the Dark One simply fooled Rand then, perhaps, he can realize his mistake in yet another turn of the Wheel and eventually kill the Dark One once and for all.

2 - The cyclical nature of the WoT has always bugged me. For years it's been a faint hope of mine that Rand would figure out the fundamental problem that leads to so much suffering, namely that the spinning of the wheel prevents any kind of real meaning to the lives of those stuck in cycles. Sure, there's an element of "you get to try to do better next time", but if the wheel is truly cyclical (as in, that which came around once will come around again eventually, after it's been forgotten as completely as possible), then they simply cannot make any other decision than that which they already made (since it's a cycle and cycles must repeat).

Thus I hoped he would do what the Dark One claimed to want to do, break the wheel itself. It migth eliminate channeling as a thing people can do, but ultimately it makes things actually matter, and that's a big deal for me.

I also sympathize a lot with Ishamael's despair over the cycle of the wheel, since it means he's eternally stuck being the minion of the BBEG. If the wheel breaks and time can finally move on then maybe he can have some measure of hope.

Still, despite my above frustrations with the underlying cosmology of the WoT, I find the scene itself to be fit with the end narrative that AMoL was going for, and it worked in the wider book. I found it irritating but not story-breaking, and was willing and able to pass right on by them, leaving my misgivings aside for the sake of the story as written.
Hammerlock
34. Crusader75
In today's episode the Dragon Reborn learns why you do not immanentize the eschaton.
L M
35. srEDIT
@ 29 Alphaleonis RE: Sauron


Although Sauron as an entity was eliminated from Middle-earth (not the entire creation of Arda. I have no idea what Tolkien thought happened to Maia who were forcibly eliminated from Middle-earth), the very substance of the world had been corrupted long before by Sauron's master, the Ainu Melkor/Morgoth. Thus corruption was and is present everywhere and in everything until the end, after which the second music of the Ainur will create a new Arda, Arda Unmarred.

(IIRC, it is mentioned in the "Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth" in Morgoth's Ring, but it's been years since I read it)
Karen Fox
36. thepupxpert
@26 - I'm still wrestling with the LAW concept - only our moral values can conceive of whether the LAW is good or evil. And depending on which side of the fence you're on, it could go either way. There are many examples I can think of but don't have time to really articulate. I guess my overarching feeling is that who actually determines that the LAW is good? And how do we really know that this is RIGHT? And what if a whole bunch of people disagree? Do they automatically fall in the evil category?
Alice Arneson
37. Wetlandernw
thepupxpert @36 - In my earlier post, which was referenced @26, remember that I specifically said "one Good being (the Creator) who has the authority to give that one law." Neither of us (@6 or @26) were speaking of laws in general; it was in reference to a supreme being, one who by right of being the one who created it all, has the position and authority to define right and wrong, good and evil. When that being gives a Law, his creature can either obey (good) or disobey (evil). The question of our moral values doesn't come into it.
Hammerlock
38. eep
Wetlander @6

I definitely agree that the existence of an evil being should not be necessary for free will. For that matter a good being is not necessary either. We can posit a cosmology where either or both are necessary, but there is nothing intrinsic to free will such that they have to be necessary.

To posit a cosmology where the Dark One is necessary for free will, I can only see it working in two ways.

1, the Dark One is the source of our ability to do evil. This is weird for several reasons - as megaduck said, does the evil of Shadar Logoth come from the Dark One? If so, why are they opposed? But it could still be the case; it could be that Shadar Logoth, like Elaida and the Whitecloaks, thought it was opposing the Dark One but was really serving his ends. But another reason this is weird is that it actually implies a lack of free will - we cannot choose to do evil without some outside entity giving us that ability? That's not free will, but I can accept such an entity in a story as a metaphor for "human tendency toward evil."

2, the Dark One is a manifestation of the evil the people choose to do. So, to truly eleminate him, you have to remove the ability of the people to choose evil. In this case, it's not that Rand would kill the DO and suddenly everyone loses choice; it's that rand would alter everyone into good automatons and this would cut down the DO at the root.

Either of these explanations could make some sense of what happened, as could the idea that the DO tricked rand and he could have killed him after all. It depends on the nature of the cosmology, and we don't really get to know what that is in a definitive way.

I disagree, however, with the idea that we can have good without evil but not visa-versa. Good is not light, no matter how often that metaphor is used. And besides, you can have darkness without light (in a starless space or an enclosed space), and you can have light without darkness (if there are enough light sources or nothing anywhere to cast shadows). Good and Evil require precise definitions. Depending on the definitions, either can exist without the other, or neither can.

Personally I think free will pretty much guarantees that both good and evil will exist. You could imagine a world that has free will and everyone just happens to decide to be good, just like you could imagine a coin coming up heads 5 billion times, but neither is very likely. And without free will, I don't think you really have good or evil; you have puppets acting out some pre-defined drama. They could appear to be all good or all evil or a mixture of both, but they would not really have any type of morality because they would not be making choices. They would be no more good or evil than a rock that falls and kills someone or doesn't kill someone.

I also disagree with the 'all you need is one law' statement. You don't need any law. Human laws of course can be good, evil, or ambiguous. A divine law can be the basis of Good vs Evil in a cosmology defined that way, but that is by no means necessary. You can also posit a cosmology without any divinity and still have Good and Evil. Who decides what is good and evil in an atheist universe? We do. What if we disagree? Then we disagree. I know what I consider to be good when I see it, and same with evil. The vast majority of us all agree on some basics - inflicting death and suffering is generally evil. We can disagree on some details. The Way of the Leaf would say these things are always evil; other groups would make allowances for self defense or defeating enemies who are 'more evil'. It's ok to disagree; I believe that what I think is good and evil is the true Good and Evil, and I will fight against people who disagree, with debate or argument on small differences, with violence on sufficiently large differences. Other people will do the same. If enough of us think something is evil, like murder, we will make laws and take steps to stop it from happening, but the laws come from our intrinsic belief about what is good and evil, not visa versa.

The only practical difference between a Good and Evil based on divine law, and one based on personal opinion, is with divine law you can try to sway others to your view by saying "divine law says this!" and with opinion, you have to sway others by making a convincing argument on the merits of the case. Of course another difference is in a universe with a deity who has written a divine law, at some point anyone who disagrees with that will suffer whatever fate the deity has decreed. But that has no effect on the here and now down on Earth (or Randland).

I'm not sure if moral relativism is the view that what anyone thinks about good and evil is equally valid, which I do not believe, or if it is more like what I've described here - there is one true Good and Evil, and some of us are right about it and some of us are wrong about it, and since there is no absolute proof that anyone is right, we just have to argue with each other and do our best to come to a workable consensus and put the extreme outliers in jail.
Hammerlock
39. Crusader75
Yes, it does seem strange that our story hinges on the idea of free will when so many plot points of the story hinge on the Pattern making choices for our protagonists. The very existance of Rand, Mat and Perrin as ta'veren seems to argue against free will as being something particularly valued by the Creator or the Pattern. Their influence is constantly described as pushing people to make choices they would not necessarily make otherwise (and not all those choices are necessarily good ones). I always figured that Rand would not be able to destroy the Dark One, but I thought that it would be because the DO introduces an element of chaos that causes the Wheel to wobble just enough so that each turning is a little bit different rather than an endless perfect monotony.
Eric Hughes
40. CireNaes
Since WoT is a deontological ethics system we may want to stick with that as a means of focusing the discussion. Moral relativism/anti-realism and teleological/consequentialism aren't really in view with WoT despite the former movements bent on attaching this theory to cultural differences and the latter being nullified by the presence of a Creator/DO and Pattern.

We can take a look at Kant (contemporary), moral absolutism, divine command (Euthyphro theory/natural law), modified divine command theory (in accord with commands as indicators of character), virtue ethics (morality of agent is highest priority, even over action of agent) and of course we should examine how the Pattern impacts moral responsibilities and agencies (Libertarianism vs. Determinism).

Edit for bad phone grammar. I'm sure errors remain.
Hammerlock
41. JackMyDog
This discussion reminded me of Steinbeck's East of Eden
Roger Powell
42. forkroot
Porphyrogenitus@33
Ishamael can have a little bit of hope. The BBoBA has the following to say about the Wheel:
... the fabric of each age changing only its weave and pattern with each passing. With every pass, the changes vary to an increasingly greater degree.
Emphasis mine. Any engineer will tell you that last clause guarantees that the Wheel would not be able to turn forever. So at some point, far in the future perhaps, the Wheel will stop, or break, or something. Perhaps the pattern breaks and time goes linear.

Now the canonicity of the BBoBA is thus: It is considered to have been written "in-Age". In other words, there is a possibility of misinformation, much like we've seen the characters possess. So we cannot be sure if the stated cosmology is correct.
Hammerlock
43. Faculty Guy
Wow, there are some pretty deep thoughts flying around this site tonight.

I don't know if the WOT "Creator" is implied to be the "ultimate source of being" or merely a creator who is subject to external limitation, in the way that a poet or painter is a creator, but on a larger scale. (In fact, I've often wondered if "the Creator" was a sly semi-humorous self-reference by RJ. Maybe someone knows.)

An ultimate being could not have constraints - otherwise, whatever is generating the constraints would be "more ultimate." So, although the human mind may be incapable of imagining a world with free will yet without evil, a truly ultimate creator would have complete control of what is possible in his/her creation. Logic is among the creations that could be eliminated if necessary.

But many human have worshipped gods that were not "ultimate" in this sense, e.g., Zeus. I just don't know what RJ envisioned for his Creator.
Scientist, Father
44. Silvertip
This is getting fun!

@31 leighdb:

So is that the Ecumenical version of Pascal's Bargain, then? (Ducks, sprints for bunker while zigzagging).

@37 wet:

Thanks for an important point stated clearly: "by right of being the one who created it all..." This is something I actually, speaking for myself alone, have some issues with. Even if we posit someone/something called "God" who is a Creator, First Cause, whatever .... I've never seen how it follows that any particular diktat of that entity by definition defines a right versus wrong choice for those of us struggling on Earth. Why should that be? If we're all growing within some kind of cosmic science fair project, why are we bound by the whims of whatever teenaged deity is being graded on it? Now, if I am asked in response "so how do you know right from wrong then, wise guy," I'll freely confess that I can't give any kind of complete and philosophically coherent answer resting on anything like first principles, although I do think (hope?) I live fairly well on a day to day basis. But I personally don't find the argument from Divine Authority convincing, whether God exists or not. (Lots of people do, of course, and I have no intention of criticizing anybody for it ... meaning is hard to find, and if it works for you, more power! But what I'm saying is, it doesn't for me.)

S
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
45. Lisamarie
Wow.

I am actually a little pleasantly surprised to see I'm not the only one who was a bit put off by the 'revelation' here. Like wetlander and some others, it just didn't sit right with me (although I accept it as 'true' for this world). While I believe good is required for evil (as Tolkien would say, above all shadow rides the sun), I don't believe evil is required for good. That said I definitely believe in the importance of free will so that, at least, I could get behind.

In the end, it's okay that WOT doesn't perfectly align with my beliefs, at least it gets me thinking. If I want to read something that is 'True Story' (love that phrase!) to me, I'll go read Game of Thrones. Ha, just kidding! I guess I'd have to say Tolkien is more my style :)

Aaaand, tying it all together, I JUST finished War and Peace, and Tolstoy has a lot (A LOT) to say about free will, history, power, etc. Actually, there was one part where he's going on and on about what power actually is, why one person can give commands and people just follow them...that it reminded me a lot of a similar scene in Game of Thrones where Varys poses the riddle about power. But towards the end he seems to be trying to deconstruct the idea of free will and the fact that we can correctly determine the cause of our actions. I don't necessarily agree that the existence of the 'laws' he refers to mean there is NO free will, but I do agree things (and history) are way more complicated than we'd like to think, including our own motivations. I will also freely admit that I may have completely missed (or exaggerated) whatever point he was actually trying to advocate because Tolstoy wasn't exactly succinct...
Hammerlock
46. TheAndyman
I too had issues with the conceit that elimnating the DO would eliminate strife and contention. From everything we learned about what exactly the DO does, it requires free will to associate onself with him, yes, but association with him isn't a prerequisite for being a deusch in this setting's context, cases: Elaida, Whitecloaks pre-Galad, etc. Aligning with the DO makes you predisposed to dispense more evil, perhaps, but I haven't read anything that suggests that those who gave their souls to the DO were not already predisposed to dispense evil in the first place. The DO provided a bit of warped salvation for those people, if you will; the promise of eternal life in return for obedience, very reverse Christlike. In the same way, pledging to the Creator in this setting's context doesn't necessarily make one "good." I feel like the creator/DO duality, though both are proven to exist in the series, have very little true impact on the lives of this world's inhabitors' natures.

So, long story short, while I didn't agree with Rand's presumption in the end that destroying the Dark One would categorically eliminate free will, I just rolled my eyes and went along with it because I figured 1) this is not a story that will Go There as far as philosophy is concerned so I was totally not surprised and 2) I was much more invested in the other stories happening here, as Rand later admonishes via narration was the entire point anyway. In fact, though Rand is the force of nature that catalizes the whole story, he is, in many ways, a giant red herring we follow for 14 novels, because the real story isn't about him persay but about those who's lives are forever changed, changing and impacting the world around them because they chose to believe that fighting was better than surrender.
Hammerlock
47. TheAndyman
I'm not sure how to edit stuff that's already been posted so let me just say that I meant to edit the last sentance of my first paragraph to say ...
very little true impact on the natures of this world's inhabitors." somehow I forgot to edit that even though I had planned to, whoops.


Also does anyone else find the captchas freaking impossible to read?
Andrew Berenson
48. AndrewHB
Lisamarie @45 wrote: "Tolstoy has a lot (A LOT) to say about free will, history, power, etc." Actually, Tolstoy has a lot to say period. Hence the size of War and Peace. :)

Thanks for reading my musings,
AndrewB
Brian Carlson
49. images8dream
The only thing that really bothered me about this part is that it seemed to break the rules establiesh by the story. I don't agree with the philosophical ideas put forward here, but they don't throw me out of the story (I don't think monarchy is a good form of government, but I can roll with it for the story). However, it seems wrong that the removal of the Dark One would cause the removal of free will, or the removal of the possibility of bad action. 32 Elisande has a goo theory for why this actually works; the chaos of the dark one allows for the pattern to be shaken loose and free choice to manifest. That is an awesome idea, but I wished the connection was made clearer by the book. Anyways, the idea of the Dark One being Chaos and not Evil fits better with the idea of a cyclical cosmology and much of the mythology WOT is based on. Many ancient mythologies don't make the good/evil distinction, but the order/chaos distinction. Order was often associated with heat and the sun, while chaos was associated with the dark and the water. Both are water and heat are necessary for life, just as order and chaos are.
This dichotomy is scene in saidar and saiden, where saidin is chaotic while saidar is ordered. So that would be a good explanation for why Rand cannot eliminate the Dark One, since it would elimnate the primal force of Chaos which would throw everything out of balance.
Scientist, Father
50. Silvertip
Lisamarie @45:

...... and, my first two spit-takes of the evening:
If I want to read something that is 'True Story' (love that phrase!) to me, I'll go read Game of Thrones.
and
Tolstoy wasn't exactly succinct...
Thanks, I needed that! (And also an excellent point with ...):
In the end, it's okay that WOT doesn't perfectly align with my beliefs, at least it gets me thinking.
Bingo.

S
Jeff Schweer
51. JeffS.
While Philosophy is probably not my best subject, and the fact that I'm an unrepetent Existentialist, I love the discussion we're having here.

Instead of complicating the discussion further I'm going to try to simplify and use some of the great comments above to illustrate why this section did not throw me out of the story, nor did it challange my own concept of the properties of good and evil.

Forkroot at 28 mentioned that Shaitan lies. Well of course he does and I think that is established as solid.
Porphyrogenitus at 33 during a well thought out comment also mentioned that "Rand misunderstood his limitations," and
"If the Dark One simply fooled Rand then, perhaps, he can realize his
mistake in yet another turn of the Wheel and eventually kill the Dark
One once and for all."

Yes, this. In fact I think this is the major point and issue to get into.
Rand thought he made this particular dream shard "perfect" but screwed it up. In fact, in my mind this is the only time that Rand takes the DO at his word and believes what he said as the Truth. Yes, capital T truth. Big mistake, huge in fact. The father of lies can't tell the truth and I think he was hedging, just in case he lost, so the wheel would stay circular and he'd also get another chance.
Now then. Rand gave up this particular line of reasoning and we'll get to the conclusion of this battle of wills in good time. I'll have more to say about that then.

In summary. I don't believe that we necessarily have to have an epitome of evil to have evil. Nor do I think that you need one to have free will. A properly locked away DO is the same as dead one,(if he can actually be killed in this cosmology as written. I'm undecided about that.) when it comes to how people can still act like total Sh*!s to each other in Randland. What I think is that Rand believed Shaitan during this exchange, came to the wrong conclusion, but still managed to pull it off with Callandor, three types of power, and a bit of luck.
Ask me later if I think they are still on the wheel or if we jumped the track to linear time. I have strong feelings about that but I don't promise to be coherent.

Jeff S.
I am only an egg
Robert Crawley
52. Alphaleonis
@44 Silvertip It may help your analogy of the science project if we change it just a little: Instead of a teenaged deity who is being graded let's have an infinitely aged deity who is doing the grading. He didn't just capture the ants in his little ant colony that he has - he invented ants, and gave them intelligence and gave them free will. He gave them laws: you can eat the little green pods, but do not eat the little red pods. By the way, he also invented the red and green pods and knows exactly what they will do to an ant body if eaten. He also knows each ant personally by name and knows well each of their personalities and tendencies from an infinite period of time associating with each of them on a personal basis before assigning them to this particular colony. He gives them more laws - you can gather and eat as many of the green pods as you wish, but don't fight with your neighbors to get their pods. You must work for your own or it will count against you on your final grade. Now why should the ants obey, not the whims, but the all wise and never changing laws of this omniscient being? Two reasons: they should obey because it will be better for their final grade, and the wisest of the ants have already figured out that obedience makes for happier ant life for individuals as well as the group as a whole.
Scientist, Father
53. Silvertip
@52 alpha: thanks for the thoughtful reply. For what it's worth, I had been assuming that our (compromise?) graybearded teenager had invented ants, their food, the physical laws of their universe, et cetera, but I don't think that's what you would consider the key point anyway. What I'll actually point out to you is this: you wind up by pointing out that obeying Young Creator's laws "makes for happier ant life for individuals as well as the group as a whole." Could well be. But are you then arguing that "happier ant life" is the ultimate standard of the good, with obedience to YC as a means to that end? What if YC goofed up, or decided he liked some ants better than others, or more seriously had some larger and more obscure goal in mind than happy ants (cf. Job)? At what point is rebellion, or at least some respectful civil disobedience, justified? And yes, I know I'm being kind of flip here -- it's a comments section after all -- and I hope I haven't crossed into disrespect, but in seriousness this is the direction these arguments take for me as an (if you will) non-theist. If you give me some non-tautological reason to obey Divine Laws, as you have, I can argue that one should then just skip the middleman and seek, say, broadly considered or Aristotelian Ant Happiness directly. And in our world, I would absolutely agree that some proposed Divine Laws would do wonderfully -- the Sermon on the Mount, to give my personal favorite example of something I wish a lot of Christians and nonChristians alike would take a lot more seriously. (Leviticus, taken as a whole, not so much, but maybe that's just me).

Thanks again for engaging my comments seriously, perhaps more seriously than they deserve,

S
Leigh Butler
54. leighdb
Silvertip @ 44:

So is that the Ecumenical version of Pascal's Bargain, then?

Heh. Sort of, I guess, except where I reject the part about "doing good" being about getting some divine/cosmic pat on the head for it. I think anyone who is only a good person because they think it'll get them in good with the powers that be is... kind of a really crappy person, actually.

I feel like I should try to leave the world a better place than I found it because... that makes the world a better place. And that in itself is more than enough reason. Anything else is just gravy.
Hammerlock
55. eep
Alpha & Silver

Silver, you've raised many of my same thoughts on this issue. I would say, however, that the primary factor is the fact that the ants have no direct knowledge of the creator, his laws, or the fact that grading is taking place. What they have is the word of some ants who say one or more outsiders have spoken to them. And some of the ants have had powerful emotional experiences that make them certain one or more outsiders exist. Some of the ants say the outsiders demand one set of laws, and some of them say the outsiders demand another set, and some advocate for a third set. None of them can prove conclusively that they are right.

Now, the creator's laws are the only real ones, and the grades he gives at the end are the most important thing any of these ants can achieve. But which set of laws go with the real creator? Or maybe all the ants have it wrong and none of their laws came from the real creator. Or maybe they all came from him, but the various ants got the message mixed up in various ways, so they're all a little bit right and a little bit wrong.

What can they do? Well they can argue about what the outsiders want them to do; some of them do that. They can also try to cut out the middle man, as Silver says, and do their best to come up with the set of laws that will maximize the good they experience in their lives on their own. Probably these approaches will often lead to similar sets of laws. In fact ants who never really think much about the overarching ramifications or principles behind everything will still mostly agree about what the laws should be. They just know that they don't like suffering, being killed or oppressed or things like that, and so they know it's best if all the ants agree not to do these things to each other.

Of course, in WoT the ants are faced with irrefutable proof of at least one decidedly unpleasant outsider, which makes some of this a bit more certain for them.
Hammerlock
56. Dedic8ed
The only thing I have to add to the good vs. evil debate is the assumption that Shadar Logoth is evil independent of the DO. I say not so, as without the DO's touch on the world, the circumstances that led to its creation would certainly not have happenned; it was in fighting the Shadow that the people of that city became worse than the Shadow.

Remember back to the AoL in the way-back machine... with the DO sealed away, war was forgotten and there really didn't seem to be much REAL evil in the world, only petty things like the man who knocked Rand's ancestor down and acted like a jerk until he realized he was talking to an old-world Aiel; I'm PRETTY sure that none of the nasty things the Forsaken did in their previous lives came before the Bore; still, there was still the concept of swordfighting and chess, just no "this is DO evil and so over the top as to seem cartoonish".

So... the difference is, DO touching the world, big evil, DO sealed away, small evils, but still the choice was available, as he was locked away but not gone.
Robert Crawley
57. Alphaleonis
I guess in this recent ant analogy, we may have departed slightly from the WOT world and are talking more of our own. So just to extend that discussion - in my world, or universe - 1) the Creator never goofs up or makes mistakes, 2) loves all men equally, and 3) has no hidden agenda but the happiness of each individual. AND! - each individual ant can talk directly to the creator and find out for him/her self that: yes I am being graded, what the true rules are, and You do love me.

Just a short story from my personal life that illustrates one or more of these points: In June of 1970 I had three dreams that I believe were from God, over a period of about a week or two. In the first dream (or was it more than a dream) I was told what the most important thing that I could do in my life was, and that was to testify to my neighbors that Jesus Christ lives. Before retiring that night, I had asked what the most important thing was that I should do in my life. But that answer was unexpected, because what I was actually asking about was a career choice then facing me. Nevertheless, what happened in that (in the body or out of the body) experience gave me a knowledge that is as real as the keyboard before me today. Jesus Christ lives.

The second dream a few days later gave me instructions about my career choices. That the decision would be mine, but because of my own choice God knew that I would not choose the path that would make me the most money, but the one that would be of greatest service to my fellow man. Which actually came true four and a half years later when I made the actual choice.

In the third dream, I was treading water in the middle of a large sea during a violent storm. It went on like that for what seemed like a very long time, then my feet touched the bottom and I was able to walk out to see a large castle that I was told was mine. My first thought was "How can this be mine, I didn't build it? And the answer came that it was built for me while I was treading water. The castles walls were not made with stones or bricks, but precious stones like diamonds, rubies, emeralds, etc. so the value was much in excess of the mansion I had turned down in the second dream.

Now here is the part where the ant can talk to the Creator. Many years after having these three dreams, I am wondering if I can still have that castle, or if my mistakes have made it forfeit. I am sitting in church and I ask Him "Is it still possible?" I am immediately prompted to open my scriptures. Upon doing so I look down at this particular verse: "Behold and lo, mine eyes are upon you, and the heavens and the earth are in mine hands, and the riches of eternity are mine to give." !!!! Do you have any idea how many thousands of verses there are in all of scripture? What are the odds of throwing a dart at a wall behind your back that has all the verses written on it and hitting the one that answers the question you have just asked? However small those odds are, they are large when compared to this probability: the exact same thing has happened to me at least 7 times (probably more, but I can remember 7 right now off the top of my head) and in each of the seven instances the verse that I first looked at upon opening the scriptures came closer to answering my specific question than any other could out of the thousands that my eye could have first lighted on. Calculate those odds.

Now, God does not talk to every ant the same way, but that seems to be my gift. Paul talks about how each person's gift differs from anothers in First Corinthians chapter 12. But this I do know - every ant can talk to God - and receive answers. Each in his or her own way.
Scientist, Father
58. Silvertip
@leighdb: Ha ha! No argument from me on that one!

@alphaleonis:

Hmm, we have drifted a bit from WoT, haven't we? But in any case, time for me to put away my flip-internet-commenter hat for a second and thank you for sharing what's obviously a profound set of experiences for you and a moving story for the rest of us. Even as secular a fellow as I am, I would never dream of doing anything in response other than shaking your hand in respect and wishing you well; and, lacking such experiences myself, continuing to carry on as best I can. I suspect this all leaves the two of us treating our families, coworkers, communities, etc. in pretty similar ways on a daily basis -- which may or may not say something profound about our own Universe and the different ways of looking for meaning in it. Perhaps all those paths to meaning really are the same one, and we're just too limited to see it.

S

EDIT: Spelling fix.
Scientist, Father
59. Silvertip
... and eep@55 brings the discussion home by reminding us of a key difference between WoT (and most epic fantasy) and the far more ambiguous world we live in. It does change things a bit to have a character, in effect, wearing a blinking neon sign saying "Bad Guy," huh?

S
Terry McNamee
60. macster
First off, since no one touched on it due to the (justifiably) bigger issue which this section encompasses, let me just briefly tackle the issue with Mat's luck. Personally I cannot decide whether it affects only the area around him and the actions he and those near him take, or if it affects the whole Last Battle. I want to say the latter, because while obviously his luck isn't far-ranging enough to affect absolutely everything in the Pattern no matter how far away from him (he ends up where he does by the end of the series because of all the choices and happenings from book one onward, but his luck addressed each of them one at a time, not every event between Emond's Field and the Last Battle at once), I consider the Last Battle to really be one event. A very big event, one the whole Pattern was leading up to and which had many parts and aspects to it, but still less encompassing than every event in the entire world that led up to it. So while I don't think Mat's luck can do the latter (except through the cumulative effect of how it affects each event along the way in turn), I do think it could do the former.

But in the end I don't think it really matters which reach his luck has, because the real issue being raised with Mat is not how far his luck goes, but whether his perception of it as being "seized away when it really mattered" is actually accurate. Because we all know that the way things fall out in the series, however much they seem to be running counter to success and even taking the actions of ta'veren into account, in the end they are all still the will of the Pattern. Like God, who works in mysterious ways, mortals can't understand why the Pattern weaves the way it wills, so quite often a moment which seems to be horribly dire, a failure, such as Mat's luck "deserting" him, is actually nothing of the sort. I.e., Mat only thinks it deserted him, when really it's playing the same game he was doing--lots of tosses, many failures, all trying to achieve that one single important win. Either the luck is doing something else, not near him, which he has not observed or foreseen, that will suddenly at a later point result in something/someone swooping in to save the day, or the failure/seeming failure is actually part of the greater plan. Just because others can't see the genius of Mat's plans doesn't mean he can always see the genius of the Pattern's, especially if what it's doing isn't directly related to his military knowledge.

So in the end, whether the luck can only affect things near him (so events can happen elsewhere in the Last Battle that run counter to it and put the Light in danger of losing) or it affects everything but certain "bad" results are allowed to happen as part of a larger gambit, the end result is the same--just that in the former case, the Pattern is reacting to the events the luck didn't cause, but using the luck to combat them and work against them, incorporating them into its weavings and turning them to its advantage, finding ways to achieve its goals despite the bad things it didn't plan for or prevent from happening via the luck. Making lemonade out of lemons, as it were. Personally I think the Pattern (and his luck) is powerful enough to affect the whole Last Battle, with the seeming desertion and losses just a part of a larger strategy (and also a result of the Pattern being neither good nor evil, and thus allowing bad things to happen as a matter of course), but either way, this seems to me like a case of Mat disparaging the Pattern/his ta'verenhood as usual, interpreting the events in the worst possible light because he hates being the Pattern's Chew Toy. But as usual, he's wrong. Just because events don't go the way he would like or thinks they should doesn't mean his luck has deserted him or has the limits he thinks, he just isn't able to see the big picture.

Re: Aravine--the point has been touched on already but just for completion's sake and consolidating the info: yes, Aravine was with Faile when Perrin's group made it to Whitebridge, then Caemlyn in ToM, so that's the "back in Andor" moment she was referring to, and from her very first appearance in the series Faile has often wondered about her background which she consistently remained silent about. I can understand how you'd miss or forget this, Leigh, partly because she never seemed very important, partly because she was one of those who helped rescue Faile after Galina's trap, and partly because she was just plain part of the PLOD. But her secretiveness and unknown origin has been touched on by both Sanderson (in ToM) and Jordan (in KoD) prior to this, so the foreshadowing was there. Just subtle.

All I'll say on the subject is that, interestingly enough, my feelings somewhat reflect Aravine's own--that I wish she hadn't been a Darkfriend too. Not because I am against the reveal of surprise Darkfriends even this late in the game, or because I had a particular attachment to her, but because as she pointed out, she really did want to change, to return to the Light, but the Dark One wouldn't let her. It seems to once again suggest the idea of "there is no one so far gone to the Shadow they can't come back to the Light" is less possible and likely than we would wish, and it's just plain tragic and sad. I have to agree with what Faile says when she kills her later--I hope her soul doesn't belong to the Dark One and she'll have the chance to make better choices in the next Age/turning of the Wheel.

As for the main issue in this section...whew. A lot of people have weighed in with a lot of weighty statements, opinions, and thoughtful reasoning on both sides of this, and I really don't want to get too involved in it. Partly because I'm really not very good at philosophy (or at least at articulating it) and partly because, as civil as the discussions have been so far, I'm a bit afraid of the elephant in the living room letting out the can of worms, if I may mix metaphors. And well, because everyone has said it so well already I really don't have much to add.

So instead I'll start by prefacing my comments with the fact I'm glad everyone who is expressing their dissatisfaction with this development are not only not attacking Jordan for it, but recognizing that he had the right to tell the story he wanted, the way he wanted (and that this was indeed his story, his intentions, not something Sanderson or the rest of the team imposed). I'm sad that for some people it threw them out of the story...mostly because I don't really see the need to focus on whether something is True Story or if that concept even exists--things can resonate obviously with real life or with one's personal beliefs but that doesn't make it True in my opinion, just true and relevant for you--because I have no problem divorcing myself from a story and saying "even if this isn't the way life really is, or the way I believe it is/should be, it's just a story and I can acknowledge things may be different in this world or that this serves the author better in some way to help them write it".

But of course, because such things are relative, I understand why something not matching one's concept of True would be off-putting even if you are able to intellectually acknowledge that it's just a story and that it and the author can be different, and I wouldn't expect someone to like something that makes them uncomfortable or offended. (I would gently suggest that being confronted with such things can still be good for you, since faith and reasoning which are never challenged cannot be strong or capable of growth and, as has already been pointed out, at least it certainly does give all of us a lot to think about. But since I don't want to cause any upset, I'll agree that we can choose to dislike things, or not wish to engage with them, without it meaning there's something wrong with us. This is after all about something done for pleasure and entertainment, and regardless what one thinks or believes in life, and how it does or doesn't change when encountering things that conflict with it, how could someone receive enjoyment from something they read if it contains things they don't agree with or find true?) And in the end, since everyone is understanding Jordan was free to make the choices he did in writing to tell the story he wanted, and no one (save a few) has actually washed their hands completely of WOT over this, then I think we're good here.

And what do I think? Well setting aside my own personal feelings about good, evil, and free will, and acknowledging Jordan could tell the story he liked and whatever we think, wish, or believe about the real world, anything could be true of the WOT world as long as it is consistent with it...I can see merit in both sides of the argument. I think that Jordan's intention could be right, at least for Randland, if one indeed conceives of the Dark One not as the source of evil itself or the cause of all bad choices and manifestations, but the source of corruption--or as Eep said, the reflection of those bad corrupt choices made by mortals. I think the point is that it was the loss of free will (something I think most people can agree would be a bad thing) that this scene was really all about, and attaching it the Dark One was merely a case of Jordan conflating the two so as to make a metaphorical point about us never being able to truly get rid of evil impulses in us--and this is actually reflected by points Rand made when sealing the Bore like new and to Aviendha back before the meeting at Merrilor. First, that the Dark One is not the real enemy, but the petty men who made the Bore; and second, that the Age of Legends was not a perfect utopia and war might have happened even without the Bore. This suggests to me that as much as Jordan was saying the Dark One was the source of free will through his making it even possible to choose evil, he's still agreeing that evil would exist without him. (Something also addressed through Shadar Logoth, but I'll get to that below.) Maybe what he meant was that the Dark One, being an embodiment of evil, did not create it but did give it direction and form--and that therefore because he has a will, that is why he enables humanity to have it too.

In the end, I can see why some would feel this concept doesn't fit the WOT and its conceit of the Pattern and ta'veren, but I would point out that despite the fact time is circular and Jordan said the Ages happen over and over, he also said each time the Ages go by there are slight differences--something has to exist to induce such changes, however small, and aside from the Dark One/chaos, I think that something is free will. It was noted several times that even if the ultimate end point is determined, the way threads get there is by their own choices, and I suspect that it is in choosing how they reach their appointed destinies that they can actually "do better" next time, a concept which also couldn't exist if there was no free will, no room to learn and grow and change.

I think it is possible Rand was wrong and the Dark One lied, but it's also possible that it was Rand getting rid of free will that got rid of the Dark One rather than vice versa, and that this is less about the Dark One creating all evil but shaping it and making it more tempting to choose, enflaming people's worst traits and desires. I think there must be evil as a concept (not an embodiment) for good to have something to contrast with (laws may tell us what is right and wrong, but at the very least you have to take into account the idea of disobedience, of not doing what the law says, to be able to understand what wrong is), and that you have to have free will to choose between them for the choice to have any meaning, and that tying the Dark One to this free will was just a case of Jordan again relying on the metaphorical concept of Evil as embodiment to justify why such a force would exist and be allowed to keep existing--since to do otherwise is to advocate something we know simply isn't possible in real life (eliminating all evil choices and impulses). The Dark One is the source of corruption, not merely a tempter or evil overlord--he's the Manichean force of evil (and chaos, I agree), not just Satan--but the reason he's not the true enemy is because as long as mankind has free will, they can resist him, fight him, and always defeat and reseal him; it's when free will is used to give in to evil, whether in releasing and serving the Dark One or using his own methods against him, that humanity falls.

In any event, as upsetting as this concept may be for some, I think it still fits WOT, it's Jordan's own choice and what he intended to do, and it's just a story, so I am able to relinquish any misgivings or concerns the concept may raise. I appreciate the point Jordan was trying to address. Though I do think that it might have been better in the end if the Dark One were not able to be killed, rather than Rand simply choosing not to...because as powerful as I think the argument for free will and Rand's choice is, it's clear that it didn't sit well with a lot of people. Jordan's story is his own and he isn't beholden to us to write the book the way we think it should be, but at the same time if fans don't like something they are justified to reject the author or the product. And while the philosophical and moral complexities created by making the Dark One able to be destroyed but choosing not to are clearly fascinating, it does seem a bit odd that a being supposedly equal and opposite to the Creator (although again, if this were so, how could the Creator have bound him to begin with?) could be destroyed, unless the Creator can be too. And regardless, the fact we know it's impossible (at least at present) to ever get rid of evil impulses in us makes the idea of being able to destroy the embodiment of evil unrealistic. Unless of course again we acknowledge it's getting rid of the one who shapes evil, magnifies it, causes corruption, and that bad choices and impulses will still always exist.

@15 Alea: What Jordan seems to be suggesting though is that because the Dark One is such a powerful force (equal and opposite to the Creator), killing it would in fact get rid of choice, because it's not just the embodiment of evil, but is evil itself, even as a concept. So that would be why killing it would take away the ability to choose between good and evil. This seems to be what upsets so many people, and admittedly it does seem odd that if the Dark One is really that powerful, it can yet still be killed.

@16 MDNY: I think it's the difference between direct contact through the Bore and his very existence. The former allows the Dark One to gain followers, Turn people to his nature, inflame and increase evil and corruption, and so on, but the very fact he exists at all allows a miasma effect that can still influence people's bad choices even if he's sealed away and can't touch anything in the Pattern. At least that is how I interpret Lews Therin's comment that there were still ills in the 'perfect' utopia of the AoL that could have led to war without the Bore. Killing him would, seemingly, get rid of even that.

@18 Silvertip: Well said, I agree completely.

@19 Megaduck: Personally I think the existence of Shadar Logoth and Fain (and of bad impulses in the Age of Legends) proves that even if free will comes from the Dark One, not all evil does. However I would note two things: Jordan said that Fain was something new, presumably one of those "wobbles" which forms in the Ages as the Wheel turns, which suggests that (if we believe Jordan, and something like him and Mordeth didn't exist in every turning) he came about due to a combination of luck and free will, so his existence wouldn't normally be an issue in regards to a Dark One-less world. (Plus also even with time being circular I don't think killing the Dark One would retroactively undo things like what happened to Fain--he may be outside Time but he still has to act within it when touching the Pattern, so killing him would still leave Fain as he was; it'd be on the next turning that Fain's nature would or would not change.) Secondly and more importantly, keep in mind that Fain would not have become what he did if not for being a Darkfriend to begin with and Mordeth's existence, and that Mordeth became what he did as a result of being willing to do anything to bring down the Dark One. (Jordan said he was once good, so he isn't an independent evil.) I.e., he and Aridhol and Fain only exist as evil as a reaction to the Dark One, so indirectly he is still the source of their evil even if the specific powers they gained to combat him came about another way.

@22 Braid_Tug: Good point, well said.

@32 Ellisande: I really love your concept, it makes a lot of sense. It isn't so much that the Dark One creates free will, but that without him to push and twist and corrupt people, and with the Creator not inferfering, you'd only be left with the control of the Pattern which leaves no free will, or so little that it's negligible.

@38 eep: I really like your idea too, that the Dark One actually comes from our own bad choices, that this is why us losing free will is connected to him no longer existing because the latter can't happen without the former. (It would also explain why the Dark One has always existed since the moment of creation and would be equal and opposite to the Creator, since free will and the possibility to do wrong would also have always existed, and the wrong choices would be just as viable (and far-ranging in consequences) as the right ones, and therefore of equal power). And I also agree with your points about good not being able to exist without evil and not just needing one law.

@46 TheAndyman: Good point about this not really being about Rand in the end. That scene where he realized and enumerated who it was really all about, everyone whose choices enabled him to be where he was and do what he did, that it was about all of them fighting and refusing to give up, was one of the most powerful and emotional moments in the book in my opinion, and it's good to empahsize that over Rand's conception of what the Dark One and his role is.

@49 images8dream: And that the Dark One doesn't cause free will per se, but that his chaos enables threads to vary from the Pattern enough to have free will. So many good ideas! (Good point about saidar vs. saidin too, nice to bring this back to Jordan's concept about the Power that actually lies at the heart of creation.)

@56 Dedic8ed: My point exactly in response to Megaduck.
Hammerlock
61. jessemb
I would be *very* interested to know just how much of Rand's scene here was written by Robert Jordan as opposed to Brandon Sanderson. I'm under the impression that RJ didn't leave good notes as to what to do with the DO, and BS had to fill in a lot of the philosophical gaps.

The idea of necessary evil--that you have to taste the bitter in order to understand sweetness--is a very Mormon concept. Freedom is the Mormon solution to the Problem of Evil. Real freedom must include the power to make bad choices, or else nobody is free.

I do think Rand made one error here, which was to equate The Dark One with Evil itself. I think Rand went too far there. His nightmare world was not a world without the DO, as he thought, but a world in which no bad choices are possible. The only way to create such a world is to create one in which NO choices are possible. Such a world would indeed be horrible.

Then again, I believed right up until the ending of AMOL that Rand would succeed in killing the Dark One, and then throw Padan Fain (and/or the dagger from Shadar Logoth) inside the DO's old prison to become the Dark One for the next turning of the Wheel. So maybe I'm not great at guessing. :)
Hammerlock
62. megaduck
Crusader75 @ 39 I also thought that it would turn out that the dark one filled some purpose in the pattern, that the creator put it in for a reason. I also thougth that perhaps the DO was possibly not evil at all. The DO was the opposition. But no.

TheAndyman @46 I suppose I should have just rolled my eyes and gone on with it. It's just as a writer I found this scene so thematically wrong I couldn't get past it. I do wish they'd gone into 'What is Good' more in WoT because how you define good creates a lot of weather you can get rid of evil without destroying free will. The more constrained good is, the more free will can create evil.

I'm not touching the what is good and evil debate here though. I could write several philosiphy papers on it.

macster @ 60 The fain thing would be the instability argument. That the DO is not evil per say, it's just causing instability in the pattern to allow choice.

As for Aravine... I didn't even remember who she was so I just sort of shrugged and went ok.
Jesse Nyhan
63. Evermore
I was fine with the whole anti-dark world thing as an equal and opposite version of the dark ones original world. It's interesting that Elaynes eyes are the same as someone who has been turned. I wonder how that fits with Lanfears theory that those who are turned are killed are replaced with something that invades the body. Does Rands world come about because he's killed and replaced the entire human race?
Birgit
64. birgit
The comparison of the DO with Sauron doesn't fit because Sauron is just a servant of Morgoth, and Morgoth himself is just one of the Ainur, not an equal to Eru.

There are two kinds of laws: natural laws like gravity that cannot be broken and laws like don't steal that can be broken. Rand tried to create a world where doing good is the first kind of law instead of the second.

Choosing between Good and Evil (however those are defined) is not the only kind of choice allowed by having free will. If I choose which kind of bread to buy that isn't a choice between good and evil, but it is still a choice.
Rafael
65. Ryamano
Regarding the Creator in Randland. I never got the impression he was actually good. The cathecism does say he is Light (or part of it, it’s never made clear), he’s involved in salvation and rebirth and so on, but then I ask: what salvation? All the souls in WoT get reborn again and again, in the same pattern, living the same lives, with some small differences in each cycle. This is never supposed to end. So what exactly is salvation? Isn’t rebirth guaranteed? Not even balefire can stop one soul from being reborn. I think the only creature/person we saw being entirely terminated was Hopper, because he died in the World of Dreams, something that’s not going to happen to most Randlanders ever. So what does the Creator actually do for his creations? The only time he was involved with the affairs in Randland (besides creating the place) were when he teleported Rand in TEOTW and talking a little bit in AMOL. This last part wasn’t actually any involvement at all, since it basically amounted to him saying: “Yeah, I’m watching. Carry on as you were”, like some spectator in a reality TV show.

So I actually think the Creator is kind of neutral in the D&D alignment system. There’s only one time where he actually opposed the Shadow, besides bounding the Dark One in his prison, which doesn’t seem to impede evil from existing in the world even when there isn’t a Bore. There were criminals in the Age of Legends, that’s why the Oath Rod was invented. And Semirhage was torturing her patients before Lanfear concluded her experiment. Also there is supposed to be evil after the DO’s prison is made whole again. In the future that could be that Aviendha saw in the Waste, the Aiel were treated very badly by the Seanchan, and that was evil. Slavery will still exit in Seanchan, and that’s still evil. According to Lews Therin’s philosophy, the creator is like a gardener that creates worlds and then let them fend off for themselves. That’s neutral to me, not good. A good Creator would try to oppose the DO more.

The Pattern itself is True Neutral in the D&D alignment system, and the second definition of TN in the 2ndedition Player’s Handbook at that. The Pattern makes an effort to actually balance evil with good. This is shown when the random events around Rand happen (except when he’s Dark Rand). If one random event saved someone’s live, then another random event will have to kill someone. If someone gets good luck, then another must get bad luck. And so on. The Pattern in itself is neither good, nor evil, but a TN that would make Mordenkainen from Greyhawk and Karla from Record of Lodoss War proud.

Regarding free will in the Pattern: does it exist? There are cases when the Pattern makes sure that it doesn’t exist, like many times with Mat and that one time with Verin. She couldn’t leave the place she was until Mat arrived and she gated them to Caemlyn. Her free will to go where she wanted was taken away from her for a time to suit the Pattern’s purpose. But this doesn’t seem to happen all the time. Prophecies also seem to indicate some free will is lost. They get fulfilled, no matter what. There are other cases of free will seemingly disappearing. Turning by 13 x 13 is one of them. Apparently swearing yourself to the Dark One can have this effect on some. Aravine for example. But is this a case where strength of will is important? Because Ingtar could come to the Light before he died. And so did Verin, who swore even more important vows, but always worked in secret for the Light.
Hammerlock
66. denari6
You know I have given the resolution of the good vs evil theme quiet bit of thought and though I late in posting I wanted to share some of my ideas.

Wheel of Time is very much a zero sum scenario. For Rand to win the dark one has to lose and vice versa. However, I don't think the battle is good versus evil. These concepts reside with the eye of the beholder and are inadequate to describe the situation.

Rand our quasi anti-hero is not neccesarily representative of all that is good. Neither is the dark one the embodiement of all that is evil. You could be considered good and righteous and not follow rand or follow him for your own reasons. The same goes with dark one. Mordeth is a prime example of "evil" but not the dark one's brand.

Beyond good and evil, (pun intended) is simply the question of free will versus predestination. Rand fights to preserve the wheel so that people are reborn and are able to make better choices. In the end he fights for love and to see "her" again, (Dragonmount scene). The dark one is dedicated to breaking the wheel and remaking it in his image. I translate this as the elimination of free will and the imposition of a form of mental slavery, (its elaine but its not really her).

So what is the antithesis of freewill? Evil? no. The antithesis of freewill is merely the absence of it.

What is so horrible about hell? The devil? No, its the absence of God.

My two bits.
Amey Chinchorkar
67. ameyc
@Leigh: Bask away in your SCHPLADOW! moment... You have earned it.

@Wetlander and other who argue for complete absence of Evil - Pretty sure someone has said this before, but my reading of the series mythology says that this scene fits with your argument too. Taking from Wetlander's comment, you just have to imagine the Dark One as complete rejection of all things Light, and not as an embodiment of Dark.
One single "You may not do X" gives a person the choice to obey, or not.
But, in absence of Evil/Dark, why do we need a law saying X is bad? By your argument, if people do not know bad things, they will not even think of doing X, because they don't know there is something called X. When you write a law called "You may not do X", you have named X as bad/evil/dark, and given birth to a Dark One.

Which is why, you can't have Light without presence of Dark One, as people won't recognise the Light when they see it (because everything is Light and it has nothing to distinguish it from anything else, and so, it cannot be described). As per your example, we have names for light and dark, or air and vacuum, because we know there are 2 states which exist in contrast of each other. Can we think of any concept which exists only by itself, i.e. cannot be described as absence/opposite of something else?
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
68. Lisamarie
leighdb@54 - okay, I have to comment only because this is the second time I saw somebody say this in the past two days in unrelated places and this is one of those things that gets under my skin. I feel bad that the last two times I've commented have been to disagree with you, I'm not trying to call you out or anything.

"Heh. Sort of, I guess, except where I reject the part about "doing good" being about getting some divine/cosmic pat on the head for it" - this is a huge mischaracterization of most genuinely religious/spiritual people. It's really quite frustrating. I am NOT saying that there aren't people who have never moved beyond fear/reward motivation, but...pretty much anybody who has thought deeply about their faith, philosophies, etc and is devoted to doing good does good because it is Good. Where we all differ is on why it is Good, or who determines Good, and in some cases what true Good is, etc.

Also, I know plenty of non-religious people who pat themselves on the back for being better than the stupid religious sheep they know (NOT YOU, I'm thinking about a few particular people I know on Facebook...), but have just as 'trivial' motivations for doing good (maybe not a divine pat on the back or avoiding a divine punishment, but a societal one) so I honestly don't find their motivations any more laudable. I have also known many non-religious people who really are genuinely seeking good, so I certainly don't want to say religious people have the monopoly on doing good.

I've only been able to really skim the comments at this point but it's been a fun ride :) I've been looking forward to it!
Hammerlock
69. DougL
And here was my biggest problem with this book, one that has dulled my enjoyment of the entire series. Rand believes the lie, and we have to presume that it so. Rand was playing a fantasy game and created a world where nobody could choose the Shadow and he took away the ability to do evil. I mean, Rand knows that not all evil is tied to the DO, so why does he believe the hype here?

Killing the DO does not remove the ability of humans to be douchebags, it just removes the axe perpetually hanging over humanity's head.

So, in the end, Rand is either deeply stupid, or the universe actually works the way the DO said, which is equally stupid.
Robert Crawley
70. Alphaleonis
@ Silvertip Thanks for your kind response to my somewhat off the subject comment @57. I was reticent to tell that story, but was vacilitating between telling it or not when the subject was Perrin's Tel'aran'rhiod experiences in the flesh. But maybe I've said enough already about personal things. When we get to the subject of Perrin's in the flesh/out of the flesh experiences there, I will not repeat my own story, but may tell one of a friend of mine that is even more relevant to Tel'aran'rhiod. Along with a brief mention of Paul's experience in 2nd Corinthians 12:2-4.
Hammerlock
71. mike123
Since WOT is more about dualism I would say that the DO could not be destroyed anymore than the creator could be destroyed. Does dualism actually make sense? In a limited way of course it does. We are inadunated with opposites, male/female, right/wrong, matter/antimatter, etc...
Think for a moment, if there was only 1 supreme being that created a universe, aka the creator, why was it necessary for him to create an anti-creator? In the case of WOT, it was necessary to turn the wheel and thus the creator created the dualism. So, I propose that in WOT without the DO, the wheel would stop and the universe would no longer exist.
I have faith that real life doesn't work that way, but that's an arguement for another time and place.
Hammerlock
72. eep
Ryamano @65

I think the discussion of the Pattern's effect on free will is interesting. I don't read it as limiting free will, for the most part. Free will is our ability to choose between the options available. At a crossroads, I can go left or right, but not up unless I have an airplane. That's not a limitation on free will, it's a limitation on what is physically possible. The pattern creates situations such that people's options are limited at times. It does not seem to directly control their actions, except perhaps in limited cases where tavaren are influencing someone, and even then someone with strong will can resist.

Regarding prophecy, this has a lot of the same issues and Omnescience. Is there free will if some entity, the Pattern or the Creator or a Fortelling Aes Sedai or God, knows beforehand what will happen? I think they can be compatible; just because something knows what choice I'm going to make doesn't mean I'm not making the choice. But there are good arguments to the contrary and my position is mainly a gut feeling so YMMV. With WoT prophecy, there is the additional factor that some characters think the prophecy could go unfulfilled, that it is not what WILL happen, but what MUST happen in order for the Wheel to avoid being broken by the DO. Thus, Rand could have fallen on his sword in book 1 and guaranteed the DO's victory. I'm not sure I believe that, though; perhaps it's more like, the Pattern just knows Rand is not going to do that because that's just not the kind of person he is.
Hammerlock
73. eep
Oh and darkfriends have a hard time turning back to the light not because they have lost free will, but because agents of the Shadow find them and threaten them. At least that's how I understand it. Except for Turned channelers of course.
Alice Arneson
74. Wetlandernw
Wall-O-Text Warning....

jessemb @61 – Lucky you; this is something I can answer fairly definitively. Robert Jordan left very specific notes on what Rand was to do – who went with him, the basis of his decision, the meaning of “three shall be one”, how to use Callandor, Moridin’s role, the resealing – all that was RJ. However, he didn’t give much actual “battle” description, which meant that the Rand scenes were really, really short compared to Mat, Perrin, et al. Brandon came up with the “dueling potentials” idea to show the conflict rather than just telling it, and Harriet really liked that. It also gave him a way to expand on Rand’s battle without actually throwing in a bunch of extra activity that wouldn’t meld. Brandon was actually quite concerned that people would think he made up this solution, since it fits so nicely with Mormon teachings; he made it very clear that the concept was all Jordan’s idea, and he merely fleshed it out with the story-telling.

@many - One thing I should point out that has really gone sideways… In my post @6, I said, “… I simply cannot accept that the presence of an Evil Being is needed for free will. As a wise man once said, all you need for free will is a law.” (Well, I said a lot more than that, of course…) This has gone off several times in the comments into the question of who has the right to make such a law, and I unfortunately played into that @37. The basic point was not the merit of the law or the authority of the Creator, but whether or not An Evil Being has to be present to make free will possible. I argue that, given a human being, a higher authority, and a single command, the choice for the human to obey or disobey is present – he has free will - without need for the EB to even exist.

Let me go back to the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. (For this purpose, it doesn’t really matter whether you consider the story to be truth or mythology; it’s a generally familiar story, so it works as the clearest example I can give.) God, the supreme authority and Creator, and the supreme definition of Good, made Adam and Eve and put them in this gorgeous, fruitful, beautiful garden, where there was plenty of everything they needed – fruit trees, vegies, herbs, all that good stuff. (Except bacon. Apparently there wasn't bacon in the Garden.) In that garden, along with all the apple, pomegranate, pear, peach, plum, banana and mango trees, God put two unique trees: the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He gave Adam and Eve two commands, one positive and one negative. The positive one was, ““Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” The negative one was, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”


Did they have free will at that point? Were they completely free to choose to obey or disobey right at that point? I argue that they did and they were. They were given one single thing to not do, and there was nothing but their own free will to stop them from doing it. Did they also have free will in other things? Absolutely. On any given morning, they could decide whether to go pick a pear or a mango. They could decide to make their salad with or without arugula. They could decide whether to tend the apple trees or the herb gardens this afternoon. They could decide whether to take a nap or go swimming. Everything was there for them to choose – including the possibility of disobeying God by taking fruit from that one forbidden tree.

It’s true that they didn’t actually decide to break that single command until Eve was deceived by the serpent. I don’t think that means they couldn’t have broken it at any time; they just didn’t. That’s why Rand’s conviction that killing the DO would take away people’s ability to choose seemed so wrong to me – because it isn’t Truth.

Parenthetically… when I use the term Truth, I don’t mean “reality” per se. I mean something that reflects the deeper Truth – the kind of Truth that authors like Lewis, Tolkein, MacDonald, and Wilson reflect in their fantasy stories. They are not writing about reality – I’m pretty sure Gilgamesh isn’t still hanging around, and I’m quite sure there aren’t any hrossa on Mars. They are creating imaginative worlds and stories in which deeper truths can sometimes be shown more clearly than we can easily see in the world around us. I realize that not everyone here will agree on what Truth is; I simply and unapologetically use it to mean what I believe it means.

I think the reason my disappointment went so deep was that so much of the WoT did reflect Truth. RJ was a master of creating realistic – i.e. True – characters in his fantasy world, “good” and “bad” and the whole spectrum in between. IMO, the WoT had all the potential to carry Truth out to the end, and there were several ways it could have played out to do so. As I said before – it wasn’t the solution that I found so distressing; it was the reasoning behind it that took a left turn. Which… may indicate that I was reading things in different ways than RJ was thinking them. Maybe he really did intend all along for the WoT to be completely dualistic – in which case it was never as True as I thought it was. Maybe I was so distressed because I hate to be wrong.

denari6 @66 – “What is so horrible about hell? The devil? No, its the absence of God.” Truth.

ameyc @67 – “Can we think of any concept which exists only by itself, i.e. cannot be described as absence/opposite of something else?” Well, yes, we can, but I’m not going to get into that debate here and now. I’ve already spent WAY too much time on this… :)

DougL @69 – Heh. That about sums it up.

mike123 @71 – According to the in-book theology, the dualism that drives the Wheel is not good/evil, but saidin/saidar, the One Power, the True Source, with its balanced male/female forces. But RJ also put in place a One Power/True Power opposition, so… I’m not sure what we’re supposed to do with that.

Oh, yeah. One other thing: the Pattern vs. free will. I’ve seen several people holding up Mat’s actions during the battle for Cairhien as a case of the Pattern taking away his free will. I disagree. There were many times when Mat could have slipped away – but to do so would have left a whole lot of people to be slaughtered by the Shaido, and each time he made a choice to help them instead. He grumbled a lot about being forced to stay, but it was only his deep-seated (and often unacknowledged) commitment to saving lives that made him stay. It was, every time, his own decision; the Pattern merely set things in his way that forced him to choose.

And about Aravine? I’m pretty sure she could have refused to serve the DO, but it would have cost her dearly to do so – more dearly than she was willing to pay. She wasn’t a channeler, to be Turned; she was a person who was not strong enough to stand up to the pressure. I’m pretty sure she understood quite clearly that if she refused to do as she was ordered, she would be in very, very much pain; I’m also pretty sure that it was her own choice to serve rather than suffer. (And eep @73 just said much the same thing…)
Hammerlock
75. eep
Wetlander -

I like your discussion and feel that I understand your points fairly well, but feel I must partially disagree still. Or at least to clarify some terminology.

To start off, I completely agree that the Evil Being should not be necessary. But some disagreement arises after that point.

You mention that Adam and Eve make many other choices besides whether or not to eat the forbidden fruit. They can make all those choices without any law from higher authority at all. If there were no forbidden tree, and no law whatsoever, they would still decide what to eat, where to go, etc. That is Free Will and I think we both agree it exists (1) without any outside force needing to provide it. What I think you are saying then becomes possible with the addition of a higher authority and Law is the ability to choose, not just mundane things, but Good or Evil. i.e. without the Law, none of the choices have a moral component; they become Good or Evil only when measured against the Law. So the Law introduces what we might call Moral Agency.

I certainly agree that we can define Good and Evil to be in or out of accordance with higher authority, and doing so would make your statements entirely correct, and also tautological. Now I don't want to argue that there is no higher authority; there certainly could be. But I do want to say that I don't think Good and Evil need to be defined in relation to such an authority. We all have our own idea of what is Good and what is Evil, and we can make choices to do one or the other, whout ever hearing anything about a higher authority or a Law. We can say, "I think stealing is Evil because it hurts me when someone steals from me, but even knowing this, I will go and steal from that person because I want their stuff more than I want to do what I consider to be Good."

There are whole philosophies about determining what is moral in an objective way that is not based on appeal to a higher authority, and I think such philosophies are valuable, but I don't think we even need all that. If you feel like something is Evil, and you choose to do it anyway, you're making an Evil choice. Evil by intent. This is Moral Agency.

This is a separate issue from the question of whether or not what you are doing is truly Evil in an objective sense. The philosophies I mentioned can help determine that, or a higher authority's Law can provide the basis. It certainly could be the case that such authority and such Law does exist, and it IS the One and True arbiter of what is Actually Moral. But, I don't think that's the only way it could be. And down here on Earth, where there is no conclusive proof of the authority or the Law, either way it ends up with different people disagreeing on that is Good and Evil, and arguing it out using appeals to emotion, logic, or what they believe the higher authority commands, as opposed to what some other faction believes the higher authority commands.

I'm in complete agreement with your last paragraphs about the Pattern and Free Will and Mat's choices. Thanks for the enjoyable discussion!

(1) Well, actually we're just kind of assuming, here, that Free Will exists. It could also be the case that we're molecular automatons, doing what we do because the chemical reactions in our brains could not have gone any other way, and our process of thinking through a choice and making a decision is actually a reflection of what's happening with the neurons, rather than something we actually control. I can't say if that's true or not, but it doesn't have much bearing on the relationship between higher authority and Moral Agency.
Roger Powell
76. forkroot
Wetlandernw@74
Wall-O-Text Warning....
Ahh ... all is right with the world. {:-)
I think the reason my disappointment went so deep was that so much of the WoT did reflect Truth. RJ was a master of creating realistic – i.e. True – characters in his fantasy world, “good” and “bad” and the whole spectrum in between. IMO, the WoT had all the potential to carry Truth out to the end, and there were several ways it could have played out to do so. As I said before – it wasn’t the solution that I found so distressing; it was the reasoning behind it that took a left turn. Which… may indicate that I was reading things in different ways than RJ was thinking them. Maybe he really did intend all along for the WoT to be completely dualistic – in which case it was never as True as I thought it was. Maybe I was so distressed because I hate to be wrong.
I think as long as you admit that what I suggest @28 is a possibility, then it's easy to reconcile your expectations. In other words, RJ didn't create a bitheistic world. He created a realistic world that includes a powerful, non-material evil being who is even described in-world as the "Father of Lies".

Statements about the necessity of this being (for free will to exist) come either from Shaitan himself (a liar) or Rand's imagination (and he's likely to be somewhat wrong) -- so take them with the proverbial grain of salt.


All along, characters in this series have had incomplete or sometime outright wrong understandings of "reality" - especially in the areas of cosmology, soul rebirth (remember how some characters thought that balefiring prevented rebirth?) and so forth.

I also feel that characters in-world having incomplete or wrong information, not talking to one another when they should, etc. is very realistic (in fact it hits uncomfortably close to a description of my current project at work, but that's all I had better say about that!)
j p
77. sps49
My thought when Rand perceived darkness behind ELayne's eyes was "No! Don't let the DO taint your vision! He's tricking you!"

I never thought that all EE-vil came from the Dark One; humans have plenty of their own. What Shai'tan is, is a powerful backer, ally, enabler for those who exercise their evil inclinations. And the "devil" is always more powerful than any individual human, due to its semi-divine (supernatural?) nature.

Of course, any Creator worth its salt with the power to prevent this, but doesn't, fails at being a good Deity. My conclusion to this is that the evil deity is nonexistent or powerless, serving only as an excuse for evil acts.

Which means that Rand should've totally obliterated the DO when he had the chance.
Jesse
78. elezar
I'm not going to dive into this too much, because I think there are enough walls of text in these comments already. :) But, a few things I do want to comment on.

First, regarding the good/evil, I want to point out that in the WoT world, there is no Word of God. The Creator never gave them any laws to define what's good and what's evil. In that world, the only actions we know are evil are the ones done in the DO's name. And, I guess it's safe to say that any actions that are the same as actions done in the DO's name are also evil, even when not done in his name. Everything else is either considered evil by characters with nothing to back up that assertion, or are considered evil based on the readers' assumptions of what is evil.

Second, when discussing free will, I think Mat trying to leave the Stone is a better example than the Battle of Cairhien. As wetlander pointed out, he did have choices in Cairhien, he just kept choosing to help people. And when he was trying to leave Cairhien and kept getting into battles, he had choices there as well, but the choices he made resulted in running into Gaebril's men. However, at the Stone, he wanted to leave, but the pull to Rand kept him from doing so. But, personally, I think this was just another example of Mat being able to complain about something (even to himself) while still doing it, because it was The Right Thing. We're also told that ta'veren are able to affect other threads around them in the pattern, in addition to having the pattern attempt to weave them in a certain way. My impression is that being ta'veren means that there are certain places in the pattern that they have to be, but how they get there is still up to them. And, based on the warning that Moiraine gives to Rand, it's actually possible for them to rip the pattern apart by forcing choices counter to what the pattern needs. As far as the prophecies go, we know (or at least, Moiraine thinks) that it's possible for Rand to do things that will keep the prophecies from coming true. The only true lack of free will comes from Min's viewings and Egwene's dreams, since we're told that those ALWAYS come true. Granted, what we're told might be wrong, but the evidence we have from the books supports that.

Finally, I don't think Mat's luck has an aoe at all. I think it affects his direct actions only. Whenever we see his luck work, it's always by making what HE'S doing better. It never makes anyone else do something, or change the effect of what they do. For example, we see times where he rolls really high dice rolls many times in a row, but never see his opponents rolling really low rolls. When he's throwing knives at wood chunks, his luck allows him to hit a 2-inch chunk, rather than having the person throwing the chunk pick a larger one. And of course, his luck doesn't work on other people that are close to him even when that would indirectly help Mat too. Nalesean had the very bad luck to come up the stairs at just the wrong time, and his throat torn out just a few yards away from Mat. So based on how we've seen it work, as far as it applies to the battle, it will help him fight, and maybe even help him make good decisions, but won't directly help anyone else on Team Light. As evidenced by him surviving the attack on the first command tent, while Siuan didn't.

I also agree that Aravine technically had the ability to go back to the light, but considered the consequences (which likely included death in a horrific way) to be so unacceptable as to be impossible in her mind.
Ryan Jackson
79. KakitaOCU
Several have mentioned this, but I want to reiterate. I understand the feelings expressed by Wetlander and others. The issue is not what they think it is.

As many said "The idea that this entity is the cause fo all evil is wrong". This would be a relatively true statement. The issue is that they are conceiving of the DO (Or Satan, or Arhiman, whatever) as an individual being on some base level. They picture it like a person exerting power. That's not what the DO is. The Conceit of the story is not that a single being is responsible for all evil.

The conceit of the story is that cosmic forces have sentience and personalities on some level. The DO is not a being, it's raw Chaos/Entropy/Destruction/Evil in a metaphysical sense. It's as much an individual entity as Gravity is, or Time... Or the Wheel itself.

Rand made the same error, he pictured himself destroying a person/being/creature that was powerful and evil. What he was actually considering doing was laying waste to a fundamental law of existance (that he had the capacity to do so is scary beyond belief)

Further I've seen the arguement that this balance is invalid because one is defined by the other. The truth of the second statement does not automatically invalidate the first.

Creation and Destruction, Birth and Death, these are examples of this. The second only exists because of the first, but could you imagine what would happen if we could eliminate the second? No thing born ever dies? No plant is ever harvested for crops, nothing can be eaten because we're incapable to destroying it? Destruction is defined by Creation, but without both our world stagnates and falls.
Anthony Pero
80. anthonypero
I'm sorry I missed this discussion. I've read the first 30 comments, but I just don't have time to keep up with the comment threads anymore.

First off, to address the question of whether or not if Rand had "killed" the Dark One would the reality we see in this chapter have taken place; if you think it wouldn't, I would encourage you to reread this entire sequence, because thats not what was happening. Rand would have eliminated the DO by weaving this reality into being. Not the other way around. The process of creating this reality is what would have killed the DO. Killing the DO was not what would have created this reality. In order to kill the DO, Rand was trying to create a reality in which evil couldn't exist, therefore the DO couldn't exist. This is not to say that the converse is true.

This was the only way that Rand could figure out how to destroy the Dark One completely in the situation he found himself in, to kill the Dark One. The cure for the Dark One, removing all evil from the world, was only acheivable by removing the ability to do evil from people. It IS functionally the same as what the Dark One does.

This doesn't need to mean, even within the cosmology of the WoT, that the Dark One is the source and cause of all evil.

This is one place where I think the scene was poorly written, or if not poorly written, then the notes RJ left were not completely understood by Team Jordan.

Other things I've read while skimming the comments mention that Shadar Logoth proves that evil can exist outside the DO. Well, as stated above, I don't think the scene was intended to imply that evil couldn't exist outside the Dark One, but Shardar Logoth is a bad example. Shadar Logoth would never have existed without the Dark One. That was the source of their hate, and the evil that they did.

Anyway, I realize that there are things Rand thinks in this scene that contradict what I'm saying. But either a) Rand is just wrong in his assumptions, or b) Brandon didn't fully understand what RJ intended. Becaus, as others have pointed out, this view of free will, evil and the Dark One is not consistent with the rest of the books.

Either way, this was the only way that Rand could entirely eliminate the Dark One, because the Dark One isn't merely a being. The implication I got from this was that the Creator himself would have had the opportunity to choose this option when He sealed the Dark One away in the first place, and rejected it as an option. While the Dark One is NOT the equivalent of Satan in accepted Christian theology, this is not substantially different than God choosing to cast Satan out of heaven and onto earth for a few thousand years rather than imprision him in Hell to start with. That comes later, in the meantime, God chose to use Satan as an instrumental part in His plan for humanity. The difference being that accepted Christian theology does not have a circular cosmology, and the Wheel of Time does. As CiresNae wrote, that sort of necessitates this ending.
Leigh Butler
81. leighdb
Lisamarie @68:

Your frustration is totally understandable! But do understand that when I was talking there about looking for "divine pats on the head", I wasn't talking about religious people in general. I was specifically referring to what Silvertip had asked earlier about Pascal's Wager - which has always struck me as being a rather contemptible form of philosophical cowardice.

Basically Pascal is saying (in my opinion) "I have no real interest in whether there actually is a God or not, but I'm hedging my bets that way so he won't chuck me into hell if it turns out he does exist." Which suggests to me that if he could prove that God didn't exist, he would be fine with doing whatever he wanted and screw everyone else. That's the attitude I find sucky.
Anthony Pero
82. anthonypero
leighdb@81:

I worked in ministry for the first 12 years of my post-school life. Several pastors I worked for said something from the pulpit that I've heard elsewhere as well, and always really, really upset me. And it would have Pascal nodding his head.

What they said, roughly, was this; (To athiests or other non-believers): If I'm wrong and you're right about God, and your life ends, and you lived the way I think is right, what have you lost? You've lived life according to a standard that makes the world better. If I'm right and you're wrong, and your life ends, you end up in Hell. So why not just choose to believe?

I winced every time I heard it. First off... no one is going to be convinced to believe in God by that, nor to life their lives according to the Bible. That's just ridiculous. Its simply an exercise in saying "I'm smarter than you are."

Secondly... living your life a certain way is not the point of Christianity. Loving God, and loving your neighbor is the point of Christianity. So for a pastor to say something like that from the pulpit... #cringe.

So you are absolutely right, there is a not insubstantial portion of Evangelical Chistianity that has that exact attitude regarding dooing good. And it is sucky.

That being said, I'm not completely convinced that hypocrisy regarding the Doing of Good Deeds is limited to religious folk. I think most people would choose evil over good in many situations without some sort of social restriction / reward / punishment at first programming them as young people and later restraining and reminding them as adults. Just look at 3 year olds. Eventually, we praise them when they are doing something right, and they like the feeling, and it reinforces that they should do something good... because it makes them feel good. This is the default state of all of humanity, not simply religious people.
Tricia Irish
83. Tektonica
Ellisande@32: You have the right of it. We need to look at Rand's realizatiuon through the WoT lens, not our own beliefs. It's nice that this conundrum creates an interesting area of discussion for us, but is not relevent to the book, and it's spiritual construction.

eep@38: I really enjoyed that.

Personally, I prefer Chaos vs. Order, to Good vs. Evil in this story. IN Story, Rand's deductions make sense. It's only when we bring our 21st century beliefs to the book that things get confusing.
Hammerlock
84. eep
Evil is always tempting. Why shouldn't I take your cookie if I want it? As small children, it's because we like the rewards for being good or don't like the punishments for being bad. Hopefully most of us mature into adults who act as our own authority, realizing we should be good for its own sake, or because it benifits everyone in the long run. Some people still want that cookie though, which is why we had to invent laws and police.

As for which is the default state, I'm not sure. If a child was never rewarded or punished, would they eventually grow up and realize they should do good anyway, just by seeing how actions affect people? I feel like some would and some wouldn't.

I like the comments @79 & 80! They seem to me like deeper explorations of the two theories I think of as DO as source of Evil (@79) vs DO as manifestation of people's natural Evil (@80).

Both are well argued and make me suddenly find both theories more appealing, seen in the light you two present them in, than the Rand was mistaken theory.
Ron Garrison
85. Man-0-Manetheran
elezar @ 78:
“In that world, the only actions we know are evil are the ones done in the DO's name.”
A minor point, but consider Elaida, the Whitecloaks. Both did very bad (evil) things, but not at the direction of the Dark One.

KakitaOCU & anthonypero: I like these thoughts.
Scientist, Father
86. Silvertip
leighdb @81:

...almost ... to the .... bunker (zags left, rolls, heads into one last sprint)

wetlander @74:

Enjoyed your writing here as always. As it happens, my wife is terribly allergic to mangoes. Not sure what that does to your metaphor in her case; hmmm.

anthonypero @80:

An interesting and quite possibly correct argument. It certainly provides a way around the character vs. metaphor ambiguity in the DO that the other way of looking at the situation implies. Need to go back to the book and see what I think reading it with that in mind.

S
Alice Arneson
87. Wetlandernw
Silvertip @86 - Well, if nothing else it means she has the free will to choose something OTHER than mango. :)
Hammerlock
88. Max Samuel
leighdb@81:

Terry Pratchett wrote a really awesome version of Pascal's wager:

This is very similar to the suggestion put forward by the Quirmian philosopher Ventre, who said, "Possibly the gods exist, and possibly they do not. So why not believe in them in any case? If it's all true you'll go to a lovely place when you die, and if it isn't then you've lost nothing, right?" When he died he woke up in a circle of gods holding nasty-looking sticks and one of them said, "We're going to show you what we think of Mr. Clever Dick in these parts...
Hammerlock
89. eep
@88

Haha! The other problem with Pascal's wager, besides the fact that God is unlikely to be impressed with the line of thought, is that if there is no God/afterlife, you *have* lost something. You've spent your whole life, the only bit of existence you'll ever get to experience, acting out a belief system you aren't really committed to. Living a lie, basically, for no payoff in the end. Sounds awful to me.

Now, eep's wager is a little better in that regard. It goes, live however you want. Then, right before you die, go to confession and get absolved, just in case! Dios mio! I'm just kiiiiding!
Erdrick Farseer
90. Erdrick
This was the scene that killed the series for me. It's sad how quickly WoT went from a living world in my mind to just a fun story (that kind of stumbled at the end). We had an interesting discussion of all this in a thread called "Rand's Arc" at Dragonmount.com, but I don't have the time or energy to get into all that again.
Hammerlock
91. JeffS
@88
Snort, chuckle, cough cough.
It's what I get for catching up with the thread during lunch.
Terry P FTW

Jeff S.
I am just a laughing egg.
Valentin M
92. ValMar
This has been very interesting discussion, even if real life religious beliefs were interwined in it more deeply than was relevant. But it was all interesting and it did lead to Sir Terry!

I really hope Kakita and anthonypero @ 79 and 80 have got it right, along with others who suggested "Chaos" instead of "Evil". This would fix much what I was unhappy with, except for the circular nature of the world of WOT.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
93. Lisamarie
@leighdb - I definitely don't want to take all my frustration out on you! I agree that Pascal's wager is kind of lame (although I actually always thought it was more, "I don't know if there is a God or not but I am going to believe so I don't go to Hell" and maybe was referring to more religiously oriented actions (like, going to Church or abstaining from certain things) but I guess that's because I just took for granted that you'd want to be a good person for the sake of it (and btw, I find that rationale of belief very intellectually dishonest!). I think you're right in that he probably was talking more about moral actions too, which is kind of ehhhhhh.

anthonypero@82, WORD. I have often had discussions with people about doing good and the 'point' of being a Christian. For example, I have noticed that when people who are not otherwise religious have kids, they decide they should start going to church so they have 'morals'. Now, of course I'm not opposed to going to church, or the idea that having children might make you rethink things about your place in the world and the meaning of life. But the 'so they have morals' thing seriously irritates me. Non-religious people can have morals (especially as I believe there are universal truths anybody with reason can grasp). I am not Christian because I think it makes me a better person, and that it's the only way I can be a better person. I am a Christian because it makes sense to me, I believe it is true and that it's what God wants of us, because our souls yearn for God, because I need grace.

That said, I think it does also happen to make me a better person (I hope) because that should be a natural by product of loving God and loving your neighbor - even if, at times, I am reduced to 'God commands it' when struggling with something tough that I really don't want to do - I am forced to consider WHY that is commanded. I don't think it's arbitrary. But at any rate, it is not the aim. I think there is either a C.S. Lewis or G. K. Chesterton quote that probably says the same thing much more succinctly, but I'm at work but can't look it up.

I feel I have missed a bunch of other replies, but I like the discussion. I agree this is probably more about Chaos and Order. And I like comment 79 - I agree that it WOULD be wrong for Rand to destroy free will, and therefore, the possibility of doing evil (or good). As for what you talk about regarding destruction and death - well, in a perfect world, I suppose those wouldn't necessarily be evil or a cause for grief. I always kind of wondered in the Garden of Eden, what would happen if there was no Fall, yet Adam and Eve were still fruitful. I presume that they would just eventually be 'caught up' to Heaven when their time is done, similar to Enoch, and somewhat like Tolkien describes for the old Numenorean kings. But it wouldn't be death the way we think of it.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
94. Lisamarie
Oh, and eep - I have a toddler so...yeah. Just yeah.

That said, it's hard for me to think of him as 'evil' or even bad, even though he is incredibly frustrating. I also wonder what toddlers would be like in a pre-fallen world, heh.

I will ignore your blatant abuse of confession :)

ValMar@92, I actually fail to see how real life religious beliefs (or lack of) aren't relevant...they influenced RJ and BS, and influence how we read it, and to me, that's why I like reading this sort of stuff, think think about all these things from different angles :)
Hammerlock
95. eep
Lisamarie -
I like your paragraph about morals and why and why not to be religious. I also agree that the RL religious and philosophical discussions are as relevant as we readers feel them to be, since they define or at least partially shape the lenses through which we interpret the story. And I am glad that this is a forum where people can discuss this kind of thing without expoding in a giant ball of flames.

Hope my attempt at confessional humor was not too offensive! Thanks, too, for last week's thoughtful explanations of your views on gender.
Roger Powell
96. forkroot
(Confidential to leighdb: We haven't sniffed the "hunny" for four weeks. But it's looking good now. You've done a good job of stirring the embers!)
Hammerlock
97. Faculty Guy
eep & Lisamarie - It is well known (and you may be aware) that deathbed confessions AND BAPTISMS were a common practice in the first few centuries of Christianity. And it was just for the reason that eep humorously alluded: the belief was that baptism "washed away" all previous sins - eliminating the associated time in purgatory!

The emperor Constantine was one among many thousands who waited until his deathbed to undergo baptism. Such belief in the "mechanical" effectiveness of various church rites persisted through medieval times and even among some today, I suppose. Augustine (c. 400 AD) famously wrote of the necessity of baptizing infants immediately after birth, so that in case they died their soul could enter heaven. (Otherwise, even though they were sinless and exempt from hell, they would be consigned to Limbo.) Of course the DIS-advantage was that then they would accumulate purgatorial time for a lifetime of sins, since you could only be baptized once . . .

Actually, through the early period, perhaps as late as 600 AD, different bishops taught slightly different doctrines, as the bishop of Rome had not really established his authority to over-rule the others. It's all fascinating how beliefs and practices have evolved.
Thomas Keith
98. insectoid
Finally catching up. The last two Tuesdays I was studying for my CompTIA A+ exams (which I passed, yay me), and commenting here was lower on the priority list. Until now. :)

Excellent post as always, Leigh.

Rand's "perfect reality":
I didn't have anything in my notes about this, but it wasn't surprising to me that Rand taking away the source of all evil would have a big effect. Like Leigh said, there can't be a "good" without an "evil" to compare it to.

Nice save, Olver.

I'm with you, Leigh; I think Aravine being a DF came out of left field. By the way, I think "the night we reached Andor" refers to where Perrin + co. went after the PLOD.
Also, I just managed to use the expletive SCHPLADOW! in a serious philosophical discussion, and I feel like I should bask in the dubious glory of that accomplishment for a bit.
I'm afraid I don't get the reference...

Nearly at the hunny already? There must be a hot topic...

Bzzz™.
Jesse
99. elezar
Man-0-Manetheran @ 85: The things that they did were evil according to whom? It's actually interesting that you include Elaida in there, as I think she proves my point. Most of the really bad things she did were done under the coercement or force from Alviarin, and/or under the influence of Fain. So those were (unwittingly) done in the name of the DO. The one act that she did on her own free will that might be considered really evil was the stilling of Siuan. But I actually don't consider that an evil act. Elaida thought (and was actually right) that the leader of her group was violating the group's laws. She followed the legally proscribed process to charge that leader, remove her from office, and have the standard punishment for the crime administered. Obviously, as readers, we knew that the crimes Siuan committed were necessary and for a good reason. Plus, since Elaida's actions came from an unlikeable person against someone that becomes one of the story's heroes, it was designed to piss us off. But evil? I think that perfectly reasonable people could disagree on that point. And when people disagree on whether something is evil, how do you decide who is right when the Supreme Being has given no guidance/rules to the universe at all?
Alice Arneson
100. Wetlandernw
anthony @80 – “Rand would have eliminated the DO by weaving this reality into being. Not the other way around. The process of creating this reality is what would have killed the DO.” I’m afraid I have to disagree with you on this. Brandon invented the “dueling possibilities” (not realities) to give things more of a battle feeling, but in the end, the decision was made by Rand, standing there with the essence of the DO in his hand, squeezing the “pitiful object” until, deciding that what he’d seen in that vision was truth, he changed his mind and thrust the thing back into its prison, remaking the seal perfectly as it had been before. There was never a question of either of them having the ability to weave those realities into being from the possibility. The fate of the world hung first on which of them overcame the other and then, when Rand seized the DO with the combined Powers, what he chose to do with it. At that point, with the "potential realities" all dismissed, he had the choice: let it go, kill it, or re-imprison it.

eep @75 – Are you saying that free will is only relevant in terms of moral decisions? I’d disagree; I think free will matters in all decisions, whether there is a moral component or not. It matters, because (returning to my Eden example) it’s a minor demonstration of individuality and personality. These are not automatons, but people with tastes and interests – and it matters that they are free to indulge those (and choose not to eat mangoes). That said, I still maintain that the ability to make a moral decision depends only on the presence of Law in some form – even if it’s as simple as “keep your mitts off this fruit until I tell you it’s okay” – rather than on the presence of a being, force, or anthropomorphism of choice.

KakitaOCU @70 – “ I understand the feelings expressed by Wetlander and others. The issue is not what they think it is.” You’re sure of that, are you?

In that case, how was this “fundamental law of existence” you claim Rand was about to destroy able to carry on conversations, give orders, make decisions? How was this hand-wavy “fundamental law” able to ask Demandred if he was willing to use balefire? To identify Moridin as its chosen Nae’blis? To decide whether or not to re-body its Chosen when they died? To carry on this battle of perceptions with Rand? To tremble in Rand’s hand? To scream? To be pulled into the Pattern, and then be thrust into its prison?

Far be it from me to say you’re wrong, but I will freely continue to disagree with you on this. It’s a nice conceit – I just don’t believe it’s the one RJ was playing with.

There. Having just disagreed with three people, someone ought to be able to grab the hunny.

Edit: Well, looka that. Someone beat me to 99.

HUNNY!

( mmm. Bears love hunny and I'm a pooh-bear, so I do care, so I climb there....)
Valentin M
101. ValMar
Lisamarie @ 94

I didn't say said beliefs aren't relevant. It would've been churlish and wrong. And to clarify further, I wasn't referring to religious beliefs in general but to the specific Christian beliefs being expressed.
It just felt somewhat as if we were discussing a historical or alternative history novel set in the Americas or Europe. The Creator and the DO being taken as identical to God and Satan. I don't believe they are meant to be.
Even to someone with my limited knowledge it is clear that RJ was influenced by more than the Abrahamic religions. There is that blasted hamster wheel after which the series gets it's name from...

To bottom line it- when discussing here the philosophical and practical implications and details of the nature of the DO, the way the WOT world is set up, etc., it was done often with more emphasis than it warranted in terms of specific influences. Christian ones in this case. I imagine in India the discussion would've centred on the aspect of reincarnation and what not...

Faculty Guy @ 97

Good points. I was going to attempt a humorous quip about a guy called Constantine, a great and pious fellow allegedly... And Mr Augustine "Lord make me virtuous but not yet" an early embodiment of do as I say not as I do.
Indeed, the early beliefs of Christianity are fascinating in their differences, and very often depressing of why and how they evolved.

elezar @ 99

Elaida being evil during the WT coup and elsewhere- indeed not. Some would call her ruthless instead. Plenty of national heroes, celebrated leaders, of many countries have done much worse. Still hate her, though.


The hunny!!!!!!! And I wasn't trying- been writing this post for ages, starting when we were on 96.
Argh, Wetlander! I declare you my new Nemesis, until further notice!
Scientist, Father
102. Silvertip
101. Rats.

Wetlander @87: And a darn good thing too! Hives are not a good look for her.

Lisamarie @94: I'll see your toddler (18 mo) and raise you a 5 yo we just signed up for Kindergarten next fall, plus an 11 yo -- all girls, for my sins. So it's an interesting question (and a darn unethical experiment) to me how they would grow up without what moral instruction we've been able to provide. I've certainly been impressed with how early the personalities they still carry manifested -- in the womb, in at least one remarkable instance. And I know people who have overcome horrible parenting examples from their own childhood, although surely that's in part socialization from other directions. I guess in the end you can't really separate it -- no moral instruction from adults could only happen if you were so isolated and ignored as a child that the isolation itself would be destructive of humanity. No child is an island, I guess I'm saying. But there certainly are individual differences that at least appear more hardwired than I would have expected before becoming a parent.

Not really a lot of help, am I?

S
Randall Trussell
103. Randalthor1966
I am with Megaduck at post 19, the sudden Freewill! Freewill! Freewill! aspect just doesn't fit this story; it was all about prophecy and pre-destination. So, I thought that Rand was going to kill the DO, but that Padan Fain was going to be tasked* by The Pattern to fill that role - getting stuffed into "the hole" in the process. (Unfortunately for him.) In this way, I thought it would be the best of "both worlds"; the good-guy gets to kill the bad-guy, and yet the forces that drive the continuing story are still all there.

Plus, I thought it was brought up earlier in the series how the DO isn't the root of all evil. Didn't they say that, while it was much less problematic than the 3rd Age, the Age of Legends wasn't crime free? Just much less crime. During that time the DO was completely locked away, unable to touch the world at all. (At least that is what I took away from the reading the series.) Meaning, people are still capable of making the choice between being "good" and being "evil" only that there wasn't the DO to entice them. (Sort of like the guy down the street that offers you $50000 to kill his wife, the DO acts as an enticement, he offers you power to do his (evil) bidding.)


*Just like Rand and the rest of the Scooby-gang got tasked to deal with this situation.
Ryan Jackson
104. KakitaOCU
@100 Wetlander.

I believe I put that in my original statement. The conceit of the series is that this force has a personality and mind on some level. Even in these chapters Rand defines it as a force, a presence, a thing that stretches the size of existance. That's not an individual in any way shape or form.

It might just come down to how much of a metaphysical background you have or how your faith or thoughts work (Not trying to turn this to religion, I promise). To me the idea that a fundamental law of existance might have what could be seen as a mind isn't really a huge leap. Marvel Comics has done it for years, so has DC Comics. Planescape from the AD&D cosmology runs full bore on the idea that ideas and concepts can be sentient. The idea just never really bothered me in the slightest. If you don't see it that way though, I haven't the faintest how to go about convincing you other than what I said in my original post. :)
Frank Church
105. Teaweasel
Well it's not over.

I mean that's what I took from the conclusion.

Sure, for us, the beleaguered morons that have been salivating for 20+ years waiting on each book and free-basing their contents, sure... The last words may have been typecast.

But the reimprisionment of the DO, at least for me, symbolized the wheel rechurning. They WILL shoot into another modernized age, and then eventually, it will all happen again... In another beginning.

I don't personally feel the need to be contentious about the theories, I respect those who wish to linger in their mastbatory wit & conjecture, but yeah... getting lost in the story is what MUD's are for.
Alice Arneson
106. Wetlandernw
KakitaOCU @104 - I'm confused. Why should you be trying to convince me of anything?
Hammerlock
107. eep
Hi Wetlander @100

I'm not at all saying that free will isn't relevant; I was just trying to clarify the distinction between free will and the other similar concept that I didn't know a name for, and so made one up: moral agency. Free will being the ability to make decisions on any topic, and not necessarily involving any moral chice - eat an apple or a mango, etc. Moral agency being the ability to choose to do good or evil. Moral agency requires free will, but in addition, it requires a classification system dividing actions into good and evil. If I've understood you correctly, you say that a single Law from a higher authority is the minimum thing necessary to have this classification system. I've disagreed only in that I don't think such a Law is necessary; that is one way to do it, but I also think we can divide actions by our own view of what is good and evil, without any outside authority. However, in your last statement you said "rather than on the presence of a being, force, or anthropomorphism of choice," so I'm not entirely sure there's any disagreement after all...
Hammerlock
108. litg
Leighdb @31

Fair enough. I tend to think that the point is whatever we make it, so yours is actually an answer that both is and isn't in line with my personal cosmology :-)
Ryan Jackson
109. KakitaOCU
@106 Wetlander.

I shouldn't nessecarily be trying to convince you of anything, and I'm probably not. But the nature of my post is suggesting that you've painted the DarkOne with a different brush than the books suggest and so by default I'm sort of trying to convince you to relook at your stance regarding the ending.

That said I'm not specifically out to convince you of anything, but was more just acknowledging that not everyone can wrap their head around the metaphysics involved with sentient cosmic forces and as such I didn't really know how to better describe it short of going through concepts like the Light Spectrum from GreenLantern, or Death, Infinity, The Living Tribunal, etc from Marvel Comics. Or jumping full bore into how non-deity based divine magic functions in D&D. :)
Hammerlock
110. litg
@68 Lisamarie

I agree with both yours and Leigh's takes on the "divine pat on the head" being an unfair characterization of the vast majority of people of faith. But the reverse is also true. (first note: I'm not accusing you or anyone specific of this, what's coming is more of a general complaint against an argument I've seen made repeatedly). As a non-spiritual person (on my best days I consider myself agnostic), I get very irritated whenever I see the argument against atheism that it is impossible to be moral without religion. In fact, this claim is probably perpetuated by the very people who only claim a faith and do good because they believe they'll be punished otherwise.
Chris R
111. up2stuff
So if there is no evil, what does that make things like self interest or Lazyness, like @15? There is no evil, but I decide not to help my 80 year old neighbor with her garbage. Am I Evil, or simply NOT GOOD?

@Wet, I get your argument and I agree that free will could exist without evil on that basis. I think it is probably more likely as long as there are no absolutes. I'm more curious about the semantics of what would and would NOT qualify as Evil and are we dealing with absolutes or not.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
112. Lisamarie
Valmar@101 - ah, yes, I see what you mean. Yes, in that respect I do agree with you! I tend to speak from my own experience and the thoughts the narrative inspires in me because that's what I am knowledgeable about and it pretty much permeates how I see things, but I'm not trying to force WoT to fit into my views.

@97, yes, I am aware of those practices :) I think it is one of those areas where at times little t traditions sometimes follow the letter of the law and not the spirit. But I suppose it is not too different than the idea of getting the Rite of the Sick before you die, since that also involves absolution/communion (although I don't know that necessarily gets you out of purgatory if you need it). Still - and this is a temptation in any system that has a lot of rules or external practices - trying to 'game the system' is missing the point in the end. Back to Valmar, I probably should refresh myself on my Augustine but I am pretty sure he uses that phrase (which I love, since it really is so true of how I feel sometimes, heh) as an example of how NOT to be. And this probably IS truly irrelevant, I apologize!
Roger Powell
113. forkroot
elezar@99
Man-0-Manetheran @ 85: The things that they did were evil according to whom? It's actually interesting that you include Elaida in there, as I think she proves my point. Most of the really bad things she did were done under the coercement or force from Alviarin, and/or under the influence of Fain. So those were (unwittingly) done in the name of the DO. The one act that she did on her own free will that might be considered really evil was the stilling of Siuan.
Whoa! Elaida was one the Reds involved with the on-the-spot gentling of male channelers, contrary to Tower law. (The so-called "vileness".) This is what killed Thom's nephew Owyn. While I grant that the vileness was definitely spawned by the BA, it appears that Elaida and other Reds participated out of their own free will.

Toveine hated Elaida for skating on this when she (Toveine) and the other Red sitters got exiled once this all came to light.
Hammerlock
114. Porphyrogenitus
@97 My understanding of the practice with all Christian emperors up to Theodosius I was that they put off baptism specifically so they could act as if they were not Christians, given the demands of their office. That changed when Theodosius thought he was dying, got himself baptised, and miraculously recovered, forcing him to rule as a properly Christian emperor (which got him into trouble quite a few times).

As for the bishop of Rome, he never did establish unified authority over the whole church, despite what the papacy liked to think. Excommunicating 4 of the 5 Patriarchates is not a legitimate way to establish authority...

And purgatory probably didn't enter in to it with most early Christian decisions regarding putting off baptism. It goes back to the same reasoning as the emperors used, only more mundane. Being human, they knew they would sin, and they misunderstood the nature of salvation. They were deathly afraid that, if they sinned at all after baptism, that'd be it and they'd be damned. Even the least of sins is sufficient to separate one from God, after all, and if baptism was the only acknowledge means of washing away said sin, then you're out of luck of you do so much as the least wrong thing post-baptism. The practice wasn't approved by the church, but was very common early on, and the emperors (as mentioned above) simply had more reason to fear for their souls, given the kinds of actions they wanted to be able to take.

Not directly relevant to this section of AMoL, but there it is.
Valentin M
115. ValMar
Lisamarie @ 112

Firstly, watch out for big spoilers in the comments over on the new DS9 thread- not everyone is warning.

It's perfectly understandable that we look at WOT's cosmology, cultures, etc., through the lense of our own perseption. E.g. I am pretty sure that subconsciously I do look at the Creator and DO as God and Satan from our own world.
As for trying to force WOT to fit into your views, I did get this feeling once or twice whilst going through the comments (but not from you). If I got the right impression on these occasions, this would've made understanding WOT's cosmology even harder, IMO. Then again, I am more confused than ever.

It was I who mentioned the Augustine quote, which was indeed trully irrelevant. I just couldn't help myself ;)

Porphy @ 114

Interesting, we humans always looking for loopholes ;)
John Massey
116. subwoofer
Righto.... anyways, been trudging through the real world and it's starting to get me down, so here I am. Heh. Been unplugged from this for so long it is like learning to speak French again( and I do cast a jaundiced eye on all that is French, their portions are too small).

Ummmmm, what can I say. Folks do like to go on about the old G 'n E thing, and I could wax on that, but sometimes you just have to go with your gut and leave it at that. The rest is silence.

Olver. Well Leigh, if I knew that's what it would take to have you break out pom poms :)

The kid did good. I've been reading The Dresden Files lately and the hero does the same kinda thing. All these big bad magic types, flashy spells, and the use of the word "preternatural" one time too many, and good old Harry smokes a guy in the chops to mix it up a little. Or like the Macho Man said, "nothing brings a big guy down like a thumb to the eye".... or a little kid stabbing someone in the back. Weapons are great equalizers folks. I wonder why we haven't started a gun control debate with this one...

::ducks::

Woof™.
Valentin M
117. ValMar
Oh yes, Olver, the kid has been looking to stab someone since we first saw him...
Cameron Tucker
118. Loialson
Honestly, and this is just the part of me curious about what could have happend, I believe that Rand was both correct and mistaken at the same time.

The text made it clear that the Dark One was the space between eyeblinks, darkness, the absence of light. Outside of the Pattern, and yet definitely necessary for some reason, or the Creator would not have made him. Needed in this universe to keep something going.

We can hypothesize about it, but I believe that in the world RJ created, the DO was necessary, as put by the Creator.

One thing I disagree with Rand on is that he needed to kill the Dark One completely, removing an integral part of what the Creator intended.

A far more fascinating concept to me is that, there is the Dark one the Sentient Being, and the Dark One's Essence the True Power (which I assume is not just a power source, but also part of the fabric of creation, if not explicitly part of the Pattern. Perhaps it is what makes up the darkness within people's hearts, it is what helps give meaning to Light, or perhaps the True Power is just a power source and it is a Third thing that I am considering as part of the nature of the Dark One).

A far more satisfying idea to me, and one I'd find more fitting with the in-world cosmology and ideologies, would be to find a way to seperate the sentient part of the Dark one from the rest. Leave the rest, the part that allows for duality, opposition, and choice within a person's heart, allowing for free will, whether based in morality or otherwise, but remove/destroy the sentience somehow, and seal off the True Power itself as a power conduit, since it was destructive in force, and caused so much suffering and agony to the world when Mierin and Beidomon drilled to find it in their search for power.

A Dark One left as a force, but surgicially removing the sentience and destroying it, leaving the rest to be part of creation, would make more sense to me, and fit Rand's ideals better, as well as satisfy Rand's dilemma with the "Perfect World" he created by trying to "Kill" the Dark One.

He didn't need to be killed, just Mesaana'd into a drooling mess never to recover cognitive capability.

Just an idea, but one that I find more compelling.
Birgit
119. birgit
It is never said that in WoT the Creator created the DO. That is just a belief carried over from people's Christian world view, but the WoT idea of Creator and DO seems based more on Manichean duality than Christian ideas.
Tane Aikman
120. Greyshade
It says a lot for WoT that it stimulates this quality of discussion. Bravo.

Having said that, RJ's big thought here misses for me. The idea that eliminating evil destroys free will is a very interesting one, if (clearly!) very debatable. My problem is that, as others have written, it's unclear that killing the Dark One would eliminate evil. As this is the big twist in the whole series, this is frustrating.

We are clearly supposed to think that Rand makes the right decision by letting the DO live. If the DO was the source of all evil, and essential to its very existence, and you buy the free will thing, then fair enough.

But as others have pointed out, Shadar Logoth and bad things happening in the Age of Legends when the DO was sealed away seem to contradict that evil is all about the DO. Rand stating that the DO never was the real problem (paraphrasing) when he reimprisons seems to back up the idea that people create evil and the DO is just a sentient manifestation of that. So destroying the DO should not affect our wonderful tendency to be horrible.

Oh well. It is not a big deal for me - I do not look for deep philosophical insights in WoT, but it is another reason why it was ultimately a good rather than great series.
Robert Crawley
121. Alphaleonis
Back to the subject at hand - things that put readers out of the story. Just finished reading The Fires of Heaven on my current readthrough. The battle for Cairhien was off putting for me. 5 or 6 Aiel clans plus soldiers from several non Aiel nations plus the Dragon Reborn with an angreal plus the greatest military mind in the free world - against one Aiel clan - backed up against the wall of a city - and the battle lasted more than 15 minutes?
Valentin M
122. ValMar
Alphaleonis @121

Rand's Aiel clans were underpowered by the depression from Rand's revelations of their origins, and the desertions to the Shaido. The Shaido were overpowered by the deserters from the other clans. Also, Rand's clans had to deploy fighters away from the fight with the Shaido to face the other clans which were arriving at their back and of whose intentions they were unsure.
The very superhuman nature of the Aiel is something else however.
Ryan Jackson
123. KakitaOCU
There's also that they weren't trying to just smash the Shaido, Mat and Lan discuss that very point. Slam the entire might of Rand's army against the Shaido and you won't smash them on the walls, you'll push them over the walls and into the city where it becomes a mess fighting up and down streets and through buildings. This raised casualties, prolongs a fight and destroys the city Rand was trying to save. The plan was specifically to press them to defeat and leave a gap where they could escape north away from civilization.
Valentin M
125. ValMar
It worked out splenditly- we got the PLOD from this ;)
Glen V
126. Ways
I see the tide has turned over the last couple of days, after I spent--quite literally--hours catching up and wrapping my brain cells around the philosophical debate(s) herein. And I am reminded why I avoided philosophy classes in college, even though I thoroughly enjoyed perusing digesting these comments. Say, do I get CEUs for this week?

A few random thoughts since a spanky new post will be up in 14 hours,,,

--I can forgive Rand for not having the correct take on the situation 100% of the time or for making the occasional poor decision. He is not, after all, the Creator or perfection personified. Apparently his coach has a lot of faith in his capabilities and so do I.

--The Christian concept of going to Heaven (provided I've been a "good" person) and lounging around for eternity on a cloud paved with gold while eating never-ending quantities of ice cream is positively frightening to me. There simply must be more to the afterlife than that. Life--after or otherwise--without challenges that promote growth is stagnation. I have no concept whatsoever of what form the challenges in the afterlife will take, but I feel certain they will be there. Similarly, running around the Hamster Wheel of Time™ for an infinity of cycles also seems rather pointless. On that topic I am sympathetic with Ishy's plight and complaint. Get me off this wheel, even if I have to be reincarnated as a, well, hamster. Breaking the Wheel, however, seems outside of what RJ envisioned.

--So how did the DO originate? The Creator didn't create him, only imprisoned him. This was before there were beings in the WoTverse, so their evil ways couldn't possibly have been responsible (although the evil done by the beings may have sustained or enhanced the DO later). Seems to imply there is a higher power that created the Creator and the DO.

--subwoofer @116: I am relieved to see that nobody took the bait and started THAT discussion again. ;-)

Edit - typos and I'm happy to see the Bunker is stocked with hunny again. We need it for JCon.

And I can't get the Rush song, Freewill, out of my head now. Thanks a lot y'all, even if it is appropriate. :-)
Ryan Jackson
127. KakitaOCU
@124

Actually, the plan worked perfectly. They killed Couladin, funneled the Shaido north and pushed them into a remote area away from anyone they might want to pillage.

Militarily this was a complete success. The only reason it ultimately didn't work out is that Sammael showed up and teleported groups of Shaido randomly across the map. That's not something Mat, Lan or the Clan Chiefs could reasonably anticipate. It also doesn't change the tactical intelligence of what they did.

It's a logical fallacy to rejudge using hind-sight. If a plan is logical and well thought out but ends up not working due to circumstances no one could have forseen, it's still a logical and well thought out plan. If someone does something risky and stupid beyond belief but it lucks out, it was still risky and stupid.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
128. Lisamarie
@126
A few quibbles, sorry, but I can't resist.

1)Technically, in most Christian doctrine, you don't get to Heaven for being a 'good person'. As somebody else pointed out way above, that's not actually the point. Hopefully Christianity does make you a better person, but you get to Heaven on grace (I think it's CS Lewis who goes on a bit about this paradox, about how its possible for a Christian to be a worse person than a non Christian, but maybe that Christian is actually a better person than they WOULD have been otherwise because they had to start from a 'worse' place). I also happen to come from a faith tradition that believe in purification after death before you actualyl get to Heaven but that's a whole nother debate ;)

2)Honestly, that conception of Heaven terrifies me too, I remember I used to lay in bed thinking about eternity and just FREAKING OUT a bit. But I think it's kind of one of those things that you can't entirely grasp, and actually, as we're supposed to get a new heaven and a new earth and new bodies, I think there will be more to it than just a vague, out of body experience where we finally get to shed all this yucky matter (which seems to be the other popular conception of the afterlife - at least yours has ice cream!).

To address a more WOT-specific idea, no clue where the DO came from, but the presence of the two more or less equal but opposing powers is more equivalent with something like Manichaeism, and I'm not sure what they would say either :)
Eric Hughes
129. CireNaes
@Ways
"--The Christian concept of going to Heaven (provided I've been a "good" person) and lounging around for eternity on a cloud paved with gold while eating never-ending quantities of ice cream is positively frightening to me. There simply must be more to the afterlife than that"
Well, no worries then. Halos, wings, a personal cloud, and standard issue gold harps only apply to Warner Brothers Looney Toons. Bless their souls, they've certainly earned them.

According to traditional orthodox Christian teachings based on the New Testament account, heaven and Sheol are not the"end state." Merely pleasent or not so pleasent holding patterns where souls await the renewed creation to include a bodily resurrection. If you happen to be Catholic, just add in purgatory as the precursor to heaven to iron out the rest of a believer's personal issues.

Judgement will then be rendered during a time that only the Trinity knows, and those who have entrusted themeselves to Christ before death will dwell in the re/new/ed creation (this is expressed by having their names written in the Book of Life in the apocraphal account of the Book of Revelation) while the others will be tossed into into the lake of fire which was prepared ahead of time for the insubordinate angels. So the enjoyment and challenges of work aren't nullified in the new creation. It's a much needed return to the origional judicial mandate of a proper stewardship of creation. If you're looking for a quick synopsis of orthodox Christian theology, just google the Nicene Creed.

There is also a synergisitc quality to faith and works. Becoming a better person is the second half of the battle that is a visible result that sprouts out of a sense of gratitude and trust. Knowing you aren't a good person to begin with and turning to God's solution is the first half of the battle. Both are difficult. The first requires a deep sacrifice of pride, the second requires a lot of work. The first without the second becomes hypocrisy, the second without the first becomes legalism.
"--So how did the DO originate? The Creator didn't create him, only imprisoned him."
I have no idea. As our own current existence implies, not everything needs to be created in order to exist. It's a matter of picking one's frame of reference or existential starting point, if you will.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
130. Lisamarie
Wow, you just said my post way better than I did. Ha!

Yeah, what s/he said :)
Hammerlock
131. eep
I like the "What Dreams May Come" version. Everyone creates their own afterlife by having their subconscious idea of what it should be like implemented. Not that that has much to do with RL religious beliefs.
Glen V
132. Ways
@128 & 129
If you are still tuned in...I suppose I could be indignant for you both responding to my metaphor out of context. Or perhaps my writing skills need a lot of polish. So let me make it clear that I don't subscribe to that version of the afterlife (clouds paved with gold, harps, lazing around for eternity, whatever). However, I do know many people who embrace it. I don't like to criticize anyone's religious beliefs, it just doesn't work for me. I was raised in the Episcopal church--so I'm quite familiar with a couple of versions of the Nicene Creed--and still practice that flavor of Christianity. I understand that my admittance to the afterlife, whatever it may be, is based more on God's grace and promise rather than my good deeds. I attempt (with God's help) to be a "good person" because I believe in my heart that it's the right thing to do and, even better, it's consistent with the teachings of Christ. That said, eternity is frightening concept no matter what it holds or when we get there. Perhaps that's simply due to our inability to grasp the concept of the infinite to the fullest. In that respect I totally get Ishy's complaint. Yes, Rand finally grokked that the Wheel cycles to let WoTans learn to love more fully, but even an infinity on that hamster wheel, meh. If you aren't aware that you're caught up in Groundhog Day, then fine. However if you are aware...
Birgit
133. birgit
Why do people wonder where the DO comes from but not where the Creator comes from? It's the same problem.
Glen V
134. Ways
birgit @133
Yes, definitely. I made a passing reference to that issue in my random thoughts @126. Perhaps we are translating into our universe and concepts. The origin of Satan in Christianity is clear. God just is, no explanation possible. So we wonder about the DO, whose origin isn't explained in WoT. But not so much the Creator, we just accept him/her/it as always having existed. Preconceived notions, paradigms or whatever you want to call it.
Eric Hughes
135. CireNaes
Still checked in.

And I did read your profile before I posted that in an attempt to get a read on your level of theological knowledge. Since it wasn't there, I erred on the side of thoroughness. My apologies if the first half came off as snarky.

When I consider the level of exploration possible in the here and now, I don't feel a sense of anxiety or loss of purpose when pondering the eternal. Hence my theological divergence in an effort to make that clear.

I take it that it fell rather flat for you.
Valentin M
136. ValMar
Ways @ 134 & birgit @ 133

Ways, that's what I tried to put across in this thread. You managed it much better in much fewer words. Instead, I think I sounded more like being annoyed at people talking about Christian theology- which wasn't what I intended at all.
Good point, too, about where the Creator comes from. It never occured to me before. I don't spend too much time pondering the cosmology of WOT. And this is all to the better, as far as my enjoyment of the series is concerned ;)
Hammerlock
137. Planeswalker
Since high school, I have always been to the realization that GOD is both good and evil. There is only one GOD. Satan/DO is the representation of evil. While Jesus/Rand is the representation of good. All of them are under GOD.

Which is why that scene in AMoL makes sense to me.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
138. Lisamarie
@126, I still check too :)

Honestly, I'm just a pedant, so don't take it personally - I definitely did not mean to imply anything about your level of knowledge or assume that those were beliefs you personally held. I was just addressing the belief itself. I'm sorry if I rubbed you the wrong way or came off as abrasive.
Richard Hunt
139. WOTman
Whether Mat's luck means anything or not, the fact that he was intended to be there is proof enough.

I never believed a human (Rand) could "kill" a spirit "God" If he would have thought about it, he had to think that LTT would have thought about it at some time or another. Even the Creator couldn't keep the DO out of his creation. The fact that at no time during this entire series did the creator ever step in and said "Enough already, get out!" In fact, it made me wonder what is this all about in the first place?

But, I did enjoy the ride.
Hammerlock
140. River al'Thor
At the end of the commentary, I got the image of Leigh in a rollercoaster car that has a steering wheel, desperately trying to turn off the tracks so she can hit a bystander.
It is a wonderful image.

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