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A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

Nature of Good, Evil, and Balance in the Wheel of Time


Skipp
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28 minutes ago, Wolfbrother31 said:

I like the way most of it looks ... Really dislike "The Last Dragon Reborn" ... she doesn't know that (and the prophecy doesn't say that). MAJOR SPOILER

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That Rand ends up being the Last Dragon is the major payoff and point of the ENTIRE SERIES

 

And ... I really, really dislike that Rafe has said now a couple times that the story is about Eastern beliefs and more about "balance" then light vs dark or good vs. evil. 

 

That worries me more than anything else by far because it tells me that he misunderstood the point of the ENTIRE SERIES!! 

 

Because you see - the oppressiveness of the cyclical worldview: that nomatter what you do everything is going to repeat. The Wheel will keep turning. Evil gets another shot to win... You see, the Wheel of Time itself ends up being the ultimate antagonist. 

Remember how it felt as a reader the first time you realized that the Forsaken would just come back Everytime? (That hopelessness is the major problem with the cyclical worldview).

 

How does evil ever ultimately get defeated if it's always just back again? That's the BIGGY question for that worldview. 

 

But Thank God. The Jewish people came along - and gave us a linear worldview. Time had a beginning. One God created everything. There will be a final judgement. Evil will one day (The Day of the Lord) be finally defeated and judged. 

 

The Wheel of Time is a brilliantly written series ... Every great piece of literature/art has to wrestle with the "big questions". And if Rafe has missed that the Big Question of the whole WoT series is: How do ever actually defeat evil in the cyclical/eastern worldview? 

 

Then I don't love what could happen with the other major, major decisions either. 

 

Are we gonna have an Egwene as a  possible Dragon misdirection? (That in itself would show that the writers/showrunner don't understand the Dragon/Savior dynamic) 

 

Are we going to have Moiraine be the "main character"? (That would show that they don't understand that Moiraine is the WoT's Gandalf/Guide character). 

 

Catch my drift?

 

But perhaps ... perhaps as we go along they'll grow as a team. And in the end, we'll get a good product. 

 

We'll see.

 

The books ARE more about balance than good versus evil.  The ancient symbol of the Aes Sedai is a Ying-Yang symbol.  The books show how only cooperation is the key to fighting the last Battle.  When one side is out of Balance we get the decline of civilization as seen during the 3rd age. 

 

During the last battle Rand was shown what would happen if he "defeated" the dark one and it was terrifying.  The only thing he could do was seal him away again. 

 

The Pattern itself is described as neither Good nor Evil but strives for a Balance, hence why Ta'varen are spun out.  The pull the pattern back into balance.

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30 minutes ago, Wolfbrother31 said:

And ... I really, really dislike that Rafe has said now a couple times that the story is about Eastern beliefs and more about "balance" then light vs dark or good vs. evil. 

 

That worries me more than anything else by far because it tells me that he misunderstood the point of the ENTIRE SERIES!! 

I might remember totally wrong, but it's said numerous times in the books that the Wheel and Pattern want to keep balance. That's why for example ta'verens and Dragon(s) appear when they are needed. When the Shadow gains Power, the Light side also needs someone to even the odds.

 

This is from the wot fandom wiki

 

Spoiler

Web of Destiny and ta'veren

At the center of every Web of Destiny, or ta'maral'ailen in the Old Tongue there is a ta'veren. Since ta'veren are made to influence life threads to create change, the only people who can affect the Pattern in any significant ways are ta'veren; hence, the destinies of ta'veren are more strictly controlled by the Wheel of Time itself. These people are used by the Wheel to correct itself when the weave begins to drift from the Pattern. The great changes caused by a ta'veren form a Web of Destiny. These Webs of Destiny are almost always arduous for those that live through that Age but are an unfortunate necessity for the Wheel. The more change required, the more ta'veren that are born.

 

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3 minutes ago, Elder_Haman said:

She’s simply ordering the Dragon in time. The “last” meaning “the one that was before this one”. Synonymous with “prior” or “previous” as opposed to “final”. 

 

Admittedly I also found that diaglogue awkward but I have a feeling it was recorded specifically for that teaser and won't actually be in the show.

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19 minutes ago, Skipp said:

 

The books ARE more about balance than good versus evil.  The ancient symbol of the Aes Sedai is a Ying-Yang symbol.  The books show how only cooperation is the key to fighting the last Battle.  When one side is out of Balance we get the decline of civilization as seen during the 3rd age. 

 

During the last battle Rand was shown what would happen if he "defeated" the dark one and it was terrifying.  The only thing he could do was seal him away again. 

 

The Pattern itself is described as neither Good nor Evil but strives for a Balance, hence why Ta'varen are spun out.  The pull the pattern back into balance.

Ah, you told the same thing with more detail. I Agree with this.

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1 hour ago, Wolfbrother31 said:

I like the way most of it looks ... Really dislike "The Last Dragon Reborn" ... she doesn't know that (and the prophecy doesn't say that). MAJOR SPOILER

  Hide contents

That Rand ends up being the Last Dragon is the major payoff and point of the ENTIRE SERIES

 

And ... I really, really dislike that Rafe has said now a couple times that the story is about Eastern beliefs and more about "balance" then light vs dark or good vs. evil. 

 

That worries me more than anything else by far because it tells me that he misunderstood the point of the ENTIRE SERIES!! 

 

Because you see - the oppressiveness of the cyclical worldview: that nomatter what you do everything is going to repeat. The Wheel will keep turning. Evil gets another shot to win... You see, the Wheel of Time itself ends up being the ultimate antagonist. 

Remember how it felt as a reader the first time you realized that the Forsaken would just come back Everytime? (That hopelessness is the major problem with the cyclical worldview).

 

How does evil ever ultimately get defeated if it's always just back again? That's the BIGGY question for that worldview. 

 

But Thank God. The Jewish people came along - and gave us a linear worldview. Time had a beginning. One God created everything. There will be a final judgement. Evil will one day (The Day of the Lord) be finally defeated and judged.

 

no. rafe got it right. wot is influenced by eastern motifs, based much more on those than on western ones. there are whole pages filled with references, and while there are christian ones, buddism is much more represented.

 

and in the end (do we really need spoilers? i guess there are some new readers here)

Spoiler

rand could defeat evil forever, but he decides not to, because it would destroy free will. rand perpetuates the cycle. I don't see where you got the idea that rand is the Last Dragon. Rand sealed the dark one big time, but eventually the wheel will turn again and men will again bore a hole into its prison. but it's all well and right because men's struggles have a point.

there is nothing about a final judgment in wot. you are projecting monotheistic religious themes where there are none.

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33 minutes ago, king of nowhere said:
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rand could defeat evil forever, but he decides not to, because it would destroy free will. 

 

We can't really put Eastern/Western aside anymore than Jordan could as we have all been exposed to both.  So Buddhist/Judeo/Christian/whatever are all part of the story - but to bring it WoT:

 

Maybe I'm taking it beyond where @king of nowhere was going - the Creator is Good because he allows the Dark One and Evil to exist.  Otherwise he is a tyrant just the same as Shaitan.  That said, the Dragon is not the Creator so right or wrong, why wouldn't the Dragon want to destroy his enemy rather than perpetuate an endless cycle of battles.  Too complex for my little mind...

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I think the reasoning in the books is that if the Dark One ceases to exist, evil ceases to exist, which means humans no longer get to choose to do good. They do good because they don't have any other choice. And Rand realizes that's no way to live. Freedom lies in the ability to choose to do good, even if it's hard. Take away that choice, and nobody's free. Rands realizes this at the end and that's why he decides not to end all evil.

Edited by Rose
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Guest Wolfbrother31
4 hours ago, Skipp said:

The books ARE more about balance than good versus evil.  The ancient symbol of the Aes Sedai is a Ying-Yang symbol.  The books show how only cooperation is the key to fighting the last Battle.  When one side is out of Balance we get the decline of civilization as seen during the 3rd age. 

 

Sort of disagree. And not. Let's see if I can be more clear...

 

There's absolutely a whole lot about balance. And reincarnation. The Eastern worldview is the framework being critiqued. Of course. So that's why I think there's a whole lot of material to argue for that balance is central. 

But.

 

The great question/critique of the WoT is ...

 

How do you ultimately defeat evil in that reincarnation/balance/eastern worldview framework? 

 

And the answer is: (I find unsatisfying but really important for those who pursue/believe that worldview) ... You don't. If balance is the goal - you need evil. 

 

That's an important conclusion (and why I would outright reject that worldview - what an unsatisfying conclusion)! 

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12 minutes ago, Wolfbrother31 said:

How do you ultimately defeat evil in that reincarnation/balance/eastern worldview framework? 

You can't ultimately defeat evil. It will always exist. Eliminating it paradoxically makes it stronger. Thus, the way toward defeating evil is to constantly fight it. That's the lesson.

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Guest Wolfbrother31
9 minutes ago, Elder_Haman said:

You can't ultimately defeat evil. It will always exist. Eliminating it paradoxically makes it stronger. Thus, the way toward defeating evil is to constantly fight it. That's the lesson.

 

I agree that that's the lesson. 

But I think that's a terrible lesson... Which makes it a wonderful critique of why "balance" is not an admirable pursuit ?

 

Am I now finally clear? 

WoT helps me ask an important question to Eastern worldview ...

 

Q: How do you defeat evil? 

A: You don't, you are stuck with an eternal struggle against evil. 

Response: Mmm that sucks. Let me tell you a story where good/love wins & evil is ultimately defeated...

 

?

 

 

Edited by Wolfbrother31
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22 minutes ago, Wolfbrother31 said:

 

 

 

And the answer is: (I find unsatisfying but really important for those who pursue/believe that worldview) ... You don't. If balance is the goal - you need evil. 

 

That's an important conclusion (and why I would outright reject that worldview - what an unsatisfying conclusion)! 

 

And this is the answer the Rand came to by the end of the books.  He was all ready to destroy/kill the DO and found that wasn't the answer.  The answer was to seal them away and leave evil in the world.

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1 minute ago, Wolfbrother31 said:

Response: Mmm that sucks. Let me tell you a story where good/love wins & evil is ultimately defeated...

But what happens after? Evil remains defeated and everyone lives in harmony forevermore? 

 

You can't eliminate suffering, because without suffering there can be no joy. You can't eliminate hatred, because without hatred there would be no love. Evil is necessary to provide context to good.

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29 minutes ago, Elder_Haman said:

You can't eliminate suffering, because without suffering there can be no joy. You can't eliminate hatred, because without hatred there would be no love. Evil is necessary to provide context to good.

 

False. This assumes that you need something's opposite to exist in reality for that thing to exist. Which you do not. 

 

But perhaps to recognize it as such you need the concept of it's opposite or memory of it...maybe? Maybe not though. 

 

A silly example:

Let's say you're from Minnesota (like me) and you know cold - I mean really cold... But you go and live with a tribe in the Amazon. 

 

You could describe to them what 30 below was like and they could understand though they've never experienced cold. And though "cold" doesn't exist for them...it exists. 

But then let's say the planet heats up and it's 100 degrees all the time everywhere...

The Heat exists though the cold doesn't. But if I were still around - I would know it's bloody flaming hot ?

 

Not a perfect example...

But I still maintain that (I think perhaps RJ was going to end the series differently - maybe not) the WoT helps me see that balance is NOT an admirable goal ... If your answer to the problem of evil is : we need it. 

 

 

 

Edited by Wolfbrother31
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17 minutes ago, Elder_Haman said:

But what happens after? Evil remains defeated and everyone lives in harmony forevermore? 

 

You can't eliminate suffering, because without suffering there can be no joy. You can't eliminate hatred, because without hatred there would be no love. Evil is necessary to provide context to good.

So if evil must remain, then there is nothing wrong with theft, rape, murder?  It is all about keeping balance.  Not trying to put words in your mouth, just trying to follow the logic to its conclusion - and feel I'm doing a bad job...

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Guest Wolfbrother31
9 minutes ago, DojoToad said:

So if evil must remain, then there is nothing wrong with theft, rape, murder?  It is all about keeping balance.  Not trying to put words in your mouth, just trying to follow the logic to its conclusion - and feel I'm doing a bad job...

 

Not that there's nothing wrong ... But apparently you need them in order to have property, to have consensual sex, to have kindness... 

 

??? 

 

Again. And thank you @DojoToad . Exactly my point... Unsatisfying and untrue that you need evil actions for good actions to be possible/real. 

Edited by Wolfbrother31
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It seems to me there is more than just "eliminating evil" involved. As shown in the books, if Rand destroyed the Dark One, he saw that people couldn't get angry, couldn't use violence to defend themselves if needed. But I'd hardly call anger in itself evil. It has its appropriate place, say in the face of injustice. And same goes with violence for self defense. How is human resolve and courage effected if it doesn't have that determination to face evil, to flee at the first sign of it? If it can't stand up to it? It seems to me the Dark One is all these things but without any balance in himself, without any higher goals to focus them towards good, and this is why he is evil. Perhaps I'm pushing a western view on it, or perhaps not. Killing the Dark One wouldn't just be removing evil from the world, but eliminating parts of human nature that can be good and virtuous.

 

It's not a balance of good and evil per se, I think, but a balance of something else that, if maintained, allows for people to be both good and evil. And if a person has access to both sides, can be good in more various ways than someone who has only access to one. There are good things like courage and types of loving self-sacrifice that Rand would be eliminating from human nature if he destroyed the Dark One. He'd be eliminating not just the need for these things, but the capacity for these things. 

Edited by Agitel
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45 minutes ago, Wolfbrother31 said:

 

Again. And thank you @DojoToad . Exactly my point... Unsatisfying and untrue that you need evil actions for good actions to be possible/real. 


I’m not sure I understand: you were criticising Rafe for emphasising balance because apparently that’s not actually a key theme in the books, but it seems it’s more that you just don’t like the conclusion to the story that (we have to assume) RJ devised?

 

Perhaps better to think of the DO not as “evil” but as destructive energy - akin to chaos versus order. Left unrestrained it becomes pure destructiveness that overwhelms everything else, but destruction remains a precondition to change and regeneration. 

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52 minutes ago, DojoToad said:

So if evil must remain, then there is nothing wrong with theft, rape, murder?  It is all about keeping balance.  Not trying to put words in your mouth, just trying to follow the logic to its conclusion - and feel I'm doing a bad job...

 

No. That's not what it means. It means that people need to have the *option* of choosing not to steal, rape, and murder. If it's not done by choice, then there's nothing admirable about it.

 

If I have the option to lie or steal to get my way, but I choose to be honest instead, even if it makes my life harder, that's admirable. That's good. But if I'm honest because I don't have any other choice, because lying or stealing isn't an option, then my honesty is meaningless. It requires no effort. It involves no sacrifice. So it has no value.

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53 minutes ago, DojoToad said:

So if evil must remain, then there is nothing wrong with theft, rape, murder?

No. That’s not it at all. Those things will always be wrong. 
 

In order to eliminate them, however, you have to eliminate free will because there are some people who will always choose to do those things. 

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It has to do with free will, more than balance. If a person can't make a choice to choose to do evil, they can't choose good. It's like walking around in a padded room. You can choose to go into the north, south, east, or west wall, but you can't go beyond those walls because the options are constrained.  Humanity without the option to do evil don't even have the capacity to understand good, because they don't have the option to select or unselect it.

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This is actually a theme that emerges very sharply from the very first book, with Perrin, Egwene and Elyas’ encounter with the Travelling People. Their choice to commit no violence derives all of its meaning from the fact of being a choice, from the fact that it is difficult. RJ leaves it as an open question whether this is even the choice that people should be making, versus Perrin and Elyas’ view that some violence may be necessary to prevent greater harm - but it’s clear that he wants the reader to respect the courage and will power it requires to make that choice every day in a violent world.

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Guest Wolfbrother31
18 minutes ago, WhiteVeils said:

It has to do with free will, more than balance.

 

This is a more acceptable interpretation in my mind...but that's not what has been said. 

 

Are people actually disagreeing with me that the poignant question for this cyclical worldview that RJ is critiquing & using is: how do you defeat evil in that world? 

 

Do you think it's a different question that is at the center of WoT

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Guest Wolfbrother31
29 minutes ago, Tim said:

I’m not sure I understand: you were criticising Rafe for emphasising balance because apparently that’s not actually a key theme in the books, but it seems it’s more that you just don’t like the conclusion to the story that (we have to assume) RJ devised?

 

I'm not saying it isn't a key theme. I'm saying it's not the central question ... The central question is: how does good defeat evil in a world of reincarnation/cyclical worldview? 

 

Hence - the main antagonist is: the Dark One! Evil incarnate. 

 

 

Granted ... There's many other questions/intriguing things explored. It's a massive series...as we all know!

Edited by Wolfbrother31
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Guest Wolfbrother31

And we don't know how RJ would have ended it ... I would have found it more satisfying if the Dark One was finally defeated and they lived happily ever after. 

 

Not how BS ended it. 

But. 

 

I would say the answer to that central question that BS left us with was: good defeats evil by always choosing to resist it - endlessly. 

 

Edited by Wolfbrother31
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