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Let's, Like, Talk to Each Other Good (E1 & All-Book Spoilers)


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Hi, all! I'm new to the forums here (will introduce myself in the designated space later), but I've been reading the books for 15 years. More to the point, I'm a teacher-scholar of Rhetoric, Composition, & Writing Studies. Since I can't leave my work at work, I can't help but notice some troubling trends in the ways that book fans converse with each other about the show. Particularly, I see us resorting to causal reductionism--a logical fallacy that involves tracing one complex occurrence to a single cause. I explain it to my students like this: if you see me at Taco Bell, you will probably assume my hunger led me there. And yeah, I'm probably hungry: but I'm also more likely in need of the emotional support a bean and cheese burrito (no onions/extra red sauce) can provide.

 

Why does it matter? In sum, I'm seeing us make assumptions about each other when we're discussing the show. At best, when we make assumptions about our conversants, we prevent good conversation. At worst, we belittle our conversants. I'm worried that the tendency towards causal reductionism will lead to a splintered fandom--one that revolves more around allegiance to particular stances on the show, and less around love for The Wheel of Time.

 

Where is the causal reductionism happening? (Note: I don't intend to point out examples of these trends. Not trying to call anyone out.) Essentially, I'm seeing concerns about book-to-show changes being dismissed because of assumed--and frankly, belittling--causes. To illustrate, I'll use the opening scene from S1E1, in which Liandrin and a team of Red Aes Sedai chase down and gentle a male channeler. The complaint that I have about this scene is this: Liandrin mis-explains the taint on saidin. Basically, she frames it as something that male channelers caused (and still cause) by touching the One Power. Of course, we know the Dark One tainted saidin--not male channelers. Below, I'll provide two common kinds of responses to such concerns and explain how they make assumptions about the conversant.

 

  • 'You can't expect a page-for-page adaption to TV.' Followed by, often, a brief explanation of how TV/film has different constraints than a 14-book series. This kind of response assumes that the conversant doesn't already know that. It may not intend to be insulting, but it can easily be taken as such. I'm an extreme case, but let me tell you: I'm published in scholarly journals on the subject of remediated teaching (sorry to be blustery, here); I teach remediation. I teach genre: I know that book series have different conventions, different audience expectations. Indeed, I like the opening scene particularly because I think it portrays the madness--through the visual mode--in a uniquely momentous and mysterious manner. But I'm not special here. WoT, who often double as LoTR, HP, and GoT fans--have vast experience in book-to-film adaption. We know how this works, and we aren't expecting every page to manifest perfectly, as we'd individually envisioned it, in the show. In sum, these kinds of statements make denigrating assumptions about the conversant's intelligence.
  • 'We can't expect everything to translate exactly into the show.' Sometimes followed by a comment on how we all read the books differently, anyway, so no one can be entirely fulfilled. And that's correct! But here's the thing: I don't think anyone does expect that. Or want that. But this kind of response makes assumptions about the conversant's values: that they are for authenticity, rather than quality. To return to my issue with the opening scene: my worry doesn't lie in whether descriptions of the One Power match those in the books. It lies in my concern that the show-runners are focusing too heavily on reflecting (flattened) 21st century sensibilities (see also: elitism & Aes Sedai via Nyveave) than in telling a nuanced story. (Controversial, I know--an an entirely separate post.) Likewise, concerns about changes to Mat and Perrin's backstories are occasionally met with the same kind of dismissal--though many, like me, are concerned about how their characters are now (seemingly) driven by circumstance than by, well, their characters.

 

Here's what I'm getting at: when someone has a concern about a book-to-show change, let's not make assumptions about what motivates that change. Especially when those assumptions are kinda insulting. Look, I'm not trying to be preachy. I hate preachy. It's the worst, worst, worst character trait, IMO. (Maybe I'm trying to be teachy...?) I just see a lot of conversations devolving or being cut short of something truly vibrant. Instead, we can simply ask: what about that change bothers you? Then, our conversations can move forward from the same page.

 

I should end on a good note! Since I discussed my concern over the Liandrin scene, I wanted to share some cool, helpful, non-insulting responses I got!

  • 'It's possible that Liandrin is unreliable--since she is Black Ajah, after all, and since her former Red Ajah status may lead her to espouse extreme beliefs about the One Power.'
  • 'The show-runners may be subtly previewing Liandrin's character arch; in later episodes, we may see evidence that the One Power works differently--and, thus, get a hint that Liandrin is Black Ajah.'

 

Is anyone on the same page as me here? I really want the best for the show. And I recognize that everyone has a different definition of "the best." I just wonder whether anyone else wants to tug at their braid when their concerns are met with dismissive (whether purposefully or accidentally) comments about my motives for asking the questions.

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An amazing take from a really great teacher.  I also took issue with the words used by Liandrin but then made the connection with the Reds always being myopic when comes to male channelers as well as sexist.  I didn't even consider the Black Ajah connections.  

The tired excuses for transitions from print to film, in my opinion, can't always be applied to epic sagas such WoT and Dune (still prefer the 80s version) given the depth of the world and characters that the author has worked so tirelessly to create.  The smallest changes affect the larger story and given Jordan's massive world with 20+ plot lines, timing and translation are hollow excuses that damage the Final Battle story

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15 minutes ago, Dozer said:

The smallest changes affect the larger story and given Jordan's massive world with 20+ plot lines, timing and translation are hollow excuses that damage the Final Battle story

 

This is it!! Thank you for expressing why I'm so wary of (excessive/arbitrary) changes. I'm not obsessed with authenticity. I'm happy with changes when they feel purposeful. I just also know that Jordan's books were, well, the Pattern! Changes reverberate. I am less concerned with the change in the moment than with its effect on the Pattern.

 

Also thanks for saying I'm a great teacher! I tend to agree. 😄 I think my students would, too, for the most part.

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1 hour ago, nicki_minajah said:

Hi, all! I'm new to the forums here (will introduce myself in the designated space later), but I've been reading the books for 15 years. More to the point, I'm a teacher-scholar of Rhetoric, Composition, & Writing Studies. Since I can't leave my work at work, I can't help but notice some troubling trends in the ways that book fans converse with each other about the show. Particularly, I see us resorting to causal reductionism--a logical fallacy that involves tracing one complex occurrence to a single cause. I explain it to my students like this: if you see me at Taco Bell, you will probably assume my hunger led me there. And yeah, I'm probably hungry: but I'm also more likely in need of the emotional support a bean and cheese burrito (no onions/extra red sauce) can provide.

 

Why does it matter? In sum, I'm seeing us make assumptions about each other when we're discussing the show. At best, when we make assumptions about our conversants, we prevent good conversation. At worst, we belittle our conversants. I'm worried that the tendency towards causal reductionism will lead to a splintered fandom--one that revolves more around allegiance to particular stances on the show, and less around love for The Wheel of Time.

 

Where is the causal reductionism happening? (Note: I don't intend to point out examples of these trends. Not trying to call anyone out.) Essentially, I'm seeing concerns about book-to-show changes being dismissed because of assumed--and frankly, belittling--causes. To illustrate, I'll use the opening scene from S1E1, in which Liandrin and a team of Red Aes Sedai chase down and gentle a male channeler. The complaint that I have about this scene is this: Liandrin mis-explains the taint on saidin. Basically, she frames it as something that male channelers caused (and still cause) by touching the One Power. Of course, we know the Dark One tainted saidin--not male channelers. Below, I'll provide two common kinds of responses to such concerns and explain how they make assumptions about the conversant.

 

  • 'You can't expect a page-for-page adaption to TV.' Followed by, often, a brief explanation of how TV/film has different constraints than a 14-book series. This kind of response assumes that the conversant doesn't already know that. It may not intend to be insulting, but it can easily be taken as such. I'm an extreme case, but let me tell you: I'm published in scholarly journals on the subject of remediated teaching (sorry to be blustery, here); I teach remediation. I teach genre: I know that book series have different conventions, different audience expectations. Indeed, I like the opening scene particularly because I think it portrays the madness--through the visual mode--in a uniquely momentous and mysterious manner. But I'm not special here. WoT, who often double as LoTR, HP, and GoT fans--have vast experience in book-to-film adaption. We know how this works, and we aren't expecting every page to manifest perfectly, as we'd individually envisioned it, in the show. In sum, these kinds of statements make denigrating assumptions about the conversant's intelligence.
  • 'We can't expect everything to translate exactly into the show.' Sometimes followed by a comment on how we all read the books differently, anyway, so no one can be entirely fulfilled. And that's correct! But here's the thing: I don't think anyone does expect that. Or want that. But this kind of response makes assumptions about the conversant's values: that they are for authenticity, rather than quality. To return to my issue with the opening scene: my worry doesn't lie in whether descriptions of the One Power match those in the books. It lies in my concern that the show-runners are focusing too heavily on reflecting (flattened) 21st century sensibilities (see also: elitism & Aes Sedai via Nyveave) than in telling a nuanced story. (Controversial, I know--an an entirely separate post.) Likewise, concerns about changes to Mat and Perrin's backstories are occasionally met with the same kind of dismissal--though many, like me, are concerned about how their characters are now (seemingly) driven by circumstance than by, well, their characters.

 

Here's what I'm getting at: when someone has a concern about a book-to-show change, let's not make assumptions about what motivates that change. Especially when those assumptions are kinda insulting. Look, I'm not trying to be preachy. I hate preachy. It's the worst, worst, worst character trait, IMO. (Maybe I'm trying to be teachy...?) I just see a lot of conversations devolving or being cut short of something truly vibrant. Instead, we can simply ask: what about that change bothers you? Then, our conversations can move forward from the same page.

 

I should end on a good note! Since I discussed my concern over the Liandrin scene, I wanted to share some cool, helpful, non-insulting responses I got!

  • 'It's possible that Liandrin is unreliable--since she is Black Ajah, after all, and since her former Red Ajah status may lead her to espouse extreme beliefs about the One Power.'
  • 'The show-runners may be subtly previewing Liandrin's character arch; in later episodes, we may see evidence that the One Power works differently--and, thus, get a hint that Liandrin is Black Ajah.'

 

Is anyone on the same page as me here? I really want the best for the show. And I recognize that everyone has a different definition of "the best." I just wonder whether anyone else wants to tug at their braid when their concerns are met with dismissive (whether purposefully or accidentally) comments about my motives for asking the questions.

The opening scene with her totally work for me. I love that they are sitting her up as a bitch. Because she is a total bitch. And I love love love it. The audience is SUPPOSED to hate her and her ideology as much as they are supposed to hate the whitecloaks 

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4 minutes ago, Katherine said:

The audience is SUPPOSED to hate her and her ideology as much as they are supposed to hate the whitecloaks

 

4 minutes ago, Katherine said:

Also I thought I would need to see a braid tug. I do still want one but I saw Matt with a dice cup so I’m pretty happy

@Katherine YES: I loved that aspect of the first scene, too. No qualms about Liandrin being portrayed--so accurately--as the worst. Mat rolling the dice cup and Rand summoning the Void!

 

 

 

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Just now, Katherine said:

So I missed the void!!!!!! Where was that ?!!!?!??

 Okay, I can't remember exactly. I think it's in the beginning of Episode 3. There's a scene in the mountains (Rand & Mat). Rand is using his Two Rivers longbow, and I think he is summoning the Void. Very briefly. I could be imagining it, though--will have to re-watch!

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First time poster, but lurked here off and on over the years, and I expect I'll be along for the show ride.

 

The thing I want to add to this discussion is that we will have the opportunity to judge the TV show's reasons for making many of these changes, and not attributing them to motive. We will be able to judge them by the resulting changes on the screen. Or not.

 

I'll use one positive example to start - Logain. He's been beefed up to visually show the danger of a male channeller, instead of just whispered stories told by peddlers and gleemen. Show don't tell. But Logain is one great example of a reason to change from the book.

 

At first blush, I don't like the Perrin change. It's Women in Refrigerator time, and causes a cataclysmic shift in his character that I don't believe can be redeemed in the 24-30 month period of the story, and the clock is ticking on his marriage to Faile.  I think there's more to come with Layla on screen (Ba'alzamon's dreams?), and will judge them for what it is, but if it's nothing more than WIR, they will get justly pilloried.

 

I'm neutral on the Mat change; it does really help explain why a 20 year old is so desperate and money hungry, and gives him a place to start from that isn't an emotionally stunted juvenile delinquent.  It could also set up a Ta'veren type change for Abell, we shall see. Or Not.

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10 hours ago, Jaysen Gore said:

At first blush, I don't like the Perrin change. It's Women in Refrigerator time, and causes a cataclysmic shift in his character that I don't believe can be redeemed in the 24-30 month period of the story, and the clock is ticking on his marriage to Faile.  I think there's more to come with Layla on screen (Ba'alzamon's dreams?), and will judge them for what it is, but if it's nothing more than WIR, they will get justly pilloried.

They’ve given themselves a difficult task. I understand what they are going for, and I hope they can pull it off. It’s like watching an ice skater try something with an insane degree of difficulty. I want them to stick the landing, but boy it looks tough. 

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41 minutes ago, Elder_Haman said:

They’ve given themselves a difficult task. I understand what they are going for, and I hope they can pull it off. It’s like watching an ice skater try something with an insane degree of difficulty. I want them to stick the landing, but boy it looks tough. 

 

Agreed.     I think Marcus Rutherford is doing an excellent job of what he has been given to work with - we'll have to wait and see if the arc works as it should.   And that is a great analogy - sometimes these amazing feats when done well look so effortless.   

 

Which all comes back to the beginning for me, the more I think about that Leap of Faith by Egwene - I feel like it is meant for all of us.  We took a leap of faith with the books - I mean 14 books of 4.4 million words.  Hopefully by taking this leap of faith again with the TV show will have a similar reward.  

 

Spoiler

Admittedly I like leaps of faith because I am also a huge Assassins Creed fan 😁

 

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18 hours ago, nicki_minajah said:

he complaint that I have about this scene is this: Liandrin mis-explains the taint on saidin. Basically, she frames it as something that male channelers caused (and still cause) by touching the One Power. Of course, we know the Dark One tainted saidin--not male channelers.

One would think that this fact would have been completely explained to the entire white tower by the Brown Ajahs many eons ago. "Filthy?" That was indeed jarring....but I took a deep breath, stretched, found my center, and continued watching. Any anxiety remaining was soothed by the weaving of Egwene's braid and her river initiation serving as a metaphor for embracing saidar in the following scene. Ahhh!

 

Then I remembered that Moraine mentioned "four ta'veren in Two Rivers...". Another deep breath, rinse and repeat...

 

19 hours ago, nicki_minajah said:

And yeah, I'm probably hungry: but I'm also more likely in need of the emotional support a bean and cheese burrito (no onions/extra red sauce) can provide.

I've found that a juicy clementine leads to less causal reductionism and more qualitative rhetoric. 🙂

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1 minute ago, ManetherenTaveren said:

One would think that this fact would have been completely explained to the entire white tower by the Brown Ajahs many eons ago. "Filthy?" That was indeed jarring....but I took a deep breath, stretched, found my center, and continued watching. Any anxiety remaining was soothed by the weaving of Egwene's braid and her river initiation serving as a metaphor for embracing saidar in the following scene. Ahhh!

They're playing up Aes Sedai arrogance & ignorance.

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13 hours ago, Jaysen Gore said:

 

The thing I want to add to this discussion is that we will have the opportunity to judge the TV show's reasons for making many of these changes, and not attributing them to motive. We will be able to judge them by the resulting changes on the screen. Or not.

 

@Jaysen Gore This is a really good point! I should definitely try to walk the walk when it comes to assigning motives to the show-runners, too. Like a lot of y'all ( @ManetherenTaveren & @ArrylT ), I'm doing my best to remind myself that it's a "leap of faith" (love that comparison, btw!)--and that the future episodes are very likely to nuance/address a lot that was aired in the first three.

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LIANDRIN UPDATE! So the22ndlevel posted this morning about some of the extra content on the show's "Explore" page (on Prime). She mentioned that the content goes into a little more depth about the earlier Ages. Here are a couple of snippets I found:

 

Thoughts? It seems that Liandrin is definitely supposed to be unreliable here. ( @ManetherenTaveren & @SinisterDeath -- seems in line with your thoughts!). But I never personally read Lews Therin as 'hubristic.' Upon reflection, I think the interpretation is a fair one. But I'm wondering if it's also new to y'all?

WOT - Channeling.png

WOT - The Dragon.png

Edited by nicki_minajah
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Kinda embarrassed to ask but...Who is Liandrin again?  I definitely remember the name but the only Red I can recall is Elaida-tutor to the Princess-Heir and future Amrylin (coup)

 

Any help thanks...and don't judge to harshly it's been awhile since I re read the series

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11 minutes ago, Dozer said:

Kinda embarrassed to ask but...Who is Liandrin again?  I definitely remember the name but the only Red I can recall is Elaida-tutor to the Princess-Heir and future Amrylin (coup)

 

Any help thanks...and don't judge to harshly it's been awhile since I re read the series

 

I think there are enough characters in the books that it's okay to forget one. 😄 Liandrin is one of the Black Ajah who stole a bunch of angreal and ter'angreal and fled the Tower... In The Great Hunt, I think. Siuan sent Egwene, Nyneave, & Elayne to chase the group down. Liandrin is always described as with "honey-colored braids" and a "rosebud mouth." She was the Red in the very first scene of S1E1.

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6 minutes ago, nicki_minajah said:

 

I think there are enough characters in the books that it's okay to forget one. 😄 Liandrin is one of the Black Ajah who stole a bunch of angreal and ter'angreal and fled the Tower... In The Great Hunt, I think. Siuan sent Egwene, Nyneave, & Elayne to chase the group down. Liandrin is always described as with "honey-colored braids" and a "rosebud mouth." She was the Red in the very first scene of S1E1.

Thanks so much.  That got it.  It is alot of info in the series and this is what always worried me about print-to-film.  Everything gets condensed or cut the more depth that is there.

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On 11/20/2021 at 4:08 PM, nicki_minajah said:

Here's what I'm getting at: when someone has a concern about a book-to-show change, let's not make assumptions about what motivates that change. Especially when those assumptions are kinda insulting. Look, I'm not trying to be preachy. I hate preachy. It's the worst, worst, worst character trait, IMO. (Maybe I'm trying to be teachy...?) I just see a lot of conversations devolving or being cut short of something truly vibrant. Instead, we can simply ask: what about that change bothers you? Then, our conversations can move forward from the same page.  

In your opening post, you used examples of "Casual Reductionism", from those "defending the adaptation", but didn't mention examples of "Casual Reductionism" from those "Attacking the Adaptation". This implies (at least to me) that your argument is that those defending the series are the only ones guilty of "Casual Reductionism and/or inflammatory language". 😉

 

Now, I'm not saying you should be creating a false equivalency (Tu Quoque), but if the idea of this thread is to get everyone to be more careful in their wording and play nice (which I totally support), it seems like it could use more examples to illustrate how not to communicate.

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5 minutes ago, SinisterDeath said:

Now, I'm not saying you should be creating a false equivalency (Tu Quoque), but if the idea of this thread is to get everyone to be more careful in their wording and play nice (which I totally support), it seems like it could use more examples to illustrate how not to communicate.

 

You're right about the idea--to be careful about what our wording assumes about our conversants! I haven't provided specific examples on purpose, because I truly don't want to call anyone out. Especially because I don't think such statements area intended to be insulting.

 

I do feel okay about sharing an example from a published article, though, Harley Rustad's "The Wheel of Time: Why It’s So Hard to Accept Adaptations of Our Favourite Books." I think this article is good in a lot of ways! I especially appreciate how Rustad dives into the emotional complexity of adaptation. He writes,

 

The real world grows up around us, but the make-believe worlds that exist in black ink on white pages are ours, and ours alone, to colour in. What readers imagine is unique, fiercely held, and impossible to replicate. Adaptations destroy these individually created pictures by forcing new images on us—ones that become virtually impossible to unsee. Can you picture how you imagined Aragorn when you first read The Fellowship of the Ring or do you now see only Viggo Mortensen?

 

I love that. I love that Rustad is diving into the why of fans' charged approaches to adaptations. He also writes, though:

 

Jordan had a medium through which to tell his story: millions of words on more than 10,000 pages. We, as early fans, had online forums like wotmania.com through which to theorize, speculate, and let our imaginations grow beyond the covers. And so it is with directors, screenwriters, cinematographers, costume designers, and prop creators: they have a new medium on which to project a story, but how their vision is realized will inevitably run contrary to our own. On the eve of the TV series’ release, the challenge for every fan of The Wheel of Time will be to watch Amazon’s adaptation with the same kind of reader’s delight and to try not to pick apart scenes for accuracy or scrutinize for details misrepresented or invented.

 

And Rustad isn't wrong. And Rustad has spent paragraphs already showcasing that he respects critics (broadly defined) at least well enough to try to understand them. But let's take this paragraph out of context. If it were alone (for example, a comment in a forum), it could be read as condescending. Because it tells me what I already know--what everyone already knows--as if I didn't already know it. So, more concretely, my problem is with responses that state the obvious to conversants. Like they don't already know. 'The books can't be the TV show.' 'Your interpretation is individual.' 'We can't have every moment we want.' To put it bluntly: no duh.

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