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A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

No, Balefire Does Not Work Like that. (-- 2009 Empy Award Winner!)


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You guys post very quickly. When I started reading this it was 50 pages...

 

Nevermind poor slow reading me.

 

Bob T Dwarf and all the others are making sense. They have convinced me. How else do you even have memory of it? The Wheel has simple logic. If you start to react to something by running up to the deck, jumping overboard, then in mid leap you don't know where you are, wha you are doing, or how you got there, would that not create more of a paradox than simply suddenly chest deep in water?

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Well I'm sure people are getting tired of my posts on the matter so I'll just post it in here and others can argue against it all they want.

 

I think Balefire is misunderstood by many, including myself up until recently.

 

 

Balefire doesn't cause time to go backwards and events to replay with that missing thread. This isn't like Back to the Future.

 

Rather, the thread is burned backwards and, in an instant, the pattern is forced to reconcile contradictions that exist as a result.

 

 

This is really important because it explains many things within the books. For example:

 

When Rhavin dies by balefire some things are undone but some are not. The things caused by his use of lightning (Mat, Asmo, and others dead) must be undone. The pattern cannot leave those people inexplicably dead. So it returned them to life. The damage done to the palace during the fight was not undone. Rand caused that damage. It is not paradoxical without Rhavin present.

Rand also caused damage to the palace fighting Rahvin's minions.  The closest you get to conclusive evidence here is Asmodean saying he saw balefire damage in the palace.  I don't remember Rand using large streams of balefire against Rahvin's minions but he might have.

Moghedian balefires Nynaeve's boat. You can read the passage for yourself and see that 1 instant she's sitting there, suddenly feels a massive amount of Saidar, doesn't even have time to react, and then suddenly, minutes have elapsed differently but HER reactions have not shifted. She's suddenly underwater. The passage even says that it took minutes out of the pattern for the rowers and the hull of the boat. One does not sit idly in a sinking ship for a few minutes. They run to deck and leap out. She had no reaction time because time did not go backward and restart. The pattern simply adjusted what it could: the position of the boat (due to rowers dying) and the position of the water(due to it now being cut in half and filling with water).

Once again you are the only person I have seen talking about events replaying.

 

The misconception people are having is that they feel if there is a cause -> effect sequence in a situation and balefire removes the cause, then the effect should be removed anyway. This is very plainly false. Otherwise both the scene with Semmirhage and the scene with Graendal are completely 100% flawed.

 

In Semmirhage's case, she died from balefire and so did Elza. If there is simply a cause -> effect relationship and time should have transpired differently then we should have seen both Rand and Min shift from standing where they were, to sitting back on the bed where they were to begin with. The collar should have been replaced in the box. Min's bruises should have faded away. With a cause -> effect or "time rewind" interpretation of balefire those 3 things should not be how they are written and BS made huge errors. But they are. They make perfect sense if the pattern only seeks to resolve paradox and doesn't simply rewrite history though.

Those of the opinion that balefire preserves causality are also of the opinion that Rand didn't burn far enough back to remove anything more than a few seconds if that

At Graendal's Palace the only thing that is undone is the compulsion weave is removed. The pattern had to remove it because it cannot inexplicably exist now. Graendal wasn't alive to put it there. If time rewound, then Rand would have showed up at the palace, it would have been empty, and they would have left after Ramashalan came back with nothing to report. No balefire would have even occurred at all. People will argue that "balefire exists outside of its own paradox" and indeed it does, precisely because of the mechanic I am describing. If time were rewritten, a paradox would form. Time isn't rewritten though. The balefire did occur, will always have occured, and the pattern would not undo it. Removing the balefire would remove Graendals death. You'd have a loop of paradox. The pattern seeks to remove paradox, not create it, therefor the balefire is never undone and hence, is always outside and unaffected by any paradoxes it creates. The pattern seeks to resolve all others created by it rather than touching it.. because that just creates a cause/effect loop/mess.

I don't know what you're saying here.

Clearly this is the great danger with Balefire. We saw at Graendal's palace the pattern groan as it reconciled the damage to reality from that paradox. Indeed, this is why removing entire cities threatened the entire world and why the tapestry analogy is perfect. Removing a thread or even a few threads from a tapestry may damage it, but hold a lighter to it's center and you'll have a hole that can never be mended. The pattern does not rewind and replay. It simply continues with the hole burned in it patched as best it can with what it has to work with. You burn a big enough hole and the hole cannot reconcile. The lose ends fray away. The pattern disintegrates. If the pattern simply rewove, then it would never be destroyed. You could burn the entire thing back 20 years and we may have a different pattern but a pattern would still exist. Because it doesn't rewind, it cannot reweave. It can only mend damage. It's ability to do that is fairly limited. And that is precisely why it is such a ridiculously powerful weapon yet completely unpredictable weapon.

 

We are told balefire is dangerous because it can unravel the pattern.  We aren't told how or why that unraveling would occur.

 

I don't see anything conclusive in what you bring up.  I think it is likely you are right on the nature of balefire given the hearsay evidence we have from a signing but I'm not going to make any conclusions until I see some official quotes or more balefire action.

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then I love how you say the memories Nynaeve had are hallucinations and she blacked out for a few minutes. LOL........ classic.

 

 

That description is accurate.  It's completely consistent with every other scene that involves balefire.

 

What Nynaeve and Matt remember in each of their respective BF encounters are effectively hallucinations.  As soon as the BF is released, the pattern rewrites history for whatever the BF touches.  Thus, what REALLY happened was that Nynaeve's boat had a huge chunk destroyed, a few moments before she thinks she remembers where it was, and had been filling with water for the duration of that time difference.  What Matt remembers is Darkhounds tearing through a wall and slobbering on him when in the new reality, the Darkhounds were destroyed while they only had just begun to make headway through the door.

 

It's exactly like the theories of time travel in Back to the Future.  You can change the present by altering the past but all your experiences become hallucinations.  They never actually happened.  It's the same for using BF in WoT.  And thus Bob's description is perfectly accurate.

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I'm of the opinion that the situation is ambiguous and people need to stop being so intolerant of other views whether or not it turns out they are wrong.

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Which part makes sense? Everything changes for everything and everybody except some people sit there in a daze and only remember the alternate/former timeline? That strikes me as incredibly nonsensical. Where do those memories come from? According to them, the actions never took place. Time itself was rewritten. What causes her to sit in a daze? The entire theory is complete nonsense.

 

Yes, rich, we know it strikes you as nonsensical.  Nonetheless, that's how it works.  Nothing survives of a balefire incident except the memories of those who lived through it.

 

Nothing.  Not primary effects.  Not secondary effects.  Not tertiary effects, or however much farther the causal chain extends.

 

The Wheel preserves causality to the maximum extent that it can.

 

While the Wheel can weave out all logically possible events and then choose among those the set of actual events that "happened", it cannot weave out a "possible" set of events for some unknowable number of people to all suddenly die at the same time and everything that exists to suddenly get vaporized at every instant.  That's more than even the Wheel can manage since it would have to create a "world of if" for every person to die and every particle of matter to both dependently and independently cease to exist at every instant.

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Wombat, both Bob and now the above post are people saying time rewind/replays. Why do you keep saying I'm the only person suggesting this? There are 2 ways to look at balefire:

 

1. Time rewinds and replays (both Bobs and now the above poster say this is how it works) ala Back to the Future or Butterfly Effect

2. Time doesn't change. The pattern bends at the instant of balefire to reconcile contradictions.

 

It is clearly the 2nd. The nature of balefire itself, Nynaeve's boat incident, the fact that the DO cannot grab balefired souls, and the fact that Balefire can destroy the pattern itself are all clear evidence of #2 being the case. If the time went backward and time rewove the pattern would never be in jeopardy. That is unarguable. The pattern would be different but never cease to exist. It is clearly stated SEVERAL times that balefire's mechanics threaten the pattern's integrity and can undo reality. To such an extent that even the Dark wouldn't use it.

 

But that's the last I'll say about that (for real this time). It is evidence and clearly written in the text. Even Bob has now used my own argument to support his point so I'm not sure how he'll manage to wiggle out of that one.

 

That is a false dichotomy.  It is possible to believe that balefire preserves causality insofar as it can without believing that it causes events to replay themselves.

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Australia Interview - August 1999

 

 

Q:  Balefire is one of the most confusing things in the book, for me. I find the fine aspects of it, the whole threading together of the things that work in it... Could you be a little more elaborate on that?

 

RJ: All right. The cosmography we're looking at here, is not the cosmography of here and now. The Wheel of Time is in its way a spinning wheel. The fabric of reality is woven by the threads. Those threads are the lines that are formed by people passing through time. Each person has a thread. The thread has its sole dimension in time, its life is in time. Those are the threads that are used to weave the fabric of reality. When balefire strikes a person, a thread here, it doesn't simply stop the thread there. The thread burns backwards a little bit, like you just took a thread and put a match to it and it burns up a little bit before it goes out. It depends on how hot the flame is how far it's going to burn back and what the material is opposed to. It burns up a little bit, it doesn't just catch fire on the end and go out. So that person that was hit here is burned out of the pattern back to here. What that person did between here and here was no longer done. Other people remember seeing it. They may remember the supposed effects of it but what that person did wasn't done. It didn't happen, it's not real. Now that's a little bit of a shiver on the fabric of reality as it is. The reason that there was an unofficial agreement in the War of the Shadow to not use balefire any more, to stop using it, was simply that several cities were destroyed in that way. Hundreds of thousands of threads were burnt out from the pattern in one go and the fabric of reality began to unravel. And even the guys going for the Dark One knew that there's not a whole lot of point to winning if winning means there's nothing there to rule, nothing there to win. If you burnt out the stakes, forget it. Have I made it a little clearer I hope?

 

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Australia Interview - August 1999

 

 

Q:  Balefire is one of the most confusing things in the book, for me. I find the fine aspects of it, the whole threading together of the things that work in it... Could you be a little more elaborate on that?

 

RJ: All right. The cosmography we're looking at here, is not the cosmography of here and now. The Wheel of Time is in its way a spinning wheel. The fabric of reality is woven by the threads. Those threads are the lines that are formed by people passing through time. Each person has a thread. The thread has its sole dimension in time, its life is in time. Those are the threads that are used to weave the fabric of reality. When balefire strikes a person, a thread here, it doesn't simply stop the thread there. The thread burns backwards a little bit, like you just took a thread and put a match to it and it burns up a little bit before it goes out. It depends on how hot the flame is how far it's going to burn back and what the material is opposed to. It burns up a little bit, it doesn't just catch fire on the end and go out. So that person that was hit here is burned out of the pattern back to here. What that person did between here and here was no longer done. Other people remember seeing it. They may remember the supposed effects of it but what that person did wasn't done. It didn't happen, it's not real. Now that's a little bit of a shiver on the fabric of reality as it is. The reason that there was an unofficial agreement in the War of the Shadow to not use balefire any more, to stop using it, was simply that several cities were destroyed in that way. Hundreds of thousands of threads were burnt out from the pattern in one go and the fabric of reality began to unravel. And even the guys going for the Dark One knew that there's not a whole lot of point to winning if winning means there's nothing there to rule, nothing there to win. If you burnt out the stakes, forget it. Have I made it a little clearer I hope?

 

 

That does clear things up but it's still ambiguous.

 

To argue semantics a little, saying the pattern has its sole dimension in time isn't exactly right as otherwise a single thread would be able to "span" the pattern which it clearly cannot.  The pattern must be at least two dimensional if we are going to have distinct threads that have length, yes?

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Wombat, both Bob and now the above post are people saying time rewind/replays. Why do you keep saying I'm the only person suggesting this? There are 2 ways to look at balefire:

 

1. Time rewinds and replays (both Bobs and now the above poster say this is how it works) ala Back to the Future or Butterfly Effect

2. Time doesn't change. The pattern bends at the instant of balefire to reconcile contradictions.

 

It is clearly the 2nd. The nature of balefire itself, Nynaeve's boat incident, the fact that the DO cannot grab balefired souls, and the fact that Balefire can destroy the pattern itself are all clear evidence of #2 being the case. If the time went backward and time rewove the pattern would never be in jeopardy. That is unarguable. The pattern would be different but never cease to exist. It is clearly stated SEVERAL times that balefire's mechanics threaten the pattern's integrity and can undo reality. To such an extent that even the Dark wouldn't use it.

 

But that's the last I'll say about that (for real this time). It is evidence and clearly written in the text. Even Bob has now used my own argument to support his point so I'm not sure how he'll manage to wiggle out of that one.

 

That doesn't even make sense.  And it's wrong.  Read RJ's quote.  The problem is removing multiple threads, on a large scale, at once.

 

Here's a perfect analogy for balefire in our world:

 

I create a wormhole through spacetime that connects my current time with my time 2 minutes ago.  2 minutes ago you were standing where I am currently and I shoot a laser at you through the wormhole and vaporize you.

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Wombat, both Bob and now the above post are people saying time rewind/replays. Why do you keep saying I'm the only person suggesting this? There are 2 ways to look at balefire:

 

1. Time rewinds and replays (both Bobs and now the above poster say this is how it works) ala Back to the Future or Butterfly Effect

2. Time doesn't change. The pattern bends at the instant of balefire to reconcile contradictions.

 

It is clearly the 2nd. The nature of balefire itself, Nynaeve's boat incident, the fact that the DO cannot grab balefired souls, and the fact that Balefire can destroy the pattern itself are all clear evidence of #2 being the case. If the time went backward and time rewove the pattern would never be in jeopardy. That is unarguable. The pattern would be different but never cease to exist. It is clearly stated SEVERAL times that balefire's mechanics threaten the pattern's integrity and can undo reality. To such an extent that even the Dark wouldn't use it.

 

But that's the last I'll say about that (for real this time). It is evidence and clearly written in the text. Even Bob has now used my own argument to support his point so I'm not sure how he'll manage to wiggle out of that one.

 

That doesn't even make sense.  And it's wrong.  Read RJ's quote.  The problem is removing multiple threads, on a large scale, at once.

 

Here's a perfect analogy for balefire in our world:

 

I create a wormhole through spacetime that connects my current time with my time 2 minutes ago.  2 minutes ago you were standing where I am currently and I shoot a laser at you through the wormhole and vaporize you.

 

Physical balefire.  I like it.

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Excellent quote Alghar Khan.

What that person did between here and here was no longer done. Other people remember seeing it. They may remember the supposed effects of it but what that person did wasn't done. It didn't happen, it's not real.

 

It's just unfortunate that he didn't delve more into how the Wheel goes about resolving the causality chain.

 

Mat doesn't get as badly burned because the hole was really smaller and less slobber got on him a a result.  Nynaeve suddenly finds herself underwater because the boat has been filling while she was lost in a memory ( hallucination ) of something that really didn't happen, ie. being rowed farther upstream than she really had been.  Trollocs that supposedly had killed some of the Aiel really didn't because Mat and Aviendha really weren't dead and killed those Trollocs before they could.  Doofusface Whatshisbucket really didn't get Compelled because Graendal was actually dead before she could do that to him.  In fact he never really got through the door to that castle because it had ceased to exist before he got there.

 

Until Rand goes all medieval on Graendal, all of the previous balefire incidents have been pretty closely bounded.  There have been a minimal set of interactions for the Wheel to resolve.  With that castle and all of the people in it and all of the interactions they've had with others, there was an enormous chain of causality for the Wheel to resolve.  That's why reality rippled after that incident, the causality chain extended far and wide.  There was an enormous set of primary, secondary, and tertiary actions and results to resolve.

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Yeah that RJ quote seems to imply that causality is preserved because RJ refers to "supposed effects."  If BS really did say that the reason Min's bruises remained was because Rand made them, then that seems like it might be a retcon to me.

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It is a retcon.

 

I'll give him a pass because those bruises could still be there IF the balefire interval only went back to sometime after she made Rand start choking Min.  I'm guessing from how the scene was portrayed that Rand had been choking her for nearly a minute before he was able to tap TP and make some of it go away.

 

Even as strong a channeler as Rand is might not be able to erase much time if extent of burnback obeys a Power rather than a Linear Law.  ie. 1 sec requires X Power, 2 secs requires either 4X or 8X ( if a Cubed Law rather that a Squared Law ).

 

The problem with trying to figure out how much burnback Rand is capable of is that the strongest we'd ever seen him use previously involved an angreal, and 90+% of that battle with Rahvin took place in T'a'R where time flows differently, so we have no idea how much time actually got rewoven in the real world.

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It is a retcon.

 

I'll give him a pass because those bruises could still be there IF the balefire interval only went back to sometime after she made Rand start choking Min.  I'm guessing from how the scene was portrayed that Rand had been choking her for nearly a minute before he was able to tap TP and make some of it go away.

 

Even as strong a channeler as Rand is might not be able to erase much time if extent of burnback obeys a Power rather than a Linear Law.  ie. 1 sec requires X Power, 2 secs requires either 4X or 8X ( if a Cubed Law rather that a Squared Law ).

 

The problem with trying to figure out how much burnback Rand is capable of is that the strongest we'd ever seen him use previously involved an angreal, and 90+% of that battle with Rahvin took place in T'a'R where time flows differently, so we have no idea how much time actually got rewoven in the real world.

 

I think it's plausible that it was only a few seconds of burnback because we don't see Rand burning back much more than that without holding quite a bit of the OP.  Then again even controlled balefire against darkhounds was enough to erase a pretty big hole in a door.  Moiraine's insignificant capacity was on the order of a few seconds iirc.

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I don't see how it is a retcon, semi collaring rand was a DIRECT effect, and rand choking min was an INDIRECT effect, balefire removes direct effects, not indirect. semi would not have put the collar on rand, but rand was the one that choked min.

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I don't see how it is a retcon, semi collaring rand was a DIRECT effect, and rand choking min was an INDIRECT effect, balefire removes direct effects, not indirect. semi would not have put the collar on rand, but rand was the one that choked min.

 

What Bob is saying is that you're wrong about that.  In fact, RJ's quote seems to imply that indirect effects might be removed.  If that is what RJ meant, then if BS really said what that guy earlier in the thread claims, then it is a retcon.  Before anyone gets up in arms, take note of how many caveats and conditionals my post has.

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