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A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

Questions About the Wheel


HighWiredSith
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So the wheel turns and ages that were come to be again - and I get this sense of helplessness, that no matter what you do, events, both good and evil, are destined or doomed to repeat themselves over and over and over. Is the real enemy the wheel itself? The more I contemplate the series as a whole, the more it seems to point to this idea that mankind is almost trapped in this endless cycle, like a hamster running on a wheel, doomed to progress to a certain point, destroy itself, then start over, rebuild, and eventually destroy itself again and again and again.

 

Is Rand preparing the break the wheel, the end this cycle, to alter time itself and set it on a linear path, kind of what Sarah Connor attempted to do in Terminator 2 - unset the future.

 

I also wonder why during this turning of the wheel mankind didn't progress as far as the previous age, the age of legends where man had clearly developed technology. We see the early beginnings of technology, steam engines and firearms, but its doubtful they'll progress any further before Rand breaks the world again (assuming he will).

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I've always quite liked the theory that the Wheel will be broken, and do think it would be a cool way for the series to end but I don't think there is anything really to support it. Not in the books anyway.

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Guest Czechs In The M'Hael

How can the Wheel be the enemy? Its pretty much guaranteed the worlds survival. Without it the world has no Ta'veren, no threads, etc and its those things-and the Wheels control over them-that stops evil from prevailing.

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How can the Wheel be the enemy? Its pretty much guaranteed the worlds survival. Without it the world has no Ta'veren, no threads, etc and its those things-and the Wheels control over them-that stops evil from prevailing.

 

I would disagree. I sometimes get the impression that time is "stuck" in this wheel, that it keeps repeating itself - that the breaking of the world is an almost unintentional reset button that restarts the progression of mankind from square one and furthrmore - time and reality was not intended to be this way but follow a linear path.

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How can the Wheel be the enemy? Its pretty much guaranteed the worlds survival. Without it the world has no Ta'veren, no threads, etc and its those things-and the Wheels control over them-that stops evil from prevailing.

 

These things WILL exist without the Wheel. The difference is in the Wheel, and the Pattern. The Wheel decides which events happen, the Pattern makes the threads that way. But without a Wheel, maybe the men themselves will decide what is going to happen.

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How can the Wheel be the enemy? Its pretty much guaranteed the worlds survival. Without it the world has no Ta'veren, no threads, etc and its those things-and the Wheels control over them-that stops evil from prevailing.

 

These things WILL exist without the Wheel. The difference is in the Wheel, and the Pattern. The Wheel decides which events happen, the Pattern makes the threads that way. But without a Wheel, maybe the men themselves will decide what is going to happen.

 

 

It's also possible that reality would unravel and everything becomes unmade.

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This is somewhat of an interesting question, and apparantly very flavor of the month as this is the third thread I've read recently to address this issue. I won't say outright that I think the notion that the Wheel is a flawed system is wrong, the argument is valid and is a very interesting angle to take when reading this series because it is normally considered very cut and dry as far as who's good and who's bad. People lately seem very interested in conflicting roles for characters; they like it when it's hard to pick out the good guys or bad guys. The idea that the Wheel is actually inherently evil really throws things up in the air.

 

I will say though, that the notion likely stems from a cultural bias that is inherent to western civilization; were are all biased in assuming change is a good thing. I'm not saying it isn't, I think progression and adaptation are very good traits to emulate, especially in a linear sense. However, there's nothing that clearly shows that linear progression is obviously the better way. It basically comes down to order vs. chaos.

 

The design of the Wheel of Time represents a system of order; the assumption is that without the interference of the DO, things would stay the same, that everything is balanced against everything else. Our own world has elements of order in it, at least before man showed up. The idea of the DO doing Randlanders a "favor" by destroying the Wheel and letting things flow into a linear progression represents a system of chaos: there wouldn't be some grand scheme which would force things to balance out, or to force certain people down certain directions in life. The romantic view would be to favor the system of chaos, for therein lies more opportunity for random chance, for more possibilities of different paths for not just one man to take but all of mankind. However, why should we look at this world through rose colored glasses and assume that life filled with the unknown, with no sense of a dogmatic organization directing you, would be favorable to a life filled with order and predictability?

 

We glamorize the careers of actors, musicians, and athletes, pretending that they are achieving the ultimate in human development. And yet, millions of people who actually pursue those careers find that the unpredictable nature of "making it" isn't exactly optimum. As an actor, your big chance to introduce yourself to the big screen is decided by a casting director who, in flitting through hundreds of headshots a day, will review your face for all of about .4 seconds before moving onto the next picture. As a musician, you can spend years developing a unique sound, just to end up being at the mercy of whoever decides you would be worth marketing, and after that are subject to the whims of fans who will glance at your cd for moments while they decide if you're worth looking up on itunes. You can be amazingly gifted at a certain sport, but if you pick the wrong school that just so happens to have a coach who always favors other players over you, you won't ever get the chance to get scouted.

 

Rarely touted as exciting careers are the blue collar jobs, the teachers, factory workers, office workers, etc. Individuals in fields like these rarely have to worry about avoiding paparrazi, and yet whose to say they've received the short end of the stick? Their lives are much more stable, they don't have to worry about burning out quick in a 15 minute burst of fame, they simply live. Often the stability in their lives gives them opportunity to enjoy things that others find difficult to enjoy: the love of their family members, the satisfaction from having a private hobby, the comfort of knowing that tomorrow, things will very likely carry out in the same way things went today. Somewhat boring, perhaps, but in my opinion their lives are no less noble, or less fitting for someone to enjoy.

 

The point I'm making is that we are trained to think the spontaneous is righteous, the mundane is so lame, and that only a square would want to live a life in which there's no crazy excitement. At first glance, the design of the Wheel wouldn't seem so attractive for many, not for entropy loving simians like us. But assuming the perspective of the average Randlander, who's to say that they don't prefer a life and a destiny which is more secure? In western religion, specifically christianity, we've seen almost countless schisms (lutheranism, protestant, baptist, catholic, etc. and that's not even including reformations of those denominations) maybe because we tend to focus more on the individual. In eastern religions however, such as Islam, schisms are not common at all, and the focus tends to be more about the community in general, and not upsetting the natural order of things just so you can get ahead. There should be no reason in this case for us to assume one perspective is good, and one is evil. They are just different. The Wheel could be destroyed, and man "freed" to pursue whatever destiny they choose, all for the world to ultimately destroyed by man's endless and yet very limited vision.

 

As I brought up in the thread about who we would be in Randland if we had to choose, we have recently found out about global warming and the damage we have been doing to the planet since the Industrial Revolution. We rant and rave about the miracles of technology, and yet seeking the limits of what we can achieve might very possibly be what has doomed us, and our planet as well. What if we had never ascended past the technological level of native americans? Would we be worse off, existing in closer harmony with nature? Who's to say?

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So the wheel turns and ages that were come to be again - and I get this sense of helplessness, that no matter what you do, events, both good and evil, are destined or doomed to repeat themselves over and over and over. Is the real enemy the wheel itself? The more I contemplate the series as a whole, the more it seems to point to this idea that mankind is almost trapped in this endless cycle, like a hamster running on a wheel, doomed to progress to a certain point, destroy itself, then start over, rebuild, and eventually destroy itself again and again and again.

 

Is Rand preparing the break the wheel, the end this cycle, to alter time itself and set it on a linear path, kind of what Sarah Connor attempted to do in Terminator 2 - unset the future.

 

I also wonder why during this turning of the wheel mankind didn't progress as far as the previous age, the age of legends where man had clearly developed technology. We see the early beginnings of technology, steam engines and firearms, but its doubtful they'll progress any further before Rand breaks the world again (assuming he will).

 

I think RJ put a Bhuddist view of the workings of the Wheel there. A lot of his symbolism and themes concerning the turning of the Wheel and the way the pattern works stems from Bhuddism. Bhuddism strives iirc (since I'm no expert in that field) to escape the endless cycle of birth and rebirth by reaching elightenment. Through this enlightenment - nirvana - one is able to 'step off' the Wheel.

Ofcourse this 'stepping off' is meant in a spiritual way and even in RJ's story physically this is not very likely since only the DO exists outside of the pattern, but my point is that in Veins of Gold we already saw some enlightenment in Rand which was very much like Siddhārtha Gautama Buddha's spiritual journey under the Bodhi tree.

So a solution to the endless turnings of the Wheel could very well come from such directions.

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How can the Wheel be the enemy? Its pretty much guaranteed the worlds survival. Without it the world has no Ta'veren, no threads, etc and its those things-and the Wheels control over them-that stops evil from prevailing.

 

These things WILL exist without the Wheel. The difference is in the Wheel, and the Pattern. The Wheel decides which events happen, the Pattern makes the threads that way. But without a Wheel, maybe the men themselves will decide what is going to happen.

 

Men cant decide to become Ta'veren though. And if they could all hell would break loose. The Wheel is a fuzzy logic device according to RJ, and it aligns threads as required to keep the Pattern on the right track. It can see whats going to happen more than anyone or anything, without it mankind would have to actally work together, and the only reason theyre doing that now is because there are Ta'veren affecting every thread near them.

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I didn't say it is good to break the Wheel, I only said the pattern COULD survive without. If men would work together well enough, they would be able to do things the way that will be best for the world, but with progression. The Wheel does it without progression.

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I didn't say it is good to break the Wheel, I only said the pattern COULD survive without. If men would work together well enough, they would be able to do things the way that will be best for the world, but with progression. The Wheel does it without progression.

 

One thing youre forgetting tho, is how the DO got released in the first place. It was curiosity. Nothing more, no sinister intentions, just the next logical step there was to be made after tinkering with the OP for so long. They sensed a much more powerful source of energy, and thought it was part of their natural progression as a species. This illustrates the cosmic fail inherent in man: our reach extends past our grasp. We strive to achieve whatever in front of us, not thinking of the cost. All of our glorious technological leaps culminated in the atomic age, when we thought it was a good idea to start stockpiling enough nukes to blow up the world many times over.

 

Let's not forget that the people and nations of Randland share a trait with people and nations of our own world. That is, being very comfortable with violence and warfare. Given enough technological advancements, whos to say that everyone wouldn't end up blowing eachother up anyways, possibly restarting the wheel over again.

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The pattern of this turning is really simple - you have what I would call zero hour or point A - the breaking of the world, civilization unmade in the span of a few short days of if not hours, massive death, massive destruction, knowledge, technology, a thousand achievements of human civilization from architecture to plumbing...lost, destroyed - very reminiscent of the Visigoth's sacking Rome and plunging Europe into the Dark Ages only much faster, far more destructive, total devastation.

 

However, as a result of this breaking of the world, the evil one is imprisoned along with his followers - freeing the world from at least one manifestation of evil - external evil. The dark one secured, mankind begins to rebuild. The process is slow and painful (again much like the Dark Age progression towards the Renaissance), wars and bitter fighting as men assert their lesser kingdoms and war with one another. One could imagine famine, widespread oppression and persecution - trolloc wars, kingdom wars, wars over food, over land, over anything. Slowly mankind progresses, kingdoms are formed and become stable - the Aes Sedai help gather and protect the knowledge of civilization (kind of like a medieval Encyclopedia Galactica) - and eventually mankind moves into a stable, civilized, almost enlightened period and science and technology begin to emerge. However, as man progresses from mysticism toward technology, losing faith in the magic as science is discovered (and trusting the mystical Aes Sedai less and less), the powers that imprison the evil one begin to erode. Obligations are forgotten, neglected, and the seals weaken. The foresaken escape and begin their manipulations on an unsuspecting world...and eventually, inevitably, the Dark One will escape but only after the Dragon is reborn and the entire process, thousands of years in the making, culminates at the final battle where the evil is defeated but not destroyed but the world is destroyed, doomed to start over from zero hour, day one. There's nothing I've read to indicate these concentric cycles are moving through higher planes of civilization or enlightenment - if anything, based on the technological level reached in the previous age (the Age of Legends), the cycles are degrading, mankind become less enlightened, less civilized. One could speculate that eventually, during some future turning of the wheel, mankind will not have the power or resolve to defeat The Dark One and that, in a of itself, will end the turning of the wheel and set time onto a new, linear path toward some evil end no doubt.

 

That said, I can't help but feel that Rand is planning a few things. For one, he seems to be planning an end to the cycle of victory at the expense of his own soul and mankind. I think he's planning to destroy the Dark One forever and end the turning of the wheel as he knows it.

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i think the idea of the wheel comes from a deep seated feeling that the world isnt quite right. if time goes on and eventually everything happens again maybe someday something will happen that will make the world alright. bring balance back that was once lost long long ago. bit philisophical (sp) but thats always been my take on it.

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There's nothing I've read to indicate these concentric cycles are moving through higher planes of civilization or enlightenment - if anything, based on the technological level reached in the previous age (the Age of Legends), the cycles are degrading, mankind become less enlightened, less civilized. One could speculate that eventually, during some future turning of the wheel, mankind will not have the power or resolve to defeat The Dark One and that, in a of itself, will end the turning of the wheel and set time onto a new, linear path toward some evil end no doubt.

 

That said, I can't help but feel that Rand is planning a few things. For one, he seems to be planning an end to the cycle of victory at the expense of his own soul and mankind. I think he's planning to destroy the Dark One forever and end the turning of the wheel as he knows it.

 

The turnings of the Wheel aren't getting less enlightened or less technologically advanced, you're leaving out a few ages, and anyways we saw from Avienda's visions from Rhuidean that several generations from now they'll likely be more advanced, at least in technology, than they were in the Age of Legends.

 

That is an interesting theory though, about Rand's plans for the DO. I think there are too many spots where he describes "doing it right, this time", referring to sealing the DO, for me to agree with it though. Plus, I doubt that the DO can be destroyed; while he is outside the pattern I think he's necessary to keep balance in the world, light vs. dark and all that jazz.

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  • 4 weeks later...

So I was having a debate in another thread. What do people think about this 7th age and the current turning of the wheel. Is there anything unique about this age or have there been other "Champions" and "Last Battles"?

 

We know what RJ said:

 

Q: At one point in the story we see Ishamael talking to Rand, and telling him that they have fought countless times in the past, but this is the final time. Is there anything about his Age that makes it special?

RJ: No . . . Every Age is repeated, there is nothing that makes this Age any different from any other turnings of the Wheel. The Wheel is endless.

 

&

 

 

RJ: Given that time is cyclic, you must assume that there is a time when the prison that holds the Dark One is whole and unbroken. There is a time when a hole is drilled into that prison and it is thus open to that degree. And there is a time when the opening has been patched in a makeshift manner. But following this line, the cyclic nature of time means that we have at some time in the future inevitably a whole and unbroken prison again. Unless, of course, the Dark One breaks free, in which case all bets are off—kick over the table and run for the window.
Edited by Suttree
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In a cyclical time huge-sacle events repeat again and again. At some point the DO's prison is broken, at some point the bore is patched, at some point the prison is whole again. Thus ages come and go. However, cyclical time is not granted, there is a catch. Shoold the DR fail, the DO will get free, thus destroying time as we know it. Rand has a daunting task. Even if he suceeds now, even if the next dragon suceeds next time, even if the dragon keeps winning for a thousand ages, at some point, inevitably, the DO will win. It's pure sheer law of propabilities. This is what Ishy realized, what turned him against the light.

 

My point is, the Creator (at least, the WOT Creator) is flawed, He is not (as St. Thomas mentioned) the Primary Motor. He is here and everywhere in Randland, for He imbues all his creation. If something as powerful as the DO can destroy the Creator's creation completely, then he must be, at the very least, as powerful as the Creator. Which brings us to the notion that the Creator and DO are two different forces with the same "strength", balancing each other. Hence, the Creator did not made the DO, because by definition, the Creator is perfect and his creation not, and if this is the case, the DO shouldn't be as strong as the Creator, wouldn't be a balancing power.

 

Bottom line, the Creator was "created" at some point, since something must have "created" the DO also.

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In a cyclical time huge-sacle events repeat again and again. At some point the DO's prison is broken, at some point the bore is patched, at some point the prison is whole again. Thus ages come and go. However, cyclical time is not granted, there is a catch. Shoold the DR fail, the DO will get free, thus destroying time as we know it. Rand has a daunting task. Even if he suceeds now, even if the next dragon suceeds next time, even if the dragon keeps winning for a thousand ages, at some point, inevitably, the DO will win. It's pure sheer law of propabilities. This is what Ishy realized, what turned him against the light.

 

My point is, the Creator (at least, the WOT Creator) is flawed, He is not (as St. Thomas mentioned) the Primary Motor. He is here and everywhere in Randland, for He imbues all his creation. If something as powerful as the DO can destroy the Creator's creation completely, then he must be, at the very least, as powerful as the Creator. Which brings us to the notion that the Creator and DO are two different forces with the same "strength", balancing each other. Hence, the Creator did not made the DO, because by definition, the Creator is perfect and his creation not, and if this is the case, the DO shouldn't be as strong as the Creator, wouldn't be a balancing power.

 

Bottom line, the Creator was "created" at some point, since something must have "created" the DO also.

 

I've thought out that before, about how in infinite turnings of the wheel the probability that the DO will win eventually and undo creation is 100%. That doesn't necessarily mean that the Creator is flawed though, in fact there are many indicators that our own universe will eventually collapse ( the Big Crunch theory on wikipedia, not to be confused with the "Big Brunch" theory, here's another great link examining the cyclical nature of our own reality) so we shouldn't be so quick to criticize the world RJ made as if it were that different from our own.

 

Also, there's technically not any suggestion that the Creator has always existed, just that he always will exist until the DO eventually wins, nor is it said that the Creator created the DO. It's said that "The Dark One was bound at the moment of creation" so it could be possible that the Creator and the Dark One were created simultaneously, and the Creator jumped the gun so he was able to gain the upper hand first. It might even be possible that the Dark One came before the Creator, and that nothing existed besides the void. The Creator showing and and binding the Dark One made it possible for existence to happen. There's many suggestions of 'patterns within patterns' if you will, the idea that every Wheel exists in a bigger Wheel of it's own; after what really won't be an infinite amount of turnings of the wheel, in which the DO has destroyed creation, eons later the Creator shows up again and seals the DO, starting it all over again.

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In a cyclical time huge-sacle events repeat again and again. At some point the DO's prison is broken, at some point the bore is patched, at some point the prison is whole again. Thus ages come and go. However, cyclical time is not granted, there is a catch. Shoold the DR fail, the DO will get free, thus destroying time as we know it. Rand has a daunting task. Even if he suceeds now, even if the next dragon suceeds next time, even if the dragon keeps winning for a thousand ages, at some point, inevitably, the DO will win. It's pure sheer law of propabilities. This is what Ishy realized, what turned him against the light.

 

My point is, the Creator (at least, the WOT Creator) is flawed, He is not (as St. Thomas mentioned) the Primary Motor. He is here and everywhere in Randland, for He imbues all his creation. If something as powerful as the DO can destroy the Creator's creation completely, then he must be, at the very least, as powerful as the Creator. Which brings us to the notion that the Creator and DO are two different forces with the same "strength", balancing each other. Hence, the Creator did not made the DO, because by definition, the Creator is perfect and his creation not, and if this is the case, the DO shouldn't be as strong as the Creator, wouldn't be a balancing power.

 

Bottom line, the Creator was "created" at some point, since something must have "created" the DO also.

 

I've thought out that before, about how in infinite turnings of the wheel the probability that the DO will win eventually and undo creation is 100%. That doesn't necessarily mean that the Creator is flawed though, in fact there are many indicators that our own universe will eventually collapse ( the Big Crunch theory on wikipedia, not to be confused with the "Big Brunch" theory, here's another great link examining the cyclical nature of our own reality) so we shouldn't be so quick to criticize the world RJ made as if it were that different from our own.

 

Also, there's technically not any suggestion that the Creator has always existed, just that he always will exist until the DO eventually wins, nor is it said that the Creator created the DO. It's said that "The Dark One was bound at the moment of creation" so it could be possible that the Creator and the Dark One were created simultaneously, and the Creator jumped the gun so he was able to gain the upper hand first. It might even be possible that the Dark One came before the Creator, and that nothing existed besides the void. The Creator showing and and binding the Dark One made it possible for existence to happen. There's many suggestions of 'patterns within patterns' if you will, the idea that every Wheel exists in a bigger Wheel of it's own; after what really won't be an infinite amount of turnings of the wheel, in which the DO has destroyed creation, eons later the Creator shows up again and seals the DO, starting it all over again.

 

I did not mean to criticize RJ's world. Perhaps I didn't choose the words correctly. Far from it, one aspect I particurarly like about WOT world is its similarities with out universe, with a set rules of physics that make it all that plausible. I'll take a look at those links and comment on them later :smile: .

 

I agree with you. The there is no evidence that the Creator always existed. In fact, I believe somethign created it, otherwise the DO couldn't unravel creation (be as powerful as the Creator).

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Concerning the Creator vs the Dark One. There is nothing to say that both the Dark One and the Creator have not always existed. Perhaps it is something like this: The Creator created the Wheel and Pattern and Time. At the moment of creation, the Dark One was sealed. Sealed from what? Sealed in what? If the Dark One breeds chaos and randomness and the Creator breeds order and pattern, then at the moment of creation, the ruling power is Order, and Pattern. The governing power is the cyclic nature of the pattern. The power of the Dark One is sealed against this because it is sustained by the Creator. However, within that creation, free will exists in people. Aes Sedai have been born with the ability to channel the power of the Creator, Saidin and Saidar. And while the Dark One's power is sealed from unraveling the Pattern from without, humanity is free to accomplish this from within, and only do so through accidental curiosity, when they discover the power of the Dark One. They burn a hole in the Patter using the power of the Creator, thus opening a way for the Dark One's power to reach within creation and begin to unravel it through chaos. "The Dark One's own luck" refers to the nature of the Dark One as chaos and randomness.

 

Indeed, it almost seems like the Creator and the Dark One are locked in an eternal battle to preserve and destroy the creation of the Creator, and they accomplish this through the means of people, channelers.

 

As to the Wheel itself being evil. I think that the Pattern creates the lives of people, and that inevitably leads to curiosity about a united power (neither exclusively male or female), which leads to the bore, and the battle with the Dark One, a patched bore, then another confrontation with the Dark One, and a perfectly whole and complete Pattern. The Wheel only exists because these main events repeat. I think the Pattern reproduces Ta'veren in order to preserve the world, but that the lives of people, generally, each time the Age is repeated, are different and varied. I don't think there's anything inherently evil about that.

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I'm not particularly religious (okay, not at all), but any creator has only two options: make your creation only do what you designed it to do (like a clock, for example), or allow people the possibility of making hell on earth. Can't have free will without the freedom to undo creation, can you? Therefore perfection isn't something we should look for in creation; there's no objective notion of perfection to begin with.

 

/nihilistic talk

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Kivam provided a great quote from Herid Fel in another thread:

 

"Someone had to make it sometime. For the first time, that is. Unless you think the Creator made the Dark One's Prison with a hole and patch to begin." His eyebrows waggled at the suggestion. "No, it was whole in the beginning, and I think it will be whole again when the Third Age comes once more. Hmmm. I wonder if they called it the Third Age." He hastily dipped a pen and scribbled a note in the margins of an open book. "Umph. No matter now. I'm not saying the Dragon Reborn will be the one to make it whole, not in this Age necessarily anyway, but it must be so before the Third Age comes again, and enough time passed since it was made whole - an Age, at least - that no one remembers the Dark One or his Prison. No one remembers.Um. I wonder..."

 

There you go. Straight from the books. The Third Age is coming again. The Bore will be resealed, the Dark One will still be in the prison, and, in the Third Age, the Bore will be drilled yet again.

 

This supports RJ's quote saying nothing is unique about this age just about perfectly.

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In a cyclical time huge-sacle events repeat again and again. At some point the DO's prison is broken, at some point the bore is patched, at some point the prison is whole again. Thus ages come and go. However, cyclical time is not granted, there is a catch. Shoold the DR fail, the DO will get free, thus destroying time as we know it. Rand has a daunting task. Even if he suceeds now, even if the next dragon suceeds next time, even if the dragon keeps winning for a thousand ages, at some point, inevitably, the DO will win. It's pure sheer law of propabilities. This is what Ishy realized, what turned him against the light.

 

My point is, the Creator (at least, the WOT Creator) is flawed, He is not (as St. Thomas mentioned) the Primary Motor. He is here and everywhere in Randland, for He imbues all his creation. If something as powerful as the DO can destroy the Creator's creation completely, then he must be, at the very least, as powerful as the Creator. Which brings us to the notion that the Creator and DO are two different forces with the same "strength", balancing each other. Hence, the Creator did not made the DO, because by definition, the Creator is perfect and his creation not, and if this is the case, the DO shouldn't be as strong as the Creator, wouldn't be a balancing power.

 

Bottom line, the Creator was "created" at some point, since something must have "created" the DO also.

 

 

....er... wasn't that RJ... :wink:

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