Jump to content

DRAGONMOUNT

A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

Fourth through 7th ages


ozimandias
 Share

Recommended Posts

Simply put, I think you are both wrong.

Am I saying the RJ has created a lasting or immortal piece of fiction? No. I am merely talking about his series and the scope that it allows for me to play with and have fun with as a fan. However, the jump from 'hey look, this isn't the greatest story ever told' to 'it is a waste of time thinking about something that RJ probably just tacked on because he likes to throw random stuff in his book' is rude to say the least and moronic to be more frank. RJ put a great deal of time and thought into writing this series, and the cosmology is deeply ingrained in every character and every bit of the world. To think the man would literally name the series and revisit the idea every few chapters without a thought of the depth of the implications is to think far too little of him.

 

The cyclical nature of time is not merely represented in the beginning of each chapter and in the title of the series, it is represented in every relationship, in the hopes of every character, in the birth and rebirth of heroes, in the motivations of the forsaken and the Dark One. It is essential to everything that makes the series go from merely escapist fun for me into the realm of thought provoking, it lays the groundwork for speculation on the past and future, and for the foreshadowing that many would claim RJ does quite well. It is the basis for the complicated relationship between Rand, LTT, and the Forsaken, particularly Ishamael. The interplay between myth, legend and prophecy. I could go on and on.

 

To be blunt, if you don't find the books merit-worthy enough to discuss on a deeper level, why are you here?

 

A couple of things:

 

1. As I think I've made it pretty clear, I've greatly enjoyed reading the WOT. The fact that I don't think it's a particularly insightful or challenging piece of writing doesn't mean I don't think it isn't worth reading. Star Wars is bargain-basement space opera, but it's still pretty damn cool.

 

2. Rather than calling us morons, and simply asserting the existence of all this complexity, why don't you actually explain what you mean and justify your opinion with an actual argument or two. Yes, the Wheel is mentioned all the time by the narrator and various characters. Yes it crops up in discussions of cosmology. The point Lummox and I are making is that it doesn't actually do anything. Heroes can be reborn without time being cyclical. A big evil demon can be trapped forever and ever without time being cyclical. History can fade to legend can fade to myth without time being cyclical. At least until TOM, the idea doesn't seem to do any real work (with the exception of the Veins of Gold issue I raised earlier). Maybe that'll change in AMOL, but that seems like pretty late in the game to start making use of what would, at this point, be the biggest gun on the mantle in history.

 

3. As for laying the groundwork for "speculation" about the past and future, and being "thought provoking", please. It's fantasy, not science fiction. I don't think RJ meant anyone to seriously entertain the idea that we're all trapped inside a giant wheel of chronometric energy, or that this represents a plausible future for humankind.

 

@thedoctor: Ok, but that doesn't really refute my argument. He didn't pick those particular deities because there was some deeper meaning to the parallel between them and the three amigos. He could have picked any other figure from mythology and achieved the same goal.

Edited by crazyrandisdead
Link to comment
Share on other sites

2. If you cut out everything cyclic, then you have to cut out:

-Every passage referencing rebirth

-Every passage that includes "The Dragon Reborn"

-Every passage involving Rand and LTT sharing a soul

-Birgitte's entire character

-Every passage even mentioning the Heroes of the Horn, who are bound to it by... wait for it... a CYCLE of time! Some we may only know from their activities in one age, but even if they started in one age, it doesn't matter... that they are bound to reappear in the pattern is all the confirmation you need that they are being reborn, ergo, recycling.

-Every instance when the DO or Ishy taunt Rand by saying they have done this a bajillion times already. So basically a third of the first book and a few other scattered references

-The first paragraph of every book

Congratulations, mister Intellectual Dishonesty, you've just made a grave logical error and proceeded to run with it. Rebirth has absolutely nothing to do with cyclical time. People aren't reborn once in every seven-age-cycle, they are reborn ALL THE TIME, and can just as easily be reborn in a linear time period. LTT/Rand sharing a soul doesn't require cyclical time, it requires LTT dying at the end of one age, and Rand being born at the end of the subsequent one. Birgitte and Heroes of the Horn don't require cyclical time. None of it does. It's just the popular concept of a soul reincarnating in a new body. Even dividing the course of history into distinct Ages don't require time to be cyclical. None of your points would be cut, or affected in any way (other than replacing the "million rebirths" with a far less inane "dozens/hundreds of rebirths"), except maybe one.

 

 

If you cut out everything cyclic, then you have to cut out every instance when the DO or Ishy taunt Rand by saying they have done this a bajillion times already
Please, let this be. It was so pointless to read. "Hay Randy ma boy, remember those countless previous lives you don't remember? YOU HAVE TO CHOOSE ABSOLUTE EVIL AND DESTRUCTION OF ALL SO THOSE LIVES YOU DON'T REMEMBER WILL CEASE TO OCCUR, NOW BOW BEFORE ME." Uhuh, right.

 

 

-The first paragraph of every book
Good. Edited by Wool-headed lummox
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Alright, lets stay on topic. Nothing wrong with expressing opinions, but lets not derail the thread. Feel free to create a topic of the inconsistencies of the story and continue the debate there.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Asking how they "know" it's the Third Age is just silly because the Ages aren't actually numbered, that's just what they chose to call it, probably because the oldest myths they have come from "two" Ages ago, but who knows for sure? One Age flows into the next.
I'm sorry, but this is inane. If a certain age is called The Third Age, and the subsequent age is called the Fourth Age, then guess what - they are numbered. That's what the numerals 3 and 4 stand for. Numbering. As to whether or not the numbering is relative or absolute... who cares? That's not the point.

 

Except the naming scheme is arbitrary. That was my point. There is no beginning nor ending to the turnings of the Wheel of Time. The First Age didn't start with the creation of the universe. The Seventh Age doesn't end with the end of the universe. It's simply what some people in the universe call it for whatever reason. The "Fourth Age" isn't the fourth age in the cycle, there is no first or second or third or what-have-you Age in the cycle. Any starting point is arbitrary. It's simply what people call it.

 

As for how the mythology got passed down. Duh. It's religious material, passed down through generations. History gets lost, and only the most scholarly care to keep track of events from thousands of years ago or to pass that information on. Not so for the spiritual matters. Those are cultural issues.
Except that there are absolutely no religious practices or authorities anywhere in the WoT universe, not even the slightest shred. The people just take it for a fact that the Creator, the Wheel of Time, the Pattern, and the Third Age exist, despite lacking any evidence or documentation, or social/political mechanisms enforcing this point of view. They doubt the existence of Shadowspawn and the Dark One - sometimes - but not other concepts with no presence in anyone's life. Selective skepticism?

 

They certainly do have religious and spiritual beliefs. There's just no organized prayer or worship. These beliefs are part of their culture, and was passed down because it's important to people. Family's aren't going to remember all history, and what didn't get incorporated into the religion ultimately will be lost more quickly to the non-scholars, but some things get integrated into those religious beliefs. They don't study this from history books. The people during the Breaking passed it down to their children, who pass it down to theirs, who pass it down to theirs... It's not too complicated. They don't need a holy book to pass these things down. Ever hear of oral traditions?

 

As for people trying to apply "real-life knowledge" of cosmology or what have you . . . just stop. Jordan was a physicist. He knew how the universe actually worked. But he was writing a fantasy story. And it's apparent he knew his mythology well, it wasn't just half-assed or carelessly strewn together.
Stop what? Whether RJ knew how the universe worked or not is irrelevant to my point, I'm not judging RJ, I'm judging his work. And the problem I have is that the metaphysics provided are at odds with both real-life knowledge, and with the story of the novels. We are told that Randland exists in the very same universe as the real world, which means it's the same planet, orbiting the same Sun, in the same Galaxy. Cyclical time just doesn't work very well on the scale of a single planet and a several thousand years worth of human history, considering how tiny and insignificant we are, compared to the rest of the universe.

 

It's a fantasy story. Within the context of the story, our modern-day models may be flawed with bias and bad assumptions. There's no reason to try to connect the metaphysics of WoT to our real-world knowledge. Jordan integrated a number of different mythologies into this story, that's the point. Many of them have beliefs in cyclical time. These books detail Ragnarok (which is to come) and the wars in Norse mythology (which have already happened). In Christian terms it's both the events of Revelation (the apocalypse and armageddon) and the war between Heaven and the fallen angels (which, in the mythos, already happened... Satan rebelling because of god's favoritism with man/satan wanting to be God). That's just to start. This is both the starting point and the "ending" point for many mythologies.

Edited by Agitel
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've always assumed that most of the knowledge people have regarding the wheel has come from the Dark One. After all, it fits his purpose. I imagine that prior to the bore, people believed that time was linear and they were very much in control of their own destiny. Excepting of course Elan Morin Tedronai, who seemed to have already been leaning towards a somewhat deterministic/cyclical model of the cosmos.

 

Once the Dark One touched the world, it was a confirmation of some of Tedronai's theories as well as a potential way out. His famed speech denouncing the Creator probably was the platform which promoted this idea of cyclical time, which must've been a powerful psychological blow. I believe EMT's speech is the first time we hear reference to someone mentioning the Wheel.

 

Additionally I think we are separated from Rand's timeline by at least a turning. According to what myths are preserved of us in his Age, portal stones were supposed to be created in the first age (ours), and the 7th age probably ends with a nuclear war between Merk and Mosk (U.S. vs Russia). Unless of course that is yet to happen.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Simply put, I think you are both wrong.

Am I saying the RJ has created a lasting or immortal piece of fiction? No. I am merely talking about his series and the scope that it allows for me to play with and have fun with as a fan. However, the jump from 'hey look, this isn't the greatest story ever told' to 'it is a waste of time thinking about something that RJ probably just tacked on because he likes to throw random stuff in his book' is rude to say the least and moronic to be more frank. RJ put a great deal of time and thought into writing this series, and the cosmology is deeply ingrained in every character and every bit of the world. To think the man would literally name the series and revisit the idea every few chapters without a thought of the depth of the implications is to think far too little of him.

 

The cyclical nature of time is not merely represented in the beginning of each chapter and in the title of the series, it is represented in every relationship, in the hopes of every character, in the birth and rebirth of heroes, in the motivations of the forsaken and the Dark One. It is essential to everything that makes the series go from merely escapist fun for me into the realm of thought provoking, it lays the groundwork for speculation on the past and future, and for the foreshadowing that many would claim RJ does quite well. It is the basis for the complicated relationship between Rand, LTT, and the Forsaken, particularly Ishamael. The interplay between myth, legend and prophecy. I could go on and on.

 

To be blunt, if you don't find the books merit-worthy enough to discuss on a deeper level, why are you here?

 

A couple of things:

 

1. As I think I've made it pretty clear, I've greatly enjoyed reading the WOT. The fact that I don't think it's a particularly insightful or challenging piece of writing doesn't mean I don't think it isn't worth reading. Star Wars is bargain-basement space opera, but it's still pretty damn cool.

 

2. Rather than calling us morons, and simply asserting the existence of all this complexity, why don't you actually explain what you mean and justify your opinion with an actual argument or two. Yes, the Wheel is mentioned all the time by the narrator and various characters. Yes it crops up in discussions of cosmology. The point Lummox and I are making is that it doesn't actually do anything. Heroes can be reborn without time being cyclical. A big evil demon can be trapped forever and ever without time being cyclical. History can fade to legend can fade to myth without time being cyclical. At least until TOM, the idea doesn't seem to do any real work (with the exception of the Veins of Gold issue I raised earlier). Maybe that'll change in AMOL, but that seems like pretty late in the game to start making use of what would, at this point, be the biggest gun on the mantle in history.

 

3. As for laying the groundwork for "speculation" about the past and future, and being "thought provoking", please. It's fantasy, not science fiction. I don't think RJ meant anyone to seriously entertain the idea that we're all trapped inside a giant wheel of chronometric energy, or that this represents a plausible future for humankind.

 

@thedoctor: Ok, but that doesn't really refute my argument. He didn't pick those particular deities because there was some deeper meaning to the parallel between them and the three amigos. He could have picked any other figure from mythology and achieved the same goal.

 

The point wasn't that RJ was putting deeper meaning into the books or that it is supposed to be an actual possibility. The point was that these references give the world depth and make it feel a bit more real.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Asking how they "know" it's the Third Age is just silly because the Ages aren't actually numbered, that's just what they chose to call it, probably because the oldest myths they have come from "two" Ages ago, but who knows for sure? One Age flows into the next.
I'm sorry, but this is inane. If a certain age is called The Third Age, and the subsequent age is called the Fourth Age, then guess what - they are numbered. That's what the numerals 3 and 4 stand for. Numbering. As to whether or not the numbering is relative or absolute... who cares? That's not the point.

 

Except the naming scheme is arbitrary. That was my point. There is no beginning nor ending to the turnings of the Wheel of Time. The First Age didn't start with the creation of the universe. The Seventh Age doesn't end with the end of the universe. It's simply what some people in the universe call it for whatever reason. The "Fourth Age" isn't the fourth age in the cycle, there is no first or second or third or what-have-you Age in the cycle. Any starting point is arbitrary. It's simply what people call it.

 

As for how the mythology got passed down. Duh. It's religious material, passed down through generations. History gets lost, and only the most scholarly care to keep track of events from thousands of years ago or to pass that information on. Not so for the spiritual matters. Those are cultural issues.
Except that there are absolutely no religious practices or authorities anywhere in the WoT universe, not even the slightest shred. The people just take it for a fact that the Creator, the Wheel of Time, the Pattern, and the Third Age exist, despite lacking any evidence or documentation, or social/political mechanisms enforcing this point of view. They doubt the existence of Shadowspawn and the Dark One - sometimes - but not other concepts with no presence in anyone's life. Selective skepticism?

 

They certainly do have religious and spiritual beliefs. There's just no organized prayer or worship. These beliefs are part of their culture, and was passed down because it's important to people. Family's aren't going to remember all history, and what didn't get incorporated into the religion ultimately will be lost more quickly to the non-scholars, but some things get integrated into those religious beliefs. They don't study this from history books. The people during the Breaking passed it down to their children, who pass it down to theirs, who pass it down to theirs... It's not too complicated. They don't need a holy book to pass these things down. Ever hear of oral traditions?

 

http://www.theoryland.com/intvmain.php?i=183#7

Paraphrasing a part of that interview:

I've always believed that our religious rituals our attendance at temples, or churches, or whatever is, in part, a reaffirmation of our faith, and a reaffirmation of our belief, a strengthening of our belief in something that we cannot see. And we do these things in order to strengthen our belief in what we cannot see. God, Allah, whatever...but, in this world, it is a world that...as if we had...prophets walking around...performing miracles. The One Power can be channeled. Occasionally men show up channeling the One Power; the Aes Sedai have been there for 3000 years.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I always thought that part of the main reason to make it cyclical was simple. Prophecy or History?

 

Are the prophecies about Rand really that? or where they simply the last vestiges of the last time the Dragon faced the Dark One?

 

If they are truly prophetic then are they seeing the past or the future? that explains some of the vagaries, the prophecies we have seen told directly are relatively clear-cut even if they are vague. Whereas the Prophecies of the Dragon are fragmented and scattered and not entirely coherent.

 

And finally the cyclical nature is there to show the relationship between Rand and Ishamael and the Dark One. in part to give scope. "I have won again Al'thor." but also to make it seem more daunting and challenging to Rand so that he might well consider giving in.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi all. This is my very first post after a few years as a VERY dedicated lurker... So kudos for starting the conversation that got me to break silence... The whole discussion of the metaphysics of the books and "how things actually work" reminded me so very much of a quote from RJ... And I'm not exactly a theorylander type, so I didn't bother to look it up (though props Terez, for how easy that would have been for me).... But it was something like "I've sat on panels with the foremost minds in physics... and even though I got my degree 30 years ago, I can basically track what they're saying [by analogy to religion??]"...

 

If these books came out 100 years ago, people would be sitting around talking about how Sho-Wings just ruined the fantasy for them because obviously manned flight is an impossibility. Maybe it's just because I'm a recovering academic, but the reason I came to the books as a grown-ass adult and LOVED them I think has a lot to do with how the imperfect knowledge of the principalss is so evident... that makes them a lot like us. So the history of the 1st, 2nd 7th, age... how the source operates, etc... it's all much less "how it is", and much more "how we've figured it out to the best of our abilities"..

 

Sorry. Got into a gross navel-gazing whirlpool. Sorry. Bad first impression. But the more I learn about how we know what "is", the more I tend to prefer Jordan's take on Truth and Action... something along the lines of "What might WORK?"

 

Done now. First bus to lurkdom.

 

ETA - If anyone wants an in-depth bullshitty conversation about these ideas as they relate to The Techonological Singularity and/or Time Travel, hit my up PM/email style. Seems OT here, though if I get Jordan the way I THINK I do, not that much.

Edited by BigKev47
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I imagine the "book of translation" was introduced to let readers come to terms with the cyclical nature of his story and suspend disbelief. That's how we can forget that earth hasn't had endless ages. If I can totally nerd out, I would say:

 

4th age: I think the fourth age will be lead by Mat/Tuon, and I wouldn't be shocked if the reign lasts a very, very long time ("may she live forever"). Mat may turn out to be a channeler too if the dice are an expression of the one power. Anyway those two will work very hard to progress without use of the one power. I predict this age includes the destruction of organized channeling and ends with the destruction of the Seanchean empire after a few thousand years.

 

5th age: This could be the age when humans switch worlds... I imagine it would end with a great cataclysm while a savior channeler escapes to a new planet with a very few others. The book of translation could foreshadow this.

 

6th age: "prehistory"

 

7th age: rise of nations and empire building

 

1st age: consolidation of empires into a unified world and ending in discovery of the one power

 

2nd age: AoL to breaking

 

3rd age: breaking to last battle

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, I try to keep it simple:

 

We know about Thor and Mjollnir, Odin and the Ravens, the Sword in the Stone... The characters in-book know of Mosk and Merk, Anla the wise, Lenn and the eagle of fire. In short, I think we're on a similar level of mutual knowledge.

 

From this, it follows we're on almost opposite sides of the wheel. As they are in age 3, but at its end, I would say we're the 7th age; 3.5+3.5=7. Counting end of 3rd as 3.5, of course.

 

If that is true, I believe we can safely say the 1st age can build the portal stones and the like. Wolfbrothers might exist in that age... maybe the 1st age is ushered in by a nuclear war, maybe by the first succesful genetic manipulation of a human, maybe by the Ogier being found on some other planet... 1st age ends with Tamyrlin.

 

Then, the wuestion is, what is before us? 6th age? Well, we know Tamyrlin was a fairly known person, assuming he really was the first channeler. So we need to look back to someone half mythological whom we still know about quite well. That would make most classical figures acceptable; maybe Alexander the Great ushered in the 7th age by spreading Greek thought over the near east. Maybe Jesus Christ was the last channeler we know about. Maybe the fall of the Egyptian civilization is it. Maybe even the invention of agriculture, though that seems a bit too unclear.

 

If we assume the classical period is the start of the 7th age, I'd say the start of agriculture and the return of cities could mark the start of the 6th age; maybe a hypothetical great flood or the fall of the Tower of Babel. In that case we know quite a lot about the 6th age, but mostly from archeology and a few scattered texts, as the randlanders do about the AoL (the big white book mentions a text source, the brown have a few hints about the Forsaken still, though that's the very end of the 2nd age, there's still an Amyrlin).

 

If this is all true, and discounting cosmology, the only age we know nearly nothing of is the 5th Age. Presumably the world is torn apart in the collapse of some great Empire, and the 5th Age marks a continuous decline of mankind, so that the 6th Age can start with the reboot of civilization.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...