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A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

Cyclical Nature of the Wheel of Time (full spoilers)


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@Malruhn

 

Brandon had a huge amount of creative control. More than 50% of the content was all his creation without direction from the notes. They were far less robust than originally thought. In addition RJ only had 200 pages of written material spread out over all three books

I've seen you repeat that a lot, but I wonder if that takes into account generic notes. Sure there may have been little in the way of writing for this part of the plot, beyond "this happens". But when we're talking about something like Demandreds motivations or personality, I suspect that wouldn't be in the AMOL notes; it would be in with other character notes. And I'm not suggesting they're that organized. I'm wondering how they were categorized before being counted? There's probably stuff in this book that came from the TEOTW notes, never made it into that book, but were written down and preserved. And brandon made some post on twitter about there being more pages of notes than there are pages in the whole series or something like that. Go ask Terez, that's her thing. So consider me skeptical.

 

And of course even if it were true. I'd still probably blame "Team Jordan" more than Brandon. I mean you have a handful of people who have been through most if not all of the books. How would they not know? And isn't Harriet a pro editor? Cause I still feel like this book needs a good editor... Their only excuse would be if Brandon is _SO_ bad he can't be helped. Which I don't believe because even if they aren't epics, Mistborn and Stormlight 1 are far better than AMOL.

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Skeptical about what? All this info is readily accessible in the Q&A's. In many places he didn't even have "this happens":

 

Interview: Apr, 2012 Afternoon Tea with Brandon Sanderson - Luckers

 

Finally he spoke of plotting, and how sometimes Jordan’s notes have said two contradictory things ‘maybe I’ll do this, or maybe I’ll do this other completely opposite thing’. Brandon said he then often had to choose between them, or sometimes choose a third thing entirely.

 

&

 

 

Question
Did you have to invent any of it yourself, or did Jordan leave a lot of it for you?
Brandon Sanderson
He left some of it for me, and then I had to make the rest. As you're reading through the books, probably about half and half. Half will be stuff that he wrote notes on, half will be stuff that I wrote.

To be clear when I say notes, I don't mean notes for the entire world(of which we know Brandon gave up researching after two months and then relied on Alan and Maria). I mean an outline/notes for the story, it is broken down below.

 

 

 

Brandon Sanderson (December 2012)

Well, okay, this is going to be kind of long.



To understand my next step, you have to understand what we mean by "Notes." There are really three groups of these.



1) Robert Jordan's Worldbuilding Notes. These were in a series of dozens, maybe hundreds of files embedded chaotically inside of files inside of files, using his own system of notation. The notes reach all the way back to early books he was working on, as he was working on them. They aren't intended to be read by anyone other than him, and are sometimes very difficult to figure out. This is the group that Harriet has said, in her estimation, include a total wordcount equal to or greater to that of the published series.


2) The notes for the last book, gathered by his assistants Maria and Alan, with Harriet's help. These are far more focused on the last book, notes that RJ wrote specifically focusing on the last book. This is a much more manageable amount, maybe fifty or a hundred pages. It includes interviews that Alan and Maria did with RJ before he died


3) Scenes for the last book, either in written form or dictated during his last months. This includes some completed scenes. (The last sequence in the book, for example. Also a lot of prologue material, including the scene with the farmer in The Gathering Storm, the Borderlander Tower scene in Towers of Midnight, and the Isam prologue scene from A Memory of Light.) A lot of these are fragments of scenes, a paragraph here and there, or a page of material that he expected to be expanded to a full chapter.
This is different from #2 to me in that these are direct scene constructions, rather than "notes" explaining what was to happen.


Together, #2 and #3 are about 200 pages. That is what I read the night I visited Harriet, and that is what I used to construct my outline.

 

.

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Back on topic, any ideas how the death of the DO would remove free will from the world?

 

Doesn't seem to be much in the way of an explanation other than "you can't have light without dark" or some other trite saying, but that really doesn't mean anything tangible.

 

You can't say that the DO is the source of all evil, because we've seen a clear example of evil apart from and even opposed to the DO (Aridhol/SL).

 

I can kind of see where it might work, if you think of the TP as the apple in Eden, and Mieren as Eve trying to gain knowledge/power greater than what God/Creator intended. And by denying Eve/Mieren of that choice, you take away her free will. Kinda sorta.

 

But the analogy breaks down pretty quickly when you dig just a little bit. Adam and Eve weren't zombies before the Fall like Rand sees in the Pattern, and God purposely allowed Satan to tempt Eve and allow her that choice, whereas the Creator sealed the DO away to prevent exactly that. And the apple in Eden gave knowledge of good and evil - the loss of innocence. The TP seems to have a much worse effect.

 

I just don't get it, and I hate to think RJ would leave such a confused cosmology after so much thoughtful world building. With no evidence to support it, I have to believe Brandon just didn't really have much of a logic or understanding to the confrontation (and one of the main overall themes to the series) to offer that stands up to much scrutiny.

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eOf course, you are right. "THIS IS YOUR CREATION."

 

But my first question stands... how would killing the DO remove choice?

 

It makes no sense.

 

How does sealing him away differ from killing him? Does he still affect the Pattern ("choice") being totally sealed off from it?

 

This whole time I was most interested in how Rand's confrontation with the DO would pan out - it's what I asked RJ about when I had the opportunity. His answer to me then doesn't really mesh with what happened.

 

Maybe somebody will say that RJ wrote all of this part, but I have to believe it would have made more sense if he did. Any sense.

 

I've thought about that, too. What stumps me a bit is that people can be or do evil things and not be darkfriends. You can be the worst of the worst and never give your soul over to the Dark One. This could be construed as the ability of humankind to turn to evil being inherent and not an effect of the DO. OR, the DO is the source of all evil, whether you're with him, against him, or neutral about the guy. If that's the case, then destroying the creator of evil and the creator of all evil thoughts and actions destroys evil. However, destroying evil also destroys choice, ironically enough creating another form of evil.

 

This is a very Eastern way of looking at the Devil character(s) in mythology. Even Satan's first appearance in the Bible (Job) paints a different picture of him than does later recountings of him in the New Testament. In many Eastern tradition, the Satan character performs a universal function. He is a necessary evil. I believe that is the conclusion that we have to come to in the WOT universe.

 

However, this raises questions:

If the Creator is truly benign, he would give people free choice, I think. Which means, he needs the DO for his creation to have meaning. We could speculate that what humankind 'knows' about the Creator and DO in the WOT universe is incomplete - maybe, in truth, they are the same entity, maybe they are both parts of a higher 'God', maybe they are working together and humans only think there's a real battle going on. They might be like WWE wrestlers and give the crowd a performance only to go have beers together after the show.

Edited by CanUFeelTheLove?
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It's frustrating because if RJ wrote that sequence or if Brandon very specifically followed notes on these things, I'd be more willing to try to dive into the deeper layers and try to find a meaning that was coherent and/or consistent with what we've been shown.

 

But if this is just something that Brandon came up with or misinterpreted or just didn't portray very well, then it's not worth the energy.

 

It just sucks to have a nonsensical resolution to one of the main driving themes of the entire series.

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It's frustrating because if RJ wrote that sequence or if Brandon very specifically followed notes on these things, I'd be more willing to try to dive into the deeper layers and try to find a meaning that was coherent and/or consistent with what we've been shown.

 

But if this is just something that Brandon came up with or misinterpreted or just didn't portray very well, then it's not worth the energy.

 

It just sucks to have a nonsensical resolution to one of the main driving themes of the entire series.

 

I get what you're saying but I believe this has been the exact issue from the beginning. Whether it was presented poorly at the end of aMOL or not, I think we are presented with the truth of the WOT universe.

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I don't know, it certainly felt fitting to me. The wheel is about balance, not good not evil. It seems to me like we're forgetting that Rand was a champion of the wheel, not the creater. Killing the Dark One or letting the Dark One destroy the pattern. It seems fitting to me that they're one and the same. It extends the cyclical nature of the wheel not just to time, but to the very foundation of the struggle with the Dark One: morality.

I'm not Christian, and my biblical knowledge isn't very strong, but think Adam and Eve, except that God managed to forbid Satan from tempting Eve. It seems to me like Adam and Eve's time before the fall is a lot like AOL, which was the pinnacle of the light on the wheel (before the bore of course). There was still darkness and crime in AOL, and Adam and Eve were still capable of making bad decisions. But if God had made the tree of knowledge inaccessable and blocked out all evil influences, then Adam and Eve would have had no choices.

Similarly Rand's vision is evidence that the pattern is created to allow the Dark One some measure of influence. He cannot influence chance or the world itself unless the bore is open, but he can certainly tempt. If you want further evidence, think about the AOL after the bore opened. I believe it was in the world of wheel of time book, apparently there was a century between the opening of the bore and the war of power. During this time civilization declined as people grew more discontent and violent. I've always interpreted this as a sign that the Dark One can affect human nature. The effects are less pronounced in the third age, but I think that's mostly because of the mindset of the age.

Thus, if the Dark One died, the little voice we all have suggesting we do whatever we wish, even if it is wrong, would disappear. Humans couldn't do evil if they didn't understand what it was.

Also, I don't think the evil of Shadar Logoth is separate from the Dark One even if it is directed against him. It's an evil that was inspired by the Dark One. I doubt hatred would have any meaning without the Dark One.

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Here's the thing.

 

Obviously the DO is part of the mechanism of the wheel. He's there as an option, a temptress, giving people the ability to make "dark" decisions. That's not at all the same as touching the pattern, skewing things his way, and manipulating people more directly.

 

Had Rand killed the DO, he would have eliminated the option for evil. And without the option of evil there's no good. I'm not saying there has to BE evil, but there does have to be the ability to choose it. In the future that Rand crafted, they couldn't lie cheat or steal if they wanted to. And they never want to because they don't exist. So how can someone be "Good" if "good is the default?" You can't. It's a horrible enslavement, they become just as mindless as if the DO were to wipe out goodness and leave only evil.

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Semirhagesbane: You are right, your understanding of Genesis is limited. I won't bother going into it here because it's not really the point, but you misunderstand Adam and Eve - the parallels you draw are flawed. Wikipedia is as good a place to start as any.

 

Mieren was tempted by her discovery of the TP outside of the Pattern, and you can think of her as Eve in the sense that she, as Eve, had the free will to choose this "knowledge". But the similarities mostly end there. It's worth investigating, however, because we are still left with this most fundamental question that is never adddressed anywhere in the books:

 

How does the DO, by nature of existing, influence the Pattern to SUCH a degree that free agency of every living being would be compromised were he to be eliminated?

 

Answers only from the books, please. No imaginary explanations to fill the holes.

 

Bonus points: How do you define "good" and "evil" in this case? Free will implies choice, and choice implies options. What is "evil" that the existence of the DO allows? What if two people disagree about the "evilness" of an action - what breaks the tie and ties it to the DO or not?

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@CanUFeelTheLove?: That's a very black and white way of thinking of it. In fact, he is opposed to free will. Balance is a major theme in wot, but not just for all good there must be evil. Think of Saidin and Saidar. They work together and against each other in the turning of the wheel of time. When a circle of men and women meld flows together, the weaves are much stronger than the sum of the strength of the channelers. When Rand cleansed saidin, he used the repulsion between saidar and saiden to force a stream of saidin through the filter and cleanse the source.

The DO is not a force of good. But he is a force that's necessary for good to exist (think of the borderland notion of beauty. A single flower placed just so in a barren field of rocks. The beauty of the flower is only emphasized by the plain surroundings. Thus the plain surroundings play a role in the beauty of the image precisely because of their lack of beauty)

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@jjp If a blatant explanation were in the books to give you, then I wouldn't have to explain it to you in the first place.

 

There is no quote that explains how the DO's existence works to give people free will. We just know it does because Rand created a world without the DO and people didn't have free will. That is the proof... You seem to insist on not accepting the explanation, and that's your own call, but it makes perfect sense to most of us.

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Again, nothing that actually explains in the books how this actually works.

 

It's just a series of bad poetry in the guise of philosophy. It doesn't stand up to any scrutiny based on how the world has been described up until that point.

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Sure it does. You just don't want to see it.

 

You're caught up on the DO having to touch the world for there to be evil. "Well he's locked away so how can he influence". Think of it more like this: now that he's "locked away" again, the wheel, somehow, utilizes his essence in order to give people the choice to do bad things. If that essence wasn't there, they can't.

 

Is there a quote for that? No. Is that the exact way it happens? Probably not. But that's along the lines of how you need to think for it to work. It doesn't break anything we had established before, and it makes sense.

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I'll answer your bonus question first because it is the easiest:

  • "YOU CANNOT GIVE OBLIVION. REST IS NOT YOURS. ONLY TORMENT." pg 890
  • ​Verin's comment that the Dark One seems to reward selfishness
  • Shadowspawn
  • Shaidar Haran's pleasure in giving pain
  • the absolute unforgiving nature of the Darkfriend hierarchy
  • the Dark One's "world without light"

There are countless examples in the book that evil is nothing special. It's just what ever is bad and morally wrong. This isn't a dictionary, so I can't tell you how the book defines morality, but from the evidence presented and several other examples I can infer what I think evil in this book is. Of course, my inferences are colored by my ideas of right and wrong just as yours are, which is where we run into subjectivity. It's possible that there is a clear moral split between the influence of the Creator or that of the Dark One, or maybe it's as vague as the Dark One merely emphasizes what we would call "bad" tendencies in people. The book does not clearly delineate this, but neither should it, since it is a work of fiction, not philosophy. That does not mean it's not well defined for Randlanders. If you want more just ask and I'll continue this thread of thought.

Now the meat and bones! First I'll say I agree with you on one point. There is relatively little direct evidence in the books to support the assertion that the Dark One at all times affects the pattern that heavily. Here's where I disagree with you. I believe there were just enough little hints and clues hidden in the book so that this does not qualify as a completely unsupported twist ending. The difficulty is that a lot of the evidence is thematic (which is why I use so many "imaginary examples," I thought they'd be better at getting the point across). This is because it's from the third person limited perspective. We see everything colored by the character's perspectives, and no one truly knows how the world works (Well, Rand supposedly learns, but he has only a few pages after that realization)


Here's the in-book explanation: The Creator created the wheel and the wheel of time runs. There are no endings and no beginnings to the turning of the wheel of time. From Rand's perspective we see that even when the bore is sealed up, the Dark One is the source of all evil. It's just that he can't take a direct hand in events (much like the Creator presumably voluntarily allows the wheel to weave as it will, the Dark One's prison forces him to do this).

As Kael mentioned, there is no direct evidence or claims, but it does not come out of nowhere.

  • The wheel of time guide mentions that when the bore was originally opened, for about 50 to a 100 years the Dark One directly influenced the hearts and minds of people in AOL ("If motivations for war and hate were removed, then so were the resultant activities. The Bore changed all of that. The fabric of society began to unravel under the onslaught of the Dark One’s influence." The Guide, taken from http://wot.wikia.com/wiki/Collapse). 
  • Suttree found this quote (it's on the 13x13 wall. I'm not sure how to quote interviews though. Oh well)
    "They are not in a mindless state of Compulsion. Their former personality is twisted, the darker elements that everyone has to some degree elevated while what might be called the good elements are largely suppressed. I don't mean things like courage, which is usefuleven to villains, but they are unlikely to be very charitable, for example, and forget any altruistic impulses. Call it being turned into a mirror image of yourself in many ways. It is very unlikely that a channeler forcibly turned to the Shadow could find a way back to the Light unaided. For one reason, by virtue of the twisting he or she had undergone, it is very unlikely that he or she would have any desire to do so." Robert Jordan

I think this establishes the idea that the Dark One can influence peoples emotions with the bore open.

With the bore closed, there is no direct evidence either way of the extent of the Dark One's influence on the pattern. Lews Therin, the forsaken and Birgitte are the only living characters that experienced life before the bore. Secondary and tertiary information is limited. Here's what we know.

 

  • War was nearly forgotten, and poverty was gone.
  • There was still crime, and the harshest punishment for channelors was to forswear their crimes on what is now the oath rod.
  • We know the Chair of Remorse survived the breaking, though its original purpose is lost in time, I think its very existence is suggestive. It does not seem like something Dark Friends would think of to use for torture.
  • Lews Therin/Rand believes even without the bore, war would eventually have destroyed the AOL.

​As you can see, the information provided suggests that there was always evil even when the bore was sealed up. The quote from the Guide above shows that they never overcame it. They just created incentives for people to be nice to each other. In otherwords, they never eliminated choice, just made it less beneficial to choose evil.

The central question is what is the source of evil? Is it humanity or the DO? The evidence above doesn't answer the question in any way, but I think it does highlight that question. So question for you, what in-book evidence is there that it originates with humanity?

 

 

So, now let's address your question. (1) How did BS/RJ earn the right to claim that all evil stems from the Dark One?

My answer is in thematic content. Robert Jordan emphasized the importance of balance in the pattern over and over. If you think about it, allowing the Dark One to be killed, or acknowledging that it would be best if he was killed would have invalidated a large portion of the series. Still, free will? If you read carefully and really think about it, BS did spend quite a bit of time building this up. One of the most important lessons the three ta'veren learn throughout the series is not only how little choice they have in their actions, but how to deal with it. When Rand becomes darth Rand, we quickly learn that he does have a choice afterall, and he very nearly destroys the world. It is in this context that we enter the last battle.

(2) How does all of this work? What distinguishes this from "bad poetry in the guise of philosophy?"
Nothing really. It's just your opinion. Brandon Sanderson's and Robert Jordan's views on the world leaked into the story as they wrote. That's fine, what author doesn't do that? The "guise of philosophy" part isn't supposed to explain the real world, but Randland and the pattern. As for the bad poetry part, if that's how you interpret it, it's entirely your choice. But that is just your opinion. Personally, I wonder if it conflicts with your views of the world?

Finally, one question for you. How does it not stand up to scrutiny? I don't see any contradictions. I'll admit that it could have been forshadowed better, though personally I liked this level of foreshadowing. It fit perfectly, but it still caught us by surprise (for the record, before I read AMOL, I didn't like the idea that the Dark One could be killed, but I really liked how that was handled).


 

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Short version: There is very little evidence that the dark one can affect the pattern when the bore is closed and cause evil. There is also little or no evidence that he can't. The twist, that the Dark One's death destroys choice, is unsupported factually, but fits the thematic content of the series fairly well. It could have been foreshadowed better, but I like it the way it is. Finally, since there was little evidence either way, I think it was BS/RJ's call to throw that in there, and I don't think it came from nowhere.

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Sure it does. You just don't want to see it.

 

You're caught up on the DO having to touch the world for there to be evil. "Well he's locked away so how can he influence". Think of it more like this: now that he's "locked away" again, the wheel, somehow, utilizes his essence in order to give people the choice to do bad things. If that essence wasn't there, they can't.

 

Is there a quote for that? No. Is that the exact way it happens? Probably not. But that's along the lines of how you need to think for it to work. It doesn't break anything we had established before, and it makes sense.

 

So what you're saying is that you came up with your own interpretation of the fundamental nature of Rand's confrontation with the DO that isn't really explained in the book and probably isn't totally accurate.

 

Okay.

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I'll answer your bonus question first because it is the easiest:

  • "YOU CANNOT GIVE OBLIVION. REST IS NOT YOURS. ONLY TORMENT." pg 890
  • ​Verin's comment that the Dark One seems to reward selfishness
  • Shadowspawn
  • Shaidar Haran's pleasure in giving pain
  • the absolute unforgiving nature of the Darkfriend hierarchy
  • the Dark One's "world without light"

There are countless examples in the book that evil is nothing special. It's just what ever is bad and morally wrong. This isn't a dictionary, so I can't tell you how the book defines morality, but from the evidence presented and several other examples I can infer what I think evil in this book is. Of course, my inferences are colored by my ideas of right and wrong just as yours are, which is where we run into subjectivity. It's possible that there is a clear moral split between the influence of the Creator or that of the Dark One, or maybe it's as vague as the Dark One merely emphasizes what we would call "bad" tendencies in people. The book does not clearly delineate this, but neither should it, since it is a work of fiction, not philosophy. That does not mean it's not well defined for Randlanders. If you want more just ask and I'll continue this thread of thought.

 

Now the meat and bones! First I'll say I agree with you on one point. There is relatively little direct evidence in the books to support the assertion that the Dark One at all times affects the pattern that heavily. Here's where I disagree with you. I believe there were just enough little hints and clues hidden in the book so that this does not qualify as a completely unsupported twist ending. The difficulty is that a lot of the evidence is thematic (which is why I use so many "imaginary examples," I thought they'd be better at getting the point across). This is because it's from the third person limited perspective. We see everything colored by the character's perspectives, and no one truly knows how the world works (Well, Rand supposedly learns, but he has only a few pages after that realization)

 

Here's the in-book explanation: The Creator created the wheel and the wheel of time runs. There are no endings and no beginnings to the turning of the wheel of time. From Rand's perspective we see that even when the bore is sealed up, the Dark One is the source of all evil. It's just that he can't take a direct hand in events (much like the Creator presumably voluntarily allows the wheel to weave as it will, the Dark One's prison forces him to do this).

 

As Kael mentioned, there is no direct evidence or claims, but it does not come out of nowhere.

  • The wheel of time guide mentions that when the bore was originally opened, for about 50 to a 100 years the Dark One directly influenced the hearts and minds of people in AOL ("If motivations for war and hate were removed, then so were the resultant activities. The Bore changed all of that. The fabric of society began to unravel under the onslaught of the Dark One’s influence." The Guide, taken from http://wot.wikia.com/wiki/Collapse). 
  • Suttree found this quote (it's on the 13x13 wall. I'm not sure how to quote interviews though. Oh well)

    "They are not in a mindless state of Compulsion. Their former personality is twisted, the darker elements that everyone has to some degree elevated while what might be called the good elements are largely suppressed. I don't mean things like courage, which is usefuleven to villains, but they are unlikely to be very charitable, for example, and forget any altruistic impulses. Call it being turned into a mirror image of yourself in many ways. It is very unlikely that a channeler forcibly turned to the Shadow could find a way back to the Light unaided. For one reason, by virtue of the twisting he or she had undergone, it is very unlikely that he or she would have any desire to do so." Robert Jordan

I think this establishes the idea that the Dark One can influence peoples emotions with the bore open.

 

With the bore closed, there is no direct evidence either way of the extent of the Dark One's influence on the pattern. Lews Therin, the forsaken and Birgitte are the only living characters that experienced life before the bore. Secondary and tertiary information is limited. Here's what we know.

 

  • War was nearly forgotten, and poverty was gone.
  • There was still crime, and the harshest punishment for channelors was to forswear their crimes on what is now the oath rod.
  • We know the Chair of Remorse survived the breaking, though its original purpose is lost in time, I think its very existence is suggestive. It does not seem like something Dark Friends would think of to use for torture.
  • Lews Therin/Rand believes even without the bore, war would eventually have destroyed the AOL.

​As you can see, the information provided suggests that there was always evil even when the bore was sealed up. The quote from the Guide above shows that they never overcame it. They just created incentives for people to be nice to each other. In otherwords, they never eliminated choice, just made it less beneficial to choose evil.

 

The central question is what is the source of evil? Is it humanity or the DO? The evidence above doesn't answer the question in any way, but I think it does highlight that question. So question for you, what in-book evidence is there that it originates with humanity?

 

 

So, now let's address your question. (1) How did BS/RJ earn the right to claim that all evil stems from the Dark One?

 

My answer is in thematic content. Robert Jordan emphasized the importance of balance in the pattern over and over. If you think about it, allowing the Dark One to be killed, or acknowledging that it would be best if he was killed would have invalidated a large portion of the series. Still, free will? If you read carefully and really think about it, BS did spend quite a bit of time building this up. One of the most important lessons the three ta'veren learn throughout the series is not only how little choice they have in their actions, but how to deal with it. When Rand becomes darth Rand, we quickly learn that he does have a choice afterall, and he very nearly destroys the world. It is in this context that we enter the last battle.

 

(2) How does all of this work? What distinguishes this from "bad poetry in the guise of philosophy?"

Nothing really. It's just your opinion. Brandon Sanderson's and Robert Jordan's views on the world leaked into the story as they wrote. That's fine, what author doesn't do that? The "guise of philosophy" part isn't supposed to explain the real world, but Randland and the pattern. As for the bad poetry part, if that's how you interpret it, it's entirely your choice. But that is just your opinion. Personally, I wonder if it conflicts with your views of the world?

 

Finally, one question for you. How does it not stand up to scrutiny? I don't see any contradictions. I'll admit that it could have been forshadowed better, though personally I liked this level of foreshadowing. It fit perfectly, but it still caught us by surprise (for the record, before I read AMOL, I didn't like the idea that the Dark One could be killed, but I really liked how that was handled).

 

 

 

 

How, in the WOT, do you define "whatever is bad and morally wrong"? Don't use morality from the real world, because the WOT has self-contained cosmology that should be (and I argue is not) self-consistent. Your examples of what define "evil" still don't explain in any way that makes sense how killing the DO disallows people in the WOT from acting this way.

 

For example: If "evil" was definied as "anything that causes discord" and "good" as "anything that causes harmony" then you would have the basis for some time of coherent philosophy to build on. This would actually play into the "Lord of Chaos"/balefire pattern of how the DO operates, as well as the overarching theme of the Light needing to all stop fighting each other and unite to fight the DO for a common cause, etc. Killing the DO, then, would therefore impose order and take away the tug-and-pull between harmony and discord and might actually give the effect that Rand saw in the Pattern. But I shouldn't have to make this stuff up.

 

I'm not saying it's impossible to frame the series in such a way as to allow for the necessity of the existence of the DO in order to preserve agency and free will, I'm saying that zero attempt was made to actually do this, much less make any sense of it.

 

"Kill the DO and people will become zombies and just take my word for it and stop asking questions" is not the standard that this series has set, nor do I believe it is the standard in which RJ would have aspired to. Just consider the different ways that he penetrated other areas of morality (the fall of the Forsaken and their various motivations, Perrin's emo phase, the morality of the a'dam and the alliance with the Seanchan, Galad's black & white view of the world and the Whitecloaks in general), etc etc etc I can go on listing these.

 

So when your story is framed around the idea of "good vs evil" yes, you do need to actually be able to explain which is which.

 

 

You asked for an in-book example of evil originating from humanity, and I don't know how you can be an even casual fan of WOT and not immediately recognize Shadar Logoth. A big deal was made about not only how it was a human-based evil, but how this evil was actually OPPOSED to the DO. If this evil came from the DO, it would seem confusing for it to oppose the DO to the point of cancelling each other out (cleansing of the taint).

 

The existence of SL makes no sense in the WOT you are describing to me.

 

BS did spend a lot of time building up free will, and I can understand what he was trying to do. However, the "reveal" that evil is actually coming from the DO and not, in fact, from our own free will, was a pretty big WTF despite any attempt to foreshadow it, because again, it just doesn't make sense and actually TAKES AWAY moral culpability from anybody.

 

"The DO made me do it." And who could argue?

Edited by jjp
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I see where the basis of the problem is.

 

You view good/evil as shades of gray... whereas the WOT series sees the fundaments of good/evil being black and white with no (or very little of gray in the middle. This is a huge philosophical rift that is hard for adherents of one view to see the other's point of view.

 

Regarding Shadar Logoth, it was created by those that either used evil - or dipped so deeply into the gray area that it was evil - depending upon your point of view to fight evil. Yes, it was attracted to beings of The Shadow, because it was made from the Shadow: http://wot.wikia.com/wiki/Shadar_Logoth (yes, an outside linky) because that is what it was made to do. It was created by using the shadow to fight the shadow - and Mashadar became quasi-sentient. It makes perfect sense - it is the polar opposite of the Whitecloaks. The Children are _SO_ good that they appear evil to many - especially those that see morality in shades of gray. Mashadar was created to combat evil - and does that with joy (well...). It is also a creature of the shadow, which also means that it seeks to combat good and replicate itself.

 

The introduction of the Children and Shadar Logoth along with the rest of the crew was RJ's way of introducing the philosophic debate into the books to show that rationalization and justification are the first step down the path to The Shadow (read: The DO). The books ARE consistent - for both arguments. Where your downfall is, is that you can't wrap your mind around the other point of view, especially since they are presented side by side. For black/white folks, there is no gray. For gray folks, there is no black and white. The B/W folks see morality like Ed Meese saw pornography... "I'll know it when I see it." Grey folks have to argue it out to reach a consensus.

 

Now, as to the ramifications of the elimination of evil, know why you don't see where they were going with it.


In the dark future that the DO showed Rand, everyone was evil - because there was no other option. There was no CHANCE to do "nice" or "good" things. Likewise, that was what Rand saw in his Utopian vision of the future - empty eyes because they couldn't make any choices for themselves to do "good" or "..." well, there was no other option available. This is the Black/White debate taken to the extreme - and why you have problems with it. There truly _IS_ no gray - there was BLACK... or WHITE... and nothing in between.

 

The power of humanity that Rand finally saw was based in our free will and our ability to make those decisions for ourselves.

 

It was also based in a world-view (from RJ as evidenced in the entire series) that man is basically good and most will choose to do good when pressed. Sure, we may slip and slide from time to time - and some may fall all the way out of the Light - but we, as a species, are basically good.

 

Howzat for an description?

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RJ presented "evil" as many different shades of grey, see my examples above. Seanchan and the a'dam are a perfect example. You don't see any shades of grey in using and abusing slaves in order to fight the Shadow? THAT is something that is presented as black or white?? I'm not bringing my personal views into this, I'm playing by the rules that RJ and BS set out. Even if you want to ultimately attribute the source of SL's evil to the DO, it's obviously not a black or white evil. Perrin had a big arc wondering if his ends justified his means.... Whitecloaks were hardly "good"... have you read this lately???

 

Luckily for our convo, I don't think the "black or white or grey" matters at all, because none of it explains how the DO must exist for people to have free will. It's impossible to explain and it determined the grand arc of the entire series. The DO was represented for 13 1/2 books as an external FORCE of evil - nowhere was it mentioned he was the SOURCE of evil. A completely new set of rules got introduced at the very end, which essentially took free will AWAY from every character in the book (since their free will depends on the existence of the DO). What kind of free will is that??

 

Rand made a whole production over how he was going to kill the DO, it's not like this is an academic discussion. He spoke about it for books. It's fine if there had to be a reason for him not to, I expected as much. But this was just invented sloppily and it doesn't hold up to scrutiny.

 

How do they have free will if he's sealed away? What's the difference between killing him and sealing him off? Who decides what kind of "evil" is "transmitted" by the DO, since different people have different definitions of evil?

 

It's a swiss cheese plot twist, full of holes.

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How, in the WOT, do you define "whatever is bad and morally wrong"? Don't use morality from the real world, because the WOT has self-contained cosmology that should be (and I argue is not) self-consistent. Your examples of what define "evil" still don't explain in any way that makes sense how killing the DO disallows people in the WOT from acting this way.

 

 

 

There are countless examples in the book that evil is nothing special. It's just what ever is bad and morally wrong. This isn't a dictionary, so I can't tell you how the book defines morality, but from the evidence presented and several other examples I can infer what I think evil in this book is. Of course, my inferences are colored by my ideas of right and wrong just as yours are, which is where we run into subjectivity. It's possible that there is a clear moral split between the influence of the Creator or that of the Dark One, or maybe it's as vague as the Dark One merely emphasizes what we would call "bad" tendencies in people. The book does not clearly delineate this, but neither should it, since it is a work of fiction, not philosophy. That does not mean it's not well defined for Randlanders. If you want more just ask and I'll continue this thread of thought.

 

I feel like that should answer your first question. Reading through your posts I wonder if we agree more than it seems. I acknowledge that there is no firm definition of evil in the series. The difference is that it does not frustrate me as much as it seems to frustrate you. Furthermore, stating "All evil originates from the Dark One" would require a rigorous definition of evil in any philosophical work. In fiction though, presented the right way it's satisfying.

 

 

 

For example: If "evil" was definied as "anything that causes discord" and "good" as "anything that causes harmony" then you would have the basis for some time of coherent philosophy to build on. This would actually play into the "Lord of Chaos"/balefire pattern of how the DO operates, as well as the overarching theme of the Light needing to all stop fighting each other and unite to fight the DO for a common cause, etc. Killing the DO, then, would therefore impose order and take away the tug-and-pull between harmony and discord and might actually give the effect that Rand saw in the Pattern. But I shouldn't have to make this stuff up.

 

True, but think of it this way. RJ/BS were writing a work of fiction. It is not intended to teach us anything, yet it is good enough to make us question (hence this entire forum). I have a terrible mind for quotations, but isn't there some sort of quotation saying the best authors present questions that their readers feel compelled to mull over? (I think I slaughtered that). Still, you are definitely entitled to your opinion if you want a more rigid philophical base to the series, that's up to you. I do think though that the DO being the source of all evil is consistent to the themes of the book as is the necessity of evil.

Alternatively, consider this. The book is never so condescending as to tell the readers what is right and what is wrong. You might enjoy it if the book had a more specific definition of evil, but I think any definition would be troublesome. For example, if good and evil were portrayed as a battle between harmony and discord, the book would have lost a lot of the depth it had. Because we don't know what evil is, we are forced to look at all the little complications in the book. For example, would the Dark One really have gone for a single battle in the end if chaos were all he were capable of? With this vague definition we don't have a rigorous understanding of how the Dark One works or how his death could destroy choice, but evil is one of those words for which we could definitely imagine it.

 

 

"Kill the DO and people will become zombies and just take my word for it and stop asking questions" is not the standard that this series has set, nor do I believe it is the standard in which RJ would have aspired to. Just consider the different ways that he penetrated other areas of morality (the fall of the Forsaken and their various motivations, Perrin's emo phase, the morality of the a'dam and the alliance with the Seanchan, Galad's black & white view of the world and the Whitecloaks in general), etc etc etc I can go on listing these.

 

 

 

So when your story is framed around the idea of "good vs evil" yes, you do need to actually be able to explain which is which.

 

I'm not sure I agree. For most of the series it is very clear what is bad and what is good. But we still have several members of the light (Seanchan, Whitecloaks, Elaida, and even the Sharans) serving the shadow unwittingly. Similarly we see Lanfear helps Rand gain Asmodean while following her selfish goals of obtaining Rand. Ultimately, none of the characters know which is which (Brandon Sanderson's writing is a little more black and white. I think he fails with Rand, even though he tried to present flaws, he makes Rand too perfect). So why should we? That doesn't mean that there isn't some distinction somewhere, and that doesn't mean we can't identify the extremes. RJ/BS show the full spectrum. We never feel any pity for Trollocs or Myrddraal because they are purely evil. The DO being pure evil and the DO being the source of evil isn't too different. Maybe the Rand scene was heavy handed, but the idea is still good.

 

You asked for an in-book example of evil originating from humanity, and I don't know how you can be an even casual fan of WOT and not immediately recognize Shadar Logoth. A big deal was made about not only how it was a human-based evil, but how this evil was actually OPPOSED to the DO. If this evil came from the DO, it would seem confusing for it to oppose the DO to the point of cancelling each other out (cleansing of the taint).

 

The existence of SL makes no sense in the WOT you are describing to me.

 

 

 

 

Also, I don't think the evil of Shadar Logoth is separate from the Dark One even if it is directed against him. It's an evil that was inspired by the Dark One. I doubt hatred would have any meaning without the Dark One.

 

As I said before, Shadar Logoth was entirely a reaction to the shadow. For all that the hatred of Shadar Logoth was focused on the Shadow, they emulated the shadow. Used the shadow's own techniques against them. For all that they would utterly destroy the shadow if they could, the evil in Shadar Logoth is based fundamentally on a certain kind of respect for the shadow. I think that qualifies as evil caused by the Dark One.

 

 

 

BS did spend a lot of time building up free will, and I can understand what he was trying to do. However, the "reveal" that evil is actually coming from the DO and not, in fact, from our own free will, was a pretty big WTF despite any attempt to foreshadow it, because again, it just doesn't make sense and actually TAKES AWAY moral culpability from anybody.

 

"The DO made me do it." And who could argue?

 

It certainly does not take away any moral responsibility. The entire theme of the series is balance. So good and evil are external, it is still an entirely internal decision to what extent you allow the shadow to fill you and to what extent you allow light. It's not the simple free will where we are independant beings that generate our own actions. We depend on the pattern, the Dark One, and presumably the Creator. Free will comes in when you consider to what extent you let those forces influence you. (Consider the Game of Houses. What is the only way we've heard of to go from a position of weakness to one of strength? You find the factions among your superiors, and play them off eachother going with whoever best fits your agenda. This is a similar idea).

 

 

RJ presented "evil" as many different shades of grey, see my examples above. Seanchan and the a'dam are a perfect example. You don't see any shades of grey in using and abusing slaves in order to fight the Shadow? THAT is something that is presented as black or white?? I'm not bringing my personal views into this, I'm playing by the rules that RJ and BS set out. Even if you want to ultimately attribute the source of SL's evil to the DO, it's obviously not a black or white evil. Perrin had a big arc wondering if his ends justified his means.... Whitecloaks were hardly "good"... have you read this lately???

 

Luckily for our convo, I don't think the "black or white or grey" matters at all, because none of it explains how the DO must exist for people to have free will. It's impossible to explain and it determined the grand arc of the entire series. The DO was represented for 13 1/2 books as an external FORCE of evil - nowhere was it mentioned he was the SOURCE of evil. A completely new set of rules got introduced at the very end, which essentially took free will AWAY from every character in the book (since their free will depends on the existence of the DO). What kind of free will is that??

 

Yeah, great isn't it! Remember no character ever truly knows what's going on. That's what happens when you take a characters word for gospel! And again, I think you're getting free will and independence mixed up.

 

 

 

Rand made a whole production over how he was going to kill the DO, it's not like this is an academic discussion. He spoke about it for books. It's fine if there had to be a reason for him not to, I expected as much. But this was just invented sloppily and it doesn't hold up to scrutiny.

 

How do they have free will if he's sealed away? What's the difference between killing him and sealing him off? Who decides what kind of "evil" is "transmitted" by the DO, since different people have different definitions of evil?

 

It's a swiss cheese plot twist, full of holes.

 

I don't think it's full of holes. There was a lot that was left for the readers to figure out, and RJ did want some things to be left ambiguous. Did you honestly believe the way RJ was going, he was going to wrap everything up or even really explain what was going on? KoD was a mess of plot elements! But it held together. You claim it doesn't hold up to scrutiny? Let's examine your problems with the end.

Dark One's death destroys choice. That's not a contradiction, nor does it contradict the concept of free will.

We don't have enough information. To an extent that's legitimate, but can you really expect him not to leave something for the reader?

 

Shadar Logoth. Again, just because the evil is directed against the DO doesn't mean it isn't a part of the evil he provoked in the world. What would Shadar Logoths hatred mean in a world without evil?

 

Ultimately though, it boils down to our respective opinions. If you were disappointed with the end, that's fine. I just hope you understand why I like it and I hope I'm not misunderstanding your own disappointment.

Edited by Semirhagesbane
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RJ presented "evil" as many different shades of grey, see my examples above.

Actually RJ was clear on the fact that he liked the black/white avenues open in Fantasy.

 

 

 

Interview: Oct, 1998                                                  

Waldenbooks Interview (Verbatim)                                                                                       
Waldenbooks                                                                 
The Chicago Sun-Times calls your work "A fantasy tale seldom equaled and still more seldom surpassed in English." This is rather high praise! What does fantasy mean to you? Why would you decide to write epic fantasy?

 

 Robert Jordan                                            

                                

It is certainly high praise—embarrassingly high! I chose fantasy in a large part because of its flexibility. It is possible to talk about right and wrong, good and evil, with a straight face in fantasy, and while one of the themes of the books is the difficulty of telling right from wrong at times, these things are important to me. There are always shades of gray in places and slippery points—simple answers are so often wrong—but in so much "mainstream" fiction, there isn't anything except gray areas and slippery points, and there isn't 10 cents worth of moral difference between "the good guys" and "the bad guys." If, indeed, the whole point in those books isn't that there is no difference.
&
 
 

 

Interview: Oct, 2000                                                         
Orbit Interview (Verbatim)

                                            

Orbit Books                                            

                                  

What inspired you to write in the fantasy genre?

 

Robert Jordan                                            

                                 

Some stories need to be told in certain genres, and fantasy allows the writer to explore good and evil, right and wrong, honour and duty without having to bow to the mainstream belief that all of these things are merely two sides of a coin. Good and evil exist, so do right and wrong. It is sometimes difficult to tell the difference, just as it can be difficult to know what is the proper thing to do, but it is worth making the effort.
 
Although at times he does touch on defining what is evil and how far you can go before crossing over, if you compare his work to most modern fantasy it seems almost like a throw back. There is a very black/white focus overarching much of the series. It certainly doesn't come remotely close to being "grey" like many other works out there. It feels almost antiquated at times in that regard.
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I don't feel that people discuss the true nature of the DO often enough. Contrary to the perspectives of many characters, he is not necessarily evil incarnate. Evil is a perspective. Light and Dark are not. The dark one is not evil, he is just an ending.

 

Without an end, there can be no beginning. In order for the wheel to make forward progress, there needs to be a conflict pushing it. Contrary to what was implied in the early books, it may not be Saidin and Saidar that turn the wheel, but rather the TP and the OP. I don't remember where this was stated: "He (implied Rand) who thinks he turns the Wheel of Time, may learn the truth too late." This was probably the best hint left as to the ending, and it should likely be examined thoroughly. Reflection upon the comment should inevitably lead to a reflection upon the turning of the wheel. It is apparent that the turning is attributed to the interaction between Saidin and Saidar early in the series. However, many references from early on turned out to be incorrect, and the characters in general tend to have a very limited knowledge in the area of the Shadow, and the interplay of light and dark. From the visions of a world with only Dark and a world with only light, it was instead implied that the world is turned by the interaction of the TP and OP, or perhaps the interaction between Light and Dark themselves.

 

I hate to reference Mistborn in a WOT thread, but I feel that this would be a good time to stress a reflection in the implications between the two. In Mistborn, it is stressed that Preservation and Ruin (Think of as DO and Creator) can only create together. Preservation can sustain alone, while Ruin can only destroy. In a similar manner, while the Creator can create, and the Dark One can destroy, neither alone can preserve (sustain the wheel). The Dark One simply also has no will to keep the Wheel turning, while the Creator and his human servants do.

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You are missing the point.

 

I only ask how "evil" is defined in this series because at the end of the last book, we are told that "evil" - whatever that is here - will be eliminated if the DO dies and consequently free will along with it. It's important because it convinced Rand to let the DO live.

 

I'm not looking to be taught or preached to, I'm trying to make some sort of sense of this plot invention.

 

Forget defining evil and what it would mean if it was removed from the Pattern (if Cenn Buie's wife asked him if her dress made her look fat and he thought it did, could he lie if the DO was dead?).

 

I'd just be happy for a direct answer as to how evil originates from the DO and affects the world to the point that people's free will would vanish if this vague effect of his was ended by his death, and how it can still function while he is (quasi) "sealed."

 

Keep thonking about what this means and it all begins to unravel. Did the Creator intend for his creation to have free will? If the DO is the "balance" to the Creator as RJ has said, and was not created by the Creator... Then free will as it was defined in AMoL isn't even a part of the Creator's creation. He's lucky the DO was there to make people's lives interesting, I guess.

 

This "twist" is a pretty feeble house of cards, and I hate feeling more and more right about this because I was hoping to be wrong, it's disappointing.

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