The last few days I’ve returned to some things.

Looks like I missed the last Esslemont book with the bad AI cover. It seems relatively well received. For some reason I have the first and third in the series, but not the second. Probably because I couldn’t find the hardcover at the time. Erikson should be busy with the second book of the “sequel” trilogy, but from bits of information I found he also started the final book in the prequel trilogy, and said it was growing big. But then I also read there’s a part about Kallor that might be split into its own book? I’ve been reading the beginning of Fall of Light over and over, I just re-read parts of it. For some reason I don’t want to read it to the end.

Janny Wurts is finishing her own giant project next year with the last book, to be released in May, I think. It’s nice to see ambitious projects that get realized. Tad Williams last book also being delayed to fall of 2024. The publishing industry is at its weirdest. Sanderson too has the fifth book in his big series to come out in fall 2024. That’s where I draw the line because even if he’s a machine he also slowed down, and it’s not so reasonable to plan a 10 book series where it takes 3 years and more for each book, while you also work on countless of other projects, including other book series… and then have a gap between book 5 and 6 to deal with other things. Thematically book 5 closes some kind of cycle, whatever happens past that point is not to be taken for granted…

Of course Martin is stuck in limbo. I’d be less concerned about when the book(s) come out, realistically, and more about the fact that I feel he’s completely lost control on the whole project. I expected that the end of the TV series, rather than give him encouragement, only sowed more doubts.

Bakker has been MIA.

So I read bit of books here and there, because I’ve been distracted by other things. I wanted to continue where I left with Bakker, somewhere within book 3, but I was going to restart from the beginning of the book. And then I thought, why not restart from the first one…

The first few lines resonate with everything beyond.

It is only after that we understand what has come before, then we understand nothing. Thus we shall define the soul as follows: that which precedes everything.


There is a superficial, common way of understanding the first line. We truly understand events with the wisdom that comes with time, long after they happened. “We understand nothing” reads like an admonishment. But that’s the thing with Bakker, it’s never rhetorical. The argument here is literal. It follows one of those cycles: if it’s only after that we understand present time, then understanding is always escaping. Because we don’t understand the present in the moment we are understanding. See the difference? Superficially “we understand nothing” is rhetorical: because we understand SOMETHING. We understand what has come before. So it reads like an cynical exaggeration. But the actual meaning is like the Liar’s Paradox, we are fooled in the segment, but are actually bound in a loop. We don’t truly understand anything if the moment of understanding is itself escaping. There is no closure there. We are ever moving toward, or away from meaning. But never actually seizing it.

The second line mentions a “soul”. Itself a vague concept, but representing some sort of original mystery. It’s what we’re drawn to. The center of the attention. It is vague but important: we know the soul is the place where answers are found. It’s the place where present time and understanding are in sync. If we define the soul as that which precedes everything, then it’s meant as the ORIGIN. It’s the point either where the loop is started, or escaped. The Breaking of the Vessel, so to speak.

Already here there’s the whole concept of the “Darkness That Comes Before”. The idea of men creating gods, and then placing them before themselves. The gods create the world and men both. A pattern that returns many times through the book, in various forms.

“What came before?” There’s this 2017 video where Bakker says he was a kid writing philosophical thoughts on a typewriter, in red ink. And got himself spooked after writing that thought X is caused by though A, which itself is caused by thought B. And so on. Who is the original “mover” of these thoughts? I think he was spooked more about the fact of seeing it in red ink, and as if the typewriter took control of itself. Those thoughts aren’t spooky because of notions of free will, but because they become foreign. Who’s writing? Not me. Who’s this? Who else is here? It’s like a typical scene in a horror movie, where you see a typewriter start writing on its own, or writings appearing on the walls, written in blood. It’s almost schizophrenic: external, intrusive thoughts.

Then the actual Prologue starts:

One cannot raise walls against what has been forgotten.

This has a practical function, since it introduces what will be explained later. But here walls are meant as defense. If you forget about the threat exists, then how can you defend yourself from it?

But it’s also related to the wider theme, and so to the lines just above. Something not understood is just like something forgotten. Not perceived. That soul becomes then not just the mysterious place you’re drawn to, to find answer. But also the monster in the closet. A place of very basic fear. Of unknown that already seizes you. And how can you rise walls, how can you defend from that which you don’t understand? How can you protect your identity?

I didn’t know where I was. I guess I’ll start again from the beginning.

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  1. By » Mandate Schoolmen Looping Wor(l)d on 02 Jul 2023 at 3:23 pm

    […] The reader knows, but they don’t. They know the importance of the moment, but they do not know this is the moment. This obviously echoes back. […]

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