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2012-04-30: I had the great pleasure of speaking with Harriet McDougal Rigney about her life. She's an amazing talent and person and it will take you less than an hour to agree.
2012-04-24: Some thoughts I had during JordanCon4 and the upcoming conclusion of "The Wheel of Time."
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On the second answer: RJ indicated in Sweden in 1995 that he does use a 21-graded scale to keep track of channeler strength.
The first answer appears to be an Aes Sedai answer (avoiding the question). The real answer (at least, the answer that is consistent with the rest of the books) is that RJ probably used a bit of hyperbole in the scene where Mat was Healed in The Dragon Reborn (or rather, Nynaeve did, and she even caught herself...but RJ wrote it in such a way that left room for doubt whether she was amazed at her arrogance or at her potential strength).
The woman with the shielding talent, at least as far as we were shown in A Crown of Swords, was in the Kin (Berowin), and not one of those holding Nynaeve when they went after the Bowl (Falion, who got away, and Ispan, whom they captured). They were linked, and they waited until Elayne went upstairs with most of the Kin, then caught Nynaeve off-guard while she wasn't already holding the Power, and they (rightly) believed the remaining Kin wouldn't interfere. (Erica noted when I interrogated her about this report that these were all quick questions which he answered while signing books, so he was probably too distracted to explain properly—all indications are that he truly enjoyed explaining such things when he had the leisure to do so, and that he also would have gladly admitted to the hyperbole so long as he had time to address the rest.)
I think one of RJ's main points in that scene was that Mat, not being able to see the weaves, wouldn't have any idea what was going on, and therefore neither should we, really. RJ even called our attention to this phenomenon in the battle between Moghedien and Nynaeve at the end of The Shadow Rising:
"A man who came in then, or any woman unable to channel, would have seen only two women facing each other across the white silk rope from a distance of less than ten feet. Two women staring at one another in a vast hall full of strange things. They would have seen nothing to say it was a duel. No leaping about and hacking with swords as men would do, nothing smashed or broken. Just two women standing there. But a duel all the same, and maybe to the death."
The scene in A Crown of Swords was a way of exploring that phenomenon. Presumably Nynaeve was strong enough to break the shield, but it was close enough that it came to a fight much like the Moghedien fight. Meanwhile, Nynaeve says aloud that Falion and Ispan are linked, and she chastises the Kin for not helping her. That tells us all we need to know.
For Shiska, a mixed gender circle has X amount of saidin and Y amount of saidar available, set by the strengths of the men and women in it. Talents or special skills available to members of the circle other than whoever is melding the flows are not available to the person who is. If those Talents or skills are particularly needed, then control of the circle must be passed.
For Gyrehead, Foretelling is not related to strength. The weakest possible channeler could Foretell as strongly as Elaida or Nicola, or perhaps even more so, depending entirely on the strength of his or her Talent for Foretelling.
The three Red Sitters were sent into exile in 985 NE under Marith Jaen.
Yes, Morgase has slowed, and that is exactly why there is so much emphasis on her looking only ten years older than Perrin when she has children the ages of Elayne and Gawyn.
Regarding the percentage of women who could test for the shawl, it would be 62.5% of the bellcurve. I'll leave the maths to you for an idle moment. The question doesn't really apply to men, since the Black Tower accepts anyone who can learn to channel, but if the White Tower limits were applied, it would be roughly 65.4% of the bellcurve. Although, considering the effectiveness question, they should probably set it at the same 62.5%. Again, the maths are all yours. Regarding the levels of male strength, while the weakest man and the weakest woman would be roughly equivalent, you might say that there are several levels of male strength on top of the female levels. Remember to integrate this with what I've said elsewhere about effectiveness, though.
For kcf, again, we have never met anyone who has the Talent of emulating the effects of a ta'veren over a small area.
I give my input on the design of the chapter icons whenever a new one seems needed, but Harriet actually decides where to place them, and I am happy to leave the job to her.
Yes, Ingtar was seen at the Darkfriend Social.
The Wheel creates ta'veren at need, making someone who is already alive one. You aren't born ta'veren. Can you imagine being around a ta'veren who is teething?
It would be possible for a Darkfriend or Forsaken to be made ta'veren, but it seems unlikely. Ta'veren are part of the Wheel's self-correcting mechanism. When the Pattern seems to be drifting too quickly, and especially if it is in the wrong direction, one or more ta'veren are created. I can't really see how making a Darkfriend or Forsaken ta'veren would help with correcting the drift of the Pattern.
Ta'veren can oppose one another, when their conflict is what the Wheel "sees" as the necessary corrective. And, no, ta'veren is not Old Tongue for Deus ex machina. It came out of musings on luck, charismatic leaders, and the theory of the indispensable man.
Katerine escaped with the help of Darkfriends. Galina, who is much more closely watched by Wise Ones than Katerine was, would have little opportunity to use their help for an escape even if she wanted to, and she doesn't, not until she can get her hands on that rod. She'll put up with anything to get that.
Anyone who can channel, however weakly, can see the glow of saidar and feel someone channel. For sul'dam who have been sul'dam for a time, some begin to be able to see what might be called a ghostly image of the flows. Others convince themselves that this is, of course, only imagination and manage to give themselves a block.
Wow, you have a lot of questions. One more, and then I'm off to the next person.
Someone who sees ta'veren sees them as glowing. The more strongly ta'veren, the brighter the glow. This is a Talent, and is something that only someone who can channel can do. While she was stilled, Siuan could not see ta'veren, nor could she have if she had been burned out.
Ok...which brings up the following questions about the Wheel and its relationship to souls, Talents, abilities and channeling. Is the Wheel responsible for giving or weaving in Talents and abilities to a particular life, or are they like channeling, attached to the soul?
That’s an excellent question. I’m going to have to RAFO that...it’s actually more of a MAFO. What you're asking is would someone who is reborn into the Pattern have the same Talents again?
Right. Or does...the Wheel, we obviously know it is very capable of affecting the Pattern, so the question is does it give and take when it comes to abilities and talents it needs?
Yeah, right, I will have to MAFO that.
Ok, so can the Wheel give an individual life the ability to channel, if the soul does not come to that life with an inborn ability to learn or a spark? Can the Wheel give them that?
Again, I will have to MAFO this whole thing. I will have to go and look. I don’t know if someone is necessarily always born with the ability to channel, if they are in every Age...
...there is a quote I brought that we asked at DragonCon, Jordan said: “I don't think I have said if you are born with the spark you would have the have the spark again. I have said if you were born with the ability to channel, to learn or with the spark, you will, when your soul is born again, you will have the ability again, whether with the spark or without...” So, in essence he said it’s inherent you have the ability. Whether or not you spark or you can learn it that depends on the life.
My instinct knowing how Jim wrote and knowing the parallels in the notes would be that he would parallel the other Talents along the same lines. A Wolfbrother then would always have the ability to become a Wolfbrother and other things along those lines. I’m going off of instinct so that is an asterisked answer. I can MAFO that and look it up and we can see what we can find, but he did like to parallel a lot of these things...
...ok, so at the end of that answer he said this...we were asking a specific question about stilling and burning out...he said, “And neither burning out or stilling affects that except in this lifetime, your current lifetime”. In other words...
...that is consistent...
...it doesn’t affect your souls ability, your soul’s connection. So stilling and burning out do not affect the ability to channel, which seems to be integral to the soul as it pertains to a new life. That being said, Aran'gar and Osan'gar, they were transmigrated and we see that they can channel in their new bodies, which makes sense because the ability comes with the soul...
...and because of that if you were male before and reborn (in a female body)...you are channeling the wrong power...
...exactly...he was transmigrated into a different body, but still channeling the same power the soul inherits. So considering Jordan's statement about stilling and burning out not affecting the channeling ability of the new life of a soul, is the same for the new life of a soul transmigrated?
I’m going to say that transmigrated...if you were burned out and transmigrated you would still be burned out, is my guess.
Is that a MAFO question? Or...
...that is my guess and you can MAFO it if you want to send it to me, but that is a “I’m pretty sure” answer.
Yes, you would. Jim said that “neither burning out or stilling affects that except in this lifetime, your current lifetime.” (DragonCon), but transmigration is not really a different lifetime; more than just the soul moves. The new person (I’m at a loss for words here) also has the memories of the previous person, and its personality, and such. So Brandon is correct.
Jim says of Talents: “A Talent is a special ability with the One Power. While the name is used for other things, a Talent is, in truth, something which is inborn in the person and not something that can be learned.” And there is mention of the Wheel throwing out what it needs on occasion, and there’s the phrase, “The Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills.” The Wheel can give and take as it needs.
I believe that the potential for a Talent is there, but it doesn't necessarily manifest each time a soul is born. If the Wheel needs the Talent, the Talent is there. But if the Wheel doesn't need it, it lies dormant.
The above MAFO on Souls, Channeling and Talents [this can be found in the MAFO thread stuck at the top of The Gathering Storm Forum].
Beyond the MAFO, I was going to ask for a clarification on this. Firstly I would point out a curiosity—in KoD:23, Call to a Sitting, Tiana notes that many of the women who are strong in Nynaeve's method of Healing used to be village Wise Women. She wonders why that should make any difference, and indeed it does seem to imply that their life experience in some way affected their degree of Talent. How would this work out under the understanding of Talent as a soul-ability? Does life experience change the strength of the Talent, whilst soul-ability decides if you have it? Or should we make a distinction between Talents which are Skills—like Healing, or that Shielding Talent Berowin of the Kin has—and Talents which are Abilities—like Foretelling, Wolfbrothering or Dreaming?
Okay, let's look at this. Why did these women choose to be village Wise Women? Maybe they haven't sparked, but the Talent is there. They may not understand it, but they feel that they should be healing the sick. So, instead of life experience affecting the Talent, I think that it's more that the Talent affects the life experience.
Also, Aes Sedai have been taught that Healing is done one way, and that way is the only proper way. It's sort of like the gesture limitation; if an Aes Sedai learns to make weaves using gestures, she'll have a really hard time making the weave without making the gesture. I think that the former Wise Women are more open to learning the new way, and that gives them another advantage at it.
As far as I know, no. That's an 80%.
The question they should be asking is could Perrin (be taught to find dreams)?
Well, we don't really know no one did. If they did, they didn't share it, sure. You know, not all channelers are Aes Sedai, and even Aes Sedai don't always share things.
Yeah, they keep a lot back.
The Blue Ajah, you know, has all its little secret weaves, and I'm sure all the other Ajahs do as well. And two, there's always the whole thing that, 'the Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills', and sometimes the Wheel weaves out what it needs, and with the Last Battle coming, it needs all the help it can get…so the really talented people, the really ta'veren people, they come out again. That's for most of them. For Healing, maybe there's a different answer. Aes Sedai…they know how to Heal people, and that's the way they do it, and they don't need to know anything better! I mean, it's just Aes Sedai being Aes Sedai. They think they know what they're doing, so they don't look for a better way to do it.
And if they have discovered a better way to do it, they're probably not sharing it with other people, because every Aes Sedai is looking for an advantage over the others.
Oh, okay. So then that sort of partially answers the next half of my question, which is: How did some of these weaves get lost in the first place?
Oh, my favorite rant. All the Aes Sedai woke up one morning with amnesia. How did I Travel? I can't remember.
Well, part of it…I mean, I was reading, of all things, the Big White Book, and you know, the Breaking lasted a really long time, and things were really breaking. I mean, you might know how to Travel, but you didn't know if where you were trying to go was still there. You know, it might be in the middle of the ocean now, or on top of a mountain, so people probably weren't Traveling as much...and Aes Sedai were being killed right and left. There were all these crazy men, channelers wiping out entire cities, and the Aes Sedai women were trying to stop them, and sometimes they succeeded, and sometimes not…so, things really went to hell in a handbasket. Fast. And, you know, if a woman knew how to channel and she couldn't find anyone else who had the strength to channel, she couldn't really teach anybody to channel.
To Travel, is what I meant to say.
Yeah, there was a time of course when the White Tower wasn't there. You know, the White Tower was a recent innovation in the grand scheme of things, and so the Aes Sedai after the Breaking were everywhere, so there wasn't that institutional memory in all things at that point, and things were lost.
So the Hall of the Servants, then, basically was a much looser organization than the somewhat hierarchical White Tower…
…than we have now.
So we have a sort of central storing place for knowledge, or anything like that.
Yeah, think of what would happen to us if there was a horrible disaster that wiped out the internet. We would lose all of our knowledge except for, you know, the stuff that we still have in books. But you know, a good portion of our knowledge and communication that is electronic now would be gone.
But this podcast would remain in people's hearts. [laughter]
Well, you got me on that one, Maria, because if my computer was suddenly taken away and there were no others to replace it, I think I would probably have the equivalent of amnesia. It's my plastic brain, and I really need it. [laughter]
I've always thought that the lost talents were related to strength, because the modern Aes Sedai are weaker than the Age of Legends Aes Sedai, and a lot of these rediscovered weaves require a certain level of strength that just doesn't exist in those Aes Sedai.
Right, and also talent, because to do this Healing, you have to have a certain Talent for Healing. To make cuendillar...Janya couldn't make cuendillar worth a darn, and…she didn't have that Talent, so if somebody knew it, but there was nobody they could teach it to, it's gone!
Well, the thing is though…leading up to that comment: remember in—I believe it was Crossroads, but it might have been Knife of Dreams—when Sorilea (soar-ih-LAY-uh)—I have no idea if this is how it's pronounced...
She taught Cadsuane how to Travel, even though she couldn't make the weave work herself. So just because you don't have the strength to make the weave finish doesn't mean you can't form the weave anyway.
That's true, but...okay. We've got our nameless Aes Sedai after the Breaking, and she's found a little crew of people, and none of them are strong enough to Travel. Well, she's going to show them how to do it anyway and hopefully one day they'll find somebody strong enough but, you know, they never do. So we've got the same thing, and you know, sooner or later it's going to…if you can't actually use it for anything, you're going to put it aside and not pay any attention to it, and it will get lost.
Or, by the time that bunch of people finds someone who is [strong enough], it might have gone through several iterations and they might have the weave just a little bit wrong, so that it doesn't work either.
And—correct me if I'm wrong on this—but I don't think it's possible to write down how to do a weave. I think it's something that you have to learn through demonstration. You can't just write it down, and be like, 'Well, I'll put this on the shelf, and some day a hundred years from now someone will come along and pick it up and figure out how to weave...whatever from this. I feel like you have to be shown how to do a weave.
That is...I mean, that's how they do it. You know, the novices don't run around with heavy books; they run around being taught by actual people. It's my belief that writing might could give clues or something, but you have to be able to show it or work it out on your own.
Of course, I was going to say they could just check on YouTube and find out how, but then, would the One Power weaves even show up on video? [laughter] If they even had that...
Oh, that's a good question!
I actually was just wondering about that; I wonder if any these things—I'm sure that the effects would—but I presume that if most non-channelers can't see weaves that probably there's nothing there for a video to pick up, either...but it's an interesting question.
How to detect channeling: Whip out your camcorder! [laughter]
With a wi-fi finder.
Yeah, okay. I'm going to be good now. That would be too funny. It's a shame Jessi couldn't be with us. She really wanted to be, but she had to work, and couldn't get off. One of her favorite premises is, you know, how drastically the Wheel of Time story would all be changed if they had access to cell phones and texting and the internet and everything.
Oh yeah. There would be no story.
They do though! Elayne has the communication ter'angreal. They have cell phones...ish. They just don't use them! [laughter]
Give 'em time.
I sort of [?] a couple of the guys before one time when we were podcasting and I had to get up in the office; I was working and I had to turn a phone off, and I came back and I said "I just had to disable that callbox ter'angreal." And they said, "Oh, you are such a geek." [laughter]
A 'dork' is what actually they said.
No, you are a geek, because dorks have no social status whereas geeks are more knowledgeable in one or two given fields, and since we are all major WoT nerds—we qualify as nerds, not dorks.
Yeah, we got some cred there anyway.