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View Full Version : It's a gap, not a barrier.


Seeker
11-12-2009, 10:08 PM
The other night, I had a long conversation with the Tworiverswoman. To summarize that conversation, she was insisting that there had to be something between Rand's living mind and his past-life memories. (And that the same was true for the other characters). As I explored the issue, I began to wonder precisely where a Randlander's past-life memories might reside. It occurs to me that the human brain simply doesn't have enough storage space to fit thousands of lives worth of memories. Maybe two or three. Maybe dozens, but not thousands. Brains have a finite number of neurons.

So, I believe the most logical place for a person's past-life memories to reside is in his soul. That said, a person's soul and his brain are fundamentally different objects; and there's a lot of guess work as to how information is pass from one to the other. A person's living mind is run from his brain. His past life memories are stored in his soul. So, then I asked myself, “what – if anything- is between a person's mind and his soul.”

A lot of people will say “a barrier.” But I do not believe that this is the correct word. When I critique the barrier-degredation theory, I am primarily nit-picking its wording. While I agree with the end result – the fact that Randlanders don't in general recall their past lives – I feel the barrier theory is worded poorly. And that this poor choice of wording has lead to unacceptable corollaries (secondary conclusions). “Barrier” is not the correct term to describe the space between the brain and the soul. The correct term is “gap.”

Why?

Let's start with the notion that Rand is supposed to remember his life as Lews Therin. He is the Dragon Reborn: this world's version of the second coming. He is the second coming of Lews Therin. So he has to remember being Lews Therin. That's what it means to be the second coming of a man: you have to be the same man who came the first time. And you can't be the same man if you don't remember being that man. That's what reincarnation means.

So now, let's compare “barrier” to “gap.”

If there is a barrier between Rand's living mind and his memories of Lews Therin, then the only way to access those memories is to smash a hole in the barrier.

If, on the other hand, there is a gap between Rand's living mind and his memories of Lews Therin, then the only way to access those memories is to bridge the gap.

So, why do I like gaps better? Because smashing a hole in a barrier is an inherently destructive act. Consider, for a moment, the mental image of a wall with a hole in it. The existence of the hole makes the wall flawed. Walls aren't supposed to have holes in them! So, by extension, Rand is flawed because his barrier has a hole in it! I mean just look at the name of the theory. “Barrier-degradation.” “Degradation” is a very negative term. A side conclusion of this theory is that Rand was never supposed to remember Lews Therin's life. It was an unfortunate accident. This is incompatible with the view that Rand was meant to remember being Lews Therin.

Bridging a gap, however, is not a destructive act. It's an act of creation. A bridge over a gap is not necessarily a bad thing in and of itself. The fact that Rand has this bridge to his past-life memories can be viewed as a positive thing! He's lucky enough to have knowledge that no one else has. It's perfectly compatible with the idea that Rand was meant to have this knowledge.

The barrier-theory states that Rand's past-life memories will naturally flow into his living mind and that an obstruction must be put in place to keep them apart. Therefore work needs to be done to keep the memories separate.

The gap-theory, however, states that Rand's living mind and his past-life memories are naturally separate and work needs to be done to bring them together. Same end-result, opposite means of arriving at it.

So, why is the gap-theory better? If work is being done to create barriers and keep past-life memories from flooding into a person's living mind, then a person isn't supposed to recall his past lives, or the Wheel wouldn't work so hard to keep those memories apart. Therefore, Rand situation is “wrong” or “unfortunate” in some way. He wasn't supposed to get his Lews Therin memories. He's an annomaly, an aberration, a flawed individual. You could say that Rand getting LTT's memories was “going against the divine plan.”

But if a person's past life memories are just naturally separate from his living mind, with no effort expended to keep them so, then the situation is devoid of moral judgment. Expending effort to access those memories is also devoid of moral judgement. A chasm is a naturally occurring object; but building a bridge over it isn't necessarily a bad thing. However, a wall with a hole in it is flawed by definition.

I refuse to accept the notion that Rand is flawed because he remembers his life as Lews Therin. To me, if a man is destined to be the direct rebirth of another man, then he is also destined to remember being that other man. You can't call him flawed for being what he is destined to be.

Now, if the barrier people come here and say “but we're not calling Rand flawed,” Yes, you are. The terminology you have created for your theory defines Rand's situation as a flawed one. It is a conclusion that your theory cannot avoid. If you want to avoid the implication that Rand is flawed, then you have to stop using the terms “barrier,” “hole” and “degradation.” (I mean, again, “degradation” is a kind of flaw).

Now, some obvious questions.
“But didn't Rand go insane for remembering Lews Therin? And therefore isn't it a flaw?”

NO!
Rand went insane from the amount of pressure that has been put on him since the very first book and from the fact that he had no means to cope with it. Rand went insane because he was told consistently that he was GOING to go insane. And when you convince yourself that you're going to go mad, you actually do go mad. And because he was exposed to the taint, which took his fears and anxieties and amplified them into outright paranoid delusions and schizophrenia. That's what LTT's voice was, a form of schizophrenia. Rand created that voice, but the taint probably helped.

But the taint did not cause the memories of Lews Therin's life.
And the memories of Lews Therin's did not cause Rand's insanity.

The memories are a good thing. The insanity is a bad thing. They didn't cause each other, they just happened at the same time.

“Well, if you need to 'build a bridge' to get at your past life memories, then how did Rand do it?”

Remember, that building a bridge is just an analogy. What I really mean is by “building a bridge” is developing a way to access the information in his soul. Rand is the only character to have direct contact with the people he knew and artifacts that he handled (or at least was in the presence of) in his past life. No other character can claim that for certain. I'm sure that talking to people that he knew as Lews Therin (Lanfear, Be'lal, Asmodean – who didn't really know him, but they'd heard of each other) was enough to start jogging his memory.

And finally – and I cannot stress this enough – RAND WAS MEANT TO REMEMBER LTT!

MEANT TO!

Because he's the chosen one. And being the chosen one means you are a special case and the rules are a little different for you. The general rules aren't necessarily thrown right out the window, but they are different. That's what it means to be the chosen one. That's what it means to be the second coming of a man. You are the SAME man who came the first time. And you can't be the same man if you don't remember being that man.

Nuff said.

Matoyak
11-12-2009, 10:32 PM
I agree with the majority of what you said, however I feel you probably should have left the Real vs. Construct debate out of it. Yes, it has implications in that debate, but really the actual Gap part of your theory here is more fundamental than that. It feels like you have more than one theory here.

Theory 1: There is a Gap rather than a barrier between Randlanders current lives and past lives memories. (I agree with this. It "feels" right compared to the Barrier theory.) I'd probably join a faction that stated this.

Theory 2: Rand created a bridge across this gap somehow. Here's how. (not sure just how much I agree on your interpretation on how this happened, but so far it seems like it has a nice start there)

Theory 3: Rand created a voice for these memories. (Meh. Totally apathetic on this one.)

Ozymandias
11-12-2009, 11:09 PM
This seems perfectly obvious. In fact, its basically stated dozens of times by RJ.

Obviously memories don't pass from brain to brain. The physical bodies of Randlander reincarnations are unique. That much is obvious. So are the brains. No offense to Rand, but Lews Therin was clearly a more intelligent man than he is.

Which leaves the only vehicle for memory transport in the soul.

A more interesting and debatable question is whether each life influences the composition of the soul. As in, Rand's soul clearly has pieces of Lews Therin in it. Is this merely the same soul, passed down through successive Dragons as is? Or is there a small piece of individuality which gets blended into the melange of the Reborn soul each time? Do Rand's choices and experiences get factored into how the Dragon soul manifests itself next time around?

Belazamon
11-13-2009, 12:02 AM
With one exception, I find no significant fault in this phrasing of the issue. :)

Now, if the barrier people come here and say “but we're not calling Rand flawed,” Yes, you are. The terminology you have created for your theory defines Rand's situation as a flawed one.
This, my friend, is merely a matter of you interpreting the existing terminology in a negative way. Just because you look at it as a negative descriptor, that doesn't mean that the person who formulated the argument shares your view. ;)

Terez
11-13-2009, 12:06 AM
Like Rand said - the Dark One sealed his own defeat by tainting saidin, as the taint gave Rand access to Lews Therin. That might not be true, but if it is, then there's a certain amount of poetic justice there. Just because the taint is a corrosive and destructive force doesn't mean that it can't have ultimately positive side-effects.

Ozymandias
11-13-2009, 02:10 AM
Like Rand said - the Dark One sealed his own defeat by tainting saidin, as the taint gave Rand access to Lews Therin. That might not be true, but if it is, then there's a certain amount of poetic justice there. Just because the taint is a corrosive and destructive force doesn't mean that it can't have ultimately positive side-effects.

Which to me, brings up the inevitable question of predestination.

There are two basic theories of destiny in Randland; either the Pattern is omniscient and incorporates everything possible into its plan, including Shadowspawn, the Dark One, etc, or the Pattern has a set course which the Dark One can twist.

I've always subscribed to the second variation, but how can you argue for anything other than total predestination when even the actions of the Dark One are a part of the plan? If Rand can't beat Shai'tan without the Taint, and the Taint is caused by Shai'tan, then it stands to reason that the Pattern knew ahead of time that Shai'tan would Taint the Source. And if it knew that, then Rand must win, because the Pattern will never plan for its own demise, and if it can plan for the actions of the DO, the Light can never lose

Lord Bloodpath
11-13-2009, 03:09 AM
Rand is human, therefore he is flawed. There, I said it! :p

Mountains are barriers. Mountains have passes. Naturally. I mean, you can blow a hole in one, build a tunnel, whatever, but the older they get, the more passes. Passes are not flaws. Neither are tunnels.

Good walls have holes in them. We call them windows or doors. Sometimes vents. The less holes a wall has, the more it suffocates us. 'S better for defense tho.... there's always an upside.

A friend of mine always used to complain, "Why is it, that whenever someone is 'horribly cursed' in a story, it's always with immortality, claws, and the strength of twenty men? Or the ability to see into other people's thoughts. When I become an Evil Overlord, I'm going to curse all my enemies with Instant Death..... No all-powerful mummies vying for world conquest 600 years down the line for me, thanks." Sometimes, Curses/Flaws are Boons/Virtues. Pretty much every single time, actually. There's a mystical idea in Judaism that all curses are actually blessings that overflow the ability to receive or make use of them. Think about it and you'll realize it's true.

Also: LTT could've been reborn, grown up and saved the world, all w/o having any of his memories from the previous life. I do not for a second buy the idea that it was actually necessary at all. Fated? Sure, it happened didn't it? Essential to the plan? No. It's only much, much easier if you have more experiences to draw on (especially when they're immediately and directly relevant to your current situation.)

Which leads me to the LTT smarter than Rand question..... IQ (the most commonly agreed measure of intelligence) measures how well you answer based on your age. Older people are expected to know more facts and more ways to correctly solve problems quickly. Rand was how old when the books began? And LTT was how old when he died? A believe multiple centuries are in it.

Rand had all the powers of LTT's soul once he hit maturity, all he was missing were the skills and some facts. I think even the skills would have come quickly this life because of how habitual they were by the point death came last time. It probably would've depended on how in touch he was with his own subconscious (which I think is the foot of the bridge or the opening of the tunnel.)

All that said, Seeker, I think you're right. From a certain POV ;) Although with the number and types of reincarnations apparent in WoTverse, I lean towards the barrier idea because to me it explains better if there are numerous breaches and integration happens because of a passive process. And our rl world has more of a gap, which would explain why it seems so rare here. Weird idea: I wonder if Rand won't do something to make this victory of the Light less transient by finding a way to make time more of a line or a spiral instead of a loop.... Meh. Prob'ly not since he broke the CK.

Consider something else... Right now, there is a decent distance between our physical locations. We're communicating using methods that overcome a number of obstacles that could function as barriers while simultaneously bridging a large gap. I submit to you that there was more than a temporal distance traversed by the Dragon soul between incarnations.

Lastly, nice one Ozy. I'm not sure where I stand on some of those ideas (and I've gone on too long here as it is) but good conclusion :)

Weird Harold
11-13-2009, 03:12 AM
I've always subscribed to the second variation, but how can you argue for anything other than total predestination when even the actions of the Dark One are a part of the plan?

But the actions of the DO Himself aren't part of the Pattern, just the actions of his mortal minions. The Wheel can't predict or control the actions of anyone/anything that is outside of the Pattern -- the Creator, The Dark One and maybe Padan Fain.

The Pattern can and does try to make the options available to the DO as limited as possible, but there would be no story if it had absolute control over T'G. There must be a chance for the DO to win that is beyond the Wheel/Pattern's control or the whole premise of the series breaks down.

Lord Bloodpath
11-13-2009, 04:23 AM
Maybe the wheel just likes drama....

Crispin's Crispian
11-13-2009, 11:27 AM
“Well, if you need to 'build a bridge' to get at your past life memories, then how did Rand do it?”

Remember, that building a bridge is just an analogy. What I really mean is by “building a bridge” is developing a way to access the information in his soul. Rand is the only character to have direct contact with the people he knew and artifacts that he handled (or at least was in the presence of) in his past life. No other character can claim that for certain. I'm sure that talking to people that he knew as Lews Therin (Lanfear, Be'lal, Asmodean – who didn't really know him, but they'd heard of each other) was enough to start jogging his memory.

And finally – and I cannot stress this enough – RAND WAS MEANT TO REMEMBER LTT!

MEANT TO!

Because he's the chosen one. And being the chosen one means you are a special case and the rules are a little different for you. The general rules aren't necessarily thrown right out the window, but they are different. That's what it means to be the chosen one. That's what it means to be the second coming of a man. You are the SAME man who came the first time. And you can't be the same man if you don't remember being that man.

Nuff said.It's not really "nuff said," because you didn't answer the question.

How did Rand build a bridge to his previous life's memories? Saying his "memory was jogged" isn't an answer, because it doesn't mean anything to this discussion. May as well say, "he built a bridge because he had to."

And saying he was predestined to build the bridge also doesn't answer the question. That may answer the question of why he built it, but not how.

Even if you say, "the Taintdidit," you still need to provide a mechanism for how the Taint could bridge the gap between current brain and ephemeral soul. (Give the Barrier Degredation theory some credit in that it at least attempts to provide a mechanism--the Taint corrodes the Barrier--though it still doesn't explain how the memories got from the soul to the brain.)

I like the idea that the brain can only retain so many memories at once. This makes perfect sense to me, as the brain/mind is the corporeal manifestation of the soul on earth.

Neilbert
11-13-2009, 12:00 PM
I've always thought the how question was unimportant. We know that the Wheel has mechanisms for providing people with memories of the dead. Mat gets memories from someone who may have been an ancestor, or maybe a past life, but the point is that the memories themselves are preserved across time, and are able to jump across whatever barrier or gap may exist.

In my mind there doesn't need to be an unnatural explanation.

Weird Harold
11-13-2009, 12:19 PM
Maybe the wheel just likes drama....
I think it's that the Wheel periodically has to release pressure built up over a Turning; More like a Steam Engine's safety valve than anythin Wheel-ish.

Ozymandias
11-13-2009, 12:24 PM
But the actions of the DO Himself aren't part of the Pattern, just the actions of his mortal minions. The Wheel can't predict or control the actions of anyone/anything that is outside of the Pattern -- the Creator, The Dark One and maybe Padan Fain.

But, if we use the assumption that the Taint is what gave Rand access to LTT, then the Pattern DID plan for one of the Dark One's actions. Not his minions, his action. The only direct action he takes in the entire series, in fact.

The Pattern can and does try to make the options available to the DO as limited as possible, but there would be no story if it had absolute control over T'G. There must be a chance for the DO to win that is beyond the Wheel/Pattern's control or the whole premise of the series breaks down.

I happen to agree with you, but this isn't necessarily the case. I think it was Callandor who was arguing the opposite position (maybe not) but that other person's view was something along the lines of:

Firstly, we know Rand wins anyways, so there isn't much a story. There is a Fourth Age, and thus the Light wins at Tarmon Gai'don.

Even if this were not the case, a story with total predestination can still be enjoyable to read for the very fact that its a story filled with growing up, intrigue, politics, war, madness, baths, and having sex in blizzards.

Again, I think the story is less fun without some element of doubt, but the whole "we don't know what happens" line is already bullshit because we know Rand wins. So as a reader, it almost doesn't matter whether there is predestination or not. We know the result, we're just waiting for the details.

GonzoTheGreat
11-13-2009, 12:41 PM
But, if we use the assumption that the Taint is what gave Rand access to LTT, then the Pattern DID plan for one of the Dark One's actions. Not his minions, his action. The only direct action he takes in the entire series, in fact.Not necessarily. It is possible that all the Prophecies of the Dragon (and the accompanying things the Dragon had to do, and hence the Dragon Reborn as such) only emerged after the Taint appeared.

AbbeyRoad
11-13-2009, 03:48 PM
There are two basic theories of destiny in Randland; either the Pattern is omniscient and incorporates everything possible into its plan, including Shadowspawn, the Dark One, etc, or the Pattern has a set course which the Dark One can twist.
Ah, but the Dark One is outside of the Pattern. Therefore, the Pattern is omniscient in all matters except for the Dark One (and most Shadowspawn as well, as they have no souls and therefore are not a part of the Pattern), hence why the Last Battle is such a big deal.

If Rand can't beat Shai'tan without the Taint, and the Taint is caused by Shai'tan, then it stands to reason that the Pattern knew ahead of time that Shai'tan would Taint the Source.
I'm of the belief that Rand can figure out how to reseal the bore without the memories of LTT. Min will help him out there. Lews Therin's memories just made it a lot easier. Rand has a chance either way, but a much better chance because of the corrosion of the barrier. Also, he could have tainted the male half of the Source without the Pattern's influence. Just because you tell me to take a drink of Gatorade doesn't mean you made me take a drink of Gatorade. I could have just been thirsty.

Another interesting thought is what if the Dark One did not intentionally taint the male half of the Power, but merely LTT sealing the bore as he did touched saidin to the Dark One and the taint that followed was just automatic causation. This would explain how the Pattern influenced both Rand's memories and the end of an Age (as the tainted Power caused the breaking of the world, which lead to the Third Age), without having to predict the actions of an unpredictable Dark One.

Because smashing a hole in a barrier is an inherently destructive act. Consider, for a moment, the mental image of a wall with a hole in it. The existence of the hole makes the wall flawed. Walls aren't supposed to have holes in them! So, by extension, Rand is flawed because his barrier has a hole in it!
You can think of it like Neo from the Matrix if it helps. Sure he is "flawed", but that gives him a huge advantage over everyone else. The term flawed is subjective here. I view the barrier as an integral factor designed by the Creator to make each incarnation of a soul unique, so that the same exact person is not reborn repeatedly over time. Obviously the soul 'remembers' (for lack of a better word) all of its past incarnations (as evidenced in T'A'R with the heroes), but the barrier makes each personality completely new, which is pretty amazing.

The fact that the Dark One tainting saidin allowed Rand to remember things from his previous life that will help him re-seal the bore is poetic justice at its best.

I refuse to accept the notion that Rand is flawed because he remembers his life as Lews Therin. To me, if a man is destined to be the direct rebirth of another man, then he is also destined to remember being that other man. You can't call him flawed for being what he is destined to be.
Ah, but Randland is all about reincarnation. Most souls are reincarnations of past lives (or "men", as you put here), and the Dragon soul has lived hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of lives. So, technically, Lews Therin was the "Dragon Reborn" as well. All people (or at least most; the Creator can always create new souls to the soul pool) are reborn souls with different personalities; that's how Randland works. It's a blessing that the barrier exists, as it allows people to be different with each turning of the wheel.

Now, if the barrier people come here and say “but we're not calling Rand flawed,” Yes, you are. The terminology you have created for your theory defines Rand's situation as a flawed one.
Well, what does "flawed" mean, but different? Of course Rand is very different than most souls. However, Rand being different allows him the nifty ability to access knowledge from a more enlightened age.

Which leads me to the LTT smarter than Rand question..... IQ (the most commonly agreed measure of intelligence) measures how well you answer based on your age. Older people are expected to know more facts and more ways to correctly solve problems quickly. Rand was how old when the books began? And LTT was how old when he died? A believe multiple centuries are in it.
Actually, the IQ doesn't measure much factual information and tends to remain constant over time. Once you turn about 10 years old, your IQ is generally more or less stable over your lifetime. It is very rare indeed that men in their 40's score higher on IQ tests than they did in their teens, and even if it does go up, it is almost never by any significant factor. And yes, I'll agree that LTT was more intelligent than Rand, from what we've seen in the books.

Firstly, we know Rand wins anyways, so there isn't much a story. There is a Fourth Age, and thus the Light wins at Tarmon Gai'don.
It's a fantasy series. Obviously Rand and co. win. The drama is in how they win, and at what costs, what it means, etc. I am of the belief that the One Power will no longer be channeled after aMoL (evidenced by RJ's quote saying that organized religion may be a part of the next age, but not this one as miracles are commonplace). However, the premise of the books are that the Dark One can theoretically break free, causing Min's visions not to come true.

Ozymandias
11-13-2009, 04:07 PM
Ah, but the Dark One is outside of the Pattern. Therefore, the Pattern is omniscient in all matters except for the Dark One (and most Shadowspawn as well, as they have no souls and therefore are not a part of the Pattern), hence why the Last Battle is such a big deal.

Shadowspawn do have souls.

Q: How does the idea of souls apply to constructs such as Nym and Trollocs? Could either of them be reborn?
RJ: To whoever put this one forward, this is one of the best questions I've ever gotten! Nym and Trollocs both have souls, and either could be reborn, but since Nym were a pure construct (i.e. each of them was individually made, like hand-crafting) a Nym would not be reborn as a Nym. You might say that a Nym's soul was borrowed temporarily from the supply of souls awaiting rebirth. A Trolloc, however, bears a twisted, or corrupted soul, and would be reborn as a Trolloc. Though frankly, a Trolloc's soul is such a pitiful thing, it hardly seems worth calling a soul.

You can think of it like Neo from the Matrix if it helps. Sure he is "flawed", but that gives him a huge advantage over everyone else. The term flawed is subjective here. I view the barrier as an integral factor designed by the Creator to make each incarnation of a soul unique, so that the same exact person is not reborn repeatedly over time. Obviously the soul 'remembers' (for lack of a better word) all of its past incarnations (as evidenced in T'A'R with the heroes), but the barrier makes each personality completely new, which is pretty amazing.

If each incarnation of the soul is unique, then it is not a soul Reborn... its a completely different soul, which defeats the point of being spun out again. Logically, this idea can't work in a world with souls being Reborn. It seems infinitely more likely that each soul is impact in some small way by each incarnation; thus, its the amalgamation of every Dragon that has come before. Rand has LTT's soul, plus little bits of his own life experiences, morals, and whatnot thrown in there. LTT had the guy before him, plus little bits of his own. And the guy after Rand will have Rand's soul, which is the culmination of countless Rebirths.

The fact that the Dark One tainting saidin allowed Rand to remember things from his previous life that will help him re-seal the bore is poetic justice at its best.

Right. But in a universe where there is a Wheel that Weaves the Pattern of lives and ages and everything in between, there IS no poetic justice. Or rather, all poetic justice must be planned. Put it this way. The Wheel has had an image of what the Last Battle will look like since the moment of Creation; we know it has a celestial design and is just weaving it out, which means that it knows the entire future from the moment of its conception. Therefore, if Rand is destined to beat the Dark One through the memories that seeped through the barrier, it means that was the original plan. Which means the Dark One is subject to the Pattern. Unless you want to subscribe to the belief that the Pattern merely incorporates the shocks the DO gives it into a new design.

It's a fantasy series. Obviously Rand and co. win. The drama is in how they win, and at what costs, what it means, etc.

Obviously we go in expecting a victory for the good guys. But there is a difference between that expectation, and an in-story philosophy that dictates that there is no chance for the Light to lose. The tension in these books is made by the seemingly impossible circumstances the protagonists face; if we KNOW those will all fade away, the story becomes marginally less interesting.

AbbeyRoad
11-13-2009, 04:29 PM
Do gray men have souls?

If each incarnation of the soul is unique, then it is not a soul Reborn... its a completely different soul, which defeats the point of being spun out again. Logically, this idea can't work in a world with souls being Reborn. It seems infinitely more likely that each soul is impact in some small way by each incarnation; thus, its the amalgamation of every Dragon that has come before. Rand has LTT's soul, plus little bits of his own life experiences, morals, and whatnot thrown in there. LTT had the guy before him, plus little bits of his own. And the guy after Rand will have Rand's soul, which is the culmination of countless Rebirths.
There is a distinct difference between a soul and a personality. The soul is the core of a person, the personality is how that soul takes shape in each lifetime due to experiences. We're basically saying the same thing, but with different terminology. I think that all souls are reborn into new bodies (vessels) with a barrier in place to keep our their past memories. However, the personality that each soul develops is due to unique experiences, which explains why each incarnation is different. The soul is more or less the same soul of their past incarnation (and the culmination of all of their past incarnations), and the personality that develops is based on the new experiences that incarnation faces. This is the fundamental concept of Hinduism, which RJ based his series on.

Right. But in a universe where there is a Wheel that Weaves the Pattern of lives and ages and everything in between, there IS no poetic justice. Or rather, all poetic justice must be planned. Put it this way. The Wheel has had an image of what the Last Battle will look like since the moment of Creation; we know it has a celestial design and is just weaving it out, which means that it knows the entire future from the moment of its conception. Therefore, if Rand is destined to beat the Dark One through the memories that seeped through the barrier, it means that was the original plan. Which means the Dark One is subject to the Pattern. Unless you want to subscribe to the belief that the Pattern merely incorporates the shocks the DO gives it into a new design.

I edited my above post to include the following, which I will repost for coherence:

Another interesting thought is what if the Dark One did not intentionally taint the male half of the Power, but merely LTT sealing the bore as he did touched saidin to the Dark One and the taint that followed was just automatic causation. This would explain how the Pattern influenced both Rand's memories and the end of an Age (as the tainted Power caused the breaking of the world, which lead to the Third Age), without having to predict the actions of an unpredictable Dark One.

It would also explain that the Creator created the Pattern to cleverly use the Dark One's very nature to keep him perpetually imprisoned, as well as be the catalyst by which each new Age ends/begins.

Ozymandias
11-13-2009, 06:24 PM
Do gray men have souls?

Well thats a matter of some debate. I'm sure your referring to the following passage (as well as their nickname as the Soulless) as evidence for their lack of soul.

TITLE: Dragon Reborn
CHAPTER: 15 - The Gray Man
"The Soulless?" Egwene said, a tremor in her voice, at the same time that Nynaeve said, "A Gray Man?" Sheriam glanced at them, a look as penetrating as it was brief. "Not a part of your studies, yet, but you seem to have gone beyond the rules in a great many ways. And considering you found this . . . . " She gestured to the corpse. "The Soulless, the Gray Men, give up their souls to serve the Dark One as assassins. They are not really alive, after that. Not quite dead, but not truly alive. And despite the name, some Gray Men are women. A very few. Even among Darkfriends, only a handful of women are stupid enough to make that sacrifice. You can look right at them and hardly notice them, until it is too late. He was as much as dead while he walked. Now, only my eyes tell me that what is lying there ever lived at all." She gave them another long look. "No Gray Man has dared enter Tar Valon since the Trolloc Wars."


The bold passage being the crucial one. However, semantically, its important to note that at no point does Sheriam say that have no soul, merely that they gave it up. Which very well could be a metaphorical term for giving over to the Shadow.

The soul is more or less the same soul of their past incarnation (and the culmination of all of their past incarnations), and the personality that develops is based on the new experiences that incarnation faces. This is the fundamental concept of Hinduism, which RJ based his series on.

I agree with this wholeheartedly... but its important to differentiate between the terms "soul" and "personality". Though you have to expect that being the Dragon Reborn, and having that particular soul, predisposes Rand to some traits; leadership, channeling (obviously), and a few other personality items.

Belazamon
11-13-2009, 08:33 PM
There are two basic theories of destiny in Randland; either the Pattern is omniscient and incorporates everything possible into its plan, including Shadowspawn, the Dark One, etc, or the Pattern has a set course which the Dark One can twist.

Just a quick aside - sorry if someone else said it, I admit I skimmed the last few long responses.

I think there's a very important point that we must keep in mind. The Pattern isn't woven already; the Wheel weaves, present tense emphasised. Yes, there's a design that is planned into the Pattern, and that Pattern is what is being followed by the Wheel - this is why Min can have her viewings, and Dreamers can dream what will happen, etc. But just because there's a preexisting pattern doesn't mean the final product will follow that pattern perfectly. This, IMHO, is where the Dark One comes in; his actions are attempts to foul the threads, to jostle the Wheel itself, so that the Pattern is altered in his favour. And the Wheel is forced (metaphysically, of course) to take corrective action to return to the pre-designed Pattern that it is meant to follow.

TL;DR - the two theories are not incompatible (for a given value of "omniscient").

Lord Bloodpath
11-14-2009, 09:33 PM
Actually, the IQ doesn't measure much factual information and tends to remain constant over time. Once you turn about 10 years old, your IQ is generally more or less stable over your lifetime. It is very rare indeed that men in their 40's score higher on IQ tests than they did in their teens, and even if it does go up, it is almost never by any significant factor. And yes, I'll agree that LTT was more intelligent than Rand, from what we've seen in the books.

Actually, IQ tends to go down slightly as one gets older. I think you misunderstood what I said ealier. Let me be more clear, a ten year old is only expected to get a certain number of correct answers in under a certain time. The same is true of a 40 year old. I believe the increments are yearly but I could be mistaken. If your IQ is 200, that means that at whatever age you took the test, you scored as if you were twice that age. The fact is that there is a significant gap between a little kid with an IQ of 150 and an adult with an IQ of 150. If LTT were around 400 years old when he died, that would still mean he had a tremendous lead on Rand.

The fact that some of you think LTT is smarter than Rand is good evidence of the 'realer' theory, but we won't go into that here ;)

Yuri33
11-14-2009, 10:04 PM
Actually, the IQ doesn't measure much factual information and tends to remain constant over time. Once you turn about 10 years old, your IQ is generally more or less stable over your lifetime. It is very rare indeed that men in their 40's score higher on IQ tests than they did in their teens, and even if it does go up, it is almost never by any significant factor. And yes, I'll agree that LTT was more intelligent than Rand, from what we've seen in the books.

A 40 year old will inevitably do better on an IQ test in terms of raw score, but the IQ remains stable because that raw score is normalized by age. In fact, it is adjusted so the scores distribute precisely on a bell curve at a given age. Interestingly enough, there is strong evidence for a genetic component to IQ as well.

There are several versions of IQ tests now available, but most of them incorporate abilities in verbal comprehension/abstraction/vocabulary, visual-spatial reasoning, short term/working memory, and speed of processing. There is usually a small part that deals with a person's existing fund of knowledge.

AbbeyRoad
11-14-2009, 10:38 PM
A 40 year old wouldn't take the same IQ test as a 10 year old. However, the Intelligence Quotient remains more or less stable. Once you reach your late teens as well, it is normalized and age is no longer a factor. I.E. a 40 year old wouldn't necessarily score higher than a 20 year old on an IQ test just because he has a larger store of experience and knowledge. The tests are designed to measure intelligence, not wisdom.

The reason most IQ tests don't include facts is because it attempts to measure intelligence, which requires objectivity in regards to background, country of origin, language bias, etc. But you're right, there are a lot of IQ tests out there. However, factual information is generally omitted from most accepted forms of the test(s).

The point of the rebuttal was to point out that just because LTT was older at the time of his death than Rand is currently doesn't mean he has an advantage in natural intelligence; that is generally accepted as a genetic predisposition nurtured by environment, but with a set limit potential.

Anyways, I'd still argue that LTT was more intelligent than Rand from what we've seen in the books, regardless of age. He was probably wiser, as well.

Lord Bloodpath
11-14-2009, 10:56 PM
The tests measure speed, memory, perception, a number of other things... all of which improve with age (barring disease or accident.)

tworiverswoman
11-15-2009, 01:26 AM
But, if we use the assumption that the Taint is what gave Rand access to LTT, then the Pattern DID plan for one of the Dark One's actions. Not his minions, his action. The only direct action he takes in the entire series, in fact. I agree with Gonzo on this. I suspect there were NO Prophecies of the Dragon until after the Strike at Shayol Ghul, and the unleashing of the taint. Someone posted that BS has stated outright that RJ ... spoke less than honestly when he said this turning was no different than any other. RJ has led us to believe that the Wheel has turned an indeterminate number of times previous (hundreds, thousands, millions?). So, either the Dark One has tainted the One Power in EVERY TURNING, so the Pattern can actually plan for it each time around, or this is the first time. If the DO is TRULY outside the Pattern, then there's no way he's going to march down this same trail every single time...


Again, I think the story is less fun without some element of doubt, but the whole "we don't know what happens" line is already bullshit because we know Rand wins. So as a reader, it almost doesn't matter whether there is predestination or not. We know the result, we're just waiting for the details. "We already know Rand wins." Do we? Oh, sure, it's really unlikely that we're going to have a 14/15-book series that has an unhappy ending... but Min pointed out the flaw in the belief that Rand can't lose. If Rand loses, THE PATTERN WILL BE DESTROYED, and all the stuff we've seen from Future Ages will dissolve back into dreamstuff. They're really only extrapolations of the Pattern. IMHO, at least ;) So, as Ozy points out, as Readers we may be pretty sure Team Light will win, but for the story internally - there's lots of doubt. And win or lose, there's going to be famine.

Therefore, the Pattern is omniscient in all matters except for the Dark One (and most Shadowspawn as well, as they have no souls and therefore are not a part of the Pattern), hence why the Last Battle is such a big deal. Actually, Shadowspawn do have souls. RJ said so in a Wotmania/Dragonmount interview: "A Trolloc, however, bears a twisted, or corrupted soul, and would be reborn as a Trolloc. Though frankly, a Trolloc's soul is such a pitiful thing, it hardly seems worth calling a soul." Also, RJ never claimed "omniscience" for the Pattern. If it was that powerful, it would be able to keep everything in perfect balance at all times. Obviously, that's not the way it works. The Pattern was described as resembling a super-computer more than anything else. It's perfectly capable of dropping a stitch or two in the tapestry of life, hence the need for "corrective measures" such as HotH and ta'veren.
And yes, I'll agree that LTT was more intelligent than Rand, from what we've seen in the books. There's a difference between Intelligence and Sophistication. There's also a difference between Dumb and Ignorant. Rand was raised a country boy in a small village FAR from the sophisticated Big Cities. He's actually extremely intelligent -- you just don't get many direct examples of him thinking the big things. Consider that he came up with the method for cleansing the taint pretty much completely by himself. There are plenty of examples of things he's done or arranged to have done that show a considerable amount of smarts. But he's a country bumpkin and always will be, in a way.

Do gray men have souls?


Question: What happens to the soul of someone when he becomes a Gray Man? Is his thread removed from the Pattern, or are threads and souls different things altogether?

Answer: Err, they are... Oh, uhm, no, it is gone. It is gone. And it ceases to exist in any form that you could of as real. - Robert Jordan

Question: So threads and souls are the same thing?

Answer: Err, not the same thing, but they must coexist. The thread can be removed; you die in this world. You die and the soul remains to come again and begin another thread. The soul disappears from this Gray Man, it's gone. Think of the Dark One as having eaten it. It's a fiction, but a convenient fiction for the moment. The thread of the Gray Man remains until the Gray Man dies, physically. - Robert Jordan

ETA: Oops - completely forgot what started this thread.

I like Seeker's idea - a "gap" between his soul-stored memories and his living self simply appeals to me more than an actual barrier placed between them. I also like his reasoning regarding the difference between "breaching a barrier" and "bridging a gap." The difference between the two concepts seems minuscule, but it isn't, really. Both ideas have the same effect on any given reborn soul; the differences seem to lie in their implications. When in T'A'R, each Hero soul has all its lifetimes integrated -- because once they are dead, the soul memories are the entirety of the being. There is no place for a lacuna to be. When they are reborn, the new body builds its own personality.

Sitting here thinking about what to say next, I found myself wondering how the current personality gets layered onto the soul. This question really applies regardless of the difference between barrier / gap concepts. Either one would seem to prohibit contact between the living persona and the soul. Sigh.

Anyway -- back on topic, please. This thread is disputing the idea of a "barrier" between the older memories and the current set, and advocating a more natural "gap" instead.

Matoyak
11-15-2009, 01:30 AM
Think of the Dark One as having eaten it.Epic win. LMAO.

AbbeyRoad
11-15-2009, 02:37 PM
The tests measure speed, memory, perception, a number of other things... all of which improve with age (barring disease or accident.)
Maybe to a certain extent. But once you are in your late teens/early twenties, your IQ is probably not going to go up. And these factors you name don't significantly improve steadily with age. They drop off in your twenties.

Ozymandias
11-15-2009, 02:50 PM
I agree with Gonzo on this. I suspect there were NO Prophecies of the Dragon until after the Strike at Shayol Ghul, and the unleashing of the taint. Someone posted that BS has stated outright that RJ ... spoke less than honestly when he said this turning was no different than any other. RJ has led us to believe that the Wheel has turned an indeterminate number of times previous (hundreds, thousands, millions?). So, either the Dark One has tainted the One Power in EVERY TURNING, so the Pattern can actually plan for it each time around, or this is the first time. If the DO is TRULY outside the Pattern, then there's no way he's going to march down this same trail every single time...

First off, what does the timing of the Prophecies have to do with anything. The prophecy, like Min's viewings, in a way, are just putting the story of the Pattern into words.

Second, the Dark One hasn't necessarily Tainted the Source in every Age. I think there are what? Seven spokes of the Wheel of Time, representing each Age that has been and will be. The Dark One, then, would Taint the Source every time the Second Age comes around.

And I'm increasingly unsure of whether I think the Dark One is effectively outside the Pattern. As a force, he may exist outside of it, but in his attempts to overturn the Wheel, he by necessity forces himself into and onto the Pattern.

"We already know Rand wins." Do we? Oh, sure, it's really unlikely that we're going to have a 14/15-book series that has an unhappy ending... but Min pointed out the flaw in the belief that Rand can't lose. If Rand loses, THE PATTERN WILL BE DESTROYED, and all the stuff we've seen from Future Ages will dissolve back into dreamstuff. They're really only extrapolations of the Pattern. IMHO, at least ;) So, as Ozy points out, as Readers we may be pretty sure Team Light will win, but for the story internally - there's lots of doubt. And win or lose, there's going to be famine.

Actually, there isn't. Don't many of the books have quotes from men and women in the Fourth Age, talking about the events of the Third?


There's a difference between Intelligence and Sophistication. There's also a difference between Dumb and Ignorant. Rand was raised a country boy in a small village FAR from the sophisticated Big Cities. He's actually extremely intelligent -- you just don't get many direct examples of him thinking the big things. Consider that he came up with the method for cleansing the taint pretty much completely by himself. There are plenty of examples of things he's done or arranged to have done that show a considerable amount of smarts. But he's a country bumpkin and always will be, in a way.

I'm not saying he's stupid. But Lews Therin was considered a polymath of incredible intelligence, it seems, in an age where great intelligence wasn't unknown. Rand is a smart guy, no doubt about it, and maybe its because we see him do stupid things and never see Lews Therin do something dumb that I think this, but Rand seems to just be smart. LTT was a genius in an age full of geniuses.

Lord Bloodpath
11-15-2009, 02:57 PM
You didn't notice when I said IQ generally goes down slightly with age? Unless you're doing things to keep sharp.... Whatever you don't use, atrophies.

Back to the topic: I'm not sure either term applies well here. Is distance itself a barrier or a gap? In temporal terms, there is distance between the end of one life and its reincarnation. I believe the distance varies by case, but it seems like a good explanation as to why only some memories transfer and not all.

If you want to make the case that the Taint acted like a dark beacon or pathway for LTT's memories allowing many more of them than usual to make the journey across millenia, I could see it, I guess....

Lord Bloodpath
11-15-2009, 03:03 PM
Actually, there isn't. Don't many of the books have quotes from men and women in the Fourth Age, talking about the events of the Third?

lol, but if the pattern gets overturned/destroyed, then those people won't be able to comment, will they? It's exactly like Min's prophecies...

AbbeyRoad
11-15-2009, 04:07 PM
There's a difference between Intelligence and Sophistication. There's also a difference between Dumb and Ignorant. Rand was raised a country boy in a small village FAR from the sophisticated Big Cities. He's actually extremely intelligent -- you just don't get many direct examples of him thinking the big things. Consider that he came up with the method for cleansing the taint pretty much completely by himself. There are plenty of examples of things he's done or arranged to have done that show a considerable amount of smarts. But he's a country bumpkin and always will be, in a way.
Rand is a smart guy, obviously. Sometimes he has some ideas that completely surprise me with their intelligence. There's no doubt he's working with more than few tools in his shed. But Lews Therin was the intellectual leader of an enlightened Age where the world was ordered and people strove for intelligence. The AoL was a time when intellectual pursuit was everyone's main focus of attention. I would argue that not only were most people more sophisticated, but more intelligent as well. For me, there is no question. LT was a very smart guy. Rand is not dumb, by any means. But there is no comparison.

Anyway -- back on topic, please. This thread is disputing the idea of a "barrier" between the older memories and the current set, and advocating a more natural "gap" instead.
For me, the idea of a "gap" is less natural than a barrier. It sounds a little more eloquent, but the logistics don't make any sense. How is that gap bridged? Why does it not happen more often? The barrier theory describes very specifically how the barrier is breached, how Rand got his memories, etc. It just seems to make perfect sense to me that the Creator placed a barrier in place to allow people to be unique in each incarnation. And the taint degraded that barrier, hence Rand's memories. The Gap theory seems to have been made just because people like how it sounds better, but it doesn't make as much intuitive sense for me.

Ozymandias
11-15-2009, 05:28 PM
lol, but if the pattern gets overturned/destroyed, then those people won't be able to comment, will they? It's exactly like Min's prophecies...

No there is an important chronological difference. Min is viewing future glimpses of the Pattern's designs. In effect, she's seeing the sketches of what the Pattern intends to weave. They're not there yet. In hearing the writings and analyses of Fourth Age historians, were being given a glimpse into actual events that happened. Min sees potential future events. We're reading lines that have already been written. The very fact of their existence means that the Fourth Age has come to pass, and that Rand & Co have won.

Kurtz
11-15-2009, 05:52 PM
No there is an important chronological difference. Min is viewing future glimpses of the Pattern's designs. In effect, she's seeing the sketches of what the Pattern intends to weave. They're not there yet. In hearing the writings and analyses of Fourth Age historians, were being given a glimpse into actual events that happened. Min sees potential future events. We're reading lines that have already been written. The very fact of their existence means that the Fourth Age has come to pass, and that Rand & Co have won.

That is supposing the Dark One would destroy the world should he get free.....

ZaderGru
11-15-2009, 07:36 PM
I agree with Gonzo on this. I suspect there were NO Prophecies of the Dragon until after the Strike at Shayol Ghul, and the unleashing of the taint. Someone posted that BS has stated outright that RJ ... spoke less than honestly when he said this turning was no different than any other. RJ has led us to believe that the Wheel has turned an indeterminate number of times previous (hundreds, thousands, millions?). So, either the Dark One has tainted the One Power in EVERY TURNING, so the Pattern can actually plan for it each time around, or this is the first time. If the DO is TRULY outside the Pattern, then there's no way he's going to march down this same trail every single time...

I believe this is the crux of a lot of the differences of opinions, here on the boards, the true understanding of these few simple words.

then there's no way he's going to march down this same trail every single time

I would liken it to Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. Just like Bill Murray, the DO is not 100% sure of what he has to do to escape, but he is 100% sure of something that won’t work.

I also believe that Ishy/Moridin is aware of some of these things as well. If you look at some of the DO and Ishy/Moridins actions with this in mind I think you may be surprised at how logical their actions are.

a dragonburned fool
11-18-2009, 06:10 AM
So now, let's compare “barrier” to “gap.”

If there is a barrier between Rand's living mind and his memories of Lews Therin, then the only way to access those memories is to smash a hole in the barrier.

If, on the other hand, there is a gap between Rand's living mind and his memories of Lews Therin, then the only way to access those memories is to bridge the gap.

So, why do I like gaps better? Because smashing a hole in a barrier is an inherently destructive act. Consider, for a moment, the mental image of a wall with a hole in it. The existence of the hole makes the wall flawed. Walls aren't supposed to have holes in them! So, by extension, Rand is flawed because his barrier has a hole in it! I mean just look at the name of the theory. “Barrier-degradation.” “Degradation” is a very negative term. A side conclusion of this theory is that Rand was never supposed to remember Lews Therin's life. It was an unfortunate accident. This is incompatible with the view that Rand was meant to remember being Lews Therin.

Bridging a gap, however, is not a destructive act. It's an act of creation. A bridge over a gap is not necessarily a bad thing in and of itself. The fact that Rand has this bridge to his past-life memories can be viewed as a positive thing! He's lucky enough to have knowledge that no one else has. It's perfectly compatible with the idea that Rand was meant to have this knowledge. A realy very interesting idea, something that mede me lot to think. Mostly the opposition between whole in a barrier as a natural flow versus bridging a gap as an act of creation.

I allways considered the Barrier Degradation theory as the best explanation of the matter, but the implication that memories would flow naturally allways bothered me. Not as such (memories have also other means to flow around), but because of how easy is to jump from this into the suggestion that natural flow of past memories would mean also natural integration with the past personality. If the personalities are to be integrated so naturally, then what is the reason to make the barriers at the birth in first place? But the need of a creative act for an integration to happen, it does fit into the so major thema in the books as that everybody has to do what must be done.

When Birgitte begins to forget her memories from past lives, it does indicate some mechanism rather of the nature of a barrier. She had her gaps bridged, and yet she eventually comes aagin into a gaped situation and it's seems so normal. Probably from the perspective of a pure gap theory, it might be said that in Birgitte's case we have brigde degradation, but still the Barrier theory explains Birgitte's case much better. Also there is lot in the Books about "barriers" between past and present as an important motive about Pattern's workings. Barriers are just something to be expected.

But from another perspective gaps are also something to be expected. Inside a single life there is a continuity of the thread, despite of anything that could happen with person's consciousness meanwhile. But between lifes there is a discontinuity between threads and this discontinuity must mean something, it must have ramifications.

But the option that there are both barriers and gaps does make sense. So we can have boundary cases: bridged gaps and risen barriers: Birgitte; or degraded barriers and gaping gaps: Rand before Dragonmount.

Until now the barrier degragation theory explained the uncompleteness of Rand's LTT memories by the barrier being not completely destroyed. It's an weak explanation, I must admitt. But if there is also a gap, it would make the leaking memories essentially a separate pool. I mean, ith would be similar to how one can remember dreams (I don't mean TAR, but normal dreams) - no matter how important and vivid is the information from the dream, for a sane person it would allway be something separate, something half-foreign, never part of your own biography. Without bridging the gap there would be no integration with the memories, just as there is no integration with the memories from a dream. Without the integration the control over the memories will be of course incomplete.

And about the Rand being meant to have the memories thing:
Well I cannot see how the negative effect of Taint couldn't fit in how the pattern works. All major positive things in the Third Age are, when you think about it, consequencies of the fact of the Taint. Every culture is what it is because of the manner it treated the danger of male channelers. Some cultures (Aiel, Seafolk) are in all their details built as response to the conditions they had to suffer during the Breaking of the world, i.e. as direct result of the Taint. The Dragon needs to be reborn and do what is prophecied because of the need to deal with what DO made previously, including to deal with the Taint. The Pattern responses. DO acts and puts something foreign into the world, and the Pattern has to respond. So the Pattern takes the result of DO's interference and weaves it into the direction it find suiting it's goals best. If it can take DO's stones and throw them on DO's head, it would be the best.

ArtK
11-18-2009, 09:54 AM
Something I haven't seen mentioned here: Heroes of the Horn exist in Tel'aran'rhiod (http://wot.wikia.com/wiki/Tel%27aran%27rhiod) between lives. However, all people's souls are reborn, with their souls presumably existing somewhere else. It may be that accessing memories of past lives is different for heroes than others.

I hate using digital computers as analogs for the brain/mind (as they're actually analog computers (http://artksthoughts.blogspot.com/2009/06/analog-axon.html)), but suppose we consider the current life as being loaded into active memory, while the entire record of lives is saved on hard drive. Under normal circumstances, the programs that load stuff from disk into memory are inactive during the lifetime, although present, available to dreams and visions on occasion. What the taint does is corrupt various parts of various programs, pretty much randomly.

In Rand's case, this random corruption, driven by his Ta'veren (http://wot.wikia.com/wiki/Ta%27veren) "luck", has caused the program to load his entire LTT memory into "active memory", making it available to his LTT personality, but only partially to his Rand personality.

When a hero of the horn is between lives, he has the entire record loaded into "active memory", but the actual brain (in the real world) can't hold and process all of this (although it can presumably hold two), so when Birgitte was "ripped out" of Tel'aran'rhiod, her memories immediately started to fade. Rand's (from the end of tGT) will too, I predict.

I would assume, in this analogy, that Heroes of the Horn have added "software" relative to normal people. (It would be interesting to know whether the insane people who hear voices of past lives referenced by Semirhage were also heroes.

(The "hard drive" is presumably part of the soul, while the "active memory" is presumably part of the current brain/body. There must be software in the body that connects to the soul.)

a dragonburned fool
11-18-2009, 10:37 AM
Something I haven't seen mentioned here: Heroes of the Horn exist in Tel'aran'rhiod between lives. However, all people's souls are reborn, with their souls presumably existing somewhere else. It may be that accessing memories of past lives is different for heroes than others.Very true. I personally quite doubt that anybody save Heroes of the Horn are able integrate all their previous lifes under one personality. But access of memories, that is likely to be easy for everybody. Because we have too many cases of memories from other souls being accessible to people by various means. Not every Aiel visiting Rhuidean glass columns could be a Hero, but every one of them accesses the memories. Which means the storage of memories is far fro been unaccessable. And it's hardly inside the original soul too.

I hate using digital computers as analogs for the brain/mind (as they're actually analog computers), but suppose we consider the current life as being loaded into active memory, while the entire record of lives is saved on hard drive. Under normal circumstances, the programs that load stuff from disk into memory are inactive during the lifetime, although present, available to dreams and visions on occasion. What the taint does is corrupt various parts of various programs, pretty much randomly.

In Rand's case, this random corruption, driven by his Ta'veren "luck", has caused the program to load his entire LTT memory into "active memory", making it available to his LTT personality, but only partially to his Rand personality.This sounds very much like what I once, years ago, called "Duplcate Personality Processing" theory (http://www.theoryland.com/theories.php?func=5&rec=71&theo=1836).

When a hero of the horn is between lives, he has the entire record loaded into "active memory", but the actual brain (in the real world) can't hold and process all of this (although it can presumably hold two), so when Birgitte was "ripped out" of Tel'aran'rhiod, her memories immediately started to fade. Rand's (from the end of tGT) will too, I predict.

I would assume, in this analogy, that Heroes of the Horn have added "software" relative to normal people. (It would be interesting to know whether the insane people who hear voices of past lives referenced by Semirhage were also heroes.

(The "hard drive" is presumably part of the soul, while the "active memory" is presumably part of the current brain/body. There must be software in the body that connects to the soul.)This is where I disagree. So much the brain is imporatnt for the sentient life, it is definitely not the only factor. If brain was what processes personality, then mental diseases could have been Healed by One Power. Because One Power Healing in the Age of Legends was able to do everything about the body, save Healing death and mental illness. Semirhague was complete expert in stimulating various nervous centres, but she had no idea about psychiatry. If brain was the "software" in this analogy, Semirhague would be the perfect expert to intervene there, but she isn't. A victim of the Black Wind can be Healed and have a perefctly healthy brain, but he will have no personality again, because the soul is gone. A victim of heavy Compulsion after the removal of the Compulsion Weave can have a perfectly healthy brain, but he wouldn't be able to functionate again as a normal person. Once the soul is gone, living brain cannot make a person. When a Forsaken is recycled into a new body, the body influences the Forsaken's personality, but it's the old personality that runs the Forsaken, the same one that was dead earlier.

And again, the promiscous availability of memories from foreign souls means that memories hadr disk is hardly located in the soul. Rather the soul has an ethernal link to the memories. Which is also not certain for anybody save the Heroes of the Horn.

The Heores of the Horn at least need some barriers or gaps or both however to explain what happens to Heroes. In computing terms "gaps" would mean maybe starting a new database unmapped to the present, while "barriers" would mean logically dividing a previously whole allocated memory space. But the imporatnt thing is that at least one of the both would be needed for Heroes if not for other people.

AbbeyRoad
11-18-2009, 12:55 PM
I would liken it to Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. Just like Bill Murray, the DO is not 100% sure of what he has to do to escape, but he is 100% sure of something that won’t work.
This is an excellent analogy. I would like to point out, however, that Bill Murray did not always know what didn't work. And, in fact, he did some of the same things every single day (like helping the homeless man, rescuing the kid, etc.) even though he didn't necessarily go free from doing them, but because they just felt right to do. Thus, maybe the DO taints the pattern not because he thinks it will necessarily free him, but that it will give him the best chance (i.e. How else will the AoL end? And the DO surely wants his opponents as untrained as possible come the next Age), even though it hasn't worked in the past.

ArtK
11-18-2009, 10:54 PM
This is where I disagree. So much the brain is imporatnt for the sentient life, it is definitely not the only factor. If brain was what processes personality, then mental diseases could have been Healed by One Power. Because One Power Healing in the Age of Legends was able to do everything about the body, save Healing death and mental illness. Semirhague was complete expert in stimulating various nervous centres, but she had no idea about psychiatry. If brain was the "software" in this analogy, Semirhague would be the perfect expert to intervene there, but she isn't. A victim of the Black Wind can be Healed and have a perefctly healthy brain, but he will have no personality again, because the soul is gone. A victim of heavy Compulsion after the removal of the Compulsion Weave can have a perfectly healthy brain, but he wouldn't be able to functionate again as a normal person. Once the soul is gone, living brain cannot make a person. When a Forsaken is recycled into a new body, the body influences the Forsaken's personality, but it's the old personality that runs the Forsaken, the same one that was dead earlier.

And again, the promiscous availability of memories from foreign souls means that memories hadr disk is hardly located in the soul. Rather the soul has an ethernal link to the memories. Which is also not certain for anybody save the Heroes of the Horn.

The Heores of the Horn at least need some barriers or gaps or both however to explain what happens to Heroes. In computing terms "gaps" would mean maybe starting a new database unmapped to the present, while "barriers" would mean logically dividing a previously whole allocated memory space. But the imporatnt thing is that at least one of the both would be needed for Heroes if not for other people.

I'm going to have to think about this for a while before answering. I must admit I know more about how the real brain works (in our world) than RJ's system. I'd also like to know how much RJ knew about our scientific knowledge of the brain's functioning and how much he incorporated into his system.

One thing I'll point out is that most of what we know about how the brain works has been discovered since the series began.

Weird Harold
11-18-2009, 11:55 PM
I'd also like to know how much RJ knew about our scientific knowledge of the brain's functioning and how much he incorporated into his system.

How much RJ knew about Brain function as was current whenthe series began -- especially as regards memory funtion -- is pretty much irrelevant because the past-life memories are based largely on Lamark inheriatence for "Old Blood" memories and Eastern Reincarnation philosophies -- Karma, etc -- and scientific beliefs current in the 16th and 17th centuries.

When theorizing about LTT and other past-life memory cases inthe WOT, it is useful to remember that having "the Soul of Blacksmith" or the "Soul of a Horse trader" or the "Soul of a Hero" are literal truths in the WOT. Likewise, the concept of "Blood will Tell," "She comes from Good Blood," He comes from Bad Blood," and similar expressions are also literally true in the WOT.

Memories and skills can be inherited from ancestors and the skills/experience they accumulated -- Usually they manifest as instinctinve reactions, but occassionally as Deja Vu or understanding a language never learned.


Memories are also carried imbedded in the Soul like the layers of a Pearl. Sometimes a strong stimulus or particularly vivid memory cause one or more memories to shine through the overlying layer(s). Again, usually manifesting as instinctive knowledge/reactions, Deja Vu, or extreme ease of learning.

Every Soul has the memories of every past life; it is only in rare cases that a past life or lives becomes accessible to any great degree.

a dragonburned fool
11-20-2009, 04:36 AM
I'd also like to know how much RJ knew about our scientific knowledge of the brain's functioning and how much he incorporated into his system.A quite interesting question indeed. Unfortunately we can only suggest based on tha manner he treats the matters in the books.

In any case, whatever RJ knew about brain's functioning, it's bound to be factor #2, as imprortant as it could be. RJ said, that for his world creation he used the following method: he sets it that statement A will be true and looks what consequencies will taht have for B, C, D etc. In our case: he sets that the soul is a scientific fact in this universe, and that it is major factor for what living mind is, and everything else must be integrated with this basic statement somehow. RJ meant to integrsate the brain's functioning, because he included in the books how much the body influences the personality in the case of Halima. I.e. he meant there is a balance of some kind between soul and brain as factors. A balance in that the soul seems to have a definite advantage.

So, no matter how brain is still important in WoT-world, Weird Harold is right, when he says, that it's irrelevant how much RJ knew about brain. WoT-world psychology just cannot be like realworld psychology that became scientific only after purging the very consept of "soul" out of it's vocabulary.

And it must be noted, that we actually don't know what a "soul" in WoT-world exactly is. In my first reads of the series I tried to apply different traditional meanings of what "soul" is, and nothing was able to really fit in. And I have stronger and stronger suspicion, that RJ might included a twist into the traditional beliefs about souls just like he did about different myhts and legends.

How much RJ knew about Brain function as was current whenthe series began -- especially as regards memory funtion -- is pretty much irrelevant because the past-life memories are based largely on Lamark inheriatence for "Old Blood" memories and Eastern Reincarnation philosophies -- Karma, etc -- and scientific beliefs current in the 16th and 17th centuries.Based - yes, obviously. With some twist most likely. For instance the eastern reincarnation here is devoid of any visible equivalent of the Karma. I mean - contemporary threads influence each other, ancestral threads influence new generation threads, but there are no indications that past-life threads influence the current life of the same soul. Heroes of the Horn have something similar, but thay have rather constany threats, which makes their different incarnations rather similar to different clones derived from the same DNA.

Memories are also carried imbedded in the Soul like the layers of a Pearl. Sometimes a strong stimulus or particularly vivid memory cause one or more memories to shine through the overlying layer(s). Again, usually manifesting as instinctive knowledge/reactions, Deja Vu, or extreme ease of learning.The "also" underlined by me. The very fact of at least five different mechanisms of access to memories (1.past lifes of own soul; 2.Ancestral memories due to old blood; 3. Ancestral memories via the media of a OnePower utilization independently of recipients genetic ability; 4. Memories neither of own past lives nor of ancestors, provided by *finn; 5. wolf memories) means that memories have very flexible, likely even convertable to various hardware, state in the whole metaphysics, and definitely not bound exclusively to the originating soul.

Every Soul has the memories of every past life; it is only in rare cases that a past life or lives becomes accessible to any great degree.We don't know this. We know that Heroes of the Horn have access to every memory during one turn of the Wheel (but not about multiple turns), and it shouldn't be forgotten that Heroes are a very special group. We know that wolfs seem to remember the species life through seemingly all turns, but wolfs memories are not limited to singular souls and wolfs don't seem to distinguish between memories form own past lives and from past lives of other wolf souls. It's still possible that a memory could just go at some point (e.g. when the Wheel completes it's turn and it's backups are cleared), not only the access of it, but the record itself I mean. the holes in memory Mat has after Shadar Logoth might be just amnesia or other access issue, but it isn't impossible it's the eraseing of the original recording too.

Weird Harold
11-20-2009, 02:39 PM
We don't know this. We know that Heroes of the Horn have access to every memory during one turn of the Wheel (but not about multiple turns), and it shouldn't be forgotten that Heroes are a very special group. ...

We know that every Soul contains the same memory record tha Heroes have or it would not be possible to add to the Hero's ranks which Hawkwing explicity stated is possible.

That the Soul contains every past life's imprint isn't as explicitly stated, but what is stated about the extent of Heros' memories while between incarnations doesn't seem to me to fit within a single Turning.

As for Karma not existing in the WOT, I think it does. What is missing is the Budhist concept of rewards and punishements progressing along the road to Nirvana through multiple incarnations. Karma in the WOT seems to be a "during this lifetime" system of rewards and penalties rather than an eternal system.

a dragonburned fool
11-21-2009, 06:54 AM
We know that every Soul contains the same memory record tha Heroes have or it would not be possible to add to the Hero's ranks which Hawkwing explicity stated is possible.

That the Soul contains every past life's imprint isn't as explicitly stated, but what is stated about the extent of Heros' memories while between incarnations doesn't seem to me to fit within a single Turning.
But we have no indication about a Hero having a pre-hero memory. Birgitte significantly has no a single memory being not a Hero, and she doesn't remember her current life as a Warder in the past turn, but only vague gossips about some warder woman. And Heroes can know that others join their rank just by seeing noobs among their ranks, right?

As for Karma not existing in the WOT, I think it does. What is missing is the Budhist concept of rewards and punishements progressing along the road to Nirvana through multiple incarnations. Karma in the WOT seems to be a "during this lifetime" system of rewards and penalties rather than an eternal system.The "during the lifetime" karma is definitely quite twisted in being represented by the Wheel's workings, that do not exactly make justice, but just work for It's oun ends manipulating people undiscriminately. And an equivalent of a karma between lives is too much widespread in the form that what you do in one life usually determines what you are born in the next one, independently of whether there is a path to Nirvana or no. It's there in such distant branches of reincarnation believes as the pythagorean reincarnation for instance. Usually in beliefs about reincarnation this dependancy is why the belief is suggested important, it seems.

Sodas
11-23-2009, 03:04 PM
Overall, I agree with the idea that it is a gap, not a barrier.

I've argued this before, that the concept of a barrier is flawed. And the concepts of fraying the viel between lives is a poor description of what happened.

My favorite quote that supports this is actually back in Crossroads,

For an instant, he thought those must have been Lews Therin's reflections. He had never gone on that way about the Creator or anything else that he recalled. But he could feel Lews Therin nodding in approval, a man listening to someone else. Still, it was not the kind of thing he would have considered before Lews Therin. How much space remained between them?

I guess where I disagree, is in the concept that it's a gap between Rand and his former lives. I think it's just a gap between Rand and one particular former life, LTT.