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Ozymandias
11-30-2010, 11:05 PM
Alright so this was a major plot point that was bothering me, and without having read every comment on the "plot problems" I just want to bring up how much the glass column ter'angreal in Rhuidean have begun bothering me.

Before, there was some tangential way they could have worked as they seemed to, assuming a fantasy universe. Be it some sort of method for recording genetic memory, or even just displaying the various memories it had stored from the early days of the Aiel, knowing that no one could trace their ancestry that far and therefore people just assumed it was their own ancestors, it had some slight basis for working as it did.

The way it now ostensibly works, as a device for telling the future, its just outright insulting. First off, it is the only item of the power I know of that works actively without the Power being channelled into it. By which I mean, the ter'angreal used for Testing in the Tower only functions when Aes Sedai channel into it. Dream ter'angreal have the passive effect of merely being a conduit into T'A'R. Even before, you could argue that the glass columns merely read or replayed some memory stored within the cells of the entrant or its memory banks.

But at this point it is clearly either reading the future (inherently impossible, as I'll get to in a moment), or creating a possible future, say based on the fears of the entrant. The latter possibility implies activity on the part of the ter'angreal without anyone channeling into it, something we've not seen before in Randland and which contradicts most of the assumed laws of objects of the Power. The former is also impossible. All instances of prescient activity have been certain. Min's viewings, Dreaming, these are all ways in which individuals read the Pattern as it will be. The only wrench is the DO, and we'll discount him as an extenuating circumstance not relevant to a discussion of the columns.

Here we have an instance of flexible prescience. We know people can die in the columns. Which means whatever future was being shown to them, would cease to exist, as the columns base future predictions at least in part on the survival of the entrant, as shown in Aviendha's case. Since people can die, and the visions they see are the impetus for death, it creates the paradox that the glass columns are thus destroying the very history they purport to show.

Which means that a.) the ter'angreal is NOT showing true visions of the future, but more likely crafting some basic scenario based on the fears of its user, which furthermore implies b.) that it breaks the seemingly unspoken law that ter'angreal may not have active effects without an outside force controlling it.

Bryan Blaire
11-30-2010, 11:25 PM
I'll counter with the ter'angreal rings of the Deathknives and the dreamspikes being evidence of ter'angreal that seem to work without any direct channeling into them. Whether they had to merely be channeled into to activate before they were put on, we don't really know, however if that were the case, using that same logic, the columns could have been "turned on" and then left on by channeling into them at a previous time.

finn
12-01-2010, 12:16 AM
But at this point it is clearly either reading the future (inherently impossible, as I'll get to in a moment), or creating a possible future, say based on the fears of the entrant. The latter possibility implies activity on the part of the ter'angreal without anyone channeling into it, something we've not seen before in Randland and which contradicts most of the assumed laws of objects of the Power. The former is also impossible. All instances of prescient activity have been certain. Min's viewings, Dreaming, these are all ways in which individuals read the Pattern as it will be. The only wrench is the DO, and we'll discount him as an extenuating circumstance not relevant to a discussion of the columns.

Here we have an instance of flexible prescience. We know people can die in the columns. Which means whatever future was being shown to them, would cease to exist, as the columns base future predictions at least in part on the survival of the entrant, as shown in Aviendha's case. Since people can die, and the visions they see are the impetus for death, it creates the paradox that the glass columns are thus destroying the very history they purport to show.

Which means that a.) the ter'angreal is NOT showing true visions of the future, but more likely crafting some basic scenario based on the fears of its user, which furthermore implies b.) that it breaks the seemingly unspoken law that ter'angreal may not have active effects without an outside force controlling it.

Dreaming is a flexible form of prescience. Nothing stipulated in a dream is necessarily for certain, this was established early on by the Wise Ones. Moiraine saw many variations of her future in the other Rhuidean ter'angreal with the rings. The powered ter'angreal of the WT seem to incorporate aspects of tel'aran'rhiod and dreaming. Egwene saw herself as Amyrlin in her test to be raised to Accepted and Nynaeve first heard of Sharina, who came into the picture much later. It's conceivable that the same applies to the Rhuidean ones as well.

The original sleep weaver doesn't require channeling as you mentioned. The ring ter'angreal of Rhuidean doesn't require channeling either. The Bowl of the Winds was wielded by women, yet drew in saidin by itself. Where did that come from? I don't think power is a major issue here.

As for the 'how' of what it shows, genetic memory could be one argument but it's inconsistent with Aviendha's experiences. So perhaps the ter'angreal traces the chain of threads that make up people's lives in the pattern, every child thread reemerging or reborn from under its parent. So the ter'angreal could trace forward in time as well as backwards in showing certain viewpoints from key events.

sythmaster
12-01-2010, 01:52 AM
b.) that it breaks the seemingly unspoken law that ter'angreal may not have active effects without an outside force controlling it.

Since its in Rhuidean, which has been a tucked away little corner of the world.... could an explanation for this part be one of the last remaining standing waves?

Or would channelers 'see' the standing wave?

morat'corlm
12-01-2010, 02:16 AM
In addition to the fact (as noted above) that several ter'angreal have been shown to work without interference, what caused the columns to go haywire was that she interfered in some way. Perhaps not by channeling the One Power–though who knows? Her Talent for reading ter'angreal definitely has to be related to the Power–but she worked her consciousness into it somehow.
Hesitantly, she reached out and laid fingers on the slick, glassy surface. It was about a foot thick. She closed her eyes, trying to read the pillar's function.
She sensed the powerful aura of the pillar. It was far more potent than any of the ter'angreal she had handled with Elayne. Indeed, the pillars seemed . . . alive, somehow. It was almost as if she could sense an awareness from them.
That gave her a chill. Was she touching the pillar, or was it touching her?
She tried to read ter'angreal as she had done before, but this one was vast. Incomprehensible, like the One Power itself. She inhaled sharply, disoriented by the weight of what she felt. It was as if she had suddenly fallen into a deep, dark pit.
She snapped her eyes open, pulling her hand away, palm quivering. This was beyond her. She was an insect, trying to grasp the size and mass of a mountain.
My initial thought that this was the result of a resonance between the Columns and the Rings was wrong, but Aviendha is not a passive observer here.

yasiru89
12-01-2010, 04:37 AM
No one channels into Min (unless she and Rand get into some really kinky Power-toy based stuff in the bedroom) and yet she sees something of the future, despite most (if not all) of what she sees being near useless.
Also remember the Sammael's communication device and the Bowl of the Winds- it drew saidin all by itself somehow, perhaps through a preconceived link, and even if the Windfinders, et al. were actively channelling into it, the inherent distinction between the two halves of the Power makes such a counter moot. Then there's the doorframe ter'angreal, which take you to a different world where the inhabitants are obliged, by treaty to answer you or give what you ask for, etc.

There's never been anything like genetic memory in WoT before now, except perhaps for wolves (they have Tel'aran'rhiod connexions so their ancestral memories might follow a different means)- so let's not go inventing it- you could have conjectured this before, but not argued it with evidence. The column ter'angreal have always been an oddity of sorts. I also remember something, maybe it was something RJ said in an interview- about non-Aiel being able to walk into the things and never see a thing. If true its very activation relies on recognising ancestry.
There is also no 'paradox' (though I believe you want the term 'contradiction', since paradoxes freely exist and are only seemingly contradictory)- the future the entrant sees likely takes into account their survival or demise. Or do you mean the problem lies in a fake vision leading to a person's death? Why not? There's no problem there in plucking out someone's fears seemingly out of their heads and killing them with it. No time loop like troubles. Possible futures have been seen before- Rand taking Verin, et al. through the Portal Stone, the Aiel women's ter'angreal (also definitely an example of one that doesn't require channelling and shows you the paths your life might take- seeing as not all Wise Ones channel, it would have to be so), Dreaming, etc.

And the whole impossible actual future thing mentioned breaks down since there's nothing to say what Aviendha saw actually wasn't the true future given the Pattern survives.

My guess is that what was seen was one of the more likely parallel/mirror worlds (can't remember the distinction right now), which is why they seemed real (while the one Rand, Loial and Hurin went through with Selene was less likely and so warped-looking). Perhaps Aviendha seeing them was meant to be, either by the will of the Pattern so she might have a chance to do something about it and not let her people get screwed over, or something Nakomi did (I disagree about her directly tampering anything though, for one thing, her questioning seemed to be belie the best of intentions toward the Aiel so at most she asked these questions to guide Aviendha into questioning on her own and seeing the visions and also Aviendha's ter'angreal reading ability wouldn't have been counted on (unless Light-bungler/Darkfriend Elayne betrayed it) so tampering might have been detected).

GonzoTheGreat
12-01-2010, 04:45 AM
First off, it is the only item of the power I know of that works actively without the Power being channelled into it.Is it really fair to blame your faint knowledge of the series on RJ and BS?

The ter'angreal which Egwene got from Verin in TDR works without having to channel into it. Then there is the ter'angreal which Mat got from the *finn, that also works without need for active channeling. Then there were the doorways into *finnland, though they are now destroyed.

The Immortal One
12-03-2010, 02:12 AM
There's never been anything like genetic memory in WoT before now,

I think you'd better read tEotW again.

Mat says "Carai an Caldazar. Carai an Elisande. Al Elisande." and several other things which Moiraine and Thom seem to think come from the Old Blood (his ancestors). Egwene also says once that she almost understood what Mat had said. And Thom implied that he had heard of the like before (little more than rumour, but he had heard of it).

yasiru89
12-03-2010, 02:16 AM
I think you'd better read tEotW again.

Mat says "Carai an Caldazar. Carai an Elisande. Al Elisande." and several other things which Moiraine and Thom seem to think come from the Old Blood (his ancestors). Egwene also says once that she almost understood what Mat had said. And Thom implied that he had heard of the like before (little more than rumour, but he had heard of it).
Fair enough, though I did acknowledge that wolves for instance, may cast exception.
Also, Birgitte seems to take this Old Blood stuff for granted according to what she tells Mat when she goes off to see him in Mistress Anan's inn.

Weird Harold
12-07-2010, 09:39 PM
Also, Birgitte seems to take this Old Blood stuff for granted according to what she tells Mat when she goes off to see him in Mistress Anan's inn.

Birgitte takes Old Blood Stuff for granted because every old wive's tale and "old saying" about "bad blood," "blood of warriors/bakers/horse-traders/etc," "Blood will tell," and the like that you've ever heard or read about is simple literal truth in the WOT. Each individual inherits skills and memories from each of their ancestors -- some more strongly than others in about the same statistical proportion that purely physical traits are passed along by DNA encoding in the Real world.

In the real world, a tendency towards hemophilia is passed on as a recessive gene encoded in the mixed DNA of both parents; in the WOT, it is simply a strain of weak blood in a person's ancestry.

Either explanation works to explain the statistical distribution of physical traits, but only the latter explains the inheritance of language or other learned traits.

To complicate matters, there is also the phenomenonof Soul Memories -- such as LTT -- to complicate inherited skills and traits in the WOT. Did Mat's first speaking in the Old Tongue come from a Pure Strain of Old Blood such as is found in the Two Rivers, or does it come from a crack in the barrier between a soul's memories of past incarnations to a past life that spoke the Old Tongue?

Before, there was some tangential way they could have worked as they seemed to, assuming a fantasy universe. Be it some sort of method for recording genetic memory, or even just displaying the various memories it had stored from the early days of the Aiel, knowing that no one could trace their ancestry that far and therefore people just assumed it was their own ancestors, it had some slight basis for working as it did.

The Crystal Columns ter'angreal didn't need to store "genetic memory" is just needed to read the blood or soul of the entrant -- almost certainly the blood as there are cases where two ancestors are presented as being alive at the same time.

The way it now ostensibly works, as a device for telling the future, its just outright insulting....

I agree it is insulting -- or at least unnecessary since there was another ter'angreal within a few paces that was already known to show the future -- at least possible futures.

But at this point it is clearly either reading the future (inherently impossible, as I'll get to in a moment), or creating a possible future, say based on the fears of the entrant....

Reading the Future is never "inherently impossible" in the WOT since "the difference between past and future is the direction you're facing."

Here we have an instance of flexible prescience. We know people can die in the columns. Which means whatever future was being shown to them, would cease to exist, as the columns base future predictions at least in part on the survival of the entrant, as shown in Aviendha's case.

If there is no future to show, then there simply will be nothing shown -- if there are multiple possible futures then "blank" futures where the person died in the ter'angreal won't be shown.

Which means that a.) the ter'angreal is NOT showing true visions of the future, but more likely crafting some basic scenario based on the fears of its user, which furthermore implies

If the ter'angreal is extrapolating the future, past performance would suggest it is extrapolating based on statistical probabilities of inherited traits. I mean who could predict that one of Aviendha's children would be reluctant to give up the spears? :rolleyes:

It does seem unlikely that a device to show history apparently keyed to blood inheritance should be able to trace inherited memories back a a full Turning to Aviendha's life in a past Turning, but the nature of the Wheel of Time makes reading who will inherit Aviendha's Blood as likely as being able to read who Aviendha inherited the Blood from.

Questions have been asked about Min's vision's apparently showing Lan and Birgitte's past as well as their future, and RJ's answer was "always the future, but the future IS the Past." The obverse of that is the "Past is the Future" so a ter'angreal that shows the past logically should also be able to show the future.

b.) that it breaks the seemingly unspoken law that ter'angreal may not have active effects without an outside force controlling it.

I suspect that the "seemingly unspoken law" is unspoken because it doesn't exist. I'm not sure that the Redstone Doorways count as ter'angreals since they were apparently built by the *finn and the *finn can't Channel. Nevertheless, others have presented just a small sample of the known ter'angreal that function without input and for non-channelers.

WinespringBrother
12-08-2010, 10:03 AM
Do we know if Aviendha restored the original function of the Columns? If not, it should be interesting when the prospective Shaido clan chief shows up, and sees their future, or lack thereof.

Ozymandias
12-16-2010, 12:09 AM
Is it really fair to blame your faint knowledge of the series on RJ and BS?

The ter'angreal which Egwene got from Verin in TDR works without having to channel into it. Then there is the ter'angreal which Mat got from the *finn, that also works without need for active channeling. Then there were the doorways into *finnland, though they are now destroyed.

Apologies for being busy and not having time to respond (or even be on the site!) in a few weeks.

Firstly, perhaps I was not clear enough in the initial post; I'm perfectly aware of the other ter'angreal in the books, or at least the ones mentioned. Again, these are all ter'angreal with passive effects.

The dreamspike, for example. It has a solid, fixed effect. You might say it projects a weave over a given space; it doesn't change or waver, its effects aren't different from person to person. There is a radius in which it prevents the weaving of gateways, thats all. You might consider it a locus point from which some pre-constructed weave operates. No idea if thats how it works, but the basic point is that it exerts a stable, passive effect.

The dream ter'angreal given by Verin are similar. Touching it confers access on the world of dreams. Its a set effect, with set conditions for use and immutable, unchanging results. Ditto every other example ya'll quoted back at me.

As far as Dreaming goes, someone already mentioned this is a fallible ability. Min's viewing is as well, to the extent that the Dark One triumphing can invalidate it (we presume). And before someone posits a similar ability for the glass column ter'angreal, its worth it to note that a.) Min seems to be unique in recorded history of having this ability, and b.) that had the ability been known when the glass columns were crafted, it hardly stands to reason that its makers would have ignored their ability to read the future (because for all we know, all Min does is read the futures that anyone with a similar talent could read, she just happens to uniquely have the ability).

The column ter'angreal are absolutely different. It is one concept to admit, as I postulated, that Aes Sedai in the AoL were capable of crafting some sort of device to read genetic memory, or that they could make an item of the Power that could absorb the memories of those near it and then replay those memories to others.

If we assume that this is how the te'rangreal works, and as far as I'm concerned its a legitimate hypothesis as to the mechanics of the thing, it doesn't follow that it can then generate images on its own. And this is where my whole point of active vs passive effects comes into play. The glass columns are either reading the future, which is completely illogical within the framework of the history and the story, or it is actively generating an image without having the Power channeled into it. Unlike the other ter'angreal, which have a set effect that does not ever change, or which require the Power to charge it up, so to speak, here we have a ter'angreal apparently capable of producing images of its own accord.

So Gonzo, since you seem to think so poorly of my working knowledge of items of the Power, I'll ask you to find me an example of a ter'angreal which exerts a similar power; in other words, a ter'angreal which produces a mutable effect without any channeling involved on the part of the user. Same challenge is open to anyone.

GonzoTheGreat
12-16-2010, 06:19 AM
Oh dear, that's a difficult one. Assuming one ignores the doorways into *finnland, which allow you to go there the first time, allow you to return, but then do not work that way again for you anymore. Am I allowed to mention those?
I guess I'll also have to ignore the Talisman of Growing, which the Ogier can use for various (related) purposes, such as either growing new Waygates or repairing damaged ones.

Ignoring those (using them would be cheating, obviously) I can't think of any examples off the top of my head. So you may be on to something.

Goldie
12-16-2010, 08:20 AM
Maybe this is off the main topic, but does it strike anyone else that the columns only show the past starting with the establishment of the treaty of Rhuidian (forgive my spelling). Perhaps the ones that programmed the glass columns could only show what came before the programmers.

I am not sure how this jives with the columns suddenly showing Avi her future.

CreationEdge
12-16-2010, 09:15 AM
Genetic memory is too simple an explanation, but also too non-WoTy.

It not only keys on into your ancestors, but it it puts you into their shoes, quite literally, at very important times in those people's lives. In fact, if they all had Mat's dice rattling around in their heads those seem like times the dice would have stopped for them.

Avi said they seem aware, or almost alive. Some sort of faux-consciousness. I don't think something like that has to go by genes. I think it can read your soul, your place in the Pattern, and it can know what other things in the Pattern that lead up to you (ie, your ancestor's actions).


On the same token, it makes sense then, that it could read what your place in the pattern will lead to.

And, I would point out, that the future isn't just based on Avi's decisions, and it wasn't just showing her that.

If it's such a cosmic entity (incomprehensible like the One Power) then it would have been reading or showing the future based on the actions of everyone. Even the ancestors of the Seanchan man that shot Avi's final descendant shown.


That's my own theory, anyway. The columns know. They have some sort of quasi consciousness and the ability to read the pattern.



Which, makes Avi's plight seem all the more difficult. To change that future she can't just change the ways and minds of her children and herself. She has to change an entire people.

legends be wrought
12-16-2010, 08:09 PM
on a bit of a side note...
has it ever been discussed why Aviendha saw what she did whereas others (for whatever reason) have seen the future of the aiel in a different fashion. Is Aviendha a special foretold case or is there another reason?

Its been a while since ive done any massive reread of the earlier books but Has anyone entered ter'angreal since Rand destroyed the Tel'aran'rhiod barrier surrounding Rhuidean (fight against asmo)? If this barrier was both ways and blocked the ter'angreal columns access to Tel'aran'rhiod then it may be possible that the removal of the barrier has impacted the images Avi sees.

If this is the case then (before the barrier was destroyed)the columns would have had to base images from the person entering the columns and people who previously entered (or a preprogrammed set of images). If it has access to Tel'aran'rhiod there is no saying how much information it has access to (previous lives, mirror worlds etc).

In any ways ive accepted that some events are going to conflict in such a long and detailed series, written by two different authors.

Weird Harold
12-16-2010, 08:20 PM
Maybe this is off the main topic, but does it strike anyone else that the columns only show the past starting with the establishment of the treaty of Rhuidian (forgive my spelling).

First Obvious Question, "Why are you here? Well, watch this..."

That of course assumes that every successful clan chief is a descendant of one of those who were present at the establishment of The Treaty of Rhuidean -- that probably is not the case and those who were not would start from some ancestor first learning of the Treaty and the duty to go to Rhuidean it imposes.

Genetic memory is too simple an explanation, but also too non-WoTy.

*snerk* that's the exact opposite of most people's objection -- they complain that it is "not WOT-y enough 'cause it ignores the Pattern."

Old Blood Memories are an established fact in the WOT. but are a long-discredited belief in the real world.

It not only keys on into your ancestors, but it it puts you into their shoes, quite literally, at very important times in those people's lives. In fact, if they all had Mat's dice rattling around in their heads those seem like times the dice would have stopped for them.

Mat's memories are part of the evidence for it reading ancestral memories rather than the Pattern. Reading the Pattern could (and probably would if Foretelling or Min's viewing can be considered examples) provide an omniscient narrative POV of the key events in Aiel history. Using ancestral memories stirred up from within each candidate make it personal (and personalized) experience.


I don't think something like that has to go by genes.

No, of course it doesn't have to go by blood memories. It probably does, but a ter'angreal could be built to use any of several ways of showing the Aiel's history -- the absolute easiest would be to simply record memories of key moments and replay those for the candidates. But RJ -- through Rhuarc -- said the experience is individualized (not just recorded scenes) and -- in an interview -- said someone without Aiel Ancestry/Blood would see nothing.

On the same token, it makes sense then, that it could read what your place in the pattern will lead to.

IF it reads the Pattern, then of course it can read it in both directions -- except reading the Future seems to be fairly difficult if you want a single definitive picture of the Future.

If it's such a cosmic entity (incomprehensible like the One Power) then it would have been reading or showing the future based on the actions of everyone. Even the ancestors of the Seanchan man that shot Avi's final descendant shown.

More argument for a limited function independent of th Pattern's Omnscient Narrator POV.


That's my own theory, anyway. The columns know. They have some sort of quasi consciousness and the ability to read the pattern.

As has been argued here and elsewhere for years, "that's more complicated than the ter'angreal needs to be." Aviendha's second trip conflicts with everything that has been known and deduced about the Glass Columns and what it does.

People seem to be forgeting that the ter'angreal doesn't just educate -- it tests and marks (Clan Chiefs, at least) as well. How would the reversal of function affect those functions?

Which, makes Avi's plight seem all the more difficult. To change that future she can't just change the ways and minds of her children and herself. She has to change an entire people.

In getting that important bit of information reiterated -- she saw much of the same future as one of the possibilities in the Ring ter'angral on her first trip to Rhuidean -- she disabled the one function that had stabilized the Aiel for generations and could educate more generations about what makes the Aiel what Aiel should be.

The thing that distressed Aviendha the most, iirc, was that her descendants had forgotten Ji'e'toh -- Honor and Obligation. Not having the history of the Aiel availble to future leaders of the Aiel would have the consequences that Aviendha fears and her action in changing the ter'angreal's function might be the root cause of the future she saw.

Weird Harold
12-16-2010, 08:45 PM
has it ever been discussed why Aviendha saw what she did whereas others (for whatever reason) have seen the future of the aiel in a different fashion. Is Aviendha a special foretold case or is there another reason?

See the FAces of Nakomi Thread for some discussion of that aspect. I don't recall anyone suggesting that Aviendha's second pass conflicts with other Aeil prognostications.

...Has anyone entered ter'angreal since Rand destroyed the Tel'aran'rhiod barrier surrounding Rhuidean (fight against asmo)?

I'm told that Aviendha explicity think that she's the first non-shaido Wise One candidate since RAnd's revelations and she doesn't think the Shaido have sent anyone either. I'm pretty sure that the only clan in need of a new Clan Chief is the Shaido and I don't think they have had enough time to reorganize after fleeing Malden.

If this barrier was both ways and blocked the ter'angreal columns access to Tel'aran'rhiod then it may be possible that the removal of the barrier has impacted the images Avi sees.

The Rings Ter'angreal just a few yard away is generally believed to be t'a'r related because it shows many multiple futures as Dreamwalking would. It may be related to the Portal Stone technology, because of the similarity to the botched trip to Falme, but the Aiel Wise Ones are closely associated with Dreaming.

In eithe rcase, it's function was unimpaired by the fog and there's no specific reason to believe the Columns were limited by the fog either.

...people who previously entered (or a preprogrammed set of images).

The Glass Columns (or "Forest of Crystal Spires" as RJ called it) definitely does not show pre-recorded images or images drawn from previous candidates. Each candidate sees the history of the Aiel from the perspective of their personal ancestors.