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ChubbyAiel
05-26-2011, 05:29 AM
This is something I’ve thought about for a while. Apologies if it’s been covered before. I’ve had a look at the archive but can’t find anything so a redirect link would be appreciated if I’m going over old ground.

I’m confused as to how there can be both a Creator and an eternal Wheel, which has "neither beginnings nor endings" to its turnings. If the Creator made everything and set the Wheel to turning then it seems pretty obvious that there was, at some point in time, the beginning.

Conversely, if we can believe in eternal deities, why can we not believe in an eternal physical world? I think that some schools of Buddhism hold to that view, hence their wheel of time. If we believe in infinity going forward, why not infinity going backward?

It seems to me that RJ took modern Western concepts of there being an absolute starting point and divine creator and combining that with the idea of an eternal Wheel of Time (from Eastern religions), and perhaps older ideas of creation (does Genesis 1 really describe creatio ex nihilo? many scholars argue it does not), and problems have arisen. Maybe that is a genuine, accidental flaw in the cosmology of RJ’s world.

Or maybe I’m taking this too literally and what that first paragraph in each book means is that there was indeed a true beginning, but since that beginning repeats again with each turning, there is nothing special about that beginning. But then there would still be the beginning in an absolute sense, even if it had since been repeated.

So maybe the denizens of Randland are mistaken in their beliefs about the Creator and the Wheel. Would the following explanation resolve the apparent contradictions between a Wheel with no beginning to its turnings and a Creator?

The Wheel is as eternal as the Dark One and the Creator and was not put in place by anyone. The Creator is the Creator because he ordered whatever existed (just as Genesis 1 apparently describes God creating the world out of the pre-existent chaos of a mighty storm that blew on the face of the deep) before the beginning of history (as a human concept) and gave the Wheel its purpose as part of that Creation, giving the Wheel the order it needed to spin something meaningful, but the Wheel and Time itself are as eternal as the Creator.

If the Wheel is a third eternal “power” in the cosmology, would that explain why the Creator doesn’t get involved? If the Wheel tends towards neutrality and the Dark One tends towards evil, an absentee Creator causes the Wheel and therefore Ta’veren to tend towards good; if the Creator was active, the Wheel would tend towards true neutrality and there would either be no Ta’veren or there would be evil Ta’veren to counteract the good ones, and the Pattern would be fighting itself, maybe pulling apart. Therefore, the Creator's abstention is an act of good in itself, and the Creator is therefore benevolent. If the Creator had created the Wheel, why not create it in such a way that it tended towards good?

Or am I overcomplicating things? It just seems to me that the usual interpretation doesn't explain how there can be no beginnings, and does the series not lead us to believe that the characters have already been incarnated infinite times? Hasn't the battle between the Dragon and the Dark One/Moridin been fought again and again?

One final thing I was hoping someone could answer because I borrowed by brother's copy of A Gathering Storm, and so don't have it now to check: when Rand had his epiphany are we led to believe his past lives stretch back into infinity, are we led to believe they are a finite number, or is this not really alluded to in the text?

Terez
05-26-2011, 05:57 AM
Birgitte said in Tel'aran'rhiod that her memories faded the farther back they went, so their memories are finite at least. As for the infinity paradox there's not much we can say about it. Probably not worth dwelling on IMO.

Weird Harold
05-26-2011, 10:01 AM
...Or am I overcomplicating things? ...

Yes, you're overcomplicating things. :D

Consider a custom, drop-forged, wheel for your car. Which point on the rim was created first when the forge hammer dropped? To an insect on the rim, where is the beginning or end of the rim. The Creator, being outside of the Wheel and Pattern may well be able to define some sort of "beginning" but from within His Creation, there is no Beginning nor End perceptible.

Also, consider that until the Creator made the Wheel of Time any concept dependent on Time -- before, after, now, then, past, future, et al -- had no meaning.

... when Rand had his epiphany are we led to believe his past lives stretch back into infinity, are we led to believe they are a finite number, or is this not really alluded to in the text?

The memories go back to infinity, but the ability to recall them is constrained by the finite limits of the human mind. Just as your memories go back to your Birth, whether you can consciously recall them or not, acess to the whole library of memories doesn't necessarily mean any given memory can be brought to mind.

Zombie Sammael
05-26-2011, 10:09 AM
If the Wheel is a third eternal “power” in the cosmology, would that explain why the Creator doesn’t get involved? If the Wheel tends towards neutrality and the Dark One tends towards evil, an absentee Creator causes the Wheel and therefore Ta’veren to tend towards good; if the Creator was active, the Wheel would tend towards true neutrality and there would either be no Ta’veren or there would be evil Ta’veren to counteract the good ones, and the Pattern would be fighting itself, maybe pulling apart. Therefore, the Creator's abstention is an act of good in itself, and the Creator is therefore benevolent. If the Creator had created the Wheel, why not create it in such a way that it tended towards good?

If he was going off to do other stuff, why not just make it neutral, safe in the knowledge that he could leave it set to auto and the dog wouldn't get out?

ChubbyAiel
05-26-2011, 10:12 AM
Yes, you're overcomplicating things. :D

Consider a custom, drop-forged, wheel for your car. Which point on the rim was created first when the forge hammer dropped? To an insect on the rim, where is the beginning or end of the rim. The Creator, being outside of the Wheel and Pattern may well be able to define some sort of "beginning" but from within His Creation, there is no Beginning nor End perceptible.

Also, consider that until the Creator made the Wheel of Time any concept dependent on Time -- before, after, now, then, past, future, et al -- had no meaning.

That's a great answer, and much appreciated. I can see the logic there and it makes sense to me. However, the second part of your answer poses another question, and seems to contradict the first part:


The memories go back to infinity, but the ability to recall them is constrained by the finite limits of the human mind. Just as your memories go back to your Birth, whether you can consciously recall them or not, acess to the whole library of memories doesn't necessarily mean any given memory can be brought to mind.

If the memories truly go back to infinity then that means time goes back to infinity, which means that there cannot have been a single point when time began, therefore there cannot be a moment when the Wheel began turning, which means my conundrum isn't solved by the first part of your answer if this comment about memories is correct.

Weird Harold
05-26-2011, 10:39 AM
If the memories truly go back to infinity then that means time goes back to infinity, which means that there cannot have been a single point when time began, therefore there cannot be a moment when the Wheel began turning, which means my conundrum isn't solved by the first part of your answer if this comment about memories is correct.

"Infinity" is not precisely the right term; the memories go back "without end" because they were all created in the same creation as Time itself.

There is no functional difference between "endless" and "infinite" as far as perception within the framework of "Time" is concerned. Either means there is no discernable "first memory" that comes before all others.

Zombie Sammael
05-26-2011, 10:47 AM
Trying to lend Weird Harold a hand here: I think in your first analogy, you have to bend your head around the fact that time is the wheel, rather than being governed or controlled by a physical wheel. The memories and life experiences people have are part of that wheel, though over countless turnings, they change in small ways, so that the one hundred billionth turning would be virtually unrecognisable to the first.

greatwolf
05-26-2011, 03:14 PM
At some point in time, the creator sets the wheel rolling. The wheel keeps men's lives in endless repetition. However, if the creator steps into the world of the wheel, then there really isn't any more repetition is there? Or if the other outside agent, the DO comes in?


If the wheel can accept the creator's interference-a unique event in all ages- and keep going, then it can accept other uniqueness like Fain and with enough uniqueness, it is no longer a circle.

nameless
05-26-2011, 03:19 PM
It's probably a strange attractor rather than a perfect circle.

Zombie Sammael
05-26-2011, 03:30 PM
At some point in time, the creator sets the wheel rolling. The wheel keeps men's lives in endless repetition. However, if the creator steps into the world of the wheel, then there really isn't any more repetition is there? Or if the other outside agent, the DO comes in?


If the wheel can accept the creator's interference-a unique event in all ages- and keep going, then it can accept other uniqueness like Fain and with enough uniqueness, it is no longer a circle.

Before the Wheel starts rolling, the lives and memories and events are all there, but they're stagnant, not moving one to the next; isolated and disconnected from one another in individual moments of time. Once the Creator starts the wheel rolling, they are joined. But the events aren't "started" by the Creator starting the wheel, as such. The Creator exists outside of our conception of time. Once the Wheel is begun, the events simply have always been; spontaneous creation in it's truest form.

There is no Garden of Eden to the Wheel of Time, no first men or beginning. The Creator creates the Wheel and the people within simply spring into being, with their histories and memories already intact.

It's hard to get your head round, but it is a Wheel; albeit one that's ultimately subject to a little bit of "road wear".

Marie Curie 7
05-26-2011, 11:11 PM
The Wheel is as eternal as the Dark One and the Creator and was not put in place by anyone. The Creator is the Creator because he ordered whatever existed (just as Genesis 1 apparently describes God creating the world out of the pre-existent chaos of a mighty storm that blew on the face of the deep) before the beginning of history (as a human concept) and gave the Wheel its purpose as part of that Creation, giving the Wheel the order it needed to spin something meaningful, but the Wheel and Time itself are as eternal as the Creator.

Not only do the people of Randland believe that the Creator made the Wheel and set it in motion, but RJ confirmed this.

Crossroads of Twilight book tour 18 January 2003, Harvard Coop - Tallis reporting

Rand has no direct connection with the Creator. The Creator is completely removed from the world; aside from ... creating ... the Pattern, he does nothing else whatsoever to influence anything.


East of the Sun Con, Stockholm, Sweden 17 June 1995 - Helena Löfgren interview

On the question of the "alignment" of the characters, he said that there are no completely good character in the books, as he thought such a character would be completely boring, and would probably be killed rather quickly, like other fully good persons in the world. He took Jesus as example of this. Instead, every person struggles with the good and bad sides of his/her personality. Another point he pressed was that "no one's going to rescue you", there are not going to happen any miracles. The Creator shaped the world and set the rules, but does not interfere. Humankind messed things up, and has to fix it too, as well as finding the truth themselves.


If the Wheel is a third eternal “power” in the cosmology, would that explain why the Creator doesn’t get involved? If the Wheel tends towards neutrality and the Dark One tends towards evil, an absentee Creator causes the Wheel and therefore Ta’veren to tend towards good; if the Creator was active, the Wheel would tend towards true neutrality and there would either be no Ta’veren or there would be evil Ta’veren to counteract the good ones, and the Pattern would be fighting itself, maybe pulling apart. Therefore, the Creator's abstention is an act of good in itself, and the Creator is therefore benevolent. If the Creator had created the Wheel, why not create it in such a way that it tended towards good?

The Creator doesn't get involved for the reason that he apparently expects humankind to fix its own mess (see RJ quote above). In addition, it would give the appearance that He wasn't perfect:

Fallon Blood book signing 12 October 1996, Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Cincinnati, OH - Michael Martin reporting

Re: the Creator's "Inability" To Act On His Creation...Having encountered a similar "theology" in Donaldson's Covenant series, I have been quite curious why the Creator can't act on His own world. It didn't seem to make sense, except as a plot device. RJ answered this question. His thesis was this: A perfect Creator should create a perfect creation. To act, miraculously or no, on this world, would be tantamount to acknowledging imperfection in Himself. So, when humanity screwed things up, they've been left on their own to "patch" things up.


If he was going off to do other stuff, why not just make it neutral, safe in the knowledge that he could leave it set to auto and the dog wouldn't get out?

The Pattern includes both good and bad, as Moiraine explained:

TITLE: Dragon Reborn
CHAPTER: 33 - Within the Weave

Moiraine was silent for a time, warming her hands. Finally she spoke while staring into the flames. "The Creator is good, Perrin. The Father of Lies is evil. The Pattern of Age, the Age Lace itself, is neither. The Pattern is what is. The Wheel of Time weaves all lives into the Pattern, all actions. A Pattern that is all one color is no Pattern. For the Pattern of an Age, good and ill are the warp and the woof."

Because the Creator apparently allowed humans to have at least some measure of free will, the balance of good and ill in the Pattern needs to be adjusted from time to time. Thus, for example, the Wheel spins out ta'veren when needed to correct the drift.

Netherlands tour 7 April 2001, Elf Fantasy Fair - Aan'allein reporting

RJ: The threads work in the way, in the same way that the thread of any living thing works. It is part of the Pattern. They are not outside of the Pattern. Neither are the Forsaken. But the Pattern in a thing that is open, that's change. It is not a matter of the lives being forced necessarily. It's wide, you have the Pattern, the Heroes that are bound to the Wheel, they're not always heroes in the way of someone who rides in galloping with a sword, or carries out daring rescues. The people, the Heroes who are bound to the Wheel, are the corrective mechanisms. Human behavior is throwing the Pattern out. It's throwing the balance off. And the Wheel spins out the proper correctives. Put everything back in the balance. So not even the Forsaken are a part of that, they're not outside. The only things that are outside are the Creator and the Dark One. Neither affected by the Pattern.

stylusmobilus
06-05-2011, 12:09 AM
I can only share the beliefs of PastorDeSemolaDeGranoDuro on DM, which is not surprising as that is my alter ego...

'If, as the going idea seems to be, the world of Randland is our world, then it is blatantly obvious that the Creator is the Flying Spaghetti Monster (Pesto Be Upon Him).

It is therefore apparent that the Great Serpent is one of His Noodly Appendages tied and bent into a figure eight, and Infused With The Sauce. By extension, the Pattern, and all its living threads are thin spaghetti tied together to form the Great Lasagne Sheet known as the Age Lace.

It goes without saying that the Dark One is blatantly the Evil Antipasta, who can surely spoil the Great Lasagne Sheet, by unthreading and rotting the thin spaghetti of the Pattern. Rand, who is surely Touched By His Noodly Appendage, is a powerful Pastafarian with years of experience blending marinara, and will use the Sauce to seal the Bore.

The Antipasta does recruit from the Light. It is quite possible that Sammael was a Midgit.'

RAmen, and May Sauce Be With You.

The Unreasoner
06-05-2011, 01:02 AM
...so you're an atheist? At least Felix is entertaining.

You know with the existence of TAR as the reflection of all worlds, the Creator doesn't have to exist and neither does the wheel. The serpent is an older symbol for time and eternity. doesn't the prime Hindu god sleep on a bed of snakes while he's basically doing his own TAR? If enough people believe in the wheel and the creator, they might be able to force their effects. Ta'veren pull could be a person in a world being drawn to what the collective consciousness "knows" as right.

stylusmobilus
06-05-2011, 02:46 AM
...so you're an atheist? At least Felix is entertaining.

You know with the existence of TAR as the reflection of all worlds, the Creator doesn't have to exist and neither does the wheel. The serpent is an older symbol for time and eternity. doesn't the prime Hindu god sleep on a bed of snakes while he's basically doing his own TAR? If enough people believe in the wheel and the creator, they might be able to force their effects. Ta'veren pull could be a person in a world being drawn to what the collective consciousness "knows" as right.

No, I am a Pastafarian. More agnostic actually. I didn't know that having a belief was a precursor to being entertaining, so I guess you learn something new everyday. Thanks.

The bottom line here is, what I believe or don't believe is irrelevant. I draw comparisons of FSMism to the world of WoT. I like the idea that the Creator is the FSM, because they are both benevolent. And like a good god would, the Creator has left his people with the tools to well and truly look after themselves.

I don't see where the existence of TAR as a reflection or otherwise is an indicator that the Wheel or Creator doesn't 'have to exist'. I'm a bit confused there, actually.

Despite what my FSM comparison says, I don't think Rand will use the One Power to seal any Bore. I think it requires more than that, like seed singing, ta'veren gathering, Ogier, maybe Nym.

The Unreasoner
06-05-2011, 03:07 AM
The last bit really was not really a reply to you.

For the first bit, I don't know, I just got a little pissed off that you didn't seem to have much of a point beyond tossing pasta jargon around. It felt like a waste of time. I am plenty guilty of that as well, but for you and I both, when we waste time, we must welcome the dickishness of the responses.

stylusmobilus
06-05-2011, 03:29 AM
No, I wasn't trying to waste time. I know RJ certainly didn't use Pastafarianism as an inspiration for WoT, but I see some great interconnecting relations. And I guess, like reading the series is, it's just a bit of fun.

Aulis Vaara
06-06-2011, 05:40 AM
Are you people really trying to make sense of something described as infinite? Isn't that a bit... impossible?

Seriously... infinite time requires infinite entropy, which in turn requires infinite energy, and thus everything everywhere is basically infinitely dense energy. You'd be better off having nothing, because then at least something could spontaneously begin to exist.

Well, you could always say there is some magical entropy inverter in the Wheel Of Time verse... maybe that's where the Dark One comes in? It would need to be Pattern Level Event though, since otherwise stars would burn out and stuff like that.

Zombie Sammael
06-06-2011, 06:03 AM
Are you people really trying to make sense of something described as infinite? Isn't that a bit... impossible?

Seriously... infinite time requires infinite entropy, which in turn requires infinite energy, and thus everything everywhere is basically infinitely dense energy. You'd be better off having nothing, because then at least something could spontaneously begin to exist.

Well, you could always say there is some magical entropy inverter in the Wheel Of Time verse... maybe that's where the Dark One comes in? It would need to be Pattern Level Event though, since otherwise stars would burn out and stuff like that.

Maybe that's what the One Power is really for.