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probe907
01-14-2013, 03:46 PM
So what did the DO want in the end? Because without understanding the DO's motivation, it seems hard to understand the series.
Please correct me where I make errors, and post your own thoughts!

To begin with, Jordan's WoT metaphysics is notoriously hard to pin down, since it's half dualistic-gnostic-Masonic, and half Christian. On the one hand we have the Creator and his equal opposite the Dark One, plus the Wheel and the Pattern, which is "neither good nor evil." That's dualism (Manicheanism/ Zoroastrianism/ Bogomilism/ Catharism?). The Creator acting as the Great Architect is pure Masonry. On the other hand, having a good God who does not directly intervene, but does, sort of, indirectly act by virtue of having constructed the self-repairing Pattern; having that God oppose the Devil, who can "touch" the physical world, is Christian. (The physical world is the Devil's realm; the spiritual world is the Kingdom of God.) The "Dragon" acting as the Messiah is also Christian. The theme of the temptation of Christ, central to the WoT, is fully Christian.

I can see three possible outcomes that could be considered acceptable for the DO; arranged in what one would expect to be an increasing order of preference, from least desirable to most desirable : 1) total annihilation, the unraveling of the Pattern; 2) the destruction and/or enslavement of humanity - the Shadow wins the LB; 3) humanity's willing turn to the Shadow.
Note that options 3 and 2 are not mutually exclusive - the DO might recruit Shara and Seanchan, enslave the snarky Westlanders, and nuke the resolute Aiel.

By and large, we can assume that option 1 is not nearly as attractive as options 2 and 3, and so the DO would always pursue options 2 and 3 at the expense of option 1. That explains why he doesn't order his goons to just go around and balefire all major cities.

Speaking of which, the motivations of the Forsaken are fairly clear. In Western theology (meaning Christianity plus a heavy dose of Greco-Roman philosophy), we have the 7 virtues: prudence, justice, restraint or temperance, courage or fortitude, faith, hope and love. The first four virtues are "cardinal," and the last three are "theological" and the most important. Opposed to those we have the seven deadly sins: wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony. Coupled with these sins there is another standard list of virtues: chastity, temperance, charity, diligence, patience, kindness, and humility.
The Forsaken are clearly driven almost exclusively by the sins, with different Forsaken dedicated to different sins, and all Forsaken drinking deeply in multiple sins. I'm sure people here can link to essays explaining which Forsaken follows which sin.
Moridin, as the prime Forsaken, violates the 3 theological virtues: he is hopeless, faithless, and loves nothing, not even himself. Note that all other Forsaken at least hope for something. Not Ishy; and hence he is their leader.
Now, given that the Forsaken are greedy and gluttonous in varying degrees, they, like the DO, would not want to simply balefire the world - because one would not destroy that which one covets.

And so we have both the DO and his Forsaken pursue a takeover rather than a destruction of the world. That is assuming the DO can't just smash the Pattern and then remake it to his own liking. If he can do that, why not just make his own Pattern somewhere else? Nah, only the Creator can make a Pattern, and whenever the DO says otherwise, he's lying.
At the same time, the Forsaken and the DO are at odds on one major issue: since the Forsaken want everything to themselves, they are not entirely eager to welcome new Forsaken to the loving fold of the DO. Moreover, the DO glories in recruiting a person, not in ordering the person about. It's the case of not wanting to belong to the club that would accept one such as you. Perhaps this is why the DO does not worry excessively about attrition among the Forsaken.

Now, with this in mind as the DO's end-goal, many things in the series begin to make more sense. In order to win people to his own side, the DO must fight the virtues and promote the sins. At the same time, ironically, he must try to make sure that not too many of the major players of Randland die, because then he cannot recruit them.
This explains the Shadow's halfhearted assassination attempts - though some Forsaken may have genuinely wanted to kill some good guys, the DO could not have allowed them to kill too many, because a Dark Egwene is much better than a dead Egwene.
Moreover, compulsion and turning could not be used indiscriminately, exactly because of the problem of the free will - a turned Rand is not nearly as good as a Rand who - consciously or not - willingly serves the Shadow.

Notice that all Forsaken willingly turned to the Shadow.

The fact that the DO could continue to fight for the souls of the good guys until the very end adds an additional layer of irony to the affair.

And so the DO kept trying to identify the weakness of the major characters and organizations, and exploited those weaknesses. Rand was doomed to die, and so he was attacked with hopelessness and faithlessness. He was also the Dragon, which meant his arrogance could be exploited. His strength in the OP exposed him to the danger of gluttony. His fury at the DO and various others (Seanchan) translates into wrath.
Perrin was guilty of Wrath and perhaps Lust/Gluttony (after Faile?), while Matt was guilty of Sloth and some Greed. I guess that's why it took Matt until the very end to go rescue Moiraine :p .
Or take the White Tower - what better way to demoralize (i.e. separate from faith, hope, and love for one's peers) the Aes Sedai, than to split the WT? Who better for Amyrlin, than the arrogant, imprudent, wrathful Elaida?
The purpose of the various conflicts and murders was not just to kill, but also to scare, to infuriate, to drive to apathy and hopelessness, to confuse the imprudent, to goad the arrogant, to - "let the Lord of Chaos rule."

Unfortunately for the DO, as both the Nazis and the Allies found out in WW2, terror is a tricky weapon. Too often terror merely fires up the will to resist.

Perhaps the main problem the Dark One faced is that by definition he could not possibly make people love him. This meant that he had to scare, buy, seduce, or trick people into supporting his cause. To the DO's chagrin, the virtues carry more power than do the sins, and so the DO is doomed, in age after age. He is not the enemy, in the sense that his only resort is to appeal to people's propensity toward evil - and, in a sense, if people fail to resist, that's their own fault.
Rand's triumph in his duel with the DO is quasi-Christian. Rand is Jesus, meaning God, while the DO is the Devil. In Christian theology, the Devil was a good angel who, out of pride, rejected God and became evil. God is axiomatically more powerful than the Devil, and chooses to let the Devil suffer in Hell. Hell, from what I understand, is not exactly a place. It's the terrible reality of being separated from the good God.
In the WoT, Rand mirrors Christian theology. He realizes that the DO is nothing before him, as the Devil is nothing before God. Good is always greater than evil, and God is always greater than the Devil. Since the DO is nothing, there is no need to destroy him - it is a truer punishment to merely throw the DO in Hell, meaning outside of the Pattern.

One problem with this line of reasoning is that in the WoT, the DO is not a fallen angel, but the antithesis of the Creator. At the same time he behaves more like the Devil than like the equal and opposite of the Creator. The Christian interpretation fits the WoT better than does the dualistic one.

Another problem concern the classic "Problem of Evil." Clearly, a world without evil is a world without free choice, and such a world is fit for robots but not for humans. However, as the DO himself says, a world without the DO is not the same as a world without evil. Why doesn't Rand kill off the DO once and forever then? I suppose one could claim the following: The DO is puny, pathetic and weak, a nothing really, his only role is to tempt and to scare. And people deserve the glory of being allowed to resist the DO's temptations and terror. (That was a major theme in MoL.) That some humans may fall fighting Trolloc hordes is no big deal, since those humans will just be reborn by the pattern (a sort of a weaker version of going to Heaven) or end up hooked to the horn (Birgitte & Valhalla).

Thoughts?

Jokeslayer
01-15-2013, 12:53 PM
This is pretty disjointed for the most part. Sorry about that.

For me, I think the DO only really wanted the option with no world at all. He needed help to get the job done, so he had to lie to most of the Darkfriends/Forsaken who would only follow him for some reward. He might even have kept those promises had they won, though I suspect he would not and eventually the world would have gone back to how it was so the DO could have another go at persuading the Dragon to help him unmake the world.

There's no indication that he could destroy the world alone. For that, he needed Rand, or at least appeared to. This would also explain why there was initially an order against killing Rand.

I think we could regard the Creator/DO as existing on opposite ends of a freedom/slavery axis, rather than a good/evil one. People are so free under the Creator that he does (almost) nothing, while the DO has the power to take away almost all their choices. What has less moral freedom than something that doesn't exist?

I'm most inclined to trust Ishamael's judgement on the DO's goals, which seems to indicate that he wants to destroy everything. I'm not sure there's any solid evidence to say the DO actually cares about people in any sense.

Presumably, had the Shadow won the LB, there would still be good people in the world (just as there were bad people in Rand's version).

Lost One
01-16-2013, 01:53 PM
The DO is ineveryboy, or everybody has the possibility to follow the DO... So how can the DO be truely be shut away in his prison if he is in all of us?

In Rand's version where he has killed the DO, there is still the shadow in Elayne's eyes, which in this case, is Rand by having taken away the possibility of the DO, he has, effectively, done his own compulsion in a way.. taking away the ability to have t he will to do evil.

But if the DO is outside the pattern where people forget about him, he can touch nothing and affect nothing, where is the difference? I mean since people will still be able to choose to and act in evil ways, does it not mean that the DO cannot truely be shut away? So how can the prison be Whole?

mogi67
01-16-2013, 02:33 PM
The DO is ineveryboy, or everybody has the possibility to follow the DO... So how can the DO be truely be shut away in his prison if he is in all of us?

In Rand's version where he has killed the DO, there is still the shadow in Elayne's eyes, which in this case, is Rand by having taken away the possibility of the DO, he has, effectively, done his own compulsion in a way.. taking away the ability to have t he will to do evil.

But if the DO is outside the pattern where people forget about him, he can touch nothing and affect nothing, where is the difference? I mean since people will still be able to choose to and act in evil ways, does it not mean that the DO cannot truely be shut away? So how can the prison be Whole?

Evil in the wheel of time is a funny thing - it seems to be a thing, like it has a substance. But in Christian theology evil is a privation of good rather than it's own force. I'm not sure that the Dark One is source of all evil. Like Satan (the adversary), he tempts and makes effort to corrupt all good things, but he is not the sole origin of evil. In Rand's world where he kills the dark one, while he certainly does eliminate a great source of discord, the issue comes from exerting his will over all of the universe.

In the same way that God/the Creator does not coerce the world into loving him, Rand cannot remake the world in his own image. That in itself would be evil as it does not provide humanity with the possibility of real love.

E: Though the dark one is sealed away, there is still the potential for people to sin. In the Age of Legends it was the same way - it was not a complete utopia, there was still death, injustice, and crime present. Rand envisioned a world where not only the dark one was dead, but where evil was not possible. That's the difference.

Sinistrum
01-16-2013, 05:31 PM
I always thought these quotes were most important in sifting through the alternate reality battle and finding the DO's true motives.

MEN WHO THINK THEY ARE OPPRESSED WILL SOMEDAY FIGHT. I WILL REMOVE FROM THEM NOT JUST THEIR WILL TO RESIST, BUT THE VERY SUSPICION THAT SOMETHING IS WRONG.

WHAT I SHOWED BEFORE IS WHAT MEN EXPECT. IT IS THE EVIL THEY THINK THEY FIGHT. BUT I WILL MAKE A WORLD WHERE THERE IS NOT GOOD OR EVIL.
THERE IS ONLY ME.

aMoL p. 716

YOU REALLY ARE NOTHING, Rand said, knowing the Dark One's secrets completely. YOU WOULD NEVER HAVE GIVEN ME REST AS YOU PROMISED, FATHER OF LIES. YOU WOULD HAVE ENSLAVED ME AS YOU WOULD HAVE ENSLAVED THE OTHERS. YOU CANNOT GIVE OBLIVION. REST IS NOT YOURS. ONLY TORMENT.

aMoL p. 890.

The promise of oblivion extended to both Moridin and Rand was a lie, as was the popular vision that the DO showed Rand first (and admitted was a lie). His true aim was the second vision, the vision where the world was populated by sociopaths bound to his will. An enslaved world that had no inkling that they were actually slaves.

But if the DO is outside the pattern where people forget about him, he can touch nothing and affect nothing, where is the difference? I mean since people will still be able to choose to and act in evil ways, does it not mean that the DO cannot truely be shut away? So how can the prison be Whole?

You are correct about the Age of Legends. And logically speaking the DO doesn't ever truly go away. But the prison was never about sealing him away completely. It was about balancing his influence against that of the Light. The Bore threw that balance off.

metaphor
01-16-2013, 08:34 PM
So what did the DO want in the end?

Maybe he did all that because he was bored.

Casabamelon
01-17-2013, 07:58 AM
Maybe he did all that because he was bored.

Wouldn't you be bored if you existed for all time outside of time and watched the Creator get to make his/her/it's own world?

padfoot89
01-17-2013, 11:18 AM
I'd love to know the profanities the DO would've thought immediately after he was pushed out by Rand and the Bore sealed.

Question:
Apparently, there is a possibility for the DO to be killed for good. Shouldn't the DO be worried about this ? Every time the Dragon beats him, he risks being killed.

GonzoTheGreat
01-17-2013, 11:27 AM
If that possibility is real, which may not be the case. Rand thought that it was real, but I am not sure how much that proves.

neurotopia
01-17-2013, 11:55 AM
If that possibility is real, which may not be the case. Rand thought that it was real, but I am not sure how much that proves.

If the possibility is not real, then the quickest way for the DO to escape his prison is to do what he does best: lie. Convince the Dragon that he can be killed and that everything after would be hunky-dory (mess with that vision of Rand's just a little bit).

fdsaf3
01-17-2013, 12:05 PM
The Dark One is made up of paradox. It is an entity which strives to break the Pattern, to shatter reality, but exists outside of those constraints.

The promise of oblivion extended to both Moridin and Rand was a lie, as was the popular vision that the DO showed Rand first (and admitted was a lie). His true aim was the second vision, the vision where the world was populated by sociopaths bound to his will. An enslaved world that had no inkling that they were actually slaves.

I read it differently (but I'm not saying I'm right). I read it as the society you describe would be the most advantageous to the Dark One, or perhaps the one which the Dark One would be most happy with achieving. I'm not sure if the Dark One has a "true aim". Maybe this is sophistry and I should just go back to work (which I should do anyway), but my takeaway from the series, and especially Rand's battle with the Dark One, is that the Dark One exists outside of any permutation of the Pattern but is a part of none. It's more than an "oil and water are opposites and can't mix" thing. It goes back to the paradox thing.

I'm not sure I'm explaining this very well. I'll try and remember to come back after work and write something more detailed. :)

ShadowbaneX
01-17-2013, 10:00 PM
Maybe he did all that because he was bored.

Maybe he did it because that's what he was created to do.

Sinistrum
01-17-2013, 11:22 PM
Maybe he did all that because he was Bored.

Fixed.

probe907
01-18-2013, 04:37 PM
The promise of oblivion extended to both Moridin and Rand was a lie, as was the popular vision that the DO showed Rand first (and admitted was a lie). His true aim was the second vision, the vision where the world was populated by sociopaths bound to his will. An enslaved world that had no inkling that they were actually slaves. That's my impression as well. The goal was to corrupt and enslave surreptitiously, rather than to enslave overtly (which would provoke resistance) or to destroy (which would leave the DO out of a job).
Only this would explain why the DO didn't order his goons to just spit balefire until the Pattern collapsed, or to properly assassinate the leaders of the Light. He didn't want the leaders of the Light assassinated, their organizations destroyed - no, the DO wanted to corrupt the leaders and their organization.

I also like this:
In the same way that God/the Creator does not coerce the world into loving him, Rand cannot remake the world in his own image. That in itself would be evil as it does not provide humanity with the possibility of real love.

E: Though the dark one is sealed away, there is still the potential for people to sin. In the Age of Legends it was the same way - it was not a complete utopia, there was still death, injustice, and crime present. Rand envisioned a world where not only the dark one was dead, but where evil was not possible. That's the difference.

Jokeslayer
01-18-2013, 05:11 PM
or to destroy (which would leave the DO out of a job).

Assuming the DO thinks like this.


Only this would explain why the DO didn't order his goons to just spit balefire until the Pattern collapsed


There may be an element of coercion here. The Forsaken know what too much balefire will do, and they don't want that. The DO may not need the Pattern but he does need minions and they need (or at least want) the Pattern to survive.

Uno
01-18-2013, 09:25 PM
I'm most inclined to trust Ishamael's judgement on the DO's goals, which seems to indicate that he wants to destroy everything. I'm not sure there's any solid evidence to say the DO actually cares about people in any sense.

I'm not convinced of that. The way I read it, the Dark One just told Ishamael what he wanted to hear. Ishamael wanted to be freed from the endless cycle of reincarnation, from having to fight the Dragon again and again, and the Dark One promised him release. Ishamael knows one of the things the Dark One might want--the end of all things--but not all of them. "HE IS OF ME. BUT HIS EYES ARE SMALL."

GonzoTheGreat
01-19-2013, 02:30 AM
"HE IS OF ME. BUT HIS EYES ARE SMALL."
Which may or may not have been completely true.

Problem is: did the DO ever (whatever that word means in this context) have an existence independent of the Wheel of Time?

If yes, then he doesn't need to keep the Pattern in order to continue his existence, and he could indeed have the goal Ishamael ascribed to him.

If no, then there's the question of why the Creator made the WoT with a DO in the middle of it, if it was apparently also possible to do without (yet still leave room for some evil and free will, as in the AoL).

Enigma
01-19-2013, 06:52 PM
One of the things I did not fully understand was the whole 'I can't kill the dark one that will complel people to be good' thing. I get that forcing people either to the light or shadow is bad but it seems to imply that the DO is the sourse of all evil and evil can't exist without him. What about the evil of Fain and SL?

That evil did not come from the DO and we saw at the cleansing what happened when you mixed the SL evil with the evil from the Dark One (the taint). They did not get on which suggests they are not the same. So even if the DO was gone surely people would still have the ability to be bad?

Fourth Age Historian
01-19-2013, 09:09 PM
The promise of oblivion extended to both Moridin and Rand was a lie, as was the popular vision that the DO showed Rand first (and admitted was a lie). His true aim was the second vision, the vision where the world was populated by sociopaths bound to his will. An enslaved world that had no inkling that they were actually slaves.

I think you're right, and the evidence was that Rand's world without Shadow was an acceptable answer to the DO as well. Assuming of course the DO wasn't lying... but I don't think he was. He saw Rand's world without Shadow as equivalent to his own without Light, and I think one of the many plans was to goad Rand into killing him.

IF YOU DO THIS, WE ARE ONE
DO THIS, IF YOU WISH, ADVERSARY. IN KILLING ME, I WOULD WIN

I think the DO preferred option 2, and saw two very clear paths to getting there. Without the temptation for evil, the people are just as enslaved as in the world the DO would choose to make, and just as ignorant of that slavery.

It's about free will. With that removed, either in a world of pure "good" or pure "evil," the DO wins by removing the capacity for change and growth.

GonzoTheGreat
01-20-2013, 05:06 AM
That evil did not come from the DO and we saw at the cleansing what happened when you mixed the SL evil with the evil from the Dark One (the taint). They did not get on which suggests they are not the same. So even if the DO was gone surely people would still have the ability to be bad?
The problem might be that if Rand did something that monumental, then he would basically be rebuilding the entire Pattern. Which, of course, means that Rand would become a Creator. And, as we know (both he and Perrin tried to bring the dead back to life), he just did not have the omnipotence and omniscience required for that job.
So any such creation would be seriously flawed. And that's what Rand saw in the vision: the flaws that he could not solve because of his limitations as a human.

It may or may not be possible to have free will without the DO; but it isn't possible to have free will in a world that is totally dependent on the will of the Dragon.