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Seeker
02-05-2014, 01:18 PM
It did...they had a name for themselves Atha'an Shadar, they had meetings regularly, held socials, and a concrete set of beliefs. There was a complex hierarchy in place. They had a deity whom they worshipped and one who promised them eternal life.

Sounds like a religion to me and one that was quite organized.

I've decided to start a new discussion on evil because I think it's big enough for its own thread. I don't think you can call the dark friends a religious movement, at least not in the sense that I meant it. I was picturing misguided people who honestly thought they were receiving wisdom from on high but the POVs of most dark friends suggest they're all genuine psychopaths. The only exception is Ingtar. But Shaiane, Mellar, Liandrin and the rest would all be either institutionalized or outright imprisoned in the real world. And most of them are "out for number one"

I have no problem with the "evil= selfishness" interpretation so long as that's not the only interpretation we get and so long as some of the self-serving villains are smart enough to keep their selfishness in check for the short term if doing so will benefit them in the long term. It's more interesting that way.

As for Elaida. I wouldn't call her outright evil. Just insane. But even still she's incredibly selfish.

Valda is evil. And selfish.

Davian93
02-05-2014, 02:02 PM
Well, its as close to a religion as you will ever get in Randland given that there is no debate on whether or not the Creator and Dark One exist. There are no leaps of faith, etc, etc. They all know full well that both exist and at times can even talk to the Dark One at least (assuming they're at Shayol Ghul and assuming the Bore is open or the Seals are weakning. Thus, it can't really fit into the traditional view of religion. However, they do worship the Dark One. They have meetings, they expect salvation in the form of eternal life from their worship and they have to find themselves worthy of said salvation. They are pretty organized in their devotions, they have a hierarchy in place where only the higher ups can directly talk to him (so they're more like Catholics I suppose).

On the Light side, there are several mentions of a catechism that is repeated "The Dark One and alld the Forsaken are imprisoned..." We hear it all the time from those in the Light. We hear them thanking the Creator, we have their funeral rites where they offer the body back to the Mother, etc etc.

There are definitely religious beliefs in place and I would say that Darkfriends fall into the category of a religion given all of the above.

Cor Shan
02-06-2014, 01:16 AM
One of the recurring themes of those on the side of the Light is that of sacrifice for others. Rand's desire to protect Egwene is his first channeling, and his obnoxious Two Rivers "chivalry" towards women including Lanfear is the source of much frustration. The ending of EOTW has a force of Shienaran cavalry ride off to their deaths at Tarwins Gap, the end of TGH has Ingtar's sacrifice to hold off the Seanchan, etc, Rand has his whole fixation at dying on the rocks of Shayol Ghul (which I think also stems from his constant pain and the weight of duty) to save the world. The "Light" characters that are the most annoying and wind up helping the least are those who put their own desires above duty - even Mat does this when he refuses to open Verins letter, but Elaida is the best example of this in general. Both Egwene's desire to boss Rand around at Merrilor is the same and Tuon's belief that the Dragon must be subservient to her are specific examples; luckily subverted by Rand's ta'veren prowess and Rand's willingness to work together. The residents of Hinderstrap repeatedly commit to suicide missions against darkfriends, which isn't that telling due to their weird immortality, but does serve to unsettle and unnerve the darkfriends and dreadlords as they can't comprehend a) the dead rising and b) the dead repeatedly deciding to fight for this.

In contrast, we have the Shadow. With the exception of Moridin/Ishamael and Ingtar (who doesn't really count), every member of the Shadow seems to want power and eternal life, albeit for different reasons. Mostly jealousy. Sammeal, Demandred, Rhavin, etc, all want to be LTT, and then want to be the Shadow's Hero. Demandred is the most obvious example with the River of Souls/Bao the Wyld thing. The Trollocs, despite being an excellent faceless horde for our ever-stronger Chanellers to blow up with ever more awesome means of overkill (including dropping a volcano on them), fight like a rabid horde of individuals, stopping to feast on the dead and breaking as soon as they meet spirited resistance.


Of course, selfishness isn't the only evil, nor is the Dark One the only evil quasi-deity in the WOT. There is also Shaisam/Mashadar/Mordeth &c that caused the fall of Aridhol, which is based off of paranoia and suspicion. Now there are two big contrasting data points that arise from this:

The Last Battle shows that if the Dark One is dead, everyone becomes a naive automaton version of themselves. (Someone who is more of a HCFF than me will know if Team Jordan has confirmed whether this was a deceit by the DO, but I think Rand would have seen through it) This clearly implies that the DO is the source of all evil, but at the same time, the Cleansing shows that the essence of the DO is in a deep opposition to that of Shaisam, since the Cleansing basically results in a huge ball of destruction, implying that these are opposite evils, and that Shaisam could exist in a world without the Dark One.

That's where I got to on the last book before getting annoyed that the two biggest events with philosophical implications conflict.

The best resolution I can think of is that while the DO's Selfish Evil is the cause of all evil, in that paranoia requires you to be concerned about damage or risk to yourself, it is more of a cause in the "spark" or catalyst sense, in that it doesn't need to remain, rather than a cause in the sense of a root from which something grows; Mordeth's infectious paranoia led to the individuals making themselves subservient to the cloud of deadly paranoia particles. Mordeth took the Dark One's selfishness and transformed it into something different enough that it created Shadar Logoth/Shaisam, which is capable of taking and neutralizing the taint (1). Basically, the "soul" of the Dark One that is imprisoned is his "selfish evil" and SL holds up a mirror to create a negative version of it but it still requires the DO to exist. Because its a mirror version, it can cancel the taint by being opposite to the DO's image on the pattern but relies on the existence of the DO to begin with.





1 - This, mind you, is even weirder when you think about it. The paranoia was introduced to fight the Dark One, which it completely succeeded in, just two thousand years later. The second biggest victory that the Light had in The Dragons Interregnum relied on the biggest Evil outside of the Dark One... Balance

Seeker
02-06-2014, 12:59 PM
Well, its as close to a religion as you will ever get in Randland given that there is no debate on whether or not the Creator and Dark One exist. There are no leaps of faith, etc, etc. They all know full well that both exist and at times can even talk to the Dark One at least (assuming they're at Shayol Ghul and assuming the Bore is open or the Seals are weakning. Thus, it can't really fit into the traditional view of religion. However, they do worship the Dark One. They have meetings, they expect salvation in the form of eternal life from their worship and they have to find themselves worthy of said salvation. They are pretty organized in their devotions, they have a hierarchy in place where only the higher ups can directly talk to him (so they're more like Catholics I suppose).

On the Light side, there are several mentions of a catechism that is repeated "The Dark One and alld the Forsaken are imprisoned..." We hear it all the time from those in the Light. We hear them thanking the Creator, we have their funeral rites where they offer the body back to the Mother, etc etc.

There are definitely religious beliefs in place and I would say that Darkfriends fall into the category of a religion given all of the above.

Yes, Dark-Friend...ism (being a dark friend) may have SOME of the trappings of a religion but when you read the POVs of most dark friends, they're pretty psychotic. What I was trying to describe, Dav, is the idea that well-meaning people might be duped into following the Dark One. He does away with all the "shadow" imagery and presents himself as a loving and caring entity. He promises immortality. Then the War of Power happens. Lews Therin seals him up and the breaking.

Now, all of a sudden, the people who follow the Shai'tan have a scapegoat. Our Lord promised us immortality and happiness and resisting him brought about the ruin of society. Endless misery. Then, throughout the Third Age, some people are raised to wait for the Shai'tan's return because it will bring about a new Golden Age. The Dragon is their anti-christ.

These people themselves wouldn't necessarily be evil but when the time came evil things might be asked of them. Like Ingtar. "Just let this man into the fortress. That's not so bad, is it?" Maybe they'd be asked to kill Mat or Perrin... Maybe they'd be asked to go to war. But would they do it for their god? People blow up abortion clinics in the name of god they can't see, hear or interact with. They commit suicide bombings. So, just imagine how willing they'd be for a god that actually talked to them.

You could have a POV character who is a good person on the side of the Shadow (at first). He's raised to believe that what he's doing is right. The first time he's asked to do something that goes against his conscience, he rationalizes it as "we all have to make sacrifices" but as more and more is asked of him, he finds he can't live with himself. This makes him question his beliefs. Maybe the other side was right all along. Maybe the Dragon isn't evil incarnate. After all, he gave food to starving refugees. At the same time, you can have other POV characters who sink deeper and deeper into darkness because once they've started, it's too much for them to admit they were wrong. Easier to just keep going and cling to the delusion.

On top of that, you can have the Dark One's inner circle - the Forsaken/Chosen - who know the truth but participate in the duping. Just crank up their intelligence a little.

With very few (well... only two) exceptions, the dark friends we see in the series are all horrible people. I'm talking about having ordinary people follow Shai'tan because they believe what they're doing is right.

Hugh the Hand
02-06-2014, 02:07 PM
two are not horrible? Ingtar and Verin? Or are you mentioning someone else. because I do not considered Verin a DF, she was undercover.

Seeker
02-06-2014, 02:36 PM
I don't consider her one either but I know if I didn't mention her someone would waggle a finger at me.

Tollingtoy
02-06-2014, 04:33 PM
I have no problem with the "evil= selfishness" interpretation so long as that's not the only interpretation we get and so long as some of the self-serving villains are smart enough to keep their selfishness in check for the short term if doing so will benefit them in the long term. It's more interesting that way.

As for Elaida. I wouldn't call her outright evil. Just insane. But even still she's incredibly selfish.

Valda is evil. And selfish.


So, would you create a distinction from EVIL and acts that create evil? I believe that Elaida truly believed that her actions were the correct course of action, however, they had a damaging effect on many people. Inherently, she is not evil. But, she is certainly responsible for evil actions in the world.

Tollingtoy
02-06-2014, 04:47 PM
The best resolution I can think of is that while the DO's Selfish Evil is the cause of all evil, in that paranoia requires you to be concerned about damage or risk to yourself, it is more of a cause in the "spark" or catalyst sense, in that it doesn't need to remain, rather than a cause in the sense of a root from which something grows; Mordeth's infectious paranoia led to the individuals making themselves subservient to the cloud of deadly paranoia particles. Mordeth took the Dark One's selfishness and transformed it into something different enough that it created Shadar Logoth/Shaisam, which is capable of taking and neutralizing the taint (1). Basically, the "soul" of the Dark One that is imprisoned is his "selfish evil" and SL holds up a mirror to create a negative version of it but it still requires the DO to exist. Because its a mirror version, it can cancel the taint by being opposite to the DO's image on the pattern but relies on the existence of the DO to begin with.





1 - This, mind you, is even weirder when you think about it. The paranoia was introduced to fight the Dark One, which it completely succeeded in, just two thousand years later. The second biggest victory that the Light had in The Dragons Interregnum relied on the biggest Evil outside of the Dark One... Balance


I've always thought of Mordeth and Aridhol as an example of, for lack of a better term, the "Elaida evil". Meaning, someone creating evil in the world with a good intention. The people of Aridhol wanted to fight the Shadow, and in doing so, resorted to methods that caused hatred and evil--without balance. You see this with other characters, like the Whitecloaks or the Seanchan, but even with Rand and Perrin.

In theory, Rand is doing "good" by destroying Natrin's Barrows because he is killing (or thinks he's killing) a Forsaken. However, his method is anything but good. I think there are similar examples with Perrin in his rescue of Faile.

The people of Aridhol never seemed, to me at least, evil or even self interested. They thought they were doing "good" by fighting the Shadow

Seeker
02-06-2014, 08:04 PM
So, would you create a distinction from EVIL and acts that create evil? I believe that Elaida truly believed that her actions were the correct course of action, however, they had a damaging effect on many people. Inherently, she is not evil. But, she is certainly responsible for evil actions in the world.

I look ethics from both a deontological and consequentialist perspective, meaning that I primarily look at two things: one, motivations and two, the consequences to each action.

Elaida's actions caused fiasco after fiasco and brought the Tower to the brink of ruin but her motivations were, for the most part, reasonable. Not saintly but reasonable. Yes, she wanted power but she also felt that such power was necessary to ensure a victory for the Light. Elaida saw the world through an authoritarian lens. She suffered from delusions of grandeur and over-estimated her importance. She believed that since she was leading people down a path that would lead to victory at the Last Battle, resistance to her authority was in and of itself sinful. As a result, I think she had a touch of narcissism and maybe some delusional thinking but she was not an outright psychopath who enjoyed hurting people for the sheer pleasure of it. Her beating Egwene seemed to be more a moment of temporary insanity than of sadism. Consider that it's difficult to live with the knowledge that you may be staring down the end of the world itself and that your actions will dictate how that scenario plays out. Elaida couldn't handle the pressure. Egwene pushed her buttons and she snapped.

Tollingtoy
02-06-2014, 08:59 PM
I look ethics from both a deontological and consequentialist perspective, meaning that I primarily look at two things: one, motivations and two, the consequences to each action.

Elaida's actions caused fiasco after fiasco and brought the Tower to the brink of ruin but her motivations were, for the most part, reasonable. Not saintly but reasonable. Yes, she wanted power but she also felt that such power was necessary to ensure a victory for the Light. Elaida saw the world through an authoritarian lens. She suffered from delusions of grandeur and over-estimated her importance. She believed that since she was leading people down a path that would lead to victory at the Last Battle, resistance to her authority was in and of itself sinful. As a result, I think she had a touch of narcissism and maybe some delusional thinking but she was not an outright psychopath who enjoyed hurting people for the sheer pleasure of it. Her beating Egwene seemed to be more a moment of temporary insanity than of sadism. Consider that it's difficult to live with the knowledge that you may be staring down the end of the world itself and that your actions will dictate how that scenario plays out. Elaida couldn't handle the pressure. Egwene pushed her buttons and she snapped.



I totally agree! Very good points! But, her actions--as well intentioned as they are--do lead to the spread of evil and harm being done to others. To me, this seems to be essentially what happened to the people of Aridhol. As someone mentioned earlier, the church that protests military funerals probably believes they are doing good, even though they are generating more hate as a result of their actions than many criminals might.

Seeker
02-06-2014, 11:02 PM
I'm pretty sure Shadar Logoth was more than just good intentions gone awry. There was an entity there. It inhabited Mordeth and then Fain after him.

I'm not sure if this was just an alias Fain took or the creature's actual name but Shaisam.

GonzoTheGreat
02-07-2014, 04:06 AM
I totally agree! Very good points! But, her actions--as well intentioned as they are--do lead to the spread of evil and harm being done to others.
As happened when Rand let Masema and the other Shienarans follow him. As happened when Nynaeve asked a couple of people to provide her with a boat. As happened when the Wise Ones forbade Couladin from killing a bunch of Wetlanders who came too close to Rhuidean.

Elaida was definitely not the only one who got some unanticipated and unpleasant consequences from well meant actions.

yks 6nnetu hing
02-07-2014, 04:14 AM
these themes were already existing in WoT throughout the series, but they were made absolutely obvious in AMoL: in terms of the Wheel of Time, Evil is the absolute of something. Pure black or pure white, that's evil. In the final fight, Rand comes ot the conclusion that the elimination of free will - to choose to do good or evil - is in itself the greatest evil of all. We're practically beaten over the head with it.

This is represented in several of the Forsaken: they pursue something (Greandal: hedonism, Lanfear: the love of a man, Ishmael: power; etc) to the exlusion of everything else. The same is seen in the Red Ajah as a whole if not its members as individuals - they pursue the absolute and exlusive solution instead of a comprehensive one. Likewise Shadar Logoth and Whitecloaks, Verin looking for knowledge and Galad on the path to Justice.





sidenote:
I always found it fascinating that RJ refrained from too overt socio-political statements in WoT, for instance he has Good kings and queens and Bad kings and queens; he has the highly egalitarian Two Rivers Village Council and Women's Circle; he has the Aiel and the Sea Folk; both with very interesting ways of demoting a person. However, he almost never states "this is a good or bad way of governing", not even for the Seanchan - he always keeps it individual-based. The free will of the individual determines wheteher or not his/her own actions, and in the case of rulers: their kindgom, is good or evil. In this way he did actually have a sociopolitical statement - the pursuit of anything to its absolute dogmatic pinnacle, with the exlusion of any amendment for any reason, is wrong. be it in religion or law or general customs.

Seeker
02-07-2014, 10:10 AM
It was actually a stroke of genius on RJ's part to not make Elaida a dark friend. The temptation to just have her be evil and thus make Egwene awesome would have been a big one. But he opted to go for the more complex route.

Hugh the Hand
02-07-2014, 02:04 PM
In retrospect, she was too full of herself to be a DF. That would have involved following orders from someone. She thought herself the Creators gift to Randland. yes, I know she followed her Keeper's orders for a time, but that was out of fear, but once that was past she really came into her own.

Seeker
02-07-2014, 05:19 PM
I disagree. I don't think she was narcissistic enough to be a Dark Friend. Remember that they only obey out of fear too and they'll sell out even the Chosen if they think it'll get them ahead.

Seeker
02-07-2014, 05:30 PM
these themes were already existing in WoT throughout the series, but they were made absolutely obvious in AMoL: in terms of the Wheel of Time, Evil is the absolute of something. Pure black or pure white, that's evil. In the final fight, Rand comes ot the conclusion that the elimination of free will - to choose to do good or evil - is in itself the greatest evil of all. We're practically beaten over the head with it.

This is represented in several of the Forsaken: they pursue something (Greandal: hedonism, Lanfear: the love of a man, Ishmael: power; etc) to the exlusion of everything else. The same is seen in the Red Ajah as a whole if not its members as individuals - they pursue the absolute and exlusive solution instead of a comprehensive one. Likewise Shadar Logoth and Whitecloaks, Verin looking for knowledge and Galad on the path to Justice.

I disagree. RJ was pretty deep into the "Evil = selfishness theme." I don't think he saw evil as "the absolute of something." The "evil" of Rand eliminating the Dark One was rooted in Rand's desire to force his will on everyone else, to decide how they should live, which is a form of selfishness.

Tollingtoy
02-08-2014, 09:52 AM
As happened when Rand let Masema and the other Shienarans follow him. As happened when Nynaeve asked a couple of people to provide her with a boat. As happened when the Wise Ones forbade Couladin from killing a bunch of Wetlanders who came too close to Rhuidean.

Elaida was definitely not the only one who got some unanticipated and unpleasant consequences from well meant actions.


I would say there is a distinction though, between a random event--like Nynaeve asking for a boat and locking the DR in a box and beating him into submission, even if you [Elaida] thinks that is the right thing to do

GonzoTheGreat
02-08-2014, 10:30 AM
I'll admit that Nynaeve did feel responsible for what she did while Elaida didn't.

Weird Harold
02-08-2014, 05:38 PM
I would say there is a distinction though, between a random event--like Nynaeve asking for a boat and locking the DR in a box and beating him into submission, even if you [Elaida] thinks that is the right thing to do
Kidnapping Rand was Elaida's fault -- although it might not have been her idea.

Locking him in the box and beating him was Galina, Katerina, and the other BA in the kidnapping party's idea.

Seeker
02-08-2014, 07:31 PM
Kidnapping Rand was Elaida's fault -- although it might not have been her idea.

Locking him in the box and beating him was Galina, Katerina, and the other BA in the kidnapping party's idea.


I was gonna say...

I'm pretty sure Elaida was aghast at Rand's treatment. Or was that
Egwene? ("I want him/her compliant not broken)

Again that was one of RJ's better ideas, creating an enemy who, for all her failings, was trying to HELP the world.

Rand al'Fain
02-09-2014, 03:29 AM
these themes were already existing in WoT throughout the series, but they were made absolutely obvious in AMoL: in terms of the Wheel of Time, Evil is the absolute of something. Pure black or pure white, that's evil. In the final fight, Rand comes ot the conclusion that the elimination of free will - to choose to do good or evil - is in itself the greatest evil of all. We're practically beaten over the head with it.

This is represented in several of the Forsaken: they pursue something (Greandal: hedonism, Lanfear: the love of a man, Ishmael: power; etc) to the exlusion of everything else. The same is seen in the Red Ajah as a whole if not its members as individuals - they pursue the absolute and exlusive solution instead of a comprehensive one. Likewise Shadar Logoth and Whitecloaks, Verin looking for knowledge and Galad on the path to Justice.



Ishamael never sought power, he sought, in his own words "Oblivion, to just end everything" (not the Elder Scrolls game, though that would make for an interesting twist). Maybe you meant Sammael?

But yeah, Ishamael can't really be classified like the others. He was a Philosopher during the AOL, and came to the conclusion that the DO would eventually win, so he decided to just get things over with, lest he, and humanity in general, continue to suffer.

Kind of the tragic villain. Yeah, he does do some pretty awful things, but this is a guy who has lost all hope for the world and everything in it.

Enigma
02-10-2014, 05:39 PM
I wonder if the likes of Ishamael view the creator as evil? If you think about it the Dragon Reborn is a bit like that ancient Greek character whose name escapes me but he was cursed by the gods to roll a great boulder up a hill every day and at every morning the bolder is back down at the bottom of the hill having to be rolled back up again even though he knows its a waste of effort as come tomorrow morning it will be right back at the bottom again.

Rand in his moment of revelation said that people were reborn so that they could have a chance to get it right the next time. But how possible is that? The pattern of the ages is set. Even if every single human does everything 100% right there is still going to be another War of Power, another tainting of the source and male channelles driven mad etc. In fact if they did manage not to repeat the mistakes of the previous ages would that not break the wheel?

So from a point of view the Creator set up a world where people suffer over and over and over. At least in our world the future is not preset so if humanity all turned into saints we would live in a pretty nice society. Making people suffer over and over and over could be viewed as cruel possibly even evil.

Weird Harold
02-10-2014, 08:21 PM
Rand in his moment of revelation said that people were reborn so that they could have a chance to get it right the next time. But how possible is that? The pattern of the ages is set.

Rand says nothing about what reward "getting it right" would earn. Various real world religions featuring reincarnation do. The most common reward is along the lines of Nirvana/Samsara (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samsara) where each individual's goal is to escape/transcend the cycle of rebirth.

In the WOT, only a few souls are "bound to the Wheel," which implies that the rest of souls are NOT "Bound to the Wheel."

Each incarnated soul has a scripted role (thread) but there is no guarantee that the same ordinary soul will have that role in the next Turning; the role could be filled by any soul of that particular stereotype. Thus any given soul, other than those "bound to the Wheel," can get it right and move on to Nirvana or a better role in the next Turning.

Even Heroes and others who are "bound to the Wheel" can be cast into Oblivion by dying in T'A'R -- (assuming they and the wolves are correct about dying in T'A'R.)

The foregoing is my personal interpretation. The "unreliable narrators" in the WOT don't believe that is the case, but they also present a very superficial view of "rebirth" in the WOT. Rand's epiphany at T'G might well be more accurate than the "common belief."

GonzoTheGreat
02-11-2014, 03:20 AM
I wonder if the likes of Ishamael view the creator as evil? If you think about it the Dragon Reborn is a bit like that ancient Greek character whose name escapes me but he was cursed by the gods to roll a great boulder up a hill every day and at every morning the bolder is back down at the bottom of the hill having to be rolled back up again even though he knows its a waste of effort as come tomorrow morning it will be right back at the bottom again.
Sisyphus (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sisyphus), I presume?

Rand in his moment of revelation said that people were reborn so that they could have a chance to get it right the next time. But how possible is that?
It depends on the definition of "right". Or, to be a bit more accurate: on how anal you're about that.
If you aim for absolute perfection, then you are going to miss every time. That's what Ishamael does, he realised it was impossible, and drew the logical conclusion from that.
But if you aim for "right enough", then managing it is possible, though not guaranteed. Using this standard, LTT did not succeed, but Rand did.