PDA

View Full Version : Good Things About the One Power


Seeker
02-19-2014, 12:33 PM
I wanted to look at the One Power as a whole, not just the issues that come with conveniently accessible magic.

I tried to bring this up earlier but we didn't really go down that road but what interests me is the idea of gender-divided magic. On a certain level, it makes sense. Men, having anatomical differences from women might perceive magic in a different way than women do. Here's an example of what I mean. It's been documented that women are capable of seeing more colours then men. In particular, various shades of Red. The general consensus among evolutionary biologists is that this allowed them to distinguish ripe vs rotten fruit with better accuracy. Men, on the other hand, have slightly better depth perception. (For throwing spears? I guess?)

So, having these kinds of subtle differences reflected in your magic system is actually a really nice touch, provided you don't go too far with it. I'm not sure I like the "men dominate the power while women submit to it" because of the implications therein.

So, I asked myself what might be a way to differentiate the methods of magic for each gender without too much stereotyping. This is what I came up with.

Men craft their weaves strand by strand, adding each flow of the Power individually at the appropriate "thickness" to make the weave function. For women, however, the weave appears in its completed state out of hair-thin strands that gradually thicken to the right size. This would explain why men can't teach women and why women can't teach men.

Can anyone else come up with other (possibly better) ideas? Is the method I've proposed still a little sexist? If so, do you think it's possible to HAVE a magic system with different rules for each gender that doesn't bring up unfortunate implications?

rand
02-19-2014, 11:00 PM
So, having these kinds of subtle differences reflected in your magic system is actually a really nice touch, provided you don't go too far with it. I'm not sure I like the "men dominate the power while women submit to it" because of the implications therein.
There's also the fact that men are simply stronger with the OP in general, and men are stronger with fire and earth while women are better with air and water (giving the men somewhat "masculine" elements and vice versa).

I think any sexism regarding the OP is balanced out by the fact that almost every culture in Randland is matriarchal. While men may benefit when it comes to the OP, women largely control most other aspects of the world.

Other balancing factors might be that women can gauge each others' strength in the OP, whereas I don't think men can. On the other hand, men can sense when women channel, while women can't sense men (without that weird weave thing).

So, I asked myself what might be a way to differentiate the methods of magic for each gender without too much stereotyping. This is what I came up with.

Men craft their weaves strand by strand, adding each flow of the Power individually at the appropriate "thickness" to make the weave function. For women, however, the weave appears in its completed state out of hair-thin strands that gradually thicken to the right size. This would explain why men can't teach women and why women can't teach men.
I like your idea.

Assuming you stick with RJ's general guidelines (ie, men are generally going to be stronger in the OP, similar to how men are generally going to be physically stronger than women) you could have a system where men can draw more of the OP, but it takes them longer to create a weave, while women can draw less OP but weave very quickly with it. Just a thought.

Seeker
02-20-2014, 12:15 PM
There's also the fact that men are simply stronger with the OP in general, and men are stronger with fire and earth while women are better with air and water (giving the men somewhat "masculine" elements and vice versa).

I would think that that would be the kind of thing you'd want to avoid though. First, I'd make the average strength for both genders. I know that men are physically stronger on average and I know that I brought up women's ability to see more colours vs men's depth perception but I was trying to frame the discussion in terms of perception. How might genders PERCEIVE magic differently. I think the strength issue opens up a can of worms.

Second, the Earth and Fire vs Air and Water issue. Pause for a minute and ask yourself, what makes the first two inherently masculine and the second two inherently feminine? If you're going to say that weaves involving big explosions are probably going to use Earth and Fire, I'd agree... But then what are we saying by making men skilled in the former and women skilled in the latter?

I think any sexism regarding the OP is balanced out by the fact that almost every culture in Randland is matriarchal. While men may benefit when it comes to the OP, women largely control most other aspects of the world.

I don't think it's a good idea to combat sexism with more sexism of a different type.

Other balancing factors might be that women can gauge each others' strength in the OP, whereas I don't think men can. On the other hand, men can sense when women channel, while women can't sense men (without that weird weave thing).

That's an entirely different issue that's going to need it's own post.


I like your idea.

Assuming you stick with RJ's general guidelines (ie, men are generally going to be stronger in the OP, similar to how men are generally going to be physically stronger than women) you could have a system where men can draw more of the OP, but it takes them longer to create a weave, while women can draw less OP but weave very quickly with it. Just a thought.

Strength vs Speed could be an interesting approach, although for my two cents, speed is going to win every time.

GonzoTheGreat
02-20-2014, 12:18 PM
Strength vs Speed could be an interesting approach, although for my two cents, speed is going to win every time.
Only if they see it coming. Attack them with overwhelming force when they're sleeping, and you have a fair chance of making a few kills.

Seeker
02-20-2014, 12:53 PM
Only if they see it coming. Attack them with overwhelming force when they're sleeping, and you have a fair chance of making a few kills.

HAHAHAHAHA!

Oh my god! Oh my god! Thank you, Gonzo, that was exactly what I needed.

I'm gonna rep you for that.

Crispin's Crispian
02-20-2014, 02:10 PM
Hi there.

My first thought is that RJ did a pretty damn good job making the One Power gender-specific but not really sexist. In order for it to be sexist, you have to apply some judgement about which aspects are more or less desirable.

Case in point:


Second, the Earth and Fire vs Air and Water issue. Pause for a minute and ask yourself, what makes the first two inherently masculine and the second two inherently feminine? If you're going to say that weaves involving big explosions are probably going to use Earth and Fire, I'd agree... But then what are we saying by making men skilled in the former and women skilled in the latter?
Exactly. Outside of the One Power in the WoT books, nothing makes fire and earth particularly masculine. In Chinese philosophy, the yin is traditionally feminine and includes earth aspects. I think RJ did this on purpose to separate the OP from yin/yang, specifically.

But beyond that, those aspects only have the value we ascribe them.

I don't think it's a good idea to combat sexism with more sexism of a different type.
I'm not sure I would call the differences in the One Power sexist at all. Again, sexism implies unequal value, but the saidar and saidin (like yin/yang) are opposite but complementary. Is it sexist for men to have penises?

Davian93
02-20-2014, 02:46 PM
Men and Women are different...not one above the other but simply different. Hell, they've got studies now that show that women's breastmilk has different hormones for boy children than girl children. We're different, not the same in a lot of very meaningful ways.

RJ's magic system acknowledged this fact and built up a wonderful mythology to go along with it. It was one of the greatest strengths of the books IMHO.

Seeker
02-20-2014, 03:31 PM
I'm not sure I would call the differences in the One Power sexist at all. Again, sexism implies unequal value, but the saidar and saidin (like yin/yang) are opposite but complementary. Is it sexist for men to have penises?

Not on terms of the Earth Fire / Air Water thing but there are some unfortunate implications.

Men dominate saidin while women submit to saidar. What does this day about the roles of men and women in this universe?

I think rand's point is that RJ tries to counter this by showing men in submissive roles. (Ebou dar, Far Madding). I'm not sure that's the best way to do it.

Seeker
02-20-2014, 04:25 PM
So, let's talk about that weave Nacelle made.

The one that let her determine that Narishma was channeling. Any speculations on exactly what she saw, felt?

GonzoTheGreat
02-21-2014, 04:06 AM
Men and Women are different...not one above the other but simply different. Hell, they've got studies now that show that women's breastmilk has different hormones for boy children than girl children.
How do women keep track of that if they have twins (or more), with both boy and girl in the mix? :confused:

Rand al'Fain
02-21-2014, 03:58 PM
How do women keep track of that if they have twins (or more), with both boy and girl in the mix? :confused:

ESP. Or in Randland, when the baby girl folds her arms and half of her POVs are about baths while the boy is wondering why the girl is always mad at him.

fdsaf3
02-21-2014, 05:08 PM
Personally, I thought the idea of separating the driving force of the universe into gender-specific powers was a mixed bag.

I'm just going to get this out of the way: for me, the gender issue is a really big deal which gets glossed over. I don't want to start a huge debate on the topic, and I promise I will not participate in one should it arise, but the issue of gender/sex is a really hot-button topic for me. Personally, and I 100% admit this is simply my personal preference, I don't see gender/sex as being as simple as "boys have penises and therefore channel saidin; girls have vaginas and therefore channel saidar". That's enough said on this topic, though.

If I accept the gender-driven nature of saidin/saidar, I think there are some really cool things RJ did with it. It's very much a matriarchal world, and justifiably so. Male Aes Sedai broke the world, after all. The underlying themes of matriarchy (for lack of a better term...more like, if we accept feminists' version of "the system" which we currently live in, and then reverse roles for men and women) are justified in this case.

I think bad side of the mixed bag I referred to before is that RJ overstated (or clung too tenaciously to) the differences he created between genders. The very way in which men and women channel the source reinforces stupid and boring gender stereotypes (women surrender, men dominate). Yawn. RJ obviously had very dominant women in his life. You can tell from the way he wrote his female characters that he preferred strong women. Maybe my life experience is just that tremendously different from RJ's, but I don't seem to notice as much difficulty in communication between myself and women. Sure, there are tendencies I notice which differentiate men and women. But certainly not to the degree those tendencies are displayed throughout the series.

I know this post is tangential to the thread because I'm talking about the sociological and psychological issues surrounding gender in the series. For me, the question of the magic system in the series is inextricably linked with an exploration of the sociological issues of the societies in the world.

Crap, I just realized I have to get going to dinner. I'll post what I have now and try to remember to come back and finish what I'm thinking.

Short list:

* Interactions between male and female channelers could have been explored more deeply

* IMO, the concept of balance was taken too far, i.e. only a female could fully Heal being gentled.

GonzoTheGreat
02-22-2014, 04:07 AM
I'm just going to get this out of the way: for me, the gender issue is a really big deal which gets glossed over. I don't want to start a huge debate on the topic, and I promise I will not participate in one should it arise, but the issue of gender/sex is a really hot-button topic for me. Personally, and I 100% admit this is simply my personal preference, I don't see gender/sex as being as simple as "boys have penises and therefore channel saidin; girls have vaginas and therefore channel saidar". That's enough said on this topic, though.
When asked about it, RJ gave the distinct impression that he'd never had considered what a hermaphrodite would channel.
Someone actually asked Jordan whether a hermaphrodite would channel saidin or saidar. Jordan was...non-plussed. "A hermaphrodite?! I dunno. I'd have to sit down and figure that out." He shot the guy a funny look as he walked away, then remarked to the next group of people in line that he put that in the same category as the person who wrote to ask him what Donald Duck would channel.

* Interactions between male and female channelers could have been explored more deeply
This wasn't that kind of series. I'm sure there's a lot of fan-fic available for that, though.

* IMO, the concept of balance was taken too far, i.e. only a female could fully Heal being gentled.
Only a male could fully Heal being stilled, which restored the balance again.
A better objection would seem to be to the "women Heal being stilled only partially", when not managing to Heal that would have seemed more logical at first glance. Of course, for plot reasons the partial Healing was very useful, so I understand why that's what RJ went with.

fdsaf3
02-25-2014, 08:57 AM
Only a male could fully Heal being stilled, which restored the balance again.
A better objection would seem to be to the "women Heal being stilled only partially", when not managing to Heal that would have seemed more logical at first glance. Of course, for plot reasons the partial Healing was very useful, so I understand why that's what RJ went with.

I'm well aware that only men could fully heal being stilled. Thanks for not only pointing out the obvious, but condescendingly telling me what a better form of my own objection would seem to be. Maybe in the future you should stick to letting me choose my own objections, ok?

It's my opinion that the dichotomy between men and women channeling was taken too far. One specific example of that is that only the opposite gender can fully heal the other from being cut off from the one power. How many times are we told that saidar and saidin are so alien to each other that men cannot teach women to channel, nor can women teach men. But then, suddenly, only a man can Heal being stilled? This speaks more to plot convenience than anything else.

There are other examples in the series; this is simply the one I came up with when thinking about my last post. Feel free to nitpick away if it makes you feel better. I'm sure anyone who wants to try super hard can marshal up some arguments as to why it makes perfect sense that things work this way. Those arguments are irrelevant and a waste of time. At the end of the day, we'd be arguing about opinions. As the famous scholar Sweet Brown once said, "ain't nobody got time for that".

GonzoTheGreat
02-25-2014, 09:35 AM
I'm well aware that only men could fully heal being stilled. Thanks for not only pointing out the obvious, but condescendingly telling me what a better form of my own objection would seem to be. Maybe in the future you should stick to letting me choose my own objections, ok?Don't worry, when you have good objections, I'll graciously allow you to keep them. :D

It's my opinion that the dichotomy between men and women channeling was taken too far. One specific example of that is that only the opposite gender can fully heal the other from being cut off from the one power. How many times are we told that saidar and saidin are so alien to each other that men cannot teach women to channel, nor can women teach men. But then, suddenly, only a man can Heal being stilled? This speaks more to plot convenience than anything else.
To me, it has a rather big similarity to the Cleansing, where a tunnel of saidar is needed to channel the saidin through. Similarly, some kind of tunnel of one side of the OP seems necessary to restore channeling when one has been severed. To me, rather than being an example of the division of the OP, it is an example of how the OP is also fundamentally one power, not two (nor ten, as one might get by multiplying the two genders by the five types of flows).

There are other examples in the series; this is simply the one I came up with when thinking about my last post.
I would not at all be surprised if some of those other examples do hold up, but this one doesn't, it seems to me, which is why I'm not willing to accept this specific example as valid.

Seeker
02-26-2014, 07:59 PM
Don't worry, when you have good objections, I'll graciously allow you to keep them. :D


To me, it has a rather big similarity to the Cleansing, where a tunnel of saidar is needed to channel the saidin through. Similarly, some kind of tunnel of one side of the OP seems necessary to restore channeling when one has been severed. To me, rather than being an example of the division of the OP, it is an example of how the OP is also fundamentally one power, not two (nor ten, as one might get by multiplying the two genders by the five types of flows).



I would not at all be surprised if some of those other examples do hold up, but this one doesn't, it seems to me, which is why I'm not willing to accept this specific example as valid.

Actually, Gonzo, I agree with Wolverine. (I can never remember your name, Fd... something or other. So, I'm just going to call you by your Avatar). Anyway, I don't think the "only men can heal stilling, only women can heal gentling" is sexist but I do think it's inconsistent with the magic as we've seen it thus far.

I usually don't resort to interview quotes but since this isn't something you can learn in the books themselves.

Moderator
Here's a longish question from Linda that somehow fell in between the cracks... Part One from Linda: Since the ability to channel seems to be primarily linked to the soul, if a channeler is gentled/stilled, will this affect his/hers soul in a followin life as well, as in, will the ability to channel still be lost? Did THAT come through??

Robert Jordan
No.

Moderator
Hmmmmm.. Linda, I TRIED.

Robert Jordan
(that was the answer...the answer is no)

Okay, so if you're severed in one life, you'll still be able to channel in the next. This means that while channeling may be tied to the soul, severing is an injury to the body. It's like if something blinds you, you won't be able to see. But when your soul is reborn, you'll most likely be born into a body with functioning eyes.

So, healing severing is a matter of healing physical damage.

Well, an Asha'man and an Aes Sedai can both heal a broken arm and the gender of the patient does not matter. An Asha'man and an Aes Sedai can both heal burns and the gender of the patient does not matter. So, why should the gender of the patient matter when healing the part of their brain that lets them control the One Power?

Your theory that women have "tubes of saidin" in their heads, and men have "tubes of saidar" is just... ludicrous. For one, wouldn't that make the women susceptible to the taint? For two, if the situation is analogous to what Rand described at Shadar Logoth - pumping saidin through a tube of saidin will likely make the tube shatter - wouldn't that mean that Nynaeve's attempts to heal Siuan and Leane would be a complete failure?

GonzoTheGreat
02-27-2014, 02:35 AM
So, healing severing is a matter of healing physical damage.I agree with this.

Well, an Asha'man and an Aes Sedai can both heal a broken arm and the gender of the patient does not matter. An Asha'man and an Aes Sedai can both heal burns and the gender of the patient does not matter. So, why should the gender of the patient matter when healing the part of their brain that lets them control the One Power?There isn't enough data available to exclude the possibility that women wouldn't be better at Healing one thing and men at another, but I admit that there is nothing to suggest this is the case either. So, for now, I would say that you have suggested an interesting area for further research, along with a reasonably well formulated (there will be differences in what men and women can best Heal) hypothesis to test out.

Your theory that women have "tubes of saidin" in their heads, and men have "tubes of saidar" is just... ludicrous. For one, wouldn't that make the women susceptible to the taint?Good point. It would be a bit troubling for me, if not for the fact that for years I've been arguing that the stupidity of AS is indeed an effect of the Taint. As it is: well done, you've spotted the mechanism involved, which had so far eluded me.

If you do not accept this hypothesis, then what alternative explanation for the endemic AS stupidity is there?

For two, if the situation is analogous to what Rand described at Shadar Logoth - pumping saidin through a tube of saidin will likely make the tube shatter - wouldn't that mean that Nynaeve's attempts to heal Siuan and Leane would be a complete failure?Well, it is not quite that a tube of saidin would shatter when saidin was channeled through it. What Rand thought had one extra element, which would not be an issue in the Siuan&Leane case:
Awkwardly, forcing himself to work gently, to use the unfamiliar saidar's own immense strength to guide it as he wanted, he wove a conduit that touched the male half of the Source at one end and the distantly seen city at the other. The conduit had to be of untainted saidar. If this worked as he hoped, a tube of saidin might shatter when the taint began to leech out of it.Bolding mine, to highlight the Extra Bit*.

* Not the same as The Extra Bit in PoD, of course. Or at least, I think it's different. :confused:

Daekyras
02-27-2014, 04:56 AM
You know, i never really thought much about this gender issue before. I think it is handled really well but never occured to me as to WHy they are different.

Thanks for the topic.

One thing I would say is that I am really glad that when one of the ashaman was revealed to be gay there wasn't some tasteless quote about him being unusually strong in weaves of "air and Water" or that any of the lesbian Aes Sedai had never being described as being unusually gifted with "earth and Fire".

yks 6nnetu hing
02-27-2014, 05:14 AM
You know, i never really thought much about this gender issue before. I think it is handled really well but never occured to me as to WHy they are different.

Thanks for the topic.

One thing I would say is that I am really glad that when one of the ashaman was revealed to be gay there wasn't some tasteless quote about him being unusually strong in weaves of "air and Water" or that any of the lesbian Aes Sedai had never being described as being unusually gifted with "earth and Fire".

I always thought of it as akin to hormone levels: sure, men *usually* have higher levels of testosterone than women, sometimes it's all turned around. Sexual orientation seems to have no link to hormone levels; i.e. a gay man will still have more testosterone than an average woman.

Also, Gonzo - it is only assumed that "only" the opposite gender can fully heal the other gender. Personally, I think the difference is the same as with Traveling: because Saidin and Saidar are so different, a different method needs to be used to get the same end result. Therefore, if a female uses the same method as a male to Heal something, then the end result will be different, particularly since the Severing/Gentling are different processes as well. I think it should be possible for women to heal Stilling completely, they simply need to use a different method (in other words: Nynaeve solved the issue of Gentling but she made the mistake of assuming men=women when it came to Healing Stilling, and now this gender difference is accepted as absolute much the same as "healing is only done with Spirit and Air" used to be)

However, I'm aware that there is no evidence for this in the actual books.

GonzoTheGreat
02-27-2014, 06:32 AM
Also, Gonzo - it is only assumed that "only" the opposite gender can fully heal the other gender. Personally, I think the difference is the same as with Traveling: because Saidin and Saidar are so different, a different method needs to be used to get the same end result. Therefore, if a female uses the same method as a male to Heal something, then the end result will be different, particularly since the Severing/Gentling are different processes as well. I think it should be possible for women to heal Stilling completely, they simply need to use a different method (in other words: Nynaeve solved the issue of Gentling but she made the mistake of assuming men=women when it came to Healing Stilling, and now this gender difference is accepted as absolute much the same as "healing is only done with Spirit and Air" used to be)
That is a fairly good hypothesis, I admit.

Against it is the fact that Damer Flinn based his way of healing it on what Nynaeve had done.
Of course, someone who really wanted to be nitpicky could then point out that he did not learn it by observing and copying what she'd done, but instead by listening to the bits that Logain could pass on to him, while Logain's knowledge was based only on hearing what Nynaeve had been muttering and knowing how it felt from the inside. Still, I'm sure that could* be a near-perfect teaching method, especially for women to teach men about channeling.

* Which, I think Bill Clinton would agree with me, is not the same word as "is".

yks 6nnetu hing
02-27-2014, 07:48 AM
Of course, someone who really wanted to be nitpicky could then point out that he did not learn it by observing and copying what she'd done, but instead by listening to the bits that Logain could pass on to him, while Logain's knowledge was based only on hearing what Nynaeve had been muttering and knowing how it felt from the inside. Still, I'm sure that could* be a near-perfect teaching method, especially for women to teach men about channeling.

That was precisely my reasoning.

I only have circumstantial evidence to support my hypothesis, namely when Egwene and Rand discuss the mechanics of Traveling using Saidin and Saidar. It always struck me as profound how the respective ways make the other person almost physically sick to contemplate: tear a HOLE in the Fabric of existnce? you must be insane! make the two locations the SAME by folding the Fabric? I think I'm going to be nauseous!

Also, Damer Flinn is in my opinion better at communicating than Nynaeve is.

Daekyras
02-27-2014, 10:16 AM
tear a HOLE in the Fabric of existnce? you must be insane! make the two locations the SAME by folding the Fabric? I think I'm going to be nauseous!


I always read those descriptions as being very weak- not from Robert Jordan, but from the characters.

Its like a person describing a car to someone and saying " I got in to this...thing...and it ...transported me..to a place which was further away. It felt like I was travelling horizontally but I wasn't actually moving" and the other person says "oh my god, that sounds so weird!"

as you said Yks, poor communication skills.

One thing that i really did like about WoT was that we never got a cross over of a man conteolling saidar unaided or vice versa for a female and saidan. I remember being really annoyed when in another series "lesser" and "higher" magics could suddenly be performed by everyone!!!

Crispin's Crispian
02-27-2014, 10:43 AM
Not on terms of the Earth Fire / Air Water thing but there are some unfortunate implications.

Men dominate saidin while women submit to saidar. What does this day about the roles of men and women in this universe?
I agree, the potential for sexism is there. However, I like YKS's parallel with hormones. I think we can agree that, in general, men are more aggressive probably due to more testosterone. But again, that doesn't make aggressive men bad or passive women bad without some sort of external judgement.

Now, if you think RJ used those differences to illustrate a point about the relative goodness of aggressive men or passive women, etc., then make that point.

I think rand's point is that RJ tries to counter this by showing men in submissive roles. (Ebou dar, Far Madding). I'm not sure that's the best way to do it.
I would agree if that were the case. I'm not sure it is, but it would be a rather weak way of "balancing" things.

Crispin's Crispian
02-27-2014, 10:49 AM
Actually, Gonzo, I agree with Wolverine. (I can never remember your name, Fd... something or other. So, I'm just going to call you by your Avatar). Anyway, I don't think the "only men can heal stilling, only women can heal gentling" is sexist but I do think it's inconsistent with the magic as we've seen it thus far.
I always kind of liked the idea that the other gender was needed to heal severing completely, but then I also thought we would get some actual explanation of the mechanism. :(

Turns out, it was probably just a cool thing RJ thought he'd add without bothering to figure out why it was needed.


I agree with this.

Good point. It would be a bit troubling for me, if not for the fact that for years I've been arguing that the stupidity of AS is indeed an effect of the Taint. As it is: well done, you've spotted the mechanism involved, which had so far eluded me.

If you do not accept this hypothesis, then what alternative explanation for the endemic AS stupidity is there?

So that's your theory? That the women have little tubes of saidin in their metaphysical minds that slowly leach out taint and make them collectively stupid?

GonzoTheGreat
02-27-2014, 11:58 AM
So that's your theory? That the women have little tubes of saidin in their metaphysical minds that slowly leach out taint and make them collectively stupid?
Sounds good. Seeing as how until now I did not have an actual mechanism, it is tempting to steal this idea. I'll try to develop it a bit further:

There is a background One Power field, all across space and time.
Men and women who can channel have some kind of OP-charges.
Those OP-charges can have one of two different polarities, just as electrical charges have.
Men have one charge (let's call it "strange"), women have the other (let's call it "charm").*
Strange can connect to saidar, and charm can connect to saidin.
Those charges are coated with OP stuff (strange with saidar, charm with saidin) in a way that resembles a hosepipe attachment.
When a man wants to channel, he has to work at it, to make the strange attract saidar. If he succeeds in that, a tunnel is formed through which saidin can flow.
When a woman wants to channel, she can simply allow the charm to attract saidin. Then a tunnel forms through which saidar flows.
Because the man has to push the strange to achieve anything, when he does make a connection it tends to be a bit wider, allowing more power to flow through the tunnel. That is why in general males are stronger.
Because a man has to push the strange, forming links isn't possible for men, as they would merely push each other away.
Because women form tunnels by using attraction, they can more easily link.

Now what was I trying to get to? Oh yeah, severing. Oh dear! Am I gonna manage that? Read on; I hope I will get an idea while I'm typing this post.

When someone is severed, the "hosepipe attachment" (HA) is damaged. This means that they still can do what would be needed to establish such a connection, but the tunnel doesn't form properly and therefor the OP does not become available.
If they are healed with the "right kind" of OP, then their HA is restored, and everything functions as it should again.
If they are healed with the "other kind" of OP, then parts of the damaged HA are cut off, making forming a tunnel once again possible, but reducing the width of it, and thus reducing the amount of OP that they can channel.
If they die and then are reborn, they come with a new strange or charm particle (SoCP) attached to their soul, and (if they learn to channel) a new HA forms around that.
This also tells us why someone starts out being weak and then grows stronger: the HA grows, even though the SoCP does not. Differences in amount of talent do stem from variations in size and shape of the SoCP.

When someone draws too much of the OP, that may result in detaching the SoCP entirely, making it impossible to heal them in that life.

* Perhaps that should be OP-change and OP-charm, but I don't like that.

GonzoTheGreat
02-27-2014, 12:09 PM
Bonus point: it also solves the hermaphrodite issue, which baffled even RJ.

A hermaphrodite capable of channeling has both strange and charm.
Those interact with each other, so they don't need saidin and saidar, and no HA is formed.

I think I'll leave Donald Duck as an exercise for the readers, just as RJ did.

Seeker
02-27-2014, 04:59 PM
I always kind of liked the idea that the other gender was needed to heal severing completely, but then I also thought we would get some actual explanation of the mechanism. :(

Turns out, it was probably just a cool thing RJ thought he'd add without bothering to figure out why it was needed.

And under other circumstances, I would agree that it's brilliant. The only problem is this.

Question
How does your knowledge of physics influence your idea of channeling and the Talents involved in the books, such as Traveling, Skimming, etc? Do you have other hobbies or talents that influence your writing?

Robert Jordan
My knowledge of physics influenced channeling to the extent that I have attempted to treat channeling as if it were a form of science and engineering rather than magic.

Softer magic gives the author the ability to work by fiat. If someone asks why only men can full heal women and vice versa, you can make up some new agey explanation about balance, and for the purposes of your story, that works fine.

If however, you want it to be less about magic and more about "harnessing the natural forces of the universe" with a science/engineering flavour, then you need to make a technobabble solution for why the magic works this way.

As I said, since severing is a physical injury - and the fact that a channeler who is severed will be able to channel again in his next life suggests that it is - then the question becomes why this one injury is different from any other.

I don't think there's any reason to believe that men are better at treating certain types of wounds while women are better at treating other types of wounds. All evidence suggests that skill with different types of injury varies from healer to healer. Damer and Nynaeve are natural savants in he field, so they can heal just about anything.

So that's your theory? That the women have little tubes of saidin in their metaphysical minds that slowly leach out taint and make them collectively stupid?

I do not subscribe to this theory; I think it's a horrible theory. I think a channeler's brain is just like any other person's brain. Flesh and nothing more. Given that severing is a physical injury, there is obviously a part of the brain that can control the One Power. And though he can't channel, Mat's body has all the right equipment to touch the True Source; he just lacks a soul with a connection to the Source.

I would suspect that severing involves damaging that equipment in some way.

The best theory I ever came up with went like this. Siuan's brain is built to handle saidar. So, when Nynaeve tried to heal that one spot on her brain, it naturally started channeling the saidar out of her weave before the weave could finish its job. Siuan's brain is not built to handle saidin. So, if Damer tried, the neural pathways that handle the One Power would react with "eek, what is this foreign substance!" and would not suck the saidin out of the weave.

BUT

Two problems with that.

1) Rand has handled saidar. So the "channeling pathways" in his brain clearly don't care what kind of power they get. They treat it all as energy to be controlled. (Same would apply to the True Power).

2) Aran'gar's brain can handle saidin just fine. So, the gender of the body doesn't seem to matter.

Seeker
02-27-2014, 05:04 PM
I honestly think that RJ was thinking that if he restored Siuan to full strength, the rebel Hall would feel compelled to raise her as Amyrlin again and he really wanted that job to to go Egwene.

Weird Harold
02-27-2014, 09:22 PM
As I said, since severing is a physical injury - and the fact that a channeler who is severed will be able to channel again in his next life suggests that it is - then the question becomes why this one injury is different from any other.

Part of the answer you're looking for is that you're equating a repair or prosthetic with normal, natural function. There's no reason to assume that Healed Severing has to work the same way as native ability any more than a metal hip or knee joint works the same as natural bone and cartilage.

I doubt that there is a natural "tube of saidin" in the head of every female channeler, but I have no particular problem accepting that one might be required to repair he ability to channel. I also don't have much of a problem accepting that repairs done with the same power might tend to merge or "dissolve" in the flow of OP instead of focusing and directing the flow.

The requirements of Repairs wouldn't necessarily tell us anything about normal, natural function.

Seeker
02-27-2014, 09:54 PM
Part of the answer you're looking for is that you're equating a repair or prosthetic with normal, natural function. There's no reason to assume that Healed Severing has to work the same way as native ability any more than a metal hip or knee joint works the same as natural bone and cartilage.

I doubt that there is a natural "tube of saidin" in the head of every female channeler, but I have no particular problem accepting that one might be required to repair he ability to channel. I also don't have much of a problem accepting that repairs done with the same power might tend to merge or "dissolve" in the flow of OP instead of focusing and directing the flow.

The requirements of Repairs wouldn't necessarily tell us anything about normal, natural function.

Well, first of all, I don't think of it as a tube. Like, if I take your meaning,you think that channelers have a "conduit" of some kind through which the one power flows. Severing means removing the conduit.

I don't think of it in those terms. To me, Severing is damaging the neural pathways that control the flow of the Power.

But even going with your "conduit" approach, what then is the so-called natural conduit made of if not the opposite half of the power.

Weird Harold
02-27-2014, 10:41 PM
what then is the so-called natural conduit made of if not the opposite half of the power.


Unobtainium, of course. That's why it requires a OP prosthesis to REPAIR Severing.

The point is that Healing Severing is a Repair and doesn't work the same as natural function, so natural function is essentially irrelevant to a discussion of a Repair.

Seeker
02-27-2014, 10:54 PM
Unobtainium, of course. That's why it requires a OP prosthesis to REPAIR Severing.

The point is that Healing Severing is a Repair and doesn't work the same as natural function, so natural function is essentially irrelevant to a discussion of a Repair.

That is a point worth considering.

Seeker
02-28-2014, 12:22 PM
I agree, the potential for sexism is there. However, I like YKS's parallel with hormones. I think we can agree that, in general, men are more aggressive probably due to more testosterone. But again, that doesn't make aggressive men bad or passive women bad without some sort of external judgement.

Now, if you think RJ used those differences to illustrate a point about the relative goodness of aggressive men or passive women, etc., then make that point.

I think you're kind of missing the point here, Sdog. Whether or not you consider submissiveness to be a good thing really doesn't affect the issue. It's very easy to make a discriminatory statement that comes in the form of a compliment.

"Asians are good at math."
"Black people have rhythm."
"Gays have wonderful fashion sense."

Now, if you were to make any one of these statements and then follow it up with "I'm not putting some external value judgement on math/rhythm/fashion sense. I'm just saying these groups generally display these characteristics," it wouldn't do a damn thing to mollify the people you've offended.

So, now if you come at me with "I think we can agree that men are more aggressive, probably due to testosterone," it's the same damn thing.

I will agree that in general men have higher levels of testosterone - that's an established fact - and that there is evidence that suggests a correlation between testosterone and aggressiveness. However, to make this kind of broad statement is scientifically ignorant because you haven't controlled for all the other possible things that can lead to aggression.

For instance.

The psychological effects of language. (The way language influences men toward aggression on an unconscious level)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KTvSfeCRxe8

Depictions of violence against women.

http://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&ved=0CDcQFjAB&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.johnbriere.com%2Fmalamuth%252 0%2526%2520briere.pdf&ei=Hs8QU4iaBuHx2wXe1oD4Dw&usg=AFQjCNGqPa8Fg_GArz8esdNFkmh3pGl3NA&sig2=uV4jIcV0LSaxKXOL9TRaXA&bvm=bv.62286460,d.b2I


Especially in pornography.

http://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=4&ved=0CEoQFjAD&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.sscnet.ucla.edu%2Fcomm%2Fmala muth%2Fpdf%2F81Jrp15.pdf&ei=Hs8QU4iaBuHx2wXe1oD4Dw&usg=AFQjCNHOd1pfgAbbO3OnDtj9_CD4FFfXEA&sig2=ohNohuD98O-xo97XElHl0A&bvm=bv.62286460,d.b2I

Depictions of violence against men.

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/one-among-many/201112/the-violent-sex

And let's not forget 10 000 years of culture that defined masculinity in terms of aggressive behaviour.

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/experiments-in-philosophy/201202/why-are-men-so-violent

Now does that mean testosterone is irrelevant? No, it probably plays a role. But all of this cultural evidence suggests that men may NOT be inherently more aggressive than women, but that they may be CONDITIONED to adopt violent attitudes.

In fact, RJ's central hypothesis that men and women possess entirely different ways of thinking and behaving is probably just flat out untrue.

http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-02/science-confirms-obvious-men-and-women-arent-different


So, now when you create a "magical energy field" that literally requires women to adopt submissive behaviour, the implication is that it is "natural" for women to be submissive. Conversely, when that same "magical energy field" requires men to be dominant, the implication is that it is "natural" for me to be dominant. This sets up some very narrow and very archaic gender roles, and though this probably wasn't RJ's intention, reinforces some rather unfortunate stereotypes.

Matoyak
02-28-2014, 11:48 PM
If you do not accept this hypothesis, then what alternative explanation for the endemic AS stupidity is there?Oh, that one's incredibly, ridiculously easy: RJ was horrible at writing women.
...
Explanation found.

Seeker
02-28-2014, 11:57 PM
Oh, that one's incredibly, ridiculously easy: RJ was horrible at writing women.
...
Explanation found.


My answer to Gonzo's question

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/IdiotPlot

Seeker
03-02-2014, 07:49 PM
Weird Harold, I've been thinking about your idea that Nynaeve's healing was essentially like a prosthetic for Logain.

Does that mean you think there's a tied-off weave on him. (Wouldn't the women see it? I doubt she inverted it) See, I'd worry about some nasty sister deciding to just unravel the weave and leave him gentled again.

If it's not a tied-off weave, then what do you think she did?

GonzoTheGreat
03-03-2014, 03:09 AM
If it had been a tied off weave, does that mean that it would have disappeared if Logain went into a Stedding?
If so, that would be a way for Liandrin to get out her current predicament, with access to the OP denied her by the weave that Moghedien placed on her.

Bonus point: it would also mean that Callandor wasn't as safe as presumed. After all, all that would have been needed for getting that sa'angreal was undoing the tied off weave around it. While that might not have been possible with channeling (otherwise Ishamael would have managed long before Rand was born), it would be possible to simply drag the Far Madding ter'angreal to Tear, and then pick up Callandor when the weaves around it disappeared.

Weird Harold
03-03-2014, 01:11 PM
Weird Harold, I've been thinking about your idea that Nynaeve's healing was essentially like a prosthetic for Logain.

Does that mean you think there's a tied-off weave on him. (Wouldn't the women see it? I doubt she inverted it) See, I'd worry about some nasty sister deciding to just unravel the weave and leave him gentled again.

If it's not a tied-off weave, then what do you think she did?
I have no idea whether Nyneave installed the OP equivalent of the stent under my left clavicle or the OP equivalent of the stitches in the incision in my wrist -- which dissolved as the incision healed.

I do know that there is no mention of her tying off a weave in the description of her healing either Logain, Leanne, or Siuan. Nor is there any suggestion that the Yellow sisters could detect what she had done to Logain but could follow what was done to Leanne and Siuan.

Still, what Nyneave (or Flynn) did was repair damage and that tells us little to nothing about how unrepaired Channeling works.

Crispin's Crispian
03-03-2014, 03:23 PM
I don't think I'm missing anything, but I may be perseverating on a small part of a larger discussion.

Look, I'm the last person who is going to argue with you about the cultural influence on men to react more violently to stress than women. You are missing one key point though: aggression is not the same as violence, and I'm not talking about violence. Indeed, you're further demonstrating the very fallacy I'm discussing.

If you want to argue that RJ fell back on gender stereotypes in how humans access the OP, I won't disagree. I think I've made my other point already.

Crispin's Crispian
03-03-2014, 03:27 PM
Bonus point: it also solves the hermaphrodite issue, which baffled even RJ.

A hermaphrodite capable of channeling has both strange and charm.
Those interact with each other, so they don't need saidin and saidar, and no HA is formed.

I think I'll leave Donald Duck as an exercise for the readers, just as RJ did.

OK, so you've explained the saidin/saidar tube mechanism, but you haven't explained how the Taint made the women stupid.

Furthermore, if the Taint was sufficient to affect women's brains, why wasn't it sufficient to affect their weaves of saidar?

More importantly, why am I arguing this with you?



Softer magic gives the author the ability to work by fiat. If someone asks why only men can full heal women and vice versa, you can make up some new agey explanation about balance, and for the purposes of your story, that works fine.

If however, you want it to be less about magic and more about "harnessing the natural forces of the universe" with a science/engineering flavour, then you need to make a technobabble solution for why the magic works this way.

I completely agree. Indeed, this is one of my major disappointments about the entire series. I was really hoping for a more structure explanation of how things worked. Alas, it was all just thread-bending.

Seeker
03-03-2014, 05:13 PM
I don't think I'm missing anything, but I may be perseverating on a small part of a larger discussion.

Look, I'm the last person who is going to argue with you about the cultural influence on men to react more violently to stress than women. You are missing one key point though: aggression is not the same as violence, and I'm not talking about violence. Indeed, you're further demonstrating the very fallacy I'm discussing.

If you want to argue that RJ fell back on gender stereotypes in how humans access the OP, I won't disagree. I think I've made my other point already.

What is your other point? That men are more aggressive? If you don't mean violence, then what do you mean by aggressive?

Seeker
03-03-2014, 05:22 PM
I completely agree. Indeed, this is one of my major disappointments about the entire series. I was really hoping for a more structure explanation of how things worked. Alas, it was all just thread-bending.

Yup. The one that always gets me - and I know I've said this before - is the mechanism by which men detect and counter weaves of saidar and the mechanism by which women detect and counter weaves of saidin.

It's the sort of thing that you'd think would have come up naturally at some point in the story. Men and women channel at each other all the time. The theory I came up with goes like this.

Since saidin and saidar repel each other, when a man creates a weave of saidin, it concentrates the male half in that location and pushes the female half out of that location. So if women focus, they can sense the place where saidar is being pushed away and they know where to strike.

But again, that's just speculation.

Think about this. What happens a when Red Sister traveling alone happens upon a man who can channel and he's learned enough as a wilder that he can actually put up a fight? In three thousand years, this scenario had to come up.

Not all attacks produce some visual cue that you can focus on. You can snuff a fireball with a weave but what if he tries compulsion (or the half-assed version of it that wilders sometimes learn).

GonzoTheGreat
03-04-2014, 03:21 AM
OK, so you've explained the saidin/saidar tube mechanism, but you haven't explained how the Taint made the women stupid.
The influence of the Taint was very similar to Compulsion, according to what Nynaeve saw. A bit more generally speaking: it attacked the mind of the one that came into contact with the Taint.

Men who channeled tainted saidin would come into direct contact with the Taint all over their mind/brain, thus having large and obvious effects of this special type of Compulsion. Because Compulsion has to be made specific in order to achieve a specific goal and the Taint wasn't, the results were rather random and unpredictable, but dire nonetheless.
Women channeled untainted saidar, and thus did not have this direct influence on their whole brain. Instead, all they got were small leakages in one specific area only: the Hosepipe Attachment that I talked about in an earlier post. Thus, in the case of the women, the results would be far less obvious, and also more uniform. Hence the "it made them all stupid" idea, which has a lot of support from the books, I think you'll have to agree.

Furthermore, if the Taint was sufficient to affect women's brains, why wasn't it sufficient to affect their weaves of saidar?
It did not affect their weaves for the same reason that the Taint did not affect the weaves of the men who were channeling saidin: because the Taint was never part of the OP at all, and thus did not become part of those weaves either.

More importantly, why am I arguing this with you?
Because I am right and you are wrong, but it takes you a while to figure that out. Obviously.