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Old 07-18-2010, 09:04 AM
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Default Lews Therin--Real or Construct?

Terez likes to say us realists have no arguments, so I figured I'd throw down my coverage of the issue. Enjoy, or not, as you would.

WAIT: Just realised this has tGS spoilers! I posted it here in a reaction to the New Faction Thread, but didn't notice.

Mods, please move or whatever.

Lews Therin—Our Friendly Neighbourhood Madman

Suggested to have begun as early as the Eye of the World, but certainly present by the Shadow Rising Rand has been experiencing the seepage of memory and knowledge from his past life as Lews Therin. At around the same time—though more heavily in the Fires of Heaven—Rand begins to hear a voice which has the mannerisms and knowledge of Lews Therin. Whilst the memories are without a doubt real, in older days there was considerable discussion about the voice. Currently that discussion revolves around the Real Madness Theory and the Construct Theory, which are as follows.

The Real Madness Theory: suggests that Lews Therin is a real and viable facet personality of Rand’s soul, and the one which ruled the soul during its incarnation as Lews Therin, which has manifested due to the Taint.

The Construct Theory: suggests that the Lews Therin voice and personality are not real. It suggests that Rand, emotionally stunted, desperate to harden himself, and receiving memories from the past has gathered those memories and created the LTT personality to hold them. That is where the name comes from—Rand constructed Lews Therin from memories and his own psychological issues.

Now I’ll expand on both of these in a second, but first let me explain a bit more about the history of theories on this subject.

A Brief History of Madness

Prior to KoD the landscape was very different, and three major theories predominated. For full details on these theories read 2.1.6: Is LTT for Real, or is Rand Insane? Where did LTT go in ACOS? but here is a short run down of the theories.

The Rebirth Theory: suggested that Lews Therin manifested as a natural part of the cycle of rebirth. The support for this was that we’ve seen other sorts of manifestations in this form—the Old Blood, Birgitte, Mat’s memories. The problem with this was no where else do we see what occurs with Rand. Mat has memory seepage from other lives, without any LTT-type antics. Birgitte never struggles with Maerion. The counter argument was often, well maybe Rand is special—he is the Light’s Champion. This may be a natural weapon built into the Dragon’s Soul [This counter argument often revolved around the Third Man being a Dragon before LTT, but as we know he turned out to be Moridin].

The Taint Theory: suggested That the Lews Therin manifestation was a pure insanity. Just a normal schitzophrenic. The support for this theory was mostly in Cadsuane’s comments about men who can channel hearing voices. We're talking run of the mill normal madmen, no special ingrediants. As such the problem is that this didn’t explain why Lews Therin so often seemed to know things Rand had no way of knowing.

The Construct Theory: was the middle ground, and you can see why it’s appealing. This allows for the 'realness' of the memories suggested by the Rebirth Theory, but the insanity of the voice suggested by the Taint Theory. Rand’s mental instability and emotional regression causes the subconscious construction of a fake personality which wraps itself around the memories and serves as a mouthpiece for both them and Rand’s subconscious desires. I will expand more upon the Construct Theory in a moment.

The Premise Problem

Notice that all three pre-KoD theories presume that the voice is either real, and not a result of the Taint, or not-real and caused by the Taint. The concept that the voice could be both real, and a madness resulting from the Taint, was generally shut down. This is because of the perception that a madness or insanity involves delusions. In the real world if a man tells you he's hearing voices, he's delusional (unless its God. He has something of a get out of jail free card on this), and that perception transferred itself whole to the Wheel. If the voice were a madness, its a delusion, and not real--which is where the Construct Theory swept through to explain the very real memories.

The Real Madness Theory takes a different viewpoint.

The Real Madness Theory

Can An Insanity Be Real?

Funnily enough, the perception that an insanity involves only things which are not real is not even truly accurate in the real world—which is why psychologists speak of Abnormal Psychology and not of insanity—but in WoT we don’t even need a philosophical discussion on what is and is not real to answer it. We have this instead.

Support For The Real Madness Theory

Take it away Semirhage.

"He's insane," she said coolly. Standing there stiff as a statue, Min's knife hilt still sticking out beside her collarbone and the front of her black dress glistening with blood, she might have been a queen on her throne. "Graendal could explain it better than I. Madness was her specialty. I will try, however. You know of people who hear voices in their heads? Sometimes, very rarely, the voices they hear are the voices of past lives. Lanfear claimed he knew things from our own Age, things only Lews Therin Telamon could know. Clearly, he is hearing Lews Therin's voice. It makes no difference that his voice is real, however. In fact, that makes his situation worse. Even Graendal usually failed to achieve reintegration with someone who heard a real voice. I understand the descent into terminal madness can be . . . abrupt."

[KoD; 27, A Plain Wooden Box]
In this world the manifestation of a real past life personality is a genuine mental illness, one which can cause a descent into terminal madness.

But Semirhage is an Evil, Filthy, Lumpy Forsaken!

I have seen it claimed often that Semirhage lied, usually for the purpose of spreading distrust in his followers with the suggested danger of Rand going terminally insane, and based on the evidence that she’s one of those untrustworthy Forsaken.

Alright then, lets consider her statements.

1. He hears a voice in his head. True.
2. That voice has the knowledge and personality of his past life. True.
3. The way to resolve this is reintegration. Seemingly true—this seems very much in tune with what we witness occur in tGS.
4. This voice can result into a descent into terminal madness. Uncertain, yet likely. Rand certainly was growing more unstable in tGS despite the Taint no longer existing.

Now, leaving aside the various arguments that might be offered to apply her words to the Construct Theory, there’s this simple fact—those are some damn good guesses if she was making it up. Consider, if Lews Therin’s voice is not real, her guessing that Rand constructed a voice to speak for the memory transfer (which should have been her assumption if voice manifestation were not real) is pretty out of this world.

Lews Therin agrees with this.

Rand tried not to think too hard about the things Semirhage had said on the day when Rand had lost his hand. She was one of the Forsaken; she would say anything if she thought it would bring her target pain.

She tortured an entire city to prove herself, Lews Therin whispered. She has killed a thousand men a thousand different ways to see how their screams would differ from one another. But she rarely lies. Rarely.

[tGS; 1, Tears From Steel]
So yes, for all that she’s a nasty Forsaken, her claims seem pretty on the ball. In any case you can see why this completely destroyed the Rebirth and Taint theories, at least in their distinct and pure forms. It also provides us with the idea that permits the Real Madness Theory. Specifically, the concept that just because Lews Therin is real does not make him any less of a madness.

The Taint

The next problem people seem to have is in the question of ‘if the Taint caused Lews Therin to appear, why aren’t other Asha’men displaying knowledge of super secret weaves’?

Taint Induced Madness

By the same note as the above question; why haven’t we seen other Asha’man display the reversion to childhood that Morr suffers? Why didn’t more have delusions of spiders crawling all over him as that other unfortunate man suffered?

The answer to all this lies in the fact that the Taint is not a type of insanity in itself. What the Taint does is destabilizes people’s mental states. It induces them to go mad—or perhaps pushes them away from being sane is a better way to look at it—but the type of insanity they then suffer is in their court. Predisposition to mental illness is not an unknown concept, and that's very likely the cause of the distinct differences between forms of mental illness. It's likely also the reason for the different time-frames in which men sucumb to the insanity. Some men would be more highly pre-disposed then others.

In any case the point here is that the Taint doesn't induce a type of madness, it simply breaks your sanity, and the madness you then fall into is any amongst the myriad of normal forms of insanity. Additionally, its more than possible that one of the other men who have gone insane due to the Taint did suffer this same form of insanity. Semirhage states its very rare, but it easily could have happened. Men hearing voices is a common form of Taint madness--any of them could have been hearing a past life voice, but not everyone has as epic a past life as Rand does. For instance if the last life you lived was as a baker, attaining those memories aren’t really going to make a splash in the world.

The Construct Theory

Ok, so you must have been wondering why I went into all that detail about dead theories. It’s because from a post KoD perspective its hard to explain why the Construct Theory was such a strong theory. Back then it provided a solid answer for how Rand could hear a voice, be insane from the Taint, and still have that voice be real. It combined the valid points from the Rebirth and Taint theories, and answered the flaws in both. From there it followed up with quotes which did suggestively sustain the idea that Lews Therin was a construct of Rand’s mind. Essentially Lews Therin expressing the emotions or ideas which Rand was refusing to let touch him as he endeavoured to grow stronger…

"In his room at The Counsel's Head, Rand sat on the bed with his legs folded and his back against the wall, playing the silver-mounted flute Thom Merrilin had given him so long ago. ... The tune was called 'Lament for the Long Night', and he had never heard it before in his life. Lews Therin had, though. It was like the skill at drawing. Rand thought that should frighten him, or make him angry, but he simply sat and played, while Lews Therin wept."

[WH: 25, Bonds, 481]:
You can see how this might be applied to the Construct Theory. The problem is KoD destroyed the need for the Construct Theories separation of memory and personality to explain how LTT was both madness and real, all the Construct Theory has left is vaguely suggestive quotes—ones which can be applied just as easily to Lews Therin being real. After all if it was a Lament, why shouldn’t Lews Therin cry to hear it? Especially since it was his memory.

Another, for instance: “A man who trusts everyone is a fool and a man who trusts no one is a fool.”

Is this Lews Therin mouthing Rand’s subconscious concerns about his own inability to trust set against his fears of the dangers of trusting? Or is Lews Therin simply making an accurate observation about what he perceives of that confliction in Rand?

See the problem? Lews Therin is not oblivious to Rand’s situation—him commenting on problems Rand is facing and positions Rand has taken is not abnormal, nor is him having feelings about those problems.

tGS and the Construct Theory; The Proof of the Construct

Prior to tGS the evidence of the Construct Theory was fairly much in the manner listed above. Sequences of quotes with pointers made as to how they might relate to Rand’s subconscious desires or thoughts. Lacking the strength of the pre-KoD premise it was largely falling apart. In tGS, however, we gain some highly suggestive quotes which many constructionists regard as proof the Theory is correct. The first is as follows…

He knew—somehow—that he would never again hear Lews Therin's voice in his head. For they were not two men, and never had been.

[tGS; 50, Veins of Gold]
The inference Constructionists draw is clear--he and Lews Therin were not two men, therefore Lews Therin was Rand’s creation, a construct. However, to argue that LTT is not another man apart from Rand is not to state that he is not real.

Indeed, whether you look at it from a Construct or Real Madness perspective, Rand is quite correct—they were not two men. They were two facet manifestations of the same soul. We know this from RJ.

Q:The question is, with Rand and LTT, do they have 1 soul or 2 souls in the body?

A: They have 1 soul with 2 personalities. The reincarnation of souls does not mean reincarnation of personalities. The personality develops with each reincarnation of the soul. This is the cosmology that I [cobbled] together.
[New York Barnes and Noble signing on January 7, 2003]
Personality created from the experiences each underwent in their own distinct period of life, but still the same soul--and Birgitte makes clear that the facet personalities for all incarnations are still one person. She speaks of I and me, when referring to them.

Indeed, under the Real Madness Theory this is the crux of Rand's problem. Rand's ongoing refusal to admit that he and Lews Therin were the same was keeping them from intergrating. It is only now, with Rand coming to perceive a fact that he’d previously been denying, that intergration became possible.

So yes, not two men, but two personalities--and that is so under either theory.

The second quote is…

It will be a mercy, Lews Therin whispered. Death is always a mercy. The madman didn't sound as crazy as he once had. In fact, his voice had started to sound an awful lot like Rand's own voice.

[tGS; 49, Just Another Man]
The Construct implication is that it sounds like Rand because it is Rand. He constructed it, therefore under the mask its Rand all along.

Yet, again, the situation supplies the Real Madness answer—Lews Therin sounds like Rand because they are being brought closer together—integrating, in effect. When Rand becomes suicidal, he and Lews Therin are for the first time truly aligned. At all other times, even when he was working with Lews Therin, he kept his walls up.

And so Rand and Lews Therin, no longer keeping each other at arms length, follow their natural gravity and begin falling into one another--intergrating. That alignment allows them both to perceive the truth—that they are one soul.

As a result of integration of course they sound like one another. They are one another. Denying this is what put them in trouble in the first place.

Conclusions on the Construct Theory

Lacking the pre-KoD need to explain how the Lews Therin manifestation could be both a madness and real, the Construct Theory comes down to a sequence of interpreted quotes--quotes which lacking the Construct Theory we have no need to interpret because they make sense at face value.

It furthermore requires we dismiss Semirhage’s statements as lies, a suggestion which goes against her stated nature, and is made highly unlikely by the accuracy and details of her supposed lies in correlation with the state Rand happens to be in.

Lacking any reason or need or evidence to suggest that we should be doing either the interpreting or the dismissing, I'm not sure we have any reason to even look to the Construct Theory to begin with.

Final Thoughts

In many ways I think this issue is obscured by remaining arguments from when the whole question was more ambiguous. Looking at it afresh from a post-KoD perspective the simple sequence suggests cause and effect. Consider;

1. Rand is exposed to the Taint.
2. The Taint induces normal forms of madness.
3. In the Wheel hearing a real voice of a past life personality is a normal form of madness.
4. The voice Rand heard contains real knowledge, including knowledge beyond what has seeped through to Rand.

5. Rand was hearing a real voice induced by the Taint.

It's obviously not set in stone, and I doubt we'll ever get a resolution given Brandon's statement that RJ didn't want it answered, but thems be my thoughts on this issue.

Last edited by Luckers; 07-18-2010 at 09:06 AM.