Jump to content
EricW

Was Argrath a hero or a villain?

Recommended Posts

12 hours ago, jajagappa said:

I'm not convinced Illumination was needed any more than illumination or a mystical view is needed for science in our own world.  

None of the scientists I know have ever suffered from a spirit of retribution. 

To quote wikipedia:

 

Quote

The Enlightenment was a late 17th- and 18th-century intellectual movement emphasizing reason, individualism, skepticism, and science. Enlightenment thinking helped give rise to deism, which is the belief that God exists, but does not interact supernaturally with the universe.

In Glorantha, the word 'supernatural' of course needs to be read narrowly as excluding natural magic.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 hours ago, jajagappa said:

I'm not convinced Illumination was needed any more than illumination or a mystical view is needed for science in our own world.

It wasn't needed to just be a God Learner. But we know that many God Learners actually became members of cults like Lhankor Mhy or Issaries, and that the they deliberately altered some of those cults practices (and presumably myths) for their own purposes, and it's hard to imagine how they did that without something to let them deal with cult restrictions and spirits of reprisal, etc. 

It is also really important to understand how significant parts of the God Learner methods are really obviously derived from mystic practices via the First Age mystic magic that led to Five New Ways and that whole line of exploration. I think the God Learners had only a partial, and quite differing in interpretation, understanding of Illumination, but they were clearly investigating along very closely related lines. Given how they arrived at the system, it seems pretty clear that some aspects of Illuminated magic are in its DNA. 

18 hours ago, jajagappa said:

God Learnerism seems far more of a reasoned, deductive approach

Yes, But.. 

The big Buts here are:

1) the God Learners were really quite intellectually diverse, incredibly so if you include all the heresies and extremist sects, and also significantly evolved in their beliefs, and so while the model of reasoning deductive sort of science-magicians might apply to many, even most, of the God Learners, it won't apply to all. And I only ever claimed it was a minority that engaged with Illumination. We in fact definitely know there was a big split between the Makanists and Malkioneranists, that included magical techniques as well as an intellectual approach - I'm just suggesting the nature of that split. 

2) it is very easy to think 'science' and assume they thought like secular scientists today, post-Enlightenment, do. They are more like Classical era proto-science. Aristotle and Plato and Thales etc, or Arabic alchemy. More scientific than their contemporaries, but still a long way from what we know as science, more like natural philosophers. They had goals that included individual understanding of the Mind of God.  

3) Illumination, while to us in the modern era has quite anti-science associations with ancient religion, is in many ways can appear the opposite from a Gloranthan point of view - literally only Illuminates are able to take something like a reasoned, deductive, approach to the divine while simultaneously engaging with it. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Despite of Jeff's request that this thread is not about Illumination , still it carries on as that so i am reposting my question so it doesnt get buried:

I ponder about the reactions of  those big players (King Broyan, Samastina, and others)  in  the Dragon Pass and Esrolia areas to Argrath (and Harrrek) when  the latter pair arrive back from the circumnavigation voyage.

Are they feared? (surely in  the case of Harrek) respected, are current leaders beguilded by Argrath? does he come as a liberator to aid King Broyan or to replace him?

Edited by Martin
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, davecake said:

It wasn't needed to just be a God Learner. But we know that many God Learners actually became members of cults like Lhankor Mhy or Issaries, and that the they deliberately altered some of those cults practices (and presumably myths) for their own purposes, and it's hard to imagine how they did that without something to let them deal with cult restrictions and spirits of reprisal, etc. 

They were extraodinarily powerful and had access to cheat mode spells - Ward Against Agents of Reprisal doesn’t strike me as outside their range.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
21 hours ago, jajagappa said:

I'm not convinced Illumination was needed any more than illumination or a mystical view is needed for science in our own world.  God Learnerism seems far more of a reasoned, deductive approach - and their approach to gods/cults seems to be like tinkering with Lego parts or chemistry experiments where you can swap out parts and place other similar parts in.

Remember that the God Learners did in fact accidentally obtain Arkat's hero questing secrets disguised as another text.  As Arkat was an illuminate, there is every likelihood that illumination and its secrets were a powerful key to opening up God Learnerism.  It need not have been necessary, and I agree that a deductive approach could have worked, but only if the information was already available.   As it is, I suspect that the book "Impossible Landscapes" was "riddled" with Arkati secrets.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 7/21/2020 at 6:07 PM, Charles said:

I guess that I should clarify my understanding. All paths of Illumination lead to the same set of powers and abilities. But a) most Illuminates do not get all of the powers, and b) the morality and discipline of their path does lead the Illuminant to behave very differently (most of the time, there are always exceptions, even to the exceptions).

I completely concur with all of this.

On 7/21/2020 at 6:07 PM, Charles said:

An ascetic that spent 50 years of their life in poverty and self-abnegation to achieve unity with the All (or with the Void) will not suddenly become a glutton and rapist. 

I really wouldn't leap to this conclusion.  Consider Buddha's behavior after he finished his direst austerities.  He accepted food from an untouchable caste woman and ate heartily.  While nobody accused him of rape per se, his actions were seen by his compatriots as a shocking betrayal of ascetic principles. 

Upon crossing the river, one leaves the boat behind, for it has served its purpose.  So too with austerities upon achieving enlightenment.  The extremity of the reaction to no longer being subject to austerities is a matter of the individual's character, but we can say that an illuminate is no longer subject to such cult restrictions ergo, how will they react?  "Bad behavior" is certainly always an option.  It need not be the rule however.

On 7/21/2020 at 6:07 PM, Charles said:

While a noble that indulges their desires in Moonson's parties and almost passively becomes an Illuminant through Riddles might well voluntarily take on Chaos features to allow them to indulge even more.

I didn't know Chaos Slime was on the menu tonight?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 7/21/2020 at 4:50 PM, Jeff said:

I would say you are wrong. As would Greg.

I have also spoken to Greg on the issue many years ago, and while he may have changed his opinion on matters 160 times since then, can we really say that you now speak for him?  Seriously, no two forms of mysticism are so very alike.  Even in India where you have multiple sects of religious ascetics teaching overtly similar things, the truth of narcissism of small differences makes that sort of behavior all but an impossibility for humans.

Edited by Darius West

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 minutes ago, Darius West said:

I really wouldn't leap to this conclusion.  Consider Buddha's behavior after he finished his direst austerities.  He accepted food from an untouchable caste woman and ate heartily.  While nobody accused him of rape per se, his actions were seen by his compatriots as a shocking betrayal of ascetic principles.

I think this makes sense. If anything is going to make you abandon long-held beliefs and practices, Illumination is it. It’s what will reveal that what you used to value was really just an arbitrary subjective preference all along, and one that you’re free to abandon now. Or stick to, if you prefer that - either way is fine. It’s completely a free choice now.

Edited by Akhôrahil
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 minutes ago, Akhôrahil said:

I think this makes sense. If anything is going to make you abandon long-held beliefs and practices, Illumination is it. It’s what will reveal that what you used to value was really just an arbitrary subjective preference all along, and one that you’re free to abandon now. Or stick to, if you prefer that - either way is fine. It’s completely a free choice now.

Glad you agree.  The next lesson for the newly minted illuminate is that "liberty is not license".  That's a hard one.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, Darius West said:Glad you agree. 

In a way, it’s surprising that the big-time Illuminated NPCs don’t change more than they do. Ralzakark is still just a broo, albeit with enormous ambitions. Argrath decides to stick with his all-consuming insane quest for vengeance for a teen trauma (see, back to topic!). Beat-Pot Aelwrin murders a woman again in a second after the moment he’s Illuminated. Oddi is mostly the same Oddi, just unhappy now.

I don’t see anyone in canon going “oh, now I realise I wasted my whole life - I need to change”.  Which is the kind of revelation I would expect in at least some cases.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Akhôrahil said:

In a way, it’s surprising that the big-time Illuminated NPCs don’t change more than they do. Ralzakark is still just a broo, albeit with enormous ambitions. Argrath decides to stick with his all-consuming insane quest for vengeance for a teen trauma (see, back to topic!). Beat-Pot Aelwrin murders a woman again in a second after the moment he’s Illuminated. Oddi is mostly the same Oddi, just unhappy now.

I don’t see anyone in canon going “oh, now I realise I wasted my whole life - I need to change”.  Which is the kind of revelation I would expect in at least some cases.

Maybe because illumination is a view change  (you understand something new, you "forgive" yourself more easely than your culture does) not a change of personality.

 

Well what power gives illumination ? You can trick gods (and yourself)  but you don't get big powers by yourself (no +20pow, no +30dex, no new arm, no +90skill, no fire ball...)

You still have to convince other (people / gods/ spirits...) to give you what you want. That just more "freedom" but not "big change".  You have to qualified as initiate, you have to win the bad man, you have to learn sorcery skill, etc...

It is not a binary fact, just a path you follow, with a big risk to become crazy year after year (or to be identified as crazy) but if you decide to stay and not to move to far in this path (and if no other temptation comes), you're about the same.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am surprised that this has not come up yet : Greg Stafford used to define himself as “postmodern” (he did so in the one conversation I had with him in 1993). The definitions of illumination that we have been trying to come up with in this thread seem to apply very well to “postmodernity”/” postmodernism”. Postmodern/illuminated views don’t radically change one’s outlook on the world BUT lead one to realize that former limitations were self-imposed and can be overcome if needed.  

  • Like 2
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 minutes ago, Manimati said:

I am surprised that this has not come up yet : Greg Stafford used to define himself as “postmodern” (he did so in the one conversation I had with him in 1993). The definitions of illumination that we have been trying to come up with in this thread seem to apply very well to “postmodernity”/” postmodernism”. Postmodern/illuminated views don’t radically change one’s outlook on the world BUT lead one to realize that former limitations were self-imposed and can be overcome if needed.  

I keep saying Illumination looks like a mix of post-modernism and existentialism in its effects.

But surely there’s far more to it than that, or most every half-baked arts student would count as Illuminated? It is, after all, a fundamental mystical experience, not just a choice of methodology.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think a lot of of half-baked arts students (and sociology grad students, for that matter), haven't experienced the epistemological break necessary to gain the awareness associated with illumination.  But yeah, I can definitely see how postmodernism & existentialism are useful for understanding what illumination is in some ways.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, Akhôrahil said:

In a way, it’s surprising that the big-time Illuminated NPCs don’t change more than they do. Ralzakark is still just a broo, albeit with enormous ambitions. Argrath decides to stick with his all-consuming insane quest for vengeance for a teen trauma (see, back to topic!). Beat-Pot Aelwrin murders a woman again in a second after the moment he’s Illuminated. Oddi is mostly the same Oddi, just unhappy now.

I don’t see anyone in canon going “oh, now I realise I wasted my whole life - I need to change”.  Which is the kind of revelation I would expect in at least some cases.

Ralzakark is able to organize broo into a controlled force that doesn't simply maraud 24-7 and rape everything that moves.  HE and his broo are still terrible, but it's a lot more controlled terrible.

Beat Pot Aelwin *joins the side he revolted against*.  He totally abandons his revolt against the Lunars and grovels before the Red Goddess.  It's like imagining Malcom X marrying a white woman and going around shooting black people.

They both do change.

Argath and Arkat pretty much simply become worse by being illuminated.  I expect what makes them able to be genocidal maniacs is being illuminated.  Illumination stripped away their conscience, leaving only the lust for blood.  

I have no idea who Oddi even is.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Akhôrahil said:

I keep saying Illumination looks like a mix of post-modernism and existentialism in its effects.

But surely there’s far more to it than that, or most every half-baked arts student would count as Illuminated? It is, after all, a fundamental mystical experience, not just a choice of methodology.

I can see the thinking that leads to seeing them as somewhat the same kind, of thing yeah, but I don't think it's fundamentally right. A lot of western occultist thought in the 19th and 20th century actually looks a lot like post-modernist thinking (to really badly turn the complexity of it all into a phrase: "you create your reality"), so there is that, too. So, I think some of the mystical strains may actually have been building towards ideas that later emerged as post-modernism. However, just to pick one thing, and I think this cleaves in on the experiential (as opposed to simply philosophical) side of things, in mystical traditions there's also the concept of ego death to consider, which I guess in Gloranthan terms is equating the one and the many with each other.

As for the Illuminated folks not really changing so much, I think that is actually a big feature of mystical experience. A zen saying goes “before I sought enlightenment, the mountains were mountains and the rivers were rivers. While I sought enlightenment, the mountains were not mountains and the rivers were not rivers. After I reached satori, the mountains were mountains and the rivers were rivers.” So there is this idea that while you sort of get excited by the ideas that lead you on the path, you get lots of fanciful notions (which if not doing anything else good, at least sort of tend to inspire you to continue), but eventually the craziness (or what I have heard referred to as the "stink of enlightenment") sort of subsides.

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
27 minutes ago, Grievous said:

I can see the thinking that leads to seeing them as somewhat the same kind, of thing yeah, but I don't think it's fundamentally right.

It's clearly not all of it - no-one gets converted to post-modernism through cheap koans, for instance. That aspect is pure Zen.

It's also one of the more confusing aspects of how Illumination has been depicted in published sources. In RQ, it's all about getting your Illumination score up through Riddles. It also seems to be an effect of experiencing enough cultures to become a relativist (this is how Argrath Illuminates, isn't it?). And it's also about extended mental discipline and meditation. And ascetically denying the world. And becoming one with the universe. And also dragons.

These don't exactly seem to be the same kinds of things. 

Edited by Akhôrahil

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Akhôrahil said:

It's also one of the more confusing aspects of how Illumination has been depicted in published sources. In RQ, it's all about getting your Illumination score up through Riddles. It also seems to be an effect of experiencing enough cultures to become a relativist (this is how Argrath Illuminates, isn't it?). And it's also about extended mental discipline and meditation. And ascetically denying the world. And becoming one with the universe. And also dragons.

These don't exactly seem to be the same kinds of things. 

I was just wondering whether one can be multi-Illuminated.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Akhôrahil said:

(this is how Argrath Illuminates, isn't it?)

Argrath got illuminated via talking to a dragon iirc

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 7/23/2020 at 8:49 PM, Akhôrahil said:

Argrath decides to stick with his all-consuming insane quest for vengeance for a teen trauma (see, back to topic!).

I think it runs deeper than that.  Destroying the Lunar Empire isn't only something Argrath wants.  Pretty much everyone in Sartar and the Heortlands wants that, and likely many folk from further afield too.  Argrath is just the one who can and does bring it to fruition.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 7/24/2020 at 5:12 AM, John Biles said:

Ralzakark is able to organize broo into a controlled force that doesn't simply maraud 24-7 and rape everything that moves.  HE and his broo are still terrible, but it's a lot more controlled terrible.

A fair assessment.

On 7/24/2020 at 5:12 AM, John Biles said:

Beat Pot Aelwin *joins the side he revolted against*.  He totally abandons his revolt against the Lunars and grovels before the Red Goddess.  It's like imagining Malcom X marrying a white woman and going around shooting black people.

Yeah, it is a bit like that.  Beat Pot is a less-than-sympathetic character for that reason.  Who knows what Jar-Eel sees in him.  I think it expresses a huge deficit in her character that she takes him as a lover.

On 7/24/2020 at 5:12 AM, John Biles said:

Argath and Arkat pretty much simply become worse by being illuminated.  I expect what makes them able to be genocidal maniacs is being illuminated.  Illumination stripped away their conscience, leaving only the lust for blood.  

That is a very jaundiced reading of those characters.  They are both aware of the terrible dangers that illumination represents.  The whole notion that chaos is somehow okay is fundamentally flawed as an idea, and the license to riot that illumination represents is something that a person with a conscience should oppose, even if they are illuminated.  As for fighting a genocidal chaos worshiping empire, that seems like an ugly but utterly necessary duty for all living things in Glorantha as far as I am concerned.  Chaos is the death of the world, with no reincarnation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
24 minutes ago, Darius West said:

A fair assessment.

Yeah, it is a bit like that.  Beat Pot is a less-than-sympathetic character for that reason.  Who knows what Jar-Eel sees in him.  I think it expresses a huge deficit in her character that she takes him as a lover.

That is a very jaundiced reading of those characters.  They are both aware of the terrible dangers that illumination represents.  The whole notion that chaos is somehow okay is fundamentally flawed as an idea, and the license to riot that illumination represents is something that a person with a conscience should oppose, even if they are illuminated.  As for fighting a genocidal chaos worshiping empire, that seems like an ugly but utterly necessary duty for all living things in Glorantha as far as I am concerned.  Chaos is the death of the world, with no reincarnation.

Spoken like a true Uroxi 😁

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Darius West said:

I think it runs deeper than that.  Destroying the Lunar Empire isn't only something Argrath wants.  Pretty much everyone in Sartar and the Heortlands wants that, and likely many folk from further afield too.  Argrath is just the one who can and does bring it to fruition.

First, not all of them dedicate their entire existence to it. Second, while I’m sure they would like to see the LE destroyed, their real priority is their freedom from it (I don’t imagine Kallyr’s goal was to bring it down, for instance). Very few would think destroying the world to bring the Lunars down with it would be a great idea.

Edited by Akhôrahil
  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 7/23/2020 at 8:12 PM, John Biles said:

I have no idea who Oddi even is.

Oddi the Keen is a sympathetic Storm Bull chaos-fighter from the fiction in Cults of Terror who becomes Illuminated towards the end of the story. The main narrative closes with a conversation between him and the Lunar narrator Paulis Longvale about the nature of Illumination. Joining a discussion about Illumination without reading this source is like a group of blind men attempting elephant proctology in a room that may or may not contain an elephant, and you are to be commended for your bravery. But let me illuminate you, as it were:

Quote

“Whom else should I tell?” Oddi laughed. “It was all prompted by those Trickster rascals and their riddles, you know. How could I have not understood before now – here where Ralzakark finally has consented to fight us – that I have been Illumined?” He shook his head with chagrin, but without the black moodiness which I had known for days. “How can I tell my clan and my cult? They would cut off my head! But I thought you, a Lunar, should know, for if it becomes known, you will be supposed to have converted me to your foul ways and will thereby be in great danger from those who love me best.”

This seemed true to me, though I would let it be as the Goddess willed and had no thought of flight from my post.

“There is a connected matter,” Oddi added. “How shall I fight this battle today, feeling as I do? The hate has gone out of me, and I have no lust for war.”

He said this matter-of-factly, as though declining a platter of eels. How much attitude makes of us all, for the day before he would have fallen on his sword before such words escaped him! I pondered what should be replied. I was young and strained for the fight myself, yet saw here a great chance to bring this noble barbarian to the ways of the Goddess and of true civilization.

“My King, it is said there is a dim and a bright side to all of existence, and that only those who are Illumined see that the difference resides not in existence but in the way we choose to see it. What Nysalor would tell you I know not, for Illumined I am not, but the Lunar way is this: the man who knows best will know best his duty. It matters nothing that we fight here today on the side of order, and that Ralzakark and his hordes fight for Chaos, for if we all willed it in reverse, so then would we fight, each in the other’s place. The Goddess knows that just as Chaos can corrupt order, so can order undermine chaos. These ways of alignment are of our birth and our training, but they are not ways of living. Life itself does not care, and the Spider will weave Her web regardless, for all was made so by the Compromise.

“If you are a King without hate and lust, then your subjects will praise you only more, so long as you pursue your duties with diligence and honor. Why you came to be here this day with this knowledge only the Spider can know, and you must take it up with her. But if you will remain King, then kingly you must be in the same way you are just now friendly with me. Do, and exist; hesitate and lose life for it.

“We must ponder our responsibilities, using them as we might use masks and disguises. What lies beneath the mask only you can say. But if you will be king, why then ride we must against Ralzakark, and slay without stint, and take honor for those who have followed you.”

Oddi nodded at last, and we rose from the hummock where we had rested. The sun rose as we rode toward the mountains. The ten thousand spears of Ralzakark glinted far in the distance. About us our brave thanes and warriors gathered and sang. With clear eyes we rode firmly to our destiny.

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wonder if whoever wrote the conversation between Oddi and Paulis was inspired by the Bhagavad Gita. There is the same basic message that you have to do your duty and play your part, even when greater awareness makes it all seem meaningless. Granted, Arjuna’s reason for not wanting to fight are different. Actually, while I’m at it, Ralzakark reminds me a lot of Ravana from the Ramayana. He’s an enlightened monster who terrifies the world, and draws his power from mystical knowledge. 

Edited by Gallowglass
  • Like 1
  • Thanks 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...