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Embassytown Discussion > SECTION 7: Part 8: The Parley and Part 9: The Relief

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Nataliya | 378 comments
“You’re trying to change things,” I said. YlSib repeated in Language.
“You want change like the girl who ate what was given her. So you’re like me. Those who aren’t trying to change anything are like the girl who didn’t eat what she wanted but what was given to her: they’re like me. You’re like that girl who ate. You are the girl who ate. You’re like the girl. You are the girl. And so are the others, who aren’t like you.”
Welcome to the final part of our 'Embassytown' read - Part 8: The Parley and Part 9: The Relief (Kindle 86-100%, pages 298-345 out of 345)! It's been a great journey, hasn't it?

Avice leads the Liars among the Hosts - together with the fanwingless Ariekei, the Absurd, rescued from Embassytown - to the army of the Absurd that is marching on Embassytown and the City.

Along the way, she makes sure the Ariekei understand that Avice has sentience, that she is capable of speaking - that it's still speech even if it's not Language - something that was not really addressed before, likely to help the Ambassadors maintain their unique position as the only sentient aliens the Hosts could communicate with.
After a silence Bren said, “It’s never been something Ambassadors have been exactly keen to make clear.”
“Make it clear,” I said. “Ambassadors don’t get to be the only real people anymore.”
Her persistence pays off - because once it's voiced in Language by one of them, the Ariekei accept is a s truth.
“Make them say it,” I said. “That what I’m doing is speaking.”
Spanish Dancer said it.
The human in blue is speaking. The others listened. They struggled, but one by one managed to repeat it.
“They believe it,” I said.
This was where it began to change.
And then, impossibly, Avice succeeds - the minds that before could barely conceive of a world outside Language have managed to make a leap from simile to metaphor, from truth to untruth, from referents to signifiers.
“What happened?” YlSib stuttered.
“Something’s happened to them.” Yes. Something in the new language. New thinking. They were signifying now— there, elision, slippage between word and referent, with which they could play. They had room to think new conceptions."
And as a result of throwing off the chains of Language oppression, as a result of making the language mean what they need it to mean instead of dictating the meaning, the Ariekei are free from the intoxicating effect of the slightly 'off' Language of the god-drug. The Capital-L Language became just a language, a means of expression - and the power it was holding is gone.
"With the boisterous astonishment of revelation they pressed the similes by which I’d named them on until they were lies, telling a truth they’d never been able to before. They spoke metaphors."

"If language, thought and word were separated, as they just had been, there was no succulence, no titillating impossible. No mystery. Where Language had been there was only language: signifying sound, to do things with and to."
Avice also has realized something that no one else had yet - that the Absurd, despite the belief that, when separated from Language lost their sentience, actually have developed without realization the ability to think and express themselves in a new way - they learned, like their Liars compatriots, to signify.

Put the Absurd and the Liars together - and as a result a society of New Ariekei is born, the one that uses language and does not allow the Language to determine what they are. A revolution of an unsurpassed significance, one may say.
"In the beginning was each word of Language, sound isomorphic with some Real: not a thought, not really, only self-expressed worldness, speaking itself through the Ariekei. Language had always been redundant: it had only ever been the world. Now the Ariekei were learning to speak, and to think, and it hurt."
And, finally, like a Chekhov's proverbial gun, Scile reappears - appalled at the change in the Ariekei society, hell-bent on preserving the traditional way of the Hosts, having left the City so that he could witness the destruction of the addicted by the Absurd and welcome the restoration of the old ways - Scile, in desperation, blinded by his beliefs, shoots Cal. And it's pointless - because humans have figured out how to make more god-drug for those Ariekei who have not or would not make the change for the New Ariekei - even if Avice can easily envision the future society of two tribes, two different cultures among once-same Hosts.
"We speak now or I do, and others do. You’ve never spoken before. You will. You’ll be able to say how the city is a pit and a hill and a standard and an animal that hunts and a vessel on the sea and the sea and how we are fish in it, not like the man who swims weekly with fish but the fish with which he swims, the water, the pool. I love you, you light me, warm me, you are suns. You have never spoken before."
And back to politics - Avice and her supporters know that Embassytown will never be the same. It's not just about the Language any more - it's about not being destroyed by Bremen; it's about escaping destruction by emphasizing their importance; it's about becoming what they hoped they would not - a port with slums and dirt.

But what they realize is that you cannot always preserve the 'old ways', that change can be inevitable, and that moving forward, even though scary and uncertain, does not have to mean the end of the world - even though those we love can be left behind, just like Ehrsul.
"It would be foolish to pretend we know what’ll happen. We’ll have to see how Embassytown gets shaped.

By Embassytown I mean the city. Even the New Ariekei have started to call the city by that name. embassy/town they say, or town/embassy, or embassytown/embassytown."

-------

Rereading 'Embassytown' with all of you, my friends, has been a joy. I'm looking forward to hearing your final thoughts on this book.


message 2: by Ian (last edited Mar 23, 2013 04:40AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian "Marvin" Graye Nataliya, you have been a wonderful host and guide.

Just to complement what you have set out, the word "absurd" is derived from the word "surd", which means deaf and possibly dumb or silent.

Do the Absurd represent the [existential] Abyss?

Does Scile connote Silence?

As with DFW, we must always have, not just a dictionary, but an etymology handy when we read CM.


Nataliya | 378 comments Thanks, Ian! The praise matters a lot coming from you :)

"Does Scile connote Silence?"

That is such an interesting take! And so fitting with the storyline and the message of the book. I so love all your insights - they are always illuminating and fascinating. I can easily see CM having this in mind when creating this story.

As for the Absurd - I was looking at it as a commentary of how something we perceive as strange and unfitting of our ideas of how the world should work can actually represent the very real future. No wonder it's scary and, well, absurd.


message 4: by Derek, Miéville fan-boi (new) - rated it 5 stars

Derek (derek_broughton) | 761 comments Nataliya wrote: "Thanks, Ian! The praise matters a lot coming from you :)

'Does Scile connote Silence?'
"


I'm so glad you brought that up, as it reminds me of something I wanted to point out much earlier, and forgot about. A huge part of the tension in this book comes about not merely by failure to communicate, but refusal. Scile won't talk to Avice at all after she won't accept that changing Language by learning to lie is necessarily a bad thing. CalVin won't talk to Avice about Scile - and then about anything. Cal & Vin won't talk to each other. Nobody in Embassytown will talk about DalTon and SibYl. Of course, Bremen won't talk to Embassytown about anything of import. And the one that perplexes me, Ehrsul routinely refuses to talk to Avice about some subjects, so Avice retaliates by refusing to talk to her about what seem to be completely random subjects.

So silence is a huge theme - but whether it's appropriate to consider Scile specifically as connoting silence, I'm not sure.


message 5: by Derek, Miéville fan-boi (new) - rated it 5 stars

Derek (derek_broughton) | 761 comments As the Ariekei learn to lie: "What they spoke now weren't things or moments anymore but the thoughts of them, pointings-at;... With that spiral of assertion-abnegation cam quiddities, and the Ariekei became themselves."

So, to another biblical myth, to the tower of Babel. Before Babel, all the people of the world spoke one tongue. Perhaps (I think it must be so) humanity could lie then but, as with Language, they could not be accidentally be misunderstood. After Babel, nobody could understand his neighbor, and each became himself, no longer part of a single community.


message 6: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian "Marvin" Graye John Lennon: a conspiracy of silence speaks louder than words.


message 7: by Ian (last edited Mar 25, 2013 02:26PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian "Marvin" Graye I didn't think or write too much about Ehrsul after about the half-way mark.

Here is an extract from an interview with CM about her:

The Operating System of the AI in Embassytown is called turingware, and runs Avice’s friend, a robot called Ehrsul – who rebukes Avice for asking her if she can joke to herself. The concept of AI in the novel suggests that AI might encapsulate the best of human wit and benevolence… I believe Turing himself said, “Machines take me by surprise with great frequency”...

I like the idea that intelligence and sentience is always contextual, and social, in the sense of not reducible to a monad, so seeking to understand it in the abstract won’t get you very far. That can go both ways. Ehrsul is definitely Avice’s best friend. But there are also points where her behaviour, absolutely clear and sensible from one point of view, distinguishes her from what we might think of as ‘mainstream’ consciousness and sentience the next.

I was thrilled every time she appeared. I think I fell in love with her a little bit.

Thank you. She’s – in a terribly predictable and intentional irony – the most likable and human character, I think, for a lot of it.


http://kgogomodumo.com/blog/2011/08/2...

I liked the fact that she was capable of taking offence and retreating into her own world, like a real, sensitive, sentient human.


message 8: by Ian (last edited Mar 25, 2013 02:25PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian "Marvin" Graye A thought on the etymology of Ehrsul. It sounds Germanic, but I can't find anything similar.

Here is a simiilar sounding word, Erzulie:

Erzulie is the Haitian Goddess of Love whose roots go back to West Africa. She is beauty, sweetness, love and sensuality personified and is renowned for her generosity. The arts, especially dance, are her domain. Rivers, streams, lakes and waterfalls are hers and she can cure womb-related problems with her cool waters. The fan that she is holding is from Osogbo, Nigeria and belongs to a priestess of Oshun who is the mediator between the divine or natural world and the world of people, the cross in the circle indicating the meeting of the two worlds.


http://www.goddessmyths.com/Erzulie-L...


message 9: by Derek, Miéville fan-boi (last edited Mar 25, 2013 04:35PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Derek (derek_broughton) | 761 comments So, I've just finished and I have just a few more comments.

After Scile (scumbag! but I may be biased) is captured and imprisoned, Avice visits him in prison, and says to the reader "We've decided we don't have the death penalty just for murder." Bravo - but surely his crime is not "just" murder. Unless, as I've earlier said, he can shunt the blame to CalVin, he's guilty of genocide, not murder. Surely if anything merits the death penalty, it would be genocide.

I love that after the murder MagDa, quietly competent as always, come forward and effectively say "Not a problem - I/We've got it covered." Through the whole story, MagDa are essential without ever being central.

Later, as the Ambassadors realize they are no longer really relevant: "...many Ambassadors have powered down their own links... They don't speak Language much anymore." echoing the way that the Ariekei learn to lie: "Before ... we didn't speak so much..."

And thank you, China Miéville for describing what happens to new-born Ariekei after New Language: "They have only a few liminal days of pure Language, when word is referent and lies are uncanny,..." Until that point, I wasn't actually certain that Language was an inborn skill (as certain Terre birdsong is shown to be).

I'm not sure anybody ever took up Nataliya's question about the use of "Terre" to mean "humans". It's an old, old, trope in SF. Earth is "Terra", humans are "Terrans", and our sun is "Sol". Basically, all Latin. Using "Terre" — only French as far as I know — seems unique, but still based there. The idea that the old home world is lost (apparently nobody can find Terre, now) goes back at least to early Asimov.

One more thing that I've been intrigued by but never seen a good place to bring up. Bremen is a nation on the planet Dagostin. There's never actually any mention of the other nations on Dagostin, but there must be at least one. I'm intrigued/worried/terrified by the whole idea that when we start to expand out beyond our own solar system, we might take our nationalism with us. God, I hope not.

As I write this I'm listening to a local jazz show, Emilie-Claire Barlow (she's new, but do NOT miss her if you love classic jazz singers) singing "These Boots Are Made For Walking": "You keep lying when you oughta be truthing." Let's call that "Scile's Theme"!

Thank you so much Nataliya, for leading this read, and thanks all you wonderful Miévillans for playing along. I'll be watching avidly as the rest of you finish, and I'm sure you'll bring up more things I want to talk about, so I'm not done here yet.

This was the most fun I've ever had reading a book that I'd already read :) Now, Joyce...


Cecily | 301 comments A more trivial aside on the use of Terre: I liked the fact that "exot" was used as an abbreviation for things from outside Earth, because of the suggestion of "exotic".


Nataliya | 378 comments Derek wrote: "Unless, as I've earlier said, he can shunt the blame to CalVin, he's guilty of genocide, not murder. Surely if anything merits the death penalty, it would be genocide."

Well, the people who acted as drug pushers to the addicted nation probably chose not to throw stones at the glass houses.
------------
Derek wrote: "So, to another biblical myth, to the tower of Babel. Before Babel, all the people of the world spoke one tongue. Perhaps (I think it must be so) humanity could lie then but, as with Language, they could not be accidentally be misunderstood. After Babel, nobody could understand his neighbor, and each became himself, no longer part of a single community."

So - misunderstanding breeds individualism?
--------------
@ Ian - thanks for posting the tidbit about Erzulie. "the mediator between the divine or natural world and the world of people, the cross in the circle indicating the meeting of the two worlds." This sounds quite a bit like Ehrsul - the meeting of the worlds of machine and human.
---------
Derek wrote: "One more thing that I've been intrigued by but never seen a good place to bring up. Bremen is a nation on the planet Dagostin. There's never actually any mention of the other nations on Dagostin, but there must be at least one. I'm intrigued/worried/terrified by the whole idea that when we start to expand out beyond our own solar system, we might take our nationalism with us. God, I hope not."

Unfortunately, given human nature, I don;t see it going any other way. The nationalism leading to colonialism has been present throughout human history and is unlikely to ever go away.


message 13: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian "Marvin" Graye While I've known the word "parley" for a long time (from cowboy and indian movies?), I can't help thinking "Parsley" whenever I see this Section Heading.


Traveller (moontravlr) | 1838 comments Nataliya wrote: "Well, the people who acted as drug pushers to the addicted nation probably chose not to throw stones at the glass houses..."

The thing is, it was a Catch 22 situation, since the Ariekei were dying if they didn't get their "fix", and, it seems as if no one knew, not even Bremen, how addictive CalVin would be, since Bren did mention that only a few Ariekei got addicted to him.


Traveller (moontravlr) | 1838 comments Before I forget to do it later, I wanted to thank you greatly for this wonderful discussion, Nataliya! It's hopefully not over yet, since there are still a few things I'd like to comment on, but in the meantime, I'd like to say a big thank you for all of us, participants and lurkers alike.

It's really been great!

And thanks to all of you who participated thus far to make this discussion a wonderful and enriching experience. :)


Cecily | 301 comments Ian wrote: "While I've known the word "parley" for a long time (from cowboy and indian movies?), I can't help thinking "Parsley" whenever I see this Section Heading."

For me, it was The Hobbit, so I think more of a dragon than a herb.


Nataliya | 378 comments Traveller wrote: "Nataliya wrote: "Well, the people who acted as drug pushers to the addicted nation probably chose not to throw stones at the glass houses..."

The thing is, it was a Catch 22 situation, since the A..."


You know, Trav, I think this situation must have looked like Catch 22 for Scile as well, in his own warped way. To him, the change in the Language seemed equal to Ariekei dying, it appears.

Poor Scile, huh? A deranged man thinking he was doing something good. Especially when it seems removing Cal from the Embassytown politics may have been the best course out of those available - but saying that would condone murder. So maybe the leniency towards Scile was Embassytown elite quietly agreeing with him taking out Cal out of their political landscape.

"We’ve decided we don’t have the death penalty just for murder."

So, basically, 'just for murder' - or 'just for murder of Cal'? Maybe that's the answer, right or wrong.


message 18: by Traveller (last edited Apr 01, 2013 10:17AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Traveller (moontravlr) | 1838 comments Yeah, Cal was fast on his way to becoming dictator no. 2, and I guess what makes this book so lovely to me, is that it pleads for freedom. Its main thesis to me, seems to be that freedom is preferable to limitation on a personal level and totalitarianism/dictatorship on a political level.


message 19: by Nataliya (last edited Mar 31, 2013 06:08PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nataliya | 378 comments Traveller wrote: "Yeah, Cal was fast on his way to becoming dictator no. 2, and I guess what makes this book so lovely to me, is that it pleads for freedom. It's main thesis to me, seems to be that freedom is prefe..."

Freedom - throwing off the shackles of Language ;)

(Just saw 'Les Miserables' yesterday - and now I'm imagining the characters waving flags from the barricades...)


Traveller (moontravlr) | 1838 comments Nataliya wrote: "(Just saw 'Les Miserables' yesterday - and now I'm imagining the characters waving flags from the barricades...)"

I've always adored that book. Did you see the film or the play, Nataliya?


Nataliya | 378 comments Traveller wrote: "Nataliya wrote: "(Just saw 'Les Miserables' yesterday - and now I'm imagining the characters waving flags from the barricades...)"

I've always adored that book. Did you see the film or the play, ..."


The film. I have read 'Les Miserables' as a child, and I was really curious to see how this doorstopper was turned into a musical and now a movie. I'm rereading it now (along with Terry Pratchett's 'Night Watch' which is roughly inspired by it).


Traveller (moontravlr) | 1838 comments So you're on a Le Mis roll... if I hadn't re-read it about two or 3 years ago myself, I'd probably jump on the bandwagon again, but its still fresh enough for me to leave it another few years...

Though I might be interested in the Pratchett, thanks for the tip.:)


Allen (allenblair) | 227 comments Well, I'm finally here, and you'll laugh but I've been saving a quote to share at this point ... I saw it come across a tumblr feed on poetry I play with, and it fit so well with Embassytown that I saved it. Then here you two are talking Les Mis. Funny!

(Incidentally, it's the only thing I've seen twice on Broadway and among the memories I will cherish for a lifetime. I don't care who you are it will touch and change you - book or play.)

“Every revolution, being a normal accomplishment, contains in itself its own legitimacy, which false revolutionists sometimes dishonour, but which persists, even when sullied, which survives, even when stained with blood. Revolutions spring, not from an accident, but from necessity. A revolution is a return from the factitious to the real. It is, because it must be.” — Les Misérables, Victor Hugo.

So, I'm thinking the Language while rich for the Areikei was one of those "factitious" things, separating what was real. We talked to them, but did not communicate to them, and vice versa. Real communication takes the deeper probe into metaphor, that: intelligence/sentience is "contextual and social," referring to the CM interview ... I liked that, Ian, thanks.

I agree with Traveller's theme comment that freedom is preferable to limitation, but I struggled getting there.

Maybe I struggled so much because I always had it in my mind that the Arikei were much more intelligent than humans. A weakness on my part, because it always seems what we really can't understand is more/better/greater than ourselves. So I'm thinking now the ambassador system was what had to be done, a coping mechanism to do what we needed done - that's especially pointed out by Avice when she refers to the fact they don't get to be the only people any more. But still with all the wonderful biotech they built, organic houses and air purifiers, etc., I just thought they were smarter than that (pardon the oversimplification) ... I guess it doesn't matter what you can do or how powerful you are, there's always room for a little revolution.

I guess for me the real question is whether CM is saying revolution is always a healthy thing?


Allen (allenblair) | 227 comments Derek wrote: "And thank you, China Miéville for describing what happens to new-born Ariekei after New Language..."

Agreed! But I still wonder. Watching my little girl learn I'm so perplexed, sometimes I think she's like a songbird. Contextual language yes, but sometimes she just "gets it" and I'm left wondering why.

Derek wrote: "Thank you so much Nataliya, for leading this read, and thanks all you wonderful Miévillans for playing along. I'll be watching avidly as the rest of you finish, and I'm sure you'll bring up more things I want to talk about, so I'm not done here yet."

Agreed, agreed!!

I've got more to come, too, as soon as I can get it sifted through my brain. Again, I found the last few sections a bit more unsettling and hard to understand.


Allen (allenblair) | 227 comments Nataliya wrote: "Derek wrote: "So, to another biblical myth, to the tower of Babel. Before Babel, all the people of the world spoke one tongue. Perhaps (I think it must be so) humanity could lie then but, as with Language, they could not be accidentally be misunderstood. After Babel, nobody could understand his neighbor, and each became himself, no longer part of a single community."

So - misunderstanding breeds individualism? "


You know, I've always thought that first chapter about the game to see who could go farther into the Host section of town, was more than what it seemed ...

That stark contrast between breathable air, and the fact that the Hosts could breathe ours but couldn't really understand us, sort of dwindles by the end of the book. Maybe CM was saying we should learn to breathe each others air a little better, get that two way street working...

I think he deliberately let us look at that individualism to prime us for dealing with all the "misunderstanding" issues and why things had to change.


message 26: by Traveller (last edited Apr 12, 2013 08:26AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Traveller (moontravlr) | 1838 comments Oh, I've missed reading your message 23, Allen! Will keep this page open and come and read it soon. In the meantime, look at my updates. I liked something you said so much, that I turned it into a quotable 'like'-able quote! Yes, I can do that! :D


Nataliya | 378 comments Allen wrote: "That stark contrast between breathable air, and the fact that the Hosts could breathe ours but couldn't really understand us, sort of dwindles by the end of the book. Maybe CM was saying we should learn to breathe each others air a little better, get that two way street working..."

That's an interesting interpretation, Allen! In the end, the atmosphere incompatibility is no longer relevant in the Embassytown - a sign of embracing mutual understanding rather than enhancing differences and incompatibilities.

Avice was, as far as I remember, one of the best in their game to get as far as possible into the Ariekei territory (and eventually the best, really) - was it a foreshadowing about her eventually being able to get further than anyone else into the understanding of the Ariekei?


message 28: by Ian (last edited Apr 14, 2013 01:11AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian "Marvin" Graye @ #23: Hi, Allen!

I'm interested in your Les Mis quote and the word 'factitious'. At a purely literal level, I wonder whether that was actually the problem with the Language. It just didn't embrace the fictive or the fictitious. So the problem wasn't that it was separated from the real, it was that it was too real. Like us, though, they craved a dream and that dream was revolutionary.


Allen (allenblair) | 227 comments Nataliya wrote: "Avice was, as far as I remember, one of the best in their game to get as far as possible into the Ariekei territory (and eventually the best, really) - was it a foreshadowing about her eventually being able to get further than anyone else into the understanding of the Ariekei?"

Thanks Nataliya. I would agree with you on that. And that she was by her very nature a bridge-builder, and "willing" to get involved ... I think that's what Brenn (sp?) saw in her when he sort of introduced her to the host after saving her friend. Her use as a simile was no accident either I think because of her willingness. Qualities of a good leader, even a revolutionary one, are built by learning how to follow well? just a thought.

Ian wrote: "So the problem wasn't that it was separated from the real, it was that it was too real. Like us, though, they craved a dream and that dream was revolutionary."

I really like the way you put that! Puts a lot of things in the last part of the book - the whole book really - into perspective for me. Thanks.

Also, I know CM is fond of saying the story is sometimes just a cool story with no intended meaning, but I can't help wonder from that interpretation that he's trying to suggest: being too filled with dreams (non hosts) then we risk being unfocused thus unable to grow and that being too literal we can't understand what dreams are possible and thus unable to progress. So in the end, both the Arekei and Embassytowners are becoming a new society, almost a new race ... Hosts and people before, but now all are Ariekeian.

On another note, I've often thought that written communications and personal communications, even when it's about the same subject, tend to be quite different in terms of literal interpretations simply because written words are so very literal - you can't feel the mind behind it. It's why people's feelings get hurt so much in emails. Even on forums like these it's hard to express in letters what could so better be accomplished with a spoken chuckle and a "yeah" at the right moment. That's what fascinated me about the Ariekei learning to write. In some ways, we have it better because we can both speak in terms of dreams and write in terms of literal words. But I may be overreaching on that ... :)

Anyway, good book. And you all have helped me get a lot out it.


message 30: by Ian (last edited Apr 17, 2013 12:15PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian "Marvin" Graye Having just read "Omensetter's Luck" and posted on a few threads about morality and the existence of God, I wondered whether the realism and lack of metaphor of the Arekei also prevented them from holding religious beliefs.

Also, did their inability to be dishonest mean that they were unable to have experienced their first Fall from Grace or what would be one day regarded as their Original Sin? Were they unable to be immoral?


message 31: by Traveller (last edited Apr 17, 2013 12:42PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Traveller (moontravlr) | 1838 comments Allen wrote: "Well, I'm finally here, and you'll laugh but I've been saving a quote to share at this point ... I saw it come across a tumblr feed on poetry I play with, and it fit so well with Embassytown that I..."

Well, maybe their being able to do the biotech was something to do with their genetic make-up, much like Kepri-spit in Perdido Street Station. Hmm, I think you weren't on board yet when we did PSS, were you, Allen? If my faulty memory isn't deceiving me and you weren't, it would be really nice if you popped over to our discussion of that, when you've read the book (or while reading if you haven't yet) because to me that novel is probably one of the richest displays of Mieville imagination, given that it is a bit sprawling and drawn out.

Just saw Ian's post 30, and yes, I agree with his direction there, but I'd like to add a bit to it. If we may revisit the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden, remember that the tree that they are forbidden to take from, is a tree of knowledge-- be as it may of good and evil; it is the knowledge to judge between good and evil,(therefore to be able to recognize it in others as well)-- to know what evil is, not only to be able to do evil.

Oh btw, I like your Les Mis tie-in there. That novel has had a special place in my heart since around the age of 11. I'm definitely a fan of Victor Hugo. :)


message 32: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian "Marvin" Graye I was thinking of Adam and Eve as I was writing that, but I couldn't work out how to relate it to the way I was putting down my thoughts, except to mention original Sin, which was kind of shorthand.


message 33: by Traveller (last edited Apr 17, 2013 12:50PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Traveller (moontravlr) | 1838 comments ...but in any case, I think that the Garden of Eden thing is very complex. It also relates to self-consciousness, I think, because Adam and Eve could suddenly feel shame, and I think the Ariekei's inability to see the humans as "persons" has to do with a way in which the Ariekei identified themselves.

Initially, before they became 'deaf' they could only express and identify themselves via Language, which is abstract, but not in the same way as the use of signifiers is. ?? Ok, I'm also just feeling my way around these thoughts.

Anyway, I love all the ideas you guys are bringing out here! Nataliya, good catch with the foreshadowing-- I'd missed that.

Allen, re communication on the internet being hard in the abscence of tone of voice and body-language--absolutely!


Nataliya | 378 comments Ian wrote: "Having just read "Omensetter's Luck" and posted on a few threads about morality and the existence of God, I wondered whether the realism and lack of metaphor of the Arekei also prevented them from holding religious beliefs."

I would say - absolutely. You need to have enough imagination to come up with religion, and the constricting concreteness of their Language-based worldview would prevent them from that. When you see the world just as it is, without allowing for occasional dream, fantasy or untruth, how can you come up with the concept of faith that is not based on observation?


Cecily | 301 comments Nataliya wrote: "I would say - absolutely. You need to have enough imagination to come up with religion, and the constricting concreteness of their Language-based worldview would prevent them from that. When you see the world just as it is, without allowing for occasional dream, fantasy or untruth, how can you come up with the concept of faith that is not based on observation? "

To take that line of thinking a small but controversial step further, is Mieville implying that religion is a lie (i.e. that's why the Hosts couldn't conceive of it)?!


Traveller (moontravlr) | 1838 comments Ooh, this is becoming interesting! Wonderful stuff, folks!


message 37: by Derek, Miéville fan-boi (new) - rated it 5 stars

Derek (derek_broughton) | 761 comments Nataliya wrote: "So - misunderstanding breeds individualism? "

I think so.

Nataliya wrote: "So, basically, 'just for murder' - or 'just for murder of Cal'? Maybe that's the answer, right or wrong."

Ah! You're right (I think) and that clears it up for me. I understood about the drug pushers not wanting to throw stones, but they at least were fighting for their lives. But now I see that Avice was only talking about a single murder, and not at all about causing all the trouble that led to the deaths of so many in the first place (which, I'm also sure you're right, he did out of a misguided belief that he was saving the Ariekei, but I can't help thinking Stalin thought he was helping the Soviet Union, too - at least when he first came to power).

Allen wrote:"Also, I know CM is fond of saying the story is sometimes just a cool story with no intended meaning,"

Sure it is. And I'm glad I read this a year before re-reading it for this group read. Analyzing a book like this on first read ruins it for me, but a year to settle in is about right for me (any longer, and I might as well be reading it for the first time! - which is going to be the problem with the upcoming Le Guin read). So I read it first as a really cool story and wasn't particularly interested in any intent - though I picked up a few bits.


Nataliya | 378 comments Cecily wrote: "To take that line of thinking a small but controversial step further, is Mieville implying that religion is a lie (i.e. that's why the Hosts couldn't conceive of it)?!"

Well, it will be us putting words in Miéville's mouth since he never explicitly stated anything like this - but yes, it's the logical conclusion to the discussion we've been having here. Religion is based on faith, and faith does not need to be grounded in reality, obviously. To paraphrase Pratchett (which I do as often as I can!), seeing is not believing; once you have the proof it's no longer faith, it's just knowledge.
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Derek wrote: "...which, I'm also sure you're right, he did out of a misguided belief that he was saving the Ariekei, but I can't help thinking Stalin thought he was helping the Soviet Union, too - at least when he first came to power)."

I think you are right. I think most people who in the end turn out to be monsters have actually acted - at least partly, at least in the beginning - thinking they actually benefit some cause with their actions. Because I have a very hard time imagining that anyone would consciously decide to do something awful just because, without any justification to himself or herself. Hitler probably thought he was acting in the best interests of Germany, for instance.


message 39: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian "Marvin" Graye I don't think the issue is that religion is necessarily a lie. What matters might be the difference between the concrete and the abstract. The Ariekei's feet were trapped in the concrete, heehee. They were equally incapable of theism or atheism or agnosticism. I'm not ready to agree that all three are lies!

The book on gods I've just read introduced me to the word 'rigorism', which applies to the rigidity of your views when you believe that there is Only One True God and only you and your tribe know what it commands. But it might also apply to Hitler and his belief that only he knew and could implement the right way.


message 40: by Ian (last edited Apr 23, 2013 12:55AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian "Marvin" Graye Re body language, I also think it's important how great a role the eyes have in communication of sincerity, at least within the same species. It's a bit harder when you're communicating with a lizard.


Traveller (moontravlr) | 1838 comments ...or ants?


message 42: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian "Marvin" Graye ...or jellyfish...


message 43: by Traveller (last edited Apr 23, 2013 01:21AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Traveller (moontravlr) | 1838 comments Point being that ants do communicate (with one another). Didn't know jellyfish did.


message 44: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian "Marvin" Graye Point being cross-species communication without eyes.


Traveller (moontravlr) | 1838 comments Gotcha. Without eyes, even. O:-)


message 46: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian "Marvin" Graye It must be your third eye!


Traveller (moontravlr) | 1838 comments Possibly. It is very far-seeing.


Cecily | 301 comments Talking of religious faith and what might prevent belief, I came across this extraordinary article today (not that I agree with it, or am suggesting it's a common opinion):
http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/all-...

It includes these snippets:

'The head of Adana’s Health and Education Associations for Autistic Children reportedly said autistic children were “atheists due to a lack of a section for faith in their brains.”

He also reportedly said atheism was a form of autism.

Kaya also said they would turn autistic children into believers.'


Nataliya | 378 comments Cecily wrote: "Talking of religious faith and what might prevent belief, I came across this extraordinary article today (not that I agree with it, or am suggesting it's a common opinion):
http://www.hurriyetdaily..."


Oh, dear. What the hell was that article? How... ahem... interesting that lack of faith is so clearly labeled as pathology here. I don't think I have ever been taught to fear God, or actually to fear most things except for crossing the street in the middle of heavy traffic, running with scissors and stray dogs (my mother used to be afraid of dogs, and for a while because of it I was pretty scared of them, too, when I was little). So I guess this guy would assume I was autistic then.

"“Every child understands when you tell him or her to fear God, but an autistic child will not,” Kaya told the Daily News. “Once he starts to develop normally, belief will come in time. We do not have the idea of creating a section for faith in their brains.”

Ugh.


message 50: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian "Marvin" Graye Cecily wrote: "Talking of religious faith and what might prevent belief, I came across this extraordinary article today (not that I agree with it, or am suggesting it's a common opinion):
http://www.hurriyetdaily..."


I wonder if they could turn kids into similes and metaphors as an alternative?


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