((Note: You guys have been talking since Silus made his first post. Sorry, but my post blathers a lot of the same stuff you’ve mentioned about Variation. I also extensively discuss the thought-focus thing. Sorry. I do eventually discuss the focus criteria you made, Mad_Scientist! Really!))
Exclusivity it is. That sounds better anyways.
Before I discuss your criteria for focuses (which I think are interesting), I'm going to say that thought is a very bad focus for a magic system, Surgebinding or not.
Any magic system is going to take some Cognitive element to use. Let's take iron, for example. You have to "think" and choose which lines to utilize. However, that doesn't make thought the focus. You always have to choose to burn the metal. That does not make the choice to burn the magic's focus.
Let's say, for example, that you had a constant stream of metal. There would be that ability--that potential
--to use magic, and your thought is the thing that actually activates it. What I suggest is that spren are like a reservoir of metal that is always on. They provide the ability, just like a metal would. Only with spren, you don't "use up" that focus. And that's perfectly fine. Magic systems don't need to use up a focus. Metalminds always stay the same, after all. So spren, in my mind, are almost like a metalmind. With Feruchemy, if you have that focus, you can use the magic. You either tap or store from an external source, which is not the focus itself. Well, a spren would be functionally identical in this case. You have a spren or Nahel bond, congratulations, you can use magic. But you need to supply a source (Stormlight), which is not itself the focus. Ultimately, the spren-focus idea does
follow a type of interaction we have seen before in the cosmere on that level alone.
So I don't think we can dismiss the spren theory outright. I do think that thought lacks specificity. In this spren-focus idea, genetics are (seemingly) irrelevant; anyone can become a magic user, given they have a spren. If spren are not the focus, well... everyone on Roshar can think. What differentiates a member of Bridge Four, who cannot Windrun, and Kaladin? They can see what Kaladin is doing. No matter how hard they imagine them doing the same tasks as Kaladin, they will not Windrun. Is there a genetic thing? Well, that seems unlikely. So what is sufficient to Windrun?
Thought is a necessary criterion to use magic, but it is hardly sufficient. It's necessary for everything. The focus is the critical key, and looking at Bridge Four alone, I cannot see a factor that is more critical than Kaladin's bond with Syl. If Kaladin read a book on Soulcasting, could he Soulcast? Of course not. Even if spren were not the focus for Surgebinding, they are a critical component of it. Each fabrial needs
it. That screams that spren are the key.
Yes, I'm playing the "Appeal to Simplicity" card. Having spren as the focus does sufficiently explain Kaladin's abilities. The rest is just icing on the cake.
Thought as a focus is pretty much the most unspecific focus ever, which violates the spirit of my definition of focus.
Hmmm, I'm looking at my definition, and I can see how the "active" factor came in. In the course of this post, I believe that is a poor wording. I would revise my definition of focus to: a specific conduit which allows specific Realmatic interaction(s) to occur.
Okay, so I might have added the (s) to interaction to help bolster the spren theory of getting two Surges in with one focus. This is true. However, if you think about it, a specific metal in Hemalurgy can make more than one "interaction" occur. It does do multiple things, depending on the way it is used, so the revised definition has some credence in canon.
Hemalurgy does have Exclusivity, though (I'll disregard the fact that atium can act as a wildcard to replicate any Hemalurgic effect, because it is a god metal, after all). But I don't think Exclusivity needs to hold.
If we assume Exclusivity did hold on Roshar, what would happen? Each Surge would have an independent variant of focus, whatever focus that may be. That means we would have to see one Surge Surgebinders. Let's call them standard Surgebinders for now, because "single Surge" is weird--and certainly if they existed, they would be standard. They would be more common than Radiants, so why aren't they in battle against the Voidbringers? We simply need to test whether standard Surgebinders exist. This is a tall bargain, since it is something really hard to prove or disprove, but I'm going to do a word search of "Surgebind" on my ebook. If there exist instances that are unrelated to the Knights Radiant, then standard Surgebinders would probably exist, and therefore, we can absolutely claim that Focus Exclusivity is a valid principle.
The stone ridges and mounds bore numerous scars. Some were shattered, blasted-out sections where Surgebinders had fought. Less frequently, he passed cracked, oddly shaped hollows where thunderclasts had ripped themselves free of the stone to join the fray.
Many of the bodies around him were human; many were not. Blood mixed. Red. Orange. Violet. Though none of the bodies around him stirred, an indistinct haze of sounds hung in the air. Moans of pain, cries of grief. They did not seem like the sounds of victory. Smoke curled from the occasional patches of growth or heaps of burning corpses. Even some sections of rock smoldered. The Dustbringers had done their work well.
This is pretty inconclusive, but in context, we're discussing the stone ridges. Surgebinders did this. Then later, we discuss sections of rock, and the Dustbringers kicked butt.
On one hand, the Dustbringers could be said Surgebinders. One could certainly get that impression. Or, there are Surgebinders unrelated to Dustbringers. In that case, we have Surgebinders manipulating stone. Maybe the Dustbringers, who make rock smolder, are a much more kick-butt variant, since they made that rock smolder and all.
Inconclusive, I think.
What would these men say if they knew that the man who emptied their chamber pot was a Shardbearer and a Surgebinder? A Windrunner, like the Radiants of old?
This one is conclusive, qualifying that he has the skillset of a Radiant.
The next Szeth section:
Szeth breathed in, Infusing himself with Stormlight from the spheres in his pouch. He began to glow, luminescent vapors rising from his skin. In the darkness, it was quite noticeable. These powers had never been intended for assassination; Surgebinders had fought during the light of day, battling the night but not embracing it.
That was not Szeth’s place. He would simply have to take extra care not to be seen.
I scrolled up and down and did not see any reference to Radiants. This is also inconclusive.
“Our own natures destroy us,” the regal man said, voice soft, though his face was angry. “Alakavish was a Surgebinder. He should have known better. And yet, the Nahel bond gave him no more wisdom than a regular man. Alas, not all spren are as discerning as Honorspren.”
“I agree,” Dalinar said.
The other man looked relieved. “I worried that you would find my claims too forward. Your own Surgebinders were... But, no, we should not look backward.”
What’s a Surgebinder? Dalinar wanted to scream the question out, but there was no way. Not without sounding completely out of place.
“What do you think should be done with these Surgebinders?” Dalinar asked carefully.
Lots of instances of Surgebinders unrelated to Radiants, however, Dalinar later thinks that the Knights Radiant may not exist yet in this vision.
“I don’t know if we can force them to do anything.” Their footsteps echoed in the empty room. Were there no guards, no attendants? “Their power... well, Alakavish proves the allure that Surgebinders have with the common people. If only there were a way to encourage them...” The man stopped, turning to Dalinar. “They need to be better, old friend. We all do. The responsibility of what we’ve been given--whether it be the crown or the Nahel bond--needs to make us better.”
He seemed to expect something from Dalinar. But what?
“I can read your disagreement in your face,” the regal man said. “It’s all right, Karm. I realize that my thoughts on this subject are unconventional. Perhaps the rest of you are right, perhaps our abilities are proof of a divine mantle. But if this is true, should we not be more wary of how we act?”
Divine mantle is interesting. These could be the predecessors of Radiants. Still, inconclusive.
“They have leaders,” Nohadon said. “There are princes, kings, Soulcasters, Surgebinders. We never lack men and women who wish to lead.”
There's the quote Asha'man Logain surely likes, which suggests, possibly, that Soulcasters are independent from Surgebinders. Inconclusive for the purposes of this discussion.
And lastly, there is the Ars Arcanum.
Five groupings of fabrial have been discovered so far. The methods of their creation are carefully guarded by the artifabrian community, but their creations appear to be the work of dedicated scientists, as opposed to the more mystical Surgebindings once performed by the Knights Radiant.
Knights Radiant perform Surgebindings. This quote does not imply that anything else Surgebinds.
There you have it. All instances of Surge, Surgebindings, and Surgebinders. There were a lot of instances of "surgeon", sheesh.
In this analysis, it is inconclusive at best that standard Surgebinders exist. There is no conclusive evidence that show standard Surgebinders exist. You may read those differently, and that I may be interpreting them wrong. In context, though, there is
conclusive evidence for Knights Radiant, lots of it!
So, this weakens the notion of standard Surgebinders existing. They might exist, yes. But we have Kaladin, who is definitely not a standard Surgebinder, and neither is Szeth. Shallan has her Memories, which have been suggested to be related to her second Surge. Jasnah has that lightning thing. There are no definitive examples of standard Surgebinders, unless Elhokar happens to be one. We don't have enough information to see any ability which may be related to a second Surge.
This does not mean standard Surgebinders are proven to not exist. They might. They very much might. But, with this book, it is hard to argue that for standard Surgebinders.
Phew. That was a long tangent. So, like I said, if there is no evidence for standard Surgebinders, Focus Exclusivity would not exist. And I’m pretty well persuaded that standard Surgebinders don’t exist. If they did, they would probably be mentioned in histories more extensively, since they should be much more common than Surgebinders with two Surges. They aren’t. Therefore, I believe that Exclusivity is not a requirement for a focus.
In the most roundabout fashion ever, I finally get to your criteria for focuses.
#3, I believe, is satisfied with spren. Ten is a significant number in the cosmere, so having ten bondable spren qualifies there.
With the analysis of standard Surgebinders, I do not believe #4 is required. I was hoping that if I assumed that Exclusivity was present, I could show some contradiction. The only one I find is that the standard Surgebinder effect is very
minimal, whereas they should be more numerous.
The very concept of a focus is based on the idea that it is the method you use to specify what a magic system does, and thus, each variation of a focus will specify a single effect within that magic system. Exactly how broad or precise that effect is will vary depending on the magic system, but if a magic systems definies two different things as different powers, a single focus will never be used to cause both of them to occur. It cannot, for the very concept of a focus is that it is the method you choose to determine which of those effects you want to occur.
If I take these words to their fullest extent, especially in the bold, this means a Hemalurgic spike can do one thing. But Hemalurgy does violate the statement I’ve bolded. Metal is the critical condition to make it Hemalurgy work, but it is not the only method to determine which effect I want.
So the specificity requirement, at minimum, must be broadened. I like the idea. Heck, that was my whole point of focuses, that it does something specific. But that “something” can be a particular family
That is pe
rfectly fine with the idea of Variation, because the Healing Aon does a whole family of healing effects, and you need additional modifiers to specify which.
Though, you can successfully argue my point by saying “At the end of the day, that Hemalurgic spike only steals that one power, and that Aon only does that one action.” And you’re right. But whatever focus which grants Surgebinding power, it seems to like giving the powers by twos. With that statement I’m leaving the option open for standard Surgebinders to exist, but regardless, they are rare compared to Radiants.
So if we insist that Specificity must--including additional modifiers--only provide one
action, then the way Radiant powers are distributed show that Specificity is false.
I think you think that activeness is violated with the spren-bond, because it merely “provides” the ability. It’s not actually active. To reiterate what I said above, if Feruchemy did not require some genetic component, and anyone could be a Feruchemist, wearing metalminds would provide the ability. A constant potential that magic can be used. Then, a Cognitive action must be made to use that capability.
Making that generic:
“If [magic system] did not require a genetic component, [X] would provide the ability, the constant potential for magic to be used. Then, a Cognitive action must be made to use that capability.”
Feruchemy/metalmind and Surgebinding/spren would satisfy that statement.
You know... the activeness requirement makes me queasy. The only “action” of Hemalurgy is stabbing some people. Other than that, it is a very passive system. Look at My Idiot Theories: A Retrospective, actually, because before Hero of Ages came out, I argued that Hemalurgy could not be a simple power stealing thing, because it was not an active magic, really. So on a personal level, I do not think we should focus so heavily on an “active” magic. I’m kind of avoiding that whole “active magic” notion you are making for exactly that reason. The whole paradigm scares me nowadays
If it makes everyone feel better, Syl had to choose Kaladin. That’s kind of like an action.
So I’ve handled 1, 3, 4, and 5, so that just means Omnipresence remains, which means I have to talk about Szeth. I can’t really reassure you there. My hope is that a spren was involved, somewhere, to give Szeth the abilities, in some creepy manner that we don’t know of yet. There is that Dawnshard quote, which says Dawnshards can bind any creature, voidish or mortal, so there is probably some scary stuff related to “binding” that we don’t know about. It is possible that someone/something forced a spren into giving Szeth his powers, somehow.
That, or there is some Shardic influence, which would be the only other acceptable substitute for spren, under this theory.
Given that there are two possible methods for Szeth to artificially get his power, I do not think Szeth is a dealbreaker for this theory. These Shards have their essence somewhere! There are Honor Splinters (which may or not be spren to being with), to say nothing of any essence of Odium or Cultivation.
Phew. These rebuttals get long, don’t they?
If I had any closing words, I would say that, for one thing, spren are a necessary criterion. Kaladin needs it for his Windrunning--Syl gives the power to him. Jasnah and Shallan need the Truthspren for Soulcasting (though it does seem that Shallan’s Memories don’t appear to need their help, crap). If they aren’t the focus, then they are still extremely
An alternative focus theory would still need to describe spren are significant. However, I really don’t think there exists a critical criteria to Surgebinding which is specific enough to require ten different powers.
So, I guess I am reducing the specificity requirement to only apply to the type of focus itself. The focus variant is
specific. Its effect can be a family of effects, though. We need to find a list of at least ten of anything
for it to be a focus. Ten different “thoughts” is a cop-out
Other than the ten orders of Radiants, Heralds, Fools, and Highprinces--which are of course not focuses--our possibilities are stuff from the Ars Arcanum: gemstones, essences, body focuses, Soulcasting properties, or divine attributes. Essences would be a cool focus, but there’s no evidence for that. Gemstones, as I mentioned in my original post, are not a requirement. Divine attributes get you closer, but I could argue and say that the divine attributes are what attract spren to make the Nahel bond in the first place. None of these things feel right, or even critical. To Kaladin, he needs Stormlight and he needs the Nahel bond. To Shallan and Jasnah, they need Stormlight and some sort of bond with Truthspren. Those are
EDIT: Silus noted to me that my Feruchemy connection didn't make sense. Let me explain again.
Disregard SDNA and genetics completely. Let's pretend everyone is a Feruchemist. Then, when a someone wears an iron bracer, the bracer gives the holder the capability to do some "action". In this case, store a physical property.
What I am suggesting is that spren gives the user the capability to perform some "action", only in this case, it is two powers, and which two you get is dependent on which type of spren it is.
Both require a Cognitive decision to perform said action, but in both cases, the focus gives you the capability to perform that action. The "action" and the fuel of the action can be anything. It's just in Roshar, if genetics was not an issue, then spren is the only
thing that matters, whereas on Scadrial, SDNA and genetics are a factor of which type of metal you can use.
Edited by Chaos, 30 July 2011 - 04:07 AM.