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cubelith posted a topic in Stormlight ArchiveI believe I'm the first one to notice this, if not, please link me to the apprioprite thread. I recently noticed that the First Ideal can easily be reversed to uncover a second, complementary meaning. We basically reverse both the words and their order, so from life before death, strength before weakness, journey before destination we get destination after journey, weakness after strength, death after life. While this sound a little bit awkward in English, it also carries deep meaning, at least to me. Destination after journey After our journey we always reach a destination, or at least strive to do so. Our actions have a purpose. Wandering aimlessly is pointless. We choose our general goals with our oaths, but to fullfill them many particular quests need to be done. We should not only talk about our ideals and mission, not only act like we're doing something, but take actions that will lead to a measurable gain. For example, a Windrunner tasked with watching over the town should not only patrol the streets (which improves safety, of course, but rather temporarily), but also do something that is far less enjoyable and convenient, yet probably more important, such as spending many nights lying in a wet den to spy on a dangerous gang and finally destroy it. We also don't stop midway - we are persistent. If only possible, we continue the journey until we reach the destination. Things need not only to be started, but also finished. Young zeal is appealing, but even the most loved activity will tire us and require a measure of perseverance. Thus, it is hard not to stop after some time, yet we must not. For example, in times of sorrow, a Lightweaver decides to paint a town hall for the enjoyment of all people. She takes to it with with eagerness, but halfway through the job becomes tedious. She wishes to go play at a theater, which would also make some citizens happy. Yet she should finish the painting, while taking at most short breaks when she is really more needed somewhere else. The painting will, after all, lighten people's moods for centuries, while an unfinished one could even make them sadder. [spoiler] The most important step a man can take. It's not the first one, is it? It's the next one. Always the next step, Dalinar. [/spoiler] Weakness after strength After showing our strength, we have the right to rest. Even the sturdiest shield has to be oiled, lest it rusts and breaks. We must not push ourselves too hard, even if resting seems lazy. Of course that does not allow true laziness, but we're only humans. It's better to take a break from battle than to fall because of fatigue. This also applies to mental fatigue. We don't play tough after facing death or other horrors. It is right to seek support if you need it. We never try to seem stronger than we really are - that always ends up worse. We are not ashamed to seek help. We also understand that others are humans, too. While it is right to encourage and expect others to do their best, we remember that they also have the right to both rest and fail. Don't swing a sword too hard, lest it breaks. Death after life This part was the hardest to interpret. First of all, it is basically memento mori. We need to remember we are not immortal, no matter how grand are our powers. No other earthly thing is eternal, either. Due to that, we need to think in the long term. Back to that Windrunner protecting a town - even if it's his lifelong duty, he has to realise that one day he will be gone. So he should not only protect the town as best as he can, he should at least make sure to find a replacement. And it would be best if he estabilished an efficient guard that would keep the town safe for generations. The same goes for the Lightweaver's painting. This also means that since we have to die one day, we should sacrifice our life for our ideals if it is needed (however we must do it wisely - see the first part). Also we shouldn't attach ourselves to impemanent things too much, as they will eventually turn to dust, while our ideals may guide the whole humanity to a better path. What do you think about this interpretation?
Life before death. Strength before weakness. Journey before destination. The Knights Radiant adhere to the philosophy that the ends do not and never will justify the means. Unlike Taravangian who is committing atrocities in the name of "The Greater Good" the KnightsRadiant are forced to work the hard way by living by ideals and honorably. But the Radiants en masse (except perhaps the Skybreakers) broke their oaths on the same day. This was after the Desolations had ended and resulted in the Nahel bonds failing and the Spren abandoning mankind. We know that a war was going on right before the Recreance and that the Radiants were fighting in the war and after they abandoned their blades and plates and left from what we see in Dalinar's vision in WoK (At least the Windrunners and theStonewards). What is something that would break the oaths of all of the knights at once, something that the Knights could be convinced was worth doing that would be dishonorable, that was for the Greater Good, that took the easy path. An unethical action that all the knights would do. I see two possibilities and they're related. There are two events that have happened in the past that require great power and would seem to break the Knights first ideal. One is the shattering of the shattered plains. The other is the enslaving of the Listeners. I don't think it is a conincidence that the last free listeners live on the edge of the kingdom that was shattered by someone. I think Natanatan may have been figthing a war with the Listeners before the Listeners of Narak fled and abandoned civilzation, culture, and the forms and retreated into the wilderness in Dull Form. I think the Radiants were called in to stop the war of join the war and were somehow convinced that the Listeners would bring on another Desolation. I think the Radiants may have been convinced to make a preemptive strike to avoid the Desolation that may or may not be coming and destroy the Listeners entirely before they could summon a Desolation. So they shattered the Area around Stormseat by working together somehow and enslaved all the other Listeners. This stopped the threat, but was such an abhorent, deplorable, dishonorable act, such an egregious breach of the first Ideal that the Radiants agreed to do that it broke all their oaths beyond repair. I haven't put all the pieces together and I don't think we know enough. This is just a hypothesis. I think what broke the oaths was the result of either the breaking of Stormseat to stop the Listeners, or the enslavement of the Parshmen.
I'm working on a new theory, but there's a needed reference that eludes me. I could swear that I read an interview, Q&A, AMA or signing report with Brandon in which he stated that the First Ideal of the Knights Radiant ("Life before death, strength before weakness, journey before destination") constituted the major theme of the Stormlight Archive series. However, for the life of me I can't find this anywhere. Am I crazy? Does anyone else remember Brandon making such a statement? Can anyone help me find the reference I'm seeking?