Oudeis

Vo, Awakening, Random Thoughts

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Somewhat tangential... Vasher comments that what we think of as "awakened objects" are type III entities, and Lifeless are type II. Does this mean Lifeless were invented first?

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To sum up some of this discussion and my own thoughts:

 

1. There is no longer an institution (5 scholars) that researches and publishes about awakening (and presumably much of their research wasn't published anyway) which greatly reduces the efficiency of research.  Researchers have to reinvent the wheel.

 

2. Much of this discussion suggests that Awakening is fundamentally as complex as electromagnetic theory or physics in general.  It is possible that it's not nearly that complex?  But if it is, what would you consider an advancement worth pursuing?  For example, can you come up with a way to use awakening to fly? That could be cool.

 

3. There are 4 types of entities so far.  They have a nice symmetry to them which suggests the number 4 is complete, or else there are another 4 or 12 which would follow symmetries we've seen elsewhere but seems unlikely.  

  The discovery of each of these entities represents the largest leaps forward in awakening research as it opened up new areas of research.  If there are only 4 then there will be no more leaps forward of the same magnitude.

  So far, the only type that seems to be poorly researched is sentient inanimate objects like Nightblood. This is, of course, very dangerous and very costly, both of which limit the research.  The cost is two-fold.  The initial cost of the awakening is huge, but the operating cost is also huge.  That means that there isn't really any point to making simple machines out of sentient objects (like a wheat mill) because it would be continually costly.  Of course, you might be able to make some really high-end machines like the equivalent of a hadron collider that is meant to teach about physics or something.  I wonder if you could make a supercomputer.  Or nano-robots!  Or maybe you could awaken a gas!

  

4. How can we divide up research into categories?  Please suggest other categories that can be explored.
  a ) Entity type
  b ) Spoken Commands
  c ) Intent of Commands
  d ) Form of the object to be awakened.  Mostly this includes making it more human in form although I don't see why ichor-alcohol is used instead of blood to make the best lifeless since this is clearly less human in form.
Edited by soulcastJam
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1. There is no longer an institution (5 scholars) that researches and publishes about awakening (and presumably much of their research wasn't published anyway) which greatly reduces the efficiency of research.  Researchers have to reinvent the wheel.

 

a. Why isn't there? Why in 300 years has absolutely no one thought to start up a new institute? Why has the Court of Gods not started one? As I've pointed out several times, there's no indication that Hallandren would want to stop research and every indication that they would want to actively pursue it.

 

b. Researchers have to reinvent the wheel... but if they were starting from absolute scratch (which they aren't) it only took 100 years to go from "Awakening exists" to Nightblood. Why, in three times as long, has there been not a bit of advancement whatsoever? Even if they had to reinvent the wheel, the first wheel presumably took a decade, and after a century they had the equivalent of aeronautics.

 

2. Much of this discussion suggests that Awakening is fundamentally as complex as electromagnetic theory or physics in general.  It is possible that it's not nearly that complex?  But if it is, what would you consider an advancement worth pursuing?  For example, can you come up with a way to use awakening to fly? That could be cool.

 

I responded to a similar comment above. If you'd like to send me a PM and discuss this tangent personally (or since it now looks like people are interested in it, maybe it warrants its own thread) I'd be happy to. However, for the reasons I give above, I believe addressing this topic would derail the actual topic of the thread; I'm talking about research and innovation, which by its nature is rarely a case of, "I want to use Awakening to fly." It's more, "I will study known facts of BioChroma, discover underlying principles, and see what conclusions naturally arise from them." Trying to guess beforehand what those conclusions might be distracts.

 

3. There are 4 types of entities so far.  They have a nice symmetry to them which suggests the number 4 is complete, or else there are another 4 or 12 which would follow symmetries we've seen elsewhere but seems unlikely.

Mistborn

We were told, and it was believed in-world, that atium was the allomantic pair of gold, because one showed you the past and one showed you the future. We learned this was wrong.

 

Basically, in Sanderson novels, what people believe and what we the readers are told by in-universe people isn't always true. Especially when they do not make sense.

 

The four "types", which apparently make sense, are broken into two binary categories. Animated human, or not animated human. Sentient, or non-sentient. However, we already see this isn't the case. First of all, what exactly then is Vivenna? She has a fraction of a Divine Breath that she was born with. Second, per the Annotations (I believe) both Clod and the objects Vasher Awakens aren't as free of self-awareness as we think. It seems these things aren't clear delineations, but a sliding scale. The discovery that things aren't as cut-and-dried as people assume might, for example, be an excellent advancement someone could have made in the past 300 years.

 

The discovery of each of these entities represents the largest leaps forward in awakening research as it opened up new areas of research.  If there are only 4 then there will be no more leaps forward of the same magnitude.

 

I question this premise. What proof do we have that the discovery of each new entity is what kicked off anything? Almost nothing is really known about the Returned, and no one even knows entities like Nightblood exist, so that's half the entities already. Your assumption seems to be that now that people know you can make a scarf bring you a cup of water, there's nothing more to learn about Type III entities. First, I disagree with that premise. Second, in a hundred years mankind was able to figure out Nightblood. Why has no one in 300 years replicated this feat? I know people like to talk about how Einstein was a genius, and I've responded many times with the two counter-arguments. First, how in 300 years have we not had another genius, and two, that's hollywood science. Sure, we love to make heroes and say that this one guy's theorem revolutionizes all of science, but it's not the case that nothing ever progresses until we have a hero show up and slay a dragon. Most science, most advancements, most innovations in real life come about from the patient and careful work of very very boring, maybe not even all that smart people in labs working on problems. It might not be as spectacular but in three hundred years those people should have made it so that present-day Awakening compared to BioChroma of 300 years ago should look like a stealth bomber put next to a catapult. Instead they are identical. The toothbrush... THE TOOTHBRUSH... is a marvel of revolutionary innovation compared to a mere hundred years ago.

 

4. How can we divide up research into categories?  Please suggest other categories that can be explored.

 

While I'm tempted to ignore this question for the same reason given above, I am going to point out that a lot of BioChroma has nothing to do with Breath. You even mention the objects yourself. Presumably, there's some benefit to using Ichor-Alcohol that outweighs the fact that it's no longer quite as human-like as blood. What about the colors? Does one dye work better than another? What if you drain a hankerchief gray through Awakening, then dye it. Does it work better, or worse? Is there an advantage or disadvantage to Awakening an object drained of color?

 

Lastly, I'm going to point out that apparently Yesteel not only has invented a better form of ichor-alcohol, but he also, per the annotations, apparently figured out how to make another Type IV entity. Vasher has figured out how to alter your own memories in a process that causes your Breath to flicker. There clearly is a lot more to discover.

 

How completely implausible is it to believe that in 100 years, five different geniuses happened to pop up with the unique ability to actually innovate which apparently on Nalthis normal people simply cannot do, yet in a further three hundred years, not one single other genius has also been born? In a society which we not only never see try to squash advancement in any way, but has shown themselves to constantly desire to have superiority via BioChroma?

 

Finally, I'm starting to resent the fact that most people are straw-manning my arguments. Almost everyone has said, "It's not weird that there have been no major advancements," implying that I'm confused as to why there are no major advancements. There has been no progress. None, whatsoever. Not major, not minor. Not anything. That's my point. If anyone would like to point out an advancement, even a tiny little minor subtle one, that's been made in 300 years, I am all ears. Until then, please stop characterizing my argument as, "Why has no one come up with an entire new type of BioChromatic entity?".

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Finally, I'm starting to resent the fact that most people are straw-manning my arguments. Almost everyone has said, "It's not weird that there have been no major advancements," implying that I'm confused as to why there are no major advancements. There has been no progress. None, whatsoever. Not major, not minor. Not anything. That's my point. If anyone would like to point out an advancement, even a tiny little minor subtle one, that's been made in 300 years, I am all ears. Until then, please stop characterizing my argument as, "Why has no one come up with an entire new type of BioChromatic entity?".

I'm not really sure what you want.  I agree there has been little progress.  I also think that your arguments have merit, but I don't take them as sure.  As I see it the possible reasons for little/no advancement are:

 

1. Fundamental: There is little to no advancement possible (highly unlikely as you've pointed out)

2. People stopped researching: Unlikely.

3. Not sharing: There is advancement but it is a kept secret because knowledge of awakening gives huge advantages.  I believe this is a reason actually cited in the text. (Vasher's army is a good example of an awakened secret).  However, it's unlikely that no one is altruistic enough to share.

4. Conspiracy: Someone/something is supressing the advancement.  This could be accomplished by killing researchers, or by wiping their memories.  This could be combined with reason 3 in that one person is gathering knowledge and suppressing it from being shared.

5. Brandon messed up
 

To me, all of these seem possible even if there are arguments that make them less plausible.  You seem to be arguing against the 1,2 and 3, and I think I agree with most of your arguments.  5 is always a possibility but hard to prove.  So that leaves us with 4 which is fun to speculate about, and I think that's what you want us to do here, but forgive me if I want to speculate about 1,2 and 3 also.  I tend to think it's a combination of some of the above reasons, which is why I brought them up.  

Edited by soulcastJam
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4. Conspiracy: Someone/something is supressing the advancement.  This could be accomplished by killing researchers, or by wiping their memories.  This could be combined with reason 3 in that one person is gathering knowledge and suppressing it from being shared.

I think you may have hit upon something good here. We know that Vasher has some way to affect people's memories. Since he feels so bad about the Manywar he pobably doesn't want it to happen again. He has been around for a long time and I don't believe we know what he has been doing. This could be it. Good thinking, even if it proves wrong in the long run.

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Vasher has specifically said he's been out of Hallandren since the Manywar...

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Been out of Hallandren, yes. So perhaps keeping other countries from making advances. One thing of note is that the Five Scholars were Returned. Awakening may be easier to figure out if a person is Returned. If all of the current Returned are so pampered by their priests and encouraged to seek distraction by their priests to even look into Awakening at all then Hallandren may be inadvertently stymieing itself. You talked about people like Einstein earlier, which made me think of something. Savant syndrome. People who are insanely good at one thing but lack in other areas. A friend of mine used to work with these kinds of people. They are fantastically brilliant, but often only in one area. That could be in memory, kinesthetics, mathematics, or whatever. If the Returned are inherently built to understand and progress Awakening, but are kept distracted, then all progress would suffer. It would be like removing every person above average and then leaving your subjects in a city. They know what sewars, electricals, and everything else is, but without actually having the experience the city wouldn't function as normal. Besides, keeping the Returned alive and the God King supplies is an extensive drain of Breath. It's almost surprising that Hallandren has any people with enough Breath to practice Awakening in the first place, not even studying intensly.

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20 breaths a week ~ 1000 breaths a year.  That wouldn't really dent the population of a large city, and there are probably more babies born every year than breaths taken for the returned.

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1. We have no way to know that other countries have, in fact, stunted BioChromatic research. For all we know, countries just over the mountains have figured out how to make Lifeless butlers capable of snarky color commentary and flying Awakened carpets.

 

2. The idea that Returned might be the most instinctive Awakeners is... well, the first compelling argument I've heard since. I still don't think it would explain a complete and utter lack of progress for three centuries, though.

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1. We have no way to know that other countries have, in fact, stunted BioChromatic research. For all we know, countries just over the mountains have figured out how to make Lifeless butlers capable of snarky color commentary and flying Awakened carpets.

 

2. The idea that Returned might be the most instinctive Awakeners is... well, the first compelling argument I've heard since. I still don't think it would explain a complete and utter lack of progress for three centuries, though.

If we have no idea, and you prefer to shoot down every comment that comes up, why did you start this thread? Is it to get people's opinions, or just tell people how wrong they are over your position, while not knowing any more than the rest of us? I don't mean to attack, only to clarify.

Has he ever said that there was no progress, none at all? People are selfish and lazy, especially in a nation like Hallandren. There can't be a ton of people who have enough Breath to Awaken, not a significant part of the population. Of those, some don't care about using the Breath for Awakening at all. Many just use it to extend life and health. A lot of the people who can buy the Breath, the wealthy, would much rather extend their own life rather than give away a fortune on someone who will be studying it and hoping to turn up a new Command. For a businessman, what is the point of making such an effort if for altruistic purposes to give to the general public? What is the need for a new way to do a menial task there could be a payoff, yes, but for these people they may not see it as worth jt.

We have no idea at the percentage, but several people are probably not even interested in Awakening. Then we have the people who do Awaken, let's say some of them don't work on expanding the base of Awakening. They don't really even need to care about expanding it when they can just use what is already there. Laziness would dictate that they don't want to spend their time and effort when they can "let others do that." I'm not saying that all the people of Hallandren would have this selfish and lazy attitude, but this is a real world experience, not everybody cares to contribute to a higher cause.

Then you have that small amount of people that are scholars and researchers. Many of them will find small breakthroughs and discover new Commands. Not as many as find them will share them for various reasons. Some include the need for payment and a potential lack of people to do so (not entirely likely, however most aren't going to want something for nothing), selfishness, and the desire to keep it with a small group to give them that potential advantage. Other reasons are likely present as well. Then you have people who are hunted by rivals, perhaps even some of the remaining Scholars, perhaps governments, their own or others for vsrious reasons.

One factor that is a widely held belief is the fear of war. A widely held belief is that the Manywar was started by new Awakening Commands. If people see development, they can potentially ostrasize those researchers. I'm mostly talking about the common people. Think how much people hated Lirin in Way of Kings. He was doing things for people's benefits but because of superstition the common people avoid and dislike him. If that is the case for a researcher, it would be harder to get Breaths and continue to study. Once they found something, would they be likely to share it with those people, or even people with enough Breath that would affilitate with them?

The real thing is, Brandon chooses not to focus on the unimportant. He doesn't go describing a meal course by course, dish by dish, to show us a society's culture. He can do that through other means, pieces at a time. An integral part of Warbreaker, and thus a thing he would talk about, is the Five Scholars and their research. If he were to go through the entire history of Nalthis in regards to Awakening it would be too extensive for his writing style. He chooses to say what he has said; that there have been small jumps, but nothing major. He doesn't need to specify why for the purpose of the story that he has told us so far, so he hasn't. Just because he chose not to talk about those little pieces that are in his head in this specific piece of the Nalthis story doesn't mean we won't see it in another book. If we need to know, we can just ask him at a signing.

Looking at the first chapters of Way of Kings, Gavilar gives Szeth the black orb. It's a dying wish, obviously important, but not to what is happening during this piece of Roshar's story. We will find out later what it actually is and does. If it was important right this very second, even if it is super interesting and very integral to the plot that is shaping the world, he chose not to explain it. Trust in the creator. He always has a plan and he always has a reason. If it bothers you that much, go to a signing, or have someone go for you, and ask him about it.

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Warbreaker- Page number 512 Vasher tells us he sees awakeners including himself as "children" who "don't know what we are doing" and that

 

"It doesn't help that a lot of people that learn new, valuable commands never share them, and probably die with the knowledge"

 

The way I see it pre-war awakening was the cool new science, there was a demand for research and so researchers had whatever they needed to get the job done, most notably breaths to make awakening more instinctive. The war was according to Vasher the first real use of awakening in war and might have coloured the population against awakening as a whole. Think nuclear and one of the first things that pops into your head is nuclear weapons. Maybe Nalthis had a similar cultural aversion to researching something they blamed for the war? (1 breath lifeless and ichor alchol are mentioned as causes of the war, although vasher isn't convinced)

 

Pre-war I htink a lot of breath would have been passed through the generations, some might have been lost to sudden deaths but anyone with breath who died of chronic illness or old age stands a good chance at passing it on. The many war would have stopped this with everyone creating lifeless left, right and centre. This breath is non-recoverable and even to the time of warbreaker Halladren has kept creating larger lifeless armies.

 

TL:DR Between fear of awakening's potential, less trusting researchers, no 5 person super scholar team and the substantial numbers of breaths locked up in the Godkings, Kalad's phantoms and loss breaths for lifeless soldiers.  I think you have a group of researchers who don't trust each other trying to make progress with limited breaths compared to previous innovators.

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@One who Reads: To respond to your quoted text (which is, itself, difficult to quote), I know that's in the book, but I wish I understood why it would be so. It makes sense on Scadrial, where each House is in competition with every other House, and even within a single House there's jockeying for position and the constant fear of spies. That culture doesn't seem to exist in Hallandren. I wonder why, then, they guard knowledge so jealously? People who do research for the sake of research typically won't shut up about their discoveries.

 

The war was according to Vasher the first real use of awakening in war and might have coloured the population against awakening as a whole.

 

Except that it didn't. The military might of Hallandren, so exclusively that people ignore literally any part of their army but this, is the Lifeless, a BioChromatic force. The Gods are attended by Awakeners, skilled and powerful enough to break Lifeless Commands without the event apparently being worthy of note. Awakeners lift the GodKing into and out of his stand in the Arena. People with Breath casually use it to lift themselves in the air and see what's keeping the line. This is very clearly not a place where Awakening is taboo or verboten.

 

As I've said before, we know for a fact that at least the Court of Gods has a large number of Awakeners with tons of time on their hands who see BioChroma as the key to their military superiority, which they wish to continue and expand upon. There isn't literally any reason for them not to be researching BioChroma in a large, well-funded, collective group.

 

And finally, as I've said many times, you've given me reasons why we might expect progress to be slower. But progress wasn't slower. Progress stopped entirely, in a manner entirely unreplicated on earth. There are hardly any inventions or technologies on Earth that ever went 300 years without total, unrecognizable revolution, and in every one of those cases there was a specific reason why there'd be no research whatsoever. There is no such reason when it comes to BioChroma. Factors which would simply have retarded innovation are meaningless because we're not looking at reduced innovation. We're looking at innovation ground to a total and complete halt. That would require a specific explanation in an entirely different category to "this is why it wouldn't have gone so fast", and that is the only category of explanation anyone has yet provided.

 

As a post-script, you both bring up points that other people already brought up and to which I've already responded, and are ignoring things I've already posted. The thread is only two pages long so far. It really isn't that hard to check and see if your ideas are novel or if they've already been broached.

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Oh I agree with you Oudeis, the lack of apparant growth is odd. Thats why I didn't mention thing like why there hasn't been another 'Scholar' in the post-war year. They are simply good points I agree with :)

 

The only reasons I can think of are: A lack of intrest in developing new awakening techinquies (Halladren have an overwhelming millitary advantage and got lazy/ Manywar made people more cautious), A lack of breaths for research  purposes or that the 5 scholars were for some reason more than just good researchers (divine insperation maybe?). I don't think any of these are compelling (or original) reasons, and if the research is the result of a shard I might be disatisfied depending on how its done, but added together with the fact brandon might not want to have society change might explain it. 

 

Elantris spoilers

Elantris was at its prime for a long time, they understood the scientific method and created a well educated society where people didn't need to grow food. You would expect that society to develop into a tech world leader but it dosen't. We could make in-world arguments why this happened but probably the main reason is Brandon wanted Arelon at that tech level for the story.

 

I think he wanted to make warbreaker more about the characters and less about the world. It is his kind of reverse-mistborn. In mistborn we are left questions about crewmembers' histories but get a very good description of the world's history with the logbook and whatnot. 

Of course Warbreaker 2 ( I think the title is still Nightblood) might come out and have this be a major plot point, in which case you get to be that smart person who to quote sanderson asked a "good question".

 

TL:DR [becasue my posts are always walls of text]

Yup it is weird but maybe it just wasn't part of Sanderson's idea for the world so we get a relativly handwavey reason. 

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Elantris.

 

But in Arelon we have no sense of context. I don't think we know how long the land has been the way it's been, or what their level of technology was like fifty years ago, or if it's odd at all that their technology is the way it currently is. In Hallandren, we can see plainly that it's odd their technology is the way it is.

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Elantris

A quick look at some interveiws shows I'm wrong about Arelon and Elantris (the city). The city itself was was constructed "hundreds if not over a thousand years before the Reod" but the people didn't settle and form the nation until an indeterminate time later. :/ So that is that 'evidence' gone.

 

I still hold to the unsatisfying answer that it is because Brandon wasn't as bothered about Warbreaker's history and didn't create his normal super intricate and clever world history expanation. Instead running with a handwavey reason like those discussed above. (that is handwavey by Sanderson standards of course)

 

OR

 

This ends up being a crucial plotpoint in Nightblood and you get added to the list of people who are smarter than me and can predict what Brandon is going to do :)

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