Kurkistan

Forms: Simplified

44 posts in this topic

I still don't like the idea of a centralized form for cognitive ideals that you seem too be suggesting. (maybe I'm wrong.) I've always felt that it's more direct than that.

 

The example I used before was: a window's concept of itself comes from the window-maker. Its initial cognitive form is slightly different from even a similar window if it was made by a someone else. From then on, the window is somewhat influenced by everyone else who makes contact with it.

 

This would mean that every window has it's own independent cognitive identity, and the cognitive ideals of windows are only similar because people who interact with windows share perspective.

 

It also makes it easier for Vasher to hide himself if people don't perceive him as returned.

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Though I hate to keep writing this word, the "poopspren" quote really seems to do that particular model in, Aaradel.

 

You have normal Cognitive aspects, which are based on "how it is viewed, and how long it has been viewed that way. Feces would have this, but wouldn't have a very strong cognitive identity because of its transitional nature." Then you have "Other types of spren, the type that characters see and interact with, are cognitive ideals or concepts which have taken on literal personification over time. These are usually related to forces or emotions, and don't relate to this particular topic."

 

This is the second time we've seen this idea of "literal personification over time", after the window quote in TES. To my mind, at least, this is basically solid proof that "Forms" of some form or another exist as quasi-independent entities.

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I'm with Kurk on this as far as the Spiritual Realm goes; there does seem to need to be an 'Ideal Window' somewhere in the Spiritual for those Brandon quotes to make any sense. Spren are pretty much the ideal example of this, but I'm confused as to why they bleed over into the Physical. As this only seems to happen on Roshar we can assume it's something unique to that planet, or the interaction of Roshar and the Shards which call(ed) it home.

 

I'm not sure on the overall Realmatic interactions or how the model needs to be, and I don't really have the time or inclination to try and delve into it in as much detail as Kurkistan has (right or wrong, he's made a monumental effort in attempting to understand it, and share that interpretation), but it seems that the cognitive aspect of window, and the spiritual 'Ideal Window' must be two related but different things.

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I'd like to add on to this to say that I think that Seons are also forms, but that what are forms of is more abstract concepts, such as Ien who would be a form for wisdom.

 

If that's the case, then that could indicate how Spren can bleed into the Physical Realm. We have splintered shards on both planets, and I think it's been confirmed that the Aon at the heart of Seons are actual Splinters. I don't know if there is a similar confirmation saying that Spren are similar, but it has been widely speculated that they are. It could be that Splinters and Forms somehow combine in a way that allows them to interact more concretely with the other Realms.

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I can agree with them being seperate things, but the problem with poopspren isn't that isn't that we lack a cognitive Ideal for poop, it's that poop doesn't stay poop long enough for an Identity to be established.

What I was trying to say (and failing) was that individual cognitive Identities are the source of "fact checking" in regards to shardic interactions, but cognitive Ideals are what shape and influence Identities. Cognitive Ideals being a set of perceptions held in common by a group of people.

Spren are a bit trickier, so I'll have to explain more what I mean when I finally get my Realmantics theory posted.

Edited by Aaradel
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@Senor

The more I mull it over, the more I'm sure that spren are our elusive creatures that "are only shadowed" in the Physical. Though Brandon RAFO'd my question about photographing spren, we do know that Syl, at least, doesn't illuminate her environment. In line with one of my suggestions on my vampire thread, I would suggest that spren are only luminescent in the Cognitive Realm (or maybe the Spiritual, but I don't think so) and that stormlight supercharges them so much that they bleed over into the perceptions of Cognitively active beings (humans) on the Physical. So spren don't bleed over, just their shadows.

 

Thoughts?

 

@shardbearer

A fair conjecture.

 

@Aaradel

I'll await your thread, but I'd just like to point out that the original quote about "poopspren" makes a clear distinction between feces and spren as we normally know them:

 

Rutthed:
Serious question: are there poopspren, and how would they fare in indoor plumbing situations?

 

Brandon:
Well, it depends on how you're defining spren. In the books, they don't make a distinction, but there are several varieties. At the basic level, everything has an identity--a soul, you might say, but more than that. This is based on how it is viewed, and how long it has been viewed that way. Feces would have this, but wouldn't have a very strong cognitive identity because of its transitional nature.

 

Other types of spren, the type that characters see and interact with, are cognitive ideals or concepts which have taken on literal personification over time. These are usually related to forces or emotions, and don't relate to this particular topic.

 

And that's far more than I ever expected to say on this...

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The biggest thing I get from that quote is the fact that interactive spren are spren that result from ideals and concepts. They are us, therefore they can interact.

The next thing is that spren are the Physical.manifestation, or shadow, of Identity. "Are there poopspren?" "Well, everything has an identity." That exchange gives you the definition of spren.

Of course, now we have to define Identity.

As for why Roshar has Spren and other planets do not...

Why does Nalthis have Breaths? Why do region based symbols access magic on Sel? What's up with metal on Scadrial? Planets have Identities, right? And those Identities would be rather imposing, possibly? That imposing Identity would have a large effect on the Identities of those on the planet, I would guess. Shards themselves would be affected, having to alter themselves or the planet to make use of its quirks. Native sentients and non-natives alike would have to have their Identities aligned with the planet somehow to make use of any power that could be accessed there.

Ramble ramble

Roshar's Identity causes the shadows of Identities to be visible to those with large Cognitive presence.

Remember that spren were visible before Honor was Splintered.

Edited by Leuthie
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UPDATE:

 

Got some answers from Brandon awhile back and now I'm wandering around updating things at random.

 

Source:

Kurkistan: Are flamespren, are they all doing their own thing, or is there some Ideal of "Fire" sitting in the Spiritual Realm that they're all based on?

Brandon: Each spren is based on the Ideal of Fire.
Kurkistan: And is that sitting in the Spiritual Realm?
Brandon: Yes, we're using sort of a Platonic Ideal, and that concept is in force, so <sounds hesitant> "yes", but [spren] are manifestations of it.
 
Kurkistan: So these Ideals in the Spiritual Realm: Divine Breath, does that heal by accessing some Ideal of Human Health: so a guy who had never had a tongue and doesn't know how to speak all the sudden has a tongue and can speak?
-[Editor's note: Talking of Susebron here]
Brandon: You are... <LONG pause> You are, um, on the right track.
Kurkistan: Okay
Brandon: Because the Breath is... eh. How can I explain this? You are, yeah... So... So each Breath is a shade of diety, right?
Kurkistan: Yeah.
Brandon: And each Breath incorporates into it this sort of idea of being endowed by the diety Endowment, correct?
Kurkistan: Yes.
Brandon: And so each Breath you hold brings you one step closer to becoming like that, and so what you're saying is... is "yes", kind of true, yes. 
Kurkistan: But it's like within the Breath, not sitting off by itself-
Brandon: Yes, yes yes exactly.

 

So that's a bit of a whoopsie on Forms as applies to Divine Breath healing. Oops. Spren/the-bare-existence-of-Forms got confirmed, though, so that's nice.

 

Tied in with some of the evidence in the OP, this answer about Spren actually confirms quite a bit.

 

Source:

Kurkistan:

1) Are the changing beauty standards of Returned and the "plausibility" of Forgeries determined by the same kind of "cognitive ideals or concepts which have taken on literal personification over time" that some types of Spren represent?
 
Brandon:
1) Yes. These things all work according to the same fundamental framework.

 

So that's 100% confirmation that Forgery-plausibility and Returned beauty standards are both based on Forms as well.

Edited by Kurkistan
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While reading this discussion, I've been thinking about the explanations of forging given when fixing the stained glass window, and creating the mural. When creating the mural the stamps stamps not only had to provide a plausible reason for the mural to have been made, they also had to describe the technical processes behind its construction. If I remember correctly the better the forger understood how to make something the better the stamp would hold. Then you have the window. It rejected just being fixed, until it was returned to being stained glass. This seemed very similar to the description of how humans with souls, rejected being stamped.

 

To me this implies that forging requires more than just the spiritual forms, it also seems to need cognitive connections. I kind of imagine you needing to connect the various different forms that make up an object, with plausible explanations for how they had interacted in the past. The more plausible the idea, the stronger the connection. Which would explain why some stamps hold longer, since their forms would be more tightly tied together. 

 

This combination of spiritual and cognitive parts would them be what makes an objects soul. Which explains why the window resisted the earlier changes. The soul of the window contained cognitive parts, which gave it limited cognitive abilities. And since the initial changes did not make it what it felt is should be, the tension broke the connections. The plus side is that this might explain why it's called a spirit web, since the interconnected forms would look like a web. 

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You are remembering a tad incorrectly (if I remember correctly ;) ). The knowledge that the Forger happens to have about some subject doesn't have any impact on how well the stamp takes. Instead they have to lay out that knowledge explicitly on the stamp.

 

The way I currently model it is that stamps "procedurally generate" their effects: Shai can say "be a stain glass window" and get a somewhat random "generic" window or she can say "be a stain glass window made X way in Y pattern" and get a much more specific/coherent work. So far as the mural goes, I would say that the idea of "mural" could also be complex enough that there's no way to get a "generic" version to stick, since the stamp doesn't have enough "parameters" to do the generation. Or it could stick, but it wouldn't be of the caliber that Shai wanted.

 

---

 

The phrase "cognitive connections" means nothing to me. All talk of connections we've ever seen are spiritual in nature. Could you please clarify what you mean?

 

Beyond that:

 

Could you please clarify what you mean by "various different forms that make up an object"? I may just be misreading you, but I'm not sure if you mean the same thing by "form" here as I do.

 

Another part where I might be misreading you: Are you suggesting that the "context" of a Forgery is important? So if you try to Forge a metal chain into being soap, you'll have to contend with why Guard A didn't notice it on top of everything else? Because if you are, I have a discussion for you to look at... (Spoiler: Over the course of the discussion we came to (mostly) agree that the answer to the "freak guillotine accident" question, and more generally whether Resealing was part of Forgery, would settle the matter. A WoB basically settled it in favor of the "context doesn't matter at all" camp). Feel free to pick up the discussion here if you think I don't adequately address your concerns on the other thread. :)

 

On the topic of interconnected Forms: I myself posit that how these Forms interact with objects can be described as a "web of the way the world is". I've also discussed the possibility of hierarchies of relationships between Forms earlier in this thread.

 

So far as the gritty details of how "plausibility checks" work, you'll have to look at my mondo-death-thread to get the details on my thoughts on that.

Edited by Kurkistan
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What I was remembering was this quote:

 

“To create a realistic Forgery,” Shai said, “you must have the technical skill you are imitating, at least to an extent.”

 
Sanderson, Brandon (2012-11-04). The Emperor's Soul (p. 113). Dragonsteel Entertainment, LLC. Kindle Edition. 
 
That's why I think that the better the forger understands how to connect the different parts the better the forgery. It seems to me that a stamp by someone who understands how to paint would last longer than someone who just knows about painting. But I could be taking that too far. 
 
Now cognitive connections is something I just made up and I'm probably conflating Ideal forms with other things, so I guess I should explain that a little better.
 
What I envision would be something like the Ideal form of a chain being connected to other various forms, which would make the spirit web of a specific chain. One of those connections might then be to the spirit web of the blacksmith that forged the chain, and it would explain why he wanted to make that chain. Other connections would relate that chain to the techniques and other objects the blacksmith used when making the chain. So every possible chain would have a connection to the Ideal of a chain, with the near infinite combinations giving rise to all possible chains.  
 
This means that the more plausible the connection the stronger the spirit web, and the longer the forgery would hold. Since there are plausible explanations for a weak link in a chain, that change would hold. But the implausibility of a chain being made of soap, means that forging a chain into soap would be nearly impossible. It's this seeming dependence on plausibility that makes me thing that the spirit web has to have both spiritual and cognitive aspects. 
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What I was remembering was this quote:

 

“To create a realistic Forgery,” Shai said, “you must have the technical skill you are imitating, at least to an extent.”

 

Sanderson, Brandon (2012-11-04). The Emperor's Soul (p. 113). Dragonsteel Entertainment, LLC. Kindle Edition.

 

That's why I think that the better the forger understands how to connect the different parts the better the forgery. It seems to me that a stamp by someone who understands how to paint would last longer than someone who just knows about painting. But I could be taking that too far.

 

I think it worthwhile to get the line just before that quote:

 

[Gaotona] knelt beside the painting, looking at her seals at the bottom. “You included detailed explanations of how this was painted.”

 

“To create a realistic Forgery,” Shai said, “you must have the technical skill you are imitating, at least to an extent.”

Given that context, I think you may be making a leap here. We're told that there's a lot of technical detail, then Shai tells us you need some degree of technical skill as an explanation/reply. I don't think it warranted to build up some greater assumption about implicit understanding being embedded in the stamp from that line, then. Any such interpretation is somewhat non-intuitive.

 

Outside the text, Brandon is in the habit of emphasizing the "computer programming" nature of Selian magics, another reason why anything so "squishy" is suspect. 

 

Now cognitive connections is something I just made up and I'm probably conflating Ideal forms with other things, so I guess I should explain that a little better.

 

What I envision would be something like the Ideal form of a chain being connected to other various forms, which would make the spirit web of a specific chain. One of those connections might then be to the spirit web of the blacksmith that forged the chain, and it would explain why he wanted to make that chain. Other connections would relate that chain to the techniques and other objects the blacksmith used when making the chain. So every possible chain would have a connection to the Ideal of a chain, with the near infinite combinations giving rise to all possible chains.  

 

This means that the more plausible the connection the stronger the spirit web, and the longer the forgery would hold. Since there are plausible explanations for a weak link in a chain, that change would hold. But the implausibility of a chain being made of soap, means that forging a chain into soap would be nearly impossible. It's this seeming dependence on plausibility that makes me thing that the spirit web has to have both spiritual and cognitive aspects.

 

I see now. This is strongly similar to arguments I made in the aforementioned mondo-death thread. In particular, the nature of the spirit web was thoroughly expounded upon after the OP.

 

The involvement of cognitive aspects seems somewhat tacked on in your model, though. There's no mention until that last sentence. What role do they play, exactly? In my own model, they serve as the the implicit means by which "plausibility" actually matters, by throwing off implausible stamps that don't get enough juice from the Dor to keep up the fight.

 

I would be open to a slightly more Cognitive-centric model of plausibility calculation, but you have to give me a bit more to work with in regards to how exactly the Cognitive is involved.

Edited by Kurkistan
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Granted, I could and probably am making a leap. It just seems that the better you understand how a thing is made, the more plausible you can make the various connections. And it seems like a better forgery would last longer, but there could be other aspects that are more important. If we are treating a stamp like computer code, I would think that a more plausible stamp would generate fewer fatal errors. Which would mean that the program would run longer before it crashes.  

 

Unfortunately, I don't have any proof or quotes for the cognitive connections. Although I think looking at the stick might be an interesting study. It can obviously think, but it's only thought seems to be that it's a stick. It it might be that there is just not much to it, other than a single connection back to the Ideal of a stick. Shallan's problem then would've been that she never offered it a plausible reason it should be anything else. Of course this wouldn't explain why a cup turned to blood, when given a generic instruction of change. It might be better to think about Breath and Commands, since for a Command to work it has to be formed correctly cognitively. Now I'm lost and not really sure where I'm going, it just seems like there might be something here. 

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Granted, I could and probably am making a leap. It just seems that the better you understand how a thing is made, the more plausible you can make the various connections. And it seems like a better forgery would last longer, but there could be other aspects that are more important. If we are treating a stamp like computer code, I would think that a more plausible stamp would generate fewer fatal errors. Which would mean that the program would run longer before it crashes.

 

Well yes, but the obvious thing to do here is to incorporate that "better understanding of how a thing is made" into the actual carving of a stamp. Someone who understands a car engine can make it run better by saying "the jiggly-thingy Y was tightened a week ago" while someone else would be reduced to trying to say "the car was fixed".

 

Though I'm still not sure if I'm 100% sold on the concept that the kind of complexity evident in the mural contributes to plausibility in cases where it's not necessary. I'm sure that a Shai who was a master carpenter could have written a more detailed/thorough "fix the desk" stamp, but I'm not so sure that that would have been necessarily more plausible than the more generic one she came up with.

 

Unfortunately, I don't have any proof or quotes for the cognitive connections. Although I think looking at the stick might be an interesting study. It can obviously think, but it's only thought seems to be that it's a stick. It it might be that there is just not much to it, other than a single connection back to the Ideal of a stick. Shallan's problem then would've been that she never offered it a plausible reason it should be anything else. Of course this wouldn't explain why a cup turned to blood, when given a generic instruction of change. It might be better to think about Breath and Commands, since for a Command to work it has to be formed correctly cognitively. Now I'm lost and not really sure where I'm going, it just seems like there might be something here.

 

Yeah, I got nothing here. Shallan herself tells us why the ship had more complex thoughts than the stick (because people had modeled it/seen it as that complex), but Soulcasting is beyond the scope of what I've been talking about. At this point, I wouldn't even say that I think that whether/how an object can be Soulcast relies on Forms at all.

 

There is some interesting discussion to be had about the relationship between intent/instructions/visualization in Awakening Commands and Forms, but I'm not sure how you get "cognitive connections" out of that either.

Edited by Kurkistan
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I was kind of thinking that a Command might be a sort of supercharged artificial connection, and as long as it is powered by a Breath you can make connections that are otherwise impossible. Forging by contrast seems to be a lower investiture system, where a connection is replaced by another plausible connection. The smaller investiture in the stamp is then able to hold the system together, as long as there are not to many implausible connections that stress the system. 

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I was kind of thinking that a Command might be a sort of supercharged artificial connection, and as long as it is powered by a Breath you can make connections that are otherwise impossible. Forging by contrast seems to be a lower investiture system, where a connection is replaced by another plausible connection. The smaller investiture in the stamp is then able to hold the system together, as long as there are not to many implausible connections that stress the system.

 

My problem is that, at this point, it seems like we're just saying "connection" for the heck of it, where we could just as easily say "claim" or "specification" or "attribute" or something. This in the face of the fact that we have never yet seen such a thing as a cognitive connection.

Edited by Kurkistan
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True, I thought I said I just made up the term? As far as I know nothing like it has ever been used before. That said, I like the idea of a Command being an artificial bridge between a rope and the idea of choking. Since that connection is implausible it requires a lot of investiture, where changing how well a rope was maintained is more plausible and so requires less investiture. I like the idea of Forms, but I'm not sure how else to describe their interrelationships other than calling them connections. Of course it could just be a combination of being tired and the surgebinding chart on my desktop making me see everything connected with little lines.

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True, I thought I said I just made up the term? As far as I know nothing like it has ever been used before.

 

I may simply be getting hung up on this, but it's not so much the term as the concept (which I'm still having trouble getting a grasp on here) which I take issue with. I don't see much reason to think that we ought to start treating Cognitive anythings as "bridges".

 

But as I said I'm probably just getting hung up, so let's move on.

 

That said, I like the idea of a Command being an artificial bridge between a rope and the idea of choking. Since that connection is implausible it requires a lot of investiture, where changing how well a rope was maintained is more plausible and so requires less investiture. I like the idea of Forms, but I'm not sure how else to describe their interrelationships other than calling them connections. Of course it could just be a combination of being tired and the surgebinding chart on my desktop making me see everything connected with little lines.

 

I'm not so sure that plausibility really has any place in talk about Awakening. How "plausible" is it really that a piece of straw act like a little man and fetch some keys? Or that a sword be empowered to "Destroy Evil?" or some tassels on a coat act as a second set of fingers?

 

There's also the issue of how persistent these connection to "Command-Forms" need to be. This is delving into "I feel" territory, but Awakening as a whole seems much for self-contained than to need to keep up some stable, always-on link to an external Ideal. While Forging is end-positive and needs to constantly access the Dor to work—to the extent that taking a boat over to Arelon will make a stamp stop working—Awakening is end-neutral and seems overall much more self-contained.

 

In that case, then, end-neutral Awakening doesn't seem like it should need to be relying constantly on external definitions, nor that it should need to (or be able to) expend the power to keep those connections up.

 

Perhaps a better way to model the the interaction of Awakening and some theoretical "Command-Forms" is a bit more fleeting? So a single Command attempts to access some Form or set of Forms and copy it over to the object in question, but once the Command is said and the color is drained (recall that this color-draining is a unique and one-time effect of issuing commands) that's the end of interaction with these Forms.

 

Under that model, even, it's still an interesting question as to how Command-Forms are accessed. Is it on the level of the Awakener? The object? The Breath, even? Is it the result of a direct spiritual connection between one of these objects and the Form(s) in question, or some spontaneous connection provoked by proper Cognitive keys—this last tying into (infamously hard to find the WoB on) claims that Commands are the "focus" of Awakening?

Edited by Kurkistan
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Permanent connections are probably to strong of an idea. I'm thinking now it might be better to think of something more like a messenger particle, or maybe a reference from programming.  The spirit web might then be something akin to a network, with bits of data traveling between various nodes. Where the nodes are either other spirit webs, or specific Forms. A Command would then be like putting in an internal reference, where Forging would be linking to an external reference. Regardless I hate monopolizing a thread, so I think I'll ruminate on this while I wait on a few other opinions.

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