Khyrindor

Theory: Elantrians are Cognitive Shadows [AU, SH, BoM spoilers]

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We recently got confirmation that Returned are Cognitive Shadows, and that some people would call the Heralds Cognitive Shadows. This got me to thinking, where have we see Cognitive Shadows before?

On Roshar, we have the Stormfather, the Cognitive Shadow of Tanavast/Honor. We have the Heralds*, and we have the throwaway line by Khriss in Arcanum Unbounded saying the Braize is inhabited by Splinters and possibly Cognitive Shadows.

On Scadrial, we have Kelsier, who's a bit of an exception, since he tricked Leras into putting him in the Well of Ascension. We also met Spanky, who is presumably a Scadrial native because it is difficult to take Cognitive Entities between worlds. Preservation/Leras might fall into this category as well, since he seems to have died a long time ago in Secret History. In the later era of Scadrial, Wax probably counts now, since Harmony stuck him back into his body.

On Nalthis, the Returned are like Wax, Cognitive Shadows who were stapled back into their bodies by Endowment.

On Threnody, we have the Shades, obviously.

On Sel, now, I theorize that we have the Elantians. When Raoden wakes up as an Elantrian, and gets locked in Elantris, he talks to Galladon and realizes he doesn't have a heartbeat. Galladon is always going "You're dead, Kolo?" This always bothered me, because, how would someone who's body is dead, still obviously retain sentience? This question is answered if we realize that they are Cognitive Shadows that are (like the Returned, and Wax) stapled back into their bodies.

Relevant WoBs and quotes:

Quote

Farthest out of the three is Braize, which despite being cold and inhospitable to men is home to an ecosystem of self-aware Splinters. (The local parlance would call the spren.) I believe that it's possible some of these are really Cognitive Shadows, but research here is difficult and dangerous, so I will hold back on the theorizing for the moment.

-Arcanum Unbounded. The Rosharan System. Page 535, hardback.

Quote

Q: Have we seen cameos of Heralds on other Shardworlds?

Brandon: The Heralds are tied to the system by the magic that permeates them. They could not leave. It’s part of the magic. Some would call them Cognitive Shadows, right? Whether they are or not. ‘Cognitive Shadow’ is a very ambiguous term in the Cosmere. It means, basically your soul-- Investiture replaced your soul, and permeated your soul, and your soul continues to exist, but you are usually Invested with something, that’s tied, and you’re basically like pure Investiture then. You’re tied to the thing you’re Connected to. Most of the things that you’re gonna see like that, travelling is going to be very difficult, unless you know how to do it. You have seen people do it.

 

Q: Who?

 

Brandon: Vasher.

 

Q: Sure, sure.

 

A: You have seen people do it

Source.

Quote

Q: So, why did Hoid in Secret History have to ride on another person to get to the Well, when that person could float on--

 

Brandon: Sooo, what he’s floating on is a Cognitive Shadow, it’s a spirit, it’s not an actual person.

 

Q: Do we know them?

Brandon: You don’t know them, don’t worry about them. But see, he’s using that as a boat because it’s easy to sink through the mist. And if you notice, he has to coat his oar with Investiture in order to move him. So yeah, he’s floating on a person’s soul. It was so much easier with the Pits, but that’s because there were boats and things.

Source.

Edited by Khyrindor
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Interesting thought. I'll have to think about it a bit. I'm not sure that being a cognitive shadow glued back into a physical body is necessary, since either way they're being sustained directly by investiture, so being partly dead isn't that worrisome. It would probably be like if a bloodmaker ferring with infinitely charged metalminds had something rammed into their chest cavity, destroying their heart, and left there. They don't have a heart anymore, but as long as they keep tapping, the feruchemy will continuously refresh their body, like it did when Miles held his breath, so I can see the same thing happening to Reod-afflicted Elantrians. The only other thought is that if there are cognitive shadows, it would be a lot harder for them to worldhop, yet we see a number of Elantrian worldhoppers. 

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In all the cases we have seen Cognitive shadows the being had to die first, so I dont think I buy that a living being would suddenly be transformed into a shadow.

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4 minutes ago, Spoolofwhool said:

Interesting thought. I'll have to think about it a bit. I'm not sure that being a cognitive shadow glued back into a physical body is necessary, since either way they're being sustained directly by investiture, so being partly dead isn't that worrisome. It would probably be like if a bloodmaker ferring with infinitely charged metalminds had something rammed into their chest cavity, destroying their heart, and left there. They don't have a heart anymore, but as long as they keep tapping, the feruchemy will continuously refresh their body, like it did when Miles held his breath, so I can see the same thing happening to Reod-afflicted Elantrians. The only other thought is that if there are cognitive shadows, it would be a lot harder for them to worldhop, yet we see a number of Elantrian worldhoppers. 

On worldhopping, we've seen Vasher worldhopping, and he's a Cognitive Shadow, technically. Brandon has said that it's harder, but not that hard in terms of the cosmere. Getting off of Sel is hard enough as is, with the Dor being in the Cognitive Realm, so I suspect that people there are using an alternate method of worldhopping. But that is a conversation for another thread.

I suppose it is possible that they're just being sustained continuously, especially since the same happens once they are restored Elantrians. But there's nothing to say it can't be a Cognitive Shadow.

6 minutes ago, Blightsong said:

In all the cases we have seen Cognitive shadows the being had to die first, so I dont think I buy that a living being would suddenly be transformed into a shadow.

We haven't seen the initiation in person as far as I can remember. It always happens at night, so it's possible that the Elantrian died in their sleep, and then woke up changed.

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with the WoB you quoted, I don't think that Wax nearly qualifies, as he wasn't permeated with Investiture, nor did he have his soul swapped for investiture. 

I'm really confused on the Returned now... is there a difference in a Cognitive Shadow and a Splinter? Returned have been confirmed to be Splinters of Endowment. Are they and perhaps the Heralds both Splinters and Cognitive Shadows of their respective shards? 

I like the idea that Elantrians are Cognitive Shadows based on that quote by Brandon, but that means they are killed by the magic system in order to make them. That seems... extreme. I know that they keeps saying in Elantris that they are dead, but I always thought they were just frozen in time sort of rather than killed by the process and then reanimated...

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7 minutes ago, Khyrindor said:

We haven't seen the initiation in person as far as I can remember. It always happens at night, so it's possible that the Elantrian died in their sleep, and then woke up changed.

If this is the case, then zombie Elantrians would have been debilitated by whatever killed them...

 

Also, they seem to have their memories, i find it unlikely that they wouldnt remember being in the Cognitive realm or that that specific memory would have been erased.

 

It just seems increasingly unlikely to me as i think about it.

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4 minutes ago, Green Hoodie Mistborn said:

with the WoB you quoted, I don't think that Wax nearly qualifies, as he wasn't permeated with Investiture, nor did he have his soul swapped for investiture. 

I'm really confused on the Returned now... is there a difference in a Cognitive Shadow and a Splinter? Returned have been confirmed to be Splinters of Endowment. Are they and perhaps the Heralds both Splinters and Cognitive Shadows of their respective shards? 

I like the idea that Elantrians are Cognitive Shadows based on that quote by Brandon, but that means they are killed by the magic system in order to make them. That seems... extreme. I know that they keeps saying in Elantris that they are dead, but I always thought they were just frozen in time sort of rather than killed by the process and then reanimated...

I'm not sure it's necessary for someone to die in order to become a cognitive shadow. The definition is "someone who has had their soul or body replaced by investiture," which doesn't presuppose death. Aona/Devotion/The Dor could be just replacing their bodies with investiture and leaving their souls the same, which isn't exactly death. 

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4 minutes ago, Green Hoodie Mistborn said:

with the WoB you quoted, I don't think that Wax nearly qualifies, as he wasn't permeated with Investiture, nor did he have his soul swapped for investiture. 

I'm really confused on the Returned now... is there a difference in a Cognitive Shadow and a Splinter? Returned have been confirmed to be Splinters of Endowment. Are they and perhaps the Heralds both Splinters and Cognitive Shadows of their respective shards? 

I like the idea that Elantrians are Cognitive Shadows based on that quote by Brandon, but that means they are killed by the magic system in order to make them. That seems... extreme. I know that they keeps saying in Elantris that they are dead, but I always thought they were just frozen in time sort of rather than killed by the process and then reanimated...

Well, in order to be returned to his body, Harmony would have had to do it. I suppose that Harmony, as a Shard, could find ways around that, but he might fit the pattern.

On the Returned, I hope I can clear it up a bit. The Divine Breath is the Splinter--the Investiture--that Endowment is using to permeate the Returned's soul, and a Cognitive Shadow is the soul that is permeated.

7 minutes ago, Blightsong said:

If this is the case, then zombie Elantrians would have been debilitated by whatever killed them...

 

Also, they seem to have their memories, i find it unlikely that they wouldnt remember being in the Cognitive realm or that that specific memory would have been erased.

 

It just seems increasingly unlikely to me as i think about it.

1. Are you saying that they would be in constant pain because of the death that happened before they were Initiated? I don't think that would still apply, because that happens before their Shadow is put back into their body.

2. Endowment made the Returned forget, whatever is doing this to the Elantrians would likely have the same power. And Kelsier remembered the Cognitive Realm anyway, so I don't quite see where you're going with memories, as we've seen two different types of Cognitive Shadows when it comes to memories. Returned don't remember, Kelsier does. The Stormfather doesn't seem to remember very well, and we don't know about the Heralds.

7 minutes ago, Ironeyes said:

I'm not sure it's necessary for someone to die in order to become a cognitive shadow. The definition is "someone who has had their soul or body replaced by investiture," which doesn't presuppose death. Aona/Devotion/The Dor could be just replacing their bodies with investiture and leaving their souls the same, which isn't exactly death. 

Okay, I see where you're going. Maybe this is the same type of deal as with the Heralds. We weren't there when they became Heralds, but since Brandon says "whether they are or not is up for discussion," maybe they're in the same boat as the Elantrians. They (perhaps) didn't die in order to become Heralds.

(Though, I do hold to the fact that the Elantrians are dead. If they weren't dead, then they would have been alive in the events of Elantris.)

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1 hour ago, Khyrindor said:

1. Are you saying that they would be in constant pain because of the death that happened before they were Initiated? I don't think that would still apply, because that happens before their Shadow is put back into their body.

2. Endowment made the Returned forget, whatever is doing this to the Elantrians would likely have the same power. And Kelsier remembered the Cognitive Realm anyway, so I don't quite see where you're going with memories, as we've seen two different types of Cognitive Shadows when it comes to memories. Returned don't remember, Kelsier does. The Stormfather doesn't seem to remember very well, and we don't know about the Heralds.

1. My point is that they would be put back into a grossly malfunctioning body, as whatever killed them wouldn't have been healed.

 

2. Yes, but the returned forget everything. Elantrians remember their pasts, so it doesn't make sense to me that they would forget their time in the Cognitive Realm.

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The Elantrians were never dead, Raoden explains the Shaod/Reid in book. They were stuck in the metamorphosis stage, between heartbeats, breaths; like a computer command that hasn't fully completed it's routine because one piece of the coding needs to be changed or something needs to be added

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I think you may be on to something. As for the comparison to Returned; while we know they are Endowed with a whole Splinter's-worth of Investiture which pushes them into Cognitive Shadow status, we don't know which part of the process results in memory loss. As @Khyrindor said.

As for the Elantrians, we don't know whether or not they died as part of the Shaod. As was mentioned in the Anniversary edition of Elantris, we (well, Khriss et al) don't know what triggers Initiation on Sel. It could well be that they're people who were killed by micro-explosions of Dor, for all we know. (Intentional random example, there.) However, given the state of Devotion and Dominion, the transformation is probably automatic, a function of rules previously established. If that's the case, it seems plausible that there wouldn't be any time spent in the Cognitive Realm for them to remember, because the triggered reaction happened too quickly.

In fact, as I write this it occurs to me that given how most of the Investiture on Sel is trapped in the Cognitive Realm, that people who fit the mysterious criteria or are just cool enough to have the potential to leave a Cognitive Shadow (and would on another world) are instead blasted back by the force of the Dor, using the moment of death as another  pressure valve.

Okay, maybe I got sidetracked there. Still, thanks for sharing the concept!

Edited by Corax
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27 minutes ago, AnanasSpren said:

The Elantrians were never dead, Raoden explains the Shaod/Reid in book. They were stuck in the metamorphosis stage, between heartbeats, breaths; like a computer command that hasn't fully completed it's routine because one piece of the coding needs to be changed or something needs to be added

That's interesting. I need to do a reread of Elantris, it's been a few years.

The whole system of Sel is weird because of the Dor...Even after we figured out what happened with D&D, we still don't know what all is going on there.

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I am strongly aganist the idea of Elantrian as Cognitive Shadows

First of all a Cognitive Shadow is (as others said before) a being with his Soul be replaced (or mimic) by Investiture...This mean that their actual Souls are probably gone (remember Brandon itself refer to the cognitive shadow ghost).

The case of a Returned may be strange with this definition, but we know that a Drab can't return this mean that we could speculate that a person's Breath (investute we see that may easly carry the Cognitive and be used to create a Sentience being) keeps a strong imprinting of the last owner when He dies and may became a Cognitive Shadow.Then Endowment comes and offer to the newly Cognitive Shadow the chance to actual Return with a Divine Breath (a Splinter) that actually works as ties to the physical realm for the dead body.

Notice also that a Cognitive Shadow isn't naturally a physical being, it took a quite amount of power to keep a Returned sticky to his body and I think that when we will discover how Kelsier come back to the physical, He also would need a costant stack of Investiture to mantain (but with the metallic arts isn't really a problem).

Instead we see Elantrian in two istances and a couple of WoB as quite indipendent from the Dor, they simply lose the benefit of their Elantrian-Status no problems.

Lastly we see (a couple of istances) of Elantrian who may quite easly reproduce without problem, this is something we never see with other Cognitive Shadows (but here we have only the Returneds as comparative).

 

I would call the Elantrian simply a Investiture-powered User not dissimilar from a Dahkor monk or an Allomancer always burning.
 

Edited by Yata
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So, been a while since I made this thread (relatively), but necro-ing because Brandon confirmed on Reddit that you guys were right, and that Elantrians don't, in fact, die when Initiated.

Quote

Khyrindor

Quick question if you're still answering: You've said that Returned count as Cognitive shadows "stapled" back into their bodies, and that the Heralds are at least similar. Would I be right in assuming that Elantrians could be considered as Cognitive Shadows as well, or am I barking up the wrong tree?

 

Brandon

 

Elantrians are something different. They don't actually "die" to be created.

Recognize that the term cognitive shadow is an in-cosmere theory, which I'm not going to comment on as the creator of the setting. The theory is this:

Investiture seeks sapience. It looks for someone to control it or, in some instances, spontaneously adopts personality.

A mind (cognitive aspect of a person) can become infused with Investiture. This acts a little like minerals with petrified wood, replacing the mind and personality with investiture.

When the actual person dies, this investiture imprint remains behind. A copy of the soul, but not the actual soul.

Others disagree with this, and think the soul itself persists. Still others reject the theory in its entirety.

 

Source. (Oathbringer Update thread tagged for Oathbringer spoilers. Beware.

 

Got a lot more than I thought I would out of that one. Really awesome of Brandon to take time and type these out for us. It's great that we're theorizing about a theory.

Edited by Khyrindor
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Thank you for asking this, and sharing the reply. This is a great clarification to have. :) It makes me wonder why the post-Reod Elantrians were somehow half-dead anyway...

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16 minutes ago, Corax said:

Thank you for asking this, and sharing the reply. This is a great clarification to have. :) It makes me wonder why the post-Reod Elantrians were somehow half-dead anyway...

It's probably like their bodies are shifted into a sort of stasis while they're changed by the power of the Dor. The broken connection however didn't give them enough power to complete the transformation, just make it to the prep step.

 

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thanks Khyrindor for the question (and the answer)...I am glad to see my view about Soul/Cognitive Shadow/Investiture is actually correct

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On 1/20/2017 at 10:43 PM, Corax said:

Thank you for asking this, and sharing the reply. This is a great clarification to have. :) It makes me wonder why the post-Reod Elantrians were somehow half-dead anyway...

Well... define 'dead'. They're not really experiencing biological/metabolic functions as we'd understand them, so in that sense they're dead. But they didn't undergo death in the sense of the cognitive-spiritual part separating from the physical part.

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There seems to be a few levels of "dead" in the cosmere, I suppose. The first is when your physical form fails. When this happens, your Cognitive aspect prevails for a short time. When this step is in progress, the potential for Cognitive Shadows arises. Elantrians didn't "die" in the same way, so they can't be counted as Cognitive Shadows. Therefore, despite having a lot of the same qualifications of dead (at least, before Raoden restored Elantris), the Dor must have preserved them before that point.

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On 12/10/2016 at 5:55 PM, Ironeyes said:

I'm not sure it's necessary for someone to die in order to become a cognitive shadow. The definition is "someone who has had their soul or body replaced by investiture," which doesn't presuppose death. Aona/Devotion/The Dor could be just replacing their bodies with investiture and leaving their souls the same, which isn't exactly death. 

I like the thought, especially because the Dor is a magic system based on location, so to access the Dor you might actually have to become one with it and Elantris or wherever you are. This could make investiture permeate your soul to allow acces to the Dor, thus making you a returned,

Edited by CosmereAvair
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