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[OB] Lift cannot breathe in stormlight

60 posts in this topic

I'm not sure about the correct terms to use, but we all have read about how Lift converts food to stormlight to power her awesomeness.

There seems to be some indication that she cannot breathe in or invest stormlight like other surgebinders.

From Words of Radiance, she is puzzled as to why Darkness is having gems moved:

Quote

“This one is not your concern,” Darkness said to the guards, waiting as one of his minions did the strange gemstone-moving sequence. Why did they worry about that?

From Oathbringer, after all the scattered gemstones have been infused by Dalinar, we get this:

Quote

“Lift, I believe I already gave you an order. Take the assassin and get me that ruby. Together, we hold this city until Renarin returns with troops. Any questions?”

“Um…” Lift said. “Could you maybe … tell me where to get something to eat…?”

Dalinar glanced at her. Something to eat? “There … should be a supply dump just inside the wall.”

“Thanks!”

There is loads of stormlight all around, but she asks where the food is so that she can eat to be sure she has enough awesomeness to complete her task.

Despite her being far enough along on her progression as an Edgedancer to summon a shardfork, I don't believe we have any onscreen evidence of her breathing in stormlight.

I originally thought she simply hadn't learned how yet, but it seems unlikely at this point that she hasn't seen how other surgebinders do it, especially after the Battle of Thaylenah.

If I simply missed when she has breathed in stormlight, please point out to me.

It seems possible that if part of her boon from Cultivation or the Nightwatcher was what allows her to convert food to stormlight, then maybe part of her curse or cost was to not be able to breathe in stormlight.

Let me know what you think! 

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I think she probably could if she learned how. But... Well... She's herself. 

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I thought for sure should she would learn how to use stormlight in this book.  I am still kind of thinking that she will learn to use the stormlight. 

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I'm pretty sure you're right here. She can't get Investiture normally, but she has another way that is unique to her. I think they're related, and that this gift came with some caveats.

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Lift can't  breath in stormlight, it's confirmed:

Quote

Laryyl (paraphrased)

[Can Lift] get Stormlight from spheres like normal or if it's just from food for her.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

She can only get it from food.

Laryyl (paraphrased)

Which [is it] related to her boon or her curse?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

RAFO.

lift

Edited by Aleksiel
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Nice, didn't know someone had asked Brandon.

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I was sure I'd previously seen a WoB that said it was not that she can't ever breathe in stormlight but rather she doesn't know how to/doesn't know she can.

But I cannot find this now (just looked through Arcanum without success) does anyone else recall this?

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I can't help but wonder about the physiology of Lifts unique gifts.

Everyone else accesses stormlight by breathing it in. This is quite analogous with breathing, it must be constantly done. The same with stormlight, if the stormlight is not used it leaks away.

Lift however accesses it by eating, which doesn't work like breathing at all. Lets examine what Brandon has said about it.

https://wob.coppermind.net/events/3-firefight-chicago-signing/#e67

Quote

Argent

Does Lift turn food into Investiture directly or is it similar to the metals on--

Brandon Sanderson

Similar to the metals.

Argent

So like a gate?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Argent

Okay, that's good to know.

Brandon Sanderson

She can metabolize-- She can draw-- It's not actually the food, it's-- It's not like the metals, not exactly. It's not-- What she can do is she can metabolize into Investiture instead of sugar. Does that make sense?

Argent

Yeah.

Brandon Sanderson

We metabolize food into sugar. She can metabolize it into Investiture. Does that make sense?

Argent

That makes a lot of sense. So if she eats--

Brandon Sanderson

She's got to have a blood sugar spike.

Argent

So if she eats like a cake it will give her more Investiture--

Brandon Sanderson

Faster. It will give her faster.

Argent

Whereas if she eats a vegetable...

Brandon Sanderson

Vegetable... More calories is going to equal more. But the better comparison would be a sausage and bread. Because bread is a fast blood sugar spike and the sausage is not. And that's how I'm working in my head. It's kind of a magical version of a blood sugar spike and I have it happen to her faster than it could happen. Like normally you eat a piece of bread and your blood sugar spikes in a half hour, it's going to go faster for Lift.

Argent

Hers is like five minutes.

Brandon Sanderson

Hers is like five minutes, but a sausage would be slower.

So here is the important words in that highlighted:

Quote

Brandon Sanderson

She can metabolize-- She can draw-- It's not actually the food, it's-- It's not like the metals, not exactly. It's not-- What she can do is she can metabolize into Investiture instead of sugar. Does that make sense?

Argent

Yeah.

Brandon Sanderson

We metabolize food into sugar. She can metabolize it into Investiture. Does that make sense?

Okay, so we need to examine what is involved in metabolising now. We like to simplify metabolism to us drawing on the fuel provided by food as it makes its way through the body. That isn't really what happens though, in reality metabolism happens reasonably rapidly and is stored for later use in various forms.

When we eat food, our body enters the absorptive phase of metabolism. Proteins are used to create new cells, and glucose is used for fuel. Insulin is released which allows the cells in the body outside the nervous system to use glucose as fuel (the nervous system can always use it as fuel). Any excess glucose and proteins are stored (there is some conversion between different forms here, but that bit isn't really relevant) in the short term reservoir (mostly in the liver) and excess after that the long term reservoir (in the adipose tissue of our fat).

When we stop eating, our body enters the fasting phase of metabolism. Insulin release is ended and the cells outside the nervous system instead use proteins as fuel. The nervous system continues to use glucose as fuel from the short term reservoir, and then from the long term reservoir once it's exhausted.

So, it seems clear from the use of the word instead, that she wouldn't be able to store stormlight in exactly the same manner as we do glucose. That doesn't mean it isn't stored however. He uses the word metabolize a lot, and metabolizing has two phases. Metabolism doesn't really work without storage because it lacks the immediacy of breathing. Lift is described as taking 5 minutes to metabolize bread, obviously that's less than ideal in a pinch. So the question is, does Lift's peculiarity confer an actual advantage in that she can store stormlight, at least for longer than another surgebinder? I think it does. It's not emphasised that she is doing that, but there are explicit and implicit suggestions that she can hold stormlight for much longer than another surgebinder.

Thoughts?

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Hrmmm.... Lift ‘burns’ food in order to get power directly from cultivation, instead of from Stormlight as an intermediary. 

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Maybe she asked to never gain weight because being overweight is NOT awesome.

3i7zenReaUuI0.gif

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This just brings up even further questions!  Since Brandon specified metabolism into glucose, does that mean Lift would get minimal Stormlight from a low-carb ketogenic diet???

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Yes, it does mean that, and slower. That's addressed in the WoB at the end.

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I wonder if it also means that she doesn't leak stormlight when she breathes out (Will need to re-read to see if it ever mentions that in Edgedancer or the end of OB).  If not, does it mean she still needs to breathe normally while holding Stormlight, unlike a normal Radiant?  Does it mean if she actually held her stormlight in, she wouldn't need to eat during that time?  

Edited by Shaker
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3 minutes ago, Shaker said:

I wonder if it also means that she doesn't leak stormlight when she breathes out

Yes, this is what I am getting at. Metaobolizing stormlight from food only makes sense practically and physiologically if Lift posseses a storage reservoir for stormlight, which if the case confers upon her an advantage far in excess (in my opinion) of her limitation of having a small time delay in initially accessing stormlight after having run out. It's a genuine boon rather than a limiting peculiarity.

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Well presumably it would still leak out of her body slowly as normal, so it's unlikely she would ever be able to hold enough for long enough to forego eating (since she would need to eat to replenish it.  Maybe if Dalinar charged her with his new power? 

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8 minutes ago, Shaker said:

Well presumably it would still leak out of her body slowly as normal

No, this can't be the case. It's completely impractical and not at all in keeping with what we've seen. In other surgebinders they have been described holding stormlight for a period of time equivalent to holding ones breath - in fact, they hold their breath precisely to maximise the length they can hold it. In Lift's case it takes her longer to create stormlight than the length of time it would take for it to leak away. We see her use stormlight for much longer gaps between eating. Yes, she does keep looking for food, but that's because she needs to replenish what she used, not because it leaked away. She has to have some capacity for storing stormlight for it to work for her at all.

Edited by aemetha
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I think she does store it. From Dalinar's viewpint: 

Quote

She took a deep breath, then exploded with Stormlight.

This was before the Perpendicularity, so no infused gemstones were lying around. I think this wasn't breathing in stormlight, just like a regular person taking a deep breath before going off to do something.

Edited by yulerule
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She doesn't have to metabolize into stormlight. She can eat normally. But she can choose to. 

If she does, I can't imagine that it doesn't leak. Stormlight by its very nature leaks. If it didn't, she would not glow with Stormlight. The glow is the stormlight escaping.

The reason that she can use stormlight seemingly longer than others is that food takes time to digest, and while it does, it continues to provide her with renewed Stormlight. 

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1 hour ago, Calderis said:

The glow is the stormlight escaping.

Why, then, does the King's Drop glow even though it's Stormlight never escapes?

(I've wondered about that one before...)

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1 minute ago, Leyrann said:

Why, then, does the King's Drop glow even though it's Stormlight never escapes?

(I've wondered about that one before...)

Because Stormlight still gives off light, and gemstones are transparent. Flesh isn't. 

https://wob.coppermind.net/events/76/#e6389

Quote

Alteroden

With Stormlight, the better the gem is cut, the less Stormlight it leaks, and the longer it holds its charge. If a gem was perfectly cut, on a molecular scale, would it leak Stormlight at all?

Brandon Sanderson

In a theoretical flawless gem, then no it would not.

Alteroden

Would it actually give off light?

Brandon Sanderson

[...] Theoretically no it would not, but it's not what you're thinking...

Alteroden

No no no, that’s not what I’m thinking, I figured that’s something totally different.

Brandon Sanderson

Well, actually, it probably would still give off light, because it's drawing out of the Spiritual Realm. So I’d say it still lights, but it doesn't leak. The leaking is not where the illumination is coming from. The illumination is coming from a direct... It's basically a light bulb screwed into the Spiritual Realm.

 

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@Calderis that still doesn't make any sense physiologically. She may be able to choose to metabolise stormlight instead of glucose, but she cannot choose to not metabolise at all. Most of the time we are in a fasting phase of metabolism, the food having already been converted. Food doesn't just sit in the body until it is needed. It is converted (metabolized) into usable parts and then stored during the short absorptive phase, for later use in the longer fasting phase.

There is also the issue that it takes longer for her to metabolise than any other radiant can hold the stormlight. In such a case the stormlight is not practically usable unless she can store it until she needs it. Even the accelerated metabolism described by Brandon is slower than how long it can be held for.

The only logical way to reconcile these issues is if Lift has the capacity to store stormlight.

Edited by aemetha
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@aemetha I'm not going to pretend to know enough about physiology to try and argue that side of it. Maybe she can directly convert fat storage to Stormlight, I have no clue. There's a point that Wyndel worries about malnutrition from her overusing her powers. 

All I know, is that Stormlight, by its nature leaks. We normally see lift eat right before she uses her powers. 

She can't inhale Stormlight, and a human body can't contain it perfectly. If it did, like the gemstone example, the stormlight would stay within and she either wouldn't glow, or it would look different, like shining a flashlight through your hand. 

I don't know if it's just something overlooked or what. I just know that from the realmatic side of it, containing the stormlight shouldn't work.

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1 minute ago, Calderis said:

Maybe she can directly convert fat storage to Stormlight, I have no clue.

Right, here's the thing though. Fat storage is what is known as the long term reservoir. Glucose is converted into triglycerides with three fatty acids which is then stored in the adipose tissue. This happens after food has been broken down into glucose though, so by Brandons commentary on it, this occurs after she was required to make the choice of whether it converts to glucose or stormlight.

It would, physiologically be a much tidier system if she did in fact convert glucose to stormlight, rather than convert to stormlight instead of glucose.

5 minutes ago, Calderis said:

We normally see lift eat right before she uses her powers. 

We do, but she generally does this because she's used it all, not because it leaked away. She has a tendency to use it any time she has it. Whether that is by necessity or not is ambiguous.

7 minutes ago, Calderis said:

She can't inhale Stormlight, and a human body can't contain it perfectly. If it did, like the gemstone example, the stormlight would stay within and she either wouldn't glow, or it would look different, like shining a flashlight through your hand. 

I don't know if it's just something overlooked or what. I just know that from the realmatic side of it, containing the stormlight shouldn't work.

Well, to be fair, a human body can't convert food into stormlight either. She apparently does not have a human body. The point that puts me so over the edge with this theory though is that it takes more time to metabolise than it does to leak, comparing the timeframe given by Brandon as the fastest for her to metabolise stormlight, and the timeframe we know the other radiants have before it leaks away. It could never accumulate to a usable quantity if that is the case.

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1 minute ago, aemetha said:

Well, to be fair, a human body can't convert food into stormlight either. She apparently does not have a human body. The point that puts me so over the edge with this theory though is that it takes more time to metabolise than it does to leak, comparing the timeframe given by Brandon as the fastest for her to metabolise stormlight, and the timeframe we know the other radiants have before it leaks away. It could never accumulate to a usable quantity if that is the case.

Which is why I mentioned the possibility of it merely being overlooked. 

If it was just a matter of the way she's been changed... She has a higher than normal Cognitive presence. She's partially in the Cognitive Realm. 

But so are listeners. Which is why they see spren so much better than humans, and aids in their ability to change forms. They are arguably further into the Cognitive Realm than Lift if their spren perception is anything to judge by. And Venli still leaks the one time we see her invest. 

I don't have an explanation for Lift. She doesn't make sense. 

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Well she asked not to change, so maybe cultivation gave her some link to preservation?

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