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Agreement between Friends


Purelake

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Syl's comment that gravity is an agreement among friends got me thinking that maybe Spren control the laws of nature in some manner(I did see someone post that this may be the reason Surges have to do with laws of nature as well).  I have also seen many theories that Urithiru is in the sky, and maybe it is possible if the spren can make things not come back down...

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I seem to remember something about gravityspren holding things down, but I dont have the reference - possibly something Hesina said to Kaladin. If I'm remembering correctly, that suggests that the forces of nature are not forces so much as the effect of spren. I dont think we can be sure yet though.

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This just begs the oft repeated question: do flame spren create fire or are they attracted to it? Do rot spren create infection or are they attracted to it? Do bind spren make mini gravity fields or are they attracted to windrunner lashings?

With an earth mindset, I initially assumed that the spren are just attracted to things. However, the more I learn about spren the more I wonder if spren really control things as "an agreement among friends". Maybe lashings work because the stormlight is a bribe to the spren to bend the "agreement" for a while.

I sure hope Sly doesn't "break my brain" before BS answers this question.

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I thought it was referring to the agreement between the Shards. The Shards create everything about the planets and like the agreement between Ruin and Preservation, the way the planet works is dependent on that agreement.

 

I don't think it's the spren because the spren don't create fear or fire or honor, they are attracted to it.

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I would say no, I mean the planet and the universe existed before most of the spren were created. I think Syl was just joking there, playing up the Masquerade.

 

Also, isn't there WoB that the cosmere shares one set of physical laws, if the spren are the ones holding everything together where are they on the other planets?

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I thought it was referring to the agreement between the Shards. The Shards create everything about the planets and like the agreement between Ruin and Preservation, the way the planet works is dependent on that agreement. I don't think it's the spren because the spren don't create fear or fire or honor, they are attracted to it.

how do you know they don't create fire? As far as fear and honor, those are not a force of nature. So I don't think this theory would apply to them.

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You know, after I wrote that, I had a similar thought. It's possible that humans found that striking flint and steel together made fire, but didn't know they were just "asking" for fire; i.e. if a human completed that action, the spren agreed to create the fire.

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Welcome Purelake!  Please accept an introductory upvote!

I would say no, I mean the planet and the universe existed before most of the spren were created. I think Syl was just joking there, playing up the Masquerade.

 

Also, isn't there WoB that the cosmere shares one set of physical laws, if the spren are the ones holding everything together where are they on the other planets?

I think the laws may be the same everywhere and there is Shadesmar everywhere there are people.  It is the spren that are unique to Roshar.  The question that I find interesting is whether there are spren everywhere and on Roshar they just escape to the physical realm or there are only spren near Roshar. 

 

If the "physical laws" are the default, but the spren can selectively override them, then the "agreement between friends" comment could be somewhat literal.

 

The windrunner ability to manipulate gravity would be a transference of the spren ability to selectively override the "physical laws."

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Thinking about what Hoser said, and Shallans intereactions with Shadesmar - it's likely (and almost obvious) that the cognitive realm has no physical laws. The reason then that Shallan fell 'down' into the beads, is her expectation to - which may also explain the need for air (her expectation that she needed air).

 

If Shadesmar exists everywhere, but spren only exist on Roshar - then, because spren are cognitive creatures - they must be tied to Roshar. There's a few possibilities re this :

- they are somehow tied to Roshar Spiritually (though I think this would run into the same problem as the cognitive realm, being everywhere)

- they are cognitively or spiritually tied to beings on Roshar (but then how does this explain Honorspren etc, who aren't bonded/tied prior to forming such?)

- they are physically tied to Roshar (ie the smallest part of them exists in the physical realm of roshar)

 

I can't think of any other explanations off the top of my head (though I get the feeling I'm missing one). In any event, the last is the most likely...which leads to the question 'what are they physically tied to'

 

Without answering that question...if a physical being goes to the cognitive world and affects it based on their expectations - can a cognitive being go to the phsyical world, and affect it based on their expectations?

 

I think that somewhere down that line of thought - combined with bonding with a being that is fully in the Physical realm - leads to surgebinding.

Edited by vikorr
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Ah, just reread the Lift interlude and found this :

 

“They can’t see me,” Wyndle said, growing up beside her to create another line of handholds, “because I exist mostly in the Cognitive Realm, even though I’ve moved my consciousness to this Realm. I can make myself visible to anyone, should I desire, though it’s not easy for me. Other spren are more skilled at it, while some have the opposite trouble. Of course, no matter how I manifest, nobody can touch me, as I barely have any substance in this Realm.”

 

“Nobody but me,” Lift whispered, inching down the hallway.

 

“You shouldn’t be able to either,” he said, sounding troubled. “What did you ask for, when you visited my mother?”

....

“Somehow, you are partly in the Cognitive realm,” Wyndle said, coiling beside her and raising a twisting mesh of vines that could make a face. “It is the only answer I can find to why you can touch spren. And you can metabolize food directly into Stormlight.”

 

So with Kaladin feeling a that Syl has weight (when she stands in his hands) - is it because she is more in the physical realm, or because he is more in the Cognitive realm, or a little of both?

Edited by vikorr
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Ah, just reread the Lift interlude and found this :

So with Kaladin feeling a that Syl has weight (when she stands in his hands) - is it because she is more in the physical realm, or because he is more in the Cognitive realm, or a little of both?

It seems Lifts abilities are unique. Wyndle is even surprised by it so I doubt kaladin is moving into the cognitive. It's more likely Syl is getting a firmer base in the physical.

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Shallans journeys to the cognitive realm show that all objects exist in the cognitive realm, and are tied to the cognitive realm (or changing something in the cognitive realm wouldn't change anything in the physical realm). 

 

Jasnah killing those thugs - shows people are tied to the cognitive realm...so too then, is the Surgebinder.

------------------------------------------

 

Keep in mind also, that there must be a reason that surgebinding works...and keep in mind the back cover that says 

It is the nature of the magic. A broken soul has cracks into which something else can be fit.  Surgebindings, the powers of creation themselves.  They can brace a broken soul; but they can also widen its fissures.

 

 

What is that 'something else that can fit into the cracks in a soul'? It's certainly nothing from the physical realm, and that leaves only the spiritual and cognitive realms...to become a part of the surgebinder.

 

As Brandon doesn't seem to have truly developed an idea for the spiritual realm, and the bonding is with a cognitive being to give surgebinding powers - it stands to reason the 'something else' fitted into the cracks in a surgebinders soul, is from the cognitive realm...and it then stands to reason that the surgebinder is more strongly tied to the cognitive realm than other humans.

 

Framed another way - if the cognitive realm (the part stuffed into the cracks) is a part of the surgebinders soul - that part (the cognitive stuffed into the cracks) of the surgebinders soul exists in the cognitive realm...but is it enough to touch a spren? Apparently it shouldn't be.

 

 

But...and as the surgebinder swears more oaths, and becomes more powerful...it also stands to reason that with each oath, the surgebinder becomes more tied to the cognitive realm...

 

...on that - if you think about it - how do you make a surgebinder more powerful? Do you do it by giving him/her more of the physical realm? Let's rule that out as extremely unlikely based on : the laws of nature saying 'there is no more physicality to you than you already possess'; the surgebinding powers come either from the spiritual or cognitive realms (99% it's cognitive); and it's a cognitive being that is the conduit...

 

...So how do you make a surgebinder a more powerful surgebinder? By tying him/her more closely to the realm that gives them their powers...possibly by stuffing more of that 'something else' into the cracks in their soul, which may, as the back cover says -

brace a broken soul; but they can also widen its fissures.

 

 

Would the swearing of oaths, and the greater tying to the Cognitive realm help Kaladin to be able to slightly touch Syl? According to Wyndles description, it's a possibility.

 

----------------------------------------------------------

And from yet another angle (back to the original post):

 

Syl describes the laws of nature as an 'agreement between friends' - because the laws of nature don't exist in the Cognitive realm. And when they Laws of Nature are broken, how does that happen?

 

When a soulcaster is in Shadesmar, everything is fluid until they 'properly percieve' (ie conceptualise) what is...and their ideas shape what is in Shadesmar (the cognitive realm).

 

And what does a soulcaster do when they transform someone? They change the 'idea/concept' of the existence of the object in the cognitive realm, feed energy (stormlight) to it, and it then changes in the physical realm...

 

...what then is a change in gravity?...it's a change in the cognitive realm in the concept of something...with stormlight fed to it...and it changes the 'laws' in the phsycial realm

 

Is this not Syl's 'agreement between friends'?

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You make a pretty compelling argument vikorr and I'd probably be inclined to agree with you if not for wyndle directly contradicting the idea after lift used him to climb the wall.

“Of course, no matter how I manifest, nobody can touch me, as I barely have any substance in this Realm.”

“Nobody but me,” Lift whispered, inching down the hallway.

“You shouldn’t be able to either,” he said, sounding troubled. “What did you ask for, when you visited my mother?”

He doesn't seem to think KR should have the ability to touch him implying the nahel bond does not pull them further into the cognitive realm

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@Vikorr I really like that argument. It also ties into how I think shardblades are created. The oaths widen the cracks in the soul while binding a piece to the cognitive realm. Then as the piece of soul becomes more apart of the cognitive realm it could cross over to the physical realm, just like the cognitive spren are able to cross realms. So when the Radiant has fully realized their oaths that piece can be summoned into the physical realm as a shardblade, literally a shard of their soul. 

 

If gravity is just an agreement between spren. Wouldn't that imply that spren exist on the cognitive plane of every world, and its only something special about Roshar that lets spren leak into the physical world? 

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If gravity is just an agreement between spren. Wouldn't that imply that spren exist on the cognitive plane of every world, and its only something special about Roshar that lets spren leak into the physical world? 

 

Actually, I don't think Syl meant that 'it's an agreement between friends' literally...more that it is not a law...it's a physical realm consistency, that can easily be broken (through surgebinding)...so it's not a law...what goes up must come down - unless it doesn't. 

 

In relation to spren and their 'location' - I think they are just tied to Roshar in some way. I don't know if there is a good explanation for that.

 

“Of course, no matter how I manifest, nobody can touch me, as I barely have any substance in this Realm.”

“Nobody but me,” Lift whispered, inching down the hallway.

“You shouldn’t be able to either,” he said, sounding troubled. “What did you ask for, when you visited my mother?”

 

Doesn't that argument go both ways? According to this quote, Syl shouldn't be able to put herself more into the physical realm enough to be touched, because 'no matter how Syl manifests, nobody can touch her'...but we find it's not quite true.

 

The only question then is, which is the more likely explanation? I'd say its the explanation that also fits with the magic system of the world - the surgebinder becomes more tied to the cognitive realm...or perhaps a bit of both - the surgebinder becomes more tied to the cognitive while the spren becomes more tied to the physical.

Edited by vikorr
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This just begs the oft repeated question: do flame spren create fire or are they attracted to it?

 

Both creation and attraction imply a separation, but I don't think one exists.  I think the flamespren is the fire.  Everything in the Physical Realm has a counterpart in the Cognitive, most times being the glass beads.  Therefore, I get the feeling that any given flamespren is just the Cognitive aspect of that Physical fire, manifesting to some degree in the Physical.  When you light a fire in the Physical Realm, you're creating flamespren in the Cognitive Realm.  I'm not sure why spren manifest the way they do, though I think it's related to the Highstorms.

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I think the flamespren is the fire.  Everything in the Physical Realm has a counterpart in the Cognitive, most times being the glass beads.  Therefore, I get the feeling that any given flamespren is just the Cognitive aspect of that Physical fire, manifesting to some degree in the Physical.  When you light a fire in the Physical Realm, you're creating flamespren in the Cognitive Realm.

 

Indeed, I think this might just be the case. But the question remains about Syl's enigmatic words about gravity (and presumably other forces) being an "agreement between friends". When a piece of marshmallow touches one of the flames of a campfire, does the marshmallow burn because that's just what flames do to marshmallows (i.e. transferring a certain amount of heat just so happens to cause a chemical reaction on the marshmallow)? Or is there an agreement between the marshmallowspren and the flamespren in the Cognitive Realm to make their Physical Realm equivalents behave a certain way?

 

This sort of reminds me about the chapter "The Ethics of Elfland" in G.K. Chesterton's book Orthodoxy (yeah, I suspect that Brandon named the Shadows for Silence villain after one of my favorite authors <_< ). In it, he puts forth the notion that, no matter how extensive or accurate our scientific models for natural phenomena may be, it is still possible to see nature as completely magical. Here's an excerpt that just so happens to talk about gravity:

 

These men in spectacles spoke much of a man named Newton, who was hit by an apple, and who discovered a law. But they could not be got to see the distinction between a true law, a law of reason, and the mere fact of apples falling. If the apple hit Newton's nose, Newton's nose hit the apple. That is a true necessity: because we cannot conceive the one occurring without the other. But we can quite well conceive the apple not falling on his nose; we can fancy it flying ardently through the air to hit some other nose, of which it had a more definite dislike. We have always in our fairy tales kept this sharp distinction between the science of mental relations, in which there really are laws, and the science of physical facts, in which there are no laws, but only weird repetitions.

...

A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, "Do it again"; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony.

 

I think of spren as another way of imagining this notion. We now know (to a certain extent) the normal mechanics of how objects/molecules/atoms/sub-atomic particles interact with each other. But why do they interact with each other? What if every single thing is actually alive and is merely behaving consistently in a pre-determined/agreed-upon manner because that's what it wants to do?

 

(Note that I don't actually believe that marshmallows have minds. Spren are Brandon's fictional inventions, and I suspect Chesterton did not really believe that apples can fly.)

Edited by skaa
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We (human beings; no offence meant to any spambots reading) have a tendency to like things simple, rather than accurate. This can lead us to take a set of examples and over generalize them into "laws" even when we know those laws break down around the edges.

 

Remember, this conversation is about Kaladins assertion that “If I toss something upward, it comes back down.” is an application of a natural law. Consider that when Syl calls it "an agreement among friends"  she is not referring to the agreement among spren, but among mankind? After all, Kaladin seems to see what he does with surge binding as breaking/skirting the laws of nature rather than a part of it, which sounds like a habit Syl wants to break.

 

After all, unlike Earth a Windrunner can add effective thrust to a quantity of volume without also having to add expensive solid state fuel that add more mass to the equation. Enough lashings on something, and it would be high enough in the atmosphere when the stormlight ran out the lessened gravity would not be able to overcome inertia, and it could keep going forever.  He could be having all sorts of fun with this, learning the most efficient stormlight to distance mortar trajectories with giant boulders, and trying to send Brightlords into low orbit before their corpses burnt up upon re-entery. But he is all caught up on notions of "not being evil" and "not violating the laws of nature" when that is just lazy thinking. :P

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Remember, this conversation is about Kaladins assertion that “If I toss something upward, it comes back down.” is an application of a natural law. Consider that when Syl calls it "an agreement among friends"  she is not referring to the agreement among spren, but among mankind?

 

I don't think so.

 

"It's a law."
 
"No," Syl said, looking upward. "It's more like... more like an agreement among friends."
 
He looked at her, raising an eyebrow.
 
"We have to be consistent," she said, leaning in conspiratorially. "Or we'll break your brains."
 
In this case, Syl's "we" refers to spren, while "your" refers to the silly little humans on Roshar who think natural forces on their planet are unbreakable laws. It is the spren making an agreement with each other to make Rosharian Physics seem consistent... most of the time.
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I was rereading the prolouge in tWoK when I noticed this line

it gave him the ability to manipulate whatever force, spren, or god it was that held men to the ground."

TWoK prolouge

Aparantly there is debate even among Rosharans where gravity comes from. It could be just that the Shin think it is just a force because there are no spren in Shinovar, and now that Szeth is wandering Roshar as he is passed from master to master he has learned that "stonewalkers" think spren are involved.
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