View Poll Results: Is Kellhus a characted to be admired or reviled?
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August 19th, 2010, 11:58 AM
Kellhus is ammoral and a nhilist - as such he ought to be someone we revile. He is, at the least, worse than the consult. There is a chance after all, that Kellhus will see the consult as the shortest path to achieve his personal goals, and to that end, he may be taken over by them, or use them.
We've already seen that the morals, needs and wants of men are mere tools for Kellhus and nothing more. There is literally nothing to stop Kellhus, and power corrupts.
I think in the end, Akka and Cnaiur are the true heros. Akka for overcoming his fears, living with the moral weight of his decisions and his ability to keep going. Cnauir is also a hero, though a lost one. His madness is caused by his impotence in the face of Kellhus. He is against everything Kellhus is (which for now makes him a perfect consult ally).
I hope in the end, it is akka and cnuiar who are redeemed and take on the roles of 'hero' as an ammoral nhilist is not someone I'd want to admire much.
August 22nd, 2010, 08:17 PM
I just don't get this love for Cnaiur. Only if you look at how he was manipulated can you actually gain any sympathy for him. Otherwise he was a rapist, a father killer, murderer. He supports the nogod, he teamed up with the consult.
And his motivation wasn't even pure like Kellhus. All he wanted was vengence for being scorned. Atleast Kellhus went to kill his father because he was ordered to by his people and in order to protect the purpose of his people. And now he is (atleast in appearance and until I read the last book I won't believe otherwise) trying to destroy the consult before they awaken the nogod.
Can't really revile someone who is trying to save humanity.
September 7th, 2010, 12:46 AM
Is he trying to save humanity?
His final dialogue with his father casts severe doubts on that thesis. A character in TJE also has a revelation that reveals that Kellhus cannot be the prophet he claims to be. That doesn't necessarily mean he's Evil with a capital E, but one suddenly has to wonder if Mr. I'm So Smart has failed to see something in the darkness that came before him. Notably, the history of the Dunyain is completely unknown, including the source of the Logos. For all we know it could somehow be part of the No-God's plan.
Many questions about The Second Apocalypse remain partially or completely unanswered. The Appendix at the end of TTT gives an account of what scholars on Earwa think their history was like. But if Earwa is anything like Earth, it will be full of nonsense, superstition, and hearsay.
September 7th, 2010, 01:07 PM
The Consult may certainly have some cleverly evil plans a-brewing, but I can't say that what we've yet seen of the No-God suggests that it is a being given to spending its days thinking up new, devious ways to destroy humanity - in point of fact, it seems border-line retarded.
Now, from what I've managed to glean from the books and interviews, et c. with Bakker himself, I'm almost 100% positive that neither this series nor the following will end in the "traditionally good's" triumphant victory over the "traditionally evil".
The only questions I have are whether Kellhus is ulimately striving towards the annihilation of the Consult on account of them, you know, wanting to kill off humanity and stuff, or if he just sees them as competition better taken care of sooner rather than later. I agree Kellhus is an amoral nihilist, but that doesn't necessarily translate to him being indifferent regarding the fate of humanity.
Sure he may be a bit deluded about being a Prophet and all, but that delusion may just turn out to be "the crazy notion that saved the world". And about the whole "sealing the world" thing; I just don't see Kellhus as someone being scared of being "damned".
September 7th, 2010, 02:21 PM
We know next to nothing about the No-God, and the fact that he speaks directly to Kellhus ("WHAT DO YOU SEE?") and is one of the few beings to have a direct cognitive effect on him, implies that there is a connection.
Thanks for calling me a retard though, it really helps to emphasize your argument.
September 7th, 2010, 02:29 PM
Oh, no you don't. I may be many things, but I'm not so gullible as to believe that you are the No-God.
December 8th, 2010, 12:33 PM
Because, as an analogy, morals and ethics are much like the Psukhe. Generally speaking, they are guided more by emotion and intuition (this just feels like the right thing to do) and environmental conditioning than by intellect. With Kellhus as an intellectual monster, he's somewhat less equipped to deal with morality, because he sees so clearly through those things that instruct us (or them) in how to recognize the 'right' thing to do (which aren't necessarily correct in the first place).
Originally Posted by Ultraboris
So, how is Kellhus supposed to understand what's 'right'? His primary concern in the Prince of Nothing series is finding his Father. He has little sympathy for humanity, much like we have little sympathy for ants.
This doesn't particularly make him likeable. What it does is make him a neutral player that examines morality for what it is, instead of being guided by social convention, much like Cnaiur (torn with guilt about his relationship with Moenghus, seeking revenge on Moenghus because it's the Scylvendi thing to do etc.) was. Kellhus' manipulations aren't inherently wrong to him because he has been made from birth to be sociopathic, where he is unbound by social conventions and can do whatever he wants to (because humanity is like children to him and his isn't guided by a belief system).
I don't think that's the case. The fact that Moenghus Sr. ended up in league with the Consult gives me the impression that Kellhus won't go that way (especially considering he was an assassination target of the Consult, who very clearly want him dead, and Moenghus offered him an opportunity to join the dark side, which was rebuked).
Originally Posted by gthnk
It's important, when thinking about Kellhus as a character, that he isn't necessarily human. Characteristics that make us human (generally speaking our flaws, needs, desires, codes of conduct etc.) don't actually apply to Kellhus. His only desire was finding his father, in The Prince of Nothing. He had no attachment to the genuinely lesser beings that populated the world around him; they are, in fact, tools to him. We recognize them as human, because we sympathize with them, and they are human. But Kellhus isn't. Because he isn't, will this power affect him the same way it would a regular human, like Ikurei Conphas (seduced by the Consult)? I get the impression that he wouldn't be.
Originally Posted by gthnk
I share the opinion that Akka is a good anti-hero. Cnaiur, not so much. I liked Cnaiur, because he was the monkey-wrench in the plans that Kellhus and Moenghus Sr. laid, but he wasn't at all a Hero, just a Badass with a touch of insanity.
Originally Posted by gthnk
I don't particularly think that Kellhus is a nihilist, just completely neutral. I think Kellhus' 'redemption' will come soon enough.
Originally Posted by gthnk
I don't think the Consult particularly needs clever plans. It certainly has the strength of numbers and the ability to infiltrate and assissinate/charm anyone who isn't Kellhus or a relative. Can't blame it for being borderline retarded on that front, tbh.
Originally Posted by klobb79
I'm generally of the same opinion. While Kellhus is definitely an amoral sociopath given complete power and control over everything around him, his own world and existence is being threatened by the presence of the Consult. While he's not inherently attached to humanity (although he is starting his own dynasty), he has nothing to gain from its loss and he's already rebuked the possibility of joining the Consult.
Originally Posted by klobb79
My question is: What does Kellhus do afterwards? He was striving for his Father in PoN, now he's fighting the Consult in TA-E. What kind of decisions will he make when he's not fighting for survival?
I'm a little mixed abuot the hints that Bakker is dropping in TJE about Kellhus' role in prophecy, though. Not sure if I like it or not, yet.
August 7th, 2011, 12:58 PM
Kellhus: What's to like?
While one can certainly admire Kellhus' martial, magickal, intellectual, and psychological prowess, it's difficult to like a character who who has no compassion or ability to experience either love or joy, and who does not suffer. Quite simply, Kellhus is a monster, but an intriguing one at that. More important than whether we like him, is the questions he raises though - more on that below.
Kellhus, Cnauir, and Achamian are the only characters who are said to be "Awake" in the novels - truly self aware. While no one can claim that Cnauir is a good person, one certainly is able to feel compassion for him - as his insight increases, he is unable to truly transcend his Mind, and he increasingly acts out his self-hatred against the world, thus increasing his self-loathing in a vicious circle. He explains it literally at one point: "I am a Demon!"
Achamian is most likely the real hero of the series, rather like Seswatha is to the "Chronicals" referred to in the series. He is nothing if not a philosopher, and in my opinion, his self-doubt and questioning is his strength rather than weakness. Esmenet on the other hand, is likable but not admirable - certainly not a person of strong moral character.
In evaluating Kellhus, it's important to keep in mind Bakker's strong background in philosophy and the issues he's trying to get us to think about. The religion, founded by "INRI" Sejenus, clearly references Christianity, as Fainism references Islam. An important point is that in Medieval Theology, Jesus was considered to be the Logos - the Truth personified. Bakker then, in part of his project, is imagining what that might look like if taken literally in the character of Kellhus. Other questions get raised such as, do the means actually justify the ends? Also, given the fact that sociopaths are known in our world to attract cult followings in a variety of settings (some of whom, undoubtably do become convinced of their own divinity), uncomfortable implications arise...
Another interesting perspective yields itself when one considers the nature of the World that the characters inhabit. This vision is elucidated in the ideas of the fictional philosopher "Ajencis," and can be found in the Glossary at the end of the third book particularly in the entry for "Outside." The vision of reality is one in which there are Beings which co-determine Reality and each subjective point of view is a window to the Outside - some beings (Gods and Demons) are so powerful that they inhabit "sub-realities" - a kind of twisted version of Leibnitz's monads. But there IS a Supreme Being, or sorcery would not be possible - it's just that the nature of this Being, like the nature of the Soul or the self, is questionable. Furthermore, morality is NOT relative in this World (and is therefore independent of customs or more's), otherwise the Judging Eye would not be possible (and good sorcerers would not be damned. Given that, Kellhus' program of manipulation is reprehensible.
Another question regards the Dunyain program - could a real Kellhus, or the ideal he embodies of pure reason, even be possible? From a contemporary Neurobiological perspective, the prospect is quite dubious - subcortical (emotional) processes create the foundation for higher order processes. It might be possible to suppress awareness of emotional activity, but to truly extinguish it is as unlikely as it is ill advised. From a more purely philosophical perspective - if Kellhus is truly devoid of emotion, what then, provides his motivation? In a quote that is surely to the point, David Hume once said, "Tis not contrary to Reason, to prefer the end of the world to a cut on my little finger."
What then, does Kellhus care about, and why? Does he not care about his own (surely damned) soul? Perhaps the Great Ordeal is actually the shortest path to helping the Consult. On the other hand, he has seen beyond the Thousand-Fold Thought - and Bakker basically says in the sections of "What Has Come before" that he went mad - though he doesn't elaborate. Most likely, his madness is that he became convinced of his own divinity. Given the extremely unflattering portraits of other characters in the series who are convinced of their divinity, this can't wind up being a good thing...
Kellhus, while raising some fascinating questions, is clearly not the hero of the story.
Last edited by haquan; August 7th, 2011 at 01:00 PM.
August 7th, 2011, 10:44 PM
Originally Posted by trinity251282
No, I hate him too. I hate everybody in the series, which is why I never bothered with the sequel. I have to genuinely like a character to read a story about them. Also, I do not think Kellhus "psychoanalyzing" to be a terribly special power, even though everyone in the book goes ga-ga over it. I get a special satisfaction when I imagine him trying to pull that sh&t on Conan, like Thulsa Doom did in the film; "What would you be without me, Conan? My son . . . my son . . ." Then Conan cuts his head off.
August 7th, 2011, 11:25 PM
Originally Posted by haquan
Phenomenal first post! It is largely what you described in your post that finally allowed me to sit back and enjoye Bakker's series more. Like EMMAXIS, I pretty much loathed the entire cast of characters. Once I realized that the tale was more of a hypothetical and philosophical 'what if' scenario, reading it became easier. It is still a ton of conceptual thought to consume. That combined with the loathsome cast of characters and bleakness of the tale will probably turn off more than a few readers. It didn't keep me away from Donaldson though, so I'm in on this one 'til the end.
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