The Absence of The Creator in The Last Chrons

Book 4 of the Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant

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Post by Mighara Sovmadhi »

@Wosbald, that gives us an ever deeper level of interpretation, or another very deep one...

Basically, Life and Death aren't just mechanics for the construction of organic structure but also organic activity. The dynamics of meaningful coincidences, as manifests in the divine synchronicity of perhaps especially the Last Chronicles (the very mystical level of detail that rides across so many of its pages in such a sterling way), are some of the stuff of this life, and by bringing Covenant back to Life, Linden symbolically violates the meaning of his Death, or at least seems to--though we later find that he consented to this alteration in advance, as the Timewarden, who blames even himself first for her fall, so to say--amidst that perhaps most coincident scene of all in the Last (or any of the) Chronicles, the climax of FR.
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Post by Mighara Sovmadhi »

@Wosbald, I read Z's reply to what you said, so I thought about this...

Z says the Creator problem is basically dismissed because SRD wants to emphasize thought that isn't theistic or whatever. Or, this is my gloss of what he says. But anyway, it doesn't seem true, does it? For the Despiser is there right through to the end, and the Despiser is, in fact, the God of the Land. So God never vanishes from the story, does he? Or, as Z said in this thread, it seems, if the Despiser is internalized, then so is the Creator, and this represents the final internalization of theistic concepts (as examples of human meaning first, instead of divinely-revealed meaning first? if that were the desired conclusion... which in a story obsessed with the value of forests I don't think is quite the case).

EDIT: Suppose the beggar had multiple-personality/dissociative(sp.?)-identity disorder, plus schizophrenia [EDIT 2: people having mental illnesses of various kinds does seem to be a sort of theme in the IRL sections...]. Then in the interworld void, when the Despiser talks to Covenant, so is the "beggar" talking to him, and the same is happening when the Creator is talking to him, and so on. So in all the scenes in the Last Chronicles where the Despiser is present, so is the Creator ("somehow"?).
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Post by Krilly »

Err, I guess one way we could just approach this is very directly and simply by saying we don't see or hear from him because he, well... died? Is it so strange the last time he's directly involved in the book is the point the beggar died?
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Post by Ur Dead »

He talked to TC once and it was a gamble by his own account.
He talked the Linden once and knew it was a gamble.
He didn't say anything to anybody because that would mean that a new
Land's savior would be created and SRD wanted the story to have an end.
So use the last two main characters and let them work it out.
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Post by wayfriend »

In the Gradual Interview was wrote:There seems to be a lot of themes of 'shared identity' throughout the series -- "You are the white gold"; Foul is Covenant's dark side, the side that despises himself. Foul is also the "brother" of the Creator. So, in a sense, they are all really One.
  • If anything, the tradition I was drawing on was Christian (because of my background in fundamentalist Christianity, not because I am in any useful sense a believer): the Trinity, God in Three Persons. Except I obviously wasn't thinking of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. More like Creator, Destroyer, and Holy Ghost (wild magic). Or Creator, Destroyer, and--what shall we call Covenant as the protagonist of the drama?--Acolyte. But you're quite right about the "shared identity" theme. I was explicitly thinking of the Creator, the Despiser, and wild magic as aspects of Covenant himself.
I don't think you can separate Donaldson's notion of "Trinity" from the question of the disappearance of the old man.

Covenant isn't the Creator, just like he isn't the Despiser. At least, not at the start. But as the story progresses, these disparate aspects become one, which is the final destination in his "quest to become whole". Covenant's union with Lord Foul is rather explicit in the text, but with the Creator is less so. Nevertheless we must trust it's there. Trusting, we see the clues. The Creator is not a present being that Covenant merges with, rather the Creator is a responsibility which Covenant learns to accept. He is the Creator's "Acolyte" - his "follower".

So, at a certain point, when the Creator appears in the story, it is Covenant whom we see before us. Not the old man. And he DID appear to Jeremiah before he came to the Land ... just not the same way. Different Creator, different methods. THIS Creator cares about whom he chooses.
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Post by Ur Dead »

Got a question..
Since Thomas, Linden and Jerry reconstructed the world. The creator's world no longer exists. It's the groups hand that remade it. Yet they allowed themselves to touch the land.

Could it be that the Acolyte was the original creator?
Since he had his creation unmade and then remade can he now enter the land?
Maybe that why Thomas and group when to follow the Acolyte.
They knew he was the creator.
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Post by Savor Dam »

Interesting question. Would have to re-read that TLD ending to see if there are crumbs to support that, Certainly a great prompt for further fan-fic, for those so inclined.
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Post by wayfriend »

The Creator dwelled outside the Arch of Time. Covenant and his family dwell within. Therein lies all the difference.
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Post by Ur Dead »

Was the Arch destroyed and then remade? SWMNBN escaped.
So the Arch must have crumbled. Must have been reconstructed to hold the new framework. This could have
allowed the creator in.
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Post by Savor Dam »

Clearly, the Arch did fall, and was rebuilt. She got out while the getting was good.

Since She was the Creator's mate prior to her seduction and fall, I prefer to think they were reunited. As eternal beings, surely they would want to be outside the rebuilt Arch...and that Arch must be assumed to be as strong as the original, lest Four ever overcome his unification with Covenant and escape. Foul outside the Arch would be bad news, as Creator and/or She within it would be.
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Post by Ur Dead »

Savor Dam wrote:Clearly, the Arch did fall, and was rebuilt. She got out while the getting was good.

Since She was the Creator's mate prior to her seduction and fall, I prefer to think they were reunited. As eternal beings, surely they would want to be outside the rebuilt Arch...and that Arch must be assumed to be as strong as the original, lest Four ever overcome his unification with Covenant and escape. Foul outside the Arch would be bad news, as Creator and/or She within it would be.
Debate this...

As eternal beings, surely they would want to be outside the rebuilt Arch...and that Arch must be assumed to be as strong as the original


Arch rebuilt - check
Arch as strong as the old one - check

The arch was rebuilt from the old arch. Or at least glued back together.
The old arch was created by the creator.
The creator knew.. lets say the "tech specs" of the arch.
The creator could not reach through the old arch because it may have been
attuned to his being. If he puts his power into the arch to affect the Land
it would unravel. Foul gets released... bad juju.
But like said.. Group rebuilt the world and arch from the broken parts.
Ever put a jigsaw puzzle back together after somebody first put it together and then broke it apart and jumbled the pieces for you to do?
It the same pieces and they will fit together again but not as solidly as it was
done the first time. There is wear and tear.. A slight bit of matter is bent or missing from the piece(s). They fit together and the overall picture is there.
But it is different than when the first person assembled it.
So when TC, Linden and Jeremiah reassembled the world and arch they became it's creators. They did a great bangup job and it was almost like new
or the original. They allowed themselves to remain in the land and may be that if they tried to leave they can't or they destroy the arch. Sort of
in reverse of the original arch.
The arch was the last thing created. It was the framework in which the world
is held. (I think it was in LFB that the creation is told.. Foul is in the world but the arch is not there until the creator puts it in and seals Foul in)
The creator who knew how the arch was created could see the bends or missing material withing the arch. Like Roger and the croyel he can slip thru the cracks and project an avatar of himself within the land.
That avatar could have been the acolyte.
So ... does this make sense?

And the creator appears in the last chronicles.. In reverse to the first two.
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The Absence of The Creator in The Last Chrons

Post by jennywocky »

It's rather hard to leap into a long discourse, especially without having read the entire ten book series in its entirety recently. I am sure I am missing/forgetting things. I also don't feel like there are obvious answers to everything, especially if one tries to view it all as one coherent work as if planned that way from the start, because it's very likely that SJD's idea of the world and what was unfolding evolved over time. There could have even been leaps where certain things early might not gel with things later, if the idea(s) changes for what was deemed better -- kind of like nothing perfect being able to exist in an imperfect world.

As I was finishing LC this weekend, I definitely noticed the lack of an overt/literal Creator presence in both the ending and also in the beginning. I think Foul says something within earshot of Linden (or maybe something short to her) as she translates into the Land for this last outing but the Creator doesn't appear overtly as he did in the beginning and end of the FC for Covenant, and the beginning of SC for Linden.

I started in a more simplistic place wrestling with this. Covenant's final resolution with Foul isn't really a surprise -- it was telegraphed at the end of WGW when he is talking to Linden for the last time, and possibly elsewhere too, about how many he and Foul are the same and/or flip sides of the same coin -- which also inherently suggests that if Foul is the "brother" of the Creator, it does honestly feel like Covenant subsumes the Creator's role in WGW as he takes his place as the Timewarden and how he speaks to Linden at the end, which is the role the Creator played at the end of TPTP in talking to Covenant and offering him a boon. Maybe not a perfect correlation but not an unwarranted one.

Which then makes me think back to FC and how the whole thing seemed to be some kind of struggle for Covenant over whether this was a world of madness almost within his own mind (that he would be the creator of, necessarily) versus a world outside of him in which he was just a part. It has to raise the question of whether Covenant didn't just step in as Creator so to speak by the end of WGW but maybe this was implicit in the question of reality vs fantasy from the start. (I don't think Donaldson, technically the "creator" of the whole thing, ever got as blatant about his own work being just a book like Stephen King did by inserting himself as a character in his own Dark Tower series.) I think the outcome of the FC was mainly that Covenant stopped caring whether the Land was "real" because he realized he actually CARED about it -- and the value he placed in it made it real for him -- kinda like the end of Nolan's "Inception" with the spinning top and Cobb being with his kids, so he no longer had to wrestle over the "reality" of it.

At the end of LC, it's also really clear we have some kind of new trinity in place -- maybe not "creators" per so, but at least "RE-creators" (I think someone in this thread used the term) -- a Father, a Mother, and a Son, acting as one unit while being three separate beings. I mean, it's very on the nose but it's kind of hard to step around because of that. I dunno.

The main stumbling block over Covenant being the "creator" up front is just that there were supposedly two other people translated from the "non-Land" world over to the Land, well, aside from Jeremiah (and Roger/Joan, although both of them could conceivably be symbolic in Covenant's reality in terms of their presence in the Land), and that would be Linden and Hile Troy. SJD gives them both credibility as voices/narrators at various times (Linden is an actual protagonist), so they aren't just figments of Thomas Convenant's own imagination if he were "creating" this whole thing in his mind, but I'm not sure how to reconcile that with the idea of Covenant creating this reality.

So I'm kind of back to Covenant subsuming the role of Creator in some way as the story progresses and then also here subsuming Despite into himself. (This isn't an atypical thing as far as mythos go -- with gods of creation/destruction.) This is ironic in a way because Foul wanted to trap the Creator within the Arch of Time, and now the new Trinity is inside the restored Arch (?) but to them it's not a prison. Foul just has a bad attitude. ;) But it really feels like Covenant is poised as the creator/destroyer of the Land, and that is what he has always been as the bearer/essence of the White Gold anyway (able to Save or Damn the earth). This whole story seems to be an evolution of his character (and Linden, and Jeremiah although he's still very young), from the flawed damaged people they were to realizing they still had value and beauty despite the suffering they endured. It seemed to always be able realizing what power they had after feeling like they were powerless -- I can't remember now, but was it Stave who says near the end that it's really about the power to choose and act on one's choice, not the impossibility of trying to be perfect? It seems like so much of our mortality is wrapped up in feeling like we're failures, flawed creatures, and why that makes us "less than" and thus incapable of doing good or striving for what we value -- but power comes with moving past that. I think the giants and Haruchai always believed that they had the power to make choices that matter and that was how they were far more impervious to the Raver's domination. (Jeremiah wrestles with this too when he overcomes Moksha, at the end -- he realizes he always has a choice regardless, that Moksha is actually wooing him INSTEAD with the peace of believing that his submission to Foul would leave him innocent of wrongdoing and thus not culpable. However, control and choice is always given away, not taken -- you always still have a choice even when you try to pretend otherwise.)

I am probably wandering off the main point now, but I guess it is coming back to how Covenant and Linden and Jeremiah all had to evolve as people in their understanding of the world, themselves, and their place in it. As they gained more clarity of their identities and roles, they became more than they were and naturally grew in strength. Gods in human society often have been created to take responsibility and provide manufactured clarity to alleviate mere mortals of guilt over not exercising their own responsibility to choose. So as this trinity of characters fully embraces their ability to choose, maybe they step into the roles of creator and deity (in a way) themselves at stories' end? They've learned to take responsibility for their own choices and actions and have clarity now over who they are. They define themselves rather than being defined by guilt or other people's judgments. They also faced all their primary fears (explicit) in TLD.

... so maybe I am veering back again to supporting their taking ownership of this particular world (the recreation/restoration of the Land) and being in a sense now it's "re"-creators? Which is why the Creator doesn't appear as a character?

I'm still kind of curious what the Creator's current state of existence is.
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The Absence of The Creator in The Last Chrons

Post by dlbpharmd »

I'm still kind of curious what the Creator's current state of existence is.
Yeah, me too. I think I read in the GI (or maybe it was at an Elohimfest) that SRD didn't include the Creator in TLC because he "wasn't needed."
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Post by SoulBiter »

First, a really good post jennywocky!

This got me thinking about the Creator and the Despiser being the brothers... or two sides to the same coin. At one point LF says to Linden
"I speak to set the feet of my hearers upon the paths I design for them, ".
It could be that the Creator is the same, in that once he see's the path is the correct, or the only correct one that would lead to success, there was no longer a need for him to get involved. Perhaps he saw that anything he tried to do, might screw it all up and thus he stays out.

I also wonder if by this time, the creator realized that anything he said or did, might detract from what "could be" and thus he had to take the risk that everyone would do what they must. He said it at the end of TPTP
"Have I not said that the risk was great? Choiceless, you were given the power of choice. I elected you for the Land but did not compel you to serve my purpose in the Land. You were free to damn Land and Earth and Time and all, if you chose. Only through such a risk could I hope to preserve the rectitude of my creation."
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The Absence of The Creator in The Last Chrons

Post by Helen Blood »

My take on the Creator issue, in general and also concerning his absence in Last Chronicles:

It all hinges on the idea that the Creator cannot act directly in the Land.

Also, bear in mind the two explanations Covenant offers Linden at the beginning of Wounded Land, when she's trying to get her head around the question of whether this is really happening. I'm taking more of an “inside explanation” approach, looking at the Land as an actual place, an alternate reality with its own set of existential rules and mythologies that explain/interpret those rules. Even if the “outside explanation”—that all of this is basically happening only in Covenant's head, that he and Linden are sharing a dream—is true, thus making Covenant the Creator (as well as every other character not from our world) this approach still works—we're just looking at the structure of that world, whether it exists independently or only in Covenant's mind.

I'll try as best I can to indicate where I'm inferring things rather than following what's stated in the text.

So, from the top, because that's the clearest way I know how to think...

The Creator made the world of the Land; Foul is a being of approximately equal kind and power, but malignant as the Creator is benevolent. As we all know, though in-world stories on the point vary in detail, somehow Foul got trapped inside the Arch of Time. He wants out, and if he can't get out, he wants to FUBAR the place, over and over and over.

The Creator gives a shit, and wants to stop this, but can't reach through the Arch. He can, however, send in a champion. He selects Covenant, for reasons that become gradually apparent through the course of the story. There's an implication in the first few scenes of Lord Foul's Bane that Foul has a hand in the selection process: those eyes that seem to look through the old beggar's sign. The whole first interaction between Covenant and the old beggar is like a job interview—and the selection isn't made by the Creator alone. To me, there's an implication that the Creator and Foul have cut a deal: send in your champion, go ahead, but I have to approve him. So the Creator picks someone he thinks Foul will believe he can corrupt—but who he himself feels will stand up for the Land in the end. Someone who's enough of an asshole for Foul to accept, but enough of a good guy to stand a chance.

But the Creator needs to be sure—so he gives Covenant that flier about the Fundamental Question of Ethics. But, imo, that's not the real test. Where Covenant gets the job (unknowingly) is when he drops his ring in the beggar's bowl. The real test is of generosity—willingness to sacrifice, to let go of his last link to humanity, to get involved, help someone he has no obligation to help. The fact it's done in bitterness is actually a plus: bitterness disguises, even from Covenant himself, those parts of his character which make him dangerous to Foul.

So Covenant goes to the Land, and at the end of the challenge, he gets an exit interview, where the Creator offers him a boon. He can live in the Land as a hero; or he can return to his own world alive, instead of dying from an allergic reaction to rattlesnake antivenin. Good job, champ.

Ten years later, things look different. Mythologies have changed, due to the simple passing of time and to the deliberate work of the Clave under Gibbon-Raver. There's still some knowledge of the Creator, but it's warped and far less prevalent—remember, very few people know anything about Earthpower anymore, either, and that was a routine part of everyone's daily lives in First Chronicles.

And of course the Sunbane. This time around, defeating Foul won't be sufficient. Necessary, yes, but not sufficient. He must be defeated again, and then the Land must be repaired. This time, the Creator needs both a fighter champion and a healer champion, and they need to be able to work together.(Remember the Elohim vision that the Sun-Sage and the Ring-Wielder must be one? They weren't exactly wrong...) Kind of tricky when your proven champion is forced to be a hermit in his own world, but—look, here's a doctor on her way to his house!

So Linden gets her interview, and the implied questions are slightly different. The old beggar is testing how far she'll go to save a life, how much she can endure. He also sets up her presence at the ritual in the woods. She, too, wears a mask of bitterness that gets her accepted by Foul. My thought is Foul truly does have nothing to do with her choosing, being busy setting up Covenant's return; but he accepts her as a kind of bonus, promptly includes her in his plans, presumably using her as a convenient plan B. I'd guess The Creator, the Elohim, and maybe even Covenant all know better in their own ways.

As has been mentioned here, champions only get interviewed once, but neither Linden nor Covenant knows this. So Covenant is all kinds of hurt and suspicious, but comes to take it more in stride; he might even have figured it all out by the end of White Gold Wielder. He makes his sacrifice, Linden heals the Land as best she can, and gets her own exit interview--with Covenant himself. I don't know if this means he's now the Creator. Personally I don't think so, I think he's simply (!) become Timewarden, conscious keystone of the Arch, a sort of demi-god who serves to protect and reinforce Time; warden of Foul's prison, if you will. I think the Creator respects both his champions enough to let Covenant handle the exit interview so they can have one last moment together. Or, we think it's the last...

Ten more years later, things have changed again. This time, it's the Masters who have deliberately withheld knowledge from the people of the Land—presumably including knowledge of the Creator. Linden has already had her interview, so the old beggar never appears. Jeremiah's presence is a sort of back-door thing; due to his own illness/powers, he's been astrally projecting there for some time. He's not a chosen champion, as Hile Troy wasn't—or Joan, or Roger, for that matter. Apparently a person can go to the Land without getting an interview: only chosen champions get that, and even they, only once.

Covenant's sacrifice at the end of Last Chronicles is of an entirely different nature and magnitude than at the end of Second—instead of the one time act of courage of giving up his life, he's living it, day by day, with Foul contained inside him. I think of it much more as containment than merging; Infelice implies this near the end of Last Dark when she says, “The Despiser is not defeated. He strives within you. While you live, he must be defeated continuously.”

And of course, none of them leave the Land at the end, so no exit interviews required.

Linden and Covenant think the Creator has abandoned them, and the Land, but that isn't necessarily true. In my opinion, the Creator hasn't abandoned his creation; he's doing the best he can to protect it. He's already sure of them both. They're just never completely sure of themselves.

Only of each other. But that's a whole other topic.
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Post by SoulBiter »

Excellent points and it delves into so much that makes these books so compelling to the readers. TC also gives an outside and inside explanation when Linden first comes to the Land and by then he has had 10 years to think about what happened and to come to grips with it. At the end it didn't really matter which one was true because they still had to deal with what was happening to them, and of course for TC, the Land that he had come to love.

The Creator could (as you said) have been TC after merging with LF and maybe that is true and would match the inside explanation of him coming to terms with himself. They are brothers, the same. But the outside explanation of course is that the Creator did what he could to save the Land, including knowing that TC being the Time warden would give him knowledge that he could not have gained in any other way, and this time it was "earned" knowledge.
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