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All the idiots on the Arcanan side?

"Hell's Gate" and "Hell Hath No Fury", by David, Linda Evans, and Joelle Presby, take the clash of science and magic to a whole new dimension...join us in a friendly discussion of this engrossing series!
Re: All the idiots on the Arcanan side?
Post by PeterZ   » Fri Jul 17, 2015 11:16 pm

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We have no disagreement, Don. Did I not imply prejudice was Arcana's principle "sin" in the story? They are all humans and all humans sin.

You asked if mul Guthick drove Arcana's behavior in the story. My answer was that he took advantage of a common weakness in Arcanans. Sharonans will display their weaknesses soon enough.
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Re: All the idiots on the Arcanan side?
Post by brnicholas   » Sat Jul 18, 2015 8:17 am

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The line I bolded is the point on which we disagree. I think Harshu would have treated Arcanan opponents the same way in a similar situation. I see nothing in the text that implies otherwise and significant evidence that Harshu feels major guilt about how he is treating Sharonans. That guilt implies he is thinking of them as humans just like Arcanans.

As for the Arcanan troops going along with him. It takes an enormous amount of provocation to get well disciplined soldiers (which the Arcanans are) to mutiny. We see at least two separate officers who independently protest the treatment of Sharonan prisoners and more who are unhappy about it. That some Arcanans took advantage of the situation to torture others doesn't prove prejudice it proves they are human. If you doubt that is a universal human behavior google Abu Ghraib.

As for why Harshu acted as he did. My evaluation is that he judged that he had to use torture in order to successfully carry out his offensive. As for why he attacked. He attacked because mul Gurthik was his senior officer and had ordered him to attack. This made sense to Harshu because. First, Harshu is a fool who romanticized war and so wanted a war. Second, mul Gurthik managed to portray the Sharonan behavior to him (Harshu never spoke with Jasek) in a way that made attacking look more sensible then it does to us. Please note, describing what Arthag and chan Tesh did as "provoking 100 Thalmayr until he gave them an excuse to slaughter his command" is accurate as is saying "50 Garlith understood himself to be under attack and so opened fire." Third, Harshu did not imagine that it was possible for a society without magic to support a large scale war effort.

Nicholas

PeterZ wrote:...snipped...

My point was simply that he would not have treated other Arcanans as he treated Sharonans in pursuit of his military goals. If he fears Sharona, why agree to a course of action that might antagonize the object of his fear to incandescent levels? If he is driven by securing benefit for Arcana, why risk exacerbating a war that might cost exponentially more blood and treasure than a peaceful negotiated settlement? What motive or POV would drive Harshu to accept mul Guthick's suggested course of action if not prejudice? The sort of prejudice that manifests in the casual disregard of certain others rather than a burning hatred.

I am really trying to find an alternative motive or guiding principle here. I really don't see one.
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Re: All the idiots on the Arcanan side?
Post by PeterZ   » Sat Jul 18, 2015 9:08 am

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It is your third point that suggests to me Harshu views Sharonans differently than he views Arcanans. I agree with your other points. Harshu does view Sharonans as human. Humans he can mistreat to achieve his goals for Arcana. What honor Harshu has will not limit his behavior with regards to Sharonan. That same honor would limit his actions with respect to Arcanan. Either this is true or Harshu had no honor. I believe Harshu's willingness to suffer consequences for allowing mistreatment indicates he has honor.

Because they have no magic Harshu believes Sharonans cannot respond meaningfully to the abuses he allowed. This prejudice does make him human. This prejudice in different forms is held by many but not all Arcanans. Yes, they are human. This is a story about humans, no? Not one about the inhumanity of one individual or group.

brnicholas wrote:The line I bolded is the point on which we disagree. I think Harshu would have treated Arcanan opponents the same way in a similar situation. I see nothing in the text that implies otherwise and significant evidence that Harshu feels major guilt about how he is treating Sharonans. That guilt implies he is thinking of them as humans just like Arcanans.

As for the Arcanan troops going along with him. It takes an enormous amount of provocation to get well disciplined soldiers (which the Arcanans are) to mutiny. We see at least two separate officers who independently protest the treatment of Sharonan prisoners and more who are unhappy about it. That some Arcanans took advantage of the situation to torture others doesn't prove prejudice it proves they are human. If you doubt that is a universal human behavior google Abu Ghraib.

As for why Harshu acted as he did. My evaluation is that he judged that he had to use torture in order to successfully carry out his offensive. As for why he attacked. He attacked because mul Gurthik was his senior officer and had ordered him to attack. This made sense to Harshu because. First, Harshu is a fool who romanticized war and so wanted a war. Second, mul Gurthik managed to portray the Sharonan behavior to him (Harshu never spoke with Jasek) in a way that made attacking look more sensible then it does to us. Please note, describing what Arthag and chan Tesh did as "provoking 100 Thalmayr until he gave them an excuse to slaughter his command" is accurate as is saying "50 Garlith understood himself to be under attack and so opened fire." Third, Harshu did not imagine that it was possible for a society without magic to support a large scale war effort.

Nicholas

PeterZ wrote:...snipped...

My point was simply that he would not have treated other Arcanans as he treated Sharonans in pursuit of his military goals. If he fears Sharona, why agree to a course of action that might antagonize the object of his fear to incandescent levels? If he is driven by securing benefit for Arcana, why risk exacerbating a war that might cost exponentially more blood and treasure than a peaceful negotiated settlement? What motive or POV would drive Harshu to accept mul Guthick's suggested course of action if not prejudice? The sort of prejudice that manifests in the casual disregard of certain others rather than a burning hatred.

I am really trying to find an alternative motive or guiding principle here. I really don't see one.
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Re: All the idiots on the Arcanan side?
Post by Mil-tech bard   » Sat Jul 18, 2015 3:21 pm

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This --

The line I bolded is the point on which we disagree. I think Harshu would have treated Arcanan opponents the same way in a similar situation. I see nothing in the text that implies otherwise and significant evidence that Harshu feels major guilt about how he is treating Sharonans. That guilt implies he is thinking of them as humans just like Arcanans.



...is not supported by the text in Chapter 37 of HELLS GATE.

Both Jasak and Gadrial expected that Shaylar and Jathmar would have been questioned by torture the moment they were separated from them in Andaran military custody.

This is why Jasak made clear Shaylar and Jathmar were his shardoni and it is also why Gadrial guarded Shaylar and Jathmar from Neshok et al with combat magics when Jasak went to his interview with mul Gurthak.

Gadrial went out of her way to underline to Neshok (and any Andaran glory seekers like him) the immediately lethal threat -- to back up any future political/legal retribution from Jasak's father -- for "harshly questioning" Jasak's shardoni.

See pages 598 thru 606 in HELLS GATE.
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Re: All the idiots on the Arcanan side?
Post by PeterZ   » Sat Jul 18, 2015 8:00 pm

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Indeed. The combination of this scene and the Arcanan Kerellian Accord suggests that the dominant view in the leadership group which will lead the AEF is one of prejudice towards Sharona. They are ignorant of Sharonan abilities yet are more than willing to treat captured civilians like hostiles militants unprotected by the Accords.

Mil-tech bard wrote:This --

The line I bolded is the point on which we disagree. I think Harshu would have treated Arcanan opponents the same way in a similar situation. I see nothing in the text that implies otherwise and significant evidence that Harshu feels major guilt about how he is treating Sharonans. That guilt implies he is thinking of them as humans just like Arcanans.



...is not supported by the text in Chapter 37 of HELLS GATE.

Both Jasak and Gadrial expected that Shaylar and Jathmar would have been questioned by torture the moment they were separated from them in Andaran military custody.

This is why Jasak made clear Shaylar and Jathmar were his shardoni and it is also why Gadrial guarded Shaylar and Jathmar from Neshok et al with combat magics when Jasak went to his interview with mul Gurthak.

Gadrial went out of her way to underline to Neshok (and any Andaran glory seekers like him) the immediately lethal threat -- to back up any future political/legal retribution from Jasak's father -- for "harshly questioning" Jasak's shardoni.

See pages 598 thru 606 in HELLS GATE.
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Re: All the idiots on the Arcanan side?
Post by n7axw   » Sat Jul 18, 2015 8:15 pm

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Mil-tech bard wrote:This --

The line I bolded is the point on which we disagree. I think Harshu would have treated Arcanan opponents the same way in a similar situation. I see nothing in the text that implies otherwise and significant evidence that Harshu feels major guilt about how he is treating Sharonans. That guilt implies he is thinking of them as humans just like Arcanans.



...is not supported by the text in Chapter 37 of HELLS GATE.

Both Jasak and Gadrial expected that Shaylar and Jathmar would have been questioned by torture the moment they were separated from them in Andaran military custody.

This is why Jasak made clear Shaylar and Jathmar were his shardoni and it is also why Gadrial guarded Shaylar and Jathmar from Neshok et al with combat magics when Jasak went to his interview with mul Gurthak.

Gadrial went out of her way to underline to Neshok (and any Andaran glory seekers like him) the immediately lethal threat -- to back up any future political/legal retribution from Jasak's father -- for "harshly questioning" Jasak's shardoni.

See pages 598 thru 606 in HELLS GATE.


I think this discussion outlines the difficulties we have trying to generalize and make broad statements about large groups of people. On the one side we have mul Gurthak who is not only prejudiced against Sharonans, but against all Arcanans who are not Mythalan and who regards the situation as an opportunty to further a plot for Mythal to take over Arcana. We have Harshu who embraces the Andaran code of honor but believes that it is his duty to sacrifice both himself and his honor to further the mission. Then we have Neshok and others who apparently don't care about the code of honor even though they are Andaran. Their interest is in only feathering their nest.

But then we have Hasak and Gadrial protecting Hasak's shardonai. We have those junior officers protesting the treatment of prisoners at risk to their own careers. We have healers who treated Schylar and her husband. And we have those who were willing to place themselves in Sharonan hands to treat the wounded of both sides in the conflict without regard to uniform.

So there is no stereotypical Arcanan. What we have here is a often bewildering mix of people with different commitments, perspectives and attitudes.

They sound pretty much just like us, don't they...

Don
When any group seeks political power in God's name, both religion and politics are instantly corrupted.
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Re: All the idiots on the Arcanan side?
Post by Ramhawkfan   » Sat Jul 18, 2015 9:54 pm

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I think this discussion outlines the difficulties we have trying to generalize and make broad statements about large groups of people. On the one side we have mul Gurthak who is not only prejudiced against Sharonans, but against all Arcanans who are not Mythalan and who regards the situation as an opportunty to further a plot for Mythal to take over Arcana. We have Harshu who embraces the Andaran code of honor but believes that it is his duty to sacrifice both himself and his honor to further the mission. Then we have Neshok and others who apparently don't care about the code of honor even though they are Andaran. Their interest is in only feathering their nest.

But then we have Hasak and Gadrial protecting Hasak's shardonai. We have those junior officers protesting the treatment of prisoners at risk to their own careers. We have healers who treated Schylar and her husband. And we have those who were willing to place themselves in Sharonan hands to treat the wounded of both sides in the conflict without regard to uniform.

So there is no stereotypical Arcanan. What we have here is a often bewildering mix of people with different commitments, perspectives and attitudes.

They sound pretty much just like us, don't they...

Don[/quote]


In the end, people are people, good, bad, or indifferent.
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Re: All the idiots on the Arcanan side?
Post by PeterZ   » Sat Jul 18, 2015 10:03 pm

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Its not about generalizations as much as common cultural blind spots, Don. All cultures have them. While not all members of a society are as effected by those blind spots, many are to varying degrees. This too is a function of humanity.

That's what makes RFC such a good writer. He recognizes these elements of people and cultures just as he recognizes the influence of science and engineering in his stories and worlds those stories create.
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Re: All the idiots on the Arcanan side?
Post by bkwormlisa   » Sun Jul 19, 2015 6:30 am

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PeterZ wrote:Indeed. The combination of this scene and the Arcanan Kerellian Accord suggests that the dominant view in the leadership group which will lead the AEF is one of prejudice towards Sharona. They are ignorant of Sharonan abilities yet are more than willing to treat captured civilians like hostiles militants unprotected by the Accords.

This combination could equally well mean that Arcanan culture in general accepts torture and mind-ripping spellware (Gadrial at one points wonders about what kind of magic would be brought to bear against a prisoner of war to peel their minds like apples). The Kerellian Accords forbid it, but law and culture can often collide. Especially when the law was made to stop a cultural trait. I don't believe we're ever been told which of the three major groups pushed hardest for the Kerellian Accords; they could be one of the conditions of their Unification, pushed by a powerful but numerically inferior minority (the Ransarans come to mind, and we have met few of those).

So it's possible that any foe of unknown abilities, even an Arcanan one, would be just as likely to be tortured as the Sharonians are, at least by the military. Yes, at least one of the noncoms told to stop abusing them protested that they were from a different universe, but I don't remember that being said by others. And it's very easy for people to have an "us versus them" mentality for people that are relatively alike, even inside their own country.
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Re: All the idiots on the Arcanan side?
Post by PeterZ   » Sun Jul 19, 2015 8:14 am

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Is that not at its core prejudice? They were talking already. They could have secured information through diplomacy....er spying. They could have found what they needed to find out before they attacked. Their magic is unknown to these uncivilised others.

They did not. Their kneejerk reaction of treating the other without the basic considerations they would treat other Arcanans is prejudice and in many cases could well be called bigotry.

bkwormlisa wrote:
PeterZ wrote:Indeed. The combination of this scene and the Arcanan Kerellian Accord suggests that the dominant view in the leadership group which will lead the AEF is one of prejudice towards Sharona. They are ignorant of Sharonan abilities yet are more than willing to treat captured civilians like hostiles militants unprotected by the Accords.

This combination could equally well mean that Arcanan culture in general accepts torture and mind-ripping spellware (Gadrial at one points wonders about what kind of magic would be brought to bear against a prisoner of war to peel their minds like apples). The Kerellian Accords forbid it, but law and culture can often collide. Especially when the law was made to stop a cultural trait. I don't believe we're ever been told which of the three major groups pushed hardest for the Kerellian Accords; they could be one of the conditions of their Unification, pushed by a powerful but numerically inferior minority (the Ransarans come to mind, and we have met few of those).

So it's possible that any foe of unknown abilities, even an Arcanan one, would be just as likely to be tortured as the Sharonians are, at least by the military. Yes, at least one of the noncoms told to stop abusing them protested that they were from a different universe, but I don't remember that being said by others. And it's very easy for people to have an "us versus them" mentality for people that are relatively alike, even inside their own country.
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