Thursday, November 29

More from Peter:


On Nov 28, 2007, at 5:43 AM, Peter wrote:

Good point on the philosophy thing... I think the reason why I (being the one who argued for that genre) fit Blade in particular there was because of the advent of Cainism. I tend to think of books as 'philosophical' when they make an attempt to define or state the perspectives of its characters explicitly, separately from their actions. Hence I like to put Atlas Shrugged, some of the new Star Wars work by Karen Traviss in particular on the Mandalorians, and Blade of Tyshalle into that genre. My favorite books have a perspective so well-defined that it becomes a philosophy in my head, and one of the reasons I like Blade so much is because your characters do the same thing with people instead of books. I like seeing that done and how it works out for your people.

Thanks for the answer to my question on your Genre. I tend to think of Science Fiction when I think of your favorite themes, but now that you put it into those terms High Fantasy and Science Fiction aren't all that different. I think Science Fiction brings the themes into a more understandable format because in most SciFi the people are just us with bigger guns (or whatev) and the power that accompanies better tools, but Fantasy is the same thing, changing physics instead of our point in history.

In my experience the main problem with fantasy is that the author writes a book playing around with their new tools instead of one where the characters are using them as though, you know, they grew up with them. Always breaks the suspension of disbelief for me. I like your way of doing it, it makes much more sense for people to think magic is a big deal if it's not intrinsic to their universe.

Gah, your stating of some of your favorite themes opens up a whole new field of questions. Mostly though, I noted that they tend to be things that everyone encounters in daily life, or would if they took responsibility for their own actions.

You seem to deal neatly with the idea of someone moving beyond their 'assigned' responsibilities through the caste system and how people break it in Heroes and Blade, but I'm curious as to how you designed the Caste system itself. Did you just sort of look at the castes inherent in business and codify them a bit? I'm also a bit curious as to how someone advances in caste. It's sort of explained through Kollberg in Heroes, but I didn't quite grasp it.

Quick Question; I'm always looking for more readings. Do you have a list of some good books you've found that address or use some of those themes?

In particular, I can never seem to find good books on the responsibilities of power which take into account chaos theory. They're always a bit too clear-cut for me. Got anything?


Well . . . none of my characters is entirely a product of their intellectual convictions (unlike Ayn Rand's, for example). But because I prefer to write about really, really smart people, they often have constructed a sort of philosophical framework to explain to themselves why they do what they do . . . but sometimes (usually, in fact -- viz. Caine, Deliann, Raithe, t'Passe, Tan'elKoth and all) the truth underlying their actions doesn't match with their personal view. In fact, it seems to me (speaking now as a reader, rather than as the author) that the only characters who aren't self-deluded to a lesser or greater extent are the simpler ones . . . the ones who tend not to think about themselves too much, like Kierendal, Majesty, Tommie, Orbek . . . there's a strong undercurrent of Nietzsche's observation that "Man is not the rational animal so much as he is the rationalizing animal: the primary use to which we put our reason is to justify our unconscious drives and desires."

Caine says that dual-valued systems always break down in contact with reality, but when he doesn't mention is that ALL systems break down in contact with reality. Back to Nietzsche:

"It is we alone who have fabricated causes, succession, reciprocity, relativity, compulsion, number, law, freedom, motive, purpose; and when we falsely introduce this world of symbols into things and mingle it with them as though this symbol-world were an 'in-itself,' we once more behave as we have always behaved, namely mythologically." [Emphasis Nietzsche's]

Or, for that matter, another of Caine's favorite philosophers: "The best system is no system."

Meaning that intellectual frameworks are valuable, but only so long as one constantly bears in mind that the map is not the territory, so to speak.

I don't know of any other books that integrate chaos theory with moral philosophy; the two are kinda incompatible (another example of systems breaking down in contact with reality). The quote on chaos at the beginning of BLADE is from JURASSIC PARK . . . while that novel doesn't really delve into the implications of real chaos theory, especially the spontaneous "islands of order" that inevitably arise within the boundary conditions of chaotic systems (I suspect Crichton understands even less about chaos theory than I do, which ain't all that much), that particular quote sums up the hole it knocks in moral philosophy.

To put it another way, I'll quote the eminent (now departed) historian Arthur Schlesinger:

"The future outwits all our certitudes."

I've been thinking about putting that one at the beginning of CAINE BLACK KNIFE.


Chris said...

Like the new blog, Matt. The quote, too. You should definitely put that at the beginning of Caine: Black Knife!

MWS said...

Eh, thanks. Just fooled around with the Blogger templates -- seemed easier and cheaper than hiring some English metrosexual to set me up on LiveJournal.

Think I'm gonna put up ads . . .

Hadrian: Dark One said...

Peter hit the nail on the head. Caine has a special place in my heart that manifests itself as a "What Would Caine Do?" bracelet on my mental wrist.
The point, I suppose, is to launch some kudos toward Matt because Caine was the first character who truly came alive to me as a mindset one could slip into.

MWS said...

Well, y'know, Caine is a mindset. So is Hari. The real question is: are you just a mindset? Am I?

Is there a deeper truth, or is that itself the deeper truth?