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2012-04-30: I had the great pleasure of speaking with Harriet McDougal Rigney about her life. She's an amazing talent and person and it will take you less than an hour to agree.
2012-04-24: Some thoughts I had during JordanCon4 and the upcoming conclusion of "The Wheel of Time."
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As regards Randland being the future/part of our world, he made a reference to the game 'Chinese Whispers'. He said that, like in the game, the happenings of our time/age will be changed/twisted [my words] into Randland's myths, and similarly the occurrences in Randland will/have become our myths.
He also mentioned the fact that he tried to 'reverse-engineer' [his word] the current myths that we have into WoT's happenings/history, and our history into WoT's myths.
Jordan said "Yes" then maybe a few more words and only then did I remember to actually put the recorder on again. If I remember correctly Avaeus taped those first few words on his digital camera however, so I'll see if I can add those exact words here.
(transcription) ...it would have to be. Err, in the differences between the same Age in different turnings of the Wheel, are that.. as for an analogy: imagine two tapestries hanging on a wall, and you look at them from the back of the room to the front of the store. And to look at them, they look identical to you. But as you get closer, you begin to see differences. And if you get close enough, they don't look anything at all alike. That is the difference between the Ages. Between the Age in one Turning and the Age in another. So it's quite possible that someone other than Rand could be the reborn soul of the Dragon Reborn. [And that's the phrase that ended my jubilation.]
Ah, but you're not gonna have that sort of switch. In this Age, how can you have a switch? One of the things for instance in the Age that I wrote. One of the things...For instance, I've been accused by some people of ignoring the feminist struggle. Well, there is no feminist struggle in this world, because there is no need for one. No one says a woman can't do this because she is a woman. A woman wants to be a blacksmith, she can learn to be a blacksmith, and she becomes a blacksmith, or a merchant or a wagon driver, or a worker on the docks, or wherever else. All of that took place, took place a long time ago. And they're very good at it. That sets the whole reasons why this should come about. Three thousand years ago the world was destroyed, by men. There is one group that has survived for that three thousand years, one organization that has managed to stick together for three thousand years, and have a great influence on history, and that is a group of women.
Okay, so you just don't have, you just don't have it. To have a reversal of roles means... absolutely nothing.
[interrupts: And I set that up deliberately, because, you know, one of the things about a world that believes in a circular nature of time, is that they believe that there is no real possibility of change. It is one of the things that burden India, as you might know. Whatever I do to affect change...the Wheel of Time—which is as Hindu concept (from others as well, but the Hindus believe in that)—whatever I do to affect change, the Wheel will turn and all things will return to being as they are now. Therefore my effort to affect change is essentially useless. The great gift to the world of the ancient Greeks is that they were the FIRST culture to conceive of time as being linear, which allows for change. I can change things, I can change the future, and it will not return to what it is now, because time passes on; it does not double back. So I have a Wheel of Time world, where there is a belief in reincarnation and a belief that things will return to, not exactly the way they are now, but essentially as if there were two tapestries and you look at them from across the room, and they look identical, and it’s only when you get close that you can see the differences.
I began to think also of the periods involved. Do you know why the mountains in this world are so incredibly rugged? Why there’s so few passes? These mountains are only a little over three thousand years old. There are no mountains in the world that are only three thousand years old. There are no mountains in the world that don’t have hundreds of thousands—millions—of years of wind and water erosion to have worn them down. THESE are mountains in their infancy. And in this world, be have had three distinct one thousand year periods, roughly from the Breaking of the World to the Trolloc Wars, from the Trolloc Wars to the War of the Hundred Years, from the War of the Hundred Years to today. Not quite a thousand years in each case, some were perhaps a little more. But in each case, what has happened is, you have had a mixing of the population during the turbulence—the nations breaking apart—a production of a lingua franca for these people to communicate with one another, and not enough time for that lingua degenerate into distinct languages which are no longer intelligible to one another.
And that is enough so that the people of today could not understand the people from before the Trolloc Wars, who were speaking something very close to the Old Tongue, if not the Old Tongue itself. But they can understand the people of the Seanchan, who are speaking the language of Arthur Hawkwing’s time, which had not enough time to break down into separate languages, you see. And any effects of it breaking down into separate languages was modified by their getting together, so what’s happened over the space of just a thousand years is: they think each other have strong accents. It’s like I’m speaking to somebody who speaks English and he’s Jamaican, and I don’t understand him very easily, or he’s Nigerian. I don’t understand him very easily, and he’s a native English speaker—we can understand one another; it’s not easy, but we understand one another.
For ricktheinevitable, I have no plans to send Rand to Shara at present.
Oh, yes. I think of time in this world as fixed circular, but with a drifting variation. There are slight differences in the Pattern each time through so that if you thought of the Pattern as a tapestry and held up two successive weaves, you couldn't see any differences from a distance, only close up, but the more time turnings between tapestries, the more changes are apparent. But the basic Pattern always remains the same.
As one might expect, I've had a lot of feedback about the cameo in A Memory of Light charity drive. Many people are excited, some people are concerned. I'd like to take a few moments to answer a few general questions I've gotten.
First off, if you want to vote for the nationality of the group, it's happening right now on Tarvalon.net. I won't say anything about who is winning here, though I'll link when the announcement is made. Why? Well, some people don't want to know.
There are a LOT of hidden secrets in the Wheel of Time books like this. Everything from cameo appearances by Robert Jordan himself, to the names of street near where he lived, to legends about people in our own world, to appearances by fans. But I understand that some people don't want to know about most of these—they don't want to be pulled out of the world and the story. Therefore, I'll stay away from mentioning specifics here.
The final cameos will be written in such a way that you won't be able to pick them out without knowing already. The thing about a book like this is that you NEED a lot of new names. You don't need to worry that the people who win will walk on and say "Hey, I won the cameo! Neat!" It will be more subtle than that.
Remember, also, that there are very valid in-world reasons for this. According to the Wheel of Time mythology, we all live countless lives, over and over again, woven and re-woven into the Pattern. Because of that, people living on the Earth right now could very well be living again when the events of A Memory of Light come to pass. ;)
Anyway, thank you all for your enthusiasm.
What about this notion of time as a wheel? Is that your idea?
No. It's not mine. It is from Hindu mythology that time is a wheel. But actually, most eastern cultures believed that time was circular. The Greeks gave us the great gift of believing that time was linear. And that's a great gift because if time is circular, if everything repeats in cycles, then change is impossible. No matter what you do, it's always going to come back to what is here. But if time is linear, then change is possible. But I wanted the circularity because I wanted, again, to go into the changes by distance. So, the myths and legends and a few of the stories that these people tell, well, some of them are based on our own current events, on the present. What they are doing is based on our myths and legends. So they are the source of our myths and legends, and we are the source of theirs.
He seemed to like this question. He likened it to a tapestry. When seen from a distance, each Third Age (to make it easy to track) has exactly the same pattern as the previous Third Age. However, when seen up close, there are differences. Threads are different, different nations exist, geography is different, different personalities rise to prominence. These changes, while minute in the grand scale of the Pattern, affect the Pattern enough so that while two iterations of an Age are almost the same, the first "Third Age" may be wildy different from the hundredth "Third Age".
(My interpretation) Thus while some point out that since the Wheel keeps turning, there can't be anything new under the sun, in fact the "Age Lace", as it's referred to, is going somewhere. It may be that this really will be a "Final Battle", if the Age Lace is at this crux point and the Dark One wins. The Dark One says He'll break the Wheel and finally rule all time or whatever. This may be possible, however, it probably requires very specific victory conditions, as has been mentioned elsewhere. Other conditions may require more turning. But if the Light wins, it probably keeps turning.
One of the themes of the series is the cyclical nature of time so is it ironic that you've inherited The Wheel of Time after Robert Jordan's death?
"I'm not unaware of how that relates to what's going on with me. One of the things that Robert Jordan did early on as an author was to work on the Conan books, so he was working on the stories of another author that had passed. Then he passes away and I ended up working on his story, so there was this cyclical thing going on there."