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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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RJ said the soul is immortal. But Hopper says dying in the Wolf Dream is likely permanent. Is Hopper wrong?
RAFO, for now. Ask again after the last book is out.
How does the idea of souls apply to constructs such as Nym and Trollocs? Could either of them be reborn?
To whoever put this one forward, this is one of the best questions I've ever gotten! Nym and Trollocs both have souls, and either could be reborn, but since Nym were a pure construct (i.e. each of them was individually made, like hand-crafting) a Nym would not be reborn as a Nym. You might say that a Nym's soul was borrowed temporarily from the supply of souls awaiting rebirth. A Trolloc, however, bears a twisted, or corrupted soul, and would be reborn as a Trolloc. Though frankly, a Trolloc's soul is such a pitiful thing, it hardly seems worth calling a soul.
I have always thought that the small whimper of a theory as it dies is a beautiful sound.
(General laughter all around.)
For Papazen, while I have spoken of souls being born with the ability to channel in response to questions, I think of it as being genetic also. In the Age of Legends, between 2 and 3% of people had some ability, following a bell curve distribution in strength. For over 3000 years, though, Aes Sedai have been removing men who actually learned to channel from the gene pool. They have been very efficient at this. As a result, the "present day" sees about 1% of the population who can learn to channel, with a much, much smaller percentage of that being born with the spark.
No, the story is NOT a dream. Jeez Marie!
A very strong male channeler bonded to a very weak Aes Sedai could not use the bond to control her. Whoever holds the bond is in charge, though she might have a hard time controlling him.
Everybody fears death because the being that is reborn, while possessing the same soul, will not be the same person. The fear is simple. I will cease to exist. Someone else will exist, bearing my soul. But I will cease. I have met many believers in reincarnation, and most of them seem to fear death just as much as anyone else.
Yes, Elayne, Nynaeve and Egwene could pass the test for Aes Sedai with their current abilities, though Nynaeve might be a little hard pressed. Too much specialization.
And finally, as I have said, I would not change anything in the books except the way that I structured Crossroads of Twilight.
Ok...which brings up the following questions about the Wheel and its relationship to souls, Talents, abilities and channeling. Is the Wheel responsible for giving or weaving in Talents and abilities to a particular life, or are they like channeling, attached to the soul?
That’s an excellent question. I’m going to have to RAFO that...it’s actually more of a MAFO. What you're asking is would someone who is reborn into the Pattern have the same Talents again?
Right. Or does...the Wheel, we obviously know it is very capable of affecting the Pattern, so the question is does it give and take when it comes to abilities and talents it needs?
Yeah, right, I will have to MAFO that.
Ok, so can the Wheel give an individual life the ability to channel, if the soul does not come to that life with an inborn ability to learn or a spark? Can the Wheel give them that?
Again, I will have to MAFO this whole thing. I will have to go and look. I don’t know if someone is necessarily always born with the ability to channel, if they are in every Age...
...there is a quote I brought that we asked at DragonCon, Jordan said: “I don't think I have said if you are born with the spark you would have the have the spark again. I have said if you were born with the ability to channel, to learn or with the spark, you will, when your soul is born again, you will have the ability again, whether with the spark or without...” So, in essence he said it’s inherent you have the ability. Whether or not you spark or you can learn it that depends on the life.
My instinct knowing how Jim wrote and knowing the parallels in the notes would be that he would parallel the other Talents along the same lines. A Wolfbrother then would always have the ability to become a Wolfbrother and other things along those lines. I’m going off of instinct so that is an asterisked answer. I can MAFO that and look it up and we can see what we can find, but he did like to parallel a lot of these things...
...ok, so at the end of that answer he said this...we were asking a specific question about stilling and burning out...he said, “And neither burning out or stilling affects that except in this lifetime, your current lifetime”. In other words...
...that is consistent...
...it doesn’t affect your souls ability, your soul’s connection. So stilling and burning out do not affect the ability to channel, which seems to be integral to the soul as it pertains to a new life. That being said, Aran'gar and Osan'gar, they were transmigrated and we see that they can channel in their new bodies, which makes sense because the ability comes with the soul...
...and because of that if you were male before and reborn (in a female body)...you are channeling the wrong power...
...exactly...he was transmigrated into a different body, but still channeling the same power the soul inherits. So considering Jordan's statement about stilling and burning out not affecting the channeling ability of the new life of a soul, is the same for the new life of a soul transmigrated?
I’m going to say that transmigrated...if you were burned out and transmigrated you would still be burned out, is my guess.
Is that a MAFO question? Or...
...that is my guess and you can MAFO it if you want to send it to me, but that is a “I’m pretty sure” answer.
Yes, you would. Jim said that “neither burning out or stilling affects that except in this lifetime, your current lifetime.” (DragonCon), but transmigration is not really a different lifetime; more than just the soul moves. The new person (I’m at a loss for words here) also has the memories of the previous person, and its personality, and such. So Brandon is correct.
Jim says of Talents: “A Talent is a special ability with the One Power. While the name is used for other things, a Talent is, in truth, something which is inborn in the person and not something that can be learned.” And there is mention of the Wheel throwing out what it needs on occasion, and there’s the phrase, “The Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills.” The Wheel can give and take as it needs.
I believe that the potential for a Talent is there, but it doesn't necessarily manifest each time a soul is born. If the Wheel needs the Talent, the Talent is there. But if the Wheel doesn't need it, it lies dormant.
It was also mentioned that balefire does not mean that someone can't be reborn into the Pattern.
I was very surprised by this and hadn't heard it before, but apparently Brandon has said it in previous Q&As.
Brandon said he was also surprised but that Maria was very insistent about this—so if the Dragon Reborn was balefired, he could still be reborn.
The above MAFO on Souls, Channeling and Talents [this can be found in the MAFO thread stuck at the top of The Gathering Storm Forum].
Beyond the MAFO, I was going to ask for a clarification on this. Firstly I would point out a curiosity—in KoD:23, Call to a Sitting, Tiana notes that many of the women who are strong in Nynaeve's method of Healing used to be village Wise Women. She wonders why that should make any difference, and indeed it does seem to imply that their life experience in some way affected their degree of Talent. How would this work out under the understanding of Talent as a soul-ability? Does life experience change the strength of the Talent, whilst soul-ability decides if you have it? Or should we make a distinction between Talents which are Skills—like Healing, or that Shielding Talent Berowin of the Kin has—and Talents which are Abilities—like Foretelling, Wolfbrothering or Dreaming?
Okay, let's look at this. Why did these women choose to be village Wise Women? Maybe they haven't sparked, but the Talent is there. They may not understand it, but they feel that they should be healing the sick. So, instead of life experience affecting the Talent, I think that it's more that the Talent affects the life experience.
Also, Aes Sedai have been taught that Healing is done one way, and that way is the only proper way. It's sort of like the gesture limitation; if an Aes Sedai learns to make weaves using gestures, she'll have a really hard time making the weave without making the gesture. I think that the former Wise Women are more open to learning the new way, and that gives them another advantage at it.
Not satisfied, I press harder, saying this will be revealed in further reading [skeptical].
He said there were a lot of things Jim (RJ) wanted fans to keep guessing and wouldn't answer, and this was one of those things about the cosmology that he wanted.
Then I asked Maria (yes I was sneaky), and her answer made her sound kind of unsure how to answer it, but then she finally said:
Well he is called the Lord of the Grave, so...
So seems like Ingtar and Verin really paid a huge price to help the Light-siders. Again, not sure if this was asked but I thought it interesting....and who knows, they may change it since its not finished yet.
Hope you can answer this one. In the world of the Wheel, would the soul of an animal be reborn as the same animal when that particular Age comes again, like humans are?
I don't know of anything specific that Jim said about this, and I've read a lot of the FAQs and interviews. Still, it might be out there hiding somewhere. I'll put this on my things to ask his assistants about so I can know if he did. As far as I understand, the only thing we know about animals and the Wheel is that wolves go to the World of Dreams when they die.
However, looking at the sources Mr. Jordan is drawing from and the overall mythology of the series and world, I'd guess that they are reborn, and as the same animal. There is no talk of a person being reborn as a slug in their next life, and the fact that wolves are proven to have spirits gives subtle indication that other animals do as well. If so, I'd guess they are bound to the Wheel like everything else, and rewoven into the Pattern. What I say, however, is not canon in the same way that what Jim said was. Let me do some more digging to find an answer, if there is one, and ask me again some other time. (And if anyone knows of an interview where he talked about this, feel free to post and point me in the right direction.)
Female Dragon..NO when a female hero is needed she is one of the ones bound to the Wheel. Jordan did mention a name but I didn't hear it. But he did say the Dragon is never female.
Let's try and clear some of this up... I can't remember the exact question, but from what I read in this thread, it doesn't matter (I haven't read the Female Dragon thread). RJ said that, no, it is not possible to have a female Dragon. If the wheel needs a female Dragon, then it would weave in *insert female Dragon name here*. Probably because of the blank faces he was getting he then added, you can find her in the scene where Mat blows the Horn...
He also said that a soul ready to be reborn cannot change gender, therefor the Dragon is ALWAYS male.
When a soul is reborn, at what point does it enter the body?
Hmm… *think, think* I’d have to say as a fetus. When the body becomes capable of sustaining life.
*stupid grin* Ok. In The Eye of the World, Thom said that the dead can take over a living body. If this happened, what would happen to the original soul?
*gave me a “haha, nice try you stupid monkey” grin* “Read and find out.”
YAAAAAAAAAAAARG! DAMN YOU! (ok, not really)
No, that is correct. Rand caused the bruises, so balefiring Semirhage would not make them go away. Balefire only removes paradoxes caused by the direct actions of the one who is balefired. And the bracelets remained after Rand balefired [Semirhage and Elza] because they weren't really part of Semirhage or Elza.
(comment regarding the thread on Dragonmount where some are arguing that by balefiring Graendal's palace, the Compulsion disappeared since there'd never had been a palace in the first place, and others are arguing that it doesn't work that way, objects don't have threads).
Everything has a thread, not just souls. Even a stone in a wall has a thread in the Pattern.
(Sorry I cannot put out his precise words, but here is the gist)—Jordan started by having balefire do this, but he later debunked this theory by saying someone killed by balefire can be reborn at some point. We currently know of nothing/no method that will completely remove someone from the Pattern.
I thanked him and turned to walk away at this point, so that he could continue with the signing. But he called me back and commented that:
The wolves in the Wolf Dream. We know that in the Wolf Dream something can be completely removed from the Pattern.
(Again, not his exact words, but this pretty close. Perhaps J.D can back me up here. He was there.)
As far as I know, no. Now, that's the sort of thing that could be buried in the notes, but you know, I've read a lot of them, and as far as I know, no, that's not the purpose.
Did the makers originally have a specific intention? Because I don't think Rand used it in the way they intended.
I believe that they did have a specific intention.
Did Rand use it alright, to their intentions?
That felt like a big waste to me.
Yeah. I was...I will RAFO that. But I will say that they did have a specific intention. How about, here's something I can give you...it's actually backing up a few questions. I've mentioned online that we're probably going to—for a certain anthology, the Unfettered anthology—we are going to be putting deleted scenes from A Memory of Light and some of these deleted scenes will answer some of your questions.
That's exciting. Thank you.
I don't think there's an official announcement; I don't think Harriet has decided 100% to make the announcement, but I've mentioned online before in things that we were considering it, and so, some deleted scenes having to do with some of your questions are actually going to be in this Unfettered anthology, and they may be from the viewpoint of a certain Forsaken that everyone's very curious about.
I asked him if there is a time limit on how long the Dark One can hold the souls he grabs.
He said that he is not sure and might have to consult the notes but he thinks that there is a time limit.
I think that should put an end to the theories that the Dark One has been holding any souls for hundreds or even thousands of years.
We blame people like these, that came up with this, but I do want to—and thank you for your question—I do want to hand...(to Matt) You had a correction on something we said earlier? Do you have it? Okay, Matt's going to correct us from what we were unable to answer, because Robert Jordan apparently gave an answer.
So, there was a question about the Dragon soul, and whether that was a title or not—was that your question?—so, he did answer. Someone asked him, because it had to do with...the entirety of the question was, you know, can it change? Could it be a woman, could it be a female? Would it be the same person in a new Turning? And his point, his answer was, it could not be female—that the soul would remain the same gender—and he also said that it would not necessarily be Rand in the next Turning. So in other words, it would still be that same soul, but it would not be—necessarily—the Rand story, the next time around. It might be...whatever. And he talked about it just because, looking at the Pattern as things change in Turnings, little things are going to change, or I guess in this case, maybe it's something bigger. So, I don't know if that answers your question, but that is answered again.
The question was really more about Lews Therin as the original Dragon, or as the original Dragon that we know about, and was he born to be the Dragon, or is that something that he kind of grew into?
It's the soul, the soul is the Dragon.
Okay, so he was born to it.
Yeah, I can totally talk about this. So, "River of Souls" is about a specific character, and in the drafting process this is not something I actually pitched to Harriet early on, but in the later meetings I got together with them and pitched something which was a deviation from things Robert Jordan had said. Harriet told me from the get-go, Look you've got the notes, you've got the outline, you've got to be a writer, not a transcriber. Robert Jordan would not have kept this the way it is, that's not how we work, and in a lot of places he said I'm thinking of doing this, OR this, and you'll have to decide which of those to do, or to do a third.
And so I pitched one of these kind of audacious sequences to her; sometimes these work, sometimes they don't. It's the sort of thing you need to do to create fiction, that I feel is daring, and you need to take these chances. But a lot of times you don't know if it's going to work until the book is done, and you can look at it together. And this was taking place in a region of the Wheel of Time world that Robert Jordan said I really don't think we're ever going to visit. Which is the part that was deviated, by doing this sequence. And it's not that long, only about 7,000 words, so it's like a novelette. I sent it to Harriet, and she said "I really like this, but we're going to cut it". The reason being, that it broke up the flow of the novel, and it was introducing too many new elements at the beginning of the volume that was supposed to be wrapping up elements. And those who do storytelling know that can be a really dangerous thing to do.
That was the reason. It was a big additional segment, and this is not what you call a slim volume anyway. So as a reader, it was not fun. Not that there was anything wrong with the sequence, but it was not what my antennae said we needed. We needed to get on with it.
Yes, instead of going sideways, when we needed to go forward.
Oh, excellent question. I should have put this during the frequently asked ones at the beginning. Are there any more plans to do anything else with the Wheel of Time universe?
No, there are not. The encyclopedia was put under contract in my husband's lifetime. He did enter into a contract for a trilogy of novels that are not part of the series but set in the world. He left either one or two sentences about that trilogy, which is not enough for anyone to work with so that it would very much still be his. He also said that—in the trade, it's called sharecropping in somebody's universe—and he said if anybody tries to sharecrop in my universe, I'll take out the hard disk, and I'll rent a semi—or a big rig, you might say, since his name was Rigney—and I will drive it backwards and forwards over the hard drive three or four times to be sure that no one will be able to do it. He really didn't want it done. And since he made it clear in his last months and weeks that he really did want the series finished, you have the end of the series, but there won't be any more done in the Wheel of Time world. [applause]
Along those lines, though, I will mention—people ask a lot—the film rights are held by Universal Pictures, and they're working toward feature films, one film per book. We don't know how far along they are. They have a second draft of a screenplay, which I have not seen. They're on a second draft.
And I haven't either.
Yeah, and Harriet hasn't either. There is one other little tidbit—there's an anthology coming out called Unfettered. It's a charity anthology for a member of our community, in the science fiction and fantasy community, who had huge medical bills. And in order to help pay those off, we donated a deleted sequence from A Memory of Light. It's something that was written, but we decided for pacing reasons did not fit in the book. And so we donated that to Unfettered and so you can read that to see something behind the scenes. I will admit it's much more me than Robert Jordan, but it is something that we cut from A Memory of Light, just it didn't fit, pacing-wise, in the book.
Is there anyone Brandon wanted to include in A Memory of Light but didn't get to?
No, he was able to get to everyone. There were two major sequences cut from the book. One of these will appear in the charity anthology Unfettered. The other character POV just didn't work.
Can you shed any light on how the Rand/Elan body swap happened? I'm wondering whether it was like the Dark One's transmigration of souls, if it's tied to Rand's apparent new abilities, or something else.
It's not outlined in the notes, but I think of it as the soul that wanted to live found a body, and the one that wanted to die, did.
I knew going in that Brandon has said RJ didn't explain how it happened, but a friend wanted me to ask and I'm glad I did! It was a much better answer than the shoulder shrug I expected based on the torchat.
Speaking of torchat, I noticed Brandon told someone that if they ask him on a tour stop, he might tell them who it was that helped Rand out of the cave. I'd be interested in knowing that and I would have asked that too if I'd remembered.
Once a person pledges themselves to the Shadow (either voluntarily or involuntarily), are they always reborn as agents of the Dark?
BWS first qualified that any answer he will give is as always subject to the caveat that it is subject to a subsequent unearthing of RJ's notes on the subject or an answer that RJ previously gave on the subject. BWS then stated that assuming that a soul was not transmigrated (for example the 'gars [I probably botched the spelling of this word]), then no. That person's soul is a blank slate.
Along with that, Harriet spoke briefly about how impressed she was with Bao the Wyld, aka Demandred, that he was this stunning juggernaut of hatred and destruction, but also that he spent the time creating a life and position for himself among the Sharans. It seems that he went there almost immediately after "waking" from the Bore, and that much of the activities he went through are in parallel with Rand's actions on the main segment of the continent, and that journey of Demandred's is what will be published in the Unfettered volume.
Brandon specified that although it is Wheel of Time material, it cannot be considered 100% canon, because it was cut early enough that it did not get subjected to Maria's detailed continuity validation.
Now, are Graendal's actions in Shara mentioned at all in "River of Souls"?
I don't think we talk about them.
I was just curious as to how that interacted... (crosstalk)
I mean, I considered...Yeah, it certainly helped with what he was doing.
But I mean...yeah. It's...
Because she totally didn't know he was there, so....
Yeah. It certainly helped, and if I had been able to go back, and do—which I wouldn't have done—but if, you can imagine, there's a very cool interaction there, where he's there, and she's doing stuff, and he's taking advantage of it, but she's not seeing him and things like that. Like, the whole Demandred In Shara thing is awesome, because there's like twelve books worth of coolness of him being the hero...
Because all this stuff is in the notes, right?
What's that? Oh, some of it is, not all of it.
Oh, well yeah, because I know you said you had to kind of....you know, extrapolate a little bit...
I had to extrapolate a lot of the Sharan culture and things, which is where "River of Souls" came from. At the end of the day, because I was extrapolating these things, that's what made them distracting from the main plotline, if that makes sense.
And so, a lot of what I was doing was like, it you know...all of Demandred's flunkies. Jim didn't name those; they're not in the notes...but I put them in because, you know, we have to evoke this entire two years of awesomeness....
Yeah, it can't just come out of nowhere, and be nothing.
Yeah, so there's that. But yeah, it was too much me, also.
The next one is something that somebody asked for me—on my behalf—before, but did Perrin bind his soul to the hammer? Or...
Did Perrin bind his soul to the hammer? That's an interesting question. Why are they asking this?
Because I asked before, was it Hopper? It's because of what Slayer said about his ability to step in and out....
Right, was based on having two souls in one body...
Yeah, and he said, "It's just like you," right?
You know, so it has to be something.
Yeah, it's a good question. (with an air of finality) That's a very good question.
(sighs loudly) (people around laugh)
I would say...how about this: I would say the relationship between Perrin and Hopper is...part of the reason that...Hopper may not...have suffered as dire a fate...(crosstalk)
That's what I was hoping for...
...as wolves would normally suffer when killed where Hopper was killed. How about that?
Yeah, that's what I was hoping for, but your answer to the last one kind of drew me on the path of the hammer, which was somebody else's idea, right?
But yeah. Good!
So there you go.
That makes me happy.
Was Perrin's hammer forged with Hopper's soul, or was he considered dead at the time?
There was nothing in the notes to say I could put Hopper's soul in the hammer, but there was also nothing to say I couldn't, so I believe it was there, since otherwise it would be gone forever. [Much cheering from the Memory Keepers]
If people can be removed from the Wheel by dying in the Wolf Dream or the Dream World when they're there in person, how is it that there are any people left, if there's been an infinite number of turns of the Wheel?
They actually can't. That only works on wolves, regardless of what some people think in-world. I thought like you do, but Maria was quite firm that RJ said it couldn't happen, even in the World of Dreams. (Or even with balefire—which I thought would also remove people. Maria explained that I was wrong, and RJ was firm on this one too.)
I only have one question, and its WOT related. What the hell is the jumara's final form???
River of Souls, the deleted sequence from A Memory of Light we put in a charity anthology, includes a fully grown one. So the answer will soon be revealed.
Yes. Brandon said that he disagreed with RJ's views that a hero once bound could not be unbound. Brandon thought that since the WoT is infinite, eventually everyone would be bound.
I had talked to Brandon about this before, noting that it was possible for heroes of the horn to die a permanent death, if killed after death while in Tel'aran'rhiod, same as the wolves. (See The Fires of Heaven Chapter 14, "Meetings".) I figured he had forgotten, so I emailed him after Res posted his report. This is his response to me:
I had completely forgotten that. So there IS an unbinding method. You just can't live through it.
For what it is worth, I am reasonably certain there is nothing in the notes about Noal being an old hero. [...] But maybe someone can find something in the notes at the [College of Charleston] library to be certain.
Am I close?
Yeah, you're on the right track.