Friday, January 2, 2015

When utopias crumble

When one reads the series The Wheel of Time, one may notice that so much of the history of the world has been lost prior to the Age of Legends.  The world has lost it's knowledge of war.  It's forgotten guns, swords - the very instruments of protection needed from evil.  The world became a liberal utopia of everyone singing kumbayah.

But how did it get to that point?  How did it come to be that this advanced civilization lost all it's knowledge of self-defense, and nearly was destroyed by the Dark One?

The answer lies in beginnings of the prior Age.

The Age before the Age of Legends, was, ours.  As has been pointed out numerous times, the Mercedes Benz hood ornament in the Museum in Tanchico and other hints, such as the Cold War battle between America and Russia, have been sprinkled throughout the books.

But how does one get from our current Age, to the Age of Legends?

The first requirement is channeling.

To those not familiar with the Wheel of Time, channeling is a system of magic Robert Jordan designed for his fantasy series.  However, unlike magic systems that use spells - his magic system uses the power endowed in the Universe by the Creator in a physics like fashion.  'Channelers' weave the elements to form physical effects - and abilities are different for males and females in different areas.

Obviously, channeling is not real.  So we have to assume that's possible for the sake of the series.

But what would happen to a real world that was suddenly introduced to what seemed like 'magic' to some, but could be reproduced in a laboratory over and over?  It would cause a religious-like panic from many, and for many, it would cast serious doubts on traditional religion.

I suggest that in the wake of the discovery of channeling, religions fell away.  In it's place only left seculars, and those that joined the Cult of the One Power.

Evidence of this cult can be seen in the books.

The first evidence is the Angrael in the shape of Robert Jordan himself.  It suggests that a group of early channelers, perhaps ones who first discovered Angrael creation, decided to make their Angrael in the proper shape to recognize the originator - Robert Jordan.  As some may know, according to those believe in the multi-verse, they often believe anything is possible so long as it's a possibility.  So if Jordan suggested it, it surely must be possible in some Universe.

The second bit of evidence comes later - in the destruction of this cult.

At some point, the cult becomes either too power, or mistrusted.  It's ultimately subdued and removed from the history books. The end result is the creation of the Aes Sedai - servants of all.  A name which speaks to a subjugation of the channelers to the whims of the majority of the population (98% or so percent).  The Aes Sedai are also forced to wear a ring identifying them - called the Great Serpents ring.

I have before, explained that the concept of the Serpent as the World Eater goes back to ancient Egypt.  The idea that this lives on the Wheel of Time itself, on the front of each book, is a testament to the importance of this symbol.

The meaning of the serpent is knowledge.  And knowledge, is generally the holy grail of secularism.  In essence, it makes sense that the Cult of the One Power was ultimately put down by the remaining secular population.

After it defeated this cult, it's leaders must have concluded that the knowledge of such a cult was too dangerous.  But they didn't stop there.  They erased all history of war and it's tools.  They erased the borders on the maps so everyone lived in one big happy commune.

So the liberals finally got what they wanted - the perfect utopia - void of any mention of any evil or violent act.

And this backfires.  Utterly.

That these men and women of the late Age of Legends were fallible is clear.   Aginor, for instance, tinkered with the soul, creating half human-half bestial creatures a step beyond even the fevered dreams of a Nazi doctor.  But it was their blind faith in their scientific pursuits that lead them to boring into the Pattern, and of course, partially releasing the Dark One from his prison.

The world is nearly destroyed. 

The lesson in this is that the people purposefully forgot their own history to their societies ultimate demise.  Good must be prepared to fight evil.  

We can't let that happen to us.