2012-11-25

Random, inarticulate stuff on rigidity that fails to get to the point

The most troublesome part about Wheel of the Time is the rigidity. No one will change her* mind unless forced to, and as such, has not actually changed her mind. No one develops as a person to becomes more inclusive and open. In general, if a person changes it is to further solidify and narrow already held views.

Expertise is pretty much always disregarded. Deferring to someone who knows, or even asking for advice, is completely out of the question. The only exception is Moiraine, and I am certain Rand and Egwene refers to her advice only because Moiraine is (presumed) dead and can no longer further whatever personal agenda she might have had.

Alliances are always uneasy and comes to pass only if a person will actually be undone if she refuses.

Teamwork doesn't exist, probably because every powerful position is an oligarchy or a dictatorship. Each person involved is striving for the top position, which makes trust, delegation and common causes necessary evils.

Loyalty is, more or less, a trait of servants, and it's usually over trivial things as making sure "my lord is properly dressed". The trait is inherent. No one earns loyalty, it's afforded to a person by her statue. Egwene's maid, for example, who is loyal to the Amyrlin, not her recent employer nor Egwene herself. These servants are suspiciously unambitious in a story where everyone wants to take over the world and think she not only have the chops to do so, but is required to in order to save the world.

Everyone is "stubborn" to a greater or lesser degree. Except it's not stubbornness, it's inflexibility. Every single person goes blank faced, hard eyed and stiff when criticized, disagreed with, met with a different set of values or knowledge that challenges her own.

It's so bad/expensive/embarrassing to be wrong that a person spends significant energy pretending she wasn't wrong at all and certainly is right where it matters. The only thing that's worse than being wrong is being caught at dissembling about it. The response is always extreme and physical: blushing, downcasts eyes, wincing, cringing, etc.

Because no one can actually change, new ideas have to be brought by people too young and/or inexperienced to know what's what. If such a person is powerful enough (never convincing, persuasive or eloquent) others will go along, either because they're being strong-armed, or because not going along would mean removing themselves from the situation and give up on any possibility of reverting it.

Prejudice is the norm not the exception. You are were you came from and you cannot change your basic values (unless you're adopting the absolute opposite of those values, is a darkfriend, or someone who doesn't matter to the story). Aes Sedai, for example, are not really individuals to anyone but themselves. That becomes especially apparent when Rand upon being rescued from Elaida's Aes Sedai condemns his rescuing Aes Sedai because they came in a greater number (nine instead of six) than he had decreed (arguably, when going to rescue someone you'd take as many people as you can in order to succeed). Obviously, since Rand is the main character so it's the right decision.

And that's the trouble, unless clearly a bad guy, being inflexible, narcissistic, prejudiced, paranoid, and generally omnipotent is the way to go. When a person ends up in trouble the lesson is not that isolating yourself and disregarding what other people have to say is what makes you weak, but that you trusted too much and weren't rigid enough.

* I am wary of using of female pronounce because of the exhausting war of the sexes, but I refuse to use "their" as gender neutral because it's grammatically incorrect and confuses me with regards to verbs.

No comments:

Post a Comment