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Good and Evil: Law and Chaos

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  • Good and Evil: Law and Chaos

    Haven't been on for a while, anyway:
    As I was reasing Corum, it struck me that, Chaos is always portrayed as Evil, Law always as Good. Now this seems odd to me, especially given Mike's reluctance to use these words to define any of his creations. Now, despite Chaos being wholly given over to pleasure and corruption with Law always being committed to the Balence, Mike always seems to emphasise the fact that Law isn't wntirely good. So, why have we never seen Law as an insidious influence, why hasn't Chaos ever been seen as a desired thing? Of course, Chaos would have to be restricted, so that it never overcame the Planet as it is bound to do, but, despite this, as we have been told that Law can exert an influence that causes stagnation, resulting in the planet becoming just as inhospitable as it might become under Chaos' rule, so, will we ever see a Champion enlist the help of Chaos? Irrespsective of the fact that it is bound to attempt to betray any pact or bond? Make a good plot, don't you feel? It's also quite an interesting philosophical question, in a sort of irrelevant, run-down, mediated sort of way. Chaos and Law.

  • #2
    Chaos is seen as a good thing in quite a few books. In Corum's world, however, it was seen as a pretty bad thing. In The Dreamthief's Daughter, for instance, Miggea is Law gone to the bad, just as in Corum Chaos has gone to the bad. In the War Amongst the Angels stories,
    Law is well out of order, too. In the Elric stories Chaos tends to be bad, but the main object there is to restore the Cosmic Balance by bringing in more Law. The Chaos Engineers in the WATA stories are mostly 'good',
    you'll note and there's an Elric story called, as I recall, The Black Sword's Song (something like that) in which there's an assumption that a supernatural being is on the side of Chaos, but is actually a corrupted Lord of Law. So I think I've been doing it quite a bit. There's also the suggestion that the Dancers at the End of Time are also Lords of Chaos.

    Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
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    Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
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    Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Michael Moorcock
      The Chaos Engineers in the WATA stories are mostly 'good', you'll note and there's an Elric story called, as I recall, The Black Sword's Song (something like that) in which there's an assumption that a supernatural being is on the side of Chaos, but is actually a corrupted Lord of Law. So I think I've been doing it quite a bit.
      Absolutely. In the world of 'Blood' and 'WATA' the Famous Chaos Engineers are genuine hero types, and I was certainly on their side. Of course they weren't all that they appeared in the "serial" sections, but overall they were ticking the right boxes...

      D...
      "That which does not kill us, makes us stranger." - Trevor Goodchild

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      • #4
        What is good and what is evil?
        What is chaos and what is law?
        Sometimes the difference is great and sometimes the difference is small,
        Sometimes I think we would be better with none at all.
        And if these opposing forces were gone would we find more?


        What is light and what is darkness?
        What is creation and what is destruction?
        What is masculine and what is feminine?
        What is love and what is hate?
        All need a balance before its too late.


        better stick to the day job :oops: :)

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        • #5
          I would also argue that Mike, in his panoply of works, has done more than any other author of our day to blur the lines between good and evil, law and chaos to create a better understanding of our own nature.
          For at the end of the day, isn't the study of the E.C. just an externalized examination of mediums of self?

          Even history shows this paradox:

          The Nurenburg laws were lawful yet evil.
          The treaties made between the American Tribes and the government of the US were lawful yet evil, not to mention unworth the paper printed on.
          The Underground Railroad was Unlawful yet good.
          Rosa Parks sitting at the front of the bus was Unlawful yet good.

          But these value applications all come down to perception. And perception in our world is a singularly individual experience, woefully.

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          • #6
            K, not sure what happened there but I seem to have been logged out while typing the above treatise and lost credit for it.
            Technology and I just don't seem to mix.

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            • #7
              The Eternal Champion, which I first wrote when I was 17, was a parable, if you like, of my own understanding that 'our' side were not necessarily the good guys, after all. It described that shock one feels when, for instance, we learned of Mei Lei or the sadism of our side in Iraq (and by example probably elsewhere). A more sophisticated version of that story was, for instance, Breakfast in the Ruins (which described British torture of Mau Mau suspects in Kenya, for instance). I suppose that what I'm hoping is that my fellow citizens will join with me in holding our own people responsible to be what we are told they are. Yet you also know that evil can come out of the most generous intentions and that good can come out of some of the worst deeds in history (I think the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, for instance, couldn't have hapened without the Nazi Holocaust). Ultimately you have to find a subtler model of your world than 'Good guys' and 'Bad guys' (which infects the rhetoric of Bush, who sincerely believes, I'm sure, that he's a good guy) and for me Law, Chaos and the Cosmic Balance are the nearest I can come, in my
              fantasy fiction at least, to creating that model.

              Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
              The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
              Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


              Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
              The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
              Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

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              • #8
                And it is a tool that you have put to amazing use. I think that the authors who can create such a dynamic system are few and far between. The fact that you have have made such great use blending the lines between them is one of points that attracts me so much to your work. It feels more true than the Tolkeinists' Good vs. Evil. People are not so simple as that and so the world we've created and live in is not that simple. Hero's are not always what they seem, same is true of villians. I think Greg Boyington put it aptly at the end of his autobigraphy Baa Baa Black Sheep, "Show me a hero, and I'll prove to you he's a drunk."
                "In omnibus requiem quaesivi, et nusquam inveni nisi in angulo cum libro"
                --Thomas a Kempis

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                • #9
                  Nice point. My argument has always been that the best popular fiction reflects the world as accurately as possible, like the best literary fiction. In this, I believe, there's no fundamental difference between genre and so-called non-genre, just a choice of method. I hope that's what I demonstrate, for instance, in my fantasy novels and my Pyat novels.
                  This is why I feel awkward about claims made for Tolkien which I suspect he would never tolerate himself. Tolkien specifically set out to tell a fairy tale with a happy ending. The kind of fairy tale he seemed to be talking about was the kind which tells you there ARE free lunches... :)

                  Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
                  The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
                  Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


                  Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
                  The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
                  Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    i haven't really read enough of Mr. Moorcock's books to know for sure (i only started reading them a year or two ago, when my friend got me a copy of Corum: Coming of Chaos), but i don't think chaos is always reflected as "evil" i've read things in them from both law and chaos that are good and bad, anyways i also enjoy the blur between good and evil in the books. I've read a good amount of fantasy (i'll admit it, unless someone recommends a book to me fantasy is about all i read) and the eternal champion series is one of my favorites. I like the hero that makes mistakes, sometimes commits heinous acts, fights evil with evil. I tire of the hero who never does a thing that is evil, or if he does he does it inadvertantly, to many fantasies these days create that kind of hero, and though they are still enjoyable they seem to all seem to end to perfectly... anyways i know i've gone off-topic... sorry for that it's just something i tend to do.

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                    • #11
                      The Eternal Champion-Law/Balance/Chaos can also be seen as a metaphor for the human psyche. We all desire the freedom granted by Chaos to do whatever we want, but we must also adhere to our own self-control and our morals which is exemplified by law. We can't live our life doing whatever we want, but we can't also not live our lives by not doing anything in fear of doing something wrong. The Eternal Champion, who stands for a balance between the two allowing the human mind to follow both Chaos and Law, but never giving into one or the other. Almost as if Chaos, Law and Balance stand for Id, Ego and Superego respectivly in the Freudian terms.

                      But this is all an opinion of an idea. Just a way that I see the Eternal Champion, maybe I've had to study too much Freud at University, God only knows what the Black Sword is meant to represent

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                      • #12
                        Was the Spirit of the Black Sword not a powerful, selfish (and hence evil) Demon of Chaos emboddied into an indestructible Black Sword?

                        Perhaps Sorcery was possible in Elric's and Corum's worlds because the natural laws of their planes permitted it, like electricity in ours?

                        I know someone who was so strictly lawful and so devoutly religous and good that the result was that it caused a great deal of harm to their family, in a similar way to say the mother in the film Carrie. This is a very poigniant reminder of what happens when someone goes too far one way or the other from what most people would regard as the norm...

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                        • #13
                          Corum, that is a perfect example of how absolute law can be as dangerous and destructive as absolute chaos. It is one of the main problems I have with fundementalists of any variety, be it religious, or political, or social. Mr. Moorcock's writtings have it perfect in their search for a Cosmic Balance...it really is something that we all need in our lifes. We need some principals to hold to and some social regularity around us, but if that never changes or if we can never expand on it and experience different things it becomes just as corrupt as utter anarchy or chaos.
                          "In omnibus requiem quaesivi, et nusquam inveni nisi in angulo cum libro"
                          --Thomas a Kempis

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                          • #14
                            Everking thx for the reply. I was curious what the numbers below your post mean..?

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                            • #15
                              heh :lol: . It's something that I was halfheartedly trying to figure out for about five years, then I finally stubbled on the proper equation...It's the way to calculate the number of possible variations for the starting possitions of the plugboard connections on a WWII German Enigma cyphermachine. The actual number ends up being 150,738,274,937,250. And that's just for the plugboard. Multiply that by possible combinations of the rotors (60 for the standard three wheel, 120 for the four wheel) and the rotor possitions (17,576 for the three wheel, 456,976 for the four) and you end up with 158,962,555,217,826,360,000 (approx. 1.59 x 10^20) and 8,266,052,871,326,970,720,000 (approx. 8.27 x 10^21) respectively. No wonder the pretty much invented the computer to crack it!
                              "In omnibus requiem quaesivi, et nusquam inveni nisi in angulo cum libro"
                              --Thomas a Kempis

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