jestingrabbit wrote:Re Cubbish.
...snip... btw, he didn't die in some arbitrary car accident. He died trying to protect his things, and died rejoicing about the survival of his things, (having caressed the cheek of a terracotta warrior, thinking it his guardian angel) and died crushed by his things.
If you find that likeable, good for you. I think you're nuts.
Why was he in the novel? Perhaps Banks wanted someone to represent the fragre of the world as he sees it.
Please note, I did say he was an arsehole. I wouldn't like someone like Cubbish in real-life, but I am quite capable of liking a fictional anti-hero, which Banks seems to set him up as. I mean he's on the good guy's side right? Banks paints him as this market-driven monster, but when asked he still helps out Oh, no questions asked, at the drop of a hat. The guy is not completely without merit. I think you're right that he's in there to try and represent the 'fragre' of our world, I'd just have liked him to have slightly more to do in the actual plot. And yes, I don't like defining success how Cubbish sees it either. It's empty and shallow and pretty horrible.
Re The Philosopher.
I think that the philosopher was critical to the plot. To illustrate that, let me ask you two questions: why was d'O in the wrong and Mulverhill in the right? and what was the point of the Concern? ...snip...
The Concern's point is whatever the person in charge of it wants it to be. d'O was in the wrong because her methods were brutal and her aim for the Concern was simply power in itself - her's and her's alone. As to why Mulverhill is in the right, well mainly it's because she opposes d'O and shows some self-restraint. I was actually half-expecting a plot twist towards the end where we find the sides are swapped. Remember that Oh, who is ostensibly a good guy in the end, keeps you guessing which way he will jump and is a trained assassin
who murders people at the drop of a hat.
The Philosopher is there to act as a soap box for Banks and is not critical to the main plot - you could re-read the book and skip every section headed 'The Philosopher' and it still make sense. That's what I was complaining about with regards to Cubbish and Philosopher - they are mainly there just for Banks to discuss various philosophical issues. That's fine, and I agree with much of what he and you have said. I just think it should be edited down a bit, that's all.
And what she uses him for, what he does, torture, is wrong, at least the way he does it, imo. Banks certainly views it as effective and I think that it can be. I find myself agreeing with the attitude of the philosopher's hero. Maybe torture is morally right and practically necessary in some circumstances, but it must still be legally forbidden and punished. But d'O views it as just another tool to be used, and often.
I don't think Banks does view it as effective. There's points where the Philosopher himself seems to realise this. The trouble with Banks discussing torture is that he seems to revel in gory scenes of all natures. I'd be interested to know how many of his novels you've read? You could claim he was making a point of how disgusting it is to inflict those things on another human, but I can think of about three books he has written that don't have a similar scene. The man can have a pretty sick imagination when he wants.
And I think that this is why d'O is wrong, or more specifically, why her leadership is illegitimate. She wants her edicts to not be subject to process, and she wants to use force in a manner that is ultimately capricious, and just about how she feels. Regarding the purpose of the Concern, it should be to do her bidding according to d'O, and that will include hideous violence and violations done at her whim,
Yes. See above.
whereas the Concern should be about stopping things like that from happening, across multiple realities.
Why? Why should the Concern not just keep itself to itself and organise fabulous parties all day long?
Firstly, I spent many months reading it. I took a long break when the torturing started. I can't read that and just shrug it off.
See my above note on Banks' other work.
That stuff has been going on under the aegis of western governments. Its not an abstraction that I can ignore, and I don't mind at all that the novel asked us to think about it.
Yes, it has been going on. I don't agree with it. I think it's shit. I'm going to skip the rest of your thoughts because I agree with most of them. I wasn't critiquing the messages in Transition, but rather the structure and style which could use a bit of work. I obviously read it in a very different way to you, especially given the length of time we each took. The other problem is that many of the points, particularly the fiscal ones, are either retreading ground that Banks has been over before or treated at a pretty superficial level.