Leala's Thoughts on the Aiel

Alexr al'Petros

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He may have even seen where the Shaido began to branch away from ji'e'toh/the Light, and uh...not taken it well. :look:

This is a brilliant point. I could see that see the progressive splintering off of your clan and perhaps realizing the end state (of not even being an Aiel Clan anymore) could be horrifyingly destructive. I know as a Marine; when new developments occurred it had potentials for incredibly disruptive effect (even if the developments were positive and necessary). Similarly, the rigidity of an Aiel society and the Clans with dogmatized ji'e'toh based on historic recollection and behavior patterns could have the same disruptive effect personally (and society wide). Perhaps the ordeal served to not only remind the Clan Chiefs of their past; but ensure that the Clan Chiefs were not so rigidly brittle in cultural norms that they could survive (and lead) their Clans into and through any uncertain (changeable) future.

I can imagine many ways to end....but the end that Muradin suffered (including tearing out his eyes), seems particularly horrific. And may be a good lesson in the danger of a rigidity of ji'e'toh and the Light (enter discussion of Whitecloaks at this point).
 

Viktara Fen

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I've been pondering this recently as well, and I think Muradin's breakdown to the point of shock and eye-gouging (and it seemed to me that he might have also bitten through his own tongue, given the bloody state of his mouth) might not be "weakness" so much as it's excess rigidity, as Alexr mentioned above, and attachment to belief. There's also the idea that, as is observed, the Aiel face the world as it is, not as they want it to be. It's quite a radical shock for them to have to accept and embrace that the world and truth are far, far different from anything they ever could have imagined.

That's quite a test for anyone, and as we later see with the Bleakness that comes upon the rank-and-file Aiel who learn the truth, it's not one that everyone can endure without having a very extreme (and very naturally human) kneejerk reaction. Couladin does what many real-world people do, for instance, in what's often called the Backfire Effect. When he's faced with worldview-shattering truths, he enters a state of deep denial, doubles down, and embraces progressively bigger lies and mental gymnastics to justify it. That he had this tendency and couldn't or wouldn't overcome it strikes me as the reason the Wise Ones wouldn't let him go to Rhuidean after Muradin failed to return. They probably knew how it would go, and they might have even seen possible futures in which they did let him go and it was somehow worse.

The Aiel's history in general seems to be one of painful and radical acceptance. In that regard, the way they live in the late Third Age isn't too different from the Way of the Leaf: You face what is, and you endure it as best as you can. It's the specifics of how one does the enduring that differ.
 
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