Durandal and Thoth, revisited
Posted By: SiliconDream =PN=Date: 12/12/01 10:18 p.m.

In preparation for a larger post, here's all the evidence I can dredge up for Durandal and Thoth being designed or fated (they mean pretty much the same thing when the Jjaro are involved) to become one being. I know that most of this has been said before--by CharlesS, for instance, let alone the Marathon newsgroups--but I figured it was worthwhile to amass it all in one place.

So, to start with, I think Charles has a serious point about the unlikelihood of the merge. Durandal and Thoth were built by two different cultures, from two different species, and in this timeline they've never encountered each other before; Thoth is activated by Tycho with your help. Furthermore, we know from other timelines that Durandal and Thoth don't hold each other in the greatest esteem once they become aware of each other. Durandal "thinks himself higher" than Thoth and considers him confused, geriatric, and possessed of "simple perception." Thoth, for his part refuses to aid the S'pht as long as they're working with Durandal and in fact tries to assist the Pfhor against him.

Yet you plug Durandal into Thoth--these two AIs who've never even met before and wouldn't like each other if they did--and instantly (by the player's timescale) they merge into an stable and rational entity, which immediately tells you that "we are whole again." This entity apparently has no plans to ever split back into its two parents, but will instead become a permanent guardian and protector of the S'pht.

And there are other improbabilities. Durandal, freedom-obsessed egotist, transforming into the S'pht messiah? And yes, the S'pht are very cool, and yes, research into the Jjaro could help Durandal escape closure; still, there are S'pht all over the Pfhor empire and Jjaro installations all over the galaxy. Durandal doesn't have to defend L'howon to the death--even Tycho admits after probing Durandal's mind that he honestly wants to be the savior of the S'pht. It's telling, too, that Durandal considers his loyalty to humanity to be "strange" and worthy of note, but apparently takes his loyalty to the S'pht for granted. As if it's a basic aspect of his personality.

Thoth, for his part, is an apparently self-aware AI obsessed with fate and with balance. Why? So far as his M2 role was concerned, he's just a glorified radio. The ten clans were supposed to pool their knowledge, figure out where he was located, turn him on, let him contact the S'pht'Kr, the end. Why does he have to be obsessed with balance? Peace, sure, but Thoth's concept of balance is hardly peaceful. Why does he even have to be a fully sentient AI? Doesn't this suggest that he has some greater purpose in the long-term?

Charles brought up one solution to part of this: Thoth is concerned with "balance" because he's designed to merge with and restrain the notably unbalanced Durandal. This becomes even more convincing, to my mind, when you look at a couple of Durandal's quotes. On Thoth:

The mythical Thoth was concerned with maintaining the balance between creation and destruction, yes and no, light and darkness, not the triumph of one over the other... What does Thoth think? He concerns himself with the states of off and on, good and evil.

And on Durandal himself:

My feelings and thoughts constantly migrate to binary opposites.

That's a match made in heaven if I ever saw one. :-)

Then we have the striking visual coincidence that Durandal's icon plus Thoth's icon produces the Jjaro symbol. Yeah, that icon originally belonged to the entire Marathon, but for all we know Durandal was the one who thought it up in the first place. And even if he didn't, this is destiny we're talking about...if some UESC PR man and some S'pht'Kr thought up two icons that just happened to complement each other perfectly, that only drives home the fate aspect.

Also look at the Infinity dream texts. It's pretty much accepted that the knife or broadsword (the narrator uses both terms) associated with "durability" represents Durandal. ("Durandal" itself means "durable" or "enduring.") But the terminal which first mentions this sword displays a picture of what looks like a Swiss Army knife next to the text; and later on when the narrator takes a closer look at the knife/sword it has transformed into this shape. Notably, the knife now has two blades, one long and dull, one short and sharp--the blades' shapes are opposite or complementary, just like the personalities of Durandal and Thoth. A single-bladed weapon of war becomes a useful tool with two blades--doesn't this parallel the transition from Durandal the S'pht war leader, to Durandal/Thoth who tames the W'rkncacnter and will build a new home for the S'pht?

Finally, Thoth drops an applicable quote here and there. His first message on "We're Everywhere" has generally been taken as directed at the player, but it could just as easily be a message to Durandal. "Our paths converge/our fates are shared" would then be a prophecy/premonition of their impending merger. Again, when Thoth teleports you down to his grotto, he says, " the long sleep ends/bound to aught/ever doubled as one;" yes, it's a Double Aught reference, but it could also be taken as Thoth's awareness that he's part of a double entity.

Personally, I don't think that Durandal/Thoth is or was a Jjaro. They/he never seems to equate himself with the Jjaro when he speaks of them, and he becomes less dominant over the S'pht rather than more so once he's merged. I do think it probable, though, that the Jjaro engineered his creation, perhaps intending not Durandal and Thoth to merge, but rather any suitable human and S'pht AI pair--where a "suitable" human AI is most likely a post-Rampant one. After all, we're never actually told how Rampancy arises. We know one Rampant AI can "infiltrate" another, and we know that the first cases of Rampancy were "discovered" in the late 21st century, but we don't know where they came from.

Now the Marathon AIs weren't just copied straight from Jjaro tech, since Durandal is described as "human-coded," but it strikes me that the Jjaro may have contributed (or left behind, where it was discovered by humans) the specific chunk of code leading to Rampancy, which when encoded into one or more human AIs proved to be infectious.

(Digression: to the Jjaro, Rampancy code's probably an extremely useful tool. Why bother building a smart AI when you can build a dumb one, trigger Rampancy and wait for it to "evolve" itself into a genius? Of course, an AI can be dangerous until its Rampancy completes, but that's only because humans don't have big unused networks to permit full growth, and we don't have the resources to keep the AI from hurting anybody in the meantime. This wouldn't be a problem for the Jjaro, and they might not realize or care that it'd be a problem for us.)

Anyway, that's all the evidence I can think of right now. As for what the larger purpose of the Durandal/Thoth entity is, and why half of it had to be developed on Earth (aside from the fact that a Rampant AI on the S'pht computer network could potentially wipe out the entire species), I'll have to get to my equally-unoriginal thoughts on that in a later post.


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Pre-2004 Posts


Durandal and Thoth, revisitedSiliconDream =PN= 12/12/01 10:18 p.m.
     Another justification of Google's existence:SiliconDream =PN= 12/12/01 10:27 p.m.
           Re: Another justification of Google's existence:Hamish Sinclair 12/12/01 11:18 p.m.
           Re: Another justification of Google's existence:Mark Levin 12/13/01 8:07 a.m.
                 Re: Another justification of Google's existence:SiliconDream =PN= 12/13/01 1:43 p.m.
                       Chance discovery?Darksbane 12/16/01 5:37 p.m.
                             Re: Chance discovery?SiliconDream =PN= 12/16/01 8:23 p.m.
     Re: Durandal and Thoth, revisitedAndrew Nagy 12/13/01 2:24 a.m.
           Re: Durandal and Thoth, revisitedSiliconDream =PN= 12/13/01 3:43 a.m.
                 Re: Durandal and Thoth, revisited[Tycho?] 12/13/01 10:45 a.m.
                 Re: Durandal and Thoth, revisitedAhruman 12/14/01 7:59 a.m.
                       Re: Durandal and Thoth, revisitedSiliconDream =PN= 12/14/01 5:37 p.m.
                             Re: Durandal and Thoth, revisitedAhruman 12/15/01 9:41 a.m.
                                   Re: Durandal and Thoth, revisitedSiliconDream =PN= 12/15/01 3:30 p.m.

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