6/16/12 update: just mentioning this now.
Roxy’s going to make an apple. You know, like the one that was missing from the Maid of Life’s tree.
(I was going to say “with the inspiration of Calliope” but, no, that’s already happened.
We’ve seen so much of Caliborn lately that I nearly forgot his sister’s serpentine path is rather more.. subtle.)
For the love of all that is sacred or profane, PLEASE stop asking me questions about Breath.
I’m going to finish dealing with the last few months’ accumulated half-finished posts
before I even consider addressing this ravening nightmare.
But I just read four messages and three were about Breath.
I don’t like any of the Heroes of Breath and don’t find their dialogue memorable. I also think it’s more or less a given that certain details about the title of our original POV character’s aspect are being intentionally obscured for much the same reason we weren’t told what a Prince was before Eridan picked up his science wand. Given that right now I can guarantee I wouldn’t have the slightest bit of fun writing a post on the subject, and that there’s going to be narrative payoff for the partial mystery of Breath somewhere down the line, I’m not planning to talk about it any time soon.
The Thief of Life’s final heist.
Troll longevity is all fucked up.
The ‘lowest’ hemocaste’s lifespan is “just a dozen or two sweeps.” Taking one sweep as 2.2 Earth years, twelve sweeps - the lower end of the age range where rustbloods die of old age - is 26.4 years. Some of the source of Beforan highbloods’ patronizing attitudes towards lowbloods makes a lot of sense in light of this; if a rustblood might die of old age before finishing their Ph.D., why should they even aspire to higher learning? Iain (M.) Banks - who is probably my favorite author - died a few days ago; he didn’t publish his first book until he was 30. Why expect lowbloods to accomplish anything much, when they have so little time to do it in?
And yet it isn’t any of the lowbloods who has the most obvious issues with how unfair the extremes of troll longevity are. It’s the highest of highbloods, the Tyrian would-be tyrant, who is decidedly not okay with the situation.
When they first meet in the dream bubbles, Meenah is really rather rude to Aranea, who had been waiting to see her for longer than I care to imagine.
But then Meenah catches herself, and she remembers that Aranea wouldn’t have lived anywhere near as long as she would have.
If the Beforans had decided to just live out their natural lives in their null session, then Meenah would have watched everyone she knew die before her, one by one, until she had nothing left but thousands of years of solitude stretching out before her… And then, quite abruptly, Meenah’s attitude changes.
Because, abrasive as she is, Meenah must love her friends. After all, she threw away thousands of years of life rather than live them alone.
But in another life, she made a different choice.
When someone asks a question like “what are Welsh things doing in this game,” Homestuck has trained me to immediately wonder “what were things from this game doing in Wales?”
You can’t separate the question “why is this legendary Welsh sword in this Sburb session?” from the question “why is a legendary weapon from a Sburb session cropping up in Welsh folklore?” Dave’s sword and King Arthur’s sword have meanings that are inextricably intertwined, somehow.
I can’t remember if there’s a good name for this mechanism somewhere in canon. For the time being I’m going to call it “resonance.” This “resonance” is the reason that some nameless ancient Greek looked up at this part of the sky:
(taken from here)
and decided “That looks just like a man/horse! Oh, and the man/horse also likes archery.”
Resonance also explains why humans would tell stories about fairies that actually describe trolls fairly well on a number of points. Here’s the second paragraph of the Wikipedia entry for “Fairy,” with a few annotations:
Fairies are generally described as human in appearance and having magical powers. Their origins are less clear in the folklore, being variously dead,
or some form of demon,
[Her recurrance in history would earn her the reputation of a demoness, more feared than even her master]
or a species completely independent of humans or angels.
Fairies are otherworldly in appearance but can be attractive to humans, not to mention attracted to humans. They are said to be ruled by a Queen, who is beautiful, regal, and seductive, but also powerful and dangerous, and whose husband is much weaker than her or else is absent altogether. They can be harmful or helpful (or both) to humans, and they sometimes steal human children to raise, whether out of love or malice or simply a desire to have them as a servant. Sometimes there were two distinct courts of fairies, one relatively benign towards humans and one relatively malicious. Within the context of Homestuck, many features of fairy folklore resonate with the things we know about trolls - in other words, resonance is my name for what’s happening when Little Red Riding Hood’s grandmother is replaced by the big bad wolf who’s swallowed her whole.
Resonance is this:
Sburb uses ‘hyper flexible mythology’ tailored to each player group to help them realize their destinies; a sword in a stone pillar called Caledfwlch derives its meaning from the mythology of the “real world,” not from a story one of Dave’s consorts told him or from any other source within his session. But the Earthly myth about Caledfwlch? That isn’t inherently meaningful either - it’s bullshit, crafted from elements that rose from the abyss of some storyteller’s consciousness - and it contains truth despite that. It’s yet another mobius strip puzzle.
Sburb uses the Arthur story as part of the ‘hyper flexible mythology’ it tailors to Dave, but what is true in the Arthur story is true because Dave inspired it. Hephaestus the denizen is influenced by Hephaestus in our mythology, but our mythology’s Hephaestus was influenced by some ancient storyteller who spun a tale of the ultimate craftsman and had a ray of Light strike him when it was time to give his creation a name… (“Hephaestus, that sounds right. The forge-god is named Hephaestus. And his forge is.. in a volcano? Yes Im Completely Certain Of That Suddenly”)
Look upon Owain, and marvel.
This game is why I forgot to finish my Thief of Life post last night.
I love when getting more context only makes things weirder.
Revisiting the Thief of Life.
Last October I talked a little about the Life aspect in general and the Thief of Life in particular. She’s now become the only character who’s spoken on-panel in two separate incarnations - as Meenah and as )(er Imperious Condescension. There are two distinct ways of being a Thief of Life on display now, and I happen to love them both.
When I wrote my previous post, I thought that Meenah’s future should involve her learning to do relatively selfless things for relatively selfish reasons. I thought she should give up her ‘right’ to command the ghost army, which didn’t really happen -but then, the whole point was for Meenah to step down in favor of someone who would be a better leader than she is. Given that Karkat stood her up, do you really think Vriska would be a better leader?
But Meenah did something even better.
(Her problem isn’t “the suffering of countless worlds,” of course.)
And so the Thief of Life gets what she wants by ‘stealing’ a possibility - life - from herself by getting it ‘redistributed’ it to someone else.
This is so beautifully Thief-of-Life. You know what I found even more impressive, though?
The Condesce found herself an heiress she didn’t instinctively want to murder - but Jane’s inheritance, the thing that makes her “the heiress,” is the Betty Crocker corporation.
Your name is JANE. As was previously mentioned, you are poised for an ELITE OPPORTUNITY to test the SBURB ALPHA. It is so elite in fact, you are the only of your kind invited to playtest! Though you guess that probably comes with the territory of being the HEIRESS APPARENT TO A BAKED GOODS EMPIRE.
Why is Jane heiress to Crockercorp? Because the Condesce made her the heiress to Crockercorp. It’s the Condesce’s company, after all, and who she wills it to is her choice. In universe B1, she did not choose Jane.
pipefan413: The girl was finally free, by a strange turn of events. But not without a final jab from the witch. It turned out that in her will she had left the entire company to the boy!
)(er Imperious Condescension didn’t just sit around waiting for fate to drop an heiress in her lap. The first version of Jane she met must’ve seemed promising - but she also resisted.
pipefan413: The baroness would raise her very strictly, mentoring her in the art of baking. The girl took to the lessons with fierce determination. Her only act of defiance left was to one day surpass the baroness in skill, and beat her at her own game. It was all she could do, for the baroness made sure she knew there could be no escape.
pipefan413: The girl that day swore she would bring down the baroness and her evil empire. She would use the many secrets she’d learned over the years against her, and began carefully plotting her downfall.
pipefan413: Years went by. The girl was nearly ready to put her plan into action. But then, just like that, the baroness disappeared. She was never seen or heard from again.
The Condesce is a Life player, though, and Life players are lateral thinkers. Nanna grew up hating the Condesce, but Jane Crocker grew up surrounded by Crockercorp propaganda, considering herself the number one fangirl of the corporation that was her inheritance.
The Condesce made her own heiress.
[excerpt from reblog/response follows]
In case anyone hadn’t noticed, the narrator has never been more unreliable than during the ‘quadrant exposition.’ I mean, trolls are said to be
unlike humans who have very orderly, simple, straightforward romantic relationships without exception
So yeah. Someone should write an article on socially constructed identities as seen in Homestuck.
OH SHIT I WRITE ARTICLES MAYBE I SHOULD WRITE AN ARTICLE ON SOCIALLY CONSTRUCTED IDENTITIES AS SEEN IN HOMESTUCK :O
Yes, yes you should. I can think of a number of angles you could explore (the knights, the ‘mythological roles’, the different lives of the A1 and A2 “dancestors” or the B1 and B2 “guardians”, Equius…) and I’d love to read any of them.
Also, from Andrew Hussie’s answers to reddit questions, which I’d forgotten about:
- How do you feel about the Homestuck readers that consider troll-romance quadrants as an actual phenomenon? I mean the ones who talk about having a moirail in real life, etc. Is it strange to see this, or was your intent to have the concepts taken that seriously?
They’re all kind of similar to human relationships anyway, so that’s what’s going on there when people use those words.
They are mainly “alien concepts” when it comes to their applicability to reproduction, and the alleged biological compulsion to fill all quadrants. No human ever says, man, I have GOT to find two other people to get into clubs with, unless they are being really silly, or they are literally talking about going to night clubs.