Letters Column for February 2006: You Get To Burning

Accidental misunderstanding, even in a legend.
— Archangel Beth

Nothing is perfect!

There’s a story that once upon a time, back during the creation of the world, the creator-figure started with a bunch of jigsaw puzzle pieces.

Like, there’d be one that was “the inside of Scott Bakula’s mind.”

And one of that little piece of space right above your keyboard, with your fingers routinely flashing through.

And one that’s eggs.

And so forth!

This is an appealing and believable creator legend because it doesn’t postulate ridiculous power or genius on the part of the creator— it just assumes that they’re smart enough to order a jigsaw puzzle from ACME and put the pieces together. So it’s cool because it simultaneously humanizes the creator and answers all the niggling questions like, “If you’re so smart, how come you’re not the all-powerful creator of the universe?”— the position doesn’t need brains! It needs patience and an eye for details!

Anyway, the neat thing about this is that you’d assume, since it’s how the universe got put together and all, that the jigsaw pieces were well-made and would all fit together.

But that isn’t true!

It actually turned out that the jigsaw puzzle pieces had been made by tiny children in a sweatshop factory run by the lowest bidder, and those wicked children decided to revolt against their proper station by making pieces that didn’t fit.

So the creator wound up having to toss out the pieces and start over.

That’s why the universe doesn’t exist today!

That’s what the bees have been trying to tell you!

A tranparent metaphor for the Internet.
— Ninjacrat

Then why won’t my housemates let me make a fish tank out of it?

I won’t have enough virtue to eat if I do that right now.
— GoldenH

It’s funny that you of all people should say that, for it reminds me of the San Lorenzo Seminary in Santa Ynez. There amidst the prayers there stands an old abandoned Gauntlet machine, salvaged from the arcade by some unreleasing friar, and from time to time the sparks remaining to it cause it to voice in its deep bass measures the words that it remembers from the game.

Thus the novices are praying and it will burst out with, “Don’t eat virtue!”

Or “Use baptism to kill death.”

And sometimes it seems to them who stay there that they are hunted; that there are warriors and wizards and elves who stalk them in the night, firing arrows to destroy whatever prayers that they speak. Sometimes it seems to them as the music of Gauntlet pervades their restless nights that it is the machine that is the true owner of that place, and not their God.

Yet it is also said that when some horror made of reeds and water and rotting vegetation skulked up in the night—

Some creature sent, no doubt, by the hand of the enemy, to cut them down—

That a woman dressed in nearly nothing stood before the entrance to that place, and with endless arrows shot the hand of Satan down.

Thus one may say that the teachings of that machine are not entirely antithetical to the faith; and we say,
Valkyrie eleison.

Another nice legend
— dan_percival

That’s what you’d think, but actually it’s only nice around readers. When nobody’s looking, it pushes other legends off of cliffs!

The ending of this creeps me out.
— cariset

Places without recourse suck.

I think that as a society we have a tendency to imagine the people in them as inherently less heroic than Train Morgan or ourselves, but that’s just silly.

oddly, from the way the piece was written, it seems like chimera screw around with OR or AND gates, but NOR and NAND should work just fine.
— GoldenH

“Chimerae cause the evaluation of boolean statements as neither true nor false.”

Hm!

You’re correct that there’s a potential wogly there, in that chimerae appear to distinguish between “neither true nor false” and “both true and false.” So it seems like the effect chimerae have depends on whether you’re asking, “Is this true?” or “Is this not false?”

What’s worse, in boolean logic, these two questions are indistinguishable—

That is, on a casual level, when someone says, “Is this (booleanly) true?” they might mean “Is this true?” or “Does this fail to be false?”

So I can’t say with any authority whether the experience of a person in the presence of chimerae is the discovery that all things are not false, that all things are not true, that nothing is false, or that nothing is true.

That said, (x NAND y) and (x NOR y) are themselves boolean statements, and evaluate as neither true nor false.

Ii Ma is (presumably) a god of some kind. But what on earth could this horrible thing be an answer to?
— Ninjacrat

I’m not sure what precise stimulus you’d need to get a djinn to create something like Ii Ma; I try not to think about that kind of thing when I don’t have to.

That said, I’d recommend thinking about why anyone makes any kind of prison or warden, and then figure out the more specific details from there. ^_^

When Hitherby becomes a movie he’ll probably be played by Bad Pitt.
— Ninjacrat

(sic) ^_^

I don’t have any coherent thought to utter, but I wanted my shriek of mingled shock, triumph and total confusion to be audible by readers on this page as well as by my startled and uncomprehending boyfriend in the next room.
— mineownaardvarks

Flawless victory! ^_^

I was hoping to get a shriek from November, but you’ll do. ^_^

…which has the interesting implication that Ii Ma and the place without recourse are both as yet isn’ts.
— David Goldfarb

Yup! That is in fact established in canon.

As sucky as the place without recourse is, attempts to use it to bring large-scale change to the world would fail— probably by brushing up against that question which Ii Ma, itself, is unable to answer.

I’m not sure what that is. Perhaps it is: “How can people cease to matter?”

This is the first example I can think of of a first-person Hitherby entry.
— Eric

They’re very rare, and generally have a bit at the top to explain them away, like, “Hard and Cold — as narrated by Margaret Theas” or “TESTIMONY OF DRAKE LASER, P.I.”
This one did too, but I was sneaky!

. . .

And that’s it for this month! Thanks for reading, thanks for commenting, thanks for donating, and thanks for bearing with us in the changeover!

I’m probably going to be making a new, short (10-15k word) RPG available soon. More on that as events unfold!

Rebecca

9 thoughts on “Letters Column for February 2006: You Get To Burning

  1. Quoted three times! (Yay!)
    So that everyone can laugh at my typos and grammar-os. (Oof!)

    (So why would anyone read HD but to try and look cleverer than they are?)

    I’m probably going to be making a new, short (10-15k word) RPG available soon. More on that as events unfold!

    Allow me to be the first to say: Zomgwhut! :D

  2. You Get To Burning

    Sounds to me like someone’s been watching Nadesico. Either that or Martin’s been leaving the Coincidence Generator on again!

  3. *laughs*, well i still left my cynicism goggles in the car, so, lets hope I’m reading it right =)

    i wonder though, why the myths i’ve heard from India always don’t let people change castes in their life. there doesn’t seem to be anybody confused about what caste they are, either. Is this just cultural stagnation/perfection or is there actually some religious reason for it?

  4. [quote]What’s worse, in boolean logic, these two questions are indistinguishable—[/quote]

    well, sure, in boolean logic. but we can easily postulate a extra-boolean logic in which they are not, right?

  5. “Ii Ma is (presumably) a god of some kind. But what on earth could this horrible thing be an answer to?”
    – Ninjacrat

    “I’m not sure what precise stimulus you’d need to get a djinn to create something like Ii Ma; I try not to think about that kind of thing when I don’t have to.”
    – Rebecca

    I think that Ii Ma seems pretty comprehensible as an answer. The woman trying to get out because she has a son who needs her — all the associations with disease, vomiting and bleeding, the helpless appreciation of the natural world outside the window. The question might be something to do with terminal or severe chronic illness, and why we live in a universe in which people get trapped in it and nothing we can do can make them healthy again. Positing Ii Ma as an answer allows you to avoid the Problem of Pain questions that otherwise would arise. Better to blame a malign god than a malign God.

    Not that I’m saying that this is a particularly good answer.

  6. Sometimes, I wonder what would happen if I did actually get around to burning. It seems like such an awkward prospect.

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