Letters Column for April 2006: Who’s The Most Countable of Them All?

Not in any way related to Sam and Max, I’m sure, as one of them is not a canine shamus, and one is not a hyperkinetic rabbity thing.
— vincentavatar

I fail to see how this differentiates them from Sam and Max, one of whom is not a hyperkinetic rabbity thing and one of whom is not a canine shamus. ^_^

*giggle*

I’ve actually considered the possibility that that’s where Max’s name came from, but I don’t think that’s true. It’s more likely that his name comes from Max Headroom, odd though that may be.

The difficult aspect of this analysis is whether the efforts of the siggort were either necessary or sufficent for the grassroots effort to elect Reagan, whether or not Sid the Siggort’s efforts effected the grass roots campaign. Just because he said he would do something and it happened doesn’t mean he caused it.
— bradv

I know!

It’s really funny. ^_^

One of the reasons I had to include the Reagan thing even though in some respects it strained the story is that there’s a giant wogly right smack in the Hitherby definition of “isn’t” and I wanted to show it off to people.

Not that I haven’t admitted to some dubious opinions regarding outcomes in letters columns before this. ^_^

I think that one of the funniest things about the world is that it is predominantly things that don’t have independent physical existence that we care about.

SIGORT: Call for Papers
— rylen

Hee!

Please remind me if I don’t respond to this in my next (audience) responses roundup. I am pretty sure you’ve caught me here; I’ve long suspected my brain extrapolated siggort from SIGGRAPH. ^_^

Siggorts carry a spinning wheel of outward facing knives. Wogglies are spinning wheels of inward facing teeth.
— rylen

Hee. Caught me again, although I’m not sure we’ve formally established which way the siggorts’ knives face.

you know, the discussion of using faries is really quite fascinating from a modern perspective. I don’t know about you, but I was never taught about anything as useful as fairies in school. Did the existance of fairies somehow make the education system magically competent? Are they using the fairies to realize how to actually teach people about fairies?
— GoldenH

In comparison, I learned a lot of useful things, including the 52 states of the union. (That’s why the flag has 4 rows of 13 stars, you know.)

I’m glad you like it because I think that’s one of the cooler entries for worldbuilding. That said, I think knowing about fairies is probably less useful in the Hitherby world than it would have been to you in this one; and you probably also learned things that Tina could really use in her life, like trigonometry!

“Pete is, of course, a man well-versed in gods, and one who therefore expects a shocking honesty and openness of them. Sid, however, stares at him like he’s daft.”

I almost imagine Pete’s familiarity is as much with Hitherby characters as with gods, because even non-god characters seem to tend towards the same character trait more often than not.
— Eric

Hee.

Which ones are you thinking of? And is that as true in canon as in legends?

Is that an html format error, or am I overlooking it’s application in the story?
— Penultimate Minion

Hm? I have no idea what you’re talking about.

If your browser’s doing something weird with smart quotes, then my apologies; it comes from the fact that when I paste from Word into WordPress, it keeps smartquotes, where beforehand movabletype would ditch them or very rarely turn them into question marks.

Comments are never alive
But still can be cut

— rpuchalsky

I see you’re a Hitherboriginalist, like Scalia!

Honestly, though, I think that we have to understand the comments on Hitherby Dragons as a living work because they incorporate implicit references to an underlying fabric of Hitherby that changes. In a way, treating comments as inanimate is like keeping someone in the same clothes from the ages six and up—it doesn’t account for the way their body grows!

You may vivisect our comments, but you will never viviseect our FRE
— GoldenH

I cut and I paste.

I cut and I paste.

I cut and I paste.

Soon you will never know that your freedom was taken apart.

Easter coming too soon is redemption without reconciliation. Maybe. Is forgiving Max a recourse Sid doesn’t have, or won’t take?

(Sorry this is so long, but Sid and Max always bother me. Now they bother me more.)
— seborn

Feel free to leave long comments! It’s a sort of compliment, I think.

I was going to talk some here about my answers to the question of Easter coming too soon but, you know, I think it’s almost better as an unanswered question.

It’s interesting to me because the resurrection myth is older than the Christian story, and it really starts to break down without the descent into the Underworld. If Dionysus or Osiris just popped back up like a weeble, that takes more than the bite out of the tragedy—it takes the nutrition too. For Christ it’s arguably even worse because a premature resurrection would leave him still on the cross.

“You can’t just make something happen and call it a truth,”

isn’t this what science tries to do?

And if you accept that science succeeds, aren’t you being overly fatalistic?

hmm. It seems like a dillemia, yet, like Jane says, we’re trying to show the truth, not create it. But isn’t that contrary to Maps’ stated goal? Are Maps an act of creation or discovery?
— GoldenH

Hee!

Maps are an act of creation. Lo:

In the third chamber was an Eagle with wings and feathers of air; he caused the inside of the cave to be infinite; around were numbers of Eagle like men, who built palaces in the immense cliffs.
— William Blake

Random note!

I do wind up replying to the same people a lot, as they comment a lot. However, I do welcome new commenters!

Martin is to ???
as the previous self-professed-mesiash was to the Kingdom of Heaven

— Ninjacrat

He does have an established origin as a firewood boy, although “firewood and human in one” lacks the cachet of a human-divine hybrid.

They say that Prometheus stole fire from the gods and gave it to humans. That’s why humans have the divine spark. So while in one sense someone who is both God and a man would have a lot of that, someone who was both human and firewood would burn up, like a log!

Perhaps he bridges Isn’t and Necessity. That doesn’t actually make much sense as a phrase but doesn’t it sound cool?

The mentioning of Ink makes me hopeful that she can skip the whole “until the reforging of the world” part of her sentence in Hell.
— Ford Dent

Bah! Just go reforge the world. Then you’ll be doubly sure!

I think Ink has to be real. Why, because I think I love her.
— Taliskar

That sounds like a good reason.

Hey, I finally took in the picture at the top of the page. Every time I’d looked at it before I’d thought it was something with ice cubes, but now I see that it’s broken pieces of that kind of glass with embedded wire that’s supposed to strengthen it.
— tylercat

^_^

It was put together by Kevin Maginn.

I can’t help but to see the lense for viewing history wrapped in fire wood and held together by wires as a TV.
— Taliskar

Hee. <-- I think I'm saying that a lot this month but I'm not going to go back and check. You could be right! Although my mental image is more like Korra’ti’s “Queensbane” strung up on the wires of an abacus.

Okay!

And that’s all for now. I’ll finish up next time!

Rebecca

11 thoughts on “Letters Column for April 2006: Who’s The Most Countable of Them All?

  1. If your browser’s doing something weird with smart quotes, then my apologies; it comes from the fact that when I paste from Word into WordPress, it keeps smartquotes, where beforehand movabletype would ditch them or very rarely turn them into question marks.

    Interesting…at home, using Safari, I see the smart quotes; using IE at work (yes, yes, shut up) I see weird thingies with angle-brackets and dashes.

    I’d been wondering about that definition of “isn’t”. I mean, all the beings that’d been called that could speak and be touched and had names and in general had various trappings of existence. They could even do things like snatch people away into a place without recourse, forever.

    So we see that the difference is that isn’t’s can’t have large-scale effects. This strikes me as being like the passage of time in the Marvel and DC universes: it only works if you don’t look at it too closely. I mean, just where do you draw a line between large-scale and small-scale?

  2. Honestly, though, I think that we have to understand the comments on Hitherby Dragons as a living work because they incorporate implicit references to an underlying fabric of Hitherby that changes.

    I think that I may have been just anticipating your writing about how some people define death as happening, really, before the end of life. The whole poem is sort of a comment (well, it would be) or model of the discussion about whether people, as “software”, must continue after death. I thought it was particularly apt for that entry because the comments were going to be deleted and replaced, but really they had an invisible RSS2 copy.

  3. P.S. Although the poem came out a lot more pessimistic-sounding then it should have because it was attached to a post featuring concerns about vivisection. (Ii Ma seperating people from the world is sort of a form of vivisection, as well as the more obvious siggort practise.)

  4. “In the third chamber was an Eagle with wings and feathers of air; he caused the inside of the cave to be infinite; around were numbers of Eagle like men, who built palaces in the immense cliffs.
    – William Blake”

    Unfortunately, Blake forgot to document the pair of displacer beasts also in the room, who are guarding a potion of invisibility and a plus one sword.

    This is just yet another demonstration of why mystical poets just do not serve as effective cartographers of neo-Gygaxian dungeons.

    -Eric

  5. Which ones are you thinking of? And is that as true in canon as in legends?

    Now, looking at this in canon is tricky, because most of the canonical characters who appear in a great many histories either definitely are gods (most of them, really) or are weird things that may be gods depending on where exactly one draws the line (such as Jane) or have unspecified backgrounds that do not permit one to determine their divinity or lack thereof.

    Thus, through the relative paucity of unambiguously nondivine characters, finding useful examples is tricky.

    However, at least one example presents itself, this being the monsters. As I understand it, being incapable of becoming a god is intrinsic to being a monster of the line of Atreus. Thus, by my understanding, the monster is the character in all of Hitherby to be least likely to be or become a god.

    (Please correct me if I’m wrong.)

    And yet, he on numerous occasions demonstrates the sort of surprising honesty and openness that is referred to here. I mean, he’s an absolute bastard, and while he’s often an interesting character I don’t really think he can qualify as a sympathetic one. But he seems to habitually display a sort of openness about his nature that would seem out of place in many narratives that were not Hitherby Dragons.

    I believe that, to the extent that the monster is not a god, there is thus at least one striking example in the histories and stories of a nondivine character who illustrates the “shocking honesty and openness” character trait.

    -Eric

  6. It’s interesting to me because the resurrection myth is older than the Christian story, and it really starts to break down without the descent into the Underworld.

    Don’t worry, some of us still remember the wisdom of several centuries ago: Jesus spent the time between dying and living harrowing Hell and freeing virtuous pagans. Just because it’s a folk belief rather than explicitly in the Bible doesn’t make it untrue, and it certainly makes a good story. Super-Christ in Hell would make rather a neat comic book, I feel.

    It would be kind of nice if He would have popped down again to help out Ink, in a kind of repeating-the-cycle mythic pattern. Maybe He did.

    Anyhow, thank you for seeding my mind with the products of your own. I assure you that they bloom beautifully.

    –Bruno

  7. Who says that monsters can’t become gods? Consider the confrontation between the monster and Sebastien in Questions and Answers (2 of 2).

    There’s a fire burning him from without and within, cutting and tearing at the monster’s soul

    a great and terrible abyss yawns under the monster’s soul.

    It seems to me that precisely what’s happening there is that by exercising his power over right and wrong, the monster is becoming a god…which at the moment means becoming an isn’t.

  8. Incidentally, I’ve been thinking about Martin’s brush with nonexistence in Tre Ore. My current understanding is that he nearly defined himself out of existence. He had already said, “…the monster’s responsibility won’t ever negate mine.” He’s trying to operate on a level beyond that of the monster.

    Now, as we saw in “Questions and Answers”, the monster is capable of twisting concepts of what is right. So if Martin accepts those concepts in his self-definition (“Do you have the right to do this?” “Yes.”) then the monster automatically gains the ability to twist him. There’s no being who operates on that level, for whom “the monster’s responsibility won’t ever negate mine” is true. So Martin would be defining himself in a way that would exclude his own existence — the only way that the monster couldn’t negate him would be if he didn’t exist. It’s significant that he’s asked the question by a wogly, contradiction embodied.

    Instead he says “That’s not important to me.” I.e., he rejects the concept of rights, choosing to operate on a wider level.

  9. Hmm.

    A review of various histories has caused me to slightly reconsider my position on the monster’s potential godhood.

    The monsters are each of the line of Amiel.

    According to various histories, if anyone of that line were to become a god, they would become “bondsmen of [the people of salt’s] line”, as the monster said to Martin. His statements are supported by the metaphysics summary, so we know he’s not just lying.

    (This is, incidentially, an example of the monster’s shocking honesty and openness, in his words to Martin. And we know he’s not a god at the time when he speaks these words, because his crisis of near-transcendance occurs later, after Sebastian’s arrival. So even if it’s possible for a monster to become a god, Jane’s monster was still displaying the shocking honesty and openness at a time that it’s clear that he was not a god.)

    It’s not currently completely clear what it means for a monster to be a bondsman of the people of salt. In the metaphysics summary, the term is used in quotation marks, in the same way as the “from weakness” qualifier for transcendant promises.

    However, from contexts in that summary, and also in the monster’s words, we can see something it might mean.

    When the monster speaks those words, he also says that the monsters have no godhood of their own. Likewise, in the metaphysics summary, “transcendence” is used as a synonym for the process of becoming a god, and it is stated that the monsters “cannot achieve personal transcendence.”

    So, I believe that a monster becoming a god is either entirely precluded (at least in terms of the monster existing afterwards, even, seemingly, in the current day, where supernatural processes still work) or it would cause the monster to become a sort of god that would be bound to the service of Jane and her line.

    But this is all a tangent. My main point is that, at the time of saying things like he did in The Show, the monster is clearly not a god. And still, he exhibits the “openness and honesty” feature, to a higher degree than most of the gods we’ve seen. Thus, on this basis, I argue that within the canonical narratives that we’ve seen, the trait which Pete expected of Sid is not unique to gods.

    -Eric

Leave a Reply