Letters Column for June 2006: Ever More Draconic

Good morning!

Thank you for your kind words,

David Goldfarb
Hitherby Admin*
Penultimate Minion
Rebecca Borgstrom**
Vincent Avatar

* Yes, I know she works for me. But I liked the comments. ^_^
** Yes, I know she is me. But I liked my comment! What can I say?

Eric asks what Hitherby readers could do to help with various Hitherby maintenance tasks. I’m not sure! I’ll continue to think about it.

Donations for June 2006 totalled $50. Thank you!

It is July 4! Instead of a thematic legend, I’m just going to note my great joy and profoundest gratitude to Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift. It is such a small thing that he has done, in comparison to everything that is wrong in the world, but in winning one battle against Guantanamo he’s given me some America back just in time to see it in the fireworks.

(If you disagree, please don’t comment criticizing him; instead, please comment on something that brings you joy.)

Independence Day Bonus:
A Mini-Guide to Chronology!

There’s been a flurry of recent comments focusing on Hitherby chronology. I’m amused that that started just before I dated a new legend rather than immediately after.

As of today, current “stories” are up to June 2, 2004.

The legend that will broadcast on June 2, 2004 is not the most recent legend, the Dynamite Trilogy. It is, as Mr. Puchalsky guessed, In the Shadow of the Centipede.

This makes five legends with a roughly established performance date—

* A Reasonable Explanation

* Hamlet 2: the Arrows of Fate

* In the Shadow of the Centipede

* Ink is Backstage

* Ink in Emptiness

So what’s up?

Two months of performances in the tower—from April 3 to June 1—have covered roughly the same ground as two months of entries in the real world. But the Ink entries are anachronistic!

How can you reconcile these data?

The answer is simple.

There is no connection between the order of legends as presented on this site and the order of legends as performed in the tower. For convenience, I’m going to assume that for the most part they’re going along performing one legend a day, just like the manifesto says, and in roughly the publication order; when the story reaches August 2004, for instance, they’ll probably be performing stuff like Broderick and the Cracker.

Stuff like the hint pointing at In the Shadow of the Centipede?

Think of that as an easter egg.

I’m never going to expect the readership to correlate the legends from previous years and the ongoing story. First, that’s too much work for you. Second, it’d require too much from me. It would hamstring my ability to post legends when I’m inspired to do so. It would hamstring my ability to post legends when they’re relevant to the ongoing story. So when I reveal when a legend played, please feel free to say, “Hey, I know why Jane was thinking about that now!” Or, when I post a legend, feel free to say, “Hey, I bet Jane’s thinking about what happened in that story.” But don’t fret about it.

All that is defined is this. At some point the tower broadcasts each of these legends.

When did they start?

When will they finish?

How many of them do have known broadcast dates?

You’ll know when Hitherby Dragons finishes!

On a related note, rpuchalsky has observed a wogly regarding time apparently moving backwards between “A Chorus of Definition” and “The Old Man and the Sea.”

This wogly is a wogly.

Sure enough!

Stories advance chronological time in the story in the standard storytelling fashion. The retrogression is an apparent error. The date for the Old Man and the Sea is correct; the date for The Chorus of Definition does not appear to be.

I suspect that I was too eager to convey a sense of time passing and goofed.

Now I’m kind of clever and I have an explanation for this. And maybe someday it’ll be worth saying that that explanation is what happened. But right now, that’s a bit like spending 5,000 words giving the history of a doorknob—that is, just because I could explain it, doesn’t mean it’s worth doing so in the story.

So assume that’s a goof that I’ll edit out when I’m done, with a side of “but it could be a Mystery!”

Rebecca is -good- at action scenes, isn’t she?
— mneme

Thank you for your kind words!

I am surprised, actually, as I don’t have a good sense of action scene structure.

Nevertheless I like compliments. ^_^

“There is a man,” says Sid. “Named Max. And he said, ‘Sid, you’re so unworthy of the world. I’d go to Hell myself if I could just be sure of dragging you with me.’”

Hmm, that’s not what Max said at all. It’s a bit disappointing, because it puts the situation back into Unclean Legacy people-mistaking-each-other’s-intentions territory rather than actual conflict. I understood Max to be sacrificing himself both so that Sid would never vivisect anyone and so that Sid would never have to feel guilty about vivisecting anyone (as well as so that Max wouldn’t have to feel guilty about having Sid as a friend, of course). Bad judgement, yes, but it wasn’t really a kind of flawed motive typical of ordinary humanity. (Then again, what does Sid know about ordinary humanity?)
— rpuchalsky

In fact we know Max’s specific motivation:

“to give up everything else so that Sid does not become a thing Max can not love.”

That said, I think Sid has the right of it. Max judged him, a creature prone to vivisection, and said, “This should not exist; rather, there should be a false Sid that is like Sid but does not vivisect.”

Then when Max understood his crime he repented.

Now Sid is being a drama queen about it. That is on top, of course, of being seriously wounded, like a man with a shaft of metal in his lung who screams and frets and whines as if there were also one in his kidney.

But Rahu… he wants to eat the sun, and the sun is Iphigenia. In that sense, this makes him a bad guy, insomuch as he intends hard on a likable character. And he is a demon. But on the other hand, from what we know of him, it seems that his motives may be good, if misapplied.
— Eric

Yes. Thus far Rahu has conducted himself without sadism or transparent hypocrisy. It’s hard to say for sure whether this will continue, because that would be a spoiler of a sort.

I like him as a character.

It’s kind of unsettling when a character I identify with suffers a fate I don’t desire.
— GoldenH

Close your eyes when reading fiction. Then this problem becomes nuncupatory!

Part of what I find interesting here is the suggestion (possibly existant only in my own mind) that the questions of Ii Ma can turn the recipient into an isn’t.
— Eric


I don’t know if I formally established this. But, as Mr. Goldfarb observed, the case is pretty darn tight.

See also Questions and Answers (2 of 2) for an understanding of the role that questions play in Hitherby Dragons cosmology.

I’m glad you like it. ^_^

I could have sworn that it was created as a result of events from 2006: the lens breaking & etc. The realisation that our ‘real time’ and their ‘real time’ have come unhinged has thrown me for a loop.
— Ninjacrat

This is, of course, answered above.

I wanted to call it out here to specifically note: I can’t tell the story here as fast as it’s actually happening in the world.

Here’s why.

The premise of Jane’s world is that the legends are necessary to come to a true understanding of what’s up.

Also, canon is harder to write than legends. ^_^

So that’s why canon has advanced a month and a half rather than staying in real time.

I think this is the first time we’ve seen the reason why they’re in the Gibbelin’s Tower – it’s at the edge of the chaos, and it’s a nice tall transitter. Did they know about Sukaynah before they moved in, or was that part of the attraction?

Rebecca: Will we ever see the day when they moved in?
— Graeme

I don’t think anything in the tower surprised Martin. That said, I don’t think he selected it for the purpose of Sukaynah. Martin is more of a bricoleur than a connosieur, I think.

I don’t know if we’ll see the day they moved in. Possibly in Chapter 4!

Does being high on Virtue give you the munchies?
— bv728

Sadly, the United States’ ever-more-draconic War on Virtue has kept me in a naive, virgin-like state of innocence regarding virtue. I’ve seen virtuous people on television and I think that once when this homeless guy asked me for money that he might have been virtuous but I’m scared that if I try it myself the VEA will break into my house, confiscate my possessions, and force me to validate their corrupt regime. I don’t understand how people like Mr. L——- and Mr. B— can so casually indulge in the virtue they deny to others but perhaps it is their superior moral standing.

If I had to guess I would probably say this: that to know virtue is to know not hunger.

Why do the Tower players care about broadcasting their works?
— rpuchalsky

Hee. ^_^

Put another way, what’s the difference between a legend that is communicated and a legend that is not?

That’s it for this month. Thanks for reading, thanks for commenting, thanks for donating, and I’ll see you again next month!


17 thoughts on “Letters Column for June 2006: Ever More Draconic

  1. Wow, a lot to comment on for me with this one. I’ll just write about Max and Sid.

    I guess that I transposed Max’s stated motivation “to give up everything else so that Sid does not become a thing Max can not love” to something that I thought was a little less adolescent-dramatic while still keeping the essentials. I probably left out something important. But I didn’t understand Max to be engaged in the creation of a false Sid that didn’t vivisect because, in the place without recourse, Sid could still sort of vivisect people — it just wouldn’t be permanent, or mean anything.

    OK, it’s time to blog against heteronormativity. It’s true that we’ve never seen any indication that Sid and Max have some kind of sexual interest in each other rather than a kind of homosocial friendship (or, when they are unguarded, love). But with Max’s adolescent broodiness, and Sid’s drama-queen-ness, and the attachment that’s so important to each of them which Max keeps subverting because it would be too horrible to accept his love for Sid’s true nature, it sure looks something like the struggle out of the internal closet. Metaphorically, anyway.

    Why don’t Max and Sid move to my home state of Massachusetts and get married? Then they could talk about these life decisions beforehand, like an ordinary couple. Marriage encourages you not to move the family into a bad location, or go on dangerous jobs, without talking it over first.

  2. You know, I’d never really thought about Sid and Max (*) that way. Despite repeated use of the word “love”. I can’t believe I never thought about Sid and Max that way.

    (*) Aside: Why is it always “Sid and Max”? Why never “Max and Sid”?

  3. Because then you don’t get the “Sam and Max” look-alike?

    That said, I had a stunning thought today, being reminded of the component parts by this letters column.

    Martin can make isn’ts properly exist.

    Sid is currently an isn’t, thanks to the place of no recourse although given his siggorty nature he appears to still affect the world.

    Max wishes Martin to make Sid an is.

    The place of no recourse is a hell, or perhaps the Hell, or just a lot like a Hell.

    Ink Catherly sought Hell in her legend, and is the only recurring legendary character I can think of, off hand, that doesn’t seem to be played by a Tower player under that name.

    Existing only as a legend probably qualifies as being an isn’t, as well.

    So… is it possible that Martin may, at some point, make Ink an is?

    This is of course an insane hypothesis with less validity than the crazier conspiracy theories. But it’s such a neat one!

  4. Oh, and I forgot the “Train Morgan shouting ‘Whatever happened to Ink Catherly?”.

  5. Can one be virtuous without knowing hunger? Siddhartha had to know suffering before he could be a Buddha. Certainly being the Buddha is a virtuous vocation. Yet, clearly, had he remained innocent, and become a Wheel-Turning Sage King, there would have been virtue in that as well. In these current times, our methods of objectively measuring Virtue have become increasingly errant, but I might hazzard a guess that they were of equivilant virtue.

    So, was the Virtue inherant in Siddhartha, or in the fullfilment of his Dharma? Or some, other element of the equation?

    Wow, this got kinda serious for drug humour.

  6. I’m pretty sure Max isn’t a god (ie, an isn’t). But I could be wrong.

    Rebecca — What the scene I was commenting on most reminded me were the descriptions of action in chinese comics — and by extension, the descriptions of action in the WoTG RPG. I suspect this isn’t a coincidence — that your study of those influenced (and improved) your understanding of the medium. But only you and your muse know for sure.

  7. “So… is it possible that Martin may, at some point, make Ink an is?
    This is of course an insane hypothesis with less validity than the crazier conspiracy theories. But it’s such a neat one!”

    I think something like that has already happened: that the Imago is Ink.

    Damn. I’d been avoiding saying that for _months_ now, for fear of jinxing it!

    Buuuut… that is what’s implied, right? Ink sees the tower and the mirror breaking at the end of her legend, while in the real world Nescessity has a conscience attack, exerts its volition and explodes, and then a cocoon containing a female person appears… someone back me up here. :P

  8. I’m pretty sure Max isn’t a god (ie, an isn’t). But I could be wrong.

    you don’t need to be a god to be an isn’t. cf. The Monster’s megacorporation. are the employees gods? no. but they’re practically isn’ts.

    its a funny example of “isn’t” not being a victim’s word.

  9. Ninjacrat,
    I have also been imagining that the Imago is Ink.

    But, it might instead be related to Martin’s attempts the make Mei Ming an is, since she is also a girl that Martin takes an interest in (as in Questions and Answers, which gave me the idea). This is less likely because we have seen Mei Ming since the Imago appeared (The Nest of Mirror Pieces) and she only probably “giving serious contemplation to his ideas” (Newton’s First Law) at the current time, so whatever those ideas are, she has not acted on them.

    Perhaps I could reconcile the theories by suggesting that Mei Ming and Ink are related to each other, but I can think of no basis for the suggestion.

  10. Regarding questions, I think that unanswer(ed|able) questions are woglies, and asking someone a question that they cannot answer will leech away their integrity… *shrug*

    Can one be virtuous without knowing hunger?

    I think that, in Hitherby terms, virtue is an answer to hunger. At least, some hungers can be repurposed into virtues; I can’t say that all hungers have virtues that will answer them, but in the Hitherby cosmology, it seems likely, even if we don’t know which ones or how…

  11. I think that, in Hitherby terms, virtue is an answer to hunger. At least, some hungers can be repurposed into virtues; I can’t say that all hungers have virtues that will answer them, but in the Hitherby cosmology, it seems likely, even if we don’t know which ones or how…

    I’d say that Hungers into Virtues sounds an awful lot like Martin’s thing, personally.

  12. I guess I should comment here, since “maps” is probably unread — but the site is dizzying me a bit today. First, there’s the subway banner. Then, all the categories. Then, when reading some of the early entries, I see that some have been edited slightly — or have they? Did Liril and Micah really smell salt unexpectedly during their escape, or was that retro’d in later to suggest Meredith? Did Martin wake up and the first thing he saw was a firewood monster with a firewood tie? My memory is untrustworthy, and now the entries are too.

    The categories are odd, also, to say the least. Many of them don’t have any apparent connection with the stories under them. “Ashling”, say.

  13. I don’t recall the salt, but the first thing that Martin saw was definitely a firewood monster.

  14. Next question: What are you talking about?

    Subway banner? Categories? I don’t see anything remotely resembling these things. I even cleared my cache in case Safari was showing me an old version of the site.

  15. I saw that too. There seemed to be a temporary style switch, which reverted a little while ago. I even saw an entry entitled “What is Hitherby Dragons? (v. 2.0)”, but as it’s not linked to from the current site, I’m going to assume it’s not yet ready for general viewing, and refrain from linking it. ;)

    FWIW, I also remember that the first thing Martin saw was a firewood monster, and I do have some vague memory of Liril and Micah smelling salt. I think at the time I may have taken that as some sort of reference to the “people of salt”, though.

  16. Thanks for the confirmation, cariset. It would have felt odd if I had been the only one to see it. Funny, I remembered that the first thing that Martin saw was a firewood monster, but I didn’t remember that it was so clearly a firewood version of *the* monster. But the Wayback Machine says that the entry was always that way.

    I looked at “What Is Hitherby Dragons? (v 2.0)”, and I was like “but my favorite paragraph isn’t there!” That’s the problem with reading someone’s work-in-progress this way (for people like me, I guess) — it turns you into an old fogy. They do edits, and you’re all “I liked it before — couldn’t it just stay that way?” Ten years from now, people are going to be going on about how great the Hitherby book is or something, and I’ll be saying “But it doesn’t have the angel picture. And the original Martin didn’t sound quite so confident as he does in the final edit” blah, blah, blah.

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