“And Break.” (VI/VII)

“What now?” Liril asks, after a while.

“You go in,” Melanie says, standing up. “And you be a crucible of gods, and you try so very hard to forget that this ever happened, because you can’t afford to be thinking about labyrinths and heroes and your old friend Melanie when the monster’s trying to pull a construction deity out of your heart. And it won’t work. You’ll be distracted. You’ll be wanting things, and you’ll be hating me, and you’ll be yearning to have what that other girl has, and you’ll be broken.”

Liril licks her lips.

“He’ll probably kill you,” Melanie says. “Then he won’t have a single proper crucible left. He’ll have to use ordinary children and their silly little emptiness. It will be a sad day for the monster.”

“No,” Liril says.

“All your remembering forward,” Melanie says, “and still, I bet you can be killed. I bet you can be killed right in the middle of a prophesy, bam, just like the rest of us mid-anticipation.”

Why are you being cruel? Liril asks.

She can’t get the words out. Melanie’s face twitches. After a moment, Melanie answers even the silence.

“I don’t want to see you like this any more,” Melanie says.


Liril tilts her head to one side.

You could have just not come back.

Melanie kisses Liril on the forehead.

“Go be a good crucible,” she says, “and break.”

[The Frog and the Thorn – CHAPTER ONE]

March 18, 1995

Four times the monster reaches into her and pulls forth a god, and it is not the god of his desiring.

Iaccholyreus, the labyrinthine god, slips free of her chains. He is gone before the monster can seize him, laughing, skipping, burning and slipping down secret paths and out of Liril and the monster’s ken. Renderin, the wild god of the skies, bursts forth and is caught and ripped apart by the monster’s hands. A sewer gnome bubbles up and is forced back; a superstructure god constitutes, but cannot hold himself together. His eyes widen, he gives a great shout, and then he is nothing more than unbound miracle circling the brown drain within the room.

The last is Micah.

The last eduction calls forth Micah.

It does not go well.

The sands dripped through the hourglass
And the hour of the wolf closed in at last
And life is sweet and the sun is high
But the flesh and the fire are born to die

It hurts her in places she did not know still existed to be hurt, the birth of Micah. He surges out from that part of her that still wants things — no, not still; but, rather, now — and he leaves her bruised and broken entire.

She is forced to cough him out, runneling from her throat in a gout of fluids, and her lungs are aching, and her chest is aching, and several of her ribs are broken, and worst of all, there is a lingering echoing openness in the part of her that remembers how to want.

And in all of that she would feel well rewarded had she brought forth a constructive god, but she had not.

He is no god of buildings.

If anything, he is a boy.

let’s try Wednesdays and Fridays for a bit, with Mondays going to Chibi-Ex.

9 thoughts on ““And Break.” (VI/VII)

  1. Hmm…perhaps the connection between Martin and Micah is as simple as the monster deciding that Liril is no good as a crucible of gods any more, and deciding therefore to reclaim Jenna?

  2. I don’t think that’s it… Micah, to Liril, is the part of herself that can resist the monster, the part that can choose, the part that is free. It’s also said multiple times that we “cannot know” the outcome of a fight when Micah faces one of the monster’s gods. To the extent that Liril had regained her free will, she was able to keep it in Micah — to keep it away from herself, the girl not used to volition. Keep her faculty of choice in someone else so she does not risk losing it.

    Martin is something different. He says he created himself and is “the maker, the smith and the test.” He apparently was born out of a wogly and replaced Bob as Jane’s big brother, by killing the wogly and Bob. Now that it sounds like Bob is the spider, I am really curious to know how Melanie’s escape attempt might have affected Jane. Martin, though, is different — he does not express Jane’s preferences and his desires are often incompatible with Jane’s. (It may be relevant how he is relieved and startled when the monster appears to think him to be one of Jane’s gods.)

    Jane “tied her safety to the safety of the world,” and in one comment, Jenna said that she is unable to grow up in a quite specific way: Jane cannot learn the kind of maturity that lets one realize ones preferences. Liril is almost the mirror image — by creating Micah and letting him grow, she is eventually able to flee for freedom even without retaining her own volition.

    I can’t help but feel sorry for Melanie… Her ironic smile, and wish that Liril would break, being the best she can do to make amends for hurting Liril, and making them both less free. Liril may have an uncertain future, but it’s hard for me to picture anything but more and more entrapment in the monsters’ own webs, for Melanie.

  3. Well, I mean the connection between Micah’s birth and Martin’s birth, two things that happened at close to the same time. We know that Martin’s birth corresponds to the Monster sending a letter to Jenna in her firewood world — see “Martin and Thess (II/III)”. I speculate that the monster may have done that because he could no longer get satisfactory results out of Liril.

    I’m not sure where you’re getting “Bob is the spider” from. (Just for starters, which spider? The one that the monster set over Santa Ynez, and Melanie tamed?) Bob is a fetch, which has things in common with being a spider, but I don’t offhand see any reason to think that he is one.

  4. That spider, yes. It was pretty clearly stated in the prior chatper of this history.

    “Ultimately his own nature betrayed him. Quite unwillingly he found himself freeing her from Central, extracting her from our reach, and marooning her in the sky. If I believed she had planned it, I would say it was brilliantly done. Since she did not, I must admire her good fortune.”

    The key point here is: This is relevant to Melanie, relevant enough that she feels compelled to mention it to Liril when her compassion draws her back, and she is searching for words that will not hurt either of them more. It makes sense that the details Melanie mentions pertain to events she witnessed, and caused, but has no rational way of explaining.to Liril or to herself.

    “Eduction” does not act as a cause in linear time (what Nobilis calls prosaic reality.) It does not provide motivations for action, although the monsters try to use it for just about everything they can imagine doing by means of gods. Like Jane’s scanner, it seems to draw conclusions, but conclusions that have already been put in place by some other force. (Martin being the wildcard of Jane’s situation, and possibly of the whole tale.) Time will tell if this is right, but it’s the only explanation that fits.

  5. But Bob was a god educed from Jane, and we have no reason to believe that the spider was, nor did the spider have the human form that a brother would ordinarily have. The firewood world has some things in common with a web, but most webs aren’t made of firewood. The evidence we have is that Jenna voluntarily entered the firewood world, as an answer to her problems, not that she was trapped there — Melanie says she was “marooned” there, but I see no reason to privilege Melanie’s perspective. The paragraph you quote identifies Bob with the spider, only if the spider is the only thing that goes into the sky…which strikes me as obviously not the case.

    It’s also not clear to me that it was compassion for Liril that drew her back and caused her to do these things. She seems to be more playing a game with the monster. The reason she told Liril about Bob was so that Liril would emulate Bob, creating a brother for herself like the brother Jenna had, who would create boundaries between herself and the world, as Bob did for Jenna.

  6. It seems likely to me that gods can appear in more than one way from more than one perspective. I believe that it was specifically stated by Jenna a while back that this is so, but it’s hard to be sure.

    I am a bit less sure, reading over my past comments, because of the timing involved. It would take quite a while to correlate all the events in order to see whether this is a viable theory. Abstractly, it seems likely because it is internally consistent, but the details are (by design) difficult to fully assemble. There are also thematic links from Nobilis in my analysis, and those may be less pertinent for the Hitherby setting. The myths that underlie both settings admit to a variety of interpretations, and it’s hard to be sure that I am not involving my own interpretation of the myths to an excessive degree.

  7. Being a dork, I mapped out the timing. It could match up. Bob was born at a point after Alan’s birth/death, which was in 1980. Melanie and Liril saw the spider in the sky in 1982, which was working for the Monster. Bob defied the monster and built the Firewood World in 1989. Martin was born in 1995, and shortly later killed Bob.

    So, there’s no contradiction that I can see to say that Bob is the spider that Melanie and Liril saw spinning a web over Santa Ynez. Bob is a Labyrinthine God, after all, and spiders are certainly an appropriate form for that.

    At the same time, there’s no real strong evidence to support that they are the same being either.

  8. Oh, and as an addendum to my last comment – Melanie forced the spider to defy the Monster’s will in 1988 and to no longer spin his webs around the city, binding in the people, but instead in the heights, away from the world. Therefore, if the spider is Bob, then Melanie is the one who made him defy the Monster and steal Jane away. The timing matches up nicely. (from: http://imago.hitherby.com/?p=6859)

    The line about Jane making Bob in the image of her brother isn’t even a contradiction, since it is established that Jane doesn’t know what people are supposed to look like. (from: http://imago.hitherby.com/?p=108)

    Of course, this is all just a random line of speculation!

  9. Your second link there is a legend, not a history, so I don’t think it definitely establishes anything except that Jane is whimsical — which we knew already. (And all the stuff in there about hooks and feathers makes me think about siggorts, suggesting that that one has something to do with Sid and Max.)

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