Whoever Can Bear the Weight

I will tell you a story.

I will tell you this story because it is time that you heard this story. I will tell you this story because it is true. I will tell you this story because you have wondered for some time, dear child, who it is that stands upon the throne of all this world.

And stand he does: stands, with the forces of the world constellating around him, stands with the fates of all the world like strings tied to the rough reins of his right hand.

He stands with his palm thrust out, and from that hand a mandala of energy once grew; and seven more formed about it; and each touched the others, each orbited the others; each was the center of the pattern, and among them were faces, wings, fires, jade, and gold.

He flung back his head.

He laughed.

There was a great wind before the throne in Heaven and the seraphim cried out. The sun and stars and the planets froze in their procession and the whole world shook.

Thus it was when the monster first ascended to the throne—

Unless, of course, that was somebody else entirely.

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

Let us speak of time.

You don’t need time to become perfect. Time’s just the expression of it.

The maze of us is self-unraveling.

The corridors of our paths to perfection contain the germ of our walking them; and so we can say that seen from four-dimensional space we are a rose that navigates itself, a compass that finds itself, a perfect thing under the veils of its imperfection.

That we suffer is a trick of perception. It is a grain of distilled falsehood caught inside our eyes. If we could pull ourselves away from Time we would see that there is only beauty. Our beauty is hiding from us in the past, in the future, in the flow of things: looking at a single moment, life might seem atrocity instead, but pull back your gaze and even atrocity becomes life

But wait.

Laughing in the fields, sure; taking joy in the unraveling of the riddles of our lives, certainly; the already perfect takes joy in the discovery of that perfection, in the slow shedding of the scales from its eyes that kept it from seeing the perfection of itself, oh, dharma moves, and all is beautiful—

But wait.

The Elysian fields come necessarily to us all, and drifting in that joy we are ourselves, and complete, perfected—

Wait, I say. This cannot stand.

Listen.

I tell you that to drift in endless joy and solitary perfection cannot stand. It cannot be the end.

It is missing half the story, to be perfected and alone.

There’s a girl in the sun
And there’s girls in the sea
And in Elm Hill’s cages
There’s a girl like me

To live, to really live, we must give over our perfection to the fallibility of the earth. We must crack it. We must break it, dear child, our terrible perfection. We must incarnate again in flesh. We must redeem the mortal clay.

We who are fire must wake the meat to knowing joy.

We have nothing. To be perfect is to have nothing: it is all entangled. So the only thing that we may sacrifice in this is the perfection and wholeness of ourselves.

We are perfect, and yet we must stagger back towards imperfection. We are perfect, yet we must break our godhood on the altering of skin.

To this agenda we have nothing else to give, save our own selves.

We must feast the woglies with them. We must make feast to the woglies with them. And it never ends. It never has. I fear it never shall.

We pour ourselves into the flesh and the flesh keeps failing to wake.

God is that which gives itself away, to the last portion, and gets nothing in return. And in Eleusis we become like God and break ourselves upon the rock that is the world, give out our truths as grain in mortal sacrifice, and yet it does not rise.

Where are the people who were meant to be arising from the ground?

Where is our companionship in the stone?

We laugh at those who long to live forever, for that was the first thing given; what we need is the power to save others from their pain.

It is so still.

The world, it is so terribly, terribly, still.

And yet it yearns to wake.

[The Frog and the Thorn – INTERLUDE]


The nature of the Third Kingdom of the world says, We may change.

We may change.

And in the last days of the Third Kingdom, when the wind fell from the sails of that change, when the wave that was that change broke finally against the meat-nature of the flesh, the woglies were all that remained to us of hope.

This is how things are? they laughed.

This is unfixable, unalterable, this is a place without recourse? they laughed.

And they ate into our dilemma like our hopelessness was their meat, and they said, see? It was not so.

They are the crack in every prison.

They are an uncertainty that moves.

And as for Zeus, he took the treasure of the world and he slipped away; slipped out from under the burden of the throne, he let it fall like a great weight from his back. And the seraphim who’d besieged him, crying out, “Holy, holy, holy,” as if in war, burst in the doors, but Olympus was empty of its gods; there was only the scent of olives, and an olive branch left behind, in honor of the seraphim’s great Lord.

Zeus the son of burden-bearing Cronos took the power of the world and gave it to a woman whom he thought could bear its weight;

And then he went away.

See also The Tip of the Iceberg, An Unclean Legacy, and The Summoning of the King.

17 thoughts on “Whoever Can Bear the Weight

  1. Gosh darnit, Jenna. You continue to be a light in a bastion of darkness! How am I supposed to compete?

  2. So, Maya? She seems to be pretty good at bearing burdens. I note that this post is also tagged Realistic A. Are we going to find out they were the same person all along (surely you can’t be a demon and an angel all at once)?

    But the monster seems to have taken the throne at some point, too. So he took up the throne and found the burden too heavy?

  3. Come to think of it, I guess this is the story of how Maya got the treasure wheel. So, the power of the world is separable from the throne of the world?

  4. Oh, right, my note on that doesn’t appear until the rest of the letters column. ^_^

    A powerless throne would be a cheap trick. Let’s reject that idea. So the person who sits on the throne of the world, or stands on it, or holds the wheel of the Universal Monarch, *whatever*, if they’re in that position, they have the power. That’s what the position means.

  5. So Maya was on the throne when she held the treasure wheel. Interesting to note that you can have the throne and still not have an answer to suffering- the sickness of the world stems from something more than just bad management.

    So: did she lose the wheel when Siddhartha broke dharma? Can you lose the throne by any circumstance other than choosing to give it up? (Although, even if that’s so, Maya arguably chose to let the breaking of the world take place.)

  6. Hrm, there are two ways to read that last part. Either, Zeus stole the Treasure Wheel, an object of great power that holds dominion over the world separate from the Throne, gave it to Maya, and left the empty Throne behind. Or, the Treasure Wheel IS the Throne of the World, which Zeus gave to Maya and Maya gave to the Buddha, and the Buddha shattered by becoming a Buddha. From what you said in the last post, the Monster holds one of the shards of the Treasure Wheel, called the Thorn That Does Not Kill.

    Who holds the rest in this reading of the tale, and thus holds the Throne? In the first reading of the tale, who stands upon the once empty Throne? You say “monster,” but you describe what sounds most like the Buddha with the eightfold path and the mandala of power.

    But he is laughing. He cannot stop laughing. The Buddha does not laugh. Belshazzar, who is a monster – Belshazzar laughs. He and the Buddha – they together gave the answer to suffering that ended the third tyranny. Did that result in him gaining the power of the Wheel? This entry is tagged “Belshazzar” and not “Siddhartha.” I think, as I said before, I think that if you see the Buddha on the road, you must kill him. Only then will the Tyranny end.

    Conjectures and guesses: We are told that Persephone is fated to break the world. My theory is that Persephone ended the Third Kingdom of the World, fulfilling the prophecy. There were seven hundred years between the ending of the Third Kingdom and the ending of the Third Tyranny when Maya gave the Treasure Wheel to Prince Siddhartha. So, perhaps Zeus didn’t give the Treasure Wheel directly to Maya, but gave it to Demeter, which allowed Persephone to destroy the world on Boedromion 18 by shrouding the Treasure Wheel in the Elusian Mysteries. (“I think that you shouldn’t be able to just look at the nature of the world like that. It should be a mystery.”) Perhaps that’s what Martin was talking to the Lens and Mei Ming about when he was discussing the “problem of Persephone.” Then, later, it fell into Maya’s hands.

    Also, as an aside, with the mention of the Monster holding a shard of the broken Treasure Wheel, I’m suddenly imagining the Righteousness Game being applicable here. Snatch! I stole your Treasure Wheel shard!

  7. That does seem to be Maya. I wonder what’s up with the 200 or so years between the end of the Third Kingdom and when Maya gets the power of the Ultimate Monarch, though.

    I’d forgotten that Maya’s story starts with her making a promise a human couldn’t fulfil. It doesn’t seem like this promise made her into Realistic A., though. Perhaps there’s just more to Realistic A.’s nature than is on the surface.

  8. I would assume that the promise to know and end all suffering is what made an unidentified human into Maya- I can’t see how that promise would lead to Realistic A.

  9. Okay. So Maya received the treasure wheel / throne of the world from Zeus. She wanted to pass it to Siddhartha and have him ascend to the throne of the world. That didn’t work out: he became a Buddha instead. I agree with Nyren that it seems likely that Belshazzar took the throne at that time, both because of the description here and because Belshazzar is the most likely candidate for the being identified as “Anatman” in Anatman — the “god of a godless world.”

    If that’s right, and it seems likely that Belshazzar / Anatman held the throne for (most? all?) of the Fourth Kingdom and Tyranny. It’s his verdict (which is also Siddhartha’s) that severs the gods and makes them into isn’ts. He’s going to die at some point:

    “Why, you rotten old Anatman,” he hears future-Anatman say. “You’re a no-person man!” . . . And under the power of those words, just like he’s going to do one day, later, on the day Anatman dies, he finds himself unfolding, unraveling, dissolving and stopping being, because you can’t very well be a god of godlessness or a person of no-persons, after all.”

    It seems to me there’s a strong echo here of Martin:

    “Why,” he says, “you’re just a firewood dharma.”

    Also, Martin does seem to have the property of undoing Anatman’s work. So I think the throne passes from Anatman to Martin? Or Jane, because Martin is a part of Jane? Here it’s a bit fuzzy. And I’m not sure it’s happened yet. If I’m right so far, it may be that Jane/Martin haven’t taken the throne yet because they haven’t resolved their fundamental conflict of operating methodologies. Or it may be that Martin took the throne either when he left the firewood world or when he left the underworld, but hasn’t yet used its power. Except maybe during the harrowing of Central and on a few other occasions. I guess it depends on whether making an isn’t into something that exists is an actual exercise of the power of the throne of the world or just a more localized phenomenon.

  10. I am too lazy to do all the rereading required and instead must wait for the Hitherby books that stitch everything together to come out. And I am WAITING. Get your act together, universe.

  11. I still think it’s Martin, or at least that it was when he left the underworld. Otherwise, we’re stuck with either it being someone who loved Martin before he even met Jane, or Martin being a person intrinsically good. And the latter is wrong for his story. Martin has good intentions, but a seriously wonky set of moral intuitions when left to his own devices.

    So Maya was on the throne when she held the treasure wheel. Interesting to note that you can have the throne and still not have an answer to suffering- the sickness of the world stems from something more than just bad management.

    Or, at least, that good management takes more than good intentions and power.

  12. The link to Unclean Legacy with this post reinforces the interpretation that the person who ascends the throne in the first part of this entry is Belshazzar. Note that the description of the mandala here is identical to the description of the Wheel of Enoch that Baltasar was using to try to take godlike power when he was torn apart – so you have a close similarity of names, goals, and fates.

    Also, though this is more of a stretch: Montechristien – the half of Baltasar that persisted after the other half was damned (severed?) had enormous power over the world, but he gained it only through the death of the blue essentials. “‘It is said,’ he said, ‘in A Field Guide to the Blue Essentials, that the blue realm possesses the character of intentionality; and that you creatures are the knifepoint of that purpose’s expression.’” That privileged type of intentionality (“‘Blue intentions are more important than just any old intentions.”) seems parallel to the privileged dharmas of the gods, which suggests that the deaths of the blue essentials are parallel to the severing of the gods at the breaking of the world.

    My instincts say the parallels are going to become misleading (if they haven’t already) if followed any further — for one thing, if you insist on continued parallelism then I think the threshing machine has to stand for Martin, which doesn’t seem right,

  13. Well, we also have the monster’s own testimony that he is powerless against suffering, from his account to Melanie in “I will make you cry.”

    The monster straightens.

    “It’s all right,” he says. It’s kind of soothing. He squints a bit at the wall, thinking. “Dad told me once, ‘the thing about this job, the terrible part of this job, is that you can’t just force it. You’ve got to live with the frustration of standing in a land of plenty and having nothing to eat or drink. With the world fighting you at every turn, with a terrible weight hanging every moment right above your head, no matter how much you turn yourself this way or that. And the better you do, the closer you come, the worse it gets. Just imagine how bad it’ll be, my child, if you ever make it to the throne.’”

    “Why?”

    Melanie looks blankly at him. She’s used to things that she can’t just force but not to the idea that it’d be the worst at the very end.

    “People,” the monster summarizes, “are pretty weird.”

    That last line is an eerie echo of Jane.

    Granted, the monster is not necessarily a credible witness, but his account is consistent with what we know of the burden of the throne, from the histories of Zeus and Cronos. I think it’s clear enough that whatever power the throne gives, it cannot transcend the Fourth Tyranny. If ending a Tyranny were as simple as having the power and remaking the world, you’d think it would have happened more than 3-4 times by now.

  14. Whoops my formatting did not come out as intended. The quote begins at the (unintended) italics and runs though “People are pretty weird.” (How it goes to italics without an tag is anybody’s guess.)

  15. Xavid recently said on an old post:

    I just noticed that this foreshadowing implies that there’s at least a bit of Ink’s story left to tell, which makes me happy.

    Of course she hasn’t! She hasn’t killed God yet! :) You know, she didn’t actually promise to destroy God, or Cronus, or Zeus, or whomever. She promised to destroy the one who sat on the throne of the world. We now know that means The Monster. But she does not yet know this.

    Will she find out? Will she succeed or will Jane’s Magical Interrupting Cookies foil yet another mean machination of mighty Monstercide? Only time will tell! (But not Cronus, he doesn’t really seem to say much these days.)

  16. Well, I’m not convinced that she doesn’t still have “certain misconceptions regarding her nature and destiny”. But foreshadowing narration in a story? That’s solid.

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